News From Around The Blogosphere 3.22.11

March 23, 2011

1. New BBC report shows further decline in religion – In the past few years, a number of polls have shown religion is declining as increasingly more people identify themselves as not belonging to any religion. And now yet another poll shows this trend based on the census data of nine countries.

2. 70-year-old Philadelphia man stoned to death for Jesus – The killer has directly stated that the act was inspired by the Bible:

According to this report, John Thomas, 28, of Upper Darby, a Philadelphia suburb, told police he killed Murray Seidman of nearby Lansdowne because the Bible refers to stoning homosexuals.

3. Piggyback virus could thwart HIV

Rather than destroying HIV, a proposed treatment would embrace its infectious abilities, sending the virus into competition with a harmless, stripped-down version of itself.

Dubbed therapeutic interfering particles, or TIPs, these engineered viral scraps would ride with HIV as it spreads from person to person. By out-competing HIV for cellular resources, the TIPs might slow its progression and lower infection rates.

4. Nine cases of measles in Minneapolis

The likely source is an infant who traveled to Kenya and returned in the beginning of February. Cases have ranged in age from 4 months to 4 years. Four of the cases were too young to receive vaccine, four were of age but were not vaccinated, and one has unknown vaccine status. There have been five hospitalizations and no deaths.

On a related note, if you happen to run into Andrew Wakefield or Jenny McCarthy, please punch them in the face for me.

5. 60 Minutes turns Catholic child rape scandal into a fluff piece – This week’s 60 Minutes featured an embarrassingly piece on New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, whose making it his mission to restore the Church’s reputation after that pesky mass child rape conspiracy thing. In the piece, Dolan expressed little interest in helping to bring child rapists and their accomplices to justice or declaring specific changes to ensure it never happens again, and showed that his primary purpose is spin control. And 60 Minutes, like all the mainstream media, found that entirely satisfactory. I wonder if Scott Pelley would still be satisfied if his own child were raped by priests and committed suicide because of the psychological scars while the perpetrators were given full immunity from justice because instead of working for Starbucks, the organization they happen to work for is named the Catholic Church. Though I am happy to see that the commenters on 60 Minutes webpage are really letting them have it. And here’s a great piece on how out of touch with reality the Catholic Church is.

6. Nantucket child killed in exorcism

The woman accused of killing her 3-year-old daughter earlier this week believed God had instructed her to stick a rose in the young girl’s throat to ward off the devil, according to documents filed in Nantucket District Court.

So next time someone suggests religion is harmless, remind them of 3-year-old Nicole Garcia Pleitez.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 3.10.11

March 11, 2011

1. Mind-controlling fungus creates army of zombie ants – If the mimic octopus is the most interesting fauna I’ve ever heard of, then this newfound fungus species Ophiocordyceps camponoti-balzani has to be the most interesting flora I’ve ever heard of. It literally takes over the ant’s mind and forces the ant to find “a location ideal for the fungi to grow and spread their spores.”

2. 21 Philadelphia Catholic priests suspended on suspicion of child abuse – Several have already been indicted on charges of rape and assault on minors. But what’s most shocking is how callous the church is treating the scandal.

3.Compete with a computer in Rock-Paper-Scissors – Not content just beating us in Jeopardy, computers have set their sights on beating us in the ultimate human competition, Rock-Paper-Scissors. Click the link to play.

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Tree of Knowledge in jeopardy

November 18, 2010

For the last several years, the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia has put up as a holiday disaplay a tree decked in copies of the covers of books representing numerous philosophies and religions, as well as atheism.

But now the Chester County Commissioner’s Office is putting to a vote whether to “rescind all private, unattended winter holiday season displays on the Chester County Historic Courthouse property.” This legislation seems to clearly be designed for no other reason than to get the Freethought Society’s Tree of Knowledge display removed and give religious groups a monopoly on holiday displays.

According to the Freethought Society’s Margaret Downey:

“The Tree of Knowledge display conveys to passersby that there exists in America a strong united minority of nontheists which include freethinkers, atheists, secular humanists, agnostics, skeptics, rationalists, ethical culturalists and humanists.”

But this isn’t just some atheist attempt to co-opt the holiday season. The Bible and Koran, as well as several books representing other religions are present on the tree as well. The tree represents the diversity of thought in the world as well as in America.

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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.