Where the blame lies

We’re worried about the current financial crisis — in fact, the whole world is concerned. Most of us have simple explanations for the mess we’re in right now, such as excessive deregulation, lenders raking in short term profit at the expense of long term stability, a weakening economy, and the misrule of George W. Bush and his gang of Rethuglican cronies, but we’re missing the real root cause: it was the gays. Some big flaming homo flaunting his ungodly desires one time too many finally tipped God over into a big snit, and as we all know, God’s aim sucks, so when he tossed that lightning bolt of righteous indignation down upon Broadway, he missed and hit Wall Street instead.

No, seriously.

In a September 25th blog post titled ‘The Nation Will Right Itself If It Fixes Sex’, Christian Civil League of Maine Executive Director Michael Heath writes that the financial crisis facing Wall Street is a symptom of America’s sinful sexual culture, including the acceptance of gay unions.

“Our crisis is a symptom, not the cause,” writes Michael Heath. “I am not saying I know whether this financial crisis is God’s judgment or not. It is not for me to know that definitively.”

He doesn’t know for sure, but he does seem to have some rather definitive notions about exactly what would tickle God’s funny bone.

Heath goes on to list policy changes that would make God “crack a smile,” including: End abortion rights and defund non-profit groups supporting it, amend state constitutions to ban gay marriage and eliminate domestic partnerships and civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, and end discrimination against private religious schools and homeschools.

Whoa, that god sure has some specific and sweeping policy proposals for an ineffable being. And for all of his aw-shucks disavowals, Mike seems to have some inside knowledge on God’s quirks.

But wait! He has missed some. It’s not just those gay people…

A related post by Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian at the National Review’s website pushes a similar theme, this time focusing on Friday’s failure of WaMu.

Krikorian suggests the big bank failed because it was too accommodating to minorities, including gays, African-Americans and Hispanics.

Right. It’s the fault of those minorities, the swarming leeches who take and take and take and don’t compliment my golf game and who don’t pay me bonuses and who want me to pay for their cheap little dreams and not my big important dreams (my Lexus my Rolex my mistress’s boob job my condo my implants my home theater system the good booze the cubans the stuff they can’t have it’s mine), profiting like parasites off the hard work of upper echelon MBAs who barely got what they deserved for distributing the wealth to the little people via all their costly purchases of yachts and beemers and rare wines and priceless artwork and ski vacations in Aspen and indulgent jewelry and new consumer electronics every week and goddamn but it makes me angry to see good white male alumni of Yale and Princeton and Harvard forced to bear the blame for the weakness and lack of vision of little brown people and degenerates who threw away the whole American economy because they just had to buy some ticky-tacky cheap ranch-style lath-and-particle-board piece of crap in the suburbs, and then they don’t even worship the True God, the God of prosperity, the God of the moneychangers and the Pharisees, the God who tells me I’m His Number One, the One God who is God who is His Own Son, who is white dammit white and nicely groomed like an American and not one of those dingy off-color immigrants but a Real American with a pinky ring and a good suit and a little cologne so He doesn’t reek of cabbage or whatever other ungodly stinking rubbish the foreigners gobble down, and God Jesus Lord has a good tan and nice abs (but He only likes girls) and a nice firm manly butt (but only leers at cheerleaders) and He’s big and firm down there (maybe He’ll let me watch) and He wants to hold me and run his fingers through my hair (like I was His beloved no like I was His best friend no like I was His best salesman yeah that’s it that’s safe.) God only loves those who look like Him who looks like me. Amen.

Whew. I have to stop trying to imagine how these people think — it’s just too dangerously weird. And those guys are nuts.

(via Greta Christina)

Poll: you must choose between Jenny and Amanda

That is, Jenny McCarthy, ditzy mummy who opposes vaccinations because she thinks they cause autism, and Amanda Peet, smart woman who knows that inoculation is a great benefit. McCarthy has just sniped at Peet:

“(Peet) has a lot of [nerve] to come forward and be on that side, because there is an angry mob on my side, and I like the fact that I can say she’s completely wrong. I look at (Peet) now and say to myself, ‘That was me before I had autism in my life,’ and until she walks in our shoes, she really has no idea.”

Oh ho — so Jenny McCarthy’s great logical defense of her position is that she fronts an angry mob? Well, two can play that game. Pharynguloid mob, get over there and support science and intelligence in their poll. Amanda is down, 46% to 54%!

A dystopian vision

Another interesting blog that has been around for some time is Charles Stross’s — you ought to check it out, and the comments are often informative too. One in particular was brought to my attention — it’s a comment made in response to another fellow, Dan, who is something of an American triumphalist, seeing us spiraling upward, ever upward, into glory and a bold Star Trekian future of wealth and prosperity and technology. Maclaren wrote an antidote, which I include below. I don’t agree with it entirely — we aren’t quite as bad off as it says right now, although I can see his word-portrait as a picture of America 5 years from now, easily, and I don’t see anyone trying very hard to put the brakes on our descent into madness.

Sometimes Stross’s blog is very depressing, too.

[Read more…]

Some local reactions

Our campus has an alternative right-wing rag of a newspaper called the Counterweight, funded who knows how, that throws up horrible little articles that usually sound like the kind of thing that would make Karl Rove and Dick Cheney chortle. They interviewed me recently — yes, I speak politely to even the most conservative students on campus — for a pair of opinion articles of the battling ‘he was right’/’he was evil’ variety, all on the desecration controversy. You can read them both online. The student who was taking my side framed it as an issue of opposition to political correctness, especially campus speech codes, which may be one of the rare, narrow instances where the paper and I might agree.

The student who was arguing against me couldn’t spell my name consistently, claimed my actions were “far beyond decent”, and got the facts wrong, claiming I’d surrounded the cracker with anti-semitic articles. Oh, he will go far in the Republican party, I can tell.

Brunswick school board may be OK…for now

The Brunswick school district in North Carolina was hurtling towards a lot of pain…and it’s all thanks to the intransigent arrogance of the ignorant. There are some signs that they’re going to see the light of reason, but there are holdouts, and as is usual in these cases, it’s a few uninformed individuals possessing only a furious conviction and the certitude of religion who are causing the problems. Joel Fanti seems to be one of the instigators of this stupidity, and he’s surprised that so many have been opposing him.

“It just amazes me some of those responses, how venomous they have been,” said Fanti, who sparked the debate by proposing at the board’s Sept. 16 meeting that the teaching of creationism share classroom time with evolution. “I don’t even know what their definition of religion is. I can argue their views on evolution are a religion, too, because it can’t be proven.”

The Rev. Brad Ferguson, Fanti’s pastor at New Beginnings Community Church in Shallotte, said he supports Fanti’s views.

“There is some scientific evidence supporting creationism,” the Southern Baptist minister said. “Kids should be presented both sides. … You can’t isolate disciplines. Science and faith – they go together.”

Fanti is clueless. Then everything is a religion: I can’t prove right this instant that my cats are at my house, but because I saw them there this morning and closed the door so they can’t get out, they almost certainly are…and if I saw one prowling around outside my office window, I’d quickly revise my opinion. But to Fanti’s mind, my expert, empirical, well-supported ideas about my cats ought to be considered a religion, obviously. Similarly, I’ve got some expert, empirical, well-supported ideas about evolution that I can back up with evidence — it is not a view held in the same way as a religion.

Ferguson is equally inane. There is no scientific evidence for creationism — go ahead, show me some. If he really believed that kids should see “both” sides of an issue, no matter how weak or fringy or patently absurd they are, then I hope his Baptist church sunday school is being taught by a cadre of Muslims, Scientologists, and Wiccans.

Science and faith are in opposition. Somehow, his faith is supporting the idea that the earth is 6000 years old, against all the scientific evidence that it is 4.5 billion years old — I think that renders his claim inoperative.

But here’s the good news. These two nitwits seem to be losing, and the school board is backing down, despite the sympathies of a few. And of course, the new strategem is to throw around the Discovery Institute’s favorite empty slogan, “strengths and weaknesses”. What weaknesses? Let’s hear specifics. If they’re willing to teach the strengths, how come they don’t seem to understand them?

After reading e-mails by people disgruntled about the idea of teaching creationism, hearing about the state’s point of view and consulting with attorney Kathleen Tanner, Babson said she thinks the board will not try to go against the law to teach creationism, although she would like to see it in the classroom one day.

Fanti said he learned about the court cases after addressing the board and now thinks the idea of teaching creationism as part of the curriculum will be crushed. But he plans to ask the school board to encourage “evolutionists” in the schools to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of their theory.

“Instead of making it a religious issue, let’s make it a scientific issue,” said Fanti, who identifies himself as a chemical engineer.

A religious engineer…somehow, I am not surprised at all.

Cafe Scientifique tonight!

Tuesdays are not relaxing days for me; this is the day of the week when I sink into long class sessions for hours at a time. Somehow, I also decided that the last Tuesday of every month was also going to be the day for Cafe Scientifique, which I host here in town, and which I’m also giving today.

So come on out to the Common Cup Coffeehouse on Atlantic Avenue in Morris tonight, at 6:30pm, and watch a tired PZ give a talk. Don’t worry, though — I’m going to present a little travelogue on my cruise to the Galápagos Islands, with a little science sneakily snuck in here and there, which is going to be fun…so I’ll perk right up. I’ll just crash right after the talk.

What must it be like to live in New Zealand?

A recent survey in New Zealand reveals that only 40% of the people believe in a god, and 10% do but have doubts. Only 52% believe in an immortal soul, and 80% accept evolution. I marvel at that — a country where I would not be a member of a rare minority, where I could start a conversation with a stranger and reliably encounter someone who wasn’t barking mad, where the populace doesn’t believe in angels? Next you’ll be telling me the streets are paved with gold.

It’s not perfect. There are still lots of conspiracy theorists and UFO buffs and lucky number innumerates, but man, it’s just that the background looks so much less cluttered with nonsense (they also found a positive correlation between god-belief and belief in the paranormal, unlike a recent deeply flawed survey in the US, which tried to get around this problem by redefining belief in angels and miracles as not paranormal.) You must take a look at the full summary to believe it.

And then…they have a museum where they carry out public dissections of giant squid.

I’m having a hard time imagining such a place. Paradise doesn’t really exist, you know.

Terror attack on US soil

Only, of course, it won’t be called an act of terrorism because the victims were Muslim, and the perpetrators were conservative white Americans. They sprayed gas into a mosque filled with kids.

On Friday, September 26, the end of a week in which thousands of copies of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West — the fear-mongering, anti-Muslim documentary being distributed by the millions in swing states via DVDs inserted in major newspapers and through the U.S. mail — were distributed by mail in Ohio, a “chemical irritant” was sprayed through a window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. The room that the chemical was sprayed into was the room where babies and children were being kept while their mothers were engaged in prayers. This, apparently, is what the scare tactic political campaigning of John McCain’s supporters has led to — Americans perpetrating a terrorist attack against innocent children on American soil.

Common decency would suggest that babies should not be targeted. These are people who lack decency, I’m afraid.