Ghostbusters ain’t afraid of no Ghostbusters


I saw the new Ghostbusters last night…and it wasn’t bad.

It’s not going to make my list of top ten films of the year or anything, but it was good light entertainment. The story line was familiar, but it’s not as if you can do a lot with the core premise — even the original Ghostbusters sort of exhausted all the potential of the genre. It’s a genre that’s actually sui generis.

The real focus of this movie, and of the original, is the characters. Murray, Akroyd, Ramis, and Hudson were independently and as an ensemble entertaining, and the movie was just an excuse to bring a group of unique comic characters together in a strange situation. This version is exactly the same, and Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon, and Jones pulled it off. The whole point of the movie is to bring four distinct, unique weirdos together and to have them riff off of each other.

What I also liked is that, while the story is familiar, and the whole point of the movie is the title characters, they did it without resorting to simply mimicking the original. You can’t line up Gilbert, Holtzmann, Tolan, and Yates against Stantz, Spengler, Venkman and Zeddmore and make any correspondences. As each of the original four were distinct from each other, the new four are also uniquely unique from each other and the originals.

And that was charming. Derivative as the story was, this one only added to the original by creating a new cast of distinctive individuals…who happened to all be women. Women with personalities? No wonder this movie has received all kinds of weird hatred from the alt right.

I thought he was supposed to be the stable, normal one?

Mike Pence. Establishment politician. There to add a little gravitas — as much as a wingnut Republican can — to the chaos of the Trump ticket. So what’s the calm one saying?

GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence on Thursday predicted that Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion, would be overturned if Donald Trump is elected president.

I’m pro-life and I don’t apologize for it, he said during a town hall meeting here. We’ll see Roe vs. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.

OK, the Republicans were already the lunatic party, do they need to keep re-emphasizing it?

Meanwhile, Jill Stein is making vague anti-vaccination noises.

I think there’s no question that vaccines have been absolutely critical in ridding us of the scourge of many diseases — smallpox, polio, etc. So vaccines are an invaluable medication, Stein said. Like any medication, they also should be — what shall we say? — approved by a regulatory board that people can trust. And I think right now, that is the problem. That people do not trust a Food and Drug Administration, or even the CDC for that matter, where corporate influence and the pharmaceutical industry has a lot of influence.

You know, vaccines aren’t the big money cash crop for the pharmaceutical companies that the anti-vaxxers think — and Stein ought to know that — and accusing the FDA and CDC of being in the pocket of Big Pharma is a rather strong accusation. But then, she sees an opportunity to get out of the tenth of a percent bracket in the coming election, so she is pandering madly to the ignorant lefty vote right now.

Should I mention Gary Johnson, as long as I’m looking at the competition? Nah, not worth it. Libertarian, <hiss> <makes sign of the cross>

On the positive side, Amanda Marcotte makes a good case that Hillary Clinton has a winning strategy.

Donald Trump gave Clinton a huge gift with his ridiculous “I alone” line from his convention speech last week. It allowed her to portray herself as the opposite: A team player, a listener, a coalition-builder, and humble public servant. She literally said of being a public servant that “the service part has always come easier to me than the public part”.

“None of us can do it alone. That’s why we are stronger together,” Clinton added. It was a masterful stroke. By framing the presidency in terms of service and community, Clinton both contrasted her vision with Trump’s narcissistic one and fought back against stereotypes that hold that ambitious women are heartless shrews who don’t care about anyone else.

It’s also a good look next to Pence’s anti-woman stance.

OK, enough politics. My wife is taking me out to see Ghostbusters shortly, obviously because she wants to indoctrinate me in this silly idea that women can do the same things men can do. Like catching ghosts.

Scientist smackdown!

John Benneth is a homeopath, and he wants to explain something to those godless scientists.

Atheists hate homeopathy because [this is going to be good] they worship science[wait for it…], and not knowing the science behind it they thinkthe pharmacy is inert [wait for it…]. They think the solute molecule disappears due to dilution [get ready…], when in fact it is “quantumized,” ionized into plasma by dissociation into the diluent as a perpetuating entangled wave[BOOM! Kook explosion!].

Whew. Was it good for you, too? Quantum plasma entangled argle bargle bibbity boo!

Wait. After the climax, there has to be a little letdown.

Some people just need to shut up about homeopathy until they learn more about it and it’s actual chemistry…

I call that “smugma,” the slime you get from arrogant cranks trying to look down on real scientists.

You’ve been on the edge of your seat, waiting for the question

Ray Comfort’s new “movie”, The Atheist Delusion, is available for download today. It’s another of his ambush interview shows, where he and his handheld camera go to random people on the street, he asks a loaded question of some sort, and then he pretends to have stunned them with some deep insight, aided by selective editing of the video. It’s cheesy and dishonest, and really boring — it’s the same way he’s made his previous schlocky messes.

This time, he’s been promoting it for months with this kind of promise:


ATHEISM DESTROYED WITH ONE SCIENTIFIC QUESTION. Right. Like ol’ Ray would recognize science if it were a miniaturized complex electronic device that he could hold in his hand and then use to edit and upload video images to a larger network of computers accessible to the entire world, or something.

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I’m just going to call him the Amazing Racist from now on

He’s done it again. The Amazing Atheist is very upset that people are calling him a racist because he says racist things, so he’s made a video in which he demands that everyone stop calling him a mean name. His argument for why calling him a racist is unjust is basically that he claims everything he said was true…but then, that’s what every racist says about their arguments.

He claims there are two main reasons people accuse him of racism, and then proceeds to make the same old racist arguments with greater vehemence, like that will persuade. The two things he tries to defend are:

  • He’s pro-gentrification. He argues that it improves neighborhoods, and that is a good thing, which is true. The problem, though, is that it does so in a way that does not benefit the people in those neighborhoods. He even acknowledges that gentrification displaces people: he argues that it makes no difference, they’re living in a “shithole” and they’ll just move to a different “shithole”. Treating black people as a fungible mass is racism. You don’t deny that you’re racist by ignoring systemic effects of historical oppression and acting as if current oppression is no big deal.

  • He claims that black culture is a victim culture, and boy, does he ever hate victim culture. Feminism is also a victim culture, don’t you know. Apparently, victim culture is whenever a group or person that has been targeted for victimization actually speaks up and complains about the problem, says the atheist complaining loudly that he’s being victimized by SJWs.

Martin Hughes notices the irony.

Here’s the point I want to make absolutely clear. I don’t particularly care whether you label The Amazing Atheist a racist or not. What I’d like to say is that when The Amazing Atheist talks about race, he simply does not know what he’s talking about, and a lot of his fan base doesn’t, either. He’s an ignorant asshole.

And either one of those things is fine. I like ignorant people who will admit that they are ignorant, and I can stand assholes who actually have the intelligence and knowledge to logically back up their condescending tone. But the two of them together is as annoying as nails on a chalkboard.

And this combined with the fact that he is a hypocritical crybaby is grating. I can stand crybabies. Just be consistent about it. But the crybabies who go out of their way to label other people victim cults for hurting their feelings…and hypocritically sets up a victim cult of hundreds of thousands that caters to their every sniffle…. I’m sorry. I don’t get that.

I also don’t get that the Amazing Racist has never really said anything compelling or interesting about atheism, but has become popular by raging against feminism and minorities, neither criticisms that are particularly well-supported by atheism (and many of us would argue that they are antithetical to the humanist implications of godlessness), yet he sets himself up as a prominent, representative atheist.

Cancer is old, news at 11

In a mildly interesting discovery, a toe bone from a 1.7 million year old hominin has been found to bear an osteosarcoma. The poor individual would have been suffering with pain when they walked, it might even have killed him (not the toe, but the possibility of metastatic cancer) and it’s suggestive that there might have been some social care for them.


But you know what’s not interesting at all? That cancer has been around for millions of years. That’s old news.

The precise origins of cancer have been a source of debate due, in part, to the scarcity of historical evidence. Possibly the earliest reference to the disease is attributed to the great Egyptian physician Imhotep, who lived around 2600 B.C. In his writings, Imhotep describes an affliction characterized by a “bulging mass in the breast” that was resistant to any known therapies.

Errm, Dogs get cancer. Mice get cancer. Whales get cancer. Reptiles get cancer. Sharks get cancer, despite myths you may have heard. Insects get cancer.

That an old mammal got cancer is not surprising at all. And while the subtitle might claim that the observation “could have important implications for modern medical research”, the article doesn’t say what those implications are. It can’t, because there aren’t any.

I just find myself annoyed that here is a thought-provoking but ultimately anecdotal datum that humanizes our distant ancestors and might have some implications for the history of human social behavior, but it’s getting shoe-horned into the trite and pragmatically false paradigm that it’s a discovery that could lead to the Cure for Cancer. Stop the hype, please.

Could someone tell Bill O’Reilly the first rule of holes?

He’s doubling down on his slavery remarks.


He’s also freaking out with paranoia. He invited a couple of his odious pals — Geraldo Rivera and Eric Bolling — to whine at each other in their very own little safe space (on Fox News!) about how persecuted they are by liberals who want them dead.

I don’t want them dead. I’d be content if they were fired for incompetence and I never heard from them again.

What’s also annoying is that they keep patting O’Reilly on the back and telling him he’s a “historian”. He’s not. He’s a hack who has a ghost-writer churning out conspiracy theory books that he slaps his name on. I like this comment: “History isn’t just a word, it’s a discipline“. O’Reilly isn’t qualified to use it.

If he were a historian, he’d know that Abigail Adams wrote about the slaves building Washington DC.

it is true Republicanism that drive the Slaves half fed, and destitute of clothing…whilst the owner waches about Idle, tho his one Slave is all the property he can boast, Such is the case of many of the inhabitants of this place.

Not much has changed, I guess.

I also rather like this paraphrase of O’Reilly’s claim.

Never forget: they were slaves, with all the deserved horror that word evokes. Americans stole people’s freedom and dignity and used them for profit.

Which is also a nice summary of modern Republicanism.

Resign, Bill.