How did he manage to be appointed by the circuit court, instead of via the legislature? Why, there was a vacancy left unfilled by the General Assembly. It seems that they failed to fill a judgeship. One of the candidates was turned down. His name is Tracy Thorne-Begland. You might have heard of him. Oh, and that’s JUDGE Thorne-Begland to you. →
I’m amazed that they even bothered to fact-check Marshall’s claim that being gay “cuts your life by about 20 years,” since it’s obviously false. To their credit, they contacted the author of the study that constitutes Marshall’s evidence, who said that Marshall is guilty of a “gross misrepresentation” of his research, and that he is “misusing the data” by using his study “to support the notion that gay and bisexual sex is somehow the reason why people die early.” →
A Washington Post reporter interviewed five prep-school classmates of Mitt Romney’s, all of whom independently recalled that, in Mitt Romney’s senior year, he attacked a gay classmate. They say Romney led a small posse to the kid’s dorm room, where he was held down while Romney forcibly cut the crying boy’s shaggy, bleached blond hair. Decades later, the victim recalled to a former classmate how terrifying and life-affecting that the incident was. There’s something about these white, conservative, male politicians who grew up in wealthy, powerful families in the 1950s and 1960s that led them to engage in what they probably regarded as pranks, but their victims recalled as terrible, traumatic experiences. →
A team spanning three universities has published a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finding that people who claim to be straight, but have a strong attraction to people of the same sex, tend to be hostile towards gays because gays remind them of their own repressed tendencies. Those subjects’ parents tended towards authoritarian, and held similarly strong anti-gay views. The purpose of the study was to investigate the cause of the routine discovery that people with strongly anti-gay views are closested and gay themselves. →
- Talking Points Memo: White House—We Thought We Were Down To The Details
Turns out the real reason that Boehner walked out on Obama on Friday is because Boehner demanded a repeal of the individual healthcare mandate. Which, ironically, would actually have worsened things, since the individual mandate will significantly reduce federal spending.
- New York Times: Some Parents of Gay Children Push for Marriage
I really enjoyed this article about the normalization of gay marriage having led to parents saying "OK, fine, you're gay, and now gay marriage is legal, so what's the holdup?" Gay or straight, kids are going to get nagged about marriage by their parents.
- UC Berkeley: Agonized pose tells of dinosaur death throes
So many fossilized dinosaurs were preserved in the same position: head and neck pulled backwards, bent halfway down the back. There has long been a standard explanation for this—drying tendons and ligaments pulled them into this shape—but attempts to simulate this in animal corpses have all failed. A new theory is that this is consistent with damage to the central nervous system, specifically damage to the cerebellum, perhaps through infection from algal blooms.
- AP: October 2010 Newsletter
It was only last fall that the Associated Press stopped distributing their news via satellite and moved to an internet-based distribution system. Wow.
- PolitiFact: George Allen changes stance again on ethanol subsidies
Allen was against ethanol subsidies. Then he was for them. Now he's against them. It's got to be dizzying, change positions every time the political wind shifts.
- PolitiFact: Virginia GOP says Phil Puckett voted against sending EPA a message
PolitiFact finds the RPV's criticism of Sen. Puckett to be "absurd," rating it "pants on fire" on their "Truth-o-Meter."
- Kudzu and the Marriage Amendment
Sex is not binary. I don't mean that in a fluffy pick-yer-gender-identity way, but in a very real biological way. Sex is a spectrum. In this essay, Rick Moen provides a series of examples of the many ways that labeling sexes can be difficult (Exhibit A: Caster Semenya), and how opposite-sex marriage laws could actually legally mandate same-sex marriage for some people.
- The Register: Google dumps all 11+ million .co.cc sites from its results
Good. .co.cc sites are almost uniformly worthless—a hive of malware sites and search engine spam.
- Andrew Sullivan: Boehner’s Economic Terrorism
"For the GOP to use the debt ceiling to put a gun to the head of the US and global economy until they get only massive spending cuts and no revenue enhancement is therefore the clearest sign yet of their abandonment of the last shreds of a conservative disposition. A conservative does not risk the entire economic system to score an ideological victory. That is what a fanatic does."
- Salon.com: The final nail in the supply side coffin
For the twelve people who still believe in trickle-down economics, the current economic climate is the final proof of its failure. We've got low taxes, record corporate profits, businesses are sitting on huge piles of cash…but ain't nothin' trickling down.
- DosMan Drivel
MS-DOS creator Tim Paterson maintains this blog, in which he recounts his work developing operating systems in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Of particular interest to me is how hardware and code were co-optimized to read from and write to floppy discs in the most efficient manner. The work at that point was incredibly low-level in a way that must have been very satisfying to develop.
- Slate: How the voters of 2004 are blocking same-sex marriage in 2011.
This is something that I've complained about here in Virginia—that by using a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage, we have bound ourselves to the wishes of our past selves. There can be no doubt that gay marriage will be legalized in Virginia, but it's going to require a lot of work to get done.
- New York Times: At Preakness, Not Everybody’s Idea of Fun
It sounds like the Preakness has gone to shit. Their new mascot is "Kegasus," half horse, half beer-bellied man. His slogan is "a ten-hour party to celebrate a two-minute race." That's an event you won't be catching me at.
- Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel: Walker seeks to stop defense of state’s domestic partner registry
Gov. Scott Walker wants to eliminate hospital visitation rights for gay couples. What a horrible human being. What was that about "family values" that Republicans used to prattle on about?
- The Globe and Mail: Why you should eat horsemeat—It’s delicious
There are very few logical arguments against eating horse meat, and a great many in favor of it. Though I personally don't care to do so (I own chickens, ducks, and a horse—my experience with each leaves me happy to eat the former two), it seems terrible that so much horse meat goes to waste every year, especially in the U.S., where a patchwork of laws and court decisions make it difficult to turn into food for humans.
- Discovery Channel: Mike Rowe Senate Testimony
The host of "Dirty Jobs" provided an important argument to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation about why our education system needs to emphasize skilled trades. College is not for everybody. Way too many kids are going to college—it doesn't make economic sense, for them or for our society. More kids need to learn skilled trades.
- Wikipedia: Benford’s law
Numbers are not evenly distributed. Not theoretical numbers, but the real numbers that describe the world around us: stream flow rates, bank account numbers, atomic weights, street addresses, etc. Numbers start with 1 about 30% of the time. (e.g. 11, 103, 1539) They start with 2 about 18% of the time, 3 about 12%, and so on, until 9, which leads of numbers 4.6% of the time. This is described by Benford's law, which has become useful for forensic analysis of any numbers (such as accounting data), to see if it's real, or somebody has just made the numbers up. The less the adherence to Benford's law, the greater the cause for suspicion.
- New York Times: Wealthy Donors to G.O.P. Are Providing Bulk of Money in Gay Marriage Push
The push to legalize gay marriage in New York is being bankrolled by Republicans. You might need to re-read that sentence to comprehend that—a double take is a reasonable response. Although some Democrats may regard this as bad news—we've basically got a lock on the gay vote—I think it's great news. My gay conservative friends will surely welcome it. This shouldn't be a partisan issue, and I hope this is a sign that transformation is in progress.
Just over five years ago I wrote this about the Virginia constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage:
So we’re going to spend a lot of time and effort into passing a constitutional amendment to ban something that’s already illegal, only to have the state collectively slap itself on the forehead in 5-10 years when everybody realizes what assholes they’ve been. The religious right will realize that they’ve opened the door to having Christianity regulated by government, while true conservatives will realize that contractual rights have been dealt a huge blow. And then we’ll need another constitutional amendment, which will take another couple of years and cost a whole lot more money. In the meantime, we’ll needlessly marginalize 5-10% of the state’s population and quite likely create some huge headaches and heartaches for thousands of people.
I’m not speculating that this will happen — I’m certain that it will happen. It’s as certain as the end of slavery, women getting the vote and the end of Jim Crow.
That amendment, you’ll recall, passed in November 2006, with 57% of the vote.
Today, the Washington Post reported on the results of their survey of 1,180 adult Virginians, in which they found that 47% of Virginians support gay marriage and just 43% oppose it. (With a 3.5% MoE, this is actually a tie, though I allowed myself a little gloating in the headline.) These results aren’t totally surprising, since this is the same shift that’s occurred nationally in the same time period. The big source is my own generation. Most young folks think that gay marriage should be legal. Most old folks think it should be illegal. As those old folks become dead folks, and more young folks come along, there’s every reason to think that these numbers will keep right on rising.
So here we are. We’ve needlessly marginalized 5–10% of the state’s population, creating some huge headaches and heartaches for thousands of people. How long will we wait to fix this? We could be ahead of the curve, we could wait to do it when all of the other states are fixing their own constitutions, or we could wait until it’s a source of state shame—say, another decade or so—and then be humiliated into making this right. I’m pretty sure I know which route Virginia will go with.