Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sticky Situation

Albert Snyder is the father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed while serving in Iraq in 2006. Cpl. Snyder's funeral was picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. Members of the so-called "God Hates Fags" church picket military funerals, because they believe U.S. soldiers are complicit in America's tolerance of homosexuals. Or something like that. These people are batshit crazy. (Evidence: At least one of them likes The Bee Gees.) Albert Snyder sued the church for invasion of privacy and won. But the case was overturned on appeal, citing the church members' right to picket a funeral under the First Amendment. In addition to this ruling, Snyder has also been ordered to cover the church's legal costs of $16,000. It's pretty standard for the losing plaintiff to be ordered to cover a defendant's legal fees, but this isn't an ordinary case. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear it, so all of this could be moot pending their decision. Personally, I don't know what to think. On one hand, freedom of speech is only as valuable as the protection it affords to the most heinous types of speech. On the other, these church members are evil dickholes. But if the Snyder family do end up having to bear these costs, it might be worth your while to visit MatthewSnyder.org and donate some cash to help them out. I can't imagine the world will leave them high and dry on this, but any support probably helps. More details here.

Hero Detained

In yet another case of police abusing their power, a would-be hero for the forces of light was arrested in Bainbridge Island, Washington for waving a sword around in public. The man was spotted shirtless and covered in scrapes and bruises in the parking lot of a home improvement store when an off-duty cop detained him. In fairness to the police, it's usually a good idea to at least question anyone caught brandishing an edged weapon out in the open. Chances are, this person is an immortal highlander in pitched battle with an evil foe. Which is all well and good until you consider what property damage might result from a powerful Quickening. Best to direct immortals to the nearest abandoned warehouse or industrial smelting plant. But this particular sword-wielder doesn't seem to have been an immortal. No, he claimed he was out hunting werewolves and CHUDs (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers). In which case, boo on the police for stopping him. The moistened pines of Washington's forests are the perfect habitat for werewolves and CHUDs. And if this man received a tip that such creatures were making their way to Home Depot, well, he had no choice but to stop them from looking for replacement shower drains or hinges or whatever. More details here.


When necromancy is outlawed, only outlaws will be necromancers. Case in point: Pennsylvania police arrested a man attempting to use dark magicks to resurrect a dead opossum on a state highway. Because the arcane arts are constitutionally protected, they had to book the man on the trumped up charge of public drunkenness. According to one witness, the man knelt over the roadkill and waved his hands as if performing a seance. Another said he tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Both are wrong. Seances are meant to communicate with the spirits of the dead, not bring them back to life. This man was conducting a reanimation rite, not a seance. Furthermore, what appeared to be mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was obviously just the traditional clearing of the gunk from the reanimatee's throat. All sorts of crap builds up in there during decomposition, and you don't want your newly enlivened client to just choke right back to death. No word on whether this brave necromancer was able to complete the ritual before being hauled away by authorities. Nor is there any word on whether the ACLU intends to intervene in this blatant case of religious persecution. More details here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fat Jesus Art Contest

UPDATE: Deadline for submissions is Sunday, April 25th! And the winner will be announced on May 1st!

As announced on Episode 95 of "The Amateur Scientist Podcast," submissions are now open for the first annual Fat Jesus Art Contest. To refresh: There are some Bible scholars who subscribe to the so-called "Fat Jesus Theory," which holds that Christ was much fatter than mainstream theologians would have us believe. Much of their evidence is circumstantial, though it's also somewhat compelling. For instance, a fat Jesus would be more buoyant than a thin Jesus and, thus, capable of appearing to walk on water. Also, the power to infinitely multiply any and all food items would have been likely to lead Jesus toward binge eating, thereby enfattening him. But because Fat Jesus Theory is still such a fringe believe, there's a dearth of artwork depicting the son of God at maximum corpulence. This is where you come in. Using any medium you wish (pen and ink, crayon, Microsoft Paint), create your own Fat Jesus artwork and upload it to the Amateur Scientist Forum here. Finalists will be selected by a panel of experts, and the winner will be chosen via internet polling. Yes, there will be a prize for the best Fat Jesus art. Good luck!


Robots aren't just for sex and/or comic relief in "Rocky" movies anymore. A team of researchers at the University of the West of England (a.k.a. the University of Two Words Too Many) are creating a robotic platform that would assist the elderly in their futile attempts at living a decent life. Sensors monitoring vital signs, wireless alarm systems, and electronic organizers would all be synced to a central in-home robot, which would also help oldoes with composing emails and pretending someone still cares about them. Which all seems like a good idea. That is, if you're not aware of the deadly relationship between robots and the elderly:

Many People are Morons

Harris Interactive, a market research firm, released the results of an online poll they conducted, which suggest that huge numbers of Americans are stupid, insane, or both when it comes to their views of President Obama. The poll involved 2,320 adults responding to true or false questions. Among many other disturbing facts, 14% of respondents said they believed Obama could be the Antichrist. For those who don't know, the Antichrist is the fictional nemesis of biblical hero Jesus Christ. When Jesus accidentally fell into the core of an early particle collider in "Bible Stories" #258, his personality was split into two physical beings: one good and the other evil. Or something like that. Anyway, a lot of people believe Obama is that guy. When broken into partisan results, it seems 24% of all Republican respondents hold this view, while only 6% of Democrats are that batshit crazy. But taken as a whole, the numbers in this poll are depressing. 32% think Obama is a Muslim. 23% think Obama is a racist. And 20% say Obama is "doing many of the things Hitler did." That last one is actually true. Hitler's days were mostly spent yakking with aides and signing documents. Also, basketball. More horrible details here.

Hayworth Challenge Made Official

You may recall that on Episode 95 of "The Amateur Scientist Podcast," I challenged former Arizona congressman J.D. Hayworth to travel to Boston, Massachusetts and marry a horse on my dime. This release has been sent to the media today:

During a March 14, 2010 appearance on Orlando, Florida's WORL radio station, former Arizona congressman J.D. Hayworth claimed that the wording of Massachusetts' state law allowing gay marriage is vague enough that it would also allow for a person to marry a horse. On the March 27, 2010 edition of the internet radio show "The Amateur Scientist Podcast," host and producer Brian Thompson formerly offered Hayworth $1,500 to travel to Massachusetts for the purpose of proving this claim by legally marrying a horse.

"You see, the Massachusetts Supreme Court, when it started this move toward same-sex marriage, actually defined marriage — now get this — it defined marriage as simply, 'the establishment of intimacy,'" Hayworth reportedly said. "I guess that would mean if you really had affection for your horse, I guess you could marry your horse." Hayworth has announced plans to challenge Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) in the 2010 Republican primary for McCain's United States Senate seat.

"As a skeptic, I'm not convinced that Mr. Hayworth's claims about Massachusetts' gay marriage law are true," Thompson said. "However, my opinion can always be swayed by solid evidence. This is why I am offering $1,500 on behalf of 'The Amateur Scientist Podcast' to fly Mr. Hayworth to Massachusetts for one week so that he may court and legally marry a horse under state law." Thompson has been hosting and producing "The Amateur Scientist Podcast" since 2007.

Thompson says the $1,500 on offer would cover Hayworth's airfare from Phoenix, Arizona to Boston, Massachusetts as well as hotel costs, food expenses, marriage license fees, and a gold-plated engagement horseshoe Hayworth may present to his future spouse. This schedule calls for Hayworth to stay in Boston for seven nights. "There's a three-day waiting period for a Massachusetts marriage license, but I think four days should be enough for someone with Mr. Hayworth's bona fides to find a horse that will agree to marry him," Thompson said. "Fortunately, the horse's gender shouldn't matter, so Mr. Hayworth has a wide open field."

According to Thompson, the $1,500 will not cover divorce expenses for Hayworth, who is currently married to a human female.

About "The Amateur Scientist Podcast":

"The Amateur Scientist Podcast" is a weekly internet radio show that offers commentary on politics, science, and other topics. The show is distributed by AmateurScientist.org and is also available in the iTunes Marketplace.

Monday, March 29, 2010

You Got Your Abstinence Bullshit in My Health Care Bill

Maybe you've been too busy fortifying your bunker and roasting your plumpest children in the post-apocalyptic wasteland that's resulted from the passage of the Senate health care bill to actually read what's in it. In addition to evil, fascist, Marxist provisions like eliminating preexisting conditions and providing affordable health insurance to millions more Americans, the bill also restores federal funding for abstinence-only propaganda in U.S. schools. Citing a complete lack of any evidence that abstinence-only programs either keep kids from having premarital sex or reduce teen pregnancy rates, the Obama administration almost immediately cut this kind of faith-based nonsense from the tax trough upon usurping office in a bloodless, democratic coup. But while congresspeople were stabbing each other in the back over the health care debate these past several months, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah quietly bent the bill over his desk, dropped his magic underwear, and inserted new federal dollars for abstinence-only programs. Specifically, $250 million will be set aside to brainwash horny teenagers over the next five years. So I guess you can chalk it up to bipartisan compromise when your next barely legal mistress also barely knows where a condom is supposed to go. More details here.


Japanese researchers have successfully altered the salivary glands of the Anopheles stephensi mosquito so that it carried a malaria vaccine in its saliva. Lab mice who were stung by the mosquitoes were found to have increased antibodies, indicating that they were successfully vaccinated. If scientists are able to produce these mosquitoes in a large scale, they could be dispatched to parts of the world where unaltered mosquitoes still spread malaria in epidemic numbers. No word yet on whether being stung by a vaccinating mosquito still results in annoying itching. I mean, malaria is pretty bad and everything, but have you ever gotten a mosquito bite on your back where you can't quite reach it? I'll take the malaria! Am I right? Oh, I'm not right? Malaria is a horrible and painfully deadly disease? My bad. More details here.


One of the consequences of urban expansion is that wildlife are finding it more and more difficult to eke out a living in the wilderness. Imagine you're the head of a coyote family, for instance. Are you going to build your den in the middle of some pine trees if there's a good chance those trees will just be cleared in a few years to make room for another Walgreen's? This is why I'm not surprised that so many wild animals seem to be nosing around metropolitan areas. Where else are they going to live? Several weeks ago, a zebra was caught trying to use the carpool lane on Atlanta's interstates, and now a coyote has been nabbed on the bustling streets of New York City. Sadly, these animals have been captured and relocated. I'm not one to jump to Hitler comparisons, but I can't help but notice this is eerily similar to what happened in the Warsaw ghettos. At the very least, it's unfair to the poor animals, who are just trying to find a rent controlled place where they can go home after a long hunt in the subway tunnels. I, for one, welcome our coming animal neighbors. Unless they lower my property values. In which case, I'm moving to the suburbs. More details here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Like" Button for Syphilis

It seems young people in the Sunderland, Durham, and Teesside areas of Britain are four times more likely than their peers to have contracted syphilis, and one health expert thinks he has an explanation. Prof. Peter Kelly, Teesside director of public health, says that heightened syphilis risk corresponds to the popularity of social networking sites like Facebook. He and his staff discovered that many young people (especially young women) who live in these areas use Facebook to arrange casual sex encounters. Whether these are posted as Facebook Events is unclear. And according to Facebook, so is Prof. Kelly's research. "The assertion that Facebook is responsible for the transmission of syphilis is ridiculous," said a company spokesperson. "Facebook is no more responsible for STD transmission than newspapers responsible for bad vision. Today’s reports exaggerate the comments made by the professor, and ignore the difference between correlation and causation." Maybe so. And Prof. Kelly does mention social networking sites in general, not just Facebook. But unless I'm reading this wrong, I believe Facebook is admitting that staring at it too long in dim light will indeed give you syphilis. More details here.

Catholics Want Your Kids (3-D)

To you and me, 3-D movies might be insufferably distracting or headache-inducing or, the the case of "Avatar", horrible. But we're crotchety old bastards. The kids these days can't get enough of the 3-D. Which is never more apparent than when they're staring into their flat, two-dimensional iPhone screens. And this is why the Catholic Church just launched their first 3-D programs on their cable network, CatholicTV. Of course, watching 3-D television requires owning a 3-D capable TV, which almost nobody does. But this is a way to make CatholicTV future proof. Eventually, 3-D TVs will be commonplace. Unless, of course, people realize they don't give a shit about 3-D. So, these new 3-D shows are a way to reel in the kids who will never know a non-3-D world. Sounds like a foolproof plan! Except for the fact that now may not be the time for the church to brag about its efforts to lure children. So... You know. More details here.

Think About Not Asking / Try Not to Tell

Today, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced a softening of the military's ban on openly gay soldiers. Accusations of homosexuality will now have to reach a higher standard of evidence to warrant an investigation, and other changes will be implemented to tone down the strict enforcement of the so-called Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy. Which is great and everything except for two facts: 1) PRESIDENT OBAMA PROMISED TO REPEAL DADT, NOT SOFTEN IT, and 2) DADT COULD ENFORCEMENT COULD BE ENDED IMMEDIATELY VIA EXECUTIVE ORDER FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA, WHO IS THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE U.S. MILITARY. The thing about baby steps is that they don't make a lot of sense once you're dealing with adults. Just fucking walk already. More details here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Vampire Robber

NYPD are currently hunting a potential vampire who, when rebuffed by a stingy cab driver who refused to hand over the cash, bit his victim about the neck, back, and arms. Strange behavior for a vampire, to be sure. They usually sulk around in ratty velvet suits and attempt to seduce the emotionally immature into their terrible embrace. This guy, on the other hand, tried waving around a semi-automatic pistol first. That might sound like a kind of devolution of the vampire M.O., but I think this might be a step in the right direction. I'd much rather human blood sucking be the vampire's last resort. If some goth kid with bedroom eyes approaches me in a dark alley, I'll gladly hand over the contents of my wallet in the hopes that he'll spend that cash on victimless blood bank supplies and possibly a pack or two of clove cigarettes. But there's probably no way to convince the NYPD to back down. Vampire hunts give them a wide swath to practice their police brutality on nocturnal vagrants. Those splintery mop handles in the precinct supply closet aren't going to stick themselves up a homeless dude's ass. Or through his heart, as it were. More details here.

Enterprise Away

The VSS Enterprise, the first spacecraft built for Richard Branson's commercial spaceflight company Virgin Galactic, completed its maiden test flight earlier this week. The Enterprise is attached to a carrier plane that will eventually take it to 60,000 feet before separation, when the spacecraft will fire rockets to send it above the atmosphere. For this test flight, the Enterprise remained attached to the carrier and was only taken to 45,000 feet. The testing program will continue into 2011 before Virgin Galactic begins its commercial schedule of one flight per week carrying six passengers paying $200,000 a pop. Branson hopes that in addition to space tourism, Virgin Galactic will eventually deal in point-to-point travel using sub-orbital flight paths that would be drastically quicker than traditional aircraft routes. But the real endgame comes in 2021, when Branson's conquest of media, telecommunications, and commercial travel will finally allow him to possess 100% of the earth's pussy. More details here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nanny Fanny

Bad news, working mothers. According to psychiatrist Dr. Dennis Friedman, delegating any sort of parental responsibility for your new baby might turn him into a serial cheater later in life. He says boys who are cared for by nannies or au pairs will grow up believing that even though they may have a primary female partner in life (a wife, a primary polyamorous love partner, etc.), he'll always need another woman to fulfill his needs. And while nannies may lead boys to fuck around, girls also aren't immune. The unbalanced dynamic caused by a part-time caregiver could turn women into alcoholics, drug addicts, or worse. It's worth noting, however, that Dr. Friedman is only one man. He could be completely wrong about this. It's possible that he himself was reared by a nanny, and he's choosing to fill his "vacuum of need" by conducting bullshit research. Just saying. More details here.

Why Don't We Do It in the Road (Only)

According to a disreputable British tabloid, 24-year-old Danielle Vincely has a certain phobia that makes her too scared to have sex anywhere but in the great outdoors. "I just can't do it indoors without freaking out," she says. "I feel like I'm being choked and about to pass out." But outside? Well, it's a whole different story. "I'd never had an orgasm before [but] the feeling of climaxing around Mother Nature was out of this world!" This, of course, raises some ethical issues. I don't know whether Danielle asked Mother Nature's permission before including her in a public threeway. But then again, Mother Nature is probably asking for it what with all her perfectly exposed mountains and chasms. So let's call that a wash. But assuming this story isn't completely made up, it's worth looking into what sparked this phobia. It's possible that Danielle just had a traumatic first sexual experience indoors. Maybe her first time outside was so much better by comparison that she created a mental block against fucking under a ceiling. She says her doctor tried to put her on antidepressants to cure her phobia, but she'd rather be drug-free and encrusted with acorns than having sex in a human bed and being dependent on pills. Fair enough, I suppose. But she's really cutting herself off from spectacular sexual relationships with pale, light-averse internet shut-ins like myself. Her loss. More details here.

Disappearing Gold

A team of German scientists have successfully created a material that acts as a sort of invisibility cloak. The material's composition of layered photonic crystals causes it to bend light. As proof of concept, researchers covered a small bump in a gold surface with the material, making the bump seem to disappear. It'll be years before this invisibility fabric can be manufactured at a scale large enough to conceal substantial objects like people or fighter jets or the shrine you've built to your sexy neighbor. In the meantime, I'm wondering why these scientists are testing the material on gold. Perhaps they intend to hide their treasure? Or maybe they're marketing the material to those tycoons who currently spend fortunes keeping their fortunes behind lock and key. New technology is always adopted by the wealthiest consumers first. Speaking as a wealthy gentleman myself, I'd be willing to spend all sorts of cash to rid my mansion of all these man-sized safes in favor of just hiding my riches in random piles covered with invisible tarps. Every time a guest stubs her toe, I'll laugh a little inside. Before I dip her in wax and add her to my macabre museum of human horrors. You know, like wealthy people do. More details here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dan Knows 2012

Look, the world is going to end in 2012, okay? We all know it. The Mayans happened to leave behind a calendar that stops in 2012. Sure, they left behind other calendars that don't stop in 2012, but that's beside the point. The fact that one of their calendars does is just too big a coincidence to ignore. But don't worry about it! This apocalypse isn't going to be anything like that 2012 movie with John Cusack in it. John Cusack is just an actor. A dreamy, dreamy actor who constantly needs to step up his "acting in the rain" game. And no acting in the rain can top acting in a CGI megatsunami. In other words, the real end of the world will have nothing to do with movie magic, and you shouldn't take your predictions of the future from Hollywood types. Well, unless that Hollywood type is Dan Aykroyd, of course. The comedy legend and part-time vodka salesman says that the world will definitely end in 2012, but it won't be quite so literal. "It won't be the end of the world physically as we know it, as depicted in the movie," he said while on tour promoting his vodka. "But it will be the end of consciousness and the end of perception as we know it." Adding: "...the UFO phenomenon is going to figure greatly..." So there you go. Calm down, everybody. More details here. (BTW, the asskicking Aykroyd image you see here may be purchased in t-shirt form from Brandon Bird, the painter of light.)

A Banana a Day Keeps the HIV Away

Researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School have discovered that a certain lectin naturally occurring in bananas may have powerful anti-viral effects that could stop the transmission of HIV. Regular anti-viral agents are susceptible to disease resistance due to the virus' mutation, but this lectin attaches to sugars contained in the virus. This means the virus has to undergo several more mutations to become resistant. Now, I know what you're thinking: "But I use hands and hands worth of bananas during all my sexual escapades. I'm covered, right?" Not really. It's not like simply eating a bunch of bananas will make you HIV proof. But it couldn't hurt to donate some of your used bananas to medical research so we can have a handy pill on the market as soon as possible. Might want to wash the santorum off first, though. More details here.

Saudi Arabia: Shithole

The former host of a Lebanese talk show has been on Saudi Arabia's death row for two years now after being arrested and convicted of sorcery while on pilgrimage. On his Beirut-based show, Ali Hussain Sibat gave callers advice based on what he saw in their futures. Which seems pretty tame for a sorcery conviction. Fortune telling may be occult-oriented, but when I think "sorcery" I think dragon-shaped staffs and eldritch blasts and high intelligence modifiers. Also, lots and lots of dice. But seeing as how no one on earth actually possesses such powers, it seems weird that sorcery would even be a crime. How do you convict someone of practicing an art form that doesn't even exist? Well, this is Saudi Arabia we're talking about, where an unaccountable religious police force has free reign to do all sorts of horrible things, including killing foreign citizens for crimes against the imagination. Where's the outside pressure on the Saudi government to release this man? Amnesty International is involved, but that goes without saying. Don't expect much outcry from many official government channels, since Saudi Arabia is the west's BFF in the Middle East. Inexplicably. In defense of the conviction, the Saudi government says they hope killing Sibat will act as a deterrent against other people sorcering, but it's more likely this would act as a deterrent against anyone ever again visiting Saudi Arabia. More details here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Watch The Amateur Scientist Podcast LIVE in Atlanta!

You've heard the audio, now watch the video in stunning digital 3-D!*

The Amateur Scientist Podcast LIVE in Atlanta (Part 1 of 2) from AmSci on Vimeo.

The Amateur Scientist Podcast LIVE in Atlanta (Part 2 of 2) from AmSci on Vimeo.

*Where available**


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Let the Zane Explain

Actor Billy Zane, star of... Well, actor Billy Zane believes some things. In fact, he believes a lot of things. And by "a lot of things", I mean "everything". Here, I'll let him explain:

Germ Trail

Bad news, robbers and sex perverts. Looks like science has figured out a new way to track everything you've recently touched. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have successfully used the germs left behind when a person touches something to identify that person at a later date. Your germ signature may even survive prolonged temperature changes, sunlight, and other degradation factors. It might be a while before this kind of investigatory technique is used in the field, but it probably won't be long before a pair of latex gloves is rendered useless when you're trying to rifle through some sleepy family's DVD collection and/or search through your neighbor's panties without leaving a trace. Unless, of course, you subject yourself to a sanitizing bath of dangerous UV radiation first. So, like all crime, a little risk/reward analysis is probably in order. More details here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


NASA doesn't just explore outer space and host cocaine parties in shuttle hangars, you know. They also do research here on earth. Specifically, in Antarctica, where they were shocked to discover a small shrimp-like creature living comfortably under 600 feet of Antarctic ice. The three-inch Lyssianasid amphipod was described by one NASA ice scientist as "a shrimp you'd enjoy having on your plate". So, we can assume it'll be hunted to extinction within the hour. But the implications for extraterrestrial biology could be significant. If life can thrive in such harsh conditions on earth, it's possible life could thrive in similarly harsh conditions on other planets or moons, possibly even in our own solar system. Until, of course, we eat them all. More details here.

Internet to 11

If you've ever used the internet in South Korea, you know that speeds are infinitely faster than in the U.S. However, the benefit is negligible, since most of their bandwidth is consumed by professional StarCraft leagues. But Americans aren't so serious about their space strategy games, despite the fact that they hate being worse than the South Koreans at anything. And when it comes to internet speeds, the Obama administration doesn't want the U.S. to lag behind any longer. So, the FCC is rolling out a plan to modernize the country's broadband infrastructure by building a faster, fiber optic network instead of relying almost exclusively on copper wire. Critics say there's no viable way of funding such a plan. Also, Obama is a socialist Kenyan. But while it's true the plan doesn't deal in hard numbers, the general outline calls for the freeing up of certain airwaves currently used by TV signals so that they may be auctioned off to wireless internet companies. The money collected from these auctions would be used exclusively for upgrading the broadband grid. But however this turns out, we can rest assured that the South Koreans will still kick everyone's ass in StarCraft. More details here.

Death from Above

A flock of more than 100 starlings were recently found either dead or dying in the front yard of a single house in Somerset. Experts, of course, are baffled. If by "baffled" you mean "trying to determine a cause of death using their expertise". Many of the birds had bloody, broken beaks, which suggests that their cause of death had something to do with a medical condition known as "acute faceplanting". Some are hypothesizing that a bird of prey was pursuing the flock and frightened them into making a sudden downward change in direction. This would explain why all the birds were found in such a small area. But the owner of the house isn't so sure. And she worries that whatever caused these birds to drop dead will affect her grandson or her two cats. She believes the birds may have been poisoned from eating too many pesticide-laden crops, since, she says, starlings are "greedy in nature". But this theory doesn't seem to hold much water considering no such poisons have been found in their systems. Also, their goddamn beaks were smashed into the ground. More details here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nettymon (Monster in My Net)

A Newfoundland fisherman says he caught a very strange creature in one of his nets. At first he thought it was a whale, but it had no blowhole. Also, its skin was a smooth blue-green, its neck was eight to ten feet long, it had camel lips, and its tail was three-pointed. So, nothing at all like a whale, really. As amazing as this find might have been for science and as wealthy as the discovery of a new type of sea monster may have made this fisherman, I'm afraid we're left with no evidence that this story is true. The fisherman says he wanted to collect the corpse for photographing and testing, but he had a doctor's appointment. When he returned to the scene of the catch, the creature had sunk to the bottom of the bay. And, obviously, man has yet to master undersea exploration. More details here.


South Korean police have arrested a couple whose three-month-old baby starved to death while they wasted away hours in an internet cafe playing an online game. Now, before you get up on your high horse about parental responsibility, you should know that they were playing Prius Online. No, not the Toyota MMO where every player's mount accelerates dangerously out of control. This Prius Online is all about nurturing a virtual girl who grows in power and ability as you progress through the game. So, this couple aren't the monsters you might imagine. They successfully cared for at least one entity while their baby was left at home to digest its own insides. I guess what I'm saying is, you can't judge a book by its cover, no matter how grotesquely accurate that cover may be. More details here. And thanks to Doctor Atlantis for the link.

Dumphausen by Proxy

I enjoy stories about people who've decided to take this flaccid global economy by the ears and skullfuck it into submission. This is one of those stories. 35-year-old Bradley Laborman has created IDUMP4U.com, a website where he offers to call up your significant other and break up with him or her for a small $10 fee. He also records some of these calls and puts them on YouTube for our entertainment, so he's a businessman who's also giving back to the community. Sort of like when Walmart sent all that bottled water to New Orleans after Katrina. In fact, this is exactly like that. When asked whether he feels it's a good idea to take advantage of people suddenly thrust into a crippling emotional state, Laborman says there's no reason to worry. "I have a minor in psychology," he explains. So, we're in expert hands. More details here. And thanks to Brad for the link.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Playing the Hits

Maybe Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a little bit like film director Kevin Smith. When Smith ventured outside his wheelhouse of adolescent dick jokes and sub-competent camera work to make the maudlin "Jennifer Lopez is dead" fantasy "Jersey Girl", we was rewarded with equal parts jeering rage and total apathy. So he retreated back into his comfort zone to shit out "Clerks 2", an amateurish (in a bad way) sequel to his first amateurish (in a good way) hit. And after the recent presidential "election" in Iran, when Ahmadinejad extended a cardboard cutout of an olive branch to democracy by pretending to run against a candidate who was also hand-picked by the Supreme Leader, he was probably shocked to be rewarded with angry mobs and green-tinted Twitter avatars. This might explain his recent comments in the Iranian state press just before his trip to Afghanistan this month. He's gone back to basics. He's just Mahmoud being Mahmoud. And as such, he's reiterated his belief that the 9/11 attacks were a "big lie" perpetrated by the U.S. government to invade Afghanistan and to serve as a "pretext for fighting terrorism". Sure, it doesn't make a lot of sense. No one in the U.S. government has profited from the invasion of Afghanistan, and there really doesn't need to be a pretext for fighting terrorism when terrorism is already a crime. But what do you expect from someone whose eyes are so close together? To top it off, Ahmadinejad closed his remarks with his biggest hit of all: sticking it to the Jews by claiming the Zionist-founded capitalist system is coming to an end. I'll say this for the guy: he knows his audience. More details here.

God Did It

It took a while, but Sarah Palin has finally figured out how to spin the embarrassing fact that she was caught writing banal, semi-retarded notes on her hand during a boilerplate speaking engagement. She could have used the standard middle school excuse that she forgot to wash her hands after studying that morning, but everyone knows she shook hands with Tom Tancredo earlier in the day. Even Sarah Palin wouldn't go without a scrub after a Tancredo touch. But now, she's settled on a genius excuse. God did it, too. Specifically, she mentioned a quote from Isaiah 49:16: "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands." Fair enough, I guess. If it's good enough for God, it's good enough for a less-than-single-term governor of Alaska. But I fear Palin may start leaning on this excuse like I used to lean on my endless series of dead grandmothers to get out of all my problems. It's just a slippery slope before she starts justifying her killing of Egypt's first born, her banning of shellfish, and her destruction of Jericho after a multi-day siege. More details here.

Stating the Obvious

Turns out many parents who remove their children from society in order to micromanage their lives and education in an artificial reality that doesn't extend far beyond the kitchen table are using crappy textbooks. Specifically, they're using textbooks created by religious publishers who try to tell kids evolution is just another of Satan's lies. Sort of like the lie that all the other kids in the neighborhood aren't sucked into a hellish vortex for seven hours a day. This is upsetting to secular parents who just happen to order these books for their own home-schooled children, but maybe secular parents shouldn't be home-schooling their children in the first place. Unless, of course, they want their kids to break out in a cold sweat and hives every time someone asks them on a date. More details here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Grand Tour

You may have noticed things look a little different around here lately. Don't be alarmed! It's just a new layout. And to ease the transition, I've created this handy video to show you the way around the brand new AmateurScientist.org.

Website Tour from AmSci on Vimeo.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Voodoo Rile

Remember how that earthquake killed hundreds of thousands of Haitians? No, the other earthquake. No, HAITIANS! Yeah, that one. Anyway, there was recently a gathering in Haiti's Cite Soleil to honor the dead and pray that their spirits will be guided safely through the afterlife. You'd think no one would have a problem with this, but you should know that these people were Voodooists. So you can understand why they were set upon by a mob of angry Christian evangelicals who pelted them with rocks and urinated on their religious implements. Love thy neighbor and all that. Well, except when your neighbor practices Voodoo. Unfortunately, the Voodooists weren't able to fight back, since it takes three forevers to make a little doll of just one person, much less an angry mob. But many Voodooists have been intimidated into converting to Christianity. Some feel safer knowing they won't be victimized by Christian pee flingers. Others honestly believe that the earthquake itself was a punishment from God for practicing Voodoo. And some think that Voodooists might be overlooked when it comes to handing out food and water to the poor and homeless. Because everyone knows Jesus hid the loaves and fishes from that dude who was dancing with a chicken. More details here.

The Gay Disease

It may not seem like it to anyone who's sat in the backseat of a Las Vegas taxi while the driver waxed psychopathic about how Ron Paul will save this country from the New World Order, but there's an official peacekeeping body that enforces safety rules among Vegas' fleet of cabs. The Taxicab Authority has the power to detain drivers of questionable capacity as well as to arrest suspect passengers when necessary. And like any peacekeeping body, they have a policy manual spelling out how to deal with just about any eventuality. Part of this manual deals with those suspects who might pose a health risk. Specifically, it lists the types of people who might be likely to transmit an infectious disease. The list includes drug users with track marks, prostitutes, and homosexuals. Yep, according to the Las Vegas Taxicab Authority, officers should don gloves and other protective gear before manhandling the gays. How and why this statute was ever included in the manual is a point of contention. But former TA officer Scott Lewis says he was flabbergasted to discover it. "It took my breath away to read that," he said. "My question is, what is a homosexual? How can you tell? Would you ask them, ‘Are you homosexual?' and then stop, as it says, for your personal protective equipment?" Sure, there's the identification problem. But there's also the fact that gay people are no more likely to transmit diseases on contact than, say, the average CPA convention attendee on the prowl for a fuckable tranny. More details here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


UPDATE: This story is bullshit.

A Washington man has been tragically killed by urinating on a live power line. Read more about that here. But first, please take this opportunity to educate yourself by watching the following cautionary film.

Holy Travel Agent

A 53-year-old man has been arrested in Michigan for shooting up his hotel room and causing untold mayhem by microwaving his alarm clock. None of this is too unusual. The promise of morning maid service has tempted us all to do some crazy things in hotel rooms with little thought as to the consequences. But he man's motivations have raised some eyebrows. After his spasm of destruction, he left a note on his pillow reading, "God delivered me from evil and placed me in Albion, Michigan." If true, this casts some aspersions on God's abilities as a travel agent. Surely there are more picturesque places to deliver a person from evil than Albion, Michigan. This man was staying at the Albion Inn, which is only a two star hotel described by one guest on TripAdvisor.com as "not the greatest". Plus, it's within 100 miles of Detroit, which everyone knows is quite the opposite of un-evil. More details here.

Capital Marriage

Bad news, heterosexual couples. Your marriages have now been cheapened in Washington, D.C., as the district is now free to marry gays, thereby flooding the matrimony market and decreasing the market value of straight unions. Too bad. If you want to bitch about it, take your complaints to Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court, who refused to block the legalization of gay marriage in D.C. despite his conservative reputation. Of course, being a semi-autonomous city-state with no rule of law other than an ass, gas, or grass statute, D.C. is subject to all sorts of legal whims. It's possible that its legalization of gay marriage could be overturned either by congressional vote or by a public vote. But whatever. Starting today, gay people in our nation's capital have equal rights. Let's see how many Republican congressmen (pictured) grab their stall partners by the tapping feet and finally turn them into honest men. More details here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Drinky Ghost

Employees at a British liquor store believe they may be the victims of a haunting. Security cameras outside the Simply Food & Drinks in Botcherby, England have captured what appears to be a white mist that seemed to float in and out of the store over an hour-long period one Tuesday night. One clerk says she was skeptical of spirits before this terrifying encounter. "I have never believed in things like ghosts until that night but unless somebody can explain to me what it was, I believe now." Not to be a Negative Nancy here, but there are a couple of problems with this story. Instead of, say, going outside to look for the mist in real-life space, people in the shop instead crowded around the security monitor to watch it. Perhaps it was something more than a camera artifact, but due to their terrible investigation skills, we'll never know. Also, it seems odd that a lifelong disbelief in ghosts would be shattered simply because you've seen a white blob on a TV screen. I don't believe in the Keebler Elves, and I don't think I'd reverse my position if I happened to find a tree that smelled like shortbread cookies. But if this really was a disembodied spirit, locals hypothesize that it may have come from an apartment across the street that's been undergoing renovations. In which case, I can understand. Ghost or no, living in a construction zone is enough to drive anyone to hop across the street for a drink. More details here.


Maybe I'm just a member of Bob Barker's cult of personality, but it seems like if you own a dog, you'd pay to have it spayed or neutered. Not only do you not have to worry about unwanted puppies, but you also cut way down on the discomfort of having little Princess interrupt your dinner parties with her swollen, bleeding vagina. Plus, cutting the balls off your boy dog early enough condemns him to a life of squatting like a chick when he pees, which is pretty hilarious. But those of you who can't afford the surgery or just really, really like looking at swollen, bleeding dog pussies now have another alternative: a chastity belt for pooches. Called the Pet Anti-Breeding System, this complicated rigging of nylon straps and plastic clasps keeps any wayward lipstick from entering your furry friend. But as the NBC reporter points out in the original story, these belts are only for female dogs. Seems a bit sexist. Logistically, a male chastity belt would be a bit more difficult. But they could just sell multiple sizes of containment pouch: one for growers and one for showers. More details here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Smartsy Fartsy

A new study out of the London School of Economics and Political Science (safety school) has shown that people with higher IQs tend to be more likely to identify as liberal atheists. In other words, smart people are godless commies. There are a few evolutionary psychology hypotheses for why this might be, but it may be as simple as the fact that reality has a liberal, naturalistic bias. But as far as the endless struggle of slobs v. snobs goes, I don't see this study doing much to improve the acceptance of my side (snobs). If there's anything a faithful dumb person hates more than an atheist, it's a smarty pants. This study will just serve as confirmation of their worst suspicions. You'd think people would consider that the trends demonstrated by smart people might be the best roadmap for success, but that line of thought probably just makes you an elitist. This study also found that men with high IQs tend to me more sexually monogamous, but intelligence had no bearing on the sexual exclusivity of women. I knew smart chicks were sexy, but I didn't know they were THAT sexy. More details here.

Fish Boy

A young boy in eastern China appears to have grown a layer of fish-like scales all over his skin. Unfortunately, this isn't a sign that humanity will evolve to thrive in the coming waterworld. Despite the fact that this is less an awesome mutation and more a tragic genetic disorder, locals have taken to calling this poor kid "fish boy". But what look like scales are actually just skin that's peeling away due to a lack of pores. This condition, called Lamellar ichthyosis, prevents the skin from venting body heat. The boy's parents have to dip him in ice baths just to keep him from running a constant fever. There is no cure. It's a sad story, I know, but I thought I should tell you lest you simply read the headline somewhere and start thinking your offspring will have a shot at being born with kick-ass gills and the inherent ability to fight Dennis Hopper on the open sea. More details here.

Midi-chlorian Economics

A lot of companies are resorting to desperate measures in their battle against the global economic apocalypse. Movie studios would love you to pay a 3-D glasses premium on every film released until the end of time. Toyota will send a live geisha to your house every time you test drive one of their death traps. And Adidas, the sportswear makers permanently identified with '80s era New York hip hop and suburban white kids who really want to pretend they're into '80s era New York hip hop, have teamed up with a global merchandising juggernaut to help boost sales. Yes, they've turned to Star Wars, which may be the only brand still going strong in the retail market despite the fact that the intellectual property on which it's based isn't much more than a rotting rape victim in the pop cultural ditch. In the coming months, Adidas will be rolling out Stormtrooper track jackets, Princess Leia kicks, and Bombad knows what else. This may seem like an absurd pairing of corporate mentalities, but Adidas hopes to make some sense of this mashup by employing Snoop Dogg as their Star Wars line's celebrity spokesman. Why? Because Snoop likes Star Wars. Also, because Snoop likes paychecks. But doesn't everyone? More details here.

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