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.


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.25.09

November 26, 2009

1. Suicide bomber Barbie – Okay, actually it’s just Barbie in a burqa. This only goes to show that Barbie will never stop keeping women down in society. But I guess at least it’s for a good cause:

Wearing the traditional Islamic dress, the iconic doll is going undercover for a charity auction in connection with Sotheby’s for Save The Children.

2. War on Christmas continues with new athvertisement – And though I really shouldn’t have to say this, of course there’s no such thing as the “War on Christmas.” But it’s fun to play along with Fox News’ little conspiratorial delusion. The American Humanist Association is sponsoring a new nation-wide campaign involving ads with the slogan, “No God? …No problem! Be good for goodness’ sake.” This is the latest variation on a common theme. And despite the fact that it doesn’t say anything negative at all about anyone’s religion, I guarantee that it won’t be long before we hear from outraged Christians who feel personally slighted by the ad.

3. Marietta, Georgia considers dropping “so help me God” from police officer oath – Of course there’s some strange controversy over it. Councilman Van Pearlberg apparently just inquired as to whether it had ever been challenged, which somehow led to the option to remove it being considered. Pearlberg, however, claims he never actually objected to it and thinks it should not be removed, while also saying, “I don’t think anybody should be forced to say anything…I just don’t know what the alternative would be.” Keep it as part of the oath or give people the freedom to say what they want? Which is it? They’re mutually exclusive positions. If what you’re saying is that people should not be required to say it but they can should they be so inclined, then why not just obey the Constitution and remove it while leaving open the option for individuals to unofficially include it should they desire to do so?

4. Matt Barber blames everyone for Will Phillips’ decision except Will Phillips - Matt Barber of the Liberty Counsel, a Religious Right organization, has publicly come out to respond to 10-year-old Will Phillips’ decision to not stand for the Pledge until gay marriage is legalized. Basically, that response is simply ranting about how all of Barber’s ideological opponents are responsible for brainwashing the kid. He’s apparently a pawn of his evil parents, liberals, atheists, gay activists, Hollywood, etc. To whoever that newscaster was who asked Will Phillips what a gay-wad was, Matt Barber’s your man. Hopefully Jon Stewart can dispatch some pro wrestlers to force an apology. What I want to know is, who is responsible for Matt Barber’s being a flaming moron?

5. Small children prove more knowledgeable about evolution than Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron:

6. Chris Matthews vs. Bishop Tobin over recent Catholic extortion tactic:


One Nation Under Will Phillips

November 20, 2009

I blogged about Will Phillips the other day. He’s the 10-year-old who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in school because of the lack of marriage equality in the U.S. He’s already got several Facebook Fan Pages like this one. And he adorably appeared on CNN the other night:

I also blogged about Daniel Royston, the Wasilla, Alaska high schooler who, inspired by Will Phillips, also refused to stand for the Pledge.

Well, now there’s Roxanne Westover, a 17-year-old from Ohio who also now made news for not standing for the Pledge after learning in her history class that she didn’t have to:

“I’m an atheist, and I believe the pledge isn’t something toward our nation,” she said. “It’s more like a religious oath, and I believe that if I stand I’m still participating in it.”

And like with the previous cases, she’s being punished for doing so, despite the fact that such punishments are violating their civil rights. The ACLU contacted the school, so now it looks like there won’t any further punishment from school administrators at least.

Westover said she encourages others with similar beliefs to stand up for them by sitting down.

“I do encourage students to not stand up and to stand up for what they believe in,” she said. “Even throughout the whole entire thing, I had a lot of people backing me up who felt the same way about it.”

Roxanne made a point to say that her actions have nothing to do with Will Phillips but that she supports his actions.


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.17.09

November 18, 2009

1. Boyscouts of America to be honored on a stamp – This is very unfortunate because the Boyscouts are notorious for being a discriminatory organization, mostly controlled by Mormons that’s bigoted against gays and atheists.

2. Millions in Portland are good without “God” -

3. High Schooler punished for not standing for Pledge - Inspired by 10-year-old Will Phillips, high schooler Daniel Royston of Wasilla, Alaska (yeah — that Wasilla) for the first time in his life refused to stand for the Pledge. The school violated the law and punished him for it. Royston’s account of what happened can be found in the link above.

4. Is this a joke? I can never tell.

5. Awesome commercial for the Secular Student Alliance:

6. Researchers find the gene for empathy? -

Researchers have discovered a genetic variation that may contribute to how empathetic a human is, and how that person reacts to stress. In the first study of its kind, a variation in the hormone/neurotransmitter oxytocin’s receptor was linked to a person’s ability to infer the mental state of others.

Interestingly, this same genetic variation also related to stress reactivity. These findings could have a significant impact in adding to the body of knowledge about the importance of oxytocin, and its link to conditions such as autism and unhealthy levels of stress.


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.12.09

November 13, 2009

1. MILF cleared of abduction charges by Irish priest – Okay, get you minds out of the gutter. Of course I’m talking about the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). In the Philippines, Irish Fr. Michael Sinnott was held hostage for 31 days and after being freed, said that his abductors were the original lumad of Mindanao who lost their homeland and everything else when the merchants came in, but not the MILF. In fact, the MILF Central Committee are credited for effecting his release.

2. Nanotechnology kicks cancer’s ass -

Led by Elena Rozhkova, scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago’s Brain Tumor Center have developed the first nanoparticles that seek out and destroy glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain cancer cells without damaging nearby healthy cells.

Nanomedicine, an offshoot of nanotechnology, refers to highly specific medical intervention at the molecular scale for curing disease or repairing damaged tissues, such as bone, muscle, nerve, or brain cells. Nanoparticles – anywhere from 100 to 2500 nanometers in size – are at the same scale as the biological molecules and structures inside living cells. Cancer detection using nanoparticles shows great promise as a therapy for certain types of cancer. And the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) is taking nanoparticles very seriously. The NIH has established a national network of eight Nanomedicine Development Centers, which serve as the intellectual and technological core of the NIH Nanomedicine Roadmap Initiative.

3. South Carolina rules religious license plates unconstitutional - The smoking gun of the case seems to this:

When State Sen. Yance McGill was asked by the Associated Press in May 2009 whether he would support a Wiccan tag, he said, “Well, that’s not what I consider to be a religion.”

When asked about a Buddhist tag, he said “I’d have to look at the individual situation. But I’m telling you, I firmly believe in this [Christian] tag.”

Rep. Bill Sandifer also backed the “Christian” plate, but emphatically asserted that he would never do the same for a plate featuring Islamic symbols and language.

“Absolutely and positively no,” he said.

And, let’s not forget, [ed: Lt. Gov] Bauer himself also said no to the same question.

“I would not [support a tag for Islam] because that is not the group I support,” he said.

Oops. Thanks guys.

4. Rhode Island governor vetoed domestic partners burial bill – This bill would have allowed a same-sex partner to make funeral arrangements for a dead partner. Governor Carcieri, have you no decency, sir? Have you no decency?

5. Catholic Church gives Washington D.C. an ultimatum – The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington threatened to pull aid to homeless if the state doesn’t change a proposed same-sex marriage law. Yay extortion!

6. Cincinnati Coalition of Reason billboard taken down due to death threats –  And while extremely unfortunate, it both illustrates why these completely unoffensive ads are so important in the first place and on the plus side, the billboard was just moved to a new location. And this will no doubt generate more publicity than the billboard itself.

7. Alabama Atheists and Agnostics get publicity - Last month, they went around chalking their university to advertise their upcoming meeting. Then it got erased and so they chalked everything again, only to have that erased to. And now the story has gotten them some great new publicity, which like the Cincinnati billboard incident, will likely reach a much larger audience than originally intended. Thanks assholes!

8. 10-year-old refuses to stand for Pledge for gay marriage – 10-year-old Will Phillips refuses to stand for the Pledge of Allegience to show support for gay marriage:

“I’ve always tried to analyze things because I want to be lawyer,” Will said. “I really don’t feel that there’s currently liberty and justice for all.”

At the end of our interview, I ask young Will a question that might be a civics test nightmare for your average 10-year-old. Will’s answer, though, is good enough — simple enough, true enough — to give me a little rush of goose pimples. What does being an American mean?

“Freedom of speech,” Will says, without even stopping to think. “The freedom to disagree. That’s what I think pretty much being an American represents.”

9. Why chimps can’t speak -

Scientists suspect that part of the answer to the mystery lies in a gene called FOXP2. When mutated, FOXP2 can disrupt speech and language in humans. Now, a UCLA/Emory study reveals major differences between how the human and chimp versions of FOXP2 work, perhaps explaining why language is unique to humans.

Published Nov. 11 in the online edition of the journal Nature, the findings provide insight into the evolution of the human brain and may point to possible drug targets for human disorders characterized by speech disruption, such as autism and schizophrenia.

 


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