Federal authorities finally investigating Texas Board of Ed changes

December 25, 2010

News From Around The Blogosphere 9.24.10

September 25, 2010

1. Bra designed to double as two emergency respiratory devices

Caught in a disaster? You’d better hope you’re wearing the Emergency Bra. Simply unsnap the bright red bra, separate the cups, and slip it over your head — one cup for you, and one for your friend.

Dr. Elena Bodnar won an Ignoble Award for the invention last year, an annual tribute to scientific research that on the surface seems goofy but is often surprisingly practical. And now Bodnar has brought the eBra to the public; purchase one online for just $29.95.

“The goal of any emergency respiratory device is to achieve tight fixation and full coverage. Luckily, the wonderful design of the bra is already in the shape of a face mask and so with the addition of a few design features, the Emergency Bra enhances the efficiency of minimizing contaminated bypass air flow,” explains the eBra website.

What troubles me however is that they claim to be working on a counterpart device for men and I’m not sure I want to put something that’s been sitting on my junk on my face that isn’t a part of the female anatomy.

2. Saint candidate was once temporarily banished from Catholic Church – Mary MacKillop was a 19th century Australian who was being considered for sainthood. But it it seems that in 1871, she was temporarily banished by the Church and thrown out into the street. The reason why was that tried to report priests for–you guessed it–raping children! Everyone by now knows the Catholic Church hates tattletales. So they transferred the pedophile priests to a new diocese (like they always do) and kicked Ms. MacKillop out as punishment for squealing. Some things never change.

3. Texas Board of Education or Ministry of Truth? – The latest Orwellian plot being by the infamous Texas Board of Ed., who largely determine which textbooks are acceptable for use by the rest of the country, is to weed out all those textbooks promoting “pro-Islamic, anti-Christian half-truths and selective disinformation.” Ugh! Fortunately, the Texas Freedom Network has documented the falsehoods in their claims, and is closely monitoring the hearings. Hopefully, they’ll stop them before students are forced to learn that 2+2=5.

4. Six people arrested for burning their own Korans – From 1984 references straight to Fahrenheit 451:

In a joint statement, Northumbria Police and Gateshead Council said: “The kind of behaviour displayed in this video is not representative of our community as a whole.

“Our community is one of mutual respect and we continue to work together with community leaders, residents and people of all faiths and beliefs to maintain good community relations.”

Mutual respect…except when people make demonstrations they don’t like apparently. Regardless of how people might feel about book burning, it’s not a crime. I’ve been forced to defend more assholes this year than probably any other year in my life and I’m getting sick of it. Free Speech is not open to debate. It’s non-negotiable!

5. Canadian university student one-ups Leonardo Da Vinci – Da Vinci once designed a wing-flapping vehicle intended to make man airborne called an omithopter but he never actually built one, let alone flew one.

Todd Reichert, an engineering student at the University of Toronto, made history by sustaining flight in his ornithopter — named Snowbird — for 19.3 seconds and covering 475.72 feet. Snowbird is made from carbon fiber, balsa wood, and foam. The 92.59 pound vehicle maintained an average speed of 15.91 miles per hour.

Suck on that, Da Vinci!

6. 70 Zimbabwe children die within two weeks because of anti-vax religion – The children died of measles. Most the children who died belonged to this particular anti-vaccine sect. This story manages to demonstrate the dangers of possibly the two most destructive ideological forces on the planet, religion and anti-vaxxinationism. Individually, they can be quite destructive but combine the two and you end up with 70 kids dying in two weeks from completely preventable diseases.

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Don McLeroy on ABC

March 14, 2010

If I had a dollar for every stupid thing McLeroy has in this clip, I’d be a rich man:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Phil Plait accurately reflects my outrage at this lunatic here and here.



News From Around The Blogosphere 3.13.10

March 13, 2010

1. Anti-vaxxers vs. the U.S. legal system – I’d been saving this for a much longer piece I intend to write for The Gotham Skeptic this weekend but I felt it was necessary to at least mention it here. It seems that not only has the media turned on the anti-vaccine movement, but this week has been devastating to them in the courtroom. Last year, the best three cases of alleged autism due to vaccine-injury their lawyers could find had their days in court and lost miserably. Now the next three Autism Omnibus cases went before the court and. . .also lost miserably. Additionally, the contemptible Barbara Loe Fisher’s libel suit against Dr. Paul Offit, Amy Wallace, and Conde Nast was thrown out of court. It’s not a good day to be an anti-vaxxer.

2. Frying up Jesus – Jesus has finally returned. . .as bacon grease:

3. Life-enabling molecules spotted in Orion Nebula

The chemical fingerprints of potentially life-building molecules have been detected in the Orion nebula by Europe’s Herschel Space Observatory.

The Orion nebula is a nearby stellar nursery, brimming with gas, dust and infant stars. It is known to be one of the most prolific chemical factories in space, although the full extent of its chemistry and the pathways for molecule formation are not well understood.

No god required.

4. McLeroy failed to change the science textbooks but succeeded in changing the history books – Take note as this may be remembered as the day the new dark ages began:

After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.

The vote was 10 to 5 along party lines, with all the Republicans on the board voting for it.

. . .

“We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”

Yes, history is too liberal. Better change it.

Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)

Yeah, who needs Thomas Jefferson anyway? It’s not like he did anything important in our nation’s history, right? This is an academic disgrace and I hope the school board is sued for violating the Constitution. . .unless of course there is no more constitution according to the new revisionist history.

5. Tom Cruise desperate to salvage his failing career – He seems to think that making light of his previous scandals will fix thing problem. Sorry Tom but there’s only one way to repair your reputation. Leave the cult.


News From Around The Blogosphere 3.12.10

March 13, 2010

1. Texas school board pushing Conservative and Christian spin on American history – Who’s pushing it? Why it”s the recently voted out creationist Don McLeroy. Essentially, they feel that American history is too liberal and atheist, so therefore, students should be taught about all those times Conservatism won out. That should be easy, right? Slavery? No. Keeping evolution out of schools? No. Black suffrage? No. Women’s suffrage? No. Segregation? No. Abortion? No. I guess they want a class to teach about the Great Depression that followed 12 years of conservative presidents, the early 90’s recession that followed 12 years of conservative presidents, the current economic crisis that followed 8 years of conservative rule, and of course Watergate.

2. A Winnipeg man, Rob Johnstone, struggles to find non-religious alcohol rehab program – I don’t understand why everyone’s always whining that AA is religious. Just because a group of people congregate in a church to kneel before god, pray to that god for strength, confess their sins, and acknowledge that they’re sinners by nature and thus powerless to change their sinful ways–that’s no reason to accuse AA of being a religion.

3. ‘Under God’ sustained in Pledge by Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – By a final vote of 2-1, Michael Newdow lost again to get the ‘Under God’ removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. That’s a very small amount to lose by though. At least someone in that decision was persuaded so that leaves room to be hopeful that we may prevail in the near future. Here’s the decision (PDF). Newdow’s next step is to ask the appeals court to rehear the case. If that’s rejected he says he’ll appeal to the Supreme Court.”

4. Ancient DNA found in fossil bird egg shell –

“We were really surprised to discover that ancient DNA is well-preserved in fossil eggshells, particularly the heaviest bird to have existed the elephant bird called Aepyornis, which is now extinct,” said Murdoch doctoral student Charlotte Oskam, who undertook the research.

5. Scientists discover 600 million-year-old origins of vision

By studying the hydra, a member of an ancient group of sea creatures that is still flourishing, scientists at UC Santa Barbara have made a discovery in understanding the origins of human vision.

. . .

Hydra are simple animals that, along with jellyfish, belong to the phylum cnidaria. Cnidarians first emerged 600 million years ago.

“We determined which genetic ‘gateway,’ or ion channel, in the hydra is involved in light sensitivity,” said senior author Todd H. Oakley, assistant professor in UCSB’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology. “This is the same gateway that is used in human vision.”

There once again goes the “irreducible complexity” of the eye argument. And of course for those keeping track, that’s 599,994,000 years before the existence of the entire universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

6. Simon Singh leaves The Guardian

“Being sued for libel is not only ruinously expensive, writes Simon Singh, it takes over your whole life. Which is why this will be his last column”

This is deeply sad. Singh is a fantastic science journalist and we could use people like him more than ever. But it’s inspiring to see him continue to fight for his article exposing chiropractic and for UK libel reform.

7. Surgeon goes into the faith healing business

Dr. Issam Nemeh is a certified surgeon in Cleveland, Ohio but is now using his hands more for praying over people. Numerous medical miracles are being reported by people after visiting and being prayed for by Dr. Nemeh. However, Nemeh refuses to accept the credit for any miracle that takes place with an individual. He says GOD heals people with the Holy Spirit. Nemeh insists he is only an instrument.

Well, we agree on one thing:  he’s a tool.

8. Cancer researchers in British Columbia make lymphoma ‘breakthrough‘ –

The discovery by a team of 26 scientists from throughout North America and Europe shows a new way to predict the 15 to 25 per cent of patients who will have a poor prognosis if they aren’t treated more aggressively from the time of diagnosis.

As Carl Sagan said, science delivers the goods.

9. $cientologists try to censor German film

Bis Nichts Mehr Bleibt, or Until Nothing Remains, dramatises the account of a German family torn apart by its associations with Scientology. A young married couple joins the organisation but as the wife gets sucked ever more deeply into the group, her husband, who has donated much of his money to it, decides to leave. In the process he loses contact with his young daughter who, like his wife, is being educated by Scientology instructors.

Scientology leaders have accused Germany’s primary public TV network, ARD, of creating in top secret a piece of propaganda that sets out to undermine the group, and have demanded to see it before it is broadcast.

Oh, come on! When have the Germans ever been known for making propaganda films? Kidding. I hope the film makes a gazillion dollars.


News From Around The Blogosphere 3.6.10

March 6, 2010

1. Creationist Don McLeroy loses Texas School Board election – DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD! WHICH OLD WITCH? THE WICKED WITCH!

And even better news is that he’s being replaced by Thomas Ratliff, who isn’t delusional and is a real life educator. Imagine that. Unfortunately, Donny boy still has seven months to his term so it ain’t over yet. But soon Texas will be free.

2. Atheist Rep. Pete Stark no longer replacing Charles Rangel as acting chair of Ways and Means Committee

In an untraditional twist, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) will replace Rep. Charles Rangel as acting chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee rather than Rep. Pete Stark (D-Fremont).

Because of seniority, Stark had been in line to take the job and, as of Wednesday evening, House Democrats indicated that it was his, at least on an interim basis.

But Stark’s politics — he’s an unapologetic liberal — and his volatility, with a history of making controversial and provocative statements, concerned other members of the committee as well as the Democratic leadership.

In other words, “It’s an athiest! RUN!” Damn, the Dems are pussies.

3. Boulder pre-school kicks out child for having two mommies

According to teachers at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School, a meeting was held Tuesday to discuss the issue. The staff was told a student would not be allowed to re-enroll because of his or her parents’ sexual orientation. The staff members were also told not to talk to the media.

Yet another reason why Catholics are morally obligated to renounce the Church.


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.