The Texas abortion bill failed

Even though the Republicans in the Texas Senate tried their best to cheat, the bill still failed.

The final outcome took several hours to sort out.

Initially, Republicans insisted the vote started before the midnight deadline and passed the bill that Democrats spent the day trying to kill. But after official computer records and printouts of the voting record showed the vote took place Wednesday, and then were changed to read Tuesday, senators retreated into a private meeting to reach a conclusion.

At 3 a.m., Dewhurst emerged from the meeting still insisting the 19-10 vote was in time, but said, “with all the ruckus and noise going on, I couldn’t sign the bill” and declared it dead.

Still insisting the vote was in time despite what the pesky record showed. Self-justification much?

Supreme Court strikes down DOMA

Yeah. It’s in the Washington Post, right nearby, so it must be true.

The Supreme Court Wednesday struck down as unconstitutional the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in the states where they reside.

The decision was 5 to 4, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joining the court’s liberals to form the majority. It did not address the question of whether there was a constitutional right to same-sex marriages.

But the court said it violated equal protection to provide benefits to heterosexual couples while denying them to gay couples in the 12 states plus the District of Columbia where same-sex couples may marry. [Read more…]

More dubious still

David Robert Grimes takes a beady-eyed look at the way theocrats distort scientific research to support their opposition to things.

The abortion debate provides numerous examples of such contrivances. In this paper recently, Breda O’Brien  brandished a study by Ferguson et al (2013) and claimed abortion damages women. However, her championing of this study is textbook cherry-picking that fails to withstand even a cursory examination.

The scientific consensus is that abortion does not damage mental health, a conclusion supported by volumes of meticulous research and recently reiterated in high-quality major reviews by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2011) and Johns Hopkins University (2008). Ferguson himself has expressed dismay at pro-life groups using this study, calling this use “misleading”. [Read more…]

They don’t think they are especially wonderful

I’m still thinking about dissonance theory and self-justification and how it relates to quarrels and feuds and rifts.

I’m wondering if it does me any good at all (in terms of avoiding some of the cognitive dissonance and thus some of the self-justification) that I actually don’t think of myself as an easy person to get along with. I’m well aware that I can be irritable, rude, and sometimes worse. It doesn’t rock my view of myself to realize that I’ve been obnoxious.

Tavris and Aronson address that, on page 199 of Mistakes Were Made, but they do it in an odd way.

Who do you imagine would be most likely to blame the victim: perpetrators who think highly of themselves and have strong feelings of self-worth, or those who are insecure and have low self-worth?

Hang on! Why put it that way? Why not say “those with a more realistic self-evaluation? [Read more…]

Texas Senator Wendy Davis filibusters to block abortion bill

She started this morning.

At 11:18 this morning, State Senator Wendy Davis took to the floor of the Texas State Senate, beginning a filibuster that Democrats hope will stop the passage of a bill that targets abortion rights in the state. Senator Davis wore pink tennis shoes, ready for the almost 13 hours she must continue speaking to keep Republicans from calling for a vote.

She can’t sit down. She can’t leave to pee.

That makes Senator Davis a lonely combatant in the War on Women. She alone must continue to speak until midnight tonight, when the 30 day special session will expire, along with the abortion bill. Senator Davis says she plans to read the stories of women and their doctors who would be adversely affected by the new restrictions into the record.

The Dems chose her because she was a teenage mother herself.

Strength to your sword arm voice, legs, and bladder, Senator!

Update: the livestream.

Point of Inquiry staff moves to Mother Jones

It’s a press release, which several people have published already.

On Friday, Point of Inquiry’s two co-hosts—Indre Viskontas and Chris Mooney—resigned from their positions at the Center for Inquiry. On Monday, Point of Inquiry producer Adam Isaak followed suit. This note is to explain our reasons for departing CFI and our future plans.

In May of 2013, when the Women in Secularism II conference took place in Washington, D.C., Point of Inquiry—the flagship podcast of the Center for Inquiry—was more successful that it has ever been. Following a format change in 2010, our audience has increased by 60 percent and our growth rate has doubled in the last year and a half. We’d recently done a highly successful live show featuring Steven Pinker before a packed room at the 2013 American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, and interviewed guests like Oliver Sacks, Jared Diamond, Paul Krugman, and Mary Roach. We had started to incorporate new, successful video content. 2013 featured our most listened-to show ever and we were averaging well over 2 million total downloads per year.

Then came the events at that conference—including a widely criticized speech by Center for Inquiry President & CEO Ronald Lindsay. Lindsay then went further, writing a blog post which referred to a post by one of his critics—Rebecca Watson—as follows: “It may be the most intellectually dishonest piece of writing since the last communique issued by North Korea.”

In response to public criticism of Lindsay’s speech and blog post, CFI’s Board of Directors issued an ambiguous statement regretting the controversy, but going no further than that.

These actions have generated much discussion, criticism and polarization within our community. In addition, they created an environment at CFI that made it very difficult for our producer, Adam Isaak, to continue working there.

We, like others, welcome Lindsay’s recent apology. That apology, however, was not followed by any direct effort to retain Chris or Indre, nor did it make up for the very real toll this controversy has taken upon our podcast and our ability to produce it.

The actions of Lindsay and the Board have made it overwhelmingly difficult for us to continue in our goal to provide thoughtful and compelling content, including coverage of feminist issues, as in past interviews with guests like Amanda Marcotte, Katha Pollitt, MG Lord, and Carol Tavris.

The Center for Inquiry has supported us in the past and has asked Chris and Indre to speak at many of its conferences. We are thankful for that.  But we’re a team and we do this together. We believe that this controversy has impaired our ability to produce the highest quality podcast under the auspices of CFI and that our talents will be put to better use elsewhere.

To that end, we are in the process of formalizing a new podcast that will allow us to continue to provide the in-depth interviews with leading intellectuals that made Point of Inquiry such a success. We’ll announce the name and more details about the new podcast shortly but as of right now, we can already announce something we’re all incredibly excited about: the new show will be produced in collaboration with the nonprofit news organization Mother Jones. You can follow @MotherJones on Twitter to get the latest updates on the show’s official launch. We all look forward to turning our attention to the work at hand, and leaving this controversy behind.

Adam Isaak, Indre Viskontas, and Chris Mooney


I cannot ask Allah!

What were we saying about FGM? Egyptian cleric Sheikh Yussef al-Badri sets us straight, explaining to the Beeb’s Aleem Maqbool why it’s such a great idea.

I transcribed the heart of it. The ellipses represent his pauses to hunt for the word; he’s not fluent in English so make allowances for that.

Allah gives us orders, we don’t understand them.

But we have no real reason to think it is “Allah” giving us the orders. We have better reason to think it was a human being writing down either hallucinations or his own ideas dressed up as those of “Allah”. [Read more…]

Not a small problem

The scope of the FGM problem is appalling to contemplate. It’s huge, and hidden, and implacably hard to deal with.

More than 70 women and girls in Britain seek treatment every month after undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM), with the actual number subjected to the illegal practice likely to be far higher, figures reveal.

The NSPCC is launching a helpline on Monday to protect children from FGM after research found that more than 1,700 victims were referred to specialist clinics in the past two years, likely to be a fraction of the true figure for women affected. The youngest victim was seven. [Read more…]


Let’s talk about mumbling and muttering.

I mean – lsss tbb mmmmmnmmmmmmmnga.

Too many actors mumble their way through their lines, neither enunciating nor projecting words clearly enough for audiences to understand them, according to leading figures in theatre.

Edward Kemp, artistic director of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada) and actress Imogen Stubbs are infuriated by the mutterers, who they believe let down playwrights and audiences. Kemp said that some directors and producers encouraged mumbling, believing that “laidback mumbling is more truthful”.

Well sometimes it is, but you don’t want it to be so “truthful” that no one can understand it. Think Brando in the cab with Steiger. “You shoulda looked out for me a liddle bit.” “Truthful” but still clear. [Read more…]

Not welcome at tryouts for the football team

Girl likes football. Girl plays on team in 6th grade. Girl gets kicked off team in 7th grade because Impure Thoughts.

A private school outside Atlanta recently informed 12-year-old Madison Baxter that she would not be welcome at tryouts for the 7th-grade football team, even though she started on the sixth-grade team and has been playing football since second grade. The reason she won’t be allowed on the field? Because her male teammates are beginning to have “impure thoughts” about her, Strong Rock Christian Academy school administrator Patrick Stuart told Baxter’s mother.

Uh huh. And that’s not Christian, so female people have to be kept at a distance. In the kitchen, once the war is won, but in the meantime – at least off the fuckin football team. If God wanted girls to play football God would have sealed over their naughty bits with cement. [Read more…]