Mountebank Blog

"There is nothing so impossible in nature, but mountebanks will undertake; nothing so incredible, but they will affirm."

Googlebombing for Choice

My blogroll now includes links to help with the project of Googlebombing (the accepted usage is two words, I think–but I prefer it as one) the terms “Roe v. Wade” and “Abortion Clinics.”

The idea comes from Rad Geek People’s Daily–with this explanation:

While doing a bit of Googling for a citation of the decision in Roe v. Wade, I was reminded of a rather unpleasant fact: anti-abortion nuts have, up to this point, done a pretty good job at getting their agitprop ranked above factual information about Roe v. Wade and abortion in web searches…As of 1 February 2005, the top search result for “Roe v. Wade” on Google (the one you’ll get from “I Feel Lucky”) is not the text of the case; it’s an anti-choice advocacy site called RoevWade-dot-org (I won’t link it here, lest it throw off the Google Bombing)–a one-stop shop for anti-abortion myths such as Post-Abortion Syndrome, the abortion-breast cancer link, and more, along with a heaping helping of wit and wisdom from everyone from Feminists for Life to Dr. James Dobson. You can find similar wingnut sites at the top of many other abortion-related Google searches.

So the Googlebombing project means as many people as possible put these links on their sites–so that the first Google results will at least have a chance of being what they should be .

Thanks to Scribbling Woman for bringing this to my attention. As she points out, the effectiveness of Googlebombing may be questionable–but it can at least start discussion.


Jamila Larson at Common Dreams has an excellent (if disturbing) essay on her experience at the inauguration. Her depiction of the fur, stretched skin, cowboy hats, and barely disguised, simmering, arrogant rage that descended on DC is exactly what I experienced. And I wasn’t even there for the inauguration, just happened to be in town at the same time.

Bill O’Reilly–Anti-Semitic Moron

Isn’t it a great world when a talk-show moron on a major cable network (Bill O’Reilly at Fox) feels free to slam a caller (and by extension, all Jews) with the exact same slur (“go back to Israel”) that was hurled at me (along with rocks and dogshit) on my way to and from school in 7th grade?

You have a predominantly Christian nation. You have a federal holiday based on the philosopher Jesus. And you don’t wanna hear about it? Come on, [caller] — if you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel then. I mean because we live in a country founded on Judeo — and that’s your guys’ — Christian, that’s my guys’ philosophy. But overwhelmingly, America is Christian. And the holiday is a federal holiday honoring the philosopher Jesus. So, you don’t wanna hear about it? Impossible.

The “philosopher Jesus?” As others have pointed out, where’s Plato’s holiday? Where’s Heidegger’s? More to the point, where’s Spinoza’s or Maimonides’? “Philosopher.” Bah.

Abraham Foxman of the ADL responds quite appropriately, and much more politely than I would have.

More dangerously, your remark plays into one of the oldest anti-Semitic canards about Jews, that they are not full citizens of a country and are not entitled to all of the rights afforded to the majority. The notion that religious minorities have no place in a Christian America and should leave may be acceptable for extremists, but it is unacceptable coming from a popular and respected media commentator.

To add to the “moron” part of this post’s title, O’Reilly also referred to the “seven candles” of Chanuka.

Just how popular is Fox News? Far too popular. It’s frightening. “Fair and Balanced.” Bah.

(Media Matters has the full text and audio clip of O’Reilly’s offensive rant)

Happy Chanuka!

MenorahFirst candle tonight, and I actually made some good choices in the gift-buying. A happy little girl–happy that latkes were ready when she got home from chess practice, happy with her presents, happy to say the blessings, light a candle, sing some songs–is the best Chanuka present a dad could ever have. We even cracked some walnuts (although I couldn’t find the dreidel) and played a game of Operation. Chanuka’s good when you’re a kid, but it can be even better when you’re a parent.


One day soon I’ll finally get my philosopher-king proposal worked out (Intellocracy), and the coup will follow shortly thereafter. I’ve had it (after this past election) with democracy. It’s a failed experiment, and it’s more than time to abandon it. In the new order, under the benevolent monarchy of the intelligentsia, all will be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things will be well.

Of course, in the meantime, we’ll probably need a century or two of plain old monarchy–beginning with me, HRH Joe I, and continuing through my descendants. After a few generations of that, we should be set.

Here’s Stephen Maturin on monarchy:

Man is a deeply illogical being, and must be ruled illogically. Whatever that frigid prig Bentham may say, there are innumerable motives that have nothing to do with utility. In good utilitarian logic a man does not sell all his goods to go crusading, nor does he build cathedrals; still less does he write verse. There are countless pieties without a name that find their focus in a crown. It is as well, I grant you, that the family should have worn it beyond the memory of man; for your recent creations do not answer – they are nothing in comparison of your priest-king, whose merit is irrelevant, whose place cannot be disputed, nor made the subject of a recurring vote.


At one point, early on, I thought of going to law school–not to be a lawyer, but to be a judge. Somehow the idea was appealing to me.

On the other hand…

Sure, it is weak and illiberal to speak slightingly of any considerable body of men; yet it so happens that the only judges I have known have been froward companions, and it occurs to me that not only are they subjected to the evil influence of authority but also to that of righteous indignation, which is even more deleterious. Those who judge and sentence criminals address them with an unbridled, vindictive righteousness that would be excessive in an archangel and that is indecent to the highest degree in one sinner speaking to another, and he defenceless. Righteous indignation every day, and publicly applauded! I remember an acquaintance of mine literally foaming – there was a line of white between his lips – as he condemned a wretched youth to transportation for carnal knowledge of a fine bold upstanding wench: yet this same man was himself a smell-smock, a cold, determined lecher, a voluptuary, a libertine, a discreet frequenter of Mother Abbot’s establishment in Dover Street; while another, in whose house I have drunk uncustomed wine, tea, and brandy, told a smuggler, with great vehemence, that society must be protected from such wicked men as he and his accomplices.

Some new evolution textbook stickers–

The real stickerI’m sure that most of us have heard about this sticker that (with some very devious and dishonest reasoning) the Cobb County school district has decided to put on their Biology textbooks. It’s a very bad move, suggesting to students that evolution is somehow questionable, or unreliable, or different from all the rest of the science (cells, atoms, gravity) they will be learning. The move, of course, was generated by the Intelligent Design movement, the “creationism in a lab coat” subterfuge currently being attempted since creationism itself can not be taught in public schools. Intelligent Design has been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked, and it does not belong in science classes (although the history and development of this anti-evolution movement, as well as its philosophical and religious roots, would make a great subject for a class in American History, History of Religion, Cultural Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, etc.)

Gravity is a theoryBut how to combat this kind of thing? How to make the point so clear that it can’t be missed? Well, Colin Purrington (an associate professor of evolutionary biology at Swarthmore–I’ve never met the man, but I’m a big admirer!) Has come up with a brilliant sheet of alternative stickers (see just one of my favorites on the right–there are about ten more, and some of them are even funnier). You can bet that right after Thanksgiving, when Staples is open again, I’m going to be buying me some sticker paper. These just beg to be printed. Thanks, Dr. Purrin! And please, everyone, make a donation to the National Center for Science Education today. Our students need all the help they can get.

Upcoming Invasion List

Sometimes Wonkette is not too funny…but sometimes she really cracks me up!

With Colin Powell gone, the White House looks forward to a slightly less stringent approach to invasion rationale. And, according to this list we found floating around, they’re taking advantage of that:

Country — Reason to Invade

Iran — Part of the Axis of Evil.
Syria — Harbors terrorists.
Kyrgyzstan — Too much like Kazakhstan.
North Korea — Not allowed when on Atkins diet.
Egypt — The pyramid is speaking to me.
Canada — Mmmm….bacon….
Ukraine — Started that whole cellophane wrapping of CDs and we hate that.
Thailand — Well, now that Ashcroft’s stopped spending the weekends there…
The Fauklands — Dirty-sounding name.
Lichtenstein — President does not believe this country exists.
National Geographic Society — On every map, no apparent sovereign.
California — Why not?
Poland — Don’t forget Poland.


A quote of the day from Stephen Maturin in Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander

But you know as well as I, patriotism is a word; and one that generally comes to mean either my country, right or wrong, which is infamous, or my country is always right, which is imbecile.