News From Around The Blogosphere 8.21.11

August 22, 2011

1. Bionic leg gives amputee natural gait – Once again, science achieves where gods have failed, creating a practical prosthetic leg that closely simulates the function of a biological one. Now unfortunately, the article was unclear whether the leg comes with a Six Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman sound effect option.

2. A pro-science GOP candidate? – Republican presidential candidate John Huntsman has come out in support of both evolution and climate change. It began with a Twitter post where they tweeted: ”To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming.  Call me crazy.”  He then went on ABC’s Sunday morning show This Week and came out even stronger in support of science. And in doing so, he’s proven to be the only GOP candidate who seems to have graduated from elementary school and has immediately moved up to the top of my list of who I’d like to see running in the general election against Obama…at least out of the options that are currently on the table…which admittedly doesn’t say much.

I'm pretty sure this is the right Rhett S. Daniels

3. Science blogger silenced by quack’s lawsuit – Fortunately, U.S. libel cases are notoriously hard to prove and Rhett Daniels doesn’t seem to have anything even resembling a good case. But at least for the time being, René Najera has been successfully silenced by this intellectual coward’s bullying tactic.

4. Can science engineer a human with bulletproof skin?

By mixing the genomes of spiders and humans, researchers say they can create genetically altered human skin that could withstand a bullet fired from a .22-caliber long rifle.

They just better make sure this spider-man is taught that with great power comes great responsibility. This story sounds pretty far-fetched but it still makes for an interesting read.

5. JREF targets famous ‘psychics’ following Nightline episode – Last week’s episode of Nightline looked at the world of alleged psychics. It did a pretty decent job of representing the skeptical side, featuring guys like Banachek and James Randi himself voicing their criticisms and mimicking standard mentalist tricks. And now the James Randi Educational Foundation is following up the piece by issuing personal invites for several of the famous psychics featured in the show such as James Van Praagh to apply for their Million Dollar Challenge. Of course, one doesn’t have to be psychic to predict they’ll either ignore the challenge or refuse to take it with a silly excuse.

6. Psychic family caught in fraud case:

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Rep. Jack Kingston campaigning for dumbing man on Earth

January 29, 2011

There’s so much stupid in this clip, it makes my head hurt.


Rachel Maddow exposes manufactroversies of the political right

April 6, 2010

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News From Around The Blogosphere 3.30.10

March 30, 2010

1. Single unvaccinated kid source of 2008 California measles outbreak

The family’s 7-year-old boy, who was intentionally unvaccinated against measles, was exposed to the virus while traveling in Europe. When he returned home to San Diego, he unknowingly exposed a total of 839 people, and an additional 11 unvaccinated children contracted the disease.

Three of those infected were babies, too young to have yet received the measles vaccines, and one of the babies was hospitalized for three days with a 106-degree fever, according to a report to be published in the April issue of Pediatrics.

Wow, that’s one hell of a path of destruction caused by a single anti-vax family. Thanks Jenny McCarthy.

2. Magnets can almost instantly change a person’s moral judgment – This would seem to pretty definitively debunk the notion of dualism and fairly conclusively show that the mind is, contrary to Deepak Chopra’s claims,  purely a localized phenomenon. It also further illustrates how absurd the evangelical notion of “objective morality” from “God” is.

3. Critical thinking and skepticism begins at childhood – Here’s a great story of a kid scientifically investigating the Tooth Fairy and successfully debunking it

But not all kids are brought up to be such critical thinkers.

4. New Harris poll confirms most Americans are dummies

The poll involved 2,320 adults responding to true or false questions. Among many other disturbing facts, 14% of respondents said they believed Obama could be the Antichrist.

. . .

When broken into partisan results, it seems 24% of all Republican respondents hold this view, while only 6% of Democrats are that batshit crazy. But taken as a whole, the numbers in this poll are depressing. 32% think Obama is a Muslim. 23% think Obama is a racist. And 20% say Obama is “doing many of the things Hitler did.”

But I’m pretty sure Hitler didn’t hold a Passover seder in the White House…or cut out the middleman in student loans…or sleep with Michelle Obama.

5. Bill Donohue continues shameless campaign defending child rapists – Now he’s taken out an ad in the NY Times defending the man most responsible for ensuring the child rapists could continue to prey on more children, The Pope. Oh, and he’s moved on from blaming the families of the victims to blaming the gays. It won’t be long now before he blames everyone on Earth except for The Pope.

And he’s not the only one defending child rapists. . .

6. The Vatican has selflessly thought up 3 reasons why they feel The Vatican is not liable – The first is that the Pope, as head of state, is immune from prosecution (aka Joey Ratz does whatever Joey Ratz wants and if you get in the way, he’ll whack you or have your children horribly raped). The second excuse is that the American priests were not Vatican employees  (This should go over really well with the American Catholics). And the third excuse is that they’ve declared by fiat that the smoking gun evidence that has been confirmed by high ranking church officials is really not smoking gun evidence at all (I call this the Jedi Mind Trick defense – these aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Now move along):

McMurry insisted Tuesday that Crimen is a smoking gun.

“The fact is, this document and its predecessors make it an excommunicable offense to reveal any knowledge of allegations that a priest has sexually abused,” he said in an e-mail.

The existence of Crimen did not become publicly known until 2003, when a lawyer noticed a reference to the document while reading a 2001 letter written by Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. McMurry is seeking to subpoena Ratzinger’s letter, which instructed all bishops to send cases of clerical sex abuse to him and to keep the proceedings secret.

As for that first excuse that a head of state can’t be sued, fine, let’s call it an act of war then. I hope the Vatican has a strong military.


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.


California anti-gay legislator Roy Ashburn comes out of the closet

March 9, 2010

Roy Ashburn has consistently voted against gay rights during his time in office. It turns out though that the whole time he was voting against his own interests:


Rep. Henry Brown and other Republicans’ new proposed waste of tax-payer dollars

December 29, 2009

I’ve blogged about this story before but here’s a horrible waste of tax-payer money during a recession:

Rep. Henry Brown of South Carolina and 74 Republican co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives actually wants Congress to pass a resolution condemning people for saying “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.”

Son of a bitch! This is seriously how these clowns want to spend tax-payer dollars? Really? After refusing to support spending for health care reform, a measure that would have undeniable benefits for almost every man, woman, and child in the country? These people are insane. They should be locked up in mental asylums, not running our country.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There’s no “War on Christmas.” The only “war” being waged is by Christians against anyone else who has the audacity to not celebrate Christmas. I have no beef with Christmas. It’s not even a real Christian holiday and many of its traditions are either Pagan in origin, secular in origin, and/or explicitly condemned in the Bible such as the Christmas tree in Jeremiah 10. Also, if you polled a hundred people on the street about their favorite part of the holiday, you’d be lucky to find even one who’d name Christmas mass or any other unambiguously religious element.

Sure, I’m a little unnerved by the ultra-commercialism of this time of year. And I think pressuring everyone into being generous is manifestly paradoxical and ultimately a flawed system since ideally, everyone reciprocates by giving presents to those they receive presents from and those presents are ideally of relatively equal worth, guaranteeing that people would just be better off buying their own gifts (hence gift cards and cash presents). But I enjoy many elements to the season. I love Santa Claus, the patron saint of this holiday, who’s inspired by numerous cultures’ myths as well as the Coca Cola Corporation, and as I understand it, is said to have died for our sins on a cross (That is what the holiday’s about, isn’t it?).

But it isn’t enough for these wankers that this holiday, currently most associated with one specific religion, is ALREADY regarded as a national holiday. No, that isn’t good enough for them. They need to force this down everyone’s throats and force us all to celebrate no matter what. Well I call bullshit! This is the United States of America, goddamnit! And we don’t have to celebrate or honor a goddamned thing! I’ll celebrate Burn The Flag Day if I please, and there ain’t a damned thing you can do about it because that’s my Constitutional right as a citizen of this amazing country. And if you don’t like it, you can just close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears, and sing, “la, la, la, la” over and over again. That’s your right. Your right to swing your fists end at my nose.

And ironically, it seems that the more atheists surprise Christians by announcing that they enjoy celebrating Christmas, the more Christians seem to be outraged and call for the exclusivity of the holiday. Just see Garrison Keillor’s rant in the Chicago Tribune, which I’ve previously mentioned in a blog. You just can’t win with people who insist on being argumentative about everything and will argue regardless of what side you’re on. So atheists might as well just continue to praise Christmas for its secular and explicitly anti-Christian components just to see if we can get more Christians to denounce the holiday.