There must be a word for making a fool of yourself to get attention

It should also start with a “K”. You may have heard that James Damore is continuing to discredit himself further with some weird musings on Twitter.

Here are some internal title names for the Klan. Still cool?

Klabee
Kladd
Klaliff
Klarogo
Klazik
Kleagle
Klexter
Kligrapp
Klokan
Klokard
Klonsul
Kludd

You can call yourself whatever you want. But let’s not forget that the KKK is all about terror, bigotry, and murder, and all the cool names in the world won’t change that.

Damore also has an explanation for why people join the KKK. It’s not racism. It’s not even ‘economic insecurity’. It’s because they want to be called a Klokard.

Jebus. The question is no longer about why Damore was fired from Google, it’s how did he get the job there in the first place?

Also, is he aware that there are pages and pages and pages on the web that are all about how stupid some of the names and creatures in D&D are?

I still don’t have a good word for Damore, so I’m going to have to invent one. Klaggart. Or maybe Klook.

Let There Be Ignorance!

After playing an unbelievably bad atheist philosophy professor in God’s Not Dead, Kevin Sorbo is going to stretch his range by playing an unbelievably bad atheist doctor of medicine in Let There Be Light. Watch the trailer and be in awe of Jerkules’ acting chops!

Can you spot the Christian tropes in the plot summary?

After suffering the traumatic loss of his youngest son to cancer, Dr. Sol Harkens (Kevin Sorbo) loses faith and heads down a path of darkness. Distancing himself from his ex-wife Katy (Sam Sorbo) and their two remaining sons, Sol turns to alcohol to numb his pain. Soon his bad habits catch up to him, and Sol is involved in a serious car accident that leaves him dead for four minutes before he is resuscitated. What Sol experiences during this time changes his outlook on life and brings him closer to his family and faith.

I see…

  • Atheists are angry at the gods because of some trauma.

  • Leaving the gods sends you down a path of darkness.

  • You’ll lose all your friends and family if you don’t follow the gods.

  • When you’re near death, boy will you regret not believing in the gods.

  • Dreams and the confabulations of the unconscious mind are objective evidence of the existence of the gods.

Poor Kevin seems to be making a career of playing a caricature of an atheist, poorly, who then undergoes a miraculous conversion, unconvincingly. The most persuasive part of the trailer for me is when Sorbo accepts Christ into his life after suffering a traumatic brain injury, and as a reward, Satan (played by Sean Hannity) shows up to offer him a chance to appear on Fox News. Nope, I’m convinced. No way will I ever drink the Christian Kool-Aid.

Can someone explain this to me?

Peter Boghossian blurted this out tonight.


There are no right angles in nature, yet no one says right angles are *social* constructs because they’re not morally motivated to do so.

There are right angles in nature. We also have social constructs built around ideas about right angles — look, Boghossian just made one, stating an idea about right angles and the nature of our interactions with them. I am baffled and have many questions.

  • Is he drunk-tweeting?

  • Does he have some point that he is trying to make, poorly and insipidly?

  • Is he so annoyed that humans are social animals who build mental models of how the world works,
    and that the map is not the terrain, that he is lashing out in defense of some kind of Platonic absolute?

  • Is he a very bad philosopher?

  • Is he not very bright?

A lot of the people I follow are currently rather flabbergasted at this flaming nonsense.

So, you’ve heard that the world is supposed to end on 23 September

It isn’t, of course, but if you’re curious about how someone could come to such a bizarre conclusion, let me lead you through it.

It starts with a Bible verse, Revelation 12.

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.”[a] And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

See? War in heaven, Satan cast down to earth. But why 23 September 2017? The Bible doesn’t say that! We have to go to another source: astrology.

The Bible has a few things to say about astrology, but don’t let that interfere with your bibliolatry!

All the counsel you have received has only worn you out. Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the flame… Each of them goes on in his error; there is not one that can save you.

But you need astrology to explain all those strange references to a pregnant woman with stars on her head, a dragon, and signs in heaven. According to some, these are references to constellations (‘ware that link — it’s a manic YouTube video by a loon babbling a mile a minute). The woman is Virgo; the moon is at her feet on that date; the constellation Leo with 9 stars is above her head; Jupiter is passing through her belly, so she’s giving birth to Jupiter. The International Space Station is also passing by, which is supposedly significant, but I couldn’t bear to listen to the video any more to figure out why.

Then there’s numerology.

The September rapture date came from a Christian researcher named David Meade who calculated it would occur 33 days after last month’s eclipse, The Washington Post reported.

Jesus lived for 33 years. The name Elohim, which is the name of God to the Jews, was mentioned 33 times [in the Bible], Meade told the newspaper. It’s a very biblically significant, numerologically significant number. I’m talking astronomy. I’m talking the Bible … and merging the two.

Another factor is Nibiru. Nibiru is a wandering planet in our solar system that the aliens of Zeta Reticuli explained to a human alien contactee through the implant they put in her head. It’s also based on the ravings of ancient astronaut fanatic, Zacharia Sitchin. Anyway, they’re saying Nibiru is going to smack into the earth in a couple of days.

So now you know why people think the world will end on Saturday. The evidence is a series of stretched metaphors from the trippiest chapter of the Bible; astrological alignments; the ravings of a saucer kook; a story from an ancient aliens conspiracy theorist; and numerology. I think you are capable of evaluating the claim from the quality of the evidence, so I’ll leave you to decide whether you need to start preparing for doomsday.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but…this is a conspiracy

Patrik Hermannson is a young Swedish man who went undercover to explore the American alt-right movement. He works with a group called Hope Not Hate, and they’re working on a movie, My Year in Kekistan.

It doesn’t sound like he had a good time. I also hope he’s now taking precautions — he was dealing with dangerous, horrible people, and they’re not going to be happy about being exposed. He’s got video of these people saying vile things and revealing their true plans. And now they’re getting written up in the New York Times.

Mr. Hermansson and Mr. Jorjani met at an Irish pub near the Empire State Building, where the baby-faced Mr. Jorjani imagined a near future in which, thanks to liberal complacency over the migration crisis, Europe re-embraces fascism: “We will have a Europe, in 2050, where the bank notes have Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander the Great. And Hitler will be seen like that: like Napoleon, like Alexander, not like some weird monster who is unique in his own category — no, he is just going to be seen as a great European leader.”

More shockingly, Mr. Jorjani bragged about his contacts in the American government. “We had connections in the Trump administration — we were going to do things!” he said at one point. “I had contacts with the Trump administration,” he said at another.

His connections, fortunately, seem to have been indirect and tangential, but it does reveal the grandiose delusions of importance these people have. Another guy he met with was always wearing a Hitler Youth-style outfit. They are backwards-looking dipshits, but don’t underestimate them.

This Jorjani fellow, though…I’d recently run across that name in the Chronicle of Higher Ed as the subject of criticism.

We especially write in response to news reports that have identified Iranian-American Jason Reza Jorjani, who received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Stony Brook University, as one of the co-founders of the white nationalist website altright.com and a member of its board of directors. It is clear to us that Jorjani uses his training in higher education to promote a controversial cultural and historical platform that connects Iranianness with Aryanness. Unfortunately, Jorjani’s position has a long-standing grip in our communities. This belief is animated by claims made by 19th century philologists about linguistic affiliations between Persian and European languages, as well as the narratives of the Avesta and the Gathas, which describe Aryans as a group of ethnically distinct people settling in the Iranian plateau.

Speaking of delusional…I don’t think an Iranian is going to be very popular among American hate groups. He can protest all he wants about 19th century philosophers classifying his people, as well as the Indians of South Asia, as belonging to the fictitious category of the “Aryans”, but these haters aren’t sophisticated enough to make that distinction. Brown and foreign is all they’re going to see.

So how are they going to get Adolf’s picture on our currency? Simple. Undermine people’s trust in the system, and radicalize the youth. Promote people who lean their way. Shuffle the gullible off farther and farther to the right (yeah, if you’re on /pol or r/theDonald, are flaunting Pepe memes and think torch-lit marches with white nationalists are cool, you’re just a gullible fool, a sheep following a goat).

The extreme alt-right are benefiting immensely from the energy being produced by a more moderate — but still far-right — faction known as the “alt-light.”

The alt-light promotes a slightly softer set of messages. Its figures — such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson and Mike Cernovich — generally frame their work as part of an effort to defend “the West” or “Western culture” against supposed left-liberal dominance, rather than making explicitly racist appeals. Many of them, in fact, have renounced explicit racism and anti-Semitism, though they will creep up to the line of explicitly racist speech, especially when Islam and immigration are concerned.

This apparent moderation partly explains why they tend to have much bigger online audiences than even the most important alt-right figures — and why Hope Not Hate describes them as “less extreme, more dangerous.” Alt-light sites like Breitbart, formerly home to Mr. Yiannopoulos, as well as Prison Planet, where Mr. Watson is editor at large, draw millions of readers and are key nodes in a hyperkinetic network that is endlessly broadcasting viral-friendly far-right news, rumors and incitement.

Wait. Yiannopoulos and Watson and Cernovich are light messengers of fascism? They always sound insanely regressive and rotten to me. Intellectual light-weights, maybe, but they spread a terribly vile message. Shying away from using the N-word while still advocating for oppression, deportation, and exploitation isn’t much of a softening.

If we accept this hypothesis of media being used to gradually radicalize people (which I do), it’s unfortunate that there isn’t more mention of YouTube. There’s a bit, but in my experience, YouTube has been an important potentiator of alt-right lies and arrogance.

This goal of mainstreaming is an abiding fixation of the far right, whose members are well aware of the problems their movement has had with attracting young people in recent decades. At one point in Mr. Hermansson’s footage, Colin Robertson, a far-right YouTube personality who goes by the name Millennial Woes, explained to an older extremist the importance of putting forward a friendly, accessible face: “If we don’t appear like angry misfits, then we will end up making friendships with people who don’t agree with us,” he said.

There are people with the confidence to make videos openly endorsing anti-feminism and anti-immigration sentiments, but even more chilling, there are hordes of hateful losers who turn the comment sections of virtually every video into a churning mess of misogyny and racism. There’s the easy on-ramp to alt-right radicalism. It’s a slippery slope well-greased with pictures of Pepe the Frog and kekistani flags.

Maybe it would have been more popular if they called it “Hate Speech Week”

Truth in advertising and all that, you know.

Milo Yiannopoulos, desperate to gather together the tattered shreds of his relevance, announced this past summer that there would be a “four day extravaganza” on the Berkeley campus that he called “Free Speech Week”. There was a preliminary list of potential speakers, including Ann Coulter, Charles Murray, James Damore, Mike Cernovich, Stephen Bannon, etc., which indicated that they were planning a total shit-show of horrible people, which certainly would test the limits of free speech. It turned out, though, they hadn’t bothered to ask most of those people, and the prospective speakers were a bit surprised to learn of it. Milo claimed to have $12 million in backing.

But the funny thing is, it doesn’t seem to be happening. It’ll still fill the need to feed the conservative persecution complex if it all falls apart, but it looks like they weren’t even seriously trying.

From the get-go, however, there have been various problems and unanswered questions, starting with the student group that was actually supposed to host “Free Speech Week.” This group, called the Berkeley Patriot, didn’t exist at all before July. Its site has five blog posts, its Facebook page shows no signs of real community and its Twitter account has 16 followers and no tweets. Both the blog and the Facebook page were started on Aug. 25 — shortly after Yiannopoulos announced he was working with this group to stage a major event on the Berkeley campus.

Despite being a tiny organization with no visible history, Berkeley Patriot had a huge ask: It not only wanted to hold events in the usual rooms offered at no charge for student events, but also wanted to rent Zellerbach Hall and Wheeler Auditorium, two of the largest venues on campus. The former of those, for instance, seats around 2,000 people and is mostly used for concerts and major performing arts events. According to the university, Berkeley Patriot was given three deadlines — Aug. 18, Aug. 25 and, finally, Sept. 15 — to sign a contract and pay the $65,000 rental fee for the two auditoriums. The students failed to do that.

Huh. Imagine that.

There is a problem lurking here with the student groups. Students get a real deal on these events: students can book any room on campus, complete with audio-visual gear, seating appropriate for 20 students to 400 students (we’re a small college, so we don’t have those 2000 seat auditoriums) at no charge. What it means is that a conservative with lots of cash can astro-turf a “student group” into existence by finding one or a few compliant students and getting them to host what is essentially a non-student event that is nominally student driven. It’s possible because universities are diverse, and there will always be far right wing students in attendance to provide an entry point. The Morris North Star, the ghastly ultra-right student paper that was here at my university for a couple of years, was a case in point: there was no organic drive to support it, it was managed by just a few students, and it got external money thrown at it…and it fell apart as soon as a few students graduated and the money bags didn’t get delivered anymore.

Milo Yiannopoulos, by the way, is a college dropout who has no connection at all to Berkeley. He’s the very definition of an outside agitator taking advantage of loopholes in college administration.

But it turns out that they — Milo and the students — were either incompetent or had a sneakier plan in mind. They aren’t going to have an official room or rooms or building for this event, so instead, they’re inviting random mobs of the kind of people who want to hear Coulter or Cernovich to show up and march around the campus. He’s nurturing this narrative that they were unjustly denied official space by Berkeley to fuel resentment. His little gang of neo-Nazis will wander around, being nasty, and when Berkeley rightfully cracks down on them, he’ll howl about persecution.

The alt-right thrives on the idea that it is being oppressed by violent leftists, a narrative that was in danger of dying out after a white supremacist killed a peaceful counter-protester and injured many others with a terrorist-style attack in Charlottesville. With his Berkeley event, Yiannopoulos has created and nurtured an atmosphere of right-wing grievance and anger — and now his gathering will happen outside, on the streets, with maximum opportunity for violent clashes between right-wing racists and counter-protesters. You might almost think that was how he designed it.

As if disrupting the work of the university is something Nazis should be allowed to do.

Nature did not intend that you put those colors there!

Oh, my. Some researchers have discovered that pigments in tattoo inks can, over the years, wander out of the tattoo into places like lymph nodes. They have not, however, identified any danger or harm from this phenomenon. All I can muster is a weary, “So?”. This shouldn’t be at all surprising.

Next up: scientists will discover that the skin texture under your tattoo will change with age, that the shape of your body can distort the shape of your tattoos, and most horrifyingly, that people with tattoos have pigmented inks permanently discoloring their skin!

Please. Education is not a horserace.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t use the classroom to proselytize atheism. I have a job to do, and that is to help the students learn biology, and that’s all I care about — that they graduate after a few years and understand the concepts and can apply them, and if can do that while believing in Jesus or Allah, that’s just fine.

There’s another thing I don’t do, and that is penalize them for their health or situation. You’ve got clinical depression or your grandmother died or you had a nasty break-up with your romantic friend? I’ll make what accommodations I can, because I want you to get through all of that and learn biology. That’s all I can judge you on, is your mastery of the material, but I will welcome any changes that can help you out.

But all too often I run into non-academics (and sometimes even academics) who don’t understand this basic idea, that we’re supposed to help our students learn. So someone like Margaret Wente can write drivel like “Why treat university students like fragile flowers?”

The first answer is that we don’t. We have standards that have to be met in order to pass a course, and they’re not “be free of mental health concerns” or “have a stable family life” or “be rich enough that you don’t have to work part-time”. If you have an illness that makes mastering the course material difficult for you, that doesn’t mean you get a free pass; it means you should talk to me and I’ll do what I can to give you the opportunity to learn it in spite of your handicap. My job is to make all the flowers blossom, not to make half of them wither if they need a little extra watering.

However, there are things that Wente objects to.

Today, any proper university has registered therapy dogs to cheer you up. If exams have you down, drop in for a lick and a cuddle and you’ll feel better in no time. And if you’re too depressed because of Grandma, no problem. The disability office will provide you with a private room and extra time to write your final. Your professor never even needs to know.

Today, colleges and universities are highly concerned with the mental well-being of their students. Student distress, we’re told, is at an all-time high. It’s the pressure. The competition. Social media. Career anxiety. Long commutes. Money worries. Cyberbullying.

Therapy dogs are bad? Why? I want a therapy puppy to visit when grading gets me down! I suspect students learn better when they’re less stressed. All I care about, remember, is student learning.

I have students who take their exams at our office of student learning. We have students with agoraphobia, with test anxiety, who are easily distracted, who have language issues and need extra time. Why shouldn’t they get an environment that reduces those concerns and allows them to demonstrate their knowledge better? Why does Margaret Wente think learning has to be a stress test?

Meanwhile, the definition of “disability” – originally used for physical issues – has expanded beyond recognition. Now, it includes not only learning disabilities, but all manner of mental, social and cognitive disorders – anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD, PTSD and the like. These may also require special accommodation. As a consequence, universities now routinely give students extra time to write exams and finish assignments. But not all professors are happy about this. But it’s not up to them any more – it’s up to the ever-expanding disability bureaucracy.

Wait. So we should accommodate ex-military students, for instance, who’ve had an arm blown off, because that’s a visible injury, but students with bodies intact but suffering from PTSD don’t count? Why? If my university provides the resources to reduce anxiety for anxiety-prone students, why shouldn’t we take advantage of it? It’s not as if anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD, or PTSD make you stupid and incapable of learning cell biology or genetics; it means there are extra hurdles for you to overcome, and hey, if we can clear away the barriers to learning, I’m all for it.

But they get extra benefits, like more time to work on an exam, and that’s not fair! It’s also not fair to be afflicted depression or migraines or PTSD. We’re not demanding that every student be equally traumatized to create a level playing field, you know. The mistake is to think of education as a game where there are winners and losers rather than an experience in which we try to make sure every single student comes out at the end with more knowledge. It’s not a competition.

Wente finds someone who shares her barbaric attitudes.

Bruce Pardy, a law professor at Queen’s University, thinks the accommodation industry has gone too far. Giving someone with mental-health problems extra time to write an exam doesn’t level the playing field, he says. It simply tilts the playing field against everybody else. As he wrote recently: “The purpose of exams and assignments is not merely to test knowledge, comprehension, and analytical ability but to do so under conditions that require poise, organization, forward planning, and grace under pressure.” He says it’s like letting someone with a limp start at the 20-metre mark in a 100-metre race. The results are meaningless.

Stop with the “playing field” bullshit already! It’s not a race. It’s not a contest. I’m not trying to determine who “wins” in my cell biology class. I do test “knowledge, comprehension, and analytical ability”, because I want the students to be prepared for the next course in the sequence, or for graduate/professional school, or the workplace.

If you want to demand grace under pressure, though, I can cover that. I’ve got students who are working two jobs to pay for college. I’ve got students from broken homes. I’ve got students who were poorly served by their high schools who are working twice as hard to catch up. If we must analogize it to a race, these are students who start 20-meters behind the other students, and Pardy is complaining that we are trying to help them get to the starting line before the starting gun. We’re still going to insist that they make it to the finish line to get credit, and we even evaluate them on their performance. To decide a priori that the person with the limp can do nothing to get around the meaninglessness of their efforts is heartless and wrong.

I have no idea who Wente is, but I’m going to guess she’s conservative, and the Canadian version of a Republican. The callous disregard for others’ situation, the lack of empathy, and the inability to imagine the utility of helping all to succeed, rather than just the “winners”, is a giveaway.

I’m sure that went over well

Donald Trump spoke at the UN, and threatened to murder 25 million people if he doesn’t get his way.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to “totally destroy” North Korea unless Pyongyang backs down from its nuclear challenge, mocking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.

Benjamin Netanyahu liked it.

It is well past time to depose this madman.