The Blue Squiggly Line

December 10, 2015

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

Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Dear tells the court he's guilty, declares himself "a warrior for the babies." The San Bernardino killers, meanwhile, seem to have been planning an attack as far back as 2012.

There have been an alarming number of articles about Americans being awful to Muslims in the past couple of days. This woman lectured and then threw coffee at Muslims praying outside, and hit the guy filming her. In Queens, a Bangladeshi shopkeeper is beaten by a guy who allegedly says he was there to "kill Muslims." 

Regardless of the near-universal rejection of Trump's ban-the-Muslims position, so far no notable Republicans have said they won't support him as the nominee. You should not be surprised.

Muhammad Ali had some things to say, however:

We, as Muslims, have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda. They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody. ... Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness. I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is. 

Stephen Crabb, a UK cabinet minister, says Britain's secularism is “pushing more young Muslims into the arms of ISIS,” which, I dunno, sounds nuts. 

Thailand is "investigating" the U.S.'s ambassador to their kingdom for allegedly "defaming" the royals.  

The York Daily Record, a Gannett paper in Pennsylvania, seemed to think it would be a good idea to publish this letter to the editor:

Tell us the stories of atheist founders/prophets. Lenin, Stalin, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot, and rulers of atheist countries. Tell us of the mass murders, the freedoms/hopes, joy the people have where atheism is the main religion. Tell us of your religious symbols. The hammer and sickle, the swastika. Are there others?  

Indianapolis's Catholic archdiocese resettles a Syrian refugee family, thumbing their nose at Gov. Mike Pence.

Jeb Bush, who almost certainly will not be president, talks Jesus and what his religion means to him, if you think it matters, because, again, won't be president:

I’m a public person aspiring for public office. I’m not saying that I’m going to impose my religion on you as president of the United States. But I’m running for president and I want people to know what’s in my heart. I want people to know how I make decisions, how I view life itself, and I think that’s more than appropriate. 

The Vatican says to stop trying to convert Jews to Christianity. Please inform Michele Bachmann

Oregon's Medicaid will no longer cover home births for women whose pregnancies don't qualify as low-risk.

Quote of the Day:

Andy Ihnatko imagines Google as a kind of spellchecker for the claims made in web content, a "Spock Engine" or sorts:

It’d be great to have a politically and ideologically-neutral markup system for Web content. What if Chrome could infer, from context, that a certain thing in a blog post is probably being presented as a statement of fact…and thus, subject to further exploration?

“Meanwhile, studies at the University of Michigan are raising troubling concerns about a statistical link between futons and the 33% increase in the number of ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’ movies in 2016…”

There’s a blue squiggly line underneath the line. Clicking it takes you to a targeted Google search about the actual study, and the discussions around it. You notice that many of the more quotable quotes were copied and pasted directly from a press release that was sent out by a think-tank called “Americans For Libertationous Change Towards Greatness.” A squiggly line under that leads to your discovery that this think-tank is 100% funded by the National Pull-Out Sofa And Adjustable Bed Co-Marketing Board. 

 
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Comments:

#1 Randy on Thursday December 10, 2015 at 10:13pm

The Spock Engine would never work.  Rather, I mean, it would work for a month or two, using its machine learned intelligence to direct people to ... well ... maybe not the truth, which it cannot know, but at least relevant information.

But as with everything Google does, governments, corporations, and special interest groups would want to amend the results.  Did the Spock Engine reveal that your favorite equality group is actually undermining equality?  Uh oh.  Did it reveal that your government really is spying on every thing?  Uh oh.  Did it reveal that Google really is evil?  Oh h—- no.

#2 Randy on Thursday December 10, 2015 at 10:23pm

I’m fine with The York Daily Record publishing whatever anti-atheist letters they receive (in the letters section), so long as they also publish the reasonable responses to it when they come in.

These are accusations levelled at atheists (and humanists) again and again, so it should be a simple matter to rebut them.  In fact, we should be glad for the opportunity to speak about atheism, with someone else opening the discussion, so we don’t have to find a way to start it.

#3 Randy on Thursday December 10, 2015 at 10:34pm

“it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody”

And yet, it’s well known that Islam gives Christians and Jews three choices: convert, pay the jizya, or die.  For example, this is the choice given to the Spanish in the Battle of Sagrajas.  It’s backed up by Quran 9:29, and various hadith.

It’s up to you whether you consider that “force”.

#4 Randy on Thursday December 10, 2015 at 10:38pm

“the near-universal rejection of Trump’s ban-the-Muslims position”

On what planet?  1 in 5 Democrats support Trump’s position in this matter.  And so do 2 in 3 Republicans.

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