News From Around The Blogosphere 7.20.11

July 21, 2011

Okay, it’s been awhile so this is going to a long one.

1. Campus Crusade for Christ is changing their name – In an attempt to change their image, the CCC has finally decided to get rid of that pesky “Crusade” in their name to avoid offending people and are now calling themselves the very inoffensive “Campus Holocaust for Christ.” Just kidding. From now on they’ll be known as the “cru”, cause strange lowercase acronyms are hip, chill, and groovy with the kids these days. Though if they really want to be more popular with the kiddies, maybe they should just call themselves Lady Gaga, and then put out announcements that Lady Gaga is coming to their campus. Can I solve image problems or what? I expect my check in the mail later this week.

2. Deepak Chopra, the videogame! Rated M for Moron – You know, for years I’ve listened to Jack Thompson shamelessly blaming video games for just about every atrocity in human history from the Crusades (probably) to the Virginia Tech shootings. But now Deepak Chopra is making me realize video games really can be harmful to society due to his new game called “Leela” (I’m assuming because he’s a huge Futurama fan) involving “seven different interactive exercises based on the seven ‘chakras,’ the points along the body that Chopra says serve as energy centers. No, Chopra has no background in actual human anatomy; I guess this is what he means by willing things into existence. If you believe in nonsense long enough and you can invent your own biology. In related news, Phil Plait has penned an short piece published in Playboy magazine that chastized Chopra for massacring science with his mouth.

3. Ireland vs. Vatican

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny condemned the Vatican for continuing to downplay the rape and sexual torture of children in order to protect the image of the Catholic church.

Kenny’s condemnation comes in response to last week’s release of the Cloyne report, a scathing expose of current and ongoing Vatican efforts to cover-up the ever-present sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy.

Kenny claimsthe Cloyne report “tells us a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children;” and, “exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago, not three decades ago.”

PZ Myers also wrote about this story here. And retired Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, has been in hiding since the Cloyne report exposing his poor handling of child sex abuse allegations was published.

And speaking of the Catholic Church…

4. Catholic bishop bans fund-raising for breast cancer research

A bishop from Toledo, Ohio will not allow parishes and parochial schools to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation (which helps fund the fight against breast cancer) because there’s a chance they may one day fund embryonic stem-cell research.

Glad to see they have their priorities in place.

5. Austrian officials allow Pastafarian to wear colander in drivers license photo – Austrian Niko Alm is being given permission to wear a colander, the official headwear for Pastafarians, on the license, which is clearly a far superior fashion statement than the Jewish yarmulke. Blessed be the Flying Spaghetti Monster and his noodly appendages.

6. Child Holocaust-denying nazi musicians renounce much of their former beliefs – The Olsen Twin look-alikes who form the Hitler-admiring pop band Prussian Blue have now publicly rejected the views that made them famous and for which their band was named after.

7. Jesus appears on Walmart receipt – Either that or Charles Manson, though that’s not really a very meaningful distinction.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 6.3.10

June 3, 2010

1. Al-Jazeera’s female anchors fleeing over ‘immodest’ dress

Five female anchors at Al-Jazeera, the Arabic news network, have quit after being pressured by executives to wear more modest clothing. Lest you think Al-Jazeera is anything like Naked News, you should know that these anchors usually don’t wear anything sexier than a blouse under a suit jacket.

I guess these women should just be grateful Al-Jazeera allows them to speak at all, right? It sounds like we need another boobquake.

2. Australian officials investigating $cientology’s slave wages – I look forward to hearing Spokesman Tommy Davis reversing the accusations of these ungrateful asshole former members who felt they were above making a few thousand dollars a year and that it was really the accusers who criminally underpaid $cientology.

Janette Lang, who worked for the church for seven years, says the most she was paid in a year was $3,114 in 2001.

Yeah, but that was back in 2001. I mean wasn’t that like equivalent to a bajillion dollars today?

3. Are our airports being protected with pseudoscience? – Airport security has begun using a program called Screening Passengers by Observation Technique (SPOT) where TSA employees supposedly learn how to identify suspicious travelers:

SPOT is supposed to help pick out people who are trying to hide their cruel intentions. The pushy, cranky guy behind you in line who’s yelling at his kid = no. Sneaky terrorists trying to look innocent = yes.The problem, of course, is that there’s no evidence this system works any better than a lie detector. Which, just to be perfectly clear, means it doesn’t work.

While we’re at it maybe we should start using dowsing rods to detect bombs.

4. Crazy Christian bringing Jesus to high schools – Bradlee Dean of “You Can Run But You Cannot Hide Ministries” convinces schools to let him “perform” for the kids with a rock concert with an anti-drug and anti-sex message only to then turn around and proselytize to them. Oh, and did I mention that Dean believes in killing gay people:

5. Ellie Wiesel calls for censorship – I share Orac’s disappointment over Wiesel’s call for the censorship of Holocaust denialist rhetoric. Not only do idiots have the fundamental right to voice their idiocy but even if this could be morally justified, it’d only help spread Holocaust denial as then scumbags like David Irving would have an excuse to argue that their views are being censored. Irving and his cohorts would shout, if we’ve got truth on our side, what do we have to hide? And he wouldn’t be wrong. We don’t have anything to hide.

In case Wiesel hasn’t noticed, Holocaust denial was been successfully relegated to the fringe and shows no signs of that changing. I fear Wiesel is far too emotionally attached to this one issue and is just guilty of applying special pleading here.

6. The Little Black Book of Scams available for free – If you follow the link, it will take you to a .pdf file containing a 46-page e-book exposing all kinds of common scams. Because we’re all capable of being fooled by con artists, I highly recommend everyone check this out.


News From Around The Blogosphere 5.25.10

May 26, 2010

1. Florida teacher attacked by co-workers with holy water – This caused the atheist teacher to instantly renounce her heathen ways, get down on her knees, and suck Jesus’ cock. Okay, actually it had no effect on her whatsoever other than making her all wet. Praise Jesus!

2. Everybody Draw Mohammed Day cause Muslim radicals to retaliate…against the Jews…and against history – Radical Muslims already hated the Jews and already hated history. But now they’re so outraged about EDMD that they’ve decided to conflate atheism with Judaism and respond by denying the Holocaust:

Much of the injustice that takes place in our world stems from ignorance. We reject being emotionally blackmailed by Hollywood tales and holocaust museums which legitimize the war crimes and crimes against humanity of the extremist Atheist regime of Tel-Aviv.

Good job, guys. That’ll show us.

3. Acupuncturist pricks hole in rape conviction – Okay, this is one of the craziest stories I’ve ever heard. Three men who spent a decade in jail on a rape conviction were freed because an acupuncturist claimed to know they were virgins. How you might ask?

She said examination of a pressure point beneath the convict’s ear showed a small capillary was unbroken, which Vietnamese traditional medicine holds to mean that he was a virgin. Hong then examined the other two men.

“I recognised these three men had never had sex with women,” Hong said.

Ohhhhh! That makes sense [rolling eyes] But this managed to be enough to reopen the case, which in turn led to the discovery that the initial investigators had made some mistakes. Wow, so maybe acupuncture has finally succeeded in doing something after thousands of years of doing absolutely nothing.

4. Now it’s Copernicus’ turn – The Catholic Church has pardoned Galileo. It’s pardoned Darwin. And now, after only 450 years, Nicolaus Copernicus was given a hero’s burial. So I guess it’ll be at least that long before the Catholic Church embraces the iPad and Steve Jobs…unless he goes out and starts raping kids. Then they’re likely to make him a saint or something.

Speaking of which:

Child rape you can believe in

5. Obama Administration supports child rapists. Wish he’d mentioned that in the campaign

In a strongly worded brief for the United States Supreme Court, the Obama administration has sided with the Vatican in an Oregon lawsuit that names the Holy See as a defendant for its role in the sexual abuse crisis.

In effect, the brief asserts that the standards for an exception to the immunity that foreign governments enjoy under American law have not been met in the Oregon case.

This is completely unacceptable and I urge everyone to contact the White House to express outrage over this decision.

6. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell on the verge of repeal:


News From Around The Blogosphere 10.22.09

October 23, 2009

1. Man ran down “too Westernized” daughter – An Iraqi man alleged ran down his daughter and her friend with a car because he believed she’d become “too Westernized.” The man, Faleh Hassan Almaleki, was last seen in a gray or silver Jeep Grand Cherokee, which I assume was the same car used to run down his daughter, so apparently it still drives. Now if that doesn’t raise sales, I don’t know what will. Too bad the Cash For Clunkers program ended.

2. Can a Japanese algorithm predict when you’re going to die? – I wouldn’t bet on it, but you gotta love the headline.

Does it work? Well, according to the team’s paper, published online here, the doomware has achieved “a moderate level of accuracy”.

3. Orac a shill for Suzanne Somers? – I guess this is the conclusion that Jake Crosby over at Age of Autism must accept since her book was advertised on Orac’s blog.

4. Whose side is Susan Hutchison? -According to her profile:

She is the executive director for the Charles Simonyi Fund for the arts and sciences which among other things, supports the work of atheist Richard Dawkins. She’s also served on the board of the Discovery Institute, which promotes the idea of intelligent design…

5. Atheists already donate 6% of Secular Student Alliance’s goal to raise $50,000 – It’s a great start but there’s still a long way to go. I urge anyone who can afford to donate to do so, even if it’s only a little bit.

6. Holocaust denier Bishop Richard Williamson faces possible charges – I always hate when I have to defend the rights of Holocaust deniers, expecially ones who are also religious authorities, but sometimes protecting freedom of speech means having to defend horrible people. Even though not about his arrest, I highly recommend Chris Hitchens’ superb defense of David Irving’s work being published because of his passionate defense of even the worst kind of speech.


Pat Buchanan defends Hitler

September 3, 2009

No, seriously. He actually defended Hitler. He explained that Hitler didn’t want to even get into a war and simply was pushed into it by the Allies because they had the audacity to not give into his commands. And what perfect timing to make such absurd claims given that September 1, was the seventieth anniversary of the German army under Hitler crossing into Poland. A few days later, some of my own family made it out on the last train out of Poland.

But I’m sure Hitler didn’t mean to invade Poland. It’s just one of those things that happens like when you ask a bank teller to give you all their money and when they refuse, you’re forced into pulling out a gun.

Buchanan goes even further and I really don’t have the patience for it, so I’ll just link to Orac’s excellent response and provide a great video of The Young Turks responding to this nonsense:


Sept. 1 1939, Holocaust Denial & Inglorious Basterds

September 1, 2009

Today is the seventieth anniversery of the official start of World War II, when the armies of the Third Reich crossed the Polish border. W.H. Auden famously wrote about that day, September 1, 1939. By then the Holocaust had already begun.

Sadly however, there are still many people who refuse to accept that the Holocaust happened, or at the very least think the number of victims have been greatly exaggerated by the Jews and Zionists in order to get what they want. So it was very appropriate that Orac addressed the blog of one such individual that he stumbled upon. The blogger wrote about his disbelief in the Holocaust while reviewing the film Inglorious Basterds, and what blogger Larry Fafarman says is a whole lotta stupid.

Fafarman insists that the Nazis had no viable way to identify Jews from the rest of the population except to say that somebody simply looks Jewish and thus, according to him, no mass hunting down and extermination of Jews could take place. Now even if that were true (just for the sake of argument), is the alleged inability to definitively identify Jews really a deal-breaker when one considers similar behaviors in human history like the Salem Witch Hunts or the witch hunts that continue today in Africa? No. But as the science and skeptical blogger Orac explains, the Nazis did indeed have more efficient ways of identifying Jews:

Apparently, Larry hasn’t heard of the mobile killing units, the Einsatzgruppen, mobile killing units who rounded up Jews and shot them by the hundreds and even thousands. Or how Jews like Ann Frank did indeed hide in the houses of gentiles willing to protect them from the Germans and were indeed found.

. . .

He clearly does not know that the Nazis expended an enormous amount of thought, resources, and effort on disinguishing Jews from non-Jews. In fact, the Nazis did not decide who was and was not a Jew by whether or not they “looked Jewish,” although it is true that Nazi racial hygienists did try to come up with measurements that would allow them to distinguish Jew from non-Jew. Rather, the Nazis enacted the Nuremberg Laws in 1935 in the first place. The first purpose of these laws was to strip Jews of virtually all rights. However, the second purpose was to define who was a Jew and who was Mischling (having Jewish ancestry but not enough to be considered Jewish under Nazi law).In effect the Nuremberg laws systematized the identification of Jews and tried to make it as objective as the Nazis could. Under these laws, a Jew was defined as (1) anyone having three or more Jewish grandparents regardless of whether he self-identified as a Jew or practiced the Jewish religion or (2) anyone having two Jewish grandparents who either:

  • Practiced the Jewish religion
  • Were married to a Jew
  • Had a Jewish parent, even if illegitimate

This latter category of Jews were known as Geltungsjude (“Jews by legal validity”). People who didn’t fall under any of the above conditions but had two Jewish grandparents were Mischling of the first degree, while anyone with only one Jewish grandparent was Mischling of the second degree, “Mischling” meaning “crossbreed” or “mixed.” In any case, the point is that the Nazis had a fairly straightforward definition of who was and was not a Jew based on their defining Jews as a race rather than a religion. In essence, they tried to define Jews by genetics rather than than self-identification or practicing the Jewish religion. True, there may have been gray areas, and there were even legal cases in Nazi Germany over who would and would not be considered a Jew, but it was very, very systematic, and, yes, about as “objective” as such a process could be made. It is also true that the basis of the systematized and objective standards of the Nuremberg Laws were based on a dubious conception of Jews as a race, but they were very systematic.

That’s a pretty solid refutation that’s far better than I could have given, but what puzzles me most of all is Fafarman’s comment regarding two of the film’s characters:

It was very sad about Shosanna and Frederick (pictured) — in different circumstances, they could have had a very good relationship.

Really? Now for those who haven’t seen the movie, this will be pretty meaningless to you. But I very strongly feel that the two characters refered to above could never have  had “a very good relationship” under virtually any other circumstances unless history unfolded dramatically different from how it did. Shosanna and Frederick legitimately together? I don’t see it.

Now perhaps for dramatic purposes, Orac treats this Holocaust denier’s blog as particularly delusional compared to much of the other nonsense he regularly encounters. And I have to disagree. Sadly, this blogger strikes me as no more delusional than the typical evolution denier, anti-vaccinationist, moon landing denier, or any other denialist crank. It shows the same unwillingness to do proper research and accept findings that might disconfirm one’s own beliefs.


When conspiracy theorists attack

June 11, 2009

Okay, so I’m late in talking about the Holocaust Museum attack and everyone already knows. But as Orac has done already, I just wanted to take a moment to emphasize that while the shooter, James W. von Brunn, was a racist, he was also a denialist and grand conspiracy theorist who was convinced that the Holocaust was nothing but propaganda from the big “Jew Conspiracy” and was motivated to take violent action only after he became convinced that nefarious parties were going to take his guns. He described his website, Holy Western Empire (not responding now but available at Archive.org), as. . .

“A new, hard-hitting exposé of the JEW CONSPIRACY to destroy the White gene-pool”

The site is full of some of the most vitriolic anti-Jewish accusations you’ll find anywhere. And Mark Hoofnagle points out that the shooter was also a 9/11 Denialist. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, it’s textbook denialism/conspiracism to buy into not just one of the many popular grand conspiracy beliefs but many. And although there’s really nothing original about this blog entry anyway, I thought I’d include Hoofnagle’s conclusion, which I totally agree with:

This type of thinking isn’t just unscientific, historically bankrupt, irrational, and just plain crazy, it also leads to extremism as it feeds into persecutory delusions, and as people become more disenfranchised due to their insane beliefs, it eventually will cause violence. This violence, evidenced by shootings loosely directed at liberals and gays like at the Knoxville Unitarian Church, is likely being ratcheted up by the increasingly unhinged conspiracy-mongering coming from the right. Liberals are being described as destroying America, major right-wing media moguls like Andrew Breitbart are spreading conspiracies about the liberal intent to destroy the country, Glenn Beck is spouting off total gibberish about how his country is being destroyed by liberals, etc. This is only going to get worse and the paranoid conspiracy-mongering from the right is stoking the flames.

So while some conspiracists may be fairly benign, von Brunn illustrates the potential danger in such beliefs. There’s no “Jew Conspiracy.” The Holocaust really happened. And nobody was coming to take his guns away. But because he believed that nonsense with such absolute certainty, it led to him becoming a danger to society and to his own undoing as well.

It’s stories like this that remind me why I do what I do. While I express my opinions freely on this blog, I’m not out to make everyone necessarily believe what I believe. What I care about is promoting critical thinking tools that will hopefully help prevent people from devoting their lives to delusional beliefs and from becoming dangerous fanatics like von Brunn.