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User-submitted links and diaries of interest, from Little Green Footballs

Last Build Date: Fri, 09 Sep 2016 16:32:12 PDT

Copyright: Copyright 2018 Little Green Footballs

Alan Jacobs and Albert Mohler Hypocritically Lament Lack of Christian Intellectuals

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 16:32:12 PDT

Direct link to article... [](Because of the length of this Page, it's divided in three sections: first my reaction to a podcast about an essay, then a few more detailed comments on the essay, then some of my thoughts on the real problem.) Religious Fundamentalists Working On the Loss-of-Intellectuals Problem As it's an election year we are greeted with a never ending stream of politically-oriented gatherings, and an annual one of particular repugnance is the Value Voters Summit with its attendant ugliness (e.g. GOHMERT! Religious Conservatives Laugh as Louie Says Hillary Is “Mentally Impaired ). A gathering at which Donald Trump readily participated. The rise of American political movements is of course not new and ugly politics is not new. Yet our society is changing and our social conflicts change with our society, and in the case of the movements that brought us Donald J. Trump a special notice has been given to the intra-faith conflict with respect to Christianity and Donald Trump. However, his followers appear to be immune to detailed discussions about Trump's "values" and what they mean. And they certainly are not in the market to buy whatever an "intellectual" has to say about Trump: Rick Santorum is now noting that only "the intellectuals" in the conservative movement don't support Donald Trump — Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) September 9, 2016 Reply This state of dullness has not gone unnoticed in the book-i-fied corners of American academia and punditry, and in the September 2016 edition of Harper's there appears an article that laments the lack of intellectuals in our public sphere. Not just any intellectuals, but "Christian intellectuals", who could interpret our times is such a manner to address the inaneness that the likes of Trump and his supporters bring. Baylor professor and author Alan Jacobs, who is also an editor at The New Atlantis and contributes articles to The American Conservative, wrote for Harper's the essay The Watchmen - What became of the Christian intellectuals?In response to this article, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler invited Jacobs onto his podcast to discuss the topic of the essay: What Became of the Christian Intellectuals? A Conversation with Professor Alan Jacobs MP3 Audio Listening to the interview and reading Jacob's piece I'm struck about how un-self-aware both of them are. To these people (like Mohler and Jacobs), having skill in language seems to be paramount. (I maintain that religions often get centered around the magick of words and Mohler and Jacobs are unwittingly providing another example - but that is a very long discussion for elsewhere.) Both seem to believe that being able to write lengthy, articulate essays on topics is itself sufficient to given them value to the larger intellectual enterprise in which we humans are engaging. Though professing to define "intellectual" in the Mannheim sense, both misunderstand why today any such intellectual is or is not one, and that it is not based on whether she is "Christian". That is, in contemporary society, while one can be thought of as an "intellectual" who is a Christian, said intellectual can also be Korean, or a surfer, or lactose-intolerant. What Mohler and Jacobs would like to believe, and this is embedded in their discussion and Jacob's writing, is that there is something inherently special in a "Christian intellectual", as if Christian intellectualism is something special in the universe. More striking though is the great irony here. That Alan Jacobs can go on Albert Mohler's podcast and not sense the conflict is an indication that though he laments the loss of "Christian intellectuals" he himself is clueless or dishonest. Mohler, when he took over the lead seminary of the largest Protestant denomination the US, purged from the faculty those who were not correct enough in his eyes. This was not some secret, it was very much in the news. (Also see here for another kerfluffle.) Since this controversy around SBC a[...]

"Locks On Doors" - poem inspired by Fox interview of the Duggars

Fri, 05 Jun 2015 18:48:17 PDT

Direct link to article... []

A poem:

Locks on doors
Brother's sly,
Locks on doors
Baby sis is shy.

Locks on doors
Send them to camp,
Locks on doors
Lena's the true tramp.

Locks on doors
Dad did try,
Locks on doors
Why you make baby Jesus cry?

A Warning Against Seasonal Arboricide: Treevenge

Sat, 13 Dec 2014 19:05:20 PST

Direct link to article... []

For all of you who practice your seasonal aboricidal traditions, a warning:


"Ever thought about how bad it would suck to be a tree during the Christmas season? This wildly bloody and ingeniously insane short from HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN filmmakers Jason Eisener and Rob Cotterill shines light on the forgotten victims of the holidays. Prepare to have your Yuletides yacked!"

-Mitch Davis


-Honorable Mention (for Shorts) @ Sundance Film Festival
-2008 International Watch List
-Audience Award for Best Short Film @ New York City Horror Film Fest
-Best Local Film @ The Coast Magazine (Halifax)
-Audience Award for Best Short Film @ Toronto After Dark Festival
-Audience Award for Best Short Film @ Fantasia Film Festival (Montreal, QC)
-Best Editing @ Atlantic Film Festival (Halifax, NS)
-Best Short Film @ Fantastic Fest Online (Austin, TX)
-Audience Award for Best Short Film @ San Francisco Independent Film Festival
-Rue Morgue Magazine - Best Short Film
-Boston Underground Film Festival - Best of the Fest Short Film
-A Night of Horror Film Fest - Best SPFX (Sydney, Oz)
-RINCON Film Fest - Best Fright Night Film (Puerto Rico)

Academics Ask: Do Non-Citizens Vote in U.S. Elections? (Answer - Yes)

Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:55:47 PDT

Direct link to article... []

Warning - be prepared for a mountain of derp over this one:

First, the published paper by Jesse T. Richman, Gulshan A. Chattha, and David C. Earnest:

Do non-citizens vote in U.S. elections?

• First use of representative sample to measure non-citizen voting in USA.
• Some non-citizens cast votes in U.S. elections despite legal bans.
• Non-citizens favor Democratic candidates over Republican candidates.
• Non-citizen voting likely changed 2008 outcomes including Electoral College votes and the composition of Congress.
• Voter photo-identification rules have limited effect on non-citizen participation.

In spite of substantial public controversy, very little reliable data exists concerning the frequency with which non-citizen immigrants participate in United States elections. Although such participation is a violation of election laws in most parts of the United States, enforcement depends principally on disclosure of citizenship status at the time of voter registration. This study examines participation rates by non-citizens using a nationally representative sample that includes non-citizen immigrants. We find that some non-citizens participate in U.S. elections, and that this participation has been large enough to change meaningful election outcomes including Electoral College votes, and Congressional elections. Non-citizen votes likely gave Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress.

They just conveniently happen to have an article in the WaPo today:

Could non-citizens decide the November election?

I won't cut out paragraphs to highlight as the whole thing ought to be read.

Here's the first thing I notice - no where do the authors state that the non-citizens are here illegally. The non-citizens could well be legal residents (and in their countries of birth legal residents there may have some voting rights and thus they might assume likewise here.)

Secondly, the authors admit that the data sample is small.

Because of that, I think it is irresponsible of them to speculate that the key Senate votes were influenced by these non-citizen voters.

Anyway, consider yourselves forewarned - you will be beaten over the head with this paper by your local xenophobes.

In the WaPo article they suggest that the Minnesota US senate outcome was indeed decided by non-citizen votes. In other words, Franken would not have been elected if the non-citizens had not voted.

This is major fuel for the xenophobic hate-right. Expect a full on voter ID effort, nationally.

Even though the authors point out that non-citizen voters already likely had IDs and used them, so having an ID didn't stop them.

To me the issue comes down to registering to vote, not putting up hurdles at the polls themselves.

Then again, since half of eligible citizens don't bother to vote, I'm not sure what sort of moral ground that half could stand on, if they bother to complain about non-citizens voting.

Science Academies, Once Again, Present Evidence for Climate Change

Thu, 27 Feb 2014 01:54:19 PST

Direct link to article... []Another noble but likely futile effort by our intelligentsia: SCIENCE ACADEMIES EXPLAIN GLOBAL WARMING REALITY Man-made global warming is worsening and will disrupt both the natural world and human society, warns a joint report of two of the world's leading scientific organizations. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, which is the national scientific academy of the United Kingdom, are releasing an unusual plain language report on climate change that addressed 20 issues in a question-and-answer format. [...] The NAS report goes along with this live webcast Thursday: A Discussion on Climate Change: Evidence and Causes Here's the PDF of the full report: Here's the catechism sub-set: The short version, only 8 pages: Here is the link to the Royal Society page: Climate Change - Evidence and Causes Some reflections of own: I expect Fox to roll out Krauthammer to dismiss it all as liberal propaganda, or some similar response from the usual suspects in the know-nothing industry. Yet the tangled wrestling over climate change as an existential problem is not limited to the know-nothings of the American paleo/neo/libertarian-conservative political punditry. The following is an example of what I consider an important social phenomenon regarding climate change and why our noble intelligentsia (and I use the phrase only mildly snarkily) have such a small effect on what our society is doing about AGW (and other matters): Reporter addresses climate change Justin Gillis, an environmental reporter for The New York Times, said at a lecture in Hesburgh Library on Wednesday that he wants to awaken people to the urgency of the climate change. But the reality is, according to the human experience, climate change is not "urgent". Indeed, the next paragraph goes on: Gillis, one of only six American reporters covering the climate crisis full-time defined climate change as "a big, slow-moving, long-term problem." Without trying to sound too pedantic, for someone to declare an issue as "urgent" in one breath and then in the next describe it as "slow-moving, long-term" - then that person is incoherent. What is happening in the Crimea right now is "urgent", by human standards. Gillis is all too easy an example of what I'll label as the well intended but not quite self-aware 21st century American "progressive". There is a real crevasse between an idealized world and our material world. In an ideal world knowledge should lead to a rational action, in this particular case one of self-preservation. Yet the problem with Homo sapiens, one of many, is that our actions cause effects that far, far out live us. If our actions are based, as evidence supports, on near term perceived risks and rewards, then "slow-moving, long-term" climate change will not have much of an influence on any single human's behavior. This conundrum is not a new revelation, but there are factions of the American progressive community that seem quite hesitant to discuss this openly. I suspect there are deeper motivations here, about the human need to keep our fears in the closets of our mind. Climate change will prove to be an existential threat to some species currently on this planet. Whether that includes our own is not clear to me, but I am convinced we, collectively, have little intent to mitigate against these possibilities.[...]

The World Will Get Warmer: Study Illuminates When Variability Will No Longer Be Cover for Denialists

Wed, 09 Oct 2013 11:48:36 PDT

Direct link to article... []

(image) The Year of Climate Departure for World Cities

Climate change is a subject now burdened with political baggage to such an extent that in many nations political action is stifled, as here in the United States, yet the planet's surface does not care about human politics and will continue to change, among which the surface average temperatures will get warmer.

How much warmer? Even more importantly, when will the temperature change get so noticeable as to affect everyday life?

Published today (9 Oct 2013) in Nature is a study on when the mean temperature around the world will regularly surpass the observed surface temperatures since regular observations started (about the mid 19th century)

The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability

Ecological and societal disruptions by modern climate change are critically determined by the time frame over which climates shift beyond historical analogues. Here we present a new index of the year when the projected mean climate of a given location moves to a state continuously outside the bounds of historical variability under alternative greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. Using 1860 to 2005 as the historical period, this index has a global mean of 2069 (±18 years s.d.) for near-surface air temperature under an emissions stabilization scenario and 2047 (±14 years s.d.) under a 'business-as-usual' scenario. Unprecedented climates will occur earliest in the tropics and among low-income countries, highlighting the vulnerability of global biodiversity and the limited governmental capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change. Our findings shed light on the urgency of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions if climates potentially harmful to biodiversity and society are to be prevented.

While the paper itself is behind a pay wall, there is a summary article on the Nature website: Climate Change Gets Clocked : Nature News & Comment


"Very soon, extreme events will become the norm," says lead author Camilo Mora, an environmental researcher at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Because temperatures in the tropics vary little between seasons, even a slight increase in the average temperature could lead to unprecedented conditions -- with negative consequences for ecosystems that are home to much of the world's biodiversity. Many tropical nations also have limited economic capacity to adapt or otherwise respond to such threats.


The researchers at the Univ. of Hawaii have a website that summarizes their findings: The timing of new climates at which one can find the paper, graphics, supporting information, and also an interactive map that allows one to select your favorite local, to find what the models used by the team estimate for that local.

Yes, it will get warmer.

Climate Science: Rising Tide - The Complexities of Sea Level

Wed, 18 Sep 2013 16:40:00 PDT

Direct link to article... []SciAm online republishes a Nature short article from yesterday: Climate science: Rising tide The world's leading climate scientists kicked up a storm in 2007, when they issued their best estimates of how quickly the oceans would swell as the globe warms. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected that sea levels would rise by somewhere between 18 and 59 centimetres by the last decade of this century -- an upper limit that seemed far too low to other scientists, given the pace of melting in Greenland and other changes. "We were hugely criticized for being too conservative," says Jerry Meehl, a climate modeller at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado and one of the authors of the IPCC's 2007 report. The panel had previously projected much higher rates of sea-level rise, but its 2007 assessment admitted that it could not tackle the entire problem: the predictions did not include the possibility of rapid changes in ice cover in Greenland or the Antarctic because the authors had concluded that it was impossible to forecast such behaviour with the knowledge and models then available. Yet as early as 2009, it was clear that real sea-level rise was on pace to exceed the 2007 projections2. [...] I will quibble with some parts of the article, and if I had more time I would quibble more, for example the writer does a poor job explaining how gravity works on sea levels, but the over-all point is that projecting sea level rise is difficult. Perhaps the article goes overboard, in a boffin-esque way, of describing the issues so that the lay reader, if they are so inclined, will walk away with the idea that scientists don't really know what they are talking about. For example, the use of "admitted" by the Nature author in referencing the sea level disclaimer in the 2007 IPCC report. This type of language use harkens back to the "Climategate" faux-scandal. When scientists use disclaimers the connotation is not the same as that in public writing and mass media writings about, say, a trial or a politician's scandal. I am concerned that these type of articles themselves never seem quite up to date, or lack sufficient technical details of climate change. For example, the article mentions: Trends in local sea level can differ strongly from the global average, which is increasing by around 3.2 millimetres per year. "Some places, sea-level rise is ten times faster than the average," says Jerry Mitrovica, a geophysicist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. These kind of observations, while complex in their causes, can be illustrated rather directly, as by the Univ. of Colorado Sea Level Research Group: Global Mean Sea Level Time Series Communicating science to the general public is difficult because by definition specialists (such as physical oceanographers, glaciologists, and climatologists) have expertise that the general public does not have and bridging that gap can seem too daunting. Much press is given to sea level rise in mass media debates over climate change policy, and overall the impression I get is that this issue has little purchase in the polity of American society (as with most people around the world.) In the upcoming UNFCCC gathering in a couple of months we will hear from island nations who are very concerned about centimeters of sea level rise, but the average American is not going to be concerned about these matters, and our politics reflect that. I remain doubtful that the for-profit media (of which Nature Publish Group is an example) will ever be able to find a way to describe accurately and comprehensively a field like climatology to an audience large enough to prove viable for the publishing company. The audience is small for highly technical writing. This is why sensationalism on climate change rules the day in media. [...]

Creationism Turkey-style: Adnan Oktar and his Kittens of Creation

Mon, 03 Jun 2013 22:45:33 PDT

Direct link to article... []Long has LGF discussed creationism, including the Turkish variant led by one Adnan Oktar (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) Adnan Oktar continues to evolve his operation, polishing his presentation and exploits the same television production techniques one usually sees in, say, a Rupert Murdoch operation. PRI's The World contributor Matthew Brunwasser picks up the latest: The Barbie-Like Women of Turkey's Creationist TV Turkey’s Islamic creationist guru Adnan Oktar is a regular fixture on his TV channel A9 – for hours and hours, day after day. Today, as he often does, Oktar is talking about one of his many exhibitions of fossils that he says disproves evolution. Oktar and his cult-like organization have been in the Turkish media space for decades. But only last year did he deploy his new weapon in the battle against Darwinism. A flock of ostensibly attractive, curvy young women. The “kittens,” as he calls them, call him “master” and generally guffaw at the right moments and nod their heads in agreement with whatever he says. Some of the women have their own programs in which they also “debunk” evolution, among other things. [...] Listen to the whole audio report: YouTube To get an idea of what these television presenters of Oktar's are like, here's a group shot of some of the "kittens" of creationism (hmmm... that sounds like a name of a girl-band), courtesy of Turkish twitter user ebru_altan:Tweets by @ebru_altan_ Brunwasser continues: Indeed. When Oktar and his voluptuous Ed McMahons aren’t trying to rid the world of Darwinism and radical Islam, they have fun too. Like when they “dance” to the latest hits, without getting out of their chairs. "Indeed" indeed - here is an example from last fall: If you're interested in the current roster of pin-ups creationist proponents, you can check them out on Oktar's own network site, but I've taken a screen capture of their current "Other Talk Programs" hosts: Oktar's A9 Kittens Who knew creationism could be so sexy?[...]

Useful Genetics - Free Open Course at Coursera starting May 1

Thu, 02 May 2013 22:24:53 PDT

Direct link to article... []

For anyone interested in genetics who desires to know more, Coursera is offering a short, 10 week class that started yesterday, May 1, but the good news is that you can still sign up for it:

Useful Genetics

I think you can sign up till next week, when Module 2 begins, but hurry because Coursera does close classes after a while.

Here's a brief video introducing the class:

The Coursera sales pitch:

Who might want to take this course?

People affected by or concerned about a genetic disease (either directly or in a family member)

People interested in the genetic diversity of humans or other species

People who have had (or are considering having) their genes or genomes analyzed by companies such as 23andMe or DecodeMe

People concerned about the public use of personal genetic information

People interested in breeding animals or plants, or in in conservation of endangered species

People interested in genealogy and ancestry analysis

Science teachers

Anyone interested in genetics but unable to enroll in university at this time

Looking at the first module's videos, the class should be appropriate for anyone interested in the topic and college prerequisites are not required. However, this is still a class presented at the college freshman level (the kind offered for non-majors), and there is plenty of detailed information in the lectures and notes, so you should be prepared to spend a few hours a week viewing and reading.

Here's the introduction to the Module 1 videos:

You're never too old to learn!

Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger break kayfabe to educate, taunt wingnut Glenn Beck

Sun, 24 Feb 2013 16:41:19 PST

Direct link to article... []

Ever since WWE introduced the "Zeb Colter" character a couple of weeks ago there has been outcry from the American right wing about the alleged persecution of their beliefs.

As summarized today in the Miami Herald:

WWE’s Zeb Colter, Jack Swagger causing quite the mainstream stir


WWE Monday Night Raw commentators Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler joked that Colter and Swagger receive “fan mail” from conservative radio talk show hosts Glenn Beck, Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh.

Though it is a scripted angle on a television show — something WWE’s been doing for decades — Beck criticized WWE and its fan base for this latest storyline.

WWE extended an invitation to the talk show host and political commentator to appear live this Monday on Raw (8 p.m. EST, USA Network) in response to the Beck segment that aired on TheBlaze TV on Thursday. According to WWE, in the segment, Beck references WWE as “stupid wrestling people,” when criticizing that recent WWE storyline involving Del Rio, Colter and Swagger.


Ironically, the name Colter is similar to Coulter as in Ann Coulter, a real-life outspoken conservative who has supported the Tea Party (sometimes).

Coulter, a well-known political pundit, was anti-Linda McMahon during her run for Senate in Connecticut. McMahon, the wife of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, was a high ranking executive with WWE before venturing into the political arena.

Ann Coulter is an outspoken conservative who can rile a crowd. Zeb Colter is an outspoken conservative who can rile a crowd.

Zeb Colter also has some Ted Nugent tendencies. Nugent, a rock-n-roll musician, is another strong conservative, who when bearded Colter resembles. Isn’t Nugent a WWE fan?


AFAIK, Beck has turned down the WWE offer.

Here's the latest video, in which the Zeb and Jack characters have to break kayfabe in order to explain to Beck's audience what is going on:

“Are you out of touch with your audience, Glenn?” I wonder how far WWE will be willing to go in taunting Beck?

It's pretty bad when wrestling characters have to break the fourth wall in order to explain themselves to the wingnuts.