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Thanks to Ernie O’Toole, Marc Masor, Ray Polidori, and Bob Smith for contributing to this month’s newsletter!
“Men rarely (if ever) dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.” – Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love
Next general meeting:
WEDNESDAY APRIL 19
Meetings are at Irish Embassy, 900 Main Street Durango
Dinner, for those interested, from 5:30PM.
Discussion starts at 6:30
The topic for this month’s group discussion: Maria will have something to say about ‘Viruses’ I regret that I don’t have more information about this month’s discussion topic other than the title. Sorry! (But I did have fun making this illustration!)
Dog Bless You!
“God is a comic playing to an audience that’s afraid to laugh” – Voltaire (1694-1778)
“The gods, too, are fond of a joke.” – Aristotle (384-322 BCE)
LAST CALL! An Evening With Richard Dawkins
(Contributed by Ernie O’Toole) http://www.centerforinquiry.net/dawkinstour Richard Dawkins will be appearing in Boulder CO on May 22, 2017. Tickets can be obtained at the above link…but I wouldn’t be surprised if the evening is already sold out! In addition to hearing him speak, there will be a VIP reception for 50 people prior to the presentation
RE-VISITING PAST DISCUSSION TOPICS
Who Knew That Vaccines Could Be Effective? Uh…Everybody? http://www.physiciansbriefing.com/Article.asp?AID=721246 (Submitted by Marc Masor) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, flu vaccines reduced pediatric deaths in children age 6 months through age 17. Among children who suffered from high-risk factors, the vaccine is estimated to have been 51% effective. That figure rises to 65% among children without high-risk conditions.
Supplements, Vitamins and the Failure of the Free Market https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/04/food-as-medicine/521955/ As we learned some time ago in a Member Talk presentation, dietary supplements are largely unregulated by the FDA because they are considered to be ‘food’ and not ‘drugs’. As a result, the supplement industry is free to make outlandish claims of efficacy to manage conditions such as high blood pressure, stave off cancer, improve brain function and to increase ‘energy’ and ‘vitality’. Consumers are left to sort out the confusion by themselves. As a result, the supplement industry and ‘alternative medicine’ therapies rake in billions of dollars per year from people who are in no position to make an informed decision. Will the FDA come to the rescue? Not likely, considering that Mr. Trump’s nominee to head that agency, Scott Gottlieb, takes an adversarial position to the FDA’s mission.
POLITICS AND SCIENCE
Former EPA Chief Under G.W.Bush: “Trump Cuts to EPA Endangers Lives” https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/trumps-epa-cuts-budget/521223/ Remember Christine Todd Whitman? She ran the EPA during the George W. Bush presidency. She recently sounded the alarm about the depth of cuts to the EPA budget which will require firing 20% of the staff…mainly those charged with enforcement. In fact, the EPA is slated to absorb the deepest cuts of all governmental agencies under the budget proposed by Mr. Trump. Programs that screen for substances that disrupt reproductive health and harm children’s growth will be eliminated along with the program that monitors and combats radon gas. Our country tolerates the deaths of 19,000 more people who die prematurely from automobile exhaust pollution than die from actual automobile accidents…and yet the funding to programs under the Clean Air Act will be cut in half.
“Bringing Back” Coal https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/03/31/8-surprisingly-small-industries-that-employ-more-people-than-coal/?utm_term=.1e51183a12b3 The Trump administration has been focused on ‘bringing back’ mining jobs which have been lost in recent years…job losses that are attributable more to automation and declining market demand than to a regulatory ‘war on coal’. So how many jobs are we talking about here? According to the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns program, the number is around 77,000 mining industry workers including office workers, sales people and other support staff. This article compares that number to the numbers employed by other small industries. For instance, the skiing industry employs 75,000 workers…used car dealerships employ138,000…carwashes employ 150,000…and theme parks account for 144,000 workers. The mining industry employs fewer workers than Arby’s restaurants. Check out the neat little graph that puts the mining industry in scale to other businesses.
THE NATURE OF NEWS IN A POST-FACT WORLD
Why Satire Is Often More Effective Than Straight Journalism http://www.vox.com/identities/2017/4/5/15194022/trump-bill-oreilly-sexual-harassment Forget the article (is the fact that Bill O’Reilly is a sexist creep really a surprise to you?) But scroll down the page in the above link and check out the video that explains why satire, in the era of Trump gets to the heart of current events in ways that ‘regular’ news cannot.
The Nobility of Skepticism http://ampersand.wustl.edu/archaeological-fantasies-and-hoaxes?utm_source=%40Washington&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=April%202017&utm_content=Archaeological%20Fantasies%20and%20HoaxesProbiotic%20Stress%20Fix (Contributed by Marc Masor) Getting Knowledge from Information requires mental discipline in this age of ‘fake’ news and fantastic hoaxes. In this article a pair of archeologists discuss misconceptions and hoaxes (e.g. ‘ancient aliens’, Atlantis) which pervade our modern understanding of history and non-western cultures.
(Badly needed) COMIC RELIEF
(Contributed by Ray Polidori)
(Contributed by Bob Smith)
Did you happen to see Brian Williams waxing poetic about the ‘beauty of our weapons’ after the missile attack in Syria?
If you missed it, check out this link http://www.businessinsider.com/brian-williams-beautiful-missile-launch-syria-2017-4 Also entertaining are the comments that follow the article. In the spirit of weapon idolization, I give you this month’s Moment of Bug!
Tom the Dancing Bug is reprinted in the Durango Skeptics and Atheists Newsletter with the permission of its creator, Reuben Bolling. See more TtDB cartoons at http://www.gocomics.com/tomthedancingbug. Help support Reuben Bolling’s “Inner Hive”
Now through April, Reuben Bolling will contribute $25 to the ACLU for every new membership ($11.25) in the ‘Inner Hive’.