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 1.23.10

January 24, 2010

1. Man may be capable of running 40 MPH

The newly published evidence identifies the critical variable imposing the biological limit to running speed, and offers an enticing view of how the biological limits might be pushed back beyond the nearly 28 miles per hour speeds achieved by Bolt to speeds of perhaps 35 or even 40 miles per hour.

2. UK bans dowsing rods posing as bomb detectors – I’ve blogged before about the bogus bomb detectors used by Iraqi military officials. Glad to see the media isn’t dropping the ball on reporting this sham.

3. The other day I posted this clip of William Shatner asking “psychic” John Edward some great hardball questions:

Well I didn’t see this clip from the end of the show that seems to further suggest that you can’t fool Captain Kirk:

4. John Travolta & other $cientology vampires feed off Haiti disaster victims – I probably shouldn’t be surprised. After 9/11, Tom Cruise showed up to get the cult free publicity by giving the FDNY bogus “detox” treatments and the $cientologists showed up after Virginia Tech in the wake of that atrocity. They really have no shame.

5. Vanity Fair visits the Creation “Museum” – And they brought Paul Bettany, the atheist actor who portrays Charles Darwin in the new film “Creation” with them to take photos. My favorite part of the article was this:

The Creation Museum isn’t really a museum at all. It’s an argument. It’s not even an argument. It’s the ammunition for an argument. It is the Word made into bullets. An armory of righteous revisionism. This whole building is devoted to the literal veracity of the first 11 chapters of Genesis: God created the world in six days, and the whole thing is no more than 6,000 years old. Everything came at once, so Tyrannosaurus rex and Noah shared a cabin. That’s an awful lot of explaining to do. This place doesn’t just take on evolution—it squares off with geology, anthropology, paleontology, history, chemistry, astronomy, zoology, biology, and good taste. It directly and boldly contradicts most -onomies and all -ologies, including most theology.

6. Denmark’s Prime Minister says burqas not welcome in Denmark – Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and according to its Prime Minister, it’s the burqa:

THE face-covering burqa and niqab veils worn by some Muslim women “have no place in Danish society”, Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen has said. “They symbolise a view of women and humanity that we totally oppose and that we want to combat in Danish society,” he said.

Denmark was “an open, democratic society where we look at the person to whom we are talking, whether it’s in a classroom or on the job”.

“That is why we don’t want to see this garment in Danish society,” he said.

Now why can’t the U.S. have politicians with that kind of balls?


News From Around The Blogosphere 1.2.09

January 3, 2010

1. Plot to kill famous Danish cartoonist thwarted – Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist whose work, including depictions of the Prophet Muhammed, outraged Danish Muslims so much that violent riots broke out, was almost murdered by a Muslim on Friday. The would-be killer tried to break into Westergaard’s home and was armed with a knife and an ax. Westergaard’s 5-year-old granddaughter was also in the home. When the cops arrived, the intruder pulled his ax on them, which led to them shooting him.

2. Kim Stagliano of Age of Autism reads the papers; she just deliberately chooses to misunderstand them – Here’s another hilarious piece from AoA, where the writer seems determined to reinterpret objective criticism against their batshit insane ideology to read things that aren’t in the article. She’s responding specifically to the USA Today article about the dangers of celebrities giving people medical advice, which mentioned the anti-vaccinationist movement. Kimmy seems to think that a double standard exists because the news media never criticizes celebrities that encourage people to seek legitimate medical treatment. And for once, I agree with Age of Autism. There really is a double standard. How dare the media not criticize celebrities when they offer good medical advice that saves lives?! For instance, I once heard a celebrity endorse seat belts and airbags even though something like one in a million people die each year from seat belts and airbags. The news media should be ashamed of itself for having standards!

3. Where atheists stand next to Christians in terms of charity:

We need to step up our game.


Have Muslims learned anything since 2005?

April 11, 2009

danish-cartoon-bomb1,000 signed prints of the infamous Kurt Westergaard Muhammed cartoon that provoked Muslim riots in Denmark and censorship of the cartoon in most American mass media are now on sale courtesy of the Danish Free Press Society:

One thousand prints of the cartoon, featuring the prophet wearing a turban with a lit fuse stuck in it, are up for sale for US$250 (S$379) on the group’s website.

Each print is numbered and signed by the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

‘Now you can own an exclusive print of the most famous picture of our time,’ the site said.

Westergaard, 73, is one of 12 cartoonists whose drawings of the Muslim prophet were first published in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005, sparking controversy among Muslims worldwide.

He has since been the subject of threats, forcing him to live in hiding.

What I find particularly amusing about the site quoted above is that the actual name of “the Muslim prophet” is never mentioned even once. Is it like saying “Macbeth” during a theatre performance or is this an attempt to leave it ambiguous as to whether the cartoon is of the Muslim Prophet Muhammed?

I wouldn’t mind owning one of these prints myself.


Yet another reason to love Denmark

December 11, 2008

If it wasn’t enough that Denmark stood up for the Jews during the Holocaust, that it remains one of the least religious countries in the world, and that it has one of the lowest crime rates in the country, here’s another reason to love Denmark. (Warning: if you war easily offended do not watch this video):

You got to give them credit for creativity. This would never fly here in the “land of the free.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 9.8.08

September 9, 2008

Scientists find ‘commitment’ gene – Scientists have now isolated the gene for commitment and monogamy.

CREATIONIST NEWS:

cdesign proponentsists invade Oregon – At Jefferson High School near Salem, Oregon, IDeots have surfaced to push teaching “the other view” in the Science classes. Here we go again. Do we need to have another Dover Trial? (Complete Trial Transcript here, Judge Jones’ complete 139-page decision here, and all other trial documents here.)

Ron Reagan said:

““Creationism is one of the scary beliefs Palin advocates.”

Not surprisingly, this didn’t go over too well with Answers in Genesis.

The How of Steve – Project Steve has hit the 895 mark, almost reaching 900 signers. If you don’t know what Project Steve is, it was devised by the National Center for Science Education as a parody of the signed lists of “Ph’d’s” and “scientists” collected by creationist that allegedly have serious doubts about the Theory of Evolution so that the creationists can make it look as though there’s actually a scientific controversy when in actually there isn’t. To really hit home how absurd this is the NCSE decided to make their own list of pro-Evolution scientists only they’d deliberately limit their list only to scientists with variations of the name “Steve,” such as Stephen, Stephan, Stephanie, etc. Last I heard, just the number of scientists with Steve names that supported the Theory of Evolution was way ahead of the un-handicapped creationist list of any scientist on Earth that they can find to sign that they have doubts of Evolution and the Steve list included more scientists in relevant fields.

And now the epic conclusion of a drunken adventure of 2 women infiltrating the creationist Discovery Institute and getting a personal tour from Casey Luskin – Here is the first installment, the second installment, and the third installment. And now here is the fourth and final installment from Enemy Combatant: Trailmix Appreciation Club. And here’s the epilogue, a personal thank you to Luskin.

The Theory of Childhood is just a theory – This is a better written version of an argument I love to use on creationists.

The Tooth Fairy

ISLAMIC NEWS:

The Prime Minister of England gives the first ever Ramadan message as Britain moves to adopt Sharia law:

In Iran, four women have been jailed from blogging about women’s rights.

Speaking of Islam, my next story comes from Denmark:

Something is godless in the state of Denmark – It must be Godless Beer – thanks to the Danish Atheist Society.

POLITICAL NEWS:

Obama’s Science Policy – Doesn’t look half bad.

Obama – “I am not for selective vaccination. I believe that it will bring back deadly diseases, like polio.” – Awesome! As you can imagine, Age of Autism’s kinda pissed. Please call the Obama campaign at 866-675-2008 or email them at http://my.barackobama.com/page/s/contact2 to tell them you support Obama’s position on this issue. Otherwise, he’s likely to hear from enough kooks on the matter to maybe influence his position.

“There’s an underground church that the world has no idea exists.” – Prepare to enter Crazytown, USA … aka Wasilla, Alaska:

They picked the wrong Palin:

The tragic absurdity of delusional religious beliefs – I’m reminded of my Christian Death Paradox argument.

A Musical Journey from Christianity to atheismMatthew Terry is a musician who is about to release a song detailing his personal journey from Christianity to Atheism. You can check out the lyrics by clicking the link.

Haunted Spice Rack on eBay!

10 Things You Don’t Know About The Earth


AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Comets Throw Light On Solar System’s Beginnings – “Scientists already know that comets played a significant role in ensuring that conditions were right for life on Earth. Most of the icy, small planetary bodies that otherwise became comets went into forming the gas giant planets in the outer Solar System but some were ejected from the vicinity of the largest planets. Of these, a fraction ended up in the inner Solar System bringing water and biogenic elements of interest to Earth. Without this cometary transport, life on Earth may never have had a chance to start.”

Large Hadron Collider Seeks ‘Universal’ Answers – “How did the universe come to be? What is it made of? What is mass? Can science prove that there are other dimensions? We may have answers soon. On September 10, 2008, Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Erez Etzion from the School of Physics and Astronomy will be in the control room of the new CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) on the border of France and Switzerland when the LHC is first turned on. Scientists are calling it the largest experiment in the world. It’s taken about 6,000 researchers, $8 billion and ten years to build.”

Smaller Males Go The Distance For Sex – “In a field study on Maud Island, New Zealand, evolutionary biologists from the University of Toronto at Mississauga discovered that male giant weta most successful at mating travel greater distances each night. Remarkably, it appears that being lightweight and having longer legs assist male wanderlust. Clint Kelly, Luc Bussière, and Darryl Gwynne found that males can walk more than 90 m each night in search of a mate – roughly equivalent to a 7000 m outing by a human male.”