Mail a Baby Alligator

February 14, 2017

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.

It's Valentine's Day, when we commemorate that time when Santa Claus chased all the snakes out of Agincourt. Enjoy the holiday, unless of course you live in Islamabad, in which case, you're under arrest.

While you're eating your Valentine's Day candy, and then having a few pieces more because it's Valentine's Day goddammit and you're a grownup and can eat as many pieces of candy you want, OKAY, listen to CFI's Point of Inquiry podcast where Gary Taubes talks about how the sugar in that candy is killing you. ❤️

Okay, so National Security Adviser and conspiracy theory promoter Michael Flynn resigned late last night after 24 days on the job, over his lies about contact with Russia. David Frum makes a key point about this:

Tonight’s resignation reminds both why patriots should cherish a free & independent press - and why Donald Trump so fears & hates it 

The House Oversight Committee votes to nix DC's assisted-suicide law, which still must go through the full House and Senate by Friday. The spearhead of this attempt is GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz who is worried about a "marketplace for death," because that totally makes sense. 

The American College of Physicians starts recommending acupuncture and "spinal manipulation" for back pain. David Gorski laments, "It’s just a measure of how far quackery has insinuated itself into medicine." 

The Pakistani bloggers that mysteriously disappeared, believed kidnapped, and accused of blasphemy, have reappeared, which is great, but they're weirdly not talking. Pamela Constable at NYT reports:

As for the recent abductions, it seems unlikely that the culprits will ever be identified, much less charged with a crime. Rights activists here say the case has already had a chilling effect on the community of liberal online activists who have now gotten a clear warning not to go too far. 

Eric Gurevitch at n+1 looks at how India and Israel are becoming besties, finding common cause with "religious revanchism—rightwing Zionism and Hindu nationalism." 

From Skeptical Inquirer, we have an interview between two fellows of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry: Physicist Mark Boslough talks to climate scientist Michael Mann

Did you know that February 9 was Alligators in the Sewers Day in New York City? I mean, I guess it was, according to some people who "want it to be true." There was once, apparently, in the 1930s, an alligator found in an NYC sewer:

It was believed the alligator may have escaped from a steamer that had traveled north from the Everglades and swam into the Harlem River and into a sewer outflow, Mr. Miscione said. Or it could have been brought back from Florida as a live souvenir, or even bought through the mail, he said, displaying advertisements from the 1930s from companies that offered baby alligators through the mail.

Mr. Miscione showed a current United States Postal Service regulation stipulating that alligators “not exceeding 20 inches in length” may be shipped through the mail. Which means, Mr. Miscione exalted, that “you can still mail a baby alligator.” 

Here comes Pot Sasquatch

Quote of the Day:

Amanda Tyler of the Baptist Joint Committee says of the moves to reverse the Johnson Amendment, "Inviting churches to intervene in campaigns with tax-deductible offerings would fundamentally change our houses of worship." And:

Politicizing churches is not a solution to a problem — it is a problem in search of a problem. Churches are not political committees, nor should they be.     

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