A lesson in dealing with missionary zeal

The New Zealand department of conservation maintains a network of huts in the backcountry — these are little shelters with a radio for emergency calls and a mattress so hikers can wait out a spell of bad weather. It’s all very sensible. Until the evangelicals discovered them. Now there’s a missionary campaign to put a bible in every one of them, too, since, as the founder of this plan says, “I realised then this was a captive audience.”

I think I’m going to have to move to New Zealand now. The response by hikers to this effort is classic pragmatism. They think it is a fine idea.

“Given the option of a ropey old Reader’s Digest I would rather use a page from a Bible to start a fire.”

Notice how polite he was to avoid mentioning the other use in which the tissue-thin pages of the bible are superior to the thick glossy sheets of Reader’s Digest.

Experiment over for now

Since an annoying security hole in Typekey was exposed here, I’ve reenabled anonymous commenting. I still want to tinker with this, so later I may try requiring OpenID registration…but I’ve irritated everyone enough for one weekend, so I’ll try that some other day.


I have safely arrived here in Calgary, and here are the plans for Sunday:

At 10:30, we’ll be having brunch at the Best Western Village Park Inn.

At 2:00, I’ll be speaking at the University of Calgary.

At 6:00, come around to the Kilkenny Irish Pub. There are possibilities of haggis.

Sound good? Sounds busy! See you tomorrow!

The great comment registration experiment is still in progress. I will switch it off on Wednesday to allow everyone to weigh in with their opinion. There are a few things I can experiment with on my end, too — we’re supposed to somehow be able to use OpenID instead of Typekey, for instance. Bear with it for a little longer, though.

Cute, but grossly inaccurate


Oh, man, this gets so much wrong. Sentient life did not evolve 600 million years ago; that was roughly the time that true multicellularity arose. Unless you consider something spongelike to be sentient, it doesn’t work.

Intelligent life did not first evolve 2.5 million years ago. Animal intelligence is something that has to be measured on a continuum. Molluscs are intelligent. It’s just not the same kind or degree of intelligence that tool-using humans have.

Intelligent life hasn’t evolved in Texas yet.

Not surprising at all

Ted Haggard is in the news again — it seems he has been involved in long term homosexual relationships, and has been abusing his power for sexual favors. Raise your hands if you would never have expected it!

Hey, how come none of you lifted your fingers from your keyboard?

Here’s his latest excuse, and it’s actually a good one.

In an AP interview this month before an appearance in front of TV critics in California, Haggard described his sexuality as complex and something that can’t be put into “stereotypical boxes.”

Yes! Now if only he could understand that everyone’s sexuality is complicated and difficult and personal, and that the real problem is people like him and his fellow evangelicals who insist that there is only one tolerable, one-size-fits-all box for us all.

On the road to Calgary

This is a long traveling weekend for me — I’m on my way to Calgary/Edmonton for a lecture and a debate. That means my internet access may be a little spotty, and I’m a little concerned about some of the trends in the comments, so I’m laying down a few rules.

  • There are too many trolls. I’m shutting off anonymous commenting for at least a little while — it won’t make them go away, but it will make it much easier for me to clean up their stinky little droppings afterwards. If it suddenly makes it impossible for you regulars to comment, let me know by email.

    I may turn anonymous commenting back on when I get back, or I may leave it in place. Consider this an experiment. Aw, heck…I’ll definitely restore it for at least a few days when I’m back so everyone can discuss whether they hate it or not.

  • Another of those interminable back-and-forth threads where people insult others with slang terms for female genitalia, and others point out that that is demeaning to women, has begun again. I hate those. I am not about to start policing language here (I hate that, too), but I will point out that if you think it’s disparagement to compare someone to any of the delightful features found in the sublime wonderland of a lady’s garden of Venus, you are a sloppy anus with a faulty sphincter and a putrefying colon. So there. You can go ahead and use any slang terms for genitals that you desire, but henceforth they will all be regarded as expressions of endearment, love, and lust.

    I’ve noticed that we’ve got quite a few readers here who feel a passionate desire for Ann Coulter. She should be flattered. You should be embarrassed that you are communicating your true feelings so poorly.

  • Comments are getting a little too gratuitously snarly. I’m not going to censor your general cussedness, but think a bit — spitting out a swear word doesn’t make you witty. At least make an effort to be creatively profane. I have high expectations for commenters here: you can be rude, I even encourage it, but force yourself to use your brain to a higher degree than is demanded by knee-jerk strings of expletives. Remember, I do have a rule about boring me.

Called out by a clown

Awww, I’ve been challenged by Ray Comfort. It’s hard to take the little man too seriously, though: last time we were supposed to debate on the radio, it ended up with a change of plans, and he instead weebled absurdly without me. At this point, though, his only challenge to me seems to be to explain this post more carefully to him, and I really don’t feel much incentive to use even littler words to go over the same old ground that atheists are smart enough to grasp.

The comments over there seem to answer most of his complaints already, anyway. Is there anybody who agrees with Comfort who reads his blog?