Words mean nothing, so I’ve decided I’m now a mollusc

There were some interesting responses to my post on the god worm. There were some that were just annoying. I’m not impressed with the ones that make excuses for religion by calling me “naive” and lacking an impression of the diversity of religious belief out there; one bothersome strategy that I also saw in Barbara O’Brien’s post was an attempt to defocus religious belief.

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No connection to reality at all

Isn’t this so symptomatic of Republican stupidity?

…the FDA released an internal memo showing that one high-ranking FDA official was sincerely worried about adolescents forming “sex-based cults centered around the use of Plan B.” Seriously.

The evidence, which may not be relevant to the Bush administration, shows no link between access to Plan B and risky sexual behavior, worse yet “sex-based cults.” How Bush-appointed “scientists” come up with such nonsense is a mystery.

If the administration said, “We’re morally opposed to emergency contraception,” we could at least have a reasonable debate. If the administration said, “We could go for this, but the Dobson crowd would kill us,” we would at least be facing political realities.

Instead, the Bush gang insists on a bizarre approach, in which they claim to base decisions like these on science, but ignore their own experts, hide embarrassing facts, and then lie about it. In the case of Plan B, the result is more unwanted pregnancies and more abortions.

For reasons that are unclear, the GOP’s religious right base seems to think this is a great idea.

I have an idea. Instead of blindly restricting the use of a safe and useful contraceptive, how about if we increase the level of sex education so that these mythical kids planning imaginary “sex parties” would realize that Plan B actually has a fairly high failure rate and doesn’t block sexually transmitted diseases at all? Then they’d know that this whole idea was very, very bad.

Oh, wait…the religious right opposes that, too.

Second option: how about if we require FDA bureaucrats to get instruction in how sex and reproduction works? They could hire me to give the birds and the bees talk to a roomful of stuffed shirt Washington drones.

I’m back!


Well, sorta. I arrived back home around midnight last night, and to be honest, I feel like I need another six hours of sleep right now. I also feel like I need to reply to some of the comments on that last godless post. And I also know I need to go take care of my fish for a while. I’ll be back in full ranty action in a little while, but meanwhile, contemplate this work of art, “Bob decided it was time to put his degree in philosophy to work.”

Change of plans

We cripples have to watch ourselves, so while I’d originally planned to spend my last day in NY at the big ol’ Bronx Zoo, we’ve scaled back a lot: I’m going to be at the Central Park zoo around noon. Short walks, no strain, that’s my policy right now.

Last night I did get to accomplish at least part of the actual purpose of my mission here: I got to meet some of the Seed Corporate Overlords. It was very disillusioning, though, and I’m going to have to come up with a better name for them—they lack the corporate dronishness and aren’t very overlordy. They’re a bunch of science nerds! It’s like the high school A/V club, the student newspaper, the chess club, and the model rocketry club all made an unholy alliance and discovered that they could make money and change the world. OK, and also get a nicer wardrobe and good grooming habits, but still…dweebish hearts are beating in the offices of Seed Media.

The god worm

Barbara O’Brien is doing a guest post for Glenn Greenwald, and she’s chosen to talk about religion—you can guess what her position is from the opening paragraph.

…sometimes I find myself defending Christians from the religion haters among us lefties.

I confess. That’s me, religion hater. Go ahead and read the whole thing. It’s interesting. It argues that we should tolerate Christians (I’m all for that), and that some Christians have very sensible secular views, and that some American Christians have been responsible for social progress. Sure thing! No argument!

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Hiking through knives and needles


Let me tell you about this Achilles tendinitis I’ve got.

My first couple of steps in the morning are flaming agony. After working it and gingerly stretching for a while, it subsides to a dull ache, and I’m good for about a half hour of cautious hobbling. After that, though, the pain builds and builds, until it’s like slamming my heel down on a white hot knife.

I’m not saying this because I’m fishing for sympathy. I spent over an hour and a half today limping through the Darwin exhibit at the AMNH. The pain I suffered through tells you a) how stupid I am to overdo it (I’m paying for it now, I tell you) and b) how good that exhibit is.

It follows the development of Darwin’s thought and demonstrates the evidence that led to his conclusions. It is completely uncompromising. It makes a few nods to the modern evidence at the end, and does mention the creationist objections briefly, as the nonsense they are…but it’s amazing how solidly the case can be made for evolution using just the 19th century data.

And then, or course, there are the artifacts. Darwin’s microscope. Annie’s box(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll). Bits of his notebooks. Darwin’s walking stick. It was glorious stuff.

I strongly recommend it. Even if the exhibit is also full of psychopathic badgers with acid-dripping claws ripping at your ankles. It’s really worth it.