#0028 RRS Newsletter for July 13, 2007

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Okay, I have returned! The science and religion sections are pretty interesting today!

I would also like to draw your attention to the Entertainment section for the atheist comedian I just found (well, rather, he found me) Jamie Kilstein, he is very funny and he is currently in an online competition that YOU can vote on! Go register and vote for this dude, you can go straight to his article and video by clicking HERE. I will be featuring him all week, the voting closes this Saturday so be sure to get your vote in before then!

Thanks for reading, if you have any comments or suggestions you can reach me directly HERE.
Stay rational,
Jack
and the RRS MI team

Table of Contents

Rational Response Squad News

RRS Michigan News

Science News

My contributions for today New hominid fossils found! July 10th Galaxy spotting Sun's activity rules out link to global warming-NewScientist

Religion

My contributions for today Bible Salesman Struck by Lightning Religious Rituals - Female Circumcision God's plan is Ridiculous Dahmer's going to heaven; you're still going to hell though

Government

My contributions for today Kucinich Keeps Kicking Neocons, theocons, Demcons, excons, and future cons

Community

My contributions for today Crystal Clear Atheism Convention, September 28-30th What's Next with FOX & CBS? "They're teaching kids lies!"

Entertainment

My contributions for today Jamie Kilstein Time To Offend The Catholics Again

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I have decided that I will host monthly RRS MI meetings and/or outings in an effort to build a better sense of community. These will be held on the last Thursday of every month. This means the first one will be held on July 26th, and we will be watching the movie "The God Who Wasn't There". If you all have seen this, please let me know, we can choose another, but I thought it fitting to start with that one, and I WILL start the evening off with a group discussion on where and what we would like to see come out of this local chapter (something that was never really talked about in depth at the last meet). Other activities under consideration are things like scientific exhibition outings, protests where needed, and possibly the planning of political activism as our state is concerned.

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Astronomers Find Farthest Known Galaxies

Astronomers have found evidence for the most distant galaxies ever detected.

The galaxies are seen as they existed just 500 million years after the birth of the universe. Their light, traversing the cosmos for more than 13 billion years, was seen only because it was distorted in a natural "gravitational lens" created by the gravity-bending mass of a nearer cluster of galaxies.

"Gravitational lensing is the magnification of distant sources by foreground structures," explained Caltech astronomer Richard Ellis, who led the international team. "By looking through carefully selected clusters, we have located six star-forming galaxies seen at unprecedented distances, corresponding to a time when the universe was only 500 million years old, or less than 4 percent of its present age."

The universe is estimated to be 13.7 billion years old, so that puts the newfound galaxies at 13.2 billion light-years away. A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).

Tricky technique

The team found the galaxies using the 10-meter Keck II telescope atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii. The finding will be presented tomorrow at a conference of the Geological Society in London.

The light from the half-dozen faraway star-forming galaxies was boosted about 20 times by the magnifying effect of the foreground galaxy cluster, said team member Dan Stark, a Caltech graduate student.

Gravitational lensing is tricky, the researchers admit. To bolster their case, they point to very ancient galaxies that are just slightly closer, yet which already contain old stars.

"To produce these old stars requires significant earlier activity, most likely in the fainter star-forming galaxies we have now seen," Stark said.

In 2004, a separate team claimed discovery of a galaxy 13.23 billion light-years away, "but re-examination of that object by others showed it to be spurious," Stark told SPACE.com today.

End of the Dark Ages

The galaxies offer a glimpse of an era shortly after the first stars formed.

After the theoretical Big Bang, there were no stars. Eventually, a thick "fog" was effectively burned off by hot, young stars, ending what's called the cosmic Dark Ages.

"That we should find so many distant galaxies in our small survey area suggests they are very numerous indeed," Stark said. "We estimate the combined radiation output of this population could be sufficient to break apart (ionize) the hydrogen atoms in space at that time, thereby ending the Dark Ages."

Taken from A href="http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/070710_distant_galaxies.html">SPACE. com

New hominid fossils found! July 10th

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: The A-Team
Date: Jul 12, 2007 10:25 AM

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jul 11, 2007 9:56 PM


Human evolution

(Thanks, Nicole!)





Ethiopian scientists said on Tuesday they have discovered hominid fossil fragments dating from between 3.5 million and 3.8 million years ago in what could fill a crucial gap in the understanding of human evolution.

Ethiopian archaeologist Yohannes Haile Selassie said the find included several complete jaws and one partial skeleton and were unearthed in the Afar desert at Woranso-Mille, near where the famous fossil skeleton known as Lucy was found in 1974.

"This is a major finding that could fill a gap in human evolution," he told a news conference in Addis Ababa.

"The fossil hominids from the Woranso-Mille area sample a time period that is poorly known in human evolutionary study."

Researchers say the area, about 140 miles northeast of Addis, boasts the most continuous record of human evolution.

Last year, an international team of scientists unveiled the discovery of 4.1 million-year-old fossils in the region.

Lucy, the most famous find, lived between 3.3 million and 3.6 million years ago. But Yohannes said Afar had yielded early hominid fossil remains spanning the last 6 million years.

"This has placed Ethiopia in the forefront of paleoanthropology," he told reporters.

GEOLOGY AND DATING

Exposed sediments in the new fossiliferous area are mostly silty sand and silty clay horizons interbedded with a number of volcanic tuffs and basaltic flows suitable for dating. The total section in the area is estimated to be about 50 meters thick. Geochronologist Dr. Alan Deino has collected 16 rock samples and the most critical samples above and below the fossiliferous horizon will be dated soon at the Berkeley Geochronology Center in Berkeley, California. The estimated age of the site, based on preliminary field analysis of the associated animal fossils is roughly 3.8 to 4 million years. However, confirmation has to await radiometric dating of the rock samples.


"Ethiopia is known to the world as the cradle of humankind."

We are The A-Team and we approve this message.

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Galaxy spotting

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: TPO
Date: Jul 12, 2007 11:23 AM

Galaxy spotting

A couple of months ago, I was invited to attend a seminar on the public engagement with science (what used to be called the public understanding of science or "outreach") which was very informative and, in parts, entertaining.

One of the speakers, a gent from the USA, described a project to use the expertise of humans to help analyse visual scientific data. People were not expected to understand the science per se, but were invited to use their visual pattern recognition skills to look at photographs and classify them in a limited taxonomy, something that computers, no matter how powerful, are not yet able to do.

Spiral galaxy

Yesterday, I was made aware (courtesy of BBC News 24) of the Galaxy Zoo project that uses this method of distributed analysis to help the project examine photographs of galaxies and other cosmic phenomenon from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) using their dedicated 2.5m telescope on Apache Point in New Mexico.

The press release describes the project:

Astronomers are inviting members of the public to help them make major new discoveries by taking part in a census of one million galaxies.

Visitors to www.galaxyzoo.org will get to see stunning images of galaxies, most of which have never been viewed by human eyes before. By sorting these images into "spiral galaxies" (like our own Milky Way) or "elliptical galaxies", visitors will help astronomers to understand the structure of the universe. The new digital images were taken using the robotic Sloan Digital Sky Survey telescope in New Mexico.

Elliptical galaxy

If you have an interest in astronomy and have a few minutes a day to spare (no matter your level of expertise—try your hand at the tutorial) you can help out the project's astronomers by looking at a few galaxies and helping to classifying them. Some of the photos are a little blurry (well, they are thousands if not millions of light years away!) but all they ask for is your best guess, don't agonise over any particular classification.

At the time of writing, the project seems to have been very successful and has attracted a lot of interest from the public, resulting in the server being slow on occasion. I expect that they're planning to ramp up their load balancing to cope with the success and popularity.

I dare anyone who takes anything more than a few minutes to look at these photographs to not appreciate the sheer immensity and majesty of the universe.

I guess die-hard creationists need not apply.

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Sun's activity rules out link to global warming-NewScientist

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: TPO
Date: Jul 12, 2007 2:53 PM

Sun's activity rules out link to global warming

From New Scientist:

Direct satellite measurements of solar activity show it has been declining since the mid-1980s and cannot account for recent rises in global temperatures, according to new research. The findings debunk an explanation for climate change that is often cited by people who are not convinced that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are causing the Earth's climate to warm. "If you change the output of the Sun you will undoubtedly change the climate it's just a matter of how much," says Mike Lockwood, of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council in the UK. Sceptics commonly point to climate research's reliance on computer models as a reason for doubting the link between global warming and human greenhouse gas emissions.

Solar Irradiance vs. Average Temperature

Solar irradiance down since 1985. Earth temperature climbing steadily. Now will all the climate skeptics please shut the hell up?

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Bible Salesman Struck by Lightning

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jul 11, 2007 7:47 PM

TPO
Sedgie

For those who missed Countdown tonight...

The top news maker was a bible salesman struck by lightning. Click for full story.

Story

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Religious Rituals - Female Circumcision

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jul 11, 2007 8:43 PM

SEE MY BLOG ON "WOMEN'S RIGHTS IN ISLAM" FOR MORE ON THIS. - AASHOM

Cheryl

British authorities are dealing with this ancient religious ritual, also known as female genital mutilation. This horrendous practice is mostly done on Muslim girls.





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God's plan is Ridiculous!

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: The A-Team
Date: Jul 12, 2007 5:17 PM

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Miss Refinements
Date: Jul 12, 2007 2:13 AM
----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Jared
Date: Jul 11, 2007 11:39 PM








-----------------------------
And for the newbies who may not have seen others in the series, which are among the best you'll find on these issues:

10 questions that every intelligent Christian must answer






How do we know that Christians are delusional? (NSFW)






The best optical illusion in the world!






Proving that the Bible is repulsive






The eight steps you must take to get to heaven






We are The A-Team and we approve this message.

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Dahmer's going to heaven; you're still going to hell though

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: The A-Team
Date: Jul 12, 2007 5:35 PM

So Jeffrey Dahmer's going to heaven; I'm still going to hell though. Dahmer's got a get out of Hell free card where he could continue to kill people and then be saved again, yet they claim atheists have no firm moral grounding? Are you freakin' kidding me? anyone who believes this heaven/hell thing & actually thinks it's perfectly just is delusional.
----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Cheryl
Date: Jul 12, 2007 2:10 PM


Oh pleeeeease!
And this shit was aired on national television.







The A-Team

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Kucinich Keeps Kicking

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: TPO
Date: Jul 12, 2007 9:42 AM

From: Rainbojangles

Kucinich still inching toward impeachment. At least SOMEONE in Government is still trying SOMETHING!

From: Brad4Kucinich

Click here

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Neocons, theocons, Demcons, excons, and future cons

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: TPO
Date: Jul 11, 2007 1:00 PM

From: The Man Common

Neocons, theocons, Demcons, excons, and future cons

By William Blum

07/10/07 "
ICH" --- - Who do you think said this on June 20? a)Rudy Giuliani; b)Hillary Clinton; c)George Bush; d)Mitt Romney;
or e)Barack Obama?

"The American military has done its job. Look what they accomplished. They got rid of Saddam Hussein. They gave the Iraqis a chance for free and fair elections. They gave the Iraqi government the chance to begin to demonstrate that it understood its responsibilities to make the hard political decisions necessary to give the people of Iraq a better future. So the American military has succeeded. It is the Iraqi government which has failed to make the tough decisions which are important for their own people."[1]

Right, it was the woman who wants to be president because ... because she wants to be president ... because she thinks it would be nice to be president ... no other reason, no burning cause, no heartfelt desire for basic change in American society or to make a better world ... she just thinks it would be nice, even great, to be president. And keep the American Empire in business, its routine generating of horror and misery being no problem; she wouldn't want to be known as the president that hastened the decline of the empire.

And she spoke the above words at the "Take Back America" conference; she was speaking to liberals, committed liberal Democrats. She didn't have to cater to them with any flag-waving pro-war rhetoric; they wanted to hear anti-war rhetoric (and she of course gave them a bit of that as well out of the other side of her mouth), so we can assume that this is how she really feels, if indeed the woman feels anything.

Think of why you are opposed to the war. Is it not largely because of all the unspeakable suffering brought down upon the heads and souls of the poor people of Iraq by the American military? Hillary Clinton couldn't care less about that, literally. She thinks the American military has "succeeded". Has she ever unequivocally labeled the war "illegal" or "immoral"? I used to think that Tony Blair was a member of the right wing or conservative wing of the British Labour Party. I finally realized one day that that was an incorrect description of his ideology. Blair is a conservative, a bloody Tory. How he wound up in the Labour Party is a matter I haven't studied. Hillary Clinton, however, I've long known is a conservative; going back to at least the 1980s, while the wife of the Arkansas governor, she strongly supported the death squad torturers known as the Contras, who were the empire's proxy army in Nicaragua.[2]

Now we hear from America's venerable conservative magazine, William Buckley's "National Review", an editorial by Bruce Bartlett, policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan; treasury official under President George H.W. Bush; a fellow at two of the leading conservative think-tanks, the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute; you get the picture. Bartlett tells his readers that it's almost certain that the Democrats will win the White House in 2008. So what to do? Support the most conservative Democrat. He writes: "To right-wingers willing to look beneath what probably sounds to them like the same identical views of the Democratic candidates, it is pretty clear that Hillary Clinton is the most conservative."[3]

We also hear from America's premier magazine for the corporate wealthy, "Fortune", whose recent cover features a picture of Clinton and the headline: "Business Loves Hillary".[4]

Do those in love with the idea of a woman president care about such things? Have they never heard of Margaret Thatcher, who tried her best to cripple the UK's marvelous National Health Service, amongst a hundred other reactionary policies? Most of Clinton's supporters would love to see the end of the Iraqi daily horror and so they presumably will also ignore Ted Koppel, the newsman of impeccable establishment credentials, who reported recently that he was told by someone who had held a senior position at the Pentagon and occasionally briefs Hillary Clinton on Gulf area matters, that she expects US troops to still be in Iraq at the end of her first term and even at the end of her second term.[5]

NOTES
[1] Speaking at the "Take Back America" conference, organized by the Campaign for America's Future, June 20, 2007, Washington, DC; this excerpt can be heard at democracynow.org/ - June 21.

[2] Roger Morris, former member of the National Security Council, "Partners in Power" (1996), p.415

[3] National Review Online, May 1, 2007

[4] Fortune magazine, July 9, 2007

[5] National Public Radio, "All Things Considered", June 11, 2007

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"Crystal Clear Atheism" Convention, September 28-30th

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jul 11, 2007 7:50 PM

TPO

Unfortunately I will not be able to attend but I know some of my friends plane on making the trip so I am reposting this from Nils blog for their benefit. Also, if you live in the area, you should check it out if you can.

TPO

Update "Crystal Clear Atheism" convention, September 28-30, 2007

Alrighty, boys and girls, I am hereby confirming that I will be attending the "Crystal Clear Atheism" convention on September 28-30. I've just made my convention reservation booking (including the Thursday evening 'extravaganza' where I will watch Patricia drool all over Christopher Hitchens as I wade through the crowd to the bar). I will be staying at the Crown Plaza with my fellow co-conspirator (again, many thanks for allowing me to crash there). I will be booking my flights from Zaventem (Belgium) to Reagan National Airport (DCA) shortly.

I am hoping to see many familiar faces. If any of you happen to be there, please feel free to come over and have a drink with me. I'm easy to spot in a crowd: I'm the short, English-sounding, long-haired and goatied one (probably in black) in the corner looking terrified or alienated.

And, of course, for those of you who haven't heard about the convention yet, check out the website. Here is a list of the many speakers:

# Richard Dawkins - Evolutionary Biologist/Author
# Daniel Dennett - Philosopher
# Sam Harris - Author
# Christopher Hitchens - Author
# Julia Sweeney - Actress/Writer/Monologist
# Eugenie Scott - National Center for Science Education
# Matthew Chapman - Author, Charles Darwin's great-great-grandson
# Edward Tabash - Lawyer and Atheist/Secular Humanist
# Pastor Deacon Fred - Landover Baptist Church
# Shannon Cherry - owner of Cherry Communications
# Lori Lipman Brown - freethought's first Washington lobbyist and Executive Director of the Secular Coalition of America
# Rick Wingrove - The Assertive Atheist, Capitol Hill Representative for American Atheists
# Mike Estes - Atheist Coalition of San Diego, civil rights expert
# Dale McGowan - Author
# August Brunsman - Secular Student Alliance
# Neil Polzin - Secular Student Alliance
# Janice Rael - Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia
# Dave Silverman - American Atheists

And the RRS will also be there, or so I'm told.
</span>

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What's Next with FOX & CBS?

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: The A-Team
Date: Jul 12, 2007 9:51 AM

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Planned Parenthood
Date: Jul 12, 2007 9:58 AM


Please repost!

Recently I told you that FOX and CBS are refusing to air a condom ad that promotes pregnancy prevention instead of disease prevention. You and I know that condoms do both. FOX and CBS still haven’t gotten the message — and I need you to help us decide what to do next.

Since I first told you the outrageous news about FOX and CBS, the response has been overwhelming. Together we have sent more than 70,000 letters to the network heads at FOX and CBS urging them to change their policies. In the letters that Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards sent personally, she even offered them medically accurate sex education from Planned Parenthood experts to help them make more informed decisions in the future.

But FOX and CBS haven't taken us up on that offer — yet. And we are not giving up till they change their policies and agree to air ads that promote pregnancy prevention AND disease prevention. And I need your help to get us there.
http://www.ppaction.org/campaign/fox_cbs

Tell us what we should next do to convince FOX and CBS to put public health first:
http://www.ppaction.org/campaign/fox_cbs

>> Should we raise money to create and air our own condom ads?
>> Should we hand out condoms outside the two networks’ headquarters?
>> Should we hold letter writing or phone calling parties until CBS and FOX are tired of hearing from us?

What do YOU think will be the most effective way to get the message through to FOX and CBS?
http://www.ppaction.org/campaign/fox_cbs

Preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are top public health priorities. Television networks that pride themselves on public service should take every opportunity to educate the public about safer sex. By airing sex-saturated programs like Temptation Island and The O.C. but rejecting condom ads that focus on pregnancy prevention, FOX and CBS are making the wrong move for public health.

Let’s get FOX and CBS to pay attention!
http://www.ppaction.org/campaign/fox_cbs

Please repost!
----------------------
The condom commercial in question can be seen here:







Unfortunately, you have to sit through some Bull O'Reilly too.

We are The A-Team and we approve this message.

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"They're teaching kids lies!"

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: TPO
Date: Jul 12, 2007 11:10 AM

"They're teaching kids lies"!

The Palm Beach County School Board refused to pull 80 books referencing homosexuality, atheism and abortion from the library shelves of two high schools.

But the mother fighting since September to ban them refuses to give up

"To me, it doesn't end here. This is just the beginning," said the West Palm Beach mom.

Oh oh..

"They're teaching kids the Big Bang. They're teaching kids lies," she told the board. "The world was created 6,000 years ago. In my son's elementary school book, it says the world was created several million years ago."

I don't know about you, but I can't help but see some lunatic crazy woman jumping up and down screaming "IT'S A LIE". I imagine she's not unlike 'Crazy Jesus Woman'.

Reminds me of Basil Fawlty He would have made a great crazy creationist. "> Here's a fun clip of Basil going mad. Comedy at it's best!

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Atheist Stand-up Comedian, Jamie Kilstein

I MADE THE TOP 10 VOTE AGAIN SAVE DEMOCRACY!!

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Jamie Kilstein
Date: Jul 7, 2007 6:28 PM

I MADE THE TOP 10! VOTE AGAIN SAVE DEMOCRACY!
REGISTER HERE
http://famecast.com/registerfan.php

VOTE HERE http://famecast.com/contest/centerstage.php?stage_id=6&round_id=59

Lots of people on the list have been cheating with bots and multiple acounts so if you could repost this and help out that would be swell.Mailing lists bullitains, anything! Thanks so much. This could get me out of living in my car.

And even though I am desperate for cash I will donate 1000 bucks to Democracy Now! Independent media is the only way to get real news. If you are not familiar
go to democracynow.org Haza!

J

Time To Offend The Catholics Again

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: The A-Team
Date: Jul 12, 2007 10:21 AM

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: judas
Date: Jul 11, 2007 9:43 PM


From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jul 11, 2007 7:33 PM


TPO

Thanks to THE ATHEIST JEW

Time To Offend The Catholics Again

First off, the following video is what is called satire. It takes aspects of real life, and tries to make it overblown and humorous. If you are easily offended, please don't watch. If you don't like swear words, please don't watch it either. Anyone else who wants to grin continuously for over 4 minutes, by all means, click the play arrow:







I loved the last line in the video.

To view more of Louis CK on Youtube click here.

Check out Louis CK's web site too.


We are The A-Team and we approve this message.

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The darkness of godlessness lets wisdom shine.