News From Around The Blogosphere 5.17.10

May 18, 2010

I'm Miss USA now. Suck on that, bitches!

1. A Muslim and liberal declared Miss USA – This is a nice step up from Carrie Prejean. Of course the right-wing loonies who last year defended Carrie Prejean as having a right to her idiotic opinions have now come out swinging against the new Miss USA Rima Fakih. Fakih is an Arab-American (are we still doing the hyphen thing?) of Lebanese decent. Of course the right-wing pundits are all claiming liberal bias again because Miss Oklahoma Morgan Elizabeth Woolard lost after saying she was “perfectly fine” with the new Arizona immigration policy.

Of course once again, their over the top outrage seems to coincidentally be against someone who just happens to not be white. So what did my personal favorite insane righter-winger Debbie Schlussel and other pundits say about this trivial little pageant decisions?

– Conservative radio host Debbie Schlussel blamed Fakih’s win on a supposed “politically correct, Islamo-pandering climate” in America and labeled her a “Lebanese Muslim Hezbollah supporter with relatives who are top terrorists.” [5/16/10]

– Right wing pundit and Fox contributor Michelle Malkin ranted that “Fakih’s cheerleaders are too busy tooting the identity politics horn to care what comes out of her mouth” and that “the Miss USA pageant didn’t want to risk the wrath of the open-borders mob.” [5/16/10]

– Conservative author Daniel Pipes, who was briefly appointed by former President George W. Bush to the U.S. Institute of Peace, opined that “this surprising frequency of Muslims winning beauty pageants makes me suspect an odd form of affirmative action.” [5/16/10]

– Fox News’s Gretchen Carlson complained that Woolard’s “informed opinion” may have cost her the crown, and said that Fakih may have won because we live in a “PC society.” [5/17/10]

I’m taking bets on how long it takes for them to call into question her nation of origin and start demanding to see her birth certificate.

2. Vatican’s latest legal strategy – I’m not sure if blaming others and denying any responsibility technically qualifies as a “new” strategy though. Now they’re denying priests at American dioceses are employees  of the Catholic Church and denying what their own “crimes of solicitation” document says in plain Latin, that they are under no obligation to report sexual abuse among their ranks to the proper authorities. This is the equivalent of, say, Toyota denying the defective vehicles were theirs.

3. Another great article on Texas School Board’s war against education

Cynthia Dunbar does not have a high regard for her local schools. She has called them unconstitutional, tyrannical and tools of perversion. The conservative Texas lawyer has even likened sending children to her state’s schools to “throwing them in to the enemy’s flames”. Her hostility runs so deep that she educated her own offspring at home and at private Christian establishments.

And that’s just the first paragraph!


Don McLeroy on ABC

March 14, 2010

If I had a dollar for every stupid thing McLeroy has in this clip, I’d be a rich man:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Phil Plait accurately reflects my outrage at this lunatic here and here.



News From Around The Blogosphere 3.13.10

March 13, 2010

1. Anti-vaxxers vs. the U.S. legal system – I’d been saving this for a much longer piece I intend to write for The Gotham Skeptic this weekend but I felt it was necessary to at least mention it here. It seems that not only has the media turned on the anti-vaccine movement, but this week has been devastating to them in the courtroom. Last year, the best three cases of alleged autism due to vaccine-injury their lawyers could find had their days in court and lost miserably. Now the next three Autism Omnibus cases went before the court and. . .also lost miserably. Additionally, the contemptible Barbara Loe Fisher’s libel suit against Dr. Paul Offit, Amy Wallace, and Conde Nast was thrown out of court. It’s not a good day to be an anti-vaxxer.

2. Frying up Jesus – Jesus has finally returned. . .as bacon grease:

3. Life-enabling molecules spotted in Orion Nebula

The chemical fingerprints of potentially life-building molecules have been detected in the Orion nebula by Europe’s Herschel Space Observatory.

The Orion nebula is a nearby stellar nursery, brimming with gas, dust and infant stars. It is known to be one of the most prolific chemical factories in space, although the full extent of its chemistry and the pathways for molecule formation are not well understood.

No god required.

4. McLeroy failed to change the science textbooks but succeeded in changing the history books – Take note as this may be remembered as the day the new dark ages began:

After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.

The vote was 10 to 5 along party lines, with all the Republicans on the board voting for it.

. . .

“We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”

Yes, history is too liberal. Better change it.

Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)

Yeah, who needs Thomas Jefferson anyway? It’s not like he did anything important in our nation’s history, right? This is an academic disgrace and I hope the school board is sued for violating the Constitution. . .unless of course there is no more constitution according to the new revisionist history.

5. Tom Cruise desperate to salvage his failing career – He seems to think that making light of his previous scandals will fix thing problem. Sorry Tom but there’s only one way to repair your reputation. Leave the cult.


News From Around The Blogosphere 3.12.10

March 13, 2010

1. Texas school board pushing Conservative and Christian spin on American history – Who’s pushing it? Why it”s the recently voted out creationist Don McLeroy. Essentially, they feel that American history is too liberal and atheist, so therefore, students should be taught about all those times Conservatism won out. That should be easy, right? Slavery? No. Keeping evolution out of schools? No. Black suffrage? No. Women’s suffrage? No. Segregation? No. Abortion? No. I guess they want a class to teach about the Great Depression that followed 12 years of conservative presidents, the early 90’s recession that followed 12 years of conservative presidents, the current economic crisis that followed 8 years of conservative rule, and of course Watergate.

2. A Winnipeg man, Rob Johnstone, struggles to find non-religious alcohol rehab program – I don’t understand why everyone’s always whining that AA is religious. Just because a group of people congregate in a church to kneel before god, pray to that god for strength, confess their sins, and acknowledge that they’re sinners by nature and thus powerless to change their sinful ways–that’s no reason to accuse AA of being a religion.

3. ‘Under God’ sustained in Pledge by Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – By a final vote of 2-1, Michael Newdow lost again to get the ‘Under God’ removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. That’s a very small amount to lose by though. At least someone in that decision was persuaded so that leaves room to be hopeful that we may prevail in the near future. Here’s the decision (PDF). Newdow’s next step is to ask the appeals court to rehear the case. If that’s rejected he says he’ll appeal to the Supreme Court.”

4. Ancient DNA found in fossil bird egg shell –

“We were really surprised to discover that ancient DNA is well-preserved in fossil eggshells, particularly the heaviest bird to have existed the elephant bird called Aepyornis, which is now extinct,” said Murdoch doctoral student Charlotte Oskam, who undertook the research.

5. Scientists discover 600 million-year-old origins of vision

By studying the hydra, a member of an ancient group of sea creatures that is still flourishing, scientists at UC Santa Barbara have made a discovery in understanding the origins of human vision.

. . .

Hydra are simple animals that, along with jellyfish, belong to the phylum cnidaria. Cnidarians first emerged 600 million years ago.

“We determined which genetic ‘gateway,’ or ion channel, in the hydra is involved in light sensitivity,” said senior author Todd H. Oakley, assistant professor in UCSB’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology. “This is the same gateway that is used in human vision.”

There once again goes the “irreducible complexity” of the eye argument. And of course for those keeping track, that’s 599,994,000 years before the existence of the entire universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

6. Simon Singh leaves The Guardian

“Being sued for libel is not only ruinously expensive, writes Simon Singh, it takes over your whole life. Which is why this will be his last column”

This is deeply sad. Singh is a fantastic science journalist and we could use people like him more than ever. But it’s inspiring to see him continue to fight for his article exposing chiropractic and for UK libel reform.

7. Surgeon goes into the faith healing business

Dr. Issam Nemeh is a certified surgeon in Cleveland, Ohio but is now using his hands more for praying over people. Numerous medical miracles are being reported by people after visiting and being prayed for by Dr. Nemeh. However, Nemeh refuses to accept the credit for any miracle that takes place with an individual. He says GOD heals people with the Holy Spirit. Nemeh insists he is only an instrument.

Well, we agree on one thing:  he’s a tool.

8. Cancer researchers in British Columbia make lymphoma ‘breakthrough‘ –

The discovery by a team of 26 scientists from throughout North America and Europe shows a new way to predict the 15 to 25 per cent of patients who will have a poor prognosis if they aren’t treated more aggressively from the time of diagnosis.

As Carl Sagan said, science delivers the goods.

9. $cientologists try to censor German film

Bis Nichts Mehr Bleibt, or Until Nothing Remains, dramatises the account of a German family torn apart by its associations with Scientology. A young married couple joins the organisation but as the wife gets sucked ever more deeply into the group, her husband, who has donated much of his money to it, decides to leave. In the process he loses contact with his young daughter who, like his wife, is being educated by Scientology instructors.

Scientology leaders have accused Germany’s primary public TV network, ARD, of creating in top secret a piece of propaganda that sets out to undermine the group, and have demanded to see it before it is broadcast.

Oh, come on! When have the Germans ever been known for making propaganda films? Kidding. I hope the film makes a gazillion dollars.


News From Around The Blogosphere 3.6.10

March 6, 2010

1. Creationist Don McLeroy loses Texas School Board election – DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD! WHICH OLD WITCH? THE WICKED WITCH!

And even better news is that he’s being replaced by Thomas Ratliff, who isn’t delusional and is a real life educator. Imagine that. Unfortunately, Donny boy still has seven months to his term so it ain’t over yet. But soon Texas will be free.

2. Atheist Rep. Pete Stark no longer replacing Charles Rangel as acting chair of Ways and Means Committee

In an untraditional twist, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) will replace Rep. Charles Rangel as acting chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee rather than Rep. Pete Stark (D-Fremont).

Because of seniority, Stark had been in line to take the job and, as of Wednesday evening, House Democrats indicated that it was his, at least on an interim basis.

But Stark’s politics — he’s an unapologetic liberal — and his volatility, with a history of making controversial and provocative statements, concerned other members of the committee as well as the Democratic leadership.

In other words, “It’s an athiest! RUN!” Damn, the Dems are pussies.

3. Boulder pre-school kicks out child for having two mommies

According to teachers at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School, a meeting was held Tuesday to discuss the issue. The staff was told a student would not be allowed to re-enroll because of his or her parents’ sexual orientation. The staff members were also told not to talk to the media.

Yet another reason why Catholics are morally obligated to renounce the Church.


News From Around The Blogosphere 1.4.09

January 5, 2010

1. Researchers conclude that G-spot is a myth

The scientists at King’s College London who carried out the study claim there is no evidence for the existence of the G-spot — supposedly a cluster of internal nerve endings — outside the imagination of women influenced by magazines and sex therapists. They reached their conclusions after a survey of more than 1,800 British women.

2. Egyptian med students not the sharpest tools in the shed – Apparently Egyptian med students have it in their heads that masturbation causes blindness. Yes, I said that these were the Med students!

Baher Ibrahim writes that young women, expected by the conservative Egyptian society to be white virginal emblems of chastity, often wouldn’t know a penis from a bratwurst (I’m talking the literal food here). Meanwhile, many of the guys get their sexual knowledge from watching porn, which doesn’t do women any favors, no matter what country you’re in.

Bad or non-existent sex ed also fails to teach people to protect themselves against STDs. One student interviewed recalls a professor pinning the failure rate of condom usage in protecting against HIV/AIDS at 15-20% (it’s actually close to zero). Unsurprisingly, women are at particular risk for the disease, which spreads primarily through unprotected heterosexual sex, due to a severe lack of information on the subject. And, oh abstinence-until-m

3. Creationists given potentially unparalleled power over children’s textbooks – Texas and California are the two states that largely determine public school textbooks for the rest of the country. But now that liberal California can’t afford to buy new textbooks until 2014, Don McLeroy and his ultraconservative gang may have all the power. We’re going to need Eugenie Scott and the National Center for Science Education more than ever now.

4. British skeptics launch ’10:23 Campaign’ against homeopathy – The name comes from the Avogadro Constant, the scientific principle in which homeopathy would violate…if it were true. I also love their slogan:  “Homeopathy: There’s Nothing In It.”

5. Black Atheist is cast member on MTV’s ‘Real World’ – Apparently, one of the cast members of the latest season of the Real World, Ty Ruff, is a black atheist. I only mention his skin color because there doesn’t tend to be many black atheists.

According to  his bio:

… Despite growing up in the church, he is anti-religion and thinks believing in God is a crutch…

6. Atheist Foundation of Australia put up bus ad in Tasmania – The slogan is, “Atheism: Celebrate Reason!” I like it.

7. New study finds chimpanzees have culture too

A new study of chimpanzees living in the wild adds to evidence that our closest primate relatives have cultural differences, too. The study, reported online on October 22nd in Current Biology, shows that neighboring chimpanzee populations in Uganda use different tools to solve a novel problem: extracting honey trapped within a fallen log.

Kibale Forest chimpanzees use sticks to get at the honey, whereas Budongo Forest chimpanzees rely on leaf sponges — absorbent wedges that they make out of chewed leaves.

“The most reasonable explanation for this difference in tool use was that chimpanzees resorted to preexisting cultural knowledge in trying to solve the novel task,” said Klaus Zuberbühler of the University of St Andrews in Scotland. “Culture, in other words, helped them in dealing with a novel problem.”

8. Lifeless prions evolve or another bad day to be a creationist

Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have determined for the first time that prions, bits of infectious protein devoid of DNA or RNA that can cause fatal neurodegenerative disease, are capable of Darwinian evolution.

The study from Scripps Florida in Jupiter shows that prions can develop large numbers of mutations at the protein level and, through natural selection, these mutations can eventually bring about such evolutionary adaptations as drug resistance, a phenomenon previously known to occur only in bacteria and viruses. These breakthrough findings also suggest that the normal prion protein — which occurs naturally in human cells — may prove to be a more effective therapeutic target than its abnormal toxic relation.


News From Around The Blogosphere 12.22.09

December 23, 2009

1. When prayer backfires – Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn called for the teabagger crowd to prayer that somebody in the senate doesn’t make it for the health care bill so that the Democrats can be filibustered. And as God would have it, somebody didn’t show up. Unfortunately for Coburn, that somebody was James Inhofe, who was among those opposed to health care reform. What can you say? Either god’s not a giant douchebag after all and supports health care reform, god’s not very powerful, god works in mysterious ways, or god just doesn’t fuckin’ exist. Bummer dude.

2. Texas Board of Ed’s Don McLeroy didn’t hide his religious motivation – McLeroy has been the leading member of the board that’s been pushing this ridiculous “teach the weaknesses in evolution” nonsense, and even he happily admited his religious motivation:

Am I a religious fanatic? Absolutely. You’d have to be to do what I do.

3. Atheist bus campaign in Iowa –

The last time Iowa atheists put up bus ads, they were quickly taken down (and then later put back up), a bus driver refused to do her job because an atheist ad was on her bus, and the governor complained.

That was all over an ad that simply read: “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.” Now the the Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers are putting up a new bus ad that reads:  “Being good for goodness sake.”

4. NYC Atheists and Catholic activists sue Catholic Church – Ken Bronstein of the NYC Atheists has teamed up with Catholic activists in a legal battle against the Catholic Diocese:

Charging that the Catholic Church should lose its tax-exempt status, a consortium of atheists and Catholic activists filed two lawsuits against Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, Assemblymember Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg) and the Catholic Diocese over their role in producing a recorded message sent to Williamsburg’s registered voters less than a week before they went to the polls.

Led by NYC Atheists President Kenneth Bronstein and New Jersey-based priest abuse activist Reverend Robert Hoatson, the suits allege that DiMarzio violated Internal Revenue Service laws by recording a political message sent to voters in a hotly contested City Council election, which could cost the Church privileges enjoyed by its nonprofit status.