What is love? Baby don’t hurt me…

“I hope you’re just going to ignore that loser.”

“Nope, I plan on posting about it on my blog.”

Jodi let out a resigned, slightly disgusted sigh. I’m sorry dear, but I just can’t let stuff like this go.

Zdenny, Christian un-thinker and god-bot par excellence, decided that rather than continuing the argument he started here, he would instead post a reiteration of his initial arguments, with a few sentences from my rebuttal interspersed, over at his own blog. (I assume the male gender here because I’m not 100% sure, though the proselytizers have a strong tendency toward being the males in a Christian relationship. I could be wrong.) You really don’t even have to click the link, honestly, as its entire contents will be posted below with my reply. I provide it only to prove he actually said it, and this is unaltered from its original form.

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The Oprah Backlash continues

As covered by Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy, Oprah’s woo-peddling is no longer going unanswered in the mass media circle. Newsweek has picked up on the prevalent backlash of the blogosphere against Oprah’s media empire and her latest, most egregious offense, giving Jenny McCarthy her own show, and printed an article roundly arguing all the charges us basement-dwelling bloggers have put forth. Whether prompted by bloggers or not, Newsweek is really putting their necks on the line here, good on them.

Of course, Harpo put out a statement that reads as follows:

For 23 years, my show has presented thousands of topics that reflect the human experience, including doctors’ medical advice and personal health stories that have prompted conversations between our audience members and their health care providers. I trust the viewers, and I know that they are smart and discerning enough to seek out medical opinions to determine what may be best for them.

Emphasis mine. If Oprah honestly thinks that telling people about The Secret, and how it’s possible to wish your way back to health, is going to prompt people to ask a doctor whether or not that is a viable alternative treatment to cancer, rather than taking it upon yourself to try to hope away the tumor… well, she was wrong. Per one of the comments in the Bad Astronomy “shame on you” article linked above, Newsweek said the following:

In March 2007, the month after the first two shows on The Secret, Oprah invited a woman named Kim Tinkham on the program. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and her doctors were urging surgery and chemotherapy. But Tinkham wrote Oprah to say that she had decided to forgo this treatment and instead use The Secret to cure herself. On the show, Oprah seemed genuinely alarmed that Tinkham had taken her endorsement of The Secret so seriously.

That should be evidence enough that peddling bullshit as medicine to your masses is objectively harmful to humanity. You may trust your viewers to seek out real medical opinions about these things you credulously get behind, but that trust is misplaced, because they’re obviously either not doing it or not listening to that real medical advice. And that’s what makes backing McCarthy so fucking dangerous. Oprah Winfrey, have you no shame? Do you not feel guilt for the children that have suffered from measles, mumps or rubella because their parents were convinced by this antivaccination nonsense? Do you not want to prevent future children from contracting these deadly diseases? Do you not wish to prevent them from gaining foothold then mutating to something the rest of us who ARE vaccinated, are no longer immune to?

It is terrifying and sad that the most powerful woman in the world knows not what danger she sows.

Fuck you Oprah.

Oprah Winfrey just spent the last bit of goodwill capital she had with me — not that I think she’d care one way or another — when she performed her most recent travesty against humanity: signing Jenny McCarthy on for her own talk show. Yeah, THAT Jenny McCarthy, the one that’s famous for having displayed her girly bits a long time ago. The one in my sidebar widget, the one that counts how many people have gotten sick or died from preventable diseases while she campaigned against vaccines, that thinks vaccines with thimerosal caused her son’s not-autism (which went away because it wasn’t autism, and thimerosal wasn’t in her son’s vaccine to fucking well begin with!), and that her bullshit therapies (which do effectively zero for real autistic patients except give their parents false hopes) can do that which modern medicine, for some nefarious reason, refuses to do. Oprah is now officially and unequivocally beyond redemption. She is a purveyor of antiscience, credulously giving voice to bullshit artists, the ignorant, and those that are out to make a quick buck. That she has a vast audience gives her undue power to shape the minds of those that apparently cannot think for themselves, and this makes me sad.

I will expand on this theme shortly, with evidence.

Spam about the swine flu? How apropos!

As usual, don’t take investment, safety or medical advice from e-mail forwards. Here’s a blog post at the Great Orange Satan dissecting the origin of a new chain mail about the swine flu.

- There are 10-25 times more actual cases (not “possible” cases — actual), than what is being reported in the media. The way they fudge on reporting this is that it takes 3 days to get the confirmatory nod from the CDC on a given viral culture, but based on epidemiological grounds, we know that there are more than 10 cases for each “confirmed” case right now.
– During the night, we crossed the threshold for the definition of a WHO, Phase 6 global pandemic. This has not happened in any of our lifetimes so far.. We are in uncharted territory.
– They are advising President Obama to declare an emergency sometime in the next 72-96 hours. This may not happen, but if it doesn’t, I will be surprised. When this happens, all public gathering will be cancelled for 10 days minimum.
– I suggest all of us avoid public gatherings. Outdoor activities are not as likely to lead to infection.. It is contained areas and close contact that are the biggest risk.
– Tamiflu is running out. There is a national stockpile, but it will have to be carefully managed for law enforcement and first responders as it is not enough to treat the likely number of infections when this is full-blown. I don’t think there is a big supply of Relenza, but I do not know those numbers. If I had to choose, I would take Relenza, as I think it gets more drug to the affected tissue than Tamiflu.
– You should avoid going to the ER if you think you have been exposed or are symptomatic. ER’s south of here are becoming overwhelmed today– and I mean that — already.

I can’t even begin to tell you how irresponsible it is telling people not to visit the doctor if they believe they’re sick, not to mention proclaiming the only treatment to be in short supply when in actuality, virologists are metering out Tamiflu usage to only the most dire cases in hopes of keeping the virus from mutating. Bet the nutjobs will start stockpiling Relenza and Tamiflu because of this. Way to help the virus evolve, nutjobs. Thanks for your diligent work in trying to shorten our species’ life expectancy, you always do give 110% at it.

And that doesn’t even touch on the homeopathic and herbal remedy suggestions!

- N-Acetyl-Cysteine — a nutritional supplement available at the health food store or Wimberley Pharmacy, has been shown to prevent or lessen the severity of influenza. I suggest 1200mg, twice a day for adults, and 600mg twice a day in kids over 12. It would be hard to get kids under 12 to take it, but you could try opening the capsules and putting it on yogurt. For 40 pounds and up, 300-600 mg twice a day, for less than 40 pounds, half that.
– Oscillococinum, a homeopathic remedy, has been vindicated as quite effective in a large clinical trial in Europe, with an H1N1 variant. You can buy this at Hill Country Natural Foods, or the Wimberley Pharmacy.

The fearmongering and outright bullshit in this letter comes thick and fast, so we can’t afford to wait for a Snopes counterpoint to counter this letter. Naturally it’s making the rounds on the rightwing websites like Free Republic, along with aspersions cast about Obama refusing to close borders (you know, now that the virus is already in the country). Beyond all this, none of these assertions are sourced. So, can anyone help debunk this stuff?

Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on

Clean-up week at home, crazy amounts of changes at work, and the world keeps spinning in the meantime. Let’s get caught up on some of the happenings.

Personal news: Home Depot is trading my microwave up to a GE to make up for the craptastic Magic Chef. It arrives on or about May 5th.

First up, all sorts of buzz about the Swine Flu. Seems to only be killing people secondarily, e.g. with pneumonia, while their immune systems are working overtime trying to fight with itself (which is why it’s mostly hitting young and healthy people the hardest). WHO says it’s still a potential pandemic, but it honestly doesn’t seem any more serious than any other flu, and it responds well to Tamiflu, presently. Might be an idea to get infected by it now, to grant you immunity to some future offshoot or mutation that’s close enough to this one for the immunity blanket to work (think cow pox / smallpox).

Michelle Bachmann, mayor of Crazyland USA (or something), believes it’s an “interesting coincidence” that Obama is in charge during this swine flu outbreak, and that the last swine flu outbreak also happened under a Democrat. Wait, that was Gerald Ford. Wasn’t he a Republican?

The ultra-religious Deputy Health Minister of Israel wants to change the name of the Swine Flu to Mexican Flu, now that instances are being discovered within their borders. This call for change comes so the Israeli won’t have to pronounce the word “swine” which is, obviously, un-kosher. Their emissary to Mexico however said it won’t happen. Either way, hilarity. The crazies always seem to have the loudest voice and the most faith.

Orac eviscerates Huffington Post, and rightly so, for giving platform to Kim Evans, proponent of enemas as a bulwark against swine flu. Seriously — because rinsing your butt out with water or coffee or hydrochloric acid or whatever, will keep you from getting a virus.

And finally on the pig front: XKCD’s take on idiots panicking on Twitter about the swine flu. Go to the site and mouseover the comic for some useful advice!

Microsoft wants to include a fully functional virtualized Windows XP on Windows 7, in order to keep people interested in upgrading, but are opening up a can of worms for themselves since they’d have to keep updating XP (in the virtualized form at least) for as long as Windows 7 is around. Soooo… that brings up the question: If Windows XP is working for you, and Windows 7 will just require you to get more hardware to do the same things, and none of 7’s upgrades are useful to you… why upgrade at all?

If you’re going to upgrade, why not upgrade from Windows to Linux? Keep XP around for playing games or whatnot, but get a real operating system with real security and real functionality. Ubuntu 9.04 is out, and it’s great. Got it on both my laptop and desktop now, have been running on the laptop for a while through the beta period. The increased boot speed is not just hype, I promise.

The cooling in Antarctica seems to be a direct result of the hole in the ozone layer, and as CFCs dissipate, and the ozone replenishes, apparently it will start to warm back up. Quirks and Quarks suggests this is a blow to people who deny humans could ever have any kind of effect on our environment. I suggest this won’t stop these same people from simultaneously admitting the global climate is changing, and denying we have anything to do with it, blaming everything from solar forcing (despite our presently abnormally quiet spotless sun) to cosmic rays (which can be measured and therefore the hypothesis can be tested, and the test results are unconvincing so far). It’s kind of sad that rather than looking at the evidence before them, once again a certain breed of people would rather knee-jerk declare the science to be wrong so as not to have to deal with the consequences of it being right.

Yes, I said a “certain breed”. I’m talking about the same kind of person who endorses enemas and chiropractic to treat the flu, and reading a 2000 year old book to find out how old the universe is. Pick your side, then stick to it, and damn any evidence that comes along. Personally, I prefer reality. Where you do science to figure things out, then take the truth no matter how much it pains you to do so. This isn’t limited to conservatism, though that mode of thinking lends far more to religious indoctrination — in fact, my example above of the Huffington Post is a great illustration of how easily left-wing folks can get duped into believing bullshit.

Okay. I’m going to bed before I get all raged out or something. Blogging is so cathartic!

I seriously dislike a number of people you probably think are cool.

I’m starting to think I like riling up outrage. Too bad I’m not actually attracting much outrage thus far. So, here’s me taking another stab at it, by attacking three of the most venerated religious figures of all time.

Given the hypothetical situation that Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and the Dalai Lama are all drowning, and you only have time to save one of them, what would you do? Personally, I’d probably take a whiz on whoever was closest. That’s right — in my estimation, none of them would be worth saving, for various reasons.

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How to cheat at Youtube

If there’s one thing I hate in this world, it’s a cheater. No, I’m not talking about using a cheat code so you can blow through the last stage of Doom 3 to beat the end boss and see the ending sequence after a long weekend of slagging your way through demons the old fashioned way — I mean, cheating where it counts, where cheating affects another human being negatively.  And where those internet-keyboard-brigade creationists are concerned, while all of their actions are objectively negative, those actions that can safely be described as “cheating” are especially deplorable.  This is the story of how those same creationists are cheating at Youtube.

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George Carlin, RIP

Be aware that below the fold, there’s a ton of videos embedded directly from Youtube.  I expect anyone who plans on reading this post, devote at least an hour so you can watch every one of them.  You are not paying George Carlin’s memory any honour otherwise.

The media has been rife these past few days with tributes to a personal hero of mine.  One would think that’s a good thing — it’s vindicating to have a personal hero lauded in the media, right?  So why is it I’m left with a bitter taste in my mouth, every single time someone on television or in the papers gushes about what an avant-garde, counterculture, brilliant comedian he was?

It probably has something to do with the fact that I don’t consider him a comedian.  He was a truth-teller.  And that’s why I, alongside the rest of the world, mourn his death.

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