Question of the Day

What is your favorite television show with a female lead?

Doesn't have to be a current show, and doesn't have to have exclusively a female lead, but does have to have a legit female lead (appears in every episode and has own story arcs not exclusively in service to male lead/s) even if it's an ensemble.

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Quote of the Day

"The irresponsible actions of my party, the Republican Party, over [the debt ceiling debacle] was astounding. I'd never seen anything like it in my lifetime. I think about some of the presidents we've had on my side of the aisle—Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., go right through them, Eisenhower—they would be stunned."—Former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel (Nebraska), who said his party has moved too far rightward and called the debt negotiations "an astounding lack of responsible leadership by many in the Republican party, and I say that as a Republican."


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Picture of the Day

Sunset, August 28, 2011

I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico, last weekend for a family celebration. This was taken south of town -- near Sun Mountain -- facing west.

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Marie at Think Progress: "Kaiser Health News reports that federal subsidies to help laid-off workers continue their health care coverage—'one of the key consumer benefits of the federal stimulus package'—will end today. Millions of laid-off workers benefited from federal subsidies for COBRA, a program that allows people who lose their jobs to keep employer-provided insurance, usually for 18 months, if they pay the entire premium and some part of the administrative fees. Congress extended the COBRA subsidy three times to cover workers who lost their jobs through May 2010, but increasing concern about the national deficit led them to decline another extension last year. Health care costs for the unemployed are expected to rise sharply and with them, concerns about how millions of families will cover those expenses."

I don't even know what to say, at least in terms of saying something I haven't already said a million times before.

The US needs socialized healthcare. Healthcare should not be a for-profit enterprise: It is a right, not a privilege. Or it should be, anyway.

I'm so tired of hearing conservatives wailing about the devilry of universal healthcare. The same people who natter endlessly about job creators and small business and entrepreneurship ought to be the most keenly aware that inextricably tying people to jobs just to retain their healthcare stifles business creativity and makes the market less robust, as one of the major risks of starting a small business in the US is abandoning the employer-sponsored healthcare system.

Of course, conservatives aren't actually interested in people starting small businesses, despite their claims to the contrary. Not really. That might mean competition for the global corporations to whom they're beholden, or even the slightest of delays in turning the US into a giant feudal oligarchy.

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Number of the Day

$60 billion: The amount of US tax dollars estimated by a commission to have been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade.

And to covert war profiteering, no doubt.

[Via Shark-fu.]

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Daily Dose of Cute

I've mentioned previously that Zelda doesn't like having her paws touched, which makes clipping her claws difficult. So earlier today, when the groomer was here to give Matilda a new lion cut (no, there are no pictures yet, because Tilsy is pouting, thankyouverymuch), she met Zelda for the first time, and I mentioned the paws issue. I said the vet had suggested she might have to be sedated for getting her nails trimmed, and our groomer (have I mentioned she's awesome? she is awesome) said with an amusingly unrestrained eyeroll that she didn't think that would be necessary and she'd give it a try.

Well, guess who got her claws clipped like a GOOD GIRL and didn't even need to be muzzled and was completely unstressed by the entire event?

image of Zelda the Mutt curled up on the couch

When she came back in from the grooming truck, Zelda wasn't the slightest bit anxious and had, in fact, made fast friends with the groomer. And she now has perfectly trimmed nails. For a total of $5.

Dudley, meanwhile, took a nap after a hard morning of napping.

Dudley the Greyhound lying half upside-down on the couch

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Who Is John Galt?

Who is John Galt? These people!:

[Video description: A two minute montage of people saying "I am John Galt."]

A while back the Online Marketing Director for Atlas Shrugged: Part I: The Great Shruggening asked fans of his movie to tumblr themselves saying "I am John Galt." And they did. All 1440 of them. Oof!

And oh, happy day! They're all getting their faces in a bonus feature on the DVD! The above video is a sneak peek. Yes, it's terribly edited, and the sound is a muddled mess where you can barely hear anything because the music is drowning everything else out.

But, Objectivism, so it's cool: People grabbing their webcams and SD cards and Skypes and "Going Godard" by filming themselves. (Neo-realism in action, you Eberts!)

I've yet to see the movie, and I hope they'll send me a review copy of the DVD soon. (You hear me, Online Marketing Director for Atlas Shrugged: Part I DVDs? Send me a copy!) I don't know if this is something that happens in the film. But I do know it's something that happens in Spartacus when a Ragtag Band of Rebels pull together to help a comrade. Which, I think, is the exact opposite of the whole Objectivist philosophy.

In Atlas Shrugged I thought John Galt was the guy who took his ball and went home, figuratively speaking. He up and disappears, thereby denying an ingrateful world his special brand of genius. I guess then maybe all these people are going to "Go Galt" and leave? Is that what they're saying?

I mean, that sounds like an okay idea, honestly. Except for the kids. There are a lot of kids in the video. I don't think they should just run away. Most kids probably can't look after themselves. Except maybe this guy.

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Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by sleepy dogs and frisky cats.

Recommended Reading:

Vance: [TW for racism] Flying While Black & Reading Antique Aviation Books

Kat: [TW for misogyny] Proposed Rule Threatens Choice in Britain

Renee: [TW for racism] Peter Pan and What Makes the Red Man Red

Living ~400lbs: [TW for fat hatred] Proper Treatment

Andy: New 'Amazing Race' Cast Includes Gay Couple, 'Survivor' Winners, and Olympic Snowboarders

Tigtog: Ducklings!

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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Liquefy Me!

Neat! New body 'liquefaction' unit unveiled in Florida funeral home:

A Glasgow-based company has installed its first commercial "alkaline hydrolysis" unit at a Florida funeral home.

The unit by Resomation Ltd is billed as a green alternative to cremation and works by dissolving the body in heated alkaline water.

The facility has been installed at the Anderson-McQueen funeral home in St Petersburg, and will be used for the first time in the coming weeks. It is hoped other units will follow in the US, Canada and Europe.

The makers claim the process produces a third less greenhouse gas than cremation, uses a seventh of the energy, and allows for the complete separation of dental amalgam for safe disposal.

Mercury from amalgam vaporised in crematoria is blamed for up to 16% of UK airborne mercury emissions, and many UK crematoria are currently fitting mercury filtration systems to meet reduced emission targets.

"Resomation was developed in response to the public's increasing environmental concerns," company founder Sandy Sullivan told BBC News. "It gives them that working third choice, which allows them to express those concerns in a very positive and I think personal way."

The installation was only made possible after the state legislature in Florida approved the use of the technology, one of seven US states in which the process has now been legalised.

The system works by submerging the body in a solution of water and potassium hydroxide which is pressurised to 10 atmospheres and heated to 180C for between two-and-a-half and three hours.

Body tissue is dissolved and the liquid poured into the municipal water system. Mr Sullivan, a biochemist by training, says tests have proven the effluent is sterile and contains no DNA, and poses no environmental risk.
Long-time Shakers may wonder about my macabre fascination with after-death body disposal, since I have blogged about half a dozen different alternatives to traditional burial and cremation over the years, but, the truth is, I just have zero interest in being buried and I'm interested in environmentally-friendly options to dispose of whatever's left over after everything that can be harvested for donation has been hauled away.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Glen Campbell: "Rhinestone Cowboy"

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A Challenge to Idaho's New Abortion Laws

Jennie Linn McCormack will inevitably be described as an "unlikely abortion crusader," or some variation on that theme, because she is a poor mother of three and doesn't fit some media-constructed version of the Glamorous Big City Women's Activist, but that gets it precisely wrong. McCormack is the most likely of abortion advocates because she is a poor mother of three who lives in a small town in Idaho where she doesn't have access to a legal medical procedure.

Which is why she ordered RU486 over the internet to terminate a pregnancy, for which she was subsequently charged—both under a 1972 Idaho law making it a felony to end one's own pregnancy and under the 20-week "fetal pain" ban (patterned after the Nebraska law) that went into effect earlier this year.

The charges were later dismissed for lack of evidence, but now McCormack has filed suit, challenging the laws under which she was charged. (Rock the fuck on!)

The lawsuit is believed to be the first federal court case against any of several late-term abortion bans enacted in Idaho and four other states during the past year, based on controversial medical research suggesting a fetus feels pain starting at 20 weeks of development.

...The 1972 Idaho law discriminates against McCormack and other women of limited means in southeastern Idaho, which lacks any abortion providers, by forcing them to seek more costly surgical abortions far from home, the lawsuit says.

The newly enacted Idaho law banning late-term abortions was not yet in effect when McCormack terminated her own pregnancy using abortion pills she obtained from an online distributor at between 20 and 21 weeks of gestation on December 24, 2010, according to her lawyer, Richard Hearn.

But Hearn, also a physician, argues that both the 1972 law and the newly enacted Idaho statute pose other unconstitutional barriers to abortion. He cited, for example, the failure to exempt third-trimester pregnancies (25 weeks or more) in cases where a woman's health, not just her life, is at risk.

According to court documents, McCormack, a mother of three, learned she was pregnant in the fall of 2010 and ordered pills online she believed were prescribed by a distant healthcare provider to induce an abortion.

She hoped to avoid seeking a surgical abortion in Utah that she could ill afford on a monthly income of $200 to $250.

"I learned that medication for inducing abortions had been approved for use in the United States and could be purchased over the Internet," she wrote in a sworn statement.

...Hearn seeks to bar county prosecutors from charging other women with crimes under the state's abortion laws until their constitutionality is determined. A hearing on the request is set for September 8 in Boise.
I can only begin to imagine the blowback McCormack will get for filing this suit. I fervently hope that the message she is a hero to women fighting for their reproductive rights, and to their male allies, manages to penetrate the vitriol.

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This Owl Rules

Photo by Michael Azen, via The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

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Twittering! With Liss and Deeky!

Yesterday, on Twitter:

Shakestweetz: In which Professional Homosexual Deeky W. Gashlycrumb suggests an alternative hobby for the homosex-obsessed:

DeekyMD: I love that I am a Professional Homosexual now.

Shakestweetz: I'm totes gonna get you business cards.

[Later that day...]

Shakestweetz: You're open for business. (Pun intended, obviously.)

DeekyMD: You're such a doofus! LOLOLOL!!

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This is a real thing in the world.

screen cap of a girls' shirt for sale at JC Penney reading 'I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me'

Shaker Suzanne emails that JC Penney is currently selling this girls' shirt on its website. And not only are they selling a shirt reading "I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me," but the catalog blurb reads: "Who has time for homework when there's a new Justin Bieber album out? She'll love this tee that's just as cute and sassy as she is."

Are you kidding me?

What makes this even more tragically hilarious is JC Penney's "Commitment to Inclusion & Diversity" on their corporate website, which asserts that their "long-term success depends on our ability to leverage the unique skills of our diverse workforce." Presumably, that includes women. Presumably, their female employees need to know basic skills that they learned doing their own homework.

JC Penney also claims to "believe in doing what is 'right and just'; jcpenney is committed to being a good corporate citizen through the support of environmental, social and ethical initiatives." Here's a neat social and ethical initiative for you: FEMINISM. Or, if you prefer: Not treating girls like garbage.

teaspoon icon Contact JC Penney and politely ask them to remove this item from their catalog and their stores:

Tel: 1.972.431.1000
Twitter: @jcpenney
Facebook: JC Penney's Page

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Let's Start the Day with a Little Good News

Reuters—Judge blocks parts of Texas abortion law on sonograms:

A federal judge temporarily blocked key provisions of a Texas abortion law on Tuesday that would require women seeking the procedure to view a sonogram and listen to the heartbeat of their fetus.

The law, which had been due to go into effect on Thursday, was a major part of Republican Governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry's agenda in this year's Texas legislative session.

But the judge, in a victory for abortion rights activists, ruled in a preliminary injunction that there was cause to believe such a requirement was an unconstitutional burden on doctors.

"The act compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity, and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to listen," U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks said in the ruling.

He also struck down provisions that would have called for canceling a doctor's license or subjecting a physician to criminal penalty for failure to comply

The law, if the state were to later prevail in court, would require that a sonogram viewing take place 24 hours before an abortion, or two hours before the procedure for women who live over 100 miles from the abortion clinic.

In his ruling, the judge blocked the state from penalizing physicians who do not display the sonogram images in front of a pregnant woman, or have her listen to the fetus' heartbeat, if the woman declines that information.

Sparks, an Austin-based federal judge for the Western District of Texas, also took a dim view of a provision that would force women pregnant from rape or incest to certify that in writing if they do not wish to hear a doctor's explanation of the sonogram images.

"The Court need not belabor the obvious by explaining why, for instance, women who are pregnant as a result of sexual assault or incest may not wish to certify that fact in writing, particularly if they are too afraid of retaliation to even report the matter to police," Sparks wrote.
US District Judge Sam Sparks, I think I might love you a little bit.

Naturally, the ruling will be appealed by Governor Rick Perry's administration, because this laws is necessary, according to Perry, so that "women have all information necessary to make an informed decision on an important medical procedure." I've already written about that mendacious argument no fewer than 783 times, so I won't belabor the point again, but just no: Women are not clueless dingalings who make the decision to have an abortion in a void of information; we know what we're doing, and we have all the information we need by the time we schedule an appointment to terminate.

Sonogram laws are just a despicable bit of bullying designed to try to emotionally manipulate women into subverting their own instincts. If Perry and the rest of the American Family Values Children Christian Liberty Freedom Patriot Association Foundation Organization were merely interested in providing women with information, sonograms would be offered as a option, not a mandatory requirement.

They're bullies. And Maude bless Judge Sam Sparks for stopping that bullying in its tracks.

At least for now.

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Open Thread


Hosted by Wackies.

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Question of the Day

Deeky and I—who have an uncannily similar taste in music, down to favorite guitar licks and beloved lyrics in weird songs on obscure albums—both hate live albums, but we're willing to have our minds changed about them (no we're not). What's your favorite live album?

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Photo of the Day

American actress Daryl Hannah is arrested as she joins a protest against the Keystone XL oil pipeline, outside the White House in Washington, August 30, 2011. Dozens were arrested on Tuesday in the protest against the pipeline that, if completed, will stretch from Canada to the gulf coast of the United States. [Reuters Pictures]
In addition to being an environmental activist and a great comedic and dramatic actress, Daryl Hannah, who is rather famously a survivor of domestic abuse, is also an advocate against sexual violence and human trafficking.

I saw Splash when I was 10 years old, and I thought that Daryl Hannah was soooo beautiful. I longed to look like her. Twenty-seven years hence, my definitions of what constitutes a beautiful person have expanded—and I find her beautiful still.

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Number of the Day

0: The number of times American University professor Allan Lichtman has incorrectly predicted presidential elections since 1984. Using a detailed election formula, he has accurately called every election since Ronald Reagan's reelection, and he says that Obama will win in 2012.

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All the Better to Exploit You With!

Ryan at Gawker has an update on Google+'s garbage "real name" policy. Spoiler Alert: They need our real names so they can make more moneez!

[H/T to @ScottMadin.]

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Take Us to Your Leader

Neat! Potentially life-supporting planet found: "Researchers from the Geneva astronomical observatory have discovered a planet which they say is one of the best candidates for the ability to support life. The planet—known as HD 85512b—and its star—HD 85512—are some 36 light years away from our solar system, according to an article published in the specialist magazine Astronomy & Astrophysics. It is 3.6 times heavier than Earth and takes just 54 days to orbit its sun. The article says the planet is at the inside limit of the 'habitable zone,' defined as the distance close enough to its star to stop water freezing, and far enough to prevent it evaporating away."

I'm sure I'm not the only person who, upon hearing of the possibility of life-supporting planets, even knowing that "life" may not mean complex organisms, nonetheless gets images of Independence Day—style alien invasion scenarios in her head.

But am I the only person who imagines that it is we, with our dwindling fossil fuel supply and lackluster enthusiasm for alternative energies, who are the marauding invaders...?

[Via Andy.]

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Felonious Activities

[TW for homophobia]

Bryan Fischer, reigning d-bag at the AFA, wants to criminalize sodomy. As far as Fischer is concerned, touching your no-no is a big no-no.

On his radio show yesterday (where is this airing?) Fischer said: "Until the late 20th Century, homosexual activity was a felony offense in the United States of America, there is no reason why it cannot be a criminal offense once again." Hear that, homos? If Fischer had his way, your next Scattergories party would be against the law! (That's an activity homosexuals enjoy, isn't it?)

Oh, wait, I think he means sodomy.

And it's probably just the gay sodomy Fischer is worried about. It's unclear what Fischer thinks of non-gay sodomy between married, heterosexual couples. My guess is he gives it a big sad face. I bet Fischer gives everything the big sad face. Hey, does anyone know what the bible's official position is on backdoor action? If you've some insight, please let me know in comments. Or not. Honestly, I don't care. (Biblical scholars and pedants take note: I don't actually care.)

I'm not sure why Fischer and his ilk are sooooo obssessed with the gay sex. Especially considering how much they hate it. I mean, I talk about the gay sex all day long (follow my twitters for reference), and I actually enjoy it, but I know I talk about it a lot less than Fischer and the AFA does.

Jeez Louise, find a hobby, you guys! May I suggest Scattergories?

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Dancing with the Stars

So, I have watched exactly one episode of Dancing with the Stars during its 1,200 seasons, then I wrote about watching that episode, then I never watched it again. It's not because I have standards in my Garbage TV viewing habits (I think we all know I don't); it just didn't really capture my interest. I mean, you've really got to deliver when A&E runs Billy the Exterminator re-runs on a loop and Ricky Bretherton's golden mane is one click away.

Anyway! The point is, I don't know shit about Dancing with the Stars.

In addition to not knowing shit about it, I generally don't give a shit about it. But the show just announced its cast for the upcoming season, and there is MUCH HULLABALOO because of the "controversial" cast members selected: Chaz Bono, a trans man, Carson Kressley, a gay man, and JR Martinez, an Iraq War veteran cum soap opera star and motivational speaker who sustained severe burns to nearly half his body, including his face, while serving in Iraq.

Naturally, these men are only "controversial" figures among people who are transphobic, homophobic, and ablist body policers. Unfortunately, there are a lot of those people about. Especially on Facebook, according to everyone who emailed me about this and told me that they are officially requesting leave from Planet Earth for gentler galaxies after reading reactions to the DWTS casting announcement.

Owing to aforementioned not knowing/giving a shit about DWTS, I don't have anything clever or wise to say about the casting, you know, besides: Good job, ABC, for not being total bigots! Here are some cookies!

But despite my lack of sagacious commentary, I wanted to open a thread where people who like DWTS and/or otherwise want to talk about the casting can do so in a space where people won't say terrible things (or will be booted if they do).

Here it is! Have fun!

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Daily Dose of Cute

Kitteh Time!

Matilda the Cat, lying on the couch
"I can't even look at you right now. I'm consumed by thoughts of Tony."

Olivia the Cat, sitting on my lap
Olivia needs three things to be happy: A lap to sit on, scratches, more scratches.

Sophie the Cat, sitting on the back of the couch by the window
The Thinker. As reminagined by a little stinker.

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Quote of the Day

"Today, my ACLU connection would probably disqualify me."Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on how her background as a civil rights attorney and a champion of women's equality would, in today's political climate, likely prevent her confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Over at Think Progress, Ian notes: "As director of the ACLU's Women's Rights Project, Ginsburg was literally the single most important women's rights attorney in American history. She authored the brief in Reed v. Reed that convinced a unanimous Supreme Court to hold for the very first time that the Constitution's guarantee of Equal Protection applies to women. And her brief in Craig v. Boren convinced the Court to hand down its very first decision holding that gender discrimination laws are subject to heightened constitutional scrutiny. It is possible that modern doctrines preventing gender discrimination would simply not exist if Ruth Bader Ginsburg hadn't done the work she did for the ACLU. And yet, in today's era of rampant right-wing filibusters, that alone would disqualify her for a seat on the federal bench."

That is what a feminist backlash looks like.

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Today in Rape Culture

[Trigger warning for sexual assault; rape culture.]

I'm no Professional Advice Columnist, but I'm pretty sure that telling someone to spend more time with and try to understand the emotional motivations of a "friend" who had sexually assaulted them more than once is terrible, terrible advice.

Also: I suspect, though I could be wrong, that if the letter-writer had been a woman whose platonic male friend had twice masturbated in bed with her, while staring at her and touching her while she slept, instead of a gay male whose platonic male friend did the same, male Professional Advice Columnist Cary Tennis might not have been quite so quick to encourage her to try to see things from his perspective.

One of the things about the rape culture is that it depends on men feeling, and being told, that it was nothing of any consequence when they are sexually violated, surely not a sexual violation, because that's something that happens to women, and eww no one wants to be like them.

Men, of course, are sexually violated, and, when they are, they shouldn't be admonished to pretend they weren't, or to get over it, or to (FOR FUCK'S SAKE) "meet with him and have a frank talk. You might begin by saying that you care deeply about him but there are some things he has done that you find hard to accept. Maybe he can tell you something about what's been going on in his life, things that he has not mentioned, things that don't make him look good, things that will help you understand why he did the things he did."


I also suspect, though I could again be wrong, that if the letter-writer had been a straight man whose platonic male friend had twice masturbated in bed with him, he wouldn't be exhorted to talk to his friend "about the emotional needs that are driving his behavior."

Because the letter-writer is a gay man, and because of our cultural expectations that gay men share the nurturing qualities and emotional capacity we assign to women, he seems to get the worst advice of all: Pretend you weren't sexually violated in a heinous betrayal of your friendship, because you are a man, but give your predatory friend the benefit of your understanding and compassion, because you are a gay man.

So much yuck, Cary Tennis. SO MUCH!

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Dolly Parton: "Here You Come Again"

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Film Corner!

From the makers of Superbad, a comedy about cancer! 50/50 stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a dude with cancer, and Seth Rogen as his BFF who will totes help him exploit his cancer to get laid. No, seriously.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt tells Seth Rogen that he has cancer: "They found it yesterday." SethRo is stricken: "They found it yesterday?! Who found it?" JGL retorts: "My cleaning lady found it in the back of my jeans. Who do you think found it?" Ho ho! Very good cancer joke, based on the very real situation in which you tell your friend that you have cancer and your friend definitely wants to know who made the diagnosis.

True Fact: Jokes by privileged straight white male characters containing the words "my cleaning lady" are automatically ten times funnier.

Wait, no, not funnier. BAAAAAAARRRRRRRFier.

SethRo tries to cheer up JGL by reminding him of all the famous dudes who have beat cancer, like Lance Armstrong and Dexter. I guess that pep talk didn't help, because JGL goes to see a therapist played by Up in the Air's Anna Kendrick who is having a nice little career so far playing competent, professional women who privileged straight white male characters think are too young to be doing their jobs (but maybe she can teach them something about LIFE!).

He asks her how old she is and she says 24, to which he replies, "So you're like Doogie Howser?" Good joke, because he was a teenager, so that totally makes sense. She doesn't know who Doogie Howser is. (Don't 24-year-olds know who Doogie Howser is? I consult with a 22-year-old who assures me he knows who Doogie Howser is.) JGL tells her he's a teenage doctor, and because she is from Planet Zuh, Dr. Anna Kendrick asks, "Does he work here?" CLASSIC!

JGL gives a wry grin that is supposed to convey that he is Getting Older and Kids These Days or whatever, but he is only 30 in real life and is playing a 27-year-old in the movie and looks like he's 17 (like Doogie Howser: Teenager), so nothing is making any sense.

Surely if it was important to have this scene of Doogie Howser-related existential crisis (in case the CANCER weren't enough), someone other than JGL should be playing this role. Someone who is maybe 47, and looks at least 37, and is playing a character of 42, so feeling dubious about his 24-year-old psychologist would marginally make sense from an age standpoint, despite still being needlessly prejudiced.

Anyway! I am thinking about this scene and how stupid it is way too much!

JGL doesn't want his mother to move in just because he has cancer. He does, however, want to shave his head. He borrows SethRo's shaver, which whoooooooops he uses to trim body hair uh-oh pubes good lord am I really watching this?

Montagery. JGL is having a nervous breakdown and calls Dr. Anna Kendrick. JGL tells SethRo he's got a 50/50 chance of survival. SethRo tells him: "That's not that bad. If you were a casino game, you'd have the best odds." 70s music. (Arthur Lee's "Everybody's Got to Live," which is so the best thing about this trailer. You deserve more, Arthur Lee's song!) Knit caps. Bro-hugs. SethRo tells JGL that girls will "go for" him because he has cancer. He walks up to girls in a club and says, "I have cancer." They look at him like he is a gross creep. SethRo pulls him away: "I was wrong. It's weird like that. It doesn't sound cool."

But don't worry! Things are gonna work out. JGL's bald head attracts the attention of some young women who ask to touch it. "You can do more than touch it!" SethRo says. Yes, ladies: RUB YOUR PUSSIES ON IT!

This is all funny because cancer. The end.

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Breaking Bad Open Thread

Big doin's out at the chicken ranch with Jesse and Gus.

Sunday's episode will be discussed in infinitesimal detail, so if you haven't seen it, and don't want any spoilers, take your fried chicken and move along...

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More Evidence That YOU Don't Understand 12 Dimensional Chess

In the latest Gallup poll, President Obama's job approval rating averaged 40%. But the even more important numbers are these: Support for the president is down 11% among liberals (from 79% at summer's beginning to 68% now) and down 12% among moderates (from 59% to 47%).

After months of triangulation, capitulation, and bipartisanship to appeal to the all-important moderates, their support for him is now below 50%.

Meanwhile, he's losing his liberal base just as quickly.

At some point, the administration is going to have to acknowledge at long last that is not because we don't understand politics, but because we do.

[H/T to @PeterDaou.]

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Today in Rick Perry Is Terrible

This is not how things are supposed to work in a democracy:

Now, as Texas Gov. Rick Perry embarks on a presidential campaign, it is unlikely the public will access records that provide many revealing details about his decade-long tenure as governor. While Perry extols open government - most recently challenging Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to "open the books" of the nation's central bank - he has adopted policies that shroud his own office in a purposeful opaqueness that confounds prying reporters or any member of the public questioning his policies.

...Over the past decade, the Perry administration has withheld information in response to about 100 open records requests, instead seeking review by the Texas attorney general's office. In two cases last year, Perry's office acknowledges it failed to meet legal deadlines for responding to the requests, or otherwise delayed in violation of well-established procedures outlined in the Texas Public Information Act.

Most of the withheld documents involved contracts, bidding and oversight of programs in which state money flows to entrepreneurs, privately held companies and universities from Perry's two economic development funds, the Emerging Technology Fund and the Texas Enterprise Fund. In some cases, the requests involve entities headed by Perry campaign donors and political appointees.

...Houston attorney Joe Larsen, who represents the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, said he believes Perry's office is violating state law by automatically purging all staff members' computers of e-mails older than seven days.

...Reporters learned that Perry took a 2004 trip to the Bahamas with San Antonio businessman James Leininger, a campaign donor, and antitax advocate Grover Norquist after being spotted scuba diving by a tourist. The trip did not appear on his schedule released under the state Public Information Act.
This election's collection of miscreants running for the GOP nomination not only make George W. Bush look liberal and John McCain look consistent; they also make Richard Nixon look ethical. Yikes.

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Open Thread


Hosted by a friendly reminder.

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Question of the Day

We've done this one before, but not for quite some time...

Was there ever a time when you were a kid that your parent(s) got a totally—and hilariously—wrong idea of you or something you were up to? Like, say, having teh sex (when you totes weren't) or worshiping the debil?

Mama Shakes loves to tell the story (and has in comments here before) about the time she found a baggie containing some pills tucked between the cushions of the sofa in the basement area that my friends and I hung out in while I was in high school. And instead of just asking me what it was—presumably because if I were a druggie I'd be a liar, too (lol)—she drove to another town (lol) where there would be no chance of being recognized (lol) to ask a pharmacist if zie could identify the pills. And she was perplexedly informed that she was in possession of a dose of over-the-counter anti-diarrheal meds. Scandalous!

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This is a real thing in the world.

[Trigger warning for misogynistic violence.]

The Henry VIII and "Disappearing Wives" Mug:

screen cap of coffee mug featuring images of King Henry VIII and his wives
10 oz. mug features the picture of Henry VIII and his 6 wives ... which disappear when you add hot beverage
How charming. In case you're wondering, yes, it's microwave-safe!

Frequently have I taken note of the increasing use of antiquity as a justification for treating violent misogyny as a ha-ha joke. What—you still can't laugh at a guy murdering his wives even when it happened like a zillion years ago?! Geez!

(I'm not going to link to the site at which I found this, because wev, but it's easy enough to find via Google if you are so inclined.)

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Your Milkshake Will So Be Drunken

I have spent an extraordinary amount of time today on the phone with a city manager who thinks it's appropriate to talk to women like they are stupid and use the term "ma'am" with the same intonation that he would use "bitch" in another circumstance.


I have been underestimated by better men than you. Sir.

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Daily Dose of Cute

Dozing Doggehs!

Zelda the Mutt lies on the couch taking a nap

Dudley the Greyhound lies on the couch taking a nap with his tongue hanging out

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Recreation Is Re-Creation

Echidne has some very smart thoughts about vacations here. Three-word summary: We needs 'em.

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"Dangerous White Stereotypes"

This is a very good article about The Help which makes some excellent points (without explicitly making them) about black women not being a monolithic group, about the complicated experience of enjoying art that you also find to have problematic aspects, and about there not being such a thing as a "good person," full-stop, because we all have the capacity for the decency and the capacity for malice.

The overt content—that the stereotype of the White Racist Who Is a Terrible Person is dangerous, because the suggestion "that bad people were racist implies that good people were not"—is excellent, too. There are a whole lotta white people, among them people I know, who are watching that movie and coming away from it with a very satisfactory feeling of superiority to Those Racist White People.

I have written before about the rape culture being a continuum of behaviors that reflect a disregard for consent, and oppressions work the same way (see Part 3b): Oppressions do not exist as a hierarchy, where only the most egregious acts can be deemed oppressive, lest a word like racism lose all meaning. They exist on a continuum, at one end of which is genocide, and at the other end of which is, say, the use of "Whatta maroon!" because, hey, Bugs Bunny says it, without knowledge of its racial history.

White people like to absolve themselves by ranking racism, by noting that ignorantly using a slur out of context and murdering someone because of hir race are not equivalent things. Of course they're not—but they serve the same oppression.

That's what makes them both racism.

Stereotypes like the ones in The Help allow privileged white people to distance ourselves from racism, rather than encouraging us to connect the "little things" that perpetuate white privilege to the undeniable brutality of unchecked racism, and that is indeed a dangerous thing.

Anyway! Professor Turner worked a hell of a lot of good stuff for thought into that piece. You should definitely read it!

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Et tu, deus?

[Trigger warning for fat hatred and eliminationism]

In case you missed it, a hurricane struck the Eastern U.S. this week (Canada, too, although barring some sort of constitutional amendment, they don't have presidential primaries coming up).

Michele Bachmann spent yesterday in Sarasota telling folks that Hurricane Irene was evidence that God is pissed. If you're going to send the message that tropical weather is a sign of the end times, what better place to do so then the subtropics?

As it turns out, the problem isn't that I'm queer. Rather, God is all pissy because I'm a public employee. I work for the government, which according to Bachmann is on a "morbid obesity diet":

I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.
Me: Et tu, deus?
God: Adipiscing adipiscing in e!

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Monday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by solid vocals.

Recommended Reading:

Atrios: Results

Susie: [TW for self-harm] Moment of Truth: The Widow of an Army Ranger Confronts Donald Rumsfeld at a Book Signing and Is Escorted Out

Jamelle: Saint Martin: Why We Don't—and Can't—Celebrate the Real MLK

Fannie: The Importance of Choices

Penn: [TW for Homophobia] Rick Santorum Says Gays Are On "Jihad Against Rick Santorum"

Pam: HRC's Official Press Release on Joe Solmonese's Departure

Veronica: Call for Papers: Disabled Mothers

The Atlantic has a compelling collection of images of Hurricane Irene and its aftereffects.

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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Adele at the VMAs

I don't give a flying flunderton about the MTV Video Music Awards anymore, but OMG here is Adele performing "Someone Like You" at the VMAs last night:

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music, Adele

I mean, come on.

And here's a picture of Adele arriving at the show, looking gorgeous and sassy as per usual.

image of Adele arriving at the VMAs

I love her. That is all.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

The Oak Ridge Boys: "Elvira"

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Interesting Theory of Democracy Ya Got There

We were not elected to represent you; we were elected to protect the federal budget from you. Or something:

Despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene this weekend, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) today stood by his call that no more money be allocated for disaster relief unless it is offset by spending cuts elsewhere. The Washington Post reported this morning that FEMA will need more money than it currently has to deal with the storm's aftermath, and is already diverting funds from other recent disasters to deal with the hurricane, but Cantor's comments suggest Republicans won't authorize more funds without a fight.

Cantor took the position following the tornadoes that devastated Joplin, MO and elsewhere this summer, and after last week's earthquake, which was eipicented in his district, but the hurricane's level of destruction is far beyond that of those disasters. Still, Cantor told Fox News that while "we're going to find the money," "we're just going to need to make sure that there are savings elsewhere to do so."
So, let's see if I have this right: The banks are too big to fail, but the US middle and lower classes, and the infrastructure on which they depend, are not. Awesome.

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Quote of the Day

"We can't rule out the possibility that there will be some areas where it will be hard for residents to return to their homes for a long time. We are very sorry."—Yukio Edano, Chief Spokesperson for the Japanese Government, admitting at long last "that thousands of people with homes near the [Fukushima] nuclear plant may not be able to return for a generation or more," because the damage is much worse than initially thought/predicted/said, and possibly even worse than the Chernobyl meltdown.

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Breaking Nooz

Currently on the front page of CNN (US edition):

screen cap of CNN's front page with linked article: Opinion: Storms no longer 'God's wrath.'

It leads to this story, which is not so much an assessment of whether storms are actually "God's wrath," but an observation about how most USians no longer regard storms as "God's wrath," even though I don't believe it was ever true that "American society as a whole" agreed that natural disasters were "signs of some coming apocalypse or evidence of some past misdeeds."

In other nooz, 100% of Melissa L. McEwans agree that no naturally-occurring storm is strong enough to blow over a garbage straw-argument that disappears historically unpopular views of religion.

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Hurricane Irene Open Thread

Here's what I've been reading this morning...

GuardianHurricane Irene claims lives and leaves trail of destruction:

New York breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday after hurricane Irene passed over without major damage to the city, but the storm still caused deaths, serious floods and power blackouts affecting more than a million people as it swept up the north-eastern seaboard of the United States.

...The biggest impact was felt on Sunday night in upstate New York and New England where many communities suffered devastating floods after rivers burst their banks and Irene's torrential rains fell on ground already saturated by unusually high downpours earlier this month.

...President Barack Obama warned the storm and its aftermath were not over: "This is a storm that has claimed lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones," he said. "Many Americans are still at serious risk of power outages and flooding which could get worse in the coming days. I want people to understand that this is not over."
CNN: Irene leaves damaging and deadly floods, rushing waters.

AP: Hurricane Irene leads to at least 25 deaths.

Reuters: Irene power outages swell to nearly 4.2 million.

CNN: Hurricane Irene damage could reach billions.

Despite the loss of life, and catastrophic damage the extent of which still remains to be seen, there was no shortage of assholes making jokes about how Irene "failed to deliver" and variations thereof. The grand prize of haughty fuckery goes to Howard Kurtz for declaring the storm "A Hurricane of Hype." See Brad Friedman for everything that needs to be said about that.

My heart goes out to everyone who lost people and/or property in the storm.

When he thought he might lose electricity, Deeky jokingly texted me, in reference to my constantly losing power, "not that I'll get any sympathy from you!" But, seriously, no one has more sympathy for what is erroneously called "an inconvenience" than I do because I constantly lose power. It's not merely an inconvenience (although it's that, too): It can be dangerous, since virtually all communications require electricity now; it can be costly, if your food spoils; it can be scary and frustrating, especially when you've got no idea when the power might come back.

I hope those without it get their power restored soon.

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Open Thread


Hosted by Dalek Bubble Bath.

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Sunay Shuffle

10,000 Maniacs; Because the Night

I also really love this version with Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, & U2.

How about you?

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Open Thread

Hosted by a Robotron 2084 Tank.
This week's open threads have been brought to you by pixel villains.

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Open Thread

Hosted by Nyamco (or Goro).

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

[Explanations: lol your fat. pathetic anger bread. hey your gay.]

TFIF, Shakers!

Belly up to the bar,
and name your poison!

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Daily Dose of Cute

The Party of Five, in alphabetical order...

image of Dudley the Greyhound sitting up on the couch
Dudley, aka Mr. Doodles

image of Matilda the Cat, in close-up
Matilda, aka Queen Cat of Fuck Mountain

image of Olivia the Cat, peering through the slats of the banister
Olivia, aka Fatsy Catsy

image of Sophie the Cat walking along the loft railing, looking up at the ceiling
Sophie, aka Sophie-Sophs

Zelda the Mutt lies on the couch, dozing
Zelda, aka Zelly Belly

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If It's Friday, It's Boba Fett!

A fun Friday afternoon waster of time here is. (Yoda.) The name of each person (or not, if they happen to be non-humanoid) below begins with a letter of the alphabet (Modern Latin). A, B, C and so forth all the way down through Z. (Or "zed" if you're British.) Can you name them all? You can! You're a nerd.

(Click to engage tractor beam.)

Damn. I choked. Fucking prequels. (And ewoks.) Who has seen the ewok movies? Anyone? I sure haven't. But it is my newest goal. See those ewok movies, Deeky! (Netflix?) Good luck, I hope everyone did better than me.

The answers are here.

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Hurricane Update

New York City has ordered mandatory evacuations for low-lying areas.

At the same time, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered New York bridges closed to traffic and the New York State Thruway to be closed if sustained wind speeds exceed 60 mph.

Also: "The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority will begin a systemwide shutdown beginning at noon Saturday, the New York governor's office says."

So...that will make evacuations easy.


I have A LOT of friends and family in NYC and surrounding areas, and more along the rest of the eastern seaboard. I know there are a ton of Shakers in the areas likely to be hit by the storm, too. I'm thinking about you and concerned for you.

I know that sounds insufficient. It feels insufficient, too.

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Today in Rick Santorum Says Something Stupid

A tree is a car, a marriage is a tree, a baloo is a bear, a yonker is a young man, and Rick Santorum's brain is wadded-up paper towels, eggshells, and coffee grounds:

[Same-sex marriage is] like going out and saying, "That tree is a car." Well, the tree's not a car. A tree's a tree. Marriage is marriage. You can say that tree is something other than it is. It can redefine it. But it doesn't change the essential nature of what marriage is. Marriage is a union between a man and a woman for the purposes of the benefit of both the man and the woman, a natural unitive according to nature, unitive, that is for the purposes of having and rearing children and for the benefit of both the man and the woman involved in that relationship.
Blah blah marriage has been redefined A LOT blah blah not all straight couples want or can have children blah blah Santorum blah stupid blah bigot blah fuck blah blah dinosaur scat et cetera.

Have at it in comments.

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Rape Culture 101

Not infrequently, male Shakers say in comments of threads about sexual violence that they cannot imagine what it's like to live as a woman in the rape culture.

Speaking for myself only, as other women may certainly disagree, I would say that this video [trigger warning for sexual violence] conveys that experience in a way as chilling as it is precise.

You want to know what it's like to live as a woman in the rape culture? Watch that video, and imagine being a woman in the room, listening to a man tell a humorous anecdote about raping a woman to a room full of cheering men, while male comedians onstage make jokes that reveal they know it's rape but won't say the word, won't stop him, do not express compassion for his victim, do not react in any way at all to the admitted rapist in their midst, except to observe that the women in the room are shaking their heads with disgust.

Imagine how unsafe you'd feel. Imagine how angry you'd feel. And then imagine that it's not a room you can leave.

That's what living as a woman in the rape culture is like.

[H/T to @ArielArcher.]

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Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by good faith!

Recommended Reading:

Shark-fu: On Women's Equality Day

Aja: [TW for misogyny] NY Times to YA Publishing: Stop Being So Girly

Dana: [TW for sexual assault] An Open Letter to Spirit Airlines

Courtney: [TW for misogyny and objectification] "Geek Girls" and Self-Objectification

Monica: [TW for transphobia] Moment of Silence for Trans Service Members on September 20

Latoya: [TW for racism, misogyny, fat hatred, rape culture] Between a Racial Rock and a Gender Hardplace

Resistance: [TW for racism] I Am an American

Have you signed Al Franken's petition to repeal DOMA yet? You should!

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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You Sank My Ouija Board!

Good news, film fanatics!

Hollywood has come to its senses and cancelled the Ouija board movie they had in devlopement. (See here.) Maybe because the movie had been already made twenty-five years ago starring Tawny Kitaen and was called Witchboard. (See here.) And you just know how Hollywood hates to recycle an idea. (See here.) So, buh bye, Ouija Board: Curse of the Plinth, don't let the popcorn hit you in the ass on the way out.

In less good news, Battleship is in post-production, meaning it's all done being filmed and now they just need to Photoshop in some Burger King tie-ins. (See here.) Just in case you're worried this movie might not suck, note two things: It's being directed by Peter Berg (see here) and the lead character is named Stone Hopper (see here). So, yeah, obviously the Academy™ has already given it all of the awards for next year, even some Grammies.

Speaking of Grammies, this is a thing:

It's an album of blues songs. Because when I think of the blues I always think of rich, white, English TV stars. Don't you? Very bluesy, no doubt. Like Eric Clapton. (See here.)

In other entertainment news Guillermo del Toro, whose work people seem to enjoy (see here), has a new movie out today, so I guess you can go see that this weekend. (See here). I think it's a sequel to Gremlins. (See here.) Should be fun. If you like Gremlin movies.

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On Keeping On Keeping On, Part One

[Trigger warning for fat hatred, misogyny, ablism, violence.]

I have had an abundance of Shakers express to me lately that they despair about carrying on with feminist/progressive activism, between vicious surges in trolling and feeling overwhelmed with shitty news and/or defeated by opportunities for meaningful activism. This post addresses the former, as much as anyone's experience can potentially be of help to someone else, as I can't make prescriptions. Part Two will address the latter, in the same way.

Somewhere on the internetz, among the many sites populated by seething reprobates who are obsessed with fat feminist women, there must be a place where the information provided about me includes the erroneous information that I am "on disability" because I am fat. Or maybe it just provides the correct information—that I am fat, and that I have a disability unrelated to my being fat—but somehow that information gets conflated, in the dysfunctional brainpan of a rightwing anti-feminist terrorist, and repackaged into a story that I am disabled from being fat and am getting payments from the government for it.

No and no: I have never applied for nor received disability benefits—but I have discovered that even saying you are disabled in the vicinity of a rightwinger is generally met with the assumption that you are "on disability," despite the fact that many disabled people, including many who qualify for disability benefits, are not. As per usual, it is the people most inclined to scream about BOOTSTRAPS! who are the least likely to recognize them when they're being used by marginalized people who are able.

The facts of my life—that I am fat, that I have PTSD, and that I run this space as my full-time occupation—are well-documented and not easily misconstrued, but, in the great tradition of conservative projection, rightwing anti-feminist terrorists are, as they routinely accuse feminists of doing, always looking for something to get mad about.

And while there's not a whole lot to fairly object to about a woman writing her thoughts in a space she created, or being fat, or having a disability, or being a feminist, recasting me as a fat scam artist who whiles away her days eating bon-bons Big Macs on the taxpayer dime, GETTING PAID TO BE FAT AND LAZY AND MAN-HATING!!!elventy!, provides sufficient justification for filling my inbox with snarling screeds peppered with slurs and violent fantasies and threats.

From a recent missive:


I would like to raise a few points that I find particularly repugnant about you and your website.

…You are desperately in need of harpooning. If you ever meet anyone called Ishmael, Ahab or Queequeg I would advise you to waddle away as fast as your stubby legs will carry you. And do I sound bitter? Maybe I am, as I'm somewhat tired of paying for your kind's healthcare when the only 'disability' you have is a despicable lack of self control. Diabetes can't come soon enough, you're a plague on humanity.

And why is it you seem to think that your being fat is down to anything other than immaturity and a hunger for immediate gratification? You would not be 'fat shamed' if you were able to resist that third Big Mac of the day and the extra fries, would you?

You hate men. This is largely because no man would like to have sex with you, as frankly those who enjoy being crushed to death during coitus never seem to have too many sexual encounters.
Et cetera. I've redacted the most vile bits, which, among other things, made reference to Anders Behring Breivik, a recent hero to violent misogynists everywhere. The emailer identified himself as an English volunteer police officer. It was sent under his real name.

This is someone who will accuse me, without a trace of irony, that I have to "look for things to get mad about," even as he sends me an obsessive and threatening message based on an imaginary version of who I am.

Who, exactly, is the one looking for things to get mad about…?

Were I in the business of seeking out things that make me angry, I'd never have to go further than the emails designed explicitly to scare me, to dehumanize me, to silence me, which arrive like clockwork in my own inbox.

I share this mess for this reason: Every day, feminist women—some of them fat, some of them survivors of sexual assault—get engaged with public activism. This is what they will face. Because of that, every day, feminist women disengage with public activism.

I will never, ever, argue that women (or men) should tolerate abuse for any cause. Keeping oneself safe and maintaining one's sense of security is of the utmost importance—and if that means locking the door on an internet space and throwing away the key, or walking away from an org that once felt bigger than life itself, it should be done without regret or shame. Taking care of oneself is evidence of strength.

This, then, is for the people who frequently ask me how to navigate it, how to keep going. And the answer is: I don't know. I don't know what's best for you, in terms of processing this shit.

But I do know is that recognizing it as projection, seeing it for the pitiable flails of desperate men that it is, is important.

All of their furious bravado, and the genuine threats, are meant to terrify me, of course, but I am not the one who is terrified. The men who misrepresent my life in order to justify harassing me know, in some deep down place, that they are wrong. They know that my fat, disabled, feminist self is, in truth, everything that the Patriarchy tells them men are supposed to be: They know that I am strong, that I am tough, that I am resilient, that I am smart, that I am independent, that I am brave. They know that I fuck, that I influence, that I do not yield.

And that's what prompts their terroristic missives in which they try to mask behind their rage a derisible fear of the powerful feminine. Not that they believe that I am weak, but that they know I am strong.

Having that perspective helps. Having that perspective, for me, makes all the difference.

They're going to twist your life, and they're going to try to use it against you, and they're going to do it because they are trying to make you less than, which is evidence they know you are not.

They fill my inbox with howling brays of "FAT CUNT!"—and the corner of my mouth curls in a half-smile as I hit delete and take the compliment.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

The DeFranco Family: "Heartbeat (It's A Lovebeat)"

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East Coast Hurricane Open Thread

Here's what I've been reading this morning...

CNN: State-by-State Developments Related to Hurricane Irene

New York Times: New York Region Prepares for Hurricane Irene

Think Progress: Gov. Christie on Hurricane Irene: "From a Flooding Perspective, This Could Be a 100-Year Event."

TPMDC: With Hurricane Bearing Down, Cantor Spokesperson Says Disaster Relief Should Be Paid for with Spending Cuts

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Open Thread

Hosted by a Pooka.

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Question of the Day

What is your favorite common name for a plant?

Suggested by Shaker adrienne_again, who emails: "This occurred to me while I was tending to my Swiss Cheese Monster this morning. It could include scientific names, too, since some of those are pretty great."

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Photo of the Day

pileus iridescent cloud, which is like a very concentrated rainbow

Photo, taken by Esther Havens in Ethiopia, of a pileus iridescent cloud, which, according to NASA, is "a group of water droplets that have a uniformly similar size and so together diffract different colors of sunlight by different amounts."

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East Cost Hurricane Open Thread

I thought people might like a thread for hurricane-related discussion, so here it is.

Stay safe, Shakers.

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An Observation

The next best thing to actually being in attendance at an Adele concert is having a dear friend who will call you and give you ALL THE AMAZING DETAILS!!! the day after he has been in attendance at an Adele concert.

That is all.

Adele, "Someone Like You"

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Glenn Beck Continues Speeding Toward Irrelevance

I was sitting here trying to think up something clever to say about Glenn Beck's latest flop. But I got nothing. Earlier this week Beck held a pro-Israel rally in Jerusalem called Restoring Courage. Only about 1000 people showed up: a small turn-out for the man who once brought in three million viewers a night on Fox News.

It's a sad state of affairs when you can't even draw people to a pro-Israel rally in Israel. That's like everyone at Disneyland ignoring the Main Street Electrical Parade. Oof!

Oh, hey, was that clever? Marginally, I'd say. My work here is done.

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Southwest Stinks

Hey, speaking of treating fat people like garbage on airplanes, guess what Southwest airlines learned from having famously treated Famous Person Kevin Smith like garbage on a flight?

If you guessed "Nothing!", give yourself 1,000 points.

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Dear Ladies: I Got You a Shiny New Proclamation. Happy Equality Day! Love, The President

A press release I received this afternoon from the White House Office of Communications:

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                August 25, 2011

- - - - - - -

The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution tore down the last formal barrier to women's enfranchisement in our Nation and empowered America's women to have their voices heard in the halls of power. This Amendment became law only after decades of work by committed trailblazers who fought to extend the right to vote to women across America. For the women who fought for this right, voting was not the end of the journey for equality, but the beginning of a new era in the advancement of our Union. These brave and tenacious women challenged our Nation to live up to its founding principles, and their legacy inspires us to reach ever higher in our pursuit of liberty and equality for all.

Before the Amendment took effect, women had been serving our Nation in the public realm since its earliest days. Even before they gained the right to vote, America's women were leaders of movements, academics, and reformers, and had even served in the Congress. Legions of brave women wrote and lectured for change. They let their feet speak when their voices alone were not enough, protesting and marching for their fundamental right to vote in the face of heckling, jail, and abuse. Their efforts led to enormous progress -- millions upon millions of women have since used the power of the ballot to help shape our country.

Today, our Nation's daughters reap the benefits of these courageous pioneers while paving the way for generations of women to come. But work still remains. My Administration is committed to advancing equality for all of our people. This year, the Council of Women and Girls released "Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being," the most comprehensive report in 50 years on the status of women in our country, shedding light on issues women face in employment, crime, health, and family life. We are working to ensure that women-owned businesses can compete in the marketplace, that women are not discriminated against in healthcare, and that we redouble our efforts to bring an end to sexual assault on college campuses.

On the 91st anniversary of this landmark in civil rights, we continue to uphold the foundational American principles that we are all equal, and that each of us deserves a chance to pursue our dreams. We honor the heroes who have given of themselves to advance the causes of justice, opportunity, and prosperity. As we celebrate the legacy of those who made enormous strides in the last century and before, we renew our commitment to hold true to the dreams for which they fought, and we look forward to a bright future for our Nation's daughters.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 26, 2011, as Women's Equality Day.

I call upon the people of the United States to celebrate the achievements of women and recommit ourselves to the goal of gender equality in this country.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

# # #

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Top Chef: Just Desserts Open Thread

Is anyone watching this disaster of a show? Last night Liss texted me to ask "Did u know Top Chef: Pink Donuts premiers tonight?!" I replied "No. I assumed it was cancelled." Because, really, it should have been. As last night's episode proved. (See above: Hubert Keller, master chef, dressed like a renaissance faire, because cupcakes.) There was a challenge in a soda shop then another involving fairy tails (typo and it stays). Some of the contestants appear incompetent. Others unlikeable. I am still waiting for the big reveal of who is the biggest misogynist homophobe. Because we all need someone to root against. I guess.

Last night's episode will be discussed, if anyone is interested, so if you haven't seen it, and don't want any spoilers, pack your knives whisks and go...


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Daily Dose of Cute

Zelda the Mutt lying on the floor, licking her nose with her tongue
Zelda, aka Zelly Belly.

The first time I ran my hand down Zelda's back, sitting in the family room at the Humane Society, I thought there was something wrong with her back. Her backbone was protruding so far between her shoulder blades that it seemed like a spinal injury or deformity. But it was hunger.

She'd been a stray, for an unknown amount of time. It may have been being on her own that rendered her down to jutting bones, or it may have been neglect.

Her back has meat on it again, care of a rigorous program of delicious treats, and, despite the hunger she suffered not so very long ago, she is not a greedy eater. She eats until she is full, and leaves the rest.

Other signs of how Zelda was failed, however, are not so easily fixed.

She is fearful. To touch her paws is so terrify her. To put a brush to her skin turns her face into a mask of uncertainty. The sound of a clicker sends her to the far end of the house, her back to the wall. She snarls and snaps at unfamiliar dogs who try to dominate her at the dog park: A bite to the neck will send Dudley sauntering away; a bite to the neck triggers Zelda, turning her into a defensive brawler. It's just enough to make sure she's safe, and just enough to make other dog owners cast a long eye at the people with the terrible dog.

So she's not a dog park dog. Not yet. She doesn't understand yet that she's not on her own anymore—that we've got her back, that we won't take her to a place where she'll be hurt. No: It's not that she doesn't understand. It's that she isn't convinced she can trust that we won't hurt her. Because somebody else did.

Maybe they were consciously unkind, physically cruel. Maybe they just failed to socialize her, not just with lots of other dogs (including the bullies, so she could learn to ignore them), but with the habits of being a dog in a home. So much of the world, so many parts of a dog's life—the grooming, the walking on a leash—are a mystery to her.

But she is learning. She is taking in, slowly but surely, the concept of being cared for. Sometimes, she'll let me hold her paw for a moment, almost forgetting, just for the briefest of instants, that she's afraid of it. Last night, she let me brush her for a good minute before she slunk away.

Zelda lies on the floor, looking at the camera
The last time we were at the vet, an elderly woman told Zelda: "You got small ears!"

In the month that we've had her, her features have seemed to soften. Part of that is being regularly fed. Part of it is that the tension is draining out of her face. She's starting to relax.

She's such a happy wee thing: Her tail wags constantly, and she loves to LEAP! onto your lap and snuggle in beside you for some power-cuddling. She is completely enamored of Dudley and the cats, play-bowing at anyone who will give her the slightest attention. She loves people, and most other dogs, who can send her into a tizzy of gleeful spins. I want nothing more for her than to have, eventually, a solid confidence to match that effervescent happiness.

The other night, Iain came home from walking her and Dudley, and the blood had drained out of his face. She'd backed out of her collar and ran after the neighbor's cat. Iain ran after her, Dudley in tow, but she is so fast—and virtually invisible at night. "I was so scared," he said. "I didn't know how I was going to tell you I lost her."

But then, after only an interminable minute, she came bounding back to him, and sat at his feet, looking up at him and waiting for her collar to be put back on. "She came back to me," he said.

I hugged her, and told her she is a good girl.

Zelda, looking up at me

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Virginia Attempting Kansas-Style Clinic Shutdowns

If you recall, Kansas enacted new regulations on abortion-providing clinics in an attempt to shut them down. The legislation worked, at least temporarily, was immediately challenged and an injunction granted.

The state of Virginia has decided it will take a shot at succeeding where Kansas did not. These are not routine regulations: they are emergency regulations. Perhaps I missed it--are women dying from abortion clinics not having large enough storage closets in Virgina? Is that why emergency regulations have been drafted? No, no. It's because they have to be written up due to passage--thanks to the Governor's tie-breaking vote--of Senate Bill 924.

Anti-abortion advocates at the time hailed it as a victory for women's health, while abortion-rights advocates said the law — which compels the board to regulate the clinics like hospitals — is really a move to close the clinics, considering it would compel them to undergo retrofitting of their facilities that most could not afford.

Currently the clinics, which handle only first-trimester abortions, are subject to the same regulations as physician practices that perform any number of invasive procedures, such as cataract surgery; colonoscopies; ear, nose and throat procedures; spinal taps; and dental and plastic surgery.

Abortion-rights advocates say the new regulations would threaten the closure of 15 or more of the clinics because of the costs involved in retro-fitting their facilities to meet the new requirements.

The state also has more than 40 independent obstetrics and gynecology clinics that would be subject to the regulations if they perform five or more abortions a month.


The 15-member Board of Health has an 8-6 majority of appointees of Gov. Bob McDonnell, an anti-abortion Republican. The remaining six members were appointed by then-Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat who did not push for regulating abortion clinics like hospitals. One seat is vacant.


If a majority of the board approves the regulations, the regulations will be subject to "executive review" by the attorney general, the secretary of Health and Human Services, the Department of Planning and Budget, and the governor. Board members also have the option of approving the regulations conditioned upon making certain changes.


The standard process for implementing health regulations can take two years or more. There is an extended public comment period, and provisions in the process can delay implementation of regulations if substantial objections are raised.

But Hilbert said the accelerated timetable for the abortion clinic regulations is being mandated by language in the legislation, which requires the board to produce regulations within 280 days.

As a result, the board must treat the clinic regulations as "emergency regulations" that are not subject to the same process or public comment period.
There you go, that's why it's an "emergency": so it can be pushed through as soon as possible with as little public input as possible.

Virginians! There WILL be a public comment period. For three weeks up until the September 15th vote, the public can review the regulations (btw, according to the Public Participation Policy (.pdf) on their site, announcements are put in the Virginia Register regarding public comment periods). Once it's been passed and then onto "executive review", there's no more public commenting allowed.
The Board schedules a public comment period at the beginning of each regular meeting to provide an opportunity for citizens to address the Board. Anyone wishing to speak to the Board during this time should, at the beginning of the Board meeting, indicate his or her desire on the sign-in sheet. Presentations during the Public Forum shall not exceed two minutes per person. The public comment period shall be no more than twenty minutes.
According to their site, the September 15th meeting will begin at 9 am and will be held in Richmond (directions on their site). I strongly encourage you, if you can, to be involved with the comment process. Even if a person cannot make it to the meeting, the Board members are compelled to record any commentary they recieve outside of meetings:
...If the subject of a verbal or written comment received by a Board member pertains to specific proposed regulatory action that will be subject to Board approval, the member should immediately forward it to the Commissioner for inclusion in the agency record with other public comment in accordance with the Administrative Process Act. If the comment is a verbal communication, the Board member should immediately report the substance of the comment to the Commissioner who will place a summary of it in the agency record.
So there is still a way to make your voice heard (addresses).

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Quote of the Day

"I don't think you can look at homosexuality and what is taking place without examining the spiritual dynamics here. This is essentially man shaking his fist in the face of God and saying I don't need you, that we will do it our way."—Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.


With all the fisting and the kneeling, Conservative Christianity is getting HOT!

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Let Us Harass People More!

A group of anti-abortion people have filed suit in Massachusetts because they cannot harass people enough to their taste. They claim that the buffer zones--enacted after an anti-abortion zealot went on a shooting spree in 1994--makes it to too hard for them to adequately tell a woman she's a murderer.

A team of abortion opponents asked a federal judge yesterday to strike down a state law that creates a protest-free zone around the entrances, exits, and driveways of abortion clinics, saying the zones unconstitutionally infringe on their right to free speech.

The group argued that a review of the zones at Planned Parenthood facilities in Boston, Worcester, and Springfield shows that the zones restrict protesters from properly conveying their message against abortion and their offers to help expectant mothers. They called the issue serious, given that life and death are involved.

“There needs to be a means of true communication,’’ said Michael J. DePrimo, a civil rights lawyer based in Connecticut who represents several of the protesters in the case.[...]

But Kenneth W. Salinger, an assistant state attorney general, argued yesterday that the buffer zones provide adequate opportunity to conduct lawful protests or to try to send a message to people seeking services from abortion clinics.

He said the lawsuit was based on protesters’ frustration that a majority of people do not want to listen to their message.

“They can, and do, share their messages outside the buffer zones,’’ said Salinger, adding that those who seek clinic services then make clear that they are not interested.

US District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro told the lawyers to submit more documents and said he will then take the matter under advisement.


[DePrimo] said protesters, who he argued have been successful before in helping women decide against abortion, should be able to speak personally and compassionately with patients, and distribute brochures by hand, rather than have to yell and wave signs.
No. No. NO. They should not, in fact, be able to get in someone's face and try to inundate that person with "information" or be that physically close to someone trying to get into a medical care facility (hello, "inadvertent" blocking the way).
DePrimo argued that courts have upheld a person’s right not only to send a message to someone, but to have the means to try to persuade them. He also argued that state law must provide for an alternative means for protesters to spread their messages as personally as they have in the past.
Oh, you mean like shooting people? You know, the whole reason the buffer zone went into effect?

No. Just no. It is disgusting (and sadly not new) that it is being seriously argued in court that people should be able to accost and harass ("personally talk to") anyone in order to "talk them out of" (scare, fear tactics) a medcial procedure (which, may I add, that the protestor has no way of knowing if that is why a person is visiting a clinic).

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