Pharyngula

The always perspicacious Chris Clarke is talking about us, in a post where he talks about the pleasures and perils of managing comments on a blog.

I’d be lying if I said I never appreciated a good bar brawl of a comment thread. And some blogs make the free-for-alls work: Pharyngula comes to mind as an example of a wonderful, worthwhile blog with a laissez-faire comment policy. But few blogs have that winning Pharyngular combination of high traffic, sharp focus, distinct blogger personality, and devoted constructive regulars. The chance of a typical low-to-mid-traffic blog ripening into another Pharyngula is, as the blog world matures, decreasing.

He’s got it right — managing comments is tricky stuff, and there are the issues of setting the tone, of culling the more egregious violators, of keeping the place from descending into random madness. Probably the best example of a blog pulling off the delicate balancing act of of getting a convivial and smart continuing conversation going is Making Light; I think Pharyngula has a fine comments section that at least aspires to that level, less the “convivial” part. Chris accurately describes the situation here as a laissez-faire free-for-all.

Do you know how one of the standard scenarios in fantasy role playing games is the wizard in the tower (or the bottom of the dungeon), and you’ve got to fight your way through swarms of weird monsters wandering the stony halls to get to him? That never made much sense to me: why is there this weird mix of stealthy assassins and thuggish ogres prowling about, and why would some lich-king or demon take up residence in such an odd hole in the ground? But then I started this blog, and it’s become clear. It’s a focus for all kinds of raucous melees, so sure, all kinds of interesting denizens will occupy the place. So thanks to all of you readers, we have an interesting assortment of ogres, wizards, goblins, angels, nice townsfolk, and even merchants (the spammers, who don’t last long) dwelling in the hodge-podge maze of the comment threads. It can be a scary place — don’t go down there without full armor — but it’s also an exciting place.

Which brings us to today’s effort in comment management. After a long delay (December is a slow month, so I wanted to give this one more time to gather steam), we have a new Molly winner for December: Dustin. We’ll be giving him a corner crypt with easy access to the main thoroughfare for entering adventurers, along with a +3 Vorpal Sword.

We also need new nominations for this month, so consider this the January Molly nomination thread. While you’re congratulating Dustin, you can also mention someone else you think deserves an exalted position in the wandering monsters table.

Finally, with some trepidation, I’m also making this an Open Enrollment thread. Do you want to be on the Pharyngula blogroll? It’s easy. First, you need a blog with an RSS feed (I do all my blog browsing with a newsreader, so that’s an absolute requirement). Second, you need to give me a link to your blog in a comment here. And finally, you have to pass a test demonstrating that you actually read Pharyngula: name your favorite commenter. (That’s a cunning way to get more votes in the Molly nominations.)

Comments

  1. #1 Chris G.
    January 14, 2008

    It can be a scary place — don’t go down there without full armor — but it’s also an exciting place.

    Cue Babylon 5 music.

  2. #2 tceisele
    January 14, 2008

    First, I have to say that my favorite commenter is probably Cuttlefish, because I’m a sucker for well-done humorous verse.

    And the RSS feed for my blog, “The Backyard Arthropod Project”, is at http://somethingscrawlinginmyhair.com/feed/
    I’m trying to document as many arthropods as I can on my property in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and I post one arthropod a week (this week is an inchworm, and next week will be a “snow fly”, a wingless crane fly that only comes out when it is *below* freezing).

  3. #3 Glen Davidson
    January 14, 2008

    There’s a trick to managing comments: Don’t assume that calling names isn’t an appropriate response to some wanker.

    That’s where “moderation” falls down again and again. Someone ignores every question they’ve been asked (or occasionally they might either “address” an issue by quickly shifting topics, or by outright lying), and repeats the same appallingly ignorant and/or dishonest attack. The responses are then rather uncharitable. The “moderator” then attacks the victims of the trolling wanker for using “inappropriate language.” PZ is as pissed-off at these manipulative gits as many of us are, hence he doesn’t bother us for treating them as they deserve.

    And that’s why it works, because PZ, unlike most moderators, doesn’t think that all responses are deserving of equal treatment. They are not.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  4. #4 Chris Bell
    January 14, 2008

    prometheusretold.blogspot.com

    I like Blake Stacey.

  5. #5 Mister DNA
    January 14, 2008

    I normally try to avoid blogwhoring, but since you opened the door, I’m gonna enter.

    First off, naming my favorite commenter is a cinch: Ichthyic. We miss you over at After the Bar Closes.

    I recently opened CBEB’s: The Church Burnin’ Ebola Blog. It’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea – it’s my decidedly lowbrow take on atheism, the evolution-creation debate and music.

    Yes, there’s an RSS Feed, but when I post videos they’re streamed from my hosting company (I get better quality than YouTube that way) so you might have to use your browser…

    I update pretty frequently, but it might be too lightweight for your blogroll. Nonetheless, others might enjoy it.

    Thanks,

    Mister DNA

  6. #6 Rey Fox
    January 14, 2008

    Kagehi. Don’t make me repeat myself. Again. Also, Glen Davidson, even though he does that thing where he puts his name and URL at the bottom of every comment even though the web site already puts everyone’s name and URLs, if given, in the “Posted by” footer.

  7. #7 jfatz
    January 14, 2008

    Silly, PZ… ALL Vorpal Swords are inherently +3! (It says so right there on page 166 of the DMG.) There’s no reason to mention it specifically, like it could be +2 or +4.

    …as if!

  8. #8 Rich Stage
    January 14, 2008

    WHEREAS Pharyngula has been the inspiration for the writing of my limericks, and

    WHEREAS most of the limericks I have written thus far have been posted to Pharyngula first

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that I am using this obnoxious, archaic, and utterly stupid language to make you aware that I wish my blog, http://limerickfun.blogspot.com/ to be added to the Pharyngula blogroll.

  9. #9 MAJeff
    January 14, 2008

    I recently opened CBEB’s: The Church Burnin’ Ebola Blog. It’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea – it’s my decidedly lowbrow take on atheism, the evolution-creation debate and music.

    You steeling my blog? Well, I’ve got recipes, too:

    http://thegodofbiscuitsgospel.blogspot.com

    Best thing I ever did was calling posts “gospel readings.” It’s fun to see how fast they click away once they realize what they’re really getting. (Here’s some Mahler to make the day better.

    Favorite commenter? Probably ichy, but everyone who piles onto our pro-torture, anti-poetry troll is good in my book.

  10. #10 MAJeff
    January 14, 2008

    OK, my post with my blog address just got held in moderation, however, I’m going to add that tonight is my weekly webcast of the first season of Mary Tyler Moore. Episode 4 is tonight.

  11. #11 BJN
    January 14, 2008

    Mmmmmmmm…sausages!

  12. #12 AllanW
    January 14, 2008

    I don’t blog (not enough damn time in the day) so no links from me.

    Posters I respect and look forward to;

    Ichthyic and Truthmachine.

    I look forward to Glen, Scott, Blake posting and of course RD popping in from time to time :)

  13. #13 Jolly Bloger
    January 14, 2008

    I like Blake Stacey too.

    I’m at http://jollybloger.blogspot.com/ which of course has a feed. Focus is atheism, anti-theism, crazy-person politics (I know we disagree, PZ, I lean libertarian… but not objectivist!), and my gimmick is pirates. Every Wednesday is Pirate Wednesday!

  14. #14 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    January 14, 2008

    Completely off-topic, but I can’t resist: in 10 minutes BBC4 is showing the latest episode of the Astronomy show The Sky At Night.

    “Sir Patrick Moore is joined by Dr Brian May and Jon Culshaw in his garden, to watch the Perseid meteor shower.”

    Yes, THAT Dr Brian May, also known as the lead guitarist of Queen.

    I love British TV.

  15. #15 jfatz
    January 14, 2008

    I’m feeling left out…

    Should I advertise my new blog, http://VorpalSwordsareALLplusthree!.blogspot.com/ — or would that be inappropriate?

  16. #16 jfatz
    January 14, 2008

    I just found out I cannot have an exclamation point in my HTTP address, and that makes me very sad. How else am I to exclaim things?

  17. #17 Martin
    January 14, 2008

    http://atheistexperience.blogspot.com

    I like Glen D and Ichthyic, plus any mindless creo troll who comes here and leaves with his ass in his hands.

  18. #18 Martin
    January 14, 2008

    Oh wait, never mind. Checked the blogroll and found out we’re already there! Many thanks.

  19. #19 Mister DNA
    January 14, 2008

    Yes, THAT Dr Brian May, also known as the lead guitarist of Queen.

    I love British TV.

    You’re so lucky. Over here in the colonies, we get Charlie Daniels on Fox News giving his thoughts on the subtleties of Constitutional law. It ain’t pretty.

  20. #20 gg
    January 14, 2008

    I put in another vote for Blake Stacey!

    I’m too damn proud to beg for a place on the blogroll (numerous people who know me well would undoubtedly ask, “Proud of what, exactly?”)… though here’s the link anyway:

    Skulls in the Stars

  21. #21 MAJeff
    January 14, 2008

    along with a +3 Vorpal Sword.

    Did someone mention a vorpal sword?

    Hey, if it was good enough for Jesus….

  22. #22 Blake Stacey
    January 14, 2008

    To those who have mentioned me here, thanks for the kind words. I’ve already got a Molly, but it’s nice to find I haven’t lost my touch. :-)

    This month I’d like to nominate Glen Davidson, AJ Milne and MAJeff.

  23. #23 Dan
    January 14, 2008

    Ditto on the MAJeff Molly nod.

    Yeah… I know I should say more, but I’m in a rush today.

  24. #24 Bob O'H
    January 14, 2008

    I just found out I cannot have an exclamation point in my HTTP address, and that makes me very sad. How else am I to exclaim things?

    You spell it 111oneone1eleven. It makes you look like you understand what’s going on around the intertubes.

    Oh, and I have a blog with an RSS feed too. No Mahler though, sorry.

    I guess I would be looked down upon if I voted for FtK, wouldn’t I. :-)

    Bob

  25. #25 Ken
    January 14, 2008

    There are a lot of smart and funny people posting here so picking is hard but Ichthyic stands out. Science and atheism are not the only reasons I stop by. I LIKE LEFSE! I also like lutefisk. But then, I’m a South Dakota Norwegian stuck in KC.

  26. #26 MAJeff
    January 14, 2008

    I also like lutefisk. But then, I’m a South Dakota Norwegian stuck in KC.

    How can you even attempt to survive in that realm of barbecue, you poor soul :)

    It sounds almost as bad as not being able to get decent bratwurst (I make my parents ship them to me twice a year) in the land of lobster and clam chowder.

  27. #27 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    January 14, 2008

    You’re so lucky.

    Just finished watching, and Brian May gave a very jolly lecture on Zodiacal Light. But they also had Terry Pratchett at their meteor watching party. Very cool!

  28. #28 jba
    January 14, 2008

    Mrs Tilton for OM. Sometimes when I see long comments I skip over them (usually when I’m at work) but when I see Mrs Tilton was the author I always go back and read it.

  29. #29 Mike O'Risal
    January 14, 2008

    It’s hard to pick favorites! Cuttlefish can make anything funny. Blake Stacey is a good one. I’m also throwing out Casey Schmidt’s name, since the last comments of his I saw contained an email from a Floridian Creationist school board member showing his true colors, and in all caps no less. How often do we get something so straight from the jackass’ horse’s mouth?

    My blog is Hyphoid Logic (http://vyoma108.blogspot.com). Evolution wars stuff, biology, occasionally mycology (not as much as I should lately, I admit) and general ruminations about life as they occur to me. Sometimes pictures of a lizard, too. Please add me to your blogroll.

  30. #30 thalarctos
    January 14, 2008

    yes, MAJeff!

  31. #31 MyaR
    January 14, 2008

    You can watch The Sky At Night here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/space/spaceguide/skyatnight/proginfo.shtml

    and I vote for MAJeff!

  32. #32 G
    January 14, 2008

    Apparently, I’m one of a cadre who likes Blake Stacey. I also happen to like Cuttlefish and Ichthyic.

    My blog is at Jyunri Kankei. I write (when I can) about reason, logic, and adventures in life. Oh, I have a feed too.

  33. #33 Lorax
    January 14, 2008

    I don’t comment enough to self-promote, and I would vote for Blake Stacey, but he has one already so Ill vote for Ichthyic this month.

    angrybychoice.blogspot.com and of course it is RSS

  34. #34 Carlie
    January 14, 2008

    Doesn’t Icthy already have a Molly? PZ, you’re going to have to start putting a link to the award list in the nomination posts so we lazy types don’t have to go searching.
    I think MAJeff has been quite active and fabulous this go-round, and add to the pile of votes in his favor.

  35. #35 Carlie
    January 14, 2008

    Damn. I’m a biologist but can’t spell fishy words. You know who I meant.

  36. #36 Dahan
    January 14, 2008

    Nod to MAJeff. Worthy.

  37. #37 VWXYNot?
    January 14, 2008

    I’m at VWXYNot? and I like Cuttlefish and Kseniya (may not have spelled that right).

    The first post is not indicative of my blog’s usual content, I was just venting a bit!

  38. #38 Arnaud
    January 14, 2008

    I don’t have a blog and am, at best, a very occasional commenter (probably more accurately described as a not very stealthy lurker) and I would hate to pick a favourite.

    Still I would like to call for the return of Christian Burnham, missing in action these past few months, victim of the sometimes overwhelming laissez-faire free for all spirit of the Pharyngula comments section.

    Come back Christian! It’s been long enough now!

  39. #39 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    Can I cast negative votes? I want to nullify someone’s vote for this Cuttlefish show-off.

  40. #40 jfatz
    January 14, 2008

    In the middle of all this, I Stumbled over to http://www.daylightatheism.org/ today, and am completely transfixed. I fear I’ll be losing a lot of sleep perusing the archives…

    All completely worth it!

  41. #41 mothra
    January 14, 2008

    Too many good comments by too many good commentators. In descending order, 1) Ichthyic, 2) Truth machine, 3) Cuttlefish. I do not maintain a blog, I keep up a few web sites (Moths of North Dakota, Flea beetles of North Dakota, and Orthoptera of the Northern Great Plains), no links- you’ll find them when you need to identify the beasts in question.

  42. #42 MAJeff
    January 14, 2008

    Oh, goody, Jamie’s here.

  43. #43 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    MAJeff, #48:

    Favorite commenter? Probably ichy, but everyone who piles onto our pro-torture, anti-poetry troll is good in my book.

    I’ve already addressed this “pro-torture” charge, yet he still repeats it. Do you realize you people are voting for a serial liar?

  44. #44 coathangrrr
    January 14, 2008

    I’m rather fond of Colugo(sp?) He has some insightful comments and obviously knows his stuff.

    My blog is Incoherent Rants of a Madman at coathangrrr.blogspot.com

  45. #45 Efrique
    January 14, 2008

    There are many good commenters!

    However, the first one to come to mind was Blake Stacey. If I skim the comments, I always stop and read if it’s one of his.

    My own atheism (mainly) blog is at http://ecstathy.blogspot.com

  46. #46 zer0
    January 14, 2008

    1)Truth Machine because he doesn’t pull any punches

    2)Glen D because he knows his shit

    3)MAJeff because if posting 10 times in one thread of comments only adds up to 100 words or less, and you still add something to a discussion, you’re either a concise mother fucker, or an idiot. I’d say he’s the former.

  47. #47 Gobaskof
    January 14, 2008

    My blog URL is:
    http://www.julianstirling.co.uk/blog
    As for a favourite commenter, I have to say I hardly ever take in the names, which is why I never vote on the Mollies, but everyone remembers the poet Cuttlefish.

    Also +3 vorpal sword? Assuming that to be a longsword, and adamantine (if you are giving it a +8 bonus you may as well as it can help against DR, not to mention sundering), then that is 75,015 GP that is a lot of cash for any award.

  48. #48 David Utidjian
    January 14, 2008

    Is there a way to search Pharyngula for some of Dustins excellent comments? I would also like to do a search for Sastra. It seems the “Search this blog” tool does not look at commenter names unless it is in the body of the post.

    -DU-

  49. #49 The Barefoot BUm
    January 14, 2008

    Ah well. I like the blog well enough, but I don’t often read the comments.

    You’re still on my blogroll, though.

  50. #50 buck
    January 14, 2008

    since blake stacey already has a molly, i’ll add my vote for MAJeff.

    as for blogroll additions, i’m surprised to find that you don’t have dr.violet socks on your blogroll. she’s the sharpest and smartest voice i’ve come across in the lefty blogosphere (imagine chris clarke, michael berube and twisty rolled into one)

  51. #51 truth machine
    January 14, 2008

    I’ve already addressed this “pro-torture” charge, yet he still repeats it. Do you realize you people are voting for a serial liar?

    Only if we vote for you, Jamie. You have even said that it would be morally right to — indeed, morally wrong not to — torture your own mother if that would save a billion people, and that it’s only selfishness that would prevent you from doing what’s morally right. That is certainly in some sense “pro-torture” and you ought to simply own it.

    In counterpoint I offer this, which upon reading immediately made me think of you:

    For instance, we don’t punish the innocent even if that would somehow guarantee a safer society, since to do so would violate the Kantian deontological axiom that people be treated as ends in themselves, an axiom that reflects perhaps the central value of our liberal democracy.

  52. #52 Avekid
    January 14, 2008

    I’ll go in for MAJeff as well. Concise, informative, well-argued… And, not going to lie, comment #41 in this thread just tipped the balance in his favour a little bit more. =)

  53. #53 j
    January 14, 2008

    I’d also like to cast my vote for MAJeff, who is always witty and cogent. I must say as well that truth machine really delivered in three monstrous threads (one on Libertarians, a second on torture, and a third on…I don’t even remember anymore).

    My blog is at http://inteldis.wordpress.com, where I, the liberal atheist feminist, blog with a happy moderate and a conservative/evangelical Christian on various issues.

  54. #54 G
    January 14, 2008

    It appears that the mod software ate my first attempt at shameless self promotion, so here goes again:

    http://jyunri.blogspot.com

    I have a feed and everything, and I think MAJeff could use a molly and Blake Stacey is one of the most eloquent speakers here.

  55. #55 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    Only if we vote for you, Jamie. You have even said that it would be morally right to — indeed, morally wrong not to — torture your own mother if that would save a billion people, and that it’s only selfishness that would prevent you from doing what’s morally right. That is certainly in some sense “pro-torture” and you ought to simply own it.

    Another lie. I did not say that that would be “morally wrong”. I said it would be morally acceptable, as there aren’t really any good arguments against it. (Personal repulsion, or “yuck feeling”, is not an argument.) However, I myself wouldn’t do it.

    If I’m pro-torture for agreeing with Sam Harris that torture is acceptable in certain extremely unlikely circumstances, then presumably everyone here is pro-murder for believing that murder is acceptable when defending your country from invaders. I think torture should be illegal, and I strongly disagree with its recent use by the American government. But I’m not prepared to say that I don’t think it should be used under any conceivable circumstances, because I simply don’t believe that. How on Earth does this make me pro-torture?

    In short, both MAJeff and Truth Machine are clearly liars. They’re persistently and deliberately uttering barefaced falsehoods about me. Disagree with my opinions if you like, but you’re simply lying if you accuse me of being pro-torture.

  56. #56 Sastra, OM
    January 14, 2008

    Blake Stacey #22 once again demonstrates his OM worthiness by nominating 3 worthy OM candidates. I’ll second his nominations for Glen Davidson, AJ Milne and MAJeff.

    And I’m adding Carlie. Who, as I recall, has been particularly hot this month.

  57. #57 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 14, 2008

    Tulse for Molly.

    Jamie for dungeon. Comment 38 is really hard to explain unless he’s a troll.

  58. #58 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 14, 2008

    Tulse for Molly.

    Jamie for dungeon. Comment 38 is really hard to explain unless he’s a troll.

  59. #59 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    Correction: “I did not say that it would be `morally wrong not to’. I said refusal would be morally acceptable, as there aren’t really any good arguments against it.”

  60. #60 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    Actually, I garbled that correction as well. Nevermind, you can figure it out.

  61. #61 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    Comment 38 is hardly serious. Don’t get your underpants in a twist.

  62. #62 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    Cuttlefish is a show-off, though. Why else would he or she write poems with each and every post?

  63. #63 Stanton
    January 14, 2008

    Cuttlefish is a show-off, though. Why else would he or she write poems with each and every post?

    The only person whom you have convinced that poetry is a sham is yourself.

  64. #64 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    The Paul Dirac quote is so witty that I’ll post it again:

    In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it’s the exact opposite.

  65. #65 PZ Myers
    January 14, 2008

    The list of past winners is always there: it’s at the top of the page, in the tab labeled “commenters“.

    I will also mention that the Dungeon tab is up there, too. Note that the kinds of things that can get you banished there are persistent insipidity, slagging, stupidity, trolling, and wanking — and Jamie is excelling in all of them. Consider this a warning. That he thinks this is the thread where we want to hear the same old gabbling nonsense from him is a great mistake.

  66. #66 Stanton
    January 14, 2008

    I would ask Jamie about what makes Dr Dirac an authority on poetry, but, Jamie thinks it’s childish to ask for evidence to support claims in an argument.

  67. #67 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    I will also mention that the Dungeon tab is up there, too. Note that the kinds of things that can get you banished there are persistent insipidity, slagging, stupidity, trolling, and wanking — and Jamie is excelling in all of them. Consider this a warning. That he thinks this is the thread where we want to hear the same old gabbling nonsense from him is a great mistake.

    Yes, fuck you too. I’m going to stop posting here admid this PC-fanatical rabble. I’ll also probably stop reading your blog, seeing as nowadays you post little besides petty and irrelevant commentary on creationist crackpots.

    Those theists, they’re so absurd! Hey, PZ, guess what? We already know that! Good job wasting years of your life stating the obvious.

  68. #68 MAJeff
    January 14, 2008

    In answer to the question asked in #42, I think we’re dealing with a both/and situation.

  69. #69 Sastra, OM
    January 14, 2008

    Good job wasting years of your life stating the obvious.

    Well, somebody’s got to do it!

  70. #70 386sx
    January 14, 2008

    My vote goes to… Mrs Tilton of coarse. :P

  71. #71 Rey Fox
    January 14, 2008

    Don’t let the front door hit you on the stick that protrudes from your rectum.

    Cuttlefish, in the meantime, is already enshrined in the Order of the Molly, thus constituting irrefutable evidence of the reverence that the scientific community has for poets.

  72. #72 MAJeff
    January 14, 2008

    Since this thread is a little about blogwhoring, I’ve got mehr Mahler, lieder set to the poetry of Friedrich Rückert, as performed by Thomas Hampson, Leonard Bernstein, and the Vienna Philharmonic.

    Enjoy.

  73. #73 Brownian, OM
    January 14, 2008

    MAJeff is past due, so he gets my vote.

    Jamie is a jerk-off. I vote something relatively heavy falls on his head.

    Don’t like poetry. Fine. Don’t read it, fuckface.

  74. #74 Zarquon
    January 14, 2008

    Jamie is the anti-Feynman:

    No-one cares what you think.

  75. #75 Brownian, OM
    January 14, 2008

    Jamie is the anti-Feynman

    Now that’s poetry.

  76. #76 alison
    January 14, 2008

    In no particular order (because I enjoy them all): Mrs Tilton, Blake Stacey, Cuttlefish.

  77. #77 Colugo
    January 14, 2008

    Thank you coathangrrr, I enjoy your comments too – and those of MAJeff and a bunch of other fine folks who probably have already won Mollies by now. At times I’ve been a contrarian (some might even call me an ass) to PZ’s remarks but I want to note my appreciation to the good Dr. Myers for presenting this stimulating forum of ideas and discussion (and morbid Cthulhu worship). I’m afraid I have to take myself out of the running since I might not be able to fulfill the duties (or expectations) of producing witty commentary on a regular basis. But I’ll still pop in from time to time.

  78. #78 G
    January 14, 2008

    Without trying to sound too much like an attention-grabber, I have a blog at

    http://jyunri.blogspot.com

    that the filter for some reason keeps eating. Also, I think MAJeff is well past due for a Molly.

  79. #79 MAJeff
    January 14, 2008

    Isn’t it about time for a show trial?

  80. #80 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    Jamie is the anti-Feynman.

    Kind of annoying that you’d say that, seeing as Feynman is one of my long-time heroes.

    I had a look at the Dungeon list, and I have to say, I really don’t see how I’m possibly in the same league of obnoxiousness as those fundamentalist cranks. The crime I allegedly perpetrated in this thread was in defending myself against false charges. I’m not pro-torture, full stop. No-one here would like it if I posted lies about them, so please extend me the same courtesy.

    Then there’s the poetry thing. Yes, I was trolling — it can be fun, try it. My real views are milder. I was basically presenting a more extreme version of my opinion. I have to say, though, that I thought the reaction I elicited was pathetic. Abounding in that thread were: lies, strawmandering, false depiction of my assertions, ungrounded analysis of my psyche, and inflammatory personal insults, the bandying of which I didn’t start.

    So you don’t tolerate here anyone with politically incorrect ideas. This much is plain. What are you supposed to do in the comments if not discuss contrary viewpoints? Cheerlead?

    “Yes, PZ, I totally agree! Those creationists are such dumbasses. LOL!”

  81. #81 Ichthyic
    January 14, 2008

    Yes, fuck you too. I’m going to stop posting here admid [sic]this PC-fanatical rabble.

    I expect a small hiatus instead, but either way, it does seem you need to take a break and get out of the house a bit more.

    just to encourage your departure, I vote for our new poet, Rich Stage for this month’s Molly (who IIRC, was the one who proffered the limerick that offended you so).

    cheers

  82. #82 Ichthyic
    January 14, 2008

    @79

    LOL

    short hiatus indeed!

    lasted all of a bit over an hour, by my reckoning.

  83. #83 Steve_C
    January 14, 2008

    Put me down for MAJeff too… we always seem to pop up on the same postings to comment… he has a better attention span, more knowledge and a whole lot more patience.

    Figures Jamie would have issues with the resident poet/lyricist… damn him for being so maddeningly prolific. And damn all us science lovers for loving his work.

  84. #84 Stanton
    January 14, 2008

    So you don’t tolerate here anyone with politically incorrect ideas.

    We do not tolerate trolls, as well as people who demonstrate social skills as abominable as yours. If you think that we will have sympathy for you now, now that you’ve admitted that you were trolling in the first place, I strongly suggest you seek counseling and or psychiatric help.

  85. #85 Gobaskof
    January 14, 2008

    So you don’t tolerate here anyone with politically incorrect ideas. This much is plain.

    Tolerance of intolerance is nothing but cowardice.
    (I plagiarised that from somewhere.)

  86. #86 MikeG
    January 14, 2008

    I vote for MAJeff. His commentary has been insightful, witty, useful, illustrative, provocative, informative, and challenging. (And at times he pissed me off, until I thought about what he was saying and after thought found myself agreeing.)

    What more could we ask of a prospective Molly winner?

  87. #87 jfatz
    January 14, 2008

    Gobaskof: Also +3 vorpal sword? Assuming that to be a longsword, and adamantine (if you are giving it a +8 bonus you may as well as it can help against DR, not to mention sundering), then that is 75,015 GP that is a lot of cash for any award.

    3rd Edition is for heathens!

  88. #88 Waterdog
    January 14, 2008

    Okay, sure. Take a look at my journal if you like: science and political news from the perspective of a Western ex-pat in China — http://yangwaterdog.blogspot.com.

    I don’t always read the comments and it seems the best commenters that come to mind already have the OM at the end of their name. Several people have voted for Cuttlefish. Didn’t (s)he already win one, a couple months ago? I guess not, so I’ll vote for Cuttlefish.

  89. #89 coathangrrr
    January 14, 2008

    So you don’t tolerate here anyone with politically incorrect ideas.

    Nonsense. There are plenty of non-PC people who post here regularly. Some of them the majority of posters will disagree with, but no one calls for them to be banned unless they turn to trolling. Moreover, I find it absurd when people show up and start whining about the PC police for no reason other than people have disagreed with them. If that is what you consider censorship then you need to grow up.

  90. #90 Brownian, OM
    January 14, 2008

    So you don’t tolerate here anyone with politically incorrect ideas.

    Yeah, you’re a real fucking Rosa Parks, aren’t you? Stick it to the man!

    Go whine about your oppression somewhere else, pansy.

    By the way, we aren’t really all that PC: we most certainly do discriminate against the willfully stupid.

  91. #91 Gobaskof
    January 14, 2008

    jfatz:
    I think you will find 3.5 Ed is for masters, once you add about 50 pages of house rules. Also I DM such low combat games (1 small fight ever session or 2) that the rule system doesn’t make much difference, it is all story.

  92. #92 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    Moreover, I find it absurd when people show up and start whining about the PC police for no reason other than people have disagreed with them. If that is what you consider censorship then you need to grow up.

    No, you have no idea of what you’re talking about. They didn’t just disagree with my opinion. They repeatedly misrepresented it, they told lies about me, and they endowed me with a collection of below-the-belt personal insults. They were absolutely hystical.

    short hiatus indeed!

    I didn’t say when I’ll stop posting. I plan on doing so after you all stop pulling me back in with these stupid falsehoods uttered in mobbish gusto.

  93. #93 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    Hysterical.

  94. #94 Ichthyic
    January 14, 2008

    I didn’t say when I’ll stop posting. I plan on doing so after you all stop pulling me back in with these stupid falsehoods uttered in mobbish gusto.

    LOL

    so as long as we can make you cry, you’ll come back to show us?

    OK, but don’t expect me to offer you a tissue.

    They were absolutely hystical.[sic]

    yes, you are hysterical.

    better go put on some armor or something, eh?

  95. #95 coathangrrr
    January 14, 2008

    No, you have no idea of what you’re talking about. They didn’t just disagree with my opinion. They repeatedly misrepresented it, they told lies about me, and they endowed me with a collection of below-the-belt personal insults. They were absolutely hystical.

    I’m sure I’ve never had that happen to me here. Yet you don’t hear me getting all high and mighty about how everyone here is out to get me.

    I didn’t say when I’ll stop posting. I plan on doing so after you all stop pulling me back in with these stupid falsehoods uttered in mobbish gusto.

    Wow, now we’re the trolls.

  96. #96 Ichthyic
    January 14, 2008

    Wow, now we’re the trolls.

    projection’s fun, eh?

  97. #97 Brownian, OM
    January 14, 2008

    I didn’t say when I’ll stop posting. I plan on doing so after you all stop pulling me back in with these stupid falsehoods uttered in mobbish gusto.

    So you’ll keep posting here as long as we post falsehoods about you?

    Jamie told me that PZ is a closet Pentacostal and that he grew the beard to hide the snake-bite marks on his chin. Jamie also told me that 4+5=12.

    Now dance Monkey, dance!

  98. #98 Ichthyic
    January 14, 2008

    LOL

  99. #99 Cuttlefish, OM
    January 14, 2008

    I fear I must apologize–
    It seems my actions were not wise;
    They irked a certain faction.
    In Jamie’s rants I’ve been complicit–
    My rhyming stimuli elicit
    His overworked reaction.

    Ere Pavlov showed that dogs react
    To bells, it is a proven fact
    That E.B. Twitmeyer’s* work
    Showed if you hit, say, Jamie’s knee,
    As plain as day you’ll surely see
    You will provoke a jerk.

    *Twitmeyer, E.B. (1905) Knee-jerks without stimulation of the patellar tendon. Psychological Bulletin, 2, 43-44.

  100. #100 MAJeff
    January 14, 2008

    *applause*

  101. #101 Stanton
    January 14, 2008

    Wow, now we’re the trolls.

    projection’s fun, eh?

    Projection is only fun if there is a movie or shadow puppets involved.

  102. #102 PZ Myers
    January 14, 2008

    <sigh> The Dungeon has a new resident.

  103. #103 jfatz
    January 15, 2008

    Gobaskof: I think you will find 3.5 Ed is for masters, once you add about 50 pages of house rules. Also I DM such low combat games (1 small fight ever session or 2) that the rule system doesn’t make much difference, it is all story.

    All proper Dungeon and Dragonites belong to the Holy Church of Gygax Triumphant, Reformation of 1977. That you consider the blasphemous Church of the Three and a Half Editions superior to the Word of Gygax speaks ill of your faith, and shows you have abandoned holy scripture to the immoral and decadent rules of this new millennium.

    I will hear nothing of it!

  104. #104 Ichthyic
    January 15, 2008

    most likely a problem nipped in the bud just early enough.

  105. #105 Dustin
    January 15, 2008

    The Dungeon has a new resident.

    Myers only gave me the Vorpal Sword because he found a new Bastard Sword of Trollslaying +37, but I’m still happy to be the kind of minion who drops the good loot (if, that is, some Cleric gets extremely lucky when trying to turn me). Thanks for the nominations, everyone.

  106. #106 Podblack
    January 15, 2008

    Hello!

    I have probably one big claim to fame – I’m a personal friend of Digital Cuttlefish and his secret will stay with me forever (or at least until he gives me the say-so). Whether that will get me a great plug for my blog – http://www.podblack.wordpress.com (with it’s own handy RSS feed built-in) I don’t know.

    But anyone who loves DC’s work as much as I do will get a reader, so thanks to everyone who has posted their blog addy as I’ll add you too! :)

  107. #107 Rey Fox
    January 15, 2008

    Not that I want to endorse 4chan or anything like that, but I think they have a word that’s particularly appropriate for our newest dungeon resident: “BAAAAAAAWWWWWWWW!!!!!”

  108. #108 truth machine
    January 15, 2008

    Pardon one more OT post in my defense:

    Another lie. I did not say that that would be “morally wrong”. I said it would be morally acceptable, as there aren’t really any good arguments against it.

    Rather than lying, I may have been mistaken in my parsing of Jamie’s deontological argument. From http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/12/so_thats_what_waterboarding_is.php (all quotes are from Jamie, in the order they appeared in the thread):

    But in the ticking time-bomb scenario I described, it would be absolutely crazy to stand back and allow the destruction and maiming of millions of people, rather than torture one terrorist. There’s such a thing as a lesser evil.

    How could you possibly deny this?

    So he thinks “it would be absolutely crazy” not to torture in some instances (e.g., to save billions).

    But does his thinking that it would be absolutely crazy mean that he thinks it would be morally wrong?

    Oh yes, pardon me. I forgot that it’s morally acceptable to allow a little girl starve to death in the dark rather than torture a sick killer for several minutes. I apologize for my dumb-fuckery.

    So it’s not morally acceptable to fail to torture (to save billions); i.e., it’s morally wrong not to torture (to save billions). He reiterates this:

    Sick fucks? I can’t let that pass. This is from the guy who literally says it’s ethical to stand back and allow a million people get maimed instead of torturing a terrorist.

    So it’s not ethical to fail to torture (to save billions). But is it only terrorists that it’s morally wrong/not ethical to fail to torture (to save billions)?

    Some people here have said, in very explicit terms, that it is immoral to torture one individual even if that is the only way to save the world from (for example) Nazi conquest.

    Hmmm … “one individual”.

    I am obviously right that it would be ethical to torture someone if that were the only way of saving a million people.

    Hmmm … “someone”; obviously right. His mother is someone, isn’t she?

    “If a terrorist told you that you had to peel the skin of your mother while she was still alive to prevent a nuclear bomb going off in every city in the US, would you do it? In fact, would you kill one child to save two others? The rationale is the same.”

    Assuming we could be certain the terrorist were not lying, then yes, it clearly would be ethical to comply with his demand. But selfishness is ineluctable in humans, and we could fully understand why someone would refuse to do it.

    So it would be ethical to torture his mother (to save billions), but we should understand if he selfishly refuses to do so. He doesn’t actually say that it would be morally wrong to fail to torture his mother (to save billions). But he did imply it with talk of “someone”. And he did say that it would be “absolutely crazy” to fail to “torture one terrorist” (to save billions), and not “morally acceptable” to fail to “torture a sick killer for several minutes” (to save billions). So perhaps I was mistaken — while taking him seriously and assuming some sort of consistency on his part would yield the inference that he holds that it is morally wrong to fail to torture his mother (to save billions), he isn’t sufficiently ethical to even have consistent ethical standards; even when a billion people would perish in either case, he considers it morally acceptable and not absolutely crazy to fail to torture his mother, but not morally acceptable, and absolutely crazy, to fail to torture a terrorist or sick killer.

    I for one will not miss Jamie.

  109. #109 truth machine
    January 15, 2008

    Damn blog software. This should have been quoted (in italics) above:

    Assuming we could be certain the terrorist were not lying, then yes, it clearly would be ethical to comply with his demand. But selfishness is ineluctable in humans, and we could fully understand why someone would refuse to do it.

  110. #110 Alan Kellogg
    January 15, 2008

    This time around I’m going with Ichthyic. Not because I actually like the guy, but because even when he’s not on he’s better than most folks when they are on. Just because you don’t agree with someone all the time does not mean you can’t agree with someone some of the time.

  111. #111 truth machine
    January 15, 2008

    I must say as well that truth machine really delivered in three monstrous threads (one on Libertarians, a second on torture, and a third on…I don’t even remember anymore).

    You’re probably thinking of the global-warming-denial-troll-bait thread, where I posted over 200 comments.

    I personally have appreciated the contributions of craig and TW, especially in the torture threads.

  112. #112 Ichthyic OM
    January 15, 2008

    Just because you don’t agree with someone all the time does not mean you can’t agree with someone some of the time.

    FRENCH GUARD:
    Well, I’ll ask him, but I don’t think he’ll be very keen. Uh, he’s already got one, you see.
    ARTHUR:
    What?
    GALAHAD:
    He says they’ve already got one!
    ARTHUR:
    Are you sure he’s got one?
    FRENCH GUARD:
    Oh, yes. It’s very nice-a. (I told him we already got one.)

  113. #113 demallien
    January 15, 2008

    Hmmm, I wonder if there are any other partisans of the original Dungeons and Dragons here, as opposed to AD&D. I still have the boxed sets for Basic and Expert lying around.

    As for vorpal swords, I HATE vorpal swords, particularly those answeing to the name of Laprov…

  114. #114 Tom Foss
    January 15, 2008

    So thanks to all of you readers, we have an interesting assortment of ogres, wizards, goblins, angels, nice townsfolk, and even merchants (the spammers, who don’t last long) dwelling in the hodge-podge maze of the comment threads.

    That would explain why I just got eaten by a grue.

  115. #115 Paul Crowley
    January 15, 2008

    Jamie’s position on torture seems to be exactly my own.

    As a consequentialist, I’m pretty convinced that if it was a choice between torturing your own mother and allowing all life in the Universe to be wiped out, the former is the only moral choice, and it’s a bit weird to me that anyone would really try to argue otherwise. However, I also believe that torture should be illegal with no exceptions. If that rather implausible scenario in which torture that could save a zillion lives arises, you’ll just have to do the right thing anyway, and hope they pass a new retroactive law that recognizes your extraordinary unforseen circumstances and frees you alone.

    There is a real debate going on in the United States about whether torture should be part of a civilized state’s arsenal, and terrifyingly there is a good chance the pro-torture side may once again win the most powerful post in the world. Arguing against torture even if all life depended on it makes our side look foolish and danverously overemotive, and calling those of us who oppose all state-sanctioned torture “pro-torture” because we support it in ludicrous, irrelevant contrived circumstances muddies this vital debate and lends cover to our opponents.

  116. #116 The Flying Trilobite, fcd
    January 15, 2008

    I’m late to the party, but it’s okay, I brought a cheese tray!

    For the Molly, yes, yes, to MAJeff.

    For inclusion to the blogroll, go for Podblack. Excellent writing, even if she does brazenly flaunt her knowledge of Cuttlefish’s secrets.

  117. #117 Mrs Tilton
    January 15, 2008

    I’m touched by the couple of people who mentioned me above, but really, I don’t contribute very much to PZ’s comments threads; certainly not enough to deserve an award.

    Other people do, though. Tough choice to single one out, but I will heartily second (or third, or seventyninth or whatever) the nominations of MAJeff. As for his posts here and elsewhere, I find that (i) I often disagree, and (ii) I eagerly look forward to reading them anyway. For me, that’s the sure mark of a worthwhile commenter. (I could say much the same about Blake, who also has a lot of nominations; but he already has one of those huge glittering solid-gold busts of Our Prophet Darwin that all Molly winners receive at the secret awards ceremony deep in the caverns of Morris.)

    Paul @114,

    perhaps, in broad terms, you and Jamie do share a consequentialist view of torture. (Disdaining the humanities as he does, of course, Jamie is unlikely to be familiar with the term.) But I feel fairly certain that Jamie wasn’t thrown into the dungeon for his philosophical stance. You seem like a smart fellow; surely you can see what sets you apart from him?

  118. #118 JanieBelle
    January 15, 2008

    There’s a toss-up between my two favoritest commenters.

    Ichthyic and Blake. Ichy’s like a +5 warhammer, ready to smash stupidity at a moment’s notice. I just have the hots for Blake. The things he can do with the written word…

    And while it’s been said that I take blogwhoring to a whole new level, you apparently already know where to find me.

    (Thank you for all the traffic the other day, btw. I’m just sorry it wasn’t for a better reason than smashing that scum-sucking slimebag Cordova into the ground.) (Not that he didn’t deserve that, mind you.)

  119. #119 maxi
    January 15, 2008

    I will repeat my nomination for Bride of Shrek. Her posts never fail to be witty or erudite.

    Alas, I do not have a blog, so cannot subscribe to the blog roll.

  120. #120 truth machine
    January 15, 2008

    Jamie’s position on torture seems to be exactly my own.

    As a consequentialist, I’m pretty convinced that if it was a choice between torturing your own mother and allowing all life in the Universe to be wiped out, the former is the only moral choice, and it’s a bit weird to me that anyone would really try to argue otherwise.

    a) Jamie said that isn’t the only moral choice, that my saying that was his position was a lie, so it seems you’re having a bit of trouble following along. As I noted above, Jamie has no consistent ethical standard.

    b) It’s more than a bit weird that you acknowledge that you’re a consequentialist while apparently denying that anyone could be anything else. That seems to make you both a consequentialist and a moral absolutist. Perhaps you don’t really understand what “moral” or “choice” mean. As I quoted from naturalism.org above,

    For instance, we don’t punish the innocent even if that would somehow guarantee a safer society, since to do so would violate the Kantian deontological axiom that people be treated as ends in themselves, an axiom that reflects perhaps the central value of our liberal democracy.

    Personally, I think anyone who could actually bring themselves torture their own mother, even if they think that is the only moral choice and even if they believe that that’s the only course to save the universe, are deranged and extremely dangerous. There’s a good chance, though, that you couldn’t actually bring yourself to do it; I’m not so sure about Jamie.

  121. #121 truth machine
    January 15, 2008

    Arguing against torture even if all life depended on it makes our side look foolish and danverously overemotive

    No, actually those who pretend to explore moral principles by talking about scenarios in which all life depends on torture are intellectually dishonest and dangerously manipulative.

    and calling those of us who oppose all state-sanctioned torture “pro-torture” because we support it in ludicrous, irrelevant contrived circumstances muddies this vital debate and lends cover to our opponents.

    Jamie, in the torture thread, repeatedly used his inconsistent consequentialism to try to not justify but demand the torture of terrorists in supposedly “realistic” scenarios, and suggested that, even if they don’t exist now, they may in 50 years as terrorist organizations become more dangerous. And Jamie appealed to Sam Harris, another Islamophobe who uses similar arguments to weaken resistance to torturing terrorists, as does Alan Dershowitz. There is one and only one reason for Jamie, Harris, Dershowitz, and their ilk to engage in these discussions, at this point in time, with terrorists as their subjects, and that is to pave the way to real torture, all the while pretending to be abhorred by it.

  122. #122 truth machine
    January 15, 2008

    Make that “try to not only justify but demand“.

  123. #123 Argus
    January 15, 2008

    I’m just getting started on my blog so I don’t know if it deserves to be on the blogroll of the esteemed PZ Myers yet, but it sure won’t hurt to have a little traffic directed my way:
    http://astronomicalseeing.blogspot.com

    My favorite comment contributors are, like most everyone else, Cuttlefish and Ichthyic.

  124. #124 DaveX
    January 15, 2008

    I appreciate you keeping me ON your blogroll, PZ. Cuttlefish’s heart poem yesterday (I’m finally getting around to commenting here, so forgive the temporal weirdness) cements him as my favorite commenter, though I have to admit I have a fondness for the occasional straggler who comes in and shakes everybody up with an oddball take on the subject at hand.

  125. #125 Peter
    January 15, 2008

    the link at the top of this thread just took me to one which was, on a quick scan, ….. wordy and totally inconsequential: i.e. almost the opposite of Pharyngula. It also referred to a censoring incident which could indicate an appeasing or even toadying attitude to Islam (although the context was not clear). I hope this blog retains its evenhandedness between religions, after all there are some very heavy-hitting thing said about Christianity round here.
    As the guy said above “toleration of intolerance is cowardice”…
    Peter

  126. #126 electrichalibut
    January 15, 2008

    120+ comments in I’m sure everyone’s getting weary, so I’ll keep it brief: http://electrichalibut.blogspot.com – atheism and squids. Say no more.

    Molly nominations: among those who don’t (as far as I know) already have one I nominate MAJeff and Bride Of Shrek.

  127. #127 zer0
    January 15, 2008

    There is one and only one reason for Jamie, Harris, Dershowitz, and their ilk to engage in these discussions, at this point in time, with terrorists as their subjects, and that is to pave the way to real torture, all the while pretending to be abhorred by it.

    Jamie is rather inconsistent in that thread, however, the tone of your posts leads me to lean even further away from your point of view. I’m not going to pretend to abhor torture, but I’m in no way pro-torture. That being said, in extreme cases there are no other alternatives. Whether it be moral or not is not really the question in these extremes, rather is it necessary or not. History won’t remember that you stood there, in rectitude refusing to torture someone to prevent a tragedy. It will remember the tragedy.

    Personally, I think anyone who could actually bring themselves torture their own mother, even if they think that is the only moral choice and even if they believe that that’s the only course to save the universe, are deranged and extremely dangerous.

    Where to begin with that statement tm? So anyone that even considers the greater good or the survival of the species regardless of the act they must commit to ensure said survival… is deranged? Excuse me a moment, *clears throat* WHAT THE FUCK?!? What world do you live in, and are you selling tickets? Deranged is a pretty harsh word, and you top if off with dangerous. As if someone, in this extreme case, that chose to save us all, by killing his mother… shouldn’t be allowed to walk the streets? Don’t try to weasel me on this with some psycho bs mother issues crap either. I love my mum. She’s a wonderful, strong, nurturing woman, but she’s just ONE(1) compared to the countless many (6,000,000,000 > 1).

    #114 Paul Crowley:

    There is a real debate going on in the United States about whether torture should be part of a civilized state’s arsenal

    Unfortunately, no matter how civilized we are as a nation, we aren’t fighting another civilized nation. We are fighting a war on fronts in fundamentalist, raped-by-relgion countries still living in the dark ages. We’d be better off if we just chopped off their left hands.

    A sight that really brings this home is watching a video of Shiite Muslims beheading a Sunni, in the streets, broad daylight. Not a public execution for crimes, just a gang of guys and a rusty machete, holding down a man that they have already beaten to near death, and sawing away with the dull blade. We do not live in a country where Protestant militias are roaming the streets looking for Catholics to behead.

    So what tools do we have at our disposal? Islam countries will not be bombed into submission, we’ve found that out the hard way. Islam countries will not submit to democratic rule, again: hard way. Diplomacy doesn’t work for those that refuse to listen.

    I don’t like torture, I don’t like that we use it. I don’t like going easy on our enemies either. I don’t like that there are people out there that want to do any of us harm based solely on the country that we were born in, and the freedoms we enjoy everyday. I don’t like people like you truth machine, that would castigate someone for committing an ultimate act of sacrifice to save so many.

    P.S. I do not redact my earlier vote for Truth Machine’s Molly. Whether I agree with him or not does not change the fact that he adds much to the various debates and conversations here.

  128. #128 coathangrrr
    January 15, 2008

    Unfortunately, no matter how civilized we are as a nation, we aren’t fighting another civilized nation. We are fighting a war on fronts in fundamentalist, raped-by-relgion countries still living in the dark ages. We’d be better off if we just chopped off their left hands.

    Keep telling yourself your pretty little lies that justify the horrible things the U.S. government does. We are involved in wars in Islamic countries by choice. We fund dictators and terrorists and we have for years. The current wave of terrorism against U.S. interests pales in comparison to the amount of damage and death we have inflicted in the last seven year, not to mention the previous 50.

    Not that this makes terrorism okay, but you shouldn’t throw stones if you live in a glass house.

  129. #129 Gobaskof
    January 15, 2008

    jfatz:

    All proper Dungeon and Dragonites belong to the Holy Church of Gygax Triumphant, Reformation of 1977. That you consider the blasphemous Church of the Three and a Half Editions superior to the Word of Gygax speaks ill of your faith, and shows you have abandoned holy scripture to the immoral and decadent rules of this new millennium.
    I will hear nothing of it!

    To be honest I am just ignorant of the older editions because when I first started playing at the age of about 14 or so, 3.5 was the current edition, so I bought that book. I wasn’t even alive in 1977. Was arcane magic less lame back then? If it was I will apologise and convert.

  130. #130 zer0
    January 15, 2008

    I didn’t defend the terrible things we’ve done, and I definitely don’t defend the policy choices in the middle east of our current or past Presidents. I don’t agree with the arms deal we’re using to appease the various leaders of the region, especially the Saudis, and I’m sick of America’s involvement in the region. We are addicted to oil, and it’s our only reason for being there. I will say this though: We cannot win a war against an enemy who would have no problem walking into a cathedral with c4 strapped to their chest, when we take the moral high ground and refuse to fire back if they’re standing in the vicinity of a mosque. We have seen this, our soldiers are told to stand down and cease fire if enemy combatants flee into the mosques. We pick up our dead and walk away. We got ourselves into this mess, that’s for damn sure… but we can’t just stand there with our pants down taking it on the chin because we’re moral and civilized.

  131. #131 Sven DiMilo
    January 15, 2008

    I love biscuits, so another vote for the god thereof, MAJeff.
    Bride of Shrek is good too.

    p.s. Lou FCD, you continue to creep me out with the teen-lesbian sockpuppetry.

  132. #132 True Bob
    January 15, 2008

    zero, most of our “enemies” don’t want to go blow us up. And properly, the Bogeyman O’The Day is addressed through a (functioning) legal justice system, not by torturing poor dirt farmers whose neighbors turned them in for a reward and their land.

    If you are that scared, I recommend immediate halting of all kool-aid intake.

  133. #133 spurge
    January 15, 2008

    “but we can’t just stand there with our pants down taking it on the chin because we’re moral and civilized.”

    We sure as hell can. If by “pants down” you mean refrain from immoral actions.

    If we want to be thought of as a good and moral country then we have to act like it and damn the consequences.

  134. #134 ordinary girl
    January 15, 2008

    http://talesofordinarygirl.blogspot.com/

    My favorite commenter is still Blake Stacey, but I don’t know if he’s eligible for another Mollie.

  135. #135 zer0
    January 15, 2008

    If we want to be thought of as a good and moral country then we have to act like it and damn the consequences.

    HAHAHAHAHAA…

    Because war is all about who’s the most moral, amirite? I hate that we have 18-20 year old boys over there, fresh out of high school, told that they cannot defend themselves if they are being fired at from a mosque. The rules you seem to think battles are fought by… I don’t think the other side read them.

  136. #136 True Bob
    January 15, 2008

    The problem, zero, is that our country responded to criminal actions with military force, in the wrong place (Mad Cowboy Disease).

    The “rules” are currently those for assymetric warfare. Would you fight less than the Iraqis do, if your country was under hostile occupation?

  137. #137 Martha
    January 15, 2008

    Does this vorpal blade go “snicker-snack” when it lobs off heads? Or is one of those generic, run of the mill +3 vorpal weapons being sold at all participating Red Wizard enclaves?

  138. #138 Anon
    January 15, 2008

    What I’d like to know is (to briefly continue this bit of derail), how it is that the hypothetical scenario can specify that we know that torturing this person will save N others? There is always the risk of “oops, we got the wrong guy, but I’m certain about this next one!”

    The justification then is always “yes, we got the wrong one, but just think–if it had been the right guy, we’d have saved millions!” And therein lies the rub; if it is justifiable to torture one person to save millions, surely it is justifiable to torture two. Or ten. Or even thousands; that’s still a great return, and for the greater good.

    The omniscience required to say “we are 100% certain that torturing this person will save thousands” is out of our reach. If it were in our reach, we would not need to do the torturing in the first place.

  139. #139 spurge
    January 15, 2008

    @zer0

    “I hate that we have 18-20 year old boys over there, fresh out of high school, told that they cannot defend themselves if they are being fired at from a mosque.”

    First: We have no business in Iraq in the first place.

    Second: What exactly does your little story have to do with anything?

    Did I say it would be immoral to return fire just because someone is in a mosque?

  140. #140 Kseniya
    January 15, 2008

    [posts before reading the comment thread]

    There are always many fine candidates but, for what it’s worth, I’ve been in a Colugo sort of mood over the past month.

    (Somehow, I completely missed the Molly vote last month. Congratulations, Dustin.)

  141. #141 Kseniya
    January 15, 2008

    (Regardings votes for Blake (hi Blake!) and Cuttlefish and other members of the OM, per PZ’s comments on the matter there is no prohibition against voting for a past winner, and anything goes. It is, after all, a monthly award of recognition, not truly an Order. The “OM” title was started, for fun, by… uh… someone. (Blake?) Someone else (Carlie?) posted months ago that we should feel free to vote for whomever we felt most deserved the recognition for voting period, lest the award lapse into a perfunctory “employee of the month – whose turn is it now?” kind of thing.)

  142. #142 spurge
    January 15, 2008

    I vote for Cuttlefish.

  143. #143 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    January 15, 2008

    Because war is all about who’s the most moral, amirite?

    No it’s not. But in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism–conflicts in which ideology plays a great part–the moral battleground is a vital one.

    If your enemy demonstrates it is prepared to torture, that profoundly affects the way in which you can shape opinion, gain financial support, recruit and motivate your forces against that foe. If your enemy demonstrates that it cleaves to the rule of law, it makes it far harder for you to gain traction in the battle for hearts and minds. Manifest injustice is a great tool in mobilizing support against an enemy.

    This is why in counterinsurgency campaigns it is often best to deny the insurgent the fuel he needs to expand his operations. State atrocities provide just such fuel, whether it is a massacre or torture. The state that avoids atrocity as much as possible is the one most likely to prevail.

    For example, the Portugese in their counterinsurgency campaigns in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bussau learned from the French experience in Algeria and avoided torture. They figured that it was both unreliable as an intelligence tool and liable to create blowback. Their success in keeping violence to a controllably low level, right up to the Carnation revolution, was in part due to this. (I recommend reading John P Cann’s ‘Counterinsurgency in Africa, the Portugese Way of War 1961-1974′.)

  144. #144 Blake Stacey
    January 15, 2008

    David Utidjian (#48):

    I use Google for those purposes, with the “site:” prefix. For example, here are comments posted by Cuttlefish.

  145. #145 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    January 15, 2008

    (I recommend reading John P Cann’s ‘Counterinsurgency in Africa, the Portugese Way of War 1961-1974′.)

    I forgot to mention that Cann notes one incident of blowback, when in Mozambique the Portugese installed a brutal military governor in Tete, Colonel Armindo Videira. This officer’s systematically applied terror, including torture, culminated in the Wiriyamu massacre of 16 December 1972. Videira was dismissed, but much damage had been done. FRELIMO was given a huge propaganda victory and the Portugese never completely recovered the confidence of the population there.

  146. #146 bPer
    January 15, 2008

    Blake Stacey @#142:

    I’m not so sure that your “Posted by:” Google search works that well. When I tried it on my own name, I only got 8 hits, but I’m sure I’ve posted more than that. Still, it’s better than nothing. I wish this site had a better search engine.

  147. #147 coathangrrr
    January 15, 2008

    but we can’t just stand there with our pants down taking it on the chin because we’re moral and civilized.

    So we fucking leave Iraq. Problem solved.

  148. #148 RamblinDude
    January 15, 2008

    Even though he already has a Molly, I’m voting for Cuttlefish just to help burn off any lingering vapors from jamie’s offensive reek.

    Cuttlefish, you are without doubt the best sea dwelling poet on this blue planet. You are an inspiration.

    You are the Puccini of poetry,
    The Van Gogh of verse,
    The Rossini of rhyme,
    The, uh…squid of scansion!

    (Oh, and Jamie’s a putzy turtle headed dick)

  149. #149 Kseniya
    January 15, 2008

    The Mozart of meter?

  150. #150 Blake Stacey
    January 15, 2008

    bPer (#145):

    Yeah, I think it used to work better, but perhaps Google’s algorithm has changed.

  151. #151 windy
    January 15, 2008

    One more vote for MAJeff!

  152. #152 RamblinDude
    January 15, 2008

    The Mozart of meter?

    LOL

    Dang, I had Mozart of metaphor but it didn’t really fit so I threw it out. Yours works.

  153. #153 truth machine
    January 15, 2008

    Where to begin with that statement tm? So anyone that even considers the greater good or the survival of the species regardless of the act they must commit to ensure said survival… is deranged? Excuse me a moment, *clears throat* WHAT THE FUCK?!?

    What the fuck indeed, since that’s not what I said. Try reading it again, this time for comprehension. Although there’s not much to be expected of someone who leans away from a view because of the tone in which it is expressed.

    Unfortunately, no matter how civilized we are as a nation, we aren’t fighting another civilized nation. We are fighting a war on fronts in fundamentalist, raped-by-relgion countries still living in the dark ages. We’d be better off if we just chopped off their left hands.

    This further makes my point that all these folks saying that they are just talking about extreme hypothetical scenarios and really abhor torture are lying — it’s all about bringing about torture in the hear and now by attempting to weaken resistance to it by creating moral ambivalence.

    I do not redact my earlier vote for Truth Machine’s Molly.

    Well I do; I don’t post for anyone’s approval.

  154. #154 truth machine
    January 15, 2008

    “hear and now”

    Um, can you here me now?

  155. #155 bybelknap, FCD
    January 15, 2008

    I should not have started reading the comments before voting, but I don’t think I’ll be too unduly influenced by the few that I read. Are we allowed multiple votes?
    I enjoy the heck out of raven, but miss how s/he(?{sorry for being gender ignorant here}) used to call our xtian pals “death cultists,” which for a long time was my preferred descriptor for them.
    Brownian is terrific and fun. Ichthyic is bloomin awesomely smart and stuff (always like his contributions over at AtBC too). MAJeff is also a good person to read. Obviously not a long eared idjit galoot.

    Can I vote for four? Howabout five? Because top of the list has to be Cuttlefish. Cuttlefish has a lyrical cleverness that only the truly quick-witted posses.

    And can I vote for an Anti-Molly? Would have to be that fucktard, philistine ass-hat Jamie who, just in this thread, has once again demonstrated the true depths of his ass-hattery. This jackass wouldn’t know clever if it crawled up his bum and bit his spleen. He’s got the brains of a duck and the duck was glad to be rid of them. Jamie requires a good thrashing. He is the sort that makes me long for the days of crucifixion: “First door on the left, one cross each. Good.”
    Jamie exemplifies the pathetic anti-intellectual smugness that is the bane of civilization, and unfortunately in vogue in the US these days. Stephen Colbert describes it as “bullet-headed incuriosity,” which hits Jamie right on his leaden noggin. So, that’s my Anti-Molly vote, and should you read this Jamie, why don’t you take a nice 14 ounce ball-peen hammer and smack yourself in the head until you pass out. It can’t make you any more idiotic than you already are, and it will give me a positive image by which to fall asleep tonight.

  156. #156 MAJeff
    January 15, 2008

    Dang, I had Mozart of metaphor but it didn’t really fit so I threw it out. Yours works.

    Based on my earlier comments (with links to pretty, pretty music [/whoring]), the Mahler of Metaphor?

  157. #157 truth machine
    January 15, 2008

    She’s a wonderful, strong, nurturing woman, but she’s just ONE(1) compared to the countless many (6,000,000,000 > 1).

    It was asked in the original thread if 12 innocent children should be killed to save 13. If not, then how many does it take to make it acceptable? Kant’s deontological axiom says it’s never acceptable. You can accept that axiom or not, you can debate it all you want, but that’s different from actually carrying out such acts. What I said is that those who actually find it possible to torture an innocent human being (particularly their own mother with whom they have strong emotional bonds) as a means to the end of saving other human beings — regardless of whatever calculation they are able to make in their minds as to what they ought to do — are deranged and dangerous. If there were no people with that capacity, we wouldn’t face the sort of violence that offers up these sorts of questions.

  158. #158 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    January 16, 2008

    It was asked in the original thread if 12 innocent children should be killed to save 13. If not, then how many does it take to make it acceptable?

    This needed to be said. I asked a similar question to Jamie in an earlier thread that he declined to answer. If you are going to base your moral decisionmaking on comparative body counts, you are on a slippery slope. You begin to enter a Bizarro world in which atrocity can be justified on the basis of kill ratios.

  159. #159 Ken Cope
    January 16, 2008

    those who actually find it possible to torture an innocent human being [...] are deranged and dangerous

    Hear hear.

    The only point Sam Harris raised on this particular issue that was, for me, thought provoking (in the midst of so much that was jarring and wrong), was why people generally find it more appalling that somebody could kill with their bare hands than by remote control. Why are the actions of the pilot of the Enola Gay somehow less abhorrent than those of somebody on the ground who could face their victims and kill them? Harris drew a conclusion from that premise diametrically opposed to the one I make.

    Having watched Robert McNamara make the case he did in The Fog of War, rationalizing the firebombing of Tokyo with its American assembly line efficiency, I was not sympathetic enough to view him as Anakin Skywalker receiving absolution for his crimes because he’d saved one life amidst the countless others he’d stolen, a war criminal seeking absolution for his atrocities, rehearsing his final appeal to a jury of the dead. I couldn’t find it in me to offer any forgiveness. Remote control or hands on, dealing death, when life is rare and all too ephemeral, is not anything I know how to countenance, and I don’t want to learn.

    People are perhaps more likely to be able to understand a situation like The Cold Equations, although I like the evaluation that the only reason the events in that story occur is due to bad engineering and faulty security.

  160. #160 John Phillips, FCD
    January 16, 2008

    Truth machine, if only for his contribution in the torture thread and his attempted education of Jamie, though there are plenty of other reasons. I also would like to spread it about a bit this month with another one for Bride of Shrek, for her posts always raise at least a smile and I still envy Mr. Shrek :). Though to be honest, I could easily nominate another half dozen or so equally worthy posters already mentioned by others this month but one has to stop somewhere.

  161. #161 windy
    January 16, 2008

    those who actually find it possible to torture an innocent human being (particularly their own mother with whom they have strong emotional bonds) as a means to the end of saving other human beings

    Actually I doubt that most of them think about it too thoroughly. It’s safe to “promise” to torture your mom if you believe she’ll never be put in that situation, unlike some nasty terrorist who ‘deserves’ it anyway.

  162. #162 Monkey's Uncle
    January 16, 2008

    Bride Of Shrek. Hands down.

    Or you will invoke the wrath of my Magic User Daor Dedoolf…and suffer a magic missile up your Underhole…;)
    Besides, all the other ones I like to read are OM already.

    I lost the will to live on the torture thread, too many posts to physically read and stay sane, but broadly I would agree to torture one for the sake of many in the scenarios presented, but hey, don’t let it become law now willya?
    And I thought ‘waterboarding’ was a new exciting way to get out on the surf. D’oh.

  163. #163 mattmc
    January 16, 2008

    Hi all, I am an occasional commentor/pharyngula addict and I would probably be fired if my boss knew how much time I spend at work reading this site. I would like to cast my vote for Truth Machine. I always enjoy watching him keep people honest. MAJeff also deserves to win one for his entertaining and informative comments.

  164. #164 Bad
    January 16, 2008

    Of course, how can I resist more open self-promotion??!

    The Bad Idea Blog
    http://badidea.wordpress.com/feed

    Nomination: Blake Stacey, er wait, he already won, that would be boring. And you say I can’t nominate myself? Curses… then it will have to be truthmachine.

  165. #165 arensb
    January 16, 2008

    Actually, I’m already on your blogroll, but under the old name, “Ooblog”. I recently changed its name to “Epsilon Clue” (RSS). Unfortunately, a lot of the fundies I attract don’t see the new name as an entrance requirement.

    As for commenters, well, I’d say Blake Stacey, but that could be a safe bluff, kind of like when someone mentions an SF/Fantasy author, and you say, “Oh, yeah, didn’t he/she co-write something with Mercedes Lackey?”

  166. #166 Ichthyic
    January 17, 2008

    interestingly, there is a story in Seed right now that would be a great one for Jamie to read:

    THE FUTURE OF SCIENCE…IS ART?

    http://www.seedmagazine.com/news/2008/01/the_future_of_scienceis_art.php?utm_source=SB-bottom&utm_medium=linklist&utm_content=magazine&utm_campaign=internal%2Blinkshare

  167. #167 truth machine
    January 17, 2008

    Actually I doubt that most of them think about it too thoroughly. It’s safe to “promise” to torture your mom if you believe she’ll never be put in that situation, unlike some nasty terrorist who ‘deserves’ it anyway.

    Indeed. A requirement for someone to claim that they would torture someone or insist that we should torture someone under some circumstance should be to waterboard someone with their own hands.

  168. #168 jfatz
    January 17, 2008

    Gobaskof: To be honest I am just ignorant of the older editions because when I first started playing at the age of about 14 or so, 3.5 was the current edition, so I bought that book. I wasn’t even alive in 1977. Was arcane magic less lame back then? If it was I will apologise and convert.

    Arcane magic was way MORE lame back then. But that was after Gygax the Wise felt his church was leaving the True Path, and took his followers elsewhere. The now-blind unbelievers at TSR made every concession they could think of to the Modern Age (or “Munchkin Age”) to grow their influence, fearing reprisal from Lord Gygax’s splinter sect.

    I have indisputable evidence that Dan Brown was behind it!

  169. #169 Connecticut Man1
    January 20, 2008

    My vote is for raven… Though, I have to admit that your comment threads are so long I can not always get through the entire thread. And I am glad to see you have a Swiftian inspired Blogrolling policy. I had thought that I had tossed my name into a post you did on Blogrolling last year? I could be wrong. Just inn case:

    Drinking Liberally in New Milford

    My RSS, if you are interested and for your convenience:
    http://feeds.feedburner.com/DrinkingLiberallyInNewMilford

    At least, I think that is my RSS?

  170. #170 Chris Clarke
    February 1, 2008

    the link at the top of this thread just took me to one which was, on a quick scan, ….. wordy and totally inconsequential

    Yeah, I’m bad that way. I write stuff you actually have to read to understand. That limits my readership somewhat.

  171. #171 archcrone
    February 2, 2008

    Like ConnecticutMan1, I thought I had added you to my blogroll and dropped a note in your comments last year. My mistake.

    I have since rectified my error, and a link to you is prominently displayed in my blogroll, and I humbly ask that you link to The Crone Speaks in return.

    FWIW, while I don’t generally bring it up, the open link policy is in effect all the time at TCS.

  172. #172 Alicia Morgan
    February 3, 2008

    My only ‘claim to fame’ amid this august company is having met PZ in DC with AU in 07, and my blog may not be erudite enough to be included, but I am an ardent admirer of this blog, and I do have an RSS feed. Favorite commenter? Today, Cuttlefish; ask me again tomorrow. PZ, you’re on my roll whether you add me or not.

  173. #173 Elijah
    May 17, 2009

    +3 VORPAL!? Now thats a hell of a starter weapon!….damn i cant believe i remember that stuff.

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