The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NS Bishop Resigns Over Child Porn

Nice. A priest who helped victims of child sexual abuse get a $15 million settlement is now charged with...guess... Come on, I'll give you sixteen guesses and the first fifteen don't count. That's right - possession of child pornography.

And then there's the follow up where he runs away! Surprise, surprise. My bet is that he went off somewhere to kill himself. We'll see. I'd like to think this is all a misunderstanding, but my "priests enjoy sexual relations with young kids" side of me is pretty...well, I'll just say "not optimistic".

I love the part in the article where the archbishop of Halifax says:
"It's devastating for me, it's devastating for him, and it's devastating for the whole church, whether it's in Antigonish or Halifax or the rest of Canada,"
Not one mention of the kids. Pretty telling, as always. It's about the image of the church, not about the horrible abuse of children that those pictures/movies/whatever represent.

Isn't religion wonderful?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dr. Frank Lipman at HuffPo = Fail

*sigh* Once again, the Huffington Post (no, I'm not linking directly and all subsequent links to their silly drivel will be "no follow") comes through as the bastion of woo-friendly bullshit. Meet Dr. Frank Lipman and his Misconception and Misinformation Traveling Salvation Road Show!

Because he's been an infection to rational thought already, the great PalMD at WhiteCoatUnderground has already pounded Lipman over this older piece, but the new bit on Swine Flu is just painful. As though there were not already enough fear-mongering assholery being bandied about....

I know, I know...coming from the Huffington Post, it's not surprising. "What? Pseudoscientific horseshit coming from HuffPo? I won't believe it!" Oh, believe it, brother. Get a load of this woo woo garbage:
My patients are wondering whether or not they should get vaccinated and the simple answer I give most of the time is ..NO!
Then he goes right into the standard canard of all anti-vaccination assholes:
From the outset, let me say, I am not anti all vaccinations, rather I am pro vaccine safety and freedom of choice.
Riiiiiight. You and Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey and Andrew Wakefield. Couldn't be a smarter group of cabbages.

Then, after saying that, "We don't know if the vaccine will be effective", he says:
Vaccines are only useful against the specific viral strain that was available at the time of their manufacture. But influenza viruses mutate quickly, and as the WHO has already said, the real concern with H1N1 swine flu is that it will combine with seasonal flu in the Fall, creating a new strain that will of course be immune to all available vaccines.
Yes, it mutates quickly. We all know that. The 2009 H1N1 vaccine, because it is manufactured specifically for the pandemic virus, should impart immunity to about 95% of patients after one dose.

Now, there are questions about mutation, the odds of getting the flu and so on. I will quote here from one of the ScienceBlogs, Effect Measure, and show Revere's potential outcomes for the seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 flu and why he got both vaccines:
i. Pandemic swine flu A/H1N1 2009 almost completely replaces both subtypes of seasonal flu (seasonal H1N1 and seasonal H3N2) and there's hardly any of it around. Then I get no or little benefit from getting vaccinated (except for the flu B part, which is significant). Since last week 2% of the isolates were seasonal flu, it's hard to say what will happen. We don't usually see much seasonal flu virus this early in the year anyway. Will the future be different?

ii. Pandemic flu and seasonal flu co-circulate. We don't know if that can or will happen. But since I'm in the age group that dies from seasonal flu, I've done the right thing.

iii. Pandemic flu and seasonal flu are out of phase. For example pandemic flu has a sharp but short history and by virtue of using up susceptibles and vaccination it's essentially gone by January, leaving an opening for the seasonal viruses to return and act as they usually do. Again, I've done the right thing.

iv. Pandemic flu changes character and starts to infect my age group, crowds out seasonal flu or something else. Depending on the nature of the changes (maybe it reassorts with something the vaccine works for) I might or might not have come out ahead and everyone else, of all age groups, might or might not come out ahead if they are vaccinated with the seasonal flu vaccine.
So, yes, 2009 H1N1 could recombine with the seasonal Influenza A H1N1 or A H3N2 to create something entirely new. But that's one potential outcome from many and to scare people into not getting a potentially life-saving and safe vaccine because of that is irresponsible...not that that slows Lipman or HuffPo.

Lipman says that, We don't know if the vaccine is safe, and then says:
Since it's never been used before and they have not had time to conduct any sufficient human testing, by getting vaccinated you are being a human guinea pig.
Ummm...really? Let's get a quote from that link, shall we?
As for safety, 70% of the Novartis trial volunteers reported pain at the injection site and 42% had muscle aches, the report says. Two of the vaccinees had a fever after the first dose...By 21 days after vaccination, an immune response (an antibody titer of 1:40 or more) was observed in 116 of 120 volunteers (97%) who received 15 mcg and in 112 of 120 (93%) who received 30 mcg.

The report says 46% of the volunteers reported injection-site tenderness or pain, while 45% had systemic symptoms such as headache. Nearly all the problems were described as mild to moderate, and there were no serious adverse events.
Still want to stick by that, "human guinea pig" comment, Lipman? Of course you do. Why change your mind with, you know, evidence?

Finally, because it's too good, Lipman includes in his, "Top 10 Recommendations" - of which this is number 14 to a brief addendum, because a Top 10 list is just so much sexier than a Top 14 - to keep homeopathic Oscillococcinum close at hand and to use it, "at the earliest sign of cold or flu."

Right. There is no such thing as an "oscillococcinum" bacteria. Fucking guy who "discovered" it likely just saw Brownian motion (nice applet description and visual) and didn't realize it. Then he decided that a duck was the way to go to prepare his stupid, useless homeopathic elixir (diluted to 200C! Are you kidding me?!) and, voila, we still see this shit pushed by unqualified, unscientific, uncritical morons like Dr. Lipman. No, you know what? "Dr." Lipman.

Yeah yeah, he got his MD, but when you're that stupid, your qualifications are suspect regardless of where and when he got them.

Way to go, HuffPo. Another stellar performance from your Health-tarded team of Assheads.The Stupid, It Burns
(Edit Addition: PalMD has added his smackdown over at WhiteCoatUnderground. Go read him too, because he's WAY better than my blatherings.)

(edit note: PalMD now blogs at Scientopia and can be found here.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Don't Be a Damn Bible Scholar

If you're attending university and majoring in, say, psychology, you have a lot to learn. There are huge textbooks that you'll have to slog through, papers you'll have to write, experiments you'll both run and be subjects in, plus so much science you'll have statistics down pat, baby.

Let's say that while you're in school, busily whiling away the hours in front of a book (ok, ok, at the pool table in the campus pub...who are we kidding?), someone tells you that you should be extremely adept in the idea of phrenology. You'd rightly laugh in the bloke's face and lean forward to make that cross-side on the seven-ball. Why would you spend time learning about a modality/theory that is (a) outdated, (b) absolutely pseudo-scientific, and (c) dangerous to use in practice? It makes no sense. Sure, you might learn a bit about it so you can have a laugh at a party, but that's about it, right?

Stay with me here. I hear a lot of skeptics talk about how we need to read the damn bible. We should know the bible just as well or better than the fundies who complain and bitch about no prayer in schools. I see their point, but I don't necessarily agree - we don't need to know about the damn bible because it is just like phrenology: outdated, unscientific, and dangerous in practice. If you want to try to read the thing (as I have several times), do it up, but be aware that it's the worst book ever. The Koran is no better. Read enough to have a good come-back to a sanctimonious assface, but there's no reason to waste your time learning something with nothing other than historical significance. If that's your bag, or if literature study is your thing, then have at it, son.

I just don't have the time.

Credit Where It Is Due

John Travolta and Kelly Preston are going through a situation with which any parent can sympathize. After Travolta's son, Jett, died earlier this year after suffering a seizure, there was much speculation about the actual diagnosis - the seemingly obvious autism, or the Travolta-publicly admitted Kawasaki disease.

Since a couple of assholes have tried to extort money from Travolta by using hospital documents, he has had to return to the Bahamas to attend court. He has now admitted the following:
Travolta said Jett was autistic and suffered seizures every five to 10 days which would last up to a minute and he would typically sleep for 12 hours after each one.

"He was autistic. He suffered from a seizure disorder," the star told the jury.

It was the first time Travolta has confirmed publicly that Jett suffered from autism, a condition which Scientology, the religious system followed by the actor, does not recognise.
Now, whenever Scientology dipshits come out of the woodwork to say/do something retarded, I'm fairly heavy-handed, but here Travolta has suffered a tremendous loss and has admitted a diagnosis his church "does not recognize." Good on him. I'd like to be able to say that we can welcome the former Vinnie Barbarino back to the reality-based community...but not so fast, because the bad news is:
He arrived at the court wearing a black suit and accompanied by several fellow Scientologists in a convoy of three blacked out SUVs.
Dammit. Well, at least his actions are a step in the right direction and deserving of a pat on the back, even if it is hesitant.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Deep's Tweets

Episode 2
Everything is conscious. Living in accord with this truth means that you respect all life forms...
You believe that you are a part of a living whole, and you act as if all your actions help the whole to evolve...
You recognize a kinship with every level of consciousness, from the lowest to the highest...
Really? Everything is conscious? Like, rocks? What about everything living? Ok, so you respect cancer cells? Pretty sure you'd like to kill them all. Oh, and your actions have nothing to do with evolution. Try to grasp the basic concepts you talk about. Christ...a kinship with every level of consciousness. That doesn't even mean anything! Good god, man, you spout drivel at every opportunity!

Ironically, Deepak tries very hard to be deep, but he's about as deep as a fire ant's piss puddle...and about as meaningful.

Mirko "Cro-Cop" Filipovic - Goodbye, Sir

I loved watching Pride FC. I was super happy when the UFC bought it and started bringing guys over to see how the transition would be for the Japan-based contingent like Quinton Jackson, Dan Henderson, and Mirko. The former two did (and are still doing) quite well, but Mirko never really found his rhythm in the States. He struggled and it made me sad to see the North American fans who didn't know anything but UFC badmouth a guy who was a killer in Pride.

Mirko lost his fight against Junior DosSantos at UFC 103 this past Saturday and, by all accounts, is retiring. It's for the best because his last few outings were not great, but man, I'm still a fan of the guy. By way of a little send-off, here's a video of Cro-Cop fighting Igor Vovchanchyn and doing some damage. It also highlights Pride FC's patented "ref-cam" which I miss muchly as well.

Oh, if you have an aversion to seeing a dude get kicked in the head with a really great "thud/slap" sound, you might want to give this a pass. But you don't want to miss it, do you? Really? No, you don't. Enjoy, and thanks to Mirko Filipovic for great fight memories.

Adam Carolla & Mo Collins

I really like listening to Adam Carolla's podcast. He does about an hour daily, Monday to Friday, with various celebrity guests and has a long-form chat about their history in the business, their views on a wide swath of topics, and Adam bitches and moans in a mostly hilarious manner. It's good times.

Sometimes, however, like Bill Maher but to a lesser extent, he goes off on something he doesn't understand and gets backed up by an equally ignorant guest. Today's podcast was one of those days. He was talking to Mo Collins, a comic and sketch actor from Mad TV, and they got on the topic of getting sick. Carolla mentioned that his friend, Dr. Drew, gives out flu shots to people at his home to help up the vaccination rate but that he doesn't ever get it because he "doesn't get sick."

Mo Collins then says this gem of woo woo ignorance:
Your body will get sick when it needs to in order to boost your own immune system...And why am I going to take a shot of something that's the very thing I'm trying to avoid and stick it in my person?
I'm not even going to refute what they say because if you don't understand how the flu works and how the flu vaccine works, then there's better places to go - think Dr. Mark Crislip's great Quackcast site where he just did a podcast about this exact topic. Go to iTunes, search for said title, subscribe, and listen. Also, go to Science-Based Medicine and read their entries on the flu and H1N1 to get the real skinny.

Adam Carolla is great, but he also has strong opinions and works a lot from "common sense", which, as most people in the reality-based community know, is neither common nor sensible. He has a very large audience and we need another celebrity spreading Jenny McCarthy-style misinformation like we need a fuckin' bag on our hip (as Mr. White would say).

Pick it up, Adam.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Indonesia Welcomes the 12th Century!

I was sent this article today that talked about the beautiful land of Indonesia. Specifically, the province of Aceh, which passed a couple of new laws. If you head over to that link, you'll see that the good folks there think it's just dandy to inject "government" powers into your marriage and...what's that term?...stone you to fucking death. Yes, that's it.

More and more, I'm reminded of why religion is such a fucking plague on this planet. There are moderate Muslims out there who think these laws are as barbaric and stupid as I do, but the wackjobs will always be right if you stick to the "holy" texts.
24:2 "The adulterer and the adulteress, scourge ye each one of them (with) a hundred stripes. And let not pity for the twain withhold you from obedience to Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of believers witness their punishment."


25:68 And those who cry not unto any other god along with Allah, nor take the life which Allah hath forbidden save in (course of) justice, nor commit adultery - and whoso doeth this shall pay the penalty; 25:69 The doom will be doubled for him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein disdained for ever;
Right, so a hundred lashes or death. Nice. It always kills me (HA!) that these morons think people are offending the literal creator of the universe, but they think they have to interfere and dole out these punishments themselves. The *creator of the fucking universe* can't handle that job.

"I'm over here trying to make a triple neutron star cluster and...what's that? On Earth? They cheated on their wives? Oh, fuck me, I've got to go ALL the way over there to lash them... What? Oh, right, KILL them. Man, it's just one more thing followed by another..."

My favorite line of the article is this one:
"This law is a preventive measure for Acehnese people so that they will avoid moral degradation,"
Call me what you will, but I think beating the living shit out of someone or, worse yet, stoning them to death, is pretty goddamn morally deficient. I guess, as I said off the start, I'm not surprised. It is religion after all.

(tip o' the horns to Tony for the email)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Norman E. Borlaug: 1914 - 2009


I first heard of Norman Borlaug from watching a season one show of Penn & Teller's Bullshit. If you haven't seen it, go watch it somewhere or buy the season. Borlaug's efforts in agriculture saved a *billion* lives.

He died yesterday at 95.

If you don't know about him, go read his bio at the Nobel Prize website - he won the Peace Prize in 1970. It's worth spreading this man's legacy as far as we can; he was a true hero of humanity.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Grassroots Skeptics

Ok, I was away for the weekend on a fabulous canoe trip (where I didn't catch one fish and almost tipped over in the river), which made me unable to mention a new support group for fledgling skeptic organizations that launched on September fourth. You can go check them out at Grassroots Skeptics and peruse the links and options. I heard the main guy, K.O. Myers, interviewed on the Skeptically Speaking podcast and the site sounds interesting and helpful.

Go, read, enjoy.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Getting Out of Practice

I know...I know. I don't write at all anymore. Every time I come back with a lame little posting, there's a two-week lag before anything else shows up. It sucks, but life's getting in the way over here. Another kid on the way (in early March of next year) and trying to finish a distance education course, plus working and trying to be married...oh, and attempting to have some semblance of a social life, well, all that stuff makes for not too much time to get words to screen. I still get mightily pissed at all the retardation in the world, but dammit if I can't get up the energy to jot it down in proper vitriolic fashion a couple times a week.

I have to get a digital video camera and just do those 10 minute ranty clips. That might be the way for me to go.

In any event, I wanted to point out the Catholic League and Bill Donohue's stupid letter-writing campaign aimed at Penn & Teller's show, Bullshit. In case you haven't seen it, P&T did an episode trashing the Vatican (you can even watch the episode there!) which, of course, made Donohue's pedophile-priest-loving head explode. He compared P&T to Nazis and complained that Penn used "vile language", but, oddly, he never rebutted any of their claims.

I watched the episode and thought it was actually pretty tame. I would have liked them to have cornered a priest or bishop or something, but what can you do? Donohue needs to take out a full-page ad and correct the "errors" P&T's staff made in their research rather than the bullshit (ha!) protectionist measures he's throwing out now.

Fuck Bill Donohue and the Catholic League. Oh, and the Vatican.

That is all.