News From Around The Blogosphere 6.9.11

June 10, 2011

I’ve been away for almost a week, so I’m going to have to play catch-up for the next few days.

1. New Pew Poll suggests atheists still unelectable – If the poll is accurate, atheists are less electable than a candidate who is Mormon, gay, divorced, or even an adulterer.

2. ‘Psychic’ leads Texas Rangers and FBI down dead end  – Police followed a tip by an alleged psychic who told them where to find a supposed mass grave containing dozens of dismembered bodies. Now Craig McNair, head of the county commissioners, is looking to hold her responsible for giving a false tip and creating havoc.

3. ‘Expelled’ production company expelled from existence – Premise Media Holdings LP has gone bankrupt and its shitty creationist propaganda film starring Ben Stein is going up for auction:

The high bidder will become the owner of the movie that The New York Times (2008 Apr 18) described as “[o]ne of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time … a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry … an unprincipled propaganda piece that insults believers and nonbelievers alike” and that was denounced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for its “profound dishonesty” and condemned by the Anti-Defamation League for its “outrageous” misuse of the Holocaust to “tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution.” (NCSE’s Expelled Exposed provides a collection of reviews, commentary, and resources documenting the extensive problems with Expelled.)

4. Tennessee passes law banning images that “cause emotional distress” – Though it remains to be seen if anyone will actually try to enforce this new law signed by Gov. Bill Haslam, it’s hard to imagine a greater offense to the First Amendment.

5. Hot nun fired over lap-dancing past – Wasn’t there something in Christian mythology about turning the other cheek? Which cheeks the passage was talking about is unclear.

And on a related note…

6. Pole dancing for Jesus causes controversy – There’s a pole dancing class that allegedly is intended to help women stay in shape while simultaneously bringing them closer to God:

Set to Christian music, church-going women spin and slither around poles. But the instructor and the students say it’s not about sex.

7. South Carolina prison insist lingerie ads lead to “deviant behavior” -

But the organization says the jail has gone even further in its screening of mail to inmates by banning publications that contain any level of nudity, including beachwear and underwear.

Oh, and there’s a video in the link above.

 

And finally…

8. Congratulations to my friend Page Van Meter, who’s been named the new president of the NYC Skeptics!

 

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Federal authorities finally investigating Texas Board of Ed changes

December 25, 2010

News From Around The Blogosphere 6.23.10

June 23, 2010

1. Creationists lose in court again – The Institute for Creation Research (ICR – don’t let the name throw you; they don’t really do any research) have now been denied the right to continue granting their own Masters Degrees. Texas didn’t recognize their accreditation given the fact that everything the ICR promotes is bogus, so the ICR filed to get it approved. Texas Higher Education Coordination Board the organization accreditation, which led the ICR to appeal. But in the meantime, they tried to extend their ability to  grant their own temporary Masters Degrees to whoever they pleased until a court makes a decision. The court has just denied that request on the grounds of it’s complete incoherence:

It appears that although the Court has twice required Plaintiff [the ICR] to re-plead and set forth a short and plain statement of the relief requested, Plaintiff is entirely unable to file a complaint which is not overly verbose, disjointed, incoherent, maundering, and full of irrelevant information.

Is it gay to fuck someone of the same sex?

2. Anti-gay Lutheran pastor Tom Brock is a gay homosexual - He was found out by a reporter who infiltrated his support group. Don’t worry though. It wasn’t a real support group, just another bullshit one like Alcoholics Anonymous. The goal of this “support” group was essentially to channel their guilt of homosexual attraction into pure hate. Will the real heterosexual homophobe please stand up? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

3. Will Phillips to be the Grand Marshal of the Northwest Arkansas Pride Parade – Yesterday, I wrote about Constance McMillen being invited to the White House and to be Grand Marshall at this year’s Gay Pride Parade in NYC this Sunday. But I didn’t hear until today that young 10-year-old Will Phillips, whose refusal to stand for the Pledge in school over gay rights issues I’d written about last year, is to be the Grand Marshall of the parade in Northwest Arkansas.

“It’s wrong for anyone to be treated differently just because of the way they are born,” said Phillips, who declares himself as an ambassador for equal rights.

Congrats Will!

4. Will science bring us immortality within 20 years? – I wouldn’t bet on it. I know Carl Sagan said that science delivers the goods but that’s a little hard to swallow. Though the Telegraph did print this very interesting piece about Ray Kurzweil discussing the potential future medical ramifications of genetic manipulation and nonotechnology. I surmise he probably threw in the 20 years date to get media attention. While we are making amazing advances like those mentioned in the article, we’re still a long way off from anything resembling “immortality.”

5. PETA offers to build a new ‘Touchdown Jesus’ – Last week, I wrote about the flaming destruction of the tackiest Jesus statue in the world outside a mega church due to a lightning strike. Well PETA did what they always do and saw an opportunityto seize some headlines. So congratulations PETA. I’m talking about you. Fortunately, one thing I share in common with the Solid Rock Church is our equal dislike of PETA and saw through PETA’s transparent attempt to co-opt scripture to fit its ideology. And as a result, they turned PETA down…or at least they would have turned them down if they saw PETA as even worth responding to at all…which they didn’t.

Pastor Lawrence Bishop said he wouldn’t have expected such an offer from PETA. “It’s kind of amusing to me,” he commented, adding that he didn’t think he’d contact PETA to respond.

6. Saudi women threaten to breastfeed drivers – I love this story. In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive. You see, because Mohammed is such a lover of women’s rights (see previous blog entry). So when a cleric recently issued a fatwa calling on women to give breast milk to their male colleagues or men they come into regular contact with so as to avoid illicit mixing between the sexes, a women’s group saw this as the perfect launching pad for their own campaign.

If they’re not granted the right to drive, the women are threatening to breastfeed their drivers to establish a symbolic maternal bond.

“Is this is all that is left to us to do: to give our breasts to the foreign drivers?” a Saudi woman named Fatima Shammary was quoted as saying by Gulf News.

Obeikan argued in his decree that if the women give their drivers their breast milk, the chauffeurs would be able to mingle with all members of the family without having to worry about violating Islamic law. Some Islamic scholars frown on the mixing of unmarried men and women. Islamic tradition, or hadith, stipulates that breastfeeding establishes a maternal bond, even if a woman breastfeeds a child who is not her own.Drawing from the cleric’s advocacy, the women have reportedly chosen a slogan for their campaign that translates to, “We either be allowed to drive or breastfeed foreigners.”

Awesome. Just awesome.

7. Naturopaths throw other quackery under the bus – Typically, so-called “alternative” “medicine” practitioners will stick up for each other because they all have the mutual enemy of real medicine to contend with. But on a recent Canadian program so-called “Naturopaths” were quick to call just about every other brand of quackery nonsense.


Grotesque, pathetic, and silly Christian fear tactics

June 5, 2010

Every Halloween batshit insane Christians organize what they call “Hell Houses.” These are modern day equivalents to the jeramiads of the so-called Great Awakening and the morality plays of the Medieval age, where they attempt to scare the living shit out of children in order to frighten them towards Jesus.

But the emotional manipulation being used here is both repulsive and almost laugh out laugh ridiculous as its so transparent that any child not already brought up to be an insane fundamentalist Christian would have to be incredibly gullible in order to fall for this crap.

Here is footage from the Trinity Church of Cedar Hill in Texas:


Don McLeroy on ABC

March 14, 2010

If I had a dollar for every stupid thing McLeroy has in this clip, I’d be a rich man:

Phil Plait accurately reflects my outrage at this lunatic here and here.



News From Around The Blogosphere 3.13.10

March 13, 2010

1. Anti-vaxxers vs. the U.S. legal system – I’d been saving this for a much longer piece I intend to write for The Gotham Skeptic this weekend but I felt it was necessary to at least mention it here. It seems that not only has the media turned on the anti-vaccine movement, but this week has been devastating to them in the courtroom. Last year, the best three cases of alleged autism due to vaccine-injury their lawyers could find had their days in court and lost miserably. Now the next three Autism Omnibus cases went before the court and. . .also lost miserably. Additionally, the contemptible Barbara Loe Fisher’s libel suit against Dr. Paul Offit, Amy Wallace, and Conde Nast was thrown out of court. It’s not a good day to be an anti-vaxxer.

2. Frying up Jesus – Jesus has finally returned. . .as bacon grease:

3. Life-enabling molecules spotted in Orion Nebula -

The chemical fingerprints of potentially life-building molecules have been detected in the Orion nebula by Europe’s Herschel Space Observatory.

The Orion nebula is a nearby stellar nursery, brimming with gas, dust and infant stars. It is known to be one of the most prolific chemical factories in space, although the full extent of its chemistry and the pathways for molecule formation are not well understood.

No god required.

4. McLeroy failed to change the science textbooks but succeeded in changing the history books - Take note as this may be remembered as the day the new dark ages began:

After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.

The vote was 10 to 5 along party lines, with all the Republicans on the board voting for it.

. . .

“We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”

Yes, history is too liberal. Better change it.

Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)

Yeah, who needs Thomas Jefferson anyway? It’s not like he did anything important in our nation’s history, right? This is an academic disgrace and I hope the school board is sued for violating the Constitution. . .unless of course there is no more constitution according to the new revisionist history.

5. Tom Cruise desperate to salvage his failing career – He seems to think that making light of his previous scandals will fix thing problem. Sorry Tom but there’s only one way to repair your reputation. Leave the cult.


News From Around The Blogosphere 3.12.10

March 13, 2010

1. Texas school board pushing Conservative and Christian spin on American history – Who’s pushing it? Why it”s the recently voted out creationist Don McLeroy. Essentially, they feel that American history is too liberal and atheist, so therefore, students should be taught about all those times Conservatism won out. That should be easy, right? Slavery? No. Keeping evolution out of schools? No. Black suffrage? No. Women’s suffrage? No. Segregation? No. Abortion? No. I guess they want a class to teach about the Great Depression that followed 12 years of conservative presidents, the early 90’s recession that followed 12 years of conservative presidents, the current economic crisis that followed 8 years of conservative rule, and of course Watergate.

2. A Winnipeg man, Rob Johnstone, struggles to find non-religious alcohol rehab program – I don’t understand why everyone’s always whining that AA is religious. Just because a group of people congregate in a church to kneel before god, pray to that god for strength, confess their sins, and acknowledge that they’re sinners by nature and thus powerless to change their sinful ways–that’s no reason to accuse AA of being a religion.

3. ‘Under God’ sustained in Pledge by Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – By a final vote of 2-1, Michael Newdow lost again to get the ‘Under God’ removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. That’s a very small amount to lose by though. At least someone in that decision was persuaded so that leaves room to be hopeful that we may prevail in the near future. Here’s the decision (PDF). Newdow’s next step is to ask the appeals court to rehear the case. If that’s rejected he says he’ll appeal to the Supreme Court.”

4. Ancient DNA found in fossil bird egg shell -

“We were really surprised to discover that ancient DNA is well-preserved in fossil eggshells, particularly the heaviest bird to have existed the elephant bird called Aepyornis, which is now extinct,” said Murdoch doctoral student Charlotte Oskam, who undertook the research.

5. Scientists discover 600 million-year-old origins of vision -

By studying the hydra, a member of an ancient group of sea creatures that is still flourishing, scientists at UC Santa Barbara have made a discovery in understanding the origins of human vision.

. . .

Hydra are simple animals that, along with jellyfish, belong to the phylum cnidaria. Cnidarians first emerged 600 million years ago.

“We determined which genetic ‘gateway,’ or ion channel, in the hydra is involved in light sensitivity,” said senior author Todd H. Oakley, assistant professor in UCSB’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology. “This is the same gateway that is used in human vision.”

There once again goes the “irreducible complexity” of the eye argument. And of course for those keeping track, that’s 599,994,000 years before the existence of the entire universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

6. Simon Singh leaves The Guardian -

“Being sued for libel is not only ruinously expensive, writes Simon Singh, it takes over your whole life. Which is why this will be his last column”

This is deeply sad. Singh is a fantastic science journalist and we could use people like him more than ever. But it’s inspiring to see him continue to fight for his article exposing chiropractic and for UK libel reform.

7. Surgeon goes into the faith healing business -

Dr. Issam Nemeh is a certified surgeon in Cleveland, Ohio but is now using his hands more for praying over people. Numerous medical miracles are being reported by people after visiting and being prayed for by Dr. Nemeh. However, Nemeh refuses to accept the credit for any miracle that takes place with an individual. He says GOD heals people with the Holy Spirit. Nemeh insists he is only an instrument.

Well, we agree on one thing:  he’s a tool.

8. Cancer researchers in British Columbia make lymphoma ‘breakthrough‘ -

The discovery by a team of 26 scientists from throughout North America and Europe shows a new way to predict the 15 to 25 per cent of patients who will have a poor prognosis if they aren’t treated more aggressively from the time of diagnosis.

As Carl Sagan said, science delivers the goods.

9. $cientologists try to censor German film -

Bis Nichts Mehr Bleibt, or Until Nothing Remains, dramatises the account of a German family torn apart by its associations with Scientology. A young married couple joins the organisation but as the wife gets sucked ever more deeply into the group, her husband, who has donated much of his money to it, decides to leave. In the process he loses contact with his young daughter who, like his wife, is being educated by Scientology instructors.

Scientology leaders have accused Germany’s primary public TV network, ARD, of creating in top secret a piece of propaganda that sets out to undermine the group, and have demanded to see it before it is broadcast.

Oh, come on! When have the Germans ever been known for making propaganda films? Kidding. I hope the film makes a gazillion dollars.


News From Around The Blogosphere 3.6.10

March 6, 2010

1. Creationist Don McLeroy loses Texas School Board election – DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD! WHICH OLD WITCH? THE WICKED WITCH!

And even better news is that he’s being replaced by Thomas Ratliff, who isn’t delusional and is a real life educator. Imagine that. Unfortunately, Donny boy still has seven months to his term so it ain’t over yet. But soon Texas will be free.

2. Atheist Rep. Pete Stark no longer replacing Charles Rangel as acting chair of Ways and Means Committee -

In an untraditional twist, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) will replace Rep. Charles Rangel as acting chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee rather than Rep. Pete Stark (D-Fremont).

Because of seniority, Stark had been in line to take the job and, as of Wednesday evening, House Democrats indicated that it was his, at least on an interim basis.

But Stark’s politics — he’s an unapologetic liberal — and his volatility, with a history of making controversial and provocative statements, concerned other members of the committee as well as the Democratic leadership.

In other words, “It’s an athiest! RUN!” Damn, the Dems are pussies.

3. Boulder pre-school kicks out child for having two mommies -

According to teachers at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School, a meeting was held Tuesday to discuss the issue. The staff was told a student would not be allowed to re-enroll because of his or her parents’ sexual orientation. The staff members were also told not to talk to the media.

Yet another reason why Catholics are morally obligated to renounce the Church.


Smut For Smut campaign

March 4, 2010

There’s been a lot of debate over the recent “Smut For Smut” campaign from a group called the Atheist Agenda at the University of Texas at San Antonio. And there’s even much debate over it within the atheist community.

I personally have a bit of a mixed reaction to it so I’m glad to see some great material written on both sides.

The Friendly Atheist is against it.

But he was good enough to give equal time to a member of the group to defend it.

My brother also wrote a piece defending it.

And of course many Christians are outraged as is one Fox News anchor who “knows his porn”:


Anne Mitchell update: justice prevails

February 11, 2010

Just yesterday I heard about this story for the first time. Anne Mitchell, a nurse who anonymously blew the whistle on an irresponsible doctor, was tracked down and penalized for speaking out.

But now I’m happy to report that justice has prevailed and Mitchell has been found not guilty of “misuse of official information.” Here’s the write-up from Orac.


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