Women boo McCain over Roe v. Wade

Republican Presidential candidate John McCain was booed by a mainly female audience, who had cheered some of his earlier statements, on ABC’s The View, September 11, 2008.

In response to a question on abortion from conservative panelist, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, McCain had said “I believe Roe v. Wade was a very bad decision, it was a bad decision.”  In polls by different organizations over some years now, the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision declaring most laws against abortion unconstitutional has usually been found to have nearly 2:1 support among Americans, but it remains controversial.

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Brumby’s abortion reform bill passes Victorian lower house

Victorian Prime Minister John Brumby has expressed confidence that the Abortion Law Reform Bill, which on Friday comfortably passed its third and final reading in the lower house, will be law by Christmas.

The bill, which decriminalizes all abortions before 24 weeks of gestation and permits abortions after then if supported by two doctors, passed 48-28 with no amendments on Friday morning after an estimated 50 hours of debate this week.  All parties permitted a conscience vote; Brumby’s deputy was one of those who opposed the bill. The vote in the upper house is expected to be much closer.

“Sex in confessionals” book angers religious kooks

“101 Places To Have Sex Before You Die” is a humorous catalog of unusual places in which to have sex, with facetious comments about the prognosis, advantages, and drawbacks of each.  One of its suggestions has unsurprisingly angered some people whose chosen occupation these days is to express anger.

Yes, it’s Bill Donohue again.  How did you guess?  Bill is thundering against the thing: “The kind of people who would have sex in the confessional would also have sex in a graveyard. And I don’t mean with each other,” he told the New York Post.  A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of New York said “This is sick stuff and the authors and the book publishers should be ashamed of themselves…Let’s hope the reaction from people is… strong.”

Thanks to both for letting us all know about this–previously unheard-of–booklet.  Who knows what damage might have been caused had it remained in obscurity.

Apparently the times to avoid are Sundays and church feast days, when parishioners are likely to want to use the church for other purposes.  The book lists drawbacks as “splinters, ex-communication, Peeping (Father) Tom.”  Kudos goes to NEWS.com.au, who ran the story under the headline “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

In 2002, Simon & Schuster, the publisher’s sister company Viacom was fined $357,000 for an ad for a radio station that showed a couple having sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The book is due to be published in Britain in early November, just in time for Christmas.

The night they stole the internet

The Register is reporting that on Wednesday night thieves broke into a BT exchange in London’s posh Mayfair district and made off with “routers, networking cards and fibre”.  Businesses the next day were left without internet services.  Reporters for the sister newspapers, Daily Mail and London Evening Standard, speculate that the thieves may have used the opportunity of commotion caused by Guy Richie‘s 40th birthday party in the building next door as cover for the operation.

Cheap drug could prevent some recurrent miscarriages

In 2003, Siobhan Quenby and her research team reported a new and promising practical finding in human developmental medicine.  The research is still in its early stages, but if proven this could provide a cheap and easy way to reduce the incidence of recurrent miscarriages.

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Teach magic at school

Psychologist Richard Wiseman, the subject of a recent post on this blog, has suggested at a conference in Liverpool that children could benefit from the teaching of magic.

Showing and teaching the children magic tricks encourages skills, such as self-discipline – unless you practice magic skills you will fail – and critical thinking. It also helps children to think from another person’s perspective, and consider how they are feeling.

Wiseman, who is based at the University of Hertfordshire, reports an experiment he conducted in cooperation with two Hertfordshire schools, JFK school and the Wroxham School in Potter’s Bar, in which children aged 10 to 12 were taught magic instead of the standard curriculum of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE).  The magic lessons involved teaching them how to perform two simple tricks and encouraging them to practise them on friends and family.  Teachers rated the children as “more sociable confident” after magic lessons, and the lessons were also very popular with the children.

I’m particularly interested by the potential to introduce habits of critical thought at such a young age.  A child who knows how to do seemingly impossible things using quite simple and easily taught deceptive techniques, and who has experience of watching the thought processes of other people while they view a magic trick, is better equipped for evaluating the seductive claims of con-men, religions, paranormalists, ufologists and the like.