When you put it that way, who wouldn’t want to be Pocahantas?

There have been multiple instances of white people posing as Indians — after all, you can suddenly acquire the illusion of authority and wisdom by calling yourself Grey Owl and claiming to have been taught the sacred ways by a native American elder. You don’t actually need to be wise, just attaching an animal to your name and sticking some feathers in your hair does all the work.

Oh boy, here comes another example: Carrie Bourassa has been an advocate for indigenous rights in Canada (that’s good), but the way she has done it is to appropriate indigenous identity. She wears a costume and claims to be a member of a growing list of native tribes, expanding from Métis at first, to now claiming Anishinaabe and Tlingit origins.

Caroline Tait, a Métis professor and medical anthropologist at the U of S, has worked with Bourassa for more than a decade.

She said early on in Bourassa’s career, she only identified as Métis. But more recently, Tait said, Bourassa began claiming to also be Anishinaabe and Tlingit. Tait said she also began dressing in more stereotypically Indigenous ways, saying the TEDx Talk was a perfect example.

“Everybody cheers and claps, and it’s beautiful,” said Tait. “It is the performance that we all want from Indigenous people — this performance of being the stoic, spiritual, culturally attached person [with] which we can identify because we’ve seen them in Disney movies.”

Right. It’s reducing identity to a performance. It’s all a sham, though — she isn’t the slightest bit Métis, Anishinaabe, or Tlingit. She’s of Eastern European descent.

Tait said Bourassa’s shifting ancestry claims made her and other colleagues suspicious. They also recently learned that Bourassa’s sister had stopped claiming to be Métis after she examined her genealogy. So Tait, Wheeler, Smylie and others decided to review that genealogy for themselves.

“We start to see that no, as a matter of fact, [Bourassa’s ancestors] are farmers,” Tait said. “These are people who are Eastern European people. They come to Canada, they settle.”

Tait said genealogical records show that Bourassa’s supposed Indigenous ancestors were of Russian, Polish and Czechoslovakian descent.

“There was nowhere in that family tree where there was any Indigenous person,” said Wheeler.

She also claims cultural affinity, being brought up in the ways of the native by her grandfather (who was the child of Czech-speaking farmers), and that she was raised in a poor neighborhood, subject to discrimination and oppression (her parents owned a Saskatchewan real estate development, and her father owned Ron’s Car Cleaning, the “No. 1 detail shop in the province”). That would be contrary to her indigenous stereotype, though!

Wheeler says she’s offended by the way that Bourassa has described her childhood, “feeding into stereotypes” of poverty, violence and substance abuse.

“Maybe she did have a dysfunctional childhood and it was full of pain. But to bring that into a discussion about her identity and under this flimsy umbrella of her Indigeneity, I think, was really manipulative, because it suggests that she is Indigenous, that she experienced Indigenous poverty.”

Wheeler said Bourassa’s claims of Indigeneity are offensive.

“It’s theft. It is colonialism in its worst form and it’s a gross form of white privilege.”

Be who you really are, it’s always better. I try to pretend I’m actually a raging Viking berserker, and no one is fooled — my ancestors were all unglamorous peasant farmers. Maybe if I called myself Paul the Bloody Handed and wore a horned helmet to class, and demanded that all student essays be written in futhark? Yeah, that would add authenticity.

Matt Powell gets a promotion

I wonder what Eric Hovind thinks of this?

That’s Kent Hovind on the left, soon to be committed to a jail sentence for spousal abuse. Who will preach to the deluded while he’s away? That’s Matt Powell on the right. Powell is now down in Alabama at Dinosaur Adventure Land, a guest of Mr Hovind, and is appearing in their regular “Wack-An-Atheist videos. He’s also saying that you may call him Professor Powell, despite lacking any degrees or affiliation with an institute of learning, which is kind of par for the course for these frauds.

The video is rather pathetic, with Hovind and Powell reciting the same old creationist nonsense over and over. Dinosaur soft tissue! Bent layers in mountains prove they formed in an instant (quite the opposite, actually)! Coal seams have negligible C-14, therefore they all formed at the same time in a flood! Don’t bother trying to rebut them, because they’ll just deny all the evidence.

I would not, however, say that Hovind is passing the torch. His ego won’t allow that to happen. I also don’t see Powell being very comfortable as an apprentice to Hovind, who has a lot of baggage (the tax-dodging, wife-beating, kiddie-diddler-enabling thing) and I’d love to know what he was promised to get him to move to a decrepit church camp in an Alabama wasteland. He has that deer-in-the-headlights look the whole time. I think Powell is perfectly comfortable with his ignorant line of cant, but doesn’t seem too enthusiastic about being paired with ol’ Kent.

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that this association will end badly for both of them.

The ongoing disappointment with the Democrats continues

Primary these motherfuckers. I never want to see their faces again.

I didn’t expect much of Biden, to be honest, but the constant failure of the Democrats to put up much of a fight for anything is depressing. I know, we’re going to hear it’s all Manchin and Sinema’s fault (and I agree, they are both colossal fuckwitted blockheads), but at some point you have to stand up and declare that there are core principles to being part of the party, and that the apparatus of the party is going to actively fuck up your re-election chances if you don’t cooperate. What I suspect, though, is that the bidness Democrats are secretly grateful that they’ve got Manchin/Sinema around as an excuse to instead fuck over their electorate.

So now the Democrats plan to kill family leave and Medicare/Medicaid expansion from their budget, all because a few convenient die-hards are resisting the idea of supporting Democratic voters. I note that the right-wing hates the idea of health care and actually supporting families, so this is basically caving in to the Republicans. If I wanted to vote for Republican policies, I would have voted for a Republican, you know.

The damning thing about this strategy is that it is so short-sighted. By ditching their principles and the only reason to vote for a Democrat — other than that they aren’t openly maniacal, perverse monsters — they are damaging their own chances in the next election cycle.

The House Democrats at most risk of losing their seats in the 2022 midterm elections are urging their colleagues not to jettison a set of popular programs from President Biden’s economic and social spending package, warning that failing to deliver on these promises to voters could pave the way for Republicans to regain control of Congress.

These vulnerable Democrats argue that expanding Medicaid into certain states, allowing the government to negotiate prescription drug prices, expanding Medicare coverage and providing for paid family leave are key to both motivating Democrats to vote in the midterm elections and to winning over the small but key group of independent voters who could otherwise back their Republican challengers.

“No normal person can understand why we can’t negotiate for drug prices,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) said. “So what they see when we can’t pass that year after year is greed, and I have no problem saying I’m frustrated with the other side of the aisle, but in this case, my own party because that one is just a simple thing we could do.”

All four policies are at risk of being left out of the final bill due to opposition from centrist Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), whose votes are key on every issue given the 50-50 Senate, as well as a small group of Democrats in both chambers opposed to giving Medicare too much authority to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

I am so, so tired of hearing about Manchin/Sinema, two parasites profiting from their intransigence with the reward of tremendous amounts of attention…and not enough of it is negative. I am also tired of watching Biden mumble placid centrist excuses for doing as little as possible.

I ask again, as I do in every election, what positive reason do I have for supporting Democrats? Is it really going to be just “they aren’t Trump” forevermore?

It’s creationism all over again

It wasn’t that long ago (and it’s still ongoing) that creationists followed a relatively successful strategy of packing school boards with loons. School boards are not popular career destinations — it’s relatively easy for a fanatic to run for the board, and often they get strong support from local churches.

Now take a look at this: the same strategy is being followed by anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, and anti-CRT kooks.

We need more reasonable, serious people to run for school board positions, so do consider it yourself. When I first moved to Morris, I offered to run…and got nothing but looks of horror from local DFL people. I guess I’m not the kind of guy to be popular with the church crowd that is likely to turn out for a school board election, so they were probably right to look for more congenial candidates.

If you can’t run, the next best thing is to VOTE in those elections. School board elections are far more important than most people assume.

Who will exterminate the exterminators?

No, no, no, this cartoon is wildly inappropriate, unless tomorrow’s follow-up is a bloody scene of vengeance as Lio turns his giant spider (with three body segments? Come on, Mr Tatulli) loose upon the exterminators.

It’s something of a peeve of mine when exterminators try to advertise in something like #spidertwitter, for instance, especially when they frequently categorize spiders as pests. I don’t even like to see insecticides sprayed on other arthropod targets — leave the bugs alone, they have a right to live, too.

You’ll find his picture next to ‘disingenuous’ in the dictionary

How stupid can creationists get? I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it’s even more stupid than they assume me to be.

A short while ago I mentioned this Indonesian creationist who was posing as an evolutionary biologist writing a book “for the science community”. He wrote to me Just Asking Questions.

He wasn’t very good at the pretense. His first question was about the Atlas of Creation.

I was not very nice in dismissing him.

Really, if you can’t explain what is wrong with the Atlas of Creation, you’ve got no business writing a book about evolution. It’s that simple.

Alas, he is persistent and has come back with more requests. Dude, you are obvious, go away.

Ray Comfort only asks questions that biologists can’t answer because they are based on his misconceptions. Have you seen a cat evolve into a dog? The first elephant to evolve would have had to wait for millions of years for the first female elephant to appear. How do you explain elephants, then?

Not to mention that if you do give an answer, he’ll cut it out of his video.

I’m not responding directly to Mr Arif — I don’t want to encourage him. But if Muhammad Arif wants to be exposed as a dishonest fool, I’m happy to help.

How to commit violence using only your words

Remarkable. Judge Bruce Schroeder is doing a fine job demonstrating the power of systemic bias.

That trial is going to be a real shitshow, isn’t it?

Some journalists need to STFU

Editors seem to love to publish waffling centrist apologists for journalistic weaseling, and I hate it. Here’s some opinion columnist saying The media slant on Joe Rogan and covid has been wrong. Journalists must do better. He thinks journalism has been too hard on that hack.

In my experience, a journalist who admits uncertainty and owns up to mistakes is ultimately more trusted, not less so. (Even opinion writers should be accountable to facts and alive to the unknowable.)

I agree. So what misstatement of the facts did CNN make?

For this reason, CNN is wrong to double down on its smug reports that vaccine-skeptic podcaster Joe Rogan treated his coronavirus with “horse dewormer.” He did not, as nearly as I can determine. Rogan’s covid-19 was treated, he said, with a number of medicines, including the anti-parasite drug ivermectin — the same medication that former president Jimmy Carter’s foundation has used to fight the scourge of river blindness in Africa and Latin America. Like many drugs, ivermectin also has veterinary applications.

CNN reported that Rogan had treated his infection with a cocktail of glop — antibodies and ivermectin and vitamins, and who knows what else. That is accurate. That’s what Rogan himself announced. He was dosing himself with an anti-parasitic drug to treat a virus. This is a problem, because it spreads the word that maybe taking random drugs is an effective way to handle a specific disease, and maybe this columnist hasn’t noticed, but there are people refusing to take the effective treatment because they’re doping themselves with horse dewormer or betadine. We did not mock Rogan enough.

Further, talking about river blindness is a dishonest distraction. It’s irrelevant. Did Joe Rogan have onchocerciasis? He had COVID-19.

So far, there isn’t a lot of evidence that ivermectin is a good anti-covid therapy, and federal agencies have warned people who hear about the drug not to consume a paste intended for livestock. But that doesn’t mean Rogan ate horse dewormer. You don’t fight disinformation with disinformation. Not if you’re a good reporter.

A good reporter would explain that Rogan was misleading his audience by taking horse dewormer seriously as a treatment for a virus. They’d also mention that the evidence is in: ivermectin is not a good anti-COVID-19 therapy.

All we have here is a hack writing dodgy crap to sow doubt. Here he is talking about how the vaccines are “new” and might have “unforeseen effects”.

CNN’s pundits might not have sneered at Rogan if he had toed the line on coronavirus vaccines — even if it is a line that is underinformed and overconfident. I yield to no one in my enthusiasm for these vaccines. They are wonderfully effective, and the speed of their development was a scientific triumph. However: The vaccines are new. There are unanswered questions about long-term effectiveness and potentially unforeseen effects. And even vaccinated people keep dying — albeit at much lower rates. It’s understandable that some — such as Rogan — will air doubts. CNN shouldn’t be stigmatizing their natural skepticism.

What I learned from this is that David Von Drehle, the author, is a marginal crank and not a reasonable source (he got his start as a sports writer, and evolved into a political pundit — he has zero qualifications in science or medicine). I’ll remember that name.

I’m probably going to be a bit punchy today

  • Reason #1: I’m off the prednisone and pain-killers, since the tendinitis agonies have now subsided greatly. I’m just stuck wearing The Boot to immobilize my left foot for a few weeks while everything presumably repairs itself. Good news, right? Except now I dread the return of the pain. Ask my wife about all the screaming and cussing that was going on last week.
  • Reason #2: Now my immune system is out of wack. With this round of drugs, I was immunosuppressed while teaching mobs of young men and women, and now I’ve developed a nasty hacking cough and sore throat. This is not good in a time of COVID-19. I should probably get tested soon.
  • Reason #3: Yesterday was meeting hell, and I’ve got the Zoomies now. On top of my classes, we had our annual tenure and promotion review meeting last night…for almost 3 hours. Three hours of pedantry and petty nit-picking. And that was after student seminar rehearsals. If my throat weren’t so sore I’d have been screaming.
  • Reason #4: We only got halfway through the list of promotion cases! We have to meet again tonight.