Unless We’re Already Dead

September 25, 2017


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

As a short, awkward, nerdy aspie with no interest in sports, there have been few American institutions that I feel more alienated by than the National Football League. The grandiose NFL logo and the iconography of its franchises have always been, to me, shorthand for “turn back, Paul, lest thou be bullied.” What a difference a weekend makes. Via Liz Clarke and Abby Phillip at the Post:

Some stood. Some kneeled. Some remained in the locker room, choosing to speak through their absence from the NFL’s pregame ceremonies, in which the American flag is displayed and the national anthem sung. But from London to Los Angeles, virtually all NFL players on the sidelines before kickoff of Sunday’s slate of 14 games locked arms with each other in response to President Trump’s three-day campaign demanding that team owners “fire or suspend” players who kneel during the national anthem and calling on fans to boycott games if the form of protest continued.

And these simple gestures were not even coordinated. “Sunday’s on-field displays, rather, reflected individual teams’ decisions rather than an orchestrated leaguewide effort.”

But if the NFL feels less hostile to me today, NASCAR puffs up its chest and asks me what the hell do I think I’m looking at, you little dork.

Margaret Sullivan reports on the ongoing efforts by Republican legislatures to criminalize protest, with laws that prohibit the disruption of commerce or the blocking of traffic.

At Big Think, Richard Dawkins speculates about the future of artificial intelligence, which he says could potentially gain consciousness and be worthy of inclusion into our moral circle. “I’m committed to the view that it is possible” that AI could one day take over, and maybe do a better job at running the world than we are. 

Gaby Del Valle at The Outline takes swings at the outlet Quillette, calling it out for pretending to be rebellious and mavericky when it’s really just marketing conservatism:

What Quillette is doing isn’t new: it is reframing normative ideas as subversive, just like the right-wing college students who claimed conservatism is “the new counterculture” after their candidate won the 2016 presidential election. Quillette makes tired alt-right talking points sound erudite. It bridges the gap between the political fringe and the academy and elevates trolling easily angered liberals to a collegiate level. It cloaks regressive arguments in academic jargon.

A judge rules that two Minnesota videographers are not allowed to discriminate against gay couples because of their religiously-based desire only to work with heterosexual clients.

If you were in Southern California on Thursday, you may have heard the emergency broadcast system tell you, “Realize this — that in the last days, extremely violent times will come!” Turns out it was a mistake in which the audio from an evangelical pastor went into the emergency broadcast test.  

But despite what the TV or anyone else may have told you, the world did not, in fact, end on September 23. Unless, of course, we’re already dead. 

Just kidding. We’re all gonna die on October 15

Promises from Mark Zuckerberg are apparently not enough, so Democratic senators are proposing legislation to compel online ad platforms to toward greater transparency in political ads.

L.A. Weekly marks the coming demise of the landmark Steve Allen Theater, once home to CFI Los Angeles, which is relocating.  

Rogue ultra-conservative Catholics, some “with no legal standing in the Catholic Church,” say Pope Fluffy’s leniency toward divorced Catholics is “heresy.” I’LL BE THE ONE TO DETERMINE WHAT IS AND IS NOT HERESY THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Joe Nickell shows off an 1800s sarsaparilla-based syphilis cure. Desperate times, etc.

Susan Gerbic interviews Sheldon W. Helms, who will be at CSICon 2017 to discuss the pseudoscience of “gay conversion.” 

Also, Susan finds that the eclipse last month was a great opportunity for people-watching, noting feeling of ‘we’re all in this together’ feeling that the event seemed to inspire.

Religious instruction and services, such as First Communion, are nixed from Ireland’s state-run primary schools.

Coming soon, Trump Travel Ban: 2 Fast 2 Furious. The latest installment bans travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and some from Venezuela. 

Hyrum Lewis, arguing that Mormonism is well positioned to rebut atheism shows he doesn’t really understand where atheists are coming from to begin with:

The atheist claim that “we don’t see God” is also false. The scriptures and LDS traditions are full of accounts of people who have seen, heard or even touched God. Why are atheists willing to accept sensory evidence when it comes to science, but not when it comes to religion? It would appear that, for the atheist, the “seeing is believing” rule only counts when it supports their worldview.

Yeah, that’s not quite how it works. 

David Roberts at Vox presents the four-point, not-impossible-but-probably-unlikely plan to curb climate change. 

We knew a human mission to Mars would be dangerous, but it might be suicidal if better ways to shield against cosmic radiation aren’t developed. 

Guess what, Australia! You’re getting a space agency! And there’s no such thing as down-under in space!

Quote of the Day:

Andy Lewis at The Quackometer Blog is properly incensed at the use of acupuncture and other alt-med crap on animals, in this case an elderly rock hopper penguin named Teddy at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town:

When a human chooses to use an alternative treatment like acupuncture they do so through their own consent. The treatment can be viewed as ethically given when that consent is fully informed. That is, the person is made fully aware of the risks and is appraised properly of the evidenced benefits. Now, that this properly informed consent is rarely made is not the subject I want to discuss here. What is important, is for an animal like Teddy, the rock hopper penguin, informed consent is of course impossible. The owner, or carer, makes that choice. It is in these circumstances that the utmost care must be taken to ensure that any treatment given to an animal has robust evidence to support it and can be shown to be in the best interests of the animal. For acupuncture, there can be no such demonstration of benefit to the animal, and so such treatments must be considered as highly questionable and unethical. …

… Our animals deserve better. If your vet offers acupuncture, find another vet. If your aquarium or zoo is giving acupuncture to its animals, choose another day out. 

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