Friday, July 31, 2009

Quote of the Day

"I strongly suspect that creationism as a movement would never have arisen if scientists hadn't insisted on encompassing the human species in evolution's family tree. Whatever the creationists say, they don't really care about turtles or oak trees or earthworms. If scientists were willing to grant that human beings were special, unrelated to the rest of Earthlife, creationists would probably have been happy to concede that every other species came about from a process of mindless natural selection. But the evidence doesn't support a separate origin for humanity, and the idea that we might be one of those animals - a relative of slime molds and toadstools, of centipedes and cyanobacteria - enrages creationists, who can't bear to believe in a universe in which they are not the central and most important figure. In their quest to reclaim that sense of specialness, they would gladly obliterate the best theory ever devised to explain the true origins and diversity of life as we now see it."
--Daylight Atheism

Bicycles, Women, Wine...Censorship???

So a wine maker puts out a vintage with a naked babe on a bicycle. How could I not blog about this?

Seriously, will these people never learn? If you ban something, you're putting more money in the pockets of the people making it. From AP:

"Alabama's ban on a wine that features a nude nymph on the label became a business opportunity for a California vintner who is preparing a marketing campaign to capitalize on being "Banned in Bama."

"The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board recently told stores and restaurants to quit serving Cycles Gladiator wine because of the label. Board attorney Bob Martin said the stylized, art-nouveau rendition of a nude female with a flying bicycle violated Alabama rules against displaying 'a person posed in an immoral or sensuous manner.'"

Uh-huh. I'm sure they ban all those beer commercials on tv, too. Not to mention the beer sales at the Alabama-Auburn football game before sending thousands of people out to drive home.

And frankly, this seems awfully tasteful.

You can get it on a bike jersey, too. I think I'm going to buy a case of this stuff.

Via NPR.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Birth Certificate

Shut up, already, birthers.

Oh, and just in case you fucktards still think it's bogus, you can be a U.S. citizen if you are "a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are citizens of the United States and one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of such person..."

US Code Title 8, Chapter 12, Subchapter III, Part I, Section 1401, Para (c).

Keep Libel Laws Out Of Science

If you don't know who Simon Singh is, read my previous blog post. Singh is being sued by the British Chiropractic Organization Association for libel for daring to suggest their claims of treatment not only don't hold up to scientific scrutiny, but are also actively harmful to normal, healthy patients. In solidarity, I just found the following button on Orac's blog and have decided it would fit in nicely with the rest of my decoration:

free debate

Being the passionate believer in free speech and a dreadfully rude believer that you should back up your scientific/medical claims with data and not lawyers (or if you use the latter, you'd better produce the former), I can do not otherwise.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Beware the Spinal Trap

I'm lifting this verbatim from Pharyngula

(Note: this is the infamous article on chiropractic that got Simon Singh sued. It is being reposted all over the web today by multiple blogs and online magazines.)

Some practitioners claim it is a cure-all, but the research suggests chiropractic therapy has mixed results - and can even be lethal, says Simon Singh.

You might be surprised to know that the founder of chiropractic therapy, Daniel David Palmer, wrote that "99% of all diseases are caused by displaced vertebrae". In the 1860s, Palmer began to develop his theory that the spine was involved in almost every illness because the spinal cord connects the brain to the rest of the body. Therefore any misalignment could cause a problem in distant parts of the body.

In fact, Palmer's first chiropractic intervention supposedly cured a man who had been profoundly deaf for 17 years. His second treatment was equally strange, because he claimed that he treated a patient with heart trouble by correcting a displaced vertebra.

You might think that modern chiropractors restrict themselves to treating back problems, but in fact some still possess quite wacky ideas. The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything, including helping treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying - even though there is not a jot of evidence.

I can confidently label these assertions as utter nonsense because I have co-authored a book about alternative medicine with the world's first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst. He learned chiropractic techniques himself and used them as a doctor. This is when he began to see the need for some critical evaluation. Among other projects, he examined the evidence from 70 trials exploring the benefits of chiropractic therapy in conditions unrelated to the back. He found no evidence to suggest that chiropractors could treat any such conditions.

But what about chiropractic in the context of treating back problems? Manipulating the spine can cure some problems, but results are mixed. To be fair, conventional approaches, such as physiotherapy, also struggle to treat back problems with any consistency. Nevertheless, conventional therapy is still preferable because of the serious dangers associated with chiropractic.

In 2001, a systematic review of five studies revealed that roughly half of all chiropractic patients experience temporary adverse effects, such as pain, numbness, stiffness, dizziness and headaches. These are relatively minor effects, but the frequency is very high, and this has to be weighed against the limited benefit offered by chiropractors.

More worryingly, the hallmark technique of the chiropractor, known as high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust, carries much more significant risks. This involves pushing joints beyond their natural range of motion by applying a short, sharp force. Although this is a safe procedure for most patients, others can suffer dislocations and fractures.

Worse still, manipulation of the neck can damage the vertebral arteries, which supply blood to the brain. So-called vertebral dissection can ultimately cut off the blood supply, which in turn can lead to a stroke and even death. Because there is usually a delay between the vertebral dissection and the blockage of blood to the brain, the link between chiropractic and strokes went unnoticed for many years. Recently, however, it has been possible to identify cases where spinal manipulation has certainly been the cause of vertebral dissection.

Laurie Mathiason was a 20-year-old Canadian waitress who visited a chiropractor 21 times between 1997 and 1998 to relieve her low-back pain. On her penultimate visit she complained of stiffness in her neck. That evening she began dropping plates at the restaurant, so she returned to the chiropractor. As the chiropractor manipulated her neck, Mathiason began to cry, her eyes started to roll, she foamed at the mouth and her body began to convulse. She was rushed to hospital, slipped into a coma and died three days later. At the inquest, the coroner declared: "Laurie died of a ruptured vertebral artery, which occurred in association with a chiropractic manipulation of the neck."

This case is not unique. In Canada alone there have been several other women who have died after receiving chiropractic therapy, and Edzard Ernst has identified about 700 cases of serious complications among the medical literature. This should be a major concern for health officials, particularly as under-reporting will mean that the actual number of cases is much higher.

If spinal manipulation were a drug with such serious adverse effects and so little demonstrable benefit, then it would almost certainly have been taken off the market.

Simon Singh is a science writer in London and the co-author, with Edzard Ernst, of Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial. This is an edited version of an article published in The Guardian for which Singh is being personally sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ricky Williams, Holistic Healer?

No, it's not a joke about smoking pot. From the New York Times:

"The latest milepost on what Ricky Williams calls his spiritual journey is an acupuncture and massage college tucked inside a strip mall, above a video store, next to sandwich and liquor shops.

Here, where the study hall is named after the philosopher Lao Tzu and one room contains some 300 Chinese herbs, Williams is a massage therapist in training, a running back who generally hopes to avoid contact on the football field now seeking his license to touch.

To Williams, 32, this represents another step toward a career in holistic healing and away from his self-described reputation as “the poster child for marijuana.” The process has been messy and public and shaped into an all-too-familiar narrative: superstar spits on the American dream, travels the world in search of enlightenment and returns reformed."
I have ZERO problem with a pro athlete looking ahead to his/her post-athletic career. Most of them don't, to their considerably detriment.

But holistic medicine and acupuncture? Grrr....

10 Worst Evolutionary Designs

I'd prefer the term evolutionary traits, actually. Don't give the designer dumbfucks any credibility, and all. Evolutionary design is a contradiction in terms [end rant].

You know, I think "Hyena Clitoris" or "Pseudopenis" would make great names for a rock band, but MTV would probably chicken out over having them on the air.

Via Skepchick.

Jimmy Carter Calls BS on Gender Discrimination

And he cuts right to the chase:

"The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."
Preach on. Read the whole thing.

Via Skepchick.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Quote of the Day

"It’s good for cycling and the Tour de France that we’re only talking about sporting issues during this Tour."
--Tour de France race leader Alberto Contador, on the lack of doping scandals to date.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mythbusters on Moon Landing

Adam and Jamie cracking down on some of the myths about Apollo 11.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Quote of the Day, Tour de France Edition

"So, like, Britney and Jennifer were like BFF since like forever but now they hate each other because Britney was dating Kevin and they broke up and now Jennifer is all into Kevin but the only reason that Britney really broke up with Kevin in the first place was to make him like her more. OMG."

Joe Lindsey of Bicycling Magazine, explaining the bickering nature of the politics of professional road cycling.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Why I Don't Ride RAGBRAI

When people find out that I'm a) a cyclist and b) from Iowa, they invariably ask, "So, do you ride RAGBRAI?" It's as predictable as an Evangelist's second or third sentence being, "So have you accepted Jesus Christ™ as your personal lord and savior?" To which the answer (to both) is no.

Why not?

Stuff like this:

The aforementioned playah is partaking in a pre-RAGBRAI Bacchanal at an undisclosed, top-secret location. Sorry, I'm ambivalent enough about being in the same state as this guy, let alone the same line of a beer tent.

Spin easy, friends. Ride safe.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Further Proof That Comic Books Are Intellectually Bankrupt

Before I move on, let me set the record straight: I consider the two Batman movies with Christian Bale and the Iron Man flick with Robert Downey, Jr. to be three of the best movies I've ever seen. Because they're action movies that remembered the first rule of good moviemaking: It's the storyline, stupid!

But now this:

"On Monday, Marvel Studios announced that Natalie Portman has been added to the cast of the upcoming big-budget Thor flick, scheduled to begin production early next year. She'll play "an updated version" of Jane Foster, a character who served as love interest for both the God of Thunder and his earthly alter-ego, Dr. Don Blake, back in the Thor comic's early years."
Further proof that now that Marvel has its own movie studio, it's even more determined than ever to make a movie out of EVERY SINGLE MARVEL CHARACTER EVER PUT TO INK! And in the case of Spider Man 3, stuffing as many of the villains into one movie as you can, thus watering the soup in the process.

Folks, do you think it's about time to put Stan Lee to pasture and let some fresh blood into the mix?

Dan Savage Trashes Catholicism

And I love every last minute of it. Money quote:

"Note to Bill Donohue: Yes, I've confused the virgin birth with the Immaculate Conception. So sue me, motherfucker."
Oh, you better watch out, Dan; Donohue claims to have 300,000 members of the League of Extraordinary Catholics at his beck and call. Never mind the fact that it's probably just him and his equally prudish wife, and the 300,000 figure was pulled out of his ass. The man is an apologist for the worst crimes of the Catholic Church, and should be laughed at whenever possible.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Expensive Unicycle

I don't speak Italian, but I'm impressed.

Via Moots Blog.

Episcopol Church Approves Gay Clergy

As much as I trash religions, I'll give them their due when they get it right. NPR:

"Just a few weeks ago, even liberals were predicting that the Episcopal Church would back away from allowing openly gay men and lesbians to become bishops. Ever since 2003, when the church elevated Gene Robinson to be bishop of New Hampshire, it's taken fire from conservative Anglicans around the world. Three years ago, leaders tried to tamp down the anger by promising a moratorium on consecrating gay bishops.

"And we did that for a time — for the last three years — and that time is over," says Susan Russell, a priest in Pasadena, Calif., and president of Integrity, a gay rights organization in the church. Russell was at the church's general convention in Anaheim, Calif., on Tuesday when it voted overwhelmingly to allow gay men and lesbians to become priests and bishops."

I don't see what the big deal is. Lesbians aside, the Catholic Church has been doing that sort of thing for years...

OK, no more snark, I promise. As you might expect, not everyone greeted the news with flowers and pastries:

"The conservative wing of the Episcopal Church walked out last month and is creating its own rival church, leaving liberals in the vast majority....

Russell acknowledges this was a risky move, particularly because Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, warned the Americans not to endorse gay bishops or same-sex blessings lest the second-largest Christian church in the world be split in two. But Russell says the U.S. church is independent, and no foreign province can tell it what to do."

Good for them.

Of course, you can't, in the words of Dan Savage, convince a knuckle-dragging bigot that homosexuality is a natural, harmless variation from the norm. Because that would be looking at the evidence rather than the Bible. And we can't have that, now, can we? At any rate, at least we know who the haters are.

And I could get all nuanced over the sentiment of, "well, now, some of those people might have conscientious objections to gay priests and blah blah blah." Not any more. This is the 21st century--you know better. No excuses for bigotry. Own up to it; you'll get at least a token of respect that way.

Which is more than you deserve.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Religious Belief = Clowns?

If only religious leaders were forced to adopt this outfit.

Via Friendly Atheist.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Quote of the Day

"What I believe is that all clear-minded people should remain two things throughout their lifetimes: Curious and teachable."
--Roger Ebert.

Boy, Do I Feel Dumb...

Make up your own joke, but tell me you don't feel the same after watching this:

Via Pharyngula:

George Carlin, Football vs. Baseball

Completely clean, no naughty words.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


For those of you who have a fetish for high-tech gear like I do, my latest score should thrill you.



OK, so some of you might not be all that turned on by kitchen appliances. You can skip the rest of this post.

I was trying to stay sane at work the other day, and was browsing through some of my favorite web sites of the moment. Going to produced this little gem above, and at a discount of $100. Which is saying A LOT, because those things are built like tanks and very, very popular. I wonder if they don't have a glut of inventory someplace, or just need to move product to stimulate their own sales.

Whatever, I got a new toy for the kitchen.

Now if only I knew how to make something more sophisticated than pancakes. Anybody got any recipes?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Maybe Hawkeyes Are OK, After All...

Well, one of them, at least.

Nate Kaeding of the San Diego Chargers has cut a "Watch Out for Bicycles" PSA. Love.

Full story here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why I <3 Andrew Sullivan

Because of his ability to cram a powerful argument into a turn of phrase.

Sully and his husband, Aaron, are in their summer home in New England right now. They're in Massachusetts, meaning their marriage is recognized, while in the District of Columbia--where they live the rest of the year--it hadn't been until today. Sully's comment:

"Ever thought what it's like to be legally married in your vacation home and divorced in your other one? Thought so. Heterosexuals wouldn't tolerate it for a second."

Monday, July 6, 2009

The True Meaning of Jesus (Fish)

I don't care for the whole "fish-on-car-bumpers" stuff. It's like the whole "MY dad can beat up YOUR dad" crap from the dreaded playgrounds of my unhappy childhood. However, I WOULD like to have this as a tattoo...

Thanks, Pete.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Quitta from Wasilla

Yeah, it was a stretch. Muhammad Ali, I ain't.

Slog had an excellent idea: Go to and read the quotes. This one is worthy of a *rollseyes* if ever anything was:

"We have to put on our armor - we are her praetorian guard! That's right - 2012 here we come!!! GET READY!"
I'm guessing the lass who wrote that is also a fan of the Left Behind novels.

This one gave me the best laugh of the weekend (posted prior to Palin's announcement):
"I don't want to read an article, I want to see Palin say it herself at her press conference...I NEED FOOTAGE! I won't believe anything until I hear it from her lips."

I'm forwarding that to Sullivan. This is rich!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Doug Stanhope on "One Nation Under God

Couldn't have said it better.


Dog Bless Sam Harris

It's been a whole week since I've blogged? No wonder I feel edgy.


"If I told you that I thought there was a diamond the size of a refrigerator buried in my backyard, and you asked me, why do you think that? I say, this belief gives my life meaning, or my family draws a lot of joy from this belief, and we dig for this diamond every Sunday and we have this gigantic pit in our lawn. I would start to sound like a lunatic to you. You can't believe there really is a diamond in your backyard because it gives your life meaning. If that's possible, that's self-deception that nobody wants."