Cthulhumas came early

Oh, look what came in the mail for me today!

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Kat Payne made this for me (thank you very much!), and I know, I’ll be the envy of everyone in town as I stroll down the street with this stylish new look. Unfortunately, I think I’ll have to wait until winter to wear it regularly — it’s very, very warm — but then…fear me!

I’ll be in Tempe, Arizona this weekend

I’ve been invited to the 68th Annual Conference of the American Humanist Association, along with Barbara Forrest and Neil deGrasse Tyson and a few other luminaries whose presence make me feel overweening, so we’re flying off on Thursday. Now often on these trips, I try to make some time for some informal get together at some point, but this one has a very busy schedule, and I’m not sure when I’m going to be able to escape. About the only time it looks like I’ll be able to get away, assuming the plane isn’t late, is Thursday evening after we arrive.

So here’s the deal: I’m planning to show up at an Irish pub near the hotel, Rúla Búla, around 8ish Thursday evening. This location was suggested by John Lynch (note new digs), of course, so who can turn down an Irish pub recommended by an Irishman? I’m also hoping to drag along the Trophy Wife and the Trophy Daughter, who is coincidentally working in an Arizona lab this summer, so if nobody else can show up, I’ll at least have family and Guinness to keep me company.

Otherwise, maybe I’ll see you at the meetings!

If George Tiller doesn’t matter to you, does god?

A few years ago, the creationist organization Answers in Genesis launched an ill-conceived ad campaign that featured kids with guns; the message was “If God doesn’t matter to him, do you?”. They were trying to hop onto the fear bandwagon, so popular among conservatives now, of trying to convince people that you must support their aims, or some Other will kill you.

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That sign and the whole aborted ad campaign (it died away fairly quickly after AiG started it) has everything backwards. We start with the recognition of and respect for the right of every person to live, and then…it doesn’t matter whether you believe in gods or not. There are Christians and atheists who are sincerely appalled at the murder of anyone, whether they share the same political views or not, and there are hateful, callous enablers of death who cross all religious lines. And yes, I’ve noticed some presumed atheists ranting about “justifiable homicide” and murdering anti-abortionist families in the comments here, and I deplore it. The only reason I am not deleting those vile comments right and left is that I think they are useful warnings: do not become the monsters you despise.

There’s another place where you can find people arguing for “justifiable homicide”. It’s what Scott Roeder, the killer of George Tiller, believed in. He’s a so-called “Christian Patriot” — a double scoundrel, in other words — who has a history of fringe beliefs, a criminal record of association with violent anti-government groups, and a paper trail in which he wraps himself in religious sanctimony and advocates death for abortionists.

In many ways, though, his religiosity is going to be a distraction. It simply doesn’t matter, and the strongest conclusion we can draw from it is that religion fails to provide a reasonable framework for morality, since it is so easily and regularly subverted to rationalize evil. Focus instead on the root of the problem: Roeder was an amoral, obsessed nut who found support for his delusions among a particularly ugly American subculture. Gods don’t matter. And when you think gods do, you lose sight of the truth: other people matter.

Crash into June with a poll crash!

Look at this mess of a poll. And it’s even associated with an article that plainly says, “Medical authorities have answered that question firmly in the negative” as the very first sentence!

Do vaccines cause autism?

Absolutely. They caused my child’s autism.
13%

Probably. I’ve seen evidence that suggests a link.
25%

Possibly. I am weighing the evidence.
34%

Probably not. Most of the evidence suggests there’s no link.
15%

Absolutely not. There’s no link between vaccines and autism
11%