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

 

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News From Around The Blogosphere 12.9.09

December 9, 2009

1. Coalition for Libel Reform to deliver petition to British Parliament tomorrow – I’ve blogged about the British libel laws before in relation to the libel case the British Chiropractic Association brought against journalism Simon Singh for honestly reporting that their services are bogus. Well now a coalition is delivering a petition signed by writers, performers, scientists, and other British citizens concerned about this afront to free speech. Among those supporting Simon Singh, Richard Wiseman, Dara O’ Briain, Jonathan Ross, Stephen Fry, Ben Goldacre, Marcus Chown, Dave Gorman, and Robin Ince.

2. The 15 Weirdest Science Stories of 2009 – 2009 was a great year for science. It was the year that brought us science news stories about giant sperm, a hideous 4-foot-long sea worm, pigeon prison smugglers, a teddy bear made from placenta, a mermaid, the Swedish internet being brought down by a typo, Brazilians being advised to pee in the shower, a counterfeit moon rock, bulletproof turbans, a man almost murdered by a robot, the “answers” to the Rorschach test being leaked on Wikipedia, search engines forcing a French town to change its name, a world-famous sex blogger and call girl revealing her scientist secret identity, the Skull and Bones society being sued by Geronimo’s descendents for stealing their ancestor’s skull and bones, and of course, the baguette that brought down the most sophisticated machine ever built.

3. UFO sighted in Norway? – Nope. Just a cool-looking Russian rocket.

And here’s a video that simulates particles being spewed out from a spinning rocket booster:


Prince Charles is ‘exploiting the gullible’

March 12, 2009

Prince Charles has been a long-time sucker for homeopathy and other forms of bogus medicine. But now he’s selling bogus medicine in the form of a detox remedy. His brand is Duchy Originals and it has produced numerous herbal and detox preparations.

Prof Ernst, the first professor of complementary medicine in the UK, said: “Prince Charles contributes to the ill health of the nation by pretending we can all overindulge, then take his tincture and be fine again. Under the banner of holistic and integrative health care he thus promotes a ‘quick fix’ and outright quackery.”

He said detox is based on the idea that toxins accumulate in the body until it becomes overloaded and that certain products can speed up the elimination of these substances.

Prof Ernst said: “The body has a powerful mechanism to deal with itself and there’s no evidence that dandelion or artichoke will improve these functions.


UK campaign to promote public understanding of science

January 29, 2009

UK government touts science for all - A new campaign being launched in the UK is designed to change public attitudes towards science. They hope to end the perception of science as being too elitist after a recent study showed that that’s how most people think of science.

So far in this country Obama seems to be really actively supporting science but I would love to see him launch a similar campaign to demistify science and take steps towards improving the public understanding of science.


No Snickering: That Road Sign Means Something Else

January 25, 2009

Here is an hilarious article from The New York Times about some very unfortunately named places in the UK.

Some examples: Crapstone, England; Ugley, Essex; East Breast, in western Scotland; North Piddle, in Worcestershire; Spanker Lane, in Derbyshire; Crotch Crescent, Oxford; Titty Ho, Northamptonshire; Wetwang, East Yorkshire; Slutshole Lane, Norfolk; Thong, Kent;  Pratts Bottom (Pratt there means “buffoon”), and Penistone (pronounced  ‘PENNIS-tun,’)

And this one might be my favorite:

(What is wrong with Corfe Close, you might ask? The guidelines mention the hypothetical residents of No. 4, with their unfortunate hypothetical address, “4 Corfe Close.” To find the naughty meaning, you have to repeat the first two words rapidly many times, preferably in the presence of your fifth-grade classmates.)

It took more the better part of a minute to get it but it was worth it.


News From Around The Blogosphere 01.24.09

January 25, 2009

Atheist Bus Campaign:  The Tube Cards - These are card advertisements that are appearing on the London Underground since 12th January.

Professional Murderer Kevin Trudeau ordered to pay more than $37 mil. – It’s not much since he’s made that many times over with his anti-medical scams and phony promises of cures for cancer.

Religion:  Proud Supporter of Totalitarian Fascism for Thousands of Years – Now they’re telling you who you can live with. Here’s Bryan Fischer of the Idaho Values Alliance‘s complaint about the University of Idaho planning to launch co-ed dorm rooms:

Fischer says besides the risk of sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy, young women will be subject to an increased risk of date rape and other violent domestic crimes.

As opposed to adults, who everyone knows have 100% immunity to sexually transmitted disease, pregnancy, date rape, and other violent domestic crimes. And as everyone knows, women are all weak and totally defenseless, in need of a strong man to protect them. What a jackass.

“Psychic” Joe Power WRONG -

Yesterday, English woman Karen Matthews was jailed for eight years for faking the abduction of her nine year old daughter Shannon.  Matthews had arranged for a relative to kidnap and hold the little girl prisoner, drugged and bound, so that later the relative could “find” the little girl and claim the £50,000 ($68,000) reward money they would both share.  What a scumbag.  And well deserved jail sentences for both of them.

But there’s more to this story. This was another case where a “psychic” trying to find the missing girl and after the fact claiming their predictions were accurate when he wasn’t even capable of figuring out the most important factor in this case, that the child’s abductor was sitting right in front of him! So the picture to the left of the psychic standing with the victim’s mother is doubly ironic. And the bad predictions just get worse and worse.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyInfidelity Produces Faster Sperm – “Until now, it has been difficult to prove that fast-swimming sperm have an advantage when it comes to fertilizing an egg. But now a research team at Uppsala University can demonstrate that unfaithful females of the cichlid fish species influence the males’ sperm. Increased competition leads to both faster and larger sperm, and the research findings now being published in the scientific journal PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, thus show that the much mythologized size factor does indeed count.

. . .

“In promiscuous species we found that males produced larger and faster sperm than in closely related species that were monogamous,” says Sigal Balshine, associate professor in the department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University, and senior author on the study. “This research offers some of the first evidence that sperm has evolved to become more competitive in response to females mating with multiple males.”

Females Extend Reproductive Life Of Male Mice – “Living with a female mouse can extend the reproductive life of a male mouse by as much as 20 percent, according to a study conducted by Ralph Brinster and a team of other researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. The study was reported online January 22 in the journal Biology of Reproduction.”

Take that, Idaho Values Alliance!

Lizards Adapting To Escape Attacks By Fire Ants – “Penn State Assistant Professor of Biology Tracy Langkilde has shown that native fence lizards in the southeastern United States are adapting to potentially fatal invasive fire-ant attacks by developing behaviors that enable them to escape from the ants, as well as by developing longer hind legs, which can increase the effectiveness of this behavior.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 01.16.09

January 17, 2009

UK bus driver refuses to work over mere suggestion that god “probably” doesn’t exist - If this isn’t enough reason for why these ads are necessary in the first place, I don’t know what is. You don’t see anyone refusing to do their jobs on account of religious ads.

And soon atheist buses will invade Canada – They’re raising the money now, so I encourage people to donate.

Was there a miracle on the Hudson River yesterday? – Nope. Just good piloting. This would be a miracle.

Penn & Teller win LOTS of money for the James Randi Educational Foundation – They won it on on the game show Don’t Forget the Lyrics!

Little or no evidence that herbal remedies relieve menopausal symptoms – “There is no strong evidence either way for several herbal remedies commonly taken to relieve troublesome menopausal symptoms, concludes the January issue of the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB). And for some, there is hardly any evidence at all.”

Screw Gospel music. If you want to hear real spiritual music, listen to Sigur Ros (I’ve loved this band for years):


News From Around The Blogosphere 01.09.09

January 9, 2009

Tom Daschle, the soon to be Secretary of Health and Human services calls the lack of funding for vaccines “as sound an investment as we can make in good health” - It looks like Obama made another awesome pick for his cabinet. Good luck Mr. Daschle. You’ve just made enemies with an army of superstitious wackos who I predict with my psychic powers will accuse you of being either a corporate shill for “Big Pharma”, more ignorant of medicine than Jenny McCarthy, or both. Don’t let them intimidate you.

British atheist bus signs draw complaints -

But organisation Christian Voice has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority saying they break rules on substantiation and truthfulness.

It seems rather extraordinary that someone could charge lack of truthfulness in the fairly weak statement, ‘There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life’.” That’s misleading? Really? I rather like the response from Hanne Stinson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association:

“I am sure that Stephen Green really does think there is a great deal of evidence for a God (though presumably only the one that he believes in), but I pity the ASA if they are going to be expected to rule on the probability of God’s existence.”

Rick Warren’s Africa Problem -

Team Obama likes to cite Warren’s work on AIDS in Africa to combat criticism about the controversial pastor. But how does burning condoms in the name of Jesus save lives?

Speaking of crazy, bullshit magic spells cast on Obama by the Christian Right:

saps-taps-parodyA&E to air Paranormal Cops show – I don’t think this can any more repulsive than their show, Psychic Kids, which is essentially child abuse, but it’s just another sign of what a horrible television network A&E has become. And of course as always the cast of this show includes a “medium.” Ugh!

Did New Years Eve seem particularly long this year? - That might be (though probably not) because an extra leap second was added to the day.


News From Around The Blogosphere 01.08.09

January 9, 2009

CREATIONIST NEWS:

creationism-cartoon-i-will-not-teach-horse-shitNot Mississippi too? – The state is introducing yet another textbook disclaimer bill warning children of the dangerous learning contained inside. NOOOOOOOOO!!! Protect the children!!

But Texas on the other hand might soon be safe again from creationists – The final proposed science standards for the state actually strengthen science and deprive creationists of their favorite tool, language manipulation. Way to go y’all in Texas! I am slightly less afraid of your state.

A geologist on “Intelligent” Design – Shockingly, he’s not a fan.

ATHEIST NEWS:

Bus ath-vertising spreads to Italy and Spain – I just posted the other day about how godless Spain has become but now we’re entering even into Pope-territory. Speaking of which, wouldn’t it be awesome if the Pope-mobile broke down and he was spotted on a bus with an atheist advertisement along the side?

“If you’re not Christian, you’re going to die” – Okay, obviously very few religious people in the U.S. are this nuts but some lunatic stormed a ski resort in Colorado and killed 1 person. He’s alleged to have shouted the above quotation. Make of it what you will.

AUTISM NEWS:

Autism test could “hit maths skills” – BBC reports that prenatal testing for autism is being developed and with that comes a possibility for prenatal treatment.  But this could result in less math geniuses.

ABC trying to make up for the awful first episode of Eli Stone? – Last year, ABC introduced a new show called Eli Stone. Sadly the premiere episode promoted all sorts of woo including the myth that vaccines cause autism. ABC’s only response to the many critics who wrote the network prior to the airing of the episode was to include a little disclaimer at the end of the episode. Well a show on ABC that’d I’d never watched until tonight, Private Practice, addressed this issue from the medical perspective. And although the show wasn’t nearly as preachy as the Eli Stone episode, they definitely came out in favor of vaccines and didn’t pander to the kooks. For that I commend those who worked on this show for taking a position that without doubt will lead to tons of hate mail.

RANDOM WOO:

Glastonbury, England is actually afraid of Wi-Fi - Oh no, internet without a wire! Run for your lives! Give me a break. I wonder if they also think the voices on the other end of their telephones are trapped evil spirits.

CNN promoting the CAM Scam? – Afraid so, thanks to the network’s senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen

Did reason kill the Holocaust denial movement? -  Holocaust denial is so yesterday.

Do the little green men hate that we’re going Green too? – A bunch of very credulous people in England seem to think so.

MYTHS:

the-more-you-know8 reasons you should keep Coke away from your vagina – Here is a debunking of the classic urban myth that the soft drink makes a good form of birth control.

Prop 8 wasn’t the blacks’ fault after all -

It turns out only about 58% of black voters supported the ban.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

‘Tetris’ May Help Reduce Traumatic Flashbacks – “Playing ‘Tetris’ after traumatic events could reduce the flashbacks experienced in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), preliminary research by Oxford University psychologists suggests.”

Human Antibodies Take ‘Evolutionary Leaps’ – “With cold and flu season in full swing, the fact that viruses and bacteria rapidly evolve is apparent with every sneeze, sniffle, and cough. A new report explains for the first time how humans keep up with microbes by rearranging the genes that make antibodies to foreign invaders. This research fills a significant gap in our understanding of how the immune system helps us survive.”


Godless advertising popping up everywhere

January 6, 2009

Atheist advertising (or as I call it, athvertising) has exploded globally. First today I find a 2-day-old article from the Freedom From Religion Foundation about putting up “Imagine No Religion” billboards in San Francisco in response to the Prop. 8 decision. I think this is a great move. Not only does it show the gay community that secular organizations support them but they’re also using one of my favorite campaigns. Unlike the divisive plaque the FFRF used in Washington’s capital, the “Imagine No Religion” billboard is positive and actually defensible. And it of course takes its inspiration from John Lennon, one of the most beloved songwriters in history. It’s important to realize that California is predominantly a liberal state. If it wasn’t for the organized campaign by the Religious Right to snatch away gay rights that were already being enjoyed, Prop. 8 wouldn’t have even been on the ballot, let alone get enough votes to pass. Imagine Prop. 8 if there were no religion. It’s easy if you try.

Next, the UK bus campaign has expanded to include 800 buses. The slogan they’ve been using, again, is:  “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life,” which I didn’t really care for originally but I’m starting to warm up to for the reasons Richard Dawkins explains in the video found in the article linked to above.


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