Nigerian Scammers Are Good People

Via Slashdot comes an IEEE Spectrum article about a new scam from Nigeria. In brief, instead of asking you for money directly, they redirect your business email. They wait until someone orders something from your company, then rewrites the bank routing numbers and such so that the client sends money to the scammers’ account instead of yours.

So far, so bad. Technically interesting, ethically very bad. The moral of the story, as always, is be careful where you type your password, and if something looks hinky, think about it.

But then there’s this part:

Bettke and Stewart estimate the group they studied has at least 30 members and is likely earning a total of about $3 million a year from the thefts. The scammers appear to be “family men” in their late 20s to 40s who are well-respected, church-going figures in their communities. “They’re increasing the economic potential of the region they’re living in by doing this, and I think they feel somewhat of a duty to do this,” Stewart says.

Let’s just toss that on the pile marked “Religion doesn’t make people more moral”, shall we?

Boycott

If you’ve been around for a while, you may remember Bill Donohue as a guy who has called for boycotts of Calvin Klein, HBO, Disney, Target, the TV show Nothing Sacred, 20th Century Fox, the Brooklyn Museum of Art , the city of San Francisco, Showtime, the New York Jewish Museum, the Arlington diocese lenten appeal, Wal-Mart, Madonna concert sponsors, the Roger Smith Hotel, the movie The Golden Compass, Miller beer, and probably others that I’ve forgotten.

Now he warns us of a new threat:

The Charity Give Back Group (CGBG), formerly known as the Christian Values Network, is an online service that partners with more than 170,000 charities, religious and secular, enabling users to support their favorite charities when they shop on the web. Because some of the charities embrace the traditional Christian understanding of marriage, some activist organizations have sought to pressure retailers not to associate with CGBG.
[…]

If these extremists get their way, they will silence the Christian voice. Which is why the bullies must be defeated.

Right now, Catholics need to let three major companies know of their need not to follow the dictates of these anti-Christian forces: Netflix, Walgreens and Petco. We are not asking them to jump into the culture war on our side; we simply ask that they remain neutral.

(emphasis added)

I suggest starting a new charity, to be affiliated with the Christian Values Network CGBG: the Buy BillDo A Mirror And A Fucking Clue Foundation. BillDo and thousands of religious leaders like him live lives bereft of any smidgen of self-awareness or sense of irony, condemning in others that which they routinely advocate themselves. Please, won’t you think of the bigots?

(HT Ed Brayton.)

Stop Calling Neocreationists Creationists, Dammit!

Here’s the blurb attached to the latest episode of the Intelligent Design the Future podcast:

On this episode of ID the Future, Casey Luskin exposes how evidence given for macroevolution in The Language of Science and Faith is too weak to hold any weight. In their book, Francis Collins and Karl Giberson make the all-too-common claim that macroevolution is merely microevolution over a prolonged period of time. Are the proposed mechanisms really as simple as they sound? Luskin discusses the insufficiency of Collins and Gibersons’ argument in Part 5 of his continued review of The Language of Science and Faith.

Gosh, it’s nice to know that ID is not creationism, nosirree! It’s a completely different thing altogether, you betcha!

But wait, what’s this? Huh. It turns out that “Microevolution is true but not macroevolution” is on Answers in Genesis’s list of arguments that creationists shouldn’t use.

Okay, maybe there’s a difference between ID and young-earth creationism after all, if Luskin is still pushing arguments that even AIG has disavowed.

Matt Dillahunty at UMBC videos

The folks at the Atheist Experience blog have posted video of last night’s debate at UMBC, with Matt Dillahunty and Hans Jacobse.

There seem to be only three videos, but the titles say there should be nine. Hopefully the other six will show up in due course.

I hope to have a post up soonish with my comments.

Want to Restore Sanity? Join the Club

Do you want to restore sanity and rationality to political discourse? Sure, we all do!

But do you also want to promote sanity and rationality in general? Then you should join the Washington Coalition of Reason this Saturday on the National Mall as they participate in the Rally to Restore Reason.

Look for the #unitedcor hashtag on Twitter.

Oh, and the guys from the American Freethought podcast will be there as well. They’ll also be announcing their location on Twitter, so find out where they are, then stop by and say hi.


Breaking: Kent Hovind in Solitary

From Kent Hovind’s outfit, Creation Science Ministry’s Facebook page comes word that Kent is now in solitary:

Creation Science Evangelism Pleas pray for Dr. Hovind. We were just informed that he is solitary confinement. We are not sure why he is there and how long he must stay. He is need of your prayers. Thank you!

No word on how prayer is supposed to help, or what he did this time, though I’m sure we’ll be seeing a selectively-edited account of the events at some point.

(And just to keep the schadenfreude from getting out of control, I should add that solitary confinement is not something I’d wish on anyone.)

Update, 17:17: According to this thread at the JREF forums, this isn’t the first time Hovind has (been said to have been) placed in solitary. And given creationists’ penchant for repeating ancient and out-of-date information, for all I know this latest instance may be referring to something that happened three years ago.

A Classic Flame

One of the delightful things about the Internet is reading the occasional well-written flame. Flamage is a specialized subset of writing, with its own requirements; being able to write a good essay or novel is no guarantee that you can write a good flame.

But of course the genre predates the Internet. And one of the all-time classics is Mark Twain’s Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses (also at Project Gutenberg).

Here’s a sample:

The conversations in the Cooper books have a curious sound in our modern ears. To believe that such talk really ever came out of people’s mouths would be to believe that there was a time when time was of no value to a person who thought he had something to say; when it was the custom to spread a two-minute remark out to ten; when a man’s mouth was a rolling-mill, and busied itself all day long in turning four-foot pigs of thought into thirty-foot bars of conversational railroad iron by attenuation; when subjects were seldom faithfully stuck to, but the talk wandered all around and arrived nowhere; when conversations consisted mainly of irrelevancies, with here and there a relevancy, a relevancy with an embarrassed look, as not being able to explain how it got there.

Now go read the whole thing. It’s as enjoyable now as it was a hundred fifteen years ago.