News From Around The Blogosphere 11.5.11

November 5, 2011

1. Anti-vax parents engaging in bioterrorism – If so-called “pox parties” weren’t enough, some parents have begun literally mailing chicken pox infected items for the purpose of infecting other people’s kids. And even worse, some have started mailing items infected with the far more dangerous measles. This would have made a perfect setup for the virus at the end of the recent Planet of the Apes film or for a zombie apocalypse story.

2. More anti-vaxxer propaganda – Just when I thought it was bad enough that the anti-vax propaganda film “The Greater Good” was coming to NYC’s IFC Center for a week beginning November 18, now I learn Barbara Loe Fisher and her band of cranks at the misnamed “National Vaccine Information Center” has a month-long “PSA” spot playing on Delta Airlines flights that suggests washing hands alone is an adequate substitute for a flu vaccine…cause that’s who you most want to go unvaccinated…people traveling from country to country. Argh! Fortunately, the wonderful Elyse Anders over at Skepchick is on the case and has begun a massive petition campaign to persuade Delta to cease this plot to kill us all. Also, she’s provided a handy-dandy list of contacts at Delta Airlines and its video provider.

3. Zombie worms found in fossil

Traces of bizarre, bone-eating ‘zombie’ worms have been found on a 3-million-year-old fossil whale bone from Tuscany in Italy. It is the first time the genus Osedax has been found in the Mediterranean, and suggests Osedax were widespread throughout the world’s oceans 6 million years ago.

BUSTED!

4. Simon Singh vs. fraudulent psychic Sally Morgan’s lawyers:  part 1 and part 2 – You might remember Singh as the UK science journalist who was sued by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) for libel over his calling their chiropractic “bogus” and his subsequent victory in the appeals process. I also recently wrote about Sally Morgan’s being caught wearing an earpiece during her performance. Well, Singh’s suggested she prove her powers are real, so now she’s trying to intimidate the man who beat the BCA in court with lawyers. Boy, did she fuck with the wrong journalist.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 3.7.11

March 8, 2011

1. 40-million-year-old mites caught fucking – It’s not uncommon to find ancient animals preserved in amber. What’s far less common is finding ancient animals preserved in middle of doing it as in a recent find where two mites were found mating. Another interesting fact about these mites are that the traditional sex roles were reversed:

“In this species, it is the female who has partial or complete control of mating,” explained Klimov, an associate research scientist at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. “This is in contrast to the present-day reproductive behavior of many mite species where almost all aspects of copulation are controlled by males.”

I think that settles it for me. When I die, I insist that I’m preserved forever in amber during sex.

2. Nano vaccines in our future

MIT engineers have designed a new type of nanoparticle that could safely and effectively deliver vaccines for diseases such as HIV and malaria.

Once again, science delivers the goods.

3. Lawsuit claims Scientology violated child labor and wage laws – If you haven’t yet read the recent 30-page New Yorker expose on Scientology, you owe it to yourself to take the time to do so. It is almost certainly the single most damning piece of literature compiled on the cult and every word of it is backed by a copious amount of evidence. I truly believe that nobody can read that article and still choose to join Scientology. According to that article, there is a federal investigation into possible human trafficking charges, relating to accusations of child labor and nearly non-existent wages for adult labor.

Now two lawsuits have been filed by former Scientologist Daniel Montalvo, who “contends his parents, who remain in the Sea Org, neglected him and breached their duty to protect him from harm by ceding his care to the church.” And like with every former member/critic, church Spokesmen Tommy Davis is retaliating with sudden criminal accusations against Montalvo that the church remarkably never mentioned to anyone until just now when he sued them first. What a coinkidink! Given all the former members that Davis and past spokesmen (who incidentally are now also harsh critics of the cult) have accused of serious and often violent crimes, I’m left to wonder if everyone in Scientology is a violent thug.

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2 billion year old fossil discovered

July 1, 2010

1. 2 billion year old fossil found

A newly discovered group of 2.1-billion-year-old fossil organisms may be the earliest known example of complex life on Earth. They could help scientists understand not just when higher life forms evolved, but why.

Single-celled organisms emerged from the primordial soup about 3.4 billion years ago. Almost immediately, some gathered in mats. But it was another 1.4 billion years before the first truly multicellular organism, called Grypania spiralis, appears in the fossil record.

The newly described fossils, which have yet to be given a species name, make Grypania less solitary. They lived at roughly the same time — Grypania in what is now the northern United States, the new fossils in Gabon. By raising the possiblity that multicellularity was a trend rather than an aberration, they also hint at an answer to the question of why complex life evolved, not just when.

2.1 BILLION! That’s with a “B”. For those keeping track, that’s 2,099,994,000 before the existence of the entire universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.


News From Around The Blogosphere 5.15.10

May 15, 2010

1. One thing I never could stand about New Zealand was all the damned vampires – Two people in New Zealand have been arrested and charged with “wounding with intent to render a man unconscious” following a report from a man who claims he was attacked by vampires after waking up in a park after a night of drinking to find bite marks on his neck. But don’t worry. They totally had a good excuse.

2. New fossil find reveals secrets of ancient marine life

Paleontologists have discovered a rich array of exceptionally preserved fossils of marine animals that lived between 480 million and 472 million years ago, during the early part of a period known as the Ordovician. The specimens are the oldest yet discovered soft-bodied fossils from the Ordovician, a period marked by intense biodiversification.

And for those keeping track, that’s between 479,994,000 and 471,994,000 years before the existence of the entire universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

3. Australian church rejects vaccine denialists at the AVN – Meryl Dorey and her goons at the misnamed Australian Vaccination Network (AVN [snicker]) were told to get lost by a church after the AVN requested to use their church as a venue for spreading propaganda about the evils of vaccines. It turns out that prominent church members are experts in the field of ethics and public health, and they felt the AVN is not in line with the ethos and values of the Uniting Church of Australia. And so no Uniting Church venue will be made available to them.

4. Mirin Dajo had a lot of guts – This guy didn’t just swallow a sword; he had himself run through with numerous fencing foils…to entertain people!

I’m reminded of Todd Robbins, one of the few remaining sideshow vaudeville acts from the Coney Island tradition. I’ve seen Robbins swallow swords, perform the human blockhead (pounding a nail up the nose – I’m told not actually that hard), and most impressive of all, eating glass for your amusement. But I’d say Marin Dajo deserves recognition as an indestructible bastard except that he died at the age of 35.

5. Revenge is a dish best served with pubic lice – A British website has come up with a pretty badass way to help people get revenge on those who have wronged them…by selling pubic lice. The site, crabrevenge.com, has a disclaimer but a pretty insincere one:

While the disclaimer says the website creators “do not endorse giving people lice,” and the lice are for “novelty purposes only,” the website talks about using them for revenge.

. . .

The website says the company was started “by a group of fellows who happen to know a thing or two about biology and revenge.”

Well I can’t argue the revenge part. So please, don’t give me crabs.

6. New book further blows the lid on $cientology – Escaped and recovered $cientologist Amy Scobee has released a new book called Abuse At The Top, where she reiterates the now ubiquitous claims of leader David Miscavige’s violent assaults on members and gave some fun stories about Tom Cruise.


Why won’t creationists answer this question?

May 3, 2010

This reminds me of another creationist debate:


News From Around The Blogosphere 3.24.10

March 25, 2010

1. New U.S. state quarters are godless – One thing you won’t see on many, if not all, of the new U.S. state quarters is “In God We Trust.” Instead, the nation’s REAL motto, “E Pluribus Unum” (Out of many, one) is given greater prominence. I wonder how long it will take before we hear Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity declaring this part of the evil secular progressive agenda to remove “God” from people’s lives. I bet not long at all.

2. NYPD, The Vampire Slayers – I thing about NYC I never could stand was all the damned vampires.

NYPD are currently hunting a potential vampire who, when rebuffed by a stingy cab driver who refused to hand over the cash, bit his victim about the neck, back, and arms.

If that isn’t proof of vampires I don’t know what is.

3. VSS Enterprise completes maiden voyage into final frontier – The Enterprise is the first spacecraft built for Richard Branson’s commercial spaceflight company Virgin Galactic. And starting next year, Branson hopes it will be ready to take wealthy tourists into space.

4. How are great apes smarter than creationists and other denialists? – Great apes can actually recognize that they could be wrong:

In a series of three experiments, seven gorillas, eight chimpanzees, four bonobos and seven orangutans, from the Wolfgang Köhler Research Center at the Leipzig Zoo in Germany, were presented with two hollow tubes, one baited with a food reward, the other not. The apes were then observed as they tried to find the reward.

In the first experiment, the apes were prevented from watching the baiting but the tubes were shaken to give them auditory information about the reward’s location instead. Dr. Call wanted to see if when the apes were prevented from acquiring visual information, but offered auditory cues instead, they would be able to use the auditory information to reduce their reliance on visual searching.

5. ‘Rare’ new dinosaur fossil discovered

It had a body the size of a sheep, a long neck and tail, and lived some 185 million years ago. Scientists call this dinosaur find “a rare skeleton of a new species.”

For those keeping count, that’s 184,994,000 years before the existence of the whole universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

6. Judge rules Mississippi school violated Constance McMillen’s constitutional rights

U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson refused the American Civil Liberties Union’s demand to force the Itawamba County school district to put on the April 2 prom. However, he said canceling it did violate 18-year-old Constance McMillen’s rights and that he would hold a trial on the issue.

. . .

“The court finds this expression and communication falls squarely within the purview of the First Amendment,” Davidson said.


News From Around The Blogosphere 3.22.10

March 23, 2010

1. TV presenter sentenced to death for ‘sorcery’ – Yup, that’s what our good friends Saudi Arabia does to those who predict the future and give out advice to their audiences. Couldn’t they just throw the guy in jail for fraud? I bet the psychic didn’t see this coming.

2. Crocodile shit furthers evolutionary knowledge

Ancient bite marks and fossilized feces discovered in Georgia are providing new details about a giant crocodile that roamed the Southeast United States about 79 million years ago.

And for those keeping count, that’s 78,994,000 years before the existence of the whole universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

3. Bill Donohue defends child rapists…again – It seems like only a year ago that Donohue was defending child rapists in Ireland for decades of abuse. Now he’s being a child rapist apologist once again, making the same fallacious and erroneous argument that was made by Andrew Brown, that the Catholic Church has no greater amount of institutionalized child rape than many other unnamed organizations:

Employers from every walk of life, in both the U.S. and Europe, have long handled cases of alleged sex abuse by employees as an internal matter. Rarely have employers called the cops, and none was required to do so.

Of course no examples are provided. I wonder if Donohue knows that we’re talking about half a million raped children.

And that’s only that we know of. Anyway, Greta Christina did a far better job of ripping this argument to shreds than I can right now so check out her response to Andrew Brown.