News From Around The Blogosphere 2.12.10

February 13, 2010

Happy Darwin Day everyone!

Also save the date June 21 because it will Global Atheist Solidarity Day!

1. Secular Coalition for America receives a gift of $500,000 from philanthropist Todd Stiefel

2. Need information to counter global climate change deniers in a hurry? Don’t worry. There’s an app for that.

3. Creation Science Fair? – It’s not very fair to science.

4. Measles outbreak in South Africa

The cause of a measles outbreak sweeping South Africa has not as yet been determined, but initial suspicions point to religious objections and unfounded fears that immunizations against the disease increase the risk of autism in children.

Thank’s Jenny McCarthy!

Eugenie Scott and Roger Ebert talk ‘Creation’

January 14, 2010

Two days ago, I briefly posted my positive feelings for the new biopic about the life of Charles Darwin, Creation. Now Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education provided a lengthier review, also very positive. And although he’s holding an official review until the film’s official release, Roger Ebert also wrote about the film here.

See the film “Creation”

January 12, 2010

I just went to a free screening of the new film Creation, a biopic about the life of Charles Darwin. The film was great. It presents a good amount of evidence for evolution and puts the conflict between Darwin and religion front and center without presenting the typical kind of trite Hollywood “maybe they’re both right” position. It comes down pretty hard on religion but at the same time won’t alienate general audiences. The film is very dramatic and emotional. I recommend it to everyone.

Another added bonus to the free screening was a Q &A session that followed, which included the film’s director and the author of the book it was based on, Randal Keynes. Now what’s interesting about Randal Keynes is that he is in fact a great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin. How fucking cool is that? He’s actually descended from Darwin’s youngest son who also appears in the film. Now I’ve previously met Matthew Chapman, another great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin who is also doing his part to honor the family name.

And the last cool thing about the screening was that I either knew or was known by over a dozen people in the audience. There was even a guy who remembered me in attendence at the Way of the Master vs. Rational Response Squad Nightline debate two years ago.

All in all, a great night.

News From Around The Blogosphere 11.24.09

November 25, 2009

1. Happy 150th Birthday, Origin of Species! – That’s right. The little book that changed the world, single-handedly rendered even a deist god unnecessary, and made it truly possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist has just turned the Big 1-5-0! CNN’s published a brief retrospective from Richard Dawkins. Suck it, Kirk Cameron!

Then again, CNN also published some creationist nonsense from Stephen Meyer. In his bio, they claim the Discovery Institute “supports research challenging ‘neo-Darwinian theory’ and supports work on the theory of ‘intelligent design.’ “ Of course this isn’t actually wrong because it never says the D.I. actually DOES any research; it just supports the idea of research. Of course cdesign proponentsists have yet to ever present a means of properly testing their claims or of showing any practical applications of their “research.” And of course if you limit your “research” to a taking a specific position on a scientific argument, you’ve already exposed your bias. But let’s not quibble over small details like that.

2. LHC creates its first collisions – They grow up so fast, don’t they. It seems like only a year ago that people were freaking out that it’s going to destroy the world and now our boy’s all grown up and smashing shit. Before you know it, it’ll be married and having its own baby colliders.

3. Study finds cannabis little more than placebo in cancer patients – This will no doubt come as an even bigger disappointment to the 4/20 crowd.

4. Iraq bribes citizens to get married – American conservative Christians pay attention. THAT’S TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE. But it’s not just any marriage. The Iraqi government is trying to promote interreligious marriage specifically, which is almost kinda progressive when you think about it, as ill-conceived as the overall plan seems to be.

About a dozen mixed couples will take part in a mass wedding Friday and will receive their $2,000 gifts, Mohammed said. An additional 375 same-sect couples will join the celebration, but they’ll receive $750, Mohammed said. The government wants to help those cash-strapped couples in getting their start, he said.

Did they say “same-sex” couples? Oops, my mistake. I misread it. But at least the government sees value in encouraging hetero-sect-ual relationships in an effort to heal tensions.

5. Michael Jackson’s trapped in someone’s womb! – That’s what expecting parents Dawn Kelley and William Hickman see in Dawn’s latest ultrasound. But even though you don’t think it looks like Michael Jackson, they’re not crazy. Even their six-year-old daughter agrees that it looks like Michael Jackson. And who’d know Michael Jackson better than a small child (That’s right. I went there)? But I guess we won’t know for sure until Dawn starts to feel the baby moon-walking.

6. Pennsylvania Avenue turns to Sesame Street to promote math and science

To improve science and mathematics education for American children, the White House is recruiting Elmo and Big Bird, video game programmers and thousands of scientists.

I think we all know that The Count was born for this job.

News From Around The Blogosphere 11.18.09

November 19, 2009

1. I’d officially declared tomorrow Defend Evolution Against Literary Terrorists Day (or DEALT Day) but it seems that Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron LIED and decided to pass out their vandalized Origin of Species books a day earlier than promised. But I’m still hoping to hear tomorrow that more of them are being handed out at schools because I’d love to chat up the volunteers handing them out.

2. Update on the Iraqi dowsing rods storyAbout two weeks ago, I wrote about the use of useless dowsing rods by the Iraqi military to detect bombs. Well, the good news is that everyone who’s written about it has helped get the story successfully out there in the mainstream media like the NY Times, The Guardian, the Atlantic, and the Rachel Maddow Show, where it will hopefully garner enough attention to ensure something is done to correct the situation.

3. Jesus goes to directly to jail without passing go

A Swedish man claiming to be the Son of God was sentenced to prison for a month for “unlawful driving,” after getting picked up by the cops four separate times without a license over the course of four months.

Man, this guy just can’t stay out of trouble.

News From Around The Blogosphere 9.24.09

September 25, 2009

1. Film about Darwin’s life FINALLY gets a U.S. distributor! –  The film Creation, starring real life couple Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly as Darwin and his wife has struggled to find a U.S. distributor, but finally the Indie company Newmarket has acquired it. Suck it, creationists!

2. Now Francis Collins does accept Evolution. Of course he also believes in a mystical garden with a talking snake and a magic tree with magic fruit, etc. making him a rather odd bird. But even though I’m not Mr. Collins’ biggest fan, I hate him now more than ever because he got to rock out with Aerosmith’s Joe Perry at the Capitol building today in an “unplugged” performance of Bob Dylan’s, “The Times They Are A Changin’.” You can listen to it here. Damn, I’m jealous!

3. NYC’s own Prof. Massimo Pigliucci rips into Penn & Teller’s global climate change denial and libertarianism – Some of my more libertarian-leaning skeptical friends drew my attention to this one even though I’m a fairly regular reader of  Massimo’s blog. And though I’m a big fan of P&T’s work, particularly on their show Bullshit! and their other involvement in the skeptical community, I have to say I pretty much agree with Massimo here. He balances his review, applauding the better aspects of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit!, while still giving a fair amount of criticism to where P&T go wrong. I certainly think Massimo does a better job here than when I hear him criticize Richard Dawkins, whose position I feel Massimo describes inaccuately.

Kirk Cameron & Ray Comfort to take their lies to college campuses

September 18, 2009

The latest despicable tactic from the duo who practically invented despicable, Kirk Cameron and Ray “Banana Man” Comfort, is to give away free copies of their own version of Darwin’s Origin of Species with a 50-page introduction filled with creationist nonsense.

What’s amazing is that Kirk couldn’t go even 10 seconds before lying his ass off. Of course kids can pray in public. That’s absurd.

Fortunately, there is a strategy to counter this repulsive tactic. Those students who know better can collect as many of these free books as they can and can remove the offending introduction. In which case, those copies can then be donated elsewhere so that Cameron and Comfort will have unwittingly helped promote Darwin’s work. And that thought makes me smile.