It’s always the coverup

I don’t even know what to think anymore. It turns out there were several harassment incidents at TAM, which were all sort of dealt with (although why the notorious guy with the camera on a pole that he was using for upskirt photos was allowed to come back at all is a mystery), but I’m more and more getting the impression that the way the JREF was handling this stuff was to close their eyes real hard and pretend they didn’t happen.

Oh, well. They’ll get it all straightened around by next year, right?

(I have to add: I don’t think TAM is particularly rife with harassment, and I suspect they’re actually better than most conferences. But I want them to be much better than the culture as a whole, and the first step is acknowledging a problem, not letting it fester and then blaming anyone who tries to mention it.)

Oh. So that’s the truck full of stupid that hit Joycelyn Elders

What is it with these prudish, stupid Americans? They want T&A on their TVs, they want crude humor and nekkidness in their movies, and they rent porn to watch when the kids are staying at grandma’s place, but just the thought of sex education makes them freak out.

The latest hysteria: a teacher in Washington state explained how STDs can be transmitted orally and anally.

According to KCPQ, the principal of Onalaska Elementary School was talking to 11- and 12-year-old students about HIV and sexually transmitted diseases when she was asked about oral and anal sex.

The principal’s answer allegedly included verbal descriptions of those sex acts.

Parent Jean Pannkuk recalled to Fox News Radio what her daughter said she was taught: “You take a man’s penis and you put it in your mouth – that’s what the girls do to the boys. … The boys spread the girls legs apart and put their mouths down on the vaginas.”

“Basically, how I feel and others that I’ve talked to, it’s just the same as raping somebody, but you’re raping their innocence instead of their physical being,” parent James Gilliand explained to KCPQ. “When you hit those levels and the sexual acts, you might as well hand them a Kama Sutra book or something, you know?”

“Just the same as raping somebody”…yeah, James, you’re an amoral asshole. Probably a Christian, too, but I wouldn’t want to get too insulting.

And sure, what’s wrong with handing them the Kama Sutra? Well, it’s a little bit opaque and full of euphemisms, and you’d have to define “yoni” and “lingam” for them…how about just giving them a copy of The Joy of Sex instead? We should have absolutely no problem explaining to children how sex works — why are these slackwitted freaks getting so upset over a dry, mechanical description of how oral sex works, especially when it’s in the context of explaining how scary sexual diseases are transmitted?

They all look alike, don’t they?

The Republican National Committee is reaching out to the Latino community with a new website,, which is nice. Unfortunately, they put a splash of color on the page with a picture of happy smiling kids — a stock photo of a group of…Asian kids.

Well, you know, they’re slightly less pale than the Good Ol’ Party, so it’s close enough, right?

I may have to give up calamari

Just the title was enough to make me squeamish: Penetration of the Oral Mucosa by Parasite-Like Sperm Bags of Squid: A Case Report in a Korean Woman. It seems the woman thought she was getting dinner; the squid saw a last chance to reproduce. As is common with these kinds of misunderstandings, neither got what they wanted.

We report a case of oral stings by spermatophores of the squid Todarodes pacificus. A 63-yr-old Korean woman experienced severe pain in her oral cavity immediately after eating a portion of parboiled squid along with its internal organs. She did not swallow the portion, but spat it out immediately. She complained of a pricking and foreign-body sensation in the oral cavity. Twelve small, white spindle-shaped, bug-like organisms stuck in the mucous membrane of the tongue, cheek, and gingiva were completely removed, along with the affected mucosa. On the basis of their morphology and the presence of the sperm bag, the foreign bodies were identified as squid spermatophores.

Has this story been optioned for a horror movie yet?

By the way, Todarodes pacificus is the Japanese Flying Squid — now with the reputation of being vicious airborne inseminators.

Park GM, Kim JY, Kim JH, Huh JK (2012) Penetration of the oral mucosa by parasite-like sperm bags of squid: a case report in a Korean woman. J Parasitol.98(1):222-3.

Sounds familiar

Damned social networking sites! They’ve been destroying people’s lives since the 17th century, when the hot app was called “Coffeehouse” rather than “Facebook”.

Enthusiasm for coffeehouses was not universal, however, and some observers regarded them as a worrying development. They grumbled that Christians had taken to a Muslim drink instead of traditional English beer, and fretted that the livelihoods of tavern-keepers might be threatened. But most of all they lamented that coffeehouses were distracting people who ought to be doing useful work, rather than networking and sharing trivia with their acquaintances.

When coffee became popular in Oxford and the coffeehouses selling it began to multiply, the university authorities objected, fearing that coffeehouses were promoting idleness and diverting students from their studies. Anthony Wood, an Oxford antiquarian, was among those who denounced the enthusiasm for the new drink. “Why doth solid and serious learning decline, and few or none follow it now in the university?” he asked. “Answer: Because of coffee-houses, where they spend all their time.”

And look! Muslims were wrecking Christiandom even then! And don’t get me started on those students, screwing around in idle chitchat all the time…

The Dawkins Challenge…doesn’t even get out of the starting gate

Are there any good Christian writers who write about Christianity? I’m always astounded at what a confusing mess they generate when they try to explain their faith.

Case in point: some theologian named William Carroll has issued something he calls The Dawkins Challenge. I read halfway through it before I could puzzle out what it was about. He’s annoyed that Richard Dawkins (along with many other atheists I could name) has knocked the doctrine of transubstantiation.

Dawkins opined both in Australia and previously at the Reason Rally in Washington, D.C. that people should be encouraged to confront Roman Catholics about transubstantiation. Do they really hold the “utterly nutty belief that a wafer turns into the body of a first-century Jew just because a priest blessed it?” Such a view is “barking mad.”

He goes on and on about Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, and I thought he was going to get around to issuing some challenge to them…but no, it’s completely different. He’s challenging Catholics to defend themselves against charges that their beliefs are silly. Fair enough, and a good idea; please do. I’d love to hear your sensible, rational defense of transubstantiation. Go ahead, be bold and open in your beliefs and explain them!

So this is what we get from William Carroll.

The body of Christ, present in the sacrament of the Eucharist, although real (neither symbolic nor metaphorical), is vastly different from the ordinary bodies subject to empirical analysis. It is sacramental presence and theology, aided by philosophy, that help to make intelligible what is believed.


Well, I guess you showed Richard Dawkins…that he’s completely right and that your beliefs are “utterly nutty” and “barking mad”.

I think Carroll recognizes that his explanation is pretty damned stupid, because he wraps it up in excuses, claiming that the conclusions of physics are also hard to comprehend and often defy common sense. But what he really doesn’t understand is that those conclusions are a consequence of mathematical reasoning and actual experimental observations — they aren’t just made up, but are derived from the real, natural world, and can be evaluated objectively no matter what your religious upbringing. The accreted natterings of Catholic apologists have no such virtues.

You can’t say something is “real”, and then claim it exhibits none of the properties of any other real objects, and can’t ever be examined or analyzed empirically. That’s pretty much a good definition of “not real”.

Don’t diss gods in Indonesia

Atheist Alliance International is condemning the jail sentence for Alexander Aan. Aan is the Indonesian man who wrote “god does not exist” on a facebook page, and has now been sentenced to 2½ years in prison for blasphemy. I’m mentally adding up the number of years I’d get for Pharyngula…I’m just relieved I’m not posting from Indonesia.

The whole ruling is confused and inconsistent, but that’s what religion does to you. Here’s an interview with a newspaper editor that’s also confusing: he can’t come out and say that there’s a problem with this decision, and I can’t tell whether it’s because he agrees with it or he’s afraid to say. The comment about the problem being that they are extending tolerance to intolerant groups (the Muslims) suggests that maybe he is seeing the problem, but is being cautious in expressing it.

The Indonesian constitution mandates freedom of religion, but requires everyone to have a religion. Right. They have a little discussion about Indonesia’s reputation as a tolerant place…I’m sorry, I don’t see it. If they ever had such a reputation, it’s gone now.