Archives October 2009

Mockery Works, Apparently

According to several sources, Kimberly Daniels wrote an article for Pat Robertson’s site entitled The Danger of Celebrating Halloween, with such tidbits as:

The danger of Halloween is not in the scary things we see but in the secret, wicked, cruel activities that go on behind the scenes. These activities include:

  • Sex with demons
  • Orgies between animals and humans
  • Animal and human sacrifices
  • Sacrificing babies to shed innocent blood
  • Rape and molestation of adults, children and babies
  • Revel nights
  • Conjuring of demons and casting of spells
  • Release of “time-released” curses against the innocent and the ignorant.

To quote Mike Argento, “Man, we never get invited to the good Halloween parties.” And a friend of mine added, “How come we never see those jobs advertised? I could do that. I even got a new costume and hat this year”.

And now it appears that the article has been pulled. If you want to read it, you’ll have to retrieve it from Google’s cache while you can.

So does this mean that CBN sought divine guidance from Pat and determined that Daniels’s views were not factually true? Perhaps. But I prefer to think that the article was originally put up because Pat & Pals agree with Daniels, but once everyone started pointing at them and laughing, they were embarrassed; and rather than defend their views, CBN preferred to just yank the article and pretend it never happened.

In short, mockery works.

People like Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, and countless others have done a sterling job presenting the intellectual arguments against religion. But the fact is that people aren’t religious for rational reasons; they’re not convinced by rational arguments, any more than people are convinced of Santa Claus’s existence by rational arguments. But a lot of people stay religious because it’s comfortable.

And just as a lot of kids start doubting Santa Claus when the older kids make fun of their beliefs, it’s likely that a lot of people would doubt their god-beliefs if they were widely perceived as uncool or ridiculous. That’s what people like George Carlin and Tim Minchin are good at. But every little bit helps.

BillDo on Sex Ed

Yesterday, BillDo blew a gasket over the use of the phrase “opposite-sex marriage” in the New York Times. Which is, I suppose, his function in the great circle of life.

But then he went on to say:

Here’s how it will play out in the classroom: kindergartners will be told that some adults choose same-sex marriage and some choose opposite-sex marriage. There is no moral difference—it’s just a matter of different strokes for different folks. Not mentioned, of course, will be that some male-on-male sex practices are dangerous.

This brings up some questions: how should one talk about dangerous “male-on-male sex practices” (by which I assume he means anal sex) in a manner that’ll make sense to 2- to 7-year-old children? Should teachers tell them about hetero anal sex at the same time, or wait until after nap time?

In Donohue’s mind, should children also be taught about other potentially dangerous sexual practices, such as autoerotic asphyxiation or BDSM?

Is there any conflict between this and his earlier advocacy of abstinence-only sex ed? Religious conservatives like Bill don’t generally strike me as the type of person who’d want to discuss hot man-on-man action in graphic detail with small children.

Previewing Links

What I learned today: if you want to see where a link points, without actually looking at the page, append a plus sign to the URL. That is, if someone points you at, then will give you the long URL.

Is David Berlinski Redecorating His Home?

For those who don’t know, David Berlinski is one of the Disco Tute’s pet “scientists”. If you’ve seen the movie Expelled, he’s the one who spent his entire interview practically lying on his couch, spouting airy nonsense filled with sesquipedalian words.

The IDists love him because in addition to being an evolution denialist, he’s also a secular Jew (or so he claims), which means they can use him to prop up the idea that ID isn’t religious dogma.

He’s also appeared on the Intelligent Design the Future podcast six times in the past month, and there are thirteen posts about him at Evolution News and Views.

When an actor appears in a movie that’s far beneath them, say, if Morgan Freeman were to make a cameo in Zack and Miri Make A Straight-to-DVD Romantic Comedy, I tend to assume that said actor wants to pick up a few bucks on the side because they’re redecorating the living room.

Berlinski isn’t an actor (and I certainly don’t want to insult Morgan Freeman by comparing him to Berlinski), but he seems willing to say anything as long as the DI’s checks keep clearing. So it looks to me as though he’s trying to redecorate his living room either through speaking commissions, or through book sales. (His 2008 book is out in paperback, and he’s just published another one through Discovery Institute Press.

At any rate, I’ve listened to several of his interviews, and he doesn’t seem to have anything to say. So meh.

Happy Birthday, World!

According to James Ussher, the world was created on October 23, 4004 BC.

So happy 6012th birthday, world!

Happy Mole Day

As the Tree Lobsters remind us, today is Mole Day (the official site seems to be overloaded, but tehPedia isn’t). Yay!

For those who have forgotten High School chemistry, “mole” a word like “pair” or “dozen” or “score”, in that it refers to a certain number of things. But while “a dozen doughnuts” means twelve doughnuts, “a mole of doughnuts” refers to 6.02×1023 doughnuts (and, of course, a baker’s mole means 602,000,000,000,000,000,000,001 doughnuts).

6.02×1023 is known as Avogadro’s number (which is why you should celebrate Mole Day by having guacamole at lunch), which has the interesting property that that many hydrogen atoms weigh one gram. Oxygen, with 8 protons and 8 neutrons, has an atomic mass of 16 (minus some change), so a mole of oxygen weighs 16 grams.

This makes life easier for chemists. We all know that two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom combine to make one water molecule. And likewise, two dozen hydrogens and one dozen oxygens make a dozen water molecules. So two moles of hydrogen and a mole of oxygen make a mole of water.

So naturally, Mole Day is celebrated starting at 6:02 on 10/23 (US notation. Check with your local chemist and setting of $LC_TIME to find out when it’s celebrated in your area.

Update, Oct. 25: Alert reader Anne Wright pointed out a mistake. Fixed.

Superstition Kills

The AP has an appalling article about children in Nigeria being killed for being witches. Welcome to the thirteenth century, folks. I recommend that you think whether you want to follow that link, because if you have an ounce of compassion, you’ll be boiling mad at the monsters responsible.

And hey, guess what: it’s not just primitive tribal superstition that’s to blame: the rebranded, socially acceptable face of primitive superstition has its fingerprints all over this infanticidal fuckwaddism:

Some of the churches involved are renegade local branches of international franchises. Their parishioners take literally the Biblical exhortation, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

There’s also money involved. Not in the sense of people being paid to kill children. It’s worse: children are being killed as a side effect of someone else trying to make a buck:

“Where little shots become big shots in a short time,” promises the Winner’s Chapel down the road.

“Pray your way to riches,” advises Embassy of Christ a few blocks away.

It’s hard for churches to carve out a congregation with so much competition. So some pastors establish their credentials by accusing children of witchcraft.

“Even churches who didn’t use to ‘find’ child witches are being forced into it by the competition,” said Itauma. “They are seen as spiritually powerful because they can detect witchcraft and the parents may even pay them money for an exorcism.”

This next quote I can only hope is an example of liberal media bias, the AP trying to make religion look bad:

The Nigerian church is a branch of a Californian church by the same name. But the California church says it lost touch with its Nigerian offshoots several years ago.

“I had no idea,” said church elder Carrie King by phone from Tracy, Calif. “I knew people believed in witchcraft over there but we believe in the power of prayer, not physically harming people.”

Because if that’s an honest summary of King’s position, then that means either a) she’s a wimpy superstitious moron who believes in witchcraft, but doesn’t have the balls to do anything about it, or b) she’s a stupid superstitious moron who doesn’t have a problem with people continuing to believe in magic an witchcraft because presumably they won’t do anything about it.

Even the guy trying to do something about the problem comes across as irresponsible:

But Foxcroft, the head of Stepping Stones, said if the organization was able to collect membership fees, it could also police its members better. He had already written to the organization twice to alert it to the abuse, he said. He suggested the fellowship ask members to sign forms denouncing abuse or hold meetings to educate pastors about the new child rights law in the state of Akwa Ibom, which makes it illegal to denounce children as witches. Similar laws and education were needed in other states, he said.

It’s not enough to just tell people that it’s not okay to kill witches. You need to explain that there’s no such thing as witchcraft or magic, period. No witchcraft, no witches. No witches, no need to pour acid down children’s throats or set them on fire. Or would that cramp the missionaries’ job of telling Africans about their undead Jewish zombie?

Or maybe it’s just the fact that local religious leaders are just as irresponsibly superstitious as their flock:

“Witchcraft is real,” Ukpabio insisted, before denouncing the physical abuse of children. Ukpabio says she performs non-abusive exorcisms for free and was not aware of or responsible for any misinterpretation of her materials.

“I don’t know about that,” she declared.

However, she then acknowledged that she had seen a pastor from the Apostolic Church break a girl’s jaw during an exorcism.

I can’t express how upset I am about this. It’s bad enough that this is pure medieval tripe, but that it’s church leaders who are both instigating and perpetuating this abomination.

Instead of sending Bibles to Africa, maybe these churches should be sending Monty Python DVDs. At least then they’d learn how to see whether someone is a witch, and maybe not kill any more children who weigh more than a duck.

A Well-Timed Ad

Yesterday, at work, I got an ad from IBM that said

Today’s business requires actionable insights.

Today, Slashdot is reporting that IBM and Intel executives have been arrested for insider trading.

I guess the actionable insight they had was “if we use information about the company that the public doesn’t have, we can make a killing on the stock market!”

May I also suggest “If someone orders something from you, and you take their money but don’t ship the product, you can reduce your operating costs” and “You can make a ton of money just by pointing a gun at people and taking their wallets.” No, don’t thank me. The thought of you enjoying some quality time with your cellmate Bubba is all the thanks I need.

Gay Marriage Opponent Doesn’t Know What the Harm in Gay Marriage Is, Either

This AP article recounts a revealing exchange between a California judge and a lawyer arguing that Prop 8 should be maintained:

“What is the harm to the procreation purpose you outlined of allowing same-sex couples to get married?” [Judge] Walker asked.

“My answer is, I don’t know. I don’t know,” Cooper answered.

Moments later, after assuring the judge his response did not mean Proposition 8 was doomed to be struck down, Cooper tried to clarify his position. The relevant question was not whether there is proof that same-sex unions jeopardize marriages between men and women, but whether “the state is entitled, when dealing with radical proposals to make changes to bedrock institutions such as this … to take a wait and see attitude,” he said.

Walker pressed on, asking again for specific “adverse consequences” that could follow expanding marriage to include same-sex couples. Cooper cited a study from the Netherlands, where gay marriage is legal, showing that straight couples were increasingly opting to become domestic partners instead of getting married.

“Has that been harmful to children in the Netherlands? What is the adverse effect?” Walker asked.

Cooper said he did not have the facts at hand.

“But it is not self-evident that there is no chance of any harm, and the people of California are entitled not to take the risk,” he said.

“Since when do Constitutional rights rest on the proof of no harm?” Walker parried, adding the First Amendment right to free speech protects activities that many find offensive, “but we tolerate those in a free society.”

This buttresses something I’ve thought for some time: that the “gay marriage will undermine traditional marriage” argument is just a headline with no body, no substance behind the talking point.

The judge also has the right attitude: that when it comes to rights, the question is not “is there any reason to grant this right?” but rather “is there any reason to deny it?” (except that in the case of Proposition 8, we’re talking about taking away an existing right).

As for the decline of marriage in the Netherlands, let’s assume for the sake of argument that it’s true: that the dropping marriage rate there is directly caused by a liberal zeitgeist that makes people less likely to want to get married, while simultaneously promoting the right of gays to get married should they so choose.

So. Fewer (straight) couples are getting married. Should they be compelled to do so? Obviously not. Presumably the couples in question aren’t being harmed, or else they’d get hitched. What about harm to the children, as judge Walker asked? If there is, the gay marriage opponents might have a case. Cooper couldn’t name any. And as long as the discussion over gay marriage has been going on, if there were anything to this argument, you’d think he or his clients would know.

In short, I have yet to hear an argument against gay marriage that doesn’t boil down to “I don’t like it”. I do sympathize with this, really. But come on, rectifying inequality has got to trump “I don’t like it”.

Dinosaur Adventure Land Closed

This is old news, but alert reader Fez points out that Kent Hovind’s Backyard Swing-Set Of Delusion, Dinosaur Adventure Land, has closed its doors.

dinosaur adventure land

Our ability to minister as a creation theme park here in Pensacola, Florida has been recently impeded. On Thursday, July 28, 2009, a federal judge gave the United States Government permission to seize ministry property as a substitute for payment of fines (not tax related) imposed upon our founder, Dr. Kent Hovind. While we are trying to raise funds, if we fail to meet the Government’s requirements, we will have to forfeit the property. This would mean a temporary disappearance of Dinosaur Adventure Land. For information on how you can get involved, please visit:

If they’re “trying to raise funds”, why not raid the account in which Hovind kept the money for his $250,000 challenge. Because that money totally exists and everything, because a True Christian™ like Hovind wouldn’t lie, would he?