Damn it! Don’t make me agree with Andrew Brown!


Brown has always been a strident defender of religion, and over the years he’s said a lot of incredibly stupid things. But now I have to partly agree with him on this problematic Cult of Dawkins. This is getting embarrassing.

At the RDF website, there is a fundraising page. Fundraising is fine, organizations do have to do that, and so I don’t chide them for having a necessary function on the web; but I do criticize them for two things. What the money is for, and how they are raising it.

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Today is the last day of classes

I know exactly how these guys feel.

I know exactly how these guys feel.

One lab today, and it’s an easy one. The stack of grading on my desk is less than half an inch thick. I may make it after all.

Also, the new Avengers movie is opening at the theater in town tonight. I should go, since there won’t be any lines while all the students are holed up and studying for finals, right?

Every woman scientist needs a beard


Fiona Ingleby wrote a paper on the difficulties of making the transition from graduate school to post-doctoral position for women. She submitted it for review. A review is kind of an invited comment, you know, so given Lewis’ Law, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at what followed — she got a negative review that actually justified the contents of her paper.

How’s this for 21st century thinking?

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No fair! Jon Rosenberg has the Supreme Court writing his comic scripts!


The Supreme Court is debating the right of same-sex couples to marry, and their arguments are unbelievably primitive. We can’t let gays marry because our grandpa didn’t let gays marry!

The Court’s conservatives fixated upon their belief that same-sex marriages are a very new institution. “Every definition [of marriage] I looked up prior to about a dozen years ago,” Chief Justice John Roberts claimed, limited marriages to opposite-sex couples. Advocates for equality, Roberts continued, are “seeking to change what the institution is.”

Meanwhile, Justice Samuel Alito argued that even “ancient Greece,” a society he perceived as welcoming to same-sex relationships, did not permit same-sex marriage. Justice Antonin Scalia insisted that “for millennia, not a single society” supported marriage equality.

Every injustice of the past must be perpetuated forever and ever, amen.

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All that needs to be said


The people now calling for nonviolence are not prepared to answer these questions. Many of them are charged with enforcing the very policies that led to Gray’s death, and yet they can offer no rational justification for Gray’s death and so they appeal for calm. But there was no official appeal for calm when Gray was being arrested. There was no appeal for calm when Jerriel Lyles was assaulted. (“The blow was so heavy. My eyes swelled up. Blood was dripping down my nose and out my eye.”) There was no claim for nonviolence on behalf of Venus Green. (“Bitch, you ain’t no better than any of the other old black bitches I have locked up.”) There was no plea for peace on behalf of Starr Brown. (“They slammed me down on my face,” Brown added, her voice cracking. “The skin was gone on my face.”)

When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is “correct” or “wise,” any more than a forest fire can be “correct” or “wise.” Wisdom isn’t the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the community.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Creepy ol’ Colin McGinn in the news again


Remember the Colin McGinn case? Famous philosophy professor at the University of Miami behaving extraordinarily badly? There’s a very good, very thorough review of the story online — the only problem with it is the bad editor who slapped a really stupid title on it: Is it ok for a UM professor to burden a student with sexual advances? I’m pretty sure the answer to that one is NO.

The story describes an awful situation in which a woman was sexually harassed by a man in a position of power, and the end result was that her career was wrecked, and he resigned from the university…but he continues to natter on smugly, publishing books, and retaining the support of other famous philosophers. The University of Miami does not emerge smelling of roses, either.

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