GDMF Exchange!

Yet more reason to hate MS Exchange. Here are the relevant headers and MIME lines from a meeting notification I got recently:


Subject: XXX Staff Meeting
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
MIME-Version: 1.0


Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64

Content-Type: text/html; charset="utf-8"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64

Content-Type: text/calendar; charset="utf-8"; method=REQUEST
Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64



At first glance, all might look normal: there’s a calendar entry with a note attached.

So first we have the plain text version of the note, followed by the HTML version of the note, followed by the vCalendar file describing the meeting itself.

But a closer look at the header shows that the message as a whole has Content-Type: multipart/alternative.

RFC 1521 says:

The multipart/alternative type is syntactically identical to multipart/mixed, but the semantics are different. In particular, each of the parts is an “alternative” version of the same information.

Systems should recognize that the content of the various parts are interchangeable. Systems should choose the “best” type based on the local environment and preferences, in some cases even through user interaction.

In other words, any standards-compliant mail reader should see those three MIME chunks as three different versions of the same information. So if it decides to (or you tell it to) display the HTML version of the note, it shouldn’t display the calendar file. And if it displays the calendar entry, it shouldn’t show the attached note.

Clearly somebody at Microsoft needs to be slapped. Hard.

(And in case you’re wondering, the proper way to do what they’re trying to do would be for the message as a whole to be multipart/mixed with a multipart/alternative chunk for the note, and a text/calendar chunk for the calendar entry. The note chunk would be further subdivided into a text/plain chunk and a text/html chunk.)

I think that when people are first told that Exchange is both a mail server and a calendar server, they think it’s kind of like a goose — something that can competently walk, swim, and fly, even though it may not excel at any of those — but in reality, it’s more like a crocoduck: massive fail at every level, no matter how you look at it.

Ray Comfort, Plagiarist?

Looks like Ray Comfort found it too hard to write a 50-page introduction to Origin on his own:, a Knoxville, TN local paper, has a story about Stan Guffey, a University of Tennessee lecturer who wrote a brief bio of Charles Darwin. Turns out that bio bears a striking resemblance to the first few pages of Comfort’s introduction (you know, the part that isn’t batshit crazy).

(HT Unreasonable Faith and AIG Busted.)

I find it ironic that the approach investigators use to detect plagiarism are similar to that taken by biologists to find homologies, which are one of the bits of evidence pointing to common descent.

So maybe Ray can use creationist arguments in his defense: “You cherry-picked your examples to make your case. If you look at the other 47 pages of the introduction, you’ll see that it’s nothing like anything Dr. Guffey has written”, or “Similarities do not mean that I copied from Guffey. It’s more likely that both texts were written by God.” Or the ever-popular “Did anyone see copying take place? Then how do you know it happened?”

(Cross-posted at UMD Society of Inquiry.)

Dance, Monkeys! Dance for My Enjoyment!

Today seems to be the day when a bunch of right-wing fundies all decided to make themselves look ridiculous in public, seemingly only to entertain me.

For a while now, Ray Comfort’s weblog wasn’t accepting new comments, because he had been hired by as their Creationism Examiner, and he wanted comments to be posted there.

This morning, however, I found a post on his old site, with a bunch of comments. I can only surmise that the Examiner decided that Ray was too kooky for them, and booted him back to

Then there was the kook fight: according to this WND story (sorry, I couldn’t find a reliable source), Ray basically accused Catholics of not being True Christians™

But the Vatican has chosen to officially believe Darwin rather than Jesus

BillDo, recognizing in Comfort one of the rare people who could make him look reasonable and measured by comparison, responded by saying that the Catholic church’s position is that it’s okay to accept evolution, as long as you still believe in a magic man in the sky.

Ray’s response to that basically boils down to “is not!”

(HT PZ.)

But the one who had me laughing out loud all morning was Brannon Howse, who has a show on Christian Worldview Radio.

Howse recently put in an appearance at a church in Ft. Worth. Bud Kennedy, a reporter for the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, wrote an article about it, under the title “Who knew that yoga is a tool of Satan?”, talking about Howse’s superstition, ignorance, and paranoia.

I wasn’t at the event in Texas, but Kennedy’s account is pretty much in line with what Howse has talked about on his radio show: ZOMG teh gays, the Earth is 6000 years old, Obama == Hitler, and so forth.

So Brannon Howse spent an entire episode whining about how the article made him and other True Christians™ look foolish and extreme, at one point asking, “is there anything extreme about saying that there’s nothing Christian about yoga?” (Yes, Mr. Howse. Yes, there is.)

What had me laughing out loud was that Howse’s “corrections” of Kennedy’s librul yellow journalism just made Howse look as bad as before, if not worse. For instance, he claims that he never said yoga is a tool of Satan. It is, however, an Indian occult practice, and anti-christian.

On other topics, like the notion that the stimulus package is a way of achieving a worldwide monetary system and a one-world government, his response was basically, “Well, yes, I said that, because it’s true. But when Kennedy puts it in the paper, it makes us look foolish.”

Yes, it does, Brannon. As the saying goes, people who don’t want their beliefs ridiculed shouldn’t hold such ridiculous beliefs.

And finally, to cap off a perfectly wonderful day, here’s Richard Dawkins’s response to Ray Comfort’s challenge to debate him for $10,000.

Go read the whole thing. It’s wonderful.

$10,000 is less than the typical fee that I am ordinarily offered for lecturing to a serious audience (I often don’t accept it, especially in the case of a student audience, because I am a dedicated teacher). It is not, therefore, a worthwhile inducement for me to travel all the way across the Atlantic to debate with an ignorant fool. You can tell him that if he donates $100,000 to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (it’s a charitable donation, tax deductible) I’ll do it. A further condition is that it will be filmed by Josh Timonen for my website,, and distributed by Josh as a DVD, if he thinks it is funny enough. To this end, it would be nice if Mr Comfort would reprise the ever popular Banana Sketch.

Richard Dawkins

(HT Shelley.)


Fundies turn sex into something shameful as a way to control people.

This weekend, I was listening to the
Way of the Master Radio
podcast. Way of the Master is a fundie scam ministry run by Ray “homoerotic banana” Comfort and Kirk “Growing Pains kid” Cameron. Todd Friel hosts the podcast.

this show,
they spent a lot of time with Rob, a 19-year-old who called in to say that he has a problem with pornography. It wasn’t said explicitly, but I suspect he also masturbates. Later, a woman called in to say that she, too, struggles with pornography, and that it’s not just a problem for men.

So what exactly was Rob’s problem? Was it that he was masturbating instead of having sex with his girlfriend (not just in addition to)? Was it that his girlfriend isn’t as physically perfect as the airbrushed models in Playboy, so he was enjoying sex less? Was it that it’s cutting into hobby and/or work time? No.

As far as these people are concerned, pr0n makes baby Jesus cry:
Continue reading “Sexcrimethink”

A Parable

Okay, so there’s this guy. Call him Henry, though that’s not his name. And he goes out west someplace, and founds a town. Builds it with his own two hands. Now, Henry’s got a whole lot of kids and grandkids and great-grandkids, all of whom he loves dearly, and in fact, he built the town for them to live in.

But at some point, he decides there need to be some laws, and since he built the town and sired all these kids, he’s the one to write the laws as well. Except that he wound up shooting for ideal rather than practical, so in addition to the practical stuff like no killing people and no littering, he’s also got stuff like no sniffling, no nose-picking, and no snoring. He knows full well that his kids are going to do that stuff, but he writes those laws anyway.

And as he looks out from his window, he sees his kids doing all those things he told them not to do, and never does anything. Until they reach a certain age, that is, at which point the kid is brought into the courthouse and Henry judges them. The good ones get to live in Henry’s house, and their reward for being good is that they get to actually see Henry, and tell him all day long how much they love him. The bad ones are taken out back and put in cages over a barbecue pit, where an acquaintance of Henry’s from way back when shits on their heads whenever he feels like it. Either way, anyone who enters the courthouse is never seen in town again.

And one day, some people are in court being tried for breaking the town laws, and it turns out that Henry has multiple personalities. And one of them, whom we’ll call Josh, comes to the fore and says, “Man, getting shat on over a barbecue pit sucks. I wish that wouldn’t happen to anyone ever again.” Now, the simple thing to do would be for Henry to stop sentencing people to the barbecue pit. Or be more lenient about it. Or abolish the laws that don’t matter, and that he knew people wouldn’t be able to obey.

But instead, as Josh, he goes out into the main street, and makes a nuisance of himself until the cops beat him up with clubs, and he has to leave town, bloody and bruised all over.

Three days later, he comes back, all better, and makes an announcement: “I’ve worked out a deal with the judge” (that is, himself). “Anyone who wants to can come be my servant, and do everything I tell them to do. If you do that, the judge [that is, Henry, that is, himself] promises to forgive all the times you broke his [that is, Henry’s, that is, his own] rules, and let you live in Henry’s [that is, Josh’s] house, and not have to be sent to the barbecue pit when it’s your time to go on trial.” And then he went back into Henry’s house, and never came out on the street again.

Now, not everyone was around to hear Josh’s offer, so the ones who were had to tell everyone else. And they were deathly afraid of the barbecue pit, especially since no one in town had been told about it until Josh came out that one time. And if anyone asked why Henry didn’t just stop sending people to the barbecue pit, or said surely Henry wouldn’t send a child to the barbecue pit just for sniffling, they’d say that the law was the law, and that justice demanded that the child be sent to the barbecue pit; and in fact that everyone deserved to be sent to the barbecue pit, because everyone had, at one time or another, broken one of those laws that Henry set up and knew that people wouldn’t be able to obey.

And they went on to tell everyone how wonderful Josh (that is, Henry) was for sparing them from suffering the punishment that Henry set up with his laws and his trial system and his one-time-only enforcement.

(Update, Jun. 12, 2006: Here’s more about the people who inspired this parable.)