No tuffet, no curds and whey required

My wife was just sitting there, quietly reading, when she noticed this little friend descending from the ceiling to sit down beside her, and instead of being frightened away, she yelled for me to come see it. I was mildly surprised — it’s a male Steatoda triangulosa, which have been rather scarce this past summer (it’s generally been a poor summer for all spiders this year).

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The battle is joined! War on Christmas comes earlier every year

The other day, Fox News was hyperfocused on the War on Christmas.

I guess I need to gird my loins or something.

Ken Ham, conjuring atheists into existence

Let’s get all Manichaean on their asses!

Caroline Matas attended an Answers in Genesis conference, and was chilled by what she saw. She was the only one wearing a mask, and was most concerned with why American evangelicals have so much contempt for modern science and medicine. I think Ken Ham delivered the answer.

Secular scientists might claim that they allow observation and replicable experimentation to dictate their conclusions, but Answers in Genesis argues that scientists are deluding themselves about their true “starting point.”

Ham famously argues that there are only two religions—conservative Christianity based on a literal and univocal reading of God’s word and secular humanism derived from “man’s word.” At this week’s conference, he went a step further, claiming that secular scientists cannot claim a “neutral position,” because any worldview that is not actively in service of his version of orthodox Christianity is “hostile” to God and “desperately wicked” in its thinking.

“If it’s not for Christ, it’s against,” Ham told a cheering audience.

Well then, count me in as against Christ. I think there are a lot of Christians out there who don’t accept Ham’s narrow-minded, pig-ignorant view of their faith, and are going to be surprised to learn that they are against Christ, but OK. It’s nice for us atheists to have abruptly become the majority.

However, this also reminds me of the time I was paired up to present at a humanist meeting with David Silverman. His message was that everyone there was actually an atheist — every Christian humanist, every Jewish humanist, every agnostic, every one who still went to church but thought god was a more complex concept than an anthropomorphic old guy in the sky, even deists like Thomas Jefferson — if you didn’t subscribe to an orthodox, literal-minded version of your religion, you were an atheist, and you should admit it to yourself and everyone else. It did not go over well. There was much eye-rolling and head-shaking in the audience, and I had to amend my talk on the fly to explain that I did not endorse Silverman’s views.

I think David and Ken would have gotten along famously. They have exactly the same sentiments about religion.

The terrible thing about this perspective is that as soon as you make everything us-vs.-them, you’ve got a tool to shoehorn everyone into opposing camps on every issue. It doesn’t matter that the Bible says nothing about vaccines — you can tell everyone that you don’t like ’em, and you’re a man of God, therefore anyone who is a true man of God should despise vaccines.

Studying evangelical media has made me keenly aware of how quickly and thoroughly this narrative can be employed to train consumers in the orthodoxy of the moment. What matters is not what happens to fall in its crosshairs: critical race theory, secular humanism, same-sex marriage, vaccine mandates; the fuel running the machine is a belief that this world is split into two “religions”—the “true” one and the “false” one whose aims are unceasingly hostile and evil.

Or, hey, if you are a misogynistic sado-masochist who bullies women and is the former head of a major atheist organization, then every true atheist should be a misogynistic sado-masochist. I think there are a few too many atheists who would go along with that.

We saw this coming long ago

Pat yourself on the back, creationists. You’ve succeeded beyond your wildest dreams. I’d give special appreciation to the Discovery Institute, which came up with so many potent slogans. “Teach the controversy!” “Teach both sides!” So many school administrators and politicians fell for it, taking it for granted that what a school was supposed to do was throw every crank idea at the students, and let them sort it out…while teachers were supposed to sit back and provide no guidance from hard-earned learning and experience, because that would be “bias”. How dare you teach all that evidence-based science about evolution and the history of life on Earth, don’t you know that’s discriminating against fringe theories that have no logical, rational, evidential basis? Make room for Ken Ham, right next to Darwin and Fisher and Simpson and Beadle and Tatum and…it’s a long list.

But that’s the triumph of their idea, that education shouldn’t be based on merit, and that teachers are useless unless they promote their propaganda.

And now it’s come to this.

A senior school administrator in the Lone Star State was recorded telling educators that if they’re going to keep books about the Holocaust in their classrooms, they must also stock material representing “opposing” views or “other perspectives.”

NBC News has obtained a recording that it says features Carroll Independent School District executive director of curriculum and instruction Gina Peddy explaining to teachers that House Bill 3979 requires them to offer alternative information when it “comes to widely debated and currently controversial.” That, by her account, includes the systematic execution of millions of people — mostly Jews — at the hands of the Nazis during World War II.

“Make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives,” Peddy said.

You can hear the whole thing here. Listen to the administrator tell the teachers how she wants to work with them and help them, but if they offer a book that teaches about the Holocaust, they better also include a book about Holocaust denial. The teachers sound appalled and horrified.

The administration’s excuse:

In a statement, a Carroll spokeswoman said Peddy’s example about the Holocaust reflects the district’s attempt to comply with a new state law that requires teachers to present multiple perspectives when discussing “widely debated and currently controversial” issues.

The law says we have to “teach both sides”. That is so familiar, as is the language about “widely debated and currently controversial” issues. All you need to do to make an issue widely debated and currently controversial is to get a local ignorant church pastor to stand up and argue for bullshit. Presto! Debate! Controversy! Therefore it has to go into the curriculum. It’s only fair, after all.

That’s not how education works. It has never worked that way. You can thank the creationists for a decades-long campaign to misrepresent how science and teaching work so they can get their fables and lies into the classroom. The end result: opening the door for Nazis and kooks to pollute public education. Fuck those motherfuckers, every one.

I get Christopher Rufo spam

I’ll lead with the happy news: I survived another grueling Thursday coupled to my continuing Achilles tendon agony. But I did get through the whole day without puking (the pain is intense enough that when I have to hobble for any length of time, I get nauseous) and actually, the throbbing stabbing pain is starting to ease up, thanks to a heavy drug dose from my doctor yesterday. Hooray for not losing my stomach contents! Hooray for some easing of the pain!! Hooray for lots of good drugs!!! Gosh, I sure hope my lecture this morning was comprehensible.

But now I’m home, and I find spam from some crappy conservative liars, and my gorge begins to rise again.

Dear Friend,

You are not, and never will be, my friend.

Are you ready to become even more effective in the fight against radical curriculum in your schools?

Yes. Always have been. You know that the “radical curriculum” is the conservative/capitalist propaganda promoted by billionaires, right? I am so totally against that.

Since we started Breakthrough Ideas, this fight has been one of our main areas of focus.

No, I don’t think so. The founder of this organization is a failed Republican candidate for the US House from Illinois, whose campaign in 2020 was built around the idea of put[ting] in place the infrastructure to begin the pushback operation against the socialism that invaded the US House in 2018. She also ran, and failed, for governor of Illinois. I think her only idea is to build up Wingnuttia.

She seems to have founded this half-assed think-tank in 2020/2021, after she flopped everything else, in order to continue her grift. I have no idea who is funding it.

Now we are teaming up with nationally-renowned education and critical race theory expert Christopher Rufo to give you the information you need to influence your local school boards and push back on toxic ideologies.

Wait wait wait. nationally-renowned education and critical race theory expert? Hold your horses, lady. Rufo has zero qualifications in education. He doesn’t understand or is lying about CRT; he has none of the training or experience in law, philosophy, race relations, or history to have earned the title of “expert”. He’s a fraud through and through. Here’s his background from Wikipedia.

Rufo was previously a visiting fellow for domestic policy studies at the Heritage Foundation and a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute.[12][11] Later, he was a research fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Christian think tank known for its opposition to the theory of evolution and advocacy for intelligent design to be taught in public schools.[11][13][14] In 2017, Rufo was a plaintiff in a lawsuit to prevent Seattle from imposing a 2.25% income tax on sums above $250,000 a year for individuals and over $500,000 for couples.[15] In 2018, he unsuccessfully ran for the Seattle City Council.[16] Rufo voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 United States presidential election.[5]

Yeah, he’s just another right-wing grifter oozing out of the woodwork of a series of think-tanks. Not an expert in anything but profitable parasitism.

Oh, the best part: the bill.

Check out Christopher Rufo’s video invitation here!

You can listen to Rufo on Zoom for an hour for the low, low price of $25, which is a bit over-priced. Or you can listen to him in person if you’re willing to fork over $50 and travel to some random wedding venue in Illinois (there is a McDonald’s next door), and for a lousy $250 you can attend the VIP Q&A session for a half hour.

Jesus. Unqualified hack gets those kinds of ticket prices for just lying out of his ass. I’m such a failure, I should have made up more shit to get on the right-wing rubber chicken circuit and the no doubt substantial speaking fees. On the plus side, I won’t get publicly disemboweled for my ignorance on national TV.

I’m full of alien substances now

I got shot up with Pfizer a few months ago, yesterday I got a buttload of pain-numbing happy juice, and today…

When can I officially be designated a cyborg transhuman mutant alien hybrid? I’m looking forward to when my nictating membranes, extra limbs and nipples, and compound eyes kick in.

I hope you’re all getting all of your vaccinations so we can team up and take over the world.

I’ll probably end up voting for Kamala Harris in the next election

After all, can you imagine a Republican stating these obvious truths?

This does not mean I agree with everything she, or the Democratic party, says or does, but that there is a clear, distinct separation between the two parties on at least some issues, and I’ll always go for the one that doesn’t lie about our history.

First you fondle your gun, then you worship it as your god

A Moonie splinter cult is now buying up property and using AR-15s as church accoutrements. These are not good neighbors.

Moon’s congregation, Rod of Iron Ministries, also known as The World Peace and Unification Sanctuary, is a gun-centric spinoff of the much larger Unification Church, founded by his late father, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a self-proclaimed messiah and businessman whose followers were famously known as “Moonies.” The younger Moon, who also goes by “The Second King,” split from the main church amid a dramatic falling-out with his mother about who, between the two of them, was the rightful heir to his father’s empire.

In 2017, Moon founded his church in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, siphoning off hundreds of followers from the main congregation who were willing to make the seemingly radical leap of incorporating high-powered rifles into their spiritual life. He did this with the backing of his older brother, Kook-jin “Justin” Moon, the CEO of Kahr Arms, a gun manufacturing company headquartered nearby. In recent years, he’s made headlines for recreating the mass wedding ceremonies that his father’s church was famous for, with the addition of AR-15s.

I think a good part of the problem here in America is that we have a constitution that says you have freedom of religion, which is interpreted to mean that churches have complete freedom from any kind of regulation, rather than that individuals have freedom of conscience. Similarly, despite the word “regulated” in the amendment that allows people to keep and bear arms, we have interpreted that to mean we get to go crazy with guns. The constitution doesn’t say anything about capitalism, but similarly the parasites have decided that a “free market” implies a total absence of constraint.

Oh, well, we all know how this will end up.

(In case you’ve forgotten your trashy pop culture, that’s a scene from Beneath the Planet of the Apes, where the mutant humans worship a nuclear missile they want to use to destroy the world.)

The poison in Murdock, Minnesota

If someone said to you, We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children, and if they then said they were good people, would you take their word for it? I sure wouldn’t. That’s Nazi shit. If you were a city council member voting on whether they could buy a church in your community, would you be reassured if they argued that their goal was to guarantee that there were would be blond haired, blue eyed children a hundred thousand years from now? Would you vote yes if they promised that, while they weren’t going to allow any black people to set foot in the church, they’d be polite about escorting them out?

All that happened just a few miles down the road from me, in Murdock, Minnesota, where the Asatru FolK Assembly is setting up shop. The city council member who voted in favor, Pat Thorson, is a smug centrist white guy who wasn’t offended as long as they weren’t coming after him, and he asked if he looks like a white supremacist. Yeah, Pat, you do. You don’t have to wear a pointy white hat and set crosses on fire to be a racist — all it takes is that you shrug your shoulders and look the other way when bigots move in.

The Guardian sent a crew to Murdock to dig into what’s going on. I went down there myself a while back, and all I could see was another tiny Minnesota hamlet, population 300, which was dead quiet and sleepy, with absolutely nothing happening. I should have gone on a Sunday morning and crashed the church if I wanted to see anything, I guess.

I watched that and came away with total contempt for their church, which they call “Baldurshof” and less respect for small town city councils.