Michelle Bachmann recalls the shot heard ’round the world in Concord…New Hampshire

March 13, 2011

Oh, c’mon! Everyone knows the shot heard round the world that sparked the American Revolution between the 17 Colonies and the Soviet troops happened when Major Enola Gay fired into the Oklahoma City exhaust poirt without using his targeting computer, which drove King Tut to declare war!

Yes, I hate to post another story about the stupid things that come out of politicians’ mouths so soon but I couldn’t pass this one up. Last time, I  justified because I was singling out Rand Paul’s illogical argument. In this one, I’m educating Ms. Bachmann’s historical myth.

As any American reader who has passed middle school almost certainly knows, Concord and Lexington are not in New Hampshire…and that the “shot heard ’round the world was in Massachusetts.

I don’t know what troubles me more, that a sitting U.S. public official doesn’t know the first thing about one of the most basic historical facts concerning the Revolutionary War that is taught to literally just about every middle school student in this country, that she thought Concord and Lexington were in New Hampshire instead of Massachusetts…for some reason, or that she somehow got to the point where she was delivering the speech without anyone correcting her…or that she repeated the same error later that very speech!

To hear such ignorance of our country’s history come out of the mouth of a sitting Congresswomen is just disgraceful. This has got to be up there as one of the stupidest things to come out of a Tea Party candidate yet (and that says a lot)…at least until someone suggests that New Hampshire has the proud history of being the home of Plymouth Rock or that George Washington retreated across the Atlantic Ocean.

Wait, what?! She said the Plymouth thing too?! Son of a bitch!

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News From Around The Blogosphere 9.22.10

September 23, 2010

1. 5 Worries Parents Should Drop, And 5 They Shouldn’t – Notice how vaccine injuries didn’t make the list, but that car accidents made the number one spot. Maybe the anti-vaxxers should campaign to get rid of cars instead. After all, are cars not filled with toxins? Do they not cause millions of deaths every year?

2. Man charged with pretending to practice witchcraft – No, it wasn’t Christine O’Donnell. An Ontario man charged people money in exchange for allegedly promising to perform magic to solve any and all of his customers’  problems. Yeah, he should have realized that scam had a short expiration date.

3. Teaching robots to lie, cheat, and deceive – OH COME ON! Just the other day I had a little fun by referencing all the classic destructive robots of science fiction from the Cylons to the Terminators to the Replicants, to the machines of The Matrix when news came out about an artificial human skin for future robots that was sensitive to touch. But now comes a story about programmers giving robots the ability to lie. It just makes referencing how science fiction writers have foreseen that scenario going terribly wrong way too fuckin’ easy.

4. Pastor Terry Jones billed $180K for security surrounding protest – Damn it! I hate when I have to defend assholes. But here we go again. The Florida pastor who successfully manufactured the bullshit Koran-burning controversy is being billed for the increased security added to public places in response to fears that he’d single-handedly provoke an Islamic fundamentalist terror attack. That is fuckin’ bullshit. If that survives a court decision, it would set a horrible precedent that would greatly undermine free speech. Terry didn’t shout fire in a crowded theater. Whatever one may think of book burning, he had every legal right to burn any book he wants, so long as he owns it. And in fact, he didn’t burn a single book, merely claimed that he would. And if anyone should be held accountable, it should be the Islamic fundamentalists who are so insane, they provoke people into spending $180K on extra security every time some Islamic critic gets attention for stirring shit up. But if anyone else were to be deserving of blame, it’d be the media who turned this small town pastor’s little stunt into international news. There’s no reason I should have even heard of Pastor Jones, let alone Muslim radicals in the Middle East. Make no mistake. It was the media’s love of sensationalism that drove this story, not the actions of some redneck asshole.

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And I thought Asians were supposed to be good at math

September 19, 2010

A unicorn has been spotted for the first time in ten years. Actually it’s the saola of Laos and Vietnam…and it’s got TWO horns…which I guess is why the media is calling it a unicorn…because as everyone knows, “uni” means two. Ugh!

News From Around The Blogosphere 8.23.10

August 24, 2010

1. First Hitch, and now PZ? – First Christopher Hitchens gets cancer. And now PZ Myers has some sort of heart condition. My best wishes go out to him and hope his treatment goes well.

Aww, cute.

2. Alligators in NYC sewers? Urban myth confirmed – Though to be fair, it wasn’t a very big alligator:

Cops apprehended an 18-inch gator that crawled out of an overflowing Astoria storm drain and hunkered down beneath a parked car this afternoon, delighting onlookers and giving fresh meat to the urban myth that the carnivorous critters are living below the Big Apple.

3. Self-fulfilling prophecy is self-fulfilling

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Rachel Maddow exposes manufactroversies of the political right

April 6, 2010

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News From Around The Blogosphere 2.19.10

February 20, 2010

1. Wearing a bra does NOT increase your likelihood of getting cancer – I don’t know how this silly myth got started and never heard it before but I’m glad the NY Times decided to address it.

2. Religious parents learn the wrong lessons from Devo and really do whip it good – Eric and Elizabeth Schatz (yes, that’s really their name) whipped their 7-year-old daughter, Lydia. . .to death. She died while being disciplined “for hours” because she mispronounced a word during her home-schooling lesson. I have feeling she’ll never make that mistake again.

3. Ten Commandments plaque to go up in Arizona’s Capitol? – A certain political party is pushing for it. I know you can guess which one.

The 5-3 vote came over the objections of the [I’M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU WHICH PARTY OPPOSED IT] on the panel who said it amounted to the state imposing what are the beliefs of the majority on everyone else.

Sen. Amanda Aguirre said that while she believes in the Ten Commandments, she felt posting them in front of a government building amounts to “imposing our religious beliefs on other folks that have their own God.”

3. J.B. Handley suffers another embarrassing defeat – Yesterday, Handley saw a minor mistake in an article by Steven Novella about another study that further showed no link between vaccines and autism. And so what did he do? What any propagandist would do, jump on the opportunity to attack one of his critics while deliberately missing the point. Well now Novella has fired back and has delivered yet another crushing blow to Handley.

4. The Vatican leaves Dylan off their list of best albums – I thought Rock N Roll was devil music. And who made the Vatican the arbiters of great music?

The article by Giuseppe Fiorentino and Gaetano Vallini said that Dylan was excluded from the list despite his “great poetic vein” because he paved the way for generations of unprofessional singer-songwriters who have “harshly tested the ears and patience of listeners” with their tormented stories.

Yeah, but he’s the only musician in history to have a Nobel Prize for Literature for writing a song! But what can you expect from the Vatican. None of them along the line know what any of this is worth.

5. Greenwich Village “psychic” sued over $10,000 – Unfortunately, it wasn’t the one on West Third Street off of MacDougal. I want my money back, woman!

In two instances, Mitchell told Chan to put nine $100 bills in a jar — for a total of $1,800 — to help cleanse her. In both cases, Mitchell took the cash-filled jars.

6. Non-theists will attend religious services for charity – Let me go on record as loving this idea. Not only is this a great way to get donations but it draws attention to atheists doing charity work, spreads a positive image of atheists in a way that can’t be viewed as an attack on faith, allows the religious to see this as an opportunity to win over non-believers, and takes advantage of people’s competitive nature using a method I’ve only previously seen from Greenwich Village street performers who would shout out the name of the last donor’s hometown. Those from Queens wouldn’t like Brooklyn-ites being the last to give and so would give more, leading to French tourists giving last, to which no one from any other country could tolerate, leading to even more donations, ad infinatum.

News From Around The Blogosphere 1.30.10

January 31, 2010

1. Dinosaur Find Helps Solve Evolutionary Puzzle

A George Washington University expedition to the Gobi Desert of China has enabled researchers to solve the puzzle of how one group of dinosaurs came to look like birds independent of birds. The discovery extends the fossil record of the family Alvarezsauridae — a bizarre group of bird-like dinosaurs with a large claw on the hand and very short, powerful arms — back 63 million years, further distancing the group from birds on the evolutionary tree.

Until now, there was no direct evidence that dinosaurs of this type lived during the Late Jurassic, approximately 160 million years ago. George Washington University doctoral candidate Jonah Choiniere named the newly discovered species of dinosaur, Haplocheirus sollers (meaning simple, skillful hand).

Again, that’s 63 million years ago, which for those keeping count is 62,994,000 years before the existence of the whole universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

2. Elmhurst, Illinois Mayor Pete DiCianni calls to waste tax dollars on prayer – DiCianni is calling from each City Council meeting to over with a prayer. Now besides the fact that this obviously tramples on the wall separating church and state, even rational Christians should be able to admit that we’re not paying these people to sit around and pray, but rather to run the local government. If these people wish to pray, let them do so on their own time and not on the taxpayers’ time.

3. Christian police force in UK who believe in power of prayer  receives £10,000 grant – If all it takes to catch criminals is prayer, why do they need any money? And for that matter, why do they need a police force?

4. Mennonites kidnap 14-year-old girl – The daughter of Doug Ramsey may have been brainwashed. Three church members were arrested for allegedly concealing the girl from her parents and police after she ran away from home. They intended to take her out of the state to Kentucky. Church members encouraged her to disconnect from her parents and helped facilitate her departure.

5. Midlife crises are a myth – Here’s a great article debunking the myths surrounding the so-called midlife crisis.

6. Virginia School district bans Diary of Anne Frank – That’s right. I’ll repeat that. They banned Anne Frank’s book. Why you might ask? Because of a passage about her adolescent curiosity concerning sexuality. The offending passage reads:

There are little folds of skin all over the place, you can hardly find it. The little hole underneath is so terribly small that I simply can’t imagine how a man can get in there, let alone how a whole baby can get out!

The horror! The horror!

But that’s not even the worst part, according to the article linked to above:

Amazon.com lists Anne Frank’s diary as one of the most banned children’s books, “for being too depressing for students.”

Anne Frank’s diary is among the most banned children’s books? Anne Frank? Are we talking about the same Anne Frank? The young girl in hiding from the Nazis? Anne Frank’s diary is one of the most banned children’s books? WTF!!!!!!!

7. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledges $10 billion to vaccines – Suck it, Jenny McCarthy!

8. Do children need both a mother and a father? – Yup, once again science proves the bigots wrong:

The presumption that children need both a mother and a father is widespread. It has been used by proponents of Proposition 8 to argue against same-sex marriage and to uphold a ban on same-sex adoption.

. . .

The lead article in the February issue of Journal of Marriage and Family challenges the idea that “fatherless” children are necessarily at a disadvantage or that men provide a different, indispensable set of parenting skills than women.

. . .

In their analysis, the researchers found no evidence of gender-based parenting abilities, with the “partial exception of lactation,” noting that very little about the gender of the parent has significance for children’s psychological adjustment and social success.

9. Pope calls for crackdowns on marriage annulments “at all costs” – But still nothing about cracking down on the thousands of child rapists whose salaries he pays. That’s fine.

News From Around The Blogosphere 1.10.10

January 10, 2010

1. New evidence supports Egyptian pyramids being built by free workers but not slaves – What I love about this story is that it hurts three myths at the same time, the belief that the pyramids couldn’t have been built by man but had to involve extraterrestrial influence, the belief by some religious individuals that the pyramids were built by Jewish slaves, and the belief that the pyramids were built by slaves in general. Sorry, didn’t happen.

2. Violence breaks out over use of the word ‘Allah’ – The Malaysian High Court ruled to end a ban that prohibited a Catholic newspaper from using the word “Allah” when referring to God in their local-language publications because only Muslims were allowed to use that word. This of course led to Muslims “going” crazy. Shocker.

3. Apparently abstinence-only sex ed isn’t a lost cause…if you’re an ant…your species has eliminated men

The complete asexuality of a widespread fungus-gardening ant, the only ant species in the world known to have dispensed with males entirely, has been confirmed by a team of Texas and Brazilian researchers.

Most social insects—the wasps, ants and bees—are relatively used to daily life without males. Their colonies are well run by swarms of sterile sisters lorded over by an egg-laying queen. But, eventually, all social insect species have the ability to produce a crop of males who go forth in the world to fertilize new queens and propagate.

I’d love to know Dr. Tatiana’s sex advice for them.

4. Research further suggests autism is a brain connectivity disorder

Studying a rare disorder known as tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that autism spectrum disorders, which affect 25 to 50 percent of TSC patients, result from a miswiring of connections in the developing brain, leading to improper information flow. The finding may also help explain why many people with TSC have seizures and intellectual disabilities.

5. Brain Imaging May Help Diagnose Autism

Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) process sound and language a fraction of a second slower than children without ASDs, and measuring magnetic signals that mark this delay may become a standardized way to diagnose autism.

6. $cientology’s claiming its a religion again – Their futile efforts to proselytize has angered some, and so the cult is insisting that as a religion, they’re doing nothing wrong. Of course when people resist $cientology on the grounds that it steals members of other religions, the $cientologists then insist that they’re not a religion, just a self help group that welcomes all faiths. But then when it comes tax time, they’re a religion again. Besides, it says so right on their buildings. They even have “churches.” Of course $cientology churches appear from both the outsiders’ perspective and former insiders’ perspective to be no different than any secular buildings and no spiritual services actually take place.

Captain Douchebag himself

7. $cientology digs up lost Hubbard works – I smell brand new OT levels requiring more expensive course work!

More than 1,000 unreleased recordings of lectures by L. Ron Hubbard and reams of corresponding writings have been unveiled in the culmination of a 25-year project to locate, restore and transcribe lost pieces of the Scientology founder’s work.

8. British woman arrested in Dubai for being raped – That’s right. A woman was RAPED! And the authorities decided to then charge her for the crime of having had illicit sexual intercourse. Even the Bible doesn’t advocate arresting rape victims; it merely demands they marry their rapist. Though I don’t exactly know what Bible’s policy is if one has more than one rapist. This is exactly the kind of insanity that could only exist because of religion.

9. Sylvia Browne continues annual tradition of predicting upcoming year’s events – I haven’t looked back yet on her predictions last year and I never got around to making my own annual predictions for 2009 in January. I’ll have to do it this. But the psychics seem really off and vague this year. Pat Robertson’s annual yearly predictions showed a complete lack of trying and Sylvia’s no exception this year either.

News From Around The Blogosphere 1.5.10

January 6, 2010

1. Maybe the G-spot issue isn’t settled afterallYesterday, I posted a story about a study that suggested the G-spot is a myth. And today I saw an interesting response to that study, so I figured I’d link to it.

2. Why is Barbara Loe Fisher suing Paul Offit, Amy Wallace, and Wired Magazine in Virginia? – Another story I blogged about yesterday was the libel lawsuit anti-vaccinationist from Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center against their critics. It seems that she’s suing them in Virginia even though Offit resides in Pennsylvania, Wallace resides in California, and Conde Nast’s offices are in New York. And though this is pure speculation at this time, Orac thinks he may know why? Those states have laws against strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). But Virginia doesn’t. Of course I don’t think it will help her case for the reasons explained in the previous blog on this case linked to above.

3. Christopher Hitchens debates with Unitarian Minister Marilyn Sewell – Well worth the listen. The transcript is also available.

4. Margaret Downey trying to organize atheists in Washington – Margaret Downey of Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia has proposed organizing a Unity Convention to assemble members of all the various atheist organizations around the country in the nation’s capitol. I guess this would be a kind of atheist “Million Man March.” I’m all for it but I have to admit that I’m very impatient. I’ve heard some say it can’t happen until 2014 but I’d like to see it happen in 2010.

5. Is sex the best way to prevent crime and war?

If our distorted relationship with human sexuality is the source of much of this frustration, confusion, and ignorance, societies with less conflicted views should confirm the causal connection. Developmental neuropsychologist James Prescott found that bodily pleasure and violence seem to have an either/or relationship—the presence of one inhibits development of the other.

6. What’s the harm in “alternative” “medicine”? – Remember the story of Daniel Houser, the kid with Hodgkin limphoma who was court ordered to receive chemotherapy, which eventually saved his life after a short period when his mother kidnapped him to prevent evil medicine from saving him? Well, for every Daniel Houser there’s at least one Tamar Stitt. Ten-year-old Tamar wasn’t so lucky. She died because her alt-med-loving parents smuggled her out of Australia following a court order to get her chemotherapy for her rare liver cancer. THIS IS WHY WE FIGHT! THIS IS THE HARM DONE BY “ALTERNATIVE” “MEDICINE!”

7. Clusters of autism cases in California may point to possible environmental factors – We’ve been down this road before. There have been other clusters of autism and it’s not uncommon for randomness to result in the appearance of clusters. But it’s definitely worth investigating.

News From Around The Blogosphere 1.4.09

January 5, 2010

1. Researchers conclude that G-spot is a myth

The scientists at King’s College London who carried out the study claim there is no evidence for the existence of the G-spot — supposedly a cluster of internal nerve endings — outside the imagination of women influenced by magazines and sex therapists. They reached their conclusions after a survey of more than 1,800 British women.

2. Egyptian med students not the sharpest tools in the shed – Apparently Egyptian med students have it in their heads that masturbation causes blindness. Yes, I said that these were the Med students!

Baher Ibrahim writes that young women, expected by the conservative Egyptian society to be white virginal emblems of chastity, often wouldn’t know a penis from a bratwurst (I’m talking the literal food here). Meanwhile, many of the guys get their sexual knowledge from watching porn, which doesn’t do women any favors, no matter what country you’re in.

Bad or non-existent sex ed also fails to teach people to protect themselves against STDs. One student interviewed recalls a professor pinning the failure rate of condom usage in protecting against HIV/AIDS at 15-20% (it’s actually close to zero). Unsurprisingly, women are at particular risk for the disease, which spreads primarily through unprotected heterosexual sex, due to a severe lack of information on the subject. And, oh abstinence-until-m

3. Creationists given potentially unparalleled power over children’s textbooks – Texas and California are the two states that largely determine public school textbooks for the rest of the country. But now that liberal California can’t afford to buy new textbooks until 2014, Don McLeroy and his ultraconservative gang may have all the power. We’re going to need Eugenie Scott and the National Center for Science Education more than ever now.

4. British skeptics launch ’10:23 Campaign’ against homeopathy – The name comes from the Avogadro Constant, the scientific principle in which homeopathy would violate…if it were true. I also love their slogan:  “Homeopathy: There’s Nothing In It.”

5. Black Atheist is cast member on MTV’s ‘Real World’ – Apparently, one of the cast members of the latest season of the Real World, Ty Ruff, is a black atheist. I only mention his skin color because there doesn’t tend to be many black atheists.

According to  his bio:

… Despite growing up in the church, he is anti-religion and thinks believing in God is a crutch…

6. Atheist Foundation of Australia put up bus ad in Tasmania – The slogan is, “Atheism: Celebrate Reason!” I like it.

7. New study finds chimpanzees have culture too

A new study of chimpanzees living in the wild adds to evidence that our closest primate relatives have cultural differences, too. The study, reported online on October 22nd in Current Biology, shows that neighboring chimpanzee populations in Uganda use different tools to solve a novel problem: extracting honey trapped within a fallen log.

Kibale Forest chimpanzees use sticks to get at the honey, whereas Budongo Forest chimpanzees rely on leaf sponges — absorbent wedges that they make out of chewed leaves.

“The most reasonable explanation for this difference in tool use was that chimpanzees resorted to preexisting cultural knowledge in trying to solve the novel task,” said Klaus Zuberbühler of the University of St Andrews in Scotland. “Culture, in other words, helped them in dealing with a novel problem.”

8. Lifeless prions evolve or another bad day to be a creationist

Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have determined for the first time that prions, bits of infectious protein devoid of DNA or RNA that can cause fatal neurodegenerative disease, are capable of Darwinian evolution.

The study from Scripps Florida in Jupiter shows that prions can develop large numbers of mutations at the protein level and, through natural selection, these mutations can eventually bring about such evolutionary adaptations as drug resistance, a phenomenon previously known to occur only in bacteria and viruses. These breakthrough findings also suggest that the normal prion protein — which occurs naturally in human cells — may prove to be a more effective therapeutic target than its abnormal toxic relation.