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Pretend to Be a Bit More Human

May 16, 2019

I know there are other things going on in the world. I know that the republic is collapsing and the oceans are boiling. But nothing matters more than this: Star Trek: Picard is a real thing and it’s coming soon.

There’s a new Point of Inquiry episode on the interwebs, ready for you to feed into your ear-holes. Kavin Senapathy interviews Dr. Jenny Yip about the impacts of mental health conditions like OCD and anxiety.

BuzzFeed reports on efforts at a sort of religious liberty compromise by religious conservatives, which doesn’t really feel so much like a compromise when you actually know what they’re proposing:

They contend an unwavering war on homosexuality and transgender people is a losing battle. Not only does it distract from religious liberty protections they want to win, but refusing to budge on LGBT rights now could set them back further in the future. …

… The bill could dictate, for example, that a secular company cannot fire a worker for being gay, but a religious adoption agency or a small bakery could turn him away. Provisions like these could also serve as amendments to the Equality Act itself, softening opposition among moderate Republicans.

Yeah, that’s still really, really bad.

We got more numbers-about-Nones from Ryan Burge of Eastern Illinois University, this time showing that while white evangelicals are reliably Republican, black Protestants are even more reliably Democratic, while atheists (a much smaller group) are the next-most-predictably Democratic. Meanwhile, “the nones as a group are more politically unified than many of the largest religious traditions in the United States.”

Wisconsin’s Assembly has overwhelmingly passed a “born alive” anti-abortion bill, which requires health care providers to save the life of a fetus that survives an abortion attempt, and failure to provide that care would result in up to a lifetime prison sentence.

State Sen. Kim LaSata of Minnesota wants abortions, even those for non-viable fetuses, to be painful for women because God should be allowed to “take over.” Can’t he do that, like, whenever he wants anyway?

A coalition of governments (France, Australia, Canada, the UK, and others) and huge tech companies (Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Twitter) have signed on to the “Christchurch Call,” an initiative by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to combat terrorist content online. Notable holdout: The United States.

Carl Zimmer at the New York Times reports that scientists at the University of Cambridge have created a living organism, a bacteria, with synthetic DNA. Wait, what?

The bacteria are alive, though unusually shaped and reproducing slowly. But their cells operate according to a new set of biological rules, producing familiar proteins with a reconstructed genetic code. … Much to [the researchers’] relief, the altered E. coli did not die. The bacteria grow more slowly than regular E. coli and develop longer, rod-shaped cells. But they are very much alive.

Spoiler alert: Ready for the zinger at the end? (Is it a Zimmer Zinger? Let’s say yes.) It’s from synthetic biologist Finn Stirling:

In theory, you could recode anything.

Holy crap!!!

Fast Company reports that CVS, who we are suing for their marketing and sale of homeopathic fake medicine, is going to have 1400 supplements checked for their claims’ accuracy by a third party, which is good. We’re still suing them (which the article mentions).

Franklin Graham says we must “rise up” to stop the PBS menace after the cartoon show Arthur included a same-sex wedding between an aardvark and a rat. Sebastian Gorka said it’s a Marxist plot, because it’s actually 1917, not 2019 like you they want you to think. But that’s because you watch gay cartoons like Arthur, sheeple.

Whoa, there’s a piece in The Federalist about atheism that’s not entirely awful. Chason Gordon, himself an atheist, wants nonbelievers to remember that they haven’t cracked some code that puts them above the unwashed masses:

Some of the negative qualities we ignorantly ascribe to all religious people are often equally represented by those who hate them. It’s not only the worst of religious people who can shift facts to suit narratives, or exhibit cultish following of a person or idea, or vote out of irrational fear. Bad people all around do; I did two of those this past weekend. It was a good weekend.

Oh hey here’s a cool little animated video by Kurzgesagt—In a Nutshell about vaccines and their side effects. “The biggest side effect of vaccines,” it says, “is fewer dead children.”

Quote of the Day

Dahlia Lithwick at Slate tells us what’s really up with the Alabama abortion ban, an obvious attempt to get Roe v. Wade overturned, even though it’s not the piecemeal way that slightly-less-rabid conservatives had hoped to go about it:

This is not about maternal health or the safe practice of medicine, and it never was. It’s about God. … It’s easiest to swallow when courts pretend to be a bit more human than they are while what are essentially unvarnished religious arguments get dressed up in platitudes about patient care, informed consent, maternal information, and solicitude for mothers in distress. It’s easier to pretend that every fertilized egg is a person if one also pretend-acknowledges that every mother is a person as well. … [L]egislators in Alabama, who bragged that they would disregard the interests of rape victims for now because it would get their legislation before the Supreme Court sooner, have, in their zeal for godliness and exigent court review, accidentally dispensed with these polite pretexts.

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