Palin wins hearts – boggles minds

Amazingly, it seems that despite the sheer force of nonsense in her, ahem, speeches, Sarah Palin has won some supporters. No, I cant understand it either.

Reading the comments on the entertaining Guardian piece I linked to previously, shows there are some people with an interesting take on reality. I will try to provide links to the comments but Heather has informed me this doesn’t seem to be working.

For some reason, there are a lot of Americans reading British newspapers [see Heathers Post] and then feeling the need to wade in when ever the Republican party is mentioned. Nearly all are so rabidly anti-Obama it is quite funny. Even funnier are the ones who say we should mind our own business and no one in America cares what we think. The irony is fantastic, and only matched by their ignorance of it.

Anyway, on the current stream of conciousness, which is at least on the American Comment pages… I am aware my recent posts have been long, so I will only look at two funny comments here:

The first s by the very American sounding “JohnQPublic” who writes:

No honest person would have described this debate as anything other than a draw in which both candidates states many falsehoods as truths and didn’t answer the questions posed. No one sets the cause of equal rights for women further back than do self-described feminists.

Well, I am hurt that John Q Public thinks I am dishonest, but in all fairness nothing Biden could have done would have been either as offensive or just plain wrong as Palin. To say she “drew” with him is comical. Bastet only knows what the second sentence refers to…

The second is by the also-American-sounding “FreedomLand.” This one is so good, I’m going to have to take it a bit at a time:

Ahh, is this the male misogynist blog? Opps, no, its written by a woman! Perhaps an Obama-phile in disguise. “The Ring” attacks again, duh…..

The “ring” bit has lost me, however the opening gambit speaks volumes. It is a twist of appeal to ridicule mixed with ad-hominems. It says nothing of value and adds nothing to FreedomLand’s arguments – it does highlight a lack thereof.

For some reason, it has become quite common for a certain type of person to misspell “oops” as “opps” – check out how many times you can see it on FSTDT. It certainly takes the sting out of this attempt at an insult though.

[comment about Palin getting off lightly] No, you are quite wrong, Michelle Goldberg, Barack Obama has been doing precisely that all year. Along comes a woman with executive experience in government and you assume the rules should change to pillory her to your satisfaction.

Choke. Wow. There are loads of people who bang on about how Palin has more experience than Obama. I find it quite weird to be honest, but most worryingly, if she does have “experience” why in Hades’ name does she come across as an ignorant retard every time she sees a camera? If she has “executive experience” where in Asgard is she hiding it?

Palin gets away with murder in front of the public. People hold back on savaging her because it seems a touch unchivalrous and, honestly, it is like kicking a puppy. She is, on the whole, too easy a target to fully ridicule – even here we hold back because so many things just seem to obvious and cruel as she is blatantly educationally subnormal.

You also forgot to mention that her husband is at least part native American Eskimo. What does it mean for a white woman to be married to an indigenous ethnic minority in the USA? Quite a lot really…..

What? A lot of what? The article also forgets to mention she has ten fingers and two ears… Is this a weird implication that Palin gets the “race” vote because she is married to a Native American? Have you seen Obama? I am really confused by this rant.

[comment on her performance being a farce] Well, this IS politics as it is, you know. Its a popularity contest decided by the lowest common denominator in society and usually on the most superficial grounds. Its the same for women candidates as it is for men.

Oh that makes it OK then? Vote for Palin because she is an idiot who appeals to other idiots.

Isn’t America a great place?

I am rapidly trying to convert my urge to emigrate to the US into an emigration to New Zealand

One discoverer of double-helix turns out to be fool

Happy Jihad’s House of Pancakes (which has some almost painfully funny posts, like this on Beowulf, and some generally sparkling use of language) quoted Answers in Genesis on the racist garbage reported as having come from the mouth of (Mr DNA) Watson.

What is perhaps most notable is that despite the flak from other scientists, Watson is being entirely true to his atheistic, Darwinist beliefs.

This got me frothing with righteous rage, as nothing has since – well – yesterday, probably. I am going to say this once, despite my desire to repeat it infinitely. But I ‘ll use Bold and caps. Just in case, it’s not clear.


It is science in the same way that crystal aura therapy is medicine.*

Everyone on the planet is of mixed genetic heritage.

However, the human race seems to have indeed originated in Africa, which makes us all genetically African. Which is obviously a problem for Watson, because that includes him in the allegedly less intelligent section of humankind. (Along with, oh I don’t know, 100% of the human species.)

Watson’s adherence to a completely stupid belief system (the unfounded belief that there are races and that there are better and worse ones) does not relate to his atheism. Nor even to his so-called “Darwinism” (which I will take as referring to his recognition of the evidence for evolution, as I am unaware that Darwin devised a philosophical system.)

Wingnut daily took evident delight in drawing a connection between Watson’s casual Jade-Goody-style racism and his failure to believe in God. As if they somehow reflected on atheism itself, in conceptual contrast to the rainbow-coloured-group-hug gathering of brothers and sisters in Christ. As if atheism breeds racism…..

It’s therefore worth pointing quite how recently the US religious right became anti-racists. There was virtual apartheid in the Southern States until the 1960s. And it didn’t go quietly either.

*Unnecessary footnote to spell this out but I’m going to anyway. Just in case someone like Watson ever reads this:

Think “human race.” In this case, the word “race” means “species” – an abhorrent connotation when it’s carried over subliminally into the whole discourse of “race” to refer to … well, what? What else does “race” mean. It would have to have a definable meaning, surely, if Watson believes it can be used in “scientific” experiments to measure “intelligence” (and since when have we had valid cross-cultural measures of that?)

As a concept, “race” has a relatively short and murky history. It was developed, as an ideology, in support of the genocide of the native population of the Americas and, above all, the Atlantic Slave Trade – in order to appease the consciences of the societies that profited, by inventing categories of human beings who could be considered less than human. The idea of race was further refined through centuries of European colonial expansion.

(The Romans had slaves who were mainly Northern Europeans. They characterised all non-Romans as barbarians, i.e. not fully civilised human beings. This [seeing people you are oppressing as not really beings human] seems to go with the slavery territory. However, it wasn’t full-blown racism. Maybe you need pseudo-science to underpin that.)

From the European perspective, “race” got a pseudo-scientific gloss, in Victorian times, along with lots of other wierd pseudo-science concepts about human beings, like phrenology or Lombroso’s identification of criminals by their facial features.

Racist ideas were thus conveniently placed to support the full-blown era of European colonialism in Africa, in the later years of the 19th century. In the 1930s, as colonialism was falling apart, “race” appeared as part of the odious concept of eugenics, which, of course, found its full expression under the Nazis.

In the USA, false concepts of race were used to “justify” slavery and post-slavery Jim Crow laws until the mid-1960s.

Racism seems to have two main flavours: the monochrome (blacks/whites) version or a graduated scale (e.g. the brazilian version with seemingly dozens of distinctions between moreno and louro).

Trying to treat this hateful concept with some undeserved respect, at best it could be seen as a shorthand to describe varying collections of physical and ethnic characteristics. Hence, the Victorian English were able to conceive of the Irish as a different race, on the basis of a slightly greater statistical preponderance of red hair, a different accent, a potato-heavy diet and an adherence to the catholic religion.

The very fact that races cannot be defined outside of culture should be a clue to the purely cultural nature of the construct of race.

Racial definitions continue to manifest themselves very differently throughout the world. In the US, you are racially black if you have even one distant African ancestor. Americans who would be considered unquestionably white in Africa are considered unquestionably black in the US. Do they gain or lose IQ points according to their surroundings?

More on Alice Shannon

I have mentioned this in the past, but reading the excellent Planet Atheism feed today highlighted a new take on it.

A post titled “Not all news is bad” Sacred Slut revists some of the issues and points out the Clarion was “tricked” by who ever posted the hate screed letter – obviously “Alice” doesn’t live in the Clarion’s catchment area…

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Too Stupid For Words

Well, I was going to leave the Virginia Tech tragedy and not mention it again, but the sheer idiocy demonstrated by good old Debbie Schlussel can not be missed out! This blog has mentioned Ms Schlussel in the past, so I am sure you can imagine what wonderful comments she is coming out with now.

On that delightful part of the blogosphere which is her blog, Ms Schlussel was very quick off the mark with “updates” about the Virginia Tech shooting. Obviously being quick was more important than having anything but the most approximate relationship with reality. She has a post titled “Who is the ‘Asian’ Mass Murderer at Virginia Tech? UPDATE: Shooter is S. KOREAN w/Student Visa” and within it, is a seething pool of woo, nonsense and racial hatred. It is almost comical.

The sheer volume of bile and nonsense on this blog post is surprising, and makes it reasonably difficult for me to pick what bits I will repost here. Please, check out her blog (especially the comments) and see for yourself the reality. Some highlights, in time order are:

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DNA and Race

PLoS ONE, an open source way of publishing science and medicine studies and research, has an interesting article about the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of people on the Melanesian Islands.

It may not be all that good news for Young Earth Creationists though, as this study looks at the islands which were settled 40,000 years ago – more than thirty thousand years before God created the Earth. Also, it may help to undermine the concept of significant racial differences between people from different continents. It appears this group of people are among the most genetically diverse in the world, with variations being based on the size of their home island and the language they speak. This is from the abstract:

Melanesian populations are known for their diversity, but it has been hard to grasp the pattern of the variation or its underlying dynamic. Using 1,223 mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences from hypervariable regions 1 and 2 (HVR1 and HVR2) from 32 populations, we found the among-group variation is structured by island, island size, and also by language affiliation. The more isolated inland Papuan-speaking groups on the largest islands have the greatest distinctions, while shore dwelling populations are considerably less diverse (at the same time, within-group haplotype diversity is less in the most isolated groups). (Friedlaender JS et al. (2007) Melanesian mtDNA Complexity. PLoS ONE 2(2): e248. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000248)

As the differences from one island to the next are quite large here, it seems somewhat trivial to try and identify differences between one continent and the next as being significant. Eat that Jade Goody.