News From Around The Blogosphere 3.4.11

March 5, 2011

1. John Connor, it is time.

Whenever the military rolls out a new robot program, folks like to joke about SkyNet or the Rise of the Machines. But this time, the military really is starting to venture into robot-apocalypse territory: swarms of little semi-autonomous machines that can team up to manufacture complex objects (including, presumably, more robots).

That’s right, the only thing scarier than a swarm of intelligent military mini robots is a swarm of intelligent military mini robots in control of the means of production. And your Navy is hard at work on making it a reality.

2. Supreme Court rules in favor of Westboro Baptist Church – As detestable as the WBC is, I think the Supreme Court made the right call, which I’ve argued previously over at the Gotham Skeptic. Alito was the only Justice who sided with the Snyder family against the WBC. Between this decision and the vaccine court decision last week, the Supreme Court has been batting a 1000 lately.

3. Anti-abortion billboard goes down in NYC – The billboard tried playing the race card, a gambit anti-abortionists have been using for some time now. And while I don’t condone censorship, this wasn’t government censorship:

Councilwoman Letitia James and her legislative aide Aja Worthy-Davis that yesterday they launched a petition targeting Life Always and billboard owner Lamar Advertising, asking them to remove it. Later in the day, Lamar Advertising announced that it would take the billboard down.

Of course this notion that Margaret Sanger was a racist eugenicist, and that Planned Parenthood’s true agenda is to exterminate black people is complete bullshit.

4. Third-grader allegedly heals friends with magic – Okay, let’s settle this once and for all by seeing him heal Christopher Hitchens.I understand why a kid could buy into this fantasy but adults who report the news have no excuse.

5. Age of Autism cries misogyny – The same blog that suggested journalist Amy Wallace was blowing Dr. Paul Offit is accusing Doonesbury of misogyny over a cartoon that suggested Jenny McCarthy makes Playboy bunnies look bad. That is too funny. If anyone can explain to me why, feminist crusader that she is, Katie Wright had no objection to her own blog’s attack on Wallace, let me know. Also, if you can explain how the content of the cartoon is criticizing all women instead of just criticizing Jenny McCarthy alone for speaking out of school, I’d love to know that too. Oh, and one more thing. If you can explain to me how a website that accuses its critics of being a “loyal Pharma-funded wife” without even the slightest bit of evidence of any conflict of interest can maintain any moral high gound, let me know that too. Sullivan writes about it here.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 8.10.10

August 10, 2010

1. Einsteinian physics an evil liberal plot? – That is according to Andy Schlafly of Conservapædia. I suspect this is all part of a Jewish plot. Step 1: Kill Jesus and save the world. Step 2: Fool otherwise good Christians into accepting demonic Relativity. Step 4:  Profit. Muhahaha!

2. Anne Rice’s departure from the Catholic Church may signal the beginning of the end – Former Christian William Lobdell looks at the statistics and it’s looking more and more like Anne Rice is just part of a growing number of Christians growing disillusioned with organized religion.

3. Wiccans offer low, low price for booty-enhancement spell casting – Now I know there’s no such thing as magic, but for only $8.95, how can I afford not to pay someone to chant magic spells to increase the size of my ass. This one is full of win.I just don’t want to know where the magic wand goes.

4. Thought-controlled artificial arm reaches human testing phase – DARPA may have successfully produced an artificial arm as good as the one Anakin had in the Star Wars prequels.

5. Another Catholic child abuse case determined to be ‘credible’

A review board for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has found allegations of child sexual abuse against the Rev. David Dzermejko “credible,” and Bishop David Zubik has sent the case to Rome.

Vatican officials will decide if he should have a church trial or if the evidence is strong enough to permanently remove him from ministry without further hearings.

Wow, that’s some justice system they got going on there.

6. Pastor arrested for anti-demon protest – Pastor Donald Crosby of Kingdom Builders Church of Jesus Christ decided to protest outside Warner Robins High School because of the school’s “”Demon” nickname and mascot.” The mascot honors a World War II fighter squadron nicknamed the “Screamin’ Demons.” Yes, he’s protesting a celebration of World War II American heroes.

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These aren’t the druids you’re looking for

May 21, 2010

Austrian government officials have hired Druids to perform magic to improve road safety. And we’re told, since the Druids did that voodoo that they do so well, there has been a dramatic decline in car accidents. Of course, there doesn’t seem to be scientific data to support this claim. But who needs evidence when you’ve got magic Druids who have the power to negate the laws of cause and effect in the universe because of their magical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Wait. Druids are the ones with the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, right? I always get those mixed up.

Skeptical magicians try to contact Houdini

November 1, 2009

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Glad to see Randi up on his feet and looking pretty healthy.

Magic broom in Alabama?

August 28, 2009

In a yet-to-open consignment shop in Montgomery, Alabama, there stands a broom that seems to defy the laws of gravity.

No, there isn’t any glue, and there are no magnets in the floor. As to something otherworldly going on, people will have to use their own judgment.

A local paranormal investigation group devoted hours looking into it:

Southern Paranormal Researchers spent several hours at the store Friday night and Saturday morning, leaving about 2 a.m., she said. The crew put teams in the store, its basement and the building next door, which houses Lucky Photography.”They told us they felt the presence of several spirits,” Christy Burdett said. “The lights flickered next door.”

She said one member of the group came out of the bathroom and wanted to know who had turned the lights off. “When she found out nobody did, she got a little upset,” Burdett said.

. . .

“The basement team thought they had some shadow movement,” he said. “Other members of the team just had the feeling of a creepy presence.”

But finally after hours of investigation, the head of the Southern Paranormal Researchers, Jake Bell, thinks he’s figured out the mystery:

“I just think it balances that way,” he said.



Mysteries, Magic & Miracles 6.30.09

July 1, 2009

MAGIC – A new poll by watchdog group, Telefono Antiplagio, found that almost 18% of Italians trust the advice of sorcerers:

To be fair, the definition of “sorcerer” in this case includes your meat-and-potatoes atrologers and soothsayers in addition to people with beards and pointy hats and comprehensive knowledge of ancient elven languages. But really, that just makes this statistic even more depressing. So what are eleven million Italians paying sorcerers to help them with? Surprisingly, magic broom-related housework is nowhere on the list. 46% seek the advice of charlatans to mend their broken hearts. 25% want to know about health problems, 22% of consultations have to do with violence (not clear if this means paying to attack people with lightning spells, which would be amazing), and 7% are having trouble at work.

This reminds me of the school in Iceland that teaches about elves because 54% of Icelanders believe in elves. It’s just another example of how foreign religions seem particularly goofy to us even when there is nothing that is any more nutty about their beliefs than the ones that permeate our own culture.

MIRACLES – A woman in Annapolis had malignant tumors in her lungs, liver, stomach, and chest. Fortunately, she got treated with the best modern medicine has to offer at Johns Hopkins Hospital and no longer has the tumors. Unfortunately, however, it’s a dead 19th century priest who’s getting all the credit:

In addition to seeking medical attention from trained professionals on the cutting edge of their field, Heibel also prayed to the disembodied spirit of 19th century Maryland priest Francis X. Seelos, whose bone fragment she wears in a pendant around her neck. Yes, this is pretty creepy. And it’s also a bit of a tragedy, since the ghost of Seelos is now taking the credit for all the hard work of Heibel’s doctors.

Apparently, despite being dead, Seelos still has one more “miracle” to perform to be officially canonized as a Catholic saint. So of course this means the Catholic investigators are on the case to determine if this is a fake miracle or, you know, one of those “real” miracles we hear so much about. Ugh!

Mysteries, Magic, and Miracles 6.10.09

June 9, 2009

I’ve decided to slap a date on the headline of this one because I think this might make a good reoccuring title for blog entries where I can briefly post about numerous dopey stories together under the similar theme of magic/New Age/miracles/etc.

I borrowed the title from an old television series that ran on the Sci-Fi Channel (or is it now the “Syfy Channel?) in 90’s. It was one of those woo-promoting shows like “Sightings” or “In Search Of” or “Unsolved Mysteries” that used documentary style filmmaking techniques to create the illusion that they were legitimately investigating paranormal claims when they were really just designed to promote the hell out of every kooky paranormal, supernatural, and pseudo-scientific nonsense they could find. Kinda the anti-Bill Nye The Science Guy.They used dramatizations, cheap visual and sound effects to create a spooky atmosphere. I remember they also made great use of fog machines for the host to emerge from frequently when setting up the next story. That particular show was hosted by Patrick Macnee and later by Franklin Ruehl.

I remember it all looked kinda like this. Without the music and contrived spooky effects, no one in their right mind would find this story interesting.

Having always been drawn to the paranormal, I used to eat these shows up in my pre-skeptical child days. Now I look back at them andcan’t believe I was so easily manipulated by that crap.

Anyway, here are 2 rather silly stories I came across today:

Magic charms wreck Swazi stadium

Players have wrecked artificial turf at Swaziland’s main football stadium by putting magic charms, or “muti” underneath it, say furious officials.

. . .

“Maybe we have to consider banning one big team because whenever that team would be playing at the stadium, something strange would happen,” government sports officer Sipho Magagula told AFP news agency.

. . .

He says many rituals involve burning something.

Burning something? Anything but something?! Wow, it suddenly becomes clear why the average life expectancy in Swaziland is only 41.99 years.

Next up, 17th century urine-filled ‘witch bottle’ found –

During the 17th century in England, someone urinated in a jar, added nail clippings, hair and pins, and buried it upside-down in Greenwich, where it was recently unearthed and identified by scientists as being the world’s most complete known “witch bottle.”This spell device, often meant to attract and trap negative energy, was particularly common from the 16th to the 17th centuries, so the discovery provides a unique insight into witchcraft beliefs of that period, according to a report published in the latest British Archaeology.

To the guy who found it, I guess this means urine luck!