Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Virgin Births Not Uncommon in US

You'd think, with something like this happening all the time, that we would have heard more about it:
The results of a long-term study of reproductive health, published in the British Medical Journal, have revealed that one in two hundred US women claim to have given birth without ever having had sexual intercourse.

The findings were based on a study of 7,870 women and girls aged 15 to 28, as part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which ran from 1995 to 2009.

The Christmas issue of the BMJ reports that, of the women who took part in the study, 45 (0.5%) reported at least one virgin pregnancy, "unrelated to the use of assisted reproductive technology."

In short, they claimed to have conceived - yet had not had vaginal intercourse or in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking these young ladies are lying. But it sounds like they mostly came from good, respectable homes, where they were taught good morals. Certainly not the type who would lie about something like this. And many of them had even promised not to have sex.
They found that the girls who had become pregnant, despite claiming they had never had sex at the time of conception, shared some common characteristics.

Thirty-one per cent of the girls had signed a so-called 'chastity pledge', whereby they vow - usually for religious reasons - not to have sex. Fifteen per cent of non-virgins who became pregnant also said they had signed such pledges.

The 45 self-described virgins who reported having become pregnant and the 36 who gave birth were also more likely than non-virgins to say their parents never or rarely talked to them about sex and birth control.

About 28 per cent of the "virgin" mothers' parents (who were also interviewed) indicated they didn't have enough knowledge to discuss sex and contraception with their daughters, compared to 5 percent of the parents of girls who became pregnant and said they had had intercourse.
It would have been interesting to find out how many of these virgin mothers' mothers were also virgins. There could be entire virginal lineages. I never did those dirty nasty things, and grandma never did them -- and you shouldn't do them either, sweetie.

The article ends up with a comment about self-report in the collection of scientific and medical information.
The authors of the study, entitled "Like a virgin (mother)", - say that such scientifically impossible claims show researchers must take care in interpreting self-reported behavior. Fallible memory, beliefs and wishes can cause people to err in what they tell scientists.
Merry Christmas, everybody, or whatever holiday you enjoy. For one day, at least, let's pray for peace on earth and goodwill toward all.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

PFOX Sues MoCo ... Again

It's just like the old days, PFOX complaining about stuff, claiming to be discriminated against. As far as I can tell, they are now complaining about things that happened nearly two years ago.

Yesterday's Gazette:
A Virginia nonprofit advocating for “ex-gays” has filed a discrimination complaint with the federal departments of Justice and Education against Montgomery County.

The group — called Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, or PFOX — contends that [ school Superintendent Joshua ] Starr made denigrating comments at a public meeting that hurt students. The group also said county public schools stopped a flier distribution program in middle and high schools, denying them access to students in a move reminiscent of the “1950’s Jim Crow South.”

Montgomery County officials have declined to discuss the details of the case, saying they don’t comment on pending litigation.

However, school district spokesman Dana Tofig said in an email that the county still lets fliers be distributed under the newest policy, even if the superintendent objects to the message.

PFOX bills itself as a group that advocates for “ex-gays,” or people who change their sexual orientation, something gay and lesbian advocates say is essentially impossible. Virginia nonprofit asks federal agencies to investigate Montgomery school system
That last sentence is a little misleading. It is true that "gay and lesbian advocates" say that it is essentially impossible for people to change their sexual orientation, but it is also true that psychologists, psychiatrists, and other physicians say that it is essentially impossible.

PFOX represents a fictional population.

PFOX is a sad group, that is, if it is a "group" at all. It might just be Regina Griggs. Poor lady has a gay son and just can't accept it. She is sure he will stop being gay one of these days.
In the complaint, Regina Griggs of PFOX accused the school system of changing its policy “in order to prevent ex-gays from participating” in distributing the flyers, and compared the actions by MCPS to “the 1950’s Jim Crow South.”

The Gazette was not able to interview Griggs. She did not respond to messages sent to her email and Twitter account, and a number listed on PFOX’s website was not working.

The group says it is not a therapeutic or counseling organization practicing “conversion therapy,” the largely derided practice that claimed to be able to turn gay people straight. But on its website, the group offers advice on selecting therapists to help try to change sexual orientation.

The largest group which espoused that theory, Exodus, shut down earlier this year, apologizing for “years of undue suffering and judgment” that it had caused.

Medical experts have rejected the idea of homosexuality as being abnormal. According to the American Psychological Association, “several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. Lesbian, gay and bisexual relationships are normal forms of human bonding.”
Yeah, that's about it.

PFOX is going to waste more taxpayer money, suing our county for the umpteenth time. They got a temporary restraining order once, other than that they never win, but money that could be going to something useful goes to lawyers instead.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Constantly Adifferent: What Santa Looks Like

This week I was traveling, and in the airport I saw a television news show where a number of grown-ups in suits and ties and nice dresses sat at a desk discussing what Santa Claus really looks like.

The adults apparently were not aware of recent perfidiously published research of a Mountebank Professor from the Far East, who has been researching the legends of the Olden Days. In her research, the recondite Professor had discovered some old papers which had been hidden vagariously away and have been proven to be entirely chimerical, containing academically cozened information regarding the earliest known reference to Santa Claus. The following very, very old poem was written in a supposititious dialect believed to be intermediary between Old Norse and Central Tamazight.
The eldest in the land cannot recall
A time when elven bands did not yet dance
leaded by the joliest old elf
non but the laughing Samuel-ta Klaas.

Kinge or granpere none can say for certain
but only that he an his marry band
ande their team of happy flying reendaer
do dans and sing and play with humane children
moreso when the yule season be here
when they bring their gifties during drametime.

The elven folk have faces of mystery
they chainge wan might a graen-up human see
Every shade and color nature makes
the elves can be, led bye oldd Sam-ta Klaas.
A moonbeam dancing on the snow
That blue starre, was that an elfen danser?
A raindrop flashing on a forest tree
A dark shaydoe playing under a blaid of grasse
Red sparks flying from the burning log
Everywhere are elfenkind, playing and hiding from graen-ups.
    The ordinarrie world is majick
    But ordinarie people can not see it
Tis knewn that children have the gift to see
the elven dancing, be in day or night,
the tiny white-faced elves with ears a-pointie
clever black elves with curling magick shoes
elven boyes and girls in mistic clothes
and most mischievous, the little greenfellows
who nock over things an mayke fritefull naises.

At the front of the danse, with pype and beard,
all in red with face constantly adifferent,
Aild Sam-ta Klaas shaykes his big behind
and his big bellie shaykes as well and his feet
do a jig for Yule and to make the children happie.

Sam-ta and his elves and raindaere team
flie through the nacht with their bagg of gifts
bringing joie and toys and happyness.
Children wake to find the elves have visited
leaving cookies and good things to playe with.

Friday, December 06, 2013

How the Rot Spreads

I think a lot of Americans were aghast when they learned about the Stand Your Ground laws across the country that made it legal to murder someone with impunity. No one had seen that coming until young Trayvon Martin was killed and his assailant went free.

And I think a lot of Americans laughed out loud the first time they heard anyone suggest that there should more guns in schools. The idea is absurd, idiotic, and malevolent. Who suggests these things?

There was a time when the word "torture" was a tee-hee thing that evoked a big-nosed cartoon character from the Inquisition with his whip in his hand and a poor, barefoot, bearded heathen chained to his dungeon wall. And then it became an actual topic for public discussion, should America torture people? And, actually, torture won the argument.

How do these things happen? How does somebody come to the conclusion that there is something sinister about women using birth control, about gay people falling in love, who decides what random tiny country we are going to declare war on next? Who is pro-pollution?

The Guardian had an important article yesterday, following the paper trail connecting far-right conservative groups who are literally writing legislation and handing it to their puppets in state legislatures to be passed into law.
Conservative groups across the US are planning a co-ordinated assault against public sector rights and services in the key areas of education, healthcare, income tax, workers' compensation and the environment, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.

The strategy for the state-level organisations, which describe themselves as "free-market thinktanks", includes proposals from six different states for cuts in public sector pensions, campaigns to reduce the wages of government workers and eliminate income taxes, school voucher schemes to counter public education, opposition to Medicaid, and a campaign against regional efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

The policy goals are contained in a set of funding proposals obtained by the Guardian. The proposals were co-ordinated by the State Policy Network, an alliance of groups that act as incubators of conservative strategy at state level.

The documents contain 40 funding proposals from 34 states, providing a blueprint for the conservative agenda in 2014. In partnership with the Texas Observer and the Portland Press Herald in Maine, the Guardian is publishing SPN's summary of all the proposals to give readers and news outlets full and fair access to state-by-state conservative plans that could have significant impact throughout the US, and to allow the public to reach its own conclusions about whether these activities comply with the spirit of non-profit tax-exempt charities. State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax

The Guardian has documents you can link to and read. Many of these groups are trying to pass themselves off as nonpolitical nonprofit, tax-exempt charities but they commit a great proportion of their resources to lobbying.

Sure, they want lower taxes and free enterprise. And freedom. Don't forget to mention freedom. Here's what it comes down to:
The proposals in the grant bids contained in the Guardian documents go beyond a commitment to free enterprise, however. They include:
  • "reforms" to public employee pensions raised by SPN thinktanks in Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania;
  • tax elimination or reduction schemes in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Maryland, Nebraska and New York;
  • an education voucher system to promote private and home schooling in Florida;
  • campaigns against worker and union rights in Delaware and Nevada;
  • opposition to Medicaid in Georgia, North Carolina and Utah.
They want the poor to get poorer and the rich to get richer. You might think it is an obvious fact that education is a good thing, a way for people to rise above a disadvantaged beginning, but not to these guys -- they want to keep the population uneducated, they want pliant workers who won't complain about their constantly decreasing share of the pie. They don't want more workers, they want cheaper workers. They don't want better medical care, they want medicine to be something you have to pay an arm and a leg for, so poor people won't get it.

There is no philosophy or science that says it is good to screw the little guy and give more, always more, to the people at the top. This is evil.