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Utterly Useless but Readily Available

March 20, 2019

Hey look at this! Ron Lindsay, our former boss, is now a novelist! He’s just published The Lost Song of Goliath, the story of David and Goliath told from the big guy’s perspective. From the official description:

Goliath’s story has not yet been told, although he is a literary character begging for an author to give him a voice. He has now found that voice. Neither monster nor freak, Goliath leads a full, flawed human existence, with both success and deep disappointment, both love and heartbreaking loss.

I already bought mine.

Alizeh Kohari at Wired takes a long look at Facebook’s role in the out-of-control blasphemy accusations and prosecutions in Pakistan:

According to [internet security expert] Usama Khilji … there are three types of blasphemy cases relating to the internet. One involves people saying things about their own religion that could be construed as blasphemous by others; many members of sectarian and minority religions get charged this way. Another is people framed through fake accounts, as with the cases of Mashal Khan and the five bloggers. And lastly, the very nature of the internet has led to new forms of blasphemy. In one instance, someone was accused of sacrilege for merely liking a post; in another, the accused was the administrator of a Facebook group where another user had posted something offensive.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who is openly gay, attended an event with his partner, hosted by Mike Pence, who even Trump has made fun of for being scared of gays. Pence contained his terror at being in too close proximity to someone who might infect his soul with Satanic pixie dust, or whatever it is he thinks will happen, even as Varadkar said this:

I stand here, leader of my country, flawed and human, but judged by my political actions, and not by my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender or religious beliefs.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has a $10 billion plan to protect New York’s financial district from flooding caused by climate change. How’s that for a Wall Street bailout??? Huh??? Get it??? COME ON THAT’S FUNNY.

The FDA announces is a press release that it’s none too pleased with Nutra Pharma Corp., a company that makes homeopathic products for the treatment of chronic pain and addiction. Outgoing FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb says:

Health fraud scams like these are inexcusable. These patients deserve proven treatments not false promises that can deter them from seeking otherwise effective care, and that can also contain ingredients or contaminations that can threaten their health.

Elizabeth Cohen and John Bonifield at CNN report on the ferocity and vileness of anti-vaxxers’ attacks on anyone who dares to advocate for vaccinations, even if that someone is a parent who just lost their child to the flu:

Nothing is considered too cruel. Just days after their children died, mothers say anti-vaxers on social media called them whores, the c-word and baby killers. …

Some anti-vaxers told [grieving mother Jill Promoli] she’d murdered [2-year-old] Jude and made up a story about the flu to cover up her crime. Others said vaccines had killed her son. Some called her the c-word.

The worst ones — the ones that would sometimes make her cry — were the posts that said she was advocating for flu shots so that other children would die from the shots and their parents would be miserable like she was.

Read the whole piece, because it gets much worse. For example:

“I hope they stone you to death,” another Facebook user wrote. “I’ll make a special trip to happily watch your head crack. The parents of the children you are destroying should each get a chance. Like a nazi piñata.”

Canada’s Waterloo Region Record worries that there’s not enough being done to counter anti-vaxxers’ propaganda:

…what makes the situation more frightening and surely more dangerous for the entire public is that more and more parents are turning to utterly useless but readily available homeopathic remedies.

No, no no. These parents are wrong if they think they’re protecting their daughters and sons by giving them products such as homeopathic “nosodes” instead of having them inoculated with safe, effective government-approved vaccines.

Italian far-right politician Massimiliano Fedriga is an outspoken opponent of mandated vaccinations, calling them “Stalinist.” He’s been hospitalized with chicken pox. He’s doing fine, and doesn’t appreciate your schadenfreude.

Voice of San Diego reports that there is one single doctor, Dr. Tara Zandvliet, who is responsible for authorizing almost one-third of all the San Diego school district’s medical exemptions to vaccinations. Zandvliet, however, is not anti-vax (she says), but seems to just have a much lower threshold for exemptions, including a family history of allergic reactions.

West Virginia’s attorney general has filed a novel suit against the state’s Catholic diocese: consumer fraud. NYT reports:

The West Virginia approach alleges that the diocese and bishop “knowingly employed pedophiles” at Catholic schools and camps but did not disclose to parents the “danger” of sending their children to these programs, which advertised safe environments. The suit also says that church officials did not conduct adequate background checks for employees of Catholic schools and camps.

“We believe that every parent who paid tuition for a service that falls under consumer protection laws deserves to know the schools their children are attending are safe,” the West Virginia attorney general Patrick Morrisey said in a phone interview. “The church itself advertised that these children would be in a safe environment.”

YouTube removes the account for Resistance News, which was acting as a sort of backup for Alex Jones and Infowars, uploading live streams of Jones’s shows and other conspiracy theory content. This is depressing, via The Verge:

Still, Jones does have a presence on the platform. He appeared on Joe Rogan’s popular podcast, which has been viewed more than 11 million times, making many of the same talking points that he did on his original channel.

Grain of salt required here, but perhaps worth the extra sodium: Studies of a “cold spot” in the radiation produced by the Big Bang could maybe-possibly be an indication of “a collision between our universe and another bubble universe,” according to one of the study’s authors, Tom Shanks:

If further, more detailed, analysis … proves this to be the case then the Cold Spot might be taken as the first evidence for the multiverse.

Quote(s) of the Day

Rep. Devin Nunes is suing Twitter because of “mean tweets” produced by the accounts “Devin Nunes’ Mom” and “Devin Nunes’ Cow.” He best not get his hopes up. Deanna Paul at the Post reports:

According to the complaint, Devin Nunes’ Mom called Nunes a “presidential fluffer and swamp rat,” a statement that is an opinion and, perhaps, an insult, but it’s not factual.

The cow’s account allegedly said that “Devin’s boots are full of manure. He’s udder-ly worthless and its pasture time to move him to prison,” remarks that also would be construed as insults.

But an insult is not an offense in the United States. To be actionable, it must clearly create a threat of violence, and “we know there was no violent result,” [legal expert Stuart] Karle said. “There weren’t riots at Nunes’s events.”

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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.