My last word on the Dole-Hagan fiasco

November 17, 2008

It seems like it’s finally come to a close. North Carolina Senator-elect Kay Hagan is dropping her defamation suit against opponent Elizabeth Dole, claimed that Hagan was linked to an atheist organization. Initially atheists contributed to Hagan’s campaign after hearing about Dole’s attack ad because Hagan had associated with the Godless PAC. But then when Hagan made it sound like being called an atheist was such a terrible things some atheists wished they hadn’t supported Hagan. Though I’m still glad Hagan won the election. And here’s why:

Turns out, Sen.-elect Kay Hagan got 3,600 contributions within 48 hours of Dole airing of the controversial ad, which centered on Hagan’s attendance at a fund-raiser at the Boston home of someone active in the atheist community.

The 3,600 donations came from a cross-section of society.

“We got responses from people who identify themselves as atheists and every religion under the sun who found that ad offensive,” said Hagan spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan, who said the campaign hadn’t yet calculated the dollar figure raised as a result.

I’ve been arguing for awhile now that atheists need to build a political base that politicians will want to cater to or even just pander to. Right now, they don’t care if they offend atheists or the non-religious in general even though 16% of the nation is not affiliated with any religion, making us a larger minority than Jews, Muslims, and Blacks. Having Hagan so publicly owe part of her victory to atheists and others turned off by Dole’s ad may be the first major step in making that dream a reality.

Hagan said what she said because she’s a politician and politicians are afraid of losing the religious voter base. It’s as simple as that. Unlike with Dole’s vicious anti-atheist ad, Hagan hasn’t shown herself to necessarily really be anti-atheist. She was the better candidate and one who shows some potential of being a progressive one. So I, an atheist, still support Kay Hagan.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 11.13.08

November 14, 2008

Congratulations Connecticut same-sex couples spouses – Suck it, Jesus!

Mankind to detect alien life by 2025?

Senior Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) astronomer Seth Shostak last night boldly claimed that mankind would certainly detect intelligent alien life by 2025, assuming the right technology is in place to probe 500 light years into space where there are doubtless thousands of ET radio stations transmitting into the ether.

alternative-medicine-for-dummiesNew Alt. Med. propaganda film to be released tomorrow in NYC & L.A. – The title: The Beautiful Truth. Wow, they managed to stick 2 pleasant-sounding things into the title. I guess “The Beautiful Truth Honor Justice and Loyalty” wouldn’t fit on the marquee. Like the creationist film Expelled, this film attempts to play the “suppressed by science” card.

Former Evangelical Ted Haggard explains why he had gay sex and did Crystal Meth–it was someone else’s fault!! Ugh! Biggest douche in the universe!

ATHEIST DISCRIMINATION:

i_dont_want_youAtheists have hit rock bottom again – We’re once again the least likely minority group in the U.S. to be elected president. Here’s the order:

Here are the answers in order: Women. Mormons. Jews. Muslims. Hindus. Gays and lesbians. Atheists.

I have my doubts though about this considering technically at least 16% of the country is not affiliated with any particular religion. That means we outnumber the Jews, Muslims, and Blacks. And I have a feeling we’ll see a Black president very soon.

Elizabeth Dole’s “Godless” Ad backfired

Democratic pollster John Anzalone says that Elizabeth Dole’s “Godless” ad against North Carolina Senate seat opponent Kay Hagandoomed Dole’s chances to keep the race close.” Hagan’s numbers “skyrocketed” after the ad was aired.

WHAT’S MAKING BABY JESUS CRY NOW?

Perpetually unhappy Bill Donohue loses it on the recent Humanist bus ads on Faux News – Geez, if religion makes you so unhappy, Bill, maybe you should stop being so religious. Just a thought.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyFirst Direct Images Of Solar System Like Ours – “Astronomers using the Gemini North telescope and W.M. Keck Observatory on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea have obtained the first-ever direct images identifying a multi-planet system around a normal star.”

New Plastic: Acrylic Glass Made Of Sugar – “In future, polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA for short) – better known as acrylic glass – could be made from natural raw materials such as sugars, alcohols or fatty acids. Compared with the previous chemical production process, a biotechnological process is far more environmentally friendly.”

Octopus Family Tree Traced – “Octopuses started migrating to new ocean basins more than 30 million years ago as Antarctica cooled and large ice-sheets grew.” For the record, this was 29,994,000 years before the entire universe existed according to Young Earth Creationists. . .but who’s counting.

Frogs Not Harmed By Global Warming? – “Evidence that global warming is causing the worldwide declines of amphibians may not be as conclusive as previously thought, according to biologists. The findings, which contradict two widely held views, could help reveal what is killing the frogs and toads and aid in their conservation.”

DNA Replication Backstreet Boys-style –


Behind the scenes of Dole’s infamous “Godless Ad”

November 10, 2008

Behind the scenes of Elizabeth Dole’s infamous “Godless Ad” against Kay HaganRob Christensen of The Charlotte Observer has a behind-the-scenes look at how that ad came to be. I think Friendly Atheist summed it up nicely:

But the point we need to remember is this: The ad was a calculated smear attempt against Hagan. The Dole campaign didn’t actually care that Hagan met with atheists. They weren’t offended and they certainly didn’t find it immoral or wrong. They just saw it as an easy way to manipulate voters into thinking she was a bad representative for them.

Fortunately, for whatever reason this desperate and slimy tactic didn’t work, just like the equally slimy attacks on Obama’s character employed by Team McCain didn’t work. I’d like to believe this is a sign that the American people are wising up to these despicable ad hominem attacks but somehow I doubt it, especially since yesterday I heard some of my parents’ friends dismissing the insane costs of Sarah Palin’s wardrobe in addition to McCain’s campaign spending while chastising Obama for having the audacity of spending the money donated to his campaign actually on his campaign instead of giving to charity or whatever.

Ugh!


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.8.08

November 9, 2008

Conservatives corrupted by “popularist chic” – An excellent article about the downfall of intellectualism in American conservatism. You got to love Chris Hoofnagle’s comment here:

I am enjoying the news post election, because what was once news media “liberal bias” about Sarah Palin is now simply common sense.

And yet, you’ll still find Republican cheerleaders who despite the obvious facts will go to their grave defending the absurd:

Elizabeth Dole can still go fuck herself! – After running a ad campaign built on bigotry, she’s got some gall making the following statement:

“People from faraway places poured tens of millions of dollars into North Carolina, funding tough, unfair negative ads against me. I responded forcefully. I’m not happy with the tone this race acquired, but I must say I will never regret fighting as hard as I could for the privilege of continuing to serve the people of my state.”

Notes from Thames Valley University’s homeopathic degree program:

At the root of most holistic therapies lies the belief that all life is animated by a subtle force. We call this the Life Force. You either believe it or you do not. It cannot exactly be proved at the moment and the belief is not in accord with the yardsticks that we call ’scientific.’

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyPaleontologists Doubt ‘Dinosaur Dance Floor’ – “A group of paleontologists visited the northern Arizona wilderness site nicknamed a “dinosaur dance floor” and concluded there were no dinosaur tracks there, only a dense collection of unusual potholes eroded in the sandstone.

So the scientist who leads the University of Utah’s geology department says she will team up with the skeptics for a follow-up study.

“Science is an evolving process where we seek the truth,” says Marjorie Chan, professor and chair of geology and geophysics, and co-author of a recent study that concluded the pockmarked, three-quarter-acre site in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument was a 190-million-year-old dinosaur “trample surface”.

Scientists use tequila to make drunken diamonds

A bottle of cheap tequila is good for making margaritas or forgetting a night out. But a team of Mexican scientists have discovered a new use for the potent liquor: forming diamonds. It just so happens that the popular Mexican alcohol is the ideal compound for creating one of the hardest substances on Earth.

THE FUNNIES:

Skeptical pick-up line:

Obameidolia:


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.4.08

November 5, 2008

CONGRATULATIONS PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA!!

CONGRATULATIONS KAY HAGAN FOR KICKING THE SNOT OUT OF THE BIGOTED ELIZABETH DOLE!!

and CONGRATULATIONS AMERICA FOR RESTORING REASON AND SANITY TO WASHINGTON!!

And the question of whether the culture war is over may rest in the fate of California’s Proposition 8 amendment designed to ban gay marriage. At this moment, it’s still not determined whether this bigoted amendment has passed or not, but it’s not looking good. But Donald Wildmon of the fascist American Family Association declared several months ago that if gay marriage continues in California, Christians have lost the culture war:

“If we lose California, if they defeat the marriage amendment, I’m afraid that the culture war is over and Christians have lost,” says Wildmon, a 30-year veteran of the culture war. “I’ve never said that publicly until now — but that’s just the reality of the fact.

“If the homosexuals are able to defeat the marriage amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, then the culture war is over and we’ve lost — and gradually, secularism will replace Christianity as the foundation of our society,” he adds.

I so wish that were true but of course these guys are fanatics and won’t ever give up. But if history has taught us nothing else it’s that liberalism and secular values almost always win out eventually over what are considered traditional. It’s the old Lexus and the Olive Tree, and the Lexus will always win in the end.

But speaking of Prop. 8, Michael Shermer address this potential amendment and the inevitable future of homosexuality.

Status of other important state propositions:

It looks like Arizona has successfully banned gay marriage and Arkansas has banned gay couples from adopting children. On a better note, California looks like it might have stopped Prop. 4 calling for abortion limits, though there’s still a lot of votes that haven’t been counted. Colorado still looks like it’ll keep Affirmative Action but there are still lots of votes that need to be counted. But another big piece of good news is that Colorado voted overwhelmingly to not legally define life from the moment of conception. It looks like Florida has also successfully banned gay marriage. Michigan voted to allow embryonic stem cell research and overwhelmingly voted for medicinal marijuana. Nebraska ended Affirmative Action. South Dakota also voted down abortion limits. And Washington voted for doctor-assisted suicide. So it wasn’t a clean sweep for reason, but all things considered, I think more good came out of this election than bad by a large margin.

Red sex, blue sex – Republicans are anti-sex ed but okay with pregnant teens. Democrats are pro-sex ed and not okay with pregnant teens.

Circumcision: arguments for and against

New study shows possible link between autism and rainfall – I don’t know enough about this but I think there’s still a lot of reason to be skeptical. But there’s at least a real study that suggests such a connection, which is still at least a thousand times better than the antivaccinationist claims, so medical science will do what it always does and do further study. (Thanks Brian)

NYC’s Beth Israel Medical Center has turned to the dark side – I’d meant to report this sooner but never got around to it. But I’m glad I waited because this blog seems to have the most information of all the ones that I’ve seen.

Just saying you have new evidence doesn’t make it so – A recent press release titled “New Evidence For Homeopathy” might be a slight misnomer as it doesn’t actually present any new evidence . . . just all the old crap.

Creationist Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis in denial about his own moron-ness – Aww, calling Ham a moron hurt his delicate little feelings. That’s a shame.

Supernatural belief & skepticism in the New York Times – Joyce Wadler proves that there are still skeptical minds at The Times, and this one article makes for an entertaining read.

Melting steel with the sun:

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyAny Caffeine May Affect Growth Of Unborn Child – “Consuming caffeine at any time during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of fetal growth restriction (low birth weight), according to research published on the British Medical Journal website.”

Rainforest Fungus As New Fuel Source? – “A team led by a Montana State University professor has found a fungus that produces a new type of diesel fuel, which they say holds great promise. Calling the fungus’ output “myco-diesel,” Gary Strobel and his collaborators describe their initial observations in the November issue of Microbiology.”

Solar Power: ‘Near Perfect’ Sunlight Absorption – “Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have discovered and demonstrated a new method for overcoming two major hurdles facing solar energy. By developing a new antireflective coating that boosts the amount of sunlight captured by solar panels and allows those panels to absorb the entire solar spectrum from nearly any angle, the research team has moved academia and industry closer to realizing high-efficiency, cost-effective solar power.”

Saving Australia’s Endangered Tasmanian Devil – “University of Adelaide zoologist Dr Jeremy Austin will lead a national project to help save the endangered Tasmanian devil from extinction.”

Human Genes More Multi-talented Than Thought – “Scientists have long known that it’s possible for one gene to produce slightly different forms of the same protein by skipping or including certain sequences from the messenger RNA. Now, an MIT team has shown that this phenomenon, known as alternative splicing, is both far more prevalent and varies more between tissues than was previously believed.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.3.08

November 4, 2008

FOR MY U.S. READERS, DON’T FORGET TO VOTE REASON AND SANITY BACK INTO WASHINGTON TOMORROW!

POLITICS:

The misnamed quack journal, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons reaches new low – In addition to their usual anti-science-based nonsense, now they’re suggesting that Barack Obama is literally hypnotizing his audiences during his speeches.

The color switch:

Isn’t that first guy Cal Turk?

Colorado Prop 48 up for vote tomorrow attempts nothing short of defining personness itself – This proposition is a somewhat back door approach by anti-abortionists (aka the religious) to define a person as an legal entity at the moment a human sperm fertilizes an egg. Here Phil Plaint points out some of the absurdities of this proposed law.

PZ Myers’ passionate defense of Bill Ayers – I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Elizabeth Dole’s bigotry in her own words – Humorously, she accuses her opponent of literally being out to steal Christmas, a claim that I’ve always said I’d jokingly make against myself in a self-attack ad if I ever ran for public office.

How would Jesus campaign? – How did these reporters get their jobs? Seriously.

M&M’s prove Darwin was right – This relates to a rather strange message film critic Roger Ebert received in his blog. And c’mon, with a title like that, how can you resist?

Don’t pet the Hawking!

Get your stinkin paws off me, you damned dirty ape!

Get your stinkin' paws off me, you damned dirty ape!

Pope Benedict told a gathering of scientists including the British cosmologist Stephen Hawking on Friday that there was no contradiction between believing in God and empirical science.

Don’t get me wrong but while I’m happy to see religious leaders accept science, I just think this claim that religious belief is not inconsistent with known science is total bullshit. (Thanks Brian)

god-hates-signsThe Phelps kid that got away – Fred Phelps is known for fucking into creation “The Most Hated Family In America,” those who declare themselves members of the Westboro Baptist Church, the greatest media whores in religious history who regularly protest outside of funerals with signs that read, “God Hates Fags.” But apparently one of Phelps’ spawn, Nathan Phelps, managed to escape his vile cult and become an atheist (a Christmas miracle if I ever heard one) and says that he “agrees with prominent atheist and scientist Richard Dawkins, who has said that religion can be ‘real child abuse.'” Nathan Phelps is now telling his story.

How did the family react? Shirley Phelps-Roper is his sister, so you can only imagine:

“Nathan Phelps is a rebel against God,” she said. “He has nothing to look forward to except sorrow, misery, death and hell….Great peace fell upon our house when Nathan left….He spit on the goodness of his mother and father. In spite of that, his father and mother loved him and did their duty to him…and required of him that he behave while he lived in their house. They loved him in the only way that the Lord God defines love! They told him the truth about what the Lord his God required of him. He was not going to have that!”

lovely people, aren’t they?

Another great de-conversion story

The old address of Stop Sylvia Browne is now apparently being sold on eBay under false pretenses

Crop Circles in Argentina – Really people, it’s not that hard to do! Get over it already!

saps-taps-parodyI know a lot of people think there’s strong, compelling evidence for ghosts because that’s what gets conveyed often in the popular media but really most of the time the “evidence” for ghosts is very, very lame. How lame? This lame.

WHAT’S THE HARM?

groin-kickTeen hangs herself over ghost – Carissa Glenn, an 18 year-old British teen, hanged herself over the weekend because she was being haunted by the former tenant of her flat.


AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyTiny Fungi May Have Sex While Infecting Humans – “A fungus called microsporidia that causes chronic diarrhea in AIDS patients, organ transplant recipients and travelers has been identified as a member of the family of fungi that have been discovered to reproduce sexually. A team at Duke University Medical Center has proven that microsporidia are true fungi and that this species most likely undergoes a form of sexual reproduction during infection of humans and other host animals.” Kinky.

Early Hebrew Text Where ‘David Slew Goliath’ – “The earliest known Hebrew text written in a Proto-Canaanite script has been discovered by Hebrew University archaeologists in an ancient city in the area where legend has it that David slew Goliath – the earliest Judean city found to date. The 3,000 year old finding is thought to be the most significant archaeological discovery in Israel since the Dead Sea Scrolls – predating them by 1,000 years.”

Space Telescope Sees ‘Ghost Of Mirach’ Galaxy – “NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer has lifted the veil off a ghost known to haunt the local universe, providing new insight into the formation and evolution of galaxies.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.2.08

November 3, 2008

POLITICS:

Palling around with terrorists – A fantastic testimony of someone who spent far more time with members of the 60’s radicals The Weathermen than Obama ever did that further illustrates the absurdity of the McCain/Palin accusation.

2007 Godless billboard-Hoboken, NJ

Regarding all that godlessness stuff going on in North Carolina – Many of us were very happy when we heard that Kay Hagan had attended an event that included the Godless Americans PAC and were very angry at the vile bigotry displayed by the Elizabeth Dole campaign because of it. But then of course Hagan’s response to the Dole campaign left us almost as angry, so angry that after donating to the Hagan campaign, Friendly Atheist wrote them a complaint letter. Also found here is the response to that letter from Hagan’s staff.

Refusing to give candy to a baby:

That’ll teach kids not to choose liberal parents!

The votes have been tallied. Find out which creationist won Thunderf00t’s 1st annual Golden Crocoduck Award. It probably won’t come as a big surprise:

STOP JENNY NEWS:

Stop Jenny has received a few more shout-outs from Steve Novella, Kristina Chew of Autism Vox, and Peter Vlasveld.

OTHER QUACK MEDICINE:

New article in Huffington Post shows authors total and complete ignorance of medical science–so what else is new? – Sloane Barnett writes about allergies in children, and to quote PalMD:

She is about as well-informed about health issues as Bill O’Reilly is about anger management.

Yau-Man Chan discusses growing up with Chinese “medicine”

Atheist author Julian Barnes discusses death and atheism – In this interview he makes one point that I found particularly interesting:

America is one grand exception indeed. America manages to combine extreme materialism with extreme religiosity, and it is a bizarre thought that in this presidential cycle, we could have had a woman in the White House, we might have a black man in the White House, but if either of them had said they were atheists neither of them would have had a hope in hell, all too literally.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Motor Protein Found That Rewinds DNA – “Two biologists at the University of California, San Diego have discovered the first of a new class of cellular motor proteins that “rewind” sections of the double-stranded DNA molecule that become unwound, like the tangled ribbons from a cassette tape, in “bubbles” that prevent critical genes from being expressed.”

And even though Halloween is over, how can you resist Stan Lee reciting The Raven?