Archive for: August, 2009

PZ and the Pope - Take 2

Aug 31 2009 Published by under Religion

Judging by the comments, it would appear that I wasn't as clear in my last post as I should have been. I apologize. Let me try again.

Here's what PZ wrote:

I think I'd have a few questions for this pope. Like, "What about over-population, Ratzi dear? What's the devout Catholic plan for dealing with that rather serious environmental issue?" and "Hey, have you noticed all those hell-holes of destruction in Africa? How does catholicism help people achieve economic and individual autonomy, huh?"

I read that as covering two separate points: overpopulation, and the major problems faced by African (and by implication other developing world countries). Some of you appear to have read both as dealing only with birth control, and, since I just plain forgot to get back to the topic of birth control in the original post, I added to the confusion by never actually saying anything about at least half of what I was criticizing. I was also far too vague with the bulk of my complaints - a different form of intellectual laziness than what I was criticizing, but intellectual laziness nonetheless. Again, I apologize.

With regard to environmentalism and birth control:

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12 responses so far

The Pope and PZ Myers: Two Ways To Demonstrate the Perils of Blinkered Vision

Aug 30 2009 Published by under Religion

PZ Myers is upset - and rightly so - at something that Pope Benedict XVI said in a speech he gave at Wednesday's General Audience. The Pope, while speaking on the topic of environmentalism, suggested that disrespect for the environment stems from disbelief in God:

Is it not true that inconsiderate use of creation begins where God is marginalized or also where is existence is denied? If the human creature's relationship with the Creator weakens, matter is reduced to egoistic possession, man becomes the "final authority," and the objective of existence is reduced to a feverish race to possess the most possible.

I have no doubt that the Pope is an extremely intelligent man, but he seems to have slipped into the intellectually lazy habit of allowing his opinion of others to warp his perception of reality. At the same time, part of PZ's response to the Pope's statement seems to fall right into the same trap:

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45 responses so far

Good, Bad, My Lai, and Human Nature

Aug 26 2009 Published by under Iraq and the Military

PZ called my attention to the fact that former US Army 2nd Lieutenant William Calley has, for the first time, publicly apologized for his conduct at My Lai. Something that Paul wrote got me thinking, particularly while I was running some errands on base this morning:

There is no doubt that Calley was a bad man and a weak man -- he was the lieutenant who led the My Lai massacre of Vietnamese civilians in 1968 -- but at the same time, he was one of the pawns in a game dictated at the highest levels of American policy.

I'm absolutely certain that PZ is at least half right - at a time and in a situation that demanded extraordinary strength and courage, William Calley exhibited neither. He was, at absolute best, weak. But I'm not sure about "bad".

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13 responses so far

Satire, or not satire? Who the hell can tell anymore?

Aug 25 2009 Published by under Misc

I don't know if it's me, or if it's really becoming harder and harder to figure out what is actually a right-wing rant and what's satire. Case in point: an anti-Steven-Colbert rant written by someone who bills himself as, "an Investigative Journalist, Motivational Children's Party Entertainer and Antique Soda Bottle Collector all in one special, blessed package!" The rant appears over at, and is well worth the read.

And it is satire.

I'm pretty sure, anyway.

3 responses so far

Cal Thomas: Health Care Reform = Hitler

In his latest column, Cal Thomas takes another swing at explaining the perils of health care. Last week, you might remember, he claimed that health care proponents want to kill off the old because we're evolutionists. This week, we're Hitler:

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11 responses so far

National Review on Health Care: Let the Poor Eat Cake.

Aug 18 2009 Published by under Medicine

If you're poor, sick, and can't afford good - or even adequate - health care, it's your own fault for being poor, and your own problem. That's the clear message of an editorial that appeared on the National Review's website yesterday:

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26 responses so far

Senate Republican announces that end-of-life provision will be removed from bill.

Aug 14 2009 Published by under Bipartisan

If you're holding out any hope that Harry Reid might actually be concealing - deep, deep down - an untapped well of leadership potential, it's probably because you haven't seen this story yet:

The Senate Finance Committee will drop a controversial provision on consultations for end-of-life care from its proposed healthcare bill, its top Republican member said Thursday.

The committee, which has worked on putting together a bipartisan healthcare reform bill, will drop the controversial provision after it was derided by conservatives as "death panels" to encourage euthanasia.

"On the Finance Committee, we are working very hard to avoid unintended consequences by methodically working through the complexities of all of these issues and policy options," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement. "We dropped end-of-life provisions from consideration entirely because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly."

OK. First of all, what the bloody hell is a statement like that doing coming - without contradiction - from the leading Republican on the committee? I wasn't aware that we'd worked long, hard, and effectively to put 60 Democrats into the United States Senate so that Chuck flipping Grassley could run the damn Finance Committee.

Second, but more importantly, how stupid - and on how many different levels - can the Democrats in the Senate possibly get?

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14 responses so far

Cal Thomas: Believing in evolution is what makes the secular left want to kill grannies

Aug 11 2009 Published by under Flaming Small-Minded Stupidity, Politics

Why, exactly, do Democrats want to kill the elderly with their health care? It's a question that's baffled billions since at least last week. Politicians, philosophers, theologians, and comedians have all been at a loss to explain the motivation for the proposed geriatric genocide. Fortunately for us all, there is one who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.

In his latest column, Cal Thomas exposes our motivations for wanting to pass a "health care" bill that will allow us to whack granny. He comes up with an answer that's so simple, so glaringly obvious, that I'm honestly surprised that I was at all surprised by it. Those of us on the "secular left" are willing to off the old, Thomas explains, because we're evolutionists:

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11 responses so far

Are Republicans largely anti-science, or just largely ignorant? We report, you decide.

Aug 07 2009 Published by under Geology

A friend just pointed me to this... illuminating bit of polling data on the Daily Kos website:

QUESTION: Do you believe that America and Africa were once part of the same continent?

24% of Republican respondents answered "yes". 47% answered no.

That's right - Republicans rejected plate tectonics by about a 2:1 margin. Words seriously fail me at this point.

18 responses so far

Atheists are, apparently by their mere existence, offensive to many.

Aug 07 2009 Published by under Religion

Earlier this week, the Des Moines bus system abruptly removed ads from their vehicles that had been purchased by an atheist group. The bus system had received numerous calls and complaints, and apparently some people actually refused to ride busses that had the ad. The Governor of Iowa, when asked, said that he "was disturbed personally" by the ads:

Iowa Governor Chet Culver has commented on the controversy: "I was disturbed the advertisement, I can understand why other Iowans were also disturbed by the message that it sent. But, we'll see how it unfolds,"

Culver avoided giving his opinion on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of a free speech right for atheists to advertise on buses: "I think it's a great question for the attorney general and for legal scholars to kind of sort through that, that balancing act between free speech and the type of message that is being sent. But I do again understand that people were actually not wanting to get on the bus, they were so disturbed by the message that was being sent."

The ads said, "Don't believe in God? You are not alone." They also had the website address for the group that purchased the ads. And nothing else.

That message - the simple message that there is, in fact, more than one person on the planet who does not believe in God - was so offensive that it "disturbed" the Governor of Iowa. It was so offensive that people didn't want to get on busses that carried the message. Apparently, it's so offensive that there needs to be some sort of "balance" between free speech and the messages being sent.

The bus system has apparently offered to work with the group to come up with a new ad that will be less offensive, but I'm having a really hard time believing that's a sincere offer - in large part because I'm having a hard time finding anything offensive about the first one.

And people wonder why there are angry atheists around.

Oh, and Des Moines residents? If you find that ad to be too offensive to allow you to get on a bus that bears it, I've got a suggestion for you: walk.

8 responses so far

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