#0037 RRS Newsletter for July 31, 2007

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Good day my fellow infidels! I would like to extend my invitation for content submissions! Firstly, I will be wanting your personal "deconversion" stories, if you're interested in sharing. If not, and you still have something you'd like to share that my spark some convo, or an article you've written, or an interesting personal story involving the battle for rationality, contact me! Even if you don't think it's interesting, somebody might, and I certainly will. If you feel so inclined, you may also enter your submission into the Rational Content Contest hosted here by the RRS! See the RRS News section for details! I will be posting these in a new section of this newsletter called the "Rational Response Column". I posted Kelly's story the other day, and today I have posted a blog that I wrote on my personal story when I first joined the RRS (yeah, yeah, shameless self promotion, so what?).

Also, today is an "Entertainment" heavy post, we can't be serious all the time!

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

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Click HERE to find your local affiliate!

Rational Response Squad News

The great big request for submissions WIN PRIZES!

RRS Michigan News

Science News

Evolution vs. Creationism: Listen to the Scientists Genomics Study Provides Insight Into The Evolution Of Unique Human Traits The Real 'Jaws' Now in 3-D


Evangelicals pray for Armageddon Tod Friel is a douche! Religion looms large over 2008 race


Mike Gravel for President! Straightening out the Media Presidential Candidate Mike Gravel: "Eisenhower's Warning" Mike Gravel 30 second spot for CNN Taliban set new deadline as SKorean hostage killed


Atheist Blood Drive Anyone who has wondered about Myspace cencorship WATCH THIS!


As The Palaces Burn (video and lyrics) Y.A.A.F.M. 12: Muslims Y.A.A.F.M. 11: SCIENTOLOGY Passion of the Bear Everything I learned, I learned from Family Guy Become an Atheist today! Operators are standing by Zombie Last Supper

Rational Response Column

My story

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The great big request for submissions WIN PRIZES!




The Rational Response Squad is proud to announce a call to action for content submissisions. We have been blown away by the positive feedback we've received from the freethinking community. Thanks to everyone who has placed a banner, or our player on your website and helped spread the word in some manner. We've received many great written submissions of thoughts and views, but had no place to put them, so we've created a guideline to help you, help us. The categories in which we need submissions are listed below, send us your best material. Your writings will be added to our library of articles, essays, and debunkings. We're hoping to build one of the largest and diverse free libraries of rational thoughts on the internet. Please post everything publicly on our forum so it's there for all RRS members to access who are working on this project. In addition to hosting everything in a free web archive, we may also compile views into a free e-book or a book for sale to generate money for activist projects. Not that you need a reward to share your views with others, but as a thank you we'll be awarding prizes to as many of the top participants as we can. Prizes will be awarded based on effort put in and quality of writing.

We've put the categories in order of need and may alter the order later as submissions come in.
Prizes will be awarded MARCH 15TH, 2008, but you can continue to submit content well after MARCH 15TH, 2008.

For more info on this and other RRS sponsored contests go to the thread HERE

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Still working on the topic for the next RRS MI meeting. I'd like to hear your thoughts on it though, so contact me if you have anything to suggest!

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Evolution vs. Creationism: Listen to the Scientists

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Genomics Study Provides Insight Into The Evolution Of Unique Human Traits

Science Daily — Researchers from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, along with colleagues from Stanford University, report the results of a large-scale, genome-wide study to investigate gene copy number differences among ten primate species, including humans. The study provides an overview of genes and gene families that have undergone major copy number expansions and contractions in different primate lineages spanning approximately 60 million years of evolutionary time.

In the report, the scientists speculate how unique, lineage-specific gene copy number expansions and contractions in humans may underlie traits such as endurance running, higher cognitive function, and susceptibility genetic disease.

Primates first appeared on earth approximately 90 million years ago, and today, about 300 different species of primates exist. "One of the main genomic driving forces in primate evolution is gene duplication," explains Dr. James Sikela, Professor at the University of Colorado. "To our knowledge, this study is the most comprehensive assessment of gene copy number variation across human and non-human primate species so far."

To survey the differences in gene copy number among these species, Sikela and colleagues used DNA microarrays containing over 24,000 human genes to perform comparative genomic hybridization experiments. They compared DNA samples from humans to those of nine other primate species: chimpanzee, gorilla, bonobo, orangutan, gibbon, macaque, baboon, marmoset, and lemur. This allowed them to identify specific genes and gene families that, through evolutionary time, have undergone lineage-specific copy number gains and losses.

The authors of the report suggest that "many of the genes identified are likely to be important to lineage-specific traits found in humans and in the other primate lineages surveyed." To illustrate this potential, the scientists highlighted several gene families that exhibited striking lineage-specific differences. In particular, the human lineage-specific copy number expansion of a gene called AQP7 could explain why humans have evolved the capacity for endurance running. AQP7, or aquaporin 7, plays a role in transporting water and glycerol across membranes. Therefore, it may facilitate the mobilization of glycogen (energy) stores during long periods of intense exercise; it may also play a role in dissipating excess heat through sweating.

The scientists also found dramatic gene copy number differences potentially associated with cognition, reproduction, immune function, and susceptibility to genetic disease.

The work was supported by grants from the Butcher Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

About the article: The manuscript will be published online ahead of print on Tuesday, July 31, 2007. Its full citation is as follows: Dumas L., Kim Y.H., Karimpour-Fard A., Cox M., Hopkins J., Pollack J.R., and Sikela J.M. 2007. Gene copy number variation spanning 60 million years of human and primate evolution. Genome Res. doi:10.1101/gr.6557307.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Read the original story HERE!

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The Real 'Jaws' Now in 3-D

July 30, 2007 — With his head inside the mouth of a great white shark this week, biologist Daniel Huber is conducting the most thorough analysis ever attempted of the great white's bite, along with studies on feeding performance in tiger and bull sharks.

The nearly 8-foot-long great white died last September after becoming entangled in nets at Lakes Beach along Australia's Central Coast. Huber, a shark expert at the University of Tampa, and his colleagues are now dissecting the shark's jaws while simultaneously collecting data on the placement and strength of related muscles.

This information will be incorporated into a computer program based on a cat scan of the shark's skull in order to create a very accurate 3-D recreation of the great white bite. The process will be repeated for the other two sharks.


The researchers are not yet sure which shark will prove to be the strongest biter, but Huber told Discovery News the great white probably will not wind up at the top of the list.

"The white has the narrowest head of the three, so it has less space for jaw muscles," he explained. "Consequently, we're expecting that it will have a lower bite force on a pound-for-pound basis."

According to wild animal specialist Jonathan Wright of the London Zoo, current estimates hold that the great white's biting force is around 3 tons per square centimeter. The 3-D model should help confirm or revise that estimate.

Huber said "ideas about shark bite force have been flawed for decades because no one has really taken the time to look into it." He said the force might be lower than the earlier estimates owing to the great white's "relatively simple muscle architecture."

Huber was quick to add, however, that the great white is "a perfect predator" and doesn't need to have the most powerful bite to take down prey.

"Much of the damage inflicted by white sharks is due to their teeth, and not necessarily to the force," he said.

The shark has around 3,000 serrated teeth at any one given time. To initiate a sawing action, the great white will often shake whatever it bites into from side to side. The flesh of the victim then shreds into chunks as big as 11 by 13 inches.

Huber said the study is important because it will provide scientists with "a detailed understanding of what major predators in the world are capable of. "Sharks are of particular interest, he said, because their skeletons are made of flexible cartilage and not hard bone.

He hopes the study will also lead to better shark-proof transoceanic cables and shark-proof meshes for lifeguards.

Stephen Wroe, a shark bite expert at the University of New South Wales, echoed Huber's hopes.

Wroe said the research "could help us design more effective protective equipment — for example, shark armor and shark cages."

Wright, however, does not need the 3-D data to justify the great white's standing as one of the world's foremost predators.

In fact, recalling the old fishing trivia question, "If a great white encountered a grizzly bear, which animal would win?" Wright thinks the great white would emerge victorious.

"The strength, biting power and speed of the shark in water would probably give it an advantage," he said.

He added, "While the bear could use its claws to punch the shark's nose or gouge out flesh, the shark's teeth are more powerful and, if either animal lost any of their teeth, the shark has lots of spare sets, while if an adult bear loses its teeth, these are lost forever."

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Study Subject
A great white shark caught earlier this year unknowingly became the model for an experiment being conducted by an international team of scientists at the University of New South Wales. The researchers created a 3-D model of the shark's jaws and teeth to help understand the power and technique behind its bite.

Read the original story HERE!

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Evangelicals pray for Armageddon

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Tod Friel is a douche!

If Way of the Master's terrible arguments sound familiar, here they are again:

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Religion looms large over 2008 race

Thanks Hamby!

By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer Mon Jul 30, 3:25 AM ET

WASHINGTON - When George Romney ran for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination, his Mormon heritage was mostly a footnote. It was scarcely mentioned in news accounts of the day. But for son Mitt Romney, the family religion presents a formidable political hurdle.

The younger Romney repeatedly is called on to defend his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its teachings, encountering skepticism particularly from Christian conservatives, a key component of the GOP base.

"I believe that there are some pundits out there that are hoping I'll distance myself from my church so that'll help me politically. And that's not going to happen," Romney asserts.

Religion has not played so prominent a role in a U.S. national election since 1960, when John F. Kennedy became the first Catholic to be elected president.

And it's not only Romney under scrutiny. All the Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls have been grilled on their religious beliefs. Most seem eager to talk publicly about their faith as they actively court religious voters.

Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton emphasizes her Methodist upbringing and says her faith helped her repair her marriage.

Chief rival Sen. Barack Obama frequently uses the language of religion and proclaims a "personal relationship" with Jesus Christ. The Illinois Democrat — whose middle name is "Hussein" — scoffs at suggestions of Muslim leanings because he spent part of his childhood in Indonesia. He is a member of the United Church of Christ.

In the most recent Democratic debate, a pastor in a YouTube video asked Democrat John Edwards to defend his use of religion to deny gay marriage. The former North Carolina senator — a Methodist — talked about his faith and his "enormous conflict" over the issue

Republican Sen. John McCain, an Episcopalian, says, "I do believe that we are unique and that God loves us." Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, emphasizes his belief that "God created the heavens and the earth. To me, it's pretty simple."

Unlike the others, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a divorced Roman Catholic who favors abortion rights, sidesteps such questions, claiming one's relationship with God is a private matter. But he attended Catholic schools and at one point considered being a priest.

Clearly, the religious issue is the most problematic for Romney. Polls suggest he faces continued misgivings over his faith. An ABC News-Washington Post poll conducted July 18-21 showed that 32 percent of those who said they leaned Republican described themselves as "uncomfortable" with the idea of a Mormon president.

An earlier poll by the Pew Research Center said 30 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate that was Mormon. The negative sentiment rose to 46 percent for Muslim candidates and to 63 percent for a candidate who "doesn't believe in God."

Pollster Andrew Kohut, Pew's director, said that between the late 1960s, when Romney's father ran, and now there has been "one of the great transformations of our era. There is more mixing of religion and politics than there was then. As a consequence, people scrutinize Mormonism — or any other religion — more closely than back then."

He cites the growing influence of the Christian right, the political activism of tele-evangelists and a trend that has seen a steady migration of Christian conservatives into the GOP fold, particularly in the South.

"When the South changed, it brought the evangelicals with it," Kohut said.

The links between religion and governance intensified with the presidency of George W. Bush, said Joan Konner, former dean of the Columbia Journalism School. "He brought it up when he ran for office and he said his favorite philosopher, in answer to a question in a debate, was Jesus.

"And then he followed up on that by faith-based public funding and various other actions that started to erode what Americans took for granted as the separation between church and state," said Konner, who has studied the interaction between religion and politics and is the author of "The Atheist's Bible."

George W. Romney was a politically moderate former governor of Michigan and auto-industry executive when he sought the 1968 GOP presidential nomination. Scant mention was made of his Mormonism in news accounts at the time and it appeared to be a non-issue in the race.

Polls showed him as the front-runner until he stumbled by complaining to an interviewer that when he had visited Vietnam, he had been "brainwashed" by military briefers there into supporting the war. That remark generated enough controversy to cost him the nomination.

Some historians suggest more attention might have been paid to Romney's Mormonism if he hadn't torpedoed his own candidacy so early. And in those days, many Christian conservatives were southern Democrats and less interested in GOP primary contests.

Mitt Romney supporters point to Kennedy, who overcame questions about his religion to become the first Catholic elected president. He did that, in part, by speaking before Protestant clergymen in Houston in 1960 to dispel fears that, as a Catholic president, he would be subject to direction from the pope.

Can Romney neutralize the religion issue the same way Kennedy did — by giving a major speech explaining the role his Mormon faith plays in his political life?

In an interview in Iowa with The Associated Press, Romney said he's considering dealing with the issue in a comprehensive manner, although "it's probably too early for something like that."

"At some point it's more likely than not, but we'll see how things develop," Romney said.

Kennedy had one advantage that Romney doesn't. When he ran, Catholics made up roughly 28 percent of the U.S. population. Although one of the fastest growing faiths in the world, Mormons represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population with 5.5 million members across the country.

"The differences between Kennedy and Romney are in the nose count," said political historian Stephen Hess. "The religion issue may have hurt Kennedy, but it sure helped him at the same time" as Catholics threw their support behind him.

"There is no way that capturing the Mormon vote is going to win Romney anything," Hess said.

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Mike Gravel for President! Straightening out the Media

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Presidential Candidate Mike Gravel: "Eisenhower's Warning"

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Mike Gravel 30 second spot for CNN

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Taliban set new deadline as SKorean hostage killed

by Mohammad Yaqob

GHAZNI, Afghanistan (AFP) - Afghanistan's Taliban set the government a new deadline of noon (0730 GMT) Wednesday to meet its demands in order to save 21 South Koreans, a day after a second hostage was killed.

The hardline Islamic militia wants the government to free at least eight Taliban prisoners in Afghan jails, a demand government negotiators have rejected.

"If our demands are not met by then, we will start killing the rest of the South Koreans," Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP.

The bullet-riddled body of the second hostage to be killed since 23 were captured nearly two weeks ago was found overnight in an area of the southern province of Ghazni, about 140 kilometres (90 miles) south of Kabul.

"It was the body of a South Korean. There were bullet wounds in the body," Ghazni police chief Alishah Ahmadzai told AFP.

An AFP correspondent who saw the corpse said it had been dumped at the side of the road and had four or five bullet holes to the body and head.

The South Korean foreign ministry identified the victim as Shim Sung-Min, reported to be aged 29.

"The government cannot help feeling outrage and strongly denounces the ruthless killing by the kidnappers' group," ministry spokesman Cho Hee-Yong said in Seoul.

"The government makes it clear that it will surely hold accountable those responsible for the sacrifice of our citizen," added presidential spokesman Choen Ho-Seon.

The body of Bae Hyung-kyu, a 42-year-old pastor who had been leading the church group, which had been on an aid mission in risky southern Afghanistan, was found in the same area on Wednesday last week.

Government negotiators said efforts to free the remaining hostages, 16 of whom are women, would continue.

"We are doing our utmost to secure their release," Ghazni governor Mirajuddin Pattan told AFP, reiterating authorities wanted more time.

"We had demanded the Taliban give us two days but it seems that they have not accepted," he said.

The negotiators have called on the militants to unconditionally release the women in the group on the grounds that it is against their religion and Afghan culture to take female hostages.

The Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera ran footage late Monday it said showed the hostages, with the women seated, wearing Islamic-style headscarves and looking weakened.

All the women were ill, Ahmadi said Tuesday.

The South Korean evangelical church group, mostly in their 20s and 30s, were captured while travelling by bus on a key highway from the troubled southern city of Kandahar.

Government-appointed negotiators admitted on Monday that talks to free the Christian group had so far failed.

President Hamid Karzai has ruled out releasing prisoners in exchange for militant captives after five were freed in March in exchange for a kidnapped Italian journalist. Two Afghans who were with the reporter were beheaded.

The government was widely criticised for the deal, which observers said increased risks for foreigners.

The Taliban has said it is also holding a German engineer, kidnapped in Wardak province near Kabul a day before the South Koreans. It has also demanded the release of prisoners to save his life.

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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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Anyone who has wondered about Myspace cencorship WATCH THIS!

From: Atheist for Truth, Logic, And Rationality
Date: Jul 29, 2007 9:58 PM

First let me say that Myspace is indeed a very useful tool for communication. It makes having personalized profiles easy for everyone including people who have no idea about html or any other web based code. I Enjoy using myspace as a good way to communicate with friends and like minded individual's.

With that being said I also have a questioning mind. I have been wondering about the many profile deletions lately and the many obvious attempts at censorship on Myspace. I know it is owned by News Corp the same company that owns the Fox networks. But i wasn't aware of Myspace's past.

While doing a little looking around I found these videos, and after a little personal verification it seems to be dependable source for this information.
The second part has most of the enlightening facts as it deals with its recent history.

With the big BULLETIN wipe out recently who knows if this will get deleted. If it does i guess it only gos to further verify the contents.

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As The Palaces Burn

By: Lamb of God

The fiends have gagged a generation of pacified fools
Bound by our greed a nation enslaved as corporate tools.
Arise and RAZE the legacy of their lies
To realize that this in itself is an ascension
Towards the day we revolt.
oh, Once the seeds you've cast away take hold
War will be born.
Rejoice, the age of the fall has begun
We'll dance as the palaces burn.
A shot gun blast into the face of deceit
You'll gain your just reward.
We'll not rest until the purge is complete
You will reap what you've sown.
My redemption lies in your demise.
In such a world as this does one dare to think for himself?
The paradox of power and peace will destroy itself
To know the truth and live in fear of no man.
To realize that this in itself is an ascension
Toward the day we revolt.
oh, Once the seeds you've cast away take hold
War will be born.
Rejoice, the age of the fall has begun
We'll dance as the palaces burn.
My redemption, redemption lies in your demise.
Rejoice, the age of the fall has begun.
We'll dance as the palaces burn.

Y.A.A.F.M. 12: Muslims


Passion of the Bear

Everything I learned, I learned from Family Guy

Become an Atheist today! Operators are standing by

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Zombie Last Supper

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My story

Hello all,
My name is Jack Wynne, and I have been an atheist my whole life, i just didn't know it the whole time. You see, i was raised by parents that never even brought up religion or atheism, or going to church, or even the bible. I was left to figure it out on my own, and I'm glad it was that way. As such, I was an outsider looking in on the Christian church, and therefore saw it with absolutely no bias. My whole life I have been reading everything I could find on "the Big Bang Theory" and Darwinian Evolution. At one point, in grade school, I brought a National Geographic in to school, (my parents had me subscribed to it if that tells you about my hunger for scientific knowledge), it dealt with the evolution of man, and I was virtually laughed out of the room. No one wanted to hear rationality, not even the teacher. I knew this stuff made sense, I knew there was solid scientific evidence behind it, and I just didn't understand why no one else could see that! So from then on, I kept my endevours in that realm, for the most part, to myself. I was encouraged to go to Sunday School with my best friend when I was 10, but I got half way there and decided not to, it just didn't "feel" right to me, even then. I did, however, feel a strong pull toward the sciences, and aspired t be an icthyologist from very early on.

When I reached adolesence, I did what most teens do when searching for thier place in the world, I started looking into this "religion" thing I'd heard so much about. Only, I didn't go to a Christian church. Oh no, by this time I was already disillusioned by the way they seemed to control the country, despite "the separation of church and state", and the countless contradictions in the bible. I saw the hypocrisy, and wanted nothing to do with it. Instead, I turned to something a little older, a little more Earthly, I became a pagan. I never really found a comfortable spot in that group either though, but still, my wife of the time and I joined a Wiccan coven. We spent a few years with this group, and eventually "hived off" (as they say) to form our own coven. We spent the next couple years running this group, acting as it's priests. Eventually the coven disbanned, and shortly after we were divorced, (the two events had little to do with each other by the way). So, I was left where I started for the most part, asking myself, "what is God".

During my time as a pagan priest, I had studied many religions. Many of the people I dealt with in those circles were disillusioned with the faith they were raised with and a large part of our gatherings was dedicated to discussing this. Sharring their reasons for looking elsewhere, what they liked about thier previous faith, what they didn't like, and what drew them to the path they currently walked. I listened very intently to everyone. We had former Jews, Catholics, Baptists, a Muslim or two, and they all taught me something in their own way. Through it all, I always felt like I wasn't being truthfull to the people that looked to me for guidance, for support, for leadership. It's because, though I tried, I could never convince MYSELF that I believed in what I was teaching them. Science still had a tight hold on my mind. I was always questioning my elders, and rarely did they give response that was satisfactory. In the end, I too was disillusioned, but with all religion. I realized what I was searching for so long and hard I already knew. Like Luke proclaiming to the Emperor, "I am a Jedi, like my father before me", so too was I an Atheist. A follower of reason, and ration. A man that doesn't believe anything without proof. For the first time, I felt whole. I had found myself, the self that was always there, I just couldn't see it.

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