Skepchick Quickies, 7.22


Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. I first listened to Jimmy Carter on the SGU podcast. He truly impressed my and, I believe, the SGU panel. This is one smart guy.

    This latest from Jimmy Carter pushes his stock even way higher. Most of us here have probably not been alive as long as he’s been a member of his church, which he broke all ties with on a matter of personal conviction.

    That is strength of character indeed.

  2. @Gabrielbrawley:

    I’ll second that nomination for backs. What a silly design that was! Also, it’s sort of ridiculous that I once broke my foot simply by walking on an uneven sidewalk, and I was only 20 years old and a lover of dairy products.

  3. I’m glad Jimmy Carter left the SBC, but I am wondering two things:

    1) Why now? The SBC did not recently start discriminating against women. This has been going on for some time. Carter is an extremely smart man — how had he not noticed this?

    2) Why is he putting up with the rest? Second-class citizenship (at best) for the ladies is not unique to the Southern Baptist Convention. That shit comes right from the New Testament (actually the Old Testament, but modern Christians claim God has changed since then). When Carter repudiates the SBC for it, he is really criticizing the Bible. As far as I know, he’s still a devout Christian — why can he so cavalierly ignore this one facet of the Bible but still swallow the rest of it?

    I’m glad he did what he did. I wish he’d take it to the logical conclusion.

  4. When I google Torquil Paterson, all I get is a Scottish motorcycle racer. I’m guessing it’s not the same guy.

    @durnett: “Judge announces he is an atheist. Nobody cares.”

    The good news is that we seem to be rapidly running out of the “First (minority) to (achievement)” headlines. I figure by the time we get to, say, “first transgender single parent atheist president”, nobody with will even raise an eyebrow.
    “Wait, wasn’t President Milo Cyrus transgender?”
    “Yeah, but he didn’t have any kids until after he left office.”

  5. Man, what’s that evolution article talking about? I’d love to have a blowhole! It would be a heck of a lot better than trying to breathe through my foodhole.

  6. @Gabrielbrawley: I’ll third the nomination for the human back and second it for the human knee. Specifically my back, which hasn’t been right since 1994, and my right knee, which hasn’t right for three years.

  7. @Andrew Nixon: You know what really sucks about knees? Using them deystroys them. Run for your heart and you will eventually screw up your knees just from using them. Damn crappy design. And backs. Its like they were really designed for an animal that walks on four legs not two.

  8. @phlebas:

    I’m kind of with you on this subject. I mean I’m totally stoke to read the a fucking former president of the United States of illegitimate Children of Christ had the balls to say what he did, but I’m wondering if this really was his only reason for leaving the church and if he just left the church or if he left the religion. However, all I want right now is to find Mr. Carter and hug him.

    As for the mother effing Goliath Bird-Eating Spiders…. What.The.Fuck. Just another reason besides the penis fish to never set foot in South America.


    Dude. For real. In the words of Christopher Hitchens, “Some designer, eh?”

  9. If we’re going to talk about human anatomical issues, we should probably include the whole fetus-cranium-to-adult-pelvis ratio thing. I mean, any situation that requires your brain to be extruded through a 10cm opening can’t be a good idea.

  10. @scotte: “Gabrielbrawley, that’s why I bike, man. Running, walking, and driving suck.”

    Uh, oh. The skepbiking contingent grows. I stopped running in my 30’s because of joint pain. In my late 30’s the pain came back even when just walking. Regular biking, suggested by my doctor, has kept me comfortable for the last 7 years or so. (That can’t be right. Why on earth would a doctor prescribe something that earned her no profit?!)

  11. @Aaron:

    I’d love to have a blowhole! It would be a heck of a lot better than trying to breathe through my foodhole.

    Are you sure they don’t have the same crossover further down, just like we do? Isn’t a blowhole just a nose, moved over? Is there a cetologist in the house?

  12. @Steve:

    Brains have relatively hard skulls to protect them coming through the hole. You should imagine the tearing of tissue and extreme pain for the other person involved. Now, that’s a bad design, dammit!

  13. @Steve: I’m reminded of an exchange between Alan Davies and Stephen Fry on the UK comedy show QI. I’m paraphrasing here, as I haven’t tried hard enough to find a clip:

    AD: Do you think it should be easier to give birth and harder to conceive? Mind you you wouldn’t want hours of screaming agony just to conceive would you?
    SF: That’s what it sounds like to me.

  14. @Gabrielbrawley:

    Its like they were really designed for an animal that walks on four legs not two.

    Add to that a respiratory tract with the opening at the top, so that once dust and crap falls in, it stays in.

  15. @Gabrielbrawley: This is exactly what happened with my knee. My doctor told me to do more exercise to get my weight down, and that’s when I did my knee in. I’d bet that the most common injuries in sports are to do with the knees.

    And don’t get me started on ankles…

  16. @phlebas: Ok, so here is more information:


    “Apparently Carter leaving the church is old news, but he issued a position paper this week on the subject, severing all ties. Thanks!”

    (At the bottom of the post I linked to, there are links to that position paper he issued.)

    To quote him:

    The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

    Anyway, I don’t agree with his belief in God, but I can’t help but respect this man. Religion will never go away, at least not any time soon, so it’s good that there are people within trying to change things.

  17. @catgirl:

    Hel-LLOOOO?! Haven’t you gotten the xian memo? The “other person” involved in child birth isn’t a person at all, merely a baby incubator, with feeding apparatuses conveniently attached.

    Sorry for the sarcasm, now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

  18. @pciszek:

    Actually, having helped to snake a watering tube down the throat of a dolphin, I can personally attest to their “bypass.” The larynx of cetaceans form a sort of nozzle or nipple that crosses the esophagus and plugs directly into the underside of their nasal cavity- so their respiratory system is routed exclusively through their “nose,” the digestive tract through their mouth, and never the twain shall meet. As a result, they also don’t have a gag reflex- hence the ease of getting a tube down their throats when they need to be watered for medical support.

    And not to bonk you twice, but we do get stuff out of our lungs- its what all that ciliated tissue in there does- pumps contaminated mucus out. Its part of why smoking tobacco is so problematic- nicotine relaxes the cillia and they quit pumping out particulates.

  19. davew: doctors are obviously just another part of the chain in the huge bicycle-industrial complex!

    Peregrine: when you live underwater, having sinuses lined with respiratory epithelium become sort of unnecessary for various reasons (and modern cetaceans don’t have paranasal sinuses).

    In cetaeceans, sinuses are used for directional hearing underwater, but they also have extracranial diverticulae, which are sinuses flexible enough to permit gas exchange during diving (otherwise, the sinus could collapse or crush surrounding bone with the pressure differential).

    Ceteceans cannot pass air from the mouth to or from the the lungs, but Humpback whales apparently can for generating those bubble clouds of air.

    (I’m not a cetologist. I just read a lot.)

  20. Jimmy Carter is made of win.

    You know, I wonder… if there were any “religions” out there that promoted those good things he talked about at the end without promoting any magical beings or beliefs, would atheists join? Or is the magical-ness a defining characteristic of “religion”?

  21. You mean like Unitarian Universalism? Or various forms of western Buddhism? Where spirituality and morality are emphasized over blind adherence, and supernatural beliefs are pretty much optional?

    They do exist, and some atheists do participate, and still call themselves atheists. Though whether that qualifies as a “religion”, or how well they promote or adhere to all those good things, may be a matter of opinion.

  22. [blockquote]7 Human stomach. People can digest a lot — except for cellulose, the primary component of plant matter. Why don’t we have commensal bacteria in our guts to do it? They’re busy helping termites.[/blockquote]

    This gave me an idea for a woo treatment. Termite enemas to help you digest cellulose. I wouldn’t be able to sell it with a straight face though, so I’m willing to be the silent partner if any of you people want to be in on this.

  23. I applaud Mr. Carter to an extent, but it’s rather amusing that he specifically singles out the Apostle Paul as a paragon of gender equality when it was he who famously wrote:

    Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.

    And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

    1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (King James Version)

    Note that this is from one of Paul’s “undisputed” epistles, so I’m not sure how Carter rationalizes it, but like most on the Christian left, he probably just conveniently ignores or reinterprets the Bible whenever it conflicts with his own logically arrived at moral compass.

    If Carter truly is, “deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it,” he should go on TV and take scissors to his Bible and cut out all the stuff our modern civilization finds morally repugnant or abhorrent.

    It would make for a fascinating — what — couple thousand hours of television?

  24. Yeah. Reincarnation is a weird one. As I understand it, it’s more like rebirth, which makes a bit more sense, if you get into it. You don’t have to believe in it, but it’s useful to understand if you get into the philosophy.

    I tend to take that stuff metaphorically, myself. I mean, how could any self-respecting atheist take it any other way but metaphorically, and still call themselves a skeptic? *shrug*

  25. @JustinOlson:

    “but like most on the Christian left, he probably just conveniently ignores or reinterprets the Bible whenever it conflicts with his own logically arrived at moral compass.”

    Oh, you mean exactly the way the people on the Christian right do? Or the members of any religion do? The religious right makes up stuff against abortion and masturbation that has no support in the Bible at all.

    The Bible is pretty ambiguous on most subjects, and there is especially conflict between the old and new testaments. However, it does actually say a few good things in addition to the awful things that the extremists love to quote out of context.

    Also, some Christians take the Bible in its historical context in attempting to interpret it. I know it’s hard to believe that any religious person would actually think about things, but some people actually put a lot of thought into what the stories mean and what the authors meant to say. I’m not saying they interpret it correctly or incorrectly, but most Christians don’t take it literally. They’re really not all complete idiots; it’s just that the dumbest, most delusional ones are also the loudest.

  26. @scotte: @davew: My problem is that I really like running. I bike sometimes but for me it isn’t as satisfying. Now I have to stretch and stretch and then walk almost a mile before I can start running and it isn’t until sometime into mile 2 before I really warm up and feel good.

  27. @Aristothenes:

    we do get stuff out of our lungs- its what all that ciliated tissue in there does- pumps contaminated mucus out.

    I thought I read somewhere that a lot of human respiratory problems could be traced to converting a horizontal system into a vertical one with the opening at the top.

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