Friday, March 27, 2015

Last Call For A Bluff, Broken And Busted

We've talked about Indiana's "religious freedom" bill allowing people to not face penalties for discrimination against LGBTQ folks based solely on belief, so when similar legislation came up in front of the Georgia House of Representatives this week, one Republican bravely stood up and killed it with truth.

As in Indiana, proponents of Georgia’s bill have tried to argue that it has nothing to do with discrimination. Rep. Mike Jacobs, an LGBT-friendly Republican, decided to test this theory by introducing an amendment that would not allow claims of religious liberty to be used to circumvent state and local nondiscrimination protections. Supporters of the bill, like Rep. Barry Fleming (R), countered that the amendment “will gut the bill.” Nevertheless, the House Judiciary Committee approved the amendment with a 9-8 vote, three Republicans joining the Democrats in supporting it. 
Fleming moved to table the amended bill, a motion that passed with 16 votes, making it unlikely the bill will proceed before the legislative session ends. With an exception for nondiscrimination protections, the “religious liberty” bill is dead. 
Before the vote, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Josh McKoon (R), joined the hearing to similarly argue against making an exception for nondiscrimination protections. He claimed that the bill’s religious liberty protections would no longer be “uniform” across the state, adding, “That amendment would completely undercut the purpose of the bill.” Rep. Roger Bruce (D) pressed McKoon: “That tells me that the purpose of the bill is to discriminate.” Without further explanation, he countered, “It couldn’t be further from the truth, no sir.”

Well played, Mr. Jacobs. Well played indeed.

Black Guy Time Machine

Time travel may be fun in movies, novels, and games, but in reality it just doesn't happen.  One African-American physicist however is at least giving it the ol' college try.

When he received his doctorate in 1973, [Ron] Mallett was one of only 79 black Ph.D. physicists among about 20,000 in the U.S., he says. While he detects more tolerance in the profession now, the discrimination — the idea that a black man can’t be this smart — has not disappeared. 
Mallett says he kept his work on time travel secret for years partly because colleagues would conclude he was a crackpot unfit for tenure. If he worked openly and with others, he also worried white physicists would get all the credit. 
“I’m afraid that’s how it would work,” Mallett says. 
He built his first time machine in the basement of the Altoona, Pennsylvania, home where his mother moved him and three younger siblings from the Bronx after their father’s death plunged the family into poverty. He was 11 and had just read “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells. The odds and ends he slapped together didn’t work. He knew he would need the science. 
He was miserable much of the time growing up, depressed and isolated. He was an average student. Electronics, English and math were the exceptions.

Mallet says he owes everything to his father, and he wants to give his theoretical equations a chance to be put into practice, maybe to see him again.  There's a lot more to this story than just temporal physics, and hell, I'm hoping that maybe, just maybe, he's got this figured out.

The Honey Badger Hangs Up His Gloves

Senate minority leader Harry Reid will not run for re-election in 2016 as yet another big Senate retirement will set off a scramble for both his seat and for leadership among the Dems.

Senator Harry Reid, the tough tactician who has led Senate Democrats since 2005, will not seek re-election next year, bringing an end to a three-decade congressional career that culminated with his push of President Obama’s ambitious agenda against fierce Republican resistance. 
Mr. Reid, 75, who suffered serious eye and facial injuries in a Jan. 1 exercise accident at his Las Vegas home, said he had been contemplating retiring from the Senate for months. He said his decision was not attributable either to the accident or to his demotion to minority leader after Democrats lost the majority in November’s midterm elections. 
“I understand this place,” Mr. Reid said. “I have quite a bit of power as minority leader.”
He has already confounded the new Republican majority this year by holding Democrats united against a proposal to gut the Obama administration’s immigration policies as well as a human-trafficking measure Democrats objected to over an anti-abortion provision. 
“I want to be able to go out at the top of my game,” said Mr. Reid, who used a sports metaphor about athletes who try to hang on too long. “I don’t want to be a 42-year-old trying to become a designated hitter.”

Reid certainly has done a hell of a job trolling Republicans all these years.  The Dems could do a lot worse.  The article ends with this:

Mr. Reid said he had seen one important change for the better in the Senate: an influx of female senators. 
This place is so much better because of women,” he said. “Men and women are different, and they have changed the dynamic of the Senate.”

Amen to that, Honey Badger.  Maybe with both President Obama and now Harry Reid unburdened by re-election, some interesting last minute things can get done.


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