Happy whatever you celebrate!

My wife and I are hosting my sister for the day, cooking a small ham and playing video games and drinking wine and generally staying off the intertubes. Whatever you have planned for the day, I hope your plans find you and your friends and family in good health, and I hope you enjoy the day.

If you really need something to entertain you today, others around FtB have posted alternative carols, videos of The Muppets, an explanation of the ‘reason for the season’ (what, no axial tilt?), recipes for gingerbread, debunked Virginia’s letter, or talked about Isaac Newton.

I’m going to enjoy my day with my family now, incomplete as that family presence might be. You really should do so too. PZ commanded it last night, I’m commanding it today.

Happy Solstice, Newtonmas, Saturnalia, Festivus, and yes, even Christmas. (Among other festivals that fall on or around this day.)

LHC discovers a new boson

Sadly, it’s not the Holy Grail that is the Higgs boson, but it’s a new particle that was predicted by the Standard Model but never actually observed.

It is called Chi_b (3P) and will help scientists understand better the forces that hold matter together.

The as-yet unpublished discovery is reported on the Arxiv pre-print server.

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Merry Christmas, Komodo Dragon Zombie Superman Jesus

Here’s the Tim Minchin piece that got pulled from the UK channel ITV’s Jonathan Ross Christmas special just in time for the holidays. I don’t honestly see what the problem is with this song — he’s told a very accurate account of everything believers think about Jesus. Every single line item is absolutely true, though the believers certainly wouldn’t use the same words.

Shame that telling the truth is often a revolutionary act. It got pulled out of fear that the nastier theists might wage a takedown campaign. If that’s what this has come to — that you can’t put unpopular interpretations about a popular religion on air because someone might be offended, even though every aspect of what you’re saying is demonstrably true individually and in toto, then you’re dealing with fascist-wannabes, not “love thy neighbor” types.

My only real complaint is that it’s not nearly as catchy as some of his others. It feels like it could use a bit of polish.

Bingo Cards for Evo Psych blog comments

Quick, print out a copy of this card, nicked from The JAYFK, and try it out with Bering in Mind‘s pedophile-enabling nonsense. Oh, sorry, hebephile. Which is like pedophile, only the middle-aged adults are kind enough to wait for these children to enter puberty, which limits the kids to 8 at the absolute youngest. How generous of them!

Evolutionary Psychology Bingo Card

If you haven’t gotten a Bingo hit by the end of the post, see Gross Anatomy’s comments over at Stephanie’s. I’m sure you’ll be a winner by the end of the thread! The loser: your sanity.

Marieke Hardy apparently incorrectly named the man who calls her things

A while back, in my post The General Pushback against Misogynist Trolls Begins, I mentioned an incident where Marieke Hardy, a screen writer from Australia, has endured a years-long hate campaign by a particularly vicious little misogynist troll. She posted the name Joshua Meggitt in a post supporting the Twitter #mencallmethings hashtag, only it turns out that naming was premature. On her blog today, the following post appeared, under the title Apology:
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In defense of my male feminism

I’ve had listed for some time, as part of my profile on the right, the fact that I consider myself a feminist. I put it in shortly after joining Freethought Blogs and being assailed in very short order by the winged monkeys who have this absurd tendency of descending onto any pro-feminism post, shouting down the defenders of equality with absurd accusations of being misandrist. Merely by considering our patriarchy to be heavily weighted against women, who despite making up over half our population seem to get the short end of the stick more often than not, you are de facto anti-male, apparently. I added that descriptive out of spite for the denizens of the slimepit who consider women fighting for women’s rights to be evil, and men fighting for women’s rights to be “fauxminists” just looking to get laid.

And, frankly, I think I fit the descriptive of “feminist” well enough that I did not hesitate in adding it, though until that point I called myself pretty much exclusively an egalitarian. I despise the gender roles that harm both men and women in different ways, and I recognize that the ways in which women are disadvantaged significantly outweigh the disadvantages that men have, especially taken in concert with the advantages that male privilege confers. I want gender roles to simply evaporate, to disappear entirely, to be cast off like the vestigial organs that they are in light of the harm that they do to humans of all genders, and that simply won’t happen without taking out the cultural institutions that reinforce them with each generation.

So imagine my surprise when I saw a post by fellow FtB blogger Comrade PhysioProffe, excoriating a disturbing trend of taking the name of “feminism” under troubling pretenses, like the case of Hugo Schwyzer. My surprise came not from the fact that Schwyzer deserves more scrutiny — after all, he built a career of teaching women how to be feminists out of some expressed remorse for having attempted to murder an ex girlfriend, so he damn well deserves scrutiny as a result.

My surprise, rather, was borne out of the fact that Comrade caught me in the blast.
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Canadian-made HIV vaccine headed to human trials!

And I damn well want every syringe to be stamped “Made In Canada”. The FDA has approved a 40-person trial of a vaccine against the human immunodeficiency virus developed by Dr. Chil-Yong Kang of the University of Western Ontario.

“FDA approval for human clinical trials is an extremely significant milestone for our vaccine, which has the potential to save the lives of millions of people around the world by preventing HIV infection,” said Kang.There have been three clinical trials for an HIV vaccine in the past using live viruses that failed.There have been three clinical trials for an HIV vaccine in the past using live viruses that failed. (Apichart Weerawong/Associated Press)

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Bryan Fischer represents a Heightened Risk to my Blood Pressure

Via Right Wing Watch, a clearinghouse of all the ridiculous bullshit the right-wing produces as a matter of course, comes yet another gigantic spike in my blood pressure. It’s like they’re literally trying to make my head explode. In this episode, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association says that homosexuals represent an inherent heightened security risk based on “empirical fact” that they are more often depressed and suicidal.
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