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December 12, 2006

Brilliant sendup
Posted by Patrick at 10:23 PM * 90 comments

What I don’t understand about this masterful parody of right-wing fruitcake web site WorldNetDaily is how its creators managed to hack it so that their spoof appears to be a real article on WND’s site. Well done!

Comments on Brilliant sendup:
#1 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 10:33 PM:

Funny.

Scary funny.


Wait for the follow-up article, where he explains:

A) All the "gay republicans" recently outed aren't really responsible, they were "victims of Soy."

B) The new budget plan for our prisons: Cut expenses by feeding the prisoners an all-soy diet, and reducing security staff.

c) Mad cow disease is a by-product of organic soy feed for cows.


And of course the scary part is, someone will believe him.

OK, many someones.

#2 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 10:37 PM:

Oh yeah, and "below the fold" so to speak he disproves his own argument -- unintentionally I'm sure:

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality.

Yes, that's right, let's see that again:

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in :
* the size of the penis,
* sexual confusion and
* homosexuality.


As long suspected, they can neither read nor write ...

#3 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 10:39 PM:

'A) All the "gay republicans" recently outed aren't really responsible, they were "victims of Soy."'

Maybe they'll go into Soy Rehab.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 10:48 PM:

Patrick came out and insisted that I look at the new post. I clicked through. My brain seized up.

"Soy. Right," I said. "That's why China has so much trouble getting its population growth rate up high enough to balance deaths."

#5 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 10:51 PM:

Peasant (2), I've been female for half a century, and I don't recall having trouble with homosexuality, the size of my penis, or gender confusion.

It's amazing how often men who're ostensibly talking about femininity turn out to be talking about men.

#6 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 10:56 PM:

You mean you didn't hear? Soy is fluoride for the 21st century. Only instead of turning you communist it turns you gay.

#8 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 11:20 PM:

Jim 6, so gay is the new communist? If only I'd known...

#9 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 11:23 PM:

FTA: There's also a serious connection between soy and cancer in adults – especially breast cancer.

Phytoestrogen and breast cancer.

Soy protein is linked to a significant reduction in risk in men for prostate cancer. So, you know, you guys should be snacking down on soy every day.

Prostate diet health

#10 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 11:37 PM:

Xopher: Jim 6, so gay is the new communist? If only I'd known...

Are there going to be gavels? Nobody told me there'd be gavels. I didn't come prepared for gavels.

#11 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 11:42 PM:

TNH @ (5)

I couldn't agree more. Projection at its best: Threatened by females, they deride them rather than addressing -- or even noticing -- their own problems.

BTW, I was quoting the article, not agreeing.

And also pointing out my amusement that he did say it "decreases homosexuality" and "decreases gender confusion" when he was rather obviously trying to prove the opposite.

As far as the "size of your penis", I imagine those men who are somehow threatened by femininity would explain [or justify] their point by the rather Freudian observation that "zero" is about as decreased as you can get ...

I, of course, having no such difficulties, will not make such a comment : )

#12 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 11:43 PM:

Oh no, we certainly can't have men mentally stimulating their feminine side, can we?

#13 ::: Erik ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 11:46 PM:

Soy: un hombre sincero.

#14 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 11:57 PM:

Back in 2000, WND was blaming a Play Station 2 shortage on a nefarious plan by Saddam to make a supercomputer out of the anguish of good little boys and girls (bwahahahah!)

WND, it's like Weekly World News, except the editors appear to believe the stories.

#15 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 12:00 AM:

Xopher, #8:
... so gay is the new communist? If only I'd known...

That memo went out the morning after the Berlin Wall came down.

I'm surprised you didn't get a copy.

#16 ::: Turtle ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 12:06 AM:

Xopher at 8, The Lavender Scare presents a fairly compelling argument that gay was the OLD communism as well.

That was way too much thought for a bad joke. I'll go back to Lurkville now.

#17 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 12:29 AM:

Xopher @ 8, and Turtle @ 16:

Based on our hostess's posting earlier this month regarding the GOP's true opinion on homosexuality (i.e. "much too good for the common people", or words to that effect), it would appear that gay was and is both the OLD communism and the NEW republican.

Which, of course, means that it is the natural perquisite of the rich and elite manipulators of conservative power bloc systems.

And don't you just love that line:

That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. ... Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because "I can't remember a time when I wasn't homosexual." No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can't remember a time when excess estrogen wasn't influencing them

Hmmm, the latest anti-evolution anti-homosexuality argument? Dogs and monkeys (and other species) who engage in homosexual behavior aren't doing it naturally, they ate some soy and it made them deviant?

#18 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 12:36 AM:

Thank God this danger has finally been exposed! Here I was blithely bulking up my ground beef with textured vegetable protein. One more burger and my man-orbs might have withered to nubs, snapped off, and rolled unnoticed down my pants legs while walking my Yorkie.

* * *

Many years back -- 1991 or so -- the Whole Earth Review published an article that suggested that Japanese men were less confrontantional and more conformist because of heavy soy consumption.

#19 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 12:50 AM:

Wow. Place your bets now: How long till a callboy outs this nutjob?

I give him 3 years.

#20 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 01:24 AM:

#19:

Tearful confession come that day: "It was high fructose corn syrup that led me astray!"

#21 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 01:34 AM:

Golly, and here all this time I thought it was just "mom-ism" that was to blame.

That does explain why there seems to be a link between homosexuality and vegetarianism, though.

#22 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 01:42 AM:

I think the claim that soy is feminizing isn't complete nonsense. But...well, I remember a book where "acid rain" was dissolving the tents where people were hiding, and then killing them, leaving smoking corpses. "Acid," you see, is not "pH below 7," but "eats through anything it touches."

This is a similar kind of absurd exaggeration.

#23 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 01:53 AM:

Not only can soy make you gay, but trans fats can lead to gender dysphoria.

#24 ::: Anaea ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 01:54 AM:

Wait, so I can use soy as a form of birth control? Pumping my body with "five birth control pills a day" sounds great!

Except the bits where the major important ingredient in birth control pills is progestin, not estrogen.

So all I'm really getting are boys with high-pitched voices and actual opinions about how I decorate the place? They might disagree with me! This must be stopped!

*Knew tofu was evil*

#25 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 02:19 AM:

Sorry to never post before (hi everyone, by the way!), and then post twice within an hour, but man oh man...has anyone been reading this guy regularly? He's absolutely incredible.

His treatise on why we have to be the only intelligent life in the universe, and why we're here because God decreed it (starting here and continuing here) is astonishing.

#26 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 02:36 AM:

I was bottle-fed on soy milk. For years I've blamed my height (short), bad teeth, lack of fashionable allergies, and various other eccentricities on this. I was looking forward to pinning various old age ailments on it too.

Now I have to quit, dammit, or be classed with this fruit loop. Drat.

#27 ::: Masamage ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 02:44 AM:

#23:

Hahahahahaha! "Trans fats!"

#28 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 02:49 AM:

I'm sure my male-to-female transgendered friends will be glad to hear that soymilk can replace expensive hormone therapy except for the part where OH WAIT IT CAN'T.

#29 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 03:24 AM:

OK, I don't expect full references in a newspaper article, but he doesn't name anyone, he doesn't give dates, he doesn't point to anything particular that might identify his sources.

It's the ultimate bad argument from authority: his only authority is that he wrote the article.

Of course, some of the stuff about pollution similar to estrogns comes from those nasty liberals, so he can't use them to support his claim. It must be hard being a neocon.

#30 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 04:28 AM:

I wonder when he's going to come up with the notion that Those People are sneaking onto elementary school playgrounds and handing out delectable treats that, in their hearts, conceal the Dreaded Tofu? Or if he already has, and is just waiting until next month to publish that one?

#31 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 04:31 AM:

And as we know, the Chinese use soy sauce.
And therefore they are so few -- only 1.3 billion at the last count.

Coincidence -- or conspiracy? You do the math...
;-P

#32 ::: Ben M ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 04:42 AM:

#25 Ethan: Wow, the series on life on other planets is awesome. Apparently, life could never evolve (even under the "assumption that macroevolution is real") except on a planet with plate tectonics, a 23-degree tilt, a 24-hour day, and 20% oxygen in the atmosphere. "I could carry on like this for a long time", he says, and he's telling the truth.

Go to his home page, and you'll find a man who joined Chuck Colson's ministry after a 12-year career as an Amway distributor.

#33 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 05:05 AM:

You know, there are times when I'm glad I only get American media mediated by (mostly) intelligent people I (mostly) trust not to have left their intelligence in a jar by the door.

Which isn't to say we don't have big mouthed morons over here. We do. Not that I buy the Daily Mail, or even read it when its been left on the train (well, you don't know what you might catch from whoever read it last. Is imbecility contagious?).

Just don't get me started on the link between ADHD snd aerated lead.

#34 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 05:15 AM:

Many years back -- 1991 or so -- the Whole Earth Review published an article that suggested that Japanese men were less confrontantional and more conformist because of heavy soy consumption.

Well, speaking personally, I actually become more confrontational after heavy soy consumption. I can't stand tofu.
(Interestingly, however, my dress sense is terrible. So that sort of backs up the original argument.)

#35 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 05:56 AM:

Xopher (8): Jim 6, so gay is the new communist? If only I'd known...

Well, they did call them "Pinkos."

#36 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 06:13 AM:

"Soylent Green is made with people!!!"

Now that I've got that out of my system...

About a decrease in the size of the penis... As came up during a discussion I once had with a male co-worker who frequently participated in contests of speed when cutting logs with a chainsaw, it's not the size that matters but what you do with it.

#37 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 06:42 AM:

An internet classic is born.

This guy may end up doing more for the cause of gay rights than even the Right Reverend Fred Phelps could manage.

I love free speech.

#38 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 07:06 AM:

Okay, confused. Is this actually a spoof, or am I having a sarcasm detection failure here?


#39 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 07:17 AM:

As PZ Myers is taking it seriously, 38, I think you'd better assume it's sarcasm. I went to a school that served soya mince in the canteen because it was cheaper than meat and this was the Thatcher government (see comment on Pinochet thread), but I haven't turned gay yet. But I am a socialist - does that have anything to do with it?

#40 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 07:45 AM:

Now if we could only get fluoridated tofu. Then maybe we could add something about how that would make them militant, feminista environmentalists. Add a little Cold War, Knights of Columbus secret society activism in there. (stir stir stir)

Oh, yeah, "Nuke a gay, commie, baby whale for Christ."

(sound of forehead hitting tabletop) must (bang) stop (bang) the stupid. (bang)

#41 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 07:51 AM:

#25 Ethan: Whoa. Thanks for sharing that. The man should write for the Onion.

On one specific point, however, I should like to address the community, fully aware that I might make another word for donkey out of myself: He says that:

The Moon [...] keeps the Earth rotating in line with the Sun instead of spinning end over end and wiping out life century after century.

I read this and immediately thought a rude word. I mean, tides and things yeah, but our actual rotation speed? Which appears to be slowing down? Come on. (Note how I refrain from spewing all over century after century.)

But then, doubt crept in. Has he got it right, just this once? Forward the astronomers?

*ducks*

#42 ::: Jamie Bowden ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 08:29 AM:

Sus: not rotation speed. The moon stabilizes the earth on its axis. Without the moon, we'd still orbit in the elliptical plane, but there wouldn't be a fixed axis as such.

He's still a complete nutjob, but that point actually is valid. It also wouldn't wipe out all life. Just the higher life forms.

It's still not proof of anything more than that in a universe of billions of galaxies with billions of stars that, statistically, some are going to have orbiting planets with the conditions to support life.

#43 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 08:36 AM:

He's obviously got it wrong. It's sorghum that makes you gay.

Proof? You want proof? Well, lots of sorghum is grown in Kentucky, and according to the state song ('My Old Kentucky Home, Goodnight'), 'the people are gay'.

#44 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 08:42 AM:

Ta, Jamie :) Much appreciated.

Still, one valid point doeth not make a wise man. Or even a remotely intelligent one, it would appear.

#45 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 08:45 AM:

Has anyone seen the fairly recent Hummer ad in which a guy feels emasculated because he's buying salad and tofu, and the only way to make him feel more like a real man is to go out & buy a Hummer?

My vegetarian husband ROARED in his best Bronx accent, "Yeah I used to MUG people like you!"

Perhaps I need to force-feed him edamame. The tofu & fakin' bacon isn't doing nearly enough to clamp down the testosterone.

#46 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 08:48 AM:

Jamie @42: Errr, no. At least not to wiping out the higher life forms. There would still be a "fixed" axis on short timescales (and BTW? Earth's axis currently has a wobble with a period of 40000yr IIRC), but the wobble would probably be larger than it presently is. Don't remember the precise details, it's been a while since I took a Solar System Dynamics course.

I don't think there's any chance of said wobble increasing to 90 degrees over a billion-year timescale, however (which is pretty much what it would take to wipe out higher lifeforms). But I'm willing to be corrected.

#47 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 08:49 AM:

I seem to recall reading that there are about 50 billion main-sequence solo stars of sufficient age in this galaxy. If only one in a million of them has a rocky planet of about earth's size in the zone where water can exist as a liquid under an atmospheric pressure consistent with such a mass, then there are about 50 thousand earth-like planets out there. Those odds look good.

This chap is a baroque fruitloop, though, there's no doubt.

#48 ::: Stephen G ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 08:54 AM:

Note that the WND has had an attack of minor re-writing. The article's title yesterday was "A devil food is turning our kids into homosexuals." Now it's "Soy is making kids 'gay'." Glad they were so quick to edit the article's title while leaving the stupid in place. Though the quote marks around "gay" seem entirely appropriate.

#49 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 08:58 AM:

Dave, not to mention the theory (which I cheerfully subscribe to because I am no scientist) that other intelligent life might not actually need water to develop/exist. Personally, I say the odds are outstanding :)

#50 ::: Dave ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 09:12 AM:

What is really unfortunate about this article is that it obfuscates the actual research that has been done on soy's biological properties. Clinical studies have shown that the phytoestrogens in soy (and some other foods) have an effect on hormone levels in the body (which is why they're good for men with prostate problems).

There are a lot of people out there who should probably be moderating their intake of soy. And I'd suspect that male fetuses and babies are indeed on that list. But the lesson to take away is that anything you consume needs to be taken in moderation, not that OH MY GOD SOY IS KILLING OUR CHILDREN!!!!

#51 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 09:13 AM:

Maybe we shouldn't make fun. The dude is 98 years old! (Click on 'About'.)

I was born on Aruba, but was sent at age 32 to live in the US as something of a refugee from German attacks on the island during World War II.

I had a boring childhood, enduring public schools in Oregon, Nebraska and California.

So he was 32 in 1940. He was also "something of a refugee", which defeats me completely. *is defeated*

His childhood must've been REALLY boring too, if he doesn't remember the first 32 years of his life.

Clearly a confused soul. We shouldn't poke fun.

#52 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 09:18 AM:

Ack, that post went totally wrong! What I was saying was:

Maybe we shouldn't make fun. The dude is 98 years old! (Go to http://www.jimrutz.com/ and click on 'About'.)

"I was born on Aruba, but was sent at age 32 to live in the US as something of a refugee from German attacks on the island during World War II.

I had a boring childhood, enduring public schools in Oregon, Nebraska and California."

So he was 32 in 1940, which my dangerous maths makes him 98 years old now. He was also "something of a refugee", which defeats me completely. *is defeated*

His childhood must've been REALLY boring too, if he doesn't remember the first 32 years of his life.

Clearly a confused soul. We shouldn't poke fun.

#53 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 09:39 AM:

A science book a few years back called Rare Earth set out, in a rather convincing fashion, that the evolution of macrolife on Earth really was quite remarkably unlikely. Obviously, the point isn't that it could only have happened once, but it's much more likely to be one in a million or billion than one in a thousand. It's sort of the dark side of Drake's Equation - there are a lot of terms in there that Drake didn't identify, and you need scientific notation with negative exponents to measure most of them.

#54 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 09:44 AM:

Alex... I seem to remember reading a few years ago in the Skeptical Inquirer that the authors of Rare Earth really are in the Intelligent-Design camp, and that their purpose is to again reassert humanity's place at the center of the universe, again using science to attempt to undermine it.

#55 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 10:07 AM:

Remarkable that no one's yet mentioned dinosaurs! (Prehistoric soy-munchin' sodomizers....)

#56 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 10:16 AM:

Or, of course, soy bomb.

(Ahhhhh -- I feel so much better getting that out of my system. Resume whatever you were doing.)

#57 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 10:19 AM:

On a far more serious note regarding soy, I just found this on the Science Daily site. (Link function doesn't seem to be working for me this morning, so go to: http://www.sciencedaily.com/upi/index.php?feed=Science&article=UPI-1-20061213-09172100-bc-us-multiplesclerosis.xml)

#58 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 10:19 AM:

Faren @ 55... Remarkable that no one's yet mentioned dinosaurs! (Prehistoric soy-munchin' sodomizers....)

Soydomizers, Faren? Anyway, since soy adversely affects the male naughty bits, there is a lower chance of you-know-what to occur.

#59 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 10:24 AM:

...since soy adversely affects the male naughty bits, there is a lower chance of you-know-what to occur.

Or, at least, a smaller chance you will notice you are being sodomized.

#60 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 10:48 AM:

> recent Hummer ad (#45)

Jesus' General's take on the article:
If we stop feeding soy products to our manchildren, who's going to buy tomorrow's Hummers, Dodge Rams, and Ford Excursions?

(Preview is eating the href, let's see what post does.)

#61 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 10:52 AM:

No, it's broken. Try http://preview.tinyurl.com/yelyro

#62 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 12:00 PM:

Alan, that tinyurl doesn't work either.

#63 ::: Jamie Bowden ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 12:06 PM:

Malthus (@46) I know it wouldn't shift 90deg, but it would definately shift often enough to totally wipe out large ecologies due to rapid climate change, and it'd happen often enough that the mass extinction of larger species would be a regular occurance.

The moon may or may not be a harsh mistress, but you can't live without her.

#64 ::: Ethan #2 ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 12:07 PM:

Sus #52.

If he was "sent" here as a sort of refugee at age 32, who was doing the sending and why? And then he attended (presumably at age 33 et seq.) public schools in various states? Or was that schooling before he was sent to the US?

Moreover, Aruba is a small island off the coast of Venezuela. Why were the Germans attacking it during WWII? Is it actually part of the Netherlands Antilles? What possible military importance could it have had?

#65 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 12:13 PM:

Ethan #64

If he was "sent" here as a sort of refugee at age 32, who was doing the sending and why? And then he attended (presumably at age 33 et seq.) public schools in various states? Or was that schooling before he was sent to the US?

Precisely my point :)

Moreover, Aruba is a small island off the coast of Venezuela. Why were the Germans attacking it during WWII? Is it actually part of the Netherlands Antilles? What possible military importance could it have had?

Actually, I found this so bizarre, I looked it up. Turns out Germany really did attack Aruba (1940 or thereabouts) as part of the war against the Netherlands! Random, but true.

PS You didn't think my earlier post was serious, did you? That would embarrass me no end.

#66 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 12:33 PM:

#44, or "even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then."

#67 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 01:30 PM:

Hmm... that weird bug that affects Safari (but not Firefox), turning the text light gray or off-white (if you move your mouse over it) has cropped up, starting at post #51.

#68 ::: PZ Myers ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 01:42 PM:

If you think that article was funny, you ought to check out the author's weblog. He takes a trip to Russia, and comes back with a bride. For real.

#69 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 02:27 PM:

Jamie Bowden (#63) said:
Malthus (@46) I know it wouldn't shift 90deg, but it would definately shift often enough to totally wipe out large ecologies due to rapid climate change, and it'd happen often enough that the mass extinction of larger species would be a regular occurance.

Whether it would "totally wipe out large ecologies" depends on how fast it changes. If the timescale is hundreds of thousands to millions of years, then it may not be very devastating (and one can make hand-waving, possibly dubious arguments that a too-stable climate might not promote rapid evolution). Even tens of thousands of years might be long enough, as long as you didn't have the land surface divided up into small, islolated islands.[*]

Also, the large-scale changes in Mars' axial tilt are a result of the interaction of Mars with other planets in the Solar System; change the makeup of the Solar System, and you may change the nature and strength of axial tilt variations. Axial-tilt variations also depend on the speed of rotation; it's been suggested that if the Earth hadn't acquired the Moon, it would be spinning faster -- possibly fast enough to avoid large axial-tilt changes even without the Moon's presence. Note that Venus and Mercury are not thought to have large changes in their axial tilts. So while one could argue that Earth's moon "protects" Earth in this sense, I don't think one can easily generalize this to all terrestrial planets in all solar systems.


[*] If the climate changes, ecosystems can adjust by shifting north or south, as necessary -- if the change is slow enough, and if there's land to the north or south to shift to!

#70 ::: Zed ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 03:11 PM:

There have been lots of soy scare stories in the bodybuilding world.

"I'll go as far as to say that supplementing your diet with soy is a good idea... if you're either a female or a eunuch."

"In addition to living up to Adam's claim that it lowers testosterone, soy also breaks down existing muscle, can contribute to the development of certain cancers, retards the sexual development of fetuses, and contributes to the possibility of thyroid problems."

Suppression of this information is sometimes spun as a conspiracy: "Any opinions to contradict the facts noted above have been paid for by the Agribusiness giants Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland" (always a sign of credibility when a hypothesis includes a built-in ad hominem against its opponents.)

Anecdotally, I've eaten a lot of soy in my last 15 years of vegetarianism, and my beard hasn't fallen out yet. But some data does seem suggestive that there could be such a thing as too much soy, and that it could be a bad thing to continue the trend of isolated soy protein into more and more processed foods. I'm more or less with Dave (#50) that the issue could stand some sane attention paid to it, and it's unfortunate that stories like this don't help that end.

#71 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 03:29 PM:

There's nothing inherently bad about "rare earth" speculation, but the notion that it's that way because God wanted it is just plain silly.

Notions of how many planets / inhabitable planets swings back and forth. Back when Olaf Stapledon was writing cutting edge SF, the accepted theory was that Sol's planets condensed from a plume of gas torn off by another passing star. Since this was likely a rare event, it was supposed that planets were rare.

FF a few years, another theory is popular, and SF universes are full of planets with tidy star systems.

Now that we're able to detect extrasolar planets, we're seeing all sorts of weird unexpected things, like hot gas giants.

Stay tuned!

#72 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 03:53 PM:

"I've been female for half a century, and I don't recall having trouble with homosexuality, the size of my penis, or gender confusion."

Well, but if you're confused about your gender, you wouldn't recall that stuff, would you?

Not only that, but it is well know to readers of this site that you are in a long-term relationship with a male, and I'd venture to guess that, although you domn't regard the topic as important (doubtless due to gender confusion), you probably don't have a very large penis, do you?

Q. E. D., another tragic victim of gay soy.

#73 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 04:59 PM:

If you think that article was funny, you ought to check out the author's weblog. He takes a trip to Russia, and comes back with a bride. For real.

How lucky he must be. Traveling all the way to the Ukraine, meeting by chance a lovely young lady who, within the time limits imposed by his trip, agrees to marry him. I wonder where they'll settle? The Ukraine or the good old U. S. of A.?

What a lovely story. I guess this one's for all you people out there who don't believe it can happen to you, if you are young at heart. Or, you know, if you read the bulk mail folder at your yahoo.com email account.

#74 ::: the first ethan who posted on this thread ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 05:03 PM:

#64, Ethan #2...I didn't steal your name, did I? I'll gladly use a different one if you'd like.

I'd forgotten about the Hummer commercial. God, why do people like nonagenarian Jim Rutz worry about soy? Even with massive changes to our biology, "traditional" gender roles are pounded into our heads so violently that we have little choice but to obey.

#75 ::: Adrienne Travis ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 05:04 PM:

Not to lend any actual weight to his argument, but it's my understanding that there are a number of serious studies regarding the estrogens in soy and their effects (both positive and negative). And hile homosexuality's not implicated in any of them to the best of my knowledge, i DO remember seeing one that linked soy consumption by pregnant women with decreased penis size in their male offspring. Not, mind you, decreased libido -- just penis size.

The point being, he's using a very EFFECTIVE kind of craziness -- he's got JUST enough science behind him to be merely ridiculous and not Making Shit Up.

--Adrienne

#76 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 05:09 PM:

Yo soy gay. Or should that be "Yo! Soy gay!"?

#77 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 05:12 PM:

Xopher @76

Yo soy, gay. (Porque yo pienso.)

I'd only say that to someone as out as you, though.

#78 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 06:40 PM:

I'm trying to think of a joke involving the phrase "Soylent Pink". Can everyone just pretend that I have succeeded, and that it was rather witty? Thanks. (It's late. Brain slowing.)

#79 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 07:20 PM:

Abi #77: No creo que el hecho de ser gay es producto del pensamiento.

(Debo decir tambien que no soy pienso...)

#80 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 07:28 PM:

No, no, Fragano.

Yo soy, porque yo pienso. Y Xopher es gay - como se dice "vocative" in Español?

#81 ::: little light ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 07:31 PM:

This reminds me of an exceedingly awkward family Thanksgiving a few years back, right after I'd come out to my folks, which peaked in a discussion of the properties of yams re: sexual prowess, fertility ritual, and Being So Full of Phytoestrogens They Made Me Queer.
You can still get my mother to whiteknuckle the table by exclaiming, "too many yaaaams!"

#82 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 07:35 PM:

Abi #80: Vocativo.

Comprendo. ¿Pero si no pienses, desaparecerás?

Yo sigo no siendo pienso....

#83 ::: Juli Thompson sees a bad tag in post 51 ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 10:26 PM:

The text is almost unreadable in Safari, as Peter Erwin points out in #67.

#84 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 04:18 AM:

Alex Cohen@53: There are a lot of terms in the Drake Equation. Some, as you note, are very small. On the other hand, some are very large. Simple probability suggests that the result should therefore be either very small (essentially zero) or very large; it seems unlikely that the small terms and the large ones should just happen to balance each other almost exactly.

But we know the equation's result isn't very small. It has to be at least one. So, Fermi's paradox: if the number of technically advanced civilizations in the galaxy is large, why don't we see them?

(I sometimes think that the result of the equation is in fact very small, but non-zero: and that the interpretation of this number for the universe at large is -- that intelligent life arises frequently but never lasts long. We have arisen, but happen not to have destroyed ourselves yet.)

#85 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 12:28 PM:

Peasant (2), I've been female for half a century, and I don't recall having trouble with homosexuality, the size of my penis, or gender confusion.

Whether or not you're troubled by it, I'm willing to bet that you've had trouble with it...

#86 ::: Shannon ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 12:36 PM:

He takes a trip to Russia, and comes back with a bride. For real.

The short time period, situation described and his bride's age (she's a senior in college - he's got to be pushing 55) undermines my opinion of him almost as much as his ridiculous rhetoric. Everything about that relationship screams "Guy obviously taking advantage of his power." Perhaps that's prejudiced towards him, but certainly no more so than his prejudice against homosexuals.

#87 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 03:30 PM:

But we know the equation's result isn't very small. It has to be at least one.

Unfortunately, we know no such thing. The equation, as usually stated, may evaluate to a value extremely close to zero, and there is no reason to believe it didn't.

This is the same kind of thinking that makes people who are the subject of extremely unlikely events believe that those events were in some way planned. P(A/A) = 1, but that tells us nothing about P(A).

Another way of looking at it is that there may well be multiple universes, all roughly similar to each other. I.e., there's an extra term to the equation that we don't usually consider. The value of that term may put the actual answer in some astronomically high range (or may even make it infinite), yet still leave the Drake equation for its original purpose (determining how many technological civilizations exist in our galaxy) giving an answer of effectively zero.

My personal belief is that P(complex life evolving) and P(intelligent life evolving/complex life has evolved) (which are usually multiplied into $f_{i}$ for Drake's expression) are both lower than most people usually estimate. I suspect there is a very large number of habitable planets out there that only support either unicellular life, or life that lacks intelligence. The unintelligent life may well lack any form of advanced sense organ, the evolution of which may be necessary before intelligence can evolve.

#88 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2006, 06:43 PM:

"Soylent Green is made with people!!!"

hmm, that explains it, I'd always thought it was rather soy-disant.

dependent on the ingredients Soylent Green is basically the same thing as oral sex.

#89 ::: Steven Gould ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2006, 07:13 PM:

Scientific American weighs in.

#90 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2006, 04:00 AM:

Erik, #13: Soy: un hombre sincero.

You owe me a new keyboard, not to mention an apology for sticking me with the earworm. :-)

Stephen, #48: I'll bet they had to rewrite it because of a flood of panicked inquiries about devil's-food cake. And if anyone notices a new wingnut rumor to the effect that eating devil's food pastry makes kids gay, you saw the prediction here first!


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