Drop the needle again

Mississippi town tries for better

“People who endorsed conspiracy theories such as ‘9/11 was an inside job’ and ‘the moon landings were faked,’ were also more likely to reject established scientific facts about climate change.”

“In this political climate, all of science is vulnerable to ideological attack when reality disagrees with political beliefs.”

“While Mitt Romney can ‘reject’ his adviser’s statement, the reality is that such comments about Barack Obama are part of a now long established pattern where the former’s campaign has used racial cues, and appeals to white racial resentment, in order to win support among right-leaning voters.”

“They might’ve announced that by telegram from Kenya. The list goes on.”

“The percentage of Republicans who say the president is a Muslim has risen from 16 percent in October of 2008 to 30 percent today.”

“Which means perfect conditions for a host of pests including fleas, ticks, termites, mosquitoes, brown recluse and black widow spiders and scorpions to flourish in the coming weeks.”

“What you have is evidence of the new normal in the American West.”

Internal audit at Social Science Research determines that Mark Regnerus’ hideous chin-beard is “inappropriate for a journal that publishes original quantitative research.”

“What is notable is the degree to which Gov. Romney doubles down on that theory and on the policies of President George W. Bush to produce a plan that would dramatically favor the very rich over the interests of everyone else.”

“Republicans are very committed to cutting taxes on the rich, but they’re willing to let them rise on the poor. And Democrats are more or less the reverse.”

“They pay so little that full-time workers are eligible for food stamps and even welfare. And they call them job creators?

Everything they say about health care is a lie.”

“If illiteracy were on the rise, I don’t think we’d be talking about eliminating reading from the curriculum.”

I think the word needs to get out there.”

“It has been banned from consumption in Japan since 1977, as the Japanese government considers it toxic.”

“The only guarantee is that if you do nothing — or sit on the Internet prophesying doom — nothing will change for the better.”

"The AV Club did an editorial on Rupert Murdoch.https://news.avclub.com/no-...It would be nice if a place ..."

And his own received him not
"Warnke. I had been looking for an example like that while thinking, and wondering about ..."

And his own received him not
"Trump steps in and over the dems and saves the children!Remember the dems didn’t want ..."

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"Not sure how effective ridicule and sarcasm will be, but rebuking and refuting is definitely ..."

And his own received him not

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  • Wait—there’s a fish the Japanese won’t eat?

    Some individuals suffering from escolar-induced keriorrhea also report other digestive issues, including stomach cramps, diarrhea, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and anal leakage

    Oh … right.

  • So, a drive-by response as it were to a few of those links.


    Srsness now begins.

    I happen to love sushi, but just reading that article? Oh, god. No more sushi until the Canadian government gets serious about regulating it. Or at least making sure to omit tuna, which can be kind of hard to do because it’s almost a staple of sushi sold here.

    Droughts like those that shaped the Dust Bowl in the 1930s and the even drier 1950s will soon be “the new climatology” of the region

    I’m surprised, actually! The 1950s isn’t really noted for being a time of crisis like the 1930s, to which I would hazard that soil conservation methods, the Korean War, and ongoing urbanization (along with the Great Wage Compression) all contributed to mitigate the impact the drought had on public consciousness.

    But the article also makes me worry that the combination of fires and drought could hit the prairie provinces, or affect large parts of my home province, BC.

    In either case, that’s bad, because people will suffer.

    But it could be really bad if the fires hit the prairies in combination with a drought, then it could be game over for Canada’s food security for at least a year. (O_O) The federal government already has terminated the Wheat Board, so there’s no brake on prices in that event. :(

    “We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special
    relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The
    White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have”.


    Reminds me SO MUCH of the crap peddled in The Clansman and Dixon’s related books. They have all the white people glorifying the titanic Manichean* battle between “the Anglo-Saxon and the mulatto”, and pontificating with great ponderousness about how for two thousand years only the white man ever did anything worth noticing.

    Romney trying to call back to  that racist, exclusivist imagery is, sadly, unsurprising.

    Barack Obama is thus cast in the same light as the mercenary Lt. Governor Silas Lynch. :(


    * It means a conflict characterized as being a binary this-or-that with extremely high stakes, fought between two entities as the only major players.

  • I don’t think you’re meant to eat a lot of butterfish. It’s an ingredient in Hawaiian lau-lau, which I’ve had for years with no problems, but isn’t the major ingredient — more like a flavour enhancer. 

    It’s basically fat. All fat. 

  • Jeff Weskamp

    I think the article at WeAreRespectableNegroes is absolutely spot-on.  Romney *has* managed to defuse anxiety among Republic voters over his Mormonism by emphasizing his whiteness.  That’s why he gave that insulting speech to the NAACP a couple weeks ago, and then addressed a group of white supporters the following day stating that blacks were only interested in a “free lunch.”

  • Also, there was a related article that really nailed down how the right-wing narrative of “post-racial America” is used as a way to validate white resentment of non-whites by leading them to believe that they can legitimately be considered “victims” of “people who are freeloaders and leeches”.

    Romney is totally tapping into that and making himself bulletproof at the same time, at least as far as legitimately being able to challenge him on his embrace of racism.

  • “What is notable is the degree to which Gov. Romney doubles down on that theory and on the policies of President George W. Bush to produce a plan that would dramatically favor the very rich over the interests of everyone else.”

    The good news about most of this stuff is that Romney is probably just kidding about half of it (especially the part where he’ll balance the budget while extending the Bush/Obama tax cuts and adding new, stupider ones on top of them.)

    The bad news is that, while he obviously can’t balance the budget without touching Medicare and the military (that is, by far the largest government expenditures at the federal level), he’ll probably shear off a lot of welfare programs. On the macro level, that’s like trying to pay off a $100,000 credit card bill by ending your $8 a month Netflix subscription — it’s a nice start, but you’re on a completely different scale. But it’ll still hurt a lot of people in the interim, and that’s really the problem with these fake deficit scares.

  • We Must Dissent

    As a would-be high school math teacher (hooray for underfunding education!), I say that the Friendly Atheist post about Why Math is a thing of beauty. Of course, having said almost the exact same things to my former students–there were things that were near quotes of what I’ve said in class, which is both encouraging and mildly disconcerting–and using a professor from my Alma Mater help with that.

    Math isn’t about knowing the formula for the volume of a cone or how to take the derivative of a polynomial or how find the vertex of a parabola given its equation in standard form or any of a host of other specific tasks one learns along the way. It’s about learning a way of thinking, not the way of thinking, but one among many useful ways. That’s why English, and art, and foreign languages, and history and all those other classes are in the curriculum.

    Or, as John Green said, it’s about understanding a complex world complexly.


    Unfortunately the cultural shift that has happened and made education viewed primarily as job training and the requirements of high-stakes testing are driving things in a wrong direction.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    pontificating with great ponderousness about how for two thousand years only the white man ever did anything worth noticing.

    Wait, wait, which two thousand years are these?  Because I really can’t think of any period even sorta like that.  It only sorta makes sense in the 1600-1900s, where Europeans happened to have more advanced technology than everyone else… and then decided to go on a world-conquering spree.

  • I didn’t say it had any truth to it. But according to Dixon, through his writing, especially in the Leopard’s Spots,

    The task of organising this wrecked society and marshalling into efficient citizenship this host of ignorant negroes, and yet to preserve the civilization of the Anglo-Saxon race, the priceless heritage of two thousand years of struggle, was one to appal the wisdom of ages.

    We have easily outlived the sorrows of the war. That was a surgery which healed the body. But the child has not yet been born whose children’s children will live to see the healing of the wounds from those four years of chaos, when fanatics blinded by passion, armed millions of ignorant negroes and thrust them into mortal combat with the proud, bleeding, half-starving Anglo-Saxon race of the South. Such a deed once done, can never be undone. It fixes the status of these races for a thousand years, if not for eternity.

    It seemed a joke sometimes as he thought of it, a huge, preposterous joke, this actual attempt to reverse the order of nature, turn society upside down, and make a thick-lipped, flat-nosed negro but yesterday taken from the jungle, the ruler of the proudest and strongest race of men evolved in two thousand years of history. Yet when he remembered the fierce passions in the hearts of the demagogues who were experimenting with this social dynamite, it was a joke that took on a hellish, sinister meaning.

    For all intents and purposes, he thinks black people are too stupid to ever be equal to whites.

  • Kirala

     As the daughter of a former math teacher amidst a family of engineers, I also love the Friendly Atheist post. I only want to quibble on one point: as an English teacher, I regularly hear whining about “when are we ever going to use this?!” And that’s why English class has increasingly become a dumping ground. Want to add a new graduation project? Make the English teachers do it. Need to have colleges recruit? Do it during English class. Want to give an hour-long presentation on class rings? English class!

    Literature gets better lip service in larger society, but living in a high school environment, it’s hard to see math as particularly ostracized.

    But yeah, the emphasis on testing and easily testable skills – not good. The confusion of direct and indirect applicability – not good. The lack of appreciation for mental discipline – not good. Education don’t get no respect.

  • We Must Dissent

    That’s one of my complaints about the linked article inside the Friendly Atheist article too. Students complain about learning anything that isn’t directly related to their current interests and plans, not just math.

    At least both math and English are still being taught. There are high schools near me that have no art or music of any kind.

  • JayemGriffin


  • About math: I’ve never used calculus since graduating high school. I’ve never used anything past geometry, in fact. Unlike science, history, and English classes, those high-level math classes did absolutely nothing for me. Every math class past geometry — Algebra 2, trigonometry, and calculus — was, in fact, a complete and utter waste of time for me.

    Band taught me teamwork and self-discipline along with music and was a way to make lots of friends, and was at least as important as any other class. But the most important classes to my life, the ones I have used consistently and in the most important ways, were home ec and sex ed. 

  • Joshua

    Out of those few mystical experiences I’ve had, calculus and analysis have definitely been the most powerful.

    “I’ve been to the top of the mountain!”
    “But what will you use this for in your life?”


  • The corner hates me, but I write them anyway.
    Here’s what I gave to them:

    Steyn, never a mincer:  

    “…fraudulent climate-change “hockey-stick” graph….”

    It takes a lot to commit libel in the US–you must meet five conditions, all stacked in favor of the writer. The primary condition is that the plaintiff must establish to a legal standard that the statement is false.

    We may have a winner! 

    Never let it be said that Steyn fails to put his money (and everybody else’s) where his mouth is, which is by the way the assal region of what is actually a fairly simple question of research and science. It’s not even close. Mann’s work has been adjudicated six ways to Sunday already and cleared everywhere but in the murky hindbrain of people like Steyn and Ken “Oh yeah?” Cuccinelli. Mann has been bullied by bigshots for years and has never blinked and never lost. He’s been needled by plenty of fools, none bigger than the pop-eyed Prevaricator General of the House of Lords, Chris “I Sue You!” Monckton, who committed several of his greatest public solecisms on the Hockey Stick. But even Monckton picks his devious way around the rather prominent massif of US defamation laws (no surprise since he’s a great claimer of defamation himself.) Mann has been pretty calm through it all, but I’d guess he’s spoiling to turn a few of his ALCU jew lawyers loose, on a contingency basis, to score some coin with the well-established accuracy and honesty of his research. He’s just waiting for a volunteer. So far the groundless vilification Mannhas suffered has come from people who either pick their words carefully, hide behind elected official immunity, or don’t have the resources to make the case worthwile. Steyn is made of bolder stuff, apparently. 

    Perhaps Steyn believes his trial-by-noodle in the Canadian free-speech crucible makes him invulnerable or special. I don’t know. I do give him credit for boldness–he did not shirk from declaring the untenably shoddy anti-Hockey Stick line with vigor and vim. Next he’ll savage Al Gore for saying he discovered Love Canal and invented the Internet, I suppose. Bold journalism, how refreshing.

    But I believe Steyn may have done the denialists a costly disservice by walking right into a libel suit that’s will put a dent in the golden goose (it’s not a mixed metaphor if the golden goose  has 5hit running through it like, well, like you know.)  Steyn doesn’t care that even the government-sucking anti-government geriatrics and feebs that anchor your donor base in the conspiracy/hatred business get stingy and uncomfortable when they lose in open court. All other means of establishing fact have been compromised or coopted, but the black robes can still create a twitch in the most jaded mind. This is why the Obamacare suits were a bad risk. You figured you’d profit, win or lose–good politics, bad psychology. The laughably bent decision, with its surprise cadenza by CJ Roberts, will reach where logic and numeracy cannot, and knock a lot of your most reliable haters into neutral. It’s happening already (not here, of course. Nothing happens here.)

    Should have left it alone! You folks could have milked the irrational, disinformation-stoked hatred of Obamacare for ever, but everybody–even people who hate it for honest reasons–will accept it more now that it has had a day in court. The Law just has that effect. Look what happened with the brilliantly circular canard of Intelligent Design, which was a boon to everyone who wanted to cash in with a set of home-school textbooks or another University of Jesus. It was perfect for separating the true nuts from Republicans that still retained a shred of intellectual dignity, those who weren’t perfectly happy to wreck American science education in order to avoid a primary challenge from a Tea Party candidate who, ten years ago, would have been too extreme a cliche for a Coen Brothers film. The ID racket could have continued unabated, funding AM Falwells forever on the deep pockets of people too dim to cope with evolution and Deuteronomy in the same calendar month. But undisciplined True Believers kept pushing that swill in the public schools, where teachers may be bureaucratic unionized slobs but they are educated and patient slobs and it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to make a case against ID that will hold up to civil rules. 

    Same dynamic is playing out with two other cash cows, voter ID and gay marriage. No core bigot issue has ever turned around faster than gay marriage approval. Even Obama and Clinton, the two most effective Republican presidents in recent history, are being hedged into direct support of gay marriage by the turnaround in civic support. Why? Too many judges. When it was just Massachusetts and Sonya Sotomayor, you could neutralize it with the ‘activist judge’ business and count on Scalia and Thomas to bluff it out with their incandescent intellects. But somebody kicked the Activist Judge business haystack one too many times, and a bunch of needles fell out. Personally I think the combination of Michele Bachmann’s shameless hucksterism and the scalp-hunting among the blond wood chambers of the Iowa Supreme Court was the kicker, but there’s an epidemic of pro-homo activist judgism going on in the US and their opinions are starting to seem, well, logical. Now you folks are going to the well again, and it’s looking a tad dry. Minnesota is going to sting this fall–15 points, that’s my prediction, and you’re going to lose the catholics up there 2-1 despite the machinations of the bishops up there. And I mean machinations–that Nienstadt is actually a machine. No human can be that hypocritical and not blow his beanie. 

    The voter-ID scam will probably not fall apart quite yet–it’s still fresh, and the ACORN outrage will still raise the pulse of core meanies, who were always suckers for pimps and hos. But now that the core charge of vote fraud is being litigated, proof is breaking out all over. PA is going to be especially messy, and it won’t matter that the ID requirements are not going to be enforced–of course, it was always a longshot that you’d actually keep people away from the polls. Donations are the goal. Obama hatred is still a hot industry and re-election will fan that up nicely, even among a base whittled down to the truly deluded and reptilian, but I’m guessing that voter ID will be a winner for a few more cycles, so go to it.

    But this defamation step is trouble. Most of the Bible Belt is looking a tad desiccated these days. Polls show that most of your donors know somebody who’s lost a trailer, and it’s looking right hot in Missouri, Virginia, Indiana, and Colorado, if you know what I mean. Steyn’s in a lose-lose here, and I don’t mean his logic and evidence. Whether he knuckles under or boldly refuses to yield to the jack-booted thugs of the judiciary, word will circulate and, next thing you know, you may find yourself past the Dupe Horizon on yet another lucrative enterprise. I’m just trollin’, here, but hey.


  • Charles Céleste Hutchins

    Science has ALWAYS been ideological and accepted and reject according to that. Ask any victorian biologist who saw animals engaging in homosexuality, but didn’t record it because it was a ‘waste.’ Ask any person of colour, or any lgbt person what they think of scientific papers done about them.  Ask any feminist about evolutionary biology. There is a lot of sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic crap out there that has been published as science and the involvement of members of those groups pointing that out has undoubtedly helped science.

    Obviously climate change is a different kind of issue, but it’s not in anybody’s best interest for science to be sacrosanct. Because when science is seen as unbiased judges, then /scientists/ are seen as unbiased judged and if the just HAPPEN to be made up mostly or entirely of white, straight men from particular economic backgrounds, that’s a huge problem for science and for society.

  • Isabel C.

    Yeah, this.

    Although…some of the “hey, have some logic puzzles” stuff we did in seventh-grade math were a lot of fun, and I would totally do that again. 

    So maybe my aversion to math is the amount of attention to detail it requires.  I’ve never read all the way through a lease before throwing up my hands all fuck this noise it’s very boring and they probably can’t sell my organs, so there’s evidence to suggest that I am not detail-oriented. ;)

  • Kirala


    I’ve never read all the way through a lease before throwing
    up my hands all fuck this noise it’s very boring and they probably can’t
    sell my organs, so there’s evidence to suggest that I am not
    detail-oriented. ;)

    I think that’s the point of long contracts. That, and the fact that lawyers used to get paid by the word (which is my lawyer-father’s explanation for the verbosity of legalese).

  • Lori

    Were you required to take math past geometry? I made it to calculus my
    senior year, realized that I was never going to get it and dropped the class in favor of something else (don’t remember what) during the 2nd semester. AFAICR I’ve never directly used any math past algebra 1.
    However, I know people who use advanced math every day and have no real
    use for anything they learned in any English class after freshman comp.
    And so it goes.

    I don’t much like math and I’ve never been good at it*, but working through some of that stuff gave me benefits in terms of
    organization and use of logic that went beyond the math itself. It pains
    me to say it, but I personally probably got as much or more long-term
    benefit from geometry and algebra 2 than I did from band, which I liked
    much more. That’s no doubt closely related to the fact that proofs and
    story problems were the only math I ever actually enjoyed. (Pre-calc and
    calc were a total waste of my time, but that’s on me. No one made me
    take them and they certainly didn’t help me get into college or

    *My GRE score tells the tale of my freakishness: Verbal Reasoning: 800,
    Quantitative Reasoning: high 600s the first time, 725ish the 2nd time. 
    Folks with any significant disparity in their scores almost always have
    it the other way around—higher math, lower verbal.

  • I took quite a few kicks at the can before I grokked calculus, but once I did, and I kept making sure I put the work in, I did a pretty solid B average in university calc for the required courses.

    Math, though, is more like a tool than a thing in itself, which always gives the math majors fits, but honestly, a lot of the really abtsract shit in math that leaks into science really is a turn-off.

    It is unfortunate that so much of quantum mechanics relies on linear algebra, because that branch of math is PARTICULARLY abstruse.

    Believe me, if you hated alg, geo and calc, you would have DESPISED linear algebra.

    I got through it because I had very definite ideas about what I needed from it and what I did not.

  • addendum generally:

    One thing doing math so much did teach me was the value of being able to do mental math, especially in judging the reasonableness of a number I’m getting that corresponds to something physical. One does not (normally) calculate 1 megajoule per gram for a chemical reaction, for example. :P

  • Joshua

    When I first got hold of the calculus textbook for the final year of high school, I sat down and read about the first 200 pages in one sitting. I’m aware this is not common behaviour.

    It’s the first maths that definitively sets us apart from the Greeks. Took us a while.

    Math, though, is more like a tool than a thing in itself, which always gives the math majors fits, but honestly, a lot of the really abtsract shit in math that leaks into science really is a turn-off.

    No, actually using it for measuring stuff is dirty. You scientists contaminate it with error bars and a grasping, mercenary attitude. You’re not worthy.

  • We Must Dissent


    It’s the first maths that definitively sets us apart from the Greeks. Took us a while.

    Um, algebra? Or by “us” did you mean non-Greek Europeans? And there was some significant mathematical development in Europe between the ancient Greeks and Newton and Leibnitz. Compound interest and logarithms both come to mind.

  • Joshua

    some significant mathematical development in Europe 

    Not significant like calculus, IM not very HO. I’m also aware of the contributions of Arabic and Indian mathematicians.

    As useful and important as they all were, the concept of a limit, and its applications in calculus, is as blinding a leap as Euclid formulating a formal system for geometry, and more of a leap than anything else in between. Again, in my not-really-humble opinion.

  • The Greeks liked to call the integral calculus they did the method of exhaustions.

    To which — I’ll say! Integral calculus can be freakin’ exhausting!.

    I’ll be here all night. ;)

  • PJ Evans

     I barely made it through geometry in high school. But I went back to math five or six years later, in junior college, and found that it was much easier. At least until I got to Diff.Eq. (pronounced ‘diffy-cue’), which didn’t have enough pictures for me to really get it.
    On the other hand, algebra and geometry do get used in my off-line life.

  • PJ Evans

     Archimedes nearly invented calculus. (He was playing with infinitesimals.)

  • PJ Evans

     It might have been easier if they’d invented better notation. Using letters to mean numbers can really make math hard. And trying to do any math with Roman numbers required at least one abacus.

  • Joshua

    I did not know that.

    And of course, Zeno’s paradox. If they’d got from that to the idea of a convergent series, they’d have been well on their way.

  • VCarlson

    … the 1950s isn’t really noted for being a time of crisis …

    They are in Texas. My stepmother, when talking about the truly terrible drought conditions going on (though this summer isn’t as bad as last), takes as her comfort that at least it’s not as bad as it was in the 1950s, to which I always mentally add … yet.