I remember when I first virtually “met” Ed Brayton. Years ago there was and still is a venue called Talk Origins where I sent in an email inviting him to a chat room on MSN called Evolution vs Creationism. See, back in those days the MSN chatroom and associated community were all free. Unlike most chatrooms we could kick dishonest people out if they began trolling, it was greeeeat! Ed Brayton came in, someone pitched him the old Kent Hovind will give you a million bucks if you can prove evolution spiel, at which point Ed replied to the effect of “I’ll give you my entire networth right now if you can prove decapitation causes death using the same criteria Hovind uses for evolution,” and I knew I had met a kindred spirit. Ed was both hilarious and just devastating in debate, still is btw if you ever get a chance to meet him. Of course, nothing that good could last …So it was with the MSN EvC community. Microsoft decided to start charging for the service and that killed it and every other budding community on that platform. WTG Bill Gates!
But for a while we moved the whole Evolution vs Creationism chat thing, kit and caboodle, to a new venue called Paltalk. Which worked OK. One of the things I noticed on Paltalk is there were a lot of Muslim chatrooms, including several running non-stop videos of Odnan Oktar AKA Harun Yayha. If you’ve never had the pleasure, Oktar is all about Old Earth Islamic Creationism, his particular genre hypes the scientific accuracy of the Koran in the context of cosmology and biology. Short version, most cosmology including the age of the universe is OK, because it fits with the Koran — see? — and there was a global flood and most evolution is not OK because Genesis is rather explicit on all that. The exception is microevolution which means whatever the hell Oktar needs it to mean at any given time.
Little did Ed and I know at the time we were probably being Watched. Well, in retrospect we probably would have bet we were and didn’t give a shit. Turns the time frames may not match up perfectly, but we’re smart enough to assume we’re being watched after a fashion and you were and are being watched too, assuming you are using the Internet:
Wired — As if news of the National Security Agency collecting phone records on millions of Americans wasn’t enough, a new report reveals that the NSA and FBI are directly tapped into central servers at nine U.S. internet firms, The companies whose servers are being mined are reportedly Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple. The classified program, dubbed PRISM, has been in operation since 2007 and has been a leading source of intelligence fed to the president in his daily intelligence briefings, according to the Washington Post, which broke the story at the same time as the Guardian today. The Post notes that PalTalk hosted significant traffic during the Arab Spring and during the ongoing Syrian civil war.