PZ Myers, a biologist and associate professor at University of Minnesota-Morris, has never been one to mince words, especially when it comes to creationists, intelligent design theorists, and natural selection skeptics.
Case in point: Myers's review of a book called Lifecode, which argues against Darwinian evolution:
"This book is a description of the development and evolution of balloon animals," Myers writes on his blog. "It's that bad. This is a book suitable only for use at clown colleges, and even there, I suspect the clowns would tell us that it is impractical, nonsensical, and has no utility in their craft."
The book's author, Stuart Pivar—a wealthy New York inventor, art collector, and dabbler in evolutionary biology—didn't take kindly to being called a crackpot. So he did a very un-crackpot-like thing and filed a $15 million lawsuit accusing Myers of libel.
When City Pages contacted Pivar on August 27, he expressed confidence in his ability to win the suit.
"I have a very sound case," Pivar said. "I'm a partial public figure, which means in order to show libel, I have to prove it was done through malice. In this case, it's very easy. He admits to being insensitive and malicious on his website."
Yet just one day later, Pivar withdrew the lawsuit.
"The real issue got sidelined," he said, explaining that his biggest beef is with Seed Media Group, the organization that oversees Myers's blog.
For his part, Myers contends that Pivar is a "lone nut" and out of touch with the modern blogging age.
So he's a dinosaur?
"Naw," says Myers. "More like a dodo." —Matt Snyders
The Bovine Ultimatum
On the heels of our story about Target's attempts to add legitimacy to its organic product line, Archer Farms ("The Farm That Doesn't Exist," 8/29/07) comes a not-so-surprising postscript.
Last week, the USDA declared that the country's largest certified organic dairy, which supplies organic milk sold under the Archer Farms label, is in "willful" violation of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.
The USDA counted 14 violations and has put Aurora on notice: Start acting like an organic dairy or stop calling yourself one.
The USDA requires any dairy calling itself organic to give plenty of pasture time to its herd. Instead, Aurora cows get cage time—except for photo shoots.
"These violations are no accident—these are very sophisticated corporate players," says Mark Kastel, of the corporate watchdog group the Cornucopia Institute, which first brought Aurora's violations to the USDA's attention.
So if you're paying more for organic at Target, don't bother: It may just be the same PETA-baiting milk in a slightly more expensive package. —Jeff Severns Guntzel
The Men in the Iron Masks
The internet is abuzz with accusations that masked rapper MF Doom, who is on local hip-hop label Rhymesayers, enlisted an imposter to pose as himself and lip-synch recent performances in L.A. and San Francisco.
Among the evidence for the charge is a YouTube clip that purports to show the metal-masked rapper live in concert. Partway through the song, Doom's voice comes through the speakers when the mic is away from his mouth, like a gangstafied Milli Vanilli.
After the accusations emerged, Doom was a no-show for his scheduled appearance at the Rock the Bells show in Minneapolis on August 25.
Speaking through his manager, Doom (a.k.a. Daniel Dumile) wouldn't tell the Village Voice last week whether he did or didn't perform those gigs, and Rhymesayers, which recently reissued MF Doom's 2004 album MM..FOOD, wouldn't comment, either.
Comic-book fans note that rapper MF Doom's namesake, Fantastic Four nemesis Doctor Doom, employs an army of look-alike "Doombots." It remains to be seen whether the rapper's fans will make like the Invisible Girl and disappear. —Peter S. Scholtes
There are plenty of questions surrounding the revelation that Sen. Larry Craig (R-The Closet) tried to get his jollies in one of our local public bathrooms earlier this summer. We set out to answer a few:
Q: Was what he did really illegal?
A: Playing footsie with someone in an adjacent stall isn't exactly public sex. But yes, together with his other suggestive actions (a long stare down, an inviting hand gesture), it was enough for an arrest. Also, dude pled guilty.
Q: Why is he denying it?
A: For the same reason he didn't tell even his lawyer about it until after the story broke. The same reason, for that matter, that he got married despite his obvious (and evidently longstanding) preference for men: an unwillingness to deal with reality.
Q: Where does this rank on the scale of congressional sex hypocrisy?
A: Coupled with his unwavering opposition to gay rights, Senator Craig's actions are impressively outrageous. But when you're in Congress, you're playing with the big boys. Rep. Mark Foley (R-Boystown) sent lewd text messages to underage congressional pages while chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. Advantage: Foley.
Q: Why is the press so mean?
A: Often, journalists are accused of forgetting that the public officials we cover are human beings; that behind every scandal exist real people experiencing real pain. Fair enough. It doesn't change the fact that Larry Craig is a dissembling, unrepentant hypocrite who has served his constituents and his country poorly. Also, he's a perv. —Jonathan Kaminsky