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Posts Tagged ‘sarah palin’

– A new proposal in the States suggests that health services will be expected to do their job, regardless of the religious affiliation of the people working there. Outrageous. They’ll be telling us we can’t let a bunch of strangers rape our daughters, next.

– Do Christians really love Jesus?

– “My pain is not caused because I am gay. My pain was caused by how I was treated because I am gay.” – a teenager who recently committed suicide, after his parents tried to exorcise the gay out of him, then threw him out of the house.

– Julianne Moore is completely awesome, but if she ends up making me like Sarah Palin, I will never forgive her.

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Maryam Namazie gave a much-lauded talk at the recent World Atheist Conference in Dublin, about the rise of extremist Islam. The full text on her blog is worth a read.

– I’ve had quite enough of a headache as it is lately without trying to get my head around the Bailey Review of the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood. This big supposedly important government report was released a couple of days ago. Among the best discussions I’ve seen on what the report is, what it says, and what’s wrong with it, come from Dr Petra and Nelson Jones.

Oh, Sarah Palin. The war on reality continues.

– Have you ever organised or attended an event where, on average, the guest speakers had more penises than you might expect? Wait, I don’t mean they each had more penises than expected, I mean… If you compared the number of penises to the number of people, would the ratio be… Okay, never mind. If you’ve had trouble finding female speakers for stuff, they’re making it very easy for you now.

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Christopher Maloney is a quack.

That’s something we can all be clear on, right off the bat. Telling parents who are thinking of vaccinating their children that “elderberry… blocks the H1N1 virus”? Yeah, fuck you. But that’s not what I want to talk about. (For one thing, Steve Novella’s got it covered. Again. Doesn’t he ever get tired of being awesome?)

Someone called Michael Hawkins wrote an article, on a WordPress blog, criticising Maloney and pointing out some of the crap he’s peddling. WordPress received a complaint about this, and ended up shutting Hawkins’ blog down. Yes, this is WordPress I’m blogging on now. I’m betting I’ll be saved from a similar fate by being too obscure to be noticed.

PZ Myers blogged about this again, pointing out that Christopher Maloney is still a quack, and highlighting how unsurprising it is for a woo-monger to apparently resort to bullying and censorship instead of actually defending any of his ideas. But that’s not what I want to talk about either.

What I want to talk about is something that happened next.

Apparently Maloney started complaining about receiving harassing emails from the Pharyngulites – PZ’s readers who wanted to express their ire at the Maloney’s quackery. Now, there’s been some discussion in some comments threads as to whether this harassment is likely to have really happened, at least to the extent that the quack is complaining about it, but the point I wanted to make is about PZ’s response: he posted again, only a couple of hours after the last one, urging people not to harass the quacks. He essentially told off a chunk of his own base, in no uncertain terms.

I’m not saying that he deserves any humanitarian awards for his basic decency here. It should be a no-brainer that making unpleasant phone calls to some guy whose number you found on the internet is a dick move. It’s kinda important that he should remind people not to go overboard, and to keep the debate within certain bounds of civility.

But however obvious this kind of thing should be, there are some areas of discussion where it happens much more reliably than others. Some political and philosophical demographics seem more capable than others of saying things like “I agree with this group’s core principles, but think they handled themselves poorly and inappropriately in this instance”, or “I know we’re on the same side here but I don’t agree with the way you’re going about this”, or even something as simple as “I was wrong”.

I was prompted to think about this by this post, which links to a video by a WorldNetDaily columnist, praising Uganda for upholding good Christian principles by trying to make homosexuality an offence punishable by death.

It’s a weird video, not least because it feels like I’m not understanding something that’s going on, like I must be missing some clever irony, because it seems like the kind of thing you’d make if you wanted to parody a whole bunch of idiotic right-wing fundamentalist claims. But apparently it’s real. And it’s seriously fucked up.

It does not, though, represent the views of all Republicans, or of every person who voted for John McCain in the last US presidential election. A lot of right-wing conservative voters out there would surely be appalled at seeing some dick’s twisted reading of the Bible being used to justify culling gay people. Even Rick Warren came out against the proposed Ugandan law, eventually.

But where are they? This sort of stuff never seems to be condemned or addressed by the rest of the conservative movement; it always seems to be up to liberals to expose this kind of thing. Whereas the left seem to have a little more awareness of themselves. Not universally, by any means – every camp has its fundies – but they seem far more capable of finding the humility to give a little ground once in a while, to admit that a certain move by one of their comrades may not have been entirely legitimate.

Example. It comes out that, some months ago, in a private meeting, Rahm Emanuel described some idea or other as “retarded“. Sarah Palin calls for his resignation, because of how offensive this is to the disabled community. Then, while discussing this story on the radio, Rush Limbaugh calls some liberals “retards”. Palin, being a fair-minded and even-handed rationalist, chastises Limbaugh in similar terms.

No, wait. I got that last bit wrong. She hasn’t said anything of the sort about Limbaugh. Or about Glenn Beck, who has repeatedly used the word “retarded” and laughed about it on his public TV show, and who interviewed Palin on Fox News just recently. Keith Olbermann might not be the best example of the humble and self-aware left-wing commentator I’ve been claiming definitely exists out there somewhere, but on this point he pretty much nails it.

That turned into a bigger rant on that one point than I’d planned. But it’s a great example of what I mean. Glenn Beck is a colossal douche, and if any right-wingers wanted to publicly acknowledge that, it’d be totally okay with the rest of us. Why doesn’t it seem to happen? Is it just my skewed perspective? Am I just not watching the right shows and YouTube clips to see where this goes on? Will I see the other side I’ve been missing if I turn over and find Jon Stewart’s conservative equivalent on some hitherto unexplored channel somewhere?

If that show exists, I’ve not seen it. And I haven’t see many conservative bloggers or commentators reminding their audiences to play nice like PZ did here, or highlighting and correcting when people on “their side” get things wrong.

So, conveniently, it seems to be the case that all these qualities of humility and objectivity and awesomeness line up very neatly with my own positions on stuff. I wonder if that should make me wary of how objective my own conclusions are… Nah.

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Dammit, you guys. It’s sodding Talk Like A Pirate Day and nobody told me! Well, it’s too late to get into the spirit of it now. Arrr well.

Did anyone else watch The Daily Show on Monday, and wonder whether Sarah Palin is under the impression that we’re at war with the Weeping Angels? Just me?

Ooh, they verified the two newest Mersenne prime numbers. The larger of the two is the biggest prime number ever discovered: it’s 12,978,189 digits long, and there is no way of dividing it up into any number of equal-sized portions. Nifty.

Yeah, I’m still pretty lame today, as far as productivity levels go. I’ll get back into the swing of things soon, I’m always really good at getting stuff done on weekends. Oh, wait, I’m thinking of going to the cinema and lazing on my sofa with tea and chocolate. That’s what I’m good at doing on weekends. Damn.

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Update: The Daily Kos story referenced below has been taken down. They don’t seem to have anything directly replacing it to address the issues differently, that I can find, but it looks like this may all have been overblown, or at least premature. I still have no idea, but it’s still the politics relating to this story – what laws the Republican vice presidential candidate would or would not support regarding sex education, teen pregnancy, contraception, abortion, and so forth – that are relevant and worth addressing. However, I’m going to leave this piece of entertaining but possibly pointless speculation as it is, now that it’s here, with the proviso that it may all be utter nonsense.


I have a proper skeptical post just about set for tomorrow, but today, it’s still politics. Specifically, it’s still the Republican vice-presidential candidate, which sounds like about the most tedious and dreary topic imaginable for a whole day’s worth of blog post if your interests are anything like mine.

But man, this is better than a soap opera.

There’s been some speculation that Sarah Palin’s youngest son, Trig, is actually the child of her eldest daughter Bristol, and thus Sarah Palin’s granddaughter. There’s reams of stuff about this on Daily Kos, where they actively accuse Sarah Palin of lying about this, and provide a whole lot of stuff to back up their claim.

There are a number of photos of both Sarah and Bristol, with descriptions of how pregnant they supposedly were at the time; I’m sure there are women who would kill to be able to keep their figure as well as Sarah Palin seems to after they’ve given birth, let alone while they’re still carrying a child. Sarah Palin announced that she was pregnant while apparently seven months along, by which point nobody around her had noticed; Trig Palin was born premature about a month later, while Sarah still didn’t seem to be noticeably bulging.

There’s also the really bizarre story about the conditions of Trig’s birth. Sarah apparently went into labour earlier this year, while in Dallas, Texas. Rather than going to hospital and cancelling the speech she was supposed to be giving that morning – which I think she could have been forgiven for, having a child is a valid excuse for missing just about any prior engagement – she gave the speech, and then took an eight hour flight from Texas back to Alaska, all the while “leaking amniotic fluid” (ew). The plane landed in Anchorage, which I’m guessing is a pretty big city in Alaska – they have an airport there, at least – but maybe not big enough to have a hospital of its own, because she then drove fifty miles to somewhere called Mat-Su Valley before finally popping the damn thing out.

Wow. Isn’t gossip fun?

I still really don’t know. None of the arguments are setting off my bullshit / conspiracy theory detector – in fact, it all makes for a pretty compelling case, but I’m holding back from drawing any definite conclusions just yet. Remember, I really am just a guy with no goddamn idea what he’s talking about. It’s possible that this is all entirely untrue, unfair, and distasteful. Though it’s not stopping me talking about it. I guess I must be kind of a dick.

Though, I do think this is something that potentially matters. Sarah Palin is pro-life, against abortion, and favours abstinence-only education. Although she supports the use of contraception, she’s not keen on letting anyone know how it works. The matter of whether she’s been honest about her children has a potential relevance to her actual thoughts and feelings on these political issues, as well as her general integrity and trustworthiness.

I’m not claiming to know what the hell’s going on here, but the situation does look unusual.

Oh, and this time around, Bristol Palin really is pregnant. Definitely. That abstinence-only education must be working really well.

Oh, and apparently Sarah Palin knows less about the Pledge of Allegiance than I do. No, the phrase “Under God” was not “good enough for the founding fathers”. It was added in the 1950s, to a pledge which was written in 1892. I know this, and I’m not even from this damn country. Sarah Palin runs a good chunk of it already, and wants to be in a position where she may be expected to take over the entire thing.

Proper skeptical post tomorrow. I promise.

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I honestly don’t want this blog to get too predominantly political, and it’s clear that the wide reach of my ignorance on the subject will stop me from getting too carried away on that, but some of this is kinda pertinent at the moment.

Stuff about Sarah Palin is starting to turn up, for instance, like the claim she made in her acceptance speech that she “championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress”, with particular reference to a bridge that was hoped to be built in her state of Alaska. What she actually said at the time indicates that federal funding for the bridge was only turned down when they couldn’t get enough money to get the job done. It’s getting more and more impractical to misrepresent, gloss over, or re-imagine your past actions and statements without getting called on it these days.

Melissa Rogers has a comprehensive list of quotes from Joe Biden‘s past about religion’s role in public life and church-state issues. He’s a Catholic, but seems to have a good idea of what separation of Church and State actually means. He’s opposed the teaching of intelligent design in science classes, and based on everything that’s here it seems like he could be trusted not to let religion play an inappropriately prominent role in government. (Hat-tip to Ed Brayton.) A similar list for Sarah Palin is still being updated, but so far she’s doing little to endear herself to me, at any rate.

And, quite excitingly, Barack Obama has answered the “top 14 science questions facing America”, as selected by ScienceDebate2008 and the thousands of people who submitted questions. It’s a pretty thorough set of answers, I haven’t been through the whole lot carefully yet and certainly don’t have the political nous to analyse it convincingly, but it looks pretty good to me. There’s a fair bit of just general, positive-sounding talk, the sort of thing in which I don’t pretend I can really tell the pandering apart from the genuinely good intentions, before he’s had a chance to show how he’s going to act – John McCain’s stated his intention to provide answers as well, and I imagine he’ll also be coming out fairly strongly pro-science to this particular audience.

But there are some encouraging specifics. Obama has been part of the “Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education Act of 2008”, which sounds like a good thing, and his support of stem cell research implies an appreciation of science over morality based on religious ideology. Which would be a nice change.

So, yeah. I’ll be watching out for comments on this from anyone more intelligent than me, but so far, Barack is still my man. (Another ScienceBlogs hat-tip for this one.)

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