The Obamamercial

erv has it.

Personally, I found the little vignettes about ordinary Americans a bit off-putting — political sentimentality makes me cynical. I was more interested in hearing Obama simply speak about his policies. I was most impressed with a superficial factor: wouldn’t it be cool to have a president who could open his mouth and say something and not sound like an illiterate hick?

More Christian irony

This is a video of Barack Obama pointing out that we can’t use the Christian holy book as a guide to secular law — it has bits that advocate slavery and stoning obstreperous children, and that the injunctions to “turn the other cheek” and follow the golden rule in the Sermon on the Mount would, if taken literally, put the Defense Department in violation.

The irony comes from the outraged Christian fundie voiceover. He accuses Obama of mocking the bible, and then defends it by claiming that the Sermon on the Mount is “spiritually inspiring”…completely missing the point that Obama was not saying otherwise. And then he claims that Jesus would never advocate turning the cheek to terrorists and America’s enemies. What? I don’t think Jesus had much to say about America, and probably wouldn’t have much concern about some strange secular nation far removed from his natal region. To defend Deuteronomy and Leviticus, he makes a similar non sequitur, complaining that the Ten Commandments are also in Deuteronomy. So? Even if you consider the Ten Commandments virtuous, it does not negate Obama’s point, which is that you have to pick and choose bits of the bible, making it an inappropriate guide to civic behavior…and there this narrator is, picking and choosing. And of course, the Ten Commandments are mostly irrelevant, and not the basis of US law anyway.

And then he accuses Obama of distorting the bible. That’s the whole point, bozo! The bible is a welter of contradictions and archaicisms — you are unavoidably distorting it if you try to take that mess literally and run a country on its precepts.

Where’s Charlton Heston when you need him?

Some Christian fanatics are concerned, quite reasonably, about the economy, and have chosen, quite absurdly, to try and correct the problem with prayer. So far, so typical, but then … well, they picked a peculiarly oblivious way to do it. They prayed before a statue of a golden bull on Wall Street.


We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems. While we do not have the full revelation of all this will entail, we do know that without intercession, economies will crumble.

Just a clue: there’s this book called “the bible” that these people claim to follow, but I suspect they’ve never actually read it, or they might have seen Exodus 32.


1And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

 2And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.

 3And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.

 4And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

 5And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.

 6And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

 7And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:

 8They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

 9And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:

 10Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

They even made a movie of it, if cracking a book is too highbrow.

Trust me, this is one of those things in the Judeo-Christian heritage that never ends well. There’s this jealous god who does smitings.

With friends like these…

I’ve written a couple of posts decrying the tactics of Elizabeth Dole — who uses the act of talking to atheists as a smear — and favoring her opponent, Kay Hagan. It seems Ms. Hagan doesn’t like us very much, though.

Democratic Senate candidate Kay Hagan angrily demanded Wednesday that incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Dole take down a new ad that questions the challenger’s ties to an atheist political group, calling the spot a slanderous and pathetic attempt to maintain political power.

Hagan’s attorneys sent a cease-and-desist order to Dole’s campaign, saying the “libelous” ad should come down within 24 hours. The order promised legal action if the ad stays on the air.

So…being called an atheist is “slanderous” and “libelous”, huh? Oh, well, then. Never mind, North Carolina, it doesn’t matter who you vote for in that election, you’re getting a loser. I suppose you should still vote for Hagan, but only for her party and not because she’s on our side.

The election is all but over now

Big news: the editors of Seed have officially endorsed Barack Obama for President. OK, not surprising, I suppose…any organization that relies on or promotes scientific thinking has absolutely no choice in this election, so Obama is going to get the nod.

I do like one specific statement in the endorsement:

Science is a way of governing, not just something to be governed. Science offers a methodology and philosophy rooted in evidence, kept in check by persistent inquiry, and bounded by the constraints of a self-critical and rigorous method. Science is a lens through which we can and should visualize and solve complex problems, organize government and multilateral bodies, establish international alliances, inspire national pride, restore positive feelings about America around the globe, embolden democracy, and ultimately, lead the world. More than anything, what this lens offers the next administration is a limitless capacity to handle all that comes its way, no matter how complex or unanticipated.

If you have an alternative way of governing, please do tell us about it in the comments.

The Twitter Threat!!!

I’m afraid I just can’t take this seriously. Army intelligence analysts are concerned that terrorists might tweet each other. Or text each other. Or put Islamic wallpapers on their cell phones. Oooh.

Yes, they could. So? We’re living in a world where communications technologies are advancing rapidly and where people can talk to each other constantly over long distances. This is a neutral technology; bad guys can use it, and so can good guys, and so can boring ordinary people who just want to chat about the weather.

Latest threat: Air. Terrorists could use this medium to respire and fuel oxidative phosphorylation, providing extra physical energy to allow them to carry out strenuous evil activities. Plus, it keeps them alive. American anti-terrorist organizations must be made aware of the nefarious purposes to which oxygen can be applied.

Don’t vote for Tingelstad

Do I detect a note of anxiety in my Minnesota readers? Lately I’ve been getting lots of email from concerned locals who are worried about Tim Tingelstad, a candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court, who is a religious wackaloon.

“Everyone has an opinion or belief as to where absolute truth is and where it comes from, and that’s what I’m telling people where I believe my rock solid foundation is,” Tingelstad says. “I believe that absolute truth exists and that it comes from God.”

And that’s one of his milder statements. I’ve mentioned this guy before, but you all know how it is — judicial elections usually fly under the radar, and most people go into the voting booth with no clue about who these guys are, and they vote for the wrong reasons. In Minnesota, there is a bit of a tendency for candidates with good Scandinavian names to have an edge (Tingelstad doesn’t have an advantage here; his opponent is named Anderson), and there might be a little bit of an anti-incumbent bias this year (Tingelstad is a challenger), so no one knows how it could swing this time around.

It’s simple, though. Don’t vote for crazy Tingelstad; do vote for Anderson.

Unless you really want a deranged theocratic god-babbler on the supreme court, of course.

Summary of the Comer case

Steven Schafersman of Texas Citizens for Science has put up an investigative report on the swift-boating of Christine Comer, the former Texas Education Agency employee who was forced to resign after she recommended a lecture by Barbara Forrest. The creationists have been trying to claim that Comer had a long history of insubordination and misconduct, and that that is why she was fired — none of which is true. Instead, there’s a pattern emerging that when the faction of creationist dentist Don McLeroy took over, there were changes in the administration that look more like harassment to drive out employees who didn’t follow the creationist agenda.

Texans have a tough fight to make down there — keep plugging away!

You all missed a very nice Cafe Scientifique

You never come when I invite you, anyway, but it was still very enlightening. We branched out a bit from nothing but science this time, and Michael Eble, an artist, talked about his connection to Louisiana and recent work on the disappearance of wetlands, in an exhibit titled Endangered Lands. We got to hear* about erosion and the natural and man-made forces that are destroying the Louisiana coastline at a prodigious rate, with Michael’s efforts to capture it in a series of abstract paintings.

*We also got to hear one extraordinarily rude couple’s conversation about their finances — they sat themselves down in the middle of the coffeeshop and ignored our speaker and talked at a volume rivaling his about their distracting pedestrian affairs. It was a remarkable lack of courtesy, and it’s unfortunate that people that obnoxious are always completely oblivious, and don’t feel a scrap of shame.