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 1.30.10

January 31, 2010

1. Dinosaur Find Helps Solve Evolutionary Puzzle

A George Washington University expedition to the Gobi Desert of China has enabled researchers to solve the puzzle of how one group of dinosaurs came to look like birds independent of birds. The discovery extends the fossil record of the family Alvarezsauridae — a bizarre group of bird-like dinosaurs with a large claw on the hand and very short, powerful arms — back 63 million years, further distancing the group from birds on the evolutionary tree.

Until now, there was no direct evidence that dinosaurs of this type lived during the Late Jurassic, approximately 160 million years ago. George Washington University doctoral candidate Jonah Choiniere named the newly discovered species of dinosaur, Haplocheirus sollers (meaning simple, skillful hand).

Again, that’s 63 million years ago, which for those keeping count is 62,994,000 years before the existence of the whole universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

2. Elmhurst, Illinois Mayor Pete DiCianni calls to waste tax dollars on prayer – DiCianni is calling from each City Council meeting to over with a prayer. Now besides the fact that this obviously tramples on the wall separating church and state, even rational Christians should be able to admit that we’re not paying these people to sit around and pray, but rather to run the local government. If these people wish to pray, let them do so on their own time and not on the taxpayers’ time.

3. Christian police force in UK who believe in power of prayer  receives £10,000 grant – If all it takes to catch criminals is prayer, why do they need any money? And for that matter, why do they need a police force?

4. Mennonites kidnap 14-year-old girl – The daughter of Doug Ramsey may have been brainwashed. Three church members were arrested for allegedly concealing the girl from her parents and police after she ran away from home. They intended to take her out of the state to Kentucky. Church members encouraged her to disconnect from her parents and helped facilitate her departure.

5. Midlife crises are a myth – Here’s a great article debunking the myths surrounding the so-called midlife crisis.

6. Virginia School district bans Diary of Anne Frank – That’s right. I’ll repeat that. They banned Anne Frank’s book. Why you might ask? Because of a passage about her adolescent curiosity concerning sexuality. The offending passage reads:

There are little folds of skin all over the place, you can hardly find it. The little hole underneath is so terribly small that I simply can’t imagine how a man can get in there, let alone how a whole baby can get out!

The horror! The horror!

But that’s not even the worst part, according to the article linked to above: lists Anne Frank’s diary as one of the most banned children’s books, “for being too depressing for students.”

Anne Frank’s diary is among the most banned children’s books? Anne Frank? Are we talking about the same Anne Frank? The young girl in hiding from the Nazis? Anne Frank’s diary is one of the most banned children’s books? WTF!!!!!!!

7. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledges $10 billion to vaccines – Suck it, Jenny McCarthy!

8. Do children need both a mother and a father? – Yup, once again science proves the bigots wrong:

The presumption that children need both a mother and a father is widespread. It has been used by proponents of Proposition 8 to argue against same-sex marriage and to uphold a ban on same-sex adoption.

. . .

The lead article in the February issue of Journal of Marriage and Family challenges the idea that “fatherless” children are necessarily at a disadvantage or that men provide a different, indispensable set of parenting skills than women.

. . .

In their analysis, the researchers found no evidence of gender-based parenting abilities, with the “partial exception of lactation,” noting that very little about the gender of the parent has significance for children’s psychological adjustment and social success.

9. Pope calls for crackdowns on marriage annulments “at all costs” – But still nothing about cracking down on the thousands of child rapists whose salaries he pays. That’s fine.

News From Around The Blogosphere 1.12.10

January 13, 2010

1. God denies Kent Hovind’s rehearing before the Supreme Court – Yup, Kent filed for an appeal and had lots of people praying for him. But I guess “God” doesn’t care much for fucktards like Kent.

2. Islamic Supreme Council of Canada issues fatwa against Muslim extremists – It’s a start but I’d still rather you guys just accepted that your whole religion, moderate or not, is bullshit and that your prophet was a crazy pedophile.

3. Atheists help the homeless:

4. Another case of death by religion – Last year, 16-year-old Neil Beagley suffered and died a painful death because he and his parents chose prayer over medicine.

Police said the boy and his family are members of the Followers of Christ Church, a highly secretive group in Oregon City that has been practicing a distinct brand of religion since at least the mid-40s after moving to Oregon from Idaho. They believe they are God’s chosen children and that God’s will can heal those he chooses.

The parents, Jeff and Marci Beagley are charged with criminally negligent homicide.

5. The Pope had declared marriage equality a threat to creation itself – And condoms cause AIDS. Glad to see this guy’s got his priorities straight. With holy leaders like this, who needs terrorists?

6. Insect cells to replace chicken eggs in vaccine manufacturing?

Scientists in Vienna have developed a new technique for producing vaccines for H1N1 — so-called swine flu — based on insect cells. The research, published in the Biotechnology Journal, reveals how influenza vaccines can be produced faster than through the traditional method of egg-based production, revealing a new strategy for the fight against influenza pandemics.

This would solve the problem of people who are allergic to chicken. But of course it won’t shut up the anti-animal-use-in-medicine/anti-vaccinationists. They’ll just start whining that doctors are injecting insects into people.

7. Roxxxy the sex robot is here – That’s right. There’s a sex robot. But my favorite part of the story is this bit here:

Inspiration for the sex robot sprang from the September 11, 2001 attacks, when planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon and an empty field in Pennsylvania.

Yay 9/11!!!!

Caller to Senator Colburn: ‘what went wrong?’

December 24, 2009

Yesterday, I blogged about Senator Colburn’s call for teabaggers to pray that at least one of the Democrats didn’t show up for the vote for health care reform so that Republicans could filibuster, and how the only person who didn’t show up for the vote was ironically someone on Colburn’s side.

Well, what follows is a deeply disturbing call from one such teabagger that C-SPAN played for Senator Barrasso. The caller is asking what went wrong with the prayer?

Here’s the transcript, courtesy of The Friendly Atheist:

CALLER: Yeah doctor. Our small tea bag group here in Waycross, we got our vigil together and took Dr. Coburn’s instructions and prayed real hard that Sen. Byrd would either die or couldn’t show up at the vote the other night.

How hard did you pray because I see one of our members was missing this morning. Did it backfire on us? One of our members died? How hard did you pray senator? Did you pray hard enough?

Notice how Barrasso fails to denounce Colburn’s supernatural kill order (as ridiculous as the very concept is in the first place). Not only that but his response to hearing someone crying over thinking their voodoo magic backfired and thus they may have been responsible for killing someone else was to simply point out that the man (who incidentally isn’t dead) wouldn’t have made a difference politically whether he’d gotten to vote or not. It reminds me a little of that scene in Watchmen when confronted with accusations that he may have caused several people to contract cancer, Dr. Manhattan points out that there’s structurally little difference between living matter and dead matter. These guys deserve some douchebag of the year award.

News From Around The Blogosphere 12.22.09

December 23, 2009

1. When prayer backfires – Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn called for the teabagger crowd to prayer that somebody in the senate doesn’t make it for the health care bill so that the Democrats can be filibustered. And as God would have it, somebody didn’t show up. Unfortunately for Coburn, that somebody was James Inhofe, who was among those opposed to health care reform. What can you say? Either god’s not a giant douchebag after all and supports health care reform, god’s not very powerful, god works in mysterious ways, or god just doesn’t fuckin’ exist. Bummer dude.

2. Texas Board of Ed’s Don McLeroy didn’t hide his religious motivation – McLeroy has been the leading member of the board that’s been pushing this ridiculous “teach the weaknesses in evolution” nonsense, and even he happily admited his religious motivation:

Am I a religious fanatic? Absolutely. You’d have to be to do what I do.

3. Atheist bus campaign in Iowa –

The last time Iowa atheists put up bus ads, they were quickly taken down (and then later put back up), a bus driver refused to do her job because an atheist ad was on her bus, and the governor complained.

That was all over an ad that simply read: “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.” Now the the Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers are putting up a new bus ad that reads:  “Being good for goodness sake.”

4. NYC Atheists and Catholic activists sue Catholic Church – Ken Bronstein of the NYC Atheists has teamed up with Catholic activists in a legal battle against the Catholic Diocese:

Charging that the Catholic Church should lose its tax-exempt status, a consortium of atheists and Catholic activists filed two lawsuits against Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, Assemblymember Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg) and the Catholic Diocese over their role in producing a recorded message sent to Williamsburg’s registered voters less than a week before they went to the polls.

Led by NYC Atheists President Kenneth Bronstein and New Jersey-based priest abuse activist Reverend Robert Hoatson, the suits allege that DiMarzio violated Internal Revenue Service laws by recording a political message sent to voters in a hotly contested City Council election, which could cost the Church privileges enjoyed by its nonprofit status.

News From Around The Blogosphere 11.11.09

November 11, 2009

Jesus takes hostage1. Religion kills another one – Texas executed Khristian Oliver for a murder committed during a burglary:

While deciding whether he should live or die, jurors at his trial consulted copies of the Bible in a highly selective manner by using texts supporting the death penalty, thus calling their impartiality into serious question.Though Christians, they apparently ignored the teaching of Jesus on mercy, forgiveness and rejection of the eye-for-an-eye mentality.

Isn’t it so good knowing that life and death decisions are being made in courtrooms by a ancient Bronze Age mythology book?

2. Judge may fine Forsyth County in North Carolina $100,000 for violating separation of church and state – Magistrate Judge P. Trevor Sharp has argued that prayers citing Jesus and other deities before Forsyth County Commissioners  meetings are unconstitutional:

“The undisputed record shows that the prayers delivered at the outset of Board meetings from May 29, 2007 through December 15, 2008 referred to Jesus, Jesus Christ, Christ, or Savior with overwhelming frequency… No non- Christian deities are invoked… These prayers as a whole cannot be considered non- sectarian or civil prayer. They display a preference for Christianity over other religions by the government.”

naughty or nice3. The religious nuts at the Liberty Counsel are telling people where they should and shouldn’t shop this year – They’ve released their seventh annual “Naughty & Nice list” (PDF).

Also Friendly Atheist caught them lying:

This year, don’t you dare shop at Office Depot:

Web site: “Christmas” search only produced “Holiday” items such as “Holiday Cards.”

(Really? That’s not what I found.)

But Office Max is totally fine:

Web site: “Great Christmas and Holiday gifts.”

(Really? That’s not what I found.)

Their goal is to show that all these evil, godless, liberal stores are just out to steal Christmas and therefore, they should be punished. Of course the reality of it is that the true meaning of Christmas is Capitalism and its patron saint, Santa Claus. So smart stores evolve and embrace inclusive multiculturalism over exclusiveness because they want everyone’s business. So I’ve got a tip for the “Liberty” Counsel:  Find a successful business model for selling products (not religions) that involves alienating non-Christian customers, and stores will happily follow that model.

Me, on the other hand–I’m shopping at the stores they marked “Naughty.”

4. China hosting Robot Olympics in 2010 – Automated humanoids (two arms, two legs, no wheels) will compete in traditional athletic events like track and field, javelin throwing, and possibly synchronized swimming, as well as robot-specific events like cleaning things.

News From Around The Blogosphere 10.5.09

October 5, 2009

1. Liberty “University” adopts a liberal – To further illustrate how illegitimate Jerry Falwell’s ridiculous little school is, they decided to launch a new prayer-in-action program called “Adopt a Liberal.” The idea is to choose a liberal authority figure to be the subject of regular, intense prayers:

Here’s How it Works…
Pick one or more of the liberals from the list we have posted online at, or choose your own liberal(s) to adopt. If you are led to choose one or more of the liberals we have selected for consideration, please read their brief biographical statement, including the reasons they stand in need of prayer.

Pray earnestly and intensely for them! Pray that the Lord would move upon them and cause them to be the kind of leaders who will encourage others to lead “a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” We encourage you to seek the Lord’s guidance on how to pray for your liberal(s), always allowing Him to temper your prayer with His love and mercy.

2. Shroud of Turin debunked. . .again

An Italian scientist says he has reproduced the Shroud of Turin, a feat that he says proves definitively that the linen some Christians revere as Jesus Christ’s burial cloth is a medieval fake.

3. Grand Unified Theory of Superman – Most superheroes have only one power and you might have thought they all had to be jealous of Superman because he seemed to have so many. I mean, just to duplicate Superman’s powers you’d need: Captain Marvel, The Flash, Cyclops, Colossus, Dare Devil, Ice Man, and Miss Marvel. I think that about covers it. But a scientist has now determined that Superman might only have one superpower:

It is our opinion that all of Superman’s recognized powers can be unified if His power is the ability to manipulate, from atomic to kilometer length scales, the inertia of His own and any matter with which He is in contact.

See True Believers, science can have practical applications! Excelsior!

Catholic sex prayer

September 3, 2009

A prominent group within the Roman Catholic Church called the Catholic Truth Society, is recommending that couple pray before sex.  They even have a specific prayer called the “Prayer Before Making Love.” Of course this is intended only for married couples because of course we know how anal the Catholic Church is about that. No pun intended. But speaking of which, it’s unclear whether priests are to use the prayer before engaging in sexual relations with children.

And methinks with that kind of foreplay, many devout Catholics will end up having to pray for sex.

Other fun stuff:

The book pushes the message that marriage should be exclusive and life-long and condemns abortion.

. . .

It adds: ‘It is a fundamental duty of the Church to reaffirm strongly the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage.’

So no abortion or divorce. Good luck with all that, guys. LOL And exactly how long now have you Catholics been praying for the end of abortion and divorce again? I lost track.

News From Around The Blogosphere 9.1.09

September 1, 2009

1. Pat Robertson thanks God for his surgery. . .and even remembers to thank the doctors. . .barely – Pat Robertson has apparently undergone heart surgery. Here’s a particularly telling quote:

Robertson said, “Only the prayers of thousands of believing people kept me on this earth. As it is, I anticipate many more years of creative service in the ministry I founded (CBN), as well as Regent University and other endeavors devoted to the service of mankind. I cannot praise enough the dedication and professionalism of Dr. Andy Kiser and his staff who removed this growth from my continuously beating heart.”

Prayer healed him. . .and doctors using cutting edge 21st century medical equipment. . .but mostly it was the prayer. But if God was at play, what did God need with a doctor? Why did Robertson even see a doctor? Brain confused.

No, Im not the missing link

No, I'm not the missing link

2. Ken Ham:  Master of unintentional irony – Ham, who’s responsible for that embarrassment known as the Creation “Museum”, visited a Buddhist temple in Japan. Here’s his reaction:

I took photographs of a couple of their “gods” — I notice they were not very powerful, as they couldn’t even get out past the netting wire that “protected” them!

It was so sad to see people praying to the “god” behind the curtain — what a reminder they need the gospel to free them from the bondage of this false religion that gives them no hope for the future!

Yes, Ham. It is indeed sad to see people praying to invisible gods behind metaphorical curtains. And yes, it’s a reminder they need to be freed from the bondage of religion that gives them no hope for the future. Pot. Kettle. Black.

3. Article in Evolution: Education and Outreach looks at why state science standards are important and how particular states measure up.

4. Greta Christina explains why calling Congress isn’t a waste of time – Part 1 and Part 2.

Note:  Due to linking problems, I’ll just have to copy the URL of the second part below:

News From Around The Blogosphere 7.27.09

July 27, 2009

An Oregon couple acquitted of manslaughter for causing the death of their 15-month-old daughter by turning to prayer instead of real medicine. In the immortal words of U2, “How long must we sing this song?” Repeat after me: PRAYER. DOESN’T. WORK.

Humans just salty meat for robot – When a wine-tasting robot’s infrared spectrometer scanned the skin of a human, it identified it as prosciutto. And they wonder why Sci-fi writers depict robots so often as destroyers of mankind?

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyMore critics take swings at Chris Mooney and Francis Collins – First, in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Sam Harris criticizes Francis Collins’ new appointment as director of the National Institutes of Health because of his irrational religious belief. Then Jerry Coyne takes a shot at Collins. And of course this whole issue of whether science should actively discourage religious faith leads us straight to Chris Mooney, whose book is now criticized by blogger Jason Rosenhouse, who despite our unrelated disagreement mentioned 2 blog entries ago, I applaud here in the first part of his 3-part review.

Indiana atheists can have a bus ad without god – Indiana atheists won their lawsuit against Bloomington Transit who originally refused to accept their completely inoffensive bus ad: