Rick Perry releases final Iowa ad

If the last extant copy of this picture were inside a burning orphanage, I hope I would save an orphan.

You can tell a lot about a person by what they think will make you happy. If every time you fight with your husband he tries to give you a pretty necklace, yours may not be the relationship of mutual respect you want it to be. We’ve all known people whose attempts to please us are less nuanced than they think. Perhaps Rick Perry is no such cynical manipulator. Maybe he’s more like the aunt who took you to a Cubs game once and now sends you jerseys and Harry Caray biographies every Christmas. Whatever he’s up to, Perry decided this week that abortions shouldn’t be legal even in cases of rape or incest, then walked back his position to theoretically allow them when a woman’s life was at risk. He also produced his last campaign advertisement before the Iowa caucuses. Video after the jump.

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Scientists identify religious gene, intractable research problem

A giant Pacific octopus, since pictures of scientists are boring. The octopus is the scientist of the sea.

In their ongoing quest to determine why other people believe in stuff that cannot be demonstrated by logic or cutting open a mouse’s brain, scientists have identified a gene that predisposes people toward religious belief. They’ve also identified a classic problem of deductive reasoning. Citing the World Values Survey, Cambridge economist Robert Rowthorn noted that “adults who attended religious services more than once a week had 2.5 children on average; while those who went once a month had two; and those who never attended had 1.67.” From these statistics, he concluded that “the more devout people are, the more children they are likely to have.” Kombat! Kids: can you spot the flaw in Professor Rowthorn’s reasoning? Probably not, because there are only 1.67 of you for both Combat! readers.

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Et in Arcadia ego: Bible verses on military gunsights

ABC News reported yesterday that Michigan gunsight manufacturer Trijicon is inscribing references to Bible verses on sights it’s supplying to US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The company, which has a $660 million contract to provide illuminated targeting reticule systems to the Marine Corps, has been printing chapter and verse numbers at the end of their serial numbers—for example, “2COR4:6,” which refers to the verse in Second Corinthians, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Contemporary theologians have historically interpreted that verse as being about using hydrogen isotope phosphorescence to shoot an Afghan goatherder in the face.

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