We All Die, Probably

February 3, 2020

This week is going to be too much. CBS News reporter Kathryn Watson tweeted this:

Sunday night: Super Bowl
Monday: Senate trial
Monday night: Iowa caucuses
Tuesday: Senate trial
Tuesday night: State of the Union
Wednesday afternoon: Senate conviction/acquittal vote
Friday night: Another Democratic debate

And then:

Saturday: We all die, probably

She doesn’t even mention that before the Superb Owl flapped its wings and rotated its head, the great sorcerer of Punxsutawney, the groundhog known as “Phil,” used his magic powers to ensure that spring comes early this year.

(Okay, now dig this segue.) And just like Bill Murray was trapped in a time loop in Groundhog Day, some Travel Channel ghost hunters are rescuing people from “ghost loops,” which are an “endless and repetitive type of haunting.” Based on Kenny Biddle’s report at Skeptical Inquirer, I’m gonna say the only thing endless and repetitive here is the Ghost Loop show itself.

The law that eliminated belief-based exemptions to mandated vaccines in Maine (that even I got off my misanthropic butt to advocate for) is up for repeal in a ballot referendum, and Gov. Janet Mills is using the coronavirus as an example of why vaccines are so freaking important. Stop a moment and despair that this is an argument that even needs to be made. The Press Herald reports:

Mills said a group campaigning to overturn Maine’s new vaccination law, which passed by a single vote in the state Senate in 2019, is using misleading tactics by suggesting “Big Pharma” is behind the law. Mills said the large pharmaceutical companies “hardly benefit at all from producing vaccines.”

“And in trying to target so-called Big Pharma, whom nobody really likes, their campaign is purposefully trying to conflate vaccinations with other issues like the opioid epidemic when these issues are distinctly different,” Mills said. “Don’t buy it.”

The far-right blog Zero Hedge was banned from Twitter after publishing misinformation about the coronavirus, falsely accusing a Chinese scientist of creating the virus and releasing his personal information.

Facebook, meanwhile, says it will try and remove misinformation about the virus, and let users know if something they are reading about it is false. I have no confidence in this.

Barbara Ellen at The Guardian says that while Paltrow and Goop are a problem, there are bigger fish to steam. I mean fry. Ahem:

For all that some of us recoil at the excesses of Goop (I will doubtless thrash about on my deathbed, hallucinating and screaming: “No, Gwynnie, please don’t steam my vagina!”), is anyone actively being misled? Goop is clear that it covers “emerging topics that may be unsupported by science”. That it sells fantasy, entertainment, indulgence, diversion – as opposed to, say, a fully functioning A&E department. Arguably the saving grace of the Zen hard sell of Goop is its modicum of self-awareness; it knows it has naff all to do with health. It’s just a wellness brand – expecting it to hold to scientific/medical criteria is like expecting a lip gloss to do a handstand.

An advocate for victims of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse of children, Shaun Dougherty, is now running for the Pennsylvania state senate. A victim of abuse himself, he says:

Everybody asks what’s healing. Everyone heals in different ways and healing is different to everyone. That’s powerful healing for me. The separation of church and state is important. If I get to cast a vote along with all the other votes that I would cast over a four-year term, it would be an honor. A true, true honor.

Servicemembers at Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island were encouraged by the base chaplain to attend a 12-week discussion series called “Lead Like Jesus,” and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is calling for an investigation. The AP reports:

Martin France, a retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general and a member of the organization’s advisory board, said in an email to Johnson that discussions titled “Lead like Mohammed” or “Atheist Leadership” would not be tolerated.

Seriously.

Behold the torrent of wrongness that is the Intelligent Design movement, still willfully ignorant after all these years. The Christian Post sifts through its tenacious ashes.

Tom Steyer was asked by Jack Jenkins about the whole “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” thing, and I thought Steyer’s answer was actually pretty clever:

Maybe I won’t be rich when I die. Have you considered that possibility?

He’s talking about his “giving pledge,” to give away most of his wealth to good causes. Here’s a bit more of his thinking on God and religion:

I always say to people, you’ve got to find the positive life force. You can do it your way. I get to do it my way, but you don’t have a choice about whether to do that. I mean, we’re all supposed to be here, making the earth better and helping each other out and leaving the earth a better place and people better off. […] if you believe there’s (a) God, could you really believe that he, she, however you describe God, is really only going to save one tribe in the Middle East? Really? Is that possible? I mean, think about it. No.

Frank Bruni at the Times notes how the historic nature of Pete Buttigieg’s campaign, whatever you think of him, is somewhat overlooked:

… as he wrapped up a rally here on Thursday night, with the clock ticking down fast to the Iowa caucuses, he made soaring, stirring mention of it. You remembered. … [H]e alluded to Iowa’s legalization of gay marriage in 2009, six years before that happened nationally, and how it gave him hope that he might someday “be a happily married man.” The crowd roared. I had one foot out the door — it had been a long, long day — and I stopped in my tracks. As a gay man and an American, I felt a surge of pride.

Now let’s deflate some pride, as we hear the Church of England apologize-but-not-really for saying only heterosexual married couples should ever have sex. The Guardian reports:

The archbishops’ statement did not retract the substance of the “pastoral guidance” issued by the bishops, but implied it should not have been issued while the C of E is in the midst of a review of its teaching on sexuality and marriage. …

… The archbishops’ statement said: “We as archbishops, alongside the bishops of the Church of England, apologise and take responsibility for releasing a statement last week which we acknowledge has jeopardised trust. We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused.

And now to really stamp out your hope, there’s a truly evil bill in South Dakota that would outlaw same-sex marriage, permanently legalize pseudoscientific “gay-conversion” therapy, ban any legal recognition of transgender identification, and prohibit any measures to stop anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

In Mississippi, State Rep. Jill Ford begins her legislative career by trying to force public school kids to recite the Lord’s Prayer every single goddamned day. I bet you it passes.

This is sort of shocking: 20 people died in a stampede at a Tanzanian ministry when a crowd of worshipers rushed to be anointed with some kind of holy oil by preacher Boniface Mwamposa.

Look, folks. These are the facts, according to conspiracy theorist Chris McDonald, who lives in front of a green screen in a cable-access-era time bubble: Hillary Clinton is a literal witch, Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people were horrifically killed in a helicopter crash, so therefore, Hillary Clinton used her demon-magic to kill Kobe Bryant. Q.E.D.

Jack Phillips, the guy who hates gays so much he went to the Supreme Court to make sure he’d never have to make them a cake, is publishing a memoir. As NewNowNext put it, “Thanks, I already hate it.”


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