News From Around The Blogosphere 3.11.11

March 12, 2011

"That's no moon."

1. Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! No, it’s a plane! No, it’s Supermoon! – If you’re Bill O’Reilly, I know what you’re thinking. Supermoon comes in,earthquake comes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that. But no, Bill, the coming Supermoon is not in any way responsible for the Japanese earthquake. Nor was Godzilla…probably.

2. Oregon House ends ‘Faith Healing’ exemption – Oregon had a law on the books that gave religious parents carte blanche in the event that they killed their sick children by choosing to treat them with prayer in lieu of getting them proper medical care. But now House Bill 2721, “eliminates reliance on spiritual treatment as defense to certain crimes in which victim is under 18 years of age.”

3. Pro-Choice student suspended by public Catholic School

Some students at St. Patrick High School in Ontario, Canada recently participated in the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity. They wore red tape with the word “LIFE” written on it and “didn’t talk for the day to display their belief in the injustice of abortion.”

Sophomore Alexandria Szeglet wasn’t a fan of that message, though, so she decided to do something about it.

She got some green tape and wrote the word “CHOICE” on it.

And then she passed along the green tape to several other students so they could join her in silent protest.

So the school told her to take off her green tape or go home. So she did…go home, that is. But she was not alone. The media was contacted and told up to 35 students were given 2-day suspensions, not to mention a 100 more who were sent home for the day. I’m tellin’ ya, these kids today and they’re principles…and their self-respect…and their rap music…

4. Smartphones that detect cancer in under an hour – We’re finally arrived at a point where our phones are smarter than our doctors. Very soon we’ll be able to integrate a microNMR device that accurately detects cancer cells to a smartphone:

Though just a prototype, this device enables a clinician to extract small amounts of cells from a mass inside of a patient, analyze the sample on the spot, acquire the results in an hour, and pass the results to other clinicians and into medical records rapidly. How much does the device cost to make? $200.

This is much more efficient than modern biopsy analysis, which only has an 84 percent accuracy rate, can take three to four days to produce results, and runs the risk of the tissue degrading during transport to an external testing site.

5. And in honor of Pi Day coming up, the sound of Pi:

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News From Around The Blogosphere 3.4.11

March 5, 2011

1. John Connor, it is time.

Whenever the military rolls out a new robot program, folks like to joke about SkyNet or the Rise of the Machines. But this time, the military really is starting to venture into robot-apocalypse territory: swarms of little semi-autonomous machines that can team up to manufacture complex objects (including, presumably, more robots).

That’s right, the only thing scarier than a swarm of intelligent military mini robots is a swarm of intelligent military mini robots in control of the means of production. And your Navy is hard at work on making it a reality.

2. Supreme Court rules in favor of Westboro Baptist Church – As detestable as the WBC is, I think the Supreme Court made the right call, which I’ve argued previously over at the Gotham Skeptic. Alito was the only Justice who sided with the Snyder family against the WBC. Between this decision and the vaccine court decision last week, the Supreme Court has been batting a 1000 lately.

3. Anti-abortion billboard goes down in NYC – The billboard tried playing the race card, a gambit anti-abortionists have been using for some time now. And while I don’t condone censorship, this wasn’t government censorship:

Councilwoman Letitia James and her legislative aide Aja Worthy-Davis that yesterday they launched a petition targeting Life Always and billboard owner Lamar Advertising, asking them to remove it. Later in the day, Lamar Advertising announced that it would take the billboard down.

Of course this notion that Margaret Sanger was a racist eugenicist, and that Planned Parenthood’s true agenda is to exterminate black people is complete bullshit.

4. Third-grader allegedly heals friends with magic – Okay, let’s settle this once and for all by seeing him heal Christopher Hitchens.I understand why a kid could buy into this fantasy but adults who report the news have no excuse.

5. Age of Autism cries misogyny – The same blog that suggested journalist Amy Wallace was blowing Dr. Paul Offit is accusing Doonesbury of misogyny over a cartoon that suggested Jenny McCarthy makes Playboy bunnies look bad. That is too funny. If anyone can explain to me why, feminist crusader that she is, Katie Wright had no objection to her own blog’s attack on Wallace, let me know. Also, if you can explain how the content of the cartoon is criticizing all women instead of just criticizing Jenny McCarthy alone for speaking out of school, I’d love to know that too. Oh, and one more thing. If you can explain to me how a website that accuses its critics of being a “loyal Pharma-funded wife” without even the slightest bit of evidence of any conflict of interest can maintain any moral high gound, let me know that too. Sullivan writes about it here.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 12.22.10

December 22, 2010

1. Catholic Church tells hospital they should have let patient die – A pregnant woman who was almost certainly going to die came into St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. The doctors knew that in order to save the woman’s life, they’d have to abort the fetus. And it worked. But the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix didn’t like that decision and so they essentially excommunicated the hospital from any Catholic affiliation. They actually punished a hospital for putting patient life first. Though I guess it’s not really a punishment since now the hospital administration can continue to act ethically without having to give the misguided and ignorant opinions of Catholic officials another thought.

And speaking of the Catholic Church…

2. WikiLeaks uncovers another possible Vatican scandal – The Vatican originally agreed in writing to take up observer status with the International Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research, referred to as the ITF. Then, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable from WikiLeaks, they reneged on the agreement amid controversy over the role of the war-time pope.

She added that the deal “had fallen apart completely … due to Vatican back-pedaling,” according to the cable, which was published by the newspaper.

The message says this decision “may have been taken by the Vatican’s relatively inexperienced new deputy foreign minister (Ettore Balestrero), and if so, would not be the first time he has complicated Vatican foreign relations.”

However, it added: “The Vatican may also be pulling back due to concerns about ITF pressure to declassify records from the WWII-era pontificate of Pope Pius XII.

Yup, you can always count on the Vatican…for a good scandal.

3. Gallop poll suggests America is gradually moving towards accepting evolution – When it comes to accepting evolution, America is somewhat of an embarrassment to the rest of the world. In recent years, polls have shown that up to 47% of Americans are Young Earth Creationists. But a new poll suggests that number is now only 40%. Still not anything remotely to be proud of but it suggests that maybe our efforts to take on the creationists may be yielding positive results.

4. Sanjay Gupta embarrassingly uncritical of John of God – Unfortunately, CNN hasn’t put up the video yet of this segment, but I’ve linked to their blog about it. For those who don’t know, John of God is a Brazilian con artist posing as a faith healer. He does nothing we haven’t seen other “faith healers” who have been exposed as frauds have done, and yet Sanjay Gupta and his guests still found him to be “mysterious.” In fact, given how many times they reminded the audience during this segment that the universe is mysterious and there are still things we don’t know, Gupta made it clear that journalistic and scientific integrity was not very high on his list of priorities. I intend to write to CNN to express my outrage over the segment and demand that they fire Sanjay Gupta for his anti-intellectual nonsense. I hope others will join me in this campaign.

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This Week In God 6.10.10

June 10, 2010

1. Kissing gets you 90 lashes in Saudi Arabia – Saudi religious police have arrested a man and two women for “engaging in immoral movements in front of other shoppers” after being caught on a surveillance video “exchanging kisses and hugs.”

The man was sentenced to ninety lashes over three sessions, and some jail time. There is no word on the woman’s sentence; only that she would be tried in “another court”. It doesn’t take a theologian to know that the woman’s punishment is likely to be much harsher than his 90 lashes.

This is Islamic justice.

2. You too can learn to be a bigot – Peter LaBarbera, president of the ironically named Americans for Truth about Homosexuality is launching a seminar for kids to teach them how to properly hate gay people. They’re calling it the Americans for Truth Academy though I think a better name for it is the Ku Klux Klan for Kids (KKKK). It’s a far more accurate and a more memorable acronym. They’re even making sure to follow the steps outlined in The Cult Handbook by insulating themselves from dissenting views:

Prospective attendees will need to be approved with references; this is not open to pro-homosexual activists but only to those who share AFTAH’s belief that homosexuality is immoral and that the GLBT movement is destructive to America and a direct threat to our religious freedom.

Hmm, freedom is slavery; where have I heard that before? Apparently “pro-family values” means Orwellian totalitarianism.

3. Blag Hag calling for Abortionquake? – A few months ago, an idiotic Muslim cleric stated that earthquakes were caused by women’s immodest dress. This caused the blogger Blag Hag to launch Boobquake, a massive campaign to introduce this man’s idiocy to the world. Now she’s reporting that an American Christian minister is blaming the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on abortion. Okay, Blag Hag admits that unlike Boobquake, this one’s a bit trickier to scientifically test and so we should just move ahead to mocking the guy mercilessly. Okay, I guess that’s a lot easier, though I do mourn any missed opportunity to piss off the religious right.

Why no hospital may be preferable to a Catholic hospital

May 18, 2010

Yup, you can tell I'm a douche just by looking at me

A woman who was 11-weeks pregnant was suffering from severe pulmonary hypertension and was at risk of heart failure that could lead to the death of both herself and the fetus. Ultimately, with everyone in agreement, the staff aborted the fetus and saved the life of the mother. Now considering the alternative was letting both fetus and mother die, this would seem to be a no-brainer decision, right? Wrong.

Enter Thomas Olmsted, a bishop who decided to excommunicate a nun, Sister Margaret McBride, who was an administrator at St Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center and who served on the ethics board that ok’d the abortion. She was also demoted:

“I am gravely concerned by the fact that an abortion was performed several months ago in a Catholic hospital in this diocese,” Olmsted said in a statement sent to The Arizona Republic. “I am further concerned by the hospital’s statement that the termination of a human life was necessary to treat the mother’s underlying medical condition.

“An unborn child is not a disease. While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother’s life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child. The end does not justify the means.”

No, you fucking asshole. The fetus was doomed either way. By not aborting the fetus, you’d be callously letting another human die who could otherwise be saved. At best this route would be considered unethical by any rational human being and at worst it’s criminal negligence. Maybe you’d know that if you were a doctor instead of some backseat driver who dresses in pajamas by choice. But how about this? Why don’t you go in your little church or whatever and pray for your “god” to miraculously revive the fetus? God can perform miracles right? Therefore if the kid doesn’t revive, we can only assume that “God” wanted the fetus dead.

So if these are the kinds of ass-clowns who will be making executive decisions at Catholic hospitals, no thank you.

News From Around The Blogosphere 4.21.10

April 22, 2010

1. Russia bans $cientology material – Perhaps taking a cue from the Germans, Russia is cracking down on beliefs it considers detrimental to society and have now banned books and recordings by L. Ron Hubbard a court determined to be extremist. Russia has already banned some texts by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

2. 60 Minutes applies hardcore skepticism to bring down bogus stem cell quack – Lawrence Stowe is a con man with no real medical credentials who has scammed ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease patients out of money with promises of bogus stem cell cures. I am very proud of 60 Minutes for setting up and airing this sting operation in all its uncomfortable glory.What’s really shameful is that every news organization isn’t doing this sort of thing all the time.

3. Oklahoma proposes new insane abortion bill – The bill would allow doctors to withhold test results showing fetal defects and require women to answer intrusive questions.

Angie the anti-theist tells CNN about her abortion

March 9, 2010

I blogged about Angie’s abortion a few weeks ago. Now she’s telling her story to CNN:

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News From Around The Blogosphere 2.22.10

February 23, 2010

1. Sign the online petition to support libel reform in the UK – You don’t have to be from the UK to sign it. And you can find out more at the Libel Reform website.

2. Why loved ones of Andrew Wakefield should maybe go on suicide watch – Okay, this article by David Gorski doesn’t actually announce any breaking news about Dr. Evil but it’s an excellent summation of why these have been the worst two months of his life as well as the worst two months of the whole anti-vaccine movement since the initial publishing of Wakefield’s now retracted Lancet paper twelve years ago.

Now that even Wakefield’s own Thoughtful House has told him to leave, there’s really not much of a chance that he’ll ever work in anything resembling the medical field again. At best, he’ll have to make his leaving going on speaking tours where he’ll just be speaking to his slowly diminishing echo chamber of followers. This cannot be where he thought his life would end up. Now I’m not saying I’m hoping for him to kill himself. Zeus knows he’d only become a bigger martr to the anti-vax crowd. But it’s really looking bleak for him so I can’t say I’d be surprised if it happened.

And in other good news in the fight against bogus medical quackery. . .

3. UK’s NHS is expected to stop funding homeopathy with tax dollars – 2010 is already shaping up to be as crippling to homeopathy as 2009 was to $cientology.

4. And guess who’s dismissing the recent Pediatrics study on autism – That’s right, it’s our old friend Jenny McCarthy.

5. Virginia Del. Robert G. Marshall apologized for saying people with disabilities are punishments from “God” against women who had abortions

Virginia Del. Robert G. Marshall apologized Monday to people with disabilities for remarks suggesting that women who have abortions risk having later children with birth defects as a punishment from God.

Marshall (R-Prince William) made the comment Thursday at a news conference calling for an end to state funding to Planned Parenthood. Calling the nonprofit group “Planned Barrenhood,” Marshall joined the Virginia Christian Alliance, several African American ministers and others who blamed the abortion provider for a host of social ills.

“The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion who have handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the firstborn of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” Marshall said.

But don’t worry. I’m sure Sarah Palin, defender of the disabled, will speak out against this Republican any moment now for his insensitivity. Yup, any moment. It’s coming. Just gonna keep waiting for that condemnation from Sarah Palin, the only politician who wouldn’t dream of exploiting sympathy for her Down Syndrome kid. Sarah, we’re waiting! I definitely recommend everyone literally hold their breath because, based on the recent Family Guy incident (which incidentally that episode had an awesome skeptical plot about psychics), that’s how soon we should expect to hear Palin’s moral outrage about insulting the disabled.

Well while we wait, let’s watch Angie the anti-theist, who’s having an abortion. . .right now:

This Week in Epic Fails 2.10.10

February 11, 2010

1. Utah passes bill allowing women to view heartbeat of their 3-week-old fetus before abortion – Hope the anti-choicers are happy with the result because 3-week-old fetuses don’t have heartbeats:

Before HB200 cleared the chamber in a 53-15 vote, Minority Leader David Litvack, D-Salt Lake City, unsuccessfully attempted to amend the bill to delete language he believed to be flat-out false, referring to viewing the heartbeat of a fetus at three weeks.”It is not medically accurate,” Litvack said. “It’s not possible. It does not exist.”

Litvack read from a physician’s e-mail that said you could expect to see embryonic cardiac activity at about six weeks from the woman’s last period.

Rep. Carl Wimmer, the bill’s sponsor, disputed Litvack’s claim.

“There are arguments on both sides of the issue,” Wimmer, R-Herriman, said.

I’m sure there are, Carl. The problem is that reality is only on ONE side, the side that says that there isn’t a human fetus on Earth that has a heart at 3 weeks, let alone a heartbeat.

2. Left Brain/Right Brain demolishes J.B. Handley’s latest moronery – Yup, Handley trots out the old “too much too soon” gambit and gets a detailed response explaining precisely why it’s complete garbage.

Oh, and speaking of anti-vaccine lunatics. . .

3. The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN–that’s really their acronym, hehe) is being audited – It couldn’t happen to more deserving folks:

THE BANGALOW-BASED Australian Vaccination Network will undergo a full audit by the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing following complaints it has been unlawfully fundraising.

Charity inspectors are expected to soon visit the organisation’s office to examine records and interview staff to check if it has been operating in breach of the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991.

Awwwwwwww! That’s a shame, a damned, damned shame.

4. Evolution Fucked Your Shit Up: The World’s 50 Freakiest Animals – Step right up, folks. And welcome to the greatest show on Earth. See the Sea Pig, the snake with legs, the Aye-Aye (which I called the MonkeySquirrelRodent a year and a half ago), the Hairy Frog, the Human-Faced Carp, the Axolotl, the Chinese Giant Salamander, the Thorny Devil Lizard, the Hagfish, the Seadevil, the Goblin Shark, the Purple Frog, the Pygmy Marmoset, the Sea Dragon, the Tarsier, the Angora Rabbit, the Blobfish, the Wrinkle-Faced Bat, the Dumbo Octopus, the Liger, and many more–they’re all here!!!!

Mother nature is a mad scientist!

Made of pure cute

This Week In God 10.4.09

October 4, 2009

1. Supreme Court Justices attending ‘Red Mass’ – Six of the U.S. Supreme Court Justices, John Roberts, Sonia Sotomayor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, and Samuel Alito all attended Red Mass — a special service for law professionals that has been held since 1953. Stephen Breye, who is Jewish, has attended this service before and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, also a Jew, attended once but will never attend again:

… Ginsberg said she grew tired of being lectured to by Catholic officials.

“I went one year, and I will never go again, because this sermon was outrageously anti-abortion,” Ginsburg said in the book “Stars of David: Prominent Jews talk About Being Jewish” by author Abigail Pogrebin.

Clarence Thomas, the sixth Roman Catholic on the court, also didn’t attend.

2. Missouri high school’s banned band t-shirts now on sale on the internet – A little over a month ago, I blogged about Smith-Cotton High School’s banned band shirts because of the use of the famous Ascent of Man image on it. Take that, uptight, uneducated parents of Sedalia, Missouri! To purchase the shirt, contact the store here and let them know! You can also support them on Facebook.

3. Faith-healing is a WMD in Oregon City, Oregon

“Mothers and their newborns in an Oregon City church that practices faith healing routinely died during or shortly after birth because medical help was not sought…”

4. And speaking of “faith-healing”, Benny Hinn is banned from the UK

Benny Hinn, from Texas, who draws large crowds to his Pentecostal revival rallies, was turned back at Stansted airport under new rules on visiting ministers of religion.

Many thousands of Pentecostal Christians travelled from across Britain and Europe and booked long weekend breaks in the capital’s hotels for his mission at the ExCeL exhibition centre in Docklands, East London, which had been due to begin on Thursday night.

They were left disappointed after Border Agency officials turned him back when he landed with his private jet because he had failed to obtain a “letter of sponsorship” from a church.

Instead, Mr Hinn flew on to Paris and tried to enter Britain at Luton airport but was again turned back. He was on his way back to France last night.

Maybe now would be the appropriate time for the U.S. to adopt the same policy to keep him out of our country too.