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I think all organized religion is stupid — I mean, if there is a God, why can’t he just talk to us directly? I mean, pick up a phone, goddammit! What, His fingers are too fat for his outdated flip-phone? Maybe He needs to update to a Jitterbug, sheesh.

The moment you got someone who says he’s speaking for God, I gotta say bullshit — any omnipotent deity has no need of a mere *human* to speak for him. I mean, what’s the point of “omnipotent” if you can’t just say to all your peeps, “hey, Dave, this is God, how ya doin’ today?” “Oh fine, God. Oh yeah, it’s getting kinda warm down here, can you, like, cool things off a bit?” “I’m sorry, Dave, but you guys need to quit trashing my planet, I’m not doing a thing until then because you’d just undo it.” “That sucks!” “It’s that whole free will thing, Dave. You chose it, so you got what you chose.” And do that simultaneously for all 9 billion or so people ’cause omnipotent and infinite, yo.

One reason I respect the Quakers is that their “church” services consist of them being quiet and waiting for God to speak to them, instead of some asswipe getting up in front of the congregation and claiming to speak for God. Never heard of anybody actually hearing God talk to them at those meetings, but hey, it could happen, I suppose. At least they have the common sense to know that an omnipotent God doesn’t need some asswipe to speak for Him, He can do His own talking. If only the rest of the religions around were sane enough to make that logical leap. (Well, maybe the Unitarians do, but I’m not really sure they’re a religion rather than a social club anyhow).

— Badtux the Heretical Penguin

Here’s a list of every single autism case caused by vaccines:

.

Oh wait, there aren’t any.

The only study claiming a connection was later found to be fraudulent, the doctor who conducted it had his medical license stripped, and the journal that published it publicly apologized and retracted it. This fraudulent study was the *only* study that ever found a link between vaccines and autism. The only one. Every other study which attempted to find a link, couldn’t find one. Yet there are still people who believe that because *one* study that nobody else was ever able to replicate found a link, there’s a link. Uhm, no. That’s not how science works. Especially when the one study turned out to be fraudulent.

Making any claims about the cause of autism right now is ridiculous, because we don’t even know what makes people autistic. When I was teaching special education classes I spent a significant amount of time both interacting with autistic children and reading the then-latest research on autism. What I found was that the definition of autism was descriptive — a child exhibiting a certain set of behaviors was defined as autistic — and that science had only speculation as the the causes of that set of behaviors that boiled down to “sensory processing deficits” (which they concluded based upon brain studies comparing autistic vs “normal” children upon being exposed to various stimuli). After I left teaching they later lumped in Asperger’s with autism and redefined the whole thing as “autism spectrum disorder”, because from what they can tell the sensory processing deficits that are hypothesized as the main trait of autism occurred in both sets of people, just in differing degrees.

It’s still unclear why processing happens differently in autistic kids, and so we get all this woo around it. There are no obvious structural differences between the brains of autistic kids and the brains of normal kids, but for some reason different parts of the brain light up in response to stimuli between the two sets of kids (autistic and control group). The notion that we understand why this happens and thus can determine a cause for why this happens is laughable and doesn’t at all match up with any actual research into the biological causes of autism. We’re better at describing the behavioral traits of autism and diagnosing autism than we used to be, but still no better at understanding what it actually is on a biological level.

– Badtux the Science Penguin

The word “socialist” is pretty much meaningless nowadays. It’s been used to describe everything from Medicare to the U.S. Postal Service to a requirement to buy insurance before driving your car to the Interstate Highway System. Its meaning nowadays appears to be “anything that Republicans don’t like.”

That’s one reason why I like the term “Social Democrat”, which is an actual party in most European countries. It clarifies that we’re talking about democracy, not about totalitarianism, and it helps clarify that social democrats believe in social insurance, not in the government owning the means of production. That is, social democrats believe that government has a responsibility as an insurer of last resort when people’s problems become such that either the free market cannot meet their needs or they can no longer take care of themselves. Housing subsidies, Medicare, etc., are all social insurance programs. As versus the government owning a car company for more than the brief amount of time needed to flip it to a new owner when the old owner went bankrupt. Government should not be in the business of owning car companies, steel factories, etc. because government lacks the feedback mechanisms to properly match supply and demand or fulfill people’s different needs. But making sure that people have the minimum needed to keep them alive and participating in our society while providing shared infrastructure like roads and fire protection is well within the remit of what is reasonable and proper for government to do, and is exactly what the term “Social Democrat” encompasses in countries like Germany.

For some reason, however, the term “social democrat” seems to be a term that hasn’t caught on here in the United States. Baffling.

— Badtux the Social Democrat Penguin

By 1939 the Nazis had opened multiple concentration camps and were filling them with political opponents and ethnic minorities such as Jews and Roma. And Republicans were whining that FDR was being mean to those Nazis, that if we only tried to reach out to them and meet them halfway, we could resolve all this unpleasantness between us.

To which I say: Bullshit. Once a party starts putting people into concentration camps, the time for talking is over. The time to remove them from power begins.

As it was then, so it is now. There are those who say we should reach out to the people who are putting innocent kids into concentration camps without trial (remember, in the US system, innocent until proven guilty, and lack of a trial means they’re innocent). Bullshit. Trying to reach out to the kind of people who put kids into concentration camps is pointless. They have already shown that they have no moral compass and that any attempt to appeal to their moral center will fail. At this point the only thing to is the same thing that was done in 1941-1945 with that other group of people who put innocents into concentration camps without trial: Remove them from power.

Luckily, here in the USA we have this thing called the *vote* which hopefully results in less bloodshed than the last time we had to do this….

– Badtux the “Can’t argue morality with immoral people” Penguin

So, Julian Assange has been arrested and turned over to the U.S. government on a now-unsealed indictment. Julian Assange is a legend in his own mind who is fundamentally an agent of the Russian government. His participation in the election of the Giant Orange Rage Toddler is just one of the things he did that I detest. His participation on the Russian operation against Hillary Clinton is now incontrovertible. He is a tool.

The thing is, it’s not illegal to be an agent of the Russian government. I’ve read the indictment now, and it’s all nonsense. It accuses him of encouraging Chelsea Manning to hack U.S. government computers, and it claims Assange received an encrypted password hash from Manning (but not that he sent a decrypted password back). Thing is, encouraging someone to give you information is a fundamental part of investigative journalism, if that’s illegal, then investigative journalism as a whole is illegal. Furthermore, Assange is not a U.S. citizen and was not doing this under U.S. jurisdiction. So reading the indictment I was utterly baffled, until suddenly it clicked. This isn’t about Assange. This is about the Mueller Report and criminalizing publication of the entire uncensored report if it ever does leak out.

The one thing Assange is *not* accused of doing is receiving and publishing classified information. That’s because it’s not illegal to receive and publish classified information. It’s only illegal for government employees and contractors to transmit classified information to unauthorized parties. And there is one big reason why Assange could not be indicted for receiving and publishing classified information: New York Times v. United States, 1971. Otherwise known as the “Pentagon Papers” case before the U.S. Supreme Court, where the NYT and Washington Post published the classified Pentagon Papers and the precedent was set — you can’t be prosecuted for publishing classified information. Most recently tested when Judith Miller outed a CIA employee with the result that an entire anti-nuclear-proliferation network was rounded up and executed by various nasty state actors. So if you can’t prosecute a newspaper for publishing classified information, maybe you can make an end-around by prosecuting them for encouraging someone to send them the classified information? If so, then the fact that the New York Times has set up an encrypted network to receive classified information from whistleblowers and encourages whistleblowers to use that network is enough to convict their publisher if they do publish classified information.

In other words, it’s not about Assange. It’s about the New York Times and Washington Post. If Assange can be successfully prosecuted for encouraging people to leak classified information, so can the NYT and Washington Post — and for a certain Giant Orange Rage Toddler, that’s a great reason to do it.

– Badtux the Press Penguin

San Franciscans raise $46,000 to stop homeless shelter in wealthy area. Apparently they prefer the homeless to be sleeping in the streets in their area (which is close to transit and services, thus why the homeless hang out there) rather than being in a shelter receiving services.

There’s something about being wealthy that seems to suck the soul out of people. They lose all empathy, all willingness to interact with people not exactly like them, and become Smaug the Dragon huddled miserably on top of their pile of treasure glaring gimlet-eyed around them viewing anybody not them as a threat to be driven away with fire if at all possible, or at least with lawyers, pretty much the same thing actually when you think about it. I don’t know if it’s just that you have to be a vicious sociopath to become rich in the first place, or if it’s the wealth that makes you an ass, but there seems to be very few rich people who are actually good people, and if you look at their background, usually they are the few rich people who came from lower class or diverse backgrounds. The rest… are asses. Asses who worship a bad science fiction writer who wrote crappy books about the power of individual achievement while she collected social security and started some pseudo-philosophy called “objectivism”, which can be summed up in five words: I got mine, fuck you.

And sadly those asses, these small minds huddled atop their piles of hoarded treasure, run the world.

— Badtux the Hobbit Penguin

Julia Isabel Amparo Medina was 9 years old, presented a valid U.S. passport card to cross the border to go to school, and was detained by the Child Border Perverts because she gave “inconsistent information” when interrogated. She was detained for 36 hours as she was interrogated by multiple strangers who threatened her and lied to her. She had to be rescued by the Mexican embassy after CBP refused to release her to her mother. That’s right, an American had to be rescued from the Child Border Perverts by the Mexicans.

WTF? Apparently none of these Border Patrol agents ever had a sister or a 9 year old daughter of their own. Expecting a 9 year old to give consistent answers when being subjected to deliberately manipulative questioning and false statements from investigators is idiotic and indefensible. A 9 year old girl simply isn’t developmentally capable of handling that situation, period, and shouldn’t be saying *anything* to law enforcement — only their parent should be talking to law enforcement. This is disgusting, racist, and perverted. Great job, child abusers at the CBP, I bet you were stroking yourself in the bathroom afterwards too at that hot 9 year old action.

But hey, she’s *brown*, so that makes it okay. Right? Right?! GRR.

— Badtux the Disgusted Penguin