Spank a Plankton

June 12, 2014

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

So everything on the Internet was broken yesterday. For me, that meant Feedly, Evernote, and a handful of sites crucial to this blog were totally inaccessible. Google Apps and Facebook would break sporadically. And many of us saw what happened to TweetDeck, which affected both the official CFI account and my personal account, because I love TweetDeck and for the love of all things unholy why is there not a native TweetDeck iPad app??? Allegedly, these things are all fixed now. But it was a real pain.

Several towns in Iraq are being taken over by Islamic militants, and it's revealed that the White House has rejected pleas from the Maliki government for military assistance. 

CFI joins with 89 other groups in asking the White House to reverse a Bush-era ruling which sends funds for the Violence Against Women Act to religious organizations who discriminate in hiring. 

Probably the next Congressman from Virginia’s 7th district, Dave Brat, thinks like this:

The man who took down Cantor has embraced both Ayn Rand and Protestantism in his work. “Give me a country in 1600 that had a Protestant led contest for religious and political power and I will show you a country that is rich today,” Brat once wrote in a paper that argued that economists were “slow to acknowledge perhaps the most powerful institution in Western civilization, religion.” 

Let us hope this man never holds public office, or authority of any kind: Meet, and then shun, Scott Esk, candidate for Oklahoma's state legislature, who unabashedly endorses execution for gays, because the Bible says so. 

Sharon Hill at Skeptical Inquirer looks at what progress has been made, if any, in psychic ("psi") research:

The excuses have piled up high: The displacement effect, psi-missing, decline effect, scientific prejudice and pathological disbelief by skeptics—oh, come on!

This is too weird to comprehend: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing a Long Island insurance company that forced employees to participate in religious rites they called "Onionhead," which includes a lot of praying, saying "I love you" to coworkers, sharing personal problems, and keeping the lights dim all the time. 

Wendy McElroy at The Hill argues that Congress passing resolutions condemning Meriam Ibrahim's horrid sentencing by Sudan is a bad idea:

The Sudanese appeal process is far from exhausted, and politicizing Ibrahim's brutal sentence could easily backfire against her. It could also strengthen the notoriously corrupt President Omar al-Bashir.

Scroll down a bit on this Pew survey page, and you'll see some unpleasant numbers on how uncomfortable even liberals are with the idea that someone in their family might marry an atheist

The Catholic Church in Brazil is unhappy with a commercial showing Christ the Redeemer in a goalie uniform...and so they're suing...? Can they do that? (That must mean they really hate this.)

David Gorski's irony meter explodes as Dr. Oz is set to testify before Congress on weight loss scams

Joe Nickell reviews Heaven is for Realand includes citations.

6th Court of Appeals denies injunctions to Catholic charities who want to avoid compliance with the contraceptive mandate. 

Jann Bellamy: If a hospital sells Reiki treatments, and claims that it does things it actually doesn't, yeah, that's fraud

You want to become a secular celebrant? CFI is doing another round of training and certification at the Meatball Mothership (CFI HQ) in Amherst, NY on August 15.  

Psychology Today begins a new regular column on secular life, here introduced by Phil Zuckerman

Adam Frank worries that our politics is not up to the task of dealing with a society built on science:

No one expects politics to be pretty or bloodless. But when the issues at hand are existential — as with the genetic future of our species — a functioning democracy will only function when the place at the table for science is clearly understood. There is no easy answer to the dilemma of science and politics. But in a world whose politics will be increasingly dominated by issues that exist only because of science, we can begin by recognizing the existence of the problem and its gravity. 

Case in point: Jane Maienschein at Slate ponders the implications of conservatives' wish to advance "personhood" for fertilized eggs, and extrapolates that to cases of chimera:

Does a chimeric person combined from two fertilized eggs get two votes? According to some proposed legislation, he or she should.  

Despite how weird the lyrics to the Little Richard-sung theme song were ("Navigate a nostril! Spank a plankton, too!"), The Magic School Bus is poised for a comeback

Holy crap there really is a gated community in New York State for people who think they talk to dead people. 

NASA, dreaming of warp drives

Quote of the Day

Technological devices will be implanted in our heads and bodies, our used peripherally, like Google Glass, extending our senses and cognitive abilities. Why see only in the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum? Let's go ultraviolet! Infrared! Let's extend our hearing range, our memory capacity, our immune defenses, our life span, our brainpower. The question that no one has answered, though, is what will this do to our species? Will we simply reinvent ourselves, taking evolution into our own hands? It seems that we are already doing this. And will we then become less human?

It seems so, but "less" may be a misnomer. We are becoming something else. We are becoming a new species.  

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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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