Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Two Stories, and a Moral

I have a couple of stories to share with you.


Years ago (around 1992), before my twins were born, my sister called me at her wits' end. Her son was failing high school. He'd been kept back a grade, and she couldn't get him back on track. Not only was his classwork and homework lacking, he suffered from headaches which caused him to exceed his allowed sick days. He was also just generally truant.

"Send him to me," I said. So he came to live with me in the little city of Union, where there is one high school that serves the entire county. The school is located outside of town, miles from the nearest convenience store. I enrolled him there.

Shortly after the school year started, he called me from the school office. "Uncle Dave," he said, "I have a really bad headache. Can you come sign me out?"

"Go to the nurse and get some aspirin," I said.

"They won't hand out any medications," he replied (and that was true... I spoke with the nurse). He pleaded, "Can you please come sign me out?"

He had already been with me for some time, and I'm not an unobservant fellow. I noted with some interest that he didn't seem to suffer from these chronic headaches I'd been told about... not until he started school. "Meet me at the front of the school," I replied.

So I drove to the school, and there on the curb outside of the office stood my nephew, expectantly awaiting his ride home. He was still standing there after I rolled down the car window as I drove past slowly and wordlessly tossed a bottle of aspirin in his general direction.

He never asked for another ride home, and he completed that year and was promoted to the next grade.


I have three sons. I have never ridden herd over any of them regarding homework. It was their assignment, their responsibility, their job; just as at their age my homework was my job. I have always been available to help when asked, but otherwise I'm completely hands-off.

That doesn't mean I don't pay attention. One of my children failed... more than once. For several years he attended summer school so that he wasn't held back a grade. It's not that he couldn't do the work... he made straight As in summer school. It's that he didn't want to do the assignments, and it cost him.

One day he came to me and said, "Dad, I don't want to be stupid anymore."

"Well then you're in luck. You were never stupid to begin with," I replied.

He said, "You know what I mean. I want to get out of the slower classes. I might have messed this up. I need help."

"OK," I said, "Here's what you need to do. If you need help understanding something, ask me. But don't wait until it's a problem. Just ask me as soon as you realize you don't understand it. But start by making sure you do your homework and turn your assignments in on time."

He did his homework and turned his assignments in on time. He never asked me for help in high school. He never needed it. Today he's in his second year at the University of South Carolina, and is a model student. Occasionally he asks me to proofread a paper.


I didn't respond to either of these young men the way they wanted or expected. My nephew wanted to go home and be pampered. I made him stay and slog out the remainder of that day and every other day he claimed a headache. He eventually stopped claiming them and just passed his grade. He could have done that at any time. If I had been overly attentive to his discomfort, he would have failed again. Discomfort is a part of life. We all deal with it. That doesn't change our obligations. My nephew needed to know that he had no option but attendance. So I gave him no option. My son needed to know that failure to perform equals failure to achieve. So I let him fail. They both needed to rely on themselves.

And yes, when it comes to parenting I can be an ass. I love my kids more than anything else in the world, but I'm not here to give them what they want. I'm here to teach them what they need so that they can get what they want for themselves. I was still there, watching. ready to make sure that the consequences weren't too dire. But if my nephew had needed a sick day or two, or my son wound up attending community college, it wouldn't have been the end of the world for either of them.


God is a bit like that. I imagine I learned the technique from Him. When you pray to God give you something, you rarely get exactly what you ask for. If you pray to God for a hole in the ground, chances are He'll point you to a shovel. And he expects you to start digging. And you'd better dig, because next time He might answer with a spoon. When God provides, it may not be everything you ask for; it may not be your ideal; but it will get you by. You'll have to pitch in.

Sometimes when you pray He just lets you fail. When that happens, as near as I can tell, you pretty much needed to fail. And, as near as I can tell, that happens when you make the mistake of thinking that God is some kind of genie who's there to grant your wishes.


God is not a genie.

I've said this before, directing the message to Christians who inappropriately send the message that He is some kind of magical go-fer who will attend to their every whim. In that piece I said,
"If you tell someone that God will surely rescue them from whatever their affliction is if they only pray hard enough or sincerely enough, or long enough, you're lying to them. And you are cruelly making it their fault if their problems don't disappear. Prayer is for praise and supplication, but sometimes the answer is 'no'." 
If you're a Christian, don't make outrageous claims so that people will will not overlook their gifts and end up disillusioned. And more than that, stop others when they do it. And if you are relying on such claims, understand that God's prayers are most often answered by giving you the means to provide for yourself. If you are depending on more than that, then you're treating God as a genie. Stop, look at what you have to work with, and then work with it.

There are two other things. First, prayers of thanks are better than prayers of supplication. They encourage you to look at your gifts rather than overlook them. Second, almost always, the best way to help yourself is to help someone else. It sounds crazy, but it's true.

Here's how a pastor approaches the same subject. [link] He uses my graphic. ;)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

For the Benefit of Bernie

Everyone's favorite member of Doc Emmett Brown's Hair Club for Men is back:

And he he's been tweeting:

You have families out there paying 6, 8, 10 percent on student debt but you can refinance your homes at 3 percent. What sense is that?

"What sense is that?" That's a fair question.

For the benefit of Bernie:

1. something pledged as security for repayment of a loan, to be forfeited in the event of a default.
synonyms: security, surety, guarantee, guaranty, insurance, indemnity, indemnification; backing
"she put up her house as collateral for the loan" 
2. something that you don't have with a student loan.

1. a possibility of harm or damage against which something is insured. the possibility of financial loss.
"project finance is essentially an exercise in risk management" 
2. a primary component of student loans.

And that's how it makes sense.


When I first posted that, I was chided for belittling the candidate. And (I was told) Bernie understands the economics of it perfectly well. The problem with the responses of Bernie's supporters is that they appear to be projecting. They assume he understands the economics and they fill in the copious blanks to explain what he really means. This is apparently defined as what they think he means, such as that he's approaching this from the perspective of the people and not the banks. But communication is the candidate's job, and I remain unconvinced that these eloquent expressions of 'real' meaning are contained in Bernie's message.

Perhaps the medium is the problem. After all, you're not going to say much that's profound on Twitter.

Then again... naaaah.... it's still his job to demonstrate his competence. And since I'm an equal-opportunity critic, I find that my guilt remains disengaged. As this is the worst selection of Presidential candidates ever presented, disregarding party entirely, I see no reason to hold back on Bernie's account.

Sanders' tweet borders on pandering in that it ignores the fact that the bankers' perspective is reasonable. "Where's the sense...?" he asks. The sense is obvious, not merely from a profit-making perspective, but from the perspective of keeping the lending institutions solvent so that loans can continue to be made. This is every bit as much in the interest of the public as the banks.

The Real Problem

One thing that would make the loans less risky, and therefore cheaper, is if fewer people defaulted. But often people take on loans to pay for an education that is either not completed (sometimes due to the fact that they're uninterested or unsuited for academics) or because the returns on that investment are non-existent. This last is in direct opposition to what they were promised by people who sell education for a living.

More higher education does not solve either of these problems, and neither does "free" education (in reality, spreading the costs to others). You're still paying for formal education of people who either do not really want it, or will not benefit from it. Taking them out of the system entirely, however, would reduce the economic strain on the system.

A Better Society

One commenter noted that the existing system is not good social policy. "In effect," he says, "you’re purposefully holding the population back from bettering society and themselves." And let's ignore for a moment the hubris required to set one's self up as the arbiter of what makes another human being "better".

If we were to stay on-topic -- Bernie's tweet about interest rates -- and we took "the existing system" to mean the banking system charging more interest for more risk, then this isn't true in the slightest. Increased risk means loss, and in order to be sustainable, this loss must be covered by redistribution among those who did not forfeit. This is exactly what higher interest rates do. You don't get to magically dispel the costs by pretending they don't exist or by hiding them in the bookkeeping. There is no "holding back" involved in making those real costs visible.

If instead we took "the existing system" to mean the concept of you paying for that which is valuable to you, then I don't think that's true, either. Even when we look at it through Socialist eyes and proclaim that "Society" will pay for that which is valuable to the collective, we find that "more higher education" is a terribly unsatisfactory goal. Yet it is the simplistic goal of those socialists who overwhelmingly populate academia.

It is the common trope of those who sell education for a living that you must have their product to be successful, regardless of how you define success. We should approach this claim with the same skepticism with which we approach the claims of anyone who sells anything. While Learning is a wondrous and powerful thing, Education salesmen reflexively conflate "learning" with "college". This is a dangerous fallacy. While there may always be a benefit to the former (and I see no need to argue against it), there is not always a benefit to the latter. There are many paths to learning that don't involve buying their specific product.

But the truth is, if "Society" were to truly operate in its best interests rather than according to the dictates of those who have placed themselves in positions of influence, we would find that less education would be more valuable to the collective. The academicians get it wrong in a big way, and that's why we see stories like this: Why a BA is Now a Ticket to A Job in a Coffee Shop. More and more, college degrees are "required" by lazy HR managers for jobs that actually require no college-level skills. Lower level workers are thereby frozen out of jobs that they are skilled enough to do. These are the people who have placed no stress on the system, have cost society nothing, and who would immediately be productive were they allowed to be. But they are forced out of jobs and onto welfare roles by those who made the self-fulfilling prophecy. College grads who were promised success if they only pursued a diploma are disgruntled to find that this now earns them minimum wage. The Socialists peddling education as a panacea have done little but inflate the cost of higher education while devaluing the diploma and costing society untold billions of dollars in wasted effort and lost opportunity costs.

For decades now, we have let the socialist elite dictate that what makes a person "better" in their eyes should be universally applied to all. Their mistake has raised the cost of education to unsustainable levels. Now these socialists hope to improve the mess they created by decreeing that it should continue at the cost of all. Would it not be better for the collective itself to act to set both the cost and the value of an education rather than depend on the flawed premises of those who peddle the product? There is a mechanism for this, and it's called the Free Market. When it is subverted, as it has been; ruin is the result, as we have experienced.

A Mo' Better Society

Arguably, a better society arises when people are not shamed into pursuing goals which are not their own and when the rest of us bother to appreciate people for more than their social status as measured in years of formal education. Personally, I would find this trend, which began when I was very small, to smack of snobbery were it not now so prevalent due to the result of decades of indoctrination. It is this institutionalized snobbery that prevents us from examining the premise more closely.

Success is personal, and covers a broad spectrum. We don't even have to go to high-profile examples of mega-successful high-school grads and college dropouts like Bill Gates & Paul Allen (Microsoft), Steve Jobs (Apple), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Oprah Winfrey (Oprah), Michael Dell (Dell Computers), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Jack Taylor (Enterprise Rent-a-Car), Dustin Moskovitz (Facebook), Peter Thiel (PayPal), Matt Mullenweg (WordPress), Arash Ferdowsi (DropBox), Ty Warner (Beanie Babies), Aaron Levie (Box), Elizabeth Holmes (Theranos), Stacey Ferreira (, David Karp (Tumblr), Pete Cashmore (Mashable), Daniel Ek (Spotify), Danielle Morrill (Twilio), Jeffrey Kalmikoff (Threadless), Sahil Lavingia (Pinterest), Zach Sims (Codecademy), Ben Milne (Dwolla), David Neeleman (JetBlue Airways), Susan Lyne (AOL), Evan Williams (Blogger), Gabe Newell (Microsoft, Valve), John Mackey (Whole Foods), or Sophia Amoruso (Nasty Gal).

Consider instead the small business entrepreneur who lives just a quarter of a mile from me. He owns car washes, a convenience store, office complexes, strip malls, storage units, a recycling business... all on a high school education. And, he started with nothing but personal drive and a desire to try anything that might make a legitimate profit without regard to whether it was "beneath" him. Or the electrician, apprenticed to his dad, who earns more than a university professor. Or my plumber, who I'm very happy to report makes more than my doctor, since my plumber makes house calls. Or the guy who a couple of decades ago used to fill my furnace's kerosene tank on short notice on cold winter days, who now lives in a three-story mansion. He started out pumping gas. These are not random examples; they're friends and relatives who will recognize themselves here. These folks got the education that they needed to succeed. But "education" doesn't necessarily mean college or university, and it doesn't mean debt. They focused on their interests and put them to work.

The point here is not that you are going to have a wonderful life if you don't go to college; but that you can... just as you can be miserable and broke with a college degree, serving up candied coffee at Starbucks.

When we push people into the system when they are uninterested or unsuited, we run the very real risk of turning successes into failures. Paying for those failures does not prevent them. The comfortably well-off folks above could easily have been dejected college drop-outs if they had bought into the proposition that this expense defined their chances of success.

And the mega-rich who did drop out...? They did so because they were bright enough to reject the proposition outright.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Yes, it's actual dialogue, from the original series first-season episode Dagger of the Mind. The lady is the conveniently-named Dr. Helen Noel, played by the incomparable Marianna Hill.

One of the great things about Trek was that it recognized that despite all the tech they surround themselves with, people will be people. We'll still have Christmas, and office parties, and those little uncomfortable memories.

And that's something to smile about, wouldn't you say?

What happens on the Enterprise stays on the Enterprise.

And lest we forget the reason for the celebration, Trek's here to remind us:

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Meandering musings about color.

I had occasion to discuss race a couple of times today, and in a weird way it started with some tropical fish:

These are my wife's GloFish. Basically, they started out as ordinary tetras, but a laboratory in Singapore genetically modified them so as to be fluorescent. Originally, this was an attempt to use the fluorescent fish in the determination of water quality, but many varieties have now been created, the sale of which helps to fund the serious scientific endeavors which are the primary focus of the fish's designers.

Naturally, the fish are rather nondescript, but with the addition of some jellyfish DNA, they shine in natural light in vivid colors. And as I was stocking the tank last night, I was reminded of an earlier conversation in which someone remarked that it was "cruel" to make these fish.

As this was from one of my acquaintances possessed of a cargo cult understanding of science, I had expected some kind of comment about them being GMOs, but the bit about cruelty was an unexpected point of view. After all, these fish are otherwise perfectly normal tetras. They're born with bright colors, which could make them easy prey in the wild; but they're also born in tanks, and bread for aquarium life. Predators aren't an issue. These fish lead a pampered existence.

Nevertheless, my friend seemed to think that simply being a particular color is somehow "cruel" to an animal who not only knows no other existence, but doesn't have the cognitive ability to care. I tried -- and failed -- to wrap my head around the concept.

My immediate response was, "Simply being of any particular color is not a disadvantage to anyone. However, being surrounded by assholes who think that color is a disadvantage is a real, serious problem."

As I said it I realized I wasn't just talking about fish.


I had occasion to use that same phrase, verbatim, later in the day. Another friend was commenting on the changing demographics of America... In a few decades, given existing trends, "whites" will become a minority.  After noting that race is a "collectivist social construct", quoth he: "Quite a legacy, that 'white' thing. And OH how they loathe minorities, and whine like babies over becoming one themselves."

It's an interesting comment, which stimulated a nerve of mine. And not the one he intended, though that's not his fault. It makes me wonder... when we're talking about "White People" are we talking about Dagos, Wops, Krauts, Frogs, Crackers, Honkies, Arkies, Okies, Peckerwoods, Rednecks, Boches, Paddies, Goombahs, Ofay, Kikes, Greasers, Bog-Trotters, Guidos, Moose-herders, Yids, Gringos, Bubbas, Limeys or Polacks?

The plain fact of the matter is that well into the 20th century you could be as marginalized for being any of a couple of dozen ethnicities, ALL of which are now retroactively lumped together as "European" or "White People", often by people who would bristle at the phrase "they all look alike to me" if it were applied to themselves. Europeans are no strangers to minority status simply because they're European. In this light, there is exposed a vein of hypocrisy in the use of the phase "White People" as it is now commonly applied in discussions of race and culture.

As my friend notes, these distinctions are artificial. They're xenophobic, and as assimilation occurs, they disappear, which is quite probably why you may not be familiar with all of them. Much of the "sting" of these epithets disappeared over a space of no more than 50 years. If we were to do things right instead of waste breath on propagating more race and class envy, then the rest would disappear as quickly. And we would have a very bright and colorful society that looks a great deal like this one:

Note that I do not deny that racism and bigotry occurs. What I do state, and will vigorously repeat until it sinks in, is that the color of the individual is not the problem. The problem lies in the bigotry that surrounds them. In  other words,
"Simply being of any particular color is not a disadvantage to anyone. However, being surrounded by assholes who think that color is a disadvantage is a real, serious problem."
Frankly, it doesn't matter who makes the distinctions that fuel a bigotry, and who is the target. It doesn't matter if it comes from people of another group who push you down by means of force, or from members of your own group who hold you back by means of lowered expectations. Each of these is as wrong as the other.

There is no such thing as "good" bigotry, and I will not engage in schadenfreude when the tables are turned. If we perpetuate the stupidity of racism, bigotry, and class envy, by the time a population shifts, it is not the bigots who will receive comeuppance... it is their children, who will have done nothing to deserve it. And it will be administered by the children of today's minorities, who will not themselves have been slighted. Thus, an oppressive majority is always at fault, no matter the "reason" for their oppressive behavior, without any exception whatsoever for race, color, creed, or any other excuse.

It's a silly merry-go-round. Time to get off. We might as well argue over belly stars.

Once again, Doctor Seuss demonstrates his genius.

Friday, December 18, 2015

37 Years of OCD, Satisfied (Star Trek)

The first prints of Alan Dean Foster's adaptations of the Star Trek Animated Series, volumes one through eight, prominently featured cels from the television show on the covers. Unfortunately, before the end of the series, Ballantine changed the cover design to feature thoroughly uninspired and generic paintings of the Enterprise on bland colored backgrounds.

For those who collected the first prints, the last two covers stick out like Klingons on the Tribble Homeworld:

Call me obsessive/compulsive, but this has bothered me for a very, very long time. Since high school in the 1970s. So when I OCR'ed my books for inclusion in my Calibre library, I took the opportunity to fix it.

Behold my new covers for Star Trek Log Nine and Star Trek Log Ten:

Now you can look at the cover for Nine and know that the story BEM is contained therein. It's not a story about the Enterprise flying "that-a-way". And Ten contains Foster's extended version of Slaver Weapon. It's not a story about the Enterprise flying "this-a-way".

I feel so much better now.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Keep it Free

There are a number of things worthy of public funding. Benjamin Franklin and his friends realized this when they started the Library Company of Philadelphia, founded in 1731 and still going strong. This library was conceived to be publicly-funded, not government-funded. Members of the library paid dues, the benefit of which was that they could borrow books without a deposit; and members of the general public could borrow books, provided they left a refundable deposit to cover the cost of the book. Or, you could read in the library for free.

This is how members of a free society work together... by making voluntary contributions toward the public good. It's worked for the Library Company of Philadelphia for 284 years. We encourage private funding for public benefit because, frankly, the government does not have your back. Copyright is not a natural right. If you want to keep information private, the only natural way to do so is to keep it secret. Otherwise, what's said is said, and you can't put the smoke back in the bottle. So copyright is an agreement to grant exclusivity for only a limited time, so as to encourage authors to share their work, so that it can in due time be placed into the Public Domain. That's the goal... to get it into the hands of the public to be built upon and expanded. But over the years, governments worldwide have become more and more averse to the intellectual commons. At the behest of vested interests, they have increased the length of copyrights to unreasonable lengths. Whereas once it was commonly understood that when you bought a book, that copy was yours to do do with as you like, including re-selling it; today it is commonplace to be restricted by "licensing terms" that never existed even a few short decades ago. Now you not only don't own your copy, you can't use it as you will. The people who have orchestrated these changes are not operating in the public interest.

But, like Life in Jurassic Park, altruism will find a way.

The public reaction to unreasonable copyrights is the Creative Commons.The Creative Commons is a way for content creators to remove power from those who would pervert the copyright system by using their legalisms against them. Sometimes called "copyleft", creative commons licenses grant broad usage rights while prohibiting others from imposing additional restrictions. This began with the Free Software Foundation's General Public License and moved into Free Music, and more generally the Creative Commons itself. Today, millions of works, including the one you're reading, are covered under Creative Commons licenses.

Today you don't even need to buy a single closed, restrictive resource to do your work. This article was written with Libre software (Firefox) on a Libre operating system (Linux) with graphics provided by a Creative Commons archive (Wikimedia Commons) modified with more Libre software (GIMP). Links and references are provided by a Creative Commons encyclopedia (Wikipedia).

That last part is perhaps the most astonishing, but also the closest to Ben Franklin's original vision for the Library Company of Philadelphia. It wasn't so long ago that encyclopaedias were expensive. I know: I have a full physical set of Encyclopaedia Britannica. It cost thousands of dollars, but parents were willing to pay that sort of cash for the benefit of their children's' education. Those who couldn't afford it could visit the public libraries, but this has always been an inconvenience that left some kids at a disadvantage. I was a frequent library visitor in my teens, but as the nearest branch was several miles away, and I traveled by bicycle, such visits were relegated to the Saturday afternoons. And even then, it being a branch, it didn't always have a book I needed. They'd get it from the main branch by request, and that required a week of planning.

Today we have the internet in our homes. We have the Internet Archive, which is perhaps the most under-rated library in the entire world. And we have Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Commons. Despite some derogatory press (mainly from non-free competitors), Wikipedia is an excellent starting point for academic research. Wikipedia articles are concise, complete, and well-referenced. It's up to you, the researcher, to follow those references. This is what the Internet is for. Information.

And cat videos. But mostly information.

It's Fundraising Season!

Please note that when we say "free", it doesn't mean without cost. "Free" refers to the liberty to decide for ourselves what is important to us, to direct our resources accordingly, and to be rewarded with not only successful, healthy enterprises that deliver value; but with the natural attrition of those enterprises that don't, so the resources are targeted at what the public needs. And it's the public who determines what it needs with their patronage... nobody else is required to do it for them. No expertise or authority is necessary. It just naturally happens.

That is how a free market do.

Free software always has a cost, even if it's paid only with the time and effort of its creator. And these creative individuals, as altruistic as they may be, do deserve to be paid. But fairness really demands that they should be paid in accordance with the utility and popularity of their work. No government can really determine that, and that's where we... the users... come in. And we've got some really creative, flexible ways of supporting creators in this new economy.

All of the sites referenced above are taking direct donations in December. You'll see banners on most of them this month when you visit. If you use the site, if you like it, if you have the means to contribute, please donate. All of the money collected goes to the operating cost of the respective sites. These sites all operate entirely on the money that people are moved to contribute. And that's pretty much all they need to get by... voluntary generosity.

If there were no taxes, who would pave the roads? Who would build the libraries? They'd be built by the people who need them, and want them. Ask Wikipedia, or the FSF, or, or the Internet Archive.

And while we're discussing the spirit of giving, remember those others who provide for you the year 'round:

Music and Video
If you like what a band is doing, just buy their work. You might not buy everything they create, and it might not be all the time. You might just buy the things you really like, but musicians no longer need to be strangled by record labels. Find an artist you like and buy their work directly on BandCamp or SoundCloud or iTunes. Kickstart an album. If there's an artist you really like, be it a band or YouTube performer, then support them on an ongoing basis with a Patreon account. And if you can't do that, then tell your adblocker to exempt their site. Let the advertisers pay them.

Buy Free and Open Source software (Libre software), or donate to the project. Most of these allow you to donate whatever it is that the app is worth to you. And if you can't afford much, you can always donate what you can and come back to give more later. If you can't do either, then use it with the compliments of the authors, and compliment them back... loudly, and publicly, so that others will use their work and donate.

Entertainment and Projects
Somebody's got an idea for a movie you'd really love to see? Then back it on Kickstarter. For the cost of an evening out and a little bit of patience, you get to be a financial backer on a production that would otherwise never make it through the bureaucracy of the Hollywood studios.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Oh, no he didn't. posted a video by Bill Nye, and titled the post "Bill Nye Uses Science To Debunk The Logic Of Anti-Abortion Legislature".

Except he didn't. What Bill Nye did is tilt with a few carefully chosen strawman caricatures of anti-abortion arguments. Here's the video that Uproxx references:

To be fair, when dealing with controversial issues, a lot of the "information" that's communicated is simply through slogans and signs. It's a problem that's magnified by a desire on the one side to try to get the most message into the fewest words; and a lack of desire on the other side to listen any more closely than that. So caricatured arguments are often self-constructing. But let's see where Nye goes wrong, shall we?

The first strawman is right there in the title, bold type: that anti-abortionists want to tell women what to do with their bodies. Their bodies are not the issue. It is the bodies of the beings dependent upon them that are. More on that later.

The second is Nye's observation that "many, many, many, many more hundreds of eggs are fertilized than become humans." That may be, but it's completely irrelevant. This is descriptive of a natural process, and none of those eggs are the subject of abortion. Not one. And as such, they're not the subject of anti-abortionists arguments, either. Nye is just engaging in some obfuscation, hoping that you won't notice that he's completely talking past the issue to focus attention on a non-sequitur. But hey, he gets to get all "sciencey" and "educational", as if you didn't know all about the birds and the bees already. Basically, he's also using the opportunity to be condescending to those who already not only know the facts of life, but assume that their opponents do, too, without the need for remedial instruction.

He then takes this into an attempt at reductio ad absurdum by questioning "who are you going to sue?" over the eggs that aren't implanted in the uterine wall. As if you had to sue over a natural process. As if natural processes are someone's fault. Of course, this is a starting assumption worthy of any liberal who is engaging in "low effort thinking" about a subject,  which is exactly what Nye encourages here. He most certainly is not using science. Rather, it's less-than-stellar barracks lawyering. And even there, it's a reflection of a deep legalistic lack of understanding. Natural processes... what a court calls "acts of god"... are nobody's fault. Not everyone who's born lives to old age either. They succumb to all sorts of calamities, from lightning strikes to heart attacks to cancer and liver disease. This natural rate of attrition doesn't keep us from making laws against deliberate murder. Nye is simply using an emotionally-charged legal fallacy to try to make you feel silly, and winds up making himself look ignorant in the process. It's safe to say that he "apparently literally" doesn't know what he's talking about.

He then uses the phrase "women's rights with respect to their reproduction", which completely dismisses any rights that may be held by men in respect to their reproduction. It's plainly sexist. It does take two to tango, and no amount of equity is achieved with placing all authority with one group, and all blame with the other. It's one of the things he should have paid a little more attention to in his remedial sex ed. Surely an enlightened individual would recognize that shared responsibility must be accompanied by shared rights.

Nye then goes beyond sexism and straight into racism. Hey, why not? The race card is a liberal staple. "A lot of men of European descent" is a dressing-up of our old standby, "old white men". And in Nye's world they're passing laws based on ignorance. But as we've seen Nye is already proving himself to be highly ignorant (or at least "ignoring") of the oppositions actual arguments. Maybe he's got something there... he's an old white guy. If people took his advice literally, they'd dismiss his arguments, too. The thing is, the "old white guy" canard is another irrelevancy. People elect representatives, and polls of women show them to be as divided about abortion themselves. But Nye ignores these facts to tilt with a racial strawman. This isn't science, either. It's poor rhetoric.

From here it's a sloppy segue into an argument against the Bible. This particular strawman is the assumption that anti-abortionist reasoning is rooted in the Bible alone. In fact, atheists and agnostics, as well as non-Christian theists are also divided as to the subject of abortion, and many theists hold secular reasoning for their pro-life views as strongly as their religious beliefs. Their opposition to abortion is held independently of their religion. But religion is a convenient scapegoat. If you can argue with "a" religious view, you can stretch it, insisting it is shared by all those who are religious, and you don't have to bother with pesky issues.

At this point in the video it's clear that Nye really isn't speaking to convince anyone to join his side. He may actually believe he is, but he's not arguing as if he were actually doing anything more than cheering on the home team. Certainly, if one is going to use the Bible to speak with Christians, one will want to have a passing familiarity with at least the parts pertinent to what one is saying. Nye, on the other hand, speaks as if he is totally ignorant. He states that the Bible teaches that sex always results in children (ignoring high-profile cases of barren women, including those who later have children, such as Sarah, the wife of Abraham). This is an attempt to make Christians feel silly and stupid. More accurately, his argument instructs atheistic liberals to believe that Christians hold such beliefs and are therefore silly and stupid. It actually makes Christians -- who know the Bible better than he -- believe that Nye himself is biblically illiterate. Nye says, "That’s wrong, and so to pass laws based upon that belief is inconsistent with nature." Laws that are consistent with nature would recognize this: pregnancy doesn't result every time you have sex, but you have to be impressively ignorant to miss the fact that pregnancy can happen any time you have sex, even if you don't like the guy. Or girl. Bill Nye is denying the science.

It is certainly ironic that Nye casts people as scientifically illiterate when discussing science, and then personally proceeds to screw up the science and display actual illiteracy when discussing a book.

His next statement, "It’s hard not to get frustrated with this, everybody. Nobody likes abortion, okay. But you can’t tell somebody what to do," rises to the level of hypocrisy. Nye has no problem whatsoever telling somebody what to do when it's for other causes that he feels are important, even when it's based on shaky science and revisionist data. These are the "more important things" referred to by Nye. These are the things that trump nascent human life.

Nye then proceeds to pretend that science is an exclusively anti-religious affair. "You wouldn’t know how big a human egg was if it weren’t for microscopes, if it weren’t for scientists, medical researchers looking diligently." But the father of microbiology, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, was a Calvinist. From his Wikipedia article, "He often referred with reverence to the wonders God designed in making creatures great and small. He believed that his amazing discoveries were merely further proof of the great wonder of God's creation."  Look up the references yourself. Genetics was pioneered by a monk, Johann Gregor Mendel. The Calculus was devised by the devout though unorthodox Isaac Newton. Kepler determined the orbits of the planets through a dogged determination to find out the truth of God's creation. It was a Catholic priest named Georges Lemaitre, not Steven Hawking, who proposed the Big Bang. If it weren't for these and other religious gentlemen and their reverence what they referred to as "the Book of Nature", then you wouldn't have science at all, much less sanctimonious condescending atheists who erroneously claim science as their own exclusive domain. It is only in recent years that the idea has been incubated that science and religion are mutually exclusive. And though this nonsense has been swallowed by many atheists and theists alike, it is by no means true.

Nye closes with this: "Just really be objective about this. We have other problems to solve everybody. Come on. Come on. Let’s work together."  Duplicity abounds. If Nye were objective, then he wouldn't cling to the fiction that this nascent life, small and dependent as it may be, is "the mother's body". A genetic lab in a blind test will confirm that these are not the same individual. Objectively... scientifically... it is a life of its own, genetically distinct from the mother, and is by no means "her body". Obviously, to a "pro-life" adherent, life takes precedence. It's right there in the name. IF these other things are so much more important in Nye's estimation, and he himself claims they are, then it is he who should back off of the issue, and work on those other problems instead.

So, did Bill Nye use science to debunk the logic of anti-abortion legislation? No, he used strawmen, distraction, condescension, fear-mongering, false appeal to authority, mis-characterization, misrepresentation, belittling, and emotional cajoling. In short, everything but science.