Catholic Church apologizes for 150,000 forced adoptions

From ABC News:

It is believed at least 150,000 Australian women had their babies taken against their will by some churches and adoption agencies between the 1950s and 1970s.

Psychiatrist Geoff Rickarby has treated scores of affected women, and says it is a stain on Australia’s history.

[…]The chief executive of Catholic Health Australia, Martin Laverty, says he is sorry for what happened. […] “It’s with a deep sense of regret, a deep sense of sorrow that practices of the past have caused ongoing pain, suffering and grief to these women, these brave women in Newcastle but also women around Australia,” Mr Laverty said.

[…]Juliette Clough is one of the women who says she was forced to give up her baby at a Catholic-run hospital in Newcastle in 1970.

She was 16 at the time and says she was alone, afraid and desperate.

“My ankles were strapped to the bed, they were in stirrups and I was gassed, I had plenty of gas and they just snatched away the baby,” Ms Clough said.

“You weren’t allowed to see him or touch him, anything like that, or hold him and it was just like a piece of my soul had died. And it’s still dead”

[…]Greens Senator Rachel Siewert is chairwoman of a Senate inquiry currently examining the country’s former adoption practices.

“Women have told stories about going into hospital not realising that they were going to have to give up their babies, but that pillows were put over their faces, that curtains were put up so they couldn’t see the baby,” Senator Siewert said.

Women have also told the ABC they were given milk suppressing drugs that have now been linked to cancer, as well as barbiturates that caused sedation and in some cases delirium.

Mr Laverty says it is not a period to be proud of.

Bit of an understatement, Mr. Laverty. I kind of don’t think “I’m sorry” makes up for one hundred and fifty thousand women having their children forcefully taken away from them.
As if all the child molestation wasn’t enough. Why do people still associate themselves with this evil organization? I’m starting to lose patience for the excuses of culture and community. Pretty sure you can find a replacement religion that doesn’t molest and steal children. I hear the Unitarians are nice.

Dan Savage is an evil genius

From Think Progress:

Sex columnist Dan Savage has offered a new threat to Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum: If Santorum continues to attack gays and lesbians during his campaign, Savage will expand his “google problem” by redefining “Rick.” Savage led a campaign to redefine “Santorum” in 2003 after Santorum compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia. Other people named Rick chimed in to urge Santorum to heed Savage’s threat.

Answers to the critical thinking puzzles

Many of you took a shot at answering the critical thinking puzzles I posted during Blogathon. Now it’s time for the answers! And because I’m lazy, I’m just going to copy and paste the explanations given by some of you guys!

Question 1: In front of you are four cards. You know that each card has a photo of a famous person on one side, and a photo of an animal on the other. The four sides that are visible to you are as follows: Ken Ham, Richard Dawkins, a narwhal, and a T-Rex. I let you know that all of these cards follow the same rule – that if a card has a religious person on it’s famous person side, it has a dinosaur on its animal side. What’s the lowest number of cards you’d need to flip to determine if this rule is true or false for these cards, and which cards would you flip?

Answer from UrsaMinor: “You would have to flip two cards to test the rule. If it is true, Ken Ham will have a dinosaur on the reverse, and the narwhal will have a non-religious person on the reverse. Since there is no rule stating that non-religious people must have any particular theme on the reverse, it is not necessary to turn over the Richard Dawkins and T-Rex cards, because no matter what they have on the reverse sides, they cannot not break the rule.”

Alternative smartass answer from James F. McGrath: “Question 1 is a trick question to prevent banana-wielding creationists from winning. Anyone who embraces mainstream science will know that the categories “famous persons” and “animals” overlap. :)”

Question 2: Because I’m super nice, I give you a giant one hundred pound watermelon as a gift. You determine that this giant watermelon is ninety-nine percent water by weight. Unfortunately you let the watermelon sit out in the sun, and some water evaporates. Now the watermelon is only ninety-eight percent water by weight. To the nearest pound, what does the watermelon now weigh?

Answer from Gary Usleaman: “This one was fun! Since it started out at 100 lbs. and 99% water, then that means that 1% (or 1 lb) was Not Water (NW). After letting it rot in the sun for a bit (best thing for water mellon, if you ask me), you find that it is 98% water. [BTW, you had to weigh it to figure that out anyway, so why are you asking me how much it weighed?] Well, the 1 lb of NW didn’t change, so that means that 1 lb is 2% of the total weight. That makes the total weight 50 lbs.”

Question 3: While you were at TAM9, you decided to suspend skepticism and gamble – specifically, by playing roulette. But since you want to have some sort of strategy, you decide to flip a coin before each bet to decide whether to place a bet on red or on black (which should have a 50/50 chance of happening). Sadly, you lose sixty seven times in a row – that is, the ball always lands on the opposite color that you pick. If you turned your skepticism back on, it would be most rational to think:

A. You just have shitty luck
B. It’s terrible strategy to flip a coin to pick what color to bet on in roulette
C. You should keep up this strategy because you’ve really likely to win the next bet
D. The roulette table is obviously broken, but you can’t assume that’s intentional
E. The casino or the staff are dirty crooks who have rigged the game against you somehow
F. You can’t reasonably decide which of the listed options are more likely

Answer from Jonathan: “The probability of losing 67 times in a row is one in 2^67, ie about 1 in 147 billion billion. So this is *extremely* unlikely to be bad luck. If the game is fair, flipping a coin is no worse than any other strategy – there’s no pattern to pick up on. C is for idiots, D might make sense if you were always betting (say) red, but since your choice is random and there’s no sensible way your coin toss can directly affect the wheel, if must be E, and the casino is seeing your bet, then manipulating the wheel (or, at least, it’s far more likely that the casino is crooked than that you’ve lost fairly 67 times on the trot).”

Katie was nice enough to make up some graphs of your responses:

Most of you guessed I would fail at the door question, followed by the roulette question… But I actually got the watermelon question wrong. I know, I know. The answer is obvious now that I see it, but I’m rusty and wasn’t thinking. Alas.

Congrats to our winner, Jimmyrhoffa, who was the first to get all of these right! Katie should have your prize to you soon.

It’s not just atheists with a diversity problem…

Geeks have their fail moments too (emphasis mine):

I went to Comic-Con this year; on Thursday, I attended a panel titled “Oh, You Sexy Geek!” a discussion of the implications of “sexy women” in geek/nerd culture, and how that may or may not be used to pander to men. The panel consisted of moderator Katrina Hill and panelists Clare Kramer, Adrianne Curry, Bonnie Burton, Jennifer Stuller, Chris Gore (who almost no-showed), Clare Grant, Kiala Kazabee, and Jill Pantozzi.

I was excited for the panel, considering I am frequently frustrated by the media’s exploitative use of women (whether it be the host of a show, such as Olivia Munn, or booth babes at E3) to appeal to a market that they treat as exclusively male. However, my expectations were quickly dashed when discussion of media literacy was tossed aside in favor of accusations of jealousy. Bonnie Burton and Adrianne Curry mused that women who were critical of sexy geek culture in any way were just jealous, had no confidence, and were projecting their issues with self-esteem onto the women who felt empowered by walking the Comic-Con floor in a Slave Leia costume.

When Jennifer Stuller (one of the creators of the upcoming Geek Girl Con) suggested that women who criticized “sexiness” were more than likely deconstructing the media, and by extension a society that tells women their worth lies in their ability to appeal aesthetically to men, she was rebuffed by the other members of the panel. Later, Stuller attempted to turn the discussion towards media literacy, to which Clare Grant responded that she doesn’t read magazines, therefore the media has no influence on her whatsoever. Adrianne Curry added that women criticize one another “because we’re all a bunch of bitches.”

[…]There were many disappointing moments that had me almost leaving the panel entirely, but nothing was quite so horrifying as the one contribution Chris Gore made when he finally showed up five minutes before the panel ended. He took the stage, apologized for being late, and said “Hey, I’m here to represent all the guys in this room who want to stick their penis in every woman up here on this panel.” There was nervous laughter and a bit of applause. I don’t even need to explain how disgusting and problematic that is.

Of course, the two groups probably overlap quite a lot, so it’s not particularly shocking.

Photos from the first gay marriages in New York

You can see all 60 here, but here are some of my favorites:

I’m not going to lie, the older gay couples fill me with the most joy. I just want to hug them and tell them how happy I am that they made it through all the years of crap to finally see this day. I can’t wait for the day where the whole country looks back and says, “Wow, can you remember when bigots used to keep gay people from marrying?”

…Who’s cutting onions in here?

Blogathon raises $5,483 for the Secular Student Alliance!

Thanks to all of you, Blogathon was a massive success! We ended up raising a whopping $5,483.01 for the Secular Student Alliance! That’s going to fund a whole lot of secular activism. So thank you, thank you, thank you!
As a geeky side note…I’d like to point out that now that we have three Blogathon data points, the amount donated has such a perfect linear fit that the R squared value is 0.9999. Of course, I purposefully set a linear donation goal for this year, so that may have influenced how much people donated. In that case, I should have set the goal to $10,000!

Tomorrow I’ll email those of you who won a copy of Michael Shermer’s book. But until then, I’m still recovering. Heck, I don’t even entirely remember what I wrote yesterday. Which were your favorite posts? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and that way all of my readers don’t have to wade through 49 posts to find the gems. If there were any gems. At the very least, reading my hate mail was fun.

Alright, back to being comatose!

Blogathon 2011 is complete!

For the third year, I made it through Blogathon! Made it without falling asleep or becoming (completely) deranged. And with your help, we managed to raise over $4,000 for the Secular Student Alliance. How awesome is that?
Thanks to everyone who donated, suggested ideas, spread the word, and kept me company in the comments. And thanks to my friends who helped keep me awake in addition to supplying me with pizza and cookies. In turned into an impromptu party here at La Casa de Blag Hag. You guys are awesome.

I’ll post an official Blogathon total once everyone has a final chance to donate. I think some people were possibly donating based on the content of my posts, so I want them to have time to count up the number of times I said kumquat or whatever they chose to keep track of. Well, hopefully they weren’t looking for the word kumquat, because I didn’t exactly use it very much. But just in case: kumquat, kumquat, kumquat.

…If you still want to donate, you can do so by clicking here or using the widget below.

Thanks everyone, and good night! …good morning! …I’m going to sleep.

This is post 49 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Q&A Quickfire Part OMG THE SUN IS UP

One last hurrah:

How do you feel about blogging after the blogathon?

Reasonable Jen will tell you I won’t blog for a while. Realistic Jen will tell you I’ll probably find something to blog about right after I wake up.

How badly do you want to sleep right now?

I don’t know what day it is. What. Why. Why am I alive. Why am I doing this to myself. Why am I getting on a plane to Indiana in a couple days. Omfg, Indiana. It’s like ten million degrees there. I’m going to evaporate. I want to just stay here and eat cookies.


If you could dream about anything right now, what would it be?

About sleeping.

Favorite color of the alphabet?


Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

Only if ever should do under really from when.


This is post 48 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

I just had this phone conversation

You only get to hear what I said:
Why are you calling me.
Wait, what?
Wait, every time you say “children in a van” you cut out.
No seriously. I hear “children in a van” and then “shhhhhhhhhhhhhh” like this is some top secret message that’s being intercepted by the FBI.
17 children?
Dancing to what?
No license plates or Ohio license plates?
That’s just as bad.
Wait, I thought you said seventeen.
How do you fit seventy five thousand children in a van?
They’re Aryan children Mark, they’re coming for you.
Wait did they multiply? Are they undergoing mitosis?
I can’t hold the phone.

This is post 47 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.