Cable News Anchors are Often Insane: Bemoaning Bobbling Boobs Edition

February 29, 2008

Case in point: “Prime News” talking head Mike Galanos cheerfully bemoans Victoria Secret as being too risqué and too “front and center”… while showing clip after clip of exactly the sorts of salacious booty shots he and Bob Peters from “Morality in Media” are kvetching about.

Corporate Death Sentence for Enzyte, the “Natural Male Enhancement” Scam

February 28, 2008

You’ll never have to sit through another “Smiling Bob” commercial again: Enzyte maker Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals and it’s President have been busted on everything from mail fraud to money laundering.

Some former employees, including relatives of Warshak, pleaded guilty to other charges and cooperated with prosecutors. They testified that the company created fictitious doctors to endorse the pills, fabricated a customer-satisfaction survey and made up numbers to back claims about Enzyte’s effectiveness.

Just another reason not to trust the claims of those shilling “herbal supplement” and other such products which have no independently proven results. What’s unfortunate here is that BPN only got caught because they flagrantly abused things like their money-back guarantee (not only would they not give people’s money back, but they would apparently keep quietly charging customers’ credit cards for non-existent purchases). Meanwhile, countless other companies who manage not to blatantly steal things from their customers outright will continue with their snake oil scams without any fear of prosecution for their bogus claims.

Repent Your Divorce Now: Get Back Together or Face Denying God His Due!

February 26, 2008

According to Christian theology, everyone is a sinner. So why, in so many conservative churches, are homosexuals treated as especially unworthy of things like communion or open leadership participation in church activities? The answer, and not a theologically irrational one, is that gay people are unrepentant of their alleged sin: they won’t admit that homosexual sex and relationships are wrong, and so cannot be taken seriously as congregants, at least to a church for whom the sinfulness of homosexuality is doctrine. Homosexuals can’t stop being sinful because, supposedly, no one can: but they can at least try to repent by taking actions to avoid “sin” and not trying to justify it. Fair enough.

What’s unfair is that conservative churches are packed with divorcées, many of them remarried. And at this very moment, the Republican party is preparing to try and elect John McCain, who divorced his first wife and mother of his children to re-marry a 25 year-old heiress. Though it may be hard to believe, I’m really not trying to cast a veil of illegitimacy over McCain for that: he and his wife may well have fallen out of love, may have had sexual incompatibilities, and/or may even have ultimately saved their friendship by divorce (his ex-wife and children all seem well adjusted, speak well of him, and remain close). Sometimes ending a failing marriage (no matter who the failure is) and falling in love with someone young, invigorating, and new is the right choice for everyone involved. I’m just using McCain as an example of something that many people seem perfectly willing to tolerate in their party, in their churches: places where the same group of people would not tolerate open, practicing homosexuals.

It’s just that if we apply the same logic to divorce we applied to homosexuality, then the logical conclusion is that most divorcées are unrepentant sinners. And if they really wanted to repent, then the conclusion is obvious: they should cease their ongoing adultery and remarry, including attending to the usual marital duties.

There isn’t a lot of theological room for wiggling here. Jesus, for instance, pretty clearly identifies divorce as an Israelite perversion based on the “hard hearts” of Jews, who were traditionally much more de facto tolerant of divorce. He says, flat out, that what God makes one flesh, let no man separate (though in one of the Gospels he is then said to cripple/contradict this grand, seemingly absolute principle of god-joined flesh by adding the weaselly caveat that a man can divorce his wife over unfaithfulness.). He unflinchingly calls divorce a form of adultery, a sin so serious that it, unlike homosexuality, made one of God’s Top Ten lists of things that he really really hates.

So, at least for those that claim to draw their objection to homosexual acts from the Bible, I’m not seeing a way around this, even with the “unfaithful wife” escape hatch added. I breathlessly await James Dobson to call upon John McCain to repent of his divorce, leave his current wife Cindy, with whom he shares only an adultery, and return to his original god-glued partner, Carol.

P.S. Make no mistake: I think divorce is almost always traumatic and bad, and there are many reasons to try to avoid casual marriage and rushing into divorce. But it is a bad thing that exists to prevent worse things: ongoing abuse, marriages based on long-lasting resentment and frustration, and so on.

Expelled! Film: Clumsy Creationist Marketing Ramps Up the Religion

February 23, 2008

I’ve made no secret about how big a fan of the new Intelligent Design film Expelled!, and I was one of the first to sign up to receive updates so I could find out how my church youth group, just in case I ever decide to join a church and then form one, could get involved. Having just received the latest marching orders from Motive Entertainment’s Dairek Morgan, I feel that I simply have to post it for everyone to see.

I mean, look at all the scientific evidence on display in this latest missive, without any hint of a religious agenda! Look at all the great celebrity endorsements the film has received, and from such a broad cultural spectrum of opinion. Why there’s everyone from employees of the Intelligent Design think-tank the Discovery Institute to employees of the Creationist think-tank ARN! Wow!

Read the rest of this entry »

Creationist Misunderstanding of Word “Theory” Hilariously Comes Back to Bite Them in Florida Education “Compromise”

February 21, 2008

I woke up this morning to a wonderful realization just now washing over the science-blogosphere: that the creationists protesting Florida’s new educational science standards appear to have made a tremendously goofy tactical error.

In what creationists believed to be a compromise, they approved changing any mention of “evolution” in the standards to the “theory of evolution” or the “scientific theory of evolution.” Given that calling evolution “just a theory” is a staple of creationist know-nothingism, they apparently thought that this was victory. Instead, it’s simply redundant (science classes don’t teach any body of explanation that isn’t a scientific theory, after all) and worse, the standards also mandate that children learn what scientists mean when they call something a theory: that it is a coherent corpus of explanation, and not at all a synonym for “speculation.”

So, in other words, creationists essentially tricked themselves into a compromise which concedes nothing at all to their position. Their ignorance of scientific terminology simply backfired on them. Creationists like Terry Kemple are going to be livid when they realize the gargantuan mistake they’ve made. Their slightly more scientifically literate allies over in the Intelligent Design think-tanks are already hopping mad.

Gay Threat to Israel Revealed: It’s Earthquakes!

February 21, 2008

Back when Israeli Kessnet member Nissim Ze’ev was ranting about how gays were a plague that would destroy Israel, I wondered openly just what the heck he could possibly mean: how exactly were gay people going to go about destroying the Middle East’s only functional democracy, one that’s more progressive in its legal attitudes towards gay people than even the US?

It turns out that his fellow member of the Shas party, Shlomo Benizri, has the answer: its earthquakes. Gay people cause earthquakes now. The most charming thing about his accusation (or at least how it was translated) is that he seemed to phrase it as sort of aside, as if it were just an uncontroversial fact that everyone was already aware of:

He called on lawmakers to stop “passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the state of Israel, which anyway brings about earthquakes”.

You know, it’s a bad idea, and anyway it brings about earthquakes, so there’s that, too!

National Review Tests the Water on Slime: Schiffren Attacking Obama’s Parentage

February 20, 2008

Political candidates are subjected to a lot of attacks on their character and policies. Some are fair game. Others are just pure slime. Lisa Schiffren over at the National Review’s Corner, sprints down the latter route by questioning whether Barack Obama’s parents’ marriage wasn’t really all just some sort of Communist plot to stir up “discontent” with ‘America[‘s] blacks’.

You always know someone is floundering when they have to add a line like “To be sure, there was much to be discontented about, for black Americans, prior to the civil-rights revolution” as a self-justifying aside.

Along with the “wait wait, this Michelle Obama gaffe is deeply important and revealing” thing taking over the Corner, it looks like severe bi-partisan drop in the quality and sincerity of blogging that always accompanies big elections is fully upon us again. Which is a real shame. And I was just starting to enjoy the internet.