Are you arguing that genetics supports your racism?

The American Society for Human Genetics begs to differ.

As the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) joins others in deepest sorrow and outrage over the unfathomable recent tragedies in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, the human genetics community is appalled at the news that the shooter in the hate-fueled mass killing in Buffalo rooted his racist beliefs by misusing and misrepresenting the science we strive to advance each day. As we have in 2018 and again in 2020, the human genetics community rejects in the strongest possible terms any attempt to twist and warp genetics knowledge to advance bogus racist ideology or try to legitimize through science the fundamental hatred that forms white supremacy’s evil core.

The fundamental fact from human genetics is this: the human genome tells the profoundly powerful story of a single humanity – one species able to thrive by adapting in subtle but important ways to our environmental and evolutionary forces over thousands of years in every corner of the planet. That variation is an enormous and profound strength and is central to efforts to understand and apply this knowledge to serve humanity.

As scientists and citizens in this one humanity, it is our duty to condemn falsehoods that enflame violence and to champion scientific knowledge and fact. ASHG’s hearts, minds and long-term goals remain fully committed to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion in science, health and society.

Genetics is far messier than most people know, so a good rule of thumb is to question simple answers.

Slippery slope to stupid

This woman is deeply, painfully stupid.

She seems to think there is some biological trend. There isn’t. Heterosexuality will always be common, and so will homosexuality.

Except, here’s the future liberals want: everyone is free to choose whom to love without shame or punishment. Kids are free to explore who they want to be, without their church or the government dictating which subset of the populace they are allowed to form loving relationships with; boys can love boys, boys can love girls, girls can love girls, girls can love boys, boys can be girls, girls can be boys, and if they don’t find fulfillment in sexual relationships, they can do something else. All the people who get pregnant will be those who want babies. Families will come in all flavors, and no one will find it at all unusual, let alone want to tell other people how they are supposed to live.

I think it would be absolutely wonderful if no one were “straight” anymore, in the Marjorie Taylor Greene sense of the word: compelled to live in a narrow little box, no matter what their heart tells them. That does not imply that heterosexuality will be discouraged or punished, although the MJTs of the world will always project and think that what they do to minorities is what will happen to them.

It’s Memorial Day?

What is it? I’m an American, I forget.

No, I kid. Of course I know what it is. It’s the day we commemorate all the soldiers who died brutal, bloody deaths in vicious wars in order to give us a three day weekend.

I guess here in Morris we also get a benediction and brunch out of their sacrifice. Woo hoo. All I can say is that I have a son in the army, the USA better not ever give me an excuse to visit a grave.

The Flood problem, illustrated by Oglaf

What? By Oglaf? And it’s entirely safe for work? Yep.

You don’t get to postulate a globe-spanning catastrophic flood that demolishes everything on the land and simply assume that fish will be unaffected. Every aquarist knows fish are profoundly affected by things like salinity, pH, elements like phosphates, etc. We don’t usually have to worry about violent churning and silt, fortunately, but in Noah’s flood you would.

I hadn’t thought about the potatoes, and most plants, in fact, but they also wouldn’t tolerate the massive disruption caused by the Christian magic flood story.

Of course, if you accept the metaphor, myth, and poetry theory, all the problems go away.

The Great Spider Heist

One of my colleague has a lovely compost bin in their back yard. Or should I say, “had”. They’re leaving our fair campus for a new job in the big city of Madison, which caused me some worry — not just for losing a good contributor in the science & math division, but because, as I’ve reported before, their compost bin has a magnificent colony of Steatoda borealis thriving inside it. Nobody ever asks, “what about the spiders?” when they leave.
So Mary and I…ummm…”appropriated” the compost bin. Don’t worry, I asked permission first, and it has now been relocated to our yard. Just outside our door, where I can check on them regularly.
Is it not beautiful?

It was a disruptive process for many of the spiders. The bottom is open, so hoisting it up meant losing much of the compost inside, but we shoveled up much of it and restocked the bin. No doubt we lost some spiders in the move, but they mainly live in the tangle of webbing inside the lid, not in the compost itself. Lots of egg sacs were still there.

And of course, many agitated spiders scurrying about on the lid.

They live on the small insects that emerge from the decaying compost, and survive the winter on the warmth of the fermenting organic matter, so I threw in some old potatoes I’d been saving for this occasion. We’ll also be much more careful to toss food waste in there, to keep the spiders happy.
We’ll also rename the bin the Atkinson Home for Hungry Spiders, in honor of my colleague.
Although, I don’t understand why he didn’t want to pack up such a gorgeous box full of joy to bring to his new home.

This story has also been posted to Patreon, and I’ll post occasional updates on the status of the happy spider family there.

Another “solution”

A Christian football player from Texas (obviously, that’s all you need to be fully qualified to provide answers to everything) offers his answer to the problem of school shootings.

No, you absolute numpty. It’s the guns. European countries have a higher divorce rate than the US, and don’t have anywhere near the number of mass shootings we do. Mongolia has a lower rate, and when was the last time you read about schools getting shot up there? There isn’t even a hint of a correlation.

This “marriage is a covenant” nonsense is a tool evangelicals use to trap and dominate women. It’s an ugly, manipulative tactic.

Ken Ham loves it.

Here’s an excellent summary of that exercise in patriarchal thinking, in case you never heard of John MacArthur or The Master’s University and Seminary.

See, for example, yesterday’s Houston Chronicle article, which details how for decades in the Southern Baptist Convention “survivors and others who reported [sexual] abuse were ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action . . . even if it meant convicted molesters continued in ministry.”

And for another example, see the recent New York Times article about a conservative pastor in Fort Smith, Arkansas who was pushed out of his pulpit because he used the acronym “BLM” in his blog, and because he refused to head down the QAnon rabbit hole with his congregants.

One of the best sources on scandal-a-minute evangelicalism is the Roys Report. Established by investigative journalist Julie Roys, the Report “is a Christian media outlet, reporting the unvarnished truth about what’s happening in the Christian community so the church can be reformed and restored.” Determined to expose the seamy side of what she refers to as the “evangelical industrial complex,” the intrepid, persistent, and apparently fearless Roys has done remarkable work in exposing appalling truths about evangelical luminaries and institutions such as Mark Driscoll, Ravi Zacharias, Hillsong, Jerry Falwell Jr. and Liberty University, James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel, Matt Chandler and Acts 29, and Thomas White and Cedarville University (about which we also have written a great deal – here’s one example).

But near the top of Roys’ investigative hit parade is John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, and chancellor emeritus of The Master’s University and Seminary (TMUS). In the past 27 months, Roys has written (I think I have the count right) 47 posts on MacArthur and his institutions (not to mention additional podcasts). In these articles she has detailed MacArthur’s claims that there is no pandemic (it’s a Satanic deception, which would be news to the families of the over 1 million Americans who have died from COVID) and his church’s and schools’ failure to report COVID cases; she has highlighted MacArthur’s huge salaries and wealth, blatant nepotism, and determination to keep financial details of his institutions a secret; and, she has reported accusations of plagiarism against the chancellor emeritus.

On top of all that corruption, MacArthur also believes “marriage is a covenant”…or, in other words, marriage is a prison for women.

This spring, Roys has focused on how MacArthur and his minions, taking a page out of the Southern Baptist Convention playbook, have a history of minimizing and covering up sexual abuse. Here a few examples:

And there is more. And all of this is in keeping with what John Street, chair of the graduate program in biblical counseling at TMUS, has taught his students:

  • A Christian wife should endure abuse by a non-Christian husband in the same way that missionaries endure persecution.
  • By enduring abuse a wife may win her husband to Christ.
  • When both spouses are Christian, the wife should rely on church processes, as government authorities must be the absolute last resort.
  • Domestic violence shelters are terrible places, as they teach women to be assertive.
  • The only grounds for divorce are unrepentant adultery and abandonment.

I watched my grandmother suffer for years in an abusive, broken marriage, and I don’t think she ever tried to get out of it. I think the last decades of her life would have been much happier if she could have escaped, although it probably would have accelerated my grandfather’s decline.

It’s a Marcus thing

People were wondering why I put a picture of a Fight Club bar of soap on my post about Marcus Ranum. It’s because he’s a maker — he makes things like bars of soap. I should have just used my own bar of Marcus Ranum soap, but as you’ll see below, it’s been in my office gathering cat hair.

I also have one of his knives.

If ever I have to fight off a crazed attacker, that would be my weapon of choice. It’s wicked sharp and pointy. And then I could wash the blood off with a bar of soap.

Everyone, keep an eye on Marcus, he’s home alone.

Attention spans are ridiculously short

Hey! Remember these hot news stories?

There are probably some other major events, but I forgot them.

Can an entire country, or possibly an entire species, come down with acute Alzheimer’s disease?

The Peterson delusion

Yesterday, Jackson Wheat sent me a link to this ‘discussion’ between Jordan Peterson and Richard Dawkins. I don’t recommend listening to it. I only made it through the first 5 minutes before the gag reflex kicked in. Peterson does most of the talking; the opening is Peterson simpering about how Bill C16 was compelled speech, and Dawkins agreeing and praising his courage.

You’ll understand why I then glanced at the timer and saw it was an hour and a half long and closed it with a few disgusted curses.

Then an excerpt from somewhere later in the video was posted on Twitter. It’s mostly Peterson explaining why two intertwined snakes are representations of DNA, which he saw clearly while on psilocybin. It is totally bonkers. It’s stupid and insane and infantile.

A brief summary if you don’t want to listen to it (or if, like me, you don’t want to listen to it a second time).

It reminded me a bit of that old video, much loved by creationists, in which creationists got into his office on the pretext of a filming an interview, and he just stopped, arrested by his British reserve, and was too polite to give them the ass-kicking they deserved. Jordan Peterson is a stark raving batshit dipsy-doodle con man.

It’s too bad Dawkins couldn’t see that the rest of Peterson’s schtick is just as groundless and loony.