Atheist Talk Radio with Mark Decker!!!

i-3f2f66a0b2d43a01afdc6acfdd6aa34b-mn_atheists.jpgMinnesota Atheists’ “Atheists Talk” radio showSunday, June 1, 2008, 9-10 a.m. Central TimeThe first half hour will feature an interview with Mark Decker, co-author of “More than Darwin.” Mark is a great guy, this should be a fun show. I’m out of radio range so I’ll have to listen to the podcast. But if you are able, please listen live and CALL IN with your questions or comments!The second half hour will feature a discussion of the Twin Cities Freethought Toastmasters..image.jpgAtheists Talk” airs live on AM 950 KTNF in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.To stream live, go here.Podcasts of past shows are available at Minnesota Atheists orthrough iTunes. For all other podcast systems, such as one you might be running on Linux, use this feed.

The AFA Boycott Of Ford: Christian Antigay Group Caves, Claims Victory

The Mississippi Based anti-gay hate group “American Family Association” was founded (under a different name) by the well known anti-Semite Reverend Donald Wildmon to battle pornographic television shows such as “Three’s Company” and “Dallas.” About two years ago, the AFA initiated a boycott against Ford Motor Company to attempt to force Ford to change certain practices. The following Crimes Against the Family were cited by the Christian based conservative Republican wingnut AFA: (more…)

The Young Birder’s Guide: A Bird Book for the Middle Schooler

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Bill Thompson’s Young Birder’s Guide
The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of Eastern North America (Peterson Field Guides) is a book that I highly recommend for kids around seven to 14 years of age. (The publishers suggest a narrower age range but I respectfully disagree.)This is a new offering written by Bill Thompson III and published by the same people who give us the Peterson Field Guide to the Birds and many other fine titles. The book includes excellent illustrations by Julie Zickefoose.
A birder since childhood, Thompson says he would have loved a book like this one when he was just getting interested in birds. Now a father of two, he spent many hours over a two-year period with his now eleven-year-old daughter’s class getting their advice on what to include in the book.Bill Thompson III is the editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest, a bimonthly magazine with 70,000 subscribers and the author of Identify Yourself: The 50 Most Common Birding Identification Challenges. He lives with his wife, author and illustrator Julie Zickefoose and their two children on eighty birdy acres in Ohio.

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Pharyngulistas make change

And I’m not talking about spare change.As we ask questions about how much “pure” science should be in a science blog, or even, if we should be asking that question, there is another question we can ask: Can blogging be relevant? Can it make a difference?Recently, Pharyngula reported on a car dealership out west that was using an anti-atheist ad campain that was really quite obnoxious. PZ Myers suggested that his readers complain if they like. They did.

Kieffe said he has received “an incredible amount” of calls from people as far away as Australia and England, most but not all of them from “very articulate, nice people.”

The ads have been pulled. Here’s the post-game from PZ.Way to go, PZ and the Pharyngulistas!

Words with consequences

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Mark Madden
ESPN shock jock jock Mark Madden made the following remarks on his radio show the other day:
I’m very disappointed to hear that Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts is near death because of a brain tumor. I always hoped Senator Kennedy would live long enough to be assassinated.

… and thus, got his own ugly ass fired. [source]i-686b618d11459f5ae01080ab43a586b6-sharon_stone.jpg

Sharon Stone
Sharon Stone, famous actress, made some remarks too. She
suggested last week that the devastating May 12 earthquake in China could have been the result of bad karma over the government’s treatment of Tibet…”I’m not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don’t think anyone should be unkind to anyone else,” Stone said Thursday during a Cannes Film Festival red-carpet interview with Hong Kong’s Cable Entertainment News. “And then this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and then I thought, is that karma? When you’re not nice that the bad things happen to you?”[source]

This caused Christian Dior to drop Stone from its Chinese ads. Sharon, who is a close personal friend*, says that is deeply sorry.Here’s a video of Stone discussing this: (more…)

LOL Pterosaurs ….

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Adam and Eve with a couple of pterosaurs in the Garden of Eden before The Fall
The whole issue of LOL Pterosaurs came up (here and here), so of course, I went looking for them. In the process I found something even funnier. This is a web site at Objective Ministries on pterosaurs in the bible. The picture here shows how pterosaurs were used to cover up Adam and Eve’s private parts. And of course there is the baby pterosaur wresting on Eve’s outstretched arm as she hides her apple behind her in the other hand. Adam is obviously using the grapes to distract the large goofy looking pterosaur. (more…)

How much science does a science blog blog ….?

The following is a Guest Post by Stephanie Zvan of Almost Diamonds.BackgroundOn February 26, Anonymous Coward at Bayblab suggested that popular ScienceBloggers like PZ Myers (Pharyngula) needed more science content in order to be counted as a science blog. In the first comment on that post, DrugMonkey pointed out that there was plenty of science on Pharyngula, and the matter rested there (sort of, once the author proclaimed the post only an experiment).Then, on May 12, rommy told PZ Myers (in a comment on Pharyngula), “Sorry PZ – I have long thought that your blog was one of the weaker science ones – too much ranting not enough science – go take some lessons off Darren at Tetrapod Zoology on how to write a science blog.”Obviously, the question of whether Pharyngula is a science blog needed to be settled. Greg issued the challenge and I, because I am a complete geek who can’t walk away from piles of data when it might answer a question, took it on. (more…)

“US government gene guru to resign”

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Photograph of Francis S. Collins
Just passing along the details from Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The government is losing its gene guru: Dr. Francis Collins, who helped lead the breakthrough unraveling of the human genetic code — and found common ground between the belief in God and science — is resigning.Collins, arguably the nation’s most influential geneticist, announced Wednesday that he will leave the National Institutes of Health this summer, to write a book and explore other opportunities.The folksy geneticist helped translate the complexities of DNA into everyday vernacular. Collins led the Human Genome Project that, along with a competing private company, mapped the genetic code — or “the book of human life,” as he famously called it…..

Read the rest here.Here is part of an email from Collins: (more…)

Ghostly Ring Found in Outer Space

This just in from NASA:

This image shows a ghostly ring extending seven light-years across around the corpse of a massive star. The collapsed star, called a magnetar, is located at the exact center of this image. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope imaged the mysterious ring around magnetar SGR 1900+14 in infrared light. The magnetar itself is not visible in this image, as it has not been detected at infrared wavelengths (it has been seen in X-ray light).

i-7750d488cdd2afe095c26d0df04c0e37-231303main_magnetar-516.jpgPersonally, I think what we’ve got here is one of these: (more…)

The Earth Is Being Eaten By Bacteria!

… But don’t panic. Apparently, this is normal.It turns out that bacteria living at the bottom of the sea are far more abundant and diverse than scientists had previously thought. These bacteria appear to be consuming the planet’s oceanic crust. This raises several interesting questions regarding the interaction and co evolution of life on Earth and the Earth itself.[UPDATED] (more…)

Early Exposure To Lead May Be a Factor in Adulthood Criminal Arrest Rates

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Lead
What causes some individuals to be more violent than others? Obviously, being male is a risk factor for violence and more broadly for criminal behavior. The behavior of one’s parents or other adult caretakers, as one is growing up, has been implicated in some studies as well. Poverty is an indirect factor as it can be associated with more direct risk factors.A new study in PLoS looks specifically at one of several possible environmental factors linked to arrest patterns in general and arrest for violent crimes in particular: Exposure to lead. (more…)

Blogospherics … Recommended reads

Religion is Sensible to the Extent That it is Vacuous at EvolutionBlog and ‘Wolverine’ frogs pop retractable claws from their toes at Not Exactly Rocket Science are too good to pass up.PZ has another poll. Do you think a class focusing on the Bible should be taught in public school? Here’s the skinny. If you think this is dumb and immaure, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Wait a day or two for when I report this poll as though it was real! (more…)

Reconsidering the Reconstruction of the Pterosaur

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A very large Azhdarchid shown with a human for scale.
Azhdarchids were pterosaurs (flying reptile-like creatures) of the Cretaceous. These included some gigantic critters with up to a 10 meter wing span, but also some little ones (2.5 meters or so). Most reconstructions of these flying animals have them skim-feeding across the surface of bodies of water, grabbing near-surface animals with their beaks.A new paper in PLoS criticizes this view suggesting that there is very little evidence in support of it, and offers an interesting alternative interpretation of Azhdarchid morphology.From the abstract of the paper:
Azhdarchids lack the many cranial specialisations exhibited by extant skim-feeding birds, most notably the laterally compressed lower jaw and shock absorbing apparatus required for this feeding style. … Taphonomic data indicates that azhdarchids predominately inhabited inland settings … We argue that azhdarchids were stork- or ground hornbill-like generalists, foraging in diverse environments for small animals and carrion. Proficient terrestrial abilities and a relatively inflexible neck are in agreement with this interpretation.

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