Cruel San Diego

I just got a request to advertise a conference, and here’s the flyer they sent to me.


O Bitter Cruelty! It’s like they’re taunting me with their weather! And notice…I’m not one of the invited speakers. I get to just stay here in the frozen Northland and watch the icicles grow on my mustache while I fight off the savage penguins and starving polar bears.

Just for that, I’m not going to mention the Southern California Humanist Conference in San Diego on 5 February. I hope they all sweat and get sunburns and that their bikinis and speedos are all just a little bit too tight.

I approve this message

Christopher Hitchens explains how to make a decent cup of tea. He’s got it exactly right, too. Last year we learned how to make good tea using the loose leaf and a strainer, and we’ve been tinkering with the procedure all this time, and it’s true: tea is finicky. You get huge variations in flavor with minor little changes in how you make it.

We’re currently setting up an automatic tea maker in the evening so we can just flip a switch in the morning and get a perfect pot every time. It automates what Hitchens describes: it heats the water to boiling, pours it directly on the leaf in an infusion chamber, and times it just right. It works really well.

Usually, during the day, I just heat water the old fashioned way in a tea kettle on the stove and pour the boiling water through a strainer in a cup. In fact, I think I’ll go do that right now…

Poll on the Pope’s qualifications as a physicist

The Pope has announced that God was the cause behind the Big Bang, which is nice…but unfortunately, he hasn’t shown any data, nor has he published in any of the physics journals. Instead, we’re going to have to rely on a poll.

The pope says God was behind the Big Bang, which scientists believe created the universe. What do you think?

God created everything in seven days as the Bible says, no Big Bang necessary. 13.2%
There is no God and the Big Bang was probably responsible for all creation. 21.2%
I agree with the Pope. If there was a Big Bang, it was God’s work. 39.7%
No one really knows and likely never will. 25.9%

What? No “The Pope is making it all up” option?

More examples of that sophisticated theology

I know you’ve been wondering about the answer to these questions: Does Poop Smell in Heaven? How about before the Fall? Now you can get answers.

The answers are:

  • Nobody poops in heaven.

  • If you’re a young earth creationist, nobody may have pooped during creation week, but if they did, it didn’t stink.

  • If you are a theistic evolutionist, then poop did smell.

All I can infer from that is that the more godly and fundamentalist you are, the more likely you are to be constipated.

I nominate @PZMyers for a Shorty Award in #MasterOfHisDomain because he is!

It’s been a year? Wow. Last year at this time, there was a run of silly votes for what is called the Shorty awards on Twitter — you may recall that a couple of quacks, Mike Adams and Joe Mercola, snapped and started cheating furiously to win the Health category, to no avail: their votes were mostly disqualified. It was hilarious.

Anyway, I got an email asking me to promote another set of candidates this year. If you already have a twitter account — you don’t get to create one for the sole purpose of voting — you can follow the directions below.

I was hoping I could get some help adding a skeptical bent to the Shorty Awards. Last year the health category had Mike Adams and Joe half-man-half-drink Mercola strongly in the lead at the time we noticed, but thanks to their followers vote rigging (disqualifying Adams and having over half of Mercola’s votes revoked, twice) as well as strong support from the skeptical community we managed to get Rachael Dunlop to legitimately and overwhelmingly take out the category.

They’re back on again this year and I’m hoping we can get support from the atheist and skeptical community worldwide from the word go this year, and I’d love it if you could mention it on your blogs and podcasts.

To vote one simply needs a twitter account with prior activity. Accounts created just for voting could result in disqualification of the nominee. Once someone has an account, it’s as simple as sending a tweet in the formats of “I nominate (@person) for a Shorty Award in (#category) because (reason)” or a shorter version of “#shortyawards (@person) (#category) (reason)”.

I have a few recommendations for voting, but of course everyone is more than entitled to vote for whomever they’d like. You are allowed to vote for multiple different people in a single category, so it’s easy enough to vote for a requested person as well as who you’d prefer to see take it out.

“I nominate @DrRachie for a Shorty Award in #health because she does such standup work against quacks.”
“I nominate @BastardSheep for a Shorty Award in #NoPants because #NoPants is life!”
“I nominate @BadAstronomer for a Shorty Award in #science because he always brings us such interesting and amazing info.”
“I nominate @RSPCA for a Shorty Award in #charity because of the awesome work they do for animals.”
“I nominate @GeorgeHrab for a Shorty Award in #entertainment because of his awesome podcast, music and comedy stylings.”
“I nominate @jref for a Shorty Award in #Education because of their promotion of reason in schooling.”
“I nominate @nocompulsoryvac for a Shorty Award in #Quacks because of her tireless effort to spread lies about vaccines.”

And of course @PZMyers for every single category, because that’s kinda traditional isn’t it?

I’ll deviate a little from the recommendations. DrRachie won it last year: I think @RhysMorgan ought to win in the #health category this year.

Nice suck-up in that last line, too.

It wasn’t just shoddy, it was fraud

The infamous Andrew Wakefield study that claimed to find a link between autism and vaccinations is still being scrutinized, and the latest investigation has uncovered evidence of faked data.

A new examination found, by comparing the reported diagnoses in the paper to hospital records, that Wakefield and colleagues altered facts about patients in their study.

The analysis, by British journalist Brian Deer, found that despite the claim in Wakefield’s paper that the 12 children studied were normal until they had the MMR shot, five had previously documented developmental problems. Deer also found that all the cases were somehow misrepresented when he compared data from medical records and the children’s parents.

Children died because of the hysteria fomented by the contemptible Wakefield. How does that guy live with himself?

Here’s how: he’s in denial. Watch Anderson Cooper call an apoplectic Wakefield a liar.

So this is how mainstream religion responds to extremist violence?

I know the excuses already. The cowardly assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, who murdered Governor Taseer in Pakistan was an outlier, a freak, a weirdo, and we atheist bastards better not try to demean religion by associating a rogue individual with it. Can we spit in contempt on an entire culture instead?

Taseer was buried in his home town of Lahore. The 66-year-old was assassinated yesterday by Mumtaz Qadri, one of his police bodyguards, after he had campaigned for reform of the law on blasphemy.

Qadri appeared in court, unrepentant, where waiting lawyers threw handfuls of rose petals over him and others in the crowd slapped his back and kissed his cheek as he was led in and out amid heavy security.

Yeah, Qadri must be a despised outcast and entirely unrepresentative of what the moderates believe.

To be showered with rose petals for gunning down a defenseless man you were hired to protect…it sounds like Islamic Paradise.