#0048 RRS Newsletter for August 24, 2007

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Hey, guys. Be sure to check out the RRS news section today, and the Community section. A hero to many is calling it quits on Youtube. Supexcellency is taking down his account! You only have a few more hours to see the video I've posted before he takes it down and deletes his account. The reasons are explained in the video.

There are a lot of interesting things contained herein today. Every section has something you can sink your teeth into, I think.

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



Table of Contents

Click HERE to find your local affiliate!

Rational Response Squad News

RRS Radio stream will be sporadic over next few days

RRS Affiliate News

RRS Michigan social gathering at Alberts

Science News

Astronomers Get First Look At Uranus's Rings As They Swing Edge-on To Earth Astronomers Find Gaping Hole In The Universe T. Rex Quicker Than Professional Athlete, Say Scientists First Out-of-body Experience Induced In Laboratory Setting

Religion

Criss Angel is the second coming Scientific ERRORS in the Quran TV airing for Islam's story of Christ Satan hates a Kanawha County church, and the church has a billboard that says so

Government

Yesterday's Primary Campaign season is off to an extremely early start. FOX ATTACKS IRAN

Community

Atheist Blood Drive Atheists for Autism Research Charity! Religious Victim of the day The Earth's Greatest Lawsuit Larry King Live religion poll One of the internets greatest warriors bowing out of the fight because of a death threat

Entertainment

A (very) breif introduction to comparitive religions JESUS BUSTERS! Patton Oswalt- Bush and Cheney as the Dukes of Hazzard End Of Ze World

Rational Response Column

Between Washington and Christ (newish work)





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RRS Radio stream will be sporadic over next few days





JIST OF THIS POST: EXPECT THE STICKAM ROOM TO BE DOWN OFTEN OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS. WE MIGHT EVEN MISS OUR FRIDAY NIGHT BROADCAST.

DETAILS:
I have finally taken the plunge and spent quite a bit of money on enhancing the performance of the several computers we have here to run our show and everything else we do. As many of you know, I've had an issue since I started hosting our stickam stream 24/7 (or as close as I could come). I was unable to edit audio and host the stream at the same time. Because of this I have about 10 weeks of material on my desktop that isn't being touched because if I do so, I have to shut down the stream (or allow you to listen to my editing). Rooks computer (an ancient dog right now) in our office will soon double as the computer for the stream and my computer will be freed up for more editing. Both computers are getting major performance upgrades. I'll post the data I'm compiling from tests designed to show how well a computer is performing, when my enhancements are complete. I might even post a list of all the upgrades and let you nerds flame away. Sticking out tongue

Total expenses so far are around $3,000. If we make the enhancements to our sound (pro tools, new compatible mixer, pro audio card, and new mics) that we should make to step up our game, we'll be looking at about another $2,000. I am waiting to see how much our sound quality is enhanced when we try our new and improved computers, before I take that plunge. I should note, all of this was purchased with personal savings from before I started RRS, RRS doesn't generate enough income to make purchases like these (yet). I feel I'm investing in our future, I hope you folks stick around and enjoy it with us.

Because of all these enhancements, parts coming on different days, major computer overhauls, and product switching, a total of 4 computers being worked on, and my lack of knowledge on some of the installation procedures... you can expect that the stream will be down quite a bit over the next few days. I hope to have all of the work done by Tuesday (Aug 28th) of this coming week and we'll be stronger and better than ever before. The RRS conference room will be up as usual.

We have also made enhancements to our bandwidth, including two more enhancements on the way. This should max out the potential of audio and video being transmitted via the web. Once all of the upgrades are made, it will be reasonable to exclude our home as the source of any lag you receive while hanging out with us on stickam.

If you happen to build computers for a living or have a very thorough knowledge of the trade (intel cpus), and would be willing to be our tech support if we have any issues, please feel free to reach out. I think I have it covered, but it would be great to know I can call someone for a quick tip if needed. (skype search: "Brian Sapient")

Comment on this forum post HERE!





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RRS Michigan social gathering at Alberts and a "field trip"!





I've decided the next meeting will simply be a social gathering at a nearby restaurant/bar called Alberts on the Alley on Thursday, August 30th. I'll be getting there around 6:00 pm. If your not familiar, it's at the corner of Ford Rd. and Middlebelt at 5651 Middlebelt Rd, Garden City, MI - (734) 525-5231. The food is good, and the drink and food prices are great! I'm hoping this will draw more of you reclusive bastards out so we can discuss and just get to know each other. Hope to see you all there, but please RSVP me at rrsjack@yahoo.com so I know how many will be attending. I am also still planing a "field trip" to the Detroit Science Center to see the Universe within exhibit, for Friday, August 24th. We'll meet there at 7:00 pm. Admission is $24.95, for details on this exhibit Click HERE!

CLICK HERE for directions to Alberts on the Alley!





CLICK HERE for directions to the Detroit Science Center!





Hope to see you there!
Stay rational,
Jack
and the RRS MI team

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Astronomers Get First Look At Uranus's Rings As They Swing Edge-on To Earth





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This series of images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows how the ring system around the distant planet Uranus appears at ever more oblique (shallower) tilts as viewed from Earth - culminating in the rings being seen edge-on in three observing opportunities in 2007. The best of these events appears in the far right image taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on August 14, 2007. (Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Showalter (SETI Institute))

Science Daily As the rings of Uranus swing edge-on to Earth - a short-lived view we get only once every 42 years - astronomers observing the event are getting an unprecedented, glare-free view of the rings and the fine dust that permeates them.

The rings were discovered in 1977, so this is the first opportunity astronomers have had to observe a Uranus ring crossing and perhaps to discover a new moon or two.

While the Keck II telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope have been looking at the planet for years in anticipation of this event, ground-based telescopes in Chile and southern California have targeted the planet during the actual ring crossing.

Based on the Keck observations, a team of astronomers led by Imke de Pater of University of California, Berkeley, reports Thursday, Aug. 23 in Science Express, the online edition of Science magazine, that the rings of micron-sized dust have changed significantly since the Voyager 2 spacecraft photographed the Uranus system 21 years ago. She will discuss the results during a talk August 23 at the European Planetary Science Congress 2007 meeting in Potsdam, Germany.

The inner rings are much more prominent than expected, revealing material in otherwise empty regions of the system of rings.

"People tend to think of the rings as unchanging, but our observations show that not to be the case," said de Pater, a UC Berkeley professor of astronomy. "There are a lot of forces acting on small dust grains, so it is not that crazy to find that the arrangement of rings has changed."

Using the near infrared camera (NIRC2) and adaptive optics on the Keck II telescope on May 28, the team took striking images of the nearly edge-on ring appearing as a bright line bisecting a dim Uranus, which appears dark in the infrared. The observations were conducted during an engineering run by Marcos van Dam, adaptive optics scientist at the W. M. Keck Observatory, after the installation of a new wavefront sensor.

"The improvements to the adaptive optics systems allowed us to capture unbelievably crisp images of Uranus; it was as if the Keck telescope was orbiting in space," said van Dam.

On Aug. 14, the Hubble Space Telescope also imaged the planet very near the moment when the rings were perfectly aligned with Earth, showing similar features but also including some recently-discovered outer rings. The image was released today by the Space Telescope Science Institute.

"The outermost ring is not visible in our infrared images," said de Pater's co-author, Heidi B. Hammel of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. "This ring is very blue, and therefore harder to see in the infrared. We may detect it when the rings are fully edge-on and when we can observe it for several hours."

With further analysis of the Hubble data, astronomer Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute hopes to detect some of the small moons, and perhaps some not seen before, that shepherd the debris into distinct rings.

"Two little satellites called Cordelia and Ophelia straddle the brightest ring, the epsilon ring, and keep it in place, but people have always assumed there must be a bunch more of these satellites that are confining the nine other narrow rings," Showalter said. "This is the unique viewing geometry that only comes along once in 42 years, when we have a chance of imaging these tiny satellites, because normally they are lost in the glare of the rings. Now, the rings are essentially invisible."

Astronomers at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, run by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), and at the Palomar Observatory in southern California operated by the California Institute of Technology, also observed Uranus during the current crossing.

"The VLT took data at the precise moment when the rings were edge-on to Earth," said de Pater, who worked with two team members observing in Chile: Daphne Stam of the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands and Markus Hartung of ESO. Meanwhile, astronomers Philip Nicholson of Cornell University in New York and Keith Matthews of Caltech observed from atop Mt. Palomar.

Until Voyager flew by in January 1986, the rings were only known from the way they temporarily blocked the light of stars passing behind Uranus. Earth-based images have been too blurry until recently, with the advent of Keck adaptive optics and the Advanced Camera for Surveys of the Hubble telescope. Nevertheless, when the sunlit side of Uranus's rings are in full view of Earth, the densely-packed rings reflect so much light that their glare completely dominates the fainter glow from micron-sized dust.

Earth's orbit around the sun permits three opportunities to view the rings edge-on: Uranus made its first ring crossing as seen from Earth on May 3, it made its second crossing on Aug. 16, and will cross for the third and last time on Feb 20, 2008. Though the last ring crossing relative to Earth will be hidden behind the sun, most of Earth's premier telescopes, including Keck, Hubble, VLT and Palomar, plan to focus on the planet again in the days following Dec. 7.

"December 7 is the Uranian equinox, when the rings are perfectly edge-on to the sun, and after that, there is a brief period again when we will view the dark side of the rings, before they become illuminated again for another 42 years," Hammel said.

The advantage of observations at a ring-plane crossing is that it becomes possible to look at the rings from the shadowed side. From that vantage, the normally-bright outer rings grow fainter because their centimeter- to meter-sized rocks obscure one another, while the dim inner rings get brighter as their material merges into a thin band along the line of sight.

The dust belts that Voyager saw differ radically from today's dust distribution, according to coauthors de Pater and Showalter. Most interesting is a broad, inner ring called zeta, whose position today is several thousand kilometers farther from the planet than when it was discovered by Voyager.

"The ring may have moved, or it may be an entirely new ring," noted Showalter.

Similar, dramatic changes in dust distribution have also been observed recently in Saturn's and Neptune's rings. This is not surprising, because gravity keeps the larger ring particles in orbit, but other smaller forces can nudge the tiny dust grains around, de Pater said. These forces include pressure from sunlight, drag produced as the dust plows through ionized plasma around Uranus, and even drag from the planet's magnetic field.

"Impacts into the larger bodies in the system also could knock dust off and create new rings," de Pater said.

"With further observations, the time scales over which these variations occur should provide new insight into the physical processes at work," the authors concluded.

Support for the Keck observations came from the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Keck Observatory and the UC Santa Cruz Technology Center for Adaptive Optics.


Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of California - Berkeley.






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Astronomers Find Gaping Hole In The Universe





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Illustration of the effect of intervening matter in the cosmos on the cosmic microwave background (CMB). On the right, the CMB is released shortly after the Big Bang, with tiny ripples in temperature due to fluctuations in the early Universe. As this radiation traverses the Universe, filled with a web of galaxies, clusters, superclusters and voids, it experiences slight perturbations. In the direction of the giant newly-discovered void, the WMAP satellite (top left) sees a cold spot, while the VLA (bottom left) sees fewer radio galaxies. (Credit: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF, NASA)

Science Daily University of Minnesota astronomers have found an enormous hole in the Universe, nearly a billion light-years across, empty of both normal matter such as stars, galaxies and gas, as well as the mysterious, unseen "dark matter." While earlier studies have shown holes, or voids, in the large-scale structure of the Universe, this new discovery dwarfs them all.

"Not only has no one ever found a void this big, but we never even expected to find one this size," said Lawrence Rudnick of the University of Minnesota astronomy professor. Rudnick, along with grad student Shea Brown and associate professor Liliya Williams, also of the University of Minnesota, reported their findings in a paper accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.

Astronomers have known for years that, on large scales, the Universe has voids largely empty of matter. However, most of these voids are much smaller than the one found by Rudnick and his colleagues. In addition, the number of discovered voids decreases as the size increases.

"What we've found is not normal, based on either observational studies or on computer simulations of the large-scale evolution of the Universe," Williams said.

The astronomers drew their conclusion by studying data from the NRAO VLA Sky Survey (NVSS), a project that imaged the entire sky visible to the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope, part of the National Science Foundation's National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). Their study of the NVSS data showed a remarkable drop in the number of galaxies in a region of sky in the constellation Eridanus, southwest of Orion.

"We already knew there was something different about this spot in the sky," Rudnick said. The region had been dubbed the "WMAP Cold Spot," because it stood out in a map of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation made by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotopy Probe (WMAP) satellite, launched by NASA in 2001. The CMB, faint radio waves that are the remnant radiation from the Big Bang, is the earliest "baby picture" available of the Universe. Irregularities in the CMB show structures that existed only a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang.

The WMAP satellite measured temperature differences in the CMB that are only millionths of a degree. The cold region in Eridanus was discovered in 2004.

Astronomers wondered if the cold spot was intrinsic to the CMB, and thus indicated some structure in the very early Universe, or whether it could be caused by something more nearby through which the CMB had to pass on its way to Earth. Finding the dearth of galaxies in that region by studying NVSS data resolved that question.

"Although our surprising results need independent confirmation, the slightly lower temperature of the CMB in this region appears to be caused by a huge hole devoid of nearly all matter roughly 6-10 billion light-years from Earth," Rudnick said.

How does a lack of matter cause a lower temperature in the Big Bang's remnant radiation as seen from Earth"

The answer lies in dark energy, which became a dominant force in the Universe very recently, when the Universe was already three-quarters of the size it is today. Dark energy works opposite gravity and is speeding up the expansion of the Universe. Thanks to dark energy, CMB photons that pass through a large void just before arriving at Earth have less energy than those that pass through an area with a normal distribution of matter in the last leg of their journey.

In a simple expansion of the universe, without dark energy, photons approaching a large mass -- such as a supercluster of galaxies -- pick up energy from its gravity. As they pull away, the gravity saps their energy, and they wind up with the same energy as when they started.

But photons passing through matter-rich space when dark energy became dominant don't fall back to their original energy level. Dark energy counteracts the influence of gravity and so the large masses don't sap as much energy from the photons as they pull away. Thus, these photons arrive at Earth with a slightly higher energy, or temperature, than they would in a dark energy-free Universe.

Conversely, photons passing through a large void experience a loss of energy. The acceleration of the Universe's expansion, and thus dark energy, were discovered less than a decade ago. The physical properties of dark energy are unknown, though it is by far the most abundant form of energy in the Universe today. Learning its nature is one of the most fundamental current problems in astrophysics.

This research at the University of Minnesota is supported by individual investigator grants from the NSF and NASA.


Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of Minnesota.






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T. Rex Quicker Than Professional Athlete, Say Scientists





Science Daily T. rex may have struggled to chase down speeding vehicles as the movie Jurassic Park would have us believe but the world's most fearsome carnivore was certainly no slouch, new research out suggests.

The University of Manchester study used a powerful supercomputer to calculate the running speeds of five meat-eating dinosaurs that varied in size from a 3kg Compsognathus to a six-tonne Tyrannosaurus.

The study -- believed to be the most accurate ever produced -- puts the T. rex at speeds of up to 18mph, fractionally quicker than a sportsman such as a professional soccer player.

The bipedal Compsognathus, by comparison, could reach speeds of almost 40mph -- that's 5mph faster than the computer's estimate for the fastest living animal on two legs, the ostrich.

The team -- headed by biomechanics expert Bill Sellers and palaeontologist Phil Manning -- say the accuracy of their results is due to the computer's ability to use data relating directly to each dinosaur.

"Previous research has relied on data from extant bipedal models to provide clues as to how fast dinosaurs could run," said Dr Sellers, who is based in Manchester's Faculty of Life Sciences.

"Such calculations can accurately predict the top speed of a six-tonne chicken but dinosaurs are not built like chickens and nor do they run like them.

"Our research involved feeding information about the skeletal and muscular structure of the dinosaurs directly into the supercomputer so it could work out how the animals were best able to move."

Despite its powerful memory and 256 processors the computer still took up to a week to learn the biomechanics of each animal -- starting with the first clumsy steps and developing into a top running speed based on the optimum gait and posture.

The first data to be fed into the computer were those of a 70kg human with the muscle and bone structure of a professional sportsman. The computer accurately predicted a top running speed of just under the 8 metres per second of T. rex.

Musculoskeletal details of a 30kg South American emu and a 65kg ostrich were fed into the program next and top running speeds of 13m/s (about 30mph) and 15m/s (35mph) were calculated respectively.

The process was then repeated using the musculoskeletal data of five bipedal meat-eating dinosaurs -- a 3kg Compsognathus, a 20kg Velociraptor, a 430kg Dilophosaurus, a 1.4 tonne Allosaurus and the 6 tonne Tyrannosaurus.

"The figures we have produced are the best estimate to date as to how fast these prehistoric animals could run," said collaborator Dr Manning, a lecturer in palaeontology in the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences.

"Since the movie Jurassic Park, scientists have questioned the speed of these dinosaurs and some have wondered whether Tyrannosaurus could have run at all.

"Our research, which used the minimum leg-muscle mass T. rex required for movement, suggests that while not incredibly fast, this carnivore was certainly capable of running and would have little difficulty in chasing down footballer David Beckham for instance."

The study is published online ahead of print by the Proceedings of the Royal Society B  on August 22.


Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of Manchester.






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First Out-of-body Experience Induced In Laboratory Setting





Science Daily A neuroscientist working at UCL (University College London) has devised the first experimental method to induce an out-of-body experience in healthy participants. In a paper published in Science, Dr Henrik Ehrsson, UCL Institute of Neurology, outlines the unique method by which the illusion is created and the implications of its discovery.

An out-of-body experience (OBE) is defined as the experience in which a person who is awake sees his or her own body from a location outside the physical body. OBEs have been reported in clinical conditions where brain function is compromised, such as stroke, epilepsy and drug abuse. They have also been reported in association with traumatic experiences such as car accidents. Around one in ten people claim to have had an OBE at some time in their lives.

Dr Ehrsson said: "Out-of-body experiences have fascinated mankind for millennia. Their existence has raised fundamental questions about the relationship between human consciousness and the body, and has been much discussed in theology, philosophy and psychology. Although out-of-body experiences have been reported in a number of clinical conditions, the neuro-scientific basis of this phenomenon remains unclear.

"The invention of this illusion is important because it reveals the basic mechanism that produces the feeling of being inside the physical body. This represents a significant advance because the experience of one's own body as the centre of awareness is a fundamental aspect of self-consciousness."

Discovering this means of inducing an OBE could also have industrial applications, as Dr Ehrsson explains: "This is essentially a means of projecting yourself, a form of teleportation. If we can project people into a virtual character, so they feel and respond as if they were really in a virtual version of themselves, just imagine the implications. The experience of playing video games could reach a whole new level, but it could go much beyond that. For example, a surgeon could perform remote surgery, by controlling their virtual self from a different location."

The set-up of the illusion is as follows: the study participant sits in a chair wearing a pair of head-mounted video displays. These have two small screens over each eye, which show a live film recorded by two video cameras placed beside each other two metres behind the participant's head. The image from the left video camera is presented on the left-eye display and the image from the right camera on the right-eye display. The participant sees these as one 'stereoscopic' (3D) image, so they see their own back displayed from the perspective of someone sitting behind them.

The researcher then stands just beside the participant (in their view) and uses two plastic rods to simultaneously touch the participant's actual chest out-of-view and the chest of the illusory body, moving this second rod towards where the illusory chest would be located, just below the camera's view.

The participants confirmed that they had experienced sitting behind their physical body and looking at it from that location. Dr Ehrsson said: "This was a bizarre, fascinating experience for the participants -- it felt absolutely real for them and was not scary. Many of them giggled and said 'Wow, this is so weird!'".

To test the illusion further and provide objective evidence, Dr Ehrsson then performed an additional experiment to measure the participants' physiological response -- specifically the level of perspiration on the skin -- in a scenario where they felt the illusory body was threatened. Their bodily response strongly indicated that they thought the threat was real.

The creation of this perceptual illusion stems from an idea Dr Ehrsson had as a medical student, when he wondered what would happen to the 'self' if you could effectively move your eyes to another part of the room, just a few metres away, so you could observe yourself from an outside perspective. Would the self 'follow' the eyes or stay in the body"

Dr Ehrsson added: "The illusion is different from anything published previously. It is the first to involve a change in the perceived location of the self, relative to the physical body. It is also different from any virtual reality set-up because it examines what happens when you look at yourself, and there is also multisensory information that triggers the illusion. There has been no way of inducing an OBE in healthy people before, apart from unsubstantiated reports in occult literature. It's a very exciting development, and has implications for a range of disciplines from neuroscience to theology."

Article: 'The experimental induction of out-of-body experiences' is published in the advance online edition of Science on Thursday 23rd August.


Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University College London.






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Criss Angel is the second coming





He can walk on water, so he must be...

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Scientific ERRORS in the Quran





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TV airing for Islam's story of Christ

Riazat Butt
Saturday August 18, 2007
The Guardian




There was no manger, Christ is not the Messiah, and the crucifixion never happened. A forthcoming ITV documentary will portray Jesus as Muslims see him.

With the Koran as a main source and drawing on interviews with scholars and historians, the Muslim Jesus explores how Islam honours Christ as a prophet but not as the son of God. According to the Koran the crucifixion was a divine illusion. Instead of dying on the cross, Jesus was rescued by angels and raised to heaven.

The one-hour special, commissioned and narrated by Melvyn Bragg, is thought to be the first time the subject has been dealt with on British television. Lord Bragg said: "I was fascinated by the idea ... Jesus was such a prominent figure in Islam but most people don't know that."

He denies the programme will divide communities. Raised as an Anglican, he describes the documentary as thoughtful and well researched. "I hope it will provoke among Muslims the feeling they are included in television."

The director and producer, Irshad Ashraf, said the film was an attempt to shift the focus away from extremism to the spiritual side of Islam. "Jesus is loved and respected by Muslims and he's one of the most important prophets in our religion." Representatives from mainstream Anglican and Catholic organisations were invited to take part in the film, to be broadcast on Sunday, but nobody was available, Mr Ashraf said.

Philip Lewis, the Bishop of Bradford's aide on inter-faith matters, urged believers on both sides to take advantage of a "worthwhile contribution to understanding a complex issue".

However, Patrick Sookhdeo, an Anglican canon and spokesman for the Barnabas Fund, which works with persecuted Christians, accused broadcasters of double standards. Mr Sookhdeo, who was born a Muslim and converted to Christianity in 1969, said: "How would the Muslim community respond if ITV made a programme challenging Muhammad as the last prophet?"

The Koran's denial of Jesus's divinity was "unacceptable". "On the last day the Koran says Jesus will destroy all the crosses. How can we praise that?"




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Satan hates a Kanawha County church, and the church has a billboard that says so

By Gary Harki
Staff writer



Mike Lewis wants you to know that Satan hates the New Life Center in Cedar Grove.

He wants you to know it so much that his church has put up a billboard along U.S. 60 outside Rand saying just that.

The sign has caused a bit of controversy, said Pete Conley, owner of Conley’s Hair Styling across from the sign in Rand.

“I don’t appreciate the word ‘hate,’” Conley said. “I have to look at that sign every day and I can appreciate the message they are putting out there but not the way they are going about it.”

The sign lists the church’s Web site,

satanhatesnewlife.org. In small white lettering it says that the church paid for the billboard.

Often, people read only the main message of the billboard as they drive by and think the sign was paid for by a group that hates the church, Conley said.

Lewis, pastor of the New Life Center, says he has fielded several calls from people concerned that someone was attacking the church. He says they have always gone away understanding and appreciating the message.

“We are doing a little reverse psychology,” he said. “You always see signs that say, ‘I love you.’ This is the opposite.”

Lewis said he feels that those who oppose his church are on the side of Satan, knowingly or otherwise.

“In the Bible it tells us he will use people, sometimes unknowingly,” Lewis said. “Since we started the church almost two years ago we have faced a lot of challenges.”

The New Life Center’s church burned to the ground on Feb. 28. The fire, which started in a house behind the church, was ruled arson and is still under investigation.

The church will move into a renovated former furniture store in September. The new building will have a 240-seat sanctuary and a new youth facility, Lewis has said.

“In other communities, other pastors, other churches’ members have not liked our approach or style of ministry,” he said.

Lewis led a failed effort to pass an amendment to the town’s ordinances that would have prohibited the opening of a bar within town limits.

“I feel like Satan is like a Santa Claus figure in today’s culture. But he is real, just as God is real,” Lewis said. “He hates it when you do good for others.”

“A more peaceful approach to recruiting new members would probably be better,” said Adam Short, pastor of the Dry Branch Community Church.

“To be honest, a lot of customers are kind of annoyed by it,” said Short, who works at the Chemical Valley Lumber Co. “As for myself, I understand what they are trying to do but there are other ways of trying to get your message across.”

Short said he has talked to a lot of people who don’t go to church regularly that are turned off by it.

“There is another way without scaring people,” he said.

Lewis said this is not the last such sign the church will put up. He plans more signs on other billboards in the area with similar messages.

“Jesus was unconventional,” he said. “For churches to be growing they need to be cutting-edge, they have to be unconventional as well.

“Obviously you are going to ruffle some feathers doing something so bold. We want people to understand church doesn’t have to be boring.”

To contact staff writer Gary Harki, use e-mail or call 348-5163.




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Yesterday's Primary Campaign season is off to an extremely early start.

By Joe Lavin
Posted Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007, at 11:28 AM ET
From the Slate



In a stunning twist, the state of South Carolina has announced that it will move its presidential primary from Feb. 2, 2008, up to next Tuesday, a decision that has pushed the nomination schedule into massive disarray.

This surprise change has forced New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner, who is bound by state law to hold the New Hampshire primary at least one week before any other state's, to reschedule the Granite State primary for yesterday, a peculiar set of events that has seriously suppressed voter turnout.

"This isn't fair," Barack Obama supporter Liz Donelly said. "If I had known the primary was yesterday, I totally wouldn't have spent the day at Hampton Beach."

As of late last night, it was unclear who had won the Democratic contest, although Hillary Clinton was quick to claim victory. John Edwards, however, disputed the scheduling, claiming that yesterday wasn't at all good for him because he was at a thing all afternoon and wasn't able to campaign. Barack Obama also complained that the timing was unfortunate, noting that he wasn't planning to have gathered all the experience necessary to be president until December at the earliest.

On the Republican side, however, John McCain enthusiastically supported the idea. According to sources from within the McCain camp, the candidate has asked South Carolina officials to move their primary back even further, to last January, when his campaign was still ahead in the polls. "I'm gonna drive the Straight Talk Express all the way back in time and then on to the White House," he told voters at a town meeting held outside a Peterborough Dunkin' Donuts.

If McCain's ploy fails, then Mitt Romney is almost certain to win South Carolina, a key victory that could propel him on to the Republican nomination. With California, Florida, New York, and 16 other states all expected to hold their primary sometime next weekend, Romney could have the nomination wrapped up by the end of the month. In a further sign of Romney's strong position, Fox News has already called the general election in his favor.

Not to be outdone, the state of Nevada has decided to hold its 2012 primary on Sept. 5, 2007, which could force New Hampshire to hold its 2012 primary in the same month as the 2008 primary. This would be the first time two primaries have occurred in the same month since February 1952, when Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver dramatically won both the 1952 and 1956 New Hampshire primaries.

Surprisingly, few voters seem upset by the changes. In a recent poll, 75 percent of voters supported the accelerated primary schedule. Interpretations of this poll have been mixed. Some pundits think the public just wants the election to be over with. Others suspect that voters are under the mistaken impression that Bush's presidency will end early. These voters will be disappointed to learn that George W. Bush will still be president until Jan. 20, 2009.

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FOX ATTACKS IRAN









Sign the Open Letter
Tell the networks not to follow FOX down the road to war

37,462 signers

Dear ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, and CNN,

"My station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at FOX News."

That is CNN's Christiane Amanpour explaining why the major television networks failed to accurately inform the public in the lead-up to the Iraq war, choosing instead to follow FOX's lead.

Now, FOX is beating the drums for war with Iran. Robert Greenwald's short film, "FOX Attacks: Iran", outlines the evidence from the station's own broadcasts, comparing their reporting before the Iraq war with what they are saying now about Iran.

You have a sacred responsibility to the American people to provide accurate and reliable information so we can best make the decisions which affect our lives. We urge you to accurately and thoroughly report all sides of this important story.

Please do not blindly follow FOX down the road to another war.

To sign this letter, go to the link below. Don't let Fox News get away with another atrocity to journalism and humanity!

CLICK HERE TO SIGN AND SEND!





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Atheist Blood Drive





In an attempt to show the world that atheists are every bit as charitable as the religious of society, and that we need no "divine warrent" to be so, the RRS has set up a daughter organization called Atheist Volunteers. We hope you will all chip in. The most prominent of it's projects is the Atheist Blood drive.

Click HERE to get more info on this important project!

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Atheists for Autism Research Charity!





Check these guys out, and donate if you can!



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Religious Victim(s) of the day





Nine hundred Christians dead in USA

In 1978, 900 Christian followers of the Rev. Jim Jones (an ordained Christian minister) decided to end their lives in order to escape into a better world in the “afterlife”. These victims of Christianity were not all a bunch of mad, raving lunatics. The parishioners who administered the poisoned cool-aid were medical doctors and nurses, and many of the faithful were college graduates.

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The Earth's Greatest Lawsuit





"Have you ever purchased a religious product or service? Ever paid a "tithe", sowed a "faith seed", or given a "love gift"? Ever donated money to a church, ministry, religious leader, or televangelist? Missed out on an inheritance, because a parent or relative gave money or willed their estate to a church, religion, or religious leader?

Has a religion, church, or televangelist made any false, misleading, or deceptive claims or representations? Statements that may have influenced your decision to purchase a product or service ... or to give your money?

It's time to get your money back."

The Earth's Greatest Lawsuit

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Larry King Live religion poll





VOTE NOW. Its a quick poll on religious preference. Even though atheism and agnosticism are not "religions"...



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One of the internets greatest warriors bowing out of the fight because of a death threat





Those of you atheists who are familiar with Youtube, or regular posters probably know Supexcellency. He recieved three individual death threats against him and his family, so he is taking down all his videos and deleting his account. This is a sad day for atheists everywhere. He was one of the internets greatest warriors for the cause. His intelligent sense of humor will be missed by all who knew him.

Here is his last video explaining the whole ordeal:

So long Supex, you will be missed...

Jack,
fellow human



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A (very) breif introduction to comparitive religions





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JESUS BUSTERS!





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Patton Oswalt- Bush and Cheney as the Dukes of Hazzard





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End Of Ze World









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Between Washington and Christ (newish work)





Editorial note:
I recieved this bit of musing from a member I have on the friends list for the Michigan RRS Myspace page (via bulletin). I thought it was good enough to post.

The authors name is Trevor O'Brien.

Click HERE! to see his Myspace page!





Faith is imprinted into man’s genetic code. We don’t become
unbound from the name if we’re not reminded by our debts
public or private. A name alone, grown into its own distance
through recurring presence in every seedy, illegal exchange.
It’s passed by way of sin, a common thread common face,
commonplace in the we-bare-all hotspots and the collection plate
of every church in even the smallest city limits. A name
spoken so often, cursed or adored, beyond and within man’s darkness.
Popular. Not for who, but for need’s sake, the mouth,
the motive, the symbolism of each. The fines, fed
into the fire at the federal level. Who among us
so easily discarded? Who among us is never alone?
Who among us so owned and cloned in image?
The true value of a dollar is opaque when held to the light,
and for Heaven’s sake, will never tell me where trust is best placed.

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Huge thanks go to everyone that has helped me out on this endeavor. Specifically, Zombie, head of RRS Ontario for multple article submissions, Voiderest of RRS Texas, my coding guru without whom many of the features of this newsletter (like the Table of Contents) would not be in place, Brian Sapient for his guiding hand and for the space in which this is published, and all of you who have contributed articles. Cheers go out to you all!!!