Thursday, October 29, 2009

U.S. Strongly Opposed to Blasphemy Laws Maybe Sometimes

Responding to criticism over the United States' joining with Egypt in supporting a new, non-binding U.N. resolution calling for the outlawing of religious defamation in member states, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton came out fighting earlier this week. "Some claim that the best way to protect the freedom of religion is to implement so-called anti-defamation policies that would restrict freedom of expression and freedom of religion," she said. "I strongly disagree." Hey, that's great! Seeing as how the U.S. and much of the rest of the western world is based on the idea of free expression, it seems counter to human rights to outlaw any expression that might be offensive to a particular religion. But Clinton isn't on the U.N. Human Rights Council that supported the resolution in question. Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner was. And what does he have to say about it? "...A resolution, broadly speaking, that talks about the defamation of a religion is a violation of free speech," he said. Whew! Hope he signed that thing in erasable ink! What's that? There's more? "There are limits to free expression and there are certainly concerns about people targeting individuals because of their religious belief..." he elaborated. Huh. So, people should be free to criticize religions but not individual religious people? Well, U.S. free expression policy can't possibly be more crystal clear than that. And by "crystal clear", of course, I mean "wishy washy". More details here.

"We're Going to Need a Bigger--GGHAAAAHHH GOD!!!"

So, a ten-foot great white shark caught off the coast of Queensland, Australia was found bitten almost in half by another great white shark. For one shark to bite another ten-foot shark in half, it would have to be about twenty feet long itself, only five feet shorter than the most terrifying imaginings of the author of "Jaws". Happy swimming, Aussies! More details here.

No Halloween

The British village of Pluckley has canceled Halloween this year. No, it's not because wayward demons will enter the pores of costumed children and cause them to perform bestial rituals. It's because of hooligans. Hooligans and rabble-rousers, I say! It seems Pluckley has a reputation for being quite haunted. Up to twelve different ghosts of varying ghostly stereotypes are thought to...live?...in the area, so the town becomes quite a tourist attraction at Halloween. They've tried to deal with the situation by hosting charity carnivals for the crowds, but all the excitement and rowdy behavior has just become too much for the sleepy community. They're advising any potential pilgrims only to stop by if they wish to sit down for "a quiet drink", as there's nothing much else to do in Pluckley but sit and drink quietly. Which is probably why all their ghosts are ass-sore alcoholics. More details here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Foreskin Freedom

Putting aside the debate over whether circumcision is still a necessary or humane practice (probably not, but cut penises are just more fashionable), the fact remains that God made Himself perfectly clear in the Bible. If your pee-pee has a turtleneck, you can't buy a mansion in Heaven. Which is why an unidentified Vancouver man is arguing his botched home circumcision on his 4-year-old son was an act of religious expression instead of, say, criminal assault. See, he only wanted to be right with the Lord, so he stretched his son's penis across a cutting board, sliced off half his foreskin with a razor blade, and coated the wound in a blood clotting powder meant for horse surgery. And though the didn't use ice or anything to numb the pain (where would the Israelites have gotten ice, silly?), he did give the kid ice cream afterward. Now, you might be saying, "Sure, this is pretty harsh. But we're talking about a god who killed first-born babies en masse just for the thrills. You don't fuck with someone like that." Well, call me a bigot, but I think someone would have to have a severe brain injury to believe it's okay to perform amateur surgery on his toddler son's penis. What's that you say? This guy suffered brain injuries from a motorcycle accident? Well, there you go. More details here.

Scientology Woes

So, you've probably heard that the talentless and bewilderingly Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis has left the Church of Scientology, and you've heard this because his letter of resignation has been posted online for all to see. I've avoided writing about this for a few days, since I wasn't entirely sure the story was legit. Haggis himself didn't release the letter, and Hollywood stories are notoriously unreliable. Did you know Zack Morris never actually died in a car accident? (Though his career did.) But this looks solid. And my immediate reaction is to congratulate Haggis on his decision to break ties with a wacky sci-fi cult. Also to please return any award he ever won for "Crash". One has little to do with the other. But in reading his letter, I have to wonder what the hell took him so long. Sure, most of us would have hit the road around the time they busted out the e-meter, so Haggis is obviously in a league of his own (plus a few tens of thousands of others). Turns out the last straw for him was in Scientology's support of California's Proposition 8 revoking marriage rights for gay couples. Horrible, to be sure, but why didn't he cut ties when the church forced his wife to not communicate with her own family? In his letter, he says that he began to lose faith in the church when they labeled his mother-in-law as an enemy and forbade communication with her. I guess he loves gay rights more than he loves his mother-in-law. (Insert Borscht Belt joke here.)

And in other news, it looks like Scientologists have been convicted of fraud in French courts. France doesn't recognize Scientology as a protected religion, and they'd been investigating claims made by former Scientologists that unfulfilled promises made about e-meter auditing sessions amounted to criminal lies. The French are probably right, both about the science of sauces and this particular case, but I wonder whether there is a bit of unfair treatment. Scientology isn't the only wacky belief that can't make good on its claims. It's not even the only one that takes money in exchange for lies. Is there that much of a difference between intergalactic volcano bombs, magic golden tablets, and people living inside whale bellies? I mean it's not like Scientology requires its members to give the church money. Oh wait, they do? Curious. More details here and here.

Baby Writing

A nine-month-old baby named Ali Yakubov appears to have Koranic verses written on his skin, which thousands of pilgrims have traveled to the southern fringes of Russia to see. According to religious leaders who've set up camp around the baby's home and act as gatekeepers from the public, a verse translating to "Be grateful to Allah" appears and disappears in pinkish script all over his body, though journalists have only seen a single letter on Ali's foot. But these same religious leaders are happy to distribute photographs of the whole verse, which looks suspiciously and nauseatingly like scratches made by a sadistic person instead of divine tattoos from God. But even assuming there's a miracle at work here, can't God think of anything more impressive than sometimes scribbling on a baby? Locals believe the verse may be a warning to Islamic extremists who are trying to turn the region into a Muslim state through the tried and true diplomatic power of suicide bombs. So wouldn't a more effective miracle involve rapturing all of the explosives in the area? Or has God turned into some kind of experimental graphic artist? More details here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Your Sunday Sermon - Polyester

Hey guys, this is Richard Peacock. Many of you don't know this, but my cousin Thaddeus is the reverend for a small church in my hometown. When he heard that I help out with this "Godless" web site, he insisted he be allowed to do a weekly sermon, to set everyone "back on the right path." So please keep in mind his views and opinions don't represent the rest of us here at AmateurScientist.

The 1970's. *shivers*. My friends, just thinking about that decade of devilish decadence makes my skin crawl. Hello again my faithful flock, it is I, your humble shepherd, the reverend Thaddeus Peacock. And if you live your life as wickedly as those from the 70's, you're going to "Burn, baby burn." Only your "disco inferno" won't be at a spicy Latin-themed dance club, it will be in the depths of Hell! Devils be gone!!

Now my friends, there are so many sinful things which came out of the 1970's. Cocaine abuse. Row v. Wade. Ben Affleck. But there is one thing so wicked and devilish that it is specifically condemned by that most definitive of fashion publications -- the Bible! Yes, friends, I speak of the fabric which was surely woven on the Devil's loom-- Polyester!

Polyester, for those who do not know, is a fabric made by weaving together several types of artificial (ie, evil) threads. And God Himself condemns this most heinous of actions. "'Keep my decrees. Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material." (Lev 19:19)

Oh friends! Give up not just your tacky polyester vests-- but also your fields where you have both corn and wheat planted, not to mention your half-dog, half-panda abominations! If I can give up those things, then anyone can.

The Reverend Thaddeus Peacock is a licensed Churchologist with advanced degrees in Biblology, Jesusence, and Brimstoning. He may be reached by emailing his cousin Richard at richard@amateurscientist.org.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Have to Defend This Douche?

Speaking of free speech, I hate when my convictions get in the way of my general distaste for Holocaust-denying Catholic bishops. But today's one of those days. Earlier this year, Bishop Richard Williamson gave a Swedish television interview wherein he blathered on about how he didn't believe the Nazis used any gas chambers and how not all that many Jews were really killed in concentration camps. In other words, he's an idiot. But since the interview was put on the internet, it was seen in Germany. Now German courts are deciding whether Williamson should be prosecuted under their anti-Holocaust denial laws. If guilty, he'd have to pay a €12,000 fine, which at today's exchange rate, is something like $47 gazillion dollars. I think. Anyway, part of standing up for free speech is standing up for the right to say idiotic, antisemitic, and otherwise bullshitty things. Williamson believes what he does because he's an ill-informed cock, but he shouldn't be subject to fines just for saying what he believes. I wonder if anyone would support a Blasphemy Day-esque Deny the Holocaust Day to promote German free speech. Any takers? Hello? More details here.

Blasphemy Schmasphemy

For a while now, a loose coalition of mostly Muslim U.N. member nations has been trying to push through resolutions calling for limits on free speech when it comes to ridiculing religion. The U.N. Human Rights Council recently passed a non-binding resolution in support of free speech, though it also included an exception for the same kind of religious talk these nations have been opposing. Though the resolution passed unanimously, several European nations made their opposition to the religious speech clause known. But not the U.S.! America sided with Egypt in supporting the clause, spouting something about protecting the dignity of religious people. This is sort of a reversal, since the U.S. has opposed such nonsense in the past. Is this what the Nobel committee meant about Obama's power to bring people together? It should go without saying, but limited free speech isn't free speech. No one has a right to not be offended, precisely because in order to enforce that right, you have to strip the rights of others to express themselves. Once again, this is a non-binding resolution, so it doesn't really mean anything as far as concrete laws are concerned. But by supporting it, the U.S. has sided against the very freedoms upon which it was founded. Boo to that. Boo all over its smug little face. More details here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


James Ulmer is chairman of the Orangeburg County, South Carolina Republicans, and this is a picture of him in a bow tie. [pause for laughter] On Sunday, an op-ed he co-authored ran in the local newspaper, and to everyone's surprise, it wasn't arguing for an embrace of lavender sports jackets. Instead, the piece was meant to praise South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint's hardline stance about congressional earmarks. The money quote: "There is a saying that the Jews who are wealthy got that way not by watching dollars, but instead by taking care of the pennies and the dollars taking care of themselves. By not using earmarks to fund projects for South Carolina and instead using actual bills, DeMint is watching our nation's pennies and trying to preserve our country's wealth and our economy's viability to give all an opportunity to succeed." Hey, I can get behind that. I mean, no one likes the idea of wasting federal money on pet pro--WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT THE JEWS?? To be fair, Ulmer didn't actually say Jews are penny pinchers. He just related an old saying, presumably one heard around the burning cross when he was a youngster. But because everyone's all PC these days, he had to go and apologize for perpetuating a hurtful and conspiratorial stereotype. "I meant absolutely nothing derogatory by the reference to a great and honorable people," he said. Which is fair enough, I suppose. The idea of Jews as greedy little bastards is harmless enough as far as bigoted stereotypes go. And really, they're all probably too busy running Hollywood to notice. More details here.

The Come Hither Gene

Scientists at the University of Toronto have genetically modified fruit flies to turn them instantly into sexual gods and godesses. The flies were altered so that they could no longer produce the cuticular hydrocarbon pheromone, and the boners came pouring in. Flies without the pheromone attracted horny followers from both sexes, regardless of sexual orientation history. And some of them even tweaked the nipples of other species. Because they're apparently uncomfortable with their masculinity, the scientists simply refer to the male test subjects as "sex gods", while they compare the females to Marilyn Monroe. It's okay, scientists. You can go ahead and call the males Jon Hamms, and no one will think you're gay. Just human! And Marilyn Monroe is so last century. It's a scientific fact that the most sexually desirable woman on the face of the planet is now Christina Hendricks. More details here. And thanks to Tom for the link.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Your Sunday Sermon - The Sun Goes Round the Earth

Hey guys, this is Richard Peacock. Many of you don't know this, but my cousin Thaddeus is the reverend for a small church in my hometown. When he heard that I help out with this "Godless" web site, he insisted he be allowed to do a weekly sermon, to set everyone "back on the right path." So please keep in mind his views and opinions don't represent the rest of us here at AmateurScientist.

My friends, welcome once again to my gentle presence. Yes, that's it, come closer... closer still... closer... Devils be gone!! Ha! Got you. Yes, my flock of sheep, it is I, your humble shepherd, the reverend Thaddeus Peacock. And it is time once again for me to scare the bejesus into you!

This past Thursday, when I would normally be setting up hidden cameras in the local gym to look for signs of homoerotic pugilism, I was taken ill by a ghastly case of the squirts. Curse that yellowed egg salad from Mrs. Jefferson! As I sat atop my Lay-z-boy, I flipped through the local television channels, and happened upon a lie more ghastly than Mrs. Jefferson's insistence that egg salad is "supposed to be that color." I happened upon a daytime drama program titled: "As the World Turns"! It showed an image of the Earth, in spherical form, spinning out in space! Devils be gone!!

For as we all know, my fluffy followers, the Bible tells us that the world is not in motion at all, but is a stationary realm in which the Sun orbits it! Look here: "Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved." (1 Chron 16:30) and here: "The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises." (Ecc 1:5) It was on the validity of these most factual versus that, hundreds of years ago, the Catholic Church correctly concluded that the homosexual/witch (assumed) Galileo was so very wrong! Hallelujah!

Oh, my friends, I was so distressed by the hideous lies on my television screen, that I had to calm myself by watching the previous week's hidden locker camera footage again and again until my humors had returned to balance. Let this be a lesson to you, dear readers. Never believe the hideous lies spread by either that heretic Galileo, or that charlatan Mrs. Jefferson.

The Reverend Thaddeus Peacock is a licensed Churchologist with advanced degrees in Biblology, Jesusence, and Brimstoning. He may be reached by emailing his cousin Richard at richard@amateurscientist.org.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mixed Up

Look, whatever you do, don't call Louisiana justice of the peace Keith Bardwell a racist. Yes, he refuses to grant marriage licenses to interracial couples. Yes, this is the year of our Lord two thousand and nine. Yes, this sounds illegalish. But far from being a bigot, Bardwell's just looking out for the children. Specifically, mixed race children, who he believes will grow up in a society full of ridicule and torment from racists, of which he is not one. Look, he'll prove it to you. "I have piles and piles of black friends," he says. "They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else." That may not sound like much, but you've obviously not seen Bardwell's bathroom (pictured). He just doesn't believe in "mixing the races that way". Throw them all in a room together? Fine. Make them wait in line to use your marble shitter? No reason not to. Just don't allow them to enjoy the same freedoms other consenting adults enjoy. "I try to treat everyone equally," Bardwell explains. And by that, of course, he means he treats all mixed-race heathens the exact same way. Like a douche. More details here.

The Curse of Halloween

Rev. Jonathan Campbell, a Methodist minister in Northern Ireland, is appealing to his local community to cancel their plans for the annual Halloween carnival before it's too late. Rev. Campbell claims Halloween in one of the two most important nights for Satanists and that celebrating the holiday will place a curse upon the town. He's desperate to rip off Halloween's veil of fun, fancy, and innocence to expose its festering corruption of children and devilish promotion of the occult. Lest your cynicism convinces you Rev. Campbell just needs to loosen his collar and chillax, you should know that every year the effects of the Halloween curse have been felt on the town of Derry for weeks after the turn of October 31st. Fortunately, those effects seem to mostly involve an unusual concentration of candy. More details here.

I (Symbol for "Don't Understand") Vandals

President Obama has been mistaken for many things: a Kenyan, an Indonesian, a socialist, a Muslim, a terrorist, a transformative figure of hope and change. And like anyone who's disliked by a large group of people, he's also been mistaken for a Nazi, since "Nazi" is as ubiquitous an insult in politics as "doo-doo head" is on the playground. I think the "Obama is a Nazi" idea is what some vandals were trying to get across when they carved "I [swastika] Obama" into a Boston area country club's golf course earlier this week, but I really can't be sure. "Swastika", you see, isn't a verb. Unless these people fashioned a metal shuriken in the shape of the Nazi symbol, used their ninja stealth to infiltrate the White House, and planted a pointy calling card between the president's shoulder blades, I don't see how they could have swastikaed anyone. Not that it makes any grammatical sense, but this graffiti also has a sort of familial tone. It's almost as if these vandals believe Obama is a Nazi and want to show that they're right there with him. Apropos of seemingly nothing, some have wondered whether the "I" actually stands for "Israel". "Israel [swastika] Obama"? Please be more clear next time, insane dipshits. More details here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Idiocy is a Choice

Oh, Republicans. Even when I agree with you, I still think you're batshit insane. Case in point: House Republican Leader John Boehner (pronounced "Hard-cock"), who defended his opposition to new hate crimes legislation by claiming that while homosexuality is a choice, religion is not. Let me clarify for those of you who don't speak moron. A new hate crimes bill sailing through congress would allow the federal government to prosecute crimes motivated by sexual orientation bigotry in addition to the protections already afforded for crimes based on race, religion, and nationality. Like Rep. Erection (R - His Own Ass), I'm also opposed to this legislation. I believe that it's unnecessary, since it's already illegal to both assault and murder people for just about any reason. Like the ACLU, I also think it's a dangerous infringement on free thought, since it provides stiffer penalties for people who happen to hold racist, homophobic, or otherwise douchebaggy beliefs. And I don't think there's a real need for it considering the fact that the people who committed hate crimes against the two victims after which the legislation is named (Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr.) were all successfully prosecuted under existing laws without any need for federal involvement. But while Rep. Woody agrees with me on hate crimes legislation equating to thought crimes legislation, he also holds the intellectually conflicting view that hate crimes laws should protect religious belief, since religion is an "immutable characteristic". In other words, you choose which naked genitals make your nipples hard, but you don't choose which church you drive to every Sunday. Like I said, Rep. John Pants-tent is batshit insane. More details here.

Boson to the Future

The Large Hadron Collider, that particle accelerating doomsday machine buried in the deepest bowels of Europe, has suffered its fair share of setbacks since its completion. Originally meant to whack the very fabrics of the universe into one another just to laugh in the empty eye sockets of Armageddon, the machine has been shut down for months due to pesky technical glitches. Annoying, but not too unusual for what amounts to the single most complex machine ever built. OR IS IT?? According to physicists Holger Bech Nielsen and Masao Ninomiya, the universe itself may be sending back luck back through time to prevent scientists from ever discovering the elusive Higgs boson, one of the main theoretical subatomic particles the LHC is designed to produce. I'm on the borderline of mentally handicapped, so I don't understand the physics involved, but something about this strikes me as a little too fanboyish. I'll buy Spock being sucked into the past by a Red Matter-induced black hole, but temporal luck? That's the kind of crap they'd pull in season one TNG. More details here. (Thanks to Brad for the link.)

Ray Pulls an O.J.

You may have heard that two people recently died in a sweat lodge operated by new age bullshitter James Arthur Ray, author of the bestselling "Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want". Ray's book and teachings have been featured on the "Oprah Winfrey Show", "Larry King Live", and in "The Secret". Like "The Secret", Ray claims in "Harmonic Wealth" that you can receive fame and fortune just by wishing hard enough. It's really that simple. Which seems especially odd considering Ray's fame and fortune has come from writing and selling books and charging up to $10,000 a pop for spiritual retreats. It was at one of these retreats outside of Sedona, Arizona where Ray crowded over fifty people who had just come off a long fast into a plastic-covered lodge, jacked up the heat, and killed two people. Nineteen others were sent to the hospital for burns, dehydration, breathing problems, and kidney failure. The police are looking into whether Ray and his company can be prosecuted for criminal negligence, but Ray says he's not sure he's to blame. He's so not sure, in fact, that he's hired his own independent investigators to look into the deaths. No word on whether these are the same investigators hired by O.J. Simpson to find his wife's real killers. And, curiously, no word yet from Oprah, who used her massive media presence (not a fat joke) to push Ray's nonsense on America. She's probably too busy wishing this never happened. James Arthur Ray, that miserable piece of shit, is probably doing the same. I'll let you know if it works. More details here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Break on Through

In 1997, rock historian Brett Meisner visited Jim Morrison's grave in Paris' Pere Lechaise cemetery and took a photo of himself standing above the singer/boozer/shaman impersonator's rotting corpse. Imagine his surprise when the photograph showed a white blobby thing apparently hovering over the grave. Obviously this had to be Jim Morrison's ghost, as the legendary performer really has nothing better to do in the afterlife than mingle with tourists. But since he's a skeptic, Meisner submitted the photo for professional analysis. Now, the results have been published in "Ghosts Caught on Film 2: Photographs of the Unexplained", which I'm assuming is some kind of peer reviewed scientific journal. According to the analysts, the photo is 100% genuine in that the white blob isn't a result of lightning or image manipulation. And as we all know, not lighting and not outright fraud always equals ghost. Judge for yourself in the video below. And while you're feeling inspired, why not send us your own spooky tale for inclusion in the first annual Amateur Scientist Podcast Halloween Spooktacular? Go here for the rules. And go here for more on this amazing photograph.


This may come as a shock, but certification doesn't always mean anything when it comes to quacks and charlatans. Just because you're a board certified chiropractor, it doesn't mean subluxations exist. And just because I'm a board certified sexologist, it doesn't mean I know how the pee-pee fits in the hoo-ha. But just to test the lax standards of your average nonsense-approval board, Chris Jackson, one of the host of the BBC's "Inside Out" sought certification as an honest-to-goodness hypnotherapist from three different approval bodies. For his cat George. And without so much as sending a UFO abductee to receive George's hypnosis treatments, the furry feline was granted hypnotherapy certification by the British Board of Neuro Linguistic Programming, the United Fellowship of Hypnotherapists, and the Professional Hypnotherapy Practitioner Association. I suppose congratulations are in order for George, though I'm pretty sure I could hypnotize him with a feather tied to a rubber string. That's called turning the tables. More details here.

The Loch Ness Golfer

An American research team scouring the dark depths of Scotland's Loch Ness for monster sign recently found something even more unholy and terrifying than a ravenous sea beast. Actually, they found thousands of somethings. And by "somethings" I mean "golf balls". It seems the local residents have either been practicing their drives or attacking prehistoric leviathans with the power of sport for some time now. The only problem is that the balls' plastic coatings may pose an environmental danger to those brave animals that call Loch Ness home. But probably not. It's a big lake, after all. And lest you think those balls will just go to waste, you should know that people pay top dollar for reclaimed, slightly used golf balls. Well, bottom dollar. But still, commerce! More details here.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Did you know there's a town of 25,000 women somewhere in the snowy wastes of northern Sweden? Did you also know that any men who attempt to set foot in the town are savagely beaten by buxom, amazonian police officers, that the primary occupation of these sequestered ladies is hardcore woodworking, and that when they aren't sneaking out to the surrounding villages to satiate their rabid man-lust, they turn to each other's succulent bodies for carnal pleasure? If you didn't know about this town, it's most likely because it doesn't really exist outside your masturbatory fantasies. But that hasn't stopped the Chinese news service Xinhua from reporting on the mythical town's tourism woes as fact. No one's really sure how the hoax got started, but I'm willing to bet there's just something in the Campbellian collective mythos that causes stories of Swedish lesbian villages to pop up in most world cultures. More details here.

RC Insects of DOOM!

DARPA scientists have successfully strapped electrical equipment to the backs and brains of beetles, allowing them to remotely control the insects in flight. They claim to only be interested in using the mind-controlled drones for humanitarian purposes like searching disaster areas for survivors or delighting dimwitted fans of beetle acrobatics. But since the "D" in "DARPA" stands for "defense", we can be sure there's a more sinister plan in mind. No doubt one day the military will be dispatching swarms of six-legged golems into the homes of enemy civilians to buzz around their ears while they're trying to get some sleep. And woe be to the country whose windshields become near unusable from our kamikaze splatter. We are truly become beetles, annoyers of worlds. More details here.

Calorie Crap

Because he won't be happy until all New Yorkers are able to strip down to their glistening, rock-hard naked bodies and run four marathons in a row without stretching a hamstring, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has been leading the charge for more intrusive "for your own good" health laws in his fair city. Trans fats? Since you're too stupid to turn them down, they're out of here! Cigarettes? Since every bloated yokel in line for a souvenir Gump & Co. t-shirt has a God-given right to force changes in private business habits, you're only allowed to smoke in a board-certified panic room buried at least 400 yards below the surface of the earth. Lately, Bloomberg helped push through a new law requiring all New York restaurants to prominently display calorie information for all their menu items. The idea was that people would see a KFC Double Down cheese and bacon sandwich with chicken bread makes up 900% of their daily calorie intake and maybe choose a salad instead. But according to the first major study into the effects of the new law, not so much. Researchers from Yale University and NYU compared fast food receipts from some of New York's poorest neighborhoods before and after the calorie law went into effect. Not only did the labeling fail to change anyone's eating habits, but overall numbers went up slightly after the law. This may be because people are as dumb as Bloomberg thinks and mistook calories for awesome points. Or it could just be that people like to eat what's cheap and tasty. In any case, this law seems to have been nothing but a burden on the restaurant owners of New York City. So maybe those obese bastards won't be able to afford as much food? Silver lining. More details here. (NOTE: This story may appear to demonstrate a libertarian bias on the part of the author. In light of recent tensions involving libertarian activism in the skeptical community, let me just say that while I support individual freedom and the rights of business owners, I also enjoy libraries and public schools. And I don't bite off people's fingers at anti-health care rallies.)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Your Sunday Sermon - Working Together

Hey guys, this is Richard Peacock. Many of you don't know this, but my cousin Thaddeus is the reverend for a small church in my hometown. When he heard that I help out with this "Godless" web site, he insisted he be allowed to do a weekly sermon, to set everyone "back on the right path." So please keep in mind his views and opinions don't represent the rest of us here at AmateurScientist.

Hello again, my flock, it is I, your humble shepherd, the Reverend Thaddeus Peacock. And I am in a sad state this week, my friends. A sad state. I began my Sunday morning as I usually do, by visiting the local mall to condemn the prostitutes/witches (presumed) readily found in Victoria's Secret and to buy a sticky bun, when I spied a sight which I knew God Himself would have wept to see-- I saw a group of construction workers working together to build a new Shakey's Pizza! Devils be gone!!

As fans of my semiweekly Godcast, "Romancing the Brimstone," will no doubt recall, God detests when people work together towards a common goal. He once spied another group of construction workers trying to build a grand tower in the desert... "But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, 'If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them'" (Gen 11:5-6). So, God confused their language and scattered the people all over the Earth, making sure they would never work together again (Gen 11:7-8). Hallelujah!

Friends, I know it takes just about all your efforts to shelter your children from the Godless, liberal influences of modern society-- with such un-Christian notions like "we should all do our parts and work together." Hogwash! The next time someone wants you to help them do something, do what I do: start speaking in a new, made-up language, and pretend you can't understand them. If they repeat their request, slap them in the face and run away. That's how I got out of jury duty.

The Reverend Thaddeus Peacock is a licensed Churchologist with advanced degrees in Biblology, Jesusence, and Brimstoning. He may be reached by emailing his cousin Richard at richard@amateurscientist.org.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

They Killed Their Child

When Dale and Leilani Neumann's 11-year-old daughter Kara came down with a treatable form of diabetes, they opted to pray for God to heal her rather than seek actual medical care. Because God performs miracles only when you least expect it, He allowed Kara to die. For inadvertently killing their daughter, the Neumanns have just been sentenced to six months in jail and ten years of probation. "But they killed their child!" you're saying. Well, let's put this in perspective. Those six months in jail will be served over six years, with each parent alternating one month in jail at a time so that they can take care of their two remaining children. "Wait, they have two other children! None of them are safe!" Well, hold on a second. As part of their ten year probation, the health of their children will be evaluated once every three months, and the Neumanns will be forced to take them to real doctors if they become sick. "Okay, but didn't they kill their fucking child?" Yes, but the judge in their trial has said that the Neumanns are good people who were just a little misguided. "Child! Dead! What the fuck is wrong with you? Why are these people allowed to continue caring for children? Are you insane?" Look, I don't know what to tell you. God works in mysterious ways. And sometime that mystery involves killing children. Hey, where are you going? More details here.

Kiss and Jail

A Saudi court has sentenced 32-year-old Mazen Abdul Jawad to five years in prison and 1,000 lashes for giving a television interview in which he detailed his love for sex and showed some of the toys he uses to cultivate that love. In Saudi Arabia, it's forbidden under Sharia law to "publicize vice". In addition to tossing Jawad in jail, the Saudi authorities also shut down the local offices of the Lebanese TV station that aired the interview. You see, in Saudi Arabia, it's considered bad form to have sex outside of marriage, much less talk about it. Jawad should have done the honorable thing and forced a 14-year-old to marry him, impregnated her, and then killed his daughter for looking longingly at another man. You know, wholesome shit. More details here.

FDA Not Sure If They're Idiots

Smoking is bad for you. Everyone knows that. Well, unless you're looking to cultivate a sexy, throaty lounge singer's voice. In which case, smoking may be your only option. But if you don't want lung cancer? Probably best to stay away. The only snag is that cigarettes contain nicotine, which many people find is a chemical their bodies have an irrational, insatiable need to absorb. Also, the physical act of flicking out a cigarette, lighting it, and wrapping your succulent lips around its filter can create a muscle memory habit. Also, smoking looks bad ass. Which is why some companies have begun selling electronic cigarettes. There are a few variations, but all of them are basically small, cigarette-shaped vaporizers that deliver a nice, smokey, nicotine-tinged puff of water vapor to fill your lungs via disposable cartridge. No carcinogenic tar or baby puss or whatever else regular cigarettes have in them to make them so delicious. So, that would mean they're safer, right? Not so fast, says FDA spokeswoman Siobhan DeLancey. "We don't know if this is any better for [smokers]." Obviously Ms. DeLancey isn't dumb enough to think that water vapor may be just as harmful as cigarette smoke (I hope), so what's the real motive here? You'd think the FDA would embrace e-cigarettes. But the reality seems to be that the FDA sees anything that even looks remotely like a cigarette to be a potential danger, as it may lead morons like you and me to think maybe all kinds of cigarettes are equally safe. Personally, I didn't know I was that stupid, but I guess you learn something every day. Well, some of us do. More details here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Neil deGrasse Tyson Being Correct

In light of the whole AAI/Richard Dawkins/Bill Maher to do of late, this:

Movie Day

The parents of a 17-year-old high school senior in Kentucky have complained to their local school board over a film shown to their daughter in class that they believe was inappropriate. On the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, a Junior ROTC teacher decided to show “Fitna”, the short subject documentary made by Dutch politician Geert Wilders about various horrors committed in the name of Islam. The movie shows bloody and violent footage of terrorist attacks as well as female genital mutilation performed in several Islamic countries. To be sure, the teacher probably shouldn’t have shown the film to his juniors and seniors. Not because it’s too violent or yucky for teenagers, but because it just doesn’t make a very good case for itself. True, there are some horrible passages in the Koran, and there are plenty of inhuman acts carried out in the name of Islam. But to paint all Muslims as potential terrorists is as ignorant as painting all Christians as potential slave owners just because the Bible condones it. Also, female genital mutilation is a cultural phenomenon that isn’t based on anything inherently Islamic. Oh, and Geert Wilders is kind of a racist more concerned about keeping brown people out of his country than exposing the horrible truth about a particular religion. Still, why shouldn’t teenagers be exposed to the bloody truth of terrorism and child abuse? It’s not like a few more years of maturity are suddenly going to make these into feel-good topics. Of course, as a former teacher myself, I suspect this instructor wasn’t so much motivated to inform his students as he was to dim the lights and sip his flask of soul-warming whiskey in relative silence for a few goddamn minutes. This is why all teachers occasionally check out the A/V cart for movie day. More details here.

Abstinence-Plus Benefits

As part of its heroic fight against reality in the name of not making Jesus cry, the Bush administration spent nearly a decade promoting and freeing up federal dollars for abstinence-only “sex education” in public schools. The state of Texas spent more than any other on the programs, but they now have a higher teen pregnancy rate than ever, and STDs among teens are also on the rise. This is because abstinence-only programs don’t actually teach anything other than the fact that not squirting baby batter into a ripe vagina is the only 100% effective way to prevent the growth of tiny parasites in the human womb. They don’t, however, mention anything about condoms, pills, mutual masturbation, or any other techniques for enjoying sex with less risk of both pregnancy and infection. Which is why several Texas school districts are switching to an “abstinence-plus” curriculum. It still teaches that abstinence is the surest bet to avoid unwanted sexual side effects (well, other than blue balls), but it also says that if you do have sex, we have the technology to make it a safer experience. Still no mention of mutual masturbation, but I guess you can’t have everything. More details here.

Your Sunday Sermon - Lot, The Most Noble Man On Earth

Hey guys, this is Richard Peacock. Many of you don't know this, but my cousin Thaddeus is the reverend for a small church in my hometown. When he heard that I help out with this "Godless" web site, he insisted he be allowed to do a weekly sermon, to set everyone "back on the right path." So please keep in mind his views and opinions don't represent the rest of us here at AmateurScientist.

Hello again, dear friends. It is I, your humble shepherd, the Reverend Thaddeus Peacock. And I have come once again to lead my flock away from the fields of temptation, and into the corral of virtue. Today's lesson is taken from the most noble man in the Old Testament, Lot Lotterstein (last name assumed).

Now, many of you may remember from Sunday school class that Lot lived in Sodom, that damned and wicked city full of-- Sodomites!! Now, to be fair, as a citizen of Sodom, Lot was a Sodomite too. But since God chose to spare him, we know he was the most upstanding person there, who would never sink to the depravity of his fellow townsmen.

Why, when the town folk demanded he surrender two of his male house guests (who just happened to be angles), the brave and noble Lot offered instead his two daughters, hoping that the mob would rather rape them instead of his male house guests. Just look at the gracious tone he used to ward off the rape gang at his door: "Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof." (Gen 19:8). What a host!

But Lot's honor and nobility does not end there, dear readers! For after escaping the sexual perversions of the city of Sodom, Lot and his two surviving daughters took refuge in a nearby cave. So naturally, that night, the two daughters got their father drunk and had sex with him. "And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father." (Gen 19:34-36). Now you may ask, how does this prove Lot was an honorable man? Easy, dear reader. By impregnating both his daughters, just days after escaping a city destroyed for its sexual perversions, he was simply trying to remind them of why they left. Hallelujah!

Well, my sheeplings, I must leave you now, but fret not! For I shall return next week, not unlike Lot's younger daughter, to become impregnated with your child-- of fellowship! Thaddeus Out.

The Reverend Thaddeus Peacock is a licensed Churchologist with advanced degrees in Biblology, Jesusence, and Brimstoning. He may be reached by emailing his cousin Richard at richard@amateurscientist.org.

Friday, October 2, 2009



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