It’s Christmas in July!

First it’s the gay-themed redecoration of the Ark Park.

Then, in light of the dodgy resale of the Big Gay Wooden Box to themselves to avoid taxes, the FFRF is coming down on them.

FFRF is requesting that the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority take immediate action to suspend the availability of tax rebates to the operators of the Ark and to terminate any applicable agreements it has with the Ark Encounter.

Kentucky has already responded!

The Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet notified the operators of the Ark Encounter that it is in breach of its Tourism Development Agreement with the state. That agreement provides up to $18 million in state subsidies for the Ark project in the form of annual sales tax rebates. FFRF obtained records from the Cabinet today that include a July 18 notice sent to the operators of the Ark saying that Ark Encounter, LLC has breached the agreement following the sale of the property. The letter says that no further tax rebates may accrue as of June 28.

And with that, a whole flock of happy lawyers and accountants have got their wings. See? This is what happens when you play shenanigans with the tax system: headaches, and the sucking sound of money swirling down the drain.

Oh, and Sean Spicer has resigned.

Today was a good day.

Henceforth, I shall call it the Big Gay Wooden Box

Ken Ham wants to take back the rainbow for his god, so he’s now lighting up the Big Wooden Box with rainbow lights.

I’m just seeing that Answers in Genesis is celebrating marriage equality.

You’re too late, Ken. The rainbow has been effectively coopted as a symbol for diversity, and you aren’t getting it back. Also, the flood/rainbow story is just plain stupid, unless you’re going to argue that before the flood, light wasn’t refracted by any materials, especially water.

Minnesota Department of Education approves Transgender Toolkit

I am surprised and gratified that our school system took a progressive step forward — they approved a set of guidelines for dealing with gender issues in schools, and it’s not outrageous bathroom bill nonsense.

A Minnesota Department of Education advisory council voted to approve a new toolkit for “Safe and Supportive Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students” in front of a room of more than 200 opponents and advocates of LGBTQ issues Wednesday.

The motion was met with cheers from advocates for transgender students, led by OutFront Minnesota and its allies, who wore purple at the gathering at the department’s offices in Roseville.

Opponents of the toolkit, led by the Minnesota Family Council, a conservative Christian coalition, wore red.

The toolkit, approved by the School Safety Technical Assistance Council, is a nonbinding guide with information about providing welcoming environments for all students and guidelines for school officials to support transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

The toolkit stems from a desire to combat bullying in schools, said state Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey.

Impressive. The usual approach to combating bullying has been to enable the bullies. This is like, sensible and tolerant. Which means, of course that some people don’t like it at all.

Sadly, this toolkit undermines my authority as a parent, said Joy Orbis, who wore red and brought her four children from the Anoka-Hennepin School District to the packed meeting. Before the meeting, Orbis and her children drew signs that included the hashtag #Stopthetoolkit.

No, it doesn’t. If your little boy wants to be addressed as “he”, or your little girl wants to be called “she”, they still can, and you can complain if they’re misgendered.

The toolkit encourages teachers to teach false conceptions of gender, said Barb Anderson, a longtime opponent of changes to LGBTQ policies in the Anoka-Hennepin district. Her comments on Wednesday were met with yells of “disrespect” by others in the meeting room.

No, it doesn’t. It expects that teachers will respect the reasonable requests of their students. It contains clear, simple guidelines that mean less time spent squabbling over supporting bigotry.

You can read a draft of A Toolkit for Ensuring Safe and Supportive Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students here. I hope more states follow Minnesota’s lead.

Those are some headlines

It’s the 92nd anniversary of the Scopes trial, and we missed out on some spectacular headlines.

Bryan, under merciless goad of Darrow, holds fast to Holy Writ
Defense leader, in contempt, recants
Commoner, in anger, flays all science

Wow. I want a merciless goad. I’d like to meet the guy who can flay all science.

Newspapers have gotten a bit bloodless, I think.

We Hunted the Megalodon

Since David Futrelle is currently offline, dealing with some nasty migraines, I guess I have to step in and cover the incel beat. Incels, for those blessedly ignorant of them, are “involuntary celibates”, sad deprived people who can’t get a woman to touch their penises, and who then blame all of womankind for their selfish unwillingness to have sex with them. They also tend to aggregate in places like r/incel where they indulge in increasingly vicious rounds of reinforcement of inappropriate blaming. It gets ugly.

Anyway, here’s an example of bad biology and misogyny from an incel.

OK, forget the bad biology — that’s irrelevant in the context of this person’s contemptible beliefs about women.

Without their shit tier brains they would be nearly perfect beings, which could be used by men for the better of society.

Yeah, ladies, if you were smarter men could use you, so we’re going to pith you so men can use your bodies. It’s all about using you.

Hey, I’m sort of understanding how Futrelle could feel bad after concentrated doses of reading this crap, but my discomfort seems lower down, somewhere in some heaving guts.

How do we end this bullshit? I think it’s safe to say that reddit makes it worse by allowing these people to clump into self-reinforcing clans suffering from self-fulfilling prophecies. Maybe reddit should take some responsibility and shut down wildly demented hate groups? Nah. Free speech uber alles!

G Man puts the smack down on me!

I got into a conversation with a creationist in a hangout late one night, and now, wouldn’t you know it, he has announced that he “humbled” me. Funny, that’s not how I remember it. He cut up a few bits from our discussion and created a video in which he thinks he has rebutted me, with much bluster and arrogance.

PZ Myer just got owned! all the down votes are from butt hurt atheists who worship PZ Myers and want to protect their religion called evolution!

In case you don’t want to sit through 13 minutes of ranting, I’ll summarize it for you.

He says I allow these atheists to puff my head up because I broke the world record in math. I have no idea what he means; what is the world record in math, anyway? So I’ll let that slide, just as I’ll skip over the fact that he spells my name two different ways in his description and consistently mispronounces it.

He claims I said two stupid things.

The first is that he said something bizarre — that humans have 43 chromosomes, while tobacco has 48, and that this is a fact that evolutionists use to argue for evolution, calling it the chromosome argument which, he says, 40 or 50 atheists use.

My reply was that chromosome number is irrelevant. After all, it varies in a rather arbitrary fashion across species, and it seems to be a highly variable character. While it may be useable as a comparision across closely related species, just tallying up chromosome numbers gives you no clue to relatedness. Here’s a table of some representative numbers, for instance:

If you just thought those numbers were sufficient to indicate ancestry, you’d have to conclude that humans are more closely related to zebrafish than they are to horses. So, no, we don’t use the chromosome argument, or the argument from chromosome numbers.

I asked him if he knew how many chromosomes he had. His answer: 43 or 45. Both wrong. Not just wrong in detail, but in concept — we’re diploid, so we’re going to have an even number of chromosomes.

In his rebuttal, he mangles the statement that chromosome numbers are not a good metric for relatedness into a claim that no evolutionist uses chromosomes as evidence for evolution. Then he shows a clip of Ken Miller dismantling a common creationist claim, that because the other apes have 48 chromosomes and we only have 46, we can’t be that closely related. Miller shows from the content of chromosome 2 in humans that it is a product of a fusion of two ancestral chromosomes. He is explaining how chromosome numbers can vary.

Then he cuts to Kent Hovind. It’s Hovind who thinks these numbers are significant. He shows slides of chromosome numbers like the one I posted above, and makes strange arguments. Chimps have the same number of chromosomes as tobacco, which for some reason the audience finds hilarious and guffaws loudly.

Chickens and dogs both have 78 chromosomes, so they’re identical twins. Ferns have the largest number of chromosomes, so evolutionists think that’s the ultimate goal of all evolution. Opposums, redwoods, and kidney beans have the same number of chromosomes, and then in a non sequitur, he argues that the similarities are indications of a common designer.

It’s creationists like Kent Hovind who use this bogus chromosome argument, not biologists. Our creationist then summarizes by saying he was not demonstrating his ignorance, he knows what he’s talking about. Sorry, guy, you’ve only demonstrated that you’re as ignorant as Kent Hovind. Do better.

He says the second stupid thing I said was to cite the fossil record.

Actually, what I did say was that there were multiple lines of evidence and that I thought the molecular evidence was most persuasive, but he had a canned rant about how he doesn’t believe in fossils, so he latched onto that.

Here in this rebuttal he then cuts to an ancient clip from Dick Weisenberg (I knew him; he was a colleague at Temple University) from the 1990s (ancient history — look, he’s using an overhead projector!). What this has to do with me, I don’t know, especially since I disagree with a few of the things he says. But what seems to have caught his attention was that Dick was caught in a contradiction: he first tells the audience of creationists to look at the fossil evidence, that the bones “prove” evolution, and then later he dials it down and says that the fossils are consistent with evolution. I agree with the latter, not the former. It’s one of the difficult things about doing debates when you’re not a trained debater — it’s easy to get tripped up by the colloquialisms and casual conversational use of words.

But the thing is, pointing out someone else’s error does not address anything I said. It also doesn’t rebut the fact that the fossil record is consistent with the theory of evolution, but not with creationism.

He lectures me at the end about my arrogance and how I should have more humility when dealing with Christians.

My time is very important to me, and I don’t like wasting it on people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

OK, Mr 43-or-45-chromosomes, I agree.

Only one problem?

I want to know what is whistling about in a certain orange tyrant’s head. He doesn’t seem to have a good grasp of history at all.

Napoleon finished a little bit bad, the president began. His one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death.

“that night”…what night? Napoleon’s Russian campaign was a 6 month slog with multiple battles, concluding with the loss of about half a million men.

What “night”? What “extracurricular activities”? Inquiring minds want to know.

Who does Trump want in charge of the USDA?

Some guy named Sam Clovis. His qualifications:

Sam Clovis, a former Trump campaign adviser and one-time conservative talk radio host, has no background in the hard sciences, nor any policy experience with food or agriculture. Still, that did not stop President Donald Trump from officially nominating Clovis to the position of the United States Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary of research, education, and economics, the agency’s top science position.

You know, the conventional wisdom is that Trump won over all those hardworking farmers in the Midwest (and he did get solid support from them). I wonder if they realize yet that he’s found yet another way to screw them over? Because I can tell you, as someone living in the farm belt, farm policy matters to the people living here. They will probably forgive him, though, even as they’re getting thoroughly screwed, because he’s fucking over those dang pointy-headed liberal elite scientists even more, and that’s all they care about.

Clovis, like so many of the Trump administration’s top policy officials, does not accept the scientific consensus on climate change. In 2014, he told Iowa Public Radio that climate science is “junk science” and “not proven.” He also said in an interview with E&E News in October that the Trump administration would not prioritize climate change or climate science at the USDA — a sharp break from the Obama administration, which made a point of trying to better prepare farmers and the food system for imminent climate-fueled changes like droughts or heavier storms.

If you’d told me that a stint in conservative talk radio, all that ranty angry bullshitting, would be the new entry point into the American civil service cursus honorum ten years ago, I would have laughed. It can’t possibly get that bad, can it?

Two weasels wrestling in a tub of jello made with toxic waste

I actually listened to Sam Harris’s interview with Scott Adams — with only half an ear, admittedly, while I was doing other things. I will say something I find uncomfortable: I mostly agreed with Harris in the discussion. He was reluctantly (there’s a part near the beginning where he declares he’s a “centrist” and wants nothing to do with the left or right) dragged into conceding that he was strongly anti-Trump, and he was compelled to spend most of his time arguing vigorously against Adams. So that’s good at least (although they did seem to have a few moments of consonance on the topic of immigration).

You also get to listen to the Harris Evasion Tactic played over and over again against Harris — “that’s not what I was saying”, “it’s out of context”, and of course, “I’m seeing things much more deeply than you are”. Harris is clearly frustrated at points.

Unfortunately, you also have to listen to Adams, who is hopelessly obtuse and arrogant. Trump meant to do everything he’s done, he’s cleverer than you think, he’s really doing good for the country. He’s also constantly interrupting Harris, to an annoying degree. It’s also one of those events where you wonder why the hell anyone is having a conversation with this lunatic, kind of like how I feel every time yet another Trump proxy is brought on to a television news show. Aren’t we done with this crap yet?

Adams, of course, thinks he won the argument and is preemptively announcing that everyone is getting him wrong.

The Haters of Imaginary Events are out in force already. They imagine I said objectionable things during my conversation with Sam and they tweet about their hallucinations in anger. So far, no one has accurately stated my opinion before criticizing it. That’s a tell for cognitive dissonance. I’ll be making those monkeys dance today on my Twitter feed

Not recommended. They just kind of weasel around for over two hours, with Adams winning the weasely contest, but losing the reason contest. So…a tie?