News From Around The Blogosphere 9.17.08

Dover and over and over again – The Brunswick school board in North Carolina is now apparently considering teaching creationism (complete with the magic talking snake) alongside evolution in science classes. Every time we have this issue settled in the courts, creationism has LOST, first in the Scopes Monkey Trial, then again in the Supreme Court in 1987, and then 3 years ago in the Dover Trial (complete trial transcripts here). At this point all they should need to do if creationism is allowed to be taught is to take them to court and hand the judge a copy of Judge Jones complete 139-page Dover decision here. Until then, contact the NC elected officials, urging them to stop this from happening and ridicule North Carolina as much as possible.

Senators:

Burr, Richard- (R – NC) Class III
217 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3154
Web Form: burr.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.Home
Dole, Elizabeth- (R – NC) Class II
555 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6342
Web Form: dole.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactInform…

Other contact info. can be found here.

Anti-vaccinationists: aluminum is the new mercury – Okay, most of us keeping tabs on the anti-vaccinationists have known that it was only a matter of time before they moved on from the thimerosal claims to something else. After all, thimerosal was the new (something else) only a few years ago until the evidence against whatever “toxin” within vaccines they blamed for all the evil in the world grew so strong they couldn’t deny it anymore and had to abandon it, shifting the blame over to thimerosal. So it was inevitable that they’d eventually abandon the thimerosal dead-end and shift their scapegoat to yet another “something else” within vaccines. And for months now it was looking like that new “something else” was going to be the aluminum in vaccines. And those suspicions are turning out to be correct as the antivaccinationists have started their campaign to slowly shift the argument away from thimerosal onto aluminum in such a subtle manner as to hope to avoid being called out on having so passionately insisted that thimerosal was to blame. Here’s the new party line:

“Here’s my best response to the thimerosal argument: While definitely it’s not good to inject children with mercury, I think that’s only a part of the problem. I think that thimerosal can make the aluminum even more toxic because the two metals are reactive, and if it’s true that thimerosal reduces glutathione (I found this study on TACA), then children’s bodies would be less capable of excreting the aluminum.”

So I’m left wondering what the next “something else” will be in a few years after the preponderance of evidence against aluminum becomes too great for them to ignore? We’re running out of ingredients. Will it be the trace amounts of flu itself? Perhaps just the sharp, pointy thing at the end of the needle? I’m going with the sharp, pointy thing at the end of the needle.

CATHOLIC NEWS:

Catholic priest charged with selling cocaine at church – It could have been worse. He could have been selling religion.

Vatican launching “evolution congress” – But is it “strictly science” as they claim or is their own superstition invited too?

ISLAM NEWS:

Mickey Mouse must die! – A Muslim cleric is apparently issuing a fatwa against Mickey:

“Mickey Mouse has become an awesome character, even though according to Islamic law, Mickey Mouse should be killed in all cases.”

Draw Muhammad; win $100

One word: PLASTICS – Is the Bisphenol A found in plastics safe?

And speaking of graduates . . .

You can’t spell GraDuatiOn without the GOD – At the University of Alberta, the graduation ceremony includes the chancellor saying this:

“I charge you to use [the powers, rights, and privileges of University degrees] for the glory of God.”

Shockingly, the atheist student takes issue with this.

EPIC FAIL!

Rachel Bird and Gideon Codding are pissed that California now issues gender neutral marriage licenses – So choosing the most illogical and childish response they could think of, they’ve decided to protest by making their own lives more difficult. Good thinking, you guys!

Anti-vaccinationists’ epic stupidity knows no bounds – Apparently Age of Autism is bummed that the National Institute of Mental Health has chosen not to use children as lab rats in an ill-conceived chelation study because chelation therapy is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS and because it’s already proven beyond any reasonable doubt to have no positive effect on autism! As the Associated Press states:

“The treatment removes heavy metals from the body and is based on the fringe theory that mercury in vaccines triggers autism — a theory never proved and rejected by mainstream science.”

Age of Autism’s argument is to compare the risk to the infinitely smaller risks of chemotherapy and radiation in cancer cases, proving once again that vaccines don’t poison children; anti-vaccinationists do (when they get their way). Orac discusses this further here. Seriously, Age of Autism might as well at this point be promoting cyanide as a cure for autism . . . or leeches.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Fastest Flights In Nature: High-speed Spores – “Microscopic coprophilous or dung-loving fungi help make our planet habitable by degrading the billions of tons of feces produced by herbivores. But the fungi have a problem: survival depends upon the consumption of their spores by herbivores and few animals will graze on grass next to their own dung.

Evolution has overcome this obstacle by producing an array of mechanisms of spore discharge whose elegance transforms a cow pie into a circus of microscopic catapults, trampolines, and squirt guns.”

Biodiversity, Glaciers At Risk In Warmer World – “The earth will warm about 2.4° C (4.3° F) above pre-industrial levels even under extremely conservative greenhouse-gas emission scenarios and under the assumption that efforts to clean up particulate pollution continue to be successful, according to a new analysis by a pair of researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.”

Scientists Find Black Hole ‘Missing Link’ – “Scientists at Durham University have found the “missing link” between small and super-massive black holes.”

Carbon Material: Breakthrough In Energy Storage – “Engineers and scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have achieved a breakthrough in the use of a one-atom thick structure called “graphene” as a new carbon-based material for storing electrical charge in ultracapacitor devices, perhaps paving the way for the massive installation of renewable energies such as wind and solar power.”

Why Some SIV-Infected Primates Don’t Get AIDS – “Key differences in immune system signaling and the production of specific immune regulatory molecules may explain why some primates are able to live with an immunodeficiency virus infection without progressing to AIDS-like illness, unlike other primate species, including rhesus macaques and humans, that succumb to disease.”

Whale Songs Heard Around New York City Waters – “For the first time in waters surrounding New York City, the beckoning calls of endangered fin, humpback and North Atlantic right whales have been recorded, according to experts from the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).”

Watch And Learn: Time Teaches Us How To Recognize Visual Objects – “In work that could aid efforts to develop more brain-like computer vision systems, MIT neuroscientists have tricked the visual brain into confusing one object with another, thereby demonstrating that time teaches us how to recognize objects.

It may sound strange, but human eyes never see the same image twice. An object such as a cat can produce innumerable impressions on the retina, depending on the direction of gaze, angle of view, distance and so forth. Every time our eyes move, the pattern of neural activity changes, yet our perception of the cat remains stable.”

Example of stimuli used by Li and DiCarlo. An image of a sailboat is presented at different locations in the visual field. In most cases, it remains unchanged as the eyes move toward it, but at one test location, the stimulus is swapped for a teacup during the eye movement. As monkeys are exposed to this altered visual world, neurons in their brains begin to confuse the two objects when shown at the test location. The confusion is exactly that which is expected if the brain uses temporal contiguity to teach it how to recognize objects.”

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2 Responses to News From Around The Blogosphere 9.17.08

  1. […] in North Carolina! YEA! – I blogged about the creationist goings-on in North Carolina 2 weeks ago (here). Apparently the creationist Newspeak gambit isn’t working no matter how many times they […]

  2. […] From Around The Blogosphere 10.11.08 The war is almost over in North Carolina – Last month, I blogged about the campaign to bring creationism into the Brunswick school district in North Carolina. Well […]

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