" I was wondering if you are not to busy you could make a poster for me." Simon (of 7 legged spider fame) responds to a request from his secretary.
Science vs. Religion: a new book, Science and Religion: What Scientists Really Think by Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund, discusses the results of her detailed study of 1,646 scientists at top American research universities. Among her findings: ~36% of those surveyed not only believe in God but also practice a form of closeted, often non-traditional faith. They worry about how their peers would react to learning about their religious views. Interview with the author from the Center for Inquiry's Point of Inquiry podcast. Also, here's a webcast from an author discussion forum held at Rice University on April 7th. [more inside]
Wait! Look, what do you see? A new crucifix has been hung behind the altar at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Oklahoma City. It has caused quite the stir. [more inside]
"So I called my dad over and about five metres away he started swearing, and I was like 'what did I do wrong?' and he's like, 'nothing, nothing - you found a hominid'."The remarkable remains of two ancient human-like creatures (hominids) have been found in South Africa. Some researchers dispute that the fossils are of an unknown human species, but others say they may help fill a key gap in the fossil record of human evolution. [more inside]
The date was February 15, 1996. The place was the Xichang Satellite Launch Center (Google Map), situated some 64 km northwest of Xichang City, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province. At 2:50 AM, the Chinese Long March 3B rocket launched carrying the Intelsat 708, an American communications satellite. Seconds later, the worst space-related disaster in history occurred sparking a technology transfer controversy. Chinese authorities said 6 people died but video footage tells a different story.
Richard Dawkins has been tweeting on the controversy over the apparent closing down of the RichardDawkins.net Forum. [more inside]
Blood and Milk is the blog of international development worker and writer Alanna Shaikh, who consults on global health development and writes for publications such as the UN Dispatch. Her views, based both on her work in the field and her study & understanding of sociology, international relations, and other such subjects, tend to be contrary to most other opinions on international development: voluntourism isn't helpful, development work is mired in a culture of nice, don't bother starting an NGO (or, if you will anyway, here's how to succeed), global health doesn't need innovation, and microfinance is a disappointment. Also, here's how to tell if your health project is doomed, and Haiti doesn't need your shoes (some people vehemently disagree). Educated well-researched iconoclast, or pessimistic Mary Contrary?
This is a list of the ten best films of the last decade that have advanced a conservative message, ranging from strong support for the military and love for country to the defence of capitalism and the free market. These are all brilliant movies that conservatives can be inspired by, and which are guaranteed to offend left-wing sensibilities in one way or another. [more inside]
The world of soccer has been rocked by a French player's game-defining handball in the much-anticipated qualifier match between France and Ireland. Thierry Henry has admitted to the offense, but said ultimately it is the duty of the linesman to make the call. His action and subsequent admission have drawn strong reactions, including attempts to vandalize his Wikipedia page. [more inside]
Tom Sanford, a NY based artist, has created paintings depicting pop-culture icons before, but none have created a "regular trickle of hate mail/criticism" like this one. [more inside]
The Mineral Makeup Mutiny was founded to encourage consumers to buy indie self-made mineral cosmetics, instead of overpriced makeup that were repackaging wholesale micas from companies such as TKB Trading, or publishing contradicting ingredients lists and sending Cease-and-Desist Letters to unfavourable reviews. Miss K of Aromaleigh, founder of the Mutiny (and former seller of repackaged wholesale hues, which she's discontinuing in favour of original colours), demonstrates how mineral eyeshadows are made. [more inside]
Wired profiles pediatrician Paul Offit, co-creator of the RotaTeq rotavirus vaccine and a primary target of the anti-vaccination movement. Dr. Offit published a book,“Autism’s False Prophets” in 2008 but didn't tour, because he had received too many death threats. [more inside]
From October 1972 to October 1973 a controversy over Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory simmered in the pages of The Horn Book. It began with an article, "McLuhan, Youth, and Literature", by Eleanor Cameron, author of the Mushroom Planet series for children and of The Green and Burning Tree: On the Writing and Enjoyment of Children's Books. Spread out over the October, December, and February issues, it tied the ideas of Marshall McLuhan (The Medium is the Massage) to the confection of Charlie, calling it "one of the most tasteless books ever written for children":
"The more I think about Charlie and the character of Willy Wonka and his factory, the more I am reminded of McLuhan’s coolness, the basic nature of his observations, and the kinds of things that excite him. Certainly there are several interesting parallels between the point of view of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and McLuhan’s 'theatrical view of experience as a production or stunt,' as well as his enthusiastic conviction that every ill of mankind can easily be solved by subservience to the senses."What followed was a knock-down, drag-out, letter-writing brouhaha, refereed by Horn Book editor Paul Heins, with librarians, parents, teachers, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Roald Dahl himself joining in, and it was one of the main causes of the book's revision that year. [more inside]
October's focus on breast cancer is a curvy pink double-edged sword and those in the fight agree. [more inside]
The Producer Cites Religious Controversy. The Director points to a recessionary trend against "serious" movies. A new film about Charles Darwin's life ("Creation") is reportedly having difficulty finding a US distributor. ( Creation: IMDB / Official Site / Trailer / Spoiler-laden review from Roger Ebert / LA Times review // Darwin: Previously on MeFi).
Two hundred and fifty years ago the Battle of the Plains of Abraham* took place in Quebec City. In a fight that lasted less than an hour (following a three-month siege throughout the summer of 1759), both generals died and the British won Quebec, soon becoming masters of most of North America. [more inside]
Sydney radio station 2dayFM earned the ire and backlash of the Australian public - rape counsellors, Australian media, and Community Services ministers - after an on-air stunt by morning crew Kyle and Jackie O went horribly wrong. During their regular "lie detector" segment, a 14-year-old girl was interrogated by the hosts and her mother over her sexual history, against her will, and revealed that she had been raped at 12 on air (warning: possibly triggering audio clip embedded in news article). [more inside]
The SF Signal Mind Meld feature poses science fiction related questions to a number of SF luminaries and the scientist, science writer or blogger. Subjects have included the best women writers in SF, taboo topics in SF, underated authors and the most controversial SF novels of the past and present. The also cover lighter topics, such the role of media tie-ins, how Battlestar Galactica could have ended better (bonus Geoff Ryman) and the realistic (or otherwise) use of science on TV SF shows.
Is Slumdog Millionaire A) A white man's imagined India B) The reality of Mumbai C) An immensely likeable slice of broad entertainment – nothing else D) All of the above? And will it win the Oscar for Best Picture now that it's taken the Producers Guild Award for Best Picture and the SAG award for Best Ensemble?
Polyvore is a website that lets you mix and match online images to make fashion sets and collages. While it has received favour from Web 2.0 pundits, fashion bloggers, and major craft blogs, it has also drawn massive ire from artists that claim copyright infringement and use of personal photos. The anti-Polyvore pressure mainly comes from Etsy sellers, with some support from artists on DeviantArt, Red Buddle, and independent artists - all coming together on Flickr. We Heart It and Ffffound! are also seen as suspect. While Polyvore tries to assuage copyright fears, amidst growing pressure to shut down, many of Polyvore's current users are counter-petitioning for the site to stay.
A NEW FACEBOOK CONTROVERSY A NEW FACEBOOK CONTROVERSY has developed, this time over photos of women breastfeeding their babies. But Facebook is standing firm.. The protesters have also formed a Facebook group, of course, Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding Is Not Obscene. It's not the first controversy at the social networking site and this blog documents activities, rumors and news about Facebook. [more inside]
Martha "Sunny" von Bulow died this weekend at a nursing home in New York City, nearly 28 years after being found unconscious at her Rhode Island estate (and subsequently falling into an irreversible coma) in December 1980. Her husband Claus, who obviously became a controversial figure, was found guilty of her attempted murder (the alleged method being an overdose of insulin), but his conviction was overturned on appeal and he received a second trial in which he was acquitted. The sensational case, which featured testimony from many notables including Truman Capote, attracted worldwide publicity and rocked high society. It spawned numerous books, television shows and a 1990 movie.
Business writer Seth Godin tell readers to forgo the MBA and spend six months in his company. While potential applicants have made use of social networking to show their enthusiasm, others think it's a bad idea. Great opportunity or massive scam?
Mark Leckey has won the Turner Prize. Quote: “I kind of hate the relationship the press in Britain has towards art,” he said. “I hate the way it’s all Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin and Banksy. They expect spectacle and shock. Art is not like that. The art world I know is not like that; it’s a whole other world.” [more inside]
LittleBigPlanet, the highly anticipated create your own platformer game by Media Molecule, originally set to release next week, has been recalled. The reason? Apparently one of the music tracks used in the game, "Tapha Niang" by Grammy Award winner Toumani Diabate, contains verses from the Qur'an. As it's a no no to mix Islamic holy text with music, Sony has pulled the game after complaints. The problem has been fixed, but no new release date has been announced.
The Spertus Museum/Spertus Institute for Jewish Studies has just canceled Imaginary Coordinates due to complaints that some of the artwork (NSFW: nudity, disturbing imagery) in the exhibit had an anti-Israeli slant. [more inside]
The Dark Side of Literacy - Indian education reform organization Shikshantar, who aims to encourage concepts of "Swaraj", or self-rule in local education, argues that current education and literacy models do not take into account local cultures and languages and gives too much credit to the Western alphabet. They also argue that there are many serious flaws in what they describe as UNESCO's campaign of "McEducation For All".
The editors of the Chinese lifestyle magazine New Travel Weekly thought it might be a good idea to shoot a fashion spread in the rubble of the Sichuan earthquake. The editors have now been sacked and the magazine is undergoing rectification.
It's the story that has Britain in uproar*: Cliff Richard and General Franco: the 1968 Eurovision mystery. Did General Franco scupper the judging? Exhibit A: Cliff's UK entry, Congratulations. Exhibit 2: Spain's winning entry by Massiel, La la la. For added measure, exhibit iv: here's Cliff's 1973 entry, which believe it or not also did not win, Power to all our Friends (though Cliff's spectacular moves should not sway your opinion on the controversy* in any way). [*not really].
'There is no such thing as polywater because if there were, there would also be an animal which didn't need to eat food. It would just drink water and excrete polywater' - Richard Feynman
If you were doing research in the 60s, You might've heard of Polywater, A form of water that exhibited wide variety of interesting characteristics and existed under identical conditions to that of normal water. Eventually debunked, none the less is a fascinating story. Naturally one draws parallels to Vonnegut's ice nine, but did you know there actually is an ice nine? In fact, there's twelve to sixteen types of ice, depending on your opinion. More recently, computer simulations have indicated water may structure itself into icosahedra, which, incredibly, is the platonic solid (described over 2000 years ago!) representing the element water! And if you don't know what an icosahedron is, I bet you've used one before. One of the most ubiquitous, and arguably most important, substances in our lives, our understanding of water is far from complete.
Are golf courses bad or good for the environment? Chances are the answer you give depends on whether you are actively involved with the game. Representing anti-golf we have the Organic Consumers Association, the Journal of Pesticide Reform (pdf), and the Global Anti-Golf Movement. Speaking on behalf of golf course management the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (pdf) and the United States Golf Association. A group of leading golf and environmental organizations have jointly developed Environmental Principles for Golf Courses in the United States.
I knew that sooner or later, the backlash to xkcd would begin, but I never expected it would start over.... fruit... R. Stevens, that old Diesel Sweetie, is the first to respond.... Now, a very well-interfaced polling device is put online for your fruit opinions...Vote for the fruit of your choice... but vote! [more inside]
Morrissey makes some controversial remarks to the NME. Defensive explanations by the interviewer, attempts at defusing the situation and threats of legal action ensue, as does satire.
First cloning of monkey embryo raises hope of a great leap in medical science. A team at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (itself no stranger to controversy) cloned embryos from Semos — a nine-year-old rhesus macaque named after the ape overlord in Planet of the Apes — then extracted stem cells from the embryos. We've heard similar claims before and they turned out to be a hoax. But this time it looks like the real deal. [more inside]
"I just turned on my little iMovie, and here I am!" This week, Hollywood Records announced a record deal with female vocalist and underground sensation Marié Digby. Over the past few months, she has over 2.3 million cumulative Youtube hits, and has become a veritable rags to riches story - a testament, if you will, to how the Internet is changing the world of entertainment. What the label failed to mention was that Digby had already been signed to Hollywood Records for almost two years, well before she became a hit. A case of manufactured networking, or simply a "major" misunderstanding?
Sicilian chef Filippo La Mantia has sworn off garlic. La Mantia says that garlic is a "leftover from when Italians were poor", and feels it is overplayed and unnecessary. Others disagree, like chef Antonello Colonna: "eliminating garlic is like "eliminating violins from an orchestra".
An Indonesian TV crew was invited to Malaysia for their Visit Malaysia Year 2007 campaign but encountered many problems. They write up about it - and start a flurry of comments and controversy across the Malaysian government about blogging. [more inside]
Anyone remember the short-lived FPS game JFK:Reloaded? It caused quite a stir when it was released a little over two years ago. Since then, the game's development company discontinued the game and JFK:Reloaded is now considered abandonware. The full version can be downloaded here and a site dedicated to the game is located here.
Venezuelan State TV aired a show yesterday in which they complained about a certain videogame, in which the goal is to overthrow the "power-hungry tyrant who messes with Venezuela's oil supply." In Venezuela, people are a bit offended by the images of Caracas being destroyed in the game, outside, some people are offended because one of the owners of the controversial company that created the game is Bono, The Defender of the Poor, Bono, and they are trying to stop it.
Rolling Rock is sorry for their offensive new ad. Never mind that no one was complaining about the ad because they never aired it-- they are spending millions on radio, web and print media to let you a) see the ad b) understand how terrible it is and c) know how very, very sorry they are to have made it. The recently bought out Rolling Rock brand is hoping this manufactured controversy will somehow convince people to drink their beer.
Using enough explosives to topple 400 10-storey buildings, China has blown up [bbc news .asx file] a temporary barrier used to hold water back from the controversial Three Gorges Dam.
Banned in D.C., not to mention the rest of the U. S. A. --British-Sri Lankan rapper M. I. A. (myspace page, with music), aka Maya Arulpragasam, has apparently been denied entry into the United States to record her next album, a follow-up to the surprise success of her first major release, "Arular." Could it have been this album that pricked the ears of immigration officials? Or maybe these lyrics ("Sunshowers," available at myspace)?
She's Lost Control In one of the most bizarre posts I have ever read, Violet Blue weighs in on the Xenisucks.com debate and it's mention in the New York Times (Bugmenot). And then again after Dan Marshall (NYT) responds. But in a response to Violet Blue (about middle of the page), Matt Sharp (Xenisucks.com) says she has fabricated much of what she has attributed to him.
The Tribeca Film Festival announced its 2006 lineup last week. Among the films in competition is the documentary Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis. Filmmaker Jack Smith (a major influence on later filmmakers, from Warhol to Waters(NSFW)) is perhaps best known for his 1963 film Flaming Creatures, was shot on expired army surplus film, and banned soon after its release (with some help from Strom Thurmond). New controversies surround his work. See also Smith’s Scotch Tape (YouTube), from the same year.
Gas chamber art shut down. Santiago Sierra whose controversial work (some NSFW, auf Deutsch) had taken a turn toward the holocaust, has suspended his latest work in response to criticism.
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says President George W. Bush's warrantless surveillance program appears to be illegal. Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Specter called the administration's legal reasoning "strained and unrealistic" and said the program appears to be "in flat violation" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Wikipedia wrangling once more: the entire German edition was shut down this week over the contents of a single entry. The parents of the article's subject, a German hacker who died in 1998 under mysterious circumstances, are displeased with his real name being disclosed in the encyclopedia. It is now back online; however, the future of the family's efforts is currently unclear, not only due to the German order's debatable validity in the US - but also because the order was, initially at least, mistakenly addressed to St. Petersburg, Russia, instead of St. Petersburg, Florida.
The Beast is coming. Director Brian Flemming prepares to bring to the silver screen what might be the most controversial film of the year (if not all time). The cast and crew are all sworn to secrecy regarding the film's actual content, and the central premise easily explains why: What if there was a massive conspiracy in the Christian Church to conceal the fact that Jesus Christ never existed?