I’ve Accomplished Something

December 9, 2016

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

John Glenn is dead at the age of 95. Record-breaking pilot, pioneering astronaut, U.S. Senator, and then at age 77, astronaut again. An amazing human being. President Obama said:

The last of America’s first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens. On behalf of a grateful nation, Godspeed, John Glenn. 

We have a small social media tribute, where we quote Glenn:

The most important thing we can do is inspire young minds and to advance the kind of science, math and technology education that will help youngsters take us to the next phase of space travel.

My favorite quote of his that I saw:

If I can inspire young people to dedicate themselves to the good of mankind, I’ve accomplished something. 

For the first time, scientists discover a 99 million-year-old dinosaur tail preserved in amber. And it’s really feathery. Look at the close-up pictures with the article, they’re absolutely amazing.

Edgar Welch, the man who stormed the DC pizzeria looking for Hillary Clinton’s fictional child-sex ring, talks to Adam Goldman at NYT, and admits, “The intel on this wasn’t 100 percent”:

Where did he learn about the fake news involving Comet? He said it was through word of mouth. After recently having internet service installed at his house, he was “really able to look into it.” He said that substantial evidence from a combination of sources had left him with the “impression something nefarious was happening.” He said one article on the subject led to another and then another.  

Incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn says that at the U.S./Mexico border there are signs in Arabic to assist terrorists’ entry into the country, helped by the Mexican drug cartels or something. There is no evidence of this being so. I feel more nationally-secure already. 

The Netherlands’ Geert Wilders is convicted of “inciting discrimination” for saying the country would be safer without Moroccans. He was found not guilty of hate speech. Ron Lindsay tweets: “Wilders probably did violate Dutch law as written, but that’s because law is an inappropriate restriction on speech.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May lauds the Saudis for their “visionary leadership,” but then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says of both Saudi Arabia and Iran:

There are politicians who are twisting and abusing religion and different strains of the same religion in order to further their own political objectives. That’s one of the biggest political problems in the whole region. And the tragedy for me – and that’s why you have these proxy wars being fought the whole time in that area – is that there is not strong enough leadership in the countries themselves. 

Sarah Pulliam Bailey, who, I have to say, is kicking journalistic butt lately, advises her fellow Christians (particularly Evangelical Christians) to dial down their rage at “the media”:

Your quick dismissal of the entire “mainstream media” feels deeply inaccurate to me as a Christian and a journalist — at least the kind of Christianity I was raised on, where the newspaper informed how we understood the world. The act of doing journalism is a way to live out my faith, a way to search for and then reveal truth in the world around me. … As a reporter who also happens to be a Christian, I believe that truth exists and can be ascertained, even if imperfectly and the fact that we understand it imperfectly heightens our duty to pursue it diligently. 

Jennifer Williams at Vox reminds us of Jesus’s important role in Islam — he even gets the whole “peace be upon him” treatment.

The Electome project at the MIT Media Lab charts out the social media “clusters” based on political beliefs and candidate support. Look at that deep, deep red wad at the end where the Trump people live, where conventional journalism has almost zero “natural information flow.” 

Mary Tuma at The Austin Chronicle reports on the blowback to an “error-riddled booklet required for abortion-seeking women” in Texas, cynically called “A Woman’s Right to Know.” Tuma reports that “reproductive health advocates say the booklet continues to drastically mislead women and perpetuate dangerous myths about abortion care.”

In the Hindu Times, Indian history professor Harbans Mukhia speaks up for acceptance of atheism:

It is … imperative that we in India all the more cherish and celebrate plurality, whether of faiths or cultures or assertion of absence of faith in god or religion. That is the essence of true Indian-ness, which has for ages upheld the right of freedom of thought without postulating the triumph of one opinion over another, one single truth over all others.  

At QuilletteJeffrey Tayler laments what he sees as the left’s coddling of Islamism by propping up the hijab as some form of liberation:

Few spectacles are more puzzling, disturbing, hypocritical, and potentially damaging to women’s rights — and therefore to human progress as a whole — than the de facto campaign in some purportedly liberal press outlets to normalize the hijab and portray it as a hallmark of feminist pride and dignity, and not as a sartorial artifact of a misogynistic, seventh-century ideology, forced upon its wearers by law in some countries and by hidebound cultural norms and community and familial pressure, even violence, elsewhere.   

Stephen Fry narrates a short video explaining humanist marriage ceremonies for our friends at the British Humanist Association. 

Quote of the Day:

This chokes me up a little. Shish, a Muslim-owned Turkish restaurant in London, is offering free Christmas Day meals to the homeless and elderly. “No one eats alone on a Christmas Day!” reads their sign. On their Facebook page, they told a commenter:

We are not living in a wonderful world at the moment, and [it’s] time for us to come together to stand up for each other. We will always be there and look after each other. Christmas is an amazing day as everyone should have the chance of having a wonderful day. 

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