Queen Esther Reboot

March 28, 2019

James Alex Fields Jr., the Nazi who murdered Heather Heyer and injured 35 other people with his car, plowing into them at the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” white supremacist march, pleads guilty to 29 counts of federal hate crimes, and prosecutors have agreed not to seek the death penalty. This comes after Fields’ state murder conviction last year.

Vice reports that Facebook is implementing measures to get white supremacist content off its platform, sort of:

Facebook will now ban content that includes explicit praise, support, or representation of white nationalism or separatism. Phrases such as “I am a proud white nationalist” and “Immigration is tearing this country apart; white separatism is the only answer” will now be banned, according to the company. Implicit and coded white nationalism and white separatism will not be banned immediately, in part because the company said it’s harder to detect and remove.

In a press release, Facebook also says:

…we’ll also start connecting people who search for terms associated with white supremacy to resources focused on helping people leave behind hate groups. People searching for these terms will be directed to Life After Hate, an organization founded by former violent extremists that provides crisis intervention, education, support groups and outreach.

Kenny Biddle at Skeptical Inquirer investigates the alleged appearance of ghosts in a nanny cam.

House Democrats introduce the Climate Action Now Bill, intended to bring the U.S. back into the Paris Agreement, which will of course go nowhere.

While I was bewildered by the parade of lunacy I witnessed at a hearing on vaccine requirements at the Maine legislature, I have to assume that it pales in comparison to the bananapants circus of creationists and climate science denialists at the Utah state legislature, where parents were frothing mad over new science standards that acknowledge reality. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

“This is scaremongering at its highest level being taught to our kids,” said resident Pam Allen. “Our children deserve the truth. And they can’t protest what they don’t realize is a hoax.”

Allen took issue with the earth science guidelines that ask students to find evidence that human activity is a contributor to global warming. But that wasn’t all. The information on biology, she suggested, will also provide too secular a view of the world where evolution is presented as fact and the Bible is ignored.

Elizabeth Dias at the New York Times gives a useful explainer about religious exemptions to vaccine requirements.

UK satire site NewsThump offers a quiz to find out if you should vaccinate your kid! One question in the quiz is, “Should life and death decisions be based on the opinion of someone whose CV highlight is ‘sex in a field with someone else’s husband’?”

Texas’s legislature is churning out a truly awful bill that grants religious exemptions to, well, just about everything. From the Austin American-Statesmen:

…a Senate committee on Monday approved a bill to give state-licensed professionals — including doctors, lawyers, pharmacists and barbers — broad protection for actions taken according to their religious beliefs.

Opponents said the bill, and more than a dozen similar measures that have not yet been acted upon, would give religious people, particularly conservative Christians, the power to discriminate against gay, lesbian and transgender people as well as anyone they don’t want to do business with or serve.

At a CNN town hall thing, Cory Booker talks about how he thinks about faith and works (and it’s essentially what he always says, but it’s good):

So, I just want to say up front that I’m a person that often says that, “Before you tell me about your religion, show it to me in how you treat other people.” I was raised in a church where my mom taught Sunday school. I’ll never forget learning that verse, that faith without works is dead. And I’ll tell you what — I feel like I’m in church right now — and I’ll tell you what… I would rather hang out with a nice atheist than a mean Christian any day of the week.

Hemant carefully adds:

All that said, there is a slight problem with his last line there because it suggests that “nice atheists” are a special breed, as if we’re not the people he regularly hangs out with anyway.

But it’s not like Booker meant it that way, so… not a big deal.

This is from a few days ago, but I’m just catching it, and look, I’m not perfect, okay? I mean it’s not like God chose me to deliver news roundups to skepto-humanists. SPEAKING OF WHICH, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Christian Broadcasting Network, sure, President Trump could very well be anointed by God to save Israel from Iran, just as good ol’ Yahweh had Queen Esther stop Persia from eradicating the Jews a two-and-a-half millennia ago. Right?

As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible.

He went on:

To see the remarkable history of the faith in this place [Jerusalem] and the work that our administration’s done to make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state remains, I am confident that the Lord is at work here.

If the Lord is at work here, the Lord needs to rethink a few things.

Not for nothin’, but Queen Esther gets more reboots than Batman. Remember when it was Sarah Palin that was supposed to be the Queen Esther reboot? Halcyon days.

This is not a good sign. Six public charter schools in Memphis have agreed to a Catholic morality clause in their leases for classroom space from the city’s diocese, which obligates them to refrain from teaching anything that goes against Catholic dogma. Wow, that’s a terrible idea.

Pope Francis thinks people kissing his ring is a terrible idea, and he appears to be getting progressively testy about it. A Vatican source told the media that Francis is more comfortable with hugs, selfies, and “expressions of personal esteem.” I’m with you, pope. Get your filthy mouths away from my hand.

Australia’s Chiropractic Board tells its back-crackers to leave the spines of babies alone.

India shoots down a weather satellite to show that it’s now a “space power,” according to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who boasted, “It shows the remarkable dexterity of India’s outstanding scientists and the success of our space programme.” I don’t see how the dexterity of India’s scientists has anything to do with it. What, are they doing gymnastics in the lab?

Relatedly, I killed a bug crawling up my wall yesterday, which means I am now a “living room power.”

At RNS, Irving Cabrera Torres reports on celebrations of spring in Mexico put on by witches. Wait, what?

Similarly to the Supreme Court’s decision about a Muslim death row inmate a few weeks ago, a federal court has denied a Buddhist prisoner in Texas, Patrick Henry Murphy, the chaplain from his faith to be with him during his execution, instead, again, only offering a Christian chaplain. Murphy is set to be executed today.

This should not be a surprise, but it is sad nonetheless: Tony Ortega reports that Tom Cruise’s daughter, Isabella, is doing Scientology evangelism.

Maryann White, a woman who attended Mass at the University of Notre Dame, was horrified by what she saw: legs. More specifically, leggings. In her disgust, she wrote to the student newspaper:

I was ashamed for the young women at Mass. I thought of all the other men around and behind us who couldn’t help but see their behinds. … you couldn’t help but see those blackly naked rear ends. … Leggings are so naked, so form fitting, so exposing. Could you think of the mothers of sons the next time you go shopping and consider choosing jeans instead? Let Notre Dame girls be the first to turn their backs(ides) on leggings.

As everything does today, this letter sparked the modern equivalent of a movement, meaning a hashtag and selfie campaign on Twitter and Instagram. But even if White sounds like she hitched a ride on H.G. Wells’ time machine from 1895, she’s hip enough to reference Star Wars, using “slave girl Leia” from Return of the Jedi as an example of someone with nakedness forced upon her as a way of dehumanizing her:

Women should be viewed first as people — and all people should be considered with respect. … the human body is a beautiful thing. But we don’t go around naked because we respect ourselves — we want to be seen as a person, not a body.

Absolutely. Well, also because it would be cold, and we don’t have a protective shell from just day-to-day contact with scratchy, pointy things, and there are all those dangly bits, and, well, you know. And, really, leggings = slave girl? Cover your ankles, madame.

Quote of the Day

Microsoft marketing chief Chris Capossela tells employees not to engage in April Fools’ Day hoaxes, and I am for it:

Hey everyone,

It’s that time of year when tech companies try to show their creativity with April Fools’ Day stunts. Sometimes the outcomes are amusing and sometimes they’re not. Either way, data tells us these stunts have limited positive impact and can actually result in unwanted news cycles.

Considering the headwinds the tech industry is facing today, I’m asking all teams at Microsoft to not do any public-facing April Fools’ Day stunts. I appreciate that people may have devoted time and resources to these activities, but I believe we have more to lose than gain by attempting to be funny on this one day.

Please forward to your teams and internal partners to ensure people are aware of the ask to stand down on external April Fools’ Day activities.

Give this man an award.

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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.