Truly Indecipherable

January 30, 2017

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

What a time we are living in.

Trump bans Muslims with a ban that isn't a Muslim ban, but actually is. He prioritizes Christians. Confusion reigns. Protests erupt, like, everywhere. Especially in airports. The ACLU wins emergency stays of the order. (Nicely done, ACLU.) The ACLU calls the ban a violation of the Establishment Clause (it is).

Some Democrats and a few business types speak out. Few actually do anything about it (lots of tweets), though some take some actions, such as Starbucks' Howard Schultz who promises to hire 10,000 refugees, and Lyft, which promises a million dollars to the ACLU.

Justin Trudeau opens his country's arms to refugeesGoogle recalls its staff overseas. Julia Belluz looks at the ban's "chilling effect" on science. Sam Harris calls the Muslim ban "terrible" and "unethical," but points the finger at liberals who he says have enabled Trump with what he says is their obfuscation of Islam's role in violence. There's this. I know there's a lot more to this than I'm listing, but holy hell it's been nuts.

It was also International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, and the president's statement does not mention anywhere that the Holocaust was about killing Jews. Reince Priebus pulls an "all lives matter"-style hacksplaining to weasel around the troubling omission.

A shooter kills six people at a mosque in Quebec City. 

Vox explains the harm that the global gag rule will do to women around the world.

There was also that anti-abortion March for Life that Pence and Conway spoke at. Pence made dumb promises. WaPo finds a gay atheist who's down with the March.

Oh and other stuff happened to in the CFI universe, which you should really catch up on in Cause & Effect

The Scientists' March on Washington is still in the works, I still don't know when. Bernie likes the ideaSteven Pinker not so much

Nick Bilton reports on how fake news in the year 2020 will be way, way worse than it is now:

At corporations and universities across the country, incipient technologies appear likely to soon obliterate the line between real and fake. Or, in the simplest of terms, advancements in audio and video technology are becoming so sophisticated that they will be able to replicate real news—real TV broadcasts, for instance, or radio interviews—in unprecedented, and truly indecipherable, ways.  

Trump's hand-size in a photo with Obama, however, is not an example of alternative facts

Steven Salzberg says the scientists and parks employees "going rogue" on Twitter (assuming they're legit) are really going to get under Trump's skin. Of course, what doesn't? 

Benjamin Radford again advises we not lose our minds just yet over the damage Trump might do:

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to have grave concerns about what a Trump presidency may mean for American and the world, but some of the concerns have been exaggerated: he does not have a mandate; he does not have the power he thinks he does; and his false statements are not widely accepted but instead are challenged daily.  

Yet another homeopathic product for babies is called out by the FDA for being toxic: Hyland’s teething products have belladonna in them.

Early results of tests on identical twins Scott Kelly (who was on the ISS for a year) and Mark Kelly (who wasn't) show some very real differences at the level of their DNA

Mark Kelly also co-authors a piece in Wired with Norm Augustine of Lockheed Martin and Scott Hubbard of NASA on why we need to put humans on Mars by 2033:

Most importantly, the European Space Agency, Russians, and Chinese continue to accelerate their human spaceflight programs. Americans must not cede the finish line. Our country should not wait until we receive the news that someone else has won the race to Mars for our leaders in Washington to ask, “How’s our space program doing? Why didn’t we get first place?” It will be too late. We must ask those questions now. After all, history shows us that nations that fail to explore succeed in becoming stagnant. America must explore. 

Glenn Beck, who tried seeming sane for about 5 minutes, is now partnering with pseudo-historian David Barton to build a Christian museum where the two will teach and "run a hundred kids a week through it." 

A bill in Kentucky wants to mandate "Bible literacy" courses in public schools.  

A father-and-son pair of convicted rapists/torturers tried to use a Bible to, I dunno, give them some sort of magical legal protection in court, which didn't help. They're going away for 68 years to life. Hemant says:

I’m shocked that a book featuring rape, murder, and genocide as part of God’s Plan didn’t get them off the hook. But at least they’ll have plenty of time to read it behind bars. Good riddance. 

Quote of the Day:

David Leonhardt at NYT spells out how Trump is moving toward theocracy:

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Photo credit: TedColes - CC BY-SA 4.0 

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The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta


#1 Randy (Guest) on Monday January 30, 2017 at 2:02pm

Today’s picture confuses me. Did I skip a story?

#2 Mario (Guest) on Monday January 30, 2017 at 2:08pm

How is it that every action ever taken by anyone anyplace on this planet is a potential violation of the Establishment Clause?  How does that work?  And is that the ACLU’s sole position anymore?  Good grief.  It’s time for that organization to say goodnight.  Their great days are waaaaay behind them.  They’re like some canned parody of political correctness left on auto-play.

Look!  An asteroid is heading straight toward the Earth!  Call the ACLU!  (“ACLU calls impending destruction of the planet a violation of the Establishment Clause.”)  Where’s Igor when you need him?  He could fetch the ACLU a brain.

The refugee ban is inhumane (and vicious and stupid)—period.  And it accomplishes nothing.  Two great reasons to oppose it.  Not everything in the goddamned world relates to favoring one religion (read: Christianity) over another—not unless one’s brain is permanently wired to that thought.  The myth that we only use 10 percent of our brain should be amended, in this instance, to 2 percent.  As a charitable estimate.

#3 Mario (Guest) on Monday January 30, 2017 at 2:10pm

Awww, poop.  Igor dropped the jar.

He always does that.  Sorry, ACLU.

#4 dmbierlein on Tuesday January 31, 2017 at 9:27pm

How is it that every action ever taken by anyone anyplace on this planet is a potential violation of the Establishment Clause?

Hysterical, much? But, really, if you have to ask, it’s probably too late to try and explain it to you.

#5 Mario (Guest) on Wednesday February 01, 2017 at 8:36am

By all means, explain to me why it makes sense to regard any and every foul deed and sentiment as a violation of the Establishment Clause.  I mean, if it strikes you as rational to do so, then I definitely want to know why.  Go for it.

You folks are hilarious in your “I could explain it, but you’d never get it” attitude.  Sure, I could swamp you in basketball, but I just don’t feel like suiting up!

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