Large Hadron Collider fails to wipe out existence, U.S. debt

March 30, 2010

In what can only be called a terrible disappointment for the fiscally responsible, the Large Hadron Collider yesterday failed to cause the universe to implode, taking with it the U.S. national debt.

Nonetheless, researchers are pleased:

Researchers involved in the world’s largest scientific experiment in Geneva have broken the record for the most powerful particle collisions with their first results.

Physicists at the $10-billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC) directed two proton beams into each other Tuesday as part of its ambitious bid to reveal details about theoretical particles and forces.

The collisions are the first experimental results for the facility, which until now had been running only tests of its proton accelerators. The ATLAS detector at the LHC recorded the collisions shortly after 7 a.m. ET.

“Experiments are collecting their first physics data. Historic moment here!” wrote a representative for CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, on the organization’s Twitter account.

Oh well, maybe the LHC will solve all the world’s problems next time.


No, vaccines don’t cause autism

March 15, 2010

From a U.S. federal court, comes the latest inconvenient truth for antivaxxers to deal with:

A federal court ruled Friday that the evidence supporting an alleged causal link between autism and a mercury-containing preservative in vaccines is unpersuasive, and that the families of children diagnosed with autism are not entitled to compensation.

Special masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims released more than 600 pages of findings after reviewing three test cases and finding all the claims wanting.

“Petitioners’ theory of vaccine-related causation is scientifically unsupportable,” wrote Special Master Patricia Campbell-Smith in her conclusion about William P. Mead, whose parents, George and Victoria Mead, had brought one of the suits.

“In the absence of a sound medical theory causally connecting William’s received vaccines to his autistic condition, the undersigned cannot find the proposed sequence of cause and effect to be logical or temporally appropriate. Having failed to satisfy their burden of proof under the articulated legal standard, petitioners cannot prevail on their claim of vaccine-related causation.”

No worries, I’m sure Arianna Huffington will give Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy a chance to lie away any of the least latest damnation of their absurd and dangerous theories. For the rest of us, the evidence against it is completely overwhelming. As Bad Astronomer Phil Plait wrote:

These are people who (very incorrectly) think that vaccines are linked to autism. It has been shown, conclusively, that no such link exists. Every time an antivaxxer is shown this data, they move the goalposts, claiming it’s some other vaccine feature causing autism, or cite outdated and flawed studies. The problem (for them) is, you can show that the number of autism cases diagnosed is totally unrelated to vaccines. They deny this, they spin, they distract, but in the end this simple fact proves them wrong.

We need vaccines. We have stopped smallpox cold with vaccines. Rubella, measles, and pertussis can be stopped. Where antivaxxers have sown distrust in vaccines, these diseases have been making a comeback, and kids have died.

Whatever the reasons behind the Antivaxxer movement, it must stop. It’s based on lies and there is nothing noble about pursuing false logic. Vaccines don’t cause autism.


Intervention’s Candy Finnigan - the last drink’s on her

November 30, 2009

After a lifetime of being casual about her appearance, Candy Finnigan - one of three Interventionists on the hit Reality show “Intervention” - has learned that fame can make you change your perspective.

“The other day, a friend showed me that someone took a picture of me at the airport and put it on their Facebook page,” said Candy Finnigan. “I guess no more running to Ralphs in my pajamas for me.”

Things weren’t supposed to turn out this way for Candy Finnigan. Coming from a well-to-do family in Vermont, Finnigan went to school at the University of Kansas, where she met, fell in love with, and eventually married Mike Finnigan, a 6-foot-5 basketball star, and as Candy said “The big man on campus. I always liked the jocks, and he was cute, too. He still is.”

The opening years of the Finnigan’s marriage kept Candy’s roll going. Mike quickly went on to become an in-demand and well-respected musician, playing with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Etta James.

With two children and a husband who had become a successful musician, all seemed right for Candy Finnigan. But still, her drinking continued to accelerate. The Finnigans were a couple that liked to drinks, even as they studiously avoided the temptations that come with the musical industry. But as their marriage had advanced, so had their drinking and, both Finnigans had began to drink more and more. The word “divorce” came to mind for the first time for Candy.

While interventions were still a concept undergoing birth pangs, Candy got a one-person intervention that got her straight - from her Mother-in-law Evelyn Finnigan, who let Candy know she wouldn’t allow her two grandchildren to grow up in an alcoholic househould.

“His mother spotted me first, and gave me a 60-day limit to get sober. Evelyn was adamant about the damage it would do to the kids.” said Candy Finnigan, admitting she didn’t get sober until day 56 of the time limit. “I am sober, thanks to God to Evelyn Finnigan. She stayed with me, when he first came home. Because it’s really difficult to stay sober when one partner is still drinking.”

While neither were ever sucked into the “music scene” Candy still found a way to drink at home while raising two kids, while Mike’s drinking began to become part of his persona, “he was a great drunk,” said Candy.

But nearly 13 weeks later, Mike joined his wife on the road to sobriety. “I was just terrified of living without drinking,” said Mike Finnigan - also known in the political blogosphere as the man behind “Mike’s Blog Round Up” at Crooks & Liars. But the two have been successful, with more than 22 years of sobriety each.

It was when the Finnigans’ two children began getting older and more independent that Candy Finnigan started looking for a new challenge. Attending a class at UCLA with a friend was the key for Candy, and her experiences at UCLA ended with her receiving a certification in chemical dependency from UCLA. She then went on and completed her internship at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, where she worked in addiction services.

Of course, the journey to becoming a full-time Interventionist was a difficult one, as well. Told by her professor and mentor, Dr. Van Johnson that Interventions were no place for a woman, she just worked harder to gain his respect.

“I am so grateful he’s the one who got to me first, because he really taught me it was God’s work,” said Candy Finnigan. “He would never let me do an Intervention because he didn’t think it was the work of a woman, so I got my certification and went to work.”

“She had a hard time because it was such a male-dominated area,” said Mike Finnigan. “She had a tough time the first 7-8 years. But she’s really good at what she does. Mainly it’s just a tribute to her hard work and to her compassion. She was just one of a handful of women involved. But she never gave up.”

Dr. Johnson - an Episcopalian priest who was doing ground-breaking work in regard to Interventions - warmed to Candy Finnigan and helped her solidify her beliefs in the Intervention process. When Finnigan received her doctorate and joked that people would have to call her a doctor, Dr. Johnson approached and her and said “not to us, you’re not,” with a wry smile.

Finnigan said her work with Intervention - while occasionally drawing embarrassing attention - has been a life-changing experience. And while after years of experience she has learned to always stay professional, she admits it’s never easy.

“I cry every time,” said Finnigan. “The most recent one I did was with someone who was a championship boxer and now lived on the street in a box. I sobbed during that.”

While Finnigan has made her mark as a chemical dependency expert and Interventionist, she has always remembered the one important fact that got her to this position - she is an alcoholic.

“I have to be honest with you and tell you, I had a pretty good battle with my husband that over Thanksgiving that over my dead body would I serve wine with dinner for my daughter and her friend,” relayed Candy Finnigan. “If they want to go out and drink, fine. But I get really uptight about it, and it’s dumb. I just don’t want the bottle sitting in the ice box tempting me, even after 23 years. Not that it as tempting as I make it, but just the principle.”

Aware that not everyone can afford a professional Intervention on a family member or loved one, Candy Finnigan has a book out to make it easier. Titled “When Enough is Enough,” the book gives readers a frank and honest look at how to tackle the needs of an intervention including personal, medical, psychiatric, financial, and legal issues involved.

” ‘When Enough is Enough,’ is a very easy read. It can really help you if you know of someone who needs an intervention, but you just cant’ afford what you see us do on the show.”

And in case you get the wrong opinion of Candy Finnigan - that she’s a tough-as-nails taskmaster - just know this - if you agree to go to rehab, the last drink’s on her.

“After I do an intervention on somebody, I always buy them their last drink,” said Finnigan. “It’s like they say, ‘who goes to rehab sober?’”

Intervention Facts

  • More than 150,000 families of loved ones have applied to be on Intervention, but less than 150 have been featured.
  • Of the 138 people that have had an Intervention on the show, 117 have remained sober - a staggering statistic when compared to national rates.
  • There are 27 people that work on a show. Of those 27, only two are non-drinkers. While first admitting to be slightly offended by this, Candy Finnigan came around to see the sense it made. “If it was all recoverers doing it, nothing would ever get done.”
  • It takes nearly five months from the time an applicant is accepted until the moment the intervention actually takes place.
  • The Rehab centers seen on Intervention are the show’s biggest sponsors, offering their services for free. The person undergoing the Intervention process is not charged for any of the treatment.
  • This season, the seventh for Intervention, former lightwight boxing champion Rocky Lockeridge will be among those receiving help.
  • This season will also see Intervention hand out it first five-year chip to someone that received an intervention on the show.
  • Additional Reading

    Candy Finnigan’s Home Page

    A&E’s Intervention Page

    Mike Finnigan: Rocking out with the coolest man in Leftblogistan


    Vatican: ETs may exist, but they better not be gay or use birth control

    November 8, 2009

    Say what you will about the reign of Pope Benedict XVI, but the guy is all about covering all the bases. In an interview with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said that it was fine to believe in aliens and it didn’t contradict a belief in God.

    “How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?” Funes said. “Just as we consider earthly creatures as ‘a brother,’ and ‘sister,’ why should we not talk about an ‘extraterrestrial brother’? It would still be part of creation.”

    … Funes said that such a notion “doesn’t contradict our faith” because aliens would still be God’s creatures. Ruling out the existence of aliens would be like “putting limits” on God’s creative freedom, he said.

    The Bible “is not a science book,” Funes said, adding that he believes the Big Bang theory is the most “reasonable” explanation for the creation of the universe. The theory says the universe began billions of years ago in the explosion of a single, super-dense point that contained all matter.

    But he said he continues to believe that “God is the creator of the universe and that we are not the result of chance.”

    Funes went on to state that if extraterrestrials did in fact exist, they had better not be homosexual, or practice abortion. “Every life God has created is sacred,” said Funes, “even alien fetuses, or whatever it is they may have. And if the aliens commit homosexual acts, they’re doomed to Hell unless they repent to the Earth’s Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

    Funes added that the aliens would be subject to all of God’s laws, and if they used birth control, masturbated, ate shellfish, worshipped false idols and committed other random acts that the Church have deemed sinful, they were pretty much screwed.

    “Basically, it’s fine to believe in aliens,” said Funes. “But you better believe that they are a bunch of sinners.”

    Asked for comment, John McCain supporter Rev. John Hagee announced that he was withdrawing his recent apology to the Catholic Church and said it was no longer debatable that Catholicism was a cult and that Catholic League President William Donohue was a “huge douche.”

    Reacting to the news from the Vatican, a White House source said President George W. Bush was already working on a new, $450-billion project to surround the planet with a border fence, complete with armed guards and video surveillance in order to avoid an influx of aliens coming to the U.S.

    “The President believes that all aliens currently residing in the United States should receive blanket amnesty.” Still, the source added that the nation would have to be on guard against an influx of extraterrestrials relocating to the U.S., thus further weakening Social Security and Medicaid. “We think this is a wise investment in the future, and feel that people finally will start to take the Star Wars Defense System more seriously now.”

    The news was good for Wall Street, as well, as shares of the blogger “Space Cowboy” went up 475 percent.


    Originally posted May 13, 2008 at Shakesville

    Fruit flies ask scientists to get out of their pants

    November 6, 2009

    Attn: The Entire Scientific Community

    Not long ago, I was greeted the news that some scientists somewhere have found a way to make fruit flies bisexual, and then change them back to heterosexual. As the Director of the Fruit Fly Anti-Defamation League, I feel the time has come for fruit flies to draw a line in the sand. While I hold many scientists in high regard, let me make my point perfectly clear:

    Stop fucking with our sexuality.

    I mean, holy crap, what sort of fetish do you bastards have, anyway? It seems like every few years, some genius poindexter comes out with a report on the sexuality of fruit flies. In 1995 there was a report on the sexuality of fruit flies. And in 2005. In fact, the Internet is jam-packed with stories of people trying to break down these stories after scientists pump some crazy DNA in our asses (yeah, we have asses).

    Well we’ve had enough. Sure, there will be plenty of folks trying to make a big deal about this study, but please remember one thing - we’re fucking fruit flies. I mean, we live like a week. Honestly, I’m spending the best minutes of my life - which will likely be over by Friday - writing this to you.

    So for God’s sake, ease off a little, ok? We have enough problems in this short life. No one likes us. We aren’t even allowed in most states. We have real issues that far exceed what you’re trying to prove. And what the hell are you trying to prove, anyway? No matter what your study says, those on the Right (who will somehow find fault in every last thing science accomplishes outside of bomb-making) will interpret it as “Gay people are bad and can be cured” while those on the left will counter with “People on the right are bad and can’t be cured.”

    We fruit flies can’t help it that we have a diverse sexual biology. By nature, we’re down for whatever. But we just want to be left in peace. So enough with the tests, ok? Try them out on wasps for awhile. They’re a real pain in the ass.

    In the meantime, however, could you just leave our tiny little penises and vaginas alone? Seriously, it’s really getting annoying.

    Thank you for your time on this matter,

    Tephr I. Tidae
    Director, Fruit Fly Anti-Defamation League


    Originally posted at Shakesville, Dec. 2007

    One-Liner: Let’s blow up the moon

    October 8, 2009

    On a long enough time line, everything in life will become a Mr. Show sketch.


    Pat Buchanan calls Michael Richards a “politically correct poser,” NBC agrees

    July 18, 2009

    Calling Michael Richards a “flash in the pan” and a “politically correct poser,” Conservative Leader Pat Buchanan inexplicably lashed out at former “Seinfeld” star during a 20-minute rant on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

    Asked by colleague David Gregory if he believed the Republican party had lost Hispanic votes for their behavior during the nomination process of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Buchanan’s face slightly seized and he began a 21:32 diatribe that began with a verbal volley thrown at Richards.

    “Kramer over there goes nuts at a nightclub and everyone goes crazy,” said Buchanan, a vital cog in the conservative political machine. “But then he apologizes to anyone who will listen. He’s a politically correct poser.

    “Me, I’m out here every day, day-in, day-out, 24/7, and I ain’t apologizing for jack,” said Buchanan, who went on to say that Tiger Woods likely missed the cut at the British Open because of “the crack” and that George Lopez’s career is a big lie.

    NBC showed the entire rant
    live, later re-ran it twice in its entirety and is already selling videos of it at it’s Web site. MSNBC also said it will be adding a new feature to its coverage called “Pat Buchanan Day-In, Day-Out 24/7,” which will be Buchanan in a small box on the side of the screen offering live commentary throughout all MSNBC programming.

    Buchanan said he was excited about his new show and then went on a 10-minute rant about how there was every reason to believe the Holocaust was a lie.


    Scientific testing proves Pope Benedict XVI utterly full of crap

    June 29, 2009

    ROME, Italy — Scientific tests of bones housed in the Basilica of St. Paul in Rome are those of the apostle St. Paul himself, according to Pope Benedict XVI, thus proving once and for all that the pontiff is utterly full of crap.

    “Tiny fragments of bone” in the sarcophagus were subjected to carbon dating, showing they “belong to someone who lived in the first or second century,” the pope said. “This seems to confirm the unanimous and undisputed tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle St. Paul.”

    The scientific community was quick to respond to Benedict’s claims.

    “This supposed scientific discovery helps us better understand the Pontiff,” said a scientist who refused to give his name due to the stories overreaching. “By using the scientific method, we can now claim with 99.9 percent accuracy that the Pope is totally full of crap.”

    Nonetheless, the Vatican is standing by its claims, stating that their faith has been bolstered by nonsensical scientific facts.

    “We’re positive this is St. Paul,” said a Vatican spokesman. “We also found some weeds out back that have been carbon tested and are very likely the bones of Satan himself.”

    Non-Catholics have also devised their own scientific tests to help learn more about the Pontiff.

    “We just found some artifacts that prove that the Pope is a supporter of Holocaust deniers and homophobes,” said the Very Revered Tim Johnson of Tupelo, Miss. “We really feel that all this new data paints a broad picture of a Pope who is completely and utterly full of shit.”


    No one expects a blogaround: From Iran to Kansas

    June 18, 2009

    As the world watches a theological regime fight for its life in Iran, there are other religious fanatics in Kansas looking for some love and understanding:

  • Diane Tucker: Iranian Women: We Feel Cheated, Frustrated, And Betrayed.
  • PZ Myers: Don’t be angry at Creation Museums. Try to understand them and their buckets full of cash.
  • Incertus: Can you trace James von Brunn to Charles Darwin? If you’re dumb and dishonest enough.
  • I eat gravel: Barack Obama releases detainees - from Area 51.
  • Sadly, No: Star Spangled Asshat.
  • Rising Hegemon: Jonah Goldberg - fighting against affirmative action while thanking mom for his career.
  • -WKW

    Random mash-up: 47-million-year-old Virgin

    May 19, 2009

    Scientists have unveiled a 47-million-year-old fossil. Michael Steele says Conservatives need to look forward and follow its example.


    One-Liner: Headlines

    May 5, 2009

    A headline you will likely not read today: “More than 6 billion non-swine flu sufferers panic over every sniffle.”


    One-Liner: A Swine Flu by any other name

    April 29, 2009

    H1N1 seems like a very impersonal new name for the Swine Flu. I suggest: Smithfield Farms Flu. Or the NAFTA Flu.


    No one expects a blogaround - It’s in the Bag Edition

    April 29, 2009

    This blogaround is brought to you by Orson Scott Card Brand Douchebags. Just one application and you’ll feel less healthy and much worse about yourself.

  • The Douchebaggery Report: The decidedly non-douchebaggy Phil Plait looks at how Australian ant-vaxers are reaping what they’ve sewn.
  • Drinking Liberally in New Milford: In case you were unaware, the guy who wrote “Ender’s Game” is a hyper-homophobic douchebag.
  • Skippy the Bush Kangaroo: 60 senators is nice, but don’t forget that Democrats don’t march lockstep like Republicans.
  • Blue Gal: We can’t look forward until we’ve cleaned up the past.
  • Vagabond Scholar: Why does the Cheney family want to pick and choose memos to release rather than a full investigation that would vindicate them?
  • This Week in Blackness: Rare Species of Non-Urban Africanis-Americanus Discovered; Scientists Hypothesize Some Blacks May Not Even Be Christian.
  • Antonia Zerbisias’ Broadsides: The UK has a big problem with violence against women - so they work on it by banning Keira Knightley’s powerful anti-abuse ad.
  • Matt Lewis: Arlen Specter Traitor!!!!!9/11!!!! But seriously, unless you’re a party not named Democratic or Republican, there’s no reason to get overly excited by getting a guy who just wants to keep his job.
  • The Political Carnival: If you watch only Fox News, you won’t be aware of this - Americans still like Barack Obama.
  • -WKW

    Dr. Steven Novella: “But we see here the anti-vaccine strategy, which is deliberately ignorant of history”

    April 23, 2009

    From Dr. Steven Novella, neurosurgeon and host of the popular podcast “Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe,” once again blows an anti-vaccination pseudoscientist out of the water:

    It seems I have gotten under the skin of notorious anti-vaccine crank J.B. Handley, the founder of Age of Autism. He recently wrote an entire article dedicated to the character assassination of yours truly. It seems I had the temerity to critique the latest anti-vaccination propaganda initiative called fourteen studies, an attempt to discredit the scientific evidence against a link between vaccines and autism.

    Handley’s attack is an astounding example of hypocrisy, logical fallacies, and tortured reasoning. He really exposes the intellectual bankruptcy of the anti-vaccine movement, which is only reinforced by the supporting comments left by his avid readers.

    Read the whole thing if science and slapping down charlatans is your thing. And I can’t recommend the “Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe” podcast enough. It’s a weekly, hour-long learning experience.


    No one expects a blogaround - So, so wrong edition

    April 23, 2009

    Admitting a mistake is tough, luckily we all have plenty of people out there that will point out our errors …

  • Andrew Malcolm: alters ‘not true’ charge about U.S. guns … Don’t blame Malcolm for being amazed about this. He lives in a world where you never, ever admit you’re wrong, regardless of how wrong you are.
  • I Eat Gravel: Content of the ethics complaint against Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
  • >Aunt Jemima’s Revenge: Scary white folks alert - “Million Armed Militia March Man” edition
  • It’s About the Money: On the New York Yankees’ obscene ticket prices for their new stadium: “Randy Levine, this is on you. This is your legacy, a ballpark for the rich, while utterly dismissing your loyal fan base.”
  • Phydeaux and Phriends: Blinded by science (featuring some amazing images of Saturn and its moons).
  • McCainBlogette: Meghan can’t hide her Log Cabin love.
  • Pam Spaulding: The Angie Zapata murder trial (guilty!) coverage - and the missed opportunity of the LGB media and blogosphere.
  • Shakesville: Dear Onion
  • -WKW

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