Friday, July 31, 2009

Ginger Pains

People with red hair are twice as likely to avoid going to the dentist as people with darker hair. This isn't necessarily because dentists are known to hate gingers and jab mercilessly at their gums with little metal hooks. As unlikely as it sounds, redheads are more sensitive to pain than normal people, which may make them more anxious about the normal pokes and jabs at a checkup. They're so sensitive, researchers found, that standard doses of anesthetic don't seem to work on them, needing 20% more goof juice to get the same numbing effect as others. Scientists think the mutated gene that gives redheads their preternaturally gorgeous hair color and heart-meltingly adorable freckles, the MC1R gene, also somehow affects pain receptors, though they don't know why. Personally, I have no sympathy. A little pain sensitivity is a small price to pay for being one of the chosen few who are more beautiful than all others. I have a thing for redheads, obviously. More details here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Lessons of Travolta

Over the last few days, people have been all flustered about John Travolta, star of Wild Hogs and the Look Who's Talking series. He's a prominent member of a small cult based on giving money to the corpse of a mediocre science fiction writer. And his son recently died. According to a disreputable British tabloid, Travolta has recently been questioning his faith and contemplating leaving the cult because they refused to accept the reality of his son's medical condition, possibly leading to the boy's death. These reports were published without any source or evidence other than anonymous eyewitness accounts of Travolta driving a golf cart around his vacation home late at night and stuffing his face with fast food. But there are so many internetters out there with a hard on for Travolta's cult's destruction that this made up story became the talk of the web. Someone even set up a petition where people could pledge their support for an actor they've never met if he decided to leave his cult. See, unsubstatiated rumors also suggest that the cult has information about Travolta's secret sexuality, which they're using to blackmail him into continuing to send money to a corpse. And many people who spend far too much of their time online believe that signing electronic petitions are a viable alternative to actual work. But in the last several hours, Travolta's spokesperson issued a statement saying that all these rumors are completely false and that Travolta still is and always will be a cult member. Case closed? Maybe. But it's important to take a few lessons away from this debacle. It may be true that Travolta's a closeted homosexual. It may also be true that his cult is holding him hostage with this information. And it may be true that based on the teachings of this cult, Travolta's son was denied medical attention he needed. But if so, all of this is still Travolta's fault. He's an adult, and he made adult decisions for himself and his family. He may very well be wrestling with these decisions. If so, very few of us could possibly imagine the torture he's currently going through. So why don't we all show a little human decency and stop harassing a man with a dead child just because we're eager to see the collapse of his dumbass religion?


When news hit last week that Amazon surreptitiously removed downloaded copies of George Orwell's 1984 from Kindle devices, I didn't write anything about it. For one thing, I'm lazy. For another, plenty of other blogs were all over the story, and there really wasn't much more to add. Also, rash rushes to judgment often turn out to bite people in the ass. Plus, I'm lazy. The whole thing seemed a little fishy, too. Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos isn't an evil guy. Like Google, Amazon seems to be a megacompany with a heart and a brain. And Bezos is even a financier of the pro-reality Reason Foundation. Sure, he hocked a few Kindles on Oprah, but it's a small concession to make in the march toward putting an electronic book reader in everyone's home. (A side note: I own a Kindle myself and adore it. Aside from nailing the technical side of creating a device that, like a traditional book, disappears in your hand while reading, it's also an important stepping stone toward a more knowledgeable and informed future. Books are good things not because of the materials with which they're made or how they smell but because of the information in the text. Making that information instantly accessible from a massive database the size of a small notebook can only help us as a species. You pretentious asses complaining about the loss of tactile sensation can go fuck yourselves. I read more on my Kindle than I ever did before, because I don't have to worry about the tactile "pleasures" of folding over pages and lugging around pounds and pounds of paper. The Kindle is the best thing to happen to books since the printing press.) So I'm not at all surprised that Bezos has issued a written apology for the way the 1984 situation was handled. Far from being some kind of shadowy government conspiracy to extinguish the truth of an anti-establishment book you can easily pick up for a couple of quarters at a high school library rummage sale, this was a simple legal issue. Somehow, Amazon sold Kindle copies of 1984 from publishers who didn't have the right to print the book. It was stupid (I feel like Barack Obama here...) of them to simply go into people's Kindles through the wireless modem and delete the things, but they did give everyone's money back. And you can still buy an authorized copy if you want. In other words, this is a non-issue. Though I suppose nothing can convince Kindle Truthers that this wasn't an inside job. More details here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bang, Zoom, Ad

A company called Moon Publicity is offering to draw any logo you want on the surface of the moon so that it's visible from Earth. Using a process called Shadow Shaping, small robots would create ridges in the lunar surface that cast shadows in pre-determined shapes. That's right, for as little as $46,000, you can advertise your Twilight blog on the fucking moon. While this might seem like a crass and borderline unrealistic cash grab, Moon Publicity make a very good case for themselves on their website. For one thing, Shadow Shaping doesn't permanently alter the surface of the moon, so there's no damage done. But more importantly, this kind of space commercialization provided the kind of bottom-up financial motivation to take space travel out of the fickle and stingy hands of government. They argue that seemingly trivial space activity like advertising and tourism will pave the way for more serious endeavors like colonization and terraforming. It's a convincing pitch, though I wonder whether I'll feel as positive about the whole thing once the full moon tells me which attorney can get me a whiplash check GUARANTEED! More details here.

Sext Abuse

You may have heard already, but teenagers are taking nude pictures of themselves and sending them to each other. This should be expected for a couple of reasons. 1) Teenagers now have 24-hour access to devices that can photograph them and instantly broadcast those images worldwide. And 2) teenagers are, have been, and always will be horny. It's just biology. Obviously parents don't want their kids' naughty bits floating around some telecom's data network, but the authorities haven't been responding to the sexting wave as rationally as they might. Since these pictures are often of underage (and nubile) bodies, they count as child pornography. And even though the people looking at them/taking them are mostly minors themselves, they're being prosecuted as child pornographers. This is incredibly serious, since a conviction could destroy some horny kid's life by labeling him or her a sex offender. But New Jersey seems to be on the right track, as there are bills in the state government that would allow teenage sexters to be sentenced to an anti-sexting educational course instead of facing jail time. While I encourage teenagers to enjoy the fruits of each other's sexy bodies as soon as possible, I think it's wise to caution them against sending pics around. I mean, I've seen the photography skills of most teenagers. At the very least, they shouldn't want the whole school to see their naked flesh in such an unforgiving light. More details here.

Cooler Heads Not Prevailing

Those hoping for a more relaxed and mellow stance on federal drug policy under the Obama administration should probably just light up and go back to watching your Squidbillies DVDs. Our new drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, has stated unequivocally that the government sees marijuana as a dangerous and harmful drug. "Legalization," Kerlikowske says, "is not in the president's vocabulary, and it's not in mine." I'll let the fact that he used a word to say that word isn't in his vocabulary speak for itself. Maybe he just doesn't know what "vocabulary" means. But a subsequent statement leaves no doubt that this guy's an insufferable idiot. He went on to claim that marijuana "has no medicinal benefit". This is just patently false, as evidenced by the many Californians who are prescribed marijuana for chronic pain legally under state law. And it's an especially ballsy thing to say while raiding marijuana farms in California. The facts of the matter are that marijuana has medicinal benefit, is no more harmful than alcohol or tobacco, and its legalization would provide billions of dollars in revenue for states like California that desperately need it. As I've said before, I'm a pussy who can't inhale anything without suffering a terrible headache, so marijuana isn't for me. But this bullshit has to stop. Our federal drug policies are baseless, debilitating, and the last thing we should be focusing on when the rest of the country is falling apart financially. Kerlikowske, congratulations. You're a dick. More details here.

Book Battle

CNN's Jason Hanna has an excellent piece summarizing the kerfuffle in West Bend, Wisconsin over certain books in the young adult section of their local library. Last February, Ginny and Jim Maziarka visited the library and decided that certain books were too sexually explicit to be made available for 12 to 18 year-olds. How they sniffed these books out is anyone's guess, but their reasons for getting all huffy aren't quite so mysterious. See, some of these books talk about homosexuality, which makes Jesus cry. Not only that, but none of them portrayed homosexuality in a negative light. The Maziarkas petitioned the library board to move these gay-ass books somewhere the sun rarely if ever shines and make them unavailable to minors. They also asked that the library pepper the YA section with books by "ex-gays" (i.e. men who flog their boners while weeping for Christ's forgiveness) that made it clear dudes and dudes shouldn't fuck. The board, which is made up of reasonable people who can and do read, rejected this petition. Being a blowhard, Ginny Maziarka set up a blog to rile support from her fellow morons. Fans of free speech and other Satanic ideals rallied behind the library board as well, and the debate has been tearing the community apart. Even their Fourth of July parade was marred by controversy, as one float featured a washing machine to represent how the library needs to be cleaned up. Since their initial petition, the Maziarkases have created a blacklist of 82 books they believe to be "pornographic". And the fight has spilled outside of West Bend as well. Three self-described elderly men in nearby Milwaukee filed a lawsuit claiming the simple act of hearing about these books has damaged their "mental and emotional well-being". I'm assuming this is because their ancient circulatory systems can't handle the rush of blood to their decrepit loins when they hear the words "gay sex". In particular, they've taken offense at a book called Baby Be-bop about a gay teenager, which they claim is "explicitly vulgar, racial and anti-Christian". This may well be true, but so is the book of Genesis. The whole piece is worth reading, but it's heartening to know that the library is standing their ground and seems to have plenty of community support. In the meantime, I encourage all homosexual Wisconsin residents to take a moment this weekend to kiss their same-sex loved ones in public. Ten points for every old bastard who drops dead. More details here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Michael Jackson Resurrection Index

by Karl Mamer

On a recent installment of The Amateur Scientist Podcast, Brian and Bob "raised" the "specter" that we should not grieve over Michael Jackson's passing as he was possibly going to rise from the dead Real Soon Now. Like many people expecting the Prince of Pop to return from the dead, I'd like it to happen sooner than later. And I would like some advanced warning so I can prepare an appropriate garden party and get attendance confirmation from A-list friends before my A-list friends accept other invites to Michael Jackson resurrection garden parties.

To this end, I've created the Michael Jackson Resurrection Index, a scientifically valid metric for determining how close Michael is to returning to us from beyond the grave.

Positive Indicators

Positive Indicators increase the likelihood of Michael's return. Positive indicators include things like sightings of Michael (corporeal or non-corporeal versions of him), miracles or healings attributed to Michael's intersession, events in Michael's life (pre- and post-death) that mirror the life of Christ, and events that generally create an atmosphere conducive to Michael's return (e.g., The Wiz has been released on Blu-Ray).

Below are the Positive Indicator categories:

Ghost Sightings

Flesh Sightings (including sightings of Michael in drive-thrus or working in a German Walmart)

Jackson-Christ Parallels

It's Not Pareidolia (Michael's image inexplicably appears on the side of buildings or bread products)

Miscellaneous Occult Occurrences (includes lycanthropy)


Other Miracles (lost wedding rings are found, Diana Ross makes a career comeback)

Advances in Plastic Surgery

Jackson-related UFOs

Profit (anything that might make Jackson richer if he returned from the dead)

Negative Indicators

Negative Indicators decrease the likelihood of Michael's return. Negative indicators include things like burial plans that make it difficult for Michael to resurrect via occult means (spells, yogic flying) or events that create an atmosphere that impedes Michael's return (Bubbles the chimp attacks and grossly disfigures his trainer).

Below are the Negative Indicator categories:

Man/Boy Love Vilification (plus other indicators that ruin the magic of childhood)

Joe Jackson (includes his attempts to thwart Michael's funeral plans)

Deaths (deaths of Michael Jackson friends, supporters, and known sympathizers)

Negative Market Forces (anything that might impact a living Michael Jackson's bottom line)

When Animals Attack (stories of some of Michael's favorite animal pals attacking adults and children)

Bad Times for Disney (The death of Captain Eo and other Michael-negative Disney stories)


Positive Indicators

Since we can assume The Tholian Web episode of ST:TOS is a true depiction of metaphysical reality, we can then assume reports of Michael Jackson's ghost at Neverland are his attempts to cross back over. He is risen, real soon now.

The Bigfoot-Michael Jackson link.
And there's an Uri Geller connection.

Michael Jackson cures a boy of some unnamed medical condition that some unnamed doctors said he would only have a 50/50 chance of recovering from.

I would like to point out this lyrics site offers Michael Jackson's #1 Billie Jean song as a "related" tune to the lyrics page for Alphaville's Miracle Healing. I believe most lyrics from the 1980s were secretly written to warn this generation that the evolution of a new enlightened cosmic consciousness could be sidetracked unless .... unless ... unless something or another. Stay tuned.

The UFO-Michael Jackson link.

Michael Jackson memorial ratings: 31 million watch.

I have this as a positive indicator. Some closed-minded skeptics have commented that ratings were lower than expected. Obama (who has never had even a single number one song) got higher ratings for his inauguration, for example. However, that nearly 31 million people gave up time in their day to watch the cold corpse of Michael just lying there in his coffin and the coffin not even moving rhythmically to the musical stylings of Stevie Wonder, I think that bodes well for Michael's eventual Resurrection Day celebration, where he will not only be dancing and singing but likely flying and shooting rainbows from his eye sockets.

Total Positive: 7

Negative Indicators

Yahoo News brings us this headline (to no one's surprise): "Michael Jackson gets more bizarre after death".

"Bizarre in life, Michael Jackson's complex personal affairs are taking even stranger twists in death, with sketchy reports on Tuesday of plans for an elaborate public memorial and questions over the parentage of his children.

Celebrity website TMZ.com, which broke the news of Jackson's death, reported the entertainer was not the biological father of his three children and that his ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, was not the genetic mother of the eldest two."

"'Endless' supply of music in Jackson's vaults".

Given whoever controls the Jackson estate can be living high off the hog for decades, if not centuries, releasing endless "best of" CDs that include a single new track from this vault, it might be in their best interest to place a silver stake through Jackson's heart, dump him in a edelweiss lined coffin, cut his head off, stuff his mouth with belladonna, and bury him where two rivers meet to ensure any occult form of resurrection does not take place.

Total Negative: 2

MJRI (positive - negative): 5

Telling Teens a Secret (Lie)

You're all familiar with The Secret, right? It's a multimedia phenomenon perpetrated by Rhonda Byrne and spread through the bullshit megaphone that is Oprah Winfrey's television empire. Through a bestselling book and impulse buy DVD, Byrne convinced millions of people with little to no critical thinking skills that they could receive whatever they wanted simply by wishing for it. This is a slight variation on the age-old nonsense of "positive thinking". Oprah herself claimed to use The Secret to achieve all of her success. After all, she wanted to be rich and famous, and that's exactly what she is. The only trouble is that every person on the planet who is rich and famous started by wanting to be rich and famous. We all want to be rich and famous! Those of us who aren't just happen to be shit out of luck. But enough good things happen to us that it's easy to fool ourselves into thinking they happened because we wanted them to. Unless you're clinically depressed, you're always thinking positively. Or at least hoping for the best. But since the The Secret gravy train seems to be rolling to a stop, Byrne and her partner in bullshit Paul Harrington have decided to bring their nonsense to a younger generation. You know, the sexters. Which is why they're releasing The Secret to Teen Power. It's sort of like Chicken Soup for the Teenager's Soul, only it's even more worthless and degrading to the intelligence of our nation's youth. A youth, by the way, that has an obscene amount of disposable income and a greedy desire to have absolutely everything. This may be the perfect audience, actually. More details here.

Growing Mice

Some people don't believe anyone should do any medical research with embryonic stem cells, since those cells must be harvested from human embryos they believe would otherwise be productive (yet teensy-weensy) members of society. Fair enough. If by "fair enough" you mean "insane". But how about we cut out the middleman(bryo) and create stem cells from something else? Say, skin? Scientists have already been able to genetically reprogram human skin cells to become stem cells, but it's not clear whether those stem cells can be as versatile as the embryonic kind, which may be used to create any kind of cell in the body. But it appears Chinese scientists have proven that very thing by using stem cells created from mice skin cells to grow new mice in the lab. Controversy solved! But before you go clearing a spot on your desk for a homemade baby farm, you should know that several of the created mice were "born" with genetic abnormalities and didn't live long enough to produce. However, one of these studies created stable enough mice to produce three subsequent generations. So, it's a bit of a toss-up right now. But promising! More details here.

GMe Some Rice, Please

In the most recent issue of Rice Today, the publication of the International Rice Research Institute (this month's centerfold: sexy, sexy pilaf), another convincing argument is made in favor of genetically modified crops. According to the institute, 70% of the world's food-growing areas are drying out due to climate change. This is especially troubling when it comes to rice crops, since rice is so heavily dependent on water and is a dietary staple of three billion people (many of them poor) worldwide. GM rice requires less water and produces higher yields than so-called "natural" rice. So what's the problem? Like always, morons. Specifically, morons who believe without any shred of evidence that GM crops are harmful in and of themselves and have leveraged this ignorant belief to legislate against the importing or exporting of GM crops. There are decent arguments that some of the companies that produce GM crops don't have a decent record when it comes to protecting the environment or caring at all about the lives of human beings. But that doesn't excuse the many other GM critics who blather on about bio-engineered foods destroying local farmers' livelihoods or ransacking people's health. To review: a basic understanding of genetics can tell you that eating a tortilla made from GM corn isn't going to make you grow bat wings. And where is your concern for the livelihood of poor farmers when they're being driven even further into poverty and death because they're not allowed to grow crops that can survive the weather? In a very real sense, GM critics can eat it. More details here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More Texas Bullshit

The Texas State Board of Education has tried its damnedest to make sure no child is left behind when it comes to manipulating science curriculum standards to reflect anti-science creationist beliefs. It's been an ongoing battle that doesn't look like it'll end anytime soon. But idiocy isn't just limited to debates about biology standards. The forces of ignorance are trying to wedge themselves into history as well. The board is currently in the process of revising their social studies standards, and a few of the review committee appointees should make all fans of reason more than a little nervous. One of them is Rev. Peter Marshall (pictured), a Christian minister who preaches that "we're in an all-out moral and spiritual civil war for the soul of America" and who wants to tell children that America's secular founding fathers based the Constitution on biblical laws. Since there's nothing in the Constitution about banning the consumption of shellfish or casting out chicks on the rag, this seems like a dubious claim. Rev. Marshall also preaches that Watergate, the Vietnam War, and Hurricane Katrina were God's punishment against gays. Truly, a class act. Also on the review board is David Barton, founder of a Christian propaganda machine called WallBuilders. Maybe it's true that everything's bigger in Texas. Unfortunately, that also applies to the social status of their morons. More details here.

Rise of the Man-Beasts!

Thank goodness Kansas senator Sam Brownback and Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu have co-sponsored new legislation banning the creation of human/animal hybrids. Consider this a preemptive strike against those mad scientists and beastiality hobbyists who would overrun our fair species with ungodly man-beasts. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal signed a similar piece of legislation earlier this year. It's no coincidence that he and Sen. Landrieu both hail from the Sportsman's Paradise. As a Louisiana resident, I can't tell you how often I've lied awake at night terrified that some 'roided out thug with an alligator head would break down my door and eat my family. This is unquestionably a better use of taxpayer time and money than, say, making sure Americans can afford groceries. Though I have to admit I hate the idea of flying all the way to Malaysia to legally fuck a centaur. More details here.

Heart Magic vs. Heart Science

British teenager Hannah Clark survived a childhood heart transplant, torturous years on an immunosuppressant regimen, bouts with cancer, and the reversal of said heart transplant. Good for her. When she eleven months old, her heart stopped functioning, so doctors had to insert a donor heart to pick up the slack. By age four, both hearts were working normally, and now the supplemental donor heart has been removed. The amazing thing here is that her original heart was able to make such a spectacular recovery. This is good news for people with heart conditions, and Clark's case will provide scientists with some much needed data so we can one day replicate this kind of recovery on a routine basis. So why did one of Clark's doctors, Magdi Yacoub have to say during a press conference that "the possibility of recovery of the heart is just like magic"? Especially when he and his colleagues were presenting published research on Clark's condition? If this was really just like magic, what's the point in doing any research outside of the salt circle and eyes of newt fields? This is the kind of careless comment that will most likely be taken by anti-medicine wonks as evidence for doing without doctors entirely. Unless, of course, Dr. Yacoub is actually a wizard. In which case, my apologies, sir. More details here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An Orgasm a Day...

The local National Health Service office in Sheffield, England has distributed a leaflet entitled "Pleasure" throughout its school sex education classes. In it, students are told about the health benefits of a happy sex life, saying that good, safe sex or masturbation twice a week could be a particularly enjoyable way to fulfill your physical activity requirements for healthy living. This is summed up in the slogan "An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away". The author of the leaflet says that it isn't necessarily encouraging teenagers to have lots of sex, but instead to inform them that once they're old enough to become sexually active, they should treat sex as a fun and productive activity. As everything promoted in this leaflet is scientifically sound and will most likely promote a lifestyle of health and happiness for both teenagers and adults, I can't imagine anyone will have a problem with it. Well, not anyone who likes getting laid, at least. More details here.

I Run from Genie

A Saudia Arabian family has moved out of their Medina home after fifteen years, because they believe it is being haunted by a genie. But instead of calling their local spiritual advisor or trying to catch the genie in a sturdy lamp, they're taking it to court for harassment. Or, rather, they would take it to court if it would only show up. At first, the family just heard strange noises in the house, but the paranormal activity soon escalated into verbal threats, stone throwing, and even cell phone theft. Those genies. Always fucking with your ringtones. Local authorities are investigating to see if there's any truth to the family's claims, but they acknowledge that this can be difficult since genies are imaginary beings that tend not to show up well in photographs or the like. Regardless, I don't think this family has much of a case. Even if the genie can be proven to both exist and be a harassing dick, it's not really responsible for its actions, is it? Obviously, it's only messing with these people because somebody wished it. More details here.

Sperm Like it Hot

Men may not always be very picky when it comes to the physical attractiveness of their female sex partners, but it turns out our sperm probably are. Scientists from the University of Oxford and the Royal Veterinary College studied the way red junglefowl, relatives of the common chicken, fuck. For them, female attractiveness is judged by the sexiness of their combs, the fleshy red nonsense on the tops of their heads. Males would get it on with females of all sorts, but the more attractive the female, the more ejaculate he would produce. In effect, the hotter junglefowl were more likely to be impregnated. The same mechanism holds true throughout a wide variety of slutty animal species, including our own. I don't want to make any broad generalizations here, but if you're a woman who's having trouble getting pregnant, there's a good chance your mate thinks you're fugly. Or you just need to spruce up your comb. More details here.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Dermot Ahern is Ireland's current Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. He hates the gays, saying that homosexuals "do not deserve our tolerance". Recently, he spearheaded the passage of a new law criminalizing "blasphemy" in his country. Luckily, he's made his email address public, so all of us can write to tell him what we think of criminalizing free speech. Send your electronic letters to dermot@dermotahern.ie. Here's what I wrote:

Hello, Mr. Ahern. Just writing to thank you for spearheading this much-needed new anti-blasphemy law in Ireland. It's the efforts of beautiful, upstanding gentlemen like yourself that keep a steady wall between civilized society and moral chaos.

Wait, did I call you beautiful? It's not that I don't mean it. I just didn't mean to be so forward. It just slipped out. But while we're on the subject, yes, I do find you quite beautiful. The subtle droop of your manly jowls, the immaculate shine of your scalp. It's like you're wearing a halo of sex, Mr. Ahern.

I guess I'll just lay it all out. I'd love to be inside you. Unfortunately, the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Holy Father prohibit such lustful acts. (Though God is willing to forgive a minor transgression or two. Just saying.)

It's just that sometimes I want to curse God for being such a dickish, petty killjoy. I mean, really. Fuck that guy.

Well, that's what I feel like saying. I don't actually do so, of course, as that would be blasphemy.

Brian Thompson

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cleanse Your Inner Paltrow

Not all of us can be as wonderfully fit and vivacious as professional “actor” and part-time lumber source Gwyneth Paltrow (pictured here in character as a gift-wrapped bag of twigs). Which is why she created GOOP.com, the website and newsletter wherein she tells you how to eat, play, live, and poop just like her. Seriously, she tells you about her poop. Her latest bit of wisdom? Promoting a “detox” diet developed by “detox specialist” Dr. Alejandro Junger. Why am I putting “detox” in scare quotes? Because it doesn’t really mean anything. Anything you shove down your throat (or up your ass, for that matter) to cleanse toxins from your system does nothing for your health since your body isn’t full of toxins. Like the word “energy”, people with no critical thinking skills use the word “toxin” to mean whatever they want without providing anything like evidence to show what it even is. Regardless, Paltrow just knows she’s full of toxins, so she recently tried out Dr. Junger’s suggested diet of one solid meal a day sandwiched by two liquid ones. Now she says she lost some weight and feels “pure”. I know it seems miraculous that a diet of very little actual food might lead to weight loss, but this is really just science. And what inspired Gwyneth to try this new diet out? According to her, it was guilt about the extra pounds she’d gained after a month-long “relax and enjoy life phase”. Good thing she learned to stop relaxing and enjoying life before it was too late. More details here.


Researchers at Ohio University may have found a cheap and abundant source of hydrogen to potentially fuel future hydrogen-powered cars. Yeah, it’s pee pee. Turns out the primary component of urine, urea, has four hydrogen atoms per molecule, as opposed to water’s two. Using a nickel-based electrode, the urea atoms can be easily broken apart with less voltage than it takes to split water. Which means that urine could be a less expensive and more abundant source of hydrogen. Not only that, but the process could also be used to clean wastewater of its nasty, nasty piss before it’s delivered to your house via faucet. Yum! No word yet on when we can expect pee-powered vehicles or other devices, but I’m going to start saving my urine in Mountain Dew cans immediately. As a World of Warcraft player, I pretty much do that already. More details here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Porno No No

Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko (seen here either recovering from a Russian assassination attempt or campaigning for a villain role in the next Dick Tracy movie) has signed into law a bill banning pornography from his country. No longer will any Ukrainian be allowed to legally possess video or photographs of naked humans sticking their body parts in each other. Truly, a victory for sense and freedom. The new law goes on to say that anyone caught with multiple copies of a pornographic image may be charged as a dealer. Also, there is an exemption for "medicinal" porn. I'd argue that all pornography is a cure for the crippling illness of not having a boner, but there's a larger issue at stake here. Pun possibly intended. What exactly constitutes "pornography"? Two people having sex? One person having sex? Two people having sex with one person? Three monkeys, a girl, two cups, and a Klondike bar all having sex together? The only way to resolve this situation is to mail Viktor Yushchenko every questionable image you can get your hands on so that he may personally tell you whether or not you're allowed to have it in Ukraine. His address:

President Viktor Yushchenko
12 Shovkovychna St., Kyiv

Ghost Cat

A New Zealand couple believe they may have captured the ghostly apparition of an orange tabby cat on their personal security camera. After one of their bicycles was stolen from their driveway, Donna and Ross Sowerby set up a camera to catch the crook. But when they reviewed their footage, they saw an orangish, blurry ball moving across the frame. The ball is so blurry that it appears translucent, and it doesn't seem to be hindered by anything like the natural slope of the ground. But that's not stopping the Sowerbys (who, of course, are skeptics) from believing it might be the ghost of their neighbor's cat, which was run over not too long ago. Now, some might say this is obviously some sort of bug crawling across either the lens of the camera or the window in front of it, but that's just crazy talk. Donna sowerby sees cat legs, dammit! Truly, a paragon of critical thinking skills. To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, when you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how unlikely, must be the ghost of your neighbor's cat. More details (including video) here.

Wheel of Conversion

Turkey is a secular nation in name only. A huge majority of the population is Muslim, and Islamic clergy play a large role in government. But according to the producers of the new Turkish game show Penitents Compete, Turks don't care what religion you belong to just as long as you believe in something. Which is why the object of their show is to pit a Muslim imam, a Catholic priest, a rabbi, and a Buddhist monk against a throng of atheists. If successfully converted, the "winning" atheist will receive an all expenses paid trip to the pilgrimage site of his or her choice. Critics charge that this show will cheapen all religions by turning them into crass reality television. But the show's creator says that Penitents Compete will be giving away the greatest gift of all: belief. I guess it's a good thing there's a sense of religious inclusion in the basic premise of the show, but I'm not sure the producers have really followed through with their idea. Converting someone from an atheist to, say, a cannibalistic sun worshiper probably isn't a good idea, no matter how much serenity and comfort that person gains from killing and eating human flesh. But I guess it takes all kinds. Well, except for atheists. More details here.

Sexy Tarot

59-year-old Philadelphian Hector Ayala is currently on trial for sexually assaulting teenage girls who came to him for Tarot card readings. One of his victims testified in court that Ayala told her having sex with him would bring her good luck and help make her wishes come true. But since having sex with Ayala wasn't one of her wishes, it seems likely he was incorrect. This raises some important issues about what would otherwise seem like a harmless form of playful bullshit. The fact is that many people who seek out fortune tellers, Tarot readers, psychics, and other delusional frauds are in a very vulnerable emotional state and can be easily manipulated into doing something more harmful than giving up their cash. But putting aside the sex with minors thing, are Ayala's claims about the mystical powers of his mouth and cock really any more absurd than saying some colorful slips of card stock can tell a person's future? More details here.