Bananapants Camp

December 18, 2017

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

Sorry, everybody, I was sick on Friday. Actually, I was sick all week, but I just couldn't even on Friday. I'm also sick today, but I care too damn much to leave you for so long.

There was very good reason to freak out on Friday, when the Washington Post reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was banning the use of certain words, and you really couldn't get more outrageous as far as the CFI crowd is concerned. The words in question: "vulnerable," "entitlement," "diversity," "transgender," "fetus," "evidence-based" and "science-based." Like, wow, right? A real thumb in the eye to us skeptic/humanist types.

Here's the thing, though. The CDC itself denies this, and this may have been merely suggestions in order to secure Republican approval of the CDC budget.

Good news from Friday: The repeal of the Johnson Amendment was scrapped from the final tax "reform" bill. Now, there are probably lots of other horrible things in there, but at least the Johnson Amendment remains.

The New York Times has a big piece on a shadowy program within the Defense Department: the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. With funding spurred by former senator Harry Reid, the program investigated UFO sightings. Most of the money went to a company owned by Robert Bigelow, who is “absolutely convinced” that aliens exist and that they have visited Earth.

Are you going to blow up? I mean literally explode in a blazing inferno? Probably not. The Sun nonetheless checks in with our own Joe Nickell to find out what's really going on with spontaneous human combustion. (The article says that SHC is what Joe has dedicated his life to investigating, and I think that's overstating it a bit.)

Richard Dawkins once again appears in a Big Think video, this time explaining how he gets people to see things his way: by arguing from their point of view.

The whole Keaton-was-bullied thing seemed to unravel after it was revealed that the kid's mother was probably racist. Alex Nichols examines why social media "sob stories" like these compel people to give money, even when there doesn't seem to be any reason to. 

Jacob Mikanowski at The Guardian looks at the scary possibility of an insect mass extinction, which is a really big deal and really hard to do anything about, if for no other reason than that there are so many species being discovered all the time, and not enough taxonomists to keep track of which species are here and which are on the way out.

The EPA, which used to protect the environment but is now run by Scott Pruitt, Destroyer of Worlds, has hired a Republican PR firm to run an intense media-monitoring war room and to "validate [their] narrative." Now, I was the media monitor in Hillary Clinton's 2008 war room, and let me tell you, it sucks. But I bet these guys are making more money than I did, so...

James Fields Jr. is the Nazi who drove his car into a sidewalk crowded with anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville, killing Heather Heyer. He's now being charged with murder

This is just unreal. The Ohio legislature passed a bill banning abortions of fetuses with Down syndrome. Gov. John Kasich, who has spent the past two years trying to convince the country that he's not as bananapants as the rest of his party, has not said for sure that he will sign it, but thinks in principle that this kind of thing is "appropriate." So, I'd say that puts him squarely in the "bananapants" camp. 

Researchers from two French universities have posited that humans are simply genetically destined not to be able to live past about 115 years old. My official response to this is "LALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU"

Harriet Hall, writing for us at CSICOP.org, checks out her Ayurvedic dosha (gesundheit), and finds out she's clairvoyant. And that she shouldn't eat cranberries or legumes. Sounds legit.

The University of Notre Dame's Timothy Carone seems weirdly concerned that Siri and Alexa are not so great at handling theological questions

To both my relief and disappointment, it's looking more and more like the interstellar asteroid 'Oumuamua is probably just a big pointy rock after all.

I barely know who Kendrick Lamar is, because I am very old, but he apparently thinks he was abducted by aliens when he was 6 years old

Queer Disbelief, the book on the relationship between the atheist and LGBTQ communities by Camille Beredjick and crowdfunded through Hemant Mehta, is now available.

Tim Minchin comes on James Corden's show, sans James Corden, to perform "White Wine in the Sun." 

Merry nondenominational seasonal festivity, Australia! 

Quote of the Day:

At The Root, Kyla Jenee Lacey tells of her experience growing up with a nonreligious mom who loved Christmas, and how she taught her the true meaning of Christmas:

Both my mother’s love for Christmas and her atheism rubbed off on me. It is my favorite holiday as well, even though I still think it’s the most obnoxious holiday of them all (Independence Day pulling a close second). She says she loves it because of all the beautiful decorations, but most important, she loves it because of the memories and how it is the happiest time of the year. She’s made me realize that the real fundamental values of Christmas are about family, love, laughter, those 5 pounds from pouring sugar directly down your throat and, most of all ...

Those motherfucking gifts! 

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Image by bobowhat

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