What am I doing today?

Brain melting. Remember that call for applicants for a tenure track job? We’re screening all those applicants now, and meeting tomorrow to consider who to invite to the first round of preliminary phone interviews. If you haven’t got your application in, you’re late! You’re going to hope everyone else sucks badly if you’re still trying to get something filed here.

All it means to me right now though is more squinty staring at lots and lots of essays and CVs and recommendations. I may be entering a data coma soon.

Evolution is not enough

Really, it isn’t enough to simply “believe” in evolution: it’s more important to understand it and more deeply, to have an intellectual commitment to reason. There’s a beautiful example of this principle in Iowa right now.

Iowa allowed gay marriage in the state a while back, and good for them…only now there’s a bit of pushback and the offended conservatives are lashing out at the judges responsible. Look at this fallacious reasoning from one opponent of gay marriage.

Randy Crawford of Iowa City said he intends to vote for the removal of the justices because he is concerned about the judiciary overstepping its reach and also about the propensity of homosexuals within his community.

“My primary reason for being here is because I believe the Supreme Court should not be legislating from the bench. But I also believe that homosexuality is bad thing,” he said. “It used to be useful when we were cavemen and we needed people to guard the caves full of women and children. If I’m a guy out hunting, I want to leave someone back at the cave tending to my wife and kids, and I don’t want a normal guy having that kind of access to my wife and kids. So, in our evolution, you can see that there use to be a utility for homosexuality, but that was when we were cavemen and we aren’t cavemen anymore. So, homosexuality is obsolete.”

That is an awesome just-so story. It’s also complete nonsense. So, were gay guys incapable of hunting? Were paleolithic women so incapable that they had to have a man, even a gay man, hanging about to take care of them? What exactly were the gay cavemen doing back in the cave with the women? Who’s tending to the modern women, replacing the gay cavemen and making them redundant?

I can invent my own just-so stories, too, and I couldn’t help but imagine life 20,000 years ago with Caveman Randy and Caveman PZ.

Caveman Randy: Ugh. We go kill mammoth with spears.

Caveman PZ: Alas, yes. More strenuous exercise and battling dangerous wild animals. I wish we’d get around to developing universities so I could live a lifestyle more suitable to my delicate frame.

Caveman Randy: You talk funny. Don’t know if me like you behind me. Grab spear, hunt like man. We go now.

Caveman PZ: Of course, because penetrating great beasts with long pointy objects is the epitome of masculinity, and you and I are so much alike, you macho hunk of raging overcompensation.

Caveman Randy: You…like…men? You mock great hunt?

Caveman PZ: I might like men better if they bathed now and then, and could actually carry a conversation more substantial than sporadic grunts. And I can think of much more pleasant ways to spend my time then sweatily plodding over the tundra looking for meat on the hoof.

Caveman Randy: Me get you now, ho ho. You one of those cavemen. <cunning look flits over his face> Me have idea. You stay here. Guard cave. Keep cavewoman out of trouble.

Caveman PZ: You mean that cave over there? The one full of nubile half-naked women who haven’t discovered underwear yet, and who are going to be bored out of their minds while you fellows are off guzzling fermented yak milk and throwing sticks at ugly great beasties for a few days?

Caveman Randy: Yeah. You make hair pretty or something. Me take Cavemen Geraldo instead — him more buff than you, knows how to handle a spear, not stereotypical effete fop like you — you safe with women.

Caveman PZ: I certainly am! You and Caveman Geraldo go have fun thrusting your spears, and I’ll keep the cave cozy and contented.

And the tribe hummed along happily, and its numbers increased, and everyone was happy.

NERRRRDS!

Of all the disciplines to use for science-based pick-up lines, why would you pick chemistry?

This is one of the many virtues of biology: an authoritative knowledge of anatomy and physiology is much more persuasive.

A tricky poll about chaplains

Some people in Australia are unhappy about the government paying to keep a useless mob of chaplains in the public schools — it’s basically a sinecure to prop up the finances of way too many religious parasites. Anyway, there’s a poll associated with the article.

Is there a place for chaplains in state schools?

Yes
42%

No
57%

It’s a confusing question. Don’t Australian schools have rubbish bins and toilets? Those are “places”, after all.

CSE: Not crazy enough for Joshua Joscelyn

Joshua Joscelyn is a fellow who, once upon a time, worked within Kent Hovind’s creation science ministry. No more, though; he has just posted his resignation letter on facebook. Has he finally seen the light of science? Has he at last seen through the fact that Kent Hovind was a deluded and not-very-bright con artist? No, of course not. He’s still a true believer.

I first came to work with CSE in mid 2007 as a park guide at Dinosaur Adventure Land, swiftly moving into my roles as head of publications and the apologetics departments as well as producer for the popular series, Creation in Common Sense. This was shortly after Dr. Kent Hovind, a personal hero of mine from the time I was a child, had been unjustly sentenced to a despicable sentence of ten years by a kangaroo court at the hands of an evil woman who pretended to be a judge of the law. I managed Dr. Hovind’s blog through those years, and communicated frequently with him. He is a Godly man. But from the time I had begun there, I had noticed a subtle attitude of disagreement with and even scorn for many of Dr. Kent Hovind’s beliefs and methods for managing the ministry.

Hovind’s trial was an open and shut case; he hadn’t been paying taxes, was paying all of his employees cash under the table, and Hovind himself tried to defend his actions by accusing the court of “subornation of false muster”, insisting that the IRS had no jurisdiction in a case of tax fraud.

But apparently loony Joshua thought all that stuff was just great. He’s very unhappy with the new Creation Science Evangelism because they have bowed down to Mammon and done things like reincorporate as “God Quest, Inc.”, and actually tried to obey the law.

I stood by and curiously watched as God Quest, Inc. signed my checks and withheld federal income tax as well as social security, etc. I grieved when I had to assist in overseeing the gutting process whereby the Seminar Series and College Series were stripped of so much that was deemed “controversial” or “irrelevant.” The idea was to remove all content that might seem radical or offensive. His father’s longstanding policy to never ask for money (since God always provided anyway) was overturned, and marketing and fundraising became more and more commonplace.

CSE is impure. They no longer insist on the absolute literal truth of the King James Version of the Bible over all others (all others are “false and corrupt”), they pay taxes, they allow Calvinists to appear on their programs, they didn’t pay Joshua enough for his work, and they aren’t sufficiently dedicated to the cause, favoring money over all.

It’s a bizarre and fascinating rant. Kent Hovind was a fast-talking yokel, a racist moron with a fake degree and a head full of lies, yet he was somehow persuasive to a lot of really stupid people…and still is, actually, with his videos still being distributed and watched. I’d seen him perform live, and didn’t get it: he’s an odd speaker with some strange affectations who raced through a hodge-podge of slides at a ridiculously rapid rate, so fast that he’d never dwell on a point for more than 10 or 20 seconds, and his one skill was the ability to babble with unthinking confidence.

He didn’t so much pass information to his audience as stand at the front of the room and yell “I’m right, I’m right, I’m right” so fast that no one could get a word in edgewise. It worked, I guess; some people are still under his spell. It’s weird, because if anything, he radiated anti-charisma — it was as if someone gave the village idiot a few pounds of crystal meth and put him on stage. It says something about a person when they regard that as noble and heroic.

Arkansans…are you aware of the shame brought on your state?

These are the words of Clint McCance, a school board member in the Midland school district of Arkansas. He was a little bit annoyed that people in his school were wearing purple in remembrance of students who had been bullied into suicide.

Being a fag doesn’t give you the right to ruin the rest of our lives. If you get easily offended by being called a fag then don’t tell anyone you are a fag. Keep that shit to yourself. It pisses me off though that we make a special purple fag day for them. I like that fags cant procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other aids and die.

Huh. This is the kind of person Arkansans elect to run their schools? And he hasn’t been tossed off the board yet? How…interesting.

There’s a facebook page calling for his firing as well as an online petition. If you want to get more personal (but polite!), it’s easy to find the contact information for the school district. They already have a disclaimer on their web page, but I don’t think that’s a sufficient response to such flaming bigotry.