Archive for October, 2009

Leviticus, Homosexuality, and Haircuts

I love this picture (seen on AnyEveryNot):

leviticus gay

Another example (like my previous post about tattoos) of how homophobes pick the parts of the Bible that support their beliefs, and ignore the inconvenient parts.

I wanted to find the actual passage from the Bible on haircuts, but ended up stumbling upon something even better! Here’s a list of 11 things the Bible bans, but you do anyway.

I Wish I Didn’t Know About Celebrities’ Personal Beliefs

I’m always disappointed to find out that one of my favourite celebrities is promoting wacky ideas.

I love Bill Maher’s harsh criticisms of religion, but then I find out that he’s into astrology and has some paranoid conspiracy theories.

Yesterday I was watching Ellen, one of my favourite shows, and unfortunately had to witness her fawning over Deepak Chopra.

And now today I find out via Twitter that Brent Spiner is anti-vaccine.


Worst UFO Photo I’ve Seen!


If UFO believers want to be taken even a little bit seriously they really shouldn’t be trying to pass off pictures of clouds as alien spaceships…


An Atheist Reads the Bible

Since de-converting from Christianity I’ve been wanting to read the Bible from the perspective of someone who doesn’t believe that it’s something divine.

Unfortunately my reading list is long, and science books are going to take priority for now. But until I get around to doing it myself, I’m looking forward to following this atheist’s experiences reading the Bible.

Moose Mania

So the other night my husband was checking his email and saw something he thought was really cool. He said “you have to see this!” and, us being a modern family, he forwarded it to me (sitting 10 feet away) on my laptop.

The contents of the email were these two pictures:

big moose 1

big moose 2

Along with this text:

Look at this Moose! By the length of his beard and the grey legs, I figure he must be over 10 years old. He looks to be well over 8 feet at the top of the shoulder hump,and with his head up the height to the top of his antler must be about 12 feet .This guy is king of the forest, no bear or pack of wolves would dare come after him when he has this rack……Considering that a dirt road can fit 1 1/2 cars across … this fellow is HUGE …THIS IS ONE BIG BOY!

Now I’ve never seen a male moose before, but my dad’s work has taken him to all sorts of small towns in Northern Canada where moose are common, and he’s told me about moose whose legs were as long as he is tall (and he’s a big guy), so I had no reason to be skeptical.

Every Monday, PZ Myers posts an animal picture for his “Monday Metazoan” on Pharyngula, and I thought this was a cool enough picture for that spot, so I forwarded it on to  him. I was happy on Monday morning to see that he had used it. But my happiness was short-lived when I saw the comments claiming that the picture was photoshopped!

The whole thread turned into a big debate over whether the picture was real, but I think Pharyngula commenter Steven Mading did a good job of summarizing:

Sigh: The obvious rebuttals to the arguments being used here claiming this is done with an image editor:

1 – Complaint: “But on other sites they’re claiming it’s from other locations – the location keeps changing! It’s an urban (or rural) legend and therefore the image is faked!” Obvious Rebuttal: Just because the claim of the location the photo was taken is incorrect doesn’t imply the image itself is edited. Editing the image and telling the truth about where it is from are two entirely different issues. I could take a very real photograph of Lake Mendota where I live, and simply put a caption on it saying “This is in Saudi Arabia – amazing that there’s a lake here!” and that still doesn’t mean I photoshopped the image.

2 – Complaint: “But you can’t see the moose’s shadow on the ground!” Obvious Rebuttal: It’s already standing in a shadow! The woods are already casting a shadow on the road, as you can plainly see. Putting an additional object into the umbra of another object doesn’t make the shadow any darker than it already was.

3 – Complaint: “The second image is clearly just a rotated copy of the first!” Obvious Rebuttal: No, it’s not clearly rotated since if it was then one picture would look like a flat cardboard cutout since it would be rotating a 2-D image.

4 – Complaint: “Moose don’t get that big!” Obvious Rebuttal; Yes. They Do. Check your encyclopedia.
Now, none of that means the image can’t have been photoshopped – just that the reasons being quoted here for making that conclusion are pretty weak.

The whole thing is ridiculous. Most likely the location was wrong or inaccurate, but why would somebody photoshop an image that could possibly be real?

I got over my disappointment in the skepticism over the image, and took amusement in the controversy, especially when I saw that this online newspaper had done a story on the moose photo:

Is there really a moose this big? Or is it a hoax?

This picture, purportedly taken by someone named Lindsay of a rather ginormous moose “near Elliot Lake, near Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,” was posted this morning on, which describes itself as “the largest online community dedicated to science.”

At time of writing (9:44 a.m. on Monday) 27 readers had posted comments on the picture, some rather skeptical.

“PhotoShop is one of my favorite software programs,” writes Neil B. “I wonder why Lindsay didn’t include a silly squirrel with that moose. :-)”

I didn’t say that I took the picture, nor did PZ’s post, so somebody wasn’t reading too carefully!

As for the title of the article, writer David Helwig only needed to check Wikipedia to find out that moose can get that big. If it is a hoax, then I’ve been had, but it’s the lamest hoax ever!

There was an editor’s note added after I made a comment on the post at Pharyngula:

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Shortly after posted this article, Lindsay, the purported photographer, posted this comment on “I didn’t Photoshop it, but why would I need to when moose really get that big? I didn’t take the picture, it was passed to me in an e-mail. If I were there I would probably have been running as fast as I could in the opposite direction!)

I think we’re all just so jaded because of previous photoshop hoaxes that people are quick to call any surprising image a fake. For your amusement:

shark helicoptor

worlds largest dog hoax

moose harness hoax

It Might as well Just Say “I am a massive douchebag”

Apparantly this guy is so threatened by what goes on in other peoples’ bedrooms that he felt the need to permanently carve it into his skin:

anti gay tattoo

That’s the verse from the Bible that homophobes use to justify their hatred for a lifestyle that makes them feel uncomfortable:

Thou shall not lie with a male as one does with a woman.  It is an abomination.

Leviticus 18:22.

The Bible can be used to justify anything, and it’s such a mish-mash of rules and contradictory statements that people pretty much just pick and choose the parts that confirm what they already believe. Jesse Galef over at Friendly Atheist has pointed out what a beautiful example this tattoo is of cherry-picking the Bible:

Leviticus also forbids tattooing.  In the very next chapter.

“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:28″

How much do you wanna bet this guy’s never read the Bible?

Fashion Line Inspired by Origin of Species

It’s cool to see someone so mainstream giving props to a scientist in such a creative way:

Alexander McQueen showed a collection inspired by Charles Darwin’s The Origin of the Species at Paris Fashion Week:

Models with their hair teased into devil-like horns, strutted the catwalk in minidresses decorated with all manner of colourful, elaborate skins.

Ruffled hemlines were frilled to resemble feathers, and vibrant fabrics were printed to resemble amphibian-like breastplates.

The high-tech show set then morphed into a prehistoric underwater scene, lending something of an otherworldly feel.

Darwin Fashion

Wow…those shoes…

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Wham, Bigfoot Hit By Car

I love reading letters to the editor. When I get the paper I usually just flip straight to the letters. I even send one in from time to time. I have some wacky Google Alerts set up, so on occasion I get a funny letter to the editor sent to my inbox. I love the one I got today, from The Bemidji Pioneer:

No cougars in Minnesota. That’s what the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has told us for years. Then wham, “Cougar hit by car on Carr Lake Road.”

What will the DNR tell us next? No bigfoot in Minnesota? Next headline “Bigfoot hit by car on Becida Road.”

Jim Taylor

Park Rapids

What will the DNR tell us next? No fairies in Minnesota? Next headline “Fairy squashed on windshield on 15th.”

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Saturn’s Largest Ring Discovered

A new ring was discovered around Saturn by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope:

The new belt lies at the far reaches of the Saturnian system, with an orbit tilted 27 degrees from the main ring plane. The bulk of its material starts about six million kilometers (3.7 million miles) away from the planet and extends outward roughly another 12 million kilometers (7.4 million miles). It would take about one billion Earths stacked together to fill the voluminous ring. One of Saturn’s farthest moons, Phoebe, circles within the newfound ring, and is likely the source of its material.

Saturn's Largest Ring

It’s massive! The discover of this ring helps explain why one of Saturn’s moons, Iapetus, is darker on one side: it’s plowing through the dust in this ring.

When I hear about a story like this I’m always astounded at how much we don’t already know about our solar system. It really makes me appreciate the enormous scale of the universe when within the gravitational pull of our little star in one of the arms of our galaxy, which is just another of the billions of galaxies in the observable universe, we are constantly making new and surprising discoveries.

Milky Way Galaxy Sun

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