It’s all hilarious until it isn’t

The central character on the internet for the last few days has been Andrew Tate, macho posturing kickboxer and sleaze merchant, previously banned on Twitter but allowed back on by Elon Musk (of course). He was recently mocked by, of all persons, Greta Thunberg, who teased his “small-dick energy”, followed by Tate making a video bragging about all his expensive cars, thereby proving her point. This was quickly followed by the Romanian police busting in and arresting Tate, purportedly tipped off by the box for a local pizza delivery site letting them know where he was (I don’t really believe this — the police knew where he was, and already had a case against him.)

Funny stuff. Bragging idiot gets his comeuppance, perfect Twitter fodder, right?

Until you read what the Romanian police charged him with.

Following the communique no. 1 of 12.04.2022 and the interest shown by media representatives, the Information and Public Relations Office within the Organized Crime and Terrorism Investigation Directorate is empowered to bring the following to public attention:

On 29.12.2022, the prosecutors of the Directorate for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism – Central Structure together with police officers from the Bucharest Organized Crime Brigade implemented 5 home search warrants in a case in which investigations under the aspect of committing the crimes of constituting an organized criminal group, human trafficking and rape.
In the case it was noted that, at the beginning of 2021, 4 suspects (two British citizens and two Romanian citizens) constituted a criminal group organized in order to commit crimes on the territory of Romania, but also of other countries, such as the United States of America and Great Britain, of the crime of human trafficking.
Victims were recruited by British citizens by misrepresenting their intention to enter into a marriage/cohabitation relationship and the existence of genuine feelings of love (the loverboy method). They were later transported and housed in buildings in Ilfov county where, by exercising acts of physical violence and mental coercion (through intimidation, constant surveillance, control and invoking alleged debts), they were sexually exploited by group members by forcing them to perform demonstrations pornographic for the purpose of producing and disseminating through social media platforms material having such a character and by submitting to the execution of a forced labor,
So far, 6 injured persons have been identified who were sexually exploited by the organized criminal group.
With regard to the crime of rape, it was noted that, in March 2022, an injured person was forced, on two different occasions, by a suspect through the exercise of physical violence and psychological pressure to have sexual relations.
At the headquarters of the Directorate for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism – Central Structure, 4 people who are reasonably suspected of being involved in criminal activity were taken for questioning. Following the hearings, the prosecutors of the Directorate for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism – Central Structure ordered the 4 persons to be detained for a period of 24 hours.
The activities were also attended by police officers from the Ilfov Organized Crime Service and the Service for Combating Human Trafficking, as well as gendarmes from the Special Intervention Brigade of the Gendarmerie.
We make it clear that during the entire criminal process, the investigated persons benefit from the procedural rights and guarantees provided by the Code of Criminal Procedure, as well as the presumption of innocence.

[translated from the original Romanian]

Jesus fucking christ. Not funny at all. Tate and his brother were luring women into their grasp, imprisoning them, using them to make internet pornography, and raping them. And people have been idolizing him? If convicted, I hope they spend many years in a Romanian prison; if not convicted, please let this be the end of Tate’s reputation as a man to emulate. He’s a cowardly abuser of women and a rapist.

The enduring futility of Intelligent Design creationism

It’s almost sad how pathetic the Discovery Institute has become. Every year they have a little roundup of their “accomplishments” of the year. This year, they got some guy named Brian Miller (sorry, I’ve lost track of the shifting roster of employees at the Fail Institute) to write up the grand summary. Let’s see if you notice what’s missing from this account.

So let’s review. In 2022, I participated in several conferences and private events in which I interacted with prominent scientists. Several acknowledged the strength of our arguments critiquing the current scientific orthodoxy and defending the evidence for design in life. At a recent conference, I spoke with one of the most recognized and admired evolutionary biologists. In a private conversation, he accepted that the arguments for design based on engineering analyses of living systems were substantive. And during a public lecture, he even tacitly conceded that the information central to life points to design. He stated that he wished to wait for future research to potentially explain the origin of biological information through natural processes. But his tone of voice suggested that he doubted whether such an explanation would ever materialize.

At another meeting, I sat on a panel with one of the leading evolutionary theorists. He stated that standard evolutionary analyses addressing nontrivial transformations typically are severely deficient in their mathematical cogency. He also thanked scholars in the ID network for addressing with rigor and nuance such questions as the rarity of functional protein sequences and the required timescales for generating coordinated mutations. At another conference, top-level biologists affirmed the strength of my arguments for the challenge of evolving new proteins that perform complex tasks. Many still wished to wait for natural explanations for the origin of novel protein structures, but they now much better appreciate the severity of the challenge.

I think he deserves a participation trophy! That’s all he did. He interacted with prominent scientists at conferences — all unnamed. He spoke to one of the most recognized and admired evolutionary biologists who tacitly conceded some ID talking points. They aren’t named, so we can’t assess the relevance of their discipline or their prominence. Then he was on a panel with a leading evolutionary theorist, again unnamed. Then he went to another conference with “TOP MEN” who affirmed ID … their names are a mystery.

Is it name-dropping if you fail to actually name any of them?

In addition to that hopelessly vague summary, they have an annual countdown of the top ten ID news stories. Shall I go through them all? No. Too boring. Too trivial. For instance, #6 is Megalodon, written by the most tediously pedantic nitwit in their stable, Günter Bechly. After a couple of paragraphs about the majestic size of Meg and it’s tremendous teeth, and noting that they are definitely entirely completely extinct, we get the dramatic exciting reason their contribution to intelligent design is being acknowledged here.

Sharks possess many remarkable biological features, of which some clearly point to intelligent design, such as their complex olfactory and electromagnetic sense organs. The latter are situated on and around their snouts and are called ampullae of Lorenzini (Bellono et al. 2017, Weiler 2017). The discovery of this electromagnetic sense by Adrianus Kalmjin is a fascinating story (Shiffman 2022). A recent study revealed further secrets, such as the fact that sharks only use these organs to find prey, while the related skates and rays also use them for electric communication (Weiler 2018). For more information on evidence for intelligent design in marine organisms like sharks and whales, I highly recommend the Illustra Media documentary Living Waters (Evolution News 2016).

That’s it! That’s all he’s got! Nothing new at all, some old news that sharks have a sophisticated sensory system, and none of the cited papers so much as mention Megalodon or discuss problems in evolutionary theory. I’m sure David Shiffman would be surprised to learn he’s being cited as a creationist authority.

So, for their great grand end of the year summary of the majestic progress of their agenda, all they have to show are vague assertions that the lurkers support them at conferences and that non-creationists have learned things that they can distort into some imaginary support for design theory. Mediocre.

Remember, they codified their plans back in 1998, in the Wedge document. Here’s what they were supposed to have done by 1993.

Five Year Goals

  • To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory.
  • To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science.
  • To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.

Those all flopped. What about their goals for 2018?

Twenty Year Goals

  • To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.
  • To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its influence in the fine arts.
  • To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.

2023 is time for their twenty five year goals, which they didn’t specify in the original document. Here, I’ll help them out:

Twenty Five Year Goals

  • To have a few anonymous scientists whisper tentative support off the record that they might support us.
  • To appropriate random discoveries by legitimate scientists as, in fact, intelligent design discoveries.
  • To employ an array of no-name wankers to write puff-pieces on our website.

Finally, mission accomplished!

It’s not a difficult choice at all

How’s it going, Mastodon?

Twitter rival Mastodon has rejected more than five investment offers from Silicon Valley venture capital firms in recent months, as its founder pledged to protect the fast-growing social media platform’s non-profit status.

Mastodon, an open-source microblogging site founded in 2016 by German software developer Eugen Rochko, has seen a surge in users since Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion in October amid concerns over the billionaire’s running of the social media platform.

Rochko told the Financial Times he had received offers from more than five US-based investors to invest “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in backing the product, following its fast growth.

But he said the platform’s non-profit status was “untouchable,” adding that Mastodon’s independence and the choice of moderation styles across its servers were part of its attraction.

“Mastodon will not turn into everything you hate about Twitter,” said Rochko. “The fact that it can be sold to a controversial billionaire, the fact that it can be shut down, go bankrupt and so on. It’s the difference in paradigms [between the platforms].”

Meanwhile, on Twitter:

Somebody has been grandpa-proofing their child

I am supposed to be allowed to spoil my grandchild. It is a time-honored privilege that I have been denied.

I went on a walk with the granddaughter and ended up at the coffeeshop, where I had promised to buy her a cookie. She picked one out — chocolate chip, of course — and we sat down, and she said, “I have to athk my mom if I can have a treat.” And she didn’t eat it! We had to bag it up and bring it home, where her mom did say she could have it.

It’s the Marshmallow Test on steroids! I am totally foiled in my cunning plan to totally spoil the child before she goes home.

Also, what a weird kid. I’m beginning to question my grandpaternity.

Help! We’re being held hostage by a maniac child!

Our daughter and granddaughter are here, and the little one is in control. She has plans. Yesterday we played veterinarian for hours. Last night, before she went to bed, she wrote down her agenda for today: she wants to build a castle, and put name decals on her scooter, and feed some spiders, and ride her scooter (I helped with the last one, because she was using the list to procrastinate bedtime.) She put checkmark boxes next to her plans.

We’re in trouble. She’s a little girl with a clipboard, and an agenda, and she gives orders. I’m hastily scribbling this in our bedroom before she wakes up. I fear the daylight.

Judgment of Paris time

This could be trouble. Three of my favorite girls in the whole world — Mary, Skatje, and Iliana — are converging on my house this afternoon for a little holiday get-together. I hope they don’t ask me which one is my favorite, because I don’t have a good comeback at hand, and I’d rather not have an unfortunate encounter with Philoctetes.

“Scientist” is a gender-neutral term

I’d already known that “scientist” coined by William Whewell in the 19th century, but only today did I learn the context. The first scientist by name was Mary Somerville, and Whewell had to invent the term to describe her!

Months after the publication of Somerville’s Connexion, the English polymath William Whewell — then master of Trinity College, where Newton had once been a fellow, and previously pivotal in making Somerville’s Laplace book a requirement of the university’s higher mathematics curriculum — wrote a laudatory review of her work, in which he coined the word scientist to refer to her. The commonly used term up to that point — “man of science” — clearly couldn’t apply to a woman, nor to what Whewell considered “the peculiar illumination” of the female mind: the ability to synthesize ideas and connect seemingly disparate disciplines into a clear lens on reality. Because he couldn’t call her a physicist, a geologist, or a chemist — she had written with deep knowledge of all these disciplines and more — Whewell unified them all into scientist. Some scholars have suggested that he coined the term a year earlier in his correspondence with Coleridge, but no clear evidence survives. What does survive is his incontrovertible regard for Somerville, which remains printed in plain sight — in his review, he praises her as a “person of true science.”

He still managed to squeeze in some sexist stereotyping, but that’s cool. Read the whole article to find out what remarkable person Somerville was.

Wheel out the persecution complex

I mentioned before that Ken Ham and Ray Comfort were going to flood London with Bible tracts for the upcoming coronation. The Panda’s Thumb also noted the silliness of this effort. Here’s the complete text of their comment.

Ken Ham and his fellow creationist grifters plan to disrupt King Charles’s Coronation by handing out religious tracts disguised as money.

This is hilarious. They are raising money to print and distribute 3 million counterfeit “1 Million Pound” notes that will display fundamentalist/creationist tracts on the reverse side. They are shamelessly raising money to do this. I wonder if the British Secret Service will also be amused.

That’s it! That’s all they said. It was enough to fuel Ray Comfort’s outrage, though. He thinks that’s a serious threat to call the police on them, so he’s made a video in which he intercuts clips of people getting handcuffed, of gangster firing machine guns, and then delivers a po-faced explanation of all the ways their Bible tracts differ from genuine UK pound notes. Yeah, Ray, we know. You’re more likely to get arrested for littering than for seriously trying to undermine the British economy with fake money. Your greater crime will be inducing eye-strain in all the people who will be rolling their eyes.

That doesn’t trigger their persecution complex, though…gotta inflate the concerns even more.

So ridiculous. They’re trying so hard to pretend the world sees them as fierce and dangerous, rather than a joke.

Speaking of jokes, if you bother to watch the video, it starts out with breathless outraged innocence, but One-Trick-Pony Ray can’t keep it up for long, and it abruptly switches to another of his man-in-the-street interviews where he confronts a stranger with the question and accusation, “Have you ever told a lie? Then you’re a liar and are going to hell.” It’s a good thing for Ray that the Bible doesn’t condemn people for being a repetitive bore, because he’d be damned for all time. I turn off any of his videos when he starts on that tired schtick, which means I can never sit through any of them.