Archive for August, 2019

License Plate


(xkcd) – Randall Munroe:

Check out my personalized license plate!” …

xkcd 1105

Randall Munroe: xkcd 1105: License Plate

Anti-Bernie Media Bias


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

Some years ago, the Washington Post newspaper started Fact Checker section where they would take a politician’s statement about something and run it through a close analysis and come up with a judgment about how true it was.

But as Tim Dickinson of the Rolling Stone magazine writes, how this is implemented can be highly variable, and he points to one example where the column went to great extent to twist logic and fact in order to give a statement by Bernie Sanders three Pinocchios when in fact the statement was true.

As I have said repeatedly, the purpose of such journalistic exercises is not to arrive at the truth but to police the candidates and set the boundaries of debate. And when it comes to health care, this means making sure that the interests of the health insurance, medical, and drug companies are protected from those seeking a radical change in the system. …

singham anti-bernie-bias


An Unelective Dictatorship


(Guardian Comments) – Editorial:

The power, influence and relevance of the Commons have been put under threat by a prime minister with a populist touch pursuing a hard Brexit. …

theguardian 2019/aug/29 dictatorship

2019-08-28 Protest against proroguing Parliament

How Science Began


(Vridar) – Neil Godfrey:

In Genesis it is written that God made the continents and the oceans, plant and animal life, and the sabbath day. He made them all the exact same way: by the power of his speech.

For the Jewish people immersed in such literature the weekly sabbath day was therefore as much a fact of the created universe as the sun and moon above and the grass and soil below. There was no fundamental distinction between the world of nature and the world of ritual. Similarly, there were two types of animals, clean and unclean, from creation, as was clear from the story of Noah. The distinction was not cultural; animals were created according to two kinds by “nature”; they were as innately, by creation, clean and unclean as plants were either healthy or poisonous, edible or inedible.

What caused it all to come into existence was the voice of God.

In such a world there could be no distinction between the natural and the supernatural. …

vridar how-science-began

Hildegarde: Six Days of Creation

AOC Makes a New Friend


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

One of the appealing things about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is that while she can be serious and really cares about the issues she speaks about, she doesn’t take herself too seriously, as can be seen from this video. …

singham 2019/08/27 aoc

AOC at Monterey Bay Aquarium

American Anti-Muslim Bias


(The Intercept) – Mehdi Hasan:

As I pointed out last week, anti-Muslim bigotry has been normalized in liberal and Democratic Party circles. Meanwhile, anti-Semitism has been weaponized by Republicans eager to smear their Democratic opponents (while simultaneously turning a blind eye to the anti-Semites and white nationalists in their own ranks).

The net result? Ilhan Omar is hung out to dry while Mo Brooks gets a pass. Omar is now a household name and the subject of multiple death threats while Brooks gets to carry on making offensive and conspiratorial claims about Islam, Muslims and the Democratic Party without any sanction or censure. …

theintercept 2019/08/28 republican-smears

American Nazis, 1937

Sympathy for the Devil


(Guardian Film) – Cath Clarke:

The Satanic Temple is more concerned with helping out than worshipping Beelzebub in this light-hearted documentary. …

theguardian 2019/aug/21 hail-satan

Hail Satan?, 2019 film

Using Charities to Whitewash


(FTB Pharyngula) – PZ Myers:

The effort to salvage David Koch’s reputation is underway — usually by praising him for his donations to charity. Jeet Heer is having none of that. …

pharyngula 2019/08/27 whitewash

David and Charles Koch

The History of White People


(FTB stderr) – Marcus Ranum:

I recommend Nell Irvin Painter’s The History of White People. It’s a valuable anodyne to all of the racist propaganda I have been ingesting and studying over the last few years.

A lot of the puzzle pieces are dependent on good old American anti-intellectualism. I have tried to trace a few of them in this blog – the biggest ingredients are wishful thinking and pseudoscience: Americans had decided that they needed slavery to keep them comfortable and wealthy, and they came up with no end of self-justification. The newly founded science of evolution immediately got perverted into social darwinism and flipped on its head to create book after book of bogus theories about who the “caucasians” were, etc. Any rational person nowadays ought to have concluded that race is a myth (because it is!) and ought to eye any attempt to divide people by race as a trace of the power-structure that supports the oligarchy. …

stderr learned

Nell Irvin Painter: The History of White People

Questioning Jesus’ Historicity


(Bible Interpretation) – Raphael Lataster:

Give the state of the sources, then, as well as the underwhelming – and few – cases presented by respected secular scholars of the New Testament, it is very reasonable to be agnostic about Jesus’ historicity. But if that isn’t fringe enough, consider an alternative to the mainstream Historical Jesus hypothesis. Consider that Christianity began with the belief in a purely Celestial Jesus. Now in principle, this idea cannot be dismissed out of hand. Just as with the Judaisms of the time early Christianities (there was of course much overlap) were very diverse, and there is much about the early years we do not know and will likely never know. But this Celestial Jesus theory, floating around in hyper-sceptical circles for over 100 years, is not just possible. It is, based on the currently available evidence, which is admittedly not much, quite probable. …

bibleinterp questioning-jesus-historicity

Raphael Lataster: Questioning the Historicity of Jesus – Why a Philosophical Analysis Elucidates the Historical Discourse