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.

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:

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.

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:

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. Continue reading

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: Continue reading

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. Continue reading