Darwin Fashion Show

British fashion designer Alexander McQueen unveiled his new collection inspired by Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species:

“Models with their hair teased into devil-like horns, strutted the catwalk in minidresses decorated with all manner of colourful, elaborate skins. Ruffled hemlines were frilled to resemble feathers, and vibrant fabrics were printed to resemble amphibian-like breastplates.”

Actually I have no idea what any of these costumes have to do with evolution, but I felt compelled to post them since they combined my biology love with my horrible fascination with America’s Next Top Model. Aka, I like sparkly weird costumes. I guess this was a better idea than having all of the models wearing giant beards, or having each outfit gradually change over time. That would be a long, not so interesting fashion show.

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

Just one word:



EDIT: Okay, more words since I am a blogger after all and I can’t shut up about my opinion.

To the Obama Nobel Prize haters saying he hasn’t done anything yet – inspiring hope in not just the US, but the entire world is an amazing feat. Making many nations stop utterly loathing the US is an amazing feat. Averting possible new wars is an amazing feat. He has been trying to do so much, but when stubborn, uncompromising Republicans do nothing but stop progress, what do you expect? If anything, receiving this prize will give him even more clout, and make the path towards the goals he envisions even easier. Remember, the Nobel Peace Prize isn’t necessarily given out for successful accomplishments – it is also given to people with great visions who are working hard for human rights and democracy. It is used to help them achieve their goals.

Okay, continue discussing.

Tony Blair: Atheists as bad as terrorists?

The Times reports on Tony Blair’s recent speech at Georgetown University, where he had some strong words to say about the irreligious:

“We face an aggressive secular attack from without. We face the threat of extremism from within.”

Arguing that there was “no hope” from atheists who scorn God, he said the best way to confront the secularist agenda was for all faiths to unite against it.

He said: “Those who scorn God and those who do violence in God’s name, both represent views of religion. But both offer no hope for faith in the twenty first century.”

Yet another example of “As long as you’re believe in something, that’s okay.” It’s troubling when such a prominent politician feel the need to attack non-theists and compare us to religious extremists. When’s the last time an atheist has flown a plane into a building, or performed a suicide bombing? The only thing we attack is illogical, delusional thinking, and in that regard he’s right – we’re a threat. For a man in the running for the President of the European Council, you think he’d be a little more sensitive…you know, since Europe has a gigantic amount of nonbelievers.

(Via Gulf Stream Blues)

Colbert wants to be in the conservative bible, Conservapedia explodes

By now you’ve probably heard of Conservapedia’s hilarious idea to edit the Bible to remove liberal bias. Because you know, gender inclusive language, using the word “comrade”, and a lack of parables about free market are horrible things caused by the liberal media. While most people have been ridiculing this, they do have one strong supporter: Stephen Colbert. He supports it so much, that he asked his viewers to go edit Conservapedia so he can be a Biblical figure.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tip/Wag – Conservapedia, Louvre & Honda Unicycle
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Michael Moore

His fans were so excited to spread the conservative gospel of Stephen Colbert that Conservapedia crashed within minutes of his request. Unfortunately, Conservapedia didn’t keep any of their edits. How sad. I mean, Stephen Colbert as a biblical figure is just as accurate as what they plan to do with the Bible – why not let us help out?

Science, Boobies, and Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer awareness month. There are all sorts of days and weeks and months designated to promoting awareness of worthy causes, but breast cancer is especially important to me since my mother is a survivor. She was diagnosed the summer before my senior year of high school, which would be a little over four years ago. My mom was very lucky in that she caught the cancer early because of her persistent self examination. She felt a lump, but the doctors didn’t believe her – she nagged them and had more than one mammogram before they realized she did, in fact, have breast cancer. If she hadn’t been checking herself and been so diligent, I’m afraid to think what would have happened to her.

I have to admit, at the time I wasn’t really too worried. It was probably a combination of me being young and naive, and knowing that she had caught it early enough that her prognosis was good. My general mantra for dealing with bad things in life is don’t worry about what may happen, just do your best to avoid it and fret when it actually does happen. To me, we just had to be level headed, get treatment, and hope for the best. If her status worsened, then I could start freaking out. Not only do I have an oddly unemotional approach to life, but my mom was a fighter. She tried not to let it show how sick the chemotherapy made her, or how sad she was about losing her hair. Instead she would buy trendy hats or talk about how maybe she’d be more stylish by keeping her hair short after her treatment.

She even said the cancer didn’t upset her – the thing she feared the most is that she wouldn’t be able to watch my senior golf season because she would be too weak (I was the captain of my team and one of the best players in the region). My mom scheduled her chemo and radiation around my golf schedule, so she would be sick on my practices and well enough to walk with my Dad and follow me during my matches and tournaments.

She would brag to the nurses how her daughter was going to go study genetics and maybe solve all of these problems. While I’m not in cancer research and there’s not going to be some magical “cure” that works for every type of cancer, she still recognizes the roll that science plays in saving lives. I’ve said before that my mom is sort of a deist, but I don’t remember a single time her asking for people to pray for her, or referencing religion in any way. What I do remember is discussing treatments, what certain chemicals do, how radiation actually works… How I was learning about cancer in human genetics, and she would ask me how exactly cancer starts, how likely you are to get it, if her cancer means I’ll get breast cancer, if certain genetic tests were worth while… We talked about science.

Science saves lives, and it can only get better at saving lives if they have money and support. Visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation for information or to donate. Susan G. Komen for the Cure has a good review on breast self exams, for those of you with boobies (or with girlfriends whose boobies you like to prod). For those of you in the twitterverse, you can participate in #boobiewednesday to show your support for breast cancer research by tweeting about it and changing your avatar to a photo of your chest (yet more incentive to follow me on twitter*)!

I know there are some feminists who hate boob campaigns, like selling shirts that say “I Love Boobies”, because they say it reduces woman to their breasts. To an extent, I understand. Breast cancer research isn’t about saving boobs, it’s about saving women. If a woman has lost her breasts, that doesn’t make her any less human. But I don’t think these movements mean any harm. They’re just exploiting people’s infantile humor (omg boobies lol) in order to raise money for a good cause. It would be lovely if people would just donate money out of the goodness of their heart, but they don’t…so the way I see it, let’s milk boobie humor (haha, get it?) for all it’s worth. In the end, it’s saving lives.

*No, you don’t get a bigger version of that pic. You’ll have to live with 48 pixels.

Jesus Camp shuts down

EDIT: Wow, blogging fail, guys. Apparently this article was from 2006. I blame trying to post this before hurrying off to class…and reddit. Damn you, reddit.

From Christianity Today:

The camp featured in the controversial documentary Jesus Camp will shut down due to negative response from the film, according to camp director Becky Fischer.

The documentary spotlights Kids on Fire, a charismatic summer camp where evangelical children are recruited to “God’s army.” The children who attend the camp are shown shaking and sobbing over abortion and praying over a cardboard cutout of President Bush.

The camp takes place at a rented facility in Devil’s Lake, N.D., but Fischer said the owners of the campground asked her not to return after vandals caused $1,500 in damage in October.

Fischer told CT she would have made the decision to shut the camp regardless, because she is worried about people who would attend simply to disrupt the camp. Since the film’s release, she has been bombarded with e-mails and phone calls.

“Christians go after me because of doctrinal issues, whereas the world is going after me because they think I’m another Adolf Hitler,” she said. “They’re accusing me of raising a Christian jihad.”

I’m disappointed people have felt the need to vandalize the camp, and that they feel like they need to shut down due to fear of disruption. That is never a good way to handle situations, even if you vehemently disagree with them. However, I have to say I’m kind of happy this camp will no longer exist. If you haven’t seen the movie (which you should), the indoctrination of children that goes on there is terrifying. This isn’t just some Christian summer camp where they sing kumbaya and occasionally mention God…this is creating a Christian jihad.

Of course, it’s probably only a matter of time before another one pops up to replace it…

One life or one hundred thousand?

I just finished watching House, and boy was that ending a doozy. I’ll leave out any details/spoilers for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, so don’t worry. The entire episode was very morally gray, which is both thought provoking and discomforting. It makes you think, “What would I do?” and when you don’t know, you get uneasy.

I’ll present this dilemma since it’s a common thought experiment, not exclusive to House.

As a doctor, you have the ability to end the life of one ill horrible man, an act which will most likely save the lives of a hundred thousand innocent people. If you let the man live, these people will probably die because of his actions. You will most likely not be caught for killing this man, but it’s always a possibility. However, it is your duty as a doctor to save lives. What do you do?

Would your actions be different if you were 100% sure it would save lives, or 100% sure you wouldn’t get caught?

I won’t tell you what happened on House, but beware: read the comments at your own risks. Comments are allowed to contain spoilers about the episode. I’m also not sure what I would do. I may have to stew over it for a while, then I’ll add my thoughts to the comments.

Another letter to the editor

Apparently my response to the student who called non-theists whiny brats actually did make it to the newspaper – it was printed today. I’m a little surprised, since they never called to verify that it was me who wrote the letter (which they usually do). I guess they just assume if Jennifer McCreight is writing in and defending atheism, it’s probably be, haha.

There was another good letter in support of our protests too. Hooray!

Atheist conventions: Where’s the support for young atheists?

Blogs have been on fire about the Atheist Alliance International Convention in California this weekend. Why wouldn’t they be? Not only is it a gathering of freethinkers (which is always fun), but they have great speakers like Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, Daniel Dennett, Brian Dalton (Mr. Diety), PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne, Eugenie Scott, Sean Faircloth… It’s an atheist celebrity extravaganza. But on top of the delight of meeting someone you highly respect, the convention is also educational and a great way to motivate atheist activists.

So why no attention for the younger atheists?

We are the next generation of atheist activists, after all. And many of us are already busy forming clubs, debating, and blogging, at an age where many of today’s movers and shakers of atheism would have still been religious. I’m not saying we’re completely ignored by the movement – the Secular Student Alliance is a fabulous organization that works enormously hard to help freethinking students, and even had their own conference. I’m talking about the huge conferences, like AAIC or TAM or the Global Atheist Convention. And I’m mainly talking about monetary support.

Where are the reduced ticket prices for students? I’m fairly well off for a college student since I’m lucky enough to have many scholarships, but I still can’t just shell out $200 to $400 dollars for entrance into a convention. I would have to think about if it’s worth it for a long time, but for most students it’s not even a question. That money is next month’s rent or food. That money might not even be in their bank account yet. Would it hurt too much to offer a discounted rate for students? Most likely, these individuals wouldn’t be able to come without it, so you would be making a profit with their attendance.

Or looking at the model of other academic conferences, why stop there? The only reason I was able to attend Evolution 09 in Idaho and the American Society of Mammalogist meetings in Alaska was because I won awards that funded my trip. For Evolution, NSF actually sponsored the program, and I had my plane ticket, room and board, conference costs, and food entirely paid for. For ASM, they offered their own award that covered my plane ticket (the biggest cost when going to Alaska). Both were on the stipulation that I present my research.

I understand that the economy isn’t at its best right now, especially for a relatively small movement like atheism… but there have to be donors or organizations somewhere that could pay for part of a plane or conference ticket. Make it highly competitive and so the future leaders of the atheist movement can apply. Make it 25 and younger to narrow it down. Make them contribute – tell us what talk you’d like to give at the convention, send a video of it, do something to prove you’re a good speaker and you have a great story to tell. A younger atheist may not be famous like Richard Dawkins, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have something interesting to say. I think the movement can benefit from hearing the voice of a different generation.

PZ said it himself: “Along similar lines, I’m seeing more young people and more women in attendance; not enough of either, but still a good sign of a healthy, growing movement.”

Trust me, there are plenty of us who’d love to come – we just don’t have the money for the admission price, let alone the travel costs. Give us a little help, atheist organizations!