Learn the science

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene is catching a load of grief for posting an anti-transgender sign outside her Congressional office door. She deserves it.

It apparently is too complex for the fundamentalist mindset to grasp, but there is more to sexuality than plumbing; there also is orientation, and identity, and about a dozen other traits that are influenced by multiple genes. This is why there is no single “gay gene” — there are lots of genes implicated in sexuality.

Ironically, the issue of Science that the multi-phobes cite when they trumpet “no gay gene” detailed a long and hard-fought editorial dispute over whether to go to press with the piece because they knew that simpletons would misconstrue it. One editorial bloc feared the article would be used just as Greene (mis)uses it, and the other editorial group argued for the long view, reasoning that the science had to be published before it could seep into public consciousness.

I’m with the long-view group. Unfortunately, the Republican Party I grew-up with has become the party of malice-eaten simpletons.

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Evangelicals: Affirmatively dangerous

Texas is the poster child for what happens when you turn everything into politics — including science, Mother Nature and energy — and try to maximize short-term profits over long-term resilience in an era of extreme weather. The Mars landing is the poster child for letting science guide us and inspire audacious goals and the long-term investments to achieve them.

The Mars mind-set used to be more our norm. The Texas mind-set has replaced it in way too many cases. Going forward, if we want more Mars landings and fewer Texas collapses — what’s happening to people there is truly heartbreaking — we need to take a cold, hard look at what produced each.

Thomas Friedman

Friedman nails something I’ve been thinking about a lot during the past week: the Evangelical Right are driving a lot of the science denial in America — and they aren’t merely wrong; their resolute ignorance is dangerous, and in our mental filing system they ought to be classed with the White Supremacists and all the other loopy misanthropes.

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New York Review: W-a-a-a-y behind the curve

The New York Review of Books notices [pay-walled] the revival of Stoicism.

The recent revival of Stoic philosophy has stayed surprisingly true to its ancient roots while gaining popularity among executives and tech-bros.

The founding editor of the Review died a couple of years ago, and the new owners/editors are still struggling to get their footing. I picked-up the trend almost 3-years ago.

If publishing trends can be trusted, a lot of people are looking toward Stoicism, a pre-Christian philosophical movement nearly wiped-out when the Roman church seized control of the western half of the Roman empire following Rome’s collapse. Just this year has seen publication of Ward Farnsworth’s The Practicing Stoic, Massimo Pigliucci”s How to be a Stoic, and — get ready — even a book of daily devotionals by Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic.

Stoicism, a philosophical movement born more than 2000-years ago and advanced by figures as different as a former slave, Epictetus, and an emperor, Marcus Aurelius, is … in.

So … ho-hum. I’m out of optimism for the Review; the new management just doesn’t have the depth.

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Letters to Madalyn, ctd

Reviewing the FBI’s FOIA response regarding Madalyn Murray O’Hair, I find myself constantly marveling at the letters sent to her and to the federal government about her.

Here is an alarmed letter sent to J. Edgar Hoover.


I have read your books, best of all was “Masters of Deceit”

I am writing this letter in regard to a Madalyn Murray O’Hair who was instrumental in getting prayer removed from public schools and now wants prayer banned from outer space. What I want to know is where does she get all her power to do these things? Who is she? What does she do for a living? Can’t she be stopped?

As you stated in your book, Communism is more than an economic, political, social, or philosophical doctrine. It is a way of life; a false, materialistic “religion.” It would strip man of his belief in God.

So she is trying to strip man of his belief, by having it banned. I would like to know how she can have so much say so. What can we do to fight back on her kind? I have two girls in school, I need not tell you more as your know the school situation. I have prayed many times for our wonderful country and I want to help in any way to preserve it.

Thank you for your time and hope you will write in regard to my letter.

Just so’s your know, this is among the most literate of the letters.

What most consistently startles me about these letters, I suppose, is the ignorance they reveal about so many Americans’ understanding of the operation of their own country and the meaning of its First Amendment. Granted, you shouldn’t expect much of people who believe in talking snakes, but I still am struck by the ignorance and indignation from time to time.

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You-read-it-here-first department, ctd

I remarked a few weeks ago that Russell Moore, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious liberty Commission, was certain to catch hell for his tweet calling upon Donald Trump to resign.

Moore, a raging liberal by SBC standards, is already a controversial figure within the SBC, and this will not go unnoticed within a denomination that generally admires Donald Trump.

What do you know?

SBC report calls never-Trumper Russell Moore’s agency a ‘significant distraction’

A new report claims a decline in giving is linked to controversial statements — including criticism of Trump — by a leading Baptist ethicist.

It may well be true that Moore’s criticisms of Trump have hurt receipts; they adore that corrupt madman and, in spite of their moral pretentiousness, probably don’t like hearing from some fancy-pants ethicist — An educated man! Look out! — that The Donald is … uhhh … morally … challenged.

It’s a nice pointer to how squalid the Southern Baptists actually are.

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