Bill Clinton hits the air in NC to decry Amendment One.
With just a little bit of Republican help, a civil unions bill squeezes through the House Finance Committee in Colorado.
The Connecticut legislature passes a medical marijuana bill.
Despite Scott Brown's claims to the contrary, Elizabeth Warren probably didn't ride her Native American cred to the upper echelons of academia. If she had, this guy would know about it.
A rodent's secret to long life, shiny fur, and enormous testicles: Yogurt.
Excellent Discover interview with physicist Roger Penrose. He's gotten a little flaky in the twilight of his career, but he's still one of the most compelling interviewees in science. Plus, he dishes about his fruitful, semi-accidental collaborations with MC Escher:
... In my second year as a graduate student at Cambridge, I attended the International Congress of Mathematicians in Amsterdam. I remember seeing one of the lecturers there I knew quite well, and he had this catalog. On the front of it was the Escher picture Day and Night ... I remember being intrigued by this, and I asked him where he got it. He said, “Oh, well, there’s an exhibition you might be interested in of some artist called Escher.” So I went and was very taken by these very weird and wonderful things that I’d never seen anything like. I decided to try and draw some impossible scenes myself and came up with this thing that’s referred to as a tri-bar. It’s a triangle that looks like a three-dimensional object, but actually it’s impossible for it to be three-dimensional. I showed it to my father and he worked out some impossible buildings and things. Then we published an article in the British Journal of Psychology on this stuff and acknowledged Escher.
Escher saw the article and was inspired by it?
He used two things from the article. One was the tri-bar, used in his lithograph called Waterfall. Another was the impossible staircase, which my father had worked on and designed. Escher used it inAscending and Descending, with monks going round and round the stairs. I met Escher once, and I gave him some tiles that will make a repeating pattern, but not until you’ve got 12 of them fitted together. He did this, and then he wrote to me and asked me how it was done—what was it based on? So I showed him a kind of bird shape that did this, and he incorporated it into what I believe is the last picture he ever produced, called Ghosts.
Remember to see the SuperMoon tonight. 11:34, ET.
In East Asia, staying indoors is deforming kids' eyeballs:
Researchers have concluded that up to 90 percent of students leaving school in major South East Asian cities are suffering from myopia — the fancy term for when things look fuzzy at a distance. According to Professor Ian Morgan, who conducted the study, the average used to be between 20 and 30 percent.
That's an incredible rise, and it reflects a serious epidemic among South East Asian youth, Morgan explains ...
Morgan believes that the staggering increase in nearsightedness is the result of too much studying and homework, and not enough exposure to daylight.
Rachel Maddow delivers a vicious smackdown to the Heartland Institute, which in its effort to deny the reality of anthropogenic global warming has contributed disastrously to anthropogenic global dumbing.
Realizing its error, the Heartland Institute tries to make amends.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is wroth with President Barack Obama over the federal government's incessant harassment of medical marijuana dispensaries. Pelosi's statement, as reported by Raw Story:
I have strong concerns about the recent actions by the federal government that threaten the safe access of medicinal marijuana to alleviate the suffering of patients in California, and undermine a policy that has been in place under which the federal government did not pursue individuals whose actions complied with state laws providing for medicinal marijuana ...
Proven medicinal uses of marijuana include improving the quality of life for patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other severe medical conditions ... I am pleased to join organizations that support legal access to medicinal marijuana, including the American Nurses Association, the Lymphoma Foundation of America, and the AIDS Action Council. Medicinal marijuana alleviates some of the most debilitating symptoms of AIDS, including pain, wasting, and nausea. The opportunity to ease the suffering of people who are seriously ill or enduring difficult and painful therapies is an opportunity we must not ignore.
The federal government is not trying to eliminate medical marijuana altogether, but it has decided that it cannot stand for the commercialization or large scale production of marijuana for the stated purpose of helping the sick, even when that production is technically within the bounds of state law.
As a result, dispensaries and growhouses are raided regularly, and the feds continue to pursue legal action against large-scale suppliers:
This has resulted in cases like the IRS action against Harborside Health Center, an enormous dispensary in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has more than 100,000 patients and annual sales of $20 million. There is no evidence that any of its activities have violated state or local law, but the IRS has filed a civil suit that could shutter the dispensary within months, claiming that it cannot deduct any expenses related to an illegal operation. The Obama Administration’s stance has also led to the closure of Divinity Tree, a much smaller dispensary in San Francisco, with about 7,000 patients, which received a letter the local U.S. Attorney last year asking its landlord to evict its tenant for operating within 1,000 feet of a playground, even though it was permitted to operate at the location by the city Department of Health. (The playground was also directly across the street from an all-nude dance club with pictures of “Naughty Hotties” on its facade.)
Check out President Obama's statements on medical marijuana use from the 2008 campaign, AFTER THE JUMP. (Note especially the last 30 seconds or so.)
A minor brouhaha is fomenting over the ejection of equality activist Jobbe Joller and several friends from the gay bar Never Mind, in Copenhagen. Here's what happened, from Homotropolis:
Jobbe states that ... himself and his gay friend Martin ... were going out with two straight female friends and their boyfriends. They arrived at Never Mind and entered the bar without any problems. At one point when Jobbe came back in to the bar after talking on the phone outside, he meets one of his friends who was on her way out of the bar to speak to the bouncer who, a few minutes earlier, had informed her that it is not allowed for her, as a straight person, to kiss her boyfriend in Never Mind.
“I told the bouncer that it had to be discrimination against heterosexuals to say that they were not allowed to kiss,” Jobbe says, when we ask him to explain his version of the story.
“The bouncer replied that it was unacceptable to conduct in that kind of behaviour at a gay place and that Never Mind receives a lot of emails from its gay guests concerning the high number of straight guests that visit the bar. I asked him if it was not the same as saying that black people are not allowed to kiss in Never Mind, but he disagreed and told me that the owner of Never Mind may decide who can kiss and who can’t kiss in the bar,” says Jobbe, who also admits that he did not let the discussion stop there, but stuck to his argument on the alleged discrimination against heterosexuals.
“I repeated my claim that it corresponded to banning black people from kissing each other, and he asked me whether I was aware of § 3, 4 and 5 of the Penal Code, which I was not. When I replied that I would love to hear more about them, he could not explain what they actually state. At the same time my other friend and her boyfriend came back after a trip to 7-eleven, and they were then told that they couldn’t enter Never Mind again, probably because they had walked hand in hand showing that they were straight ... "
An argument ensued between Jobbe and several Never Mind staffers, and eventually Jobbe was told that he, too, was now banned from Never Mind, despite his sterling gay bona fides. Jobbe later sent an email to Never Mind, to which owner Christian Carlsen replied:
there are not many gay places left in Copenhagen, and that Never Mind is one of the places remaining and it is important to the gay community that Never Mind is kept as a gay place. So it is therefore not allowed for heterosexuals to kiss and so on in Never Mind ...
In a further email to Homotropolis, Carlsen wrote:
It is quite clear that gay bars in Copenhagen attract many straight people and that in itself is also okay, but when you come with 3, 4, or 5 straight friends you no longer fit into a gay bar ...
... Problems often arise when the girls, late at night, call their straight male friends and think it’s a good idea that they come by and join the party. They are often quite intoxicated, and most straight guys unfortunately have it a bit difficult with gay men. This often results in a serious situation which our security people than have to handle ...
... In Never Mind we don’t want heterosexual guests to dance, strip, kiss or behave inappropriately. There are plenty of places in Copenhagen that are reserved for heterosexuals, but there are only a few gay bars left, and it is probably fair enough that gays and lesbians have bars where they can meet other homosexual people without having to consider whether it is a straight or gay person they are addressing...
I wonder how many bars remain in Copenhagen where straight people can be absolutely sure they're addressing other hets.
The Never Mind story is getting picked up all over -- perhaps most fruitfully by the Edge, which has assembled quotes from a plurality of viewpoints on the matter. Opinions are divided. Gawker's Brian Moylan, for instance, blames faghags for the present difficulties of gay bars. Straight girls, he says, ought to stay away.
Watch her save the world, or whatever it is that Avengers do, AFTER THE JUMP ...
Jesus! Mitt Romney can't catch a break from anti-gay crazyperson Bryan Fischer! Two weeks ago, Fischer was leading the charge against Romney's newly-appointed spokesman Richard Grenell, claiming that hiring Grenell amounted to a "slap in the face" of all pro-family Americans. He also said that if Romney wanted to win the presidency in November, he'd "better start pandering in a big, fat hurry" to the the gay-hating Republican "base," and that he should begin by firing Richard Grenell.
Now we know what that was really all about. Bryan Fischer doesn't care who Mitt Romney hires; he's just looking for an excuse to bust some semi-moderate Mormon balls. Because now Grenell has been fired, and Fischer's still griping. His new line: Mitt Romney has proven that he's unfit to be president by taking Bryan Fischer's advice.
... if Mitt Romney can be pushed around, intimidated, coerced, coopted by a conservative radio talk show host in Middle America, then how is he going to stand up to the Chinese? How is he going to stand up to Putin? How is he going to stand up to North Korea if he can be pushed around by a yokel like me?
Does Fischer mean to imply that he'd have applauded Romney's stoutheartedness if Grenell'd kept his job?
Watch Fischer's whole statement AFTER THE JUMP ...
Nate Silver, the baseball-statistician-wunderkind turned nation's-premier-psephologist, has crunched the numbers on North Carolina's Amendment One. Those numbers are ugly.
First, Silver surveys the recent polling data:
Most recent polls show that voters are likely to approve the ban on same-sex marriages and civil unions, although results differ substantially from survey to survey because of the wording of their questions.
The most recent poll was conducted by Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank whose poll results have generally shown little partisan bias in the past. That survey polled Democratic and Republican primary voters separately, but projected that the measure would win by 16 percentage points when it combined the results.
An April poll by Public Policy Polling, which conducts polling for Democratic clients but whose surveys also have a track record of nonpartisanship, had the measure prevailing by 14 points.
Both the Civitas and Public Policy Polling surveys directly read the text of the amendment to the voters they were polling.
... but, Silver notes, polls in which the amendment is explained to voters don't show it doing nearly so well, as most North Carolinians are opposed to any amendment which bans civil unions along with marriage -- a aspect of the amendment which is obscured by its weasely wording. Unfortunately, voting is Tuesday. Not much time remains to explain to voters what they might be voting for.
Silver proceeds to use two of his famously accurate statistical models to project the results of Tuesday's vote:
One version of the model, which recognizes the increasing support for same-sex marriage over time but treats the increase as slow and linear, projects that the North Carolina amendment will pass by 19 points.
... another version of the model, which treats the support for same-sex marriage as increasing at a faster rate because of the particularly sharp increase in support for same-sex marriage in national polls in the past three years, sees the outcome as closer. That version of the model projects the amendment to pass by seven percentage points, which would make it a clear but not overwhelming favorite, since there is uncertainty inherent to statistical modelling given the idiosyncrasies of each state.