News From Around The Blogosphere 6.11.10

June 11, 2010

Stupid me. I always grab pictures from the wrong youth organization

1. Phili yanks Boy Scouts of America’s rent-free space – It’s been long known that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) are given privilege in the U.S. despite being a fundamentally bigoted organization that openly discriminates against gays and atheists. Well now one American city is fighting back. Philadelphia is now insisting the local BSA chapter must pay the standard $200,000 in annual rental fees using public space. The BSA has responded by suing and declaring that the the local chapter does not follow the national BSA’s discrimination policies. The Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia is organizing a rally this weekend to draw attention to the issue.

2. Just when you thought Mississippi schools couldn’t get any lower – For the past several months, the evolving controversy surrounding a Mississippi high school’s despicable treatment of openly lesbian teen Constance McMillen had made national news. Then recently reports came out of another lesbian teen being discriminated against by her high school. So I guess this makes strike three. It has just come out that Alice Hawley, a math teacher at Franklin County High School in Mississippi, has for the past 17 years been leading student prayers in class. To the schools credit, they did demand her to stop once her actions became national news, and then when Hawley refused to sign a document stating she understands the law on these matters, the school fired her despicable ass. But to the schools discredit, they just rehired her a day later. That’ll teach her!

Open letter to Mississippi schools:

FUCK YOU!

3. The Fightin’ Hitchens Brothers – The disparity of views between brothers Christopher and Peter Hitchens is an endless source of amusement. I have to think this is what it’s like at the Baldwin family gatherings between Alec and Stephen Baldwin. And now it turns out that almost simultaneously, a memoir from each Hitchens brother has hit book stands. The books sound like they are polar opposites. And while Peter’s book sounds like it’s obsessed with Christopher and making excuses for why Christopher kicked his ass in a public debate, Peter is practically but a footnote in the elder Hitchens’ memoir, Hitch-22.

Galileo's actual middle finger--suck it, Charles!

4. Prince Charles blames Galileo for the world’s problems

The Prince of Wales has blamed a lack of belief in the soul for the world’s environmental problems, and said that the planet cannot sustain a population expected to reach 9 billion in 40 years.

He said he found it “baffling” that so many scientists professed a faith in God yet this had little bearing on the “damaging” way science was used to exploit the natural world.

The Prince pinned part of the blame on Galileo. Criticising the profit imperative behind much scientific research, he said: “This imbalance, where mechanistic thinking is so predominant, goes back at least to Galileo’s assertion that there is nothing in nature but quantity and motion.

Here that, Galileo. Prince Charles has had enough of your heliocentric nonsense! In response to Prince Charles, I encourage my limey friends across the pond to throw telescopes at him.


Get a Galileoscope while you still can

May 29, 2009

In celebration of the International Year of Astronomy, the Galileoscope, an inexpensive, high-quality telescope has been produced. This replica of Galileo’s original telescope sells for only $15 plus shipping and handling. I’d been meaning to order one for myself but hadn’t gotten around to it until now. I decided to order it now while I still can because, as Phil Plait reports:

Now here’s the thing: production is not so simple for these telescopes, and the folks making them want to continue to do so. But unless they get a bunch of orders right away production will stop. They need orders by the end of May, which means that if you’re thinking of getting one or more — and at $15 each (plus shipping) it’s cheap to do so — then please send in your order now! Don’t wait; if you do it may be too late. At the very least the price will go up, and at worst they won’t be able to make any more.

It seems like a really awesome product and for $15, you can’t go wrong.


Worst rationalization ever!

May 12, 2009

I guess then Hitler wasn’t so bad either. After all, the Jews, gypsies,  homosexuals, etc. would have died eventually anyway.  Ugh!


Giving the middle finger to religious nonsense

March 4, 2009

The only part of Galileo’s body that remains intact is a single finger. That finger is to go on display in Italy to mark the 400th anniversary of his first observations of the skies.

The finger – the middle digit from Galileo’s right hand – is mounted on a marble base and encased in a crystal jar.


News From Around The Blogosphere 10.6.08

October 7, 2008
The Turk

The Turk

Defining A.I. – On October 12 the Loebner Prize for Artificial Intelligence will conduct a formal Turing test of six machines to determine if through the use of complex algorithms if the machines can simulate human conversation so well that testers will not be able to distinguish the machine from an actual human when engaging in a text conversation back and forth. There is a link to a site that displays 2 text conversations, 1 where the subject is talking to a human and the other where they’re talking to a machine. So far it’s very easy to tell which is which but in time that may be much harder, which raises the question of what would real artificial intelligence entail.

THIS DAY IN GOD:

Insecure minds wired for pattern-finding – Another study shows causation between uncertainty or insecurity and seeing patterns that aren’t necessarily really there.

Saudi cleric thinks women showing two eyes is just too seductive, and has called for women to wear a full veil that reveals only one eye.

Rev. Dr. Peter Mullen recommends homosexual practices be discouraged “after the style of warnings on cigarette packets” – He also added:

“Let us make it obligatory for homosexuals to have their backsides tattooed with the slogan SODOMY CAN SERIOUSLY DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH and their chins with FELLATIO KILLS.”

Oo, what if instead we tatooed numbers on their arms and threw them into concentration camps until such time as we can shove them into ovens and gas chambers? Don’t worry; it’s cool. Now he says many of his “dear friends” are gay and he was only joking. Yeah, I bet.

ATHEIST DISCRIMINATION & DENIGRATION:

Hank Fox has quit his job at a newspaper because they ran an unnecessary quote, in spite of his protests that it was blatant bigotry against atheists:

The final anecdote of the article was about his plane getting shot down, and one quote the reporter used was him saying something like “My co-pilot was an atheist before, but he’s been a good Christian ever since.”

I flagged the quote with a note to my immediate editor: “Ahem. If this quote said ‘My co-pilot was a Jew before, but he’s been a good Christian ever since,’ would we even think about including it?”

In my head was a very clear understanding that the quote was a serious insult to a certain demographic. I happen to be one, in this case, but I would certainly have flagged the line if it was that equivalent quote about a Jew being converted by the experience into being a Christian, even though I’m not a Jew. If it said “My co-pilot was a black man before, but this scared him white,” I would’ve brought it up, even though I don’t happen to be black. If the story made a similar statement about a gay or lesbian, or a handicapped person, I would have flagged it. . . Hey, if it’s vital factual information, it goes into the newspaper no matter whose nose gets out of joint. But if it’s just casual insults or jokes that you know in advance will offend, you just don’t throw it in with the attitude of “what the hell, screw ‘em.”

Here’s another great excerpt from his blog:

Atheists today face discrimination so subtle, so pervasive, that it doesn’t even have a name.

It’s rare to hear stories like this in the modern age of someone taking a stand like that against injustice. If I had some sort of Golden Cajones Award or something, I’d give it to him.

In Defense of ‘Militant’ Atheism part 2

SPACE ALIEN NEWS:

First, this would be a good time to remind people that October 14 is the day UFOs are supposed to reach Alabama, according to Australian actress, writer, and part-time “psychic channeler” Blossom Goodchild. I can’t wait to see the post-hoc rationalizations to explain away an epic fail.

Carl Sagan’s name reclaimed – Last month I blogged about The Carl Sagan Institute of UFOlogy, a bunch of Brazilian UFO nuts who claimed not only that Jesus is a flying saucer pilot but that Sagan was a secret believer in alien visitations. Well now they’ve removed Sagan’s name from their title and replaced it with Galileo for some reason.

Cryptoastronautics – The following video is commonly passed around by UFO believers as proof that aliens have visited our world. But there are far more plausible explanations for the video:

EPIC FAIL!

Astrology and Jell-O – Stuart Buck persists in claiming that scientists have a bias against the supernatural, and that we dismiss it out of hand. Here is just 1 example of why he’s wrong. This is actually the story of an old epic fail. It involves skeptic Robert Grumbine testing a specific claim made by astrologer, Thomas Seers involving Bill Cosby’s favorite brand of gelatin. And well, Grumbine falsified Seers’ stupid hypothesis. But maybe this instance just happened to occur while Mercury was in retrograde, so maybe that’s why the astrologer was made to look like an idiot.

Jenny McCarthy gets Rickroll’d – As previously reported, Jenny was going to be involved in a web chat after her latest Oprah appearance where she’d answer people’s questions. As predicted, no actual hardball questions got through but she did not escape being punked with a Rickroll. In case you don’t know, this is what Rickrolling is. LOL. This is freakin’ hilarious:

What do your elected officials think about science? – Find out what your duly elected United States politician thinks about science at the Scientist and Engineers for America website, where they have helpfully listed this info.

Phil Plait’s new book “Death From The Skies!” drops in bookstores in 2 weeks!

AND NOW A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

‘Engine’ That Drives Cell Movement Discovered – “How a cell assembles its internal machinery required for cell movement has been revealed for the first time.”

Quarter Of World’s Mammals Risk Extinction – “The most comprehensive assessment of the world’s mammals has confirmed an extinction crisis, with almost one in four at risk of disappearing forever, according to The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, revealed at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona.”

Alaskan Glaciers Are Retreating, Thinning – “Most glaciers in every mountain range and island group in Alaska are experiencing significant retreat, thinning or stagnation, especially glaciers at lower elevations, according to a new book published by the U.S. Geological Survey. In places, these changes began as early as the middle of the 18th century.”

HPV And Cancer, HIV Discoveries Win Nobel Prize – The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has today decided to award The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2008 with one half to: Harald zur Hausen for his discovery of “human papilloma viruses causing cervical cancer” and the other half jointly to Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier for their discovery of “human immunodeficiency virus.”

Earliest Footprints: Animals Walked Sooner – “The fossilized trail of an aquatic creature suggests that animals walked using legs at least 30 million years earlier than had been thought. The tracks — two parallel rows of small dots, each about 2 millimeters in diameter — date back some 570 million years, to the Ediacaran period.”

Birds Have ‘Thumbs,’ Alligator Gene Study Hints – “Bird wings only have three fingers, having evolved from remote ancestors that, like humans and most reptiles, had five fingers. Biologists have typically used embryology to identify the evolutionary origin (homology) of structures; the three fingers of the bird wing develop from cartilage condensations that are found in the same positions in the embryo as fingers two, three and four of humans (the index, middle and ring fingers). However, the morphology of the fingers of early birds such as Archaeopteryx corresponds to that of fingers one, two and three in other reptiles (thumb, index and middle finger). The fossil record clearly shows that fingers four and five (ring and pinky finger) were lost and reduced in the dinosaur ancestors of birds.”

Another bad day for Young Earth Creationists.


News From Around The Blogosphere 8.28.08

August 29, 2008

The broadcast of Stephen Colbert’s “Better Know A Lobbyist” segment featuring Lori Lipman Brown of the Secular Coalition for America was unfortunately postponed until tomorrow in a first-ever Friday broadcast.

The Stroop Effect – New website where you can take the color test. From a skeptical point of view, I find this test interesting because it’s an effective way of illustrating how easily the brain can be deceived. I’m reminded of the cheap trick creationist Ray Comfort frequently takes advantage of this basic psychological effect when facing a scientifically educated opponent when out “witnessing” or preaching on the street. Comfort will ask you to spell the word, “Shop.” Then after you do it, he’ll ask you what you do when you come to a green light.” After being primed with the word, “Shop” a moment earlier, most people automatically say “stop.” Comfort then uses this to knock down his straw man that you claimed some sort of infallibility. It usually impresses a crowd and makes Comfort seem as though he’s beaten you in a battle of wits even though he’s just as susceptible to the phenomenon and it has nothing to do with the debate. So if ever you want to look intellectually superior to someone before a crowd, here’s how. And here’s Ray Comfort’s Book of Tricks for your enjoyment.

Where’s Jesus Now! – If you guessed on a moth, YOU’RE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!!

My favorite Christian, Fred Phelps of The Westboro Baptist Church, on the DNC:

This guy makes my job SOOO much easier.

List of the most influential science blogs – Of those that made the list that I check on a daily basis: Pharyngula (#3), Respectful Insolence (#7), and denialism blog (#15). Congrats guys!

CATHOLIC NEWS

This is why we don’t take pope Ratzinger seriously – These are his white whales::

Galileo gets a statue at Vatican – I guess this is a just a small token to show there are no hard feelings over that whole having kept him under house arrest for the remaining years of his life under false pretenses. One conservative Catholic writer, Atila Sinke Guimarães dismisses the church’s mistreatment of Galileo as a “black legend” and says the scientist got what he deserved for having the audacity of being right, adding:

“The Inquisition was very moderate with him. He wasn’t tortured.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GAY NEWS

Lesbian rights pioneer Del Martin dies at 87

 

Lesbians – A threat to national security? – Oops. Correction, only lesbian t-shirts are a threat to national security. Oooohhh! That makes MUCH MORE SENSE! Wow. They didn’t even wait until the body was cold, did they?

Anti-vaxxers dirty tactic – Orac discusses their habit of “outing” the identities of their anonymous blogger critics presumably to shut them up through intimidation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HEALTH NEWS:

Attitudes and Public Health

https://i0.wp.com/www.eso-garden.com/images/uploads_bilder/complementary_medicine_for_dummies.jpg

Largest “randomized” acupuncture study ever done: why do they even bother?

And here’s another skeptic’s take on the study.

 

 

 

 


 

A NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

https://skepacabra.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/scientist-use-in-case-of-emergency.jpg

Subliminal Learning Demonstrated In Human Brain – “Although the idea that instrumental learning can occur subconsciously has been around for nearly a century, it had not been unequivocally demonstrated. Now, a new study published by Cell Press in the August 28 issue of the journal Neuron used sophisticated perceptual masking, computational modeling, and neuroimaging to show that instrumental learning can occur in the human brain without conscious processing of contextual cues.”

Jamaican Lizard Does Push-Ups To Stay Strong – “What does Jack LaLanne have in common with a Jamaican lizard? Like the ageless fitness guru, the lizards greet each new day with vigorous push-ups. That’s according to a new study showing that male Anolis lizards engage in impressive displays of reptilian strength — push-ups, head bobs, and threatening extension of a colorful neck flap called a dewlap — to defend their territory at dawn and dusk.”

One Form Of Adult Cell Transformed Into Another – “In a feat of biological prestidigitation likely to turn the field of regenerative medicine on its head, Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) co-director Doug Melton and post doctoral fellow Qiao “Joe” Zhou report having achieved what has long been a dream and ultimate goal of developmental biologists – directly turning one type of fully formed adult cell into another type of adult cell.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 8.25.08

August 26, 2008

Crazy homophobic, bible-thumping principal in Florida gets ass handed to him in court -The ACLU saves the day once again.

Homophobic, Bible-thumpers trying to overturn California same-sex marriage law – With the war in Iraqi, the genocide in Darfur, the hostilities in Georgia, the AIDS epidemic in Africa, constant chaos throughout the Middle East, widespread poverty, and a host of other crises around the world, I for one applaud these guys for having their priorities straight [rolling eyes].

“An estimated 15,000 backers of the measure, most of them members of Mormon, Catholic and evangelical Christian churches, knocked on doors and distributed campaign literature to registered voters throughout the state this weekend and last, according to Jennifer Kerns, a spokeswoman for the Yes on 8 campaign.”

Homophobic Bible-thumpers sending negative letters to Hallmark for making gay-friendly cards – Our old fascist friends at the poorly named American Family Association are at it again. Feel free to contact Hallmark and thank them for being non-discriminatory…if for no other reason than to stick it to the AFA.

Oh, and here’s the latest AFA newsletter:

Did you know that the four major television networks have declared war on decency by suing the FCC for the right to air profanity and nudity at any time of day? We do have a counter attack but the Protecting Children from Indecent Programming Act (S. 1780) is currently stalled in the U.S. Senate. The Act (S. 1780) would reaffirm Congress’ support for vigorous enforcement of the existing broadcast dece! ncy laws and the importance of protecting the public airwaves from indecent content.

In order to ensure the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ability to fine broadcasters over “fleeting” instances of profanity or nudity, S. 1780 needs to be voted on by the full Senate. If S. 1780 does not pass, the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act passed two years ago will be rendered essentially meaningless.

Recently, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia threw out a $550,000 indecency fine levied against CBS for the infamous 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction.” CBS also allowed profanity during Big Brother 10, which airs during prime time.

We are in a pivotal time regarding the ownership of America’s broadcast airwaves. The law says these airwaves belong to the American people, but the networks are trying to take them over and turn them into a toxic sewer. Now is the time to fight back!

Thank you for caring enough to get involved. If you feel our efforts are worthy of support, would you consider making a small tax-deductible contribution to help us continue?

Sincerely,

Don

Donald E. Wildmon,
Founder and Chairman
American Family Association

Bible-thumpers handing out Gideon Bibles to 5th Graders – (Yeah, there’s a very, very subtle theme to tonight’s blog). Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the only party in the story who IS smarter than a 5th grader, is taking legal action.  PZ Myers offers an another approach for dealing with these guys.

Deist Thomas Paine–one of, if not the most important of our Founding Fathers and one of, if not the most anti-religious of our mostly anti-religious Founding Fathers returns to my neighboring town of Fort Lee, New Jersey in the form of a statue to be placed where the man himself once stood.

Why you should be skeptical of acupuncture

The only thing that bites is this journalist’s investigative reporting skills – Another article about a “pet psychic.” This one is from a New England paper and begins with the title, “City puts the bite on pet psychic,” With a title like that you’d think you were in for a triumph of common sense against a con artist. But sadly, no. It’s another thinly veiled advertisement for this “pet psychic’s” services. Someone should tell the “psychic,” Willow that she still has time to enter to win the JREF million dollar prize. I’m sure she’ll get right on that as it’s the obvious solution to her problems.

Today is the 399th anniversary of Galileo presenting his telescope to the Venetian Senate

The Amateur Scientist stops in at cool sci-fi site Pink Raygun to debunk palm reading.

10 people with unbelievable medical conditions.

If your child isn’t vaccinated, parents have a right to know – MSNBC nails it again with outstanding coverage regarding the vaccine non-issue. (Thanks again to Brian)

Anti-vaxxer moron actually laughs at measles epidemic – Why? Everything she knows about the measles she learned from Leave It To Beaver and other sitcoms…with plotlines about CHICKEN POX. I can see how Kim Stagliano, Managing Editor of Age of Autism, could mix those 2 up; they sound so similar. According to Wikipedia:

“Globally, measles deaths are down 60 percent, from an estimated 873,000 deaths in 1999 to 345,000 in 2005. Africa has seen the most success, with annual measles deaths falling by 75 percent in just 5 years, from an estimated 506,000 to 126,000.[13]

Oh, and Kim, there is no Thimerosal in MMR vaccines. Just thought you should know.

If only this happened in the real world:

Suzanne Somers joins other anti-medical vultures to pick at the flesh of the still very much alive Christina Applegate

Nina Fedoroff on why genetically modified food is good, why the Secretary of State needs a science adviser, and  science diplomacy.

Article on atheist billboard in Playboy Magazine – I was fortunate enough to see an almost identical billboard on my commute to work every day on the New Jersey Turnpike for a few months last year.

How large is Big Religion in America? – I’m not entirely in favor of the whole “framing” thing with regards to these issues but I’m personally just a big fan of the phrase “Big Religion” myself…though I only use it somewhat ironically, not so much as a “framing” technique or for propaganda purposes.

Creationist and “former atheist” Anthony Flew reviews “The God Delusion” – I think someone’s a little jealous of Dawkins’ vast, vast, vastly superior book sales:

“But what is much more remarkable than that economic achievement is that the contents – or rather lack of contents – of this book show Dawkins himself to have become what he and his fellow secularists typically believe to be an impossibility: namely, a secularist bigot. (Helpfully, my copy of The Oxford Dictionary defines a bigot as ‘an obstinate or intolerant adherent of a point of view’).”

Then I guess that makes Flew a Creationist bigot by the same definition and us all math bigots and history bigots too. I know I personally am intolerant of the belief that 2 + 2 = 5 and am completely intolerant of beliefs that are just plain: WRONG! I think Mr. Flew greatly undermines and diminishes the severity of what that word means. Maybe he should visit Afghanistan with some female friends or he should pretend to be an out of the closet gay man in the Bible Belt to learn what bigotry really means. If intellectual honesty is bigotry then call me a proud bigot!

Answers in Genesis’ poor responses to the 2 Evolution stories in the New York Times this weekend

And now for a moment of science:

Monkeys Enjoy Giving To Others – “Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, have shown capuchin monkeys, just like humans, find giving to be a satisfying experience. This finding comes on the coattails of a recent imaging study in humans that documented activity in reward centers of the brain after humans gave to charity.”

Bizarre Qualities Can Drive Species Evolution – “The ostentatious, sometimes bizarre qualities that improve a creature’s chances of finding a mate may also drive the reproductive separation of populations and the evolution of new species, say two Indiana University Bloomington biologists.”

Researchers Study ‘Cocktail Party Effect’ – “Call it the cocktail party effect: how an individual can participate in a one-on-one conversation within a cluster of people, switch to another, pick up important comments while tuning out others, change topics and return to the first conversation.”