Pocono link-dump

We’re heading to the mountains for a few days to a place with no TV or Internet (this is a feature, not a bug). I’ll be back Sunday evening — hoping to get home in time to catch the Eagles’ next fourth-quarter collapse.

So in the meantime, here, in no particular order, are some random links that I didn’t have time to put together any longer or more coherent response to/comment on.

Self portrait.

Adrian Mack explores a treasure trove for “trash hounds.” With video. “A brief history of fundie Christian cinema.”

That photo to the right (via Phil Plait) is a picture of us. You, me, everyone — the 100 percent. That fuzzy blob on the left? That’s Earth. The one on the right is the moon.

A Protestant Affirmation on the Control of Human Reproduction (1968)

Baptist Prophet Squares Off Against Baptist Governor in Alabama

Alabama Deli Owner, Businesses Stand Strong for Immigrant Rights

More like this please: “Occupy Cleveland Helps a Single Mother Stay in Her Home.”

Jim Wallis: “A Church Sanctuary for the Occupy Movement” (Sanctuary! — I miss Howard Ashman.)

Rob Tish notes that sometimes Jesuits sound like stoners. (And on the subject of same-sex marriage, they really, really do.)

C. Peter Wagner believes that the emperor of Japan has sex with the Sun Goddess, who is really a demon. I’ve tried to phrase that in the least-ridiculous-sounding way, but I’m not sure that’s possible.

On the Prophet Hen of Leeds (and nine other failed doomsday predictions):

History has countless examples of people who have proclaimed that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent, but perhaps there has never been a stranger messenger than a hen in the English town of Leeds in 1806. It seems that a hen began laying eggs on which the phrase “Christ is coming” was written. …

All part of Obama's anti-Christian conspiracy

Great sex! Flat abs! And Jesus!

The beloved Norman Rockwell painting to the right — part of his “Four Freedoms” series — is famously titled “Freedom to Worship.” According to the Liar Tony Perkins, that phrase “freedom of worship” was recently invented by the Obama administration as part of its ongoing persecution of real, true, heterosexual Christianity. We all knew that President Barack Obama loves Norman Rockwell. But until the Liar Tony Perkins told us about this, we hadn’t realized that Obama also had a time machine that enabled him to travel back to 1943 to conspire with Rockwell and President Franklin D. Roosevelt in their diabolical assault on Christian freedom.

Speaking of time travel, here’s a time capsule of former speakers of the House Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi discussing climate change. The difference between then and now is that Pelosi is still telling the truth about this.

Herman Cain: “We need a leader, not a reader.”

Ramesh Rao: “Now It Is the Turn of the Hindus

The combination of ignorance and intolerance has not always been a losing formula in politics, for if it were, it would not be used so often.

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association reassures his listeners that Elton John will never sing at his wedding. (Fischer is criticizing Rush Limbaugh for having the pop star sing at his most recent wedding. In keeping with Fischer’s notion of “traditional values,” he doesn’t complain that this was Limbaugh’s fourth wedding — only that the more successful radio demagogue hired a gay icon to sing.)

Noahpinion: “Why conservatives can’t get people to work hard

Nevada Attorney General announces indictment in robo-signing scheme

Wendell Berry on the EPA: “I have a lot of sympathy, actually, for you and your colleagues, because you are standing in a very difficult place, that is between the bandits and the loot.”

These “Nuns Who Won’t Stop Nudging” are standing in that same very difficult place. I worked with some of these formidable women through ICCR for a couple of years in the early 1990s. CEOs do not look forward to sitting across the table from these prophetic sisters.

Atrios uses the “J-word.”

Andrew Marin: “Toward a Better Future for Gays at Evangelical Seminaries

Mormon bishop says church responsible for gays’ emotional wounds

Candace Chellew-Hodge: “New Southern Baptist Curriculum Bashes Gays

Michelle Bachman's legislative aide for health care issues (left).

Steve Benen: “When someone makes a claim, the claim is proven false, and the person makes it again anyway, they’re lying.” But lying about Obama is fair game, because it’s lying for Jesus.

What if there were a god named Fred who hated lies?” asks Timothy Kincaid of Box Turtle Bulletin. Kincaid seems to think this is a hypothetical question.

Speaking of lying for Jesus, Rep. Michele Bachmann said that health care reform will require all doctors to get IRS approval for every procedure. The congresswoman voted on that law, so she ought to know it does no such thing, but she claims this must be true because a 7-foot-tall doctor told her.

When your relationship to reality is so seriously askew that you think Jesus wants you to bear false witness against your neighbor, then anything that reasserts or reaffirms reality becomes your enemy. If your political views require you to say that north is south and south is north, then you have no choice but to denounce and discredit every working compass. Even things like Snopes.com. Hence the delightful double-lindy right-wing conspiracy theory falsely accusing Snopes of being a Soros-funded puppet of international Jewish liberal bankers. I hadn’t heard that one until Victoria Jackson brought it up, but I suppose it was inevitable and, for people like Jackson, yet one more necessary fiction in the futile effort to cling to unreality. Lies are like potato chips — it’s hard to tell just one.

Michele Bachmann’s campaign site recently posted a video featuring an endorsement from George Grant. Then the video was taken down. After spending months saying that there’s no such thing as dominion theology, and that this nonexistent thing is a tiny fringe view with no influence, and that it has no ties to any national figures in the Republican Party — after working so hard to create that narrative, and enlisting the help of all those compliant columnists and pundits to spread that message — then it’s a bit awkward to tout the endorsement of old-school deconstructionist dominion theology cheerleader George Grant, the guy who wrote this:

It is dominion that we are after. Not just a voice. It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after. World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish.

Another Liar for Jesus: the Liar Tom Vineyard, senior pastor of Windsor Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. (In some alternate universe, perhaps there’s an honest man named Tom Baptist who’s pastor of a Vineyard church in KO City.)

We could replace coal power with geothermal—10 times over

The Truth Is Out There: “White House formally denies connection with E.T.

Kevin Drum: “Gog, Magog and George Bush

Two posts influenced by the moral philosophy many of us learned from Gary Gygax:

1. “Presidential Candidates Explained Through Dungeons and Dragons Character Sheets

2. Abi Sutherland: “Occupy Chaotic Good

BlackTsunami shares a powerful anti-bullying video from The Netherlands. What struck me was that the ad was prepared by “de Kinderombudsman” or Children’s Ombudsman. That’s an official government office tasked with ensuring that “children in the Netherlands are respected by the government” and other organizations and with advising the Dutch parliament on behalf of children. Interesting.

Robert Reich: “The Corporate Pledge of Allegiance

Diana E. Anderson: “Thou gleeking hell-hated malcontent!

Our current sexual ethic in the American church does just as good of a job objectifying women as secular “porn” culture.

#mencallmethings

Gawker: “100,000 ‘Atlas Shrugged’ DVDs Recalled for Perfectly Hilarious Reason” (For Randians, “courage and self-sacrifice” is considered a Bad Thing.)

Josh Rosenau: “Evangelicals have lower science literacy, part 2

You Don’t Know Mitt: 99 Facts About Mitt Romney” All true. Oddly, so too is a list of 99 contradictory facts about Mitt Romney.

Eric Hague: “A Stripped-Down Compromised Draft of the American Jobs Act

Repealing the estate tax does not promote economic growth” (So much for the Kardashian-driven economic recovery.)

Here’s another recommendation for Gungor. I’m really going to have to check them out.

And finally, please don’t put a “Jesus” bumper sticker on your car and then park like a total douchebag. It causes people to associate Jesus with douchebaggery, and I think he deserves better than that.

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Sunday favorites
Postcards from the culture wars (8.24)
Here's what you do when an erratic bigot hijacks your party nomination
Left Behind Classic Fridays, No. 95: 'Faith vs. Reason'
  • Anonymous

    Funny, I guess I always pictured the moon as taller.

    From the Herman Cain “we need a leader, not a reader” article:

    Cain briefly addressed the Milwaukee incident on Thursday, telling the AP that he paused simply to gather his thoughts.

    “They want people to think it was a mental lapse. If that’s what they want to think, so be it. I know what it was,” he said, describing it as “a powerful pause.” ”You can look forward to some more powerful pauses.”

    You can’t make this stuff up.  If there were no Herman Cain, it wouldn’t even cross anybody’s mind to invent him.  I’ll be sad when he’s gone — the man is unintentional comedy platinum.

  • Dorothy

    So Fred, the rumaki. A tasty treat or an abomination? Have a nice weekend.

  • Anonymous

    Rumaki would be good if they took out the chicken liver and replaced it with more bacon.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll be back Sunday evening — hoping to get home in time to catch the Eagles’ next fourth-quarter collapse.

    The 49ers haven’t looked back since their comeback in Philly.  I would like to see the Eagles tear out the hearts of the NY Giants.  That’s always fun to watch.

  • Anonymous

    Fred: We all knew that President Barack Obama loves Norman Rockwell. But until the Liar Tony Perkins told us about this, we hadn’t realized that Obama also had a time machine that enabled him to travel back to 1943 to conspire with Rockwell and President Franklin D. Roosevelt in their diabolical assault on Christian freedom.

    Fred: C. Peter Wagner believes that the emperor of Japan has sex with the Sun Goddess, who is really a demon

    ”Stoner Jesuit”: He does not identify the reasoning underlying these claims, but I wonder how he would consider this argument: Let us assume that two planets which have not yet been inhabited by humans are to be colonized by them; on Planet Alpha, heterosexual couples only are assigned; on Planet Beta, only homosexual
    couples.

    My God, the wingnuts live in the Doctor Who universe.

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    And if Planet Beta contains Jack Harkness–both planets are DEFINITELY going to be populated. He”ll have sex with absolutely anything and, according to Whoniverse canon, he’s gotten pregnant at least once. Okay, he did say that he didn’t WANT to get pregnant again, but…y’know. Needs must.

    If, on the other hand, we assume that Planet Alpha contains nothing but heterosexual Time Lords who have no access to reproductive technologies, Planet Alpha will be populated (since Time Lords live a long time, after all), but there won’t be any children. Time Lords can’t reproduce biologically and haven’t been able to for some time. (According to a number of tie-ins to the TV series, they “loom” their young. I presume it’s some form of gene-splicing in a laboratory, followed by artificial incubation.)

    The wingnuts do seem to forget that “heterosexual” doesn’t mean “fertile” or “able to carry a child to term,” don’t they?

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    Time Lords can’t reproduce biologically and haven’t been able to for some time.

    That one really rather depends on who you ask. It’s never been suggested by anything BBC approved that Susan was anything other than the Doctor’s actual granddaughter, and in the Eighth Doctor New Adventures series of audio dramas on BBC (Radio) 7, she also has a biological son, for example. We see The Master as a child in “The Sound Of Drums”, whereas the loom theory says that Timelords emerge fully grown.

    However, as Steven Moffat says “It is impossible for a show about a dimension-hopping time traveller to have a canon”, so you might still be right – at least until time is rewritten again.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    (Fair warning: I hate the loom theory with a burning passion)

    In fact, the doctor is absolutely explicit in at least two places that he has been a father, and it’s strongly implied that he had a mother. 

    Big Finish, being rather more enamored of the Virgin NA line (Virgin books did a line of doctor who novels which was the origin of the loom business), did have the fifth doctor explicitly say he had never been a father, and it’s so jarring and bizarrely inserted that it feels like the fanboy who wrote it was just desperate. (Seriously, someone says “Are you a father?” and the doctor spends a full minute saying “No, never, absolutely not. Seriously. Not a biological father. Never in a million years. Nope. Not me.” and so forth)

  • Kukulkan

     Ross wrote:

    (Seriously, someone says “Are you a father?” and the doctor spends a full minute saying “No, never, absolutely not. Seriously. Not a biological father. Never in a million years. Nope. Not me.” and so forth)

    That sounds more like “No. The case was thrown out of court. It just an attempt at gold-digging. I never met the woman before the suit. The blood test was negative. Never happened. Just slander and gossip. I was somewhere else at the time. Here, I have signed and dated affidavits from the Governor, Mayor and seventeen prominent citizens of the city of Ys on the plant Thann. Here’s a photo of us playing galactic poker; note the time stamp shows I was there at the time of the alleged conception. What do you mean ‘That doesn’t count because I’m a time traveller’? I assure you it never happened…”

  • Izunya

    Well, even if Susan was gengineered and grown in a uterine replicator, she’d still be Doctor’s granddaughter so long as her genes came from his child.

    To be honest, the only problem I’ve ever had with the loom idea is the notion that they come out as physical adults with child minds.  That’s impractical; sometimes you just need to grab a kid and take them away from the dangerous object.  Any civilization that can start their children as babies (as in, probably not some robots) would almost certainly do so.  Beyond that, using some sort of uterine replicator seems like a sensible thing for a high-tech culture to do even if they don’t have fertility issues.  And I think it’s in character for the Time Lords to mess with their own genetics a bit, probably to ensure intelligence and endurance.

  • P J Evans

     Yes, Planet Alpha could be populated by heterosexuals all of whom are over the age of 50….

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    Even more importantly gay people aren’t incapable of heterosexual sex they just don’t feel sexual attraction to the opposite sex. Even assuming a complete lack of turkey basters on planet beta surrogacy arrangements would spring up pretty quickly unless the planet was also unisex and that’s a different issue that has nothing to do with the sexuality of the inhabitants.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    ”Stoner Jesuit”: Let us assume that two planets which have not yet been inhabited by humans are to be colonized by them; on Planet Alpha, heterosexual couples only are assigned; on Planet Beta, only homosexual couples. In one hundred years, will both islands be populated assuming that reproductive technologies are not available to either group?

    Hm… (Forward note: sarcasm.)

    Presume that under some circumstance, one planet becomes uninhabited. We can under the stated assumptions conclude that this will inevitably happen on planet beta, but we can also imagine the scenario happining for various reasons (Reproductive misfortune; unanticipated predators; unexpected black hole) on planet alpha. Let us assume that both planets do not become simultaneously uninhabited.

    If the hypothesized event happens on planet alpha, life continues on planet beta for a time. The colonial system now contains zero heterosexuals and a nonzero number of homosexuals.

    If the event happens on planet beta, there are a nonzero number of heterosexuals remaining on planet alpha. However, because homosexuals are naturally occurring, we can also assume that within a bounded period of time, there will be a nonzero number of homosexuals living on planet alpha. 

    So it is possible for heterosexuals to become extinct in this scenario. It is not possible for homosexuals to become extinct in this scenario. 

    Clearly, this proves that homosexuals have a greater net chance of survival, and are therefore superior.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    Bryan Fisher:  Wasn’t Limbaugh’s latest wedding like a year and a half ago?  You’re seriously scraping the bottom of the perpetual outrage barrel here.  Why don’t you go back to the well and write another column about how it’s impossible to love America without believing that the genocide of Native Americans was the right thing to do? 

    Jesuits:  “Let us assume that two planets which have not yet been inhabited by
    humans are to be colonized by them; on Planet Alpha, heterosexual
    couples only are assigned; on Planet Beta, only homosexual couples.”

    Right wing authoritarians often have a very slippery relationship with essentialism, depending on what suite their ego at the moment.  Sometimes they will claim that their absolute truth is not just self-evident but that the knowledge of their truth a universal instinct, implanted in the genes.  So that those who disagree secretly know themselves to be wrong and are only pretending to disagree out some secret depravity. 

    Yet at other times, authoritarians will claim that human beings are such blank slates that there is no such thing as even natural heterosexuality, that we would all randomly stumble and rut about until we went extinct from mass starvation; if not for the brave authoritarians having the wisdom to impose their norms upon us.  This isn’t just stoner logic but crystal meth addict
    Logorrhea.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Fred, I hope you and you’re family have a good time.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    C. Peter Wagner believes that the emperor of Japan has sex with the Sun Goddess, who is really a demon.

    I don’t suppose anyone here has read the Nanoha fanfic “Infinity”? In that context, this is actually plausible if you take out the demon part and don’t assume it has to be consensual.

  • Hawker40

    IRT bumper stickers…
    I’m afraid to put the bumper sticker for causes I support, for fear of tarring my cause with my bad driving.
    If only others would do the same.
    (When cut off* on the freeway by a large POV, the first thing I look for is the Jesus Fish, the second the “NoTW” sticker.  Almost always they’ll have one of the two.  It’s a feature of large annoying vehicles here.)

  • Kukulkan

    Hawker40 wrote:

    (When cut off* on the freeway by a large POV, the first thing I look for is the Jesus Fish, the second the “NoTW” sticker.  Almost always they’ll have one of the two.  It’s a feature of large annoying vehicles here.)

    News of the World?

    Seriously, I know what a Jesus Fish is, but “NoTW” is new to me.
     

  • Hawker40

    “Not of the World”.  The “T” is usually in the shape of a cross.  It’s a Biblical reference.

  • Kukulkan

    Hawker40 wrote:

    “Not of the World”.  The “T” is usually in the shape of a cross.  It’s a Biblical reference.

    Ah. Thank you.

  • P J Evans

     It usually looks likes ‘now’ with a very irregular cross through the ‘o’. (It took me a while to figure it out.)

    And on the line of such things, i was having to look at aerial views of Saddleback  MegaSuperChurch today. I don’t think Jesus would show up there, unless he felt like calling in an air strike. Even in aerial views, it reeks of Money. (Google’s views are more recent than Bing’s. In case you decide to see what the wealthy right-wing churches think is suitable.)

  • Anonymous

    So … C. Peter Wagner looked through the Emperor of Japan’s bedroom window (since how else could he know?) and saw him doing naughty things with a Sun Goddess who is also a demon.

    This suggests three things to me.

    1) Said Emperor is lousy in bed, since Japan’s economic problems and terrible earthquakes indicate that the Goddess did not walk away with a spring in her step and a sparkle in her eye.
    2) The Japanese Imperial security team needs a serious upgrade before their poor Emperor  wakes up to find Chick tracts left on his bedside table.
    3) An ageing RTC fundamentalist is having more interesting sexual fantasies than I am.

  • patter

    4) She’s a ball-buster.

    It’s never come up since. quoth C. Peter.

  • John Underwood

    IN SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
    February 17, 1853 – Ordered to be printed

    Mr. Underwood made the following
    REPORT

    The Committee on Foreign Relations, to whom were referred numerous petitions praying for the adoption of such measures as may secure to our citizens resident in foreign countries the right freely and openly to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, report:

    …The constitutions adopted by the people of the United States, both State and nation, guaranty to each citizen freedom of worship according to the dictates of his conscience. No one is compelled by law to subscribe to any particular creed; or to observe any particular form of worship; or to observe any particular form of worship; or to give any church preference over another, contrary to the convictions of his own reason and judgment. In these respects the citizen is absolutely free to act in conformity to his own convictions. He is not bound to give a preference to the religious teacher of this or that creed. He may hear all, and then form his own faith for himself. He may hear all, and then form his own faith for himself. The government does not dictate. This system of religious freedom and toleration is fundamental with us. We extend it to the people of all nations coming among us. The object of the momorialists is to secure to our citizens join to other con tries the sam liberty of conscience and of open worship which is allowed them at home. Accustomed as they are to unlimited religious liberty, and taught from childhood to tolerate in others what they claim for themselves….

  • Albanaeon

    The geothermal thing gets me riled up.  Here’s Colorado, with easily the most potential for geothermal energy development (not to mention Solar and wind) and we are going out of the way to get fracking up and running.  What the hell’s wrong here?

  • Michael William Busch

    Coal and oil are unfortunately cheap.  I was impressed by all of the solar panels when I visited Denver & Boulder, though.

    There is a problem with the link’s calculation: the total worldwide geothermal heat flux is ~44 TW, of which maybe 2 TW could consistently be converted to electricity (a lot of heat comes out in the oceanic crust, and geothermal plants can only be so efficient).  In comparison, worldwide, coal power plants currently put out 5 TW as electricity.  So there isn’t really ten times as much geothermal as there is coal.

    You can get higher than 2 TW from geothermal for a while, by digging into hot spots.  But that only lasts until the wells cool down.  That only takes a few decades.  In the long run, while geothermal, wind, and hydroelectric are a big contribution to a clean power grid, they can’t support all of our current energy usage.  Either we dramatically cut the amount of power we use, or we install a _lot_ of nuclear and solar generating capacity, or both.

  • Albanaeon

    Depends, particularly since temperature increases according to depth.  Deep dug geo-wells have MILLIONS of years before they would cool.  Unfortunately, that sort of thing isn’t cheap, short term.  But once installed and running the costs could significantly balance out rather quickly.  As this is sort of what I am getting my degree for, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into it.

    In many respects this is the issue with lots of renewable energy, upfront costs.  Which, in current political climes is a hard sell.  And whenever talk of cutting energy usage comes up, well libertarians and their ilk tend to get up in arms about their “freedoms.”  That in the long term it saves them money (and the planet…) gets ignored.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    That only takes a few decades.  In the long run, while geothermal, wind, and hydroelectric are a big contribution to a clean power grid, they can’t support all of our current energy usage.  Either we dramatically cut the amount of power we use, or we install a _lot_ of nuclear and solar generating capacity, or both.

    Yeah.  Unfortunately, with civilization’s energy needs, we will never completely get rid of high output fuel-consuming power conversion.  However, effective wind, solar, and hydro power can go a long way toward reducing the need for fuel-based power plants in our energy grid.  

    That reminds me, have there been any large scale projects to build solar towers?  

  • Lori

      Unfortunately, with civilization’s energy needs, we will never completely get rid of high output fuel-consuming power conversion.  

    Eventually we will, because we literally won’t have a choice. People can debate how long it will be until we hit that point, but we will get there. 

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Eventually we will, because we literally won’t have a choice. People can debate how long it will be until we hit that point, but we will get there.

    I disagree.  Even our solar energy is produced by a hydrogen-consuming, naturally occurring, gravity-induced fusion reactor.  Once that is used up, things will look pretty grim for anything left in our solar system.  

    Now granted, that is several billion years away, but still…

    If we are going to delay extinction to at least that point though, we will need better forms of generating energy.  I think what is more plausible is that we develop new technologies which give a better ratio of fuel-consumed and waste out to power generated.  Nuclear fission is an example of that kind of technology, though the fuel required is rare and the little waste produced is potent.  I wish to see reliable nuclear fusion in our lifetime, but we have been working on making such technology sustainable for half a century without success.  Hopefully advances in particle accelerator labs will give us some of the breakthroughs we need for such technology.  

  • Hawker40

    Actually, we don’t need a better way of generating energy, we need a better way to collect and use the energy already being produced (and mostly, from the human perspective, wasted) by that big nuclear fusion reactor in the center of the solar system.

  • http://plantsarethestrangestpeople.blogspot.com/ mr_subjunctive

    “Toward a Better Future for Gays at Evangelical Seminaries” is an interesting read, but the comments are even more interesting, in the sense that out of the 19 comments the article’s collected so far, eight are all BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SIN OMG THE SINNING AAAAAIIIIGGGGHHHH GAY LIFESTYLE. I considered commenting on that post itself, but A) I don’t really get the impression that a gay perspective is welcome and B) I was in sort of an incoherent spittle-flecked rage. Still kinda am. So maybe someone else can do it?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know what wagner is smoking, but it must be really strong

  • Kukulkan

    The Stoner Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage: Let us assume that two planets which have not yet been inhabited by humans are to be colonized by them; on Planet Alpha, heterosexual couples only are assigned; on Planet Beta, only homosexual couples. In one hundred years, will both islands be populated assuming that reproductive technologies are not available to either group?

    This is really poor experimental design.

    The goal of an experiment is to isolate the variable you’re testing for. I mean, when you come back in a hundred years how do you know that the result is due to sexual orientation and not due to some other variable or combination of variables such as religion, political beliefs, a cultural preference for large families, the type of snack foods the people enjoy, whether or not porn is available, the popularity of Dr Who on the planet, etc.

    Obviously, you need to make both populations uniform. That is, the same in all respects except for the feature you’re testing.

    Thus, the experiment should be:
       * Planet Alpha is initially populated by white Anglo Saxon liberal Unitarian males from
         New England who are vegan and like Joss Wheden TV shows and are heterosexual.
       * Planet Beta is initially populated by white Anglo Saxon liberal Unitarian males from
         New England who are vegan and like Joss Wheden TV shows and are homosexual.
    Now we’ve isolated the variable of sexual orientation because all the other factors — race, ethnicity, politics, religion, gender — are the same.

    So, when we come back later, which planet will have the larger population?
    And which will be the happier?
     

  • Anonymous

    “Planet Beta is initially populated by white Anglo Saxon liberal Unitarian males from
         New England who are vegan and like Joss Wheden TV shows and are homosexual.”

    Would I be right in assuming they’re all spitters?

  • friendly reader

    The East Asian Studies major in me just groaned the first time I heard the “sex with the Sun Goddess” thing. That’s… so not a part of Shinto ritual. Amaterasu O-Mikami is (mostly metaphorically, since WW2) the Imperial family’s distant ancestor. She’s also generally depicted, based on the Kojiki, as perpetually virginal; her children were the product of a ceremonial vow she made with Susano-o, not from a sexual liaison.* There’s no tradition whatsoever of the Emperor having ritual intercourse with her. Again, maybe if he’s been reading bad manga or something, but no. You Fail Religious Studies Forever.

    Now, it is true that Sumerian kings symbolically had sex with the goddess Inanna via her high priestess as part of their ascendency ritual. I guess Rev. Wagner just assumes all “pagans” do the exact same thing all over the planet. Urgh.

    *Admittedly, it may originally have been a sexual encounter and the Kojiki altered it to get rid of the incest, since Susano-o is her brother. But it’s also true that gods tend to get produced from all sorts of things that aren’t sex in the Kojiki, especially ritual action, so the vow may in fact be original.

  • http://www.diannaeanderson.net Dianna

    Thanks for the link love – bit surprised to discover that you read me! But…small correction: My name is Dianna, not Diana. Totally common error. Thanks, though!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

    Deep wells don’t last that much longer than shallow ones.  Regardless of depth, the rocks right next to the well cool down and have to be reheated by conduction from the surrounding material.  Deeper wells have a higher starting temperature, which gives you a bit longer before the well cools down too much and also lets the conversion from heat to electricity be a bit more efficient.  Less local variations, the lifetime of a well goes a bit more than linearly with its depth.  If a 1 km well lasts a decade, a 10 km one would last a couple of centuries.  In any case, 44.2 TW is the total heat production from the Earth’s interior.  There is no way for geothermal to exceed that.

    As you say, the difficulty with switching over to a carbon-neutral grid is the start-up costs.  Solar is getting cheaper, but we still have big problems with power storage if it is to ever be the primary source of power.  Nuclear plants take a lot more money to build and commission than coal plants, even if they end up being safer in the long run.

    If you don’t mind my asking, Albanaeon – what is your program?

    Also: something I should have mentioned earlier: the Juno picture is _very_ cool. Another one of my favorites is a similar picture taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, while in orbit around Mars.

  • Albanaeon

    You’re forgetting the pressure change.  Increased pressure equals increased temps. If we were just tapping the latent heat in the rocks, yes they wouldn’t hold that long, but the pressure change is 30 degrees/km.  That’s why deep mines, with great amounts spent in cooling them off, are still sweltering.  There’s also rock type, and how close they are to magma, etc.  There is also ways to keep the circuit “closed” in that we aren’t simply dumping cold water into them which would minimize convective loss.  Quite frankly, where we are at in trying to tap geo-thermal is so infantile giving hard lines of decades of use is not accurate or helpful.

    Currently, my field is just “Geology” but this is really just the start of getting the degree I’ve had as a hobby for decades.

  • Albanaeon

    Forgot to add that multiple smaller scale operations may also mitigate the heat loss problems as you can cycle the plants in use to let other “recharge” their heat.

  • Anonymous

    “And finally, please don’t put a “Jesus” bumper sticker on your car and then park like a total douchebag. It causes people to associate Jesus with douchebaggery, and I think he deserves better than that.”

    Actually, don’t even put the name of Jesus on your car or person, on the off-chance that you are a douchebag, and don’t know it.

  • Lori

    I hadn’t been keeping up with #mencallmethings and now I wish I was still living in blissful ignorance. I swear, some days the internet makes me kind of hate humanity. There are some men out there who are seriously not doing the side any favors. It’s not the trolls who really upset me. Trolls gotta troll. The ones who make me wish them ill are the troll apologists. Even if they aren’t smart enough to know right from wrong, they should know not to share their thoughts. 

  • Anonymous

    Re:  The Jesuit Stoner Argument — I don’t think the beta planet would die out because surely they can recognize the problem and take steps to correct it, like actually having man-woman sex.

    Pardon me?  Oh, you’re just going to dump gay men on the beta planet, and men and women on the alpha planet?  Then your experiment is rigged and the results would be invalid.  I SAID GOOD DAY

  • Anonymous

    Noooo! How will I go on without a Daily Dose of Slacktivist awesomeness?

    …Have fun, Fred! There is a great deal of good to be said of leaving the internet behind and enjoying the silence.

  • Anonymous

    That idiotic “Snopes-is-a-conspiracy” conspiracy theory has been around since at least as early as 2002, I hate to say. When the 9/11 attacks happened, and a Snopes article came out defending the “official story” (that is to say: reality), people accused them of being part of the Zionist-OWG-ZOG-WTF machine.

    I know that the original “Loose Change” film explicitly mentioned it. It’s only recently that they’ve added the whole Soros thing, but as a Jewish billionaire it was really inevitable.

  • Rikalous

    I think I understand why Bachman made her fictitious doctor a giant: She’s trying to go for the “Nobody would be stupid enough to make up such a ridiculous lie, so she must be telling the truth.” Of course, the people who would suspect she was lying don’t generally have enough respect for her to assume she’s not stupid enough to make up a ridiculous lie.

    I call shenanigans on the “no reproductive technologies” caveat for the Jesuit Planets.* Any civilization capable of terraforming and colonizing a couple of planets can damn well whip up a uterine replicator. Letting Planet B have reproductive technologies lets the observer see the true evil of teh gheys by showing exactly how and how much having same-sex parents will warp their poor little impressionable minds. Besides, anyone who thinks the inability of same-sex couples to produce spawn without outside or technological assistance proves a damn thing is cordially invited to jump off a bridge in accordance with the natural law of gravity.

    *Out of respect to all the nice people who have shared their marijuana with me, I will not be calling them the Stoner Planets.

  • Kukulkan

     Rikalous wrote:

    I call shenanigans on the “no reproductive technologies” caveat for the Jesuit Planets.* Any civilization capable of terraforming and colonizing a couple of planets can damn well whip up a uterine replicator.

    If you read the statement carefully, you’ll notice the planets turn into islands half-way through.

    I doubt the good father was thinking in terms of technology. Or, indeed, thinking much at all.

  • Anonymous

    If you read the statement carefully, you’ll notice the planets turn into islands half-way through.

    Well, Saturn is so insubstantial that it would float on water…

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    If you read the statement carefully, you’ll notice the planets turn into islands half-way through.

    Oh, that trope. I bet the islands end up within easy travelling distance of each other, too.

    There was a fad in science fiction some years back to have a planet colonized by Sockpuppet People Who Share The Author’s Beliefs. After a generation or two, a second colony would be set up on the same planet by Strawmen People Opposed To The Author’s Beliefs. Despite planets being huge, Colony Strawman would always be set up within walking distance of Colony Sockpuppet, the children of Colony Strawman would discover them, and rebel by joining them.

    Even as a kid I though a far more realistic scenario would be for the colonies to be on opposite sides of the planet, and by the time they encountered each other enough time would’ve passed that the extremist beliefs of both sides had mellowed out. But then the author couldn’t demonstrate the horribleness of the Strawmen and the nobility of the Sockpuppets.

  • Kukulkan

    Jamoche wrote:

    There was a fad in science fiction some years back to have a planet colonized by Sockpuppet People Who Share The Author’s Beliefs. After a generation or two, a second colony would be set up on the same planet by Strawmen People Opposed To The Author’s Beliefs. Despite planets being huge, Colony Strawman would always be set up within walking distance of Colony Sockpuppet, the children of Colony Strawman would discover them, and rebel by joining them.

    This reminds me of a book I read years ago, half of an old Ace Double from the late 1960s called The Rival Rigellians by Mack Reynolds. The basic premise was that two planets in the Rigel system had been colonised a thousand years ago and left to their own devices. Technical civilisation had collapsed on both and now a team from Earth was heading there with the goal of bringing the societies on both planets up to a level where they could join the United Planets.

    The Earth team has fifty years to do this and on the way to Rigel get into an argument as to how best to accomplish this. One group wants to set up a command economy to do it in the time available, the other argues that a free market system with them introducing high tech devices into it will work better. Well, with two planets, they decide to split up and allow each group to try their method on one of the planets.

    I was expecting a typical sockpuppet/strawman scenario, with planet free enterprise proving to be superior. Instead what I got was a bit more interesting.

    Both groups succeed in their primary goal, but both screw up in different ways appropriate to their approaches, unleashing disasters on the planetary populations. The relations between the two groups also slowly deteriorate over the fifty year span. In the end, the populations of the two planets — or at least their leaders — get together and decide that (i) ideological purity is really silly and that each planet could use elements of the other’s system to smooth out some rough edges, and (ii) they really don’t like being proxies in someone else’s ideological argument and that, while they will join the United Planets, the Earth people should f*ck off and leave them alone.

    It wasn’t a great book, but I think the way it subverted my expectations regarding sockpuppet/strawman meant that I really enjoyed it. Mack Reynolds isn’t much remembered these days, but he was an interesting writer who often subverted expectations that way. And a lot of his fiction was built on economic speculation, which is not an area that much SF explores.
     

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

    The pressure change doesn’t impact the geothermal gradient significantly until you get a long ways down (at the brittle-ductile transition, where the pressure and temperature are such that convection takes over from conduction).  The 25-30 C/km thermal gradient in the upper crust is primarily from the rate at which heat is conducted out, with some variation due to the amount of uranium & thorium in the rocks releasing energy locally.  The thermal gradient is why deeper wells can last longer than shallower ones, and why the lifetime of a well is roughly proportional to its length – a well twice as deep reaches twice as high a temperature, giving you twice as much energy (with an additional correction for slightly higher efficiency).

    We can’t specify the exact yield geothermal power can deliver, but we can set upper limits from the total amount of heat coming out of the Earth, and the fraction that comes out as direct thermal that we can exploit as compared to the fraction that goes towards plate tectonics.  Those are the numbers I gave above.

    I suspect we could keep talking about this for a while, but Fred may not appreciate a whole-sale derailing of his comment thread.  So I’ll just say good luck with your courses!

  • Rowen

    And then ONE day, a doctor on Planet Beta MIGHT receive a shipment of tumerous and dead cow ovaries, thus drawing him off-world to search out the ones he was supposed to receive. . .

  • friendly reader

    Just got around to watching the bits on Fundie Christian cinema. I wonder how many people who actually watched that scene in “Image of the Beast” realized that the Antichrist, as written, had a point? If you turn God into the Devil, the Devil becomes the hero.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    What got me was the antichrist was a robot with a synthetic voice and still had more personality than Nicolai.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    It’s the argument that Nicolae should have made: God is hurting us, we should disobey.

  • Anonymous

    That PolitiChicks thing’s gotta be a poorly executed Poe.

  • Rowen

    I made it through about 1/3 of the “gay, muslims and gay muslims” before I started having flashbacks to my Uncle Who Fowards Me Everything.

  • http://inquisitiveravn.livejournal.com/ Inquisitive Raven

    Just an observation on the Rand thing. Randians don’t  have a problem with courage. It’s just the self-sacrifice part they object to.

  • Anonymous

    the collapse of a well and timelord genetics the usual slacktivist topics.

  • Anonymous

    With no reproductive technology, I’ll have to assume that planet/island Alpha has very little other modern technology.  It depends how big the starting sample is, but if we go back to the very high infant and maternal mortality rates that humans had before modern medicine, the Alphas would have a fairly small chance of surviving as a species, especially since the new planet/island will likely be a different environment than what what are genetically adapted for.  I do find it supremely ironic that these people are essentially resorting to evolution (without using the evil E-word itself) to try to justify their homophobia.  Now they only need to find a way to support gay people to discredit evolution and the circle will be complete.

    But really, without extreme intervention and/or a giant starting population, we’d be doomed no matter what.

  • vsm

    I do find it supremely ironic that these people are essentially
    resorting to evolution (without using the evil E-word itself) to try to
    justify their homophobia.

    As I understand it, the Catholic Church doesn’t really have a problem with evolution, so a Jesuit professor should be able to cite it in defense of his fascinating argument. NOM might have felt differently, though.

  • MaryKaye

    I liked the commentator on the original “stoner Jesuits” site who pointed out that, whatever we may think about Planet A and Planet B, Planet Jesuit *really* won’t survive….

    I mean, really, isn’t it sort of stupid to be making “progeny are the purpose of our existence” arguments when you are a *celibate priest*?

  • Anonymous

    And furthering Wallis’ article good on the NYC churches who are doing this and shame on the police, http://thinkprogress.org/special/2011/11/18/372320/new-york-churches-shelter-occupy-protesters-now-monitored-by-new-york-police/

  • ako

    I’ve heard the Planet Gay argument so many times.  And yes, if everyone in the world is exclusively gay with no attraction to the opposite sex at all, and there is no reproductive technology in any form (not even the simplest low-tech stuff one can imagine), and no one is willing to have purely reproductive sex, and there is no immigration, and we don’t include any trans people who have working reproductive organs that don’t match their gender identity, the planet will die out.  If a super-villain shows up with a spaceship, a working sexual orientation detector, and a brainwashing machine, that scenario might be worth worrying about (although we’d probably have much bigger problems). However, as an argument against marriage equality, it’s stupid for two reasons, only one of which is its complete irrelevance in the real world. 

    Let’s say that you had the two planets, with the complete lack of reproductive technology, and one was full of exclusively heterosexual people and one was full of exclusively homosexual people who wouldn’t sleep with a member of the opposite sex to keep their planet from being depopulated.  Now on each planet, instill a law where men may only marry women, and women may only marry men.  Make sure that law is there from the founding, and there is no way that the inhabitants of Planet Gay can get legally recognized marriage, marriage-like states, or any legal benefit from their romantic union.  (This will be accomplished with an army of mildly homophobic robots.  And it’s telling that ‘army of homophobic robots’ isn’t actually any stupider than anything else about the hypothetical.)

    Are we supposed to assume that the hypothetical gay people who won’t get reproductive with the opposite sex to prevent human life from dying out on that planet will suddenly go “Wait, I’m only allowed to get married if I marry someone of the gender I’m not actually attracted to?  Sign me up for one heterosexual marriage with a side of baby-making, please!”  Gay people are completely unwilling to have purely reproductive sex on the side while having loving relationships with their partners they’re attracted to, but will line up to marry someone they’re not attracted to and make babies with them?  Does all of his information on human sexuality come from bad philosophy-class hypotheticals?

  • P J Evans

    Does all of his information on human sexuality come from bad philosophy-class hypotheticals?

    Sure looks like it to me.

  • http://twitter.com/RekaG Rebecca George

    Though there are people that may have slight differences, genetic differences may vary. In science a transgender’s sexual identity will still remain that of their original gender (At some point I pity the intersexuals that have parents that choose the opposite of their dominate gender, it must be confusing.)  that. Homosexuality is an choice, whether its subconscious or not. Gays and lesbians are attracted to the opposite sex, just not in ways expected. They are attracted to the opposite sex, for the person they are, fashion sense. My sister had an gay friend that would drunk call her, he said once; “I would date you if you had an dick.”

  • Kukulkan

     ako wrote:

    Does all of his information on human sexuality come from bad philosophy-class hypotheticals?

    The guy (Prof. John Araujo) is a Jesuit. That means he’s trained to think teleologically.

    For those of you not familiar with the term, teleology is an approach where you ask “What is this designed for? What is it’s function? It’s purpose?” and everything is judged in terms of how well — or poorly — it serves that function or fulfills that purpose.

    This is a perfectly valid approach in some circumstances. If you buy a tool to help you remove the caps from the keys on your keyboard so you can clean under them and it keeps breaking the caps, then it’s valid to judge the tool as not fit for purpose. Similarly, a spreadsheet that doesn’t have common accounting functions built in or which doesn’t add up right (telling that 2+2 equals 3.999998, for example) or even if you hire someone to do something and it turns out they don’t have the skills necessary. We judge things by whether or not they fulfill their function all the time.

    The problem arises when you start applying this thinking to the natural world. You ask what is the purpose of sex? The Catholic Church has long answered that with: reproduction. If the purpose of sex is reproduction, then anything that doesn’t and can’t lead to reproduction is wrong. Thus, the Church opposes homosexuality and abortion and contraceptives. The two planets/islands argument is just an illustration of that idea.

    Other examples of teleological thinking are when (often young) biologists say something like a bat’s wings evolved to enable it to fly. It sounds good, but raises the question: what good is a half-evolved wing? The bat can’t fly and is stuck with these useless appendages that hinder it’s survival. The answer is: bats didn’t evolve wings to fly, they evolved the structures that become wings for some other purpose. As an example, the ancestor of bats was a creature that used to hang upside down in tree branches and had big webbed hands it used to scoop in flying insects like moths to eat. These big webbed hands proved helpful in gliding from tree branch to tree branch, so we got selection for webbed hands that made gliding easier, leading to the modern bat. (This is all speculation, by the way; I don’t know how bat wings evolved.)

    Evolution is full of examples like that. Structures that originally served one purpose and then got pressed in service to do something else. Selection refines the structure so it does it’s new job better, but it remains a less than perfect fit. Evolution doesn’t have a purpose, it doesn’t aim for an end state, it just adapts for what’s useful now.

    I think you can see where some advocates for intelligent design are coming from, though.

    Similarly, if the purpose of a business is to make money, then anything that helps it make money is good. The financiers who caused the Global Financial Crisis were good at making money — or at least creating debt which could be treated as money — and so deserve their bonuses, never mind the devastation that accompanied that debt creation.

    Francis Fukuyama could write a book like The End of History and the Last Man arguing that the purpose of history was to lead to a society built on liberal democracy and free market capitalism and, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, that had been achieved, so history was over. The book came out in 1992, but for some odd reason, history has continued since then.

    Human beings are naturally prone to this style of thinking, but as a philosophical approach it usually gets credited to Plato and Aristotle. The Jesuits got it from Aristotle — as, incidentally, did Ayn Rand and the libertarians. Fukuyama got it from Hegel (also where Karl Marx got it from) who got it from Aristotle. It was criticised by Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Judgment — one of the reasons Randroids really hate Kant.

    Teleological thinking comes across as being “rational”, which is why it’s so attractive.

    Prof. John Araujo’s two planets/islands is just an illustration of the idea. That’s why talking about technology is missing the point. So is talking about experimental design, but I thought I’d just poke fun at his pretensions towards being “scientific”.

    Focusing on technology means the two sides are talking past each other, kind of like what Fred was describing in his Dueling Dogmas post. Araujo doesn’t care about the technology and pointing out technological fixes isn’t addressing what he sees as his core point: gay sex cannot lead to reproduction and therefore is not fit for purpose; it’s a misuse of the tool.

    However, even recognising that doesn’t help. It just shifts the discussion onto “What is the purpose of sex?” and the actual answer “Why does sex need to have a purpose?” is not acceptable, since it undercuts the entire basis of teleological thinking. Saying that will make us seem anti-reason and more interested in indulging our personal whims — or something.

    The problem is reason versus reality. Reason requires us to divide things into neat categories we can manipulate mentally, while reality declines to abide by those categories. Or, rather, the categories reality uses are often a lot stranger than the ones we tend to create, so figuring out how things actually work often seems a tad counter-intuitive.

  • P J Evans

     I don’t know how bat wings evolved, either, but there apparently is evidence that they evolved twice (large fruit-eating bats and smaller insect-eating bats).

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

    Francis Fukuyama could write a book like The End of History and the Last Man arguing that the purpose of history was to lead to a society built on liberal democracy and free market capitalism and, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, that had been achieved, so history was over. The book came out in 1992, but for some odd reason, history has continued since then.

    To be fair to Dr. Fukuyama, that isn’t exactly what he was arguing. After all, he is an historian – if history were to end, he would be out of a job. What he argued was that the collapse of the Soviet Union indicated that the Marxist concept of capital “H” History was invalidated.

    Further, he has since indicated that he was, perhaps, a little precipitous in his assessment.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Mike Timonin: However, people like Fukuyama enabled the kind of triumphalist song and dance load of bumpf that enabled once-lukewarm supporters of the welfare state to decide they could now upend the bargain they once held, knowing that there was no longer any apparently viable “second path” to that of unrestrained capitalism.

    After all, “we the capitalists” won, didn’t “we”?

    Incidentally, I either read in Cyber War by Richard Clarke or The Road to 9/11 by Peter Dale Scott that the USA got into trouble with the Russians in 1992 because the Russians were keenly aware of the loss of international prestige that came with the political and economic collapse of the Soviet Union. Even after painstaking reassurances by the State Department that the US would not take advantage of this new state of affairs, a US spy ship got tagged inside Russian waters trying to peek at things.

    The resulting shitfight made the then Secretary of State very furious over the fact that someone who didn’t bother clearing intelligence missions with higher-ups managed to screw up high-level diplomatic relations, especially when those relations included reassuring Russian generals and admirals about not taking advantage of the deplorable state of the Russian military (military spending in Russia crashed to something like 3% of a GDP that had itself shrunk at least 20% in the first post-Soviet year).

    So you can see that this kind of arrogant overweening strutting on the world stage by the likes of Republicans and acquiescent Democrats aiding and abetting that strutting, has had very real consequences well before September 11 2001.

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

    However, people like Fukuyama enabled the kind of triumphalist song and dance load of bumpf that enabled once-lukewarm supporters of the welfare state to decide they could now upend the bargain they once held, knowing that there was no longer any apparently viable “second path” to that of unrestrained capitalism.

    Oh, no doubt – and Fukuyama has acknowledged that, and even, sorta, apologized, renouncing the whole neo-liberal experiment. Which doesn’t absolve him of the intellectual and ideological destruction his initial essays wrought, but at least shows some sense of humility.

    What I was objecting to, though, was the “Ha, the End of History – but history didn’t end! Silly Dr. Fukuyama!” response, which is a pretty standard take on the essays. Especially from historians (as you might expect), and especially especially from historians who haven’t actually read the book. It’s a way of dodging the argument entirely.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    The problem arises when you start applying this thinking to the natural world. You ask what is the purpose of sex? The Catholic Church has long answered that with: reproduction. If the purpose of sex is reproduction, then anything that doesn’t and can’t lead to reproduction is wrong. Thus, the Church opposes homosexuality and abortion and contraceptives. The two planets/islands argument is just an illustration of that idea.

    This is a bit of an oversimplification. The Catholic church in modern history has held that sex serves *several* purposes. They disapprove of sex which doesn’t at least attempt to meet all of them. It lets them also disapprove of sex between people who don’t love each other even if it does produce babies.

  • Anonymous

    The Catholic church in modern history has held that sex serves *several* purposes. They disapprove of sex which doesn’t at least attempt to meet all of them.

    Do they also disapprove of screwdrivers that aren’t simultaneously being used on multiple screws? What about people who don’t multitask?

  • Kukulkan

    Ross wrote:

    This is a bit of an oversimplification. The Catholic church in modern history has held that sex serves *several* purposes. They disapprove of sex which doesn’t at least attempt to meet all of them. It lets them also disapprove of sex between people who don’t love each other even if it does produce babies.

    True, it is an oversimplification, but I don’t see how Prof. John Araujo’s little though experiment addresses any of the other proposed purposes of sex.

    But you’re right. If sex is defined as only being for reproduction, then one would have to approve of a rape which leads to pregnancy and the Catholic Church has never done that.
     

  • Anonymous

    Trigger warning, rape.

    If sex is defined as only being for reproduction, then one would have to approve of a rape which leads to pregnancy and the Catholic Church has never done that.
    Remember the nine-year-old in Brazil who got an abortion after being raped by her stepfather? The only party to the incident who wasn’t excommunicated was the stepfather. Which might not show approval of the stepfather’s actions but sure as hell does not show disapproval.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    EllieMurasaki: Wait till you get the “he excommunicated himself” line of argumentation. I’ve seen it been profferred before. It’s a varation on the “No True Scotsman” written into Catholic doctrine.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    Though strictly it’s true. Anyone who commits a mortal sin is excommunicated until they confess in that it’s forbidden to receive communion while in said state.

    The problem arises because abortion is currently the *only* thing you can get a formal excommunication for and then you need a bishop to absolve you. Infanticide by contrast wouldn’t – no I don’t get that either. It’s a canon law anomaly that needs fixing regardless of your position on abortion itself, because that’s just dumb.

    Though that case caused mayhem on the Catholic lists I was on when it broke because who the hell excommunicates a nine year old? She was freaking nine and had no say in any part of the situation.

  • ako

    From the outside, at least, the “Well, if you do this you excommunicate yourself, but this one thing gets you a formal excommunication” thing looks like “Well, we think these things are kind of bad, but this one thing is seriously bad!”  Which creates a fairly nasty picture when “kind of bad” is the man who rapes a child, and “seriously bad” are the people who perform a medical procedure that quite possibly saved her life.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    Oh, I know. I think it’s painfully stupid as well.

  • runsinbackground

    Can excommunication be undone? Like, if she comes through this whole experience (in defiance of every reasonable expectation) still wishing to be a part of the Roman Catholic community, can she petition to have her status changed, become a catechumen and then a baptized member of the Church? Or is she just stuck forever as a member of the Brazilian Protestant community (or you know, an atheist or something)?

  • Hawker40

    I haven’t been a Catholic for over three decades, so I’m a little rusty, but if she
    a. Admits she was in the wrong
    and
    b. Begs for forgiveness
    She’ll be un-excommunicated and become part of the church once more.

  • Anonymous

    Wait till you get the “he excommunicated himself” line of argumentation. I’ve seen it been profferred before. It’s a varation on the “No True Scotsman” written into Catholic doctrine.

    Yeah, my brother’s thrown that one at me a time or two. Except he says I’ve excommunicated myself, what with the whole ‘atheist’ thing. And yet the Catholic Church really doesn’t want to let me go.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    Well an excommunicated Catholic is still a Catholic. They’re just not supposed to go to communion and it’s supposed to be refused if their state is known.  I wouldn’t imagine that comes up much if you’re an atheist.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    True, it is an oversimplification, but I don’t see how Prof. John Araujo’s little though experiment addresses any of the other proposed purposes of sex.

    The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like it did, in a minor way: it’s the thing in the experiment that addresses “But surely on Planet Gay, some of the gay men will impregnate some of the lesbians rather than let their civilization die out”: because loveless sex purely for reproduction is, in the catholic view, nearly as bad as loving sex done with care taken to avoid reproduction.

  • ako

    That is a much more coherent argument than the “Planet Gay” version.  It’s not something I agree with (I don’t think sex has an inherent purpose so much as multiple uses, and I don’t see anything wrong with separating out sex, love, and reproduction in whatever way suits the situation so long as all parties are willing and showing due consideration for each other’s well-being), but at least I can understand it.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    For those of you not familiar with the term, teleology is an approach where you ask “What is this designed for? What is it’s function? It’s purpose?” and everything is judged in terms of how well — or poorly — it serves that function or fulfills that purpose.

    The problem arises when you start applying this thinking to the natural world. You ask what is the purpose of sex? The Catholic Church has long answered that with: reproduction. If the purpose of sex is reproduction, then anything that doesn’t and can’t lead to reproduction is wrong. Thus, the Church opposes homosexuality and abortion and contraceptives. The two planets/islands argument is just an illustration of that idea.

    Teleology is a perfectly reasonable way of looking at a lot of things, the problem is when people start getting too narrow or pre-concieved a notion of what something “should” be used for is.  For example, I would argue that the primary function of sex is reproduction, yes.  That does not mean that sex should be used only for reproduction though.  Sex has a variety of useful secondary functions, such as a method of bonding between individuals.  Some of its secondary functions actually work better when the primary function is disabled.  

    To say that sex should only be used for reproduction would be like saying that a hammer with a nail wedge on the other side should only be used to drive nails and never to remove them.  It follows the primary function of something while completely discounting any other function it might serve.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    For example, I would argue that the primary function of sex is reproduction, yes.

    The phrase “the primary function” in that sentence is doing a lot of implicit and unexamined work, and it’s sometimes useful when thinking about subjects like these to make that work explicit.

    Here are some possible interpretations, which mean very different things:

    “the most valuable function of sex is reproduction”
    “the defining function of sex is reproduction”
    “the function which, if prevented from operating, would cause sex to no longer exist is reproduction”

    “the function that originally created selection pressure for the evolution of sex is reproduction”
    “the function that originally inspired the designers of sex to design it is reproduction”

    I’m not really sure which if any of those statements you mean. (You might, of course, mean something else altogether… or many of them at the same time… or perhaps all of them… or you might not be sure, yourself.) Your use of the hammer analogy suggests the last of them, or perhaps the next-to-last… but may not have been intended as such a tight analogy.

    For many of these interpretations, I would disagree.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I’m not really sure which if any of those statements you mean. (You might, of course, mean something else altogether… or many of them at the same time… or perhaps all of them… or you might not be sure, yourself.) Your use of the hammer analogy suggests the last of them, or perhaps the next-to-last… but may not have been intended as such a tight analogy.

    Sorry, no, I did not mean any of those definitions.  I mean that, should the reproductive function of sex fail on a species-wide level, the species goes extinct.  If functions like, say, emotional bonding as concerns sex were to fail on a species wide level, the species would not go extinct.  I am not trying to assign any design perspective to it or assign any moral value.  

    Perhaps I should rephrase.  The capacity for reproduction is often a defining characteristic of life (in the very general sense, let us not get into semantics about non-reproductive members in an otherwise reproductive population.)  In the case of most lifeforms on this planet, sexual reproduction has proven to be a successful method of achieving that.  Certain secondary functions of sex turned out to facilitate reproduction, but some creatures found those secondary functions had values and usefulness all their own, even aside from the reproductive function.  

    Reproduction was the starting point of all that, but it is hardly the ending point.  The issue I take with a lot of the attempt to “moralize” sexuality is the assumption that reproduction is both the beginning and the end of sexuality, when the end function of it is so much more broad than that.  

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I wanted to add a little something to my earlier post by way of metaphor.  

    Trees reproduce by dropping seeds.  If fertile seeds manage to find purchase in a spot of good ground they happen to fall to, then those seeds might sprout into saplings and eventually grow into adult trees.  However, it helps a tree to reproduce if the seeds can be spread away from the parent tree.  A sapling that literally grows in its parent’s shadow will never reach the same size as its parent since it will never get as much resources.  Hence, trees with some mechanism of spreading their seeds further out have a reproductive advantage.  

    One of the methods that this happens if when a tree’s seeds are covered in some kind protective sheath that animals find tasty to eat.  Animals will pluck those seeds off of trees to eat the sheath, and the seed stands a good chance of being carried off to another location where it might sprout, particularly if the animals seeking the seeds carry them off whole to, say, feed their own young.  Trees which had better tasting seeds sheaths, or had more to eat on those sheaths could better attract animals, and thus had a reproductive advantage over those with less.  

    Again, reproduction is the primary purpose of this process.  

    However, to say that because reproduction is the primary purpose of something that it should be the only purpose would make it immoral of us to pluck apples to make delicious apple pie.  Sure, maybe we do not plant the seeds we get from the apples we pick for the pie, but as long as we want to keep making pie we will take measures to ensure we will always have enough apple trees to continue to pick them.  So too with human sexuality.  Yes, reproduction is the primary function of such activity, but the other factors that have evolved around it are beneficial in their own right, and to claim that they are immoral to enjoy would be to deprive us of a great deal of what the activity has to offer.  

    I cannot speak for other people, but limiting oneself only ever to the primary function of something is a very narrow way to live.  

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    As has been mentioned, the thing about the “Planet Gay” is that, unless the entire planet were populated with only a single sex, it would still find a way to reproduce, even without reproductive assistance technologies.  People can “bite the bullet” and have sex with someone of a sex they are not normally inclined to be attracted towards, and as needs must, people will.  The objection a lot of people have against things like reperative therapy is that pressuring people to have sex with partners they do not feel naturally attracted to is cruel.  In this scenario, people would have sex with opposite sex partners, not out of a sense of joy, but out of a sense of necessity, at least enough to concieve.  Actually, I imagine there would be a lot of co-parenting arrangements between pairs of couples (each pair being the opposite sex of the other pair) as it would probably be a lot more comfortable if the partner of their choice were part of the arrangement. 

    Of course, this already academic exercise becomes even more academic since gay people can have straight children and straight people can have gay children, so neither planet would stay single-orientation for long. 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    There’s also the question of “So what does that prove?”  I mean, if you’re arguing “So therefore we should not allow marriage equality,” that *doesn’t follow in any way shape or form*, because disallowing marriage equality won’t solve the problem. If you’re arguing “therefore we should kill all the gays”, that ALSO doesn’t follow, as you’ve effectively proven that you don’t *have to*. If you’re arguing “Therefore we should force all the gays to turn straight”, that neither follows nor does anything in the argument suggest such a thing is possible. 

    No, the only thing this experiment proves is that it’s a dumb idea to segregate two planets by sexual orientation when you don’t have reproductive assistance technologies. So, um. Okay.  Heck, I’ll  give the stoned jesuit that. Congratulations on proving that trying to ostracise and segregate people due to their sexual orientation is a bad idea when you have the capability to colonize alien worlds but do not have IVF. I’ll file that away with such moral lessons as “don’t torture space whales”, “Never use your superpowers for personal gain”, and the morals of every episode of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Out of this World”

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    I keep on thinking about lesbian birds I once heard about.  I don’t remember what species they were (some kind of seabird though I’m sure many different species do the same thing.)

    They found an obvious solution to the problem of reproduction.  At some point, in order that they might have children, one or both members of a lesbian couple would go off and have sex with a male.  Then they’d come back, lay their eggs, and raise their kids.  No special reproductive technologies needed.

    Gay things can have kids in the wild, no special space-faring technology needed.  Not even a human level of problem solving.  I’m thinking that the people on planet gay would be at least as able to tackle reproductive hurdles as those birds.

    Unless the argument is either:
    1) Gay people, they’re dumber than birds.
    or
    2) Lesbians of various species may be willing to have sex with males to continue the species, but that’s not a solution because only straight males will have sex with lesbians.

    If it’s one of those things then I don’t know how to respond.

    Of course, this already academic exercise becomes even more academic since gay people can have straight children and straight people can have gay children, so neither planet would stay single-orientation for long.
    All of the straight children from planet gay are shipped to planet straight, all gay children from planet straight are shipped to planet gay.  Breaking up families in this way is unfortunate, but it is a trauma required for the good of Jesuit-Science.

  • Anonymous

    What happens to bisexuals in the Planet Straight/Planet Gay scenario?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    What happens to bisexuals in the Planet Straight/Planet Gay scenario?

    Don’t be silly. Bisexuals don’t exist when you’re performing a homophobic thought experiment. 

    I do notice that part of the parameters of the experiment is that all the people involved are “couples”,  from context I think we can reasonably infer that the Stoned Jesuit meant to imply that these couples are binary, monogamous, and for-life. That may be part of why “taking one for the team” isn’t mentioned, as, absent reproductive assistance, this would require extramarital sex, which, if you’re a stoned jesuit, is a no-no even when it’s straight.

    At the very least, tough, that would do slightly better than outright un-existing bisexuals: the experiement doesn’t actually care what your orientation is, just what kind of relationship you’re in

  • Anonymous

    Bisexuals don’t exist when you’re performing a homophobic thought experiment.

    Oh dear, I hadn’t thought of that. *disappears in a puff of logic*

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I’M FADING LIKE MARTY MCFL—- *bip*

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    I’ve actually been wondering that since I first read it.  I think that they’re trapped on planet straight where they are forced to act as though they are straight.

    Though I’m wondering if bisexuals live on the way station between the two planets.  Perhaps an entirely different planet.

    (And now I have the temptation to say, “And that planet was called Earth,” it doesn’t necessarily follow in any way shape or form, but the temptation is there none the less.)

  • Rikalous

    What happens to bisexuals in the Planet Straight/Planet Gay scenario?

    You get shipped off to Jesuit Monitoring Station. Gotta keep the population of experimenters up somehow.

  • Diona the Lurker

    For that matter, what about asexuals?

  • Anonymous

    Another thing about Planet Gay is that is relying on a strawman that gay people think that everyone should be gay.  The whole experiment is sort of like saying that society would collapse if everyone became a doctor, so nobody should ever become a doctor.  What we really need as a society is diversity.  It’s good to have doctors and also good to have people that choose other career paths.  It’s good to have both hetero and gay people.  I don’t see why this is such a difficult concept for some people, unless they are grasping at ridiculous hypothetical because they just hate gay people that much.

    Also, my (former Catholic) uncle is gay and has a kid, with no special reproductive technology.  Unfortunately for both him and his straight wife, he never felt like he could come out until very recently.  I guess I just proved the Jesuit point though; they want gay people to just act straight to increase the Catholic population.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    The whole experiment is sort of like saying that society would collapse if everyone became a doctor, so nobody should ever become a doctor.

    I want to quote the Shoe Event Horizon and say that it means no one should ever open a shoe store, but it takes up too much space.  Is it enough to say that I thought of it upon reading the above quoted text and it happens to be hilarious?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I tend to like Jesuits as a species, but my response to the Planet Gay “thought experiment”: it’s so ludicrously far from anything resembling reality that I’ll wait until all the actual real world dilemmas are sorted out before I spend any effort on pseudo-intellectual wankery.

  • Anonymous

    And if Planet Beta contains Jack Harkness–both planets are DEFINITELY going to be populated. He”ll have sex with absolutely anything and, according to Whoniverse canon, he’s gotten pregnant at least once. Okay, he did say that he didn’t WANT to get pregnant again, but…y’know. Needs must.

    Jack Harkness isn’t gay, he’s omnisexual.  By his own admission, and all the examples you’ve given.

    I don’t suppose anyone here has read the Nanoha fanfic “Infinity”? In that context, this is actually plausible if you take out the demon part and don’t assume it has to be consensual.

    Nope.  Is it any good?  I love that show… (although I do wonder what the explanation for this is in the Nanoha universe…)Also, I will now proceed to dream of fundies getting SLB’d.  It’s completely OOC overkill, but… fundies.  Giant magic lasers.

    That one really rather depends on who you ask. It’s never been suggested by anything BBC approved that Susan was anything other than the Doctor’s actual granddaughter, and in the Eighth Doctor New Adventures series of audio dramas on BBC (Radio) 7, she also has a biological son, for example. We see The Master as a child in “The Sound Of Drums”, whereas the loom theory says that Timelords emerge fully grown.

    Time Lords live a long time, again… how old is Susan? 

    I call shenanigans on the “no reproductive technologies” caveat for the Jesuit Planets.* Any civilization capable of terraforming and colonizing a couple of planets can damn well whip up a uterine replicator. Letting Planet B have reproductive technologies lets the observer see the true evil of teh gheys by showing exactly how and how much having same-sex parents will warp their poor little impressionable minds. Besides, anyone who thinks the inability of same-sex couples to produce spawn without outside or technological assistance proves a damn thing is cordially invited to jump off a bridge in accordance with the natural law of gravity.

    Terraforming… probably.  But there might be a difference between bioscience and sheer energy output/ridicuphysics/however it is they get between planets.

    Any civilization that can start their children as babies (as in, probably not some robots) would almost certainly do so.

    Unless they can start their ‘children’ with adult minds (or at least, the ability to recognize danger).  Or are crazy enough to *want* adults with a child’s mind.

    and we don’t include any trans people who have working reproductive organs that don’t match their gender identity, the planet will die out.

    This kinda falls under ‘any reproductive technology (in a rather high-end form).

    What happens to bisexuals in the Planet Straight/Planet Gay scenario?

    Everyone knows bisexuals are a myth.

    Congratulations on proving that trying to ostracise and segregate people due to their sexual orientation is a bad idea when you have the capability to colonize alien worlds but do not have IVF. I’ll file that away with such moral lessons as “don’t torture space whales”, “Never use your superpowers for personal gain”, and the morals of every episode of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Out of this World”

    To be fair (except, possibly ‘never use your superpowers for personal gain’) those are perfectly valid moral lessons, falling under the general ‘don’t be a dick’ super-header.  Not particularly applicable in modern life, but valid nonetheless.

    Even as a kid I though a far more realistic scenario would be for the colonies to be on opposite sides of the planet, and by the time they encountered each other enough time would’ve passed that the extremist beliefs of both sides had mellowed out. But then the author couldn’t demonstrate the horribleness of the Strawmen and the nobility of the Sockpuppets.

    I suspect that the two colonies would set up wherever the heck they wanted, and proceed to annoy each other over the radio/whatever it is they use to communicate.  Or, if it’s a reasonably ‘high planet’ setting, just go to different planets.

  • Joshua

    Remind me, to which planet do the telephone sanitisers get sent?

  • Joshua

    Yeah, I was aiming for an insightful comment but that’s what came out. And, if gay people never have children, what am I doing in the world, existing?

  • Matri

    I have a genuine question regarding geothermal energy.

    Years ago I heard an argument made that we shouldn’t tap geothermal energy, because we’d be draining all the heat from the Earth’s core causing it to cool and then OMG ARMAGEDDON!

    My question is, does he have a point or is he blowing smoke out his ass?

  • Anonymous

    I have a genuine question regarding geothermal energy.

    Years ago I
    heard an argument made that we shouldn’t tap geothermal energy, because
    we’d be draining all the heat from the Earth’s core causing it to cool
    and then OMG ARMAGEDDON!

    My question is, does he have a point or is he blowing smoke out his ass?

    Geothermal energy taps a minute fraction of the earth’s heat outflow (well less than 1%), almost all of that heat was going to be lost anyway (we only tap the crust which transfers the heat sooner or later anyway, think hot springs). Anway the earth has a truly staggering quantity of thermal energy, the largest SI unit of energy is the yottajoule, the earth has approximately one *hundred* *thousand* of them. Even if the earth’s net cooling quadrupled (how?) we’d still probably be engulfed by the sun before it ran out. So not a serious worry.


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