News From Around The Blogosphere 7.30.11

July 30, 2011

1. Pay attention, American Atheists. THIS is how you win friends and influence people -
While American Atheists and NYC Atheists are looking to sue everyone in sight and battle it out against 9/11 first responders and their families, Chris McCoy did something very different. He launched a campaign to raise $50,000 for charity using GiveBack and recruited fellow atheists to help him. This is how you change people’s opinions about atheists, not by behaving like Scientology.

2. Lesbian couple saves 40 in Norwegian shooting – If “God” had his way, Hege Dalen and her partner, Toril Hansen would have been stoned to death long ago. But fortunately for 40 presumably mostly straight Norwegians, most Christians lack the courage of their convictions and never got around to obeying that particular command from their god.

3. The Richard Dawkins Award goes to Hitch! – Last year, a controversy began over the award going to Bill Maher because of Maher’s outspoken superstitious views about medical science. But I doubt many will object to this year’s winner, Christopher Hitchens, who last year was diagnosed with terminal Cancer. And yet, in spite of the Big C, Hitch has remained as active as ever in battling religious superstitions while showing enormous grace in the face of almost certain death. I can think of no one who better deserves the award.

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Al Franken demolishes anti-gay witness’ pseudo-scientific claim

July 20, 2011

I love All Franken…in a completely non-gay way…maybe. Just tell me how we can get this guy elected president cause he’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and dogonit, people like him.

 


Victoria Jackson vs. Glee

March 22, 2011

I’ve never watched an episode of Glee, but its ability to constantly piss off the religious right makes me a fan. Now Victoria Jackson has come out condemning the show for reasons even she doesn’t seem to know:

This is Victoria Jackson at her most intelligible. I’m starting to think this is a Poe and she’ll one day come out and admit she’s just an AndyKaufman-like provocateur because nobody can be this stupid and delusional.

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Adam and Steve can procreate!

December 9, 2010

Thanks to the scientific miracle of stem cell research, researchers have discovered how to create a mouse from two fathers, thus raising the possibility that human women will one day be useless. I keed. I keed.

Not only does this mean gay couples may one day have biological children that are the genetic offspring of both parents but it also could help us to preserve endangered species, improving livestock breeds, and advancing human assisted reproductive technology.

And now for the non-English version of this story:

In the work reported today, the Behringer team manipulated fibroblasts from a male (XY) mouse fetus to produce an induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell line. About one percent of iPS cell colonies grown from this XY cell line spontaneously lost the , resulting in XO cells. The XO iPS cells were injected into blastocysts from donor female mice. The treated blastocysts were transplanted into surrogate mothers, which gave birth to female XO/XX chimeras having one from the original male mouse fibroblast.

The female chimeras, carrying oocytes derived from the XO cells, were mated with normal male mice. Some of the offspring were male and female mice that had genetic contributions from two fathers.

According to the authors, “Our study exploits iPS cell technologies to combine the alleles from two males to generate male and female progeny, i.e. a new form of mammalian reproduction.”

And in language even I can understand:  two daddies.

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And the award for most unfortunately (or awesomely) titled headline goes to…

September 22, 2010

And the award for most unfortunately (or awesomely) titled headline goes to…”Samoan clerics finger homosexuals over global warming.” OH NO! They didn’t! They did. Well, I guess if you’re going to finger homosexuals, global warming is as good a reason as any…if you’re into that sort of thing.

But putting aside that awful (or awesome) title, yes, some religious nutjobs really are trying to blame climate change on the gays. But to be fair, it fits with the title of the conference in which this idea was presented:  Climate Change and Creativity. Say what you will about how the idiocy of this hypothesis is only rivaled by that of the cleric who inadvertently sparked “Boobquake,” but you have to admit, it’s nothing if not creative.

However creative as it may be, suffice it to say, it lacks one moderately important ingredient…evidence:

Details of exactly how the ministers think homosexuals are pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere, thereby trapping heat around the planet, driving up the average temperature and causing massive economic and environmental dislocation are scant.

It may be that the clerics are understandably worried about rising levels of sex tourism in Samoa fuelled by cheap air travel and consequent rising energy consumption, though why this would be a gay-only problem is a mystery. But we suspect their latching onto climate change as a consequence of gayness is informed by a more biblical sense of cause and effect.

But while gays may not be dominating everyone else in air travel but this week, they do seem to be dominating the headlines as the notoriously anti-gay pastor of a 33,000 parishioner megachurch, Baptist Bishop Eddie L. Long, as it turns out, was coercing young male parishioners into sex:

Two young men in Georgia said Tuesday that the pastor of a 33,000-person Baptist megachurch, Bishop Eddie L. Long, had repeatedly coerced them into having sex with him.

In two lawsuits filed in DeKalb County, the men said that Bishop Long, a prominent minister and television personality, had used his position as a spiritual counselor to take them on trips out of state and perform sexual acts on them.

Shocker.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 4.13.10

April 14, 2010

1. Malta’s mayor afraid to show Pope city’s giant phallus – C’mon, the Pope wasn’t embarrassed by half a million children raped by his employees. So why would this bother him?

2. Inkjet-like device ‘prints’ skin cells over burns - Once again, as Carl Sagan said, “science delivers the goods.”

Inspired by a standard office inkjet printer, U.S. researchers have rigged up a device that can spray skin cells directly onto burn victims, quickly protecting and healing their wounds as an alternative to skin grafts.

How cool is that?

3. Constance McMillen named Grand Marshal of NYC 2010 Gay Pride Parade – The Gay Pride Parade is by far my favorite NYC parade. Many prefer the Halloween parade but I have more fun just wandering The Village as NYC treats Halloween like everyone else treats Christmas. But it’s just great being a part of a parade thats very existence is an affront to those whom despise. Congrats Constance. Hope to see you there.

4. Moscow, Idaho gets an American Humanist Assocation billboard -


Congrats to James Randi and Simon Singh

March 21, 2010

At the age of 81, James Randi has now publicly come out of the closet and announced on Swift and on the podcast For Good Reason podcast that he is gay.

“I wasn’t hiding in the closet. I just found the closet door.”

So that means that both the original president of the JREF and the current president of the JREF, two-thirds of the JREF presidents, are gay. Have anything you want to tell us, Phil Plait? Just kidding.

So what motivated the sudden public announcement?

This declaration of mine was prompted just last week by seeing an excellent film — starring Sean Penn — that told the story of politician Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California.

As a cinephile, I think that’s kinda awesome. What higher compliment can one give a film?

Now onto Simon Singh, the leader of the UK Libel Reform movement who just the other day published his final article in The Guardian. Singh just introduced a new future skeptic into the world, his son Hari. This led Rebecca Watson to get the kid’s astrological information from Alabe.com:

According to Alabe.com, the verdict is in: he’s going to be a bipolar psychic Libertarian asshole.

Isn’t most of that redundant? Anywho, congratulations you too. And keep up the great work.


News From Around The Blogosphere 3.11.10

March 12, 2010

1. School cancels prom to turn students against gay teen – Constance McMillen was planning to wear a tuxedo and attend the prom with her girlfriend in a small town in Itawamba County, Mississippi. And after the ACLU stopped the school from denying her right to attend the prom the school got even by canceling the whole thing and making the student body know it was McMillen’s fault. And the town’s mayor chimed in, supporting the school. Because that’s just the kind of classy folks they have in Itawamba County, Mississippi.

2. Zimbabwe anti-vax religious sect gets 100 killed - Who needs vaccines when you’ve got prayer? Except, you know, if you actually want people to live.

3. Pope’s exorcist finds the devil isn’t in the details but in the Vatican – Rev. Gabriel Amorth has the silliest resume on Earth. He’s been the chief exorcist for the Vatican for 25 years. His favorite movie? You guessed it. It’s The Exorcist. He alleges to have treated over 70,000 cases of demonic possession and sadly, I have no reason to doubt that claim.

But even the fearless priest becomes still, his voice grave when asked whether the devil can strike inside the Vatican City.

//

“He has tried already. He did it in 1981 by attacking John Paul II by working with those who armed Ali Agca. And also now with the attack on Christmas Eve night when the crazy woman pushed down Benedict XVI.”

. . .

Amorth confesses, “The devil resides in the Vatican.”While admitting that it is hard to prove, he says the consequences of the devil’s work are evident: Cardinals who don’t believe in Jesus, bishops who are linked with the devil. As early 1972 Pope Paul VI talked about the “smoke of Satan” that hovered in the Vatican, but it is more recent events like the pedophilia scandal the church is confronted with and the grisly murder by a Swiss guard of his commander and wife that Amorth uses as evidence of the devil’s presence.

Apparently humans can’t do anything against the Church without it being attributed to the devil.

4. More child abuse for Catholics to downplay – Two ex-Vienna choir boys have come out with accusations that they were raped by Church officials. But remember. It’s really the devil that’s doing it.

5. Robert Kennedy Jr. spreads false, malicious rumor in the Huff Po – The media has wised up to the anti-vaxxers, so the only source willing to take them is the Huffington Post due to its total lack of anything that could even remotely be considered by anyone on planet Earth as journalist standards. So now the anti-vaxxers got their man, RFK Jr. to push their libelous accusations about Dr. Poul Thorsen. Of course not a single word of it has any basis in fact. But then again, when have the anti-vaxxers or the Huffington Post ever care about facts?

But here’s one interesting story posted at the Huff Po:

6. Buying ghosts in a bottle – I have to at least give credit to the scammers for creativity. And it’s nice to see such witty skepticism expressed in the MSNBC clip embedded on the page.

7. PZ Myers eats your god with vegemite:


News From Around The Blogosphere 2.2.10

February 3, 2010

Where's the eye of newt?

1. Herbal remedies may cause cardiac problems – First, homeopathy takes a beating. Then the anti-vaccine movement. And now herbal remedies. The trifecta!  This is shaping up to be a great year for science-based medicine:

Herbal medications can affect the activity of prescription drugs, dampening or enhancing their effects, Jahangir said. For example, St. John’s wort, which is used for a number of conditions, including depression and sleep disturbances, has its major effect on the liver, which is involved in the metabolism of many drugs, especially those for heart disease, he said.

2. Pope Palpatine rips fights for the right to discriminate -

Pope Benedict XVI marked the announcement of his first papal visit to Britain with an unprecedented attack on the ­government’s equality legislation yesterday, claiming it threatened religious freedom and ran contrary to “natural law”.

. . .

The pope’s broadside appeared to be aimed squarely at recent legislation that prevents Catholic adoption agencies from discriminating against gay couples, and the proposed equality bill, which would make it harder for churches to exclude job applications from homosexuals or people who have changed their gender.

And The Guardian did such a great job with the photo that I’m not even going to bother grabbing the Palpatine-comparison pic I’d normally use for a story like this.

3. Apologies more effective when made in the right ear -

Scientists found that when we are angry, the right ear becomes more receptive to sound than the left.

The discovery has led to the theory that by targeting the right ear, the penitent are more likely to succeed in talking someone round.

. . .

Previous research has shown that if you want to persuade someone to do something, you should also speak in their right ear.

They make a cute couple

4. Lesbian albatrosses become proud parents – You can’t go wrong with that headline. Suck it, fundies!

It began with a love triangle between two female royal albatrosses and a wannabe male suitor. But girl power prevailed and the ladies dumped their man and set up a same-sex family together at the world’s only mainland albatross breeding colony in New Zealand.

5. Tell Focus on the Family about your loving gay spouse -

Focus on the Family is holding a Valentine’s Day Contest! All you have to is write a love letter to your spouse (under 300 words) explaining why you want to grow old with them.

As far as I can tell (and I read through the entire set of rules), gay couples are totally allowed to enter. Sure, they say right up front that “marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred commitment,” but at no point do they forbid gay couples from entering.


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.11.09

November 12, 2009

1. Lou Dobbs leaves CNN – Good riddance!

2. Children with autism show slower pupil responses -

Recently, University of Missouri researchers have developed a pupil response test that is 92.5 percent accurate in separating children with autism from those with typical development. In the study, MU scientists found that children with autism have slower pupil responses to light change.

3. Can Earth absorb CO2 much greater than expected? -

New data show that the balance between the airborne and the absorbed fraction of carbon dioxide has stayed approximately constant since 1850, despite emissions of carbon dioxide having risen from about 2 billion tons a year in 1850 to 35 billion tons a year now.

This suggests that terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans have a much greater capacity to absorb CO2 than had been previously expected.

4. Star Trek-like Replicator Makes Metal Parts -

She admits that, on the surface, EBF3 reminds many people of a Star Trek replicator in which, for example, Captain Picard announces out loud, “Tea, Earl Grey, hot.” Then there is a brief hum, a flash of light and the stimulating drink appears from a nook in the wall.

In reality, EBF3 works in a vacuum chamber, where an electron beam is focused on a constantly feeding source of metal, which is melted and then applied as called for by a drawing — one layer at a time — on top of a rotating surface until the part is complete.

5. Did Glenn Beck rape and murdere a young girl in 1990? – I’m not saying he did, but like a lot of other people, “I’m just asking questions.” And these are apparently questions that Glenn Beck doesn’t want to see asked because he tried to shut down the satirical Beck-mocking site glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com. But Beck couldn’t silence the questions and the so mirror sites using this Fark-inspired meme applying Beck’s own “I’m just asking the question” tactic remain on the web. What are you trying to hide, Glenn? And why haven’t you denied that you raped and murdered a young girl in 1990? Huh?

Kiddos to South Park for nailing this particular Beck tactic on tonight’s show.

6. Mormons becoming pro-gay rights? – Last week I blogged about how filmmaker Paul Haggis left $cientology largely because of their unapologetic anti-gay position. Well now the Mormon church is coming out in support of gay rights. Seriously.

7. E.T. phone Rome – The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding its first ever conference to discuss the possible ramifications for the church should extraterrestrial life be discovered. Maybe they’ll finally pardon Giordano Bruno, an Italian monk, who was put to death by the Inquisition in 1600 for suggesting life might exist somewhere else in the universe.


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