Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bookstore Sciencevangelism

Bookstores in Oklahoma look like what you would expect bookstores in Oklahoma to look like. Even the chains (ie Barnes and Noble) have row after row after row of Christian/Astrology/Natural Medicine/Diet shit, and seem to only begrudgingly allocate a column of shelves for science books (which includes DI shit).

So last Sunday morning I went to Barnes and Noble with only a slim hope of finding Craig Venters autobiography, 'A Life Decoded.' After last weeks announcement, I couldnt take it anymore. WANT. Plus I had a coupon for 25% off an item, and I always fantasize about walking into B&N to find another lost soul in the science 'section', lecturing a helpless B&N employee on why O'Learys book should not be in the 'neurology' section (yes, its there. Neat fact: it was proof-read by a lolcat.) on a Sunday morning.

Alas, the science shelf was void of human life, save a lone dude who appeared to by studying at a nearby table (and not appreciating my LOLing at 'Spiritual Brain').

BUT they did have 'Life Decoded', and it was accidentally still on holiday sale-- so I ended up getting it for like $12!! WHOO!

'A Life' also made for an unexpected opportunity at sciencevangelism:

Older fellow at the register: "Hey do you listen to NPR?"
Me: "I only listen to the radio in the car, and I dont drive much, but sometimes!"
Dude: "Well they have this segment called 'Science Friday'..."
Me: "Yeah yeah!"
Dude: "They said last week that this guy... created artificial life? Created life?"
Me: lol! "Sorta :) They recreated life, from scratch I guess you could say."
Dude: "Man... *shakes head* Its scary..."
Me: "NONONONONONO!!! Its not scary! Theyre hoping to one day figure out how to use 'artificial' bacteria to eat all this plastic were generating and how to help with global warming and alternative fuel sources-- They have the approval of the government and numerous religious organizations. This is all in a controlled environment. Its not scary, theyre trying to save the world, and this is the first step. Its a good thing!"
Dude: "Wow, what a brave new world we live in!"
I hate it when people are scared of science. Especially cool and helpful science. Like were gonna screw up the planet any worse than where we are already heading...

Oh, and an open note to WIRED: Its their goddamn science project, they can watermark whatever the hell they want in it. And, as Carl Zimmer notes, the message is fleeting anyway. When *you* build a genome, you can sign it any way you want... within the confines of the amino acid alphabet.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

ERV attains immortality


Im a character in the 'Zombie Hitler' series.

*cries tears of joy* This is better than a friggen Nobel!!!!!

Little Women, Big Men, Casey Luskin Fails Again

Id like to introduce you all to Paul Burnett. Hes an older fellow who luvs his hybrid cars, cactuses, and being a pro-science activist in the E/C ‘controversy.’

A couple days ago, Paul sent an email of to Mike LaSalle, the owner/editor/creator of Mens News Daily, where Luskin posts about ID and the evils of Darwinism. It was just a simple list of links to blogs pointing out Luskins anti-science and bully-ing tendencies. But, as the ‘incident’ with KKMS shows us, Average Joe Creationists are pretty clueless of the activities of Professional Creationists and wouldnt be giving a voice to these rats if they knew what was going on. It was great activism for Paul to point Luskins 'indiscretions' out to LaSalle.

Unfortunately, LaSalle didnt 'get it'. I thought his response to the link to me was incredibly odd:

ad hominem:
Casey Luskin doesn't have a real job like us well-paid but over-worked bio-science professionals who don't have the time to blabber on all day on their blog about what a damn fool Casey Luskin is...
Um… I get paid less than $20000 a year, and I work +60 hours a week, not including studying. Um… Well paid? Im not a science professional either. Im a student. And it took ~15 minutes to write that post, and it only took so long because I had to hunt down links. I will happily exchange 15 minutes of my time to make fun of a miserable failure of a bully like Luskin so everyone can laugh at him.

I myself still laugh, hard, every time I see that pic of him. Its wonderful!

*shrug* Well, okay. End of story. Another one of Luskins employers doesnt care that hes a bully and a loser, whatever.

Nuh uh.

Casey could NOT leave it at that. He wrote a letter to Mike defending his asinine behaviors. omg you guys, this letter, priceless. Its like a distraught toddlers tantrum “I dunno why everyone is so mean to me Im really nice and respectful and I volunteer at soup kitchens and Im really nice but people call me names and I dunno why they call me names and Darwinists are so mean but Im really kind and they call me names!!!”

Like, several paragraphs of that.



He also proclaims that he has ‘debated’ Mooney and Zimmer (and he was really nice and respectful but they called him names!!!!).

Then the letter gets *really* weird. Even though the original email from Barnett included links to Tim Sandefur, Red State Rabble, Pandas Thumb, etc, *I* am the focus of the rest of the email, starting with this:
I also treated Les Lane with respect when I e-mailed him recently; I simply asked him (nicely) to remove my picture from his website. Apparently Mr. Lane forwarded my e-mails around to others without my knowledge or permission (something I have not done to him). For example, read the page about this at:
Hey, Casey, it doesnt matter that you were ‘respectful’ and ‘kind’ to Les. You were wrong. Though Les and I were not aware of this, as we are not lawyers, Tim Sandefur informed us that you were using your position as a ‘lawyer’ to bully people into doing what you want even though you had ZERO legal standing for your ‘respectful’ and ‘kind’ words to Les.

You, Casey Luskin, used your credentials inappropriately to bully someone who didnt know any better.

You. Are. A. Bully.

Additionally, what the hell did you think was going to happen when you emailed a ‘legal’ threat, especially one involving copyright, to a mentor of ERV? Did you honestly think I was going to let you bully a friend of mine, on this topic specifically, and not say anything? WHY? Because your ‘friends’ at the DI never seem to stand up for you?

But this isnt the weird part of the email. The rest and the P.S. is Casey begging Mike LaSalle to do a hit piece on me to avenge him. Why would LaSelle be interested in such a thing? Well, 9/11 opened LaSelles eyes to the fact he is a poor, oppressed rich white Christian man, which is what inspired him to start MWN (Note, Mike LaSelle is not his real name. If people knew his real name he would be persecuted even more, evidently, kinda like someone else…). A major part of LaSelles persecution is those damn women with education. Not a fan of the vajayjays.
It doesnt really bother me if people attack me personally; my main response is that their behavior is saddening. The ERV blogs page is all about attacking me personally-otherwise theres no substance to any of it other than trying to mock me and attack me. Like I said, it doesnt really bother me personally, but its clear that the claim that I am a bully is simply their latest /ad hominem/ attack against me. But its not a valid attack.

In any case, I have no ill will towards ERV and I will not retaliate against her in any way. Im not interested in attacking anyone personally. And I respect people who support evolution. But it is interesting, and saddening, how the pro-Darwin side often operates in this debate, isnt it?


CC: Paul Burnett

p.s. Like I said, I have no ill-will towards ERV (whose real name, I believe, is Abbie Smith). Thus, if you are interested in learning about Smiths behavior, here is some of what she has written in the past:

"I. Hate. Missionaries. Hate. Them." (Blogging for the Common
Good,B July 4, 2007, at

Im not necessarily a Jerry Falwell fan, but on her website she once gave death wishes that Jerry Fallwell's family would die, writing: "Falwell is an ass. His family is a bunch of little assholes. Im glad Falwells dead, and I wish he took his poor little family with him."

Smith subsequently replied to a commenter saying, "No-- Im creepy. Fantasizing about them all driving off a cliff a la 'Billy Madison'." (Hitchens, I like this guy!, May 18, 2007, at

Elsewhere, Smith suggests appropriate ways to take the Blasphemy Challenge, a pop-culture internet phenomenon where people are asked to send in videos denying the existence of God:

I dont care if you paint a picture of the Virgin Mary and shit on it. I dont care if you take your dogs to your old church and let them shit all over their parking lot (as long as you pick it up). I dont care if you act like a stereotypical 'teenage atheist' dress in all black and write songs about fucking Jesus in the ass. I dont care if you jump out of an airplane with 'GOD IS DEAD' written on your parachute. I
dont care if you plant a garden of tulips in the shape of a pentagram. I dont care if you put an Evolve Fish on your car and wear an Atheist Atom on your jacket lapel. Im not going to call someone an idiot for expressing their views and frustrations in a way thats appropriate for them, especially when they are doing nothing wrong. (Dawkins was only half right, March 2, 2007, at

Again: I do not write this to attack Smith in anyway; I have no desire to do that. I just thought that you might want to see what she has written in the past, in her own words.
Disgruntled husband to a hit man: “Sir, I love my wife. I wouldn’t ever do anything to hurt her. Im not a violent person, Im kind and respectful. I volunteer at soup kitchens. So if something were to happen to her, I couldn’t possibly be held accountable. If something were to happen to her, she drives a blue 2002 Honda Civic, and she leaves for work at 7:25 every morning. She is also allergic to shellfish. Here are several recent photographs of her and half of the $12,000 we agreed to. But I sure hope nothing happens to her.”


Hey Luskin-- in the real world, being a smart atheist chick isnt an insult. Must you fail at everything?

Monday, January 28, 2008

ERV decends further into her woo

Every time I post on my woo, I feel its necessary to write a short apology for any new readers. Okay, now, a lot of the usual commenters around here have gotten used to my personal woo, but I need to warn the new readers that your beloved ERV, stomper of Creationists, smasher of anti-vaxers, smusher of HIV-Deniers, is a full blown Pit Bull Denier.

Im hopeless.

I cant even be persuaded by PETAs iron clad logic to kill Arnie.

So be aware that this post is all Pit Bull Denier propaganda.


So everyone remembers the Michael Vick fiasco. Disgusting piece of shit was fighting pit bulls, electrocuting/body slamming/shooting dogs that didnt fare well, etc. I can barely breath thinking about the torture Arnie lived through before I found him-- so I saw those dogs, and I saw Arnie, and I thought of all the other dogs still out there, and I think of my baby Arnie... Im bawling as I write this post.

Over 50 dogs were taken from Vicks compound. Contrary to PETAs oh-so-ethical desire to kill all that worthless 'kennel trash', only one needed to be put down for aggression (maybe if they had come a day sooner...). One needed to be put down for breast cancer (from over breeding). What happened to the other dogs?

WONDERFUL news!!! The court gag order over the dogs was lifted this week, so the media is finally getting to report on the other puppies: THEYRE DOING GREAT!!!!

... The Oakland, California-based pit bull rescue and education group Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls, or BAD RAP, which had done similar rescues from busts in California, asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gill for permission to evaluate and rescue as many of the dogs as possible, with the hope of eventually placing them in adoptive homes.

"Much to our amazement, he said yes," said Reynolds, who heads BAD RAP. "This doesn't happen. People don't say yes to pit bulls."


... Nearly half have been sent to a Utah sanctuary, Best Friends Animal Society, where handlers will work with them. None showed human aggression and many have potential for adoption someday. Others, evaluated as being immediate candidates for foster care and eventual adoption, went to several other groups.


As part of his plea deal, Vick agreed to pay for the dogs' care.


All of those puppies 'quirks' are Arnies 'quirks'-- stealing underwear out of the laundry basket, obsession with peanut butter filled KONG toys, "the thump-thump-thump of happy tails", acting like a goof ball at the AKC 'good citizen' classes, even good taste in classical music:
"I put on Yo-Yo Ma one day and he cocked his head, laid down and listened to the cello next to the speaker," Nuccio said. "He's turning out to be a man of high class and culture."
Meh, but what do they know. Pit Bull Deniers, the lot of em.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Day in the Life of a DI Fellow: Part III

What did you all do yesterday?

If you are like most people, you work and/or go to school during the week. Maybe you are studying for your CDL test, maybe you are teaching some fourth graders fractions, maybe you helped deliver a baby after you had been on shift for 18 hours, maybe you folded 928,656 sweaters at Old Navy and youre going to fold
928,656 again tomorrow, maybe you retired a few years ago but you still had shit to do around the house. You worked. You did things.

Normal people like you and me work.

But what does a DI Fellow do every day?


I dont know about you all, but Ive always really wondered what Casey Luskin does all day. I mean, Dembski and Behe are employed by outside organizations, but Luskin works for the Discovery Institute.

Hes a lawyer, but he doesnt stop DI fellows from stepping in legal shit.

Hes got degrees in geology, but he doesnt do any science.

So what does he do all day?

Well, like Dembski, evidently he just plays on the internet. Except instead of cruising for... ummm... Luskin is trolling for anyone talking about intelligent design in a negative way so he can spring into action as DIs attack dog.

Sometimes its just irritating, like a toy poodle attacking a pit bull, like when he went after Carl Zimmer or Chris Mooney.

I also wasnt particularly amused at his 'defense' of Behe.

But then sometimes Caseys internet hit jobs are not funny at all. Normal people, minding their own business, wake up to find out they are the current DI target.

His attack on KU astronomy student 'Angry Astronomer' was completely out of the blue-- Jon only knew about it because of Technorati.

And now Casey is attacking retired professors.

Les Lane is a retired virology professor at the University of Nebraska. He also just so happens to be one of the gentlemen in Nebraska Citizens for Science who mentored me into the pro-science-chick I am today. Les maintains a Geocities webpage-- its nothing exotic, but its a great collection of links and information for pro-science people. Heres what he found in his inbox yesterday:

Dear Mr. Lane,

Greetings. At you have a copyrighted photo of me to which I own the copyright. I do not give you permission to post it on your website. Please remove the picture from your website.

Also, you write that I have “dubious credentials.” At present, I leave it up to your conscience to decide whether the sources you cite on your website are informed or accurate, or whether the claims you make are accurate, but for your information, I am an attorney in good standing in the State of California (see ) and I hold a B.S. and M.S. in earth sciences from UC San Diego, having done about 4 year’s worth of scientific research at Scripps Institution for Oceanography and published a scientific paper out of some of that research. (You seem aware of that paper because you seem to cite it elsewhere on your site.) I continue to do scientific research and am currently preparing some research I have recently done for submission for publication. In any case, at present, I’ll let your conscience dictate how you proceed from here regarding whether you now continue to retain on your website the false claim that I have “dubious credentials.”



Casey Luskin

Yes, you read that right. After the DI wailed about Dembskis theft being a 'witch hunt' and 'petty', Casey Luskin is demanding photos of himself are taken down from random websites because 'he owns the copyright'. I mean there is nothing 'offensive' on Less page. He even links to Caseys webpage!!!

Im really, really getting sick of this joke, but:
I dont even know how he found Les's page, unless Casey just sits around Googling himself all day... Anyway, Les is nice, and he took the pic down. However, remember he is one of the reasons 'I am the way I am'-- he had to sass back**:

I have removed the picture. I consider scientists' attitude toward science an important aspect of their credentials.


Casey used that as an opportunity to talk about himself-- Note the lack of question marks in Les's reply above:
Thanks for that reply. Since you inquired about my attitudes towards science, I suppose it might be helpful for you to know that I believe that all science should be based upon the scientific method, that evolution is science, that evolution should be taught in schools, and that evolution should be taught as a science that is open to critical scrutiny and not as a dogma that cannot be questioned.



End of story:
I likewise believe that evolution shouldn't be taught dogmatically. However I also believe that to promote to science students what hasn't survived scientific peer review, to suggest to them that "incompleteness" discredits science, or to encourage them to substitute rationalizing for science, risks intellectual dishonesty.


LOL!! SLAM! LOL!! Poor DI attack dog, cant win against puppies, cant win against the retired pit dogs, sure as hell cant win against the dogs in their prime. Poor poor Casey!

**Please note, Les uses apostrophes appropriately. That did not rub off on me. :P

A Day in the Life of a DI Fellow: Part II

What did you all do yesterday?

If you are like most people, you work and/or go to school during the week. Maybe you are studying for your CDL test, maybe you are teaching some fourth graders fractions, maybe you helped deliver a baby after you had been on shift for 18 hours, maybe you folded 928,656 sweaters at Old Navy and youre going to fold
928,656 again tomorrow, maybe you retired a few years ago but you still had shit to do around the house. You worked. You did things.

Normal people like you and me work.

But what does a DI Fellow do every day?


Have you ever wondered what Michael Behe does all day?

Well, as a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh university, his day is filled with lots of sciency things, even though his colleagues want nothing to do with him. You know, sciency stuff, like doing radio interviews for radical Christian talk radio shows.

Thats funny, cause, a month ago, Infidel Guy contacted both Behe and I to do a radio show.

Hi Dr. Behe-
I'm the producer to Reginald Finley, the host of "Live with the Infidel Guy" and "The Debate Hour" talk programs. We'd like to know if you would be interested in being a guest on our program for an informal debate with a prominent biologist. Mr. Finley has been in talk media for 8 years with over 100,000 fans internationally. His programs are the oldest and most downloaded freethought talk shows on the Web. Our programs typically deal with issues pertaining to science, philosophy, theology, and pop culture. We would love to talk to you more and have you discuss your work, specifically Irreducible Complexity and ID, with our listeners. Let us know of your interest and we will schedule you as soon as possible.
On a personal note- I enjoyed seeing you on your first book tour when I was young biochemistry student at the University of Georgia.

Pfff. Well now I feel like a loser. Look at the email I got:
Hi Abbie!
I spoke with ____ recently and he suggested you might be available to deconstruct Michael Behe/ID for us on an upcoming show. Please let us know of your interest in this- we would love to have you on. As you know the show airs live at 8pm EST every Thursday.
I responded within an hour. "ME?? BEHE?? LIVE?? NOMNOMNOM!!!"

Behe, naturally, was ecstatic to have an opportunity to confront the Mean Girl that bullied him and shove it to the Darwinists.
But, Infidel Guy tries really, really hard to be fair to 'the other side' of debates. He has the luxury of letting some comments slide due to the skeptical nature of his audience (listen to my 'debate' with Lenny-- we just let that guy keep going omgrofl!). Unlike the Christian show that let Behe dog me while they didnt even attempt to get me on their show, IG did not want his show to be me smacking on Behe behind his back, so they sent a second email.

Hi Dr. Behe-
I apologize for sending a second request but I wanted to give you the opportunity to respond. Abbie Smith has agreed to be our guest on show to discuss ID and the arguments you have made for it. I believe you have had an ongoing dialogue with her in the cyber world and we wanted to get the two of you together to discuss these issues in real time. Abbie is scheduled to be on Thursday, February 7th at 8pm EST. However, if you wanted to be on we could re-schedule for a date that is convenient for both of you. Let us know of your interest and we will schedule you accordingly.
The response:
Hi, ___, sorry for not replying earlier. I appreciate your asking me, but I'm not interested in doing the show. Best wishes.

Mike Behe
'Not interested.'

Well, I kinda figured you were 'not interested' in HIV research, LiLo, cause you didnt even Google 'HIV' before you decided to write a whole book on what it can and cannot do. Kinda figured you were 'not interested' in HIV research because your response to my essays was that the hard work of hundreds of scientists was 'pathetic'. OH LOOK! More PATHETIC RESEARCH on Vpu in that PATHETIC journal, NATURE!

Yeah. Its the *research* thats pathetic, Behe.

Not *you*.


But just so we are clear, dear readers, the same folks that call scientists 'cowards' for not debating them, the ones that scream that their views are 'stifled', the same ones that demand the strengths AND weaknesses of 'theories' are brought to light, are 'not interested' in debating me on a topic they chose to be an 'authority' on!

I didnt bring up HIV-1. Behe did. And now hes 'not interested' in talking about it anymore... With me. To radical Christians hes all kinds of gabby.

You know, far be it from me to call LiLo a big fat phony. Thats something a Mean Girl would do.

A Day in the Life of a DI Fellow: Part I

What did you all do yesterday?

If you are like most people, you work and/or go to school during the week. Maybe you are studying for your CDL test, maybe you are teaching some fourth graders fractions, maybe you helped deliver a baby after you had been on shift for 18 hours, maybe you folded 928,656 sweaters at Old Navy and youre going to fold
928,656 again tomorrow, maybe you retired a few years ago but you still had shit to do around the house. You worked. You did things.

Normal people like you and me work.

But what does a DI Fellow do every day?


This first look into the every day lives of DI fellows focuses on William Dembski. On paper, WAD is a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary... but according to his schedule he only teaches five hours a week.

He has contributed nothing to the field of mathematics.

So, I mean, what does WAD do all day?

From his actions, I can only guess that he spends his days playing on the internet. We all know he loves to dick around around YouTube, hunting for cool videos to steal, but evidently WAD is also a big fan of Craigslist. Billys alter ego at UncommonDescent, 'Galapagos Finch', just posted the FUNNIEST STORY...

24 January 2008

Thanks for Your Support ... Evolution of M&M's

Galapagos Finch

Thank you for your support! Dembski’s copyright infringement charges have been dismissed and, after all the shenanigans of you ID crazies, I am back in North Dakota [Details Here].

I now recognize we must all continue to contribute to the evolutionary process. Whenever I get a package of plain M&Ms, I make it my duty to test the strength and robustness of the candy as a species. To accomplish this, I subject M&M’s to repeated trials of survival of the fittest. Taking two candies between my thumb and forefinger, I apply pressure, squeezing until one of them cracks. That is the “loser,” and I immediately eat the inferior M&M. The winner survives to the next generation.

In general, the brown and red M&Ms are tougher, and the newer blue ones are genetically inferior. I have hypothesized that the blue M&Ms as a race cannot survive long in the intense theater of competition that is the modern candy and snack-food world. Occasionally I will get a mutation, a candy that is misshaped, or pointier, or flatter than the rest. Almost invariably this proves to be a weakness, but on very rare occasions the mutation gives the candy extra strength. In this way, the species continues to adapt to its environment.

When I reach the end of the pack, I am left with one M&M, the strongest of the package. (M&M’s come in packages, birds in flocks, whales in pods and beer in six packs.) Since it would make no sense to eat this one as well, I pack it neatly in an envelope and send it to: M&M Mars, A Division of Mars, Inc. Hackettstown, NJ 17840-1503 U.S.A., along with a 3×5 card reading, “Please use this M&M for breeding purposes.”


... he stole from Craigslist.

Because WAD is a complete failure at mathematics, and he will never publish a real theorem, I propose an new theorem to bear WADs name-- the Infinite Dembski Theorem.

The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey at a typewriter, given enough time, will inevitably recreate the works of Shakespeare.

The infinite Dembski theorem states that WAD on the internet, given enough time, will inevitably try to play off the works of Shakespeare as his own.

Honestly, I dont want to know why Dembski was playing on Craigslist... do not want to know...


Somehow my post on psychos suing Ed turned into a chest thumping poop throwing contest. Thought about joining in, as Ed and Orac are completely wrong about atheistic activities and the importance of demonstrating to children that the Bible is not magic (which has only increased, in the past year).

However, Orac is completely
right about us being a breath away from Blog Wars III, so Ill stand by my last years post and move on. So whats the best way to distract a group of brawling guys?


The Evilutionary Biologist
and I did a T-shirt exchange-- This is what I got!

He will have to give you the back-story on it-- evidently there is a store in NYC devoted to evilution!

Then I got a free T-shirt in the mail yesterday from Promega. It came vacuum sealed into this 3"x3"x0.5" square. I think its kinda clever for a free t-shirt-- the simple comment 'Today could be the day' epitimizes my story from a couple of days ago. Why the hell would I put myself through 8 months of torture? Day after day, slamming my head against a brick wall, trying anything and everything to get an assay to work, only to get negative results. Why would anyone do this to themselves? Because 'today could be the day'-- the rush you get from great data makes all kinds of self-inflicted mental torture worth it.

I think I need to wash/iron it before I wear it outside, though. Vacuum cube = crazy wrinkly shirt.

Evilutionary Biologist has his post up-- I so want wanna those for myself!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jonny Lee Miller!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!




I friggen LOVED 'Hackers' when I was little! Even though Ive accepted the fact that every computer I screw with will inevitably go up in flames (not joking. true stories.), and became a biologist, 'hack the planet' is still a part of who I am today and my ultimate life goals-- Hack the planet-- sequence everything-- free all the information in DNA, control it, fix it...


(via Tatarize)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The new grad student should be afraid...

A little back story:

When I was in undergrad, I dont think I totally understood how 'grad school' worked. I was like 'How the hell do kids pick labs? How do you KNOW what you want to do? How do you decide on a thesis? I might love virology, but how do you decide 'I wanna spend 5 years studying the evolution of the vpu viroporin in Subtype C HIV-1'???

I didnt know that most students entering graduate school (well, at least at my uni) rotate through a few labs during the first year of school to decide where they fit the best, and which kinds of research they really enjoy. Then the principle investigator of that lab helps you decide what your project should be, and the more you learn, the more questions and potential solutions just start coming to you naturally.

Well, I ended up not needing to rotate-- Bossman decided I was worth keeping around :P But we still have rotating students coming into the laboratory.

Unless he does something really bad, I want to keep our current one.


Because hes good luck*.

I have been banging my head against the wall at work for the past 8 months trying to get an assay to work. It MUST work for me to move forward with my experiments. So I try changing one little thing, hope the assay works, it doesnt. Change something else, hope the assay workds, it doesnt. Try something else. Something else. Something else... I also didnt realize in undergrad how frequently shit just doesnt work in the lab... *sigh*

So today I walked into the flow cytometry facility, fully expecting my latest attempt to fail. Im not exaggerating-- though I am usually obnoxiously optimistic, this particular assay was killing me.

I put on the samples that always work. "Oooh yay. They worked. Fantastic. Hey... they worked a little better..." and I fought like mad not to get my hopes up. Put on a sample that never worked... It was perfect. PERFECT. Put on a few more samples that never worked... BEAUTIFUL.

I cried a little.

Ran like a little kid up to the lab, clutching my data, screaming at my committee members as I ran past their offices "I HAVE DAAAATA!! I HAVE DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATAAAAAAA!!!!"

Bright red and a little sweaty, I slammed my results on Bossmans desk. "THREE great pieces of data today!!!!" he beamed back.

Our post doc got some great data today, as did the new rotating grad student.

Now, I didnt think rotating grad students little project worked. I had done the exact same procedure, another grad student in the lab has done the exact same procedure, post doc has done the exact same procedure, and we all just got a hand full of positive colonies.

Rotating grad student had a whole plate, hundreds of colonies, so in my head I was thinking "Aw, poor kid got all wild-type. Oh well, he can try again." NUH UH! Dude got ALLLLLL properly mutated plasmids!

The new rotating grad student is lucky.

If he decides to go to another lab, Im sawing off his foot.


*I told you all Im wooish. Dont you try to act surprised!

Ben Stein-- Not on the 'Jew Mailing List'

Ben Stein is a Jew.

A Jew who is aligning himself with Creationists at no benefit to himself, only the Creationists (LOOK! NOT ALL CREATIONISTS ARE RADICAL CHRISTIANS! LOOK! WE HAVE A JEW! **points to Ben**)

Unfortunately, Ben has been so busy with his new Dominionist Christian friends that he hasnt been checking his Jew voice-mails:

In a media teleconference for the film “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” on Tuesday, Stein pointed out that Darwinian teaching on natural selection and random mutation "led in a straight line to the holocaust and Nazism."

Darwin said that there were certain species that were superior to other species and all were competing for scarce supplies of food or resources, Stein pointed out. But if there was a limited supply of basic resources, Darwinism taught that "you owe it to the superior race to kill the inferior race," he told reporters.

The ADL spoke out against this shit a year and a half ago. Abraham H. Foxman:
Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people. Trivializing the Holocaust comes from either ignorance at best or, at worst, a mendacious attempt to score political points in the culture war on the backs of six million Jewish victims and others who died at the hands of the Nazis.

Certainly some sects of Judaism are Creationists. And certainly I as an atheist with no psychological ties to any religion (though my mother is Jewish) should just ignore this. But just as a human I am disgusted at how easily Creationists have held up the millions of Holocaust corpses to support their cause.

Its sick.

It makes me feel sick.

And I caution Ben to remember that he is Jewish, and to heed Foxmans warning about his new found friends:
"It must be remembered that D. James Kennedy is a leader among the distinct group of 'Christian Supremacists' who seek to "reclaim America for Christ" and turn the U.S. into a Christian nation guided by their strange notions of biblical law."

(via AtBC)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

W.A.D. of I.D.

HalfMooner has done it again!

Dont worry, this one wont give everyone nightmares :P

This comic is awesome on so many levels-- W.A.D. reference, Howard Ahamanson reference, spoofing psycho-biblo Johnny Hart...

**standing ovation**

Monday, January 21, 2008

No one reads Uncommon Descent, Part Deux

No one reads Uncommon Descent.

Even Paul Nelson, apparently, as he stays entertained and informed by reading my blog. *waves to Paulie*

Friday, Paul picked up on my reference to 'LIFE: What a concept!' to pretend Craig Venter supports ID blah blah blah, the usual ID spittle.

Happily, Paulie has good blog-manners and gave me a hat-tip for that Friday post. Its now Monday evening. According to Google Analytics, in the past month Ive gotten 189 hits from UD. 29.63% of those visitors havent visited before, 'new visitors' (which means 70.27% of those hits were from AtBCers, lol!!).

That means over the holiday weekend, I got 56 hits from Uncommon Descent readers. In that same amount of time, Ive gotten +2,500 total hits from other links or direct views.

*squint* No one reads Uncommon Descent.

SA Smith

A few months ago, The Scientist asked several prominent science bloggers who their favorites were, and I was incredibly flattered to find out PZ had me on his list (incredibly flattered, especially considering who else was on The Scientists list and PZs blog-roll).

That list stirred up a bit of controversy because no women science bloggers were asked, and few women science bloggers were listed. I have to admit, while I too was a little annoyed at this, I also thought it was kinda funny that some people who were protesting this point didnt know I was a female ;)

For people who dont read my blog or are new to my blog, ERV=SA Smith.

Steven Alexander Smith?

Stephanie Alexis Smith?

Stephanie Alexander Smith?

Because of my... *ahem* 'aggressiveness'... and my atheism, I get pegged as a dude online sometimes, so Im used to it, but I never thought about how my initials and writing style would be taken in my publication and grant submissions.

Some people have told me that women do not produce scientific results that are of the same high quality as those produced by men (nor do they write life science blogs as well as men, apparently) and that male reviewers can readily recognize when a woman is the lead (or sole) author of an article because "women do science differently from men."
If this article is representative of the scientific community, Im going to stick to 'SA Smith'. 'Behavioral Ecology' switched to a double-blind review process, and female publications popped up from being under-represented to right where they should be. I dunno, I like being a chick that can kick viro-ass, and there are a lot of women at the top of the field of virology, like our visitor last week. Why cant I be S. Abigail Smith? Eh but even someone as 'big' in retrovirology as Dr. Dudley brought up biases against women in science in one of our conversations.

I guess Ill stay in cognito with SA Smith, then present at a conference so everyone can whisper to one another "OMG SA SMITH IS A CHICK! SHE WRITES SCIENCE LIKE A DOOD!" hehehehehehe!

Perfect Storm of Woo-- Anti-Vaxers in OKC

I went to that presentation on Saturday. Its now Monday. Its taken me this long to calm down enough to write a post about what happened. Thankfully, blog-reader CJ was there to keep me from going postal... He also took all the pics.

CJ and I decided to meet up at the cafe in The Health Food Center (the store hosting the anti-vaxers) a few minutes before the presentation to compare notes. I got there before him, so I took the opportunity to wander around a bit. For a 'food store', there was relatively little 'food'. A wall for organic fruits and veggies, some freezer cases, but a majority of the area was devoted to potions, pills, vitamins, extracts, and books/CDs about potions, pills, vitamins, and extracts. Isle after isle of shit. Here is a pic from the 'Reference' section.

There were also areas devoted to 'reflexology' treatments, and 'foot detoxification.'

When CJ showed up, we decided to get lunch at the stores cafe. I just got coffee. It tasted like sludge water (Im sitting here drinking Folgers). CJ got a hamburger of some kind with carrot juice. It looked good, but he only choked down a few bites/sips before giving up. Little did we know that was the *least* nauseous we would be all afternoon.

We headed next door to the abandoned-store-turned-auditorium. Like Ive seen at every Creationist presentation, there were tables and tables of shit to sell.

There was also a table of chiropractic nurses. The significance of this wouldnt surface until later in the day.

I really loved this abandoned store/auditorium. There was no heat. And the bathrooms were disgusting (the toilet didnt flush in the womens room), but humorously, posted on the wall was a flyer declaring "IF YOU LIKE THE WAY THIS BATHROOM SMELLS, YOU CAN BUY ____ NEXT DOOR!!!" LOL Yeah, I want an 'unflushed toilet' scented candle. And there was shit growing in the ceiling.

I could really tell these people were concerned about their health.

Exactly 51 seconds into the introduction, 'autism' popped up (CJ was recording it, his timer said '51 seconds'). We were told that 1 in 67 children are autistic. They mentioned that their numbers didnt match the CDC, but that the CDC was hiding The Truth.

We were also told that 'you need a good doctor, you need a good nurse, but you need a good team of chiropractors!' It seems this presentation was co-sponsored by a local chiro shop. Chiros were plugged ad nauseum throughout the afternoon.

Jenny McCarthy was hailed as a savior.

As for April Renees presentation, I was shaking I was so angry. It was a hate speech against scientists that would make any Creationist proud. After ranting about how scientists and physicians get pleasure from killing children she said 'I dont mean to degrade any of the pediatricians in the audience, if there are any, lol.' Then she promptly returned to slandering scientists and physicians.

Literally, nothing she said was scientifically accurate, and she Gish-Galloped by the book. Slide after slide of quotes from pediatricians saying how they loved killing babies and Excel graphs (like this one) with zero references to her sources. Claims that would be clarified with an introductory course in immunology and virology, yet she knew her Audience would never catch her BS. Hails of 'YEAH! THATS RIGHT!' 'AWWWWWW!' 'PRAISE HIM!' came from the audience on her cues.

You know how I always make fun of Creationists for speaking in 'coagulated word salads'? Renee took this to the extreme. She declared something called 'stealth viruses' were contaminating all vaccines. The fellow who invented that phrase wrote the introduction to Horowitzs book.

'Severe monkey viruses' also contaminated all vaccines-- CMV, EBV, HPV, HSV-1, were all 'severe monkey viruses'. Renee insisted that she got herpes from vaccines. She insisted her daughter died from EBV in her vaccinations, and blamed the physician who vaccinated her for the toddlers death. She scared every woman in the audience by insisting that if THEY were vaccinated, they could transfer these 'severe monkey viruses' to their babies, who would also die.

Im sure youll be surprised to find out she firmly established that she is an HIV Denier/Conspiracy theorist like Horowitz. Contaminated vaccines-->HIV.

Im sure you will also be surprised to hear she plugged Mothering magazine.

Im sure you will also be surprised to hear that she insisted that chelation was a natural, non-invasive way to cure autism.

Im sure you will also be surprised to hear she is a Creationist (and managed to bring that up in her presentation).

What I did find odd was that every few seconds, Renee would reference God, angels, or Yeshua. Yes, Yeshua. CJ and I were baffled, and wondered if this indicated Renee was a Jehovah's Witness, who have their own issues with medicine. So while I wanted to call her a stupid bitch in the Q&A, I asked her in my adorable voice:

Me: Im sorry, this might be too personal...
Renee: No, go ahead!
Me: Well, I noticed that you kept mentioning your faith and God and... 'Yeshua'? I was just wondering what religion you were?
Renee: I dont like 'religion'. 'Religion' to me is man interfering with Gods word. But I believe in our Lord and Savior and blah blah blah blah Biblo-crap blah blah salvation blah blah.
She wouldnt answer me.

Afterwards, I was drained. I was angry. Iron-willed ERV, who couldnt be shaken by Behes purple faced tantrums or Dembskis underwear staining flatulence, was literally shaking from this anti-vaxer. I couldnt stay for her boyfriends presentation (she kept calling him 'honey').

CJ dared me to get a pic with her. I thought I was hiding the fact I wanted to punch her really well. Photograph says otherwise (hey did I ever mention I was 7 feet tall?).

This pic sums up the afternoon perfectly.

But it was great having CJ there-- he gets the award for 'Best Comment EVAH!':
Renee: Grapefruit Seed Extract is so great blah blah blah you can buy it next door I never go anywhere without it blah blah blah. GSE is like Gods penicillin.
CJ: *whisper* Um, I thought penicillin was Gods penicillin.

Friday, January 18, 2008

More Delicious UD Irony

So Paul Nelson just linked to me from Uncommon Descent.

Now, remember Billys recent 'difficulties' with copyright. You should also note that Paul Nelson was 'named' as another DI fellow who was showing 'Inner Life'. I dont have a recording of him, but he was 'named' in my investigations.

Okay, ready?


Click on this:






I dont like Ed.

We just seemed to disagree a lot.

But he just wrote an excellent expose on 'private security firms', and now he is going to be sued (should the lawyers ever find him, heh).

I dont particularly like Ed. But I hope he tells us how we can support him, if he needs any help.

Anti-Vaccination in 1888

Because the BL3 has been closed this week, I havent been able to do my usual research. So Ive been using my lab time to clean and reorganize the lab. I even rented one of those tiny bulldozers to clean out a long forgotten storage room so we could use it.

I found lots of great stuff, like pictures of the former department heads wife in shorts ripped across the butt (PIs loved that one) and 20 year old Scientific Americans.

The January 1988 SciAmerican has an article titled 'Scientific American, 50 and 100 years ago.' Its made up of blurbs from top stories in 1938 and 1888. You all will not believe one of the blurbs from 1888. Yes, 100 years ago*:

January 1888-- "The success of the anti-vaccinationists has been aptly shown by the results in Zurich, Switzerland, where for a number of years, until 1883, a culpulsory vaccination law obtained, and smallpox was wholly prevented-- not a single case occurred in 1882. This result was seized upon the following year by the antivaccinationists and used against the necessity for any such law, and it seems they had sufficient influence to cause its repeal. The death returns for that year (1883) showed that for every 1,000 deaths two were caused by smallpox; In 1884 there were three; in 1885, 17, and in the first quarter of 1886, 85."
Wow. Today we are getting the exact same arguments from the MMR folks-- "We dont need to vaccinate against measles! No one gets measles!", with the same results...


Thats nuts.

* The wording is a little weird, but I swear its word-for-word.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

LIFE: What a Concept!

Cant post.

Too excited.

EDGE* just put up a pdf book/transcript of interviews and round-table discussions between:

LIFE: What a Concept!

Cant stop reading.

Will post on specifics in the article later.

*Also note that Venter and Dawkins will be speaking on "LIFE: A gene centric view" this coming Monday. Digital Life Design has videos of previous years conferences up-- Lets hope they share this one too!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Crazy places you find HIV Deniers

Rants & Raves, the new hangout for infidels on the internet, is my new favorite forum. There is (so far) no moderation, so its a strange combination of logical arguments and references, sprinkled with insults and boobs. I think its wonderful :)

I wasnt aware that it had become so popular until I started noticing the woo-ers coming out of the woodwork. First the anti-vaxer from, now an HIV Denier. If the poster isnt being a poseur, its none other than David Rasnick.

The same David Rasnick who 'collaborated' with Matthias Rath, a professional woo-er who says vitamins can cure AIDS and cancer.

Thats another topic for another post, but what the heck is Rasnick doing on Rants & Raves? Posting on a thread about a new HIV study you might have seen on the news:
Identification of Host Proteins Required for HIV Infection Through a Functional Genomic Screen.

I dont even have to go through his whole post-- the first sentence could not be made by a virologist with a sound mind:

I was surprised to learn the Harvard study led by Professor Stephen Elledge was conducted in highly aneuploid "HeLa-derived TZM-bl cells". I've worked the past 11 years studying the consequences of aneuploidy and feel I should pass along some of my concerns about the study's experiments and the authors' conclusions.
I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why this dude is 'surprised' at the use of a cell line called 'TZM-bl'. TZMs are standard in HIV research laboratories. To any HIV researcher, why these cells were used by Elledge et al is shockingly obvious. Even to someone unfamiliar with modern HIV research, like an HIV Denier might be, the reason why this cell line was used is described on the first page of the article.

HeLa cells are a cell line derived from a 1951 case of HPV induced cervical cancer (side note: some say they are no longer human). TZMs are special HeLa cells that have basically been genetically engineered for HIV research-- They express CD4 (normally only expressed on T-cells, the target of HIV-1), and the TZMs genome contains two 'reporter genes'. If the TZM is infected with HIV, a protein tat will start transcribing the two reporter genes! One reporter gene you can stain with a dye and see underneath a microscope, like I did in this post. You can also use the other reporter gene by blowing up all your cells and doing a luciferase assay.

So an HIV lab using TZMs should not be surprising to anyone supposedly as familiar with HIV research as Rasnick.

Ignoring all of that, Elledge et al also explained specifically why they used TZMs in their paper and in supporting materials. They needed the reporter genes for their initial controls and in their experimental procedures. Those reporter genes are not in patient donated PBMCs. They also gave other reasons for why TZMs were used, though they were not ideal:
TZM-bl cells were chosen due to limitations in experimental methods using more relevant T and macrophage cell lines. They proved useful for screening because they are easily transfected with siRNA, are hardy enough to survive high throughput manipulations and support a full HIV lifecycle to produce infectious virions.
There are positives and negatives to all cell lines, but there are also positive and negatives to using fresh PBMCs. There are positives and negatives to using animal models or human subjects.

Im going through all of this with my own research-- I started with cell lines, then I moved to using PBMCs. Then Im going to try organotypic cell cultures, then animal models, then hopefully I will have a PhD and pass the project to someone else :) But while I want my research to be as biologically relevant as possible, Im not going to wait until vaccine trials to publish a friggen paper.

Ugh, friggen stupid comment from a stupid friggen Denier.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Remember last year when I debated Lenny Horowitz on 'The Debate Hour with the Infidel Guy'? Well, Reggie and his crew have been following my fun with Behe and Dembski and asked if I would be willing to debate Michael Behe on the evolution of HIV-1 for another show!

My response: "YEEEEEEEES!! WHOOO!!!"

Behes response: ..................**crickets chirping**................


Sorry, I was a tease in the title. Behes not gonna show.

Maybe hes just too busy for radio interviews? Ooops! Nope! He has time for interviews with radical Christian talk-radio programs! But he doesnt have time to defend his own claims about the evolution of HIV-1. IG is always very fair to the... dissenting... point of view in the debates he moderates (just listen to my debate with Horowitz, we let Lenny just keep going and going... hehe!)

Even Behe cant defend Behe.

Oh well, the show will go on! Im going to talk about how students and interested laymen can and should confront Professional Creationists and pseudoscientists, and share some tips and tricks I have learned on my adventures. You can listen to the show live on IGs site 7 pm Central Time on February 7th!

EXPELLED: Creationism isnt Christianity! Really!

The producers of EXPELLED have figured out a nifty way to drum up interest in their movie: Bribe schools to have 'mandatory field trips' to EXPELLED. Christian schools.

Q: What’s the best way to get our school families to come out to the movies?

A: In speaking with Christian Schools, we’ve found that hosting a school-wide “mandatory” field trip is the best way to maximize your school’s earning potential. Send a field trip home with your middle school and high school students, have each child pay for their own ticket, then collect the stubs at the door once you get to the movie theater. With this model, you also will be able to benefit from the ticket stubs purchased by parents who choose to come as well.
Whats a great way to boost movie ticket sales? FORCING KIDS TO GO AND MAKING THEM PAY FOR THEIR OWN TICKETS! OF COURSE!
What is the Expelled Challenge?
To engage Christian schools to get as many students, parents, and faculty from your school out to see Ben Stein’s new movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (opening in theaters April 2008).

Here are some suggestions as to how to do that: Organize a school field trip and invite parents to attend as well. Offer extra credit to your students to go on their own time. What is the reward?
Generous donations can be awarded to schools according to the number of movie ticket stubs they turn in. By accepting this challenge, your school could be awarded a donation up to $10,000, just for bringing your kids to see this film! Your school will be awarded a donation based upon the number of ticket stubs you turn in (see submission instructions in FAQ section). That structure is as follows:
0-99 ticket stubs submitted = $5 per ticket stub
100-299 ticket stubs submitted = $1,000 donated to your school
300-499 ticket stubs submitted = $2,500 donated to your school
500 ticket stubs submitted = $5,000 donated to your school
Each school across the nation will be competing for the top honor of submitting the most ticket stubs with that school having their $5,000 donation matched for a total donation of $10,000!
Hmm... So who the hell is paying for all of this?
Q: How are the funds for the donations being provided?

A: Being that this film is viewed as history changing, funds have been provided by the Faith and Arts Community Endeavor project, specifically for Christian schools, organizations, and groups to encourage them to see the film and engage these Important issues.
So I Googled "Faith and Arts Community Endeavor project". One hit. The EXPELLED website.

So I Googled "Ground Force Network", where you have to mail your ticket stubs, and found this.
Once you sign up on this website to become a volunteer “Field Agent” for GFN, you will have the opportunity to promote a variety of faith-based products, music releases, films and events. Some are concentrated on the college level, while some are more targeted to the church. We call these projects “Ground Wars.” You will always have the option to sign up for each project, and we will equip and direct you every step of the way.

But ID Creationism has nothing to do with Christianity. So... If a bit group of atheists register, we get money back? Hmm-- $7.50 ticket-$5 = EXPELLED for $2.50 and 2 hours of your life. Any big atheist groups want to try to register?

(Hat tip to AtBC-- ALL SCIENCE SO FAR!!!)

Monday, January 14, 2008

ERVs and Infectious Disease!

One of the fun things about being a graduate student is the presentations by visiting PIs. Someone who is a researcher in California or Maryland flies in to give a presentation on their research. Unfortunately, my department is mostly made up of immunologists and bacteria folk, and I cant say those are the most interesting topics for me.


This semester Bossman was in charge of scheduling speakers, so a ton of them are virologists! YAAAY!! Todays speaker, Jackie Dudley.

If you dont know who she is, the first thing you should know is that she is one of the professors who signed a letter supporting Chris Comer.

The second thing you should know is that shes going to be on the Journal of Virology editorial board in 2009.

Third thing you should know is that she kicks ass!!! Personality wise, shes one of my new role models-- we got into a tiny tiff about the place of viruses in the evolution of life and the tree of life, but it was a FUN tiff! I coulda tiffed for hours! She was a lot of fun in the meeting with graduate students... at least for us virology grad students :)

Shes also done some cool research on the place of ERVs in the pathogenesis of disease. Remember MMTV? Pups get infected with exogenous MMTV when they are pups, and it activates every time a mouse starts lactating. After a few rounds of pregnancy, the female mouse gets mouse breast cancer. The virus doesnt *want* to cause cancer, it just happens.

Dudley wondered what part, if any, endogenous MMTVs played in this game. She made some mice that only expressed endogenous MMTV 6, 8, or 9, and another strain that had no endogenous MMTVs. She found that carrying an endogenous MMTV left the mice more susceptible to exogenous MMTV infection! No endogenous MMTVs? Only 10% of the mice progressed to tumors, as opposed to 90%-100% in the wild type mice. The mice that had one of the other endogenous MMTVs fell in between those percentages.

So having endogenous MMTVs are a detriment to the mouse!

... Or are they?

A colleague down the hall studied cholera, a gram negative bacteria. Now because of the way MMTV works (it codes a protein called 'Super Antigen'), some of the mouses T-cells get knocked out while it is maturing. Non-self MMTV proteins are recognized as 'self', so the T-cells that recognize these 'super antigens' coded by the endogenous MMTVs are killed, just like the T-cells that recognize a protein made by a lung cell or a liver cell. You dont want your immune system attacking you :) So, what happens when branches of T-cells are knocked out because of endogenous MMTV when you infect it with an unrelated organism?

Same thing.

Mice without endogenous MMTVs were not as susceptible to cholera.


Well, dont get too excited-- theyve tried other gram negative bacteria and other organisms, and they dont see this effect. But still! Some of these endogenous MMTVs only encode for the super antigen-- why are these kept, evolutionarily, if everything else is degraded??

Avenues for further research :)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

More Atheist Authors at the Movies

The plan worked perfectly!!! BWAHAHAHA!

Though Im not part of the 'Media Control' division of the EAC, I am proud of their sneakiness. Check this out-- they threw out 'The Golden Compass' as an easy target for the Biblos, got em all worked up in a froth, put 'OMG AN ATHEIST MOVIE THUR GONNA EAT UR KIDS'! on every news station. And while all this was going on, they snuck 'Atonement' in the back door! Though we wont get to see the 'Golden Globes' this year, 'Atonement' has the most nominations, and it was written by... AN ATHEIST!

Like, a REAL atheist!

I just read a quote of yours, "Atheists have as much conscience, possibly more, than people with deep religious convictions," and I have noticed that recently you have been talking a little more about atheism. You also contributed an essay to a new book called The Portable Atheist. What are your thoughts on the "New Atheist" movement, which has gotten so much publicity and sold so many books in the last year or so. Do you think it differs from strains of atheism in the past?

I am a little baffled as to why it is called the "New Atheism." There is a very long tradition of free thinking, and the arguments made against religion tend to be the same but made over and over again. But I think what has happened is that there have been a number of good, articulate books--Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett, Sam Harris, and so on. What they have discovered to their own great surprise is that in the United States, and right across the South too, there are an enormous number of people who also think this way. I don't think they have suddenly been persuaded by this rash of books--the feelings were there anyway--but they didn't have a voice, they didn't have a focus. When Hitchens took his book across the Bible Belt and debated with Baptist ministers in churches, there were huge audiences, most of whom, it seems, from when they spoke to him afterwards, were somewhat irritated that the place in the United States that they lived in was called the Bible Belt. I think there was something there that people had not taken into account. Quite heartening really, given that America is meant to be a secular republic with a strong tradition of upholding all freedom of thought.


Unfortunately, 'The New Republic' evidently doesnt like to be associated with those dirty atheist types. Here is an after-interview comment from the TNR 'deputy editor', Greg Veis:
But my questions are these: Why can't atheists make their case without too often resorting to absolutism like McEwan's here? Why can't Hitchens stand up for godlessness without telling people that they're thick to believe otherwise? As authors, they should know that people are more interesting than that.
He also referrs everyone to an 'excellent' piece by Damon Linker. Ya, excellent. **rolleyes**

Anyway, props to the 'Media Control Division', bonus points for getting TNR to print awesome pro-reason comments!!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The race is on for '2008 Woo-umentary of the Year'!

I know a lot of us are simply distraught over the Golden Globes this year. I can barely work at all, and I havent eaten anything since they were officially canceled a couple days ago. Arnie ripped up another sofa cushion, he was so angry.


Well, all we can hope for is that the writers strike will be resolved soon, and next years movie awards wont be effected, because we have to see who wins for '2008 Woo-umentary of the Year'!

The line up just keeps getting stronger and stronger.

First, there was 'EXPELLED!'-- Bad-boy Ben Stein takes a stand against Big Science, shining a light on their persecution of Creationists!

Then, there was 'Einstein was Wrong'-- Bad-Boy David de Hilster takes a stand against Big Science, shining a light on their persecution of Relativity Deniers!

Now, perfectly in line with my New Years Resolution, we have 'AIDS, Inc.'-- Bad-Boy Gary Null takes a stand against Big Science, shining a light on their persecution of HIV Deniers!

Hmm... already wins my award for 'Most Boring Movie Trailer'... PARADIGM sighting at 1:08...

Yeah all you really need to know about Gary you can find on his website. Its good I ran across him before I met The Other Gary on the 19th-- I didnt know a degree in nutrition made you an expert in:

  • Psychology/Psychiatry
  • Business
  • AIDS
  • Virology
  • Vaccination
  • Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
  • Air purification
  • The dangers of cell phones
  • Healing with magnets
  • Veterinary medicine
  • Arthritis
  • Body lotion
  • Immunology
  • What to do in case of nuclear attack
  • Political Science
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Anger management
  • Optometry
Dear god.

Well, -50 Woo-points for missing anti-fluoridation, but +20,000 points for selling CDs and DVDs on how scientists are only in medicine for the money while also SELLING MAGNETIC BRAS FOR 72 DOLLARS.

Everybody start stocking up on popcorn!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Francis Collins: DO NOT WANT.

Poor Francis Collins. 48 hours ago, dude was just hanging out, minding his own business, and then Dr. Fr*mer got it into his head to make a post on Collins, and now the poor guy is in the new 'Topic' on SciBlogs. The Topic can be summarized thusly:
I dont want him for an official presidential/political adviser either. And not just because he was dumb enough to be impressed by C.S. Lewis.

Scientifically-- Maybe it was/is because he is working through government channels, but he was/is always playing second fiddle to someone else: Craig Venter. Venter sequenced the human genome faster and with less money. Venter is the driving force behind sequencing microbiomes of the human body, sequencing everything we can find in a bucket of seawater, sequencing more and more human genomes to better define/identify/treat human diseases-- Hack the Planet-- Sequence Everything. As a scientist, I admire innovation and ballsiness. I dont see that from Collins.

Does anybody see anything wrong with this statement?

SUSAN DENTZER: For all of the wonderful things that could come out of knowing one's genetic makeup in terms of being able to identify diseases in the future and perhaps new therapies for them, obviously many people remain concerned that their genetic material will be used against them.

FRANCIS COLLINS: Yes. So, I think we all have a sense that genetics can be pretty powerful stuff. Powerful in a good way in the sense that we could use this approach to unravel mysteries of diseases and come up with cures for conditions that we currently don't really quite know how to treat. But potentially powerful in a more frightening way, where this kind of information might get used against you to discriminate, to take away your health insurance or your job, or perhaps used in other ways that violate privacy...
Hey, Collins, I got an idea for ya! Hey, what about universal health care?? Say we find a genetic marker for juvenile diabetes or breast cancer. If you dont have to worry about insurance dropping you, you can keep an eye on your 6 year old daughter to watch for signs of diabetes before she goes into diabetic shock at the park. You can start giving a patient mammograms earlier, just in case tumors do develop, and maybe save her breasts. OMG! Happier, healthier patients! Suddenly, better diagnoses and healthier patients arent a SCARY thing because youve taken 'insurance' out of the picture.

Why didnt Collins think of this?

Why was his reaction "OMG STOP SCIENCE!!" and not "OMG STOP PRIVATE INSURANCE!!"? I do not ever want someone in the White House who thinks the answer to a political problem with science is STOP SCIENCE. Ever.

Which leads to my final reason why Collins should not, cannot, be in a political position for science: he is afraid of science. Let me finish the above quote for you:
But potentially powerful in a more frightening way, where this kind of information might get used against you to discriminate, to take away your health insurance or your job, or perhaps used in other ways that violate privacy...or in some way begin to lessen what it means to be human in the full sense of the word by moving us in the direction where everything about us is viewed as being hard-wired as part of our DNA, taking away all of the wonderful aspects of who we are as human beings.

We cant sequence everyones genome because people might start being materialists? Everyone might stop with that 'Mind-Body-Spirit' crap? What?

We cannot have a science adviser who is afraid of genetics. We cant have a science adviser that is afraid of embryonic stem cell research. We need a science adviser that understands the publics fears about these topics and can address them accordingly, like we did in Missouri with our stem-cell initiative in 2006. You would think the birth-mother of the fr*ming crap would understand that.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Tripping over anti-vaxers

My New Years resolution was an accident. I was just stumbled across that presentation when I was bored on the internet, and now it seems I cant take two steps without tripping over an anti-vaxer.

The latest came from an unexpected location-- Rants & Raves (IIDB without teh suck). An innocent post in the science forum on a potential 'universal flu vaccine' caught an anti-vaxer in 5 posts. After making some amusingly/horrifyingly non-science statements, the anti-vaxer informed R&R posters that she would not be debating her views. We would have to go to a specific website to 'debate'. Turns out that forum is an anti-vax version of Uncommon Descent. See a billion examples from Orac here and here and here and here... You know, just search Respectful Insolence for 'mothering'.

I cant 'debate' vaccines at because Im not allowed to. Its in their forum guidelines:

Recently, we have seen several members join MDC who seem to have an agenda to promote vaccinations. Though Mothering does not take a pro or anti stand on vaccinations, we will not host threads on the merits of mandatory vaccine, or a purely pro vaccination view point as this is not conducive to the learning process.

We will be contacting several members to discuss their sincerity on MDC. In the meantime, we are asking our members not to quote from this notice or address members within a thread as this is strictly prohibited. Instead, contact a forum moderator or administrator if you are concerned about a post and we will take appropriate action if need be.

But just in that one thread at R&R, Ive noticed a lot of things anti-vaxers and Creationists have in common.
Scientists are always wrong. Scientists used to bleed people/think the earth was flat. Scientists are dogmatic, but we are shifting the paradigm/paradigm. No one understands immunity/evolution, so dont listen to those immunologists/evilutionists. See, look at how stupid their claims about vaccinations/macroevolution are! Youre just a mom and you can understand how stupid vaccines/macroevolution is! Gosh scientists are stupid! To learn more about scientists are stupid, buy my book/ book.
Bleh. Thank you Orac, for sheltering me from this crap for so long.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Michael Shermer's new book

Michael Shermer just released a new book, 'The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics'. It doesnt appear to be like his other books, but Im still confused as to why I havent heard much about it from the skeptic community.

But I cant say Im super excited to pick it up. Blurb #1 from Amazon:

“Written with his customary verve and flair, The Mind of the Market is Michael Shermer at his best. Roving over the entire sweep of history, and drawing on the best of modern science, Shermer attempts a grand synthesis of research from psychology and the neurosciences to demonstrate that markets are moral and that free trade meshes well with human nature. Shermer entertains as well as informs, and in the process he deepens the argument for economic, political and social freedom.”—Dinesh D’Souza, author of What’s So Great About America
Uh huh. Umm... what? No. I mean, I guess its good to get people from 'the other side' to endorse your book... but D’Souza was what, an English major? Not economics/evolution/relevant field.

Why dont you get SAL to review your next book, Shermer?

Bleh. Gross.