Republicans Have Driven Out One Of The Few That Are Still Human: Snowe To Retire

Olympia Snow, of Maine, one of the few Republicans that is not an embarrassment to the rest of humanity, will retire. She’s had enough of the political climate her compatriots have created:

…she said she was swayed by the increasing polarization in Washington.

“Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term,” Snowe said in a statement. “So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate, which is what a fourth term would entail.”

NYT

There is a pretty good chance that she will be replaced with a Democrat.

Good Financial News, and Romney on Burning Hair

For the first time since George Bush ruined the economy, the Down Jones Industrial Average has closed above 13,000 points. Republicans have declared this a bad thing and blamed it on Obama. Details at 11.

In related news, unemployment is down, and consumer confidence is up, and many regional housing markets are starting to show a pulse. Republicans insist that these things must stop; they are planning impeachment proceedings against Obama.

Meanwhile, Romney breaks with Republicans on the question of being mean to Obama. Then he says some really bad things about Obama:

The Virginia Senate has Approved Revenge Rape Bill

Women who exercise their legal and constitutional right to make their own reproductive and medical decisions in Virginia will henceforth be subjected to what amounts to being raped by a robotic device that looks inside their uterus in the hopes that something in there looks like a person, which can be photographed and show to the woman to make her feel very bad about having an abortion.

I find it hard to believe that the women of Virginia are going to stand for this.

From the New York Times:

The 21-19 vote in the Republican-controlled Senate — mostly along party lines — came after Gov. Robert F. McDonnell asked legislators to soften the bill following protests on Capitol Square and mocking on national television, including “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “Saturday Night Live.”

The bill was changed. If the woman can prove that she was already raped recently, she does not have to get raped again by the Virgina Senate, Governor, and Republican Party. And Charles Colgan and Phil Puckett, the turn-coat Democrats that voted with the others.

Mockery here.

Grappling with Diversity in the process of Selection

The issue of diversity is being discussed, from several different angles, among the Freethoughtblogs community and others. This is a list of posts you might want to have a look at.

This is especially important in relation to maintaining or enhancing diversity when you are engaged in some sort of selection process: Hiring, making a list of authors, putting together a blog network, etc. etc.

They are listed in date order:

School Shooting Chardon, Ohio, And Other Tragedy

Did you hear about the death of the high school student? The young man was a friend of my daughter’s; they knew each other since Kindergarten. I use the term “friend” loosely because they did not hang out together a lot over the years, but when someone is a neighbor and a school mate for 12 years, they’re more or less a friend. The other day, he walked out in front of his house, where he lives with his family, said out loud to someone that there was a note inside explaining something, turned a gun he was holding on himself and pulled the trigger. They say in cases like this that “he died instantly” but that is just to make people feel better. There’s a good chance he was alive for a while, during which time he bled out and his organs shut down one by one.

Did you hear about the other kid that died, this morning? It was in Ohio. A young man pulled out a pistol in a waiting area of a school, where four or five kids were sitting at a table, waiting for a bus. He pointed the pistol at them, and to the horror of various onlookers who later described the scene, walked towards the kids at the table, pulling the trigger again and again. One of the children slumped down on the table and started his process of dying. Another tried to hide under the table but he was shot anyway. One kid ran away and called the police, even though a bullet notched his ear. As of this writing, two kids are in the hospital in critical condition, and two in serious condition, and one is in the morgue.

We can ask why these things happen, why these kids did these things, but there is another question that must also be asked, and that is often left unaddressed until long after the shock and horror of the incident wears off for the news junkies, bloggers, and other voyeurs. This question is: Where did the guns come from? It is extremely unlikely that these weapons were legally owned by these children. They got the weapons from somewhere. It is extremely unlikely that anyone who might have owned these weapons legally would have loaned them out to the children. Most likely they got the weapons by taking them from where they were stored, against the wishes of the owners.

It is hard to find information on where the weapons that children use to kill themselves and each other come from. It is generally felt that in the case of suicides, the weapons are from the home, and they were not properly secured. In the case of “school shootings,” there is an old (but still relevant) study1 that tells us where the weapons are generally from. (more…)

Can your earliest memory be as a newly fertilized egg?

People argue over how early a real memory can be. There are essentially two (valid) camps: Some suggest that memory is so closely tied to linguistic processing and symbolic thinking, which is thought to emerge after a year or so of life, that memories of the first few months of life are impossible. Others disagree, and while acknowledging that very few people have extremely early memories (as adults), the occasional pre-linguistic memory is possible. (For the record, I’m a member of the second group, though I also agree that linguistic and symbolic processing are generally associated with forming vital memories.) Those int he first group have notoriously glommed on to the idea of “constructed memory” to erase all contrary evidence by labeling it as made up. How convenient!

But none of that is important, because we now have evidence that memories can actually go back to the time of the initial fertilization of the egg that eventually became you. Here are the facts: (more…)

A tale of two polls: Santorum may win Michigan Primary

Two different polls paint very different pictures for Tuesday’s primary in Michigan. The PPP Poll released February 26ths puts Romney ahead of Santorum and makes a very solid argument that Romney is ahead and that it will be difficult for Santorum to move enough voters into his camp to take the lead. The Mitchell Research poll, released on February 27th, makes a good argument that although Romney was ahead as of last Thursday, Santorum has in fact moved enough voters into his camp to be numerically ahead of Romney by 2% points in a poll with a 3.34% margin of error.

Let’s have a look at the details. (more…)

The Government of the Netherlands Routinely Kills Netherlanders When They Least Expect it

Therefore, most people in the Netherlands don’t go to hospitals if they are sick. If they are sick they go to another country, because if they walk into one of the hospitals in their own country, they will be killed against their will.

I am not making this up. The man who has a better than 10% chance of being the Leader of the Free World swears this is true, and why would he lie?

See: (more…)

Help save Budget Travel from certain Blogospheric Destruction

Which is what will have to happen if they actually list the Kentucky Creation Museum as one of the top 15 places kids should see before they are of 15 years age. Budget Travel is running this crowd source internet poll and of course the Fundies are out in force clicking on the Creation Museum, Kentucky, which is currently in third place behind the US SPace and Rocket Center in Alabama and the Smithsonian, but ahead of Yosemite.

You can click on as many attractions as you want, and do it every day. Personally, I’ve been clicking on everything with four digits worth of votes so far but that is not the Creation museum. It only takes a minute. Go and help out!

Atheist Voices of Minnesota: an Anthology of Personal Stories

Atheist Voices of Minnesota, to be available in September 2012

Freethought House, a new publishing company, has released its first pre-release of a release regarding the book Atheist Voices of Minnesota.

Atheist Voices of Minnesota: an Anthology of Personal Stories will be a collection of autobiographical writings from 36 atheists living in or from Minnesota, available September 2012.

The book will be a unique outreach tool for atheism in Minnesota, which we hope will also provide a model for similar efforts in other states. Atheists are one of America’s most marginalized and misunderstood groups of people, with many remaining “in the closet” for fear of repercussions with their family, friends, or career. In Atheist Voices of Minnesota, 36 atheists openly share their stories with readers.

This book is the result of a truly collaborative, all atheist, and entirely volunteer effort. All net proceeds will go to support Minnesota Atheists (a 501c3 nonprofit organization) with authors, editors, designers, and other volunteers receiving no financial benefit.

The release is here, where you can see a list of contributors. The cover art is by my friend Lynn Fellman.

Republican Primaries: Let’s reorient

First, I want to remind you that I totally predicted the current situation with Santorum vis-a-vis Romney. Just so you know.

And, that situation is that Santorum has become a factor in the primary, and has had a steady position in the race, while Gingrich and Romney have sea sawed. Ron Paul is irrelevant.

But whatever has happened so far, this Tuesday is an important day in this primary process because Michigan is considered one of Romney’s home states, and that is one of the two loci of activity on that day. The other primary is in Arizona, which is almost the same size state (which I find shocking, by the way, but that’s the reality).

Following closely on the heels of this Tuesday’s two-state contest will be a quicky in Washington (small, non binding) and then Super Tuesday, with ten states running all at once. So, the nature and tenor of the candidacies and the overall process going into Super Tuesday will be important, making Michigan and Arizona important.

By way of orientation, let’s note the following: (more…)

Politics and Death

I’ve had nothing to offer on the blog today because I was off doing political activism: Stuffing envelopes and discussing important policy positions and stuff. Then, Amanda and I went to a play, which was terrible. Well, actually, the play was great, but it was about a terrible topic in which almost everybody dies. Nice of the 9th and 10th graders to put it on for us!

I wrote that up and you might enjoy the discussion: Hiding in the Open: A Holocaust Survivor’s Story

SUBMIT YOUR SHORT FILMS TO THE ATHEIST FILM FESTIVAL!

Want the opportunity to share your cinematic vision with hundreds of other atheists, skeptics, and freethinkers on the big screen, and a chance to win $250? Every year, the Atheist Film Festival in San Francisco features a selection of provocative, engaging, thought-provoking, and/or hilarious short films. Whether you’re an amateur filmmaker, pro, semi-pro, or never operated a camera other than your smart phone, we want to see what you can come up with!

Topics concerning atheism, agnosticism, skepticism, science, or a secular approach to human are encouraged. Beyond that, it’s up to you. We want our shorts program to present a plethora of secular perspectives and to demonstrate that art and reason are not mutually-exclusive categories. The deadline isn’t until June 30th, so you’ve still got time to put something together if you’ve got a great idea.

Read the rest at Mad Art Lab!

Interesting gun-related facts

______________________
1Yeah, right, I know, I know.

Carroll County Maryland Employees to Take Bible Class?

Yeah, more or less:

Carroll County commissioners have asked county employees to attend a seminar on the Maryland Constitution led by a conservative Christian minister, sparking accusations that local officials are overstepping the boundary between church and state.

The minister in question is David Whitney, who is one of those guys who thinks he can reconcile American Law with the Bible, by making American Law like the Bible.

“We will be looking at the language of our founding fathers who wrote they were ‘grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberties’ front and center on this document. The Bible is the source of the authority that they looked to.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United are annoyed with the $800 of government money funding the operation. Rob Boston, of Americans United asks, “Do these commissioners realize what a mess they have stepped into? This is a toxic stew, and employees should not be forced to dine there.”

Indeed.

Dismantling Church-State boundary in Oklahoma is not OK

The constitution of Oklahoma, like many states, has a part about church-state separation. In Oklahoma, Republicans are tying to remove that provision. Representative Jason Nelson has put forth a ballot initiative that would allow voters to vote out Article 2 Section 5 of the constitution.

No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.

would become

No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.

There is a summary at Americans United

California DOMA Ruling

I had missed this, thanks to commenter Random Factor for pointing it out:

A federal judge on Wednesday declared the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and ordered the federal government to extend health benefits to the same-sex spouse of a San Francisco lawyer employed by the federal courts.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White said the refusal of the Office of Personnel Management to enroll 9th Circuit attorney Karen Golinski’s spouse in the federal agency’s benefits program violated her constitutional right to equal protection under the law.

source

The Justice Department sat this one out, but House Republicans did get involved.

Now TWO white guys are talking about Diversity!

You will recall the post I wrote yesterday on diversity. In it, I mention About.com’s Agnosticism and Atheism section, run by Ausin Cline. Austin has written a post addressing the diversity issue.

I can also tell you privately that there is a third party engaged in this conversation who will hopefully post about it in a day or two or maybe Monday. I’ll let you know.

Austin is pretty much falling on his sword in his post, blaming himself, which is always nice. But of course, he was only doing what everyone else is normally doing, and as he mentions, the people who voted in these polls, well, the’re the ones who voted in the polls! If underrepresented groups are being ignored, it’s the masses that are the asses at least to some extent.

Austin is going to work on this, everyone is going to work on this, and dagnabbit, we’ll make the world a better place one way or another.

Maryland Bill Passes Senate

The Maryland house recently passed their same-sex marriage bill, and now, moments ago, the Senate has done the same thing. Governer Martin O’Malley is expected to sign it.

Go Marry-Land!

Details

Maryland would join the District and seven states in allowing same-sex marriages. Supporters have cast the bill as a major advance in equal rights. Opponents have called it a misguided attempt to redefine the institution of marriage.

Despite one of the largest Democratic majorities in any state legislature, backers of gay marriage in Maryland had to overcome fierce opposition from blocks of African American lawmakers and those with strong Catholic and evangelical views to cobble together coalitions big enough to pass both chambers.

House vs. Senate: Where to find the tea?

Have you ever noticed that lower level of a bicameral legislature is often populated by out of control yahoos who aren’t very good lawmakers, while the upper level is more often populated by individuals who seem less willing to totally embarass themselves at every turn? A great example of this unfolded recently in New Hampshire, with some gun-related legislation.

The house crafted a number of bills related to guns:

  • A bill allowing people to carry loaded weapons, including crossbows, in their cars, by redefining what “loaded gun” is.
  • A bill that lets people carry guns on campuses, public sports venues, and the state psychiatric hospital
  • A bill that allows people to carry concealed firearms without a permit
  • Two other bills, I don’t know what they were.

All the bills were quickly rejected by the Senate. Of these bills, Senate President Peter Bragdon said, “We spent a grand total of 6 minutes on 5 bills because we want to focus on the issues that are important to the New Hampshire people.”

Live free or else!

How to steal a checkbook

Find a daycare center with a largish parking lot, so people dropping off their kids often park a little ways away from the entrance.

Focus on women who are dropping off their kids. Watch for purses (known in some subcultures as “pocketbooks” or “bags” … it’s like a “manbag” only for girls). Most women carry one. If you see a woman bringing the kid(s) to the daycare without the purse, that means there is a purse in her car. Also, if you’ve watched the daycare for a few days you’ll know the minimum amount of time you’ll have to extract the purse from the car. (more…)