News From Around The Blogosphere 7.30.11

July 30, 2011

1. Pay attention, American Atheists. THIS is how you win friends and influence people
While American Atheists and NYC Atheists are looking to sue everyone in sight and battle it out against 9/11 first responders and their families, Chris McCoy did something very different. He launched a campaign to raise $50,000 for charity using GiveBack and recruited fellow atheists to help him. This is how you change people’s opinions about atheists, not by behaving like Scientology.

2. Lesbian couple saves 40 in Norwegian shooting – If “God” had his way, Hege Dalen and her partner, Toril Hansen would have been stoned to death long ago. But fortunately for 40 presumably mostly straight Norwegians, most Christians lack the courage of their convictions and never got around to obeying that particular command from their god.

3. The Richard Dawkins Award goes to Hitch! – Last year, a controversy began over the award going to Bill Maher because of Maher’s outspoken superstitious views about medical science. But I doubt many will object to this year’s winner, Christopher Hitchens, who last year was diagnosed with terminal Cancer. And yet, in spite of the Big C, Hitch has remained as active as ever in battling religious superstitions while showing enormous grace in the face of almost certain death. I can think of no one who better deserves the award.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 7.23.10

July 24, 2010

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.

1. Another study allegedly suggests beautiful women make men stupid

Just five minutes alone with an attractive female raise the levels of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, according to a study from the University of Valencia.

The effects are heightened in men who believe that the woman in question is “out of their league”.

Researchers tested 84 male students by asking each one to sit in a room and solve a Sudoku puzzle. Two strangers, one male and one female, were also in the room.

When the female stranger left the room and the two men remained sitting together, the volunteer’s stress levels did not rise. However, when the volunteer was left alone with the female stranger, his cortisol levels rose.

The researchers concluded: “In this study we considered that for most men the presence of an attractive woman may induce the perception that there is an opportunity for courtship.

I don’t know how this became a hot topic in scientific research. Maybe a few too many lonely male scientists are out to prove women are evil or will be the downfall of civilization.

2. How to create lesbian mice – That’s not what I’m personally into but apparently if one were so inclined to turn female mice into lesbians, all it takes is deleting a single gene. Of course the rodent religious right will still continue to insist that it’s just the choice to live a sinful lifestyle and reject the teachings of the mouse messiah. Why else would they call the aforementioned gene “FucM”? Mickey wants you to repent! He died for your sins.

Begin operation kill all humans.

3. Robot Ranger sets untethered walking record

A Cornell University robot named Ranger walked 14.3 miles in about 11 hours, setting an unofficial world record at Cornell’s Barton Hall early on July 6. A human — armed with nothing more than a standard remote control for toys — steered the untethered robot.

The 14.3-mile record beats the former world record set by Boston Dynamics’ BigDog, which had claimed the record at 12.8 miles.

Sure, it can walk on a track but how’d it do in the rocky terrain of Tatoine?

4. Ben Stein tells the unemployed to get a job -Here’s what Stein had to tell America’s unemployed:

The people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities. I say “generally” because there are exceptions. But in general, as I survey the ranks of those who are unemployed, I see people who have overbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work. They are people who create either little utility or negative utility on the job.

And this was Nixon’s speech writer! I didn’t think it was possible but Stein seems to understand less about the job market than he does about biology and history.

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Brief update on Constance McMillen

May 24, 2010

You may remember Constance McMillen , the lesbian teen whose Mississippi high school sued her school district for discrimination when they wouldn’t allow her to wear a tuxedo and bring her girlfriend to the prom. The school then childishly announced that they wouldn’t even have a prom thanks to her until they invited her to a sham prom with fewer than ten other students in attendance while they held the real prom elsewhere so that they could humiliate her for the crime of being different, I guess. This led to an enormous amount of support for Constance from all over the country.

Well now there are two news stories about Constance. First, she’s transferred out of the  bigoted Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton and into a high school in Jackson. She’ll be graduating from the new high school on June 2.

Meanwhile, her old school district is denying they had anything to do with the ruse. Classy folks they have there in Fulton, Mississippi.


News From Around The Blogosphere 5.14.10

May 14, 2010

1. Another kid excluded from Catholic school due to lesbian parents – This is the second time in just the last few months that a Catholic school has decided that children of lesbian parents don’t deserve an education. This time it’s in Massachusetts. It’s just a shame the kid’s parents weren’t child rapists. Cause otherwise he’d get right in.

2. News anchor duped by YouTube video of people running on water – He says it couldn’t be a visual trick because he watched it in slow-mo (cause you can’t trick in slow-mo, right?) and his explanation is centrifugal force (even though that involves rotation). The actual explanation is that this video is a viral ad for Hi-Tec Sports, an athletic shoemaker.

3. Central African Republic courts overwhelmed by witch trials – Many alleged witches are facing criminal punishment for hexing their enemies or assuming the shape of animals. I hate when that happens. About 40% of all cases here are over witchcraft. And the rights of the accused are violated regularly in witchcraft prosecutions, because the charge carries enormous pressure to confess. And the alternative to these prosecutions is mob justice from people convinced witches are hexing people with impunity. I’m so glad we live in the 17th century.

4. Priest tries exorcism on handicapped girl – The girl was both physically and mentally disabled. The priest spoke in gibberish and then started demanding the girl to speak:

“The girl would not have even been able to comprehend, let alone follow instructions. It was very undignified for the young lady and she was just crying, howling at the altar.”

Suffice it to say, it didn’t work. The church’s excuse for this unseemly affair is that the priest was a foreigner. So I guess that means they’d have let him get away with virgin sacrifices too.

5. 13-year-old Somalian rape victim stoned to death – Yeah, that will teach her not to be raped. All in a days work for the religion of peace we call Islam.

6. Polish pop singer faces 2-years in prison for blasphemy – In a television interview last year, 26-year-old Dorota Rabczewska, known as “Doda”, said she found it far easier to believe in dinosaurs than the Bible; “it is hard to believe in something written by people who drank too much wine and smoked herbal cigarettes.” And for that, this pop star and Mensa member may go to jail for 2 years because she hurt the feelings of Catholics. Under Poland’s blasphemy law, simply offending someone’s religious sensibilities can earn you hefty fines and even imprisonment. And while I hate to invoke Godwin’s Law, it needs to be said. And to think I thought Poland got rid of the Nazis.

7. How chimps deal with death

Two studies in the April 27th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, offer rare glimpses into the ways that chimpanzees deal with the deaths of those closest to them. In one case, researchers describe the final hours and moment of death of an older female chimp living in a small group at a UK safari park as captured on video. In the other, researchers observed as two chimpanzee mothers in the wild carried their infants’ mummified remains for a period of weeks after they were lost to a respiratory epidemic.


News From Around The Blogosphere 5.11.10

May 12, 2010

1. Psychic scams Oregon man out of $150,000 – In order to remove a demon, a man gave a “psychic” boat loads of cash and a Hummer totaling $150k and now he’s bankrupt. Let that be a lesson for you. Sometimes having a demon around isn’t that bad after all.

2. Mojave cross from Salazar v. Buono Supreme Court decision was stolen – And while I think it’s outrageous that the thing was allowed to remain there in the first place, I have to condemn the actions of whoever was responsible. If it was an atheist or atheists responsible, I apologize for them. I always criticize the religious for not condemning the bullshit actions of their fanatics, so it’d be hypocritical for me to not do the same when it’s possible fanatical atheists were involved.

3.TV stations everywhere fall for fake Yo-Yo trick champ – In one of the best executed pranks in recent memory, some dude fooled a whole bunch of TV stations to give him air time to demonstrate his amazing Yo-Yo skills…which look remarkably like the worst Yo-Yo-ing in human history. But all we really know about “K-Strass,” aka Kenny Strasser aka Karl Strassburg is that he’s gotten on TV at least six times in the past month.

4. Constance McMillen’s Second Chance Prom a huge success – After her high school held a prom without her because she was gay, the American Humanist Association and philanthropist Todd Stiefe donated money to give her and her classmates another prom, an inclusive one. Even the band Green Day donated money  Lance Bass made a personal appearance. Suck it, small-minded assholes running her school!

5. Pope blames church’s own sins for sex scandal – So does that mean then that all the other Catholics like Bill Donohue and Church leaders were lying when they claimed that it was demons, gays, and the media who were to blame?

6. Woman claims 3-D porn got her pregnant…seriously:


Mississippi Burning Stupid

April 27, 2010

Fresh off the heels of the national disgrace revolving around Constance McMillen’s high school prom, Mississippi is at it again. If you remember, McMillen’s high school was run by hatemongers who could not tolerate a lesbian attending the prom with her girlfriend and dressed in a tuxedo, so they tried to exclude her. When the ACLU told them they couldn’t do that, they officially canceled the prom altogether. At least, that’s what they wanted us to think. Another prom was secretly organized that included everyone except McMillen and some other unpopular kids. This led to confusion as to who the adults really were in that school.

Well now yet another lesbian student, Ceara Sturgis, had her photo expunged from her high school yearbook because she was dressed in a tuxedo like a man. I guess there’s nothing Mississippi hates more than androgyny.

But that’s not all. Guess who’s coming to Constance McMillan’s graduation. If you guessed the Westboro Baptist Church planning to protest Constance, you’re absolutely correct!

And the children running Itawamba Agricultural High School better not complain about it either. As far as I’m concerned, the children running Itawamba Agricultural High School have no right to object to the Westboro Baptist Church. As bad as the WBC is, at least they’re honest. They never set up an elaborate ruse in order to break the spirits of a young girl. That’s beneath them.


News From Around The Blogosphere 3.24.10

March 25, 2010

1. New U.S. state quarters are godless – One thing you won’t see on many, if not all, of the new U.S. state quarters is “In God We Trust.” Instead, the nation’s REAL motto, “E Pluribus Unum” (Out of many, one) is given greater prominence. I wonder how long it will take before we hear Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity declaring this part of the evil secular progressive agenda to remove “God” from people’s lives. I bet not long at all.

2. NYPD, The Vampire Slayers – I thing about NYC I never could stand was all the damned vampires.

NYPD are currently hunting a potential vampire who, when rebuffed by a stingy cab driver who refused to hand over the cash, bit his victim about the neck, back, and arms.

If that isn’t proof of vampires I don’t know what is.

3. VSS Enterprise completes maiden voyage into final frontier – The Enterprise is the first spacecraft built for Richard Branson’s commercial spaceflight company Virgin Galactic. And starting next year, Branson hopes it will be ready to take wealthy tourists into space.

4. How are great apes smarter than creationists and other denialists? – Great apes can actually recognize that they could be wrong:

In a series of three experiments, seven gorillas, eight chimpanzees, four bonobos and seven orangutans, from the Wolfgang Köhler Research Center at the Leipzig Zoo in Germany, were presented with two hollow tubes, one baited with a food reward, the other not. The apes were then observed as they tried to find the reward.

In the first experiment, the apes were prevented from watching the baiting but the tubes were shaken to give them auditory information about the reward’s location instead. Dr. Call wanted to see if when the apes were prevented from acquiring visual information, but offered auditory cues instead, they would be able to use the auditory information to reduce their reliance on visual searching.

5. ‘Rare’ new dinosaur fossil discovered

It had a body the size of a sheep, a long neck and tail, and lived some 185 million years ago. Scientists call this dinosaur find “a rare skeleton of a new species.”

For those keeping count, that’s 184,994,000 years before the existence of the whole universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

6. Judge rules Mississippi school violated Constance McMillen’s constitutional rights

U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson refused the American Civil Liberties Union’s demand to force the Itawamba County school district to put on the April 2 prom. However, he said canceling it did violate 18-year-old Constance McMillen’s rights and that he would hold a trial on the issue.

. . .

“The court finds this expression and communication falls squarely within the purview of the First Amendment,” Davidson said.


News From Around The Blogosphere 3.19.10

March 19, 2010

1. Regenerating limbs may be simply a matter of switching off a single gene – I wouldn’t take this story too seriously just yet but the research certainly sounds like it’s worth following. I just hope it doesn’t turn us into The Lizard:

But new research suggests the ability to regenerate isn’t based on something newts and flatworms have that we don’t; rather, it’s something we do have that’s keeping us from regenerating tissues. Researchers think a gene called p21 may control regenerative healing, and that by switching it off, humans could perform our own regeneration.

2. Skeptics to storm Parliament on Tuesday – It’s exciting to see the skeptical movement building a potentially powerful lobby to effect changes in public policy towards a more science and reason-based position. On Tuesday, skeptics in the UK will test the power of this lobby by organizing at the House of Commons to demand libel reform. Of course this is an issue that is not only serious for residents of the UK but everyone who criticizes advocates of bad ideas on the internet because from what some have told me, they too are potential targets of libel suits.

3. Student challenges unconstitutional policy in Alexandria High School in Alabama – The school performs daily Christian prayers over the schools P.A. system. He left a voicemail with the superintendent and contacted the ACLU. . .and it worked. The school is no longer performing the prayers. A job well done.

4. Ellen gives Constance McMillen $30,000 scholarship – I love this story. It shows that those who stand up against adversity can benefit from having the courage of their convictions and standing up for their principles.

5. California Bar now investigating queen Birther Orly Taitz – Another happy story. Taitz, who refuses to budge on her irrational belief that Obama is not a natural born citizen despite undeniable evidence to the contrary, continues to fight the $20,000 fine issued on her for making frivolous filings. And now she runs the risk of actually being disbarred. We can hope right. Of course it’s pretty silly that she even gets to call herself a lawyer given her pathetic credentials. Of course her lawyer is pushing the conspiracy angle and calling this a “witch hunt” but really, if she was an actual threat to the evil president’s position and they’d gone this far to cover up his origins, don’t you think they’d find a far more efficient way of getting Taitz out of the way. And you just know that whatever the outcome, she’ll just insist that the Bar Association is in on the evil conspiracy. So since she’ll attack them no matter what they might as well throw the book at her and make sure she’s never allowed to practice law again.

Not really the BSA

6. Catholics not the only ones covering up abuse – The Mormon dominated Boy Scouts of America (BSA) are facing a lawsuit claiming they too covered up child abuse.

The Boy Scouts of America has long kept an extensive archive of secret documents that chronicle the sexual abuse of young boys by Scout leaders over the years.The “perversion files,” a nickname the Boy Scouts are said to have used for the documents, have rarely been seen by the public, but that could all change in the coming weeks in an Oregon courtroom.

The lawyer for a man who was molested in the 1980s by a Scout leader has obtained about 1,000 Boy Scouts sex files and is expected to release some of them at a trial that began Wednesday. The lawyer says the files show how the Boy Scouts have covered up abuse for decades.

Well what do you expect from a cult who once had a leader named “Brigham Young”? Still the BSA are lightweights compared to the Catholic Church, which is known for having raped at least over a half million kids. And keep in mind that that’s only that we know of and the Church has proven capable of keeping this stuff secret for decades.


News From Around The Blogosphere 3.15.10

March 15, 2010

1. Valedictorian sues Indiana high school for putting graduation prayer up for a vote – Greenwood High School in Indianapolis seems to think their alumni won’t survive the outside world without praying to all mighty Jesus. The top ranked student in the graduating class, Eric Workman, is suing the school. And of course Christians are spinning this as discrimination somehow:

The Rev. Shan Rutherford, pastor of Greenwood Christian Church for more than three decades, said he disagrees with the proposition that such a prayer would violate a student’s rights.

“If I lived in a Muslim nation, a Hindu nation or anything else, I would expect to go along with the majority,” Rutherford said. “He’s trying to go with minority rule. To me, that’s wrong in a democracy, one that was founded on Christian principles.”

“If you don’t agree, I don’t think you should try to stop other people from exercising their rights.”

I’d pay real money to see this guy prayer to Allah or Vishnu right now. Who is he kidding? I think we all know this guy would sooner jump off a bridge to his death before praying to another god.

2. Christian fasts to death for Jesus -Evelyn Boyd decided to lock herself and a room and live only on water for three weeks. It turns out that this behavior leads to death. Who knew?

3.  ACLU sues Constance McMillen’s school – I’ve previously written about McMillen, the 18-year-old lesbian who school canceled prom rather than let her bring her girlfriend. And in retaliation for her going to the ACLU, they made sure it wasn’t exactly a secret as to why they canceled prom. Well, I hope they’re very proud of that decision because it’s now going to land them in court. Not only is the ACLU not backing down but the brave teen is standing up for principles:

“All I wanted was the same chance to enjoy my prom night like any other student. But my school would rather hurt all the students than treat everyone fairly,” said the student, 18-year-old Constance McMillen, in an ACLU news release. “This isn’t just about me and my rights anymore — now I’m fighting for the right of all the students at my school to have our prom.”


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: