News From Around The Blogosphere 2.17.11

February 17, 2011
Jenny McCarthy at E3 2006.

Image via Wikipedia

1. Anti-vaxxers don’t just make sane people sick but themselves too – My old friend, Jenny McCarthy, is back in the news again. While holding a fund-raiser at the Playboy mansion for her kill the children campaign, they managed to get 170 attendees sick with a milder form of Legionnaires disease, caused by bacteria that live in warm water like hot tubs, air conditioners, and fog machines. Now according based on Jenny and Generation Rescue’s model of disease, we must conclude that they all must have gotten sick because of their terrible hygiene, lack of clean water, and lack of vitamin d.

2. The Rise and Fall of the Bible – The incredibly awesome cult-buster Rick Alan Ross tweeted a link to this fascinating article about new book that explains what many of us atheists have known for a long time, that most Christians don’t read the Bible and have no idea what it says. And despite not reading the Bible, Christian households keep buying more and more copies of it:

Beal notes that “the average Christian household owns nine Bibles and purchases at least one new Bible every year” — but actually reading them is another matter. Beal believes that’s because today’s Christians are seeking a certainty in their holy book that simply isn’t there, and shouldn’t be.

But it’s even worse than that. Most Christians don’t understand the history behind the Bible either or anything about how it was compiled.

This is why there are so few atheists — not enough people read the Bible. If they did, they’d be atheists. If you’re not currently following Rick Alan Ross on Twitter, I highly recommend it.

3. Bill O’Reilly’s scientific ignorance starts an internet meme -

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Billy Ray Cyrus scared of atheists adopting highways

February 17, 2011

Discrimination and dehumanization of atheists are nothing new. It’s actually quite common. But rarely do we see hysterical atheist-phobia from celebrities on the level displayed by Billy Ray Cyrus, who despite apparently now having a stained relationship with his daughter, seems more concerned that atheists are maintaining highways. Apparently, when he and Miley Cyrus first drove to Hollywood for Hannah Montana, she noticed a sign reading:

ADOPT-A-HIGHWAY
ATHEISTS UNITED

And that’s when the Cyrus family took the notion of overreaction to grand new heights:

Just before moving out to Los Angeles, the whole family had been baptized together by their pastor at the People’s Church in Franklin, Tennessee. “It was Tish’s idea,” he remembers. “She said, ‘We’re going to be under attack, and we have to be strong in our faith and we’re all going to be baptized…’” And there, driving to work each day in the City of Angels, was this sign. “A physical sign. It could have easily said ‘You will now be attacked by Satan.’ ‘Entering this industry, you are now on the highway to darkness…’”

Do you really see it in such clearly spiritual terms — that your family was under attack by Satan?

“I think we are right now. No doubt. There’s no doubt about it.”

Dude, a simple thank you for keeping the highway clean would suffice. You’re welcome, by the way. Who knew Satan was such an environmentally friendly neat-freak?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Baby dies of whooping cough in Victoria

February 17, 2011

The anti-vaxxers have another victim. Victoria’s has had its first whooping cough fatality in seven years with the death of a newborn baby at the Royal Children’s Hospital. I guess this is what Jenny McCarthy meant when she told Time Magazine that saving the children was going to take the return of deadly diseases. But I guess Jenny, humanitarian that she is, will just consider this collateral damage:

Baby dies of whooping cough in Victoria on MSN …, posted with vodpod

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Elementary, my dear Watson

February 15, 2011

Yes, I know Sherlock Holmes never said that, but it made for a good title to an entry on IBM’s Watson computer’s first official Jeopardy match.

Here’s the complete episode:

All in all, Watson did remarkably well, tying Brad Rutter and leaving Ken Jennings in the dust. Of course, Watson is not without his weird mistakes like when he rang in with the same answer Ken Jennings got wrong seconds earlier, which met Alex Trebek’s amused response: “”No, Ken said that.”

Later, Watson slipped up on the question: “Stylish elegance, or students who all graduated in the same year.”

“What is chic?” ventured Watson.

“What is class?” Rutter correctly answered.

They also showed a clip of earlier practice matches where Watson gave an answer so wrong, the stand-in host responded, “That wasn’t wrong; that was REALLY wrong.”  And in the actual official first game, when given the clue, “From the Latin for ‘end’, this is where trains can also originate”, Watson rang in with “finis”, an answer it was 97% confident in, while we saw its next two best guesses were “Constantinople” with 13% and “Pig Latin” with 10%. The answer turned out to be “terminal,” which was even among Watson’s top three guesses.

But those kinds of errors seem few and far between, while most of the time Watson is a force to be reckoned with, knowing everything from Beatles’ songs to The Lord of the Rings. And once asked to name a particular literary villain, Watson knew the answer related to Harry Potter. Had it gotten a chance to ring it, Voldemort would have been its second guess, behind Harry Potter and with Albus Dumbledore as its third highest ranking guess.

And in one instance I think Watson was even cheaply marked incorrect for saying, “What is leg?” when the correct answer was, “missing a leg.” In that instance, Watson had the key element of the answer but simply didn’t clarify that the leg was missing.

Though for all the ridiculous bad answers, Watson can still manage to blow people away with how much it can figure out, like when it correctly guessed the TV show “Survivor” as the answer to the practice game riddle: “Heroes & villains abound! Colby, Coach & Rupert doth return to the fray but Boston Rob, The Tribe hath spoken,” which caused audible gasps and the stand-in host responding, “REALLY? How do you know that?”

Tonight, they continue into Double Jeopardy. This is shaping up to be a great match.

Enhanced by Zemanta

News From Around The Blogosphere 2.11.11

February 11, 2011
Grainy B&W image of supposed UFO, Passoria, Ne...

Image via Wikipedia

1. Jerusalem UFO video exposed as fake – Okay, so the video looked pretty poor to begin with, giving us nothing but a tiny moving ball of light but it’s still fun to apply more analysis to it anyway. Steven Novella had already done a great critical analysis of the video here where he observed that the video largely consists of a still image with added effects to create the illusion of shaky-cam video footage, but now Phil Plait has found a video posted on YouTube that actually exposes the specific digital editing tricks used to create the illusion of a shaky camera. Unlike other alleged UFO videos, there’s no ambiguity here. This video is a deliberate fake and its been busted cold.

2. Creepy head-mask to punish ‘rude, clamorous” women – Okay, I just thought this story was really cool. This mask was used between 1550 and 1800 to punish women considered to be spending too much time gossiping or quarrelling. When wearing the mask, it’s impossible to speak. Some of these masks, like the one pictured, even had a bell on them to add to the wearer’s humiliation.

3. Robots to get their own internet – European scientists are working on a network that would allow robots to share and store what they discover about the world:

Called RoboEarth it will be a place that robots can upload data to when they master a task, and ask for help in carrying out new ones.

Researchers behind it hope it will allow robots to come into service more quickly, armed with a growing library of knowledge about their human masters.

4. Scientology continues to have a terrible week – I already briefly wrote about the incredible, super-long New Yorker piece by Lawrence Wright on Scientology apostate Paul Haggis, which mentioned that the cult is currently under an FBI investigation for human trafficking. But there are so many highlights to the piece. After finally managing to read the whole article, I got to where Wright talks about fact-checking L. Ron Hubbard’s claim that he was injured during military service and was miraculously healed by the methods now practiced as part of Scientology. After Scientology Spokesman Tommy Davis gave the New Yorker thousands of pages of documents and allegedly admitted that if this Hubbard story didn’t check out, it’d mean all of Scientology was a fraud, Wright and his New Yorker fact-checkers went through the pain-staking process of getting military archivists who are experts in such documents. Those experts concluded that the documents were false, that there was no record of Hubbard’s injuries or of the officer who allegedly signed some of the documents, and that the documents lied about his education and the metals he’d received. Now the New Yorker has even put up a copy of at least one of the documents to show readers precisely how we know it’s a forgery.  Wright has also been turning up on various radio shows to discuss his findings (here and here). It just keeps getting worse for Scientology and they can’t seem to catch a break.

Enhanced by Zemanta

News From Around The Blogosphere 2.7.11

February 8, 2011

1. FBI investigating Scientology for human trafficking – A recent profile on ex-Scientologist and Oscar-winner Paul Haggis in the New Yorker also discussed an ongoing FBI investigation into the allegations of abuse by Scientology’s leader David Miscavige, and the enslavement of members of  the Sea Org:

The laws regarding trafficking were built largely around forced prostitution, but they also pertain to slave labor. Under federal law, slavery is defined, in part, by the use of coercion, torture, starvation, imprisonment, threats, and psychological abuse. The California penal code lists several indicators that someone may be a victim of human trafficking: signs of trauma or fatigue; being afraid or unable to talk, because of censorship by others or security measures that prevent communication with others; working in one place without the freedom to move about; owing a debt to one’s employer; and not having control over identification documents. Those conditions echo the testimony of many former Sea Org members…

And speaking of Scientology…

Tom Cruise

2. Is fictional Unitology in ‘Dead Space 2′ related to Scientology? – The videogame’s creative director says the similarities are just a coincidence, saying the inspiration came from Carl Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World”, but his dismissal seems less than convincing given the similarities.

3. One flu vaccine to rule them all? – Researchers may have found a universal flu vaccine to end all flu vaccines. Though it’s worth noting that the trial had only 22 subjects, but bigger studies are in progress.

4. That time of year again for another ‘invisibility cloak’ story – Every year there’s another story about an invisibility cloak on the way with the requisite reference to Harry Potter. Here’s the latest one about a cloak that hides objects, rather than people, and without the use of metamaterials.

5. 1 in 8 U.S. biology teachers are creationists- This is a shocking statistic. Roger Ebert had an appropriate response to this on Twitter, analogizing this to the hypothetical statistic of 1 in 8 math teachers believing 2+2=5.

6. Florida court sides against anti-vax mom in custody battle – This is great news to hear a court rule so decisively against a parent specifically because their anti-vaccine beliefs directly endanger that child’s life. Hopefully, this will help set a precedent in all U.S. courts.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The greatest moment in ‘Family Feud’ history

February 7, 2011

I have no love for Steve Harvey. He’s a hypocritical, sanctimonious bigot who’s condemned atheists as immoral people whom are undeserving of love (here and here). Keep in mind that Harvey is divorced and his ex-wife hates his guts.

So when the Friendly Atheist put up this clip of him hosting The Family Feud, I couldn’t help but re-post it in all it’s glory:

I love when Harvey pushes the guy’s hand off him in complete revulsion. If you pause it at the right point, you can actually see the exact moment Steve Harvey’s heart breaks in two.

Television at its best!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 60 other followers