Observations and inanities by a second-shift assistant supervisor in the Puppy-Grinding division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "Sure it's cruel, but think of the jobs!"), your host, Brent Rasmussen.
Jon Voisey of The Angry Astronomer blog happens to be a member of the Society for Open Minded Atheists and Agnostics (SOMA) in Lawrence, Kansas. Brenda Frei, the atheist featured on the "30 Days" show is also a member and Jon was able to talk with her and get a pretty detailed scoop on what went on behind the scenes at the show. Very interesting reading.
[Jon Voisey] Once on the set, she had the 30 Days film crew constantly in her face. Of them, the field producer was reportedly the hardest to deal with. Towards the end of the filming, the field producer revealed that she was a Christian “because she liked opening presents at Christmas.”
For those that haven’t seen the episode, in the first few days, Michael takes Brenda to his local mega-church. Brenda comments that there’s an awful lot of money tied up in such a thing. Michael immediately gets rather testy.
In response, the field producer told Brenda that she was “ruining the relationship.” Every time Brenda tried to correct things or hold her tongue, she said that the field producer would tell her to do the opposite and was constantly contradicting herself. Brenda says that the field producer was more difficult to deal with than the actual family.
My wife received a very disturbing email recently forwarded from a right-wing godder associate. Before I comment I'll let you see it:
The Iranian Ambassador to the UN had just finished giving a speech, and walked out into the lobby where he met President Bush. They shook hands, and as they walked the Iranian said, "You know, I have just one question about what I have seen in America. President Bush replies, "Well, anything I can do to help you, I will."
The Iranian whispered "My son watches this show 'Star Trek' and in it there is Chekhov who is Russian, Scotty who is Scottish, and Sulu who is Chinese, but no Arabs. My son is very upset and doesn't understand why there aren't any Arabs on Star Trek." President Bush laughed, leaned toward the Iranian ambassador, and whispered back, "It's because it takes place in the future."
Ha fucking ha. Get it? Cause there won't be any of them there Arab's left in the future. Hilarious.
It amazes me that there are people out there that find this amusing and worth passing on but I suppose it shouldn't.
This goes to the seven UTI readers who don't read Pharyngula: head to PZ's thread about the Florida Citizens for Science, a group that published a pro-evolution press release and got bombarded with idiotic rebuttals filled with gems like "evolution is a religion" and "there is no evidence for macroevolution." The group's thread asking for help is here; my own contribution to why creationism is unscientific is here.
You may already have heard about the massacre in a Lancaster school house earlier today, so before I start my rant I would first like to offer my condolences to the families of the victims.
Recently CBS news has added a new segment, titled "Free Talk" to their nightly news. This segment allows someone to express their opinions on current events. Sometimes the speaker has some interesting insites, sometimes they don't. Today's speaker was chosen specifically because he was the father of one of the kids killed during the infamous Columbine Massacre, in order to share his feelings on why the number of school massacres has increased. This person basically said that massacres in public schools are on the rise because we have kicked God out of our schools. Because we refuse to teach creationism and instead teach evolution our public schools are operating in a moral vacuum. He made the usual argument about how atheists have no respect for human life and how abortion has cheapened life.
This was about the point when I hit the ceiling, you see I was bullied in high school and have a pretty good idea of what goes through a kid's mind when he/she is being picked on constantly and when no one seems to come to his/her defense, the difference is that I was never desperate enough to throw everything away. By now probably everyone knows that the gunman had some sort of grudge against young girls in general, ever since he went to that school house 20 years ago. I have no idea what his reasons might have been, nor do I know why he apparently held this grudge for 20 years. However I do know that flying off the handle and killing people is not related to a lack of religion in schools. Using the deaths of innocent girls as a platform for pushing your religion is beyond tactless, it's down right despicable.
My wife and I were at our friend's house this weekend to play cards and relax after a too-busy Saturday. During a break, sitting outside on the patio having some drinks, I was thinking about the bill, the "Military Commissions Act of 2006", approved by the Senate by a vote of 65-34 that would suspend habeas corpus for anyone labeled as, and I quote from the bill, an "unlawful enemy combatant engaged in hostilities or having supported hostilities against the United States".
I looked around at my friends and asked them all out of the blue, "does anyone here know what "habeas corpus" is?" At best I got blank stares. At worse I got chuckles because old Brent was spooling up to say something again. Heh. Ah, well. It was too important to not say. I needed for my friends to understand what was going on.
So, I attempted to explain it. I said, "The concept of 'habeas corpus' means that when you get arrested, the government has to either charge you with a crime, or release you. It was first conceived of in the year 1215 in the document called the 'Magna Carta'. It was the only civil right deemed important enough to be added to the main body of the Constitution by our Founding Fathers." I then went on to explain that our other civil rights were added to the constitution later, in the Bill of Rights. "It has been the foundation of English Common Law, the system that our own system is based on," I continued, "for more than 800 years."
Ack. More blank stares. One of our friends piped up, "Isn't that one of those court things?"
Dammit. This is why we are losing our civil rights. These are ostensibly educated, adult citizens. My friends are funny, good at their jobs, kind to their children and pets, able to drive a car without killing themselves or others, helpful to strangers, able to buy a home...
...and abysmally, sadly, HUGELY ignorant about our country and the Constitution which makes our country even possible.
Let's recap what has happened just in the last two years:
- Our First Amendment civil rights have been dealt a body blow by the "Public Expression of Religion Act of 2005". This would bar the recovery of attorneys' fees to those who win lawsuits asserting their fundamental constitutional and civil rights in cases brought under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Basically, this means that only filthy rich people could take the government to court and fight for their First Amendment rights because regular folks like us couldn't afford it, and even if we won the case, couldn't recover our costs.
- Now, the "Military Commissions Act of 2006" tanks the only civil right explicitly spelled out in the main body of the Constitution, habeus corpus, which now can be suspended by our President at any time simply by identifying someone, anyone, as "an enemy combatant".
More below the fold...
The Republican Representative from Florida, Katherine Harris, has gone completely off the deep end and has entered into "dangerous lunatic" territory. She is the type of politician that will do her damnedest to push this country into a repressive, dominionist Christian theocracy.
[Katherine Harris] "If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," Harris told interviewers from the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention. She cited abortion and same-sex marriage as examples of that sin.
Harris, a candidate in the Sept. 5 Republican primary for U.S. Senate, said her religious beliefs "animate" everything she does, including her votes in Congress.
Nice. It's the Dominionist viewpoint in a nutshell, from a nut, no less. But this particular nut is up for elected office and has a chance of being elected to the U.S. Senate by her fellow Floridians.
Do you want this wild-eyed fruitcake to have a say in designing legislation for the United States as a whole? Frankly, it scares the crap out of me.
Harris told the journalists "we have to have the faithful in government" because that is God's will. Separating religion and politics is "so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers," she said.
Hmnn. Odd. I was always under the impression that the voters chose our elected representatives. What fucking alternate pseudo-America is this wackjob living in where the divine hand of a magical god chooses "rulers" for us?
Holy shit, people. I mean, wow. Just... wow.
"And if we are the ones not actively involved in electing those godly men and women," then "we're going to have a nation of secular laws. That's not what our Founding Fathers intended, and that certainly isn't what God intended."
Gasp! A nation of secular laws!? Why, that would be, would be... Constitutional, you freak!
It floors me that we elect clearly insane people like Rep. Harris. What the heck is going on out there, Florida? Is this your best and brightest? An insane Governor and an insane Representative who's running for the Senate now?
After the negative opinion started pouring in, Harris' public relations monkeys worked overtime on a blurb for distribution:
"Congresswoman Harris encourages Americans from all walks of life and faith to participate in our government," it stated. "She continues to be an unwavering advocate of religious rights and freedoms."
Uh, huh. Sure she does.
You can stop this. It's up to you to go to the polls and vote this insane theocratic kingmaker out of office. This is not just Florida anymore - you're fucking with the rest of the country now. Your country needs your help at this most critical time.
Don't let us down. Re-elect Democratic Senator Bill Nelson.
Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris is now available for all of your Christian friends. I got it last night and have already read it (it's not even a full 100 pages). Harris hits many of the same topics he did in The End of Faith except this time he is talking more directly to American Christians (of all denominations). With it being a rather slim volume Harris moves quickly from point to point, with great clarity and making a very strong case for the abandonment of religious faith. The apologists will have their hands full with this quick read for quite some time (I'm sure several of them are already hard at work).
So, you know the whole "embryonic stem cell" thing? You remember how the Catholic church held to the insane belief that an embryo equalled a fully-grown human person, therefore using embryonic stem cells for research and other applications was wrong? It is the same objection that they raise to abortion, basically.
Using the stem cells from dead embryos that are going to be destroyed anyway didn't seem to appease them any.
Along comes Robert Lanza and his team of scientists at Advanced Cell and they create "embryo-safe" embryonic stem cell lines. What they do is grab the embryo when it consisits of only 8 to 10 cells, remove ONE of the cells, then culture it to create a new line of stem cells. The embryo, minus one single cell, has the abiulity to be implanted into a woman and grow normally into a human being.
Wow! Embryonic stem cells wothiout harming an embryo! You'd think that the Catholic church would be ecstatic!
You'd think wrong.
[link] Advanced Cell then made things worse by extracting what could be a "totipotent" cell, Sgreccia said.
"This is not just any cell, but a cell capable of reproducing a human embryo," Sgreccia said. He added that, in effect: "a second embryo is being destroyed".
Across the Atlantic, Richard Doerflinger, a bioethics expert with the US Conference of Bishops, has accused the scientists of "killing" 16 embryos during their research.
What the fuck is a "totipotent" cell? Is the Catholic church making words up again? A "second embryo"? One cell is now an embryo? Removing one cell from 16 different embryos is "killing" an additional 16 embryos? If that's the case, then we're all guilty of murder most foul every time we scratch.
I say again, WTF? What complete and utter lunacy.
I really hope that the scientific community working on stem cells finally just ignores the prehistoric crap coming out of the Vatican and continue to do good science. Stem cell research is the most exciting thing happening right now in the biological sciences, with the greatest potential for benefit to everyone on the planet. A superstitious bunch of old men in Italy should NOT have veto power over science.
Update: Alert reader cserpent sets me straight on the word "totipotent". Dangit. I knew I should have looked that up! :)
[cserpent] Nah, the catholic church makes up a lot of batshit insane things, like the assumption of Mary, but it didn't make up the word totipotent. It means a cell capable of differentiating into any other type of cell. The cells in the earliest stages of an embryo, like a morula are considered totipotent because each is capable, under the influence of chemical signals from its neighbors, of becoming pretty much any part of the body. They usually differentiate into pluripotent and multipotent stem cells, capable of giving rise to many different tissues and many different cell types of a particular tissue, respectively.
The second part about the fate of that one cell, however, is flat-out wrong. That one cell can't become a whole embryo, absent the various chemical signals diffusing from its neighbors. Nor would anyone be able to manufacture multiple embryos from breaking apart that earlier embryo, at least not in humans. So they are off their nut on that account (and so many others). But, what do you expect from the every sperm is sacred crowd?
John L. Doiron is a new opinion columnist at The Conservative Voice. In keeping with CV's, ahem, oh-so-reasonable demeanor, Doiron comes out with guns blazing in his piece called "The American Party".
He advocates a "three-pronged attack" that is nothing less than a strident call for a Christian theocratic revolution. In his third prong, which is, he writes, to "take away power from the Federal Government", he lays out a laundry list of things he wishes to see happen.
One of them is to install a theocracy.
[link] 7. We shall dismiss any litigious act that undermines our Judeo/Christian heritage. We shall tolerate other religions to freely worship as they wish, but none shall be equal to or take away from our Judeo/Christian foundations. Atheist and Agnostics are responsible to our laws.
Implying, of course, a Christian rule, and that right now, us evil atheists and agnostics aren't responsible to our laws.
You know, because we control the government and all.
Then his paranoia shines brightly through the rhetoric.
[link] 23. Our Government will not quash free speech in a house of worship!
When was the last time you heard of government goon squads marching into churches and forcibly silencing the parishoners? This is pure persecution fantasy. Doiron obviously equates not having his own particular flavor of religious wingnuttery treated with preference to "quashing free speech." What complete and utter bullshit.
Later, he contradicts himself about his "Christians are more equal than everyone else" stance by invoking the "we're all just 'Mercans!" crap.
[link] “WE are ONE,” no matter your RACE or Creed. This realization will cause our Government to fear US!
We will either move our leaders to do our collective will, or WE will move them into obscurity!
Wow. Doiron mentions a website at the end of his insane diatribe called "http://www.iamdone.us/". Right now it is a "Coming Soon" sort of thing, but I will be interested in seeing what comes up there.
More insanity? What do you think?
Check out the Panda's Thumb deconstruction of creationist Jonathan Wells' new book called The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design. It promises to be a hoot. PZ is dismantling the chapter on embryology.
Jonathan Wells is one of the most notorious activists of the political ad campaign known as “intelligent design”. He is most well known for his attacks on modern biology, specifically his 2000 book, Icons of Evolution, which was panned by the scientific community for its fraudulent presentation of modern biology.
Does Jonathan Wells, aiming once again at the popular market, restore his scientific and academic reputation with his latest book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, or is it just old trash in a new bag? To find out, you will need to read our multi-part review, which begins tomorrow.
One thing is for sure, Jonathan Wells is too modest. His recently published, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, is not only politically incorrect but incorrect in most other ways as well: scientifically, logically, historically, legally, academically, and morally.
Oh yeah, and help out with the Googlebomb by linking the title of the book with the Panda's Thumb article instead. Like this:
The Reverend LaBouf is just innocently trying to follow the Bible, but I think he went wrong on this one because he missed the fact that...
...she's a MAN, baby! Yeah!
[link] The First Baptist Church dismissed Mary Lambert on Aug. 9 with a letter explaining that the church had adopted an interpretation that prohibits women from teaching men. She had taught there for 54 years.
The letter quoted the first epistle to Timothy: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."
The Rev. Timothy LaBouf, who also serves on the Watertown City Council, issued a statement saying his stance against women teaching men in Sunday school would not affect his decisions as a city leader in Watertown, where all five members of the council are men but the city manager who runs the city's day-to-day operations is a woman.
"I believe that a woman can perform any job and fulfill any responsibility that she desires to" outside of the church, LaBouf wrote Saturday.
Sorry for that horrible Austin Powers impression up there. What I want to know is when they refer to the "first epistle to Timothy", are they talking about something in the actual bible, or is it Rev. Timothy LaBouf's own personal "Bible" written in crayon and decorated with pictures of puppies, flowers, and kitty cats?
Citizens of the City of Watertown, NY, I encourage you to kick the bum out.
Thanks to my new favorite funny website Fundies Say The Darndest Things, we find out from a budding 20-year-old Christian braintrust nicknamed "lily00" that physics can be different on different planets, but that the Holy Bible is unchanging.
[link] "[Explaining how calculations were made for the unlikelihood of Earth being able to support life]
They looked at what humans needed for life. I don't know what the big deal is about the laws of physics. Can't the laws of physics be different in another planet if there is one? I agree with many of the points the movie brought out though, like needed liquid water, the right amount of sun, things like that. If there is another planet out there, they probably have the same Holy Bible we do and everything. Really cool."
lily00, Christian Forums
It is amazing to me that someone like this can lead a normal life without, oh I don't know, chopping their fingers off while grating cheese or something. Ignorance on this scale just absolutely floors me. It underscores the problem with science acceptance, education, and understanding in this country.
Most folks seem to be just like this "lily00" idiot. They just just wallow in ignorance, and then loudly proclaim that they are darned proud of being an ignorant moron - as if that is somehow preferable or more honorable than taking the time to learn and become become educated and knowledgeable.
I weep for our country.