News From Around The Blogosphere 3.11.10

March 12, 2010

1. School cancels prom to turn students against gay teen – Constance McMillen was planning to wear a tuxedo and attend the prom with her girlfriend in a small town in Itawamba County, Mississippi. And after the ACLU stopped the school from denying her right to attend the prom the school got even by canceling the whole thing and making the student body know it was McMillen’s fault. And the town’s mayor chimed in, supporting the school. Because that’s just the kind of classy folks they have in Itawamba County, Mississippi.

2. Zimbabwe anti-vax religious sect gets 100 killed – Who needs vaccines when you’ve got prayer? Except, you know, if you actually want people to live.

3. Pope’s exorcist finds the devil isn’t in the details but in the Vatican – Rev. Gabriel Amorth has the silliest resume on Earth. He’s been the chief exorcist for the Vatican for 25 years. His favorite movie? You guessed it. It’s The Exorcist. He alleges to have treated over 70,000 cases of demonic possession and sadly, I have no reason to doubt that claim.

But even the fearless priest becomes still, his voice grave when asked whether the devil can strike inside the Vatican City.


“He has tried already. He did it in 1981 by attacking John Paul II by working with those who armed Ali Agca. And also now with the attack on Christmas Eve night when the crazy woman pushed down Benedict XVI.”

. . .

Amorth confesses, “The devil resides in the Vatican.”While admitting that it is hard to prove, he says the consequences of the devil’s work are evident: Cardinals who don’t believe in Jesus, bishops who are linked with the devil. As early 1972 Pope Paul VI talked about the “smoke of Satan” that hovered in the Vatican, but it is more recent events like the pedophilia scandal the church is confronted with and the grisly murder by a Swiss guard of his commander and wife that Amorth uses as evidence of the devil’s presence.

Apparently humans can’t do anything against the Church without it being attributed to the devil.

4. More child abuse for Catholics to downplay – Two ex-Vienna choir boys have come out with accusations that they were raped by Church officials. But remember. It’s really the devil that’s doing it.

5. Robert Kennedy Jr. spreads false, malicious rumor in the Huff Po – The media has wised up to the anti-vaxxers, so the only source willing to take them is the Huffington Post due to its total lack of anything that could even remotely be considered by anyone on planet Earth as journalist standards. So now the anti-vaxxers got their man, RFK Jr. to push their libelous accusations about Dr. Poul Thorsen. Of course not a single word of it has any basis in fact. But then again, when have the anti-vaxxers or the Huffington Post ever care about facts?

But here’s one interesting story posted at the Huff Po:

6. Buying ghosts in a bottle – I have to at least give credit to the scammers for creativity. And it’s nice to see such witty skepticism expressed in the MSNBC clip embedded on the page.

7. PZ Myers eats your god with vegemite:


News From Around The Blogosphere 2.2.10

February 3, 2010

Where's the eye of newt?

1. Herbal remedies may cause cardiac problems – First, homeopathy takes a beating. Then the anti-vaccine movement. And now herbal remedies. The trifecta!  This is shaping up to be a great year for science-based medicine:

Herbal medications can affect the activity of prescription drugs, dampening or enhancing their effects, Jahangir said. For example, St. John’s wort, which is used for a number of conditions, including depression and sleep disturbances, has its major effect on the liver, which is involved in the metabolism of many drugs, especially those for heart disease, he said.

2. Pope Palpatine rips fights for the right to discriminate

Pope Benedict XVI marked the announcement of his first papal visit to Britain with an unprecedented attack on the ­government’s equality legislation yesterday, claiming it threatened religious freedom and ran contrary to “natural law”.

. . .

The pope’s broadside appeared to be aimed squarely at recent legislation that prevents Catholic adoption agencies from discriminating against gay couples, and the proposed equality bill, which would make it harder for churches to exclude job applications from homosexuals or people who have changed their gender.

And The Guardian did such a great job with the photo that I’m not even going to bother grabbing the Palpatine-comparison pic I’d normally use for a story like this.

3. Apologies more effective when made in the right ear

Scientists found that when we are angry, the right ear becomes more receptive to sound than the left.

The discovery has led to the theory that by targeting the right ear, the penitent are more likely to succeed in talking someone round.

. . .

Previous research has shown that if you want to persuade someone to do something, you should also speak in their right ear.

They make a cute couple

4. Lesbian albatrosses become proud parents – You can’t go wrong with that headline. Suck it, fundies!

It began with a love triangle between two female royal albatrosses and a wannabe male suitor. But girl power prevailed and the ladies dumped their man and set up a same-sex family together at the world’s only mainland albatross breeding colony in New Zealand.

5. Tell Focus on the Family about your loving gay spouse

Focus on the Family is holding a Valentine’s Day Contest! All you have to is write a love letter to your spouse (under 300 words) explaining why you want to grow old with them.

As far as I can tell (and I read through the entire set of rules), gay couples are totally allowed to enter. Sure, they say right up front that “marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred commitment,” but at no point do they forbid gay couples from entering.

News From Around The Blogosphere 11.11.09

November 12, 2009

1. Lou Dobbs leaves CNN – Good riddance!

2. Children with autism show slower pupil responses

Recently, University of Missouri researchers have developed a pupil response test that is 92.5 percent accurate in separating children with autism from those with typical development. In the study, MU scientists found that children with autism have slower pupil responses to light change.

3. Can Earth absorb CO2 much greater than expected?

New data show that the balance between the airborne and the absorbed fraction of carbon dioxide has stayed approximately constant since 1850, despite emissions of carbon dioxide having risen from about 2 billion tons a year in 1850 to 35 billion tons a year now.

This suggests that terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans have a much greater capacity to absorb CO2 than had been previously expected.

4. Star Trek-like Replicator Makes Metal Parts

She admits that, on the surface, EBF3 reminds many people of a Star Trek replicator in which, for example, Captain Picard announces out loud, “Tea, Earl Grey, hot.” Then there is a brief hum, a flash of light and the stimulating drink appears from a nook in the wall.

In reality, EBF3 works in a vacuum chamber, where an electron beam is focused on a constantly feeding source of metal, which is melted and then applied as called for by a drawing — one layer at a time — on top of a rotating surface until the part is complete.

5. Did Glenn Beck rape and murdere a young girl in 1990? – I’m not saying he did, but like a lot of other people, “I’m just asking questions.” And these are apparently questions that Glenn Beck doesn’t want to see asked because he tried to shut down the satirical Beck-mocking site But Beck couldn’t silence the questions and the so mirror sites using this Fark-inspired meme applying Beck’s own “I’m just asking the question” tactic remain on the web. What are you trying to hide, Glenn? And why haven’t you denied that you raped and murdered a young girl in 1990? Huh?

Kiddos to South Park for nailing this particular Beck tactic on tonight’s show.

6. Mormons becoming pro-gay rights? – Last week I blogged about how filmmaker Paul Haggis left $cientology largely because of their unapologetic anti-gay position. Well now the Mormon church is coming out in support of gay rights. Seriously.

7. E.T. phone Rome – The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding its first ever conference to discuss the possible ramifications for the church should extraterrestrial life be discovered. Maybe they’ll finally pardon Giordano Bruno, an Italian monk, who was put to death by the Inquisition in 1600 for suggesting life might exist somewhere else in the universe.

Evangelical Lutherans welcome gay clergy

August 22, 2009

At their national convention in Minneapolis, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America voted to permit gay pastors. This marks one more step towards gay acceptance in a year that brought the legalization of gay marriage to numerous states in the union. See other Christians. You can accept the homosexuality of others and the sky won’t fall. It’s okay. Though why a gay person would want to preach a book that so blatantly condemns them and their behavior is beyond me. Guys, nobody has been more accepting of gays than the atheist community. And we could always use more people on our team, especially those who know the Bible inside and out.

Gay Christian Dating Service

March 31, 2009

While I applaud their efforts, I just think it’s kinda sad any time you see a group of people clinging to a club that not only doesn’t want them as members but is actively working against their interests. Gay Christian is like Black Klansman. It’s just probably not the best identity to embrace.

Gay Ducks Kill Species

March 12, 2009

What if all that remained of the entire human population was 2 guys and a girl? You might find a lot of competition but ultimately you’d have the means of starting repopulation. Now what if the 2 guys were gay?

Well that seems to be the issue with Ben and Jerry, 2 of the last 3 New Zealand Blue Ducks in the world. They’ve got a female, Cherry, but they’re far too into each other to touch her. Anyone else think that if there was a third male it the group, he’d be named “Garcia?” Come on, guys! Take one for the team and get it on with this chick. She’s available and desperate, and you’re the only game in town. Haven’t you guys ever fantasized about a threesome?

The only real loser here is Cherry, who has expressed sexual interest in Jerry, though she’s been ignored. If anyone’s looking to score with a desperate female blue duck, you know where to go.

News From Around The Blogosphere 12.22.08

December 23, 2008

Do You Like Secs? – We go by many names: atheists, (most) agnostics, humanists,  secular humanists, brights, freethinkers, non-theists, pastafarians. Ron Lindsey suggests Secs, short of Seculars. I still prefer atheist myself but as far as names go this isn’t terrible, certainly not worse than “Brights.” And it certainly opens doors for great puns.

Why atheism may be the best way to understand God – My favorite excerpt:

As a writer, I worship clarity. If I need someone else to explain what I’ve written, I consider that a failure of the first order. God should surely do better. So why do the sacred texts of all religions always require someone to explain what they mean?

PZ Myers nominated for Moore Award – Apparently, this is an ironic award created by some Right-Wing nut that’s named for its first recipient, Michael Moore, which is intended to simply honor people who have said things that said Right-Wing nut happens to not like, you know, “The Left” or as O’Reilly would call them “Secular Progressives.” The candidates are so freakin’ random that Rosanne Barr is also nominated. Has anyone ever heard about her in the last 10 years? I’m voting for PZ. He deserves to get this bullshit award.

Bionic Sex Chip

Scientists are developing an electronic ‘sex chip’ that works by stimulating the pleasure centres in the brain.

. . .

‘A few years ago a scientist implanted such a device into the brain of a woman with a low sex drive and turned her into a very sexually active woman. She didn’t like the sudden change, so the wiring in her head was removed.’

. . .

He calls his device, which is a modified spinal cord stimulator, the Orgasmatron. The name is taken from the 1973 Woody Allen film Sleeper.

A new study published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality suggests that teenagers who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual are at a higher risk of becoming pregnant or knocking someone up than their straight peers.

Two actors and their woo – Orac looks at the recent news stories surrounding Jim Carrey and Jeremy Pivens.

Rom Com Dumb

A study out of Heriot Watt University (safety school!) in Edinburgh has determined that people who consider themselves fans of romantic comedies have unrealistic and potentially harmful views about relationships.

I can see that. At least the chick flick Rom Coms (as opposed to dude-friendly Rom Com’s ala Judd Apatow) tend to emphasize destiny as a prerequisite or the absurd notion that “You complete me.” Seriously, if you need another person to “complete you” then you’ve got serious problems and should seek professional help because in all likelihood, they won’t always be there. Admittedly though, I kinda have a small soft spot for 1  film used in the study, Serendipity, despite the absuridity of its destiny message and the despicable nature of its characters leading to the cancellation of not just 1 wedding but 2.


scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyTrigger Found For Embryo Cell Differentiation – “The mechanism whereby embryonic cells stop being flexible and turn into more mature cells that can develop into specific tissues has been discovered by scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The discovery has significant consequences towards furthering research that will eventually make possible medical cell replacement therapy based on the use of embryonic cells.”

Genes May Influence Popularity – “A groundbreaking study of popularity by a Michigan State University scientist has found that genes elicit not only specific behaviors but also the social consequences of those behaviors.”

Same Genes In Snails, Humans Tell Right, Left – “Biologists have tracked down genes that control the handedness of snail shells, and they turn out to be similar to the genes used by humans to set up the left and right sides of the body.”

Selflessness Has Neuropsychological Connection – “All spiritual experiences are based in the brain. That statement is truer than ever before, according to a University of Missouri neuropsychologist. An MU study has data to support a neuropsychological model that proposes spiritual experiences associated with selflessness are related to decreased activity in the right parietal lobe of the brain.”

A B Kovacs of Skepchick is now Director of Operations for the JREF!  Congratulations A!