Beats by Kurzweil

June 2, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.   

CFI sent an action alert Friday to rally support for Meriam Ibrahim, the young mother of two sentenced to death for apostasy, and spread a social media meme around to get the word out. Now it sounds like Sudan may in fact free her. Let's hope so! 

We've been up to a lot lately! Catch up with our fortnightly newsletter Cause & Effect

Great piece in The Atlantic by Emma Green looks at the entrenchment of theism in the US military, the the struggle to get atheist/humanist chaplains. 

Surprising no one, the House Science Committee tries to undermine the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's legitimacy. (Feels related to this Onion headline: "Modernized Space Camp Allows Kids To Simulate Frustration Over Lack Of Funding.") I presume the residents of Kiribati would like them to take it more seriously, as their island nation disappears.

CFI-DC announces a real coup of an event: Sam Harris, interviewed by the Washington Post's Michelle Boorstein. 

A couple in Virginia reports that court official refused to marry them because of their atheism -- and his supervising judge backs him up. 

But at least Virginia's license plates are atheistic in a sense

As the world reels at the murder-by-stoning of Farzana Parveen, Pew notes that 4 in 10 Pakistanis think that killing a woman for adultery or premarital sex is okay. 

Ahed Alhendi at Daily Beast profiles Saudi human rights "power couple" Samar Badawi and Walid Abulkhair. Abulkhair is a lawyer who has represented Raif Badawi, among others, and is now himself in jail.

Meanwhile, Al Arabiya reports that Saudi Arabia is looking to punish social media outlets like Twitter for "allowing accounts which promote adultery, homosexuality and atheism." 

The theocratic American Family Association tells people to refuse to open mail with Harvey Milk stamps on them. Because gay. That'll show 'em.  

Superintendent of Elmira School District tells staff that kids can totally opt out of the Pledge.

Bones of an alleged Japanese "water demon" to go on display. Best part of the article? "There are no plans to have them examined either."

There are a whoooole lotta things you have to agree to if you want to teach at a Catholic school in Cincinnati:

The revised contracts forbid teachers from -- among other things -- living together or having sex outside of marriage, using in-vitro fertilization, a gay "lifestyle," or publicly supporting any of those things. 

Sam Homola on chiropractics' woo-woo problem:

The conflict between chiropractic and medical science won’t change until all concerned are able to meet on common ground governed by the laws of anatomy, physiology, and other basic sciences. Unfortunately, groups guided by a belief system do not often yield to facts that are contrary to a self-perpetuating dogma, making it necessary to speak out on the side of science in the best interest of persons who might become victims of such dogma. 

The quantum "spin state" of separate electrons is reliably "teleported" by scientists in the Netherlands. 

Erik Sofge at Popular Science says that the Singularity is a myth that requires a huge leap of faith:

Even if you were to awkwardly graft various specialized systems onto one another, they wouldn’t add up to [artificlal general intelligence]. Actually, that might work in SF, where AGIs seem to play by the same oversimplified rules as Hollywood’s version of hackers, able to brush aside stark differences in programming languages and data protocols, and start siphoning and wielding information like some sorcerer’s arcane, boundless resource. 

There go my hopes for Apple's big keynote event today: Beats by Kurzweil. 

Ugh: Orlando Sentinel runs a totally uncritical puff-piece on alt-med going mainstream. 

Texas school district successfully nixes a JesusTatoo.org billboard at its football field. 

A new biography of Douglas Adams is nigh (The Frood), and will include unreleased Hitchhiker's material. 

Do not sneeze, fart, eat peanuts, or wear a hilarious fake mustache in church. Sorry, Groucho.

Oh, astronauts, you kidders

The Nicolas Cage Left Behind trailer is out. Look away.  

Quote of the Day

Michael Paul Williams opines against sectarian prayer at public meetings in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

What, exactly, is the basis for what constitutes a legitimate religion, and how is it arrived at without bias? It has been noted that the five justices who formed the majority in Greece are Catholic; three of the four dissenters are Jewish. Did the court mirror a reality in which the religious majority sets the rules? Is there any aspect of our lives more subjective than religion, which is grounded in the faith of things unseen? News flash: There are skeptics and nonbelievers who believe that Christians, Muslims and Jews are no different than Wiccans, Scientologists, or even Pastafarians, whose deity is the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
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