News From Around The Blogosphere 10.25.08

October 26, 2008

WEBSTER COOK UNIMPEACHED! – Screw you Donohue! Crackergate continues on, bitches!

Woman arrested for killing virtual reality husband – Someone’s going to need a Third Life.

San Francisco considers legalizing prostitution

AMERICAN BIGOTRY:

California’s Proposition 8 must be stopped – This is a fundamentalist ballot measure that aims to ban same-sex marriage.

New blog uniting The Skeptologists. . .ALL OF THEM!

And from that site comes this great entry from Brian Dunning of the Skeptoid podcast addressing the problem of marketing skepticism.

COMMON MYTHS – THE MORE YOU KNOW!

“Don’t drink soda because it will make you acidic!” – Let’s see about that.

SPOOKY!

And in the spirit of Halloween, here’s something SPOOOOOKY!

And here’s is the debunking of the video above, courtesy of Japanese editors:

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

White Rhino Born Using Frozen Sperm – “A world-first: researchers announce the birth of a white rhino after artificial insemination with frozen sperm. The rhino baby, a male, was born at 4:57am in the Budapest Zoo on the 22nd of October 2008. In June 2007, scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin artificially inseminated his mother, the rhino cow Lulu, with frozen bull semen.”

-Frozen Bull Semen was the name of my band in college–what are the odd?!

Coffee can shrink women’s breasts – Damn you, Starbucks!!

Eternal sunshine of the mouse mind: scientists have developed a way to erase specific memories in mice while leaving others intact.

THE FUNNIES:

Will the wonders of modern science never cease?


American Family Association & “The War on Christmas!”

October 25, 2008

Yup, the Religious Right’s fabricated “War on Christmas” is now in full swing. The only way to know how long it’ll last this year is to wait until Christmas morning when Donald E. Wildmon of the fascist organization the American Family Association comes out of his cave. If he sees Jesus in his shadow, we’ve got another 6 weeks of War on Christmas. If not, it’s over by New Years until the following autumn. Of course it doesn’t seem to bother them at all that Christmas is an bullshit holiday built on pagan traditions and once banned by the Puritans (The original War on Christmas), and which in the modern age merely celebrates consumerism at its worst. And it doesn’t matter Christmas wasn’t even a major holiday until the 19th century and is actually forbidden in The Bible:

The latest “attack” in the imaginary war involves an overreacting Christian-run fireworks company who was soooooo offended that a New York State boat race had taken “Christmas” out of its name and replaced it with “Holidays” to be more inclusive that the company pulled out. Here’s what the AFA has to say:

In New York, Christmas is kicked out, happy holidays welcomed in

October 24, 2008

Dear Michael,

Well, here we go again. Patchogue, NY, has changed the name of their parade from Patchogue Christmas Boat Parade to the Patchogue Holiday Boat Parade. Why? Someone complained. Some people will never stop until Christ is completely removed from our society.

Read the story.

Here is how you and your church can take a stand for Christmas.

Sincerely,Don

Donald E. Wildmon,
Founder and Chairman
American Family Association

And here are the reasons the company pulled out:

The company’s vice president, Philip Butler, who has criticized the secularization of Christmas in the past, said parade organizers were “using all the themes of Christmas and plagiarizing all those themes.”

Christians would never plagiarize themes from the holidays of other cultures. NEVER! NEVER! (Note: The War on Easter began with Christians too)

But I too really hate when secular holidays devoted to consumerism are secularized. It makes me so angry in fact that I’m pulling out of this blog right n


David Kirby now denying Hannah Poling’s mitochondrial disorder

October 25, 2008

Last Thursday, David Kirby, Deirdre Imus, and some of their antivaccinationist cohorts were in my neck of the woods to discuss the non-existent scientific controversy over whether vaccines cause autism. I would have loved to have gone but unfortunately it was held on a weekday afternoon. Apparently now Kirby is denying Hannah Poling’s mitochondrial disorder:

She was a perfectly normal girl.

Um, no. She was never a perfectly normal girl. And this is well documented. If you think she was a normal, healthy girl then you’re living in a fantasy world.

Much has been written about Hannah Poling’s mitochondrial disorder, such as here, here, here, here, and here.

And much has been written that has exposed the utter dishonesty of David Kirby, such as here and here (this second one is also included in that first list but it does both).


News From Around The Blogosphere 10.24.08

October 25, 2008

Skeptologist Dr. Kirsten Stanford asks you to vote for science.

And Princeton’s How-To Guide to hacking E-Voting Machines.

51 “facts” about Homeopathy – Feel free to play Name That Logical Fallacy at home.

More deceptive marketing of the Expelled DVD – Though 1 of the 2 least deceptive claims, that it was the #1 documentary of 2008, this is deceptive only in that most of the tickets were bought in bulk by churches and other religious organizations simply to artificially inflate the ticket sales and exploit their religious authority over parishioners to organize group gatherings around showings of the film. Though to be fair, the non-religious community struck back with at least using this tactic of organizing group gatherings around seeing Religious (I myself saw the film with New York Skeptics). Only we did it better, which is why the other reason why this claim as the #1 documentary of 2008 is wrong on a technicality. In just the past week, Religious has taken Expelled‘s spot as the true #1 documentary of 2008.

Oh, and the other 1 of the 2 least deceptive claims appears on the box:

“I Love This Film!” – Ben Stein

While I’m sure that’s true, one could argue that Ben Stein, the on-screen host of the film, may not be the most objective source when looking for a review of the film. Though I’m eager to see what Bill Maher thought of the film Religulous.

Other amusing news about Expelled comes from the comments section on a recent creationist blog: that apparently Yoko Ono managed to have at least some success with getting Imagine removed from what seems to be at least Region 1 DVDs of the film, that the true believers have sunk so low that they’re now beginning to insist that those who have debunked the film have actually somehow helped the “success” of the film (Keep telling yourselves that), and that apparently the makers of the film have been forced to accept the film as just a financial lost and have simply given Netflix users the option to watch the film (presumably) for free as “Instant Viewing” as a means of just trying to get the message out. Since I don’t have a Netflix account, I cannot confirm this though.

And here is another example of that silly gambit of critical denial by insisting criticism further promotes the thing you criticize (although some studies have shown this to be true in some cases).

Are you saving yourself for marriage? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? – Because if you are, you can enter the “Marriage for a Lifetime” contest and maybe win $10,000. And the best part is that so far, no one has applied. It’s so bad that the organizer was forced to bend the rules a bit:

“Someone asked me, ‘Is anyone going to respond?’ ” said contest organizer Phillippia Faust, director of an abstinence education program for Rockdale, DeKalb and Newton counties. “In our society, it is going to be hard to find [a couple who has not had premarital sex]. … But the standard is the standard.”

Yet in a recent interview, Faust seemed inclined to relax the rules, saying couples engaging in sex can still qualify but they must acknowledge, “The right choice is probably not to have had done it.”

She will, however, draw the line at couples living together.

Phew! That’s a relief!

Is that Ganesh or is that flower just planning on reincarnating me?

SPOOKY!

Yesterday, I posted the video about the computer-activated Quija Board. And in continuing in the spooky and vaguely Halloween-themed items, here’s a great blog discussing ghosts.

And here is how everything you need to know to conduct a seance:

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Female Plant ‘Communicates’ Mating Preference – “Without eyes or ears, plants must rely on the interaction of molecules to determine appropriate mating partners and avoid inbreeding. In a new study, University of Missouri researchers have identified pollen proteins that may contribute to the signaling processes that determine if a plant accepts or rejects individual pollen grains for reproduction.”

Tiny Juvenile Dinosaur Fossil Identified – “One of the smallest dinosaur skulls ever discovered has been identified and described by a team of scientists from London, Cambridge and Chicago. The skull would have been only 45 millimeters (less than two inches) in length. It belonged to a very young Heterodontosaurus, an early dinosaur. This juvenile weighed about 200 grams, less than two sticks of butter.” And in case you’re a Young Earth Creationist who believes the Earth is 6000 years old, this dinosaur fossil is about 190 million years old.

Happy Birthday Eugenie Scott! – She also just won an award.


Sarah Palin on Science: uh oh!

October 25, 2008

Sarah Palin on Science – Uuh oh:

THE STUPID! IT BURNS!


Season 4 plot of Heroes?

October 25, 2008

Okay, this blog has absolutely nothing to do with the once-popular and now declining television series, Heroes, but given that this story involves a fictional story about a warning from the future (about 4 years in the future) about world events going terribly wrong (the plot of every season of Heroes thus far–Ugh!), I figured it’d make a good title, especially since more obscure references to X-Men comics might have been lost on some people. But to invoke Heroes one more time, each season of the show has its own title. I think the first season was called Genesis or Origins or something like that. The second (and crappier) season was called “Generations.” And the current (and still pretty crappy) season is called “Villains.” Well, the Christians may have come up with the title for Season 4: “The Gay Agenda!”

In 1212, Hiro becomes gay Broadway sensation.

In 1212, Hiro becomes gay Broadway sensation.

Apparently, according to a recent work of fiction from the Dobsonites, the world won’t end with a whimper but rather with dudes banging other dudes. You can read the whole thing here. Oddly, like Heroes, the future warning comes from about 4 years in the future. After 4 years of an Obama presidency, the whole nation’s gone wild for the gays. Apparently not much else has happened in 4 years. . .just gay stuff. It’s kinda weird given that Obama’s position on gay rights is pretty much the same as the McCain/Palin ticket.

But let’s not let little details like reality get in the way of a shitty and non-veiled piece of nonsensical bigotry. Nothing in this story makes any sense as events have no logical causes. It’s not surprising that these guys throw out the notion that things gradually change over time step by step and figure that the prime mover, Obama being elected magically makes everything gay and FABULOUS! This will probably prove beyond any reasonable doubt that Christian fundamentalists should stick with genres they can excel at like fairy tales, Where’s Waldo, and coloring books. These guys never color outside the lines. Honestly, do these guys even know what Science Fiction even means? They should stick this story in the same place every Christian book should be, in the Christian Fiction section. And it speaks volumes that they felt it necessary to spell out in a very lengthy fashion the disclaimer that this isn’t an actual prediction of future events but speculation. . . you know, in case this audience got confused.

Gay Dinosaur from the future?

Remarkably, they somehow manage to accuse the future President Obama of being a freedom-squashing, fascist dictator while simultaneously arguing in favor of freedom-squashing fascism. That’s quite impressive and even partially makes up for the most implausible part of the story: how are they going to mail the letter without a flux capacitor and 1.21gigawatts of electricity?

Though to be fair, this might still have been better than Season 2 of Heroes.


Half of U.S. doctors prescribe placebos

October 25, 2008

A new survey that comes out of the UK suggests that about half of American doctors say they regularly give patients placebo treatments — usually drugs or vitamins that won’t really help their condition. This is a disturbing finding. Not only are so many doctors giving people placebos, which would be bad enough outside of controlled clinical testing, but they’re additionally not telling the patients. Although it’s not explicitly clarified in the article, I’m guessing they mean they don’t tell the patients ever because if patients knew they were taking a placebo while they were taking it there wouldn’t be any placebo effect at all.

That contradicts advice from the American Medical Association, which recommends doctors use treatments with the full knowledge of their patients.

And of course another less obvious danger in this sort of behavior is that it will feed into grand conspiracy theorist delusions. There are so many different directions a warped mind could go with this that it boggles the mind. Maybe they’ll insist that the because the real medication is poison, they give those they want dead poison and let the others go with the placebo. Or maybe they’ll say the placebo is really poisonous and those getting the real medication are being spared. And of course it’s somehow part of Big Pharma’s/ The Government’s/The New World Order’s/The Rothchild’s/The shapeshifting space alien lizard’s master plan to  sterilize us/kill us/live out their dreams of ruling the world by way of a vague, abstract two-dimensional evil Bond-villainy/cover up the space alien arrival/kill JFK again/stop the electric car/win the War on Christmas/pal around with terrorists/read our thoughts/etc. Clearly it’s the next phase in the conspiracy after “poisoning” us with fluoridation/chemtrails/vaccines/liberal media.

But I digress. The bottom line is that this has got to stop. This will ultimately cause far more problems than it’ll solve. (Thanks to my friend Brian for sending me this story.)