Skeptics and Atheists of Durango NEWSLETTER November 19, 2014

Skeptics and Atheists of Durango        November 19, 2014

Compiled by Larry Bollinger

“I don’t think we’re here for anything, we’re just products of evolution.  You can say ‘Gee, your life must be pretty bleak if you don’t think there’s a purpose’, but I’m anticipating a good lunch”           -James Watson (Nobel prize winner and co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule).   Dr. Watson is a proponent of GMO foods, holding that the benefits far outweigh any plausible environmental damage.

On the Agenda for November’s Meeting      Member Joyce Fontana will lead this month’s discussion on the topic: Being Grateful.    Joyce notes, “The human behavior of gratitude spans cultures and religions over centuries.  It has now become a 21st century pop phenomenon.  But should we be asking: Is gratitude a moral obligation?  A virtue?  Does gratitude demand a recipient?”

Meeting, on Wednesday November 19th,  as usual, at Irish Embassy. Dinner, for those interested from 5:30PM.    Discussions at 6:30-ish.

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NEXT  FOR OUR BOOK CLUB:

Why God Won’t Go Away by Andrew Newberg   (recommended by Marc Masor).  Friday, December 12, 2014 at the Masor’s home (10 Pine Ridge Loop, Durango).       Why have we humans always longed to connect with something larger than ourselves? Even today in our technologically advanced age, more than seventy percent of Americans claim to believe in God. Why, in short, won’t God go away? In this groundbreaking new book, researchers Andrew Newberg and Eugene d’Aquili offer an explanation that is at once profoundly simple and scientifically precise: The religious impulse is rooted in the biology of the brain.    TO ATTEND, PLEASE RSVP AT MEETUP.COM 

UPCOMING BOOKS FOR THE BOOK CLUB include:

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell   Friday, January 23, 2015

Waking Up: A Guide To Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris  Mon, Feb 23, 2015

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Speaking of Books, This is the Best Book You’ll Probably Never Get to Read!    You never know what you’ll find deep in the pages of our own Durango Herald.  A few months ago, we found a book review extolling a historical novel based on the voyages of Charles Darwin on the Beagle.  Specifically, it’s the story of Robert Fitzroy, the 23-year old Captain of the Beagle and his friendship with Darwin which devolved into hatred as the years rolled by.  Based on notes and journals written by the participants, the reviewer highly recommended it to any reader who can find a copy.  It turns out that, although the book was only written 9 years ago, it is already out of print.  We Googled it and found a copy for sale somewhere in the UK; it arrived after a month or more…all 750 pages of it!  And I have to agree: it is a marvelous, appalling, entertaining, thrilling, disgusting, revealing book about the five-year voyage of discovery aboard the Beagle and all that transpired as a result.  Sadly, it is not available in quantities that would make it possible for our book club to enjoy.  We will have a single copy to loan once Carolyn has finished with it…but if the topic intrigues you, you might try your luck on The Google and find a copy of your own.

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 Getting Testy About Radon       Radon gas is tasteless, odorless, and colorless.  It is the natural by-product uranium as it decays.  Radon is undetectable to human senses, is (5) times heavier than air and is soluble in water…well water can easily be contaminated with radon.  Radon is the largest cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and is prevalent in SW Colorado buildings.

I mention this because we tested our home in Durango West II after reading about the issue in the Durango Herald last January (http://durangoherald.com/article/20140109/NEWS01/140109557).  To our dismay, we discovered that our downstairs has actionable levels of radon gas present.  We are currently in the process of having a contractor ‘mitigate’ the problem by installing a system of pipes that will collect and divert the gas, venting it to the outside.     A test reading of 4.0 picocuries per liter and above indicates a need for mitigation…our two tests indicated 4.6 and 5.7 in two different downstairs rooms.  We have been advised that the amount of radon present in our basement (at times) does the equivalent lung damage of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day!  The Colorado state average for radon pollution is 6.0.  Interestingly, although LaPlata County has an increasing trend in lung cancer deaths, it is still below the state average.  Radon presence can vary greatly between locations, so you may or may not have the problem too!

Test for radon with a test kit available from Kansas State University for $25 including lab costs.  Go here http://www.kansasradonprogram.org/home to order test kits.  Tests are available in short or long term (one week to 90 days) versions.  The test unit is simply hung in the room to be tested and is left undisturbed for the length of the test.       The cost of mitigation is not prohibitive…in our case, we’ll spend around $2500.  We urge all S&AoD members to consider testing for this stalking killer in your home!

Here is an interesting link regarding health trends in our community: http://sjbhd.org/files/2012HealthandCapacityAssessment.pdf 

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Global Warming      Senator Angus King (I-Maine) appeared on Bill Maher’s Real Time a couple of weeks ago…he is distributing a carry-in-your-wallet card (reprinted below) that he called ‘…global warming in a nutshell’.  It documents the skyrocketing concentrations of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere.  Sure, CO2 has risen in Earth’s history before, BUT not this much and not this fast!  Print it and carry it with you as support for those spontaneous climate change debates you’ll be having with your cranky relatives at T’giving.Angus King Global Warming Wallet Card

If you are still a skeptic regarding climate change, here (http://www.skepticalscience.com/Global-Warming-in-a-Nutshell.html) is all the information you need in one place: documentation of Earth’s rising temperature, the increase of atmospheric CO2, the disappearance of glaciers and the rise of sea level all since the advent of the industrial revolution.

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 A Recurring Topic   http://www.voanews.com/content/global-campaign-to-eliminate-measles-stalls/2519282.html     Yes, it’s more bad news about vaccines!  Marc Masor sent this along for your consideration: the World Health Organization (WHO) has been conducting a world-wide anti-measles campaign.  The latest report is that the effort has stalled by lack of money, lack of interest and ignorance of the necessity of vaccination.

In 2013, a total of 145,700 children died due to measles…that represents an increase of nearly 24,000 child deaths from the previous year!  Since 2000, well over 15,000,000 lives have been saved via use of the measles vaccine.

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Revisiting Assisted Suicide      This is another topic we’ve dealt with in our general meetings.  The topic is brought back to our attention by the plight of Brittany Maynard who moved to Oregon in order to take advantage of that state’s ‘Death With Dignity’ law.  She was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer and had only a few months to live (she was 29).  She died by her own hand on November 1, 2014.

Here are some Oregon Assisted Suicide stats compiled through 12/31/13 by Huffington Post:

— People who have used the law since late 1997: 752 (396 men, 356 women)

— People younger than 35 who have used the law: 6

— Median age of the deceased: 71

— Percentage of the deceased who were white: 97

— Percentage who had at least some college: 72

— Percentage of patients who informed relatives of their decision: 94

— Percentage of patients who died at a home: 95 percent

— Median minutes between ingestion of lethal drug and unconsciousness: 5

— Median minutes between ingestion and death: 25

— Number of terminally ill people who have moved to Oregon to die: unknown

You can read more about Death with Dignity laws around the nation: http://www.deathwithdignity.org/advocates/national

and read more on Maynard’s story here:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/02/brittany-maynard-dead-cancer_n_6091142.html

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Yes, She Did!  Oh No She Didn’t       When Houston (TX) area churches began to urge their congregations to resist new legislation expanding the civil rights of LGBT people, the city’s mayor demanded to review the sermons for violations of law: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/15/houston-pastor-sermon_n_5992044.html

But when the religious community became upset, she rescinded her order: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/29/houston-mayor-sermon-subpoenas_n_6070650.html 

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10 U.S. Seminaries Awarded Grants for Science Education by AAAS

http://www.religionnews.com/2014/10/08/seminaries-awarded-million-include-science-coursework/      This sounds like a positive development!   The American Association for the Advancement of Science is awarding grants to some American seminaries to include ‘Science’ in their curricula.  Science education is often neglected in the training of religious professionals which is a shame since a study by the AAAS found that Protestant Americans, in particular, are more than twice as likely to consult a minister (!), religious text (!) or others in their congregaton (!) if they have any questions about Science!

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Atheist Awarded Nearly $2,000,000

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/15/barry-a-hazle-jr-atheist-settlement_n_5987630.html    A man convicted of drug use was assigned to a drug rehab program as part of his parole agreement.  The program was of the ’12-step’ variety which requires that participants acknowlege a ‘higher power’.  An atheist, the man requested an alternative program but none was available.  When he was uncooperative, he was returned to jail for an additional three months.  He sued and won $1,000,000 from California and another $950,000 from the administrators of the rehab program.  There are more details to be had at the above link.

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Interesting Video

  • Secrets of Food Marketing   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKTORFmMycQ      All of our discussions about GMOs and food make this a very interesting 6-minute video.  Of particular interest is the audience reaction as the lecture goes on.

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Pope Watch      No doubt about it, this is an interesting guy!  One foot in the medieval world and one foot in the 21st Century!

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U.S. Bishops Back Unitlateral Action by President Obama on Immigration Reform

http://www.religionnews.com/2014/11/12/catholic-bishops-back-obama-acting-alone-immigration/    The nation’s Catholic bishops are jumping into the increasingly contentious battle over immigration reform by backing President Obama’s pledge to act on his own to fix what one bishop called “this broken and immoral system” before Republicans assume control of Capitol Hill in January.

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Stupid News:

  • An Angry Atheist?  Nope.   http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/10/man-who-destroyed-oklahoma-10-commandments-monument-was-devout-christian/Did you hear about the moron who drove his car up the steps of Oklahoma’s state capitol to destroy a stone monument commemorating The Ten Commandments?  Everyone assumed that this was some disgruntled atheist, despite the fact that he claimed it was Satan who ordered the act of demolition.  Turns out that his Mom says he ‘…is a devout Christian’.  The Governor says the monument will be re-built.
  • Dad Pulls Son From History Class Because of Religious Objections  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/27/revere-public-schools-islam_n_6056530.html    An outraged father pulled his son from his middle school’s history class because the class was being taught the five pillars of Islam.  “No religion should be taught at school. In their paper it says Allah is their only God. That’s insulting to me as a Christian who believes in just Jesus only,” said Anthony Giannino.

    letter from various community groups released last week expressed support for the school district.  “Teaching about the world’s religions, including Islam, is widely recognized as a lawful and important part of a quality education in the public schools,” says the letter, which was endorsed by groups representing Revere parents and students as well as the Islamic Council of New England.

  • Douglas County, Colorado School District sued by American Humanist Society  http://americanhumanist.org/news/details/2014-10-colorado-school-district-promotes-christianity-human     The lawsuit challenges the public school district’s repeated practice of promoting and supporting programs that proselytize Christianity. Among the violations, the school district actively promoted and engaged in a program run by the evangelical Christian organization Samaritan’s Purse. Called Operation Christmas Child, the program uses gift packages with Christian messages to persuade children in developing nations to convert to Christianity. Samaritan’s Purse is led by evangelical minister Franklin Graham.

SPECIAL THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY BONUS TOM THE DANCING BUG!!

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AND NOW YOUR REGULAR, MONTHLY, TtDB!td141016 CROPPED

Tom the Dancing Bug is reprinted in the Skeptics and Atheists of Durango Newsletter with the permission of the cartoonist, Ruben Bolling.

See more Tom the Dancing Bug at Gocomics.com

Are there any announcements, anniversaries, activities or other tidbits you’d like your fellow Skeptics and Atheists to know about?

Drop an email to larrybollinger@comcast.net with your information so that it can be included in the next newsletter!

A Word About Amber Teething Necklaces….

kathy with a k:

A little blog post I wrote a couple of years back on amber necklaces as a solution for teething relief. I wrote this after noticing many babies wearing stylish amber necklaces around town. Investigation enused……

Originally posted on Space Cadet Glow:

So, the boy and I were at our local library for the weekly baby storytime that he really enjoys. As we waited for the story to begin, I noticed one of the babies (probably about 6 months old, although I’m notoriously bad at assessing baby ages) had on a necklace.  I just assumed it was  a fashion accessory Mom had chosen for her little boy.

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Skeptics and Atheists of Durango NEWSLETTER October 15, 2014

Skeptics and Atheists of Durango        October 15, 2014

Compiled by Larry Bollinger

“I would like, and this would be the last and most ardent of my wishes, I would like the last king to be strangled with the guts of the last priest”  – Jean Meslier, priest, from his will  (1678 – 1733) 

On the October Meeting Agenda In addition to the usual mayhem and hijinks, Kathleen will expound on the topic of Genetically Modified Organisms.  This is a timely topic as the issue of whether or not to label foods in Colorado as using GMOs is on the November 4th  ballot (Prop 105).

Other issues on the ballot:   Proposed Amendment 67 will confer ‘full human rights’ for fertilized human ova;  Amendment 68 will legalize horse racetrack casino gambling in three specific towns in Colorado; Prop 104 would require school boards in CO to conduct contract negotiations with teachers in public; we are also voting for retention of various judges (including judges on the CO Supreme Court) and for seats in the Colorado legislature and for seats in the US Senate and House.

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Election day is November 4, 2014.

The Skeptics and Atheists of Durango has not, as yet, endorsed or opposed any of the above.

I, personally, will oppose at least three and possibly all four ballot measures.  Why?  What follows is my personal opinion…take it or leave it.

Amendment 67: The ‘personhood’ amendment has been rejected by Colorado voters twice before and for good reason.  It would complicate issues involving methods of birth control and severely limit and possibly criminalize women who seek abortions or who mis-carry.  The proposed amendment is redundant – the current law allows for criminal penalities for any action that injures a pregnant woman.  The term used in the language of this amendment is ‘unborn human being’ which has no legal or medical definition under Colorado law; the ambiguities of this proposed amendment lead me to oppose it…for the third and, hopefully, last time.

Amendment 68:  The proposition to allow gambling in three Colorado towns would supercede the existing state law which requires a vote in EACH TOWN to approve/disapprove of gambling.  New gambling sites in some Colorado towns would profit at the expense of other towns who would likely lose tourist revenue to the new gambling arenas.  I also am uncomfortable with funding education with gambling revenue; as taxpayers, we have the obligation to pay directly, through taxes, for the services we expect from government.

Prop 104:  Contract negotiations should not be conducted in full public view.  School boards have more flexibility to explore all options if the negotiations are NOT conducted in the full media glare.  The results of the negotiations will, as always, be disclosed to the public.  School boards are elected to conduct negotiations and are accountable to the public at election time.  This proposition strikes me as another attempt to demonize public school employees.

Prop 105:  The GMO labeling proposition seems to me to be too vague and too costly for food producers in Colorado to comply with.  I am willing to be swayed by Wednesday night’s discussion on this one.

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Member Talk Scheduled for October 20, 2014

Marc Masor will present “Autoimmunity, Allergy, Tolerance and Gluten”   Monday, October 20 at Himalayan Kitchen.  Dinner at 5:30, presentation at 6:30-ish.  Please RSVP at Meetup.com

This presentation will be a brief review of how the immune system works under normal conditions, what leads to an allergic or autoimmune response, and asks, what do we know about true gluten allergy vs gluten “sensitivity”.

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NEXT BOOK FOR THE BOOK CLUB!

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Monday, November 3, 6:30PM at Carolyn and Larry’s home: 35 Cedar Drive (Durango West II)

PLEASE RSVP AT MEETUP.COM

Mention our S&AoD Book Club at Maria’s Books and get a 10% Discount!

Buy the club’s title of the month and receive a 15% Discount!

Please support the local bookstores! 

UPCOMING BOOKS FOR THE BOOK CLUB include:

Why God Won’t Go Away by Andrew Newberg   Monday, December 15, 2014

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell   Friday, January 23, 2015

Waking Up: A Guide To Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris  Monday, February 23, 2015

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Amusement Parks and Museums (Pictured: Museum of the Bible)

An artist's rendering shows the exterior of the proposed Museum of the Bible, located two blocks from the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in this undated handout image. Hobby Lobby President Steve Green is planning to begin construction on the $800 million 8-storey Bible museum in the fall of 2014, according to local media. REUTERS/Smith Group JJR/Handout via Reuters

An artist’s rendering shows the exterior of the proposed Museum of the Bible, located two blocks from the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in this undated handout image. Hobby Lobby President Steve Green is planning to begin construction on the $800 million 8-storey Bible museum in the fall of 2014, according to local media. REUTERS/Smith Group JJR/Handout via Reuters

http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2014/09/30/museum-bible-simple-steve-green-hobby-lobby/34318

The high-tech Museum of the Bible, set to open in fall 2017, is four blocks from the U.S. Capitol and three blocks from a global tourism mecca, the Air and Space Museum. The new museum will feature standing exhibits on the history and impact of the Bible as well as interactive features to bring viewers into Bible stories and characters.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/07/us-usa-districtofcolumbia-bible-idUSKCN0HW11G20141007

BUT, will the museum recognize that ‘THE’ bible is, in reality, many different books as interpreted by Jews, Catholics, Protestants, etc?   Hobby Lobby CEO, Steve Green, says that he ‘wants to know’ if anything in his museum isn’t ‘true to God’s word’.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/08/usa-religion-ark-idUSL6N0S34Z520141008

MEANWHILE, at the new Noah’s Ark Amusement Park, don’t rush over to apply for a job if you don’t believe in the literal interpretation of Noah’s Flood!  The fly in the ointment is that the proposed park is counting on taxpayer support which means that it won’t be permitted to discriminate against non-believers when they hire employees.

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Tale of Two Stephens

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/25/stephen-king-intelligent-design_n_5878408.html

In an interview on HufPo, Stephen King says he’s ‘agnostic’ about a life-after-death, but offers his opinion that the universe is too orderly to have happened ‘by accident’…so, he says, he ‘tends to believe in Intelligent Design’….

Elsewhere on HufPo another famous ‘Steve’, Stephen Hawking, says that he’s an atheist, arguing that science offers a “more convincing explanation” for the origins of the universe and that the miracles of religion “aren’t compatible” with scientific fact.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/25/stephen-hawking-atheist_n_5882860.html

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Texas Textbooks Entangle Moses With US Founding Fathers

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/09/22/in-texas-textbooks-moses-is-a-founding-father.html

The Texas State Board of Education (SBoE) is considering the proposed textbooks which were written in response to new guidelines known as TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills).  As a result, Texas’ textbooks for high school and middle schools are making national news.  Multiple studies have found the new textbooks to be ideologically slanted which result in distortions of fact, and worse.

As an example, in seventh-grade Texas history, in eighth- and 11-grade United States history, and 10-grade world history, what TEKS requires simply does not show Native and African-Americans as among history’s makers. They remain mere victims and/or outsiders.

Investigators found that outright ideological agendas are at work.  The issue that attracted the most attention revolved around the intellectual influences the Framers felt when they crafted the United States Constitution. The new curriculum standards require students to learn about the supposed influence of individuals such as Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, William Blackstone, and even Moses on 18th-century republican thought and the American founding.

One critic points out that the strategy of starting with Moses is aimed at presenting the United Statesas a unique “redeemer nation,” predestined among all others to act out God’s will. Arch-conservative David Barton, who has no historian’s credentials but who nonetheless has had a huge impact on TEKS, maintains that verse after verse from the Bible is quoted “verbatim” in the Constitution. Checking Scripture demonstrates quickly that this is just not so. The language and the ideas do not match. Any professor of history teaches history majors not to make that kind of mistake.

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This Month’s Story About Vaccinations! (NOT submitted by Marc Masor this time!)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-schweitzer/vaccinations-an-epidemic_b_5877630.html

From the blog of Jeff Schweitzer, scientist and former White House Senior Policy Analyst; Ph.D. in marine biology/neurophysiology.

If you oppose vaccinations, try to justify that position with the reality that in the absence of vaccinations polio would paralyze 10,000 children every year; German measles would cause birth defects and mental retardation in as many as 20,000 kids, and diphtheria would be a common cause of death in school children. Anytime you have an urge to oppose vaccination, think of your kid dying of diphtheria. If you oppose vaccinations, I believe you are for 10,000 kids each year becoming paralyzed.

Because of the anti-vaccination movement, measles is once again rearing its ugly head. Measles is highly contagious and spreads rapidly among the non-vaccinated. There is no treatment for measles, only prevention. In 2000 measles was nearly eradicated in the United States; with a drop in immunization due to unjustified concerns about vaccines, the United States is witnessing this year the largest measles outbreak since 1996. Ignorance, false claims to expertise and scientific illiteracy are threatening our children’s health.

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The Day Fundamentalist Evangalist Tony Campolo’s Son ‘Came Out’ as a Humanist

http://www.religionnews.com/2014/10/06/bart-campolo-tony-campolo-humanist/

Bart Campolo relates how he came to his decision to reject the miracle-and-superstition part of Christianity.  Basically, it’s the problem of ‘Theodicy’: how can an All-Powerful, All-Knowing God allow the continuation of evil in His creation?  Today, Bart serves as the humanist chaplain at the University of Southern California. He is only one of a few individuals in such a role on a U.S. campus.

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Republicans Support Spoken Prayer in Public Schools by a Wide Margin…But….

http://www.gallup.com/poll/177401/support-daily-prayer-schools-dips-slightly.aspx

The overall trend in American opinion is slowly turning against the practice of teacher-led prayers during the school day.  Gallup has some stats that break it all down…but the takeaway is that the number of Americans who want prayer reinstated in schools has decreased from 70% in 1999 to 61% today.  On the flip side, 28% opposed school prayer in 1999 compared to 37% opposed today.  See the article for breakdowns of R’s, D’s, church-going folk, etc.

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Stupid News:

Ultra-Orthodox Jews cause chaos after refusing to sit next to women on the El Al plane

http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/ultraorthodox-jews-cause-chaos-after-refusing-to-sit-next-to-women-on-el-al-plane/story-e6frfq80-1227073020220

 

 

Indiana State Trooper Sued For Handing Out Religious Lit At Traffic Stop

http://blogs.findlaw.com/legally_weird/2014/10/trooper-sued-over-religious-questions-pamphlet-during-traffic-stop.html

Man Openly Carrying New Gun in Portland OR Robbed by Armed Man

http://www.kptv.com/story/26729956/man-openly-carrying-new-gun-in-gresham-robbed-by-armed-man

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Tom the Dancing Bug is reprinted in the Skeptics and Atheists of Durango Newsletter with the permission of the cartoonist, Ruben Bolling.

To see more TtDB, or to support Ruben Bolling: http://gocomics.typepad.com/tomthedancingbugblog/

Skeptics and Atheists of Durango NEWSLETTER September 17, 2014

Skeptics and Atheists of Durango        September 17, 2014 

“Skepticism is the highest duty and blind faith the one unpardonable sin” 

- Thomas Henry Huxley (1825 – 1895)

Colorado to Vote on GMO Labeling Law    (Contributed by Marc Masor)

http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Regulation/GMO-labeling-bill-approved-for-Colorado-ballot/?utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=27-Aug-2014&c=bWa7RqFnO%2F2x%2BAoc40%2BCilOD7lkw5q4i

A proposition seeking to label genetically modified foods will be on the November ballot in Colorado after supporters of the Right to Know Colorado initiative submitted nearly 125,000 valid signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State.

The proposed law would go into effect July 1, 2016.

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China Ends Its Experiment with GMO grains    (Contributed by Marc Masor)

http://news.sciencemag.org/asiapacific/2014/08/china-pulls-plug-genetically-modified-rice-and-corn

They are not saying why, but China has refused to issue bio-safety certificates which are necessary for research into genetically modified rice and corn.

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14-Year Old Faces 2 Years in Juvie for ‘Desecration’

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/11/oral-sex-jesus-statue-photo_n_5805174.html

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/teen-desecrates-Jesus-statue-675432

Yes, by posting this photo to FaceBook last July, this boy is guilty under Pennsylvania law of ‘desecration of a venerated object’.  Such desecration is defined as: “Defacing, damaging, polluting or otherwise, physically mistreating in a way that the actor knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the action.”  This crime occurred in front of the offices of Love in the Name of Christ, a Christian organization in Everett, Pennsylvania.

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Texas Messes With Texbooks

http://ncse.com/files/Texas-social-studies-report-2014.pdf

The state of Texas wields enormous influence over science and social studies textbooks used throughout the U.S.  In a newly released report, entitled Analysis of Climate Change in Proposed Social Studies Textbooks for Texas Public Schools, the National Center for Science Education highlights the many problems in the texts proposed by major publishers.  One of the core problems comes when the opinions of climate change denying advocacy groups are given equal time and weight to the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists.  Interesting reading.

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Climate Science Consensus documented by UpWorthy

Below is a chart describing the results of research conducted by NASA, NOAA and others .

chart-d64395e84d6043615895b6895f66c287

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Atheists Protest Speaking Engagement at Yale by Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali

http://www.religionnews.com/2014/09/15/ayaan-hirsi-ali-draws-criticism-fellow-atheists-yale/  (Pre-appearance)

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/09/ayaan-hirsi-ali-comes-to-yale.php  (Post-appearance)

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the author of Infidel: My Life, a fascinating and thoroughly horrifying account of her childhood in Somalia and her attempts to leave the Islamic faith.  I totally recommend this book to the group.  Ali also wrote the screenplay for Submission, the story of the plight of women trapped by the teachings of Islam.  The director of the film, Theo van Gogh, was murdered by an islamic militant in 2004…a note pinned to his body noted that the murder was in revenge for his work on the film.  The note also vowed the murder of Hirsi Ali herself.

Atheists at Yale objected  to her blanket condemnation of the entire Muslim culture.  Quoting Ali: “…[Islam is] “the new fascism” and is “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death.”   Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke to a full house at Yale last night under the auspices of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program. The Yale Daily News reports that she spoke “without significant interruption or disturbance.”

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Skeptics and Atheists of Durango BOOK CLUB!

Friday, September 19th   6PM

My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit

Friday, September 19th, 6:00PM at Betsy’s home: 448 E 11th Street Durango

 

NEXT BOOK!

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Monday, November 3, 6:30PM at Carolyn and Larry’s home: 35 Cedar Drive (Durango West II) 

Mention our S&AoD Book Club at Maria’s Books and get a 10% Discount!

Buy the club’s title of the month and receive a 15% Discount!

Please support the local bookstores!

td140911

 Tom the Dancing Bug is reprinted in the Skeptics and Atheists of Durango Newsletter with the permission of the cartoonist, Ruben Bolling.

To see more TtDB, or to support Ruben Bolling: http://gocomics.typepad.com/tomthedancingbugblog/

Follow-up Links from Alternative Medicine Member Talk

For those of you whom attended our most recent Member’s Talk on alternative medicine and for those who didn’t attend but really, really wanted to, here are the links Joyce mentioned during her most excellent presentation. Also included are some of her book recommendations.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC
MEMBER TALK
REFERNCES AND INTERESTING SITES

(THE FIRST ONE IS HILARIOUS. A MUST-SEE YOUTUBE VIDEO)
http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2014/06/watch-epic-takedown-dr-oz-supplement-industry.htm
http://doctorskeptic.blogspot.com.au/
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/
http://www.quackwatch.org/index.html
http://www.skepdic.com/
http://info@NCCAM.NIH.GOV
http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/index.html
http://naturaldatabaseconsumer.therapeuticresearch.com/home.aspx?cs=&s=NDC l

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/31190909/ns/health-alternative_medicine/t/billion-spent-no-alternative-cures-found/#.VATMlblATmK

http://www.consultant360.com/exclusives/liver-injuries-tied-dietary-supplements-doubled-over-last-decade

BOOKS:
R.B. Bausell, Snake Oil Science: The Truth About Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Oxford University Press, New York, N Y. 2007
P. A. Offit, Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Non-sense of Alternative Medicine. HarperCollins.

The (In)Efficacy of Prayer

kathy with a k:

A perfect commentary on the matter:

Originally posted on Kids Without Religion:

In response to the request for prayers from the family of the 9-year-old who tragically shot her instructor in Arizona, I posted this, which I think many of you will understand:

Dear God: 

As a compassionate American, I was asked to pray for the family of a shooting victim and well as the children affected by the accident. I’m not sure what the hell you’re supposed to do about this, God, or what it even means to pray, but first, a little background.  (Read the rest here.)

View original

Proposed membership Attitudes and Opinion Survey. Suggestions sought!

DEAR MEMBERS: BELOW IS A QUESTIONNAIRE THAT I AM FLOATING TO HELP DEFINE MEMBERS’ INTERESTS AND POSITIONS ON ISSUES OF THE DAY. IT’S JUST FOR FUN. THIS IS ONLY PROPOSED AT THIS TIME…NO NEED TO FILL IN YOUR ANSWERS. IF/WHEN A FINAL VERSION IS APPROVED, WE WILL TAKE STEPS TO ENSURE ANONYMITY. FOR NOW, I AM JUST LOOKING FOR FEEDBACK: COMMENTS, ADDITIONS, DELETIONS. THANKS FOR YOUR TIME!

Skeptics and Atheists of Durango: PROPOSED Questionnaire V3.2

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS (but it would be nice to know!):

Your age to the nearest (10):   20   30   40   50   60   70   80+

Your political affiliation:     Republican     Democrat     Independent         Libertarian

Marital Status: Married Single

Educational Background: High School      2-Year College      4-Year College      Graduate School and/or Advanced Degree

Areas of Interest/Expertise _____________________________________

In the statements below, please indicate the degree to which you agree:
1 = I strongly disagree 5 = I strongly agree

1. I support the legalization of marijuana. 1 2 3 4 5
2. Every home should have at least one gun. 1 2 3 4 5
3. I support ‘open carry’ gun laws 1 2 3 4 5
4. I am happy with Colorado’s gun laws as they stand. 1 2 3 4 5
5. I support stronger gun laws, such as background checks. 1 2 3 4 5
6. I believe homeopathic drugs are effective 1 2 3 4 5
7. I support the Affordable Care Act (aka, ‘ObamaCare’) 1 2 3 4 5
8. I support new insurance regulations which eliminate ‘existing conditions’ and extend the coverage of
children under their parents’ policy until age 26. 1 2 3 4 5
9. I have health insurance (through my employer/self purchase/Medicare/Medicaid)
10. I support expanding Medicare for all US citizens. 1 2 3 4 5
11. I support the right to a Death with Dignity, aka ‘Assisted Suicide’ 1 2 3 4 5
12. I support capital punishment in the U.S.
13. I support the individual’s right to seek an abortion for unwanted pregnancy 1 2 3 4 5
14. *I am pleased with our state’s US Senators* 1 2 3 4 5
15. *I am pleased with our US Representative* 1 2 3 4 5
16. Global Climate Change is human-caused; it must be addressed 1 2 3 4 5
17. I vote in every (local/national/presidential/every) election. 1 2 3 4 5
18. Education is the most important function of government 1 2 3 4 5
19. Care of the environment is the most important function of government 1 2 3 4 5
20. Budget and deficit concerns are the most important functions of government 1 2 3 4 5
21. The military and defense are the most important functions of government 1 2 3 4 5
22. I support immigration reform, and a path to citizenship for undocumented workers 1 2 3 4 5
23. Deport the Dreamers and the kids-on-the-border 1 2 3 4 5
24. *I am happy with the performance of the US Congress* 1 2 3 4 5
25. *I am happy with the performance of President Obama* 1 2 3 4 5
26. *I am happy with the performance of the Supreme Court of the US* 1 2 3 4 5
27. My birth family was (RC, Evangelical, Protestant) Christian 1 2 3 4 5
28. *My birth family was a religion other than Christian* 1 2 3 4 5
29. I have issues with some family members regarding religion 1 2 3 4 5
30. I subscribe to the Durango Herald 1 2 3 4 5
31. *List your most frequent source(s) of news. ___________________________
32. I read for pleasure 1 2 3 4 5
33. Is there a genre of books you enjoy reading the most? _______________________

Send suggested additional questions, deletions, comments or revisions to: larrybollinger@comcast.net