Regressive taxes are good!

That’s what Bloomberg says, anyway. We should tax poor people more, so they can’t afford to buy things like sugary soft drinks, which would shorten their lifespan. Apparently, if you’re rich, you never indulge in stuff that might harm you.

Some people say, well, taxes are regressive. But in this case, yes they are. That’s the good thing about them because the problem is in people that don’t have a lot of money. And so, higher taxes should have a bigger impact on their behavior and how they deal with themselves. So, I listen to people saying ‘oh we don’t want to tax the poor.’ Well, we want the poor to live longer so that they can get an education and enjoy life. And that’s why you do want to do exactly what a lot of people say you don’t want to do.

The question is do you want to pander to those people? Or do you want to get them to live longer? There’s just no question. If you raise taxes on full sugary drinks, for example, they will drink less and there’s just no question that full sugar drinks are one of the major contributors to obesity and obesity is one of the major contributors to heart disease and cancer and a variety of other things.

So…who in New York has a guillotine? I think it’s time to wheel it out and take care of some patronizing jerks.

Spiders: The Next Generation

This is how I spent my morning:

I was cleaning up cages to set up more space for the next generation of spiders. The previous generation were all wild-caught; these are all lab-born, raised in isolation, so they’ve never seen another spider, which is why they are all flagged with a big “V” for virgin. The plan is to let them get cozy in their roomy new boxes, put up some cobwebs to decorate the place, and then next week I’ll introduce males to them, one by one. I’m going to watch them and then, as soon as the male has accomplished his duty, I’ll scoop him right up and put him in a vial, nice and safe.

I’ve got more juvenile females to set up with cages, but the remaining spiders are still on the small side. These spiders are small, too, especially compared to the behemoths I caught at the end of the summer, but they’ve got to start sexing it up sometime.

I guess I have to take “Eat the Rich” literally

Look who WholeFoods magazine selected as their “Man of the Year”. It’s not very delectable, but OK. Can I get it delivered? Do I have to clean and dress it myself? Can I order just a few select cuts?

WholeFoods magazine is a trade magazine that bills itself as “informing and educating the natural foods industry”, peddling supplements to retailers. They seem to be very gung ho about CBD and hemp farming, and like McConnell because he’s sponsored legislation to encourage more hemp. OK.

Still, that’s a distasteful and unappetizing slab of meat they’re selling.

What is 2 + 2?

Here’s an amusing video about what happens when we stop caring about giving a fact-based education to kids.

Laugh away. The schools aren’t teaching that “22” is an acceptable answer to the problem of “2+2”, yet. We’ve still got people insisting that evolution is false, though, and trying to expunge it from the curriculum…as they’re succeeding in doing in Turkey.

When children in Turkey head back to school this fall, something will be missing from their textbooks: any mention of evolution.

The Turkish government is phasing in what it calls a values-based curriculum. Critics accuse Turkey’s president of pushing a more conservative, religious ideology — at the expense of young people’s education.

It’s just the start.

“Among scientists, of course, we feel very sorry and very, very worried for the country,” says Ali Alpar, an astrophysicist and president of Turkey’s Science Academy, an independent group that opposes the new curriculum. A Turkish association of biologists and teachers’ unions have also expressed concern about the new textbooks.

“It is not only evolution. Evolution is a test case. It is about rationality — about whether the curriculum should be built on whatever the government chooses to be the proper values,” Alpar says. He also objects to how the government has converted many secular public schools into religious ones — Turkey’s publicly funded Imam Hatip schools — in recent years.

Ha ha. It’s just Turkey, going backwards, right? The levels of creationist ignorance in the US are competitive with those of Turkey, you know, and we have government officials supporting this one ignorant person, Ken Ham, and his flock.

He goes on to say

The fake news is this article stating, “Babylonian tablet that describes the story of Noah and the Ark, widely believed to be the inspiration for the Biblical story.” The real event of the actual global Flood that did occur about 4300 years…ago as totally accurately recorded in the infallible Word of God in Genesis was the inspiration for the perverted (fake news) version now found in Babylonian (and other) records from cultures around the world.

That’s just as bad as trying to tell kids that “2+2=22”.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the people who wrote abortion laws had to know some biology?

Here we go again. In Ohio, Republicans are trying to pass a law requiring that ectopic pregnancies be surgically reimplanted into the uterus. This is not medically possible. An ectopic pregnancy is a crisis that requires surgical intervention, and this law would require that a doctor who tried to save a woman’s life would be charged with murder.

In Pennsylvania, they want to require a birth certificate be issued and a formal burial be carried out for any fertilized egg that fails to implant. Most failures to implant are not even noted by women or doctors — it’s just another menstrual period. This is another law that cannot practically be implemented, and is just another hurdle added to the trauma of spontaneous abortions, or additional expense for planned abortions.

I am getting the impression that regressive conservatives are desperately trying to exploit this moment of ascendance before a progressive rebound slaps them back into the teeming, hellish pit of hatred they come from.

Bad sex

Pssst. Wanna read some porn? The short list for the Literary Society’s Bad Sex in Fiction award has been announced. You can also read some longer excerpts, if the short quotes in the first link are insufficiently repellent.

I almost liked this one.

She gave a yet deeper, moaning sigh. Like breathing in he saw the word he had said shiver and expand inside her. Her arms moved now, and flexed: out of here, Venus de Milo. He watched the death-life fill her growingly. She grabbed and caressed him with more muscle, more zest, than ever before. Her long lean arms were spider arms, while her kisses roved and dug.

‘I see it,’ he said. ‘You are the female praying mantis, devouring her mate.’

‘I am. You are. I shall eat every shred of you.’

‘Mouthful by mouthful.’

But nah. The author is just trying to trick me with the spider allusions, but there’s no substance here.

Actually, all of the choices are out of date and obsolete. They’ve all been superseded by one brief tweet on Twitter.

Mmm-mmmm. Now that’s bad sex.

Spider Queen

The other day, Mary stopped by the lab and immediately spotted two spiders lurking in the crannies that I hadn’t even noticed before. Obviously, females were endowed with superior spider spotting skills by Evolutionary Psychology in the Pleistocene, when it was their essential duty to scour the cave of venomous spiders while their man slept in, or ate his raw mammoth, or knapped flint spearheads.

Anyway, then I ran across this painting of Mary’s bronze-age Nordic avatar, so I had to include it.

(possibly by Docatto, from a game called Legend of the Cryptids)

The image is captioned “The remote areas of the Outlly continent are under the control of the snow spiders and their riders. The leader of the riders, Kastehelmi, patrols the sparkling snowy fields on her trusted friend Salomo to drive out any unwelcome intruders. The only colors they want painting the endless white expanses are their own.”

There’s another image also captioned appropriately, “When Kastehelmi sights an interloper, she summons a swarm of snow spiders. Suddenly, the ivory plains are speckled in scurrying black dots of all sizes. Mealtime has come at last. They pierce the flesh with their legs and crush bones with their tough mandibles. Not even a drop of blood is left behind, as this would blemish their perfect domain.”

Yep, sounds like her.

Marketing atheism badly

You wanna watch a train wreck? Probably not, so I’ll summarize this video down below. The interviewer, on the left, is someone named David Worley (sorry, never heard of him before), and on the right is Lance Gregorchuk, one of the organizers of that silly anti-theism conference to be held in Brighton. Warning: Gregorchuk seems to be unable to complete a thought, or even a full sentence. The squirrels are running races in his cranium.

OK. To summarize the chaos, in the first half of the video, Gregorchuk seems to be trying to persuade Worley to attend his conference, but doing so by negging him, telling him he’s run-of-the-mill, that he’s failed to ask any hard questions in the interview. What he wants is for Worley to come to the event and have every speaker come to him for an interview afterwards with hard, challenging questions. He says he would love someone to challenge their thinking, and to challenge Dawkins or Krauss. He gives an example of a hard question to ask Dawkins: “Why are you an atheist?”

Jesus. That’s a softball. Dawkins has written whole books on that; do you think he’s going to be stunned by such a difficult question? Gregorchuk is clueless and naive. It’s painful to watch.

But not as cringeworthy as the last half! Worley finally gets a word in edgewise, and gives an example of a question he would ask, and it’s a good one: “Is it right to platform Lawrence Krauss given the sexual assault allegations?”

Whoa, Gregorchuk is thrown for a loop. He becomes even more incoherent as he tries to justify his answer, which is Absolutely!

I can’t possibly transcribe his words. It’s a collection of sentence fragments, stammered out without much connection between them. I’m just going to give you an incomplete collection of his confident excuses.

Absolutely. You never got wrong signals from a girl and you touched her? I did it, you did it.

They could have nailed you, me, anyone else.

We don’t get signals from women.

You’re out with a girl. I’m out with a girl. She’s nice, she’s flirting her hair, how do you do this?

It’s like hand on the knee, hand on the … come on man, I’m not justifying anything, I’m just being honest.

I’m thinking of the 80s, I probably put my hand on a few…

The 80s, 90s were a time when we weren’t very…

It was a different time. It wasn’t correct…but Joe Biden used to put people’s arm on other people’s hands whatever, it’s OK.

Wow. That conference is going to be a gathering of yammering shitgibbons, isn’t it?

Allow me to answer from my experience as a man. Women are sending out signals all the time, but you have to listen to hear them. They are most definitely not sending the signal “Please lunge for my breasts” or “Stick your hand up under my skirt”, and if you think that’s what you’re waiting for, you’re going to be frustrated. Maybe you should try talking with them, listen to what they have to say, and at professional and provisionally intellectual events in particular, consider that they are people who have not come out of an urge to gratify random men’s sexual urges.

Women were not welcoming breast-lunges in the 1980s. In fact, they never appreciated those in all of human history. It’s never been that different time, except in the minds of men who had the power and the will to execute it thoughtlessly, but even those cases, the recipient of that careless brutality wasn’t appreciating it.

As for “how do you do this”, I started dating my wife in the mid-70s. The initial overture did not involve my hand creeping up her thigh — I asked her out to a dance. I was a bad dancer. We mainly talked. We got along and enjoyed each others company. We went on more dates — initially, we double-dated and went to churches, which is safe ground for a young woman in the company of a man who, in Gregorchuk’s head, might start randomly grabbing things. We went for walks, we went out for pizza, we had long phone calls, we got to know and trust each other as people and friends first.

We kissed (and I asked if I could first) after 3 months of weekly dating. I know, it doesn’t reward you with quick sexual gratification, if that’s what you’re after, but if you really want to know someone as a human being, talking works. Start there. We humans evolved to have some very sophisticated and subtle means of communicating information-rich signals, and women are just as good at it as men. Try it! There’s something wrong with you if you think women don’t send signals or are sending confusing signals.

Also, an atheist conference isn’t an 80s disco, usually. People don’t usually go there to hook up, they’re there to learn and share ideas and be inspired. I do not recommend that women attend the anti-theism international conference, since it’s going to be full of strange awkward men peering you at you looking for the “please fondle me” signal, and if you don’t give it, they might intentionally misinterpret your “please stop staring at me” signal. Or they’ll only hear the first word of your “Fuck off!” signal.

By the way, Gregorchuk is listed on the conference home page as the “marketer of the event”. He is quite possibly the worst communicator I’ve ever witnessed with a lead role in an organization.

He did it. They finally let Sergio Canavero carry out a head transplant.

I said it couldn’t be done. That the proposal was unethical. That Canavero couldn’t possibly get a spinal cord to regenerate. Then his head transplant volunteer rejected the plan.

Apparently, Canavero found new volunteers, and went ahead and did it. The result is even more horrifying than I ever predicted.

I think I’m going to be sick.

You fools! You argued over whether you could, when you were supposed to care about whether you should!