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:


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.23.09

November 24, 2009

1. Catholic Church tries to extort the U.S. government…again – It seems like it was only a week or two ago that the Catholic Church gave Washington the ultimatum that they could either oppose gay marriage or lose one of their faith-based charities (because the Catholic Church cares so much for the poor for reasons other than as pawns in their political games). But now they’re barred Representative Patrick Kennedy from receiving a communion wafer because of his stance on abortion. Sounds like it may be time to reignite Crackergate.

2. Yet another former $cientology speaks out – This just isn’t CoS’ year (nor was last). They can’t seem to catch a break. Last week, Australian senator Nick Xenophon publicly challenged their tax exempt status and called them a criminal organization. And now Aaron Saxton, a former “enforcer of the Church of Scientology’s policies in the Sea Org, has done an interview. If you still don’t think $cientology needs to be destroyed after reading this interview, then you’re insane.

3. Arkansas Society of Freethinkers’ holiday display denied second year in a row – And they weren’t even given a reason.


Mysteries, Magic, and Miricles 11.3.09

November 3, 2009

MYSTERIES

Is Keanu Reeves immortal?

I don’t know about you but I’m convinced.

MAGIC

MIRACLES

1. Koran verses “appear” on baby in Russia – I have to agree with Phil Plait on this one. It’s not simply pareidolia but seems like a clear case of someone simply writing on the child.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

2. Faith healing and other medical quackery in health care reform bill – Senate Bill 1679 currently contains language that would require support for faith healing practices:

The essential benefits provided for in subparagraph (A) shall include a requirement that there be non-discrimination in health care in a manner that, with respect to an individual who is eligible for medical or surgical care under a qualified health plan offered through a Gateway, prohibits the Administrator of the Gateway, or a qualified health plan offered through the Gateway, from denying such individual benefits for religious or spiritual health care, except that such religious or spiritual health care shall be an expense eligible for deduction as a medical care expense as determined by Internal Revenue Service Rulings interpreting section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as of January 1, 2009.

Here’s another article on it.

3. ‘Miracle’ communion wafer transubstantiates into heart tissue? – In Poland, the Catholic Church is investigating an alleged miracle involving a Eucharist turning into heart tissue. It turns out the secret is to just add water. We’re told this has “dumbfounded sceptics” but I say the heart tissue was there in the water all along, waiting to be picked up after the glorified Ritz cracker was dropped into the water. Case closed.


Steven Harper reignites Crackergate

July 8, 2009

jesus-crackerAlmost a year ago, there was quite the controversy that blew up surrounding the taking of communion wafers, briefly chronicled and compiled here (4th story down). Now it seems that controversy over The Holy Trisket has erupted again, this time over the accusation that Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper took the cracker without eating it, and therefore may have kidnapped the Catholic god.

Once again, as PZ Myers so eloquantly stated a year ago, IT’S A FRACKIN CRACKER!


Black market Jesus

June 9, 2009

jesus-crackerJonathan Blake, an archbishop of the Open Episcopal Church is selling consecrated crackers by mail, payable with paypal. Sadly, this guy isn’t taking full advantage of this scam as he’s selling Jesus’ kibbles and bits for free and only asks for customers to pay the shipping costs.

But even though he’s not profiting off of selling free Jesus, he’s getting excommunated from the Anglican church and the Catholic Church is insisting he’s not selling the real Jesus (ya don’t say?).


News From Around The Blogosphere 01.15.09

January 15, 2009

Judge says no to atheists’ inaugural prayer challenge – No big surprise there. It was a long-shot.

This comes after news that Lori Lipman Brown will be stepping down from her position at the Secular Coalition for America. Here’s an old clip of her on The O’Reilly Factor:

shredding-constitutionSouth Carolina embracing old-school censorship? – The man responsible is Senator Robert Ford. And believe it or not, this douche is a Democrat.

TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 16-15-370 SO AS TO MAKE IT UNLAWFUL TO COMMUNICATE PROFANITY IN A PUBLIC FORUM OR PLACE OF PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION; BY ADDING SECTION 16-15-430 SO AS TO CREATE THE OFFENSE OF DISSEMINATING PROFANITY TO A MINOR AND PROVIDE A PENALTY FOR THE OFFENSE; TO AMEND SECTION 16-15-305, RELATING TO DISSEMINATING OBSCENITY, SO AS TO SPECIFY BOTH ORAL AND WRITTEN PUBLICATIONS; AND TO AMEND SECTION 16-15-375, RELATING TO DEFINITIONS FOR PURPOSES OF MORALITY AND DECENCY OFFENSES AGAINST MINORS, SO AS TO INCLUDE THE OFFENSE OF DISSEMINATING PROFANITY TO A MINOR.

Anyone else feel like they’re trapped in Pleasantville?

Nice guy minister arrested for child porn – I’m so glad these guys have the proper credentials that affords them the complete trust of their neighbors.

Brian Dunning gets to the bottom of 9/11 conspiracy theorists’ favorite claim

The Tissue of Youth – Is human placenta a wonder drug, or is it just another Japanese health fad?

Remember Adolph Hitler Campbell, the toddler with a name the supermarket wouldn’t write on the birthday cake from last month? – Yeah, well it seems he and his siblings have been removed from their Neo-Nazi parents. Maybe daddy shouldn’t have gotten so much media attention by insisting junior’s horrible name get written on the birthday cake. Anywho, this story raises serious questions about when indoctrination alone should be viewed as parental abuse.

jesus-crackerThe Catholics want to excommunicate PZ -Apparently desecrating a cracker is a worse sin than genocide. Way to keep your priorities straight, Catholics.

foil-hatKooks call PZ Myers a “Medium Scumbag” – This was their response to a blog he wrote last year titled How can you tell when you’re a kook? –which reminds me a lot of an old blog of mine titled You might be delusional if. . .

That blog put me on the radar of the David Icke nuts, who then proceeded to make a thread on their forums devoted to making up random assumptions about me based off of their own delusional negative stereotypes of rational people instead of ever making any attempt to just ask me about my position and why I’m so confident that they’re batshit crazy.

complementary-medicine-for-dummiesAnd PZ also suggests a good way for the government to save $225 million – Shut down the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. And lots of skeptical bloggers are arguing to cut the earmarks on the  sCAM crap such as Orac and Val Jones.

christian-condomKrispy Kreme to hand out pro-choice doughnuts on Tuesday – In honor of Inauguration Day, Krispy Kreme is giving away a free doughnut on Tuesday. Though apparently some Christian groups don’t understand the distinction between pro-choice and pro-abortion as The headline of the American Life League’s press release reads:

“Krispy Kreme Celebrates Obama with pro-abortion doughnuts.”

God Tastes Like Chicken – This is the title of a new show playing in NYC:

God Tastes Like Chicken is a mock religious service with faith healing, communion, passion plays, and improv. This information is from the press release: “We take on the excesses of organized religion through blasphemy and comedy. It is a very interactive show, among other things we encourage people to come in religious costumes. We open with two featured comics/artists and Services are followed by sketch groups or emerging acts found right here in the L.E.S. or Williamsburg if we have to.”

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyStone-handling Monkeys: Cultural Evolution? – “For 30 years, scientists have been studying stone-handling behavior in several troops of Japanese macaques to catch a unique glimpse of primate culture. By watching these monkeys acquire and maintain behavioral traditions from generation to generation, the scientists have gained insight into the cultural evolution of humans.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 12.3.08

December 4, 2008

jesus-crackerHere is the true story of how the flesh of Christ is made – And here’s a hint. It isn’t the Keebler Elves as I originally thought. Don’t worry. Christ’s flesh also comes in whole wheat and various other varieties.


CNN shutting down its science/space/tech division – That pretty much means there will be less science news or at least less well reported science news being covered on CNN. This also means that science journalist Miles O’Brien will be leaving CNN. But one piece of good news to balance out the bad is that CNN’s answer to Bill O’Reilly aka Glenn Beck is also no longer going to be on CNN. Unfortunately however, he won’t be joining Miles O’Brian on the unemployment line as Beck’s been hired by Faux News. . .where he’ll fit right in with the other intellectually impaired anchors.

And apparently any movie that every self-respecting movie critic including Roger Ebert considered idiotic trash is right up Beck’s alley.

    Antivaccinationist Jay Gordon’s claims utterly demolished – This is Jenny McCarthy’s pediatrician. And apparently doesn’t know very much about medical or, you know, thinking in general. . .or he just doesn’t care. This is the kind of nonsense this guy is spouting:

    Now, when you discuss this topic with your pediatrician, he or she will clobber my ideas and me. So be it. I have watched children getting or not getting vaccines for thirty years. I won’t publish my data because I have none suitable for “peer review.” I can tell you that my very strong impression is that children with the fewest vaccines, or no vaccines at all, get sick less frequently and are healthier in general. I truly believe they also develop less autism and other “persistent developmental delays.”

    Yeah, because apparently no other doctors but him have monitored their patients after vaccination treatments. Riiiight! Yeah, and my personal opinion based on nothing at all is that more people without gunshot wounds die these days than those with gunshot wounds. . .ergo, we should shoot people. Ugh!

    christian-condomChristian Right Opposes Pap Smears and Breast Exams – But the best part about this story is that Planned Parenthood of Indiana is now selling gift certificates in $25 increments. I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m doing my Chrisromadonikkah shopping early!

    Way to go Michael Nugent for launching Atheist Ireland – If ever there was a country in more need of an atheist organization it’s Ireland.

    WHY WE FIGHT:

    Here‘s an awesome story of one life who’s been positively effected by the latest atheist advertising or “athvertising” if you will.

    Terms of Service – You might remember the recent Myspace suicide case where a teenage girl took her own life after a repulsive woman posing as a boy romantically interested in the teen using a bogus Myspace account insulted and cut communications with her. Well now she’s being prosecuted under anti-hacking laws for violating Myspace’s terms of service. While the woman is indeed repulsive and deserving of terrible things, this is an unprecedented use of anti-hacking laws as people constantly violate websites’ terms of service policies. Technically you have to be 18 to use Google. So once again I got to agree with Amateur Scientist:

    But under the precedent set by the conviction of Lori Drew, any minor who uses Google or Gmail is committing a criminal act subject to up to a year in jail or $100,000 in fines. This is absurd and a clear case of twisting the law to punish someone for being a complete douchebag. And it’s another instance where defending freedom unfortunately means sometimes defending the rights of said douchebags.

    AND NOW A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

    scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyMice Made To Regrow Damaged Retina Nerve Cells – “Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) have reported for the first time that mammals can be stimulated to regrow inner nerve cells in their damaged retinas. Located in the back of the eye, the retina’s role in vision is to convert light into nerve impulses to the brain.”

    Flexibility May Trump Fitness In Reproduction – “The utility of sex, according to an intriguing new theory of evolutionary biology, may be its ability to promote genes that play well with many other partners rather than those that shine with just one specific set of genes.”


    News From Around The Blogosphere 10.12.08

    October 13, 2008

    Sarah Palin spent $13,000 of taxpayer money for religion

    The Palin/McCain camp on autism:

    McCain: “And one thing that I wanted to say was that — in our town hall meetings we have lots of families show up with children that have autism, and other special needs families. Obviously Sarah Palin wants to take on that task of helping relieve the burden, find what’s causing autism, find a cure for it.”

    Alright, not bad. It’s progress after his past statements that it was “indisputable” that autism was on the rise and that “there’s strong evidence that indicates that it’s got to do with a preservative in vaccines.”

    The long-discredited anti-vaccinationist, Andrew Wakefield, who began the whole vaccines-cause-autism BS in the first place reemerges in the media – Wakefield of course is pulling the whole Expelled-gambit, stating:

    Despite having discovered an apparently new disease my colleagues and I are being vilified purely because of the vaccine association.

    That’s funny. I thought you were vilified because of an obscene number of misconduct charges and because your study was totally debunked and discredited. And even a former major member of the antivaccinationist movement, Mady Hornig, couldn’t deny it any more after personally being involved in an improved version of Wakefield’s original study and saw for herself the negative outcome. Nobody is out to get you, Mr. Wakefield. Or if they are, it’s only because you deserve it as you’ve dishonored your profession and gave up any hope you might have had of salvaging your career, torpedoing any chance of ever redeeming your name.

    Blogger Possummomma is calling it quits – I’m not familiar with her blog, Atheist in a Mini-van, but it’s unfortunate when we lose any atheist bloggers or any intelligent bloggers because the bigotry and hatred grew too much to the point where her personal information and security may have been compromised.

    More Bad Creationist Arguments – Here’s a look at 3 different arguments (including at least 1 uncommon one) and why they are fail. The arguments are:

    #1: Evolution is Missing a Mathematical Formula

    #2: There is No Genetic Mechanism for Darwinian Evolution

    #3: Every Helpless Baby Born Proves Darwin Was Wrong

    Chocolate-covered Jesus. . .Mmm – Seriously, I’ve got to get me some communion wafers already.


    News From Around The Blogosphere 7.30.08

    July 31, 2008

    There’s still no planet Starbucks but they can name a species -Remember that old sham years ago (it’s probably still around) where you were told that for a little money, you could get a star named after you or someone you loved? Well, that was bogus and in many cases the star you named didn’t even exist. But for the right price, you CAN name a new small species. Just don’t pick one of the names that are already names of species like: Mick Jagger, Marilyn Monroe, the members of the Sex Pistols, or the fish species dubbed beeblebroxi, a tribute to the character Zaphod Beeblebrox in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And finally, there’s actually an species named: GoldenPalace.com.

    Is that the Virgin Mary on your restaurant floor drain or just rust?

    -Classic case of pareidolia. I’m sure it’s not as tasty as the Virgin Mary on the grilled cheese sandwich:

    Oh, and on a related note, here’s Jesus Cat:

    Jesus Sucks -That’s according to a television comedy show host who commissioned to have an airplane fly across Toronto while waving a banner with those two words printed on it. Of course many Christians with no sense of humor are deeply offended.

    Astrologer fails to predict Earthquake–there’s a shock for you:

    Just when you thought it was safe to defile crackers again… -This really is the story that won’t die. Crackergate is back on! PZ Myers responds to another set of religious yahoos who can’t accept that we don’t have to show respect for their dopey sacred cows and that’s just the way the cracker crumbles.

    Karl Giberson talks gibberish

    -I know. I know. It was the best title I could think of at the time. Anyway, here PZ Myers presents his rebuttal of Giberson’s claim that atheist activists are fundamentalists of the religion of science. Yeah, like we never heard that shite before. It’s all part of the creationist Orwellian strategy of framing:

    Religion is Science
    Science is Religion

    I’m calling bullshit!

    Phil Plait’s follow-up comments about Ed Mitchell & the UFO believers -Phil addresses the logical fallacies of those who responded negatively to his blog about Apollo 14 Astronaut Ed Mitchell’s claims (also reported on here at Skepacabra) that he knows for certain that space aliens have been to Earth and that the government is covering it up.

    Anti-vacciner booth infiltrate Netroots Nation -These vampires are everywhere. Perhaps it’s advisable to always carry a wooden stake and cloves of garlic for just this sort of occasion.

    Most & Least Religious Colleges in the U.S. 2008 -Damn, NYU didn’t make the list of least religious! I thought I left a better impression. Oh well, at least New School, where I gained my graduate degree is on the list.

    How Real Science Works -A great article that tries to demystify this strange thing we call science. So how does science work? I’ll give you a hint. It requires a lot of hard work and does not work by making shit up. Sorry creationists.

    RationalWiki to the rescue -This is a great source of skeptical inquiry. Check it out.

    And now a moment of science:

    Did Dinosaur Soft Tissues Still Survive? -New research challenges suggests that the supposed recovered dinosaur tissue is in reality biofilm – or slime. Sorry again, creationists.

    Possible ‘Sleep Gene’ Identified In Fruit Flies -In a recent study of fruit flies, researchers identified a gene that controls sleep.

    Lost An Appendage? Grow Another -Understanding the molecular pathway responsible for limb regeneration in some animals is a research objective for MBL investigator William R. Jeffery, a former director of the MBL Embryology course and professor of biology at the University of Maryland.


    News From Around The Blogosphere 7.20.08

    July 21, 2008

    Record number of UFO sightings in New Brunswick, British Columbia
    -Of the 836 UFO sitings in Canada alone in 2007, a record 24 of them were reported in New Brunswick, British Columbia. I’d say this is a pretty damned good reason to be remain skeptical of claims that UFOs are spaceships from another world. And let this be a lesson in pareidolia. People have pattern-seeking brains and you shouldn’t believe everything you see or everything a reliable friend says they’ve seen.

    PZ’s latest comment on the Crackergate insanity

    -The latest installment in the ongoing absurd saga I’ve dubbed Crackergate.
    Town of Aberystwyth may end 30-year ban on Monty Python’s Life of Brian

    -Yes, that’s right. There’s actually a town that has upheld a 30-year-long ban on “Life of Brian.”

    Christian Band’s Guitarist Fired for Losing His Faith

    -A very telling portion from the band’s official statement: “We as a band do not have problem with those that do not believe in Jesus, nor do we cast judgement on those that do not believe in Jesus. We just want to love on people like Jesus would and hopefully share a little bit about what he’s done and doing in our lives. We would call ourselves a Christian band and for that reason, we felt we couldn’t have someone in the band who didn’t agree with the band’s foundational drive.” Apparently ya do have a problem with it.
    Michael Shermer on Intelligent Design

    As always, Shermer exposing the hypocrisy of cdesign proponentsists.

    And some science news:
    Nature-Nurture Gene Link Sheds New Light On Autism

    For those keeping score, that’s Medical Science, 1 trillion, Alternative Medicine, zero