News From Around The Blogosphere 5.20.11

May 20, 2011

1. The Catholic Church figures out who’s really to blame for their child abuse cases – A study commissioned by the completely unbiased the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has come out suggesting that all that child fucking the Catholic Church is so addicted to is really the fault of 1960’s hippies. It also apparently retroactively explains all that church sex abuse we know about from the 19th and early 20th centuries too. Amazing thing, that free-love 60’s movement!

2. CDC prepares for zombie apocalypse – In conjunction with Zombie Awareness Month, the CDC recommends planning ahead for a zombie invasion much as you would any other disaster. Of course, the point of this is to get people thinking about how to protect themselves from any disaster. The idea is rather brilliant. By framing it around zombies, they’ve gotten massive media attention, which they would not have if they were warning people about, you know, actual real threats people should be prepared for…which is waaaay less interesting to the media than who got kicked off Dancing with the Stars this week or what Lady Gaga is eating for breakfast. Steven Novella also discusses this story here.And don’t forget:  Cardio, beware of bathrooms, seat belts, double tap.

3. 60 Minutes discusses dangerous, anti-government Sovereign Citizens cult – Wasn’t familiar with them before but even a brief Google search turns up enough evidence that these people are nuts. And what’s really sad is that many people are calling the 60 Minutes piece biased and are actually defending these crazies simply because the Sovereign Citizens exploit anti-government, libertarian rhetoric.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 5.2.11

May 2, 2011

T-Minus 19 days until The Rapture.

And T-Minus 20 days until Family Radio and Harold Camiping are mocked mercilessly.

1. Another actor turns against Scientology – Actor Michael Fairman has been expelled from the cult and was officially designated a “Suppressive Person”:

Fairman is not leaving the organization quietly. Posting his expulsion letter at Marty Rathbun’s blog, Fairman blasts Scientology for dismissing him after he had spent years promoting the church with work in its videos and television commercials. Despite all that work, the SP letter vaguely accuses Fairman of various deficiencies, such as “financial irregularities.”

“I have been debt free since early 2010, and am supporting two households.
I make car and insurance payments on my Mercedes…So what ‘financial irregularities and out-exchange’ are they fucking talking about?” Fairman writes.

They also amusingly charge him with being a “squirrel,” which in Scientology-speak means he continued to practice Hubbard’s methods outside of church control. It seems that Fairman, like Rathburn, still believes in some of the methods of Scientology, but has grown disgusted with its management.

2. Friendly Atheist jokingly stumbles onto the best billboard campaign idea yet – Actually, I came up with this idea as a serious proposal last year. It seems great minds think alike. My idea was what I called the “Isn’t it about time you read the whole thing?” Campaign, where an atheist organization put up billboards illustrating or quoting specific inconvenient and unpleasant Bible passages with a big headline reading, “Isn’t it about time you read the whole thing?” How much fun would it be defending such a billboard on Fox News? you could simply respond that you’re just trying to get more people to read the whole Bible, so what’s wrong with that? Of course you can also make your own billboard, advertising your own atheism.

3. Pastor caught molesting woman during demon-banishing service – This happened in South Africa, and it’s just one of those titles that says it all, doesn’t it? You can read the details in the link above. I’m suddenly reminded of the “put the devil back into hell” story from The Decameron.

4. Atheists in Spain double practicing Catholics

The number of young people practicing Catholicism has plummeted, from 29.2% in 2002 to 10.3% in 2010, according to the Youth Institute of Spain (Injuve). Also, the number of non-believers (19.1%) and atheists (9.6%) have increased nine points and three points, respectively. Non-practicing Catholics are the majority, making up 45% of the total.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is a battle we can win.

5. Comparing the necessary funding for SETI to other expenses – The other day I reported that Search for Extraterrestrial Life (SETI) is being defunded in the U.S. SETI’s funding equalled $2.5 million a year. Now Phil Plait has broken down the equivalent costs to demonstrate what it would mean to continue to fund possibly one of the most important science programs out there:

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News From Around The Blogosphere 3.10.11

March 11, 2011

1. Mind-controlling fungus creates army of zombie ants – If the mimic octopus is the most interesting fauna I’ve ever heard of, then this newfound fungus species Ophiocordyceps camponoti-balzani has to be the most interesting flora I’ve ever heard of. It literally takes over the ant’s mind and forces the ant to find “a location ideal for the fungi to grow and spread their spores.”

2. 21 Philadelphia Catholic priests suspended on suspicion of child abuse – Several have already been indicted on charges of rape and assault on minors. But what’s most shocking is how callous the church is treating the scandal.

3.Compete with a computer in Rock-Paper-Scissors – Not content just beating us in Jeopardy, computers have set their sights on beating us in the ultimate human competition, Rock-Paper-Scissors. Click the link to play.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 11.9.10

November 10, 2010

1. Large Hadron Collider causes mini big bang

“The Large Hadron Collider has successfully created a “mini-Big Bang” by smashing together lead ions instead of protons.”

2. Spain’s LGBT community prepare to welcome Pope with kiss-in – Organisers are using Facebook to grow a  ‘queer kissing flashmob’ intended to congregate in front of Barcelona’s cathedral on Sunday:

“No placards, no flags, no shouting and no slogans. Only kissing allowed,” the Facebook page reads.

3. Liberty Counsel announces its 8th annual “Naughty & Nice list” – This is the Christian group that tries to discourage people from shopping at those evil stores that have the audacity to use “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” in their advertising. Here’s the official list. I plan on shopping only at the “naughty” stores and passing on the “nice” ones.

4. Skeptics in India launch their own paranormal challenge – Inspired by the James Randi Educational Foundation’s Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge, skeptics in India are offering 50 Lakh rupees (about $112,000) to anyone who can definitively prove under proper scientific conditions that ghosts exist.

5. American Atheists puts up their first billboard and it’s going to be in NYC – The billboard is going up near the Lincoln Tunnel on the NYC side on November 23rd and will remain there for one month. I’m not all that crazy about it as I’d rather we dropped the whole holiday season schtick and addressed something of more substance, but I don’t hate it either. Here’s what it will look like:

 

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Italian Catholics against the human body

October 24, 2010

Over the weekend, I came across two news stories that seem to share a theme. The first is the story of Ileana Tacconelli, 28-year-old Italian model turned teacher who may now lose her job because she is “too sexy to teach.

Seriously.

So despite Tacconelli’s being completely qualified to do her job, the administrators at St Carl Catholic School in Milan are under pressure to fire the former Miss Abruzzo after a single clearly crazy mother withdrew her 12-year-old daughter on account of Tacconelli’s former life as a model.

One mum said: ‘She is not fit to teach young children. She is too sexy and it is too distracting.’ 

Too sexy? Fortunately, men like sexy women, so Tacconelli has gained the support of dads at the school who have formed a pressure group to save her from their wives.

Suffice it to say, if this were an American school, this school would be facing a 6 or 7-figure lawsuit they’d almost certainly lose unless the jury were entirely made up of sexist men.But it’s a Catholic school in Italy, so it can get away with anything…especially since young boys are around.

The other story I came across also involved Italy and also involved prudishness where the female body is concerned. An Italian seaside town is planning to pass a ban on miniskirts and “other revealing clothing” :

“Nothing too revealing” is the new policy Mayor Bobbio wants to enforce, says the BBC’s Duncan Kennedy in Rome.

That means a tough new dress code which would effectively outlaw everything from miniskirts to low-cut jeans when people walk around Castellammare di Stabia, our correspondent adds.

Mr Bobbio, from the centre-right People of Freedom party, says he wants to target people who are “rowdy, unruly or simply badly behaved”.

"I really think Musictown is torn on the revealing garment issue. "

So he wants to crack down on girls he personally considers to be naughty.

Oh, and there’s more:

There will also be a ban on sunbathing, playing football in public places, and blasphemy, if the proposals are approved at a council meeting on Monday.

In other places they have banned sandcastles, kissing in cars, feeding stray cats, wooden clogs and the use of lawn mowers at weekends.

And I suspect they’ll also soon try to pass bans on stepping on cracks, wearing pockadots, and putting squirrels down your pants for the purposes of gambling.

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Richard Dawkins condemns the Pope

September 20, 2010

The other day, I wrote on Examiner.com a scathing criticism of Joseph Ratzinger‘s attempt to distract the media by equating atheists with Nazis as well as his role in conspiring to cover up decades of Catholic child sexual abuse. Only a few days later, Richard Dawkins gave a speech at a UK rally against Ratzinger where he basically said the same things I did, albeit, probably more eloquently than I did. You be the judge:

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News From Around The Blogosphere 8.10.10

August 10, 2010

1. Einsteinian physics an evil liberal plot? – That is according to Andy Schlafly of Conservapædia. I suspect this is all part of a Jewish plot. Step 1: Kill Jesus and save the world. Step 2: Fool otherwise good Christians into accepting demonic Relativity. Step 4:  Profit. Muhahaha!

2. Anne Rice’s departure from the Catholic Church may signal the beginning of the end – Former Christian William Lobdell looks at the statistics and it’s looking more and more like Anne Rice is just part of a growing number of Christians growing disillusioned with organized religion.

3. Wiccans offer low, low price for booty-enhancement spell casting – Now I know there’s no such thing as magic, but for only $8.95, how can I afford not to pay someone to chant magic spells to increase the size of my ass. This one is full of win.I just don’t want to know where the magic wand goes.

4. Thought-controlled artificial arm reaches human testing phase – DARPA may have successfully produced an artificial arm as good as the one Anakin had in the Star Wars prequels.

5. Another Catholic child abuse case determined to be ‘credible’

A review board for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has found allegations of child sexual abuse against the Rev. David Dzermejko “credible,” and Bishop David Zubik has sent the case to Rome.

Vatican officials will decide if he should have a church trial or if the evidence is strong enough to permanently remove him from ministry without further hearings.

Wow, that’s some justice system they got going on there.

6. Pastor arrested for anti-demon protest – Pastor Donald Crosby of Kingdom Builders Church of Jesus Christ decided to protest outside Warner Robins High School because of the school’s “”Demon” nickname and mascot.” The mascot honors a World War II fighter squadron nicknamed the “Screamin’ Demons.” Yes, he’s protesting a celebration of World War II American heroes.

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This Week In God 7.16.10

July 17, 2010

1. Vatican equates ordaining women with raping children – Well I guess they’d know better than anyone. Still, I’m inclined to agree with PZ Myers, who in the above link, points out that this is a duel insult in that it manages to simultaneously downplay the seriousness of child rape and insult women at the same time. Seriously, who is running their PR Dept? Mel Gibson?

2. Vatican’s New Rules on sex abuse – No, they don’t say anything about reporting clergy rapists to the proper authorities. If they did that, who’d be left to run the Church?

Not like dusting crops

3. Answers in Genesis discover secret to faster than light travel…or not – Listen, if Scotty can’t violate the laws of physics, what would make AiG think they could:

Moreover, I have found both Scriptural and scientific support for this solution. This has led to the development of a new cosmological model which makes testable predictions. I have nearly finished writing a technical paper on this topic, which will shortly be sent to various experts for qualified peer-review. If it passes peer-review, we will publish the paper in the Answers Research Journal. This is our free, online journal. So be watching for it. If the paper gains the support of experts in the field, I may later write a non-technical article that summarizes the model.

Stop, stop. You lost me at Answers Research Journal.

4. Glenn Beck credits the Jews for saving all humanity– Well actually Count Beckula blamed them for Jesus’ death. But when you think about it:

A. Didn’t Jesus commit suicide?

B. Isn’t the central doctrine of Christianity that Jesus dying was the greatest news in history and the means on which he saved humanity? So wouldn’t that make killing Jesus be a good thing?

5. The Greatest Hoax On Earth? Refuting Dawkins on Evolution – Yup, there’s another book to add to the great big pile of inevitably unsuccessful and horribly unoriginally titled literature by Christians who have nothing new or original to say but try to  piggy-back on the success of far more successful rationalist literature like “The Dawkins Delusion?” or “The Devil’s Delusion”, “God Is No Delusion”, or “Letter To A Christian Nation: Counterpoint.” This is also the second of these books in which the publishers felt they required a Jeopardy title that’s in the form of a question. One wonders though if creationists are aware of the irony of their constantly selecting variations on the titles of successful rational books because it’s advantageous to piggy-back on traits that have already proven successful.

6. Creationists reframe lack of accreditation – The Institute for Creation Research was denied the freedom to issue degrees by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. But nobody seems to have told whoever writes their website, which claims they offer a Master of Christian Education (M.C.Ed.) degree. According to their FAQ page:

11. Is ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics program accredited?

Due to the nature of ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics—a predominantly religious education school—it is exempt from licensing by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Likewise, ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics is legally exempt from being required to be accredited by any secular or ecumenical or other type of accrediting association.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 7.1.10

July 1, 2010

1. Happy Blasphemy Month! – I didn’t realize July was Blasphemy Month until i was informed by my newest Facebook friend, Greta Valenti, aka Masturbating Catholic, aka Fuji Minx. Greta (who I may vow to make my future wife) has gotten Blasphemy Month off early with a certain music video that has been banned from YouTube. Fortunately, the internet not only never forgets but attempts to censor YouTube videos is the best publicity. In fact, I may have never heard of Greta if her video hadn’t pissed off the Catholics who constantly need other things to be outraged against to keep them from being outraged at their own child abuse scandals. For those who wish to watch the video, it can be found in the link above.

2. Car crash blamed on vampire – You know, it’s these sorts of negative stigmas perpetuated by Hollywood that are keeping vampire Americans down. Not every bad thing that happens is because of vampires. Sometimes its just a chupacabra or the creature from the black lagoon.

3. Supreme Court rejects Vatican immunity – The Vatican can no longer escape prosecution using the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976. Now all we have to do is invoke RICO.

4. New Zealand gets several atheist billboards – I just wish they could have added a few bananas in honor of Ray Comfort.


Religion news lightning round

June 27, 2010

I’m really behind on my religion news, so here’s a quick list of some of the major reliigions stories of the last few days:

1. Pope more outraged over Belgian raids of Catholic Church than child abuse – Belgium officials seized nearly 500 files and a computer from the offices of a Church commission investigating allegations of sex abuse. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, said the Belgian bishops were left all day without food or drink even though that was a lie. The Catholic Church in Belgium has apologised for its silence on abuse cases in the past, and for some reason they seem to think that is sufficient justice.

Jeffrey Newell contemplates how many boys he can rape today

2. Sex abuse victim charges Catholic Church with fraud – Sixteen years after being molested by a priest for several years, the victim discovered his rapist, Rev. Jeffrey Newell, is still operating as a priest and his MySpace page lists a half-dozen teenage boys as friends.

That discovery led to a lawsuit filed Tuesday against the Los Angeles archdiocese alleging that church leaders engaged in fraud and negligence by allowing Newell to continue serving as a priest long after his alleged crimes were reported.

3. ‘One Nation Indivisible’ billboard vandalized only days after going up – Several days ago, I wrote about the billboard that the North Carolina Secular Association put up above the Billy Graham Parkway. Well, apparently this incredibly benign sign pissed someone off so much that they felt it essential that they break the law to further demonstrate why religion is evil.

4. But another one is going up in Florida

5. Fundies further crusade against the Friendly Atheist – Last year, I wrote several pieces about Laurie Higgins and her Illinois Family Institute’s crazy attacks on Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist. Well, she’s back with some more wild accusations about Mehta, who responds to her latest attacks himself here and here.

6. Scholar suggest Jesus didn’t die on the cross – I’d agree on the grounds that Jesus never existed but historians but theologian Gunnar Samuelsson just says the text has been misinterpreted:

He claims the Bible has been misinterpreted as there are no explicit references the use of nails or to crucifixion – only that Jesus bore a “staurus” towards Calvary which is not necessarily a cross but can also mean a “pole”.

Mr Samuelsson, who has written a 400-page thesis after studying the original texts, said: “The problem is descriptions of crucifixions are remarkably absent in the antique literature.

“The sources where you would expect to find support for the established understanding of the event really don’t say anything.”

7. Detroit Catholics fighting for the right of rapists to go unpunished

Victims of abuse by Catholic clergy are expressing dismay at the strong lobbying the church is doing in Lansing to halt an effort to remove Michigan’s statute of limitations on sex abuse cases. In Michigan, victims must file criminal or civil complaints by the time they turn 19 — what some say is an unrealistic limit on kids who often are traumatized for years by the abuse.

The church maintains that removing the statute of limitations could open the floodgates to abuse cases that are a half-century old and could take money away from programs that benefit the poor.

Yeah, everyone knows that crimes cease being bad if you sweep them under the rug for long enough .

8. YouTube censors music video critical of the Pope

The alternative rock band Fuji Minx recently released a music video for their song, “The Music Made Me Do It.” The video was uploaded to YouTube and then taken down by YouTube without explanation after six days.

The video is dedicated to “Recovering Catholics Everywhere” and features the burning of a photo of the Pope with the word “Confess” written on it in red. There is also a photo of musician Sinead O’Connor in the video which is placed on a dresser covering a picture of Jesus. O’Connor made headlines a number of years ago by ripping up a photo of the previous Pope live on TV.

And you can find an embedded copy of that video in the link above. And the lead singer of the band, Greta Valenti, discusses the controversy in an interview here.