So-proclaimed ‘psychic’ Rosemary Altea was scammed

June 16, 2009

So-proclaimed ‘psychic’ Rosemary Altea was robbed of $200,000 by her own accountant. And no, she didn’t see it coming.

From the Rutland Herald article:

Denise Hall of East Arlington faces one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return after investigators with the U.S. Attorney’s office say she stole money from self-proclaimed spiritual medium Rosemary Altea – using four credit cards to obtain cash advances, forging checks and giving herself unauthorized electronic paychecks all under Altea’s name for the past seven years, according to court records.

Seven years this went on and the “psychic” didn’t have a clue. I’m sorry to make light of this terrible crime but when you make a career out of defrauding the public out of their hard-earned dollars by claiming you have the ability to see into the future, among other popular psychic claims, you really make it damned near impossible to garner sympathy. And apparently I’m not alone:

The sad thing is that Rosemary “earned” enough money from her readings to actually allow for $200,000 to be stolen. And while I don’t approve of anyone breaking the law in such a manner, it is hard to feel too much animosity for Denise Hall. After all, consider how Rosemary got the money in the first place.

A little poking around shows that Rosemary influenced one Llewella Day, a dying cancer patient in Vermont, and after one meeting, Ms. Day donated her $750,000 farm to Rosemary under the condition that it remain a farm with structures intact. This last-minute change of will surprised and angered Ms. Day’s family, who took Rosemary to court, and sadly lost.

In celebration of her legal victory, Rosemary demolished the farm buildings and house to create a “healing center.” Which brings to mind the obvious admonition: Rosemary, heal thyself.


Psychics prey on the vulnerable in desperate times

April 18, 2009

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Dr. House debunks Oscar the death cat

March 19, 2009

A while back I remember hearing a family friend describe an unusual news item about a cat at a nursing home that the staff believed correctly predicted that particular patients were about to die. And while I didn’t necessarily know what the true explanation was, I was fairly confident there was a more rational explanation than a psychic death cat.

But this week, Dr. House solved the mystery of Oscar the death cat at least within the fictional world of the drama series House. It might not be the exact solution to the real life case of the alleged psychic cat, Oscar, but it will hopefully get people thinking about all the possibly simpler explanations that might have explained Oscar’s seemingly psychic abilities.

Follow the link above if you don’t mind having the episode of House spoiled.

And I’m a particular fan of the actor who portrays Dr. House, Hugh Laurie because he doesn’t shy away from admitting he’s both an atheist and a skeptic of the supernatural:


‘Psychic’ looks ahead to 6 years in prison

March 10, 2009

psychic-crystal-ball_1114702cFlying Spaghetti Monster bless the San Francisco Chronicle for that awesome headline. Fake psychic Janet Adams just pleaded no contest to elder fraud. And what’s elder fraud? Defrauding old people.

Ms. Adams is specifically guilty of pretending to be psychic in order to con  more than $80,000 out of an 85-year-old woman by claiming that both their husbands would die if the woman didn’t hand over money. Wow!

In court today, Judge James Ellis of San Mateo County Superior Court called Adams’ actions “despicable” and said he regretted that the maximum sentence wasn’t longer, said Steve Wagstaffe, chief deputy district attorney.

I’m with Judge Ellis. Sure I’m opposed to capital punishment but would it be wrong to mail her to Abu Dhabi or Afghanistan?


Bad Predictions from the past

January 6, 2009

Well it’s that time of year again, folks. This is when every “psychic” crawls out from under the rock they came from to make predictions about the coming year. These predictions tend to be a combination of guessing events likely to happen, longshot guesses that will look particularly impressive if they happen to occur, doomsaying that usually involves the economy going down because that’s usually a sure thing, and really fantastical mystical or science fictiony guesses that have no chance of happening. I don’t know why anyone bothers with the last category. Then there’s the classic trick of making the same plausible prediction each year so that it’s likely to come true eventually. For instance, if you predict that Lindsey Lohan will get pregnant every year it probably won’t be long before it comes true.

Oh, and the last trick that’s employed by some of the more famous “psychics” is to simply go in and edit their own pages to retrofit predictions to seem more remarkably accurate and more specific  than you remember their predictions being when they were first made. For instance, it’d be kind of weird if you saw a famous “psychic’s” predictions for 2008 include the passing of young Heath Ledger–seems like the kind of unlikely prediction you would have remembered, right? Of course some people will have the audacity of screen saving their predictions so they can compare their pages then and now.

Here’s a short recap at some of the epic fails of predictors for the past year.

Here’s a look at one mystic’s predictions published in the New York Times back in 1909 about the year 2009.

Then of course there’s Pat Robertson, who apparently gets text messages from God himself every January that foretell the events of the coming year. . .very inaccurately. Of course the big trick is to highlight the hits while ignoring all the misses and when foretelling doom that never occurs just saying that God changed his mind because people prayed so hard.

Here’s Pat Robertson’s predictions for this coming year:

Now last year I made a blog on my Myspace page addressing the “psychic” predictions made of the previous year and made my own list of “psychic” predictions to see if I could outdo the “psychics.” I plan to do this again in the next few days but here I’d like to repost my old blog from last year unedited except that I will put the predictions I got right or close to right in BOLD along with some possible comments in parentheses. So here we go:

—————————————————–

From January 20, 2008:

Predictions for 2008

Well, it’s the beginning of a new year, and you know what that means. Yup, all the psychics and evangelical nuts are making their amazing predictions for the events that will unfold in the coming year, a remarkable number of which will oddly require no psychic powers at all.

Here are some of the psychics who have predictions already out there:
The Psychic Twins (Seems like these predictions are A LOT MORE SPECIFIC than I remember them being back in January. Hmm, how strange? And really, really accurate. What are the odds??)

Nikki Psychic To The Stars (includes her past years predictions!)

Sylvia Browne:

Of course, then there’s Pat Robertson

Wow, it’s a good thing God stopped last year’s terrorist attack or else one might have thought Robertson was WRONG about a prediction that seemed like a fairly likely possibility to those who don’t receive text messages from God but simply read the news, you know, not like this year’s prediction of a worsening economy. I mean, what are the odds of that under President Bush, right? Right?

For more about the psychics making predictions about the coming year, see: The Skeptics’ Guide To The Universe Podcast (1/2/08 episode)

But those psychics don’t know what they’re talking about, so I’m going to reveal what will REALLY HAPPEN IN 2008:

-Jesus will not return in 2008, leading hundreds of millions of Christians to wait longer.  (Point for me)
-But guess who will return in 2008–that’s right. Van Halen featuring one of their previous singers. (Okay, I think it was Guns N Roses. Close enough, right?)
-The U.S. economy will get worse. (Point for me)
-The troops will not return from Iraq in 2008, but The Bush Administration will proudly announce that we’re winning…though not enough to bring the troops home..
(Point for me)
-Brittney Spears will trade in her mild Texan Chistianity and her Kabbalah bracelet and will “really” find Jesus. (Doh!)
-Paris Hilton will also join a cult/religion and begin serving as an activist for the group. (Okay, she didn’t join a cult but she was sort of involved in activism. Anyone else remember that anti-McCain commercial she did?)
-Ron Paul will make a 45-minute speech that only includes the words “Freedom” and “Constitution.” (I’m sure this is true. Just the media didn’t care enough to cover it)
–Hilary Clinton will be elected the 44th president of the U.S. (Doh!)
-The Church of Scientology will sue somebody. (Did I nail it or what?)
-A single suicide bomber will kill hundreds in the Middle East. (Okay, it wasn’t hundreds because God decided to spare a lot of people)
-The Bush Administration will be involved in a major scandal.  (Goes without saying)
-No evidence that 9/11 was an inside job will surface.
-After decades of investigation, Dr. Stanton Friedman will still fail to provide physical evidence that extraterrestrials crashed in Roswell, New Mexico.
-The terrorist attack Pat Robertson predicted in 2007 will not occur in 2008 either.

-The ghosts that talk to John Edwards will continue to feed him mostly bad information. (Another point for me)
-The New York Yankees will win The World Series. (Doh!)
-Lance Armstrong will run in The New York City Marathon and beat last year’s time.
(Doh!)
-David and Victoria Beckham will get divorced.(Doh!)

-Lindsey Lohan will get a DWI and star in a reality TV series called “Lohen Behold.” (Okay, she didn’t have a reality show but her family did, so I was damned close)
-Jupiter will be in line with Mars and the Sun will be perpendicular to the Moon.
Uri Geller will prove his psychic abilities by having someone secretly choose one of five shapes and correctly predicting that they’ve selected the Star in the second position in the list.
-Ben Stein’s mockumentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” will win a Razzie Award. (Time will tell, but it was certainly panned by critics)
-Archaeologists will unearth the fossil remains of over a dozen new species. Creationists will ignore these finds.
-Jack Thompson will attribute a school shooting to videogame violence (Another point for me)

-February will have a 29th day. (Another point for me)

-“Indiana Jones and The Temple of the Crystal Skull” will break box office records in its opening weekend. (Doh!)

-An evangelical will claim that the end of the world is happening this year and will provide an exact date. The next day, when the world hasn’t ended, he’ll inform us that God saved us because of our faith. He’ll then sheepishly stop talking about it.
-I won’t pay my exorcist and will be repossessed.
-And the Writer’s Strike will prevent this Oracle from finishing his predictions for the year of


News From Around The Blogosphere 12.1.08

December 2, 2008

god-is-cancelledCincinnati Zoo holy alliance – This is pretty disgusting. The Cincinnati Zoo and the Creation “Museum” made a marketing agreement to sell “combo tickets” to get into both attractions for one price, meaning the Cincinnati Zoo was effectively promoting Young Earth Creationism. BUT that alliance was short-lived as it quickly met with such enormous criticism as to make the Cincinnati Zoo to come their senses and today cancel the whole thing. And thus once again good triumphs over the forces of evil.

Birmingham mayor who called for day of prayer arrested on multiple counts of corruption – Apparently Jesus has answer Larry Langford’s prayers, just not the answer he would have liked. That’s a shame.

American Atheists sues Kentucky – The other day I blogged about Kentucky declaring that its first line of defense was “God,” ordering Homeland Security to waste tax payer dollars publicizing this nonsense. So now Kentucky is being sued. I’ll bet every dollar I have that once again, God will fail to appear to testify in court.

It was a million-to-1 shot, doc, a million-to-1 – Apparently a vicar got a potato stuck in a very uncomfortable place:

The clergyman, in his 50s, told nurses he had been hanging curtains when he fell backwards on to his kitchen table.

He happened to be nude at the time of the mishap, said the vicar, who insisted he had not been playing a sex game.

saps-taps-parodyMason Dixon Paranormal Society determines a museum is haunted – How did they do that? EVP, among the stupidest methods ghost hunters have ever come up with. Seriously, watching ghost hunters listen for hidden messages in the static is like watching a room full of monkeys try to write Shakespeare.

When did Uri Geller go from “psychic” to magician? – Ugh! Of course James Randi long ago predicted Geller would eventually try to subtly make this transition. . .and without the aid of any psychic powers too. After all, after you lose enough law suits and more and more people become wise to the con, there’s nowhere else to go. But what one must remember is that the U.S. government literally spent I think millions of dollars on psychic research largely due to what Geller is now admitting to be tricks. Now there’s a term for this. It’s called defrauding the government. . .and it’s a FEDERAL CRIME!!!

WHAT’S THE HARM?

groin-kickEven skeptics can admit possessions were definitely involved here – An Atlanta woman burned down her own apartment because she believed her possessions to be possessed.

“She was extremely upset saying the material was possessed by voodoo spirits and she was trying to cleanse the apartment of the spirits,” said Marietta Fire Chief Jackie Gibbs.

Godless Christmas Cards! – I just saw Stephen Colbert talking about them and now PZ Myers has blogged about them. But damn, are they expensive!

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyBrain’s Magnetic Fields Reveal Autism Delays – “Faint magnetic signals from brain activity in children with autism show that those children process sound and language differently from non-autistic children. Identifying and classifying these brain response patterns may allow researchers to more accurately diagnose autism and possibly aid in developing more effective treatments for the developmental disorder.”

Sex Life Of Killer Fungus Finally Revealed – “Biologists at The University of Nottingham and University College Dublin have announced a major breakthrough in our understanding of the sex life of a microscopic fungus which is a major cause of death in immune deficient patients and also a cause of severe asthma.”

Humanity May Hold Key For Next Earth Evolution – “Human degradation of the environment has the potential to stall an ongoing process of planetary evolution, and even rewind the evolutionary clock to leave the planet habitable only by the bacteria that dominated billions of years of Earth’s history, Harvard geochemist Charles Langmuir said Thursday (Nov. 13).” Well that doesn’t sound good.

A Surgeon You Can Swallow – “In the future, tablet-shaped robots could perform some surgical operations without injuring the body. A new publication by the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems of ETH Zurich shows how such surgical bio-microrobots might function.”

Ants Practice Farming And Chemical Warfare – “According to an article in the November issue of Microbiology Today, leaf-cutter ants have developed a system to try and keep their gardens pest-free; an impressive feat which has evaded even human agriculturalists.”


Do unicorns exist? – I can’t believe how much analysis went into this. Here is an awesome site I found on Skepchick that takes a very close look at the complex research concerning the question of whether unicorns exist.


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.25.08

November 26, 2008

Witchcraft on India’s school curriculum – It’s part of an effort to dispel superstition and stop deadly witch hunts.

Victims of abuse can sue the Vatican!!!

A great blog article by Phil Plait on The Long Tail of Skepticism – It includes another plug for Stop Jenny McCarthy, so I’m happy. I’ve blogged in the past about how skeptics need to start focusing on strengthening the the “Long Tail” and I’m planning on writing a potentially very long essay on the direction I think the skeptics movement should be heading, which expands upon the popular essay by Daniel Loxton “Where Do We Go From Here,” the blog by Tim Farley of “What’s The Harm” that Phil Plait links to “The Long Tail of Skepticism,” and the Skepticamp essay recited on the most recent Skepticality podcast (episode #90). All of these are must-reads for those interested in getting involved in skeptical activism.

Boy did this psychic go to the wrong site – This is hilarious. It’s remarkable to me that “Sean” didn’t see this one coming. . .you know, with all the psychic powers and all.

No atheist ads in Australia – And probably won’t even be in the film, “Australia.” It’s particularly sad because all 3 slogan options were better than the recent ones used in London and Washington:

  • Atheism: Because there is no credible evidence
  • Celebrate reason: Sleep in on Sunday mornings
  • Atheism: Celebrate reason

If they didn’t even go for the last one, then I guess we can forget my slogan idea: “God Is Imaginary. Get Over It.”

A circuit court judge has ruled that Florida’s ban on gay adoption is unconstitutional – Reason wins out. But there’s still Utah, where no unmarried couples are allowed to adopt, be they gay or straight, and Mississippi, which bans gay couples from adopting, but not single gay people.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyMissing Link’ Galaxies Discovered – “Astronomers in two UK-led international collaborations have separately uncovered a type of galaxy that represents a missing link in our understanding of galaxy evolution.”

Flies May Reveal Evolution Of Live Birth – “A species of fruit fly from the Seychelles Islands often lays larvae instead of eggs, UC San Diego biologists have discovered. Clues to how animals switch from laying eggs to live birth may be found in the well-studied species’ ecology and genes.”

HUMOR:

F.U.T.K. – Okay, so this time Toby Keith is being deliberately funny with this “War on Christmas” song from A Colbert Christmas (and it is very funny), but is there any doubt that Toby Keith take the message of the song seriously?

And of course here’s a little piece of unintentional comic gold. Proof that religion rots your brain:


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.21.08

November 22, 2008

D’Zhana Simmons is a heartless human being – or at least she was for 118 days straight. That’s 10 whole days longer than 6 of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 were on the island on Lost. A custom-built artificial blood pumping device kept her alive until she was able to receive a heart transplant.

vaccine1Too few too far apart? – Mark Crislip demolishes the ever popular “Too much too soon” argument employed by antivaccinationists.

Bet she didn’t see this coming

“Sister Charlotte”, a self-proclaimed clairvoyant, tarot card reader, and palm interpreter has been banned from making claims she can’t prove in her advertising. Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority issued the ban in response to a complaint that Ms. Charlotte printed leaflets saying she could cure anything from depression to cancer by removing “negative energies” and replacing them with “positive” ones.

What if you had a conspiracy play – and nobody came? – 9/11 / New World Order conspiracy theorist puts out a play promoting this particular brand of nonsense. Funny thing is that even the 9/11 conspiracy theorists don’t care very much for it.

BMV accepts “BE GODS” license plate but being sued anyway

“A Wayne County woman is moving forward with a lawsuit against the Bureau of Motor Vehicles even though the agency reversed a decision that disallowed the renewal of a license plate that reads “BE GODS.”

ATHEIST DISCRIMINATION:

Who better to blame for all the disasters of the Bush Administration but atheists? – Well technically I think Karl Rove is an atheist but that’s another story. Here are the words of one Daniel Henninger:

It has been my view that the steady secularizing and insistent effort at dereligioning America has been dangerous. That danger flashed red in the fall into subprime personal behavior by borrowers and bankers, who after all are just people. Northerners and atheists who vilify Southern evangelicals are throwing out nurturers of useful virtue with the bathwater of obnoxious political opinions.

The point for a healthy society of commerce and politics is not that religion saves, but that it keeps most of the players inside the chalk lines. We are erasing the chalk lines.

Feel free: Banish Merry Christmas. Get ready for Mad Max.

Mad Max? Really? Could this guy be any more arrogant, self-righteous, and ass-like? Replace “atheists” with “Jews” and we’ve heard this song before.

WHY FUNDIES CAN’T HAVE THE NUCLEAR CODES:

Exhibit A:

i_dont_want_youExhibit B: Atheists taking over the military? What?! – This is what OneNewsNow, the bigoted American Family Association’s bogus news site, claims. Actually, they’re just pissed off that The Secular Coalition for America has held a conference urging President-elect Obama to enact fair policies preventing proselytizing and mandatory prayer. Though apparently this constitutes as “the first step toward Armageddon”:

Gordon James Klingenschmitt is a former naval chaplain who says, unfortunately, the Secular Coalition for America will eventually get its way. “There is a day coming in the end times when the military will be forced to be atheistic because, in order for the eventual man who is the man of sin — the Anti-Christ — as it is describe in the Bible, for him to come to power and to stamp out Christianity around the globe, he’s going to need a good strong atheist military,” he contends. “That is the first step toward Armageddon, and I’m concerned about that. And I pray that President (elect) Obama is not foolish enough to lead us down that road.”

“Everything’s the devil to you, mama!” -The Waterboy

The blog source of this article also touched on another headline found on OneNewsNow’s site:

‘Gay’ activists engage in ‘hate crimes’ against Christians

Apparently gay gets quote marks because they either don’t exist, their evil, or both. And they put quotation marks around “hate crimes” because no crime was actually committed. Rather this is their way of saying a bunch of legitimately pissed off gays along with many heterosexual allies expressed their fundamental American right to peacefully protest injustice outside of churches that supported the removal of civil rights. Fair and balanced indeed.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyConcealed Glaciers Discovered On Mars – “Vast Martian glaciers of water ice under protective blankets of rocky debris persist today at much lower latitudes than any ice previously identified on Mars, says new research using ground-penetrating radar on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.”

Stem Cells Make New Retinal Cells In Tadpoles – “Pluripotent stem cells — those, like embryonic stem cells, that give rise to almost every type of cell in the body — can be converted into the different classes of retinal cells necessary for vision, according to a new study from researchers at SUNY Upstate Medical University.”

Pure Insulin-producing Cells Produced In Mice – “Singapore researchers have developed an unlimited number of pure insulin-producing cells from mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs).”

Another awesome example of pareidolia:


News From Around The Blogosphere 10.28.08

October 29, 2008

THIS DAY IN GOD:

Christopher Hitchens tears Sarah Palin a new one

This is what the Republican Party has done to us this year: It has placed within reach of the Oval Office a woman who is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus. Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured. And those who prate of spiritual warfare and demons are not just “people of faith” but theocratic bullies. On Nov. 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity.

The McCain campaign is handing out Christian voter guides – Vote for McCain because he’s not a secret Muslim.

The most extreme theocrat at The White House was just fired – Apparently, Scott Bloch is as bad as they come.

Finally, Bloch’s religious blinkers also explain his willingness to lend the credence his office to the Intelligent Design movement (knowing, of course, that he lacked jurisdiction) and to the anti-vaccination fanatics. Both reveal a scientific illiteracy that is borne not of ignorance but of intentional, ideological blindness; the latter incident was particularly irresponsible.

Christian rock tour celebrating Genesis canceled due to lack of interest.

Heaven: The Game -Great graphics for a Christian video game. Just as long as it lets me steal cars and beat the crap out of hookers, I’ll be happy. And is that a female saint wearing a corset? Whatever. And where are all the black people in heaven?

Chuck Norris’s nephew got an F in fifth grade because he wrote an essay on evolution that instead said god created the earth…and the teacher had a degree from the “University of Berkeley”, which apparently is Norris-speak for University of California at Berkeley. If only there were some sort of Chuck Norris joke to summarize this story? Oo, I got one: Chuck Norris doesn’t understand science. End of sentence .

A bullshit study in religious beliefs of ophthalmology patients

A more appropriate subtitle might have been “An Opportunistic Exercise to Build CVs and Promote Religious Belief.” This goes on the NCCAM’s scorecard as one more instance of wasting our tax dollars on studies that should never have been funded. That list is long and is steadily getting longer.

Reggie Finley‘s show The Infidel Guy has been losing his audience

ISLAM:

11 year old girl set on fire for immodesty – “

“Police arrested her great uncle, who allegedly poured kerosene on the girl and set her ablaze on Friday. Investigators told the PTI news agency that the 55-year-old man, a conservative Muslim, had told the police that he was enraged at the girl wearing lipstick and being “scantily dressed.”

How a psychic believer became a psychic skeptic

SPOOKY!

Are illegal space aliens crossing over into Texas? – Back in January numerous sources reported strange lights in the sky in Erath County and now the mysterious lights have returned, as has space-alien-related tourism. Nothing we haven’t all heard or seen a million times, unimpressive video of several dots of light in the sky the night military craft happened to have been in the area along with people insisting their certain that what they saw had to be space aliens. Yawn.

Over a three-month period this summer there were 1,000 UFO sightings filed with the National UFO Reporting Center.

Some 75 of those UFOs were reported over the state of Texas.

And on a related note: How to fake UFO photographs:

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Soybeans No Longer ‘A Musical Fruit?’ – “Soybeans may drop off the list of musical fruit. Scientists in Singapore are reporting victory over some consumers’ No. 1 complaint about soy products — the “flatulence factor” caused by indigestible sugars found in soy.

Scientists have now developed a method for significantly reducing the amount of flatulence-causing carbohydrates in soy yogurt while raising the levels of healthy antioxidants known as isoflavones.”

Red Enhances Men’s Attraction To Women -“A groundbreaking study by two University of Rochester psychologists to be published online Oct. 28 by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology adds color—literally and figuratively—to the age-old question of what attracts men to women.

Through five psychological experiments, Andrew Elliot, professor of psychology, and Daniela Niesta, post-doctoral researcher, demonstrate that the color red makes men feel more amorous toward women. And men are unaware of the role the color plays in their attraction.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 8.25.08

August 26, 2008

Crazy homophobic, bible-thumping principal in Florida gets ass handed to him in court -The ACLU saves the day once again.

Homophobic, Bible-thumpers trying to overturn California same-sex marriage law – With the war in Iraqi, the genocide in Darfur, the hostilities in Georgia, the AIDS epidemic in Africa, constant chaos throughout the Middle East, widespread poverty, and a host of other crises around the world, I for one applaud these guys for having their priorities straight [rolling eyes].

“An estimated 15,000 backers of the measure, most of them members of Mormon, Catholic and evangelical Christian churches, knocked on doors and distributed campaign literature to registered voters throughout the state this weekend and last, according to Jennifer Kerns, a spokeswoman for the Yes on 8 campaign.”

Homophobic Bible-thumpers sending negative letters to Hallmark for making gay-friendly cards – Our old fascist friends at the poorly named American Family Association are at it again. Feel free to contact Hallmark and thank them for being non-discriminatory…if for no other reason than to stick it to the AFA.

Oh, and here’s the latest AFA newsletter:

Did you know that the four major television networks have declared war on decency by suing the FCC for the right to air profanity and nudity at any time of day? We do have a counter attack but the Protecting Children from Indecent Programming Act (S. 1780) is currently stalled in the U.S. Senate. The Act (S. 1780) would reaffirm Congress’ support for vigorous enforcement of the existing broadcast dece! ncy laws and the importance of protecting the public airwaves from indecent content.

In order to ensure the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ability to fine broadcasters over “fleeting” instances of profanity or nudity, S. 1780 needs to be voted on by the full Senate. If S. 1780 does not pass, the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act passed two years ago will be rendered essentially meaningless.

Recently, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia threw out a $550,000 indecency fine levied against CBS for the infamous 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction.” CBS also allowed profanity during Big Brother 10, which airs during prime time.

We are in a pivotal time regarding the ownership of America’s broadcast airwaves. The law says these airwaves belong to the American people, but the networks are trying to take them over and turn them into a toxic sewer. Now is the time to fight back!

Thank you for caring enough to get involved. If you feel our efforts are worthy of support, would you consider making a small tax-deductible contribution to help us continue?

Sincerely,

Don

Donald E. Wildmon,
Founder and Chairman
American Family Association

Bible-thumpers handing out Gideon Bibles to 5th Graders – (Yeah, there’s a very, very subtle theme to tonight’s blog). Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the only party in the story who IS smarter than a 5th grader, is taking legal action.  PZ Myers offers an another approach for dealing with these guys.

Deist Thomas Paine–one of, if not the most important of our Founding Fathers and one of, if not the most anti-religious of our mostly anti-religious Founding Fathers returns to my neighboring town of Fort Lee, New Jersey in the form of a statue to be placed where the man himself once stood.

Why you should be skeptical of acupuncture

The only thing that bites is this journalist’s investigative reporting skills – Another article about a “pet psychic.” This one is from a New England paper and begins with the title, “City puts the bite on pet psychic,” With a title like that you’d think you were in for a triumph of common sense against a con artist. But sadly, no. It’s another thinly veiled advertisement for this “pet psychic’s” services. Someone should tell the “psychic,” Willow that she still has time to enter to win the JREF million dollar prize. I’m sure she’ll get right on that as it’s the obvious solution to her problems.

Today is the 399th anniversary of Galileo presenting his telescope to the Venetian Senate

The Amateur Scientist stops in at cool sci-fi site Pink Raygun to debunk palm reading.

10 people with unbelievable medical conditions.

If your child isn’t vaccinated, parents have a right to know – MSNBC nails it again with outstanding coverage regarding the vaccine non-issue. (Thanks again to Brian)

Anti-vaxxer moron actually laughs at measles epidemic – Why? Everything she knows about the measles she learned from Leave It To Beaver and other sitcoms…with plotlines about CHICKEN POX. I can see how Kim Stagliano, Managing Editor of Age of Autism, could mix those 2 up; they sound so similar. According to Wikipedia:

“Globally, measles deaths are down 60 percent, from an estimated 873,000 deaths in 1999 to 345,000 in 2005. Africa has seen the most success, with annual measles deaths falling by 75 percent in just 5 years, from an estimated 506,000 to 126,000.[13]

Oh, and Kim, there is no Thimerosal in MMR vaccines. Just thought you should know.

If only this happened in the real world:

Suzanne Somers joins other anti-medical vultures to pick at the flesh of the still very much alive Christina Applegate

Nina Fedoroff on why genetically modified food is good, why the Secretary of State needs a science adviser, and  science diplomacy.

Article on atheist billboard in Playboy Magazine – I was fortunate enough to see an almost identical billboard on my commute to work every day on the New Jersey Turnpike for a few months last year.

How large is Big Religion in America? – I’m not entirely in favor of the whole “framing” thing with regards to these issues but I’m personally just a big fan of the phrase “Big Religion” myself…though I only use it somewhat ironically, not so much as a “framing” technique or for propaganda purposes.

Creationist and “former atheist” Anthony Flew reviews “The God Delusion” – I think someone’s a little jealous of Dawkins’ vast, vast, vastly superior book sales:

“But what is much more remarkable than that economic achievement is that the contents – or rather lack of contents – of this book show Dawkins himself to have become what he and his fellow secularists typically believe to be an impossibility: namely, a secularist bigot. (Helpfully, my copy of The Oxford Dictionary defines a bigot as ‘an obstinate or intolerant adherent of a point of view’).”

Then I guess that makes Flew a Creationist bigot by the same definition and us all math bigots and history bigots too. I know I personally am intolerant of the belief that 2 + 2 = 5 and am completely intolerant of beliefs that are just plain: WRONG! I think Mr. Flew greatly undermines and diminishes the severity of what that word means. Maybe he should visit Afghanistan with some female friends or he should pretend to be an out of the closet gay man in the Bible Belt to learn what bigotry really means. If intellectual honesty is bigotry then call me a proud bigot!

Answers in Genesis’ poor responses to the 2 Evolution stories in the New York Times this weekend

And now for a moment of science:

Monkeys Enjoy Giving To Others – “Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, have shown capuchin monkeys, just like humans, find giving to be a satisfying experience. This finding comes on the coattails of a recent imaging study in humans that documented activity in reward centers of the brain after humans gave to charity.”

Bizarre Qualities Can Drive Species Evolution – “The ostentatious, sometimes bizarre qualities that improve a creature’s chances of finding a mate may also drive the reproductive separation of populations and the evolution of new species, say two Indiana University Bloomington biologists.”

Researchers Study ‘Cocktail Party Effect’ – “Call it the cocktail party effect: how an individual can participate in a one-on-one conversation within a cluster of people, switch to another, pick up important comments while tuning out others, change topics and return to the first conversation.”