Boyscouts tell gay dad it doesn’t get better

October 25, 2010

This image never gets old

Over the last week or two, we’ve seen an unprecedented show of support for the gay community via the “It Gets Better” campaign. But unfortunately, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) doesn’t seem to have gotten the message:

The father of a 9-year-old Cub Scout said Tuesday he has been forced out of a leadership role with the organization and ordered not to wear its uniform because of his sexual orientation.

The BSA is still holding strong to their anti-gay and anti-atheist bigotry. Click the link above to see CNN’s video report on the controversy.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 6.29.10

June 29, 2010

I am so behind on news stories that I’m going to ignore my usual rule of keeping this News From Around The Blogosphere chunk to only a few stories in order to play catch-up over the next few days.

1. Australia elects atheist Prime Minister…who sadly turns out to be anti-gay – Early reports of Julia Gillard’s appointment were met with cheers from the atheist community but now some of our hopes may have been dashed as news comes out that she opposes marriage equality:

“We believe the marriage act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalise treatment for gay couples,” Ms Gillard said.

Seriously, how does that sentence come out of the mouth of an atheist?

2. Copenhagen atheists create declaration of principles – The principle focus on religion’s role in public life.

3. Chuck Norris vs. the Secular Student Alliance SSA – Chuck’s pissed that with all the crises happening in the world, Obama found time to honor the SSA but has neglected the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and feels its’ persecution or something. What is it with these Christians who think just being their wishes aren’t met, that makes it persecution? No Bill Donohue, the Empire State Building is not honoring Mother Teresa, so get over it. Anyway, for some reason Chuck feels the BSA should have been invited to a conference on “Advancing Interfaith and Community Service on College and University Campuses.” Why I don’t know. I guess Chuck still harboring a grudge against atheists ever since Bruce Lee kicked his ass. Personally, I’m still waiting for Chuck to respond to the email I wrote him three years ago.

4. Robot fish is accepted by shoal as one of their own – Wow, it’s kind of like Avatar except instead of the dude from the last Terminator film transferring his consciousness into a biological shell, it’s a frakkin’ robot.

University of Leeds scientists have created the first convincing robotic fish that shoals will accept as one of their own. The innovation opens up new possibilities for studying fish behaviour and group dynamics, which provides useful information to support freshwater and marine environmental management, to predict fish migration routes and assess the likely impact of human intervention on fish populations.

Robots–is there any news story they can’t make awesome?

5. UK trying to ban homeopathy

Recently representatives of the British Medical Association (BMA) condemned homeopathy as “witchcraft.”Now the BMA is going one step further – calling for a ban on homeopathy in the UK. They do not want homeopathy to be illegal, but they want a ban on any National Health Service (NHS) support for homeopathy. The NHS currently spends about 20 million pounds a year on homeopathic remedies (about 0.01% of the NHS budget) and maintains four homeopathic hospitals. This is a small amount overall – but anything spent on homeopathy is a waste. More importantly, as the BMA notes, homeopathy has “‘no place in the modern health service.’

6. Nick Fury, Black Widow, and S.H.I.E.L.D. to investigate Phil Plait? – Apparently someone over at Marvel Comics is a fan of the Bad Astronomy blog because Phil Plaits’ name is in Black Widow’s phonebook.

7. Teenager turns into Spiderman – In other Marvel Comics-related news:

A Cambridge schoolboy has converted two budget vacuum cleaners into a Spiderman gadget which helps him scale walls.

Hibiki Kono, 13, a big fan of the superhero, made the incredible climbing machine using the suction from two Tesco Value vacuum cleaners.

The schoolboy then amazed his friends by using the giant suckerpads to climb the school wall during morning assembly.

“I used to dress up as Spiderman when I was younger and I love all the films so it’s great to be able to climb walls like him,” said Hibiki.

You sir, are awesome.

8. Stem Cells cure blindness

STEM cells have restored sight to 82 people with eyes blinded by chemical or heat burns.

Once again, as Carl Sagan once said, science delivers the goods.


News From Around The Blogosphere 6.11.10

June 11, 2010

Stupid me. I always grab pictures from the wrong youth organization

1. Phili yanks Boy Scouts of America’s rent-free space – It’s been long known that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) are given privilege in the U.S. despite being a fundamentally bigoted organization that openly discriminates against gays and atheists. Well now one American city is fighting back. Philadelphia is now insisting the local BSA chapter must pay the standard $200,000 in annual rental fees using public space. The BSA has responded by suing and declaring that the the local chapter does not follow the national BSA’s discrimination policies. The Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia is organizing a rally this weekend to draw attention to the issue.

2. Just when you thought Mississippi schools couldn’t get any lower – For the past several months, the evolving controversy surrounding a Mississippi high school’s despicable treatment of openly lesbian teen Constance McMillen had made national news. Then recently reports came out of another lesbian teen being discriminated against by her high school. So I guess this makes strike three. It has just come out that Alice Hawley, a math teacher at Franklin County High School in Mississippi, has for the past 17 years been leading student prayers in class. To the schools credit, they did demand her to stop once her actions became national news, and then when Hawley refused to sign a document stating she understands the law on these matters, the school fired her despicable ass. But to the schools discredit, they just rehired her a day later. That’ll teach her!

Open letter to Mississippi schools:

FUCK YOU!

3. The Fightin’ Hitchens Brothers – The disparity of views between brothers Christopher and Peter Hitchens is an endless source of amusement. I have to think this is what it’s like at the Baldwin family gatherings between Alec and Stephen Baldwin. And now it turns out that almost simultaneously, a memoir from each Hitchens brother has hit book stands. The books sound like they are polar opposites. And while Peter’s book sounds like it’s obsessed with Christopher and making excuses for why Christopher kicked his ass in a public debate, Peter is practically but a footnote in the elder Hitchens’ memoir, Hitch-22.

Galileo's actual middle finger--suck it, Charles!

4. Prince Charles blames Galileo for the world’s problems

The Prince of Wales has blamed a lack of belief in the soul for the world’s environmental problems, and said that the planet cannot sustain a population expected to reach 9 billion in 40 years.

He said he found it “baffling” that so many scientists professed a faith in God yet this had little bearing on the “damaging” way science was used to exploit the natural world.

The Prince pinned part of the blame on Galileo. Criticising the profit imperative behind much scientific research, he said: “This imbalance, where mechanistic thinking is so predominant, goes back at least to Galileo’s assertion that there is nothing in nature but quantity and motion.

Here that, Galileo. Prince Charles has had enough of your heliocentric nonsense! In response to Prince Charles, I encourage my limey friends across the pond to throw telescopes at him.


News From Around The Blogosphere 4.15.10

April 16, 2010

1. Teacher to retire over controversy over his teaching of evil-ution – Mark Tangarone teaches third, fourth, and fifth grade students in the Talented and Gifted (TAG) program at Weston Intermediate School. Unfortunately, the administration isn’t very gifted:

Mr. Tangarone, a 17-year veteran of the Weston school system, claims that a program he wanted to teach about Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln was rejected by the school administration because it involved teaching evolution — the scientific theory that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor.

2. American professor says UFO Studies should be ‘legitimate university subject’ – Philip Haseley thinks this is a legitimate university subject? Well you know who I think would disagree with him? James Carrion, who until just a few weeks ago was the International Director for the Mutual Unidentified Flying Object Network (MUFON), who just a week ago called the entire field of UFOlogy “humans deceiving humans.” And this guy had more access to the “evidence” than virtually every other person in the UFO community.

3. Polio finally being stamped out in Nigeria and India – Polio has been eradicated from virtually every corner of the Earth. There’s only about five countries left that still have polio, all of which have dreadful vaccination rates. But now finally two of those remaining nations are winning that battle. Rising vaccination rates and sudden decrease in polio? To the vaccine denial community I ask, coincidence?

That's one lonely cross

4. Editor of leading Catholic publication joins critics – Thomas Fox, the editor of the National Catholic Reporter has defected:

In a column fronting the newspaper’s website, Fox on Wednesday wrote that the remarks in Chile this week by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who as the Vatican’s secretary of state is Pope Benedict XVI’s top aide, “sounds more like scapegoating than anything else.”

“What we have here is a huge gulf between the thinking of some top church officials — in this case a very important one — and that of most ordinary Catholics and others. This is a very revealing and equally troubling moment,” Fox wrote.

“Those of us who have followed the wider church story for years have seen this gulf growing. Where we go from here, how the Catholic faithful respond, remains to me a perplexing mystery,” he said.

5. Former $cientologist Amy Scobee to expose more Tom Cruise ‘secrets’ in new book – Not surprisingly…

His powerhouse attorney Bert Fields has already sent a letter denying Scobee’s claims and threatening legal action against her.

6. Oregon jury gives Boy Scouts of America merit badge for negligence in sexual abuse – As a result, Kerry Lewis has been awarded 1.4 million in damages over being sexually abused by an assistant Scoutmaster in the early 1980’s.

Now where's that negligence merit badge?


News From Around The Blogosphere 3.19.10

March 19, 2010

1. Regenerating limbs may be simply a matter of switching off a single gene – I wouldn’t take this story too seriously just yet but the research certainly sounds like it’s worth following. I just hope it doesn’t turn us into The Lizard:

But new research suggests the ability to regenerate isn’t based on something newts and flatworms have that we don’t; rather, it’s something we do have that’s keeping us from regenerating tissues. Researchers think a gene called p21 may control regenerative healing, and that by switching it off, humans could perform our own regeneration.

2. Skeptics to storm Parliament on Tuesday – It’s exciting to see the skeptical movement building a potentially powerful lobby to effect changes in public policy towards a more science and reason-based position. On Tuesday, skeptics in the UK will test the power of this lobby by organizing at the House of Commons to demand libel reform. Of course this is an issue that is not only serious for residents of the UK but everyone who criticizes advocates of bad ideas on the internet because from what some have told me, they too are potential targets of libel suits.

3. Student challenges unconstitutional policy in Alexandria High School in Alabama – The school performs daily Christian prayers over the schools P.A. system. He left a voicemail with the superintendent and contacted the ACLU. . .and it worked. The school is no longer performing the prayers. A job well done.

4. Ellen gives Constance McMillen $30,000 scholarship – I love this story. It shows that those who stand up against adversity can benefit from having the courage of their convictions and standing up for their principles.

5. California Bar now investigating queen Birther Orly Taitz – Another happy story. Taitz, who refuses to budge on her irrational belief that Obama is not a natural born citizen despite undeniable evidence to the contrary, continues to fight the $20,000 fine issued on her for making frivolous filings. And now she runs the risk of actually being disbarred. We can hope right. Of course it’s pretty silly that she even gets to call herself a lawyer given her pathetic credentials. Of course her lawyer is pushing the conspiracy angle and calling this a “witch hunt” but really, if she was an actual threat to the evil president’s position and they’d gone this far to cover up his origins, don’t you think they’d find a far more efficient way of getting Taitz out of the way. And you just know that whatever the outcome, she’ll just insist that the Bar Association is in on the evil conspiracy. So since she’ll attack them no matter what they might as well throw the book at her and make sure she’s never allowed to practice law again.

Not really the BSA

6. Catholics not the only ones covering up abuse – The Mormon dominated Boy Scouts of America (BSA) are facing a lawsuit claiming they too covered up child abuse.

The Boy Scouts of America has long kept an extensive archive of secret documents that chronicle the sexual abuse of young boys by Scout leaders over the years.The “perversion files,” a nickname the Boy Scouts are said to have used for the documents, have rarely been seen by the public, but that could all change in the coming weeks in an Oregon courtroom.

The lawyer for a man who was molested in the 1980s by a Scout leader has obtained about 1,000 Boy Scouts sex files and is expected to release some of them at a trial that began Wednesday. The lawyer says the files show how the Boy Scouts have covered up abuse for decades.

Well what do you expect from a cult who once had a leader named “Brigham Young”? Still the BSA are lightweights compared to the Catholic Church, which is known for having raped at least over a half million kids. And keep in mind that that’s only that we know of and the Church has proven capable of keeping this stuff secret for decades.


News From Around The Blogosphere 2.3.10

February 4, 2010

1. UFO sighting in Lake Saint Louis has more mundane explanation – A number of people reported something mysterious in the sky. It had flashing lights in multiple colors and looked like a flying saucer. And then it vanished in the night sky. At first it seemed like no one could explain it. Until of course, someone did:

The answer lies with Paul Bauer, 51, an inventor and electrical engineer who lives across a narrow cove from Cole and Hogrebe.

Bauer was testing one of his latest devices Saturday night: a remote-controlled helium balloon. The 6-foot-diameter balloon with a ring of flashing, colored LED lights was hovering 100 feet in the air and tied to his truck trailer. It hit a tree branch as Bauer was guiding it down and deflated.

“It’s just an experiment to see if it would look good as an advertising balloon,” said Bauer, who hopes to sell it to businesses looking for high visibility.

“It had the effect that I was looking for,” he said.

Now what were the odds that someone would have figured out this precise explanation if they didn’t find the man who was responsible? My guess is that few could have reasonably come up with this particular explanation because of its unusual nature. So what does this teach us? Perhaps that unless we live in Africa, if we hear hoofs clopping outside, we’re probably better off first expecting it to come from a horse instead of a zebra.

2. 26 congresspeople petition Boy Scouts to end ban on gays – This move was motivated by a recent case in Vermont where a lesbian couple were forbidden to enter their 10-year-old son into the Scouts for fear they would “push their lifestyle on the boys.” As a private organization, the Boy Scouts can legally discriminate as much as they want, so long as they’re not collecting any tax-payer money. However, I’m now sure whether they are or not. If they are taking federal money then congress can do far more and force them to not discriminate. But if the Boy Scouts don’t collect any money from the government, they can legally do what they want, so merely asking them to reconsider is about as far as government officials may be able to go.

3. Beware of the Sheepman!

A Turkish sheep has given birth to a dead calf with the face of a human being. The eyes, nose, and lips are remarkably anthropomorphic, though its ears are quite sheep-like.

. . .

But that wasn’t the case way back in the dark ages of last September, when a similarly mutated goat was born in Zimbabwe. This one was alive for several hours before being murdered by frightened villagers. The local governor declared the goat an abominable man-beast created via evil bestiality.

Yeah, further proof that Mary Shelley was dead on. People are superstitious assholes! And did anyone else think the sheep looked remarkably like Mr. Garrison?

4. Age of Autism launches “vaccine” “news” site – A site devoted to criticizing vaccines? But don’t they already have that site? And what do vaccines have to do with their alleged mission to fight autism? It’s almost like their autism mission is a sham that’s merely designed to further their real endgame, to smear the reputation of vaccines.


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.1.09

November 2, 2009

Oops! Wrong photo.

1. LAPD dissociates from the Boy Scouts – The Los Angeles Police Dept. no longer wishes to continue their Explorer program for youths because the group responsible, Learning for Life is linked to Boy Scouts of America, which bans gays from becoming members:

A department official told the Police Commission Tuesday that the Boy Scouts policy is “inconsistent” with the city’s policy of non-discrimination. He suggested that the department manages the Explorer program itself.

I have a better idea. Tell the Boy Scouts to stop being such bigoted assholes.

2. Asheville, NC city council candidate Cecil Bothwell attacked for his atheism – I know all’s fair in politics, but at the risk of sounding too much like Bill Donohue, would we tolerate this sort of bigotry for other minority groups? I know atheism isn’t a race, nationality, gender, or a sexual orientation. But anyone who resorts to these sorts of shameless hate-mongering tactics belongs nowhere near government. Fortunately though, Bothwell isn’t complaining as the mailer his opponents created that expose his atheism are accurate and are helping his book sales. One of those books is an unauthorized biography of Rev. Billy Graham titled “The Prince of War.” I think I love you, Cecil Bothwell.

3. Scientists put a leash on HIV?

Researchers have shown how an antiviral protein produced by the immune system, dubbed tetherin, tames HIV and other viruses by literally putting them on a leash, to prevent their escape from infected cells. The insights, reported in the October 30th issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication, allowed the research team to design a completely artificial protein — one that did not resemble native tetherin in its sequence at all — that could nonetheless put a similar stop to the virus.

4. Billy Corgan is a vampire. . .sent to draaain! – After only a week since Star Trek’s Brent Spiner announced his growing interest in anti-vaccine quackery, now it seems the lead singer of the Smashing Pumpkins has been turned into an anti-vaxxer vampire too:

“I do not trust those who make the vaccines, or the apparatus behind it all to push it on us thru fear,” Corgan explained in his critique, which can be read in its entirety here. According to him, the virus is not yet an emergency and he believes it’s ridiculous that “our American President Obama” has declared it so.

If that’s not enough, Corgan, struggled with the notion that the government can require people to take the vaccine. He’s also of the opinion that the “virus was created by man” writing that he has “read reports from people who say (as doctors) that there is evidence to suggest this.”

Finally, Corgan stated, “If the virus comes to take me Home, that is between me and the Lord.” But that’s not to say he expects fans to follow his logic.

“I am not a doctor, and I am in no way suggesting that you should follow any medical advice from me,” he wrote early in the essay, adding, “I am willing to question anything: the existence of God, the existence of me or you or Robert Zimmerman [aka Bob Dylan].”

No Billy, you’re clearly not a doctor. And quite frankly, I find it somewhat disingenuous to use your celebrity influence to take such a public anti-scientific stand on this issue and then tack on a little disclaimer at the end saying you’re not necessarily suggesting anyone follow your “medical advice,” of which is based on your ZERO medical training. Seriously, even in 1979, you’d have no excuse to be this bloody ignorant of scientific facts. This whole story is just giving me nothing but melancholy and infinite sadness.