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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These aren’t the druids you’re looking for

May 21, 2010

Austrian government officials have hired Druids to perform magic to improve road safety. And we’re told, since the Druids did that voodoo that they do so well, there has been a dramatic decline in car accidents. Of course, there doesn’t seem to be scientific data to support this claim. But who needs evidence when you’ve got magic Druids who have the power to negate the laws of cause and effect in the universe because of their magical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Wait. Druids are the ones with the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, right? I always get those mixed up.


News From Around The Blogosphere 3.11.10

March 12, 2010

1. School cancels prom to turn students against gay teen – Constance McMillen was planning to wear a tuxedo and attend the prom with her girlfriend in a small town in Itawamba County, Mississippi. And after the ACLU stopped the school from denying her right to attend the prom the school got even by canceling the whole thing and making the student body know it was McMillen’s fault. And the town’s mayor chimed in, supporting the school. Because that’s just the kind of classy folks they have in Itawamba County, Mississippi.

2. Zimbabwe anti-vax religious sect gets 100 killed – Who needs vaccines when you’ve got prayer? Except, you know, if you actually want people to live.

3. Pope’s exorcist finds the devil isn’t in the details but in the Vatican – Rev. Gabriel Amorth has the silliest resume on Earth. He’s been the chief exorcist for the Vatican for 25 years. His favorite movie? You guessed it. It’s The Exorcist. He alleges to have treated over 70,000 cases of demonic possession and sadly, I have no reason to doubt that claim.

But even the fearless priest becomes still, his voice grave when asked whether the devil can strike inside the Vatican City.

//

“He has tried already. He did it in 1981 by attacking John Paul II by working with those who armed Ali Agca. And also now with the attack on Christmas Eve night when the crazy woman pushed down Benedict XVI.”

. . .

Amorth confesses, “The devil resides in the Vatican.”While admitting that it is hard to prove, he says the consequences of the devil’s work are evident: Cardinals who don’t believe in Jesus, bishops who are linked with the devil. As early 1972 Pope Paul VI talked about the “smoke of Satan” that hovered in the Vatican, but it is more recent events like the pedophilia scandal the church is confronted with and the grisly murder by a Swiss guard of his commander and wife that Amorth uses as evidence of the devil’s presence.

Apparently humans can’t do anything against the Church without it being attributed to the devil.

4. More child abuse for Catholics to downplay – Two ex-Vienna choir boys have come out with accusations that they were raped by Church officials. But remember. It’s really the devil that’s doing it.

5. Robert Kennedy Jr. spreads false, malicious rumor in the Huff Po – The media has wised up to the anti-vaxxers, so the only source willing to take them is the Huffington Post due to its total lack of anything that could even remotely be considered by anyone on planet Earth as journalist standards. So now the anti-vaxxers got their man, RFK Jr. to push their libelous accusations about Dr. Poul Thorsen. Of course not a single word of it has any basis in fact. But then again, when have the anti-vaxxers or the Huffington Post ever care about facts?

But here’s one interesting story posted at the Huff Po:

6. Buying ghosts in a bottle – I have to at least give credit to the scammers for creativity. And it’s nice to see such witty skepticism expressed in the MSNBC clip embedded on the page.

7. PZ Myers eats your god with vegemite:


A job that wasn’t written in the stars

February 5, 2009

An Austrian insurance company sparked controversy recently because it tried to only hire workers born under the specific star signs Capricorn, Taurus, Aquarius, Aries, and Leo. Well that means I won’t be working for them. Tragic.

Now if you want to get a good laugh, here is the company’s ACTUAL defense:

A statistical study indicated that almost all of our best employees across Austria have one of the five star signs.

And here’s how Austrians responded to this nonsense:

It was followed by a wave of protests from equality groups and led to an investigation by the country’s anti-discrimination authorities.

Reminds me of what we face in the U.S. for equally absurd prejudices.  So in case anyone demands to know what’s the harm in people believing a little astrology, tell them about this.


News From Around The Blogosphere 01.19.09

January 19, 2009

What happens after $cientology chews you up and spits you out – The story of a man who managed to rebuild his life after $cientology destroyed it, and is now fighting back.

atheist-bus-battling-buses-picadilly2Attempts to Atheist bus ads in UK – The gambit they’re using is that religious people are made to feel uncomfortable riding on these buses. Funny, they’ve never acted to remove Christian ads from buses out of fear that it would make atheists feel uncomfortable. Friendly Atheist sums it up nicely:

Victoria’s Secret promotions, posters for Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and ads for pseudoscientific books like The Secret? Those are ok to have on buses. Suggest there may not be a God? That’s apparently horrendous, evil stuff that must be blocked from the public eye.

PZ Myers goes off on religious nut Gerald Warner for his absurd position on the atheist bus ads

Would you pay for something if you didn’t have to? – Regular church attendees in Austria wouldn’t, according to a recent pop psychology or quirkological study.

How to hallucinate with ping-pong balls and a radio – Also find out how to relieve pain with nothing but binoculars and feel like you have a very long nose and see beautiful imaginary images with nothing but your hand and the sun.

The Health Department has re-issued a warning that these pills could cause a diabetic coma, permanent brain injury or death.

It is marketed on websites as 100 per cent herbal, but contains ingredients such as donkey kidney and deer antler. It is also claimed to be a natural alternative to Viagra with no side effects.

Natural versus “natural” in CAMworld – David Gorski gives a proper thrashing to the sCAM folks who sell the 21st century’s answer to voodoo as if it were real medicine just labeling it “natural.”

foil-hatLately I’ve been more aggravated at grand conspiracy theorists than the standard creationists. So I was glad to read Greta Christina’s reponse to the nonsense:  What Would Convince You That You Were Wrong? It reminds me a little of a blog I wrote 2 months ago, Why I go after the grand conspiracy theorists.

In India, two 7-year-old girls married to frogs to prevent disease

The ceremony, an annual feature during the Pongal (harvest) festival, is conducted “to prevent the outbreak of mysterious diseases in the village”.

And no, the frog never turns into a prince ever!

The evolutionary roots of storytelling – This article attempts to explain why storytelling endures across time and cultures.

Chinese erection pill sends 3 to hospital – The pill was Nangen Zengzhangsu.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyLanguage Driven By Culture, Not Biology? – “Language in humans has evolved culturally rather than genetically, according to a study by UCL (University College London) and US researchers. By modelling the ways in which genes for language might have evolved alongside language itself, the study showed that genetic adaptation to language would be highly unlikely, as cultural conventions change much more rapidly than genes. Thus, the biological machinery upon which human language is built appears to predate the emergence of language.” So it wasn’t the Tower of Babel!

‘Molecular Parasites’ In Human Genome? – “Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany, determined the structure of a protein (L1ORF1p), which is encoded by a parasitic genetic element and which is responsible for its mobility. The so-called LINE-1 retrotransposon is a mobile genetic element that can multiply and insert itself into chromosomal DNA at many different locations. This disturbs the genetic code at the site of integration, which can have serious consequences for the organism.”

Prehistoric Fish Reveals Vertebrate Origins – “In an article in the journal Nature January 14, Uppsala researcher Martin Brazeau describes the skull and jaws of a fish that lived about 410 million years ago. The study may give important clues to the origin of jawed vertebrates, and thus ultimately our own evolution.” So for those keeping track, that’s 409,994,000 years before the whole universe existed, according to Young Earth Creationists.