Saturday, November 30, 2013


The Marksman


I suppose we knew it was coming.

On November 20, 2013, Illinois became the sixteenth state to permit same sex marriage (Congratulations!) when Governor Pat Quinn signed the legislation, passed a few weeks earlier, into law.

There were heavy tornadoes in Illinois on November 17th.

So, naturally, an ultra far right Catholic group had this to say:
The massive tornadoes that hit Illinois after the passing of the same sex "marriage" bill, has stimulated many people to reflection.

In it, some see God's chastisement; others see it as yet one more merciful warning from Providence; others yet deny both options and give various reasons.

What do you think?
Well, I think your god's aim sucks:
Illinois was the hardest hit, with 43 tornadoes, followed by 23 in Indiana, 13 in Kentucky, one in Missouri and one in Ohio.
I also think you are morons.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Happy Thanksgiving ... Unless You're Gay!

It's that time of year again when Americans celebrate the successful genocide of Native Americans, the eve of Black Friday and the concussions of athletes!

But Peter LaBarbera (or is that LaBarbarian?), of the oxymoronic Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, doesn't want LGBT people to even think they have a right to be thankful that the tide of public opinion about gay rights, particularly in regard to same sex marriage, has turned in their favor.

Thanksgiving, you see, is reserved for "Christians and Bible-respecting Jews." (I guess "Judeo-Christian" is no longer specific enough ... and forget those nasty Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and, especially, atheists!)

It isn't really worth the time to dissect LaBarbera's foaming-at-the-mouth screed but I did find this bit amusing:
And so, we have come full circle: citizens of a nation founded "under God" use our annual day of gratitude — conceived to humbly give thanks to God — to celebrate sin. ...

[W]e as a nation must repent and return to honoring our motto of being under God if we are to achieve greatness again, and avoid His divine judgment upon us.
Up until the "Red Scare" of the 1950s, one of the nadirs of our democracy ("Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"), our motto was generally considered to be E pluribus unum, Latin for "Out of many, one."

LGBT people are one group out of the many that make up this country and our Founders, imperfect as they were, at least pointed us towards an ideal that all that multitude would stand equal before the law and be protected in their rights.

It is the LaBarberas of the world that keep us from being as thankful as we should be.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


They Grow 'Em Ignorant in Texas

This is more in the line of the Sensuous Curmudgeon but I can't resist. A Letter to the Editor in the Victoria (Texas) Advocate, in response to a lecture given by Nicholas Wade at Victoria College, says the following:
It's regrettable that he had no rebuttal from the other side, for evolution has enough flaws as to make it laughable.
Which, of course, is why upwards of 98% of scientists knowledgeable in biology accept it. They just have a good sense of humor.

Then there is the obligatory hoary quote mine of Darwin about the vertebrate eye, so beloved by the ignoratti, and the claim that it was "men of faith" who gave science its start, as if that changes the fact that those men (and, ahem, women) were, nonetheless, intent on using the methods of science to understand the material world.

But then it gets funny, with the writer assuming, in a classic petitio principii, that it was all aimed at producing human beings:
Here are some of my favorite ideas contrary to evolution: How did the evolutionary forces know there existed in the cosmos such things as taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing so they could develop those senses in man?
But, of course, knowing what was in your environment and what might eat you, or might be eaten by you, was of great use to all organisms. As was pointed out by Darwin, a simple eye spot was use enough in the land of the blind to set off an evolutionary "arms race" that favors ever better eyes and other senses.

Next there is this:
How did those forces understand that communication was desirable and so give man a voice?
Any of the old "howlers" will understand that communication among social species, from monkey warnings, to ant pheromones, to bee dances, to prairie dog chirps, to elephant trumpets, etc., etc., are of use in survival of the population. All those, and many more, have "voices."

After a brief digression into 'how do we account for beauty, love and sex?' (which can be explained by such things as color sense needed for selecting ripe fruit to eat, sexual selection, and the need to swap genes to avoid parasites, among many other reasons), comes the truly precious argument:
The greatest wonder is that of man himself. As for him, consider all the protective devices built in to his body to ensure his survival: blood that clots; adrenaline that gives man an extra burst of energy in cases of emergency; properties in the blood that resist infection; pain to serve as a warning; protective reflexes such as sneezing, coughing and vomiting; and the balance mechanism in our inner ear that keeps us from falling down.
If the "protective devices" human beings have show that they are the "greatest wonder" of life, then the author should be able to name all the mammals, from shrews to elephants, that don't have blood clotting, adrenaline, immune systems, pain, sneezing, coughing, vomiting (good grief, hasn't he ever owned a cat?) and a balance mechanism in their inner ear.

He won't, of course. The arrogance and ignorance is strong in this one.

The "flaws" he sees in evolutionary science are not flaws at all but just a deep lack of knowledge of biology.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Stringing Us Along

David Klinghoffer, one of the more (though unintentionally) honest of the Discovery [sic] Institute crowd, has an amusing post at the DI's propaganda outlet.

It seems that Neanderthals made string ... ergo God!
[Bruce] Hardy and his colleagues have found slender, 0.7-millimetre-long plant fibres that are twisted together near some stone artefacts at a site in south-east France that was occupied by Neanderthals 90,000 years ago. Such fibres are not twisted together in nature, says the team, suggesting that the Neanderthals were responsible (Quaternary Science Reviews,

"If they are indeed remnants of string or cordage, then they would be the earliest direct evidence of string," says Hardy. "Albeit very fragmentary evidence."

At 90,000 years old, the material purported to be string predates the arrival of Homo sapiens in Europe.
Note the sentence in bold. Plant fibers twisted together are evidence of intelligent design, since such a pattern defies explanation by reference to unguided natural processes of chance and necessity. It reflects intention and creativity. But DNA strands twisted together and bearing the encoded genetic information vital to life -- oh sure, nature had no difficulty coming up with that one.
Oh, let's see how this works. Humans (Neanderthals were close to, if not the same, species as us) appear to have taken a product of nature (plant fibers) and did something to them ... mechanically twisted them ... something that we can not only reproduce but can understand the reason for. It only "defies explanation by reference to unguided natural processes" if you assume that humans or our near relatives aren't also a result of unguided natural processes. In other words, if you run in such tight logical circles that there is a real danger of disappearing up your own ass.

On the other hand, God the "designer" somehow, in some unexplained and unexplainable way, "twisted together," at some unknown time and place, by unknown means, DNA that nonetheless now, inexplicably, operates by the ordinary and well understood principles of chemical bonding.

Yeah! How alike those propositions are!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Rattles and Bones

In the coming week a priest will be dressing up in some funny clothes and trying to exorcise evil spirits.

Some backwater third world nation?

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield said he will offer prayers for "exorcism in reparation for the sin of same-sex marriage" at the same time Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the same-sex marriage bill next week.

Paprocki said he will offer the prayers intended to cast out evil at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the state's capital Wednesday. ...

An exorcism, which often refers to a rite performed on an individual, is applicable in the case of same-sex marriage because the devil can appear "in various forms of opposition to and persecution of the church," the diocese of Springfield said in statement.
How does that go again? "Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad."


Oh, Lordy!

Russell Crowe as Noah and Anthony Hopkins as ... whoever ... how can we not go to watch?

But Todd Wood ... as honest a person as any YEC can be ... is worried:
Looks kind of impressive, doesn't it? But then almost any movie can look kind of impressive condensed to two minutes.
Well, sure. If trailers predicted the worth and marketability of movies, when would there ever be flops?
For myself, I am wary. I've already read two different takes on an early script draft (Brian Godawa's and Peter Chattaway's). Admittedly, they both reviewed early drafts of the script, so the final version is likely to be different, but I am concerned about turning the Noah story into a modern environmentalist fable. The Flood story is pretty grim to begin with (all of humanity wiped out in a single, global catastrophe?), but the notion that humanity must be destroyed because we're bad for the planet? That sounds like the stereotypically worst attitudes that the environmentalist movement has to offer.
But what is this "environmentalist fable" of which Todd speaks?

That we are bad for other species (other than our favorites, rats and cockroaches ... and, maybe, cats and dogs and cattle) is no fable; there can be little doubt of the Holocene extinction. Maybe some people think that is okay because we are given "dominion" over creation but, if we really do have dominion, then we can do other than what we are presently doing.

But I'm glad that a YEC can admit that the "Flood story is pretty grim to begin with." Just think how may abortions God committed by drowning all those pregnant women ... and that doesn't even count the toddlers, who most people wouldn't think of as idolaters and sinners, who were drowned.

But, Todd, I would like to know the names of anyone in the "environmentalist movement" who actually advocates for the destruction of the human species.

After all, they might be as dangerous to society as the YEC God.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


15 ... and Counting

Hawaii just became the 15th state (plus the District of Columbia) that has legalized same-sex marriage:
HONOLULU – Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a bill Wednesday legalizing gay marriage in the state that kicked off a national discussion of the issue more than two decades ago.
Hawaii's pivotal role in the same-sex marriage fight was something that, until recently, I had forgotten:
Hawaii's gay marriage debate began in 1990 when two women applied for a marriage license, leading to a court battle and a 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court decision that said their rights to equal protection were violated by not letting them marry.

That helped lead Congress to pass the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, part of which was struck down earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court.
You'd think conservative free-enterprise-types would be pleased:
An estimate from a University of Hawaii researcher says gay marriage will boost tourism by $217 million over the next three years, as Hawaii becomes a destination for couples in other states, boosting ceremonies, receptions and honeymoons in the islands.
But Nooooooooo!

Congressman Bob McDermott has filed a lawsuit against Abercrombie claiming that same-sex marriage cannot be legalized until a court rules on the meaning of a constitutional amendment passed in 1998 about gay marriage.

The Amendment reads, in its entirety:
The Legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.
Loooozzzar argument!

By the very nature of legislatures, whatever it has the power to do, it has the power to undo. And that is all it did in this case.

McDermott contends that "the issue of gay marriage needs to return to the people for a vote." He and his fellow travelers have the right to begin again whatever the Hawaiian process is to amend its Constitution but, in the meantime, they don't have a semblance of a legal leg to stand on.

McDermott is merely grandstanding ... possibly to the surprisingly (to me) large population of Mormons in Hawaii (some 5% of the population).

It's very bad of me ... but I can't help but wonder if their magic underwear just isn't up to Utah winters.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Banging Away!

Aw! ... sad news folks!

Remember that cinematic blockbuster proposed by "Award-Winning Filmmaker and FaithWords Author Joe Amaral"? You know, the one where he was going to "explore some of the most amazing facts and attributes about earth ... analyzing the importance of gravity, oxygen, water, atmosphere and distance from the sun" to investigate whether "the Holy Bible's description of creation fit with what we know from physics and science"?

Well, it seems that his Kickstarter campaign has failed. Amaral was looking to raise $19,500 CAD but only got to $9,657.

In the interest of artistic advancement (and the possibility of much hilarity) maybe I can offer a suggestion ... next time don't use the working title "God's Big Bang."

Your intended funding base might just be a little put off by a proposed film that sounds like it is going to star Johnny Wadd.

Sunday, November 10, 2013



Kevin Swanson is a Colorado pastor who is an utter stranger to reality. Among other things, Swanson has said:

~ Mark Twain was demon-possessed;

~ That, after allowing homosexuals in, the Boy Scouts will soon have merit badges for incest and cannibalism; and

~ The Colorado government is worse than the North Korean government because it allowed civil unions for gays.

Now he is out with a book, Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West (promoted by ... who else? ... WingNutDaily) that claims that "Western Civilization" is in decline since 1700 because of a cabal made up of (I kid you not!) Charles Darwin, John Locke, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Dewey, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Nietzsche and ... wait for it ... William Shakespeare!

It seems that "[s]ince Shakespeare's day, the theater and the fine arts have become seedbeds for homosexual themes and homosexual behavior."

Funny ... wasn't it just a few years ago that the wingnuts were crowing about the 30+ states that had passed anti gay marriage legislation or constitutional amendments? Damn George Soros and his time machine!

If you want to read fiction dressed out as history, the least you should demand is that it be entertaining. Therefore, instead of wasting your time reading low-class trash by Swanson, you should waste it reading high-class trash, as in:
The TRUTH: Being a TRUE and IMPARTIAL account of the history of that damnable religion, the great EVIL of DARWINISM, also called EVOLUTIONISM and its attempts to bring the downfall of all moral and TRUE CHRISTIANTM virtue. Based on accounts of the events which form this evil history written by the best historians of the evil devices of DARWINISM and EVOLUTIONISM, and based on the best scientific principle of SUBJECTIVITY, and rejecting utterly the ATHEIST doctrine of OBJECTIVITY which clouds the mind of mankind and leads to the rejection of TRUE CHRISTIANITYTM. Written by a TRUE BELIEVER [and unearthed by the inestimable Richard Forrest].
You'll get every bit as accurate a picture of history from either but you'll have a lot more fun reading the latter.

Via Ed Brayton

Saturday, November 09, 2013



Lamar White, Jr., at his excellent blog CenLamar, about all things Louisiananian, has the story of his great-aunt, Sue Eakin, a history professor who "spent most of her career researching and editing 12 Years a Slave," the autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery. It has now been made into, as they say, "a major motion picture."

For me, the heart of Sue's story is this:
[W]hile visiting a neighbor's home at the age of twelve, she discovered a well-torn copy of Northup's book and read, for the first time (albeit only briefly), about the terrible things that occurred in her own backyard. It must've seemed like a great mystery to her, an unsolved crime, maybe even a betrayal, this old book that told a story everyone around her seemed all too eager to forget. ...
However, six years later, when she was attending Louisiana State University, Eakin chanced upon a copy in a local bookstore. She asked the owner how much it cost. "What do you want that for?" he asked. "There ain't nothing to that old book. Pure fiction. You can have it for 25 cents."

As Eakin later observed, "I spent the next seventy years proving him wrong."
What a wonderful and worthy epitaph! Would that I could claim one half as good.

Then Lamar turns to today:
Louisiana is the prison capital of the world. Quoting from The Times-Picayune:
The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana's incarceration rate is nearly five times Iran's, 13 times China's and 20 times Germany's.
Are the people of Louisiana really the worst, most criminal, people on Earth? Or, maybe, its government is just the worst ... a possibility that is reinforced by the fact that "although nearly 65% of Louisiana is white, the vast and overwhelming majority of prisoners in Louisiana are African-American."

Go and read Lamar's post. It is touching, uplifting, depressing and infuriating in turns. Well worth the effort.

Friday, November 08, 2013


Touchy, Aren't They?

The wingnuts are getting angry at having their own words disseminated outside their equally delusional intended audiences.

E.W. Jackson, the failed candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, first claimed he was being "taken out of context." Then, he claimed he was being "marginalized" and "persecuted" by having his actual words repeated to people who didn't share his far, far right views. Lastly, he just took to lying about ever having said the things he did.

Now, Gordon Klingenschmitt has, since he announced that he is running for the Colorado state legislature, started down the same path.

As Right Wing Watch announced:
Former chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt, who calls himself "Dr. Chaps," got our YouTube account terminated today by filing copyright complaints against a handful of our videos, resulting in several thousand of our videos being taken down. We have filed an appeal to YouTube and hope to get our channel restored shortly. If you would like to help, you can tweet @YouTube and urge them to expedite the review process.
Of course, ... Klingenschmitt claims:
RWW has been a thorn in the side of countless Christian ministries for years, quoting out of context ministers like James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and political leaders like Michelle Bachmann and Alan Keyes.
He also claims that Right Wing Watch was stealing from him. It appears that Dr. Chaps knows nothing about, among many other topics, copyright law and "fair comment." It should take no more time to reverse the YouTube action than it did when Pat Robertson tried this.

And he is not merely being persecuted, he has had "death threats" from "followers" of Right Wing Watch (comments to the YouTube videos) and then takes offense at being told "he didn't know how the internet works."

It won't be long before he starts denying he said any of those things.

Thursday, November 07, 2013


Holiday Fun

The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder, the leaves are turning and Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

We all know what that means:


Via James McGrath comes this hilarious post by Hemant Mehta about Liberty Counsel's annual list of businesses that have been naughty by not saying "Christmas" often enough on their website (hint: 14 times is not enough!).

However, a funny one that Hemant overlooked was the entry for Home Depot:
"Christmas" page that redirects to Decor-Holiday-Decorations. Home Deport is both "Naughty" and "Nice" in that the company uses the colors, sights and symbols of "Christmas" to attract 70% – 78% of the American population who self-identify as "Christians" (Rassmusen Polls) but simultaneously offends that same majority population by repeatedly using the word holiday in large bold letters.
I didn't know that Christmas wasn't a holiday.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


Peeping Toms

Well, isn't this special?

From the the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act ["ENDA"]:
Why is the absence of a distinction between same-sex sexual conduct and same-sex attraction in ENDA problematic?

While the Church is opposed to unjust discrimination on any grounds, including those related to same-sex attraction, she teaches that all sexual acts outside of the marriage of one man and one woman are morally wrong and do not serve the good of the person or society. Same-sex sexual conduct, moreover, is categorically closed to the transmission of life and does not reflect or respect the sexual difference and complementarity of man and woman. Therefore, opposition to same-sex sexual conduct by the Church (and others) is not unjust discrimination and should not be treated as such by the law. In contrast to sexual conduct between a man and woman in marriage, sexual conduct outside of marriage, including same-sex sexual conduct, has no claim to any special protection by the state. Therefore, although ENDA may forbid some unjust discrimination, it would also forbid as discrimination what is legitimate, moral disapproval of same-sex conduct.
So, basically, the bishops think it is fine for all employers to discriminate against anyone who has sex outside of marriage?

Maybe I'd take this better if the bishops and the Vatican had shown any indication that they took pedophile priests having sex outside of marriage more seriously.

Saturday, November 02, 2013


The Density of Belief

Bryan Fischer, in a crowded field of Religious Right leaders who are hateful, illogical and, ultimately, completely divorced from reality, stands out as a leader of the pack.

In one of his latest, Fischer tells a caller, self-identified as a "non-practicing homosexual," that homosexuality "is a matter of choice." Then it gets interesting:
Caller: Could you have sex with a man?

Fischer: I'm sorry?

Caller: Could you have sex with a man?

Fischer: Would I?

Caller: Could you?

Fischer: [Derisively] No.

Caller: I thought it was a choice?

Fischer: Sure it is, I'm just saying it's emotionally, morally, mentally impossible for me—

Caller: But you just told me that you couldn't do it?

Fischer: Yeah, I couldn't do it, there was no way; there is nothing in me that would let me do that ...

Caller: OK. How do you think I feel about women?

Fischer: I don't know. How do you feel about women?

Caller: There ain't no way.
Fischer then switches the subject back to haranguing the "non-practicing homosexual" about abstinence and chastity, completely missing the point Fischer has just admitted: that sexual orientation is not a choice.

The density of his beliefs (in all senses of the word) prevent him from even listening to himself.

Via Right Wing Watch

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