Admiral Vindictive

August 9, 2018

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We already know that to be religiously unaffiliated (aka a “none”) does not necessarily equate to nonbelief or atheism. So then why aren’t they part of a faith group? Pew Research digs up some fascinating answers. For example, about half of nones say it’s because of churches’ positions on social and political issues. About a third claim a dislike of religious leaders. And, yes, 37 percent just don’t believe in God.

Things get ugly after Canada’s foreign minister admonishes Saudi Arabia over the arrest of Samar Badawi and their years-long imprisonment and punishment of Raif Badawi. The Saudis responded with a not-too-subtle tweet featuring a picture of an airplane headed for the CN Tower. That was deleted, but the Saudis also kicked the Canadian ambassador out of the country.

We have yet another new column at the CFI website, The Thoughtful Conduit by Russ Dobler, kicking things off with a look at how a geological phenomenon underneath New Hampshire was sensationally reported as a supervolcano that would kill all New Englanders (like me).

Hey cool, Vice President Holy Patriarch Pence is going to announce the administration’s plans for Trump’s “space force” today. Yep. Here we go. Space force. Yyyyyep.

Gov. Ralph Northam declares a state of emergency for Charlottesville, Virginia as events marking the first anniversary of the violence and hate wrought by white supremacists.

Molly Roberts at the Post considers the banning of Alex Jones by several major online services, predicting a reckoning on the horizon as these companies decide whether to take responsibility for their platforms, rather than merely exercising power.

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee ask Jeff Sessions to ‘splain what his Christian Privilege SWAT Team Religious Liberty Task Force is actually going to do, especially since Sessions made stuff up about nuns being forced to buy contraceptives and whatnot.

Congress is about to get its first Muslim woman in the House, as former State Rep. Rashida Tlaib wins the Democratic primary for John Conyers’ very, very safely Democratic seat.

Following the allegations of rampant sexual harassment committed by bigtime pastor Bill Hybels, and the crappy way those allegations were handled by his church (one teaching pastor called it “horrifying”), the lead pastor and the entire board of the Willow Creek Community Church resign. One elder said, “We exhort Bill to acknowledge his sin and publicly apologize.”

Mark Silk writes that Brett Kavanaugh will certainly be accommodating to religion if he gets to the Supreme Court, but he may not be as extreme as we fear, saying he is a “relatively nuanced interpreter of the law.” Maybe?

Last year, Scott Pruitt (would-be Destroyer of Worlds) went on CNBC and lied that carbon dioxide is not a “primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” The EPA then set out to prove Pruitt right with “electronic searches” for studies backing up his claim. They have yet to find any.

The upper chamber of Italy’s parliament passes legislation that scraps the country’s vaccination requirements for kids in school, which was just enacted in March. The Local reports:

Critics say the new government is eroding faith in science, and nine Italian regional administrations that oppose the repeal have said they intend to appeal to the constitutional court or create their own laws to reinstate compulsory vaccines.

Susan Gerbic interviews the lead organizer of SkeptiCamp NYC, as well as the guy who dressed as a “Straw Vulcan” at a previous CSICon Halloween party, Mitchell Lampert.

In Skeptical Inquirer, Joe Nickell investigates the seventeenth century’s allegedly-airborne St. Joseph of Copertino, finding that the reports of flight were no more than the “sudden arcing trajectories that would be expected from bounding.”

Speaking of things that aren’t actually levitating, Joe also figures out why a “mysterious” spiral staircase is able to stay upright without any support (spoiler: it actually does have a support, which Joe easily recognized).

Here comes the Asian longhorned tick, decimating livestock like something out of a horror movie. And when it comes to multiplying, bunnies ain’t got nothin’ on this thing. Beth Mole at Ars Technica reports:

[The tick’s] invasive populations tend to reproduce asexually—that is, without mating. Females drop up to 2,000 eggs over the course of two or three weeks, quickly giving rise to a ravenous army of clones.

Oh! Great!

Quote of the Day

Jim Underdown is back with another Ask the Atheist column, and I think it’s his best one yet, in particular for his recounting of his experience as an atheist becoming a godparent. Also for his explanation of baseball players pointing to the sky when they hit a home run:

God would strike players dead if they publicly blamed him for what is obviously their own mistake. Sure, HE’LL take credit for the home runs and triples when the batters’ skills and years of dedication, work, and practice pay off, but don’t put a strikeout on HIM. Players know all this and elect not to press their luck with Admiral Vindictive up in the sky there.

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