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Stories by James Sullivan

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GMO’S: YOUR VEGETABLES & TEXTILES NEW & IMPROVED

By: James Sullivan

A new name has replaced Rothschild as the most common antagonist to fall from the mouths, or rather keyboards, of the internet’s conspiracy theorists: Monsanto, with its covert, sinister agenda of producing genetically modified organic vegetables or GMO’s. Many cite the courts’ overturning of DOMA to be a welcome distraction, an emotionally driven social issue that rallied the public together, while the Obama Administration passed legislation approving the sale of GMO’s without the need to label them around the same time as the legislation. Nor is the situation with Monsanto a controversy (or manufactroversy, to the more cynical), strictly limited to the United States. GMO’s have been banned as harmful for human consumption in parts of the European Union as well, most recently in Italy.

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Was Humanity’s Trek Out of Africa A Weekend Getaway?

By: James Sullivan

The apes that have been linked to all modern humans as our ancestors via mitochondrial DNA evidence have been long thought to have migrated through the African continent, first originating in the deserts before the land became too harsh to support life. However, a burning question is why they began their migration – was it due to sudden unforgiving terrain, that perpetually placed them at odds with unusual surroundings and merciless predators and extremes, or were these departures gradual ones, happening as a few members of the tribe sought out new frontiers before traveling ahead? To answer the title, I would say probably not, but thanks to some recent studies, apes like orangutans and chimpanzees have demonstrated the ability to make plans, particularly migratory journeys, suggesting a common learned memory that may have passed along the species millions of years ago.

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Where're we going? Creationism Becoming Extinct?

By: James Sullivan

With twelve years of Rick Perry as governor, better known as the decorated veteran of the so-called War on Christmas from his presidential campaign last year, and fanatics like Alex Jones, David Barton and Justin Lookadoo, and of course twelve seasons of King of the Hill, it has for some time now been fashionable to ridicule Texas and its people, as a large desolate badland populated by zealots and bigots who would secede from the rest of the country with a violent revolution at the first given opportunity. I'd say it's hardly fair to assess this judgment across an entire state and its people. In the approaching weeks, it is fair to say that what happens in Texas will severely impact much of the country.

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Wake Up and Smell The Oil: Big Oil Attempts to Make Clones

By: James Sullivan

You’ve probably seen the Exxon commercials defending the implementation of Common Core standards across the country. Perhaps appropriately, it drew the ire of many, fearing that big businesses were now pushing their agenda on schools. Exxon-Valdez is perhaps among the most guilty when it comes to promoting climate change denial, if not one of the companies that stands the most to gain if the government sits back and does nothing about regulating CO2 emissions.

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Skulls of Hominids: Other Beings Left to Uncover

By: James Sullivan

It was Charles Darwin, observing the vast communities of chimpanzees and gorillas occupying the African jungles who speculated that most likely the first ancestors of modern humans appeared in Africa before beginning a vast migration to the north as the climates shifted, the Sahara growing more unforgiving. However, in Darwin’s time, there remained a debate among scientists over whether humans had their origins in Africa or Asia, with renowned scientist and artist Ernst Haeckel claiming that humans bore more of a resemblance to the Orangutan apes of Borneo than they do with gorillas.

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Right Wing Loons, Global Warming & God's Vengeance

By: James Sullivan

When O David Barton, do you mean to cease abusing our patience? And to what end will that madness of yours mock us? The time to ask this question, first set by Cicero to his political opponent Catilinus before the fall of the Roman Republic, may be soon. Barton, the 59-year-old evangelist and founder of the Religious Right’s think-tank WallBuilders recently announced that he will not run for U.S. Senator, despite the urging of Tea Party comrades and sidekick Glenn Beck. For those who don’t recognize the name, David Barton is best known as an author of ‘fan fiction,’ although he calls himself a historian, determined to expose the outrageous lie that no separation between church and state exists in America.

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Conspiracy Lives: WE the People of Dystopia

By: James Sullivan

It has been almost 90 years since the publication of Yevgeny Zamyatin's We in 1924, yet its message may read more clearly than ever before. Zamyatin, a Soviet naval engineer, seems to have largely faded into obscurity, although it was his hobby of writing science fiction stories that left a considerable mark on Western literature.

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Masked Psychopaths: “You're Next"

By: James Sullivan

How refreshing it was to sit through a horror movie in which the anticipation that quickly turned to churning and uneasiness was not related to discomfort at how one-dimensional the characters were, how spectacularly stupid the decisions (or one-liners) that they made, or how lazy the surprise twist ending was. Rather, I sat ensconced, shivering when I first realized I was face to face with one of the masked psychopaths who leave behind only the message “You're next,” at the scene of the crime, and the crime scenes themselves here are enough to justify the cliché of the forensic expert vomiting when he arrives (although you can rest assured that it doesn't appear in this movie.)

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Spider"Man"?

By: James Sullivan

When he suggested that they explore Spider-Man's bisexuality in the franchise's upcoming sequels, with the Mary Jane character being a man, and the object of the notorious web-crawler's affections. I think I wasn't alone in acting not only surprised but also to some extent annoyed by this suggestion – not necessarily what one might attribute to some kind of homophobia, but generally an annoyance with the direction in which the rebooted franchise, revived five short years since the reins were taken from Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire, has been headed. It is as though the creative team at Sony saw how much money Nolan's Dark Knight franchise was making and decided to go with a darker spin on the Spider-Man mythology, not because it's in his character or the source material of course, but simply because it sells.

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The Lost Tales of the Brothers Grimm

By: James Sullivan

"Nowhere in the whole of Germany is anyone collecting [folklore] so accurately, thoroughly and with such a sensitive ear," wrote the famous folklorist Jacob Grimm in 1885. Of course, fewer recognize the name than what Grimm, alongside his brother Wilhelm, successfully accomplished, which was committing so many prominent fairy tales throughout the whole of Europe to paper for the first time, in the state that we recognize them the most.

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Bio-Art: The Struggle of Life Over Death

By: James Sullivan

Now bacteria and other denizens of the primordial soup can create works of art...or be the supply, as I discovered in a chance encounter when trying to find the work of Ernst Haeckel on Google, who pioneered naturalistic art, fascinated by the idea of how many turned to the natural sciences for inspiration in the nineteenth century, a time when artists who entered such a new and daring field were considered respectable, in demand to capture with their greatest efforts what microlenses at the time were not capable of.

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Scientist Pursued By Crazies

By: James Sullivan

In the years since the blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow, An Inconvenient Truth, and even a decade prior to President Clinton's warning of el nino effects throughout the approaching millennium, we've long heard of the threat of global warming, seen the people who panicked at the idea that one day Miami and New York would somehow end up underwater and heard the preaching of impending doom.

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The Pandoravirus

By: James Sullivan

The Pandora reference is probably lost on most – the heroine of Ancient Greek mythology for which a new type of macrophage virus was named, after its discovery in an Australian pond this July.

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Eugenie Scott and the NCSE: Who Will Follow In Her Footsteps?

By: James Sullivan

Earlier this year, Dr. Eugenie Scott announced her resignation from the National Center for Science Education, a non-profit watchdog organization that monitors the teaching of evolutionary theory and climate change throughout American public schools. Since 1987, Dr. Scott, a professor of physical anthropology at California State University, Hayward has chaired the NCSE, valiantly leading the crusade against both fundamentalist Creation Science and the subsequent Intelligent Design movement.

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Comfort Food: A Movie Review

By: James Sullivan

So out of morbid curiosity, I decided to check out the viral video Evolution Vs. God – currently circulating throughout the internet as the latest documentary by the notorious Christian apologist Ray Comfort, coming with the warning in its spoken tagline: “Prepare to have your faith shaken.” I suppose it was, but not in the way he intended, nor did it register particularly high on the Richter or whatever scale they measure those sorts of tremors with.

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La Brea Tarpit

By: James Sullivan

he Rancho La Brea Tar Pit of Los Angeles has been infamous as testimony of a bygone Ice Age, days before the dawning of humanity, a time when strange titans dominated the North American wilderness – mammoths, dire wolves and saber tooth cats, creatures of a savage time that met a dismal and merciless fate.

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The Tree of Life: Phylogenetics

By: James Sullivan

Some time ago there was the speculative question of what would be genetic science's equivalent to the Walkman – questioning the advances in genetic research that would be applicable to our own everyday lives, if for nothing else but to make them more convenient.

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How Do You Solve A Problem Like Marie?

By: James Sullivan

I got hooked on Breaking Bad a year ago, and have been anxiously awaiting its return ever since, only for AMC to keep offering teaser trailers with no actual footage from the new season, every time they run a new plug.

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The City Under the Sea

By: James Sullivan

In 1995, some strange circular structures were first observed underwater off the coast of Japan – strange structures jutting out of the sand which reached up to two meters in diameter. The missing portals of Atlantis? Signs of alien visitors?

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What's Next in the Evolution of American Science Education? Dr. Eugenie Scott to Resign as NCSE Chai

By: James Sullivan

Earlier this year, Dr. Eugenie Scott announced her resignation from the National Center for Science Education, a non-profit watchdog organization that monitors science education throughout American public schools. Since 1987, Dr. Scott, a professor of physical anthropology at California State University, Hayward has chaired the NCSE, valiantly leading the crusade against both fundamentalist Creation Science and the subsequent Intelligent Design movement.

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In Memoriam: Helen Thomas (1920-2013)

By: James Sullivan

Truly a loss to American journalism was the passing of former White House correspondent Helen Thomas who died at her home in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, just two weeks shy of turning 93 (which would have been on Aug 4, a birthday she shared with President Obama.)

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Happy Birthday, Mr. President

By: James Sullivan

Five things you probably didn't know about Calvin Coolidge, the thirtieth President of the United States and to date, the only one born on the Fourth of July.

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