Shoot it with NERF

July 23, 2019

Hemant Mehta has a new podcast on the history of the Pledge of Allegiance, and among its Kickstarter supporters is CFI! On each episode you can hear an ad for CFI written and read by me. You are so welcome.

Jason Lemieux writes at CFI’s blog about the supporters of homeopathy in the House of Representatives:

On June 26, the House debated an annual bill to fund the Food and Drug Administration and related agencies. During the debate, Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ) introduced an amendment to prohibit the FDA from implementing its 2017 draft guidance on the enforcement of regulations for homeopathic products… Rep. Biggs justified his amendment with a series of eye-rolling tropes that sound very similar to talking points we might expect to hear from the homeopathy industry, including the shamefully misleading assertion that homeopathic products could serve as an effective “natural” alternative to opioids in light of America’s ongoing addiction crisis.

Church membership, as you know, is on the decline. The thing is, that also seems to include the non-goddy ones. Faith Hill at The Atlantic reports:

… even as the growth of “nones” has revved up in the intervening years, the growth of secular congregations hasn’t kept pace. After a promising start, attendance [at Sunday Assemblies] declined, and nearly half the chapters have fizzled out. … Building a durable community of nonbelievers, it turns out, is more complicated than just excising God.

If the sudden emergence of secular communities speaks to a desire for human connection and a deeper sense of meaning, their subsequent decline shows the difficulty of making people feel part of something bigger than themselves. One thing has become clear: The yearning for belonging is not enough, in itself, to create a sense of home.

Boris Johnson is going to be the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Yep. He said this:

I know, I know, some wag has already pointed out that deliver, unite and defeat was not the perfect acronym for an election campaign, since unfortunately it spells ‘dud’. But they forgot the final ‘E’ my friends. ‘E’ for energise. And I say to all the doubters: dude, we are going to energise the country.


The Center for Social Justice says that while Pakistan has not yet executed anyone for the capital offense of blasphemy, at least 70 people have been murdered over blasphemy allegations by mobs.

At Scotland’s The National, Vicky Allan looks at how humanist couples are upending traditional marriage vows:

It might be, as it was for a couple of my friends promising to be “best mates (with benefits)”. It could be as one bride promised, a vow “to give more warning when I am suffering from PMT.” Or even, as one couple vowed, to stick together “until death or zombies do us part.”

Good. If I were to get married again, I’d want my spouse to know that I wouldn’t expect them to remain attached to me if I were to turn into a walker.

Folks in Australia spot something in the sky and hope it’s aliens. Said one fellow, “I thought it was a UFO, so I tried to shoot it with my NERF gun.” Alas. Astrophysicist Jonti Horner says:

It looks like a rocket, something orbiting the Earth doing a prolonged engine burn. Interestingly, earlier today India launched its second Moon mission [Chandrayaan-2] so it seems a really good bet that this is that engaging its engine to move towards the Moon. It’s not quite [a sign of alien life] — it’s a sign of India going to the Moon. In some ways that’s even cooler, you are seeing something that is exciting and it’s worth remembering that we are now in an era that it’s not just the US and Russia, we have China on the moon and India going, it really is a global endeavour.

Oh, right! India sent a spacecraft to the Moon! It’s actually quite a big deal, and very ambitious. Ars Technica reports:

The GSLV Mark III rocket lifted off Monday after an eight-day delay due to a technical issue, and the launch proceeded normally. “Today is a historical day for space and science and technology in India,” K. Sivan, chair of the Indian Space Research Organization, said after the launch. “I’m extremely happy to announce that GSLV Mark III successfully injected Chandrayaan-2 into the defined orbit.” … on September 7, the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover will separate from the orbiter and descend to the surface of the Moon, targeting a region near 70 degrees south on the lunar surface.

You remember how a bunch of people are planning to “storm” Area 51 in order to, I dunno, annoy the government into admitting there are aliens? The U.S. military would rather they didn’t. The Air Force says:

As a matter of practice, we do not discuss specific security measures, but any attempt to illegally access military installations or military training areas is dangerous. … Any attempt to illegally access the area is highly discouraged.

Instead of demanding alien evidence, maybe you could go adopt a shelter animal. The New York Post reports:

An Oklahoma animal shelter has jumped on the viral “Storm Area 51” event in an attempt to find forever homes for its rescue dogs, cats and pigs.

“Come storm our shelter,” OKC Animal Shelter wrote Friday in a Facebook post that’s racked up more than 11,000 shares. “We have great animals ready to protect you from the Area 51 aliens. Adoption isn’t that far out of this world! #stormtheshelter.”

Former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian who spent a year and a half in prison for a blasphemy conviction, says he’s done with politics:

The majority of religious people have labeled me a blasphemer, the middle-class people, especially the housewives are angry with me because of my divorce and my [new] marriage. So, yes, [my political career is] finished. … I can’t be a minister. I’m already crippled [politically]. I’m not being pessimistic, that’s just the plain fact.

NPR’s Shankar Vedantam looks at the frustrating challenge of refuting anti-vaxxer misinformation.

Nina Shapiro at Forbes looks at how the anti-vaxxer movement is resorting to death threats against its opponents, including against folks like Dr. Paul Offit and teenaged vaccine advocate Ethan Lindenberger.

New York City police are investigating a violent attack on a 62-year-old Hindu priest, Swami Harish Chander Puri, in which the attacker is said to have shouted, “this is my neighborhood!” Gosh I wonder what got the attacker all riled up and emboldened.

Speaking of which, a Baptist church in Virginia plastered the words “America: Love it or leave it” on its sign, which prompted many in the congregation to stage a walkout in protest.

The Daily Beast reports that two infants in Nebraska and Indiana have died in home births run by unlicensed midwives that claim their credentials come from Private Membership Associations, extralegal “sovereign citizen” outfits:

The sovereign citizen movement is a loosely organized, conspiracy-laden scene of people who believe themselves liberated from much or all of U.S. law. Adherents might believe that legal authority extends no further than their local sheriff, or that they’re exempt from taxes, or that most court proceedings are fake. Many use elaborate documents or “contracts” that they claim override laws.

Quote of the Day

Texas governor Greg Abbott is the hero gay-hating chicken-slingers deserve for signing into law the extraordinarily stupid “Save Chick-fil-A” bill. As Wonkette puts it:

Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 1978, nicknamed the “Save Chick-fil-A” bill despite the lack of any danger to the restaurant chain, which believes Chicken Jesus died and was deep fried for your sins, and that’s why gays are an abomination. … critics believe the bill’s overall purpose is to send a message that discriminating against gays is good and holy, and what’s more, now sanctioned by the state. …

… God wants airline passengers to eat spicy hate, and now you have to accept it!

Abbott was very proud of saving the restaurant that was never in any danger, and used his signing ceremony to promote the brand, because that would REALLY piss off the libs. Surrounded by staffers and legislators holding Chick-fil-A drinks, and with a sandwich box on his desk, Abbott proclaimed Texas safe for hatin’ on gays.

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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.