What rude beast…

We have been fostering a cat for Stevens Community Humane Society for a while, and my wife finally insisted that we adopt the beast. A black cat. And we signed the papers on Halloween. This is an ill omen.

And then I tried to take her picture tonight, but she didn’t want to hold still, and it was dark, and I had to use the flash, and she tried to zap me with her death ray eyes.

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I guess if enough whisper, it gets loud enough to hear

The Toronto Star has interviews with eight women who were abused in various ways by Jian Ghomeshi, and here’s a personal story about the conspiracy of silence. Almost everyone knew about Jian, almost everyone whispered warnings about Jian, but no one would stand up and shout about Jian, so Jian thrived.

That’s depressing, the way it always works.

We all hate the ads

Ed Brayton summarizes the problem with our ugly horrible intrusive ads. We all want them fixed; the catch is that we don’t manage the ads, a much bigger company does it for us, and they haven’t been very effective at policing the stuff. They have just one job…

Anyway, Top Men are working on it, we’re doing what we can to slap down the worst excesses. As Ed says,

In the meantime, please do keep sending those tech help emails. When you do, give us as much information as you can — your OS, browser and version, the company the ad is for, a screenshot of it, anything you can. It’s important that I know this stuff so I can fix it. And even if we don’t reply to each of you that sends one, please know that I’m taking it seriously and working with Patheos to address the problems. And thank you for your patience and understanding.

Also, here’s the link for reporting problems.

Death threats are bad, but

Andrew Sullivan commits a classic rhetorical error.

So let me make a few limited points. The tactics of harassment, threats of violence, foul misogyny, and stalking have absolutely no legitimate place in any discourse. Having read about what has happened to several women, who have merely dared to exercise their First Amendment rights, I can only say it’s been one of those rare stories that still has the capacity to shock me. I know it isn’t fair to tarnish an entire tendency with this kind of extremism, but the fact that this tactic seemed to be the first thing that some gamergate advocates deployed should send off some red flashing lights as to the culture it is defending.

All well and good, but…there’s a “but” coming. It doesn’t really need to be a “but”. And unfortunately, Sullivan throws out a real stinker of a “but”.

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Creationist debacle at Michigan State

It’s yet another creationist conference in which the imminent demise of evolutionary theory will be declared this weekend, and it’s being held on a university campus, which is always jarring. The university is said to be “uneasy” about it all.

The 1 November event, called the Origin Summit, is sponsored by Creation Summit, an Oklahoma-based nonprofit Christian group that believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible and was founded to “challenge evolution and all such theories predicated on chance.” The 1-day conference will include eight workshops, according the event’s website, including discussion of how evolutionary theory influenced Adolf Hitler’s worldview, why “the big bang is fake,” and why “natural selection is NOT evolution.” Another talk targets the work of MSU biologist Richard Lenski, who has conducted an influential, decades-long study of evolution in bacterial populations.

News of the event caught MSU’s scientific community largely by surprise. Creation Summit secured a room at the university’s business school through a student religious group, but the student group did not learn about the details of the program—or the sometimes provocative talk titles—until later, says MSU zoologist Fred Dyer. The talk titles led Dyer to suspect that the student group was not involved in planning the conference, he says, prompting him to look into its origins.

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