Jimmy Quit, Jody Got Married

December 21, 2015

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

2015's last Cause & Effect newsletter came out Friday, chock full of skepto-secular goodness. Go see. 

Georgetown University's Arjun Sethi publishes a piece at Al Jazeera America criticizing Saudi Arabia for using terrorism as an excuse to torture and execute, only to have the piece removed by Al Jazeera, which "did not intend to offend Saudi Arabia." Heaven forbid. (The Intercept republished Sethi's piece anyway.)

Two members of Saudi Arabia's 34-state coalition against terrorism were surprised to find out that they were part of it: Pakistan and Lebanon.  

Atheist strategy for winning the Sarah Palin vote: Make sure your opponent is a murderous Islamic theocrat.

Another possible strategy: Promise to bomb the crap out of a cartoon kingdom

At The Atlantic, Charles Kenny says that despite the violence, disasters, and presidential candidates (okay that last one is mine), 2015 was the best year ever to be a human -- supplanting, I assume, 1969, the summer of which, as we know, contained the best days of Bryan Adams' life -- despite the fact that Jimmy quit and Jody got married. 

Jennifer Williams at Vox talks to Will McCants of the Brookings Institution about the theological motivations of ISIS, including many of its inconsistencies and rejiggered attempts to fulfill prophecies.

Raihan Abir and Samia Hossain are in Canada, safe from the threats they faced in Bangladesh.

As Mother Teresa is all set for sainthood, Carol Hunt at Ireland's Independent tells us, "Teresa's aim always was to promote a cult of suffering and subjugation of the poor." 

Around 70 House Members cosponsor a resolution condemning bigotry against Muslims, reaffirming among other things, "the inalienable right of every citizen to live without fear and intimidation, and to practice their freedom of faith."

This is what a War on Christmas actually looks like: The kingdom of Brunei will put you in jail for 5 years for getting your Yule on. 

U.S. District Judge William Orrick says there is no evidence of a crime in the Planned Parenthood "sting" videos. You don't say. 

Kids did some Arabic calligraphy in a Virginia school, so of course there were threats and outcries and the school had to close

Harriet Hall warns us to look out for "zombie memes" dissing evidence-based medicine. 

Sincere Kirabo has a pretty powerful piece on what he calls "transantagonism" coming from some in the secular movement, focusing on the recent podcast discussion between Sam Harris and Douglas Murray.

Ben Radford offers some guidance on navigating medical news that "needlessly alarm[s] the public over a practically insignificant risk."

Brian Resnick at Vox: "Science is not immune to interpersonal bullshit. ... Science may be a noble discipline based on cold logic and rational observation; but humans are animals fueled by emotion and bias." 

There is apparently another "face" on Mars that NASA is accused of "ignoring." I must be unconsciously ignoring it because I don't see anything. 

I have to say, I do believe that one thing the world could use is more gay-pride Festivus poles. Chaz Stevens, the man responsible for putting these into state capitols, tells of the ugly responses he's gotten:

I’ve gotten threats and lawsuits. I got shot at. Somebody said they’d cut my head off. Somebody said, I’m going to blind you with a soldering iron and torture you for two days. My dog got poisoned. 

The Christmas spirit. 

There's Earth. Not too shabby.

Quote of the Day:

The National Review zooms way, way out on a graph to make it look like climate change isn't happening, to which WaPo's Philip Bump says:

The graph is correct. It shows the average temperature in each year since 1880, using data from NASA. The problem with it is that it is misleading, using a scale that intentionally hides the actual change in the temperatures. It's akin to suggesting that Shaquille O'Neal and Mini-Me (aka Verne Troyer) are the same height because they're both tiny compared to the planet Jupiter.

If they don't make that into Twins 2, there is no justice is this world. 
* * *

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Comments:

#1 Randy on Wednesday December 23, 2015 at 12:07am

“transauthoritarianism” is the word I think you’re looking for.  OK, you’re not looking for it.  But it’s the word that actually applies.  I mean, if we’re just going to make up words for things to label people we disagree with.  Is that what we’re doing?

#2 Randy on Wednesday December 23, 2015 at 3:27am

(I think I typed so long, my session timed out… sorry if this appears 2x)

I can’t believe you (and that other blogger) made me listen to the whole 2 hours of Sam’s podcast.  Curse you both.

But at least, as a result, I got to hear Sam’s addendum, which was so interesting.  He’s absolutely right about how the left is dangerously pushing people towards supporting dominionists.  And the guts of the podcast, about jihadists’ recruitment, was well worth listening to.

My position remains the same on the prior controversy: the authoritarian left, which SOME trans people have latched on to, is a serious problem to Western ideals, and to the cause of rationalism and reason.

However, to clarify, Sam’s right-wing gay guest is just as clueless on sexuality, the English language (which has already had a singular “they” for my lifetime), and the importance of resolving society’s interactions with transpeople, as the left is.  If we’re attacked while trying to understand each other, what is worse about dying that way, as compared to going while playing a video game, or debating the city’s taxation rate?  I see nothing worse about that.  But I don’t worry, because we’re capable (theoretically) of tackling multiple problems at once, and indeed such slow context-switching process (as opposed to forced multitasking) can be more efficient than exclusively focusing on a single task.

The gay guy recommending Anglican schools ought to talk to some aboriginals in Canada about how that turned out.  Then he needs to explain how the Canadian church is so different from the one he so loves, as a “Christian atheist” (no such thing).

One thing I will say is that there are gay conservatives, and they are largely suppressed by the gay press.  I’m not talking about gay Republicans, who are incompetent worms or psychopaths.  Rather, I mean actual gay conservatives.  I disagree with them (mostly) but I do not agree that they should be no-platformed in gay media, which has become something of an echo-chamber, particularly since the departure of Andrew Sullivan from blogging.  Similarly, there are gay libertarians who were shoved out of the movement when it turned toward assimilationism and being shiny and just-like-you, nice and begging approval.  They still exist.  But they get no platform, because they’re unapproved.

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