News From Around The Blogosphere 9.22.10

September 23, 2010

1. 5 Worries Parents Should Drop, And 5 They Shouldn’t – Notice how vaccine injuries didn’t make the list, but that car accidents made the number one spot. Maybe the anti-vaxxers should campaign to get rid of cars instead. After all, are cars not filled with toxins? Do they not cause millions of deaths every year?

2. Man charged with pretending to practice witchcraft – No, it wasn’t Christine O’Donnell. An Ontario man charged people money in exchange for allegedly promising to perform magic to solve any and all of his customers’  problems. Yeah, he should have realized that scam had a short expiration date.

3. Teaching robots to lie, cheat, and deceive – OH COME ON! Just the other day I had a little fun by referencing all the classic destructive robots of science fiction from the Cylons to the Terminators to the Replicants, to the machines of The Matrix when news came out about an artificial human skin for future robots that was sensitive to touch. But now comes a story about programmers giving robots the ability to lie. It just makes referencing how science fiction writers have foreseen that scenario going terribly wrong way too fuckin’ easy.

4. Pastor Terry Jones billed $180K for security surrounding protest – Damn it! I hate when I have to defend assholes. But here we go again. The Florida pastor who successfully manufactured the bullshit Koran-burning controversy is being billed for the increased security added to public places in response to fears that he’d single-handedly provoke an Islamic fundamentalist terror attack. That is fuckin’ bullshit. If that survives a court decision, it would set a horrible precedent that would greatly undermine free speech. Terry didn’t shout fire in a crowded theater. Whatever one may think of book burning, he had every legal right to burn any book he wants, so long as he owns it. And in fact, he didn’t burn a single book, merely claimed that he would. And if anyone should be held accountable, it should be the Islamic fundamentalists who are so insane, they provoke people into spending $180K on extra security every time some Islamic critic gets attention for stirring shit up. But if anyone else were to be deserving of blame, it’d be the media who turned this small town pastor’s little stunt into international news. There’s no reason I should have even heard of Pastor Jones, let alone Muslim radicals in the Middle East. Make no mistake. It was the media’s love of sensationalism that drove this story, not the actions of some redneck asshole.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 5.14.10

May 14, 2010

1. Another kid excluded from Catholic school due to lesbian parents – This is the second time in just the last few months that a Catholic school has decided that children of lesbian parents don’t deserve an education. This time it’s in Massachusetts. It’s just a shame the kid’s parents weren’t child rapists. Cause otherwise he’d get right in.

2. News anchor duped by YouTube video of people running on water – He says it couldn’t be a visual trick because he watched it in slow-mo (cause you can’t trick in slow-mo, right?) and his explanation is centrifugal force (even though that involves rotation). The actual explanation is that this video is a viral ad for Hi-Tec Sports, an athletic shoemaker.

3. Central African Republic courts overwhelmed by witch trials – Many alleged witches are facing criminal punishment for hexing their enemies or assuming the shape of animals. I hate when that happens. About 40% of all cases here are over witchcraft. And the rights of the accused are violated regularly in witchcraft prosecutions, because the charge carries enormous pressure to confess. And the alternative to these prosecutions is mob justice from people convinced witches are hexing people with impunity. I’m so glad we live in the 17th century.

4. Priest tries exorcism on handicapped girl – The girl was both physically and mentally disabled. The priest spoke in gibberish and then started demanding the girl to speak:

“The girl would not have even been able to comprehend, let alone follow instructions. It was very undignified for the young lady and she was just crying, howling at the altar.”

Suffice it to say, it didn’t work. The church’s excuse for this unseemly affair is that the priest was a foreigner. So I guess that means they’d have let him get away with virgin sacrifices too.

5. 13-year-old Somalian rape victim stoned to death – Yeah, that will teach her not to be raped. All in a days work for the religion of peace we call Islam.

6. Polish pop singer faces 2-years in prison for blasphemy – In a television interview last year, 26-year-old Dorota Rabczewska, known as “Doda”, said she found it far easier to believe in dinosaurs than the Bible; “it is hard to believe in something written by people who drank too much wine and smoked herbal cigarettes.” And for that, this pop star and Mensa member may go to jail for 2 years because she hurt the feelings of Catholics. Under Poland’s blasphemy law, simply offending someone’s religious sensibilities can earn you hefty fines and even imprisonment. And while I hate to invoke Godwin’s Law, it needs to be said. And to think I thought Poland got rid of the Nazis.

7. How chimps deal with death

Two studies in the April 27th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, offer rare glimpses into the ways that chimpanzees deal with the deaths of those closest to them. In one case, researchers describe the final hours and moment of death of an older female chimp living in a small group at a UK safari park as captured on video. In the other, researchers observed as two chimpanzee mothers in the wild carried their infants’ mummified remains for a period of weeks after they were lost to a respiratory epidemic.


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!


Pope. Kettle. Black.

March 23, 2009

After telling the continent of Africa that they should avoid AIDS by no longer using condoms, he continues his tour of Africa by insisting, seemingly without any sense of irony, that they need to oppose superstition. I love how PZ Myers says it:

The man who heads an institution with an official top exorcist is asking Africans to “shun witchcraft”, and to reject fear-mongering talk of evil entities…

In his homily, he urged his listeners to reach out to those Angolans who believe in witchcraft and spirits. “So many of them are living in fear of spirits, of malign and threatening powers. In their bewilderment they even end up condemning street children and the elderly as alleged sorcerers,” he said.

Next week, I look forward to listening to The Pope explain that warewolves don’t exist after getting off the phone with his official vampire slayer. Ugh!