Question of the Day

Inspired by Shaker catvoncat: Who's your current favorite character in a television show you're watching, film you just saw, book you're reading, or game you're playing?

The source material doesn't have to be new; it just has to be new to you.

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Notebooks 4EVA

Via Shaker GoldFishy, here's a fun story about people who still use notebooks in the digital age, and about how taking handwritten notes has been found (for some people) to increase comprehension of a subject.

I'm still a total notebook head. If I've got a long piece forming itself in my mind, it's way easier for me to sketch it out on paper than on the computer. Scribbles everywhere!

And I know absolutely that I can't retain information as well if I'm typing notes than if I'm handwriting them.

But everyone is different! What about you?

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The Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by oil paint.

Recommended Reading:

Teresa: [Content Note: Misogyny] Denver Comic Con Hosts a "Women in Comics" Panel with No Women

Qimmah: [CN: Racism] Michael B. Jordan Hits Back at Racist Trolls

Samantha: [CN: Misogynoir; transphobia; police violence] #SayHerName: The Black Woman Is the Mule of the Earth

Ragen: [CN: Fat hatred; body/health policing] It's Okay to Be Fat as Long as…

Jim: [CN: Homophobia] Marco Rubio: Gay Marriage 'A Real and Present Danger' for Christians

And, in case you haven't seen it yet: Feminist Mad Max.

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!

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Childfree 101: Can the Pity

[Content Note: Reproductive policing.]

Via my pal Meadowgirl, this is a pretty solid piece about what not to do and say to women who aren't parents. (I'd offer that this is fairly decent advice for what not to do and say to men who aren't parents, too.)

There are lots of reasons that people aren't parents. I have chosen not to parent, a subject about which I've written quite a bit in this space over the years, and many of the feelings expressed by the women interviewed in the linked piece resonate with my experiences.

I've navigated so much of this garbage over the last couple of decades that it rarely bothers me anymore; if some stranger wants to probe my reproductive choices and capabilities like the worst Charlie Rose interview of all time, I feel little more than a middling contempt.

But the one thing that tends to get my hackles up is any expression of pity, which tends to arrive (in my life) in one of two ways:

1. When the subject of children comes up, someone who knows we have pets will say, "Well, at least you've got your furbabies!" as though my pets are consolation prizes for not having children. Which: Just no.

2. If Iain and I elect to spend any holiday (especially Thanksgiving and Christmas) on our own, people express sorrow that we're "alone" on a holiday. This is especially obnoxious when people ask what we did, and I tell them, and then they say, "Oh, if I'd known you were going to be alone, I would've invited you!" Um, thanks? The thing is, if Iain and I had kids, and it was just us and our kids at home, no one would feel sorry for us. In fact, many people would express envy that we didn't have to juggle multiple extended family affairs with distant relatives who are loathsome company. The difference between "That sounds like a lovely low-key holiday" and "OMG I'M SO SORRY YOU WERE ALL ALONE HOW SAD!!!" is literally just that we don't have children. Except: We don't want them, and our family is complete.

(Also? Iain and I are not one person. If we're spending time together, we're not spending time "alone.")

Pity is so aggressively insulting. I don't have children, which is exactly what I wanted. When you pity me for that, you're auditing my choice, assessing it to be wrong via the prism of your own priorities, and then condescendingly expressing your sadness that I've failed to live up to your expectations.

If a person who has chosen not to parent says something that indicates they are living a life without children, the sensitive and decent response is not pity; it's joy that they've gotten exactly what they wanted for themselves.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat lying on the loveseat grooming her paws
Queen Matilda grooms her paws.
(But not her ass. She leaves that for me.)

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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Quote of the Day

"Forget about likability. I think that what our society teaches young girls—and I think that it's something that's quite difficult for even older women, self-confessed feminists, to shrug off—is this idea that likeability is an essential part of the space you occupy in the world. That you're supposed to twist yourself into shapes to make yourself likeable. That you're supposed to kind of hold back sometimes, pull back. Don't quite say, don't be too pushy...because you have to be likeable. And I say that is bullshit."—Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, last week during her speech at the 2015 Girls Write Now Awards in New York City, where she was the groundbreaker honouree.

I love every single thing about this quote and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is amazing amazing amazing the end.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

The Creatures: "Gecko"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

Nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives have been indicted for racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracies, and other offenses "in connection with the defendants' participation in a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer. ...The defendants charged in the indictment include high-ranking officials of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the organization responsible for the regulation and promotion of soccer worldwide, as well as leading officials of other soccer governing bodies that operate under the FIFA umbrella. Jeffrey Webb and Jack Warner—the current and former presidents of CONCACAF, the continental confederation under FIFA headquartered in the United States—are among the soccer officials charged with racketeering and bribery offenses. The defendants also include U.S. and South American sports marketing executives who are alleged to have systematically paid and agreed to pay well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks to obtain lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments." Welp.

[Content Note: Extreme weather; death; displacement] The bad weather continues in parts of Texas and Oklahoma, and the National Weather Service has issued a new flash flood warning for Houston while, outside Dallas, people were being evacuated due to the threat of a dam likely to burst. If you've been wondering if some of this flooding has anything to do with a lack of investment in infrastructure, unfortunately it does.

[CN: War on agency; medical malfeasance] This is an incredible piece by Imani Gandy, RH Reality Check's Senior Legal Analyst and all-around terrific person, examining the case of Dr. Byron Calhoun, who lied to a patient about finding a 13-week old fetal skull in her uterus, and how anti-choice doctors manipulate patients in order to bring anti-abortion lawsuits.

[CN: Poverty; class warfare; victim-blaming] Such important research to counter the garbage bootstraps narrative: "What's most striking—and in some circles, controversial—about their work is...their assertion that scarcity affects anyone in its grip. Their argument: qualities often considered part of someone's basic character—impulsive behavior, poor performance in school, poor financial decisions—may in fact be the products of a pervasive feeling of scarcity. And when that feeling is constant, as it is for people mired in poverty, it captures and compromises the mind. This is one of scarcity's most insidious effects, they argue: creating mindsets that rarely consider long-term best interests. 'To put it bluntly,' says Mullainathan, 'if I made you poor tomorrow, you'd probably start behaving in many of the same ways we associate with poor people.' ...Typically, he explains, when the poor remain stuck in the grip of poverty, policymakers tend to ask what's wrong with them, pointing to a lack of personal motivation or ability. Rarely, he continues, do we as policymakers ask, 'What is it about this situation that is enabling this failure?'"

[CN: Racism; class warfare] Another example of using municipal violations to police and exploit a community: "Among the things that will be 'closely monitored' through the spring and summer, according to a newsletter that recently went out to residents: Pants worn too low or grass grown too high. Children riding bikes without helmets. Barbecue pits or toys in front yards. Basketball hoops in the streets. There's no loitering—described in city code as 'the concept of spending time idly' or 'the colloquial expression hanging around.' And, despite a citywide 20 mph speed limit, there's no playing or walking in the street."

[CN: Police brutality; racism] Six months before the US Justice Department made a deal with Cleveland Police to improve their abusive policing, a similar deal was made with Albuquerque: "But more than six months after Albuquerque and the DoJ announced they had reached a deal, and 13 months after the federal agency issued their damning report, activists caution that reforms have not been finalised and a fundamental shift in the police department's culture remains a long way off."

I hope you're sitting down, because here is some exciting presidential primary news: Rick Santorum has announced that he's going to announce that he's running for president again!

In other presidential primary news, Bernie Sanders wants guaranteed vacation time for every US worker. Good idea!

Have y'all been watching the new Netflix series Grace and Frankie, starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda? If not, you should check it out! And then celebrate that it's already been given a second season. Woohoo!

And finally! Nico the adopted shelter dog had no training in rescue, but knew exactly what to do when he heard two people caught in a riptide yelling for help. GOOD DOG!

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Cool Quote, Bro

[Content Note: Homophobia; dehumanization; Christian supremacy.]

After Ireland voted overwhelmingly to legalize same-sex marriage, it was only a matter of time before some cool bro at the Vatican had some cool shit to say about it:

"I was deeply saddened by the result," Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's secretary of state, said at a conference in Rome on Tuesday night. "The church must take account of this reality, but in the sense that it must strengthen its commitment to evangelisation. I think that you cannot just talk of a defeat for Christian principles, but of a defeat for humanity."
A defeat for humanity! Holy shit! Why wasn't Bruce Willis sent in a moonbuggy with an Aerosmith power-ballad to take it out then?!

Pro-tip: Using language that sounds like it came off the script of a 1990's Michael Bay film to describe a referendum that makes the institution of marriage slightly more inclusive makes you sound like a hyperbolic dipshit.

Obviously, everything about this quote is terrific [insert Michael Bay SPARKS! here], but what I love most about it is how it manages to simultaneously imply that all of humanity is Christian and imply that anyone who supports marriage equality is not human.

Keep up the great work, Vatican!

[Commenting Guidelines: Please take the time to make sure any criticisms are clearly directed at the Catholic Church leadership and not at "Catholics," many of whom are themselves critical of the failures of Church leadership.]

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Duggar: Where Was Child Welfare?

[Content Note: Sexual abuse.]

One of the questions that has been asked here and elsewhere regarding the Josh Duggar sexual abuse case is where was child protective services during all of this. And a new item at In Touch, which broke the story, starts to provide answers to that question:

[The] case did not end when Springdale, Ark. police closed their investigation in 2006 because the statute of limitations had run out...

Police referred the matter to the Families in Need of Services agency, which has jurisdiction over minors. The Department of Human Services (DHS) was then brought into the case, In Touch has learned. Nine months after those agencies entered the Duggar molestation case, Josh Duggar sued the Arkansas Department of Human Services. A trial was held on August 6, 2007.

The results of the investigation into the Duggars and Josh's trial are sealed. But a source familiar with the Duggar investigation told In Touch it was likely that Josh "appealed the DHS decision or finding from their investigation." The source notes that DHS had the authority to apply "restrictions or stipulations about him being at home with the victims."

"Josh would be considered an in-home offender, giving DHS the authority to do an investigation. As part of your appeal rights you can request a DHS hearing to challenge what they found and their ruling."
There has been no comment from the family on the DHS investigation, nor whether "their family was monitored by a state agency after the 2007 actions and forced to undergo counseling by a licensed mental health professional."

An earlier article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette confirms that investigators had "filed a 'family in need of services' affidavit with Washington County Juvenile Court," and that one of their reporters had discovered the "sealed Washington County Circuit Court file for Josh Duggar vs. the Arkansas Department of Human Services" in 2007, which noted that a "trial in that case took place Aug. 6, 2007."

So, child protective services was contacted by police and did get involved and made some kind of ruling that the Duggars didn't like. They appealed the decision, which resulted in a trial, the outcome of which is unknown.

It's impossible to say exactly what happened here, but it sure looks like child welfare intervened on behalf of Josh Duggar's victims, and he (and his parents) used their wealth and influence in order to undermine that decision.

[H/T to Aphra_Behn.]

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Immigration Reform Dealt Another Blow

[Content Note: Anti-immigrant sentiment; racism.]

So, last November, President Obama announced a series of executive actions on immigration that were to provide at least temporary relief to nearly five million undocumented immigrants in the US and shield immigrant and migrant children from deportation if they were brought into the US without documentation. Despite the fact that conservatives immediately began caterwauling about executive overreach, the President was obliged to take executive action to address immigration because Congress refused to do it. In fact, Congressional Republican leadership explicitly and publicly urged the President to take executive action when they didn't want to take a position.

In December, Judge Arthur Schwab, a Republican-appointed judge in a federal court in Pennsylvania, turned a pretty typical immigration case into a referendum on the constitutionality of President Obama's executive actions on immigration policy, in order to declare aspects of them unconstitutional. "declared aspects of President Obama's executive actions on immigration policy unconstitutional."

Then, in February, after 26 states said they wanted to bring a lawsuit against the Obama administration to halt the executive order, US District Judge Andrew Hanen blocked the President's executive actions to give those states "time to pursue a lawsuit that aims to permanently stop the orders."

The Justice Department appealed the ruling, and, yesterday, a federal appeals court denied the administration's request to lift the hold imposed by Judge Hanen.

The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by Texas and 25 other states against actions President Obama took in November. Many of the initiatives were scheduled to take effect this month.

The appeals court found that the states had sufficient legal grounds to bring the lawsuit and that the administration had not shown that it would be harmed if the injunction remained in place and the programs were further delayed.

...In a statement, Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, said Mr. Obama had tried to impose "a drastic change in immigration policy" without the consent of Congress. The appeals court decision is "a victory for those committed to preserving the rule of law in America," Mr. Paxton said. "We will continue to fight the brazen lawlessness that has become a trademark of the Obama administration."

...In the 70-page opinion, two judges wrote that Texas had shown it would incur significant costs in issuing driver's licenses to [undocumented] immigrants who would be allowed to stay in the country.
So, to recap: Congress refuses to take action on immigration reform; Republican leadership tells Obama to do it via executive action; Obama issues executive order; conservatives do everything in their power to stop executive order and whinge about "brazen lawlessness," despite the fact that it ain't liberals who have traditionally argued for a strong unitary executive and that President Obama was doing what the legislature refused to do.

Meanwhile, an injunction is granted because it might cost Texas some money to issue driver's licenses to undocumented workers. (Okay.) And the administration couldn't prove "it would be harmed if the injunction remained in place," but never mind the millions of undocumented immigrants who are harmed by these delays.
Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said that part of the intent of the lawsuit was "to delay, to confuse and to instill fear" among immigrants. "The consequences are devastating," she said. "Our communities suffer every single day." She acknowledged that carrying out the programs would be "a harder challenge for our communities" after long delays.
And there you have it.

The truth is, there are plenty of politicians in this country who want undocumented immigrants and migrant workers to be here but only if they are undocumented and are thus exploitable. They don't want to give them rights in exchange for their labor, and they certainly don't want to give them a livable wage, because that would be bad for business.

Profits over people. As usual.

And they justify this heinous position with lies about undocumented workers who don't pay taxes, and ghost stories about undocumented workers who rape and murder (white) citizens, and concern trolling about how undocumented workers harm documented immigrants and their families.

Anything so that we might ignore that undocumented workers are humans, vulnerable humans, more likely to be exploited and harmed than hurt anyone else.

People who work here and live here and pay taxes here and make a life here deserve the rights we all (are meant to) enjoy. It's really just that simple. At least, it should be.

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Open Thread

image of two lion cubs, lying on the savannah

Hosted by lion cubs.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker themiddlevoice: "If you could write a letter to anyone (and not worry they would read it), what would you write?"

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Fun with Black Holes

[Content Note: Hypothetical death.]

Amanda Gefter for the BBC: "The Strange Fate of a Person Falling into a Black Hole."

I'm not even going to excerpt it; just go read the whole thing, because it's so terrific and so fascinating!

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

image of Tom Hardy, from the film 'The Drop'

"No. Not for one minute."—Tom Hardy, during promotions for Mad Max: Fury Road, answering this actual question asked by a reporter in the year of our lord Jesus Jones two thousand and fifteen: "When you were reading the script, did you ever think: Why are all these women in here, I thought this was supposed to be a man's movie?"

Despite my delight at his terse reply, I'm not hurrying to the kitchen to bake Tom Hardy any cookies, because that's exactly the answer anyone should be giving. But, the thing is, Tom Hardy doesn't even want any cookies! After he gave this answer [CN: moving gifs at the link], his co-star Charlize Theron said, "Good for you," to which he replied, "I mean, it's kinda obvious."

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Number of the Day

[Content Note: Homophobia; food insecurity.]

$1.4 million: The amount of money spent by the state of Indiana "fighting five federal court cases that challenged the state's ban on gay marriage. ...According to information provided by the state attorney general's office, Indiana paid more than $1.4 million to attorneys who represented plaintiffs. The state paid an additional $7,000 on other related costs in the lead case."

This, despite the fact that a majority of Hoosiers support same-sex marriage, then and now, and despite the fact that 1 out of 6 Hoosiers rely on "food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families."

Our Republican state leadership not only acts in contravention of the will of the people; it will use the people's tax dollars to defy us, while many of us go hungry.

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Primarily Speaking

image of a clown car filled with seven clowns, whose faces I have replaced with GOP candidates
Beep beep! The clown car has arrived! From left to right: Republican presidential candidates Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Lindsey Graham, and Carly Fiorina.

You know the primary season is in full swing when I start spending my time doing Photoshops as BEAUTIFUL and IMPORTANT as this one!

The GOP Clown Car is hurtling down the Reprehensible Politics Promenade at full-tilt now, and here's just a cool headline at the Washington Post: "The Koch brothers try to rein in the GOP presidential clown show."

"Send in the clowns! But not so damn many of them!"—The Koch Brothers.

Of course, the Koch Brothers aren't the only billionaires with money burning holes in their pockets! Larry Ellison, weirdo billionaire, is also fixing to get it on the act, and it looks like he's putting his money where Marco Rubio's mouth is, or whatever.

And in case there are any other conservative billionaires who have money to burn, but haven't found any candidates among the hundreds already running at whom they want to throw their dollars, George Pataki says he will announce his candidacy later this week. Terrific!

Boy oh boy, if I were an eccentric conservative billionaire who hated giving money to people in need but loved buying gold toilets and Republican politicians, I would be SO MAD at all these candidates! You know how conservatives hate choice! The field is so cluttered with bozos at this point, it's like trying to find the perfect piece of garbage at the biggest garbage dump in all of Garbageland!

In other clown car news, Rick Perry is hanging out in Iowa. And Carly Fiorina is hanging out in New Hampshire. "We were here first! So you have to like us best!" Or something.

On the other side of the aisle, Bernie Sanders is letting loose [CN: video may autoplay at link] about the one percent and "a casino-type capitalism, which is out of control, where the people on top have lost any sense of responsibility for the rest of the society." YES!

And Hillary Clinton has just embraced the fuck out of the pantsuits meme, offering a t-shirt called "the everyday pantsuit tee." LOVE. (I also love that it goes up to a size 28. That's not all-inclusive, but it's a lot more so that most political campaign sizing.)

Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat asleep in my inbox on my desk
Titchy Sophs, sound sleep in the inbox on my desk.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

The Cure: "Pictures of You"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Racism; appropriation; war; death] Ben Becker recalls the origins of Memorial Day, and how it was co-opted into a broad remembrance of fallen soldiers: "What we now know as Memorial Day began as 'Decoration Day' in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. Civil War. It was a tradition initiated by former slaves to celebrate emancipation and commemorate those who died for that cause. ...While historians have gone a long way to expose the white supremacist history of the Civil War and uncover its revolutionary content, the spirit of the first Decoration Day—the struggle for Black liberation and the fight against racism—has unfortunately been whitewashed from the modern Memorial Day."

[CN: War on agency] My pal Andrea Grimes on the latest anti-choice fuckery going down in Texas: "The new restrictions would raise the burden of proof that abused, abandoned, and neglected minors must meet when taking their case to a judge, and would give judges five business days, rather than two business days, to rule on a minor's judicial bypass application. This delay could extend the process of judicial bypass by more than a week and push some minors past the threshold when legal abortion care is allowed in the state. ...[Sponsor Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock)] denied that the bill is intended to limit access to abortion care in Texas."

[CN: Death threats; racism] Twitter has finally suspended aggressively violent and dangerous conservative troll Charles Johnson after he tweeted that he was accepting donations for 'taking out' social justice activist DeRay Mckesson (one of the amazing activists profiled here). Johnson tried to claim he was speaking metaphorically, and Mckesson called that shit right out: "For someone who considers themselves a journalist, I firmly believe that he understands the power of his words. And his words are his words. 'Take out' functions in a certain way. And if I got on any media outlet and said something to the effect of 'take out the police,' nobody would think that I was talking about an exposé." Damn right.

[CN: Death; torture; trafficking] Just awful: "Malaysia has begun exhuming bodies suspected to be migrants buried in 139 grave sites close to the Thai border. Authorities believe the migrants were held for ransom in jungle camps by gangs of human traffickers. Thousands of migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar have left for Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia in recent weeks. ...[A]uthorities in Myanmar have charged 20 people with offences related to human trafficking. They were arrested from a vessel carrying 200 migrants from Bangladesh that was rescued last week."

[CN: Rape culture; rape apologia] The public defense of Josh Duggar by everyone who knows him continues, care of one of his sister's father-in-law. And this guy repeats the common assertion that people are gloating: "There is blood in the water and the sharks are in a feeding frenzy. Finally, the Duggar family's opponents have found what they have been eagerly waiting for: shocking revelations of scandal by Jim Bob and Michelle's firstborn son, Josh." I'm sure, because the planet is a big place, there are people who are gloating, but the idea that critics have been "eagerly waiting" to hear that girls were sexually abused is contemptible. Don't project your utter lack of concern for victims onto us, bub.

Oh good! I was just saying last never that we need more media monopolies: "Charter Communications Inc, controlled by cable industry pioneer John Malone, offered to buy Time Warner Cable Inc for $56 billion, seeking to combine the No. 3 and No. 2 U.S. cable operators to compete against market leader Comcast Corp."

[CN: Misogyny] People in Australia are quite rightly asking why it is that tampons and pads are not considered an "important health good," and are thus subject to the 10% Goods and Services tax. I mean, they know why. (What a mystery for the ages!) They are asking for that particular expression of misogyny to stop.

Whoa! "Madagascar is known for its incredible biodiversity, but even so scientists were surprised to find that one species in particular that's unique to the region, called the panther chameleon, is actually 11 different species in one." I love panther chameleons; they have to be one of the most beautiful creatures on Earth.

And finally! This dog says fuck solidarity when it comes to the question of who pooped in the kitchen lol!

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