Made of Life-Stuff

December 1, 2017


The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Not that it matters, but I turn 40 today, and I’m not handling it well at all.

Our government affairs office has a new action alert to save the Johnson Amendment, so that churches don’t become de facto superPACs for candidates.

Megan McArdle at the New York Posts writes in support of the Johnson Amendment:

… the best arrangement is probably the status quo, in which we forbid churches from politicking, and then don’t enforce it too tightly. Churches are, like the rest of us, quite free to do “issue advocacy.” They are not free to campaign for candidates. 

Trump remains one of the few people in power who still take the “war on Christmas” seriously, and still won’t shut up about it.

Sunnivie Brydum interviews Tisa Wagner about how a bad Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling by SCOTUS could help white supremacists:

“I think we could see white supremacist arguments carving out religious exemptions to non-discrimination laws, which were rejected in the past,” she said. “Given the public resurgence of Nazis and white supremacists, I think we could see a resurgence of those kinds of claims in the courts.” 

I highly recommend this episode of the podcast Robot or Not on what constitutes life. “It’s made of life-stuff!”

Maddie Stone at Earther (which is new to me) reports on new discoveries about what makes some coral reefs more resilient than others, and how that can help in the efforts to save them from, well, us.

Project Veritas, the loathsome sting operation run by the loathsome James O’Keefe, might lose its charitable status for failing to disclose O’Keefe’s criminal record. Said a Project Veritas spokesperson: “Argle blargle flerpy derp!” I may have gotten that a little wrong, but it was something like that. Said a Morning Heresy spokesperson: “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!” That one I got right.

Today is also World AIDS Day, and Michael Gerson makes sure we notice that Trump is going to make that problem worse too:

The Trump administration is proposing a reduction in funding and a shift in strategy in the fight against global AIDS that together would increase infections, cost lives and threaten the extraordinary progress of the past 15 years. 

Also in terrible diseases, Julia Belluz reports that Scarlet Fever is making a comeback:

Among the potential explanations: There may be changes in the immune systems of people now that have made them more susceptible to the bacterium that causes scarlet fever, Streptococcus pyogenes, which also causes strep throat and impetigo. Or there could be another pathogen people are being “co-infected” with that is predisposing them to the disease. 

Jimmy Kimmel is totally open to beating the crap out of Roy Moore if that’s what Roy wants. “Maybe if he went man to man instead of man to little girl, you wouldn’t be in this situation.”

This piece at Natural News is just the most bananapants thing I’ve seen in quite some time. It’s this rant about how Amazon’s Alexa assistant is kowtowing to “SJWs” and might also be a radical Islamic terrorist. I’m not 100% convinced this isn’t satire. 

Good on Consumer Reports, clarifying the usefulness of homeopathy for cold and flu treatment:

What the research says: The theory behind these products—which usually bear the word “homeopathic” on their labels­—is especially dubious. It involves taking a presumed active ingredient—such as oscillococcinum, an extract of wild duck heart and liver—and diluting it to the point that it’s imperceptible. The Federal Trade Commission says that “homeopathic product claims are not based on modern scientific methods.” Yet the products are often sold in stores alongside FDA-approved drugs. (Read more about homeopathic medicine.)

CR’s Take: Don’t bother. 

Patheos’s nonreligious bloggers have a book of essays now available.

Quote of the Day:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologizes to Canada’s LGBTQ community, and really means it. A small sample:

It is with shame and sorrow and deep regret for the things we have done that I stand here today and say: We were wrong. We apologize. I am sorry. We are sorry.

For state-sponsored, systemic oppressio
n and rejection, we are sorry.

For suppressing two-spirit Indigenous values and beliefs, we are sorry.

For abusing the power of the law, and making criminals of citizens, we are sorry.

For government censorship, and constant attempts to undermine your community-building;

For denying you equality, and forcing you to constantly fight for this equality, often at great cost;

For forcing you to live closeted lives, for rendering you invisible, and for making you feel ashamed –

We are deeply sorry. We were so very wrong.

To all the LGBTQ2 people across this country who we have harmed in countless ways, we are sorry.

To those who were left broken by a prejudiced system;

And to those who took their own lives—we failed you.

For stripping you of your dignity;

For robbing you of your potential;

For treating you like you were dangerous, indecent, and flawed;

We are sorry.

To the victims of The Purge, who were surveilled, interrogated, and abused;

Who were forced to turn on their friends and colleagues;

Who lost wages, lost health, and lost loved ones;

We betrayed you. And we are so sorry.

To those who were fired, to those who resigned, and to those who stayed at a great personal and professional cost;

To those who wanted to serve, but never got the chance to because of who you are—you should have been permitted to serve your country, and you were stripped of that option.

We are sorry. We were wrong.

. . . 

For the oppression of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit communities, we apologize. On behalf of the government, Parliament, and the people of Canada: We were wrong. We are sorry. And we will never let this happen again. 

* * * 

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