I hope they’ve put their best detective on the case!

Welcome to Trump’s America, where bigots can run over kids on the sidewalk.

The girl was walking to Indian Hills Junior High when a vehicle drove onto the sidewalk, ran over her and left the scene, the release said. Officials say the girl was able to return to school one week after the incident, according to CNN affiliate WOI-TV.

During her interview with detectives, Poole Franklin, a Des Moines resident, said she was the driver and intentionally struck the girl because she “was a Mexican,” police said. Poole Franklin then “made a series of derogatory statements about Latinos,” police said.

I’m glad the girl is physically OK now, but you have to wonder how safe she’s going to feel about using public sidewalks from now on.

There’s still one thorny question to resolve, a difficult problem that will require bringing in a Hercule Poirot to puzzle out.

Authorities are looking at whether Poole Franklin running the girl over was a hate crime, Clive Police Chief Michael G. Venema said during a news conference.

Oooh, that’s a difficult one.

God works in mysterious ways, even in Norway

I rather doubt that this ad would fly in the US, but apparently it’s just funny in Norway.

I have to question the effectiveness, though. When I put something in the mail box, I expect it to be delivered to its destination, and I’m not paying postage to subsidize a swarm of traveling gigolos.

Also, I recall that Norway does have a solid conservative political and religious bent (nowhere near as bad as the US, of course) — they banned Monty Python’s Life of Brian, once upon a time. I’m sure someone somewhere was outraged about the postal service advertising heresy.

How much longer must we put up with this?

No one is in doubt that this man is unfit for office, are they?

There has to be some medical/psychological reason to have him removed from office immediately. He is humiliating the whole country.

At least I got a battery of mindless things done

I’m in a fog today, so I decided to do mindless things for a day. Would you believe I got the syllabi done for Spring term classes all done? I was in the right state of mind to work through a calendar and update my schedule. I even submitted it all to the division secretary! I hope she survives the shock, she usually has to nag me to get it done.

I also got my schedule all mapped out. I’m going to have Fridays free of all classes, and you know what that means: Friday will be SpiderDay!

Monday and Wednesday won’t be bad, either. Although, realistically, a lot of that blank space will get chewed up with committees and other work.

I have things to do!

I do! Lots! Yesterday I was working on a paper, writing up a script for a video, and fussing over spiders, and I still have a couple of term papers to finish grading. I started to fade in the mid-afternoon, though, and was feeling exhausted, because I haven’t been sleeping well, waking up way too early. So last night I programmed our lights to dim at 9:30, went to bed promptly at 10, and went right to sleep. I had also programmed the lights to come up gradually at 6:30, and wake me gently by 7. I was determined to get a good night’s sleep and break this cycle.

Unfortunately, I had not planned on the behavior of the two large mammalian organisms I share the house with, one of whom started eating crackers crunchily in bed and checking their phone at sometime around 5am, and the other started snuggling up to my neck and purring at about the same time. I won’t say which was which, to protect the guilty.

So no, I didn’t get my good night’s sleep.

I’m so tired right now I might just go stretch out on the sofa and spend the day in a lazy haze of stupid television. Or maybe go the other way and take a long walk in the cold, although there’s no place to go on a Sunday (everything is closed) in Morris. Oh, I know! I’ll sit dazed and stupidly incapable of making up my mind all day long!


Another day in the lab, waiting for spiders to hatch out. They keep teasing me. While I was looking for egg sacs, though, this guy stood out. That’s a chonky big Steatoda borealis.

Note the light horizontal band across the front of the abdomen, and the hint of a midline stripe, all against a darkly pigmented body. These are true native spiders, found in the northern US in the midwest and east, and also in Canada. Parasteatoda tepidariorum is, apparently, also native to North and South America, but has spread all around the world, unlike these stay-at-homes.

S. borealis is also more stocky than P. tepidariorum. Here’s the latter to remind you what they look like.

Now I’ve got to wonder what has made S. borealis so well-tuned to these places with snowy winters.

Why does God need a hundred thousand dollars?

A little two year old girl died suddenly. Her parents are grief-stricken. But then tragedy takes a strange turn.

The parents are Christian “influencers” (I am hating that word), and they put out a call, asking for a resurrection.

We’re asking for prayer. We believe in a Jesus who died and conclusively defeated every grave, holding the keys to resurrection power. We need it for our little Olive Alayne, who stopped breathing yesterday and has been pronounced dead by doctors. We are asking for bold, unified prayers from the global church to stand with us in belief that He will raise this little girl back to life. Her time here is not done, and it is our time to believe boldly, and with confidence wield what King Jesus paid for. It’s time for her to come to life.

OK, they’re delusional in their loss, and they’re going to be heartbroken again in the end. They have my pity. Except…

A fundraiser set up for the child’s rebirth with a target of $100,000 has raised more than $33,000 in two days. Bethel Church in Redding, California, where Kelley is a singer, is one of the organizers of the fundraiser.

Now I’m confused. Does God charge for resurrections? Would my insurance cover that?

Apparently, she’s a member of a real cult that believes miracles, even raising the dead, are possible. There is a Dead Raising Team that claims to have brought about 15 resurrections already. They even have a dead raising team here in Minnesota, just in case you need their services. Unfortunately, they seem to have failed in this case.

It is all bizarrely interesting and very sad, but doesn’t answer the question. What is God going to do with $100,000?

Just Asking Questions, The Atlantic way

We mere bloggers have seen this before, and are able to see through it fairly easily. It’s the phenomenon of Just Asking Questions, also known as JAQing off, in which an interlocutor dodges any effort to state what they really think by the game of only asking questions, questions that they already know the answer to, simply to troll for attention and stir up opposition. It’s an extremely common tactic, one that takes an act of will to cut short. The only way you can win is to not play the game.

So why aren’t experienced, professional journalists, like the gang at the prestigious publication The Atlantic, able to recognize the problem? Maybe it’s because they like JAQing off themselves, as they do in this dreadful article, What does Tucker Carlson believe?. Is that even an interesting or useful question? We know what Tucker Carlson does, does it matter what he thinks in his heart of hearts? So we get nonsense like this:

The subtext of these conversations is the question of whether Carlson is, as Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently claimed, a “white supremacist sympathizer.” For a time, the question could be written off as unserious, a voguish desire to ascribe racism to anyone who might not support increased immigration. But in recent years, Carlson and some of his guests have lent more and more plausibility to the label. On August 6, for example, days after a white gunman killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas, motivated by a fear of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” Carlson took to his program to argue that white supremacy was “not a real problem in America,” but rather a “hoax” drummed up by Democrats.

It is not a question whether he is a “white supremacist sympathizer.” We know that he is. Watch his show, and as shown above, it’s a parade of white nationalist talking points. Right there, the writer has answered the question…so why even pretend it’s an issue that we need to talk about? Because that’s Carlson stock in trade, the racist tirade, followed by the knitted brows and quizzical expression that just makes him look stupid, as if he’s JAQing off right there, “Why are you accusing me of being racist?”

At least The New Republic sees through the facade.

It all comes back to the lie of objectivity in journalism—the idea that reporters and editors are not themselves actual people with beliefs and bias. If an outlet takes a stand and dares to say, for instance, that President Donald Trump is a racist, it runs the risk of appearing “biased”—or worse still, alienating the faction of its wealthy conservative readership with sympathetic views of the administration. Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet exemplified this when he deflected a simple question about whether Trump is racist, responding in that special Timesian speak to say, “I’m not in [Trump’s] head enough to know whether he says [racist comments] because he wants to stoke his base.”

Then, to make a straightforward enough statement—that Tucker Carlson is a racist, say—is to issue a grave moral ruling, rather than to simply describe what is plain to see. And so for the purpose of self-preservation, and grinding against the core tenets of journalism, a facade must be crafted, one that requires a very specific kind of reporter and a very specific environment of praise and accolade in political journalism.

Reporters who carry out this grimy task are actively rewarded by the editors who hold the keys to power at major national publications. Shortly after the Carlson piece dropped, Yoni Appelbaum, a senior editor at The Atlantic, deemed it “fabulous” and doted on Plott [the author of the Atlantic piece] as one of the industry’s “great profile writers.” CNN’s media critic lauded it as “very good.” John Hendrickson, an Atlantic senior editor, wrote that the piece included “the greatest kicker I’ve read all year.” Bill Scher, contributing editor at Politico, called the piece “exceptional.”

Amazing. The metaphor of masturbation works on so many levels when looking at modern American journalism — it’s a circle jerk of JAQing off, where any effort to expose the reality of what’s happening in the media is deflected with a question and a pretense that one is thinking very hard and very deeply about a plain and simple fact.

Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump are racists.

But what does it mean to be a racist? How can we truly know what is in men’s hearts? Sure, they do and say racist things, but have you considered the possibility that it’s merely economic insecurity? Whether they are actually racists is a profound and important question worth writing at length about, but in the end, how can we really be sure? I wonder how many articles I can churn out asking questions?

Oh, shut the fuck up, wankers.

David Silverman is out, again

The word from Atheist Alliance International is that David Silverman has resigned.

At a Board Meeting on Sunday, David P. Silverman resigned as Executive Director. Accepting his resignation, AAI President, Gail Miller, thanked David for the contribution he had made in reorganizing the AAI board and its operations. This, together with a successful year-end fund-raising drive, will leave the alliance in a stronger position to take its campaigns forward in 2020 than in previous years.

AAI is now looking for an Executive Director, and will begin its search immediately.

That didn’t last long. It’s interesting how certain people crumple at the threat of an investigation. I wonder if a lawsuit will be next — that’s the usual trajectory for these sorts of things.

I do wonder how hiring a guy, and then firing the same guy, can both have the effect of strengthening an organization.