Friday, December 30, 2011

Episode 038 eulogizes, quotes, debunks, and lightnings

Download it directly here or get it on iTunes

This Week:
00:0030 Christmas Past

00:14:35 Christopher Hitchens tribute

00:27:50 All deaths come in threes
00:36:37 Chrisopther Hitchens quotes
00:42:50 Holiday myths debunked

00:51:30 Lightning Round


01:07:45 Sense About Science
(thank you, David Harcourt, for the link)
And some advice about driving, because...y'know...

And the dogs are far more glib than any of the hosts, but take their comments outside.

...in regards to the "African American Ice" comment, it's in reference to jokingly 'correcting' "racist language" by indiscriminantly replacing all

uses of the word "black" with "African-American", "red" with "Native American", etc. :-)


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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Episode 037 drops the 'S'-bomb on the war on Christmas

Download it directly here or get it on iTunes

This Week:
The War of Xmas
00:00:00 Disclaimer 1 Toast to Hitchens
00:00:47 Disclaimer 2 Where-in we plan to get coal in our stockings
00:03:45 Volley 1 American Family Association attacks the USPS
00:12:03 Volley 2 AFA's Naughty or Nice List
00:23:59 Volley 3 Taking the gay out of Xmas
00:25:30 Volley 4 Displays and tone
00:37:21 Volley 5 What do you do about a myth called Santa?
00:55:47 Greg explains his song "Thank You, Santa"
00:58:54 "Thank You Santa" by Greg Perrine and Gary Laun
01:02:20 Gary explains "Seasonal Party"
01:05:08 "Seasonal Party" by Balsa Racers

And the dogs have a grand time trying to convince each other about Schroedinger's Santa: that at any one time there either is or isn't a Santa.
This podcast is not sponsored by any websites mentioned during the duration of this podcast.


"Seasonal Party" and the CD it is on, "Entangle Mental" can be purchased on iTunes
http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/balsa-racers/id399194438?ign-mpt=uo%3D4or
or CD Baby
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/balsaracers

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Episode 036 decloaks and, holds a prayer rally, drinks some ionized water then disappears again

Download it directly here or get it on iTunes


This Week:
00:00:30 Intro: David breaks, birthdays
00:05:30 Richard Dawkins Foundation hosting a contest
00:08:00 Texas DMV approves religious license plate
00:18:45 S.C. held a bible-style assembly and is now reaping the rewards
00:24:15 Rick Santorum and education
00:03:15 Kangan water again
00:57:45 Mercury and it's cloaked companion
01:10:50 Lightning Round

http://richarddawkins.net/articles/644208-can-you-make-something-go-viral-social-media-contest-ten-point-vision-of-a-secular-america

http://tfninsider.org/2011/12/08/board-oks-christian-themed-license-plate/

http://caucuses.desmoinesregister.com/2011/12/09/santorum-parents-not-obama-know-what-is-best-for-their-childs-education/

http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/12/08/42054.htm

http://news.discovery.com/space/is-that-a-cloaked-alien-spaceship-orbiting-mercury-111208.html

Lightning Round
http://www.wired.com/underwire/2011/12/mythbusters-cannonball-map/

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228423.600-otzi-the-icemans-stomach-throws-up-a-surprise.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/religion/article/Firing-of-Macy-s-worker-pits-freedom-of-religion-2377472.php

http://www.rimmell.com/bbc/news.htm

http://www.scientificamerican/article.cfm?id=haarp-russian-phobosprobe

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/08/rick-perry-rebecca-black-youtube-dislikes_n_1138000.html

And the dogs make up this week for the last few weekses anti-tantrums.


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Friday, December 9, 2011

Episode 035 wanders afield causing a sensation among crop circle proponents



This Week:
00:00:30 Intro
00:02:25 Nick Lee Interview (from Atheist Alliance of America)

00:12:00 Donna and Gary talk about the San Antonio 48 Hour Film Experience
(not particularly skeptical, but it was fun!)

00:16:00 Another flu jumps pig to human
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=new-h3n2-flu-strain-from-swine

00:24:15 NJ nurses sue about helping with abortions
http://www.newsmax.com/US/Jersey-nurses-abortion-lawsuit/2011/11/28/id/419245

00:35:30 Holistic Chamber of Commerce
http://www.alternativetherapysa.com/

00:44:50 Toxic Colon Bingo (get some cards at skepticwire.blogspot.com ! Or ake your own using the supplied words (which means we're too lazy to make more

than three cards)

01:02:00 Lightning Round
01:15:00 Politics and stu
ff (oh dear: sorry)

Lightning Round Links: http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/nstv/2011/12/smart-image-editor-adds-fake-objects-to-photos.html

http://www.burntimpressions.com

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/12/02/prophet-god-claims-solved-mystery-voynich-manuscript/

http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/01/tech/mobile/abortion-clinic-siri-iphone/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn

http://entertainment.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/30/9117310-nic-cage-on-cover-of-serbian-biology-book

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=c6tmsxdSUkY

http://freethoughtblogs.com/cuttlefish

And...the dogs decide to avoid the recording due to the talk of colonic irrigation and a vet visit coming up (you know: because of temperature taking and

gland expression and stuff...)

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Toxic Colon Bingo (prepare for podcast 035!)

David created a game to play for this week's Holistic Chamber of Commerce: Toxic Colon Bingo! Find the key words and WIN BIG!
First download one of these PDF cards and print them out:

Or make a card from this list:
Alcoholism Bad breath Damage from nicotine Indigestion Mental disorders
Allergies Bloating Fatigue Insomnia Parasite infection
Arthritis Coated tongue Headache Joint problems Proneness to infections
Asthma Colitis Hypercholesterolaemia Liver insufficiency Rhematoid arthritis
Backache Constipation Hypertension Loss of concentration Sinus congestion

Then sit back, play along with us on podcast 035 (if you're reading this after 1300 on 09Dec2011, it should be up) and have...um...loads of fun!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Episode 034 is LIVE and adds mellifluous natural reverb to all the voices


(Because we ran out of time in this week's podcast BUT part of it will be in next week's episode...but not all). Right click and Save As you will!

This Week: (hh:mm:ss)
00:00:30 James Arther Ray sweatlodge update
00:07:00 Mark Twain quotes
00:10:00 Obama's Thanksgiving address
00:16:30 Burzynski and friends make a name for themselves (with guests Leick and Allison)
00:51:08 Emma Sullivan versus Sam Brownback and Freedom of Speech
01:02:00 Holistic Chamber of Commerce SITAreadings
01:11:00 Lightning Round

And the dogs get another night off, not knowing that there were cats at which they could bark and worry.But hey: check out that natural reverb on our voices!

Follow the blog at: http://skepticwire.blogspot.com
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Episode 033 is very very very thankful


This Week: hh:mm:ss
00:02:22 Utah Highway Patrol cross update
00:08:50 Atheist chaplains in the military
00:21:45 Skepticon IV and the gelato shop fiasco
00:35:22 IQ and drugs
00:59:04 Thanksgiving quiz (it's actually not pseudoSCIENCE..it's pseusoHISTORY)
01:19:24 Things to be thankful for

And the dogs, confused by this week's odd schedule take it easy, unsure of what their response should be.
And we at Skeptic Wire- you know David, Greg, Donna, and Gary- are all very thankful that you listen! Thank YOU!

LIVE SHOW Wednesday 30Nov2011 in San Antonio contact us via FB or meetup.com for details.

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(to be added in a while)

Monday, November 21, 2011

LIVE Wire!!! November 30th, 2011

That's right, the Skeptic Wire team will be doing another "live" show in San Antonio next week.

Join Donna, David, Gary, & Greg for a behind the scenes look at the fun and madness that is a Skeptic Wire recording session.  We encourage our listeners to join in on the show!

Feel free to bring snacks, drinks, and any turkey-day leftovers.

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011.  7PM


RSVP & address details at the San Antonio Skeptics Meetup.com page:
http://www.meetup.com/San-Antonio-Skeptics/events/41594372/


 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Episode 032 tries to fly but plummets and has an e-cigarette after despite not being a smoker


Special Guest Jordan Clipston sitting in for Donna this week!
This Week: hh:mm:ss
00:00:30 Intro: Reason Rally and AA Convention in Washington D.C.
March 16-18, 2012, Texas Freethought Convention wants to
get a Texas charter bus going up.
00:04:10 Evolution of Flight
00:18:00 Why religious services are good for us
00:34:56 e-cigarettes and the FDA (despite none of us are smokers)
00:52:30 Holistic Chamber of Commerce
01:06:15 Lightning Round

Jordan's youtube channel
And the dogs gradually calm down after they realize they won't soon be evolving wings. Because they can't climb cave walls or hang from cave

ceilings.
Plus a special, kindly shout-out to anyone who posts on our facebook page or blog who gets Gary's crappy joke at 00:17:30 (guess who does the show

notes, eh?).
Also, friend Texas Freethought Convention on Facebook

See the blog for these links and more

Follow the blog at: http://skepticwire.blogspot.com
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Write us at: skepticwire@gmail.com
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Episode 031 realizes someone is wrong on the internet (and it may be itself)!


This Week: hh:mm:ss
Please ignore the sniffling Gary who had a cold
00:01:00 Intro: Antivax Delta, Hitchens tribute vid, Alt Med Center update, Donna gets ordained, RIP Andy Rooney, Pete Stark birthday
00:13:50 Carl Sagan and skepticism discussion
00:42:00 Anatomy of arguing on the internet WOAI "In God We Trust" Edition
01:03:00 Lightning Round
01:24:30 A couple more White House petition things

And the dogs wrestle and growl and carry on in a vain attempt to draw attention to their new ideas on the intelligent falling food scraps, but it

turns out to be merely a warmed-over distance-squared proof, only with doggy treats.

See the blog for these links and more

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Episode 30 petitions the king for a horse, but gets a mule instead


Episode 030 - 02Nov2011
This Week: hh:mm:ss
00:01:00 Halloween
00:03:55 Updates on James Webb Space Telescope, Matt Dillahunty and Beth Presswood's wedding, Fracking in England, Homosexuals still can not donate

blood in US, more on the FLDS, Interview with Mason Crumpacker, Australian Dateline segment,
00:14:45 Supreme Court Rejects Hearing Utah Public Cross Case
00:23:41 White House Petition Responses
00:34:28 Legalize Marijuana? No.
00:54:30 Lightning Round
01:07:50 A bad Mozart Effect study for endoscopy

And the dogs join in on Wolfgang Amadeeus Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nacht Music" as performed by die Wiener Philharmoniker.

Interview with Mason Crumpacker
http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/10/30/interview-with-a-9-year-old-skeptic/

White House Petitions
http://www.whitehouse.gov/petitions
NORML's response
http://blog.norml.org/2011/10/29/white-house-response-to-normls-we-the-people-marijuana-legalization-petition/
Cycloptic Fish
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/10/pictures/111013-shark-albino-one-eyed-fetus/#

Follow on twitter: @theskepticwire
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Episode 029 is nearly dressed for Halloween but keeps changing its costume


This Week: hh:mm:ss
00:01:57 Lawsuit vs San Antonio mayor
00:03:30 FLDS update
00:05

00:10:15 "Natural" medicine drug interactions:19 Texas license plate offering not legal?
00:16:00 Fracking and earthquakes
00:26:13 Poe's Corner
00:36:02 Yoga versus stretching
00:45:00 Global warming study again shows it's real
00:59:45 Lightning Round
01:13:32 A scaaaaaary Halloween story!
And the dogs search for ghosts using high tech equipment like an ammeters and a MiniDisc recorder. And a hot dog. Did you kn
ow ghosts are attracted

to hot dogs? Go figure.

Brian Dunning's on fracking:
http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4275

Global warming speech referred to in the 'cast:
http://thinkprogress.org/green/2011/10/18/347070/video-senator-whitehouses-must-watch-speech-on-climate-change-and-the-senates-failure-of-duty/

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Look at all the spirit orbs. OooOOOOooooh!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Poe's Corner 10/26/11

This week in Poe's Corner, we will be looking at the extraordinary claims by Kangen Water. See if you can tell which one is the real one!

1) There is no substitute for a healthy balanced diet, especially rich in antioxidant materials such as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and other foods that are good for us. However, these substances are not the best source of free electrons that can block the oxidation of healthy tissue by active oxygen.


2) Reduced Ionized Water, on the other hand, has a negative redox potential of approximately -250 to -350 mV. This means it has a large mass of electrons ready to donate to electron-thieving active oxygen.

3) Water treated by electrolysis to increase its reduction potential is the best solution to the problem of providing a safe source of free electrons to block the oxidation of normal tissue by free oxygen radicals. We believe that reduced water, water with an excess of free electrons to donate to active oxygen, is the best solution


4) The molecule weight of reduced water is low, making it fast acting and able to reach all tissues of the body in a very short time.

5) When taken internally, the reduced Ionized Water with its redox potential of -250 to -350 mV readily donates its electrons to oddball oxygen radicals and blocks the interaction of the active oxygen with normal molecules.

6) Because active oxygen can damage normal tissue, it is essential to scavenge this active oxygen from the body before it can cause disintegration of healthy tissue

7) One way to protect healthy tissue from the ravages of oxidation caused by active oxygen is to provide free electrons to active oxygen radicals, thus neutralizing their high oxidation potential and preventing them from reacting with healthy tissue.

8) Ionized Water quickly permeates the body and blocks the oxidation of biological molecules by donating its abundant electrons to active oxygen, enabling biological molecules to replace themselves naturally without damage caused by oxidation that can cause diseases.

9) Although many people today in developed countries are growing more skeptical about what they eat, they tend to concentrate more on what the food contains rather than the metabolized products of foods in the digestive tract.

10) Normal cells are protected from the electron thievery of active oxygen and allowed to grow, mature, function and regenerate without interference from rogue, oddball oxygen radicals which tend to steal the electrons from the molecules of normal, healthy biological molecules.

Guess what???? There is NO Poe this week. All of these statements come directly from the source matter itself.

http://www.memberize.com/clubportal/clubdocs/3061/benefitsofalk alinehayashi_4.pdf

Monday, October 24, 2011

On End of Life Options

We skipped this topic on the podcast last week for two reasons: 1) because the segments we had were already long, and 2) because it's kind of depressing. Not to say we can't talk about depressing things on the podcast, but we can blog about them as well.


In our live show a few weeks ago, we discussed the documentary made by the BBC and author Terry Pratchett concerning Pratchett's dealing with Alzheimer's and questions about euthanasia, assisted suicide, and the right to end one's life. Here is the documentary “Choosing to die” of which we spoke. It is also available on youtube with a bit of searching, if this link becomes broken. Also: be warned that they follow a Dignitas client through to the end: it's a powerful moment.

Terry Pratchett - Choosing to die from Lisette Leona on http://vimeo.com">Vimeo.


and Terry Pratchett's article:

http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/news/article-1203622/Ill-die-endgame-says-Terry-Pratchett-law-allow-assisted-suicides-UK.html


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Make New Friends, But Keep The Old...

I was raised in a liberal christian family.  One of the things I credit with leading me away from religion is that my best friend from childhood, we'll call him "S", was not a christian:  He was a muslim.  Like most Americans back then (1980s) I knew it was a different religion, but I didn't know much more than that.  With muslim and jewish friends, and about a dozen different flavors of christianity in town, some of my first skeptical thoughts about religion were along the lines of "Well, they can't all be right."

At this year's Texas Freethought Convention (co-sponsored by Atheist Alliance of America...though if you hear the AAA's president talk it's the other way around) I made a new friend who was also raised muslim, let's call her "I."  Through the miracle of "the internets" these two friends of mine, old and new, have "met" through me on Facebook.  That interaction led to a recent IM comment from "S".
"So I'm like super intrigued by your ex-Muslim atheist friend, "I". She's really the only one I've ever known to come out and openly express her views. YOU GO GURL!!"
I started off thinking I'd give him a quick reply about how I met "I" at this year's TFC and what I've seen so far...and I just kept going.  So since I wrote a bunch (and haven't posted much to the blog lately) I figured I'd share some of what I wrote back to "S" with you all.  Here's what I wrote: 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Episode 028 leaves some stuff but carries on regardless

Download it directly here or get it on iTunes


This Week: hh:mm:ss
01:15 Texas Freethought Convention sum-up
13:25 Occupy San Antonio (and thus Wall Street)
18:35 The importance of breathing
44:55 Anthropology news: skull found
01:04:19 Lightning Round
01:22:10 Thailand using slapping to increase breast size

And Maese lets something outside know what's what and Who's who and whatever they are, they darn well better stay away. Oh

and apparently is well bored with the procedings at some point.

Gary's other podcast: Injudicious Ramblings on iTunes or injudiciousramblings.blogspot.com

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Episode 027 can hear perfectly well, thank you very much

Download it directly here or get it on iTunes


This Week: hh:mm:ss
04:24 Gary and Greg perform "Mr. Reverend John Martin"
09:30 Holistic Chamber of Commerce Houston-style "Body Talk"
20:20 Value Voter Summit and "Family" discussion
34:20 Talks at the conference
45:00-ish morph into a discussion of debating religion
54:00 Atheist and music: Tim Minchin and Susan Werner
56:00 Hitchens' talk
60:14 Mr. Reverend John Martin pre-release demo

Very special thanks to Jason Huey, Gary Clemons-Gibbon, John Clark, Kenneth Bower, John Griffin, Jeff Nichanen for joining

the discussion and everyone else who joined us: and I apologize for mis-spelling your name (which I didn't do, because you

all agreed to change your name to whatever spelling/ prnounciation I chose)!

Freethought Forum Knoxville youtube channel: finitist
Checkout the new podcast out of Austin "godless bitches"

And the dogs enjoy themselves elsewhere, having no input to or at, the procedings.


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Calliope is unamused at being left out of the convention

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Poe's Corner - Episode 026

This week's Poe's Corner theme is cheese!  
Yes, cheese.  Yeah...um...OK, here we go.



#1  No Cheese Laced with Nails in Chicago Area Dog Parks
Chicago area dog owners might be alarmed by the possibility of nail-laced cheese cubes at dog parks—but there's no need to be.
The Facebook-based thread warns “New trend at dog parks, nails in pieces of cheese, if you take your dogs to dog parks, be careful.” The warning is accompanied by a photo of a person's palm filled with cubes of cheese with what appears to be nails embedded.
The picture comes from a July 2011 report of similarly spiked treats found in a kennel near a public park in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Snopes reports. A dog walker there found the treats on the floor of a kennel. There were no reports of animals being harmed…

#2  Dyson Cheese Grater the Next Revolution
Now the mighty intellect that is Dyson is looking at ways to improve the lives of people in kitchens. The new Dyson Cheese Grater looks nothing like any cheese grater that has gone before it, but promises to be the most radical kitchen invention since the electric tin opener (which Dyson will be looking at next).
"The main problem with cheese graters as they stand," said Dyson, "is that they are bloody dangerous. You try grating anything other than very soft cheddar and you're looking at taking at least some skin off your fingers. Parmesan? Carrots? No chance. You'd be better off putting a pair of chain mail gloves on before you start."

#3  Say (cottage) cheese and smile
Call it the cottage cheese revolution. The protest movement that has convulsed Israel these past few months began with a Facebook campaign to lower the price of the white stuff. Furious at being overcharged, Israelis stopped buying this staple of the national diet - forcing the dairy companies to slash the price.
The tent protests that pitched first on Rothschild Boulevard and spread - bringing together young and old, religious and secular in a unity usually felt only in wartime - culminated in a Saturday-night demonstration of some 460,000 people. The number is staggering: seven per cent of the entire Israeli population, equivalent to bringing 4.2m people on to the streets of Britain. 
Links to the source articles after the jump...

Episode 026 starts with a smile and ends with a quack


Download it directly here or get it on iTunes

This Week: (hh:mm:ss)
2:15 Update on Atheist billboard on Church Property
06:39 Women given right to vote in Saudi Arabia
16:36 Poe's Corner: Cheese!
22:39 Online petition system in place at whitehouse.gov
38:00 Alt-Med in the military
54:41 Lightning Round

And the dogs discuss if something walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and floats in water could it possibly be a shape-shifting alien replicator like the Thing.

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F&^% it: we're doing it live!!

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Sky Is Falling...According To "The Internets"

I try to be aware of the news.  I listen to NPR as I get ready in the morning and also I read through articles on Google News during breaks at work .  I’ll admit that I get a lot of my news from The Daily Show & The Colbert Report too.  And yes, I agree:  that last sentence is a sad commentary on modern T.V. news.  What has crept up on me in the past few years is how the dissemination of information has changed.  It's incredible to me the amount of breaking news I get from my friends or "likes" on Facebook:  celebrity deaths, earthquakes, political squabbles, and so on. 

Earlier this week I was scanning through my Facebook feed and saw a few posts that took me aback:
“Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building” 
"BREAKING: Capitol building being evacuated. 12 children held hostage by group of armed congressmen. #CongressHostage." 
"Police helicopter just ordered to pull back after Rep. Trent Franks tried to take it down with a shotgun. #CongressHostage." 
"BREAKING: Congress demanding $12 trillion ransom or "all the kids die" #CongressHostage."
WHAT!?!?!  Should I switch on the TV or maybe CNN.com has more info on …oh wait, that’s a post by The Onion.  (https://twitter.com/#!/Theonion)  Whew.  Not their best joke, but whatever.  In reality it took about as long for me to dismiss this "news" item than it took you to read the “W” in “WHAT!?!?!”  As far as I’m concerned that’s where this story should have ended.  It didn’t…

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Slinky Physics!

From the Lightning Round, here is the slinky youtube video.

http://youtu.be/wGIZKETKKdw

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/wGIZKETKKdw?version=3&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/wGIZKETKKdw?version=3&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>

Click on one of the choices embedded in the video to see the answer.

(Sorry: the embedding doesn't seem to be taking right now)

Episode 025 was edited so fast that it was uploaded before it finished recording

Download it directly here or get it on iTunes

EXTRA: Poe's Corner (not available on iTunes)

This Week: (hh:mm:ss)
01:30 Texas Freethought Convention Oct 7-9n 2011, Live recording at TFC, whitehouse.gov petition, shoutout to Donna's

sister-in-law (ish), UARS update
7:58 Speedy neutrinos
23:33 Schroedinger's Cat redux
36:12 55%, 33%, 7% and Left and Right Brain training myths
46:38 Aborigine Genome Sequenced
91:05 Holistic Chamber of Commerce
96:18 Lightning Round
EXTRA:  this weeks Poe's Corner, which was cut for time. It's worth your time.

...and Gary spends most of the podcast keeping/stopping Calliope from needfully greeting the Skepticwirians, pawing the mic stands, or licking...everything. For a very difficult drinking game: drink everytime you hear Gary snap, clap, or stage whisper "tshh!". [And Gary's long topic is what happens when he doesn't stinkin' prepare!]

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The Big Board (and actually, it was Sept 28th...just saying):

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Poe's Corner For Episode 025 - School Bans

GET POE'S CORNER HERE. it ain't on no iTunes!


In the UK David Attenborough & Richard Dawkins are calling for creationism to be banned from school syllabus and evolution to be required and started earlier.  Meanwhile in the United States…


#1  http://www.boston.com/news/
A group in one Massachusetts town wants to ban students from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in the public schools, saying it has no educational value and is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes.  Brookline Political Action for Peace will ask town meeting voters in November to pass a nonbinding resolution on the idea. The pledge is already optional in the Boston suburb's schools.  Marty Rosenthal, a lawyer and co-chairman of the group, tells the Boston Herald the pledge is "at odds with America's most important traditions." He says he is not being unpatriotic.

#2  http://www.kval.com
The water bottle ban started at the beginning of the school year for McKenzie School District middle and high school students.  "We can't have closed water bottles at all," said high school student Sydney King. "We have to have them open, we have to fill them up between passing periods."  According to superintendent Sally Storm, the ban is in response to students caught sneaking alcohol into school in water bottles over the past few years.

#3  http://www.fourthestatenewspaper.com/
The De Pere School District however thinks it has figured out a way to fight childhood obesity. Now on picture day, children are not allowed to say cheese anymore—but instead have to say peas.  "We are trying to promote healthy living and options," said Dr. Stuart Mart, Superintendent of De Pere's school district. "Let's face it, cheese is not that good for people to eat."  St. Norbert's professor of psychology, Dr. Phillip Schmitt, did a study and found that when kids hear something, they want to have it immediately.

Which is the satire and which two are the actual stories of efforts to change U.S. schools "for the better"?  Links to the source articles after the break...

Quick Update

It has recently come to my attention that a subject we discussed on The Skeptic Wire is in desperate need of an update

First: Republic Missouri School District has reversed its decision to ban the book Slaughter House Number Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I really wouldn't call it a reversal per se, because while the book is in the school library, its essentially been relegated to the restricted section and requires the parent to come and check it out.

Read about it here.

And another addendum to this issue. The American Library Association has a new campaign and they need your help to make it a success.

They are sponsoring a new channel on Youtube and encouraging viewers to post videos of themselves reading from a banned book


http://www.youtube.com/user/BannedBooksWeek

Go and make a video!!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Episode 024 finds that Mario Brothers is a metaphor for folding proteins and jeans

Download it directly here or get it on iTunes

 This Week: (mm:ss)
00:42 Stuff that has happened and shoutouts (yo.)
 07:04 Domestic PArtner Benefits for San Antonio City Employees
16:05 US Military releases Religious Neutrality Memorandum
 27:50 Poe's Corner
32:27 Pseudoscience Versus Science
46:30 Global Warming question
49:40 Crowd Sourcing Gamers solve AIDS enzyme
 54:00 Scientists disarm AIDS virus
59:14 Lightning Round

 And the dogs agree with many things that are said (finally!)

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 The big board:


David/ Calliope standoff...or sit off...or something

Friday, September 16, 2011

An Apple A Day Does NOT Equal Death

I’m adult enough to admit that when I was a kid I watched G.I. Joe.  Looking back now the plots were silly and the animation was kinda crude.  They actually did an episode where one of the Joes was freaking out because a “Viper” kept calling; ominously saying he would “be there tomorrow.”  Turns out it was just the window “wiper” with a heavy German accent.  An entire episode based on a lame joke.  It was not Shakespeare by any stretch of the imagination. 

There was one episode that has stuck in my brain.  It was called “The Germ.”  Here’s a synopsis: 
Psyudomondo U Bacteria, better known as Bacteria X, is stolen by the Crimson Guard, when they double cross Destro. In usual Cobra form, the Crimson Guard drops the Germ and a growth formula that Destro was working on, and it forms a giant blob that's eating everything in its path. The Joes throw everything at it from missiles to insecticide, and even send Airtight into the blob with explosive antibiotics. The blob separates in two after the Joes' attack, and one blob is weakened after going through an apple orchard. The Joes figure it's the poison in the apple seeds, so they bombard with blob with apples, which destroys the Germ.

I remember a bizarre scene at the end of the episode where the good guys and bad guys all team up launching thousands upon thousands of apples at this amoeba/blob to kill it with the poison in the apple seeds.  I’ve since learned that apple seeds (and some other fruit seeds) actually do have a tiny bit of cyanide.  (http://www.snopes.com/food/warnings/apples.asp)  I’ll leave it for another discussion how unrealistic it was, even to me as a kid, that they were all firing apples out of cannons and bazookas.  I guess what stuck in my mind was the concept that sometimes a little bit of poison won’t hurt the big bad beast, but a thousand times that, all at once, could.  A little bit of actual knowledge among the silliness.  And knowing is half the battle!

G.I. Joe may not have been as science minded as Sid The Science Kid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sid_the_Science_Kid) or as skeptical as the original Scooby Doo, Where Are You (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scooby-Doo,_Where_Are_You!), but the idea of that apple-poison story stuck with me. 

I guess Dr. Oz never watched G.I. Joe.  (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2011/09/apple-juice-flap-wont-cause-dr-oz-to-back-down-.html)  I’m not a doctor, but I do know that the body can handle minor doses of many poisons.  Dr. Oz is a doctor.  He’s supposed to know about the dose-response.  He’s supposed to know that some compounds that contain arsenic (or mercury, etc) are actually safer and more easily metabolized than others.  He’s supposed to know better that his arsenic-in-apple-juice story is yelling "FIRE!!!" in a crowded theatre.  Unfortunately these stories just get thrown out there and people don’t remember the corrections.  G.I. Joe might have been a stupid and silly cartoon, but at least this once they got some science correct. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Episode 023 XTRA: HCoC

We had to cut this portion for length reasons. So here it is for your perusal and enjoyment. It isn't on iTunes, however. For no reason except my hand is tired and my eyes don't see as well as they used to, and my elbows are blunted, my knees ornate, my teeth double-jointed, and my duodenum needs dusting. Or is that my credenza? I always thought a credenza was a plant. Silly me. Um. Get the XTRA bit here.

Episode 023: makes some illogical leaps and barely survives to tell of it

Download it directly here or get it on iTunes This week: 00:01 Intro: - Update on Soyuz - NASA gets a new rocket plan - FFRF and Lindale, TX algebra teacher - Bachmann vs. Perry and the HPV vaccine 14:25 iPhone acne apps 21:10 Spongebob and brain function 31:30 Poe's Corner 39:30 Near Death Experiences 49:35 Contagion is pro-science 59:20 Lightning Round Go to the blog for this week's "Holistic Chamber of Commerce" newest member! Yeah: it got cut from this week's episode. I blame the dogs. Follow the blog at: http://skepticwire.blogspot.com Follow on twitter: @theskepticwire Write us at: skepticwire@gmail.com Leave us a voice message through the iPhone PodPoster app (coming to Android soon?) Friend us on Facebook Subscribe on iTunes http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-skeptic-wire/id434251897 ...leave a review, if you are so inclined! The Big Board
Calliope awaits reply to her argument

Update: Michelle Bachman and Vaccinations

During last night's recording of The Skeptic Wire Podcast, we mentioned the exchange between Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michelle Bachmann during the recent CNN/Tea Party/GOP debate. Rep. Bachmann slammed Governor Perry's decision to issue an executive order requiring pre-teen girls in Texas to take the Gardasil vaccination for Human Papillomavirus. HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer. While Governor Perry admitted fault in how he issued the order, through executive order instead of going through the state legislature, he stood by his decision to make this particular vaccination a priority in Texas.

For the record, as much as I cannot stand Governor Rick "The Hair" Perry, I must applaud him on this decision. That is simply an aside and now back to the conversation regarding Perry vs. Bachman.

Bachmann, it seems, has firmly entrenched herself with bad science and the anti-vaccination movement. For the record, I'm not sure if this was said during the debate or in any of the many interviews afterwards. But Michele Bachmann said that she had spoken with a mother whose daughter had been harmed by the Gardasil HPV vaccination. She claimed that this mother said that her daughter suffered from mental retardation the very next day after receiving the inoculation.

Rep. Bachmann has come under some serious fire from science bloggers, and the medical community for this comment.

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued the following statement

"The American Academy of Pediatrics would like to correct false statements made in the Republican presidential campaign that HPV vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation, here is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement. Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record."

Now, the challenge has been issued to Rep. Bachmann: Prove your statements regarding the Gardasil vaccine. Dr. Steven Miles, a professor of Bioethics at the University of Minnesota says he is willing to put up one thousand dollars if Rep. Bachmann will provide the medical records for the young woman who was supposedly hurt by the Gardasil vaccine. His former boss, Dr. Caplan, with the University of Pennsylvania Bioethics Department, has matched the challenge and upped the ante to $10,000.

And in typical fashion, now Rep. Bachmann is backing away from her statements about the HPV inoculation. She said she was simply repeating a statement that a distraught mother told her. Even Rush Limbaugh has called Rep. Bachmann out on her statements, saying that she had "jumped the shark"

I'm not expecting Rep. Bachmann to take up Dr. Miles and Dr. Caplan on their offers. If she does, I'll be sure to update on that event.

Poe's Corner From Episode 023


For this week's Poe's Corner we have a few examples of weird battle of the sexes headlines.  Which is the satire and which are actual studies?

#1  Study: 92% of babysitters hired by moms are butt-ugly
A study conducted by Harfold State College on Harfold dads … shows that the vast majority of babysitters found by their childrens' mothers are not pleasant to look at.  More than nine out of 10 babysitters or 92% of those hired by moms only were deemed to have facial and body qualities that were less than desirable in the opinions of the dads.

#2  Women's Tears Reduce Sex Drive in Men, Study Hints
In multiple experiments, male subjects smelled either women's fresh tears …or a control liquid of saline, which was trickled down the faces of the same women.  When the men were shown photographs of ordinary women not involved in the experiment, those who had sniffed real tears were less sexually aroused than men who had sniffed saline—as revealed by the men's heart rates, skin temperatures, and testosterone levels, among other cues.

#3  Wealthy men give women more orgasms
Scientists have found that the pleasure women get from making love is directly linked to the size of their partner’s bank balance.  They found that the wealthier a man is, the more frequently his partner has orgasms.  “Women’s orgasm frequency increases with the income of their partner,” said Dr Thomas Pollet, the Newcastle University psychologist behind the research.

Links with the answers after the jump...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Religion In The Classroom...When Will They Learn?

T'is that time of year again.  A time for children everywhere in the U.S. to plod reluctantly back into the classroom after a glorious summer of swimming in the creek, playing tag at the park, rolling hoops with sticks, and trying to retrieve their Frisbee from old-man-Wilson's back yard...that's what kids still do in the summer right?  Among the many start of the school year activities is getting new supplies.  New jeans, pencils, paper, etc. ...Trapper Keepers are still cool right?

In Lindale, TX students of eighth grade algebra teacher Amy Priddy got some unusual items on this year's start-of-year supply list.  The bible was included as a required classroom supply item (along with pencils, paper, etc) and the list also stated that a classroom expectation was to "Listen: to the Spirit of the Lord."  This wasn't on the district approved list, only on the list Mz. Priddy made up herself and gave directly to students.  Whoa Nelly!  If there was ever an obvious example of a rogue teacher going over that church/state line, this is it. One of the parents was understandably uncomfortable with the list and contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).  Last week (8/30/11) the FFRF released a statement that they were contacting the Lindale, TX school district and middle school principal regarding this fairly blatant violation of the 1st Amendment separation. (http://ffrf.org/news/releases/bible-spirit-of-the-lord-on-school-supply-list/)
...noted FFRF Staff Attorney Stephanie Schmitt in her letter. "Mrs. Priddy’s decision to include 'Listen: to the Spirit of the Lord' and a Bible as classroom expectations distributed to parents and students crosses the line [of state-church separation] because she is endorsing and promoting religion while acting in her official capacity as a school district employee,"

I hadn't found much follow-up in the google-able press this week, so I contacted the FFRF directly to see if there was an update.  It turns out that the teacher had previously worked for a private school (I assume a parochial one) and made a "simple mistake" in forgetting to update it.  Annie Laurie Gaylor pointed me to this local press follow-up story:
"We take it very seriously," Lindale ISD Superintendent Stan Surratt said. "We're very aware of the law. It was just a simple mistake."  He says Priddy never meant for those requests to make it to students.  "She knows that's not allowed at our school," Surratt said. "It was just a harmless error." 

A statement directly from Priddy says she used to teach in a private school and "used a previous supply list and inadvertently failed to cut [the religious requirements] from the current supply list."  (http://www.cbs19.tv/story/15387345/supply-list-lands-etx-school-district-in-hot-water
Sometime this week the school sent home a new supply list to parents.  Priddy's classroom was also reviewed to make sure there weren't any other materials that would illegally promote a "religious point of view" and it turned out clean.  The district took this complaint seriously, talked to the teacher (no word on discipline yet), and corrected the list.  The FFRF has responded to this resolution with language along the lines of "the district did the right thing" and "we are pleased."  I guess there's no way to verify that Priddy's actions were actually 100% innocent.  At least these school officials REALIZE that Priddy's list was not appropriate.

This is a good win, but the minimal press coverage bugs me a bit.  Unfortunately we almost always only hear about the  intransigent school board, city council, or other government officials digging in their heels and making a big stink when they're reminded that they're not allowed to blend religion with government.  I know it's not realistic with today's "if it bleeds it leads" media culture, but I wish we heard more about these simple, civil resolutions.  One of our best secular watchdog organizations brought this violation to the attention of the relevant authorities using direct "you can't do this" language and the school officials took the appropriate actions to correct the situation.  FFRF used a civil, measured response and the school officials took the law seriously.  Mz. Priddy hasn't made any further comments to the press, that's fine.  She has a right to privacy.  Good job FFRF.  Good job Lindale school district. 

But it would be nice if the broader public knew that most of the time these violations get respolved quickly with a direct, polite letter and a minimum of fuss.  Atheists aren't all litigious, frothing at the mouth bullies and school officials aren't all fundamentalist brick walls refusing to acknowledge the law.  Maybe if more of these stories got a wider distribution both sides wouldn't feel they have to dig trenches and raise an army when government and religion collide.

Oh well, it was a good win.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Episode 022 thinks that anniversaries are important

Download it directly here or get it on iTunes This week: 01:00 Intro: - TX burns - Shoutout to Eric for his review, - Emily Davis- freethinking musician, - Updates TX Sonogram, Warren Jeffs 09:05 9-11 Remembered a wandering discussion 10:24 Truthers in the Pub 14:00 The buildings 18:21 Why the conspiracy? 24:40 WC 7 (building 7) 27:49 Pentagon 31:10 Who are the truthers 35:35 Religious effects 47:00 Memorial Service 53:49 Where were you? 60:29 Lightning Round for a good resource on 9-11 Myths, read Popular Mechanics' "Debunking 9-11 Myths" And the dogs feel inclined to chime in at least once, though they had yet to have been concieved in 2001. Follow on twitter: @theskepticwire Write us at: skepticwire@gmail.com Leave us a voice message through the iPhone PodPoster app (coming to Android soon?) Friend us on Facebook Subscribe on iTunes http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-skeptic-wire/id434251897 ...leave a review, if you are so inclined! The big board:

Friday, September 2, 2011

How Church/State Separation SHOULD Work

This past Monday (August 29th, 2011) 39 prisoners at the Darrington Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will begin a program to earn a four year degree in biblical studies. Some of these men have a decade or more left in their sentence, others are going to be in prison for life. Once trained (and ordained?) by the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, they may be assigned to other prisons as inmate ministers.


I'll admit that I have my reservations. I really wish the article I found wasn't full of syrupy language from politicians such as, "The hand of God has been in this project," but we can't always get everything we want in life. I've also seen all six seasons of the HBO series "OZ." On that show having prisoner religious leaders NEVER ended well. Besides the obligatory theological battles; there were turf wars, revenge plots, assassinations, and the guy from 90210 was buried alive in a friggin' brick wall!

Despite having those prejudices, I (surprisingly) have no strong objection to this TDoCJ program. It all comes down to one sentence in the Associated Press/Houston Chronicle article: "The Texas project, an extension of the Fort Worth-based seminary, uses no state money and is financed with private donations." (Emphasis mine)

None of my tax money is being used to fund this program. Maybe there are some minimal costs that I'm technically paying for, but I'm willing to pay for paper and pencils for these guys (I'll get to that later). This is exactly how the separation of church and state should work. You want religion in prison? Fine. YOU pay for it. They call this a "nondenominational program," but it is obviously christian and probably very baptist. I would want to make sure that any equivalent muslim, jewish, pagan, norse, or secular program would get the same treatment, but the important thing is that the state of Texas is not financially endorsing this program. It's also a separate issue to make sure these prisoners do not receive any special treatment simply because they're training to be ministers (cushy minimal security cells, early release, or commuted sentences). To be clear: the narrow point I’m trying to make here is that the state is not pushing religion with its wallet. We could use more of that kind of thinking here in Texas (cough-rick-cough-perry-cough-cough).

This is a battle I would choose NOT to fight. I’m going to borrow Hemant Mehta's “Atheist Threat Level” concept and give this a “Level One:


This program can have a practical, and non-religious, benefit. This is a "bachelor's degree in Biblical studies." Even if I personally disagree with the subject matter, these inmates will be getting an education. They will have to study, work on their communication skills, and develop self-discipline. In a prison environment those social and reasoning traits could come in handy in a very constructive (and secular) way. Even if it's just becoming an example of a fellow prisoner who has learned how to resolve conflicts without a fight, that's progress.

Now, arguably, I will go off the clear path for a while. From Dan Barker to Julia Sweeny I've heard so many stories of people who have actually lost their faith when they studied their religion in a more academic way. It's amazing how many people come out of seminary as secret atheists. I've heard many anecdotal tales that simply reading the bible (or koran) cover to cover is enough to turn people into non-believers. I'm sure this Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary program is awash with cherry-picked niceties, platitudes, and apologetics ...but maybe, just maybe, these men will get the benefits of an education and also find some reason along the way.

Either way, I don't have to pay for it

*****************************************
Source URL:
http://www.chron.com/news/article/Texas-inmates-enroll-in-prison-based-seminary-2145495.php

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Photos From Episode 021

We just posted some pictures from our first LIVE show (Episode 021) on our Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Skeptic-Wire-Podcast/207225049296192

We need a few more "Likes" on the FB page and then we can register a user name (and a shorter URL). So before you gawk at our lovely photos, please give us a "Like." *

Maybe next time you can join us in person. We don't have any plans yet, but Greg votes for a 1 AM Saturday gathering in our hotel room at the Texas Freethought Convention (Oct 7-9, 2011) in Houston, TX. Thanks to everyone who made the show a lot of fun for us!
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Some reviews on iTunes would be nice, while you're at it. :)

Episode 021 is drinking age and LIVE! With absolutely no overdubs whatsoever


...maybe a little bit of editing, though.

Download it directly here or get it on iTunes

This week:

Live recording in front a group of skeptics! Our first live recording, as our podcast hits #21 and has a beers [sic].
Oh, lawzzy it's a long'un!

Intro:
1:36 - Homeopathy in the HEB (grocery store to you non-Southerners) plus a personal anecdote
00:06:12 - Greg's brother gets a PhD
00:07:23 - Hurricane Irene and a Bachmann self Poe
00:09:38 - Update on Warren Jeffs
00:12:55 - Update on Doctor James Corbett

Long Topics:
00:18:40 - Indiana students, racy photos, and the right to have a life outside of school
00:25:46 - Vaccines and autism: no link. Again.
00:41:01 - Right to Die case
00:53:35 - Soyuz and ISS and NASA

01:00:20 SA Holistic Chamber of Commerce - Kagan Water

01:11:35 Lightning Round (ends with a rant by Greg on the new placenta-as-food fad from 1:27:00)

1:33:20 Q&A: Is bisexualilty the only sex, with other sexual identities being merely social constructs

1:47:35 Outtakes

And because we were away from the studio: no dog inturruptions, but we did have a fallen cup incident. Bad cup!

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Subscribe on iTunes
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