Stand With Texas Women rally

Today, Jeff, Manda, Lynnea and I went to the Texas capitol for the Stand With Texas Women rally. We heard speeches by State Senator Wendy Davis and NARAL president Ilyse Hogue. The majority of the crowd were women, although a lot of men showed up as well. People showed solidarity by wearing orange shirts. Here are some pictures I got.

2013-07-01 12.35.02

An estimated crowd of 5,000-6,000 people showed up.

2013-07-01 12.34.28

All kinds of signs on display

2013-07-01 12.36.11

Even more signs from people facing the stage

2013-07-01 12.43.40

Inside the rotunda, people packed the balconies on all levels and sang a variation of Amazing Grace.

In case you’ve been missing the details, the Texas Legislature has been trying to ram through some fairly draconian anti-abortion laws, which would effectively shut down most clinics that perform abortions, and criminalize the procedure after 20 weeks, which is long before the Supreme Court determined was constitutional. Last week Wendy Davis filibustered the bill for 13 hours straight, and it failed to pass. The next day Governor Rick Perry announced a new special session to get it done, and denounced the crowd of Davis’ supporters as an “unruly mob.” Many of the signs and speeches referenced this description in a mocking way.

More hearings were held today and they will continue tomorrow.

Latest news: Texas Anti-Abortion Bill Fast-Tracked By GOP

Anti-Muslim hysteria in Australia

In Sunday’s show, Matt and Tracie answered some questions about Islam. Afterwards, we got this email from Australia:

Hi All
A very good show up until the subject of Islam and whether or not it is a threat to the USA constitution.
I just don’t know what it will take to wake you guys up on the subject of Islam.  It is a direct threat to secularism, the constitution and freedoms everywhere. That you think just because their small numbers means they are no threat to you  – well that’s very scary and sad to hear. That is the very same thinking that has allowed them to further infiltrate societies in most nations.
From little things big things grow. Islam is highly adept at propogating power right under the noses of the public – yet out of sight.
Example?..ok, check this site out, I can personally attest to the accuracy of the info therin:
I strongly urge you all to sign up for her newsletter.

[Read more…]

Apparently every tragedy is a marketing opportunity

Last Sunday on the show I had an opportunity to address Mike Huckabee’s wildly inappropriate and downright loathsome comment on the First Grade shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.  Hours after the attack, Huckabee had this to say:

It’s an interesting thing. We ask why there’s violence in our schools but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage? Because we’ve made it a place where we do not want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability. That we’re not just going to have to be accountable to the police, if they catch us, but we stand one day before a holy God in judgment…  Maybe we ought to let [God] in on the front end and we would not have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done at the back end.

I had started to write a post about this, but then I got a chance to rant about him on the show instead, so I figured I wouldn’t bother.  However, we got an email expressing a similar sentiment, from a gleeful Christian practically licking her chops over the opportunity to blame atheists for an incident that had nothing to do with us.  I figure this is a good reason to kill two birds with one stone.

[Read more…]

Post election open thread

Okay, okay, I know not all atheists are behind Barack Obama… so congratulations or condolences depending on where you happen to land on that question.  However, I offer some reasons for the great majority of us to be cheerful today:

  1. Gay marriage.  Maine and Maryland became the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote.  Washington state reaffirmed it.  Minnesota shot down a bill to outlaw it.
  2. With apologies to Kristine and our great friends at Secular Pro-Life (whom Matt recently vowed to continue debating until the entire organization is dismantled)… abortion.  Todd “legitimate rape” Akin got the smackdown. Richard “gift from God” Mourdock is out too.
  3. Diversity.  The 2012 Congress will have 19 women as Senators, the highest number in history.
  4. God lost this election… repeatedly.  In the Republican primaries, three candidates — Perry, Bachmann, and Cain — all stated that God wanted them to run for president.  None of them even made it past the first few rounds.  Romney said no such thing; nevertheless, 74% of Evangelical Christians got over their revulsion for Mormonism and stated their intention to vote for Romney.  Lou Engle, a self-styled prophet, let us know that God was DEMANDING that we vote for Romney: “I sensed the Lord saying, Will you stand with Me in my covenantal faithfulness? Will you stand for my ancient covenant with My people? A deep abiding ‘yes’ began to conquer my arguments…”  But ya know, even the full force of the Almighty’s endorsement does jack squat for a the candidate, apparently.
  5. Math.  It works.  So says xkcd.

 

It’s election season. Time to dust off the Christian Nation myth.

I haven’t given much thought to Sally Quinn for several years, since I last read dead tree newspapers regularly, in the hoary pre-internet days of college.  Now what the hell is this thing?

Romney captures the God vote at first debate

When Mitt Romney mentioned the “Creator” in the debate Wednesday, he owned it. “We’re all children of the same God,” he said.That’s about 85 percent of the country he was talking to. That should have been President Obama’s constituency but he let Romney have it as he let Romney have the debate.

[Read more…]

Racial Profiling – a data mining perspective (WARNING: WONKY)

Sam Harris posted a piece called “In Defense of Profiling.”  PZ Myers posted a response explaining why that’s a terrible idea.

In general it should go without saying that I agree with PZ, unless stated otherwise.  I just want to add a little something from the perspective of a computer science nerd whose been around a bit with the notion of data mining.  I also want to prove that I didn’t go to grad school for nothing.  (It cost me thousands!  <drum fill>)

[Read more…]