Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A quantum of umbrage: What are you, cracked?

In the beginning, there was Ken Ham of the creationist shop Answers in Genesis, also head of the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky. He was an anti-science loon, but no one outside of his little fundamentalist niche had any idea who he was. And it was good.

Then Bill Nye unwisely agreed to <airquotes>debate</airquotes> Ham, an otherwise-pointless exercise in which Nye's credentials and name recognition gave Ham the PR boost he needed to attract attention with silliness like this.

And last week, when Ham should have been whiling away his time doing the daily crossword in pencil and waiting for the phone to ring, he uncorked this bit of wisdom.
On Sunday, Ken Ham, president and founder of the creationist organization Answers in Genesis (best known for debating Bill Nye), wrote a blog post calling for the end of the U.S. space program.

Why? Well, according to Ham, who also runs the Creation Museum in Kentucky, there’s no point in spending money on finding extraterrestrial life for a couple of reasons: First, the search is a deliberate rebuking of God, and second because aliens are already damned to hell.

“I’m shocked at the countless hundreds of millions of dollars that have been spent over the years in the desperate and fruitless search for extraterrestrial life,” Ham wrote.

“Of course, secularists are desperate to find life in outer space, as they believe that would provide evidence that life can evolve in different locations and given the supposed right conditions!” Ham continued later in the post.
Apart from the fact that it's not very many degrees of separation from this argument back to the one that the church used to condemn Galileo when he got crossways with them, at least we can take comfort from the fact that no one in any authoritative position today will bother to get themselves tied up in the question of whether or not extraterrestrials have souls as Christians understand the notion. Right?

Sigh. Apparently not:
Pope Francis has said that he would be willing to baptise aliens if they came to the Vatican, asking “who are we to close doors” to anyone - even Martians.

In a homily yesterday dedicated to the concepts of acceptance and inclusion, Francis recalled a Bible story about the conversion of the first pagans to Christianity, according to reports on Vatican Radio.

He said Catholicism was a church of “open doors”, and that it was up to Christians to accept the Holy Spirit however “unthinkable” and “unimaginable” it appeared.

Describing how, according to the Bible, Peter was criticised by the Christians of Jerusalem for making contact with a community of “unclean” pagans, Francis said that at the time that too was “unthinkable”.

“If, for example, tomorrow an expedition of Martians came to us here and one said ‘I want to be baptised!’, what would happen?”

Clarifying that he really was talking about aliens, the Pope said: “Martians, right? Green, with long noses and big ears, like in children’s drawings.”
Well, as long as the "unthinkable" and "unimaginable" aren't extended to include ordaining women, I suppose it's okay.

Actually, many people think it's more likely to be Zeta Reticulans than Martians when the aliens come, although I'm sure for many Christian Americans it doesn't matter as long as they're not Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, or El Salvadoreans.

But I'd like to imagine that all of this fooforaw about whether aliens have a soul would display at least the Scholastic dignity once given to debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. But it doesn't even clear that bar, first of all because of all the other things to which many of these folks are eager to ascribe souls – and religious rights under the Constitution.

But mainly because it all feels just too much like this:
Vern: Do you think Mighty Mouse could beat up Superman?

Teddy: What are you, cracked?

Vern: Why not? I saw the other day. He was carrying five elephants in one hand!

Teddy: Boy, you don't know nothing! Mighty Mouse is a cartoon. Superman's a real guy. There's no way a cartoon could beat up a real guy.
Which actually, come to think about it, sounds a lot like Ken Ham debating Bill Nye.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Quote of the day: The electric Kool-Aid corn-dog test

I'm a week late getting to this, so Brother Pierce gets a compensatory two-fer.

First, on the uselessness – nay, counterproductivity – of continuing to indulge Iowa in its fantasies of self-importance in our presidential election system:
There are a couple of hundred reasons why it is stupid to give the Iowa caucuses the pride of place in our presidential nominating pageant that they has come to enjoy. These run from embarrassing corn-dog photos, to the even dumber Iowa Straw Poll, which now may be mercifully chloroformed so that the elderly white folks on the buses can go to the Indian casinos where they belong, to the fact that occasionally we don't even know who won the damn things until long after it has ceased to matter.

But the primary reason for this is that the Iowa Republican party is Jesus-mad and bugfck insane
And, as proof of the above, witness the governor of Iowa, currently seeking easy re-election, who still felt compelled to hump the leg of his whackjob base by announcing his new-found conviction that the Prime Mover and All Father, who is not mentioned in the Constitution, nevertheless oversaw its establishment.
Put simply, public officials should not be doing this. They should not be participating under the color of their office in religious activities, no matter how allegedly "nonpartisan" or "nondenominational" those events are. They should keep how and when and to whom they pray to themselves. They should self-censor on this issue, and they should tell their constituents honestly why they are doing so. They certainly shouldn't have to trot their personal religious beliefs out for public display on public property just so they can get themselves re-elected again.

That's the bubble culture in which the Hobby Lobby decision makes sense

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quote of the Day: You go to war against the culture you've got

Culture War, which is what rightbloggers have instead of culture.
- Roy Edroso at Alicublog, nicely capturing the ongoing struggle by conservatives to "take back the culture."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday morning toons: You have to look hard to find the good in this bad news week

Malaysian Air flight MH 17 was blown out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile over the eastern Ukraine and, as Josh Marshall at TPM points out, you can decide whether you find more comfort in the possibility that whoever did it knew what they were doing, or didn't know what they were doing.

Tens of thousands of children from three Central American countries where the US went to a lot of trouble in the Reagan era to destabilize governments we didn't like are now at our borders. They're fleeing violence at home. We can only hope they don't get shot by anti-immigration whackjobs now that they're here.

And Hamas, having very few options at its disposal, has succeeded in picking the worst: Starting another bloody fight with Israel in which Israel will cheerfully outgun them.

Today's toons were carefully selected from the week's offerings at McClatchy DC, Cartoon Movement, Go Comics, Politico's Cartoon Gallery, Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoons,, and other fine sources..

p3 Best of Show: Darrin Bell.

p3 Legion of Merit: Martin Kolzowski.

p3 Award for Best Adaptation from Another Medium (tie): Mike Luckovich and Steve Breen.

p3 Notice Served for the Most Despicable Cartoon of the Week: Glenn McCoy. Okay, we get it: You don't like Obama, and you don't like illegal immigrants – especially of the brown variety. But this is beyond the pale.

p3 World Toon Review: Kevin Kallaugher (England) and Paresh Nath (India).

Ann Telnaes reminds us, male legislators and jurists work from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done.

Mark Fiore imagines what it would be like if Neanderthals could decide our response to global climate change. But we don't have to imagine, do we?

In an alternate-reality Riverdale, Archie took one for the team this week, and rightwing commentators haven't been this outraged since Peter Parker was killed off and replaced by a half-black, half-latino Spider-Man a couple of years ago.

Judge Lalo Alcaraz by the fee-discounted enemies he makes. File this one under It Would Be Funny If It Weren't So Sad.

Tom Tomorrow reads us a bedtime story. I particularly like the Jiminy Crickitization of Michael Kinsley. Very fitting.

Keith Knight says: Lie back and think of Germany.

Tom the Dancing Bug takes it to the logical next level.

Red Meat's Ted Johnson and his wife share some pillow talk.

The Comic Strip Curmudgeon is following Dick Tracy through a time-travel crossover story arc. Weird.

Comic Strip of the Day looks at scams and delusions.

Here I come to save the day! Mighty Mouse (originally named Super Mouse) was created in 1942 by the Terrytoons studio for 20th Century Fox to cash in on the popularity of you-know-who. When his theatrical cartoons (eventually there were 80 of them) were collected for Saturday morning as the Might Mouse Playhouse in 1955, introducing a generation of kids to the idea of light opera in the process, the show had this intro (which more people today probably associate with Andy Kaufman than the flying rodent):

"Wolf! Wolf" was directed in 1944 by Mannie Davis from a story by John Foster, with Tom Morrison voicing Mighty Mouse, studio head Paul Terry as the narrator, and music by Philip A. Scheib (all uncredited).

The Big, And Getting Bigger Since We Bent the Rules Big-Time and Welcomed Back The Departed, Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman looks at the status of middle eastern peace talks.

Possibly Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen reveals the evil force standing between you and cheaper garden gnomes!

It's a Matt Bors twofer! Matt wonders what we'll watch now that the World Cup is over, and shares the joy when parents get the blessed news.

Jesse Springer notes the Violence Policy Center's recent report that Oregon was one of 14 states where gun deaths outpaced motor vehicle deaths in 2011.

Test your toon captioning kung fu at The New Yorker's weekly caption-the-cartoon contest. (Rules here.) And you can browse The New Yorker's cartoon gallery here.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday afternoon toons: Homophones and other matters

I've been having fun watching "Weird Al" Yankovic's eight new videos in eight days campaign for his new album. And I like this one (including the wonderful two-second shot at Alanis Morrisette) a lot. Words and music by the Wieird One, animation by Jarrett Heather.

But this song, by Tom Lehrer of the p3 pantheon of gods, remains the definitive grammar song. It's from the old Children's Television Workshop series The Electric Company, which boasted regulars like Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno. And it's in klezmer style. Take that, Weird Al.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A quantum of umbrage: Heritage

So this turned up in my news feed:
The state of Texas’s decision not to issue a license plate that incorporates the Confederate battle flag violates the First Amendment, according to a divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The majority opinion by Judge Edward Prado concludes that Texas engaged in impermissible viewpoint discrimination by implicitly disfavoring the view that “the Confederate flag is a symbol of sacrifice, independence, and Southern heritage” and crediting the viewpoint that “the Confederate flag is an inflammatory symbol of hate and oppression.”
Soon to be followed by this:
Long live the confederacy, at least for some Republicans in Mississippi. A new Public Policy Poll shows that if there was another Civil War between the Union and Confederacy, 37 percent of Republicans who voted in the Mississippi primary runoff between incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) would support the Confederate States of America.

Overall, 29 percent of the Mississippi voters polled said they'd support the Confederate side, while 16 percent said they'd support a move to secede from the United States.
Which makes this a good occasion for reviewing a long-held belief here at p3: Although it makes us throw up in the back of our mouth a little bit, we defend the display of the Confederate flag – whether in front of public buildings, or on t-shirts, bumper-stickers, boxer shorts, tramp stamps, or garages in Jackson, Mississippi – on two grounds. The first is explicitly free-speech: It's the ugliest ideas that most need First Amendment protection. The Fifth Circuit Court was right, of course: The Confederate flag is an inflammatory symbol of hate and oppression, but if someone wants to pay $50.75 to put that  inflammatory symbol of hate and oppression on the license plate of their pickup truck (provided no other laws were broken in the process), so be it. The second is that it's what you might call a public health service: Confederate flags are like hazmat warning signs: Danger – Toxic Environment Ahead.

And, as ever, this blog stands by Nothstine's Law of Free Speech: If defending free speech doesn't hurt, at least a little, you're probably not doing it right.

Of course, the term "southern heritage" is code for a certain nostalgia for a political and economic system that couldn't survive without human slavery (or, for a century thereafter, state-sanctioned apartheid). And as for the risible idea that Mississippi – which costs the most taxpayer dollars of any state just to keep it ahead of Sierra Leone – might secede from the union, well, match the gain against the cost of redesigning the American flag and it's tempting to remind them not to let the door strike them from behind as they exit the building.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Shorter Ruth Marcus

Sarah Palin is right about impeaching Obama, except that she's wrong. But anyway, John Boehner is right about suing Obama instead, although that won't work either.

Honestly, even with the clickbait headlines, does anyone actually read Marcus?