Archive for August, 2013

This article is particularly funny WND because I saw it in my RSS feed just as I’m watching President Obama talk live from the White House saying that the US will not attack Syria until after Congress has given approval. The article is posted by Stewart Stogel and entitled, “Syria Attack: ‘If It Comes, It Comes Tonight.’

Yeah, so much for that:

Former U.S./U.N. Ambassador and State Department negotiator John Bolton tells WND he expects the White House to launch its attack on Syria this weekend.

Bolton went on to suggest that such an attack could come late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

It’s fun when WND is shown to be wrong within an hour.

I went to a fairly good university for my undergraduate degree. A general education requirement involved several humanities courses, and I took psychology for a few of those credits. My class was not one of them, but many others who took introductory psychology had an assignment that for a day or a week or something like that, they had to handicap themselves in some way, and then they had to write about that experience for a homework assignment.

Some students put earplugs in. Made it a bit difficult to do homework together. Others put rocks in their shoes. The daring wore blindfolds. I had one friend who put tape around all the fingers of one hand, effectively making it so she could only use one hand.

The assignment is a classic, and it opens a lot of eyes to how persons with disabilities have to cope to function in modern society.

A version of that assignment that I did not have and that I don’t think any of my friends had was to, instead of creating a handicap, make yourself a minority. Obviously it might be hard to do that and not be offensive. [start being obviously offensive]You could go out in black face and an afro wig. Or tape your eyes up and drive a car poorly. Or talk with a hick accent.[/end being obviously offensive]

It’s the same basic idea, but with a twist. That twist was apparently done by Dr. Linda Brunton at Columbia State Community College. She had her students wear gay pride ribbons.

That’s the subject of the link to the Columbia Daily Herald that WND has entitled, “Teacher Cleared in Gay-Rights Inquiry.” With that background, and that title, I think you get the idea of what the article is about. It was also extra credit, by the way. But of course, the particular article that WND links to doesn’t mention that, and those commenters who do, are down-voted.

And, predictably, World Net Daily commenters are, well, let’s just say “unpleased.”

From “bluevanda,” we have this: “Yes, the public university systems have become cesspools of stupidity right along with the K-12 government school system.”

Many of the comments emphasize the huge and obvious War on Christians in our country (uh huh). Take, for example, “Reason2012″‘s post: “There’s a much better test of prejudice: have students hand out tracts about Jesus and then report back on the hatred and prejudice they received, especially from professing homosexuals, now that we know such things will “not infringe on students’ First Ammendment rights”.”

Finally (for this blog, anyway), we have the very enlightened post by the appropriately hillbilly name “Jimbob” who writes: “Take the ribbon, throw it on the floor and stomp on it.” Something tells me that might have been the Professor’s entire point – how would he feel if his identity, something he was born with and can’t change, were stomped on by some bigoted, ignorant hick? Might open some eyes.

I guess when you put it that way, WND’s position seems stupid. Well, it probably would seem stupid to most people, but I like the way I put it.

This is a story snippet from NBC News that WND has titled, “IRS to Recognize ‘Gay’ Marriages Across U.S.” Yup, there’s that nice “scare quotes” around The “Gay” so that even their grammar makes it clear they hate The Gay.

The subject of the article is really summarized by that headline, and this week has seen a string of wins for homosexual equality: Wal*Mart (nation’s largest retailer) extending benefits to same-sex couples, announcement that Justice Ginsburg becoming the first Supreme Court Justice to officiate over a same-sex wedding, New Mexico county clerks issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and this: The IRS announcing that, for purposes of filing taxes, same-sex couples who were legally married can file jointly as “Married” regardless of whether or not they live in a state that recognizes that union.

I’m fairly sure that this is in direct response to the Supreme Court striking down major parts of the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) several months ago. DOMA made it so that the federal government could not recognize any same-sex marriage regardless of its legality to any state. The striking means that they now have to. Ergo, makes sense that the IRS, a branch of the US federal government that now has to recognize same-sex marriages, will – gasp! – recognize same-sex marriages for tax-filing purposes.

WND commenters are none-too-pleased.

“stlouisix” has an interesting li’l non sequitur rant:

Flouting the just laws of States who recognize the importance of The Declaration of Independence’s premium on obedience to the “laws of nature and of nature’s God” for the sake of the common good, READ America’s survival, is par for the course for a diabolic Administration headed by a disciple of the devil who wants company in hell!

People of faith and right reason owe Obama and his IRS Gestapo nothing in that regard, per their constitutional freedom of religion rights to oppose that which the moral teaching of their faith summarily condemns!

Here are the priorities for the Obamunists: 1) baby killing from conception to post birth given Obama’s non support of a Born Alive Infant Protection Act as a dead baby promised to his Planned Barrenhood constituency must be a dead baby delivered, 2) the acceptance of sexual perversion as normal, the invariant teaching of the natural law against this moral atrocity, which, per Genesis 18 and 19, is a grave sin crying out to Heaven for vengeance, be damned, and 3) the destruction of our proven efficient American energy system along with the millions of jobs it supports via the lies of the Gore Green Goblins that have been long since abandoned by sane countries not having a death wish for their economies – all under force of unconstitutional unjust law that is owed no obedience whatsoever!

He has the second-highest-rated comment right now with 6 up and 1 down vote. He earned a comment from “richardwayne” who got 1 up and 1 down vote for his trouble: “What do your own personal religious beliefs have to do with the equal civil rights of people who think differently? The 4000 year old Jewish creation myths in Genesis has nothing to do with it.”

Our friend the “UnapologeticConservative” responded even to that (no votes yet) with: “Why do I care what you think? Why would I respect your rights? You mean nothing to me, so I am going to take everything from you. That will make me feel good, therefore it is right. When I look at you, I just see Soylent Green, waiting to be processed.”

Another day, another example of Good Ol’ Chrisian Love™.

This is a weird one and took me awhile to figure out. I’ll post the train of figuring out in order:

1. WND publishes a snippet from WattsUpWithThat entitled, “World Federation of Scientists Cools on Global Warming.” Wow. Sounds serious and important. And my “argument from authority” detector went off, especially with a name like “World Federation of Scientists.”

2. What’s the source? It’s a blog run by Anthony Watts. Totally dedicated to “debunking” climate change. One of his main links is to Climategate.

3. I went to the RationalWiki page on Anthony Watts. He’s a former radio host and weatherman. Please note: Weatherman is NOT a climate scientist. Neither is radio host. RationalWiki calls him out on “statistical bullshitting.”

4. Okay, so that’s just a non sequitur (though raises the skeptical flags) until I can find the original source. Again, what’s the World Federation of Scientists. It’s a group that has a website from the 1990s. Apparently they have “Permanent Monitoring Panels.” And one of them is on Climatology. With one member. So this is one person’s opinion on the matter, that’s it, Christopher Essex.

5. To top it off, a ScienceBlogs writer calls this out as a WTF moment.

So, there you go. Turns out this apparent big name “World Federation of Scientists” is actually one person who’s taken over a panel that used to be made of many people who gave his opinion at a conference. Big whoop. (Of course, it is to WND commenters.)

Anyone who hasn’t read this blog from the beginning or the About page, read the About Page first. I’ll wait.

Okay, so you now know that my perfectly reasonable comment got me banned.

Yesterday, WND published a snippet from a Weekly Standard article entitled, “Obama Now Saying, ‘I Have Not Made a Decision’ on Syria.” (For those in a cave or reading this years later, this week, the US appears to be seriously intervening in Syria’s Civil War, though the UK just voted against intervention, and Russia is demanding a UN Security Council meeting on the subject.)

The article isn’t important. It’s the top-rated comment by “Jim:”

Mr. Obama, you know in your heart you are anti-American, anti-white, Anti-Christian, anti-Israel and you are a Homosexual. This is why we despise you. You are engaged in actively attacking all that is good and lifting up and supporting that which is evil. What is so enraging is your shameless lawlessness and your manipulation of the poor ignorant who support you.

That comment has three up-votes and zero down-votes. It is the top-rated comment on this post.

Welcome to World Net Daily, your place to go when you’re afraid that the world is just a bit too rational.

It’s an e-mail into WND, and it’s the only one I’ve ever seen that World Net Daily won’t publish the person’s name (it’s just listed as “Anonymous”): “Soldier: Army Blocking Conservative Websites.”

The e-mail to WND states that the person is in the Army and that when he tried to open a link in an e-mail he got from the Tea Party Nation, he got an error saying that the website could not be accessed because it was a “political/activist group.” Same with the Tea Party Nation website. But not nor Code Pink nor Media Matters.

He concludes: “So it seems the Army is beginning to block conservative sites from access on their computers, but allowing access to progressive websites.”

And I’m fairly shocked that in the last 6+ days, no one has commented on this. Now, it is true that most e-mails WND publishes do not get any comments. But this one is particularly surprising.

World Net Daily – among many other right-wing sites, calls for President Obama to be impeached practically daily. I count at least three articles this week about it on WND this week, and the week isn’t over yet in the US.

It’s seriously not worth going into the subject of the posts nor the comments of the commenters. Though the latest two stories I have up are commenting on other people saying that impeachment of Obama is only among the right-wing fringe, and the other specifically is a link to an article (“OUT OF LEFT FIELD”) that specifically says WND’s constant drumming of the issue is “absurdity.”

I’m not even going to link to the articles — it’s not worth it. What I will link to is a Time article/blog entitled, “The Escalating GOP Call to Impeach Obama.” I link to it because it emphasizes the apparent fact – that I didn’t know – that pretty much ever since Ronald Reagan (hallowed be His name), people have been calling for the impeachment of every sitting president fairly often.

So, WND’s constant call might be annoying, repetitive, and petulant, but it’s nothing new or special. And there’s not an escalating movement, despite what they try to tell you.

A Washington Times article is linked that WND has headlined, “Little League Baseball, Boy Scouts to be Taxed?” The article refers to Senate Bill 323 in the California legislature (already through the Assembly committee). The first paragraph summarizes why it will set off the World Net Daily readership:

A California bill that could strip tax-exempt status from Little League, the Boy Scouts of America and other “discriminatory” nonprofit youth-serving groups could come up for a final vote this week.

Obviously I have a strong opinion about this: If you discriminate, you should not get tax breaks – effectively meaning that the public at large supports you through higher taxes that they have to pay to make up for the revenue you don’t generate for the state. I do not want to subsidize groups that discriminate.

“kingdad” is tied for the top post with 5 up and 0 down at the moment with this fun diatribe: “The Californicate Legislature is full of criminals, deviants, perverts and Liberal Democrats. Oops I reiterated on that last one. The USSC clearly stated that the BSA did not discriminate and had a right to be selective in their membership just as every other group does. But the Californicaters don’t seem to understand the Law just like the Ch-mp In Charge in the WH.”

As I said, wasn’t that fun? No, the “USSC” (United States Supreme Court) did NOT say that the Boy Scouts don’t discriminate, they said that they did discriminate but that as a private group, they’re allowed. This is not a subtle misunderstanding, “kingdad.” And, to then follow this out, as a private group, I don’t think they should be getting public support through not paying taxes and not paying for many facilities they use. And yes, I would be saying this regardless of their discrimination policies.

Another top-rated tie post is from “StampOutLiberalism” (fun name!) who wrote, “If this passes, aren’t the legislators discriminating against the BSA and the Little League? Whatever happened to the right of free association.” No, they would NOT be discriminating, they would be un-discriminating against every other private group. And you can freely associate with whomever you want. And when you use a meeting space that normally charges, pay for it!

I really don’t understand why this is a hard concept. Aren’t the right-wingers usually complaining that it’s the liberals who want stuff for free? Isn’t this the BSA getting stuff for free that others can’t?

Edited to Add (September 20, 2013): Apparently, the bill is on hold until next year while the sponsor seeks more support.

Sometimes WND publishes parodies. They point them out as such. This one is not marked as such, but the first two paragraphs are so “out there” that I still hold out hope that it is.

The article is written by Walter E. Williams, Ph.D. and an economics professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. His article is entitled, “The University’s Attempt to Re-Educate Me.” Here are the first two paragraphs:

This week begins my 34th year serving on George Mason University’s distinguished economics faculty. You might imagine my surprise when I received a letter from its Office of Equity and Diversity Services notifying me that I was required to “complete the in-person Equal Opportunity and Prevention of Sexual Harassment Policies and Procedures training.” This is a leftist agenda for indoctrination, thought control and free-speech suppression to which I shall refuse to submit. Let’s look at it.

Ideas such as equity and equal opportunity, while having high emotional value, are vacuous analytical concepts. For example, I’ve asked students whether they plan to give every employer an equal opportunity to hire them when they graduate. To a person, they always answer no. If they aren’t going to give every employer an equal opportunity to hire them, what’s fair about forcing employers to give them an equal opportunity to be hired?

Wow. I should just be able to end this post there and be done with it because I expect most of my readers to be shaking their collective heads at this point.

Instead, I’m trying to keep myself awake another hour or two so let’s get in a bit more. Let me be fairly blunt: I’ve mocked sexual harassment training, myself. At CU, we are required to take it every five years. I took it when I first started as a grad student and it was an hour-long seminar and we covered all the stuff you’d expect to. My fifth year, my training “expired” but fortunately they had moved to an online version and after watching slides I took a multiple-choice test and passed and that was it. I joked with people that I didn’t need any training, I knew how to sexually harass. In addition, on my annual evaluation, I have to put down that I have both taken (within the last five years) sexual harassment training and passed it, otherwise I automatically fail my annual review.

And let’s be honest here: In today’s litigious society, it is very, very easy to sexually harass someone. Telling an off-color joke that’s overheard by someone who takes offense – despite all intentions – can be considered sexual harassment. Touching someone’s hand to get their attention can be considered sexual harassment (we were taught to touch the elbow or shoulder in my 2005 class). And of course there are the much more obvious and overt methods that everyone knows.

It’s because it’s so easy to claim that one has been sexually harassed that pretty much every company and institution has put into effect mandatory sexual harassment training for all employees. It’s to save their asses. It’s so that if Person A is accused and found guilty of sexual harassment of Person B and this took place at Company C, then Person B can’t also sue Company C because they can claim, “Look, we have mandatory training in place and we did everything we could!” Without that, Person B is much more likely to be successful if they chose to sue Company C because Company C has not been proactive in covering their asses training their employees.

Without any other information, I would guess that’s exactly what’s going on here. Either George Mason is just now putting this in place (it is Virginia …) or Dr. Williams’ mandatory training has either expired or he never went in the first place and it was overlooked by a former supervisor or person in HR. This isn’t some left-wing plot or indoctrination, this is the university legal team covering their asses against a crotchety old black man who, in his article, starts out paragraph three by saying that he’s discriminated and harassed.

Seriously, dude, get over yourself and spend the hour to get a checkmark on the form and be done with it.

Joe Kovacs wrote an article earlier today entitled, “‘Angel’ Caught on Home-Security Camera.” Sigh.

For those who don’t know, I’m a bit of a skeptic. Okay, seriously, for those who don’t know, I recently gave a workshop at James Randi’s “The Amaz!ng Meeting” (TAM) entitled, “How Your Camera Lies to You: From Ghosts to UFOs, a Skeptics’ Guide to Photography.” My co-presenter and I showed numerous types of photographic anomalies that people claim are things like a double sun, a ghost, UFO, pink energy beam, etc.

The co-presenter (I choose not to name him because I don’t want to tie him to this highly opinionated diatribe) gave a several-minute discussion of an investigation he did into a UFO flap in Denver last year. It turned out to be bugs.

I give this seemingly unrelated background because the WND article shows a video of this “angel” that was captured on West Virginia minister Charles Shelton’s home security camera. The security camera has lights around it to illuminate objects. As with most security cameras, it focuses on objects that are 10s of feet away. ‘Cause, you know, security cameras are mounted high up out of the way and so wouldn’t be of much use if they focused on stuff right up next to it.

I watched the video. It’s a white blob from which you can make out small protrusions and it appears, quite literally, to walk across the camera. It’s a bug (by “bug” I’m being generic — small crawly thing). An out of focus bug illuminated by the surrounding lights that’s on the camera lens that briefly walks across it over the course of a few seconds. And yet:

Shelton, who turns 48 Sept. 1, says as he was praying, “I was sent to go to the monitor. And when I went to the monitor I appeared to see the angel of the Lord coming through the wall.”

The strange phenomenon was recorded, displaying a brilliant ball of light that approaches Shelton’s home, appears to enter through the wall to his living room, and then exits a few seconds later. The large circular light then returns and approaches the home a second time at a slightly different angle. …

When asked what he thought it all meant, he said: “I believe that it means the Lord is gonna work on that neighborhood. We hear about the crime and we hear about the drugs in that area, and I believe the Lord is going to have that neighborhood cleaned up and the presence of the Lord is sending His angels. He’s dispatching His angels in that neighborhood. And I believe it’s time to let the people know that help is on the way. The police can’t do it all. The neighbors can’t do it all. But who do you rely on? And I rely on the Lord to do it.”

Sigh. In 11 hours, this has generated over 230 comments. The top-rated comment is by “fideux” with 36 up and 0 down votes: “It make me sad to read some of the posts from non-believers concerning this man’s sighting of Angels that he believes to be there to help his neighborhood. Why would any of you knock something that could make people around him behave and or change their behavior? If you yourself don’t believe, belittling those that do doesn’t elevate people’s opinion of you, which by the way isn’t the one you should be worrying about. Can you say judgement day?”

Let’s leave out that last sentence. I actually have no problem with the text in the first part of this. I’m reminded of a story about stone soup. For those who don’t know it … a traveller comes to a town and asks for food, but no one has any to spare. He picks up a stone and says that he’ll make soup from it, someone get a pot and some water, and he adds the stone. It needs some carrots, so someone adds carrots to the soup. It needs onion, someone has an onion, they add it. Etc., and they end up with a large, rich soup to feed the entire town who thought they didn’t have any food to spare. All based on the seed premise that you can make a soup from a stone.

In the same vein, I have no problem with that working here. You think you see an angel and that inspires a town to change for the better. Heck — it was in a Star Trek episode (“Devil’s Due,” anyone? GREAT episode 🙂 ).

The problem is when people approach stuff uncritically and make statements of “fact” that are wrong. A later poster, “smogdew,” wrote: “People are too ready to dismiss what they absolutely don’t know, as anything but ‘something’ from God. If Mr. Shelton believes it is ethereal, then that’s what it is. I choose to believe he has been blessed by God.” Um, no. If I choose to believe that I can fly, that doesn’t mean I can fly. Your belief doesn’t affect reality.

That’s not to say that people aren’t pointing out what I did. “ProudTeabagger” wrote, “It’s a spider crawling in front of the camera lens. They show up on an IR (night vision) camera as a glowing light.” Zero votes either way. This was also pointed out by “Jason M. Horn,” “ineedtruth,” “Barbie Cozby,” and several others. Some of the earlier people got in soon enough to be down-voted. For example, “Thomas Dawe” wrote: “Seriously? This made the news? It’s a spider too close to the camera for focus. Stuff like this is commonly misinterpreted as paranormal “proof”.” 6 up and 9 down votes.

So much for critical thinking.