Compelled Speech vs. The First Amendment

In the lawsuit, she argues that denying requests to allow her to ignore students’ preferred names and pronouns “deprived her of due process and equal protection of law” and violated her First Amendment rights to free speech and exercise of religion.

Source: A Kansas teacher is suing school officials for requiring her to address students by their preferred names, saying the policy violates her religious freedom – CNN

This is essentially the issue that propelled Jordan Petersen to prominence in Canada, and it seems bound for the Supreme Court. Will the Supremes find an interpretation of the First Amendment that can compel people to say things they don’t want to say, under the threat of the police power of the US Federal Government? No matter how desperately much you might want to use the government’s authority to force people to say things you want them to say — about anything; not just transgendered pronouns — the concept seems hard to square with the clear language and intent of the First Amendment. But, hey, Citizens United, so anything could happen these days.

Ricard acknowledges in the suit that despite being told that another student who was listed in school records as female preferred to be addressed by a different name, Ricard called the student “Miss [student’s last name].” Ricard was reminded multiple times to use the student’s preferred name and pronouns, but continued to call the student by their last name only.

That all being said, according to the article, the teacher in question seems to have been deliberately belligerent in addressing the student, and trying to provoke a confrontation. If that’s true, she is… how you say? A jerk. Kids get called by different names all the time. We call our youngest by his middle name, and no teacher has a problem with that.

Like the case of the no-gay-wedding-cakes baker, this case seems to have been specifically engineered to go to court. I guess the people who cheered Amazon and Cloudflare for throwing Parler off their services can thank Masterpiece Cakeshop for establishing the legal affirmation to do so, but I wonder if the people behind Parler would reconsider their (presumed) support of the baker now. I guess we’ll soon find out whether the Supremes will defend the right of individuals in the same way. I don’t see how they couldn’t, but then does the government (school) have the ability to fire her for these shenanigans, even if she has the legal right to do them? We’re probably going to find this out as well…

Calf born with three eyes and four nostrils as people queue up to worship cow

A three-eyed cow born in India has been dubbed a “divine miracle” and a reincarnation of Hindu God, Shiva, with a veterinary doctor saying it is not Viswanatha but an abnormal embryo development.

Source: Calf born with three eyes and four nostrils as people queue up to worship cow

Aha! Excellent! This is a perfect display of the theory of evolution at work in the modern era! With crappy cell phone video and all!

Clearly, this mutant, super-seeing, super-smelling cow will be favored for mating over all others in its herd. (And that’s true whether it’s allowed to breed naturally, or forced by its owners.) So this cow will start a new species, which will eventually come to supplant all other cows in the world.

I just wish I could be here in a couple hundred thousand years, and see them roaming the hills, here in the Americas.

Nightbirde Speaks Out During AGT Finale After Exiting Due to Cancer Battle |

“I spend a lot of time squeezing my eyes shut and trying to remember what I believe; counting my breaths in the grief cloud; burying my face into God’s T-shirt. I remind Him sometimes, (and not kindly) that I believed Him when He told me the story He wrote for me is good, and that He never stops thinking of me,” she continued. “I must be a fool in love, because even from under all this debris, I still believe Him. And when I’m too angry to ask Him to sit on my bed until I fall asleep, He still stays.”

Source: Nightbirde Speaks Out During AGT Finale After Exiting Due to Cancer Battle |


The Galaxy of a Single Cell

A Single Human Cell

This is the most-detailed photo of a human cell to date. The simplest single-celled organisms aren’t materially less complex. Each tiny strand in the center is a chain of thousands of very-specific combinations of four, very-complicated organic molecules. Then there are all the other complicated parts, and the tiny molecular “machines” that facilitate the functioning of the cell.

According to the world’s thinking and teaching, you are supposed to ignore everyone’s commonly-lived experience about how everything in this world tends to fall apart, and believe that something like this just magically came together in a series of perfect, yet so-far-inexplicable, experiments — in the middle of total chaos, mind you — and then went on to form all known life.

Every time I see something like this, it cracks me up. It’s far, far easier to believe in a supernatural power as the source of our origins than it is to believe that evolution explains our existence. Not because there’s more compelling evidence in religion (as I believe there is), but because the theory of evolution, as an explanation of the origins of life, doesn’t even pass the smell test compared to our known understanding of how our physical reality works.

Surprise: the Big Bang isn’t the beginning of the universe anymore

We used to think the Big Bang meant the universe began from a singularity. Nearly 100 years later, we’re not so sure.

Source: Surprise: the Big Bang isn’t the beginning of the universe anymore

Well, well, well. How the turntables…

“Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we can no longer speak with any sort of knowledge or confidence as to how — or even whether — the universe itself began.”

People who write about science are just certain that they know everything except what they don’t know. What I mean is that they will say we “know” this and that, but we don’t “know” this other. Right? The problem is that “this other” isn’t really in a different league of uncertainty than “this” and “that.” I’ve watched very carefully for this in articles about science for 30 years.

The truth is that “science” has many, gaping holes in various theories about the nature of the universe, but few people acknowledge them. For instance, scientists conclude not only that “dark matter” — a substance which they cannot observe or measure — not only exists, but must make up 95% of the known universe to make their current models work mathematically. The whole concept is just a total “handwave,” and the “scientific community” just pretends that it’s not a problem.

In this article, the writer lays out everything we “know” about the early origins of the universe, and then concludes that we “know” nothing about how it started. Which, coincidentally, is something I’ve been pointing out for decades. The so-called Big Bang Theory actually does nothing to explain our existence here, and this article admits it.

Scientists are forced to conclude that conditions must have been exactly perfect for the expansion of the universe to have occurred in the way we now see it, and there’s no natural explanation for that to have been the case. Just like with evolution, everything supposedly lined up perfectly, but nothing that we can observe or experience about our physical laws tells us that this would happen. (In fact, quite the opposite.) In effect, this article, while purporting to explain in better detail the origins of the universe, argues for at least a guiding hand from a higher intelligence in establishing our reality.

The Death of the Episcopal Church is Near

By Ryan P. Burge, Eastern Illinois University

Last November, I wrote a post for Religion in Public with the title, “The Data is Clear – Episcopalians are in Trouble.” In it, I used survey data to paint a portrait of a denomination that was on the brink of collapse. One of the most troubling things about the future of the Episcopal Church is that the average member is incredibly old. The median age of an Episcopalian in 2019 was sixty-nine years old. With life expectancy around 80, we can easily expect at least a third of the current membership of the denomination to be gone in the next fifteen or twenty years. That’s problematic when membership has already been plummeting for decades.

Source: The Death of the Episcopal Church is Near

It’s not just Episcopals. Every mainline protestant denomination in America is facing exactly the same graphical prediction of doom: Methodists, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc. In most cities, these churches are sitting on prime spots in the cityscape. In big cities, they are modern-day castles, occupying entire blocks of downtown. Like I’ve been saying for awhile: in 10 years, there will be a national bonanza on a lot of interesting real estate. I imagine that it’s already begun.

Sources and parallels of the Exodus – Wikipedia

The consensus of modern scholars is that the Bible does not give an accurate account of the origins of the Israelites. There is no indication that the Israelites ever lived in Ancient Egypt, and the Sinai Peninsula shows almost no sign of any occupation for the entire 2nd millennium BCE (even Kadesh-Barnea, where the Israelites are said to have spent 38 years, was uninhabited prior to the establishment of the Israelite monarchy). In contrast to the absence of evidence for the Egyptian captivity and wilderness wanderings, there are ample signs of Israel’s evolution within Canaan from native Canaanite roots. While a few scholars discuss the historicity, or at least plausibility, of the exodus story, the majority of archaeologists have abandoned it, in the phrase used by archaeologist William Dever, as “a fruitless pursuit”.

The biblical narrative contains some details which are authentically Egyptian, but such details are scant, and the story frequently does not reflect Egypt of the Late Bronze Age or even Egypt at all (it is unlikely, for example, that a mother would place a baby in the reeds of the Nile, where it would be in danger from crocodiles).

Source: Sources and parallels of the Exodus – Wikipedia

These are the lead graphs from the Wikipedia page on the Biblical account of the Exodus. I’ve been watching this space for a long time, with some fascination. Every few years or so, someone claims to have proven that some detail of the story could not have been correct, so, therefore, the story is pure fiction. The biggie, of course, was that the Jews could not have been slaves who built the pyramids. Rather, it is now settled scholarship that the people who built the pyramids were patriotic Egyptians, who were paid and fed well for their work for the empire.

I would assume that Wikipedia’s editors would begin the discussion of “the consensus of modern scholars” with the most-significant pieces of evidence against the narrative being factual. (Wait. I thought “science” didn’t care about consensus? I guess that’s only climate science.) Anyway, the first issue is that there was no archaeological findings to establish Jewish habitation of the Sinai peninsula.

First of all, according to the Biblical account, they only spent 38 years in that region, which happens to be a largely featureless, wind-swept desert. This is one second of time, archaeologically-speaking, in a place that would actively obfuscate evidence of passage through it. These conditions would make finding a record of them difficult in the best of circumstances.

Second of all, the Biblical narrative records that they lived as nomads, in tents, moving continually — as beduins — building no permanent structures. Most famously, the center of their mobile “city” was the Tabernacle housing the Ark of the Covenant, which was setup, torn down, and carried away at every location. In essence, they left virtually nothing behind to record their journeys.

Did these “modern” “scholars” never actually read the text they are disproving? I recognize that the position for the narrative being true is that you can’t disprove a negative, but even so, this is hardly the slam dunk they seem to think it is. There’s no contradiction with the account on this point.

Second of all, “modern” “scholars” take issue with a mother floating a baby down the Nile River due to the fear of crocodiles. Again, I have to ask: did these “modern” “scholars” even read the Bible? Moses’ mother would have put him in a basket of reeds, despite any fear of crocodiles, because not doing so meant certain death at the hands of the Egyptians.

I’m a fan of science. I’m a fan of archaeology. I’m a fan of Biblical history. There are parts of the Bible that seem incongruent to me, but most of the issues that “modern” “scholars” raise don’t seem persuasive to me. It just seems like trying to rewrite history to fit their worldview, as much as they claim is was originally written to fit the Jewish worldview. I could just as easily point to this documentary, which makes some very compelling arguments that the account is true, and that turn-of-the-century Egyptologists got the timeline wrong, and no one wants to go back and edit every book ever written on ancient Egypt.

This persons’s snap story! Just doesn’t seem real at all. : thatHappened

This persons’s snap story! Just doesn’t seem real at all. from thatHappened

About 30 years ago, I started going to an Apostolic Pentecostal church. We believe that the stories in the Bible paint a picture of a God who is still very much involved in this world’s affairs, even though most people blow this sort of thing off.

One Wednesday evening, our Pastor was out of town, and one of the assistant pastors was preaching. At the end of service, he started to get a little agitated. He was trying to shut down the service and dismiss, but he was clearly wrestling with something. Finally, he said that he didn’t know why, but that he was “feeling led” to have us all to join hands in a big circle around the sanctuary.

He admitted it was odd. We all thought it was odd. It was awkward. We sang a song, and started to leave, but someone who had never been to our church before leaned over to the assistant pastor, and he gave him the mic. I couldn’t believe it. You don’t give a mic to a stranger. What was he thinking?

That stranger told us that he had been praying: God, if you’re actually real, lead me to a church, and if they all join together and hold hands, I’ll know that’s the church I’m supposed to go to. Now, you would think that this would cement someone’s decision to live for God forever, but, no, he came a few more times, and then stopped coming.

Regardless, I wanted to relay the story in response to this Reddit post, because I’ve seen “that happened” for myself. You can make fun of the posted story, but I’ve seen almost this same thing happen with my own two eyes.

Stop the EARN IT Bill Before It Breaks Encryption | EFF Action Center

The House and Senate are both pushing forward with the so-called “EARN IT” Act, a bill that will undermine encryption and free speech online. Attorney General William Barr and the DOJ have demanded for years that messaging services give the government special access to users’ private messages. If EARN IT passes, Barr will likely get his wish—law enforcement agencies will be able to scan every message sent online.

Source: Stop the EARN IT Bill Before It Breaks Encryption | EFF Action Center

Once again, I remind conservatives and Christians that every surveillance and law enforcement power we accede to the government in the name of terrorism or child pornography will eventually be used against people who quote and speak about the verbatim contents of the Bible, when they make such acts illegal.

Google And Oracle’s Decade-Long Copyright Battle Reaches Supreme Court : NPR

Source: Google And Oracle’s Decade-Long Copyright Battle Reaches Supreme Court : NPR

I don’t want Oracle to win on the basis of software copyrights, but I do want Google to lose, and get hit with an astronomical penalty. I also would love to see a general chilling effect on the use of Java and Oracle, which I think are terrible technical choices today. But everyone involved here is part of the problem of our country being a captured corporatocracy now, so I’m very conflicted. If there’s a way that they both lose, and the public wins, I’d be for that.