Archive for February, 2014

I just mentioned two posts ago (macro-post on climate change stuff) that one topic I would not talk about anymore on this blog that WND publishes frequently on is the “black mob violence.” I did one post on it back in September regarding how WND was cherry-picking random stories with at least a weekly cadence to try to show that “black mobs” were attacking “whites” and hence there is an epidemic of racial violence against the poor innocent whiteys.

This post is not about a WND article about it. It’s about a few WND articles about a development late last week where they are being warned by Google to back off on the rhetoric:

To quote Joseph Farah:

Recently, WND, my news organization, was accused by Google of spreading hate speech through the use of a two-word term – “black mob” in stories about, well, black mobs.

But this wasn’t just an accusation. It was also a threat to punish WND materially by the removal of Google ads and, more importantly, the suspension of an account that allows us to use Google’s technology to serve ads from other clients.

It all began two years ago when WND made the decision to begin tracking what appeared to be a rise in unprovoked black on non-black violence. Through the reporting, WND first alerted the nation to “the knockout game,” in which perpetrators seek to render unconscious innocent and unsuspecting victims usually with a single blow to the head. We reported on coordinated riots and seemingly spontaneous uprisings occurring in major cities and small towns from coast to coast.

[…] On Feb. 7, 2014, Google notified WND of its intent to begin blocking ads on the site. WND decided to take the pre-emptive action of removing Google ad tags on all stories and columns in which the phrase “black mobs” appeared, pending an appeal of the misguided decision.

But there’s an issue here that should be noted by all who value free expression and honest journalism that some may find offensive. Google’s policy attempts to censor words and phrases that are truthful and accurate from First Amendment-protected media on the basis of political correctness and faulty algorithmic methodology.

[…] Google is clearly assigning motives to our reporting on the basis of the linking of two words – black mobs. Euphemisms for two perfectly accurate words must now be found because Google has determined that the linking of these two words is hate speech. When one of the most powerful media companies in the world starts banning words and phrases and imposing its speech police standards on all those it does business with, we are headed down a dangerous, Orwellian slippery slope.

The term “black mobs” as used in WND is not a pejorative term.

It is not hate speech. In fact, it is the reporting of facts – facts that have been substantiated and reported by many other news sources since WND began reporting on the trend two years ago. WND Books’ “White Girl Bleed A Lot” is carried in bookstores across the nation and on What’s next – burning the books?

I don’t think this is worth commenting on. I think the denial speaks for itself. And, while on this blog I have many times respected the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and freedom of the press, both of those come with responsibilities and come with consequences. Google is a company, not a government-owned organization. I may be wrong (I’m not a First Amendment lawyer), but I’m fairly sure they are allowed to make decisions about whether they choose to advertise on a certain site or not based on whatever criteria they want to set, including censorship of certain words.

It’s really not worth going into the ~500 comments across these stories. Nor is it really important to get into the denial in the other three. Perhaps relevant – or by way of summary – is to say that WND did a poll on the last one, asking, “Do you find the term ‘black mob’ unfair, racist or offensive?” With 301 responding, 52% said, “No, I find black mobs unfair, racist and offensive,” while 32% said “No, it would be racist to refuse to report the race of perpetrators in mob attacks across the country.” The token two people said it was unfair/racist/offensive or insensitive.

World Net Daily posts a lot of anti-gay stuff, championing the cause. This past week, they have made much about Arizona’s anti-gay bill that Gov. Brewer vetoed two days ago (there’ll be a post on that soon). What’s surprising to me, however, is that there have only been two blips that I’ve been able to find on WND about Uganda’s horribly anti-gay bill that was signed into law this week and has been championed by occasional WND columnist Scott Lively, something for which he is currently being prosecuted for as a crime against humanity.

The news this week has made headlines around the world, and the repercussions have already been felt. If you haven’t been paying attention to this, or you’re reading this months after the fact and have forgotten, the issue is that Uganda, like most of Africa, is virulently anti-gay. Such that its parliament passed a bill that would jail anyone for being gay or “promoting” it; the language about killing gays was dropped in favor of life imprisonment (because nothing gay goes on in prison).

Hope was raised in January when President Museveni said he wouldn’t rush to sign the bill, and in late January, he said he would only sign it if “Science” proves that being gay is a choice. Of course, Ugandan scientitians quickly came up with that proof, and though Museveni implored other scientists not from Uganda to show it wasn’t a choice, last week he signed the bill into law, and the new law will “impose lifetime jail sentences for certain instances of homosexuality and would sentence anyone who performs a same-sex marriage to seven years’ imprisonment.”

The rest of the world was not happy. Since Uganda’s economy hinges on financial aid from first world economies, including many in Europe and the United States, many are threatening to withhold that aid as a consequence of the passage of the bill into law. Anti-gay politicians there have said they don’t care, that they won’t be held hostage and be told what to do by other countries. Which I kinda personally agree with … just don’t expect us to give you money then.

And, it’s hurt. In the course of just a few days, Uganda’s currency dropped almost 2% relative to other world currencies as Europe is withholding aid. Multiple politicians in the U.S. – including Secretary of State John Kerry and Senator Patrick Leahy – are threatening to cut the U.S.’s aid (source 1, source 2). And yesterday, the World Bank has delayed a $90M health care loan that was going to be approved, but they have delayed it indefinitely.

All of this has come to a head in just the last two weeks, and yet not a single article about it on World Net Daily. Not a three-paragraph snippet from another source, not an article by one of their columnists, nada. And yet, one would think that this would be trumpeted as not only a victory – as Scott Lively has – but also another example of left-wing and militant gays’ persecution of conservatives and Christians by us withholding money because of it.

It’s possible WND will still do a story on it, perhaps this weekend. However, the silence on it so far is surprising. Perhaps it’s too extreme even for them? After all, they claim that “what’s next” is that Christians will be jailed for their anti-gay beliefs; perhaps an actual law that jails people just for being gay hurts that persecution narrative.

Some things are just so obviously crazy at WND that I have decided it’s just boring and repetitive to address it. The blood moon stuff, black mob violence, even EMPs … getting old and repetitive, and the middle one I’ve refused to address more here because of it’s ridiculously skewed and racist reporting.

Climate change is another one of those topics. But, they keep publishing about it, and I’ve accumulated a few dozen links in the past two months that I thought I’d quickly do a run-down of:

U.N. Calls Summit on Global Warming” (December 27, 2013) – Jerome Corsi – 215 comments

Reporting On: “The 2014 UN global warming summit is being billed as a prelude to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, Conference in 2015, at which UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon hopes to advance the UN agenda to get a final international agreement signed in Paris to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol carbon emission reduction agreement dating back to 2008.”

Thesis: Points to isolated incidents of cold weather and therefore an overall warming trend is wrong.

Climate-Change Panel Gets Cold Feet” (January 3, 2014) – news snippet – 32 comments

Reporting On: The projection of 0.4-1.0 °C temperature rise over the next 2 decades has been “quietly” revised down to 0.3-0.7 °C.

My Take: This is science. Revised data, new projections, 0.3-0.7 is well within the 0.4-1.0 original projection. This is like saying, “Look, that’s a bird!” and getting closer and saying, “Look, it’s a crow!”

Frozen Over” (January 6, 2014) – WND poll – 11 comments

Results: 212 voters, only 2 (1%) said that climate change is real. In response to the question, “Do you still believe in global warming?” 88% selected the option “No, I never did. It’s one of the greatest hoaxes every perpetrated.” 5% selected, “No, it’s rife with fraud, and its No. 1 proponent, Al Gore, is insane.”

Bitter Cold Blasts Climate-Change-Fighting Chicago” (January 7, 2014) – Steve Goreham – 0 comments

Reporting On: It was cold in Chicago, therefore the globe isn’t warming.

Atmospheric CO2 Is Mostly to Do with Dirt” (January 12, 2014) – news snippet – 22 comments

Reporting On: Fungi can regulate the amount of carbon in soil.

Commenters: Top-rated “FauxScienceSlayer”‘s comment claims that CO2 is mandatory for life, therefore natural, therefore good, and it has “ZERO ability to store or ‘redirect’ radiant energy.” The rest of his comment is just as crazy and wrong.

‘Fewer and Fewer’ in Senate Buy Global Warming” (January 12, 2014) – Drew Zahn – 236 comments | and | Inhofe: ‘Fewer and Fewer’ Senators Buy ‘Global Warming’” (January 15, 2014) – news snippet – 15 comments

My Take: Why would I ever turn to the US Senate to get a lesson on science?

Climate-Change Disbelief Rises in America” (January 16, 2014) – news snippet – 39 comments

Reporting On: “The number of Americans who believe global warming isn’t happening has risen to 23 percent, up 7 percentage points since April 2013.”

My Take: And 25% don’t know that Earth orbits the Sun, and over 40% think that the Judeo-Christian God directly created humans, many of them 6000 years ago. As with the previous, why would I turn to the American public for a science lesson?

‘Climate Change’: Heads I Win, Tails You Lose” (January 14, 2014) – Molotov Mitchell in video – 4 comments

Some non sequitur on taxing electric vehicles to build roads?

Is a Mini Ice Age on the Way?” (January 17, 2014) – news snippet from The Daily Mail – 59 comments

My Take: It’s from The Daily Mail … ‘nough said.

Blizzard Pummels Northeast” (January 21, 2014) – news snippet – 6 comments

My Take: Remember — weather ≠ climate. Simple as that.

The Thermageddon Cult Strikes Again” (January 21, 2014) – Lord Monckton – 41 comments

I really have no idea what’s going on with this one. It sounds like a petulant child stamping his foot for not getting his way. There are allusions to Galileo, the Borg, and Nazis. If you want to read a weird one, this would be a good read.

Chill Out About Global Warming” (January 21, 2014) – John Stossel – 2 comments

His Thesis: I think this is it … “If serious warming happens, we can adjust, as we’ve adjusted to big changes throughout history. It will be easier to adjust if America is not broke after wasting our resources on trendy gimmicks like windmills.”

‘Big Chill’ Expected to Stay Until 2040” (January 21, 2014) – Greg Corombos – 151 comments

His Thesis: That there’s one guy (Tim Ball) who says it’s going to stay really cold for another 25 years.

My Take: Argument from authority strikes again. Remember that you can always find a scientist to say something. Should you believe that one compared with the thousands that say the opposite? Maybe, but what about you, who has no expertise on the subject? Don’t you think it’s a tad arrogant to think that you are better informed to make a decision on something than the people who have been studying it their entire lives?

Again! Massive Fudging on Global-Warming Temps” (January 27, 2014) – Bob Unruh – 427 comments

Reporting on: “An independent data analyst whose work has been published by Principia Scientific, where scientists deliberate and debate, throwing out predetermined political results in favor of the truth in the data, says the global warming activists are at it again. They’re manipulating the data.”

My Take: See above. And, this is exactly like those people back during President Obama’s second election who claimed that every single poll conducted was wrong, skewed towards Democrats, so Mitt Romney was really going to win in a landslide. These guys are doing exactly the same thing – making ridiculous “corrections” because they perceive a bias – and getting the results they want instead of what’s really going on.

‘The President Just Made That Up’” (January 17, 2014) – news snippet – 39 comments

Reporting On: The top-Senate-climate-change-denier, Jim Inhofe (Republican (duh), Oklahoma) said that President Obama was lying about climate change.

My Take: A Republican denying science and accusing a Democrat President of lying? Must’ve been a slow news day.

Why There Is Global Warming” (February 4, 2014) – Joseph Farah – 58 comments

Thesis: “The socialist left began fishing for new “crises” they could use to reorder societies committed to free enterprise and limited government. In fact, they began manufacturing them. This is why we have global warming today – or, should I say, why we have the fraudulent hysteria about catastrophic, man-made climate change.”

My Take: Not worth even dignifying with a response.

The Rubber-Science Called Climate Change” (February 5, 2014) – Phil Elmore – 16 comments

His Thesis: Liberals are using a manufactured fake crisis to fund unpopular investments in clean energy.

My Take:

Climate Summit Comic by Joel Pett for USA Today

Climate Summit Comic by Joel Pett for USA Today

Scientists Tricked into Believing This Lie” (February 15, 2014) – Greg Corombos – 735 comments

And a columnist on the rightest-of-the-right-wing websites is going to explain why 97% of the world’s climate scientists are wrong. Refer above to my mention of arrogance.

Identified: Major Cause of Climate Change” (February 17, 2014) – Greg Corombos – 680 comments

Reporting On: Again, Tim Ball. Who’s selling his book, The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science.

I think that should be the actual title – once you get right down to it – of several World Net Daily articles over the past month:

Hmmm. Between them all, I count over 1250 comments. The issue, apparently, is perversion and a liberal agenda:

  • PMDavis: “What a shame that the most cherished organizations we have had in this country are being destroyed by perversion.”
  • gardeninggal1: “A wonderful organization for girls has been ruined because their leaders bought into the liberal agenda and politicized the organization.”
  • Ax2root: “Feminist thinking always hurts children…..women and men”
  • savannah1234567890: “Girl Scouts are NOT pro-choice. Girl Scouts are pro-abortion and if you buy Girl Scout cookies you are paying to murder babies in the womb.”
  • Todd Little: “When are we going to tell these perverts, to go blank themselves? Boy scout perversion, girl scout perversion, Disney perversion, whats next?”

Yes, readers, that’s right: Apparently, all that sugary goodness and those allegedly wholesome packets of sweetness just go to fund gay buttsex and abortions. Mainly abortions, though. Because there’s a gigantic link between Planned Parenthood and the Girl Scouts, and 99.9999% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions.

Oh wait … actually, only 3% of all Planned Parenthood health services are abortion services (source 1, source 2).

And, oh wait … actually, the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) does not have any relationship with Planned Parenthood: “No, Girl Scouts of the USA does not have a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood.” (source 1, source 2).

But of course, that’s just part of the conspiracy. After all, WND’s investigative journalism has shown an undeniable link. And, investigations by Catholics across the US have also clearly shown the link. Why, just read this paragraph taken from Catholic Stand:

The denials and deception continue, however. As you can see from a Girl Scout Q & A page, creative wording and semantics play a large role in calming parental fears. Although individual girls don’t hold membership in WAGGGS, her larger troop (through association with GSUSA) does. Although individual dues don’t go directly to WAGGGS or their diabolical efforts favoring abortion and such, each smaller entity feeds into the larger one. The fungibility of funds creates a means by which every individual is a part of the larger picture. Money makes its way from your daughter, to her troop, on to GSUSA, and then to WAGGGS in the form of dues—said money now goes into the larger coffers which fund immoral activity. There, the connection has been made!

The purpose of this blog post is not a thorough investigation into the issue, but rather to inform you that this is apparently A Thing, boycotting Girl Scout cookies because people think that money goes directly to funding abortions. And lesbians. Don’t forget those sexy sexy mud wrestling icky lesbians. ‘Cause the GSA doesn’t discriminate based on sexuality or sexual identity, unlike the BSA did until last year.

And to be honest, I don’t buy Girl Scout cookies. Because I’m fat and I’m trying to lose weight, and because I know that the troops don’t actually get that much from each sale. Instead, when I see a table of them, I flip them a dollar coin and walk on by.

Perhaps the best news about this is that the final WND story, the one by Jane Chastain, was not popular with the typical WND crowd. Such that very few comments out of the 91 support her. The top-rated one, by “wiredpup,” for example, is, “Well I certainly hope this little rage fueled tirade helped you feel better about yourself. Bless your heart.” Or:

  • Shmee: “Get a life honestly. Girl scouts is about empowering girls and teaching life skills. It teaches them friendship and how to solve problems. “Guess a girl has to make a living” talking about prostitution. These are CHILDREN you are talking about***”
  • AntifreezeTeetotaler: “This article makes me want to vomit. Also, I wouldn’t blame the Girl Scouts for suing for libel after these unfounded accusations about ‘winking’ at sexual activity. Really, all around, this is one of the worst pieces of writing I have ever had the displeasure of reading.”
  • Jimcima: “So you want to destroy the Girl Scouts because they offend your politics? What a sad and tiny little person you are. A disgrace to humanity, really.”
  • richardwayne: “I am certainly man enough to say Yes. And to say it is the rapid right that is attempting to destroy the girl scouts, and no one else.”
  • Tanya Nuncio: “The right can suck it. Can’t wait to purchase my box of Thin Mints and Samoas. I’d rather support a “feminized” group that teaches girls to be strong self sufficient women than a bunch of 50’s stepford wives.”

Those are six of the top-rated seven comments. What specifically was Jane’s issue? Well, here’s one issue: “The Girl Scouts adopted a new global agenda and began bemoaning the fact that the United States has not signed the radical U.N. feminist treaty, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW, which would force nations to legalize abortion and prostitution. Guess a girl has to make a living!”

Oh, and her recommendation? “Don’t disappoint these young cookie sellers. A troop receives only 10-20 percent of the money from cookie sales, so make a direct donation to the troop. Also, give a letter to the adult who is with her stating your concerns and offering to help her troop transition to American Heritage Girls. I have one you can print out on my blog.”

If you’re interested in more on this, Right Wing Watch has been following the issue over the past month:

Edited to Add (March 5, 2014): Bob Unruh keeps the story going with yet another article, “Girl Scout Cookie Fight Surges,” claiming their boycott is “reaching new levels.”

Based on searching through my archives, I’ve decided to start numbering yet another series on this blog, in this case, “Rules Apply to Everyone but Christians!” The rule in question this time is whether, if you’re hired to do a job, you shouldn’t have to do some parts of that job because it conflicts with your religious values. Um, yes? You were hired to do a job. If you don’t want to do all of that job, get a different one. Duh.

But apparently not “Duh” to the Thomas More Society (a religious “liberties” law firm), who has decided to file “a federal lawsuit in Tennessee on behalf of former Walgreens pharmacist Philip Hall, alleging Hall was unfairly fired because his faith would not permit him to sell the Plan B morning-after pill over the counter.” The WND post is by Michael Carl: “Walgreens: Leave Your Beliefs at the Door.”

I think that should be: “All Employers Say: Employees – Leave Your Beliefs at the Door.”

Here’s what the Thomas More Society says is the basis of its lawsuit:

Thomas More Society attorney Jocelyn Floyd is representing Hall in his federal lawsuit and she says that Hall’s constitutional rights have been violated.

Floyd says that the law recognizes an enormous list of reasons people can lodge religious objections, but she says there are limits. The law requires the employer make a “reasonable accommodation,” a process that begins with the employee.

“If someone has a religious objection, they have to go to their employer and say they can’t do something. In this case it’s selling the morning after pill for religious reasons. The employer is required to make what is called the reasonable accommodation.

“In this case, this would require the store to allow Dr. Hall the opportunity to have another cashier process the sale. That is a reasonable accommodation. Now that it is over the counter it can be any cashier,” Floyd said.

She also says that the over-the-counter status of Plan B makes it easier for the store to accommodate Hall’s beliefs.

“Before, when it was a prescription drug, the dispensing of the drug and the sale had to be done by another pharmacist. Now it can be any cashier and that means that finding another cashier doesn’t place an undue burden on the store.

“It might be a slight hassle and it can be a little annoying to have to find another cashier, but it is not an undue burden. If he believed his religious beliefs were such that he couldn’t even work in the store and that the company would have to stop selling the product altogether, that would be an undue burden,” Floyd said.

If they don’t settle out of court, I would expect Walgreens to win this one. To me, at least, this is simple: Your job as a pharmacist is to dispense medication. Even if it’s OTC and not prescription, that is the fundamental raison d’être for being a pharmacist. Just as an Orthodox Jew working at the meat counter should not expect to be allowed to refuse to serve any meat product that has pork in it, a pharmacist should not get away with not having to dispense various drugs they don’t agree with.

I remember it well: The year was 2007, or perhaps 2008, and I was listening to some nameless conspiracy talk-show. The host and guest du jour were talking about what seemed like The Impossible — then-President George W. Bush might now relinquish control of the Presidency in January 2009. He might just refuse to do it. He might declare martial law, or some health emergency, or make up some terrorist threat. Would he nuke a US city and claim someone else did it instead? The murmurings continued until, finally, like a breath of fresh air – and Constitutional Crisis averted – President Obama too the Oath of Office and became the new President of the United States.


Or not?

On February 11, 2014, World Net Daily’s Kathy Shaidle raised the specter of those rumblings from oh-so-many years ago: “Will Obama Not Leave Office After 2016?

Ms. Shaidle is apparently echoing the musings of Rush Limbaugh, which makes a little more sense: “For the second time this year, talk-radio giant Rush Limbaugh has expressed his fear that President Obama may not step down when his term ends in 2017. To make his point on his national broadcast Tuesday afternoon, Limbaugh cited Obama’s three-year extension of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. “They’re delaying [the full implementation of Obamacare] until Obama’s gone. Although what evidence do we have that Obama’s leaving?” Limbaugh added provocatively.”

Sigh. I think we can expect more of this until January 2017, when the next President takes the Oath of Office. With GW Bush, all sides of the political spectrum participated in this conspiracy-mongering. The liberals because they hated Bush, the conservatives because it was an anti-big-government conspiracy they could latch onto. I suspect this time, it will be mostly the conservatives trumpeting this conspiracy.

A short post based on a short snippet: “Same-Sex Couples Get Expanded Federal Benefits.”

In case you missed the news a few weeks ago:

The federal government will soon treat married same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples when they file for bankruptcy, testify in court or visit family in prison.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was preparing to issue policies aimed at eliminating the distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex married couples in the federal criminal justice system, according to a speech given at a Saturday event organized by a prominent gay-rights group.

“In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages,” Mr. Holder’s said.

For purposes of this post, remember that the Executive branch of government is the one in charge of implementing and enforcing laws. Also remember that the Supreme Court struck down (effectively) the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which means that now the Federal government must recognize marriages performed by the states, including same-sex marriages. Also remember that, enshrined in federal law, there are certain rights and responsibilities of married couples, such as joint tax filing, hospital visitation, can’t force testimony in court, that kind of stuff.

So, this seems like a logical step that should have happened sooner by the federal government. World Net Daily commenters don’t seem to understand that.

For example, “Virginia Vapig” (6 up-votes) wrote: “Another lawless act by this administration. They don’t have the authority to make such a “proclamation.”” Um, no. You would not pass high school civics.

In fairness, it looks like many of the commenters are not WND-faithfuls, “ClearThinkingUSA” pointing out exactly what I just did above. Or, a guest writing in (what I assume to be) parody: “Soon you will see goats divorcing their same sex partners and getting awarded everything ! even the automobiles! Goats driving automobiles, Imagine that!” Or even MacQ who got 6 up-votes for it: “Personally, I think that in the eyes of the government, sexual orientation should not determine a person’s rights.
The government has no business trying to regulate peoples’ affiliations.”

Of course, there are other WND commenters who just go back to Jesus, like “gardeninggal1”: “I have to wonder how much longer the grace of God will last for this country.”

Is it even worth doing these posts anymore? On this blog, I’ve covered pro-same-sex marriage rulings, laws, and acknowledgements in at least four states (Hawai’i, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah) and at the federal level. Add Virginia to the list: “‘Gay’-Marriage Ban Struck Down in Virginia.”

Every court battle on the issue, since the Supreme Court struck down parts of DOMA last year, has sided with same-sex marriage proponents. And, as I’ve pointed out numerous times on this blog, the only defense of the conservatives seems to be that The Gayz make baby Jesus cry. And gay sex is icky (they seem to think about gay sex a lot more than gays do).

I’m wondering – at this point – if it’s even worth going over these more on this blog given the inevitable response by WND commenters. There’s nothing really new on it, and if WND’s actual staff writers or commenters don’t write the article themselves, then there’s no real interest in doing so under my founding purpose of this blog.

Though I suppose it bears a side-mention that Dennis Prager, who does have a column, did write a column on this general “issue” a few days after the Virginia decision: “Judges, Hubris and Same-Sex Marriage.” His rational? Religion:

Walker: “Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.”

“No rational basis”? This is hubris. What he is stating is that for all of Western history – and contemporaneous non-Western history – there has not been a rational basis for defining marriage as the union of a man a woman. Vaughn Walker is convinced that he thinks more rationally than every moral leader and thinker in history, not one of whom advocated same-sex marriage. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, the Enlightenment – all were irrational regarding same-sex marriage, according to Judge Walker.

I doubt the founders of those religions also did not advocate driving cars, using the internet, or having an MP3 player, yet we seem to have adapted to those fairly well (at least in most first world countries).

Perhaps Prager forgot that we don’t live in a theocracy. All because a religion discriminates doesn’t mean that a rational society should.

In other astronomy-related news, apparently Polaris (the “North Star”) is getting brighter. I actually cannot find the original peer-reviewed work for this that might have sparked the recent flurry of news on it. From what I can tell, it was started by a story, but a Google Scholar search for the author’s name and the star’s name shows a paper from 2010 and 2012, and several conference abstracts before then, as far back as 2004. Maybe Google hasn’t indexed the paper yet, but if so, neither has the search most of us in astronomy use, “ADS.” According to ADS, the most recent is an abstract from the American Astronomical Society meeting in January of this year, so that was probably it: The Brightening of the North Star: Has Polaris’ Brightness Steadily Increased for Centuries and, perhaps, even Millennia? Here’s the abstract:

Polaris is arguably the best-known star in the Northern Hemisphere, since it lies within a degree of the North Celestial Pole. For much of human history, Polaris was highly regarded for its unchanging nature. However, we now know that Polaris is a Cepheid variable, undergoing ultra-low-amplitude pulsations. Thirty years ago, a paper in the Astrophysical Journal by A. Arellano Ferro announced that the amplitude of these pulsations was diminishing. This behavior was confirmed, and it was believed that soon enough Polaris would no longer be a Cepheid variable. We started photometrically monitoring Polaris in 1999 and discovered that the amplitude of pulsations had reached a minimum and was now, in fact, growing again. It was while gathering historic photometry for the amplitude study that we noticed the published magnitudes of Polaris were systematically fainter, the further back in time the data went. This is an entirely unexpected behavior for a Cepheid variable, and one that we wanted to investigate further. We continue to observe Polaris to monitor the star’s brightness, along with pulsation period and amplitude, and we have re-analyzed the historic studies of Polaris to validate the brightening. We have also obtained HST-COS UV spectra of Polaris for comparison to archival IUE data, to look for flux and/or temperature changes. We gratefully acknowledge support from NASA grant HST-GO-11726.

Oh, and WND’s month-late snippet: “North Star Getting Brighter.”

The science in this case is not the point of this blog post. It seems dubious to me that historic accounts are accurate enough for this kind of claim, unless the brightness was by a huge amount, but I have not read a published paper to check the calibrations (and from what I can tell from searching, there is not yet a new paper on this). Rather, we have WND’s 39 comments.

Top-rated is a rant against President Obama from “TexasVetgal” with 18 up-votes: “Maybe… No, hopefully its a sign ObozO will be arrested and tossed into prison for forgery and fraud. One can hope.”

Next is about God by “nebraskafilly” with 17 up-votes: “IMO, this is just another aspect of God’s Billboard in the sky!!! He IS trying to tell us something, along with the coming four blood moons!!! Pay attention, America!!!”

Or “gardeninggal1” with 10 up-votes: “And the heavens declare His Glory, that is all I need to know. Interesting story, but looking to scientists for the answers is looking in the wrong place since God said he will make those who think they are wise look like fools.”

Or, it’s because we’re being sarcastic about climate change, such as “jtrollla” with 3 up-votes and 1 down-vote (page was loaded before Disqus stopped showing down-votes): “Maybe CO2 is causing Polaris to heat up?”

It seems like these basic astronomy-related stories bring out some of the more interesting (if predictable) non sequiturs.

I’m stepping away from my slightly dwindling back-log of WND articles to comment on a pair of ’em. Any reader of this blog should by now be familiar with the “Blood Moon ‘Prophecy'” thing that I debunked in a podcast episode last year that WND keeps pushing every few weeks. The short-short-short version is that, occasionally, just because of the way things line up, you get a few lunar eclipses (scary “blood moons” sounds much more ominous) that coincide with Jewish holidays … because Jewish holidays are DEFINED by the Hebrew calendar with is a LUNAR calendar and half the holidays happen on full moons, the only time you can get a lunar eclipse. This was brought up by Mark Blitz and WND is selling his books on the subject.

Just a few days ago, I put up a post about it again and said it would likely be my last until the whole thing was over in twoish years. And then WND struck again, in two articles by Joe Kovacs, the latter published just a few hours ago:

I’ll spare you the lengthy drivel and conspiracy-mongering that Kovacs goes into to summarize: On Feb. 12, WND put out another story on the “blood moons” crap, on Feb. 16 they noticed that NASA’s eclipse website went down and claimed conspiracy, and on Feb. 23 (today) they noticed that it was back up and are pestering NASA to admit that it was because of the “prophecy.” Meanwhile, nearly 1000 WND responders to a poll – 77% – said that this has to do with God trying to get our attention, probably about judgement (THE Judgement).

Commenter “Majik Imaje” with 20 up and unknown down (Disqus in the last day or so decided to stop telling you how many down-votes people got) summarizes this: “NASA & Our Government want the people to avoid discussing this issue. It would cause them too many problems for their NWO plans. Remove the evidence – Shoot the messengers. Just ignore it & it will go away. I’m afraid not; The Whole World is anxiously awaiting the imminent Return of the King of King’s – Our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Standing – Clapping – Cheering – Hallelujah – Glory to God!! The Heavens declare the handiwork of the Lord and it is about to happen – !! Jumping up & down with glee!!”

When WND pestered NASA, they got this:

“The site was taken offline because it was not up to date and was therefore confusing to those planning for future solar eclipses,” said Karen Smale, the Web editor-in-chief for NASA’s Sciences and Exploration Directorate at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

“If the site is updated again, it will be brought back online,” she added last week.

Then seemingly out of the blue, the eclipse site became unhidden Friday afternoon, Feb. 21.

The reason I say this is drivel is two-fold. First off, NASA’s eclipse website goes offline all the time. For a few days around the last lunar eclipse I was watching (I think back in 2012), it was offline which really ticked me off. A few months ago, for some random reason, I tried to get on again and it was offline. I have no idea why, but I didn’t go pestering NASA asking if they were trying to hide something. Websites go down. All because it’s a government-run (NASA) website does not mean that it’s on a great server.

Why? That gets to my second reason that this is drivel: This information is not hidden. And, it’s not even on NASA’s website. When NASA’s site was down, they directed you to another government agency’s site which had the eclipse information. And, there are innumerable websites out there with lunar eclipse information, including the 6th-most popular website in the world, Wikipedia, which has a list of the eclipses this century and a specific page for the one in a few weeks, April 15, 2014. Versus NASA’s website which, as a whole, is only around the 1,240th-most looked-at website in the world. And, none of these sites that have the eclipse data and maps correlate it with the Jewish holiday calendar.

WND published an e-mail by “Walt” on February 18:

[To Joe Kovacs:] Regarding “Blood moons fallout: NASA goes hiding”:

Are you:

1. just a cynical bastard trying to make a buck working for this website?
2. a fringe religious nut who wants to believe in any idea that feeds the common delusion? or
3. Bats–t crazy?

I really want to know.


As usual, there are no comments on the e-mail.

But, Joe Kovacs, since 1999, has been the “executive news editor of WND.” If this is his idea of journalism – a mystery-mongering conspiracy story that a high school student would laugh at putting in their school paper – it speaks volumes about WND’s standards. Or lack-there-of.