Slàinte mhor a h-uile là a chi 's nach fhaic!

image of a snowglobe with a teaspoon in it labeled Happy, Holidays, Shakers!

Thank you for another great year, Shakers.

Many of the contributors and mods are already on their journeys and/or are going to be traveling next week, so we're all taking the week off. We'll be back Tuesday, January 3, at which time we will resume your regularly scheduled abundance of incisive feminist commentary, political snark, pop culture deconstruction, cute things, and farts.

See you sooooooooooooooooon!

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Great News!

If we remember the year 2011 for nothing else, let us remember that it was the year we first heard about the MTV casting call for a show that's "like Jersey Shore, but with nerds." Because: A) That is obviously going to be a very good show; and B) We're all going to be on it!

(No it isn't. No we're not.)

photoshopped image with famous nerd Eddie Deezen's head on all the bodies of the Jersey Shore cast
The Deezen Shore

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Last night, some douchestew who hosts a show on MTV featuring internet clips of people falling on their faces and nutsacks: "This show has lots of good old-fashioned laughter."


Remember when laughter when out of fashion? That was sad!

I'm so glad it's back.

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Daily Dose of Cute

When I got home from work yesterday, I noticed something interesting in the mailbox. It was a USPS priority flat rate envelope that was holding something a bit larger than documents. And, it was addressed to Alfie.

I asked Alfie if it was ok that I open it on his behalf, to which he responded with a fart (I took that as a "yes"). Upon opening, I saw that Alfie got a lovely new toy from his Aunt Liss and Uncle Iain!! It's not just any old dog toy... It's a Chanukah bear with his own yarmulke (aka kippah aka skullcap):

image of the white and blue Chanukah bear

I was very pleased to see his Lordship take to the toy with reckless abandon, working on it much longer than his favorite hedgehog. Eventually, he decided it was break time, and Space Cowgirl thought that a picture was necessary with his new treasure. Looking regal as usual, Lord Alfred managed to pose magnificently for posterity:

And with that, everyone at Chez Cowboy would like to wish all Shakers a marvelous holiday season. :)

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It's Delightful, It's Delicious, It's De-Lovely...'s De-lurk Day! It's a slow news day, and we haven't had one of these since March (!), so all you Shaker lurkers who rarely or never pipe up, don't be shy; say hi!

Cheeky devils!

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Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by sunshine.

Recommended Reading:

TDW: Historical Homecoming Kiss of the Day

Fannie: [TW for Christian Supremacy] 'Tis the Season for "Crimes Against Christmas"

Pam: Iowa Town Bans Retired Cop's Service Dog—Because It's a Pit Mix

Mark: New Agreement Between the United States and Europe Will Compromise the Privacy Rights of International Travelers

Resistance: [TW for cross-racial adoption; racism; Christian Supremacy] Dear Jon Huntsman

Andy: Michele Bachmann Confronted by Gay Robot in Iowa City

Blue Milk: Why You Will Want to Love The Mountain Goats Even More

Michelle: [TW for discussion of eating and dieting] Putting Food in Its Place (This is part five in Michelle's series on Learning to Eat, the first four of which have also been linked in blogarounds.)

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Badly Drawn Boy: "Silent Sigh"

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Primarily Gross

Here's the latest from Bore Trek 3: The Search for Zombie Reagan aka the Republican Primary...

Newt Gingrich has some great new campaign ideas! Don't worry—being a better candidate is not among them! He is going to "launch a 'Pets with Newt' site aimed at Gingrich's love for animals, intended to show a 'lighter side' of the candidate." Which is PERFECT, because he doesn't have any pets. "Gingrich doesn't have any pets at this time, but he told ABC News today he and his wife Callista want a dog in the White House." Do you hear that, America? There is a dog who will probably never have a home unless we elect Newt Gingrich! You know what that means: We'd better petition President Obama to adopt that dog when he's reelected.

The other great new campaign idea? "The campaign also plans to release a music education video starring Callista, who is a classically trained musician and signer [sic]." Perfect. In other news, Gingrich is trying to lower expectations about how he'll fare in the March 6 Virginia primary. That's probably a good idea.

Speaking of Virginia, candidates Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Santorum aren't even on the Virginia ballot. None of them submitted the requisite paperwork in time to qualify. Whoooooooooops.

Jon Huntsman is truly running for vice president at this point. Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum think they're running for vice president, but they are not. They are running for Ha Ha Nope and Yiiiiiiiikes, respectively. Good luck to them! They have very good chances of winning!

In other veep news, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is "open" to being selected as the eventual nominee's running mate, if that nominee is Mitt Romney, whom Christie endorsed. I'm guessing anyone else would not be interested. Although, if nominated, Ron Paul should really think about it. He and Christie would have a nice Laurel & Hardy quality to them.

Speaking of Ron Paul, his grunge-era newsletters continue to be a very racist and homophobic and ablist thorn in his side [TW]: "A direct-mail solicitation for Ron Paul's political and investment newsletters two decades ago warned of a 'coming race war in our big cities' and of a 'federal-homosexual cover-up' to play down the impact of AIDS. ... Among other things, the articles called the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. a 'world-class philanderer,' criticized the U.S. holiday bearing King's name as 'Hate Whitey Day,' and said that AIDS sufferers 'enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick'."

Relatedly, Paul's Iowa campaign chair Drew Ivers said: "It is ridiculous to imply that Ron Paul is a bigot, racist, or unethical." I agree! It is ridiculous to imply that! It should be said outright!

Rick Perry is still definitely in the race! He has not dropped out yet. He also does not "have a problem with" drugs-testing people who get federal assistance, like unemployment, food stamps, and housing aid. Of course he doesn't. Because he is flesh tower of privilege with crumpled-up paper towels where his brains should be.

Mitt Romney, who is still very rich and will only get richer, won't release his tax returns. EVER! Well, that certainly bodes well for the transparency of a hypothetical Romney administration. I guess once a guy gets an endorsement from Bush I, he thinks he's hot shit!

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

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Open Thread

Hosted by a Rosie the Robot bobblehead.

This week's open threads have been brought to you by bobbleheads.

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Question of the Day

Originally suggested by Shaker Annepersand: "What is your favorite fictional character's name? Not the name of your favorite character, mind you, but your favorite name that belongs to a fictional character, either because it's really amazingly apt or sounds funny or you just love the way the sounds work together."

Mine is totes Uriah Heep (from Dickens' David Copperfield).

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Top Chef Texas: Open Thread

image of former Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella saying: 'Well, the one good thing you can definitely say about Top Chef Season 9 is that I ain't on it!'

Did you enjoy last night's elimination? I know I did! Goodbye to the Person Who Got Eliminated! I will not miss you. You were a bully and a jerk.

Other things I enjoyed: Healthy Choice sponsoring the bacon challenge. Patti LaBelle! Watching approximately 3/4 of the cheftestants masking their apathy about Patti LaBelle's presence with a thin (the thinnest!) veil of awkwardly feigned enthusiasm. She is a national treasure, you assholes! Chris J's buttcrack! Chris C dissing his mom's cooking on teevee. "My mom totally couldn't cook...and she was frankly kind of a slut." Tom Colicchio telling Heather, "Well, BEV used the pressure cooker." Oh SNAP! Ed telling Ty-Lör Boring that he's going to "show his balls" by doing a vegetarian dish. 1. No you're not. 2. No one wants to see your balls, Ed! Keep your balls away from the food!

image of former Top Chef contestant Fabio Viviani saying: 'This is Top Chef, not Top Balls.'


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Daily Dose of Cute

Owing to the below thread, here is an extra heaping dose of cute for anyone who needs it—and for anyone who doesn't, too! Because there is no such thing as too much cute, obviously.

First, dueling videos of Zelda and Matilda, who, because of their tendency to sit one on either side of me every night, are collectively known as Mazelda. They're like the Brangelina of Shakes Manor.

Video Description: Zelda sits on the couch in a stream of sunlight, snapping at particles of dust thrown into the air during weekend cleaning. Then she yawns dramatically, showing off her beautiful blue-mottled tongue.

Video Description: Matilda scoops up water from the dogs' bowl with her fuzzy wee paws, then licks it off, because she's too much of a lady to stick her face in there. In the process, she drips water all over the place.

Next, still images of all the fuzzy residents of Shakes Manor, in alphabetical order...

Dudley the Greyhound lying on the couch giving a funny look to one side with his ears folded backwards

Matilda the Sealpoint Cat sits on the arm of the couch like a big, furry catloaf

Olivia the White and Tabby Cat lies along the bottom railing in the loft, with her big, fat, ringed tail hanging over the edge

Sophie the Torbie Cat sits in silhouette at the window

Zelda the Black-and-Tan Mutt lies on the couch looking tiny with a giant head

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Discussion Thread: Holiday Dread

[Trigger warning for the entirety of the thread, as much of the contributions here will certainly be about abusive behaviors, dysfunctional family dynamics, and privilege.]

image of a kyriarchitypical family celebrating the perfect Christmas
Does your family look like this? Mine, neither.

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Except for when it's not. And if you aren't happily preparing to celebrate the most perfect Christmas with your perfect family, it can feel pretty lonely—mostly because there aren't a whole lot of places where it's acceptable to talk about your holiday anxiety, or sadness, or contempt, without disguising it as some kind of joke. There aren't a whole lot of places where it's okay to have a grown-up conversation about how genuinely hard the holidays can be.

So, here's a thread to do that. Whether you're facing time with a dysfunctional family of origin, facing time alone you'd prefer to be sharing with someone else, exhausted even contemplating the travel ahead, sad because you can't afford a gift you'd really like to get your kid, pissed off because you don't celebrate Christmas and OMFG enough with the Christmas shit, dreading the comments about your body, your ideology, your choice of partner, dreading your dad's sexist jokes or your mom's racist jokes, dreading seeing that uncle who should be in jail, dreading having your parenting skills audited, dreading coming out which you are totally doing this year, or just generally fed up with the holidays, go for it.

(If you are having urgent thoughts of self-harm, do not leave a comment; please contact emergency services immediately.)

And if you are undilutedly joyful about the holiday season, can't wait to see your family, and are walking on a cloud of sparking white snowflakes, enjoy the absolute fuck out of it. That's not snark; I mean it. That is a rare and precious gift, worth lingering moments of conscious appreciation.

[Image via.]

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Film Corner!

Below, the trailer for the upcoming HBO film Game Change, about John McCain's fateful decision (lulz) to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Ominous string music. Shots of crowds cheering for Obama. A dude says in voiceover: "Obama just changed the entire dynamic." String music. Text onscreen: The 2008 Election. Woody Harrelson says: "It is a change year, sir. We need to create a dynamic moment in this campaign." Cut to Ed Harris as John McCain looking concerned. (Did you find Ed Harris attractive? Well, you don't anymore!) Text onscreen: A Time for Change. String music. Harrelson says: "Or we're dead."

Harris is at the Republican convention, smiling. Text onscreen: From the Writer & Director of Recount. Harris is at the convention, grimacing. A news broadcast reports that McCain is "reshuffling his most senior campaign staff." Text onscreen: Julianne Moore. A lady's high heel-clad foot steps out of a limo. That grizzly mom silhouette sure looks familiar as the lady walks into the convention...!

Harrlson says: "We desperately need a game-changing pick." Text onscreen: Woody Harrelson. "None of these middle-aged white guys are game-changers." Harrlson watches a room stand and applaud for the lady who is still seen just from behind. Darn it all, I know I've seen that hockey mom up-do somewhere before...!

Text onscreen: Ed Harris. Ed Harris as John McCain (oh Maude that is disturbing!) says: "So find me a woman." DUNH-DUNH.

The ominous music bottoms out, as it is revealed that John McCain, political genius, super-maverick, and definitely not an opportunistic fucko, has made the SHOCKING decision to cynically ask A FEMALE HUMAN BEING to be his running mate, in order to compete with the historic candidacy of Barack Obama.

Cut to people chanting "Sarah! Sarah! Sarah!" at the Republican convention as the mystery lady walks onstage. At long last, we see the face of Julianne Moore as Tina Fey: "I will be honored to accept your nomination for vice president of the United States." Cheers and applause. Yay!!! Nothing can go wrong now! From here, it's straight to the White House!

Text onscreen: From the Bestselling Book Game Change. Coming in March to an HBO near you.

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This is so the worst thing you're going to read all day.

[Trigger warning for fat hatred, body policing, and bullying.]

BBC: Tell loved ones they are overweight this Christmas.

LOL FOREVER! Yes, please do that. Please everyone tell me that I am fat this Christmas, because I DON'T KNOW. There is no gift like the gift of treating me like I am totally fucking stupid.

(Btw, you'd think a vast international news organization like the BBC might have heard the news that not everyone celebrates Christmas, but APPARENTLY NOT.)

Leaving aside all the myriad problems with this approach—that it's heinously cruel, that shaming doesn't work even if it weren't heinously cruel, that one cannot know another person's health simply by looking at them, that it presumes gluttony and ignores systemic and all other individual causes of fat, including disability and disease—I just want to quickly note that the narrative of every story like this one is that not-fat people should assume their fat friends and family members are all psychologically damaged wrecks who need someone to tell them to care about themselves.

Now, some fat people are indeed fat as the result of disordered eating resulting from emotional trauma of one description or another, but that is not a safe or fair or reasonable conclusion to axiomatically draw about anyone.

And, further, if a fat person is indeed fat as the result of disordered eating, the last goddamn thing they need to hear is how fat they are and why don't they take care of themselves and blah blah blah, especially from the people who may very well be the source of emotional eating in the first place.

I will never stop being amazed by how we are encouraged to regard all fatties as people overeating to fill an emotional void, then interact with them in abusive ways that create emotional voids.

If I were concerned that another fatty whom I love was eating to fill a void, I would seek to fill that void full up with love, not deepen it with sanctimonious codswallop. Fuck.

[H/T to Shaker Emily.]

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Scissor Sisters: "Take Your Mama"

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Photo of the Day

image of actor Kiefer Sutherland pretending to jump into a Christmas tree, labeled '(Just Kidding) Happy Holidays!'

Kiefer Sutherland tweeted this picture the other day, which is basically the greatest thing I've ever seen. It is, of course, a reference to my favorite YouTube video of all time:


Voice Off-Camera: Hey, Kiefer. You're a pirate, man.

Kiefer: That would explain everything. [jumps into Christmas tree]
Thanks very much to Shaker Tobes, who saw it on E!.

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Primarily Terrible

Here's the latest from The Douchestewian Candidates aka the Republican Primary...

Newt Gingrich has a great new website: Click on it. Click on it again. Now click on it three more times. LOL! Whooooooooooooooops Newt Gingrich you forgot to buy your own name domain! Less time "courting voters with judicial rants" and more time in your remedial Internetz 101 class!

Mitt Romney has reversed his position on Iraq: Where he once supported the invasion even though Saddam Hussein had no WMDs, now he says it was "obviously" a bad idea to invade knowing what we know now. I'm really shocked by this total reversal. If there's one thing I thought to be true about Mitt Romney, it's that he's a consistent, principled candidate who doesn't just change his positions willy-nilly depending on which way the wind is blowing. Ha ha just kidding. Everyone knows that Willard has the consistency and principles of a horny teenage boy trying to get laid: "You like the Twilight movies? I LOVE the Twilight movies!"

Ron Paul is testy about the racist newsletters that bore his name and made him shit-tons of money. "I didn't write them, didn't read them at the time, and I disavow them. This is the answer." He then walked out of the interview with CNN's Gloria Borger. That is not a very satisfactory answer, Ron Paul!

I mean, apart from the fact that you just seem pissed-off at being held accountable for hurtful actions, rather than deeply remorseful that ugly racist swill was circulated under your name (hey, is that by any chance because you're not remorseful about that at all?), that you allegedly didn't read or know about ugly racist swill distributed under your name does not speak well to your ability to function competently in the leadership role of a complex organization, where you have to balance hiring trustworthy people to whom you can delegate tasks integral to executing your vision and getting personally involved to provide necessary oversight and guidance. How can you be president if you can't even make sure people who work for/with you aren't sending out The Ron Paul Racist Weekly under your nose?

Also, Ron Paul, I believe you are lying! Because I'm pretty sure no one would have gotten away with sending out pro-choice feminist theory under your name. Just saying!

Rick Perry is still definitely in the race! He has not dropped out yet.

Michele Bachmann has a favorite gun: "My favorite gun is the AR15 and I'm a really good shot." The AR15 is the civilian version of the M16 assault rifle used by the US military. Um, good job? I don't know anything about guns, and I am kind of creeped out by having favorite guns, but if you're going to have a favorite gun, the AR15 seems like a great one. It is definitely a very impressive murder machine! (Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes.)

Here are five things you probably don't know about Jon Huntsman. They are also five things you probably don't care about. Then again, maybe knowing that Jon Huntsman dropped out of high school in 1978 to play keyboards in the rock band Wizard will make you reconsider whether he should be President of the United States of America, so.

Who thinks Rick Santorum's answers to Wolf Blitzer in this interview are just very, very good—a real model of coherent proficiency on the important issues of the day?

image of Rick Santorum raising his finger

Well, that makes sense.

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

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Open Thread

Hosted by a Talky Tina bobblehead.

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Question of the Day

What's your favorite breakfast?

("Nothing" is, naturally, a perfectly fine answer. And I'm going to remind commenters that auditing other people's food choices and/or eating habits is prohibited.)

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Caption This Photo

image of Rick Perry leaning over and talking to a baby

"Hello, baby! Gleep glorp! Maybe you can grow up to be one of the twenty-seven Supreme Court Justices someday!"

[Getty Images]

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Ron Paul: Freedom Fucker

Ron Paul is for freedom! Ron Paul loves liberty! And other alliterative phrases about Ron Paul and his independence-championing ways!

Not so fast, people with wombs.

Female voiceover, over images of Ron Paul doing doctory things: Dr. Ron Paul. More than 4,000 babies delivered. A man of faith. Committed to protecting life.

Laura Mays, former patient, an older white woman: Some people need to have a good word said about them. Ron is the sort of person that his life is his good word.

Marcie Holt, former patient, an older white woman: You know, you just knew that Ron cared about you. Life begins at conception [image of white baby's feet] in my opinion and, as a result, I loved to go to a doctor who felt the same way.

Kara Gore, a younger white woman: He not only protects unborn life, but he also walks through journeys with women, and he has for years.

Holt: I love the fact that he hasn't changed in all these years. Ron's still the same guy, saying the same things, and now, all these years later, still standing his ground.

Mays: Ron did not let Washington change him.

Diane Wilson, former patient, a middle-aged white woman: It's not hard for someone who's a Christian and who truly believes to stay on the right path, and I think that's what kind of person Ron Paul is.

Gore: America has to have someone like Ron Paul today. There is no question.

Text Onscreen: Ron Paul 2012 | Restore America Now.
Yiiiiiiiiiiiikes. That is very heavy-handed! Ron Paul may be a doctor and a congressman, but he is clearly no professor of subtlety!

It would have been a lot faster and cheaper to write, "I am anti-choice. I am racist. Mitt Romney is a poophead." on a piece of paper and upload it to geocities.ronpaul2008.fart.

The pink fades between each interviewee were a nice touch, though. Where "nice" equals some value of "LOL FUCK OFF."

I pretty much already said everything I had to say earlier today on Twitter, on the subject of Ron Paul and his hilarious contention to be a champion of freedom despite being anti-choice. But, for those who don't follow my stupendously awesome Twitter feed (I talk about how Ron Paul stinks AND frequently about Deeky's butt, so), here is my series of tweets, in all their disjointed glory...

I will say again that Ron Paul cannot be considered a champion of "liberty" so long as he believes women's bodies should be state property.

"Freedom" and an anti-choice position are fundamentally incompatible.

I can't put it more plainly than this: I am not free, if the word is to have any meaning at all, as long as Ron Paul is up in my uterus.

A major issue w/ which progressives have yet to seriously reckon is how often candidates who are good for men are simply not good for women.

In case my point remains unclear: Ron Paul is terrible for women.

He's terrible for lots of other people too, but overlooking his anti-choice record while touting his record on "freedom" is esp. mendacious.

Have I mentioned Ron Paul's terrible record on reproductive choice? It's terrrrrrrrrrrrrible. Just FYI.

Ron Paul is a defender of freedom for men. Which I guess is cool if you're a dude.

(Yeah, I don't actually think it's cool for any dude, lol.)

In summation: Ron Paul stinks.

The end.

[H/T to @ShelbyKnox.]

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black-and-Tan Mutt looking up at the camera
Zelly Belly

Another milestone for Zelda this week: When she first came to us, she would never, ever, let me scratch her chin. Her head was always down, very submissive, and if I tried to scratch her chin to lift her head, to communicate to her you can be confident here, she would stick her nose under my hand and nudge it upwards, back to the top of her bowed head.

This week, she let me scratch her chin. She closed her eyes in blissful contentment, and her head rolled backwards until her nose pointed clear to the ceiling. "Good girl," I told her, and scratched and scratched until she collapsed against my side with the great heaving sigh of a satisfied dog.

Bonus Cute: Dudley standing in the middle of a grass bush, rubbing his eyes, because he's allergic to it. He does this pretty much every time he goes outside, because he is a hilarious dildobrain.

Dudley the Greyhound stands in the middle of a grass bush, rubbing his eyes

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Quote of the Day

"NO ONE EAT THESE. They're going in a safe deposit box. I'll sell them in twenty years and SPACE!"Paul F. Tompkins, on his box of Snowflake Limited Edition Ritz Crackers.

Paul F. Tompkins' hand holding a box of holiday-themed 'Snowflake' Limited Edition Ritz Crackers

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Old Bilbo (Ian Holm) says in voiceover: [scenes of Hobbiton] My dear Frodo, you asked me once if I had told you everything there was to know about my adventures. [scene of Old Bilbo at his writing desk] While I can honestly say I have told you the truth, I may not have told you all of it.

Cut to Gandalf (Ian McKellan) talking to Young Bilbo, played by Martin Freeman (!!!YAY!!! I AM STILL SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS CASTING! !!!YAY!!!): Bilbo Baggins, I'm looking for someone to share in an adventure.

Bilbo in voiceover: [scenes of Bilbo doing Hobbity things] I can't just go running off into the blue. I am a Baggins of Bag End!

Cut to Gandolf showing up at Bilbo's front door to make introductions of the company of dwarves, ending with Thorin. (THORIN!!!)

Singing: Misty Mountains. OMG SQUEE!!! Caverns old. HOLY SHIT!!!

As the dwarves chant, we get montagery: Gandalf looking anxious, Bilbo finding Sting, Gandalf talking to Galadriel, caverns, rocks, a journey, pipes. Thorin tells Gandalf: "I cannot guarantee his safety, nor will I be responsible for his fate." Mountains, journey, swelling music, horses, suspenders, fights. Gandalf tells Bilbo he cannot promise that he'll come back. "And if you do, you will not be the same."

The One Ring. It's in Gollum's cave. "My name is Bilbo Baggins," says Bilbo. "Bagginses," hisses Gollum. "What is a Bagginses, precioussssssss?"

Coming to a theater near you in ONE YEAR!

[Via Peter Jackson.]

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Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by helicopters.

Recommended Reading:

Steve: Republicans Literally Get up and Walk out of Congress During Debate

Maya: Pharmacists Routinely Misinform Young Women about Whether They Can Get Emergency Contraception

Shayera: [TW for sexual violence] Paterno's Excuse-Making Plumbs New Depths

Melissa: [TW for bullying; gender essentialism; gender policing] One Teacher's Approach to Preventing Gender Bullying in a Classroom

Echidne: You're Doing It Wrong. On The Reverse Gender Gap.

Mustang Bobby: When Fact-Checkers Cave

Arturo: Is It Time for a Geeks of Color Convention?

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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Recommended Reading

[Trigger warning for violent misogyny.]

Mass March by Cairo Women in Protest Over Abuse by Soldiers, Dec. 20:

Several thousand women demanding the end of military rule marched through downtown Cairo on Tuesday evening in an extraordinary expression of anger over images of soldiers beating, stripping and kicking female demonstrators in Tahrir Square.

"Drag me, strip me, my brothers' blood will cover me!" they chanted. "Where is the field marshal?" they demanded of the top military officer, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. "The girls of Egypt are here."

Historians called the event the biggest women's demonstration in modern Egyptian history, the most significant since a 1919 march against British colonialism inaugurated women's activism here, and a rarity in the Arab world. It also added a new and unexpected wave of protesters opposing the ruling military council's efforts to retain power and its tactics for suppressing public discontent.

The protest's scale stunned even feminists here. In Egypt's stiffly patriarchal culture, previous attempts to organize women's events in Tahrir Square during this year's protests almost always fizzled or, in one case in March, ended in the physical harassment of a small group of women by a larger crowd of men.

"It was amazing the number of women that came out from all over the place," said Zeinab Abul-Magd, a historian who has studied women's activism here. "I expected fewer than 300."

The march abruptly pushed women to the center of Egyptian political life after they had been left out almost completely. Although women stood at the forefront of the initial revolt that ousted President Hosni Mubarak 10 months ago, few had prominent roles in the various revolutionary coalitions formed in the uprising's aftermath. Almost no women have won seats in the early rounds of parliamentary elections.
Secretary Clinton's Remarks on Women, Peace, and Security, Dec. 19:
Now I know some of you may be thinking to yourself, "Well, there she goes again. Hillary Clinton always talks about women, and why should I or anyone else really care?" Well, you should care because this is not just a woman's issue. It cannot be relegated to the margins of international affairs. It truly does cut to the heart of our national security and the security of people everywhere, because the sad fact is that the way the international community tries to build peace and security today just isn't getting the job done. Dozens of active conflicts are raging around the world, undermining regional and global stability, and ravaging entire populations. And more than half of all peace agreements fail within five years.

At the same time, women are too often excluded from both the negotiations that make peace and the institutions that maintain it. Now of course, some women wield weapons of war – that's true – and many more are victims of it. But too few are empowered to be instruments of peace and security. That is an unacceptable waste of talent and of opportunity for the rest of us as well. Across the Middle East and North Africa, nations are emerging from revolution and beginning the transition to democracy. And here too, women are being excluded and increasingly even targeted.

Recent events in Egypt have been particularly shocking. Women are being beaten and humiliated in the same streets where they risked their lives for the revolution only a few short months ago. And this is part of a deeply troubling pattern. Egyptian women have been largely shut out of decision-making in the transition by both the military authorities and the major political parties. At the same time, they have been specifically targeted both by security forces and by extremists.

...That is why this morning, President Obama signed an Executive Order launching the first-ever U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security – a comprehensive roadmap for accelerating and institutionalizing efforts across the United States Government to advance women’s participation in making and keeping peace.

...Excluding women means excluding the entire wealth of knowledge, experience, and talent we can offer. So the United States will use the full weight of our diplomacy to push combatants and mediators to include women as equal partners in peace negotiations. We will work with civil society to help women and other leaders give voice to the voiceless. And we will also help countries affected by conflict design laws, policies, and practices that promote gender equality so that women can be partners in rebuilding their societies after the violence ends.
I highly recommend reading both pieces in full. This is a real thing in the world, and it is terrible and awesome and takes my breath away with an expansive hopefulness for a possible future so close I swear I can smell the earth on its dusty feet, yet just far enough away that the realistic contemplation of its never being realized terrifies me.

I want a world in which women are heard, in which women are agents of peace. I want it so bad, so goddamn bad.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Radiohead: "My Iron Lung"

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MLK Day Bomber Gets 32 Years for Not-Terrorism

[Trigger warning for terrorism, violence, racism.]

In January of this year, I wrote about an incident of Totally Not Terrorism that our Liberal Media failed to widely report with the breathless intensity reserved for brown-skinned terrorists who target white men: An undetonated backpack bomb, in which the packed shrapnel was coated with an anticoagulant to prevent blood clotting, was found along the parade route of a Martin Luther King Day event in Spokane, Washington. Fortunately, the device was discovered before its engineer could remotely trigger it, and no one was injured.

By March, what was obvious was confirmed: The suspect, Kevin Harpham, is a white supremacist, and for years had been on the radar of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, despite his not even being a significant player in organized white supremacy.

Harpham is a terrorist.

The good news is that he was found, charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to commit a federal hate crime, pleaded guilty in September, and has now been sentenced to 32 years.

The bad news is that this is still barely a blip on the radar, and the linked story at CNN does not even use the word "terrorism," despite quoting a Justice Department statement reading: "Harpham admitted that he is a white supremacist and white separatist, and that he placed the explosive device at the march with the intent to cause bodily injury to the person or persons in order to further his racist beliefs."

Meanwhile, Harpham, from whose home FBI agents excavated "racist books and magazines, and information about domestic terrorism ... an AK-47 assault rifle, a handgun, and a digital clock that had been modified as a timing device," was described by his federally-appointed defense attorney Kailey Moran as someone who "cared for others" and was viewed by his friends and family as "a kind-hearted and gentle soul who would go to any length to help someone in need."

Moran's just doing her job (hoo boy, I would not want that job, and I am grateful to the people who are willing to do it); the media, however, is under no obligation to report the irrelevant sentimental bullshit that a federal defender presents to the court on a confessed terrorist's behalf.

Is it newsworthy that Harpham's family thinks he's a swell fella? Nope. And I daresay I don't remember reading what Zacarias Moussaoui's BFFs thought of him during his trial. "He was always there to help us move to a new underground hideout!" Great. Who cares.

But suddenly when it's a white man (who served his country!) who conspires to murder people of color, it is of the utmost importance to report that the people who loved a dude who made no secret of his violent racism thought he was a nice guy.

Yeah, he's a real goddamn charmer. Rot, fucko.

[H/T to Pam.]

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Primarily Awful

Here's the latest from White Men Can't Stump aka the Republican Primary...

Speaking of white men, a white man named Bob Vander Plaats, who is the head of Iowa's American Family Values Children Christian Liberty Freedom Patriot Association Foundation Organization, recently gave his very coveted endorsement to lucky fucky Rick Santorum, another white man. But, before doing do, Vander Plaats reportedly "called Michele Bachmann and urged her to drop out of the race and endorse Rick Santorum. ... Bachmann declined, the source said, noting to Vander Plaats that she has consistently polled ahead of Santorum in the race and still does." Bachmann is, of course, famously not a man.

Whoooooooooooooooops Michele Bachmann you are a lady running to be president for a party that does not like ladies.

Rick Perry is still definitely a man, still definitely polling lower than Bachmann, and still definitely in the race! Also, he's an outsider. Stay gold, Ponyboy.

Speaking of gold, Ron Paul made a lot of money from virulently racist newsletters once upon a time, from which he's tried to distance himself in a very unconvincing way. But obviously he's not racist, because Andrew Sullivan endorsed him. Ha ha just kidding. That definitely means he's suuuuuuuper racist. I hope he is elected president so he can make Andrew Sullivan Secretary of the Bell Curve and UFOs.

The second most popular Mormon in the pack, Jon Huntsman, is distantly related to four former US presidents! Willard is related to six, and Ponyboy Perry to one. Neat! "Time and again American politicians have family ties to our country's founders and past leaders," said Anastasia Harman, lead family historian for "It seems the traits that forged past leaders have been handed down through generations to our current and hopeful leaders." Ha ha yep. Traits like privilege.

Newt Gingrich snagged a great endorsement from professional douchestew Don Wildmon, the founder and chairman emeritus of the American Family Association. It's no wonder, either, with Gingrich groovin' the smooth moves like telling a gay man at a campaign event to go vote for Obama. Newt Gingrich 2012: He don't want your cooties vote.

Mitt Romney is very rich! And he's gonna keep getting richer, son.

And in spoiler news, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who has been running for president as a Republican to the tune of Who Cares, has announced he will instead seek the Libertarian Party presidential nomination. "Yay!" said no one. Johnson has no capacity to be a spoiler, but it turns out that Ron Paul does.

Paul-Johnson 2012! "Who's Paul Johnson?" This just in from CNN News: Third-party candidate Paul Johnson is now leading the Republican field by fully 100 points.

Breaking News from the Conservative News Service: Paul Johnson has a Christmas tree positively FILLED with Jesus ornaments.

Reuters Newsflash: Paul Johnson has just been endorsed by the American Conservative Babies Jesus Constitution Bootstrap Brigade.

AP Breaking News: Paul Johnson campaign over after candidate discovered to be two totally unelectable dudes.

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

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Open Thread

Hosted by a Robby the Robot bobblehead.

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Question of the Day

What one actor/actress would you like to see in hir own television series, with a perfectly matched writer and director and superb supporting cast?

On any given day, I could give a dozen different answers, but since she was already top of mind this week, I'm casting my vote for Anna Deavere Smith.

image of actress Anna Deavere Smith

Not that I want to steal her away from Nurse Jackie, but she is just the greatest. I first remember seeing her in The American President; it was a small part, but she totally grabbed my attention. She was a total scene-stealer in Rachel Getting Married, too.

And don't even get me started on Gloria Akalitus. SO. GREAT.

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The Best Thing You'll Read All Day

Lakshmi Sandhana for FastCompany's Co.Exist: An Indian Inventor Disrupts the Period Industry.

When Arunachalam Muruganantham hit a wall in his research on creating a sanitary napkin for poor women, he decided to do what most men typically wouldn't dream of. He wore one himself--for a whole week. Fashioning his own menstruating uterus by filling a bladder with goat's blood, Muruganantham went about his life while wearing women's underwear, occasionally squeezing the contraption to test out his latest iteration. It resulted in endless derision and almost destroyed his family. But no one is laughing at him anymore, as the sanitary napkin-making machine he went on to create is transforming the lives of rural women across India.

Right now, 88% of women in India resort to using dirty rags, newspapers, dried leaves, and even ashes during their periods, because they just can't afford sanitary napkins, according to "Sanitation protection: Every Women's Health Right," a study by AC Nielsen. Typically, girls who attain puberty in rural areas either miss school for a couple of days a month or simply drop out altogether. Muruganantham's investigation into the matter began when he questioned his wife about why she was trying to furtively slip away with a rag. She responded by saying that buying sanitary napkins meant no milk for the family.

"When I saw these sanitary napkins, I thought 'Why couldn't I create a low cost napkin for [my wife]?'" says Muruganantham.
Turns out, he could. And, in the process, he's not just created an important product for poor women, he's also created an easily replicable production process and a business model that he hopes will "create 1 million employment opportunities for rural women and expand the model to other developing nations."

[H/T to Shaker Kathy_A.]

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The Enlightened Thread

Laura Dern as Amy Jellicoe in the HBO show, 'Enlightened'.

Today in Good TV News: HBO has renewed Enlightened for a second season.

When HBO first announced that it was going to air a series helmed by Mike White (who is great) and starring Laura Dern (who is amazing), I was extremely excited. I mean, honestly, to merely say I adore Laura Dern isn't sufficient. She is a brilliant actress, whose work I've admired since I was a kid. Wild at Heart's Lula is one of my all-time favorite movie characters, not because the character is lovable, or even particularly likeable, but because of the way she is played by Laura Dern.

Then came the marketing for Enlightened, which made me nervous. The poster pictured Dern in close-up with mascara streaking down her face, wearing an expression I can best describe as stricken. Still, I am well aware that the marketing of a TV series or film can wildly misrepresent its actual content, for good or bad.

So I watched the pilot episode. And it was...okay. If it hadn't been Laura Dern and Mike White, I wouldn't have kept watching. But it was. And Dern's real-life mother, the fab Diane Ladd, playing her character's mother, as she did in Wild at Heart. That was enough to keep me watching. I kept watching.

And by the time the series ended last week, I was a committed fan.

There are a lot of reasons I like Enlightened. The relationship between Dern and her mother. The exchanges between Dern and White. The subtle but incisive commentary on how do-gooding frequently can't pay the bills, if a path to do-gooding is even apparent (which it often isn't). The commentary on corporate workplace culture, and how it differs at different professional levels. For me, though, it's mostly about Laura Dern.

She plays the central character, Amy Jellicoe, with such extraordinary finesse: Jellicoe is an awkward, clueless, self-centered, privileged pain in the ass, but Dern imbues her with enough vulnerability and decency that she is a character worth caring about, even as she fumblefucks her way through each day, constantly disappointed by the people around her who haven't been enlightened by recovery.

It is a source of both humor and angst to watch her practice the good approaches recommended by therapy and repeatedly bump up against the disinterest of an apathetic world where healing is hardly a priority. Jellicoe, in Dern's capable hands, becomes a relatable character, and when I see myself in her, I squirm. But I also laugh.

And then there's this: Laura Dern is 44. She is stunningly gorgeous, and she looks 44. I want to neither explicitly nor implicitly condemn actors who make the decision to get plastic surgery or fillers, because that is a valid choice and an entirely understandable one especially in an industry that puts such a premium on youth and compliance with the Beauty Standard. Dern has simply made a different choice, equally legitimate but much rarer, and it is remarkable to see a woman with beautiful lines on her face every week.

The ten episodes of the first series of Enlightened were directed by either Mike White, Miguel Arteta, Jonathan Demme, Nicole Holofcener, or Phil Morrison, all five of whom give the audience something to which we are rarely treated: Long, lingering shots on the face of an actress.

a series of 9 photos showing Laura Dern as Amy Jellicoe, filmed straight on

We gaze at her countenance straight on; her face is not tilted up and shot from above, from the "male" perspective. The shots hold her expression, and let us look at her feel something. The way the show is directed says this person means something, and it was breathtaking to me week after week how radical it felt to me for that message to be conveyed by a show about its female lead.

Anyway. I'm thrilled Enlightened is being given a second season. I can't wait to see it.

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Daily Dose of Cute



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Quote of the Day

"One great benefit of our relationship is that Megan has gone through everything a couple of chapters ahead of me, so there's an easy student-master quality to it. When your wife is a legend of comedy, you have to be a huge jackass not to assume the student role."—Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson on my favorite show, Parks & Recreation, on how he and his wife, actress Megan Mullally, who played Karen Walker on the sitcom Will and Grace (and plays Ron Swanson's ex-wife Tammy Two on Parks & Rec), "negotiate[d] the disparity between [their] careers before Nick landed Parks and Recreation."

The quote is from a February interview, but Shaker alabee just passed it along with a note that it's a "great interview all around," and so it is. I hope their relationship is as awesome as it seems to be.

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Photo of the Day

image of Deeky sitting next to a statue of Ronald McDonald

Deeky, and his newest playmate, Ronald McDonald!

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This is so the worst thing you're going to read all day.

Bloomberg: Bankers Seek to Debunk Attack on Top 1%.

Everything about this article is perfectly hilaritragic. I especially looooooove the insistence that the richest people in the country are rich exclusively because of hard work and perseverance. "Instead of an attack on the 1%, let's call it an attack on the very productive." Ha ha sure. Let's do that, fucko.

But first, let's you and I see which one of us works harder in a day. Let's see if you or the last waitress who served you works harder in a day. Let's see if you or any one of the hundreds of people in service jobs with whom you come into contact on a daily basis whose humanity you don't even notice, no less acknowledge, works harder in a day. Let's see if you or a homeless person just trying to stay warm, fed, and alive works harder in a day.

Let's do that math, and then let's indeed call the increasing divide between the haves and the have-nots in this richest country in the world "an attack on the very productive."

Productivity isn't the issue. The kind of work we choose to value and the people whom we choose to do that value is.

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The Not-War in Pakistan

[Trigger warning for state-sponsored killing.]

Karen DeYoung in the Washington Post: Secrecy defines Obama's drone war.

Since September, at least 60 people have died in 14 reported CIA drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal regions. The Obama administration has named only one of the dead, hailing the elimination of Janbaz Zadran, a top official in the Haqqani insurgent network, as a counterterrorism victory.

The identities of the rest remain classified, as does the existence of the drone program itself. Because the names of the dead and the threat they were believed to pose are secret, it is impossible for anyone without access to U.S. intelligence to assess whether the deaths were justified.

The administration has said that its covert, targeted killings with remote-controlled aircraft in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and potentially beyond are proper under both domestic and international law. It has said that the targets are chosen under strict criteria, with rigorous internal oversight.

It has parried reports of collateral damage and the alleged killing of innocents by saying that drones, with their surveillance capabilities and precision missiles, result in far fewer mistakes than less sophisticated weapons.

Yet in carrying out hundreds of strikes over three years — resulting in an estimated 1,350 to 2,250 deaths in Pakistan — it has provided virtually no details to support those assertions.

In outlining its legal reasoning, the administration has cited broad congressional authorizations and presidential approvals, the international laws of war and the right to self-defense. But it has not offered the American public, uneasy allies or international authorities any specifics that would make it possible to judge how it is applying those laws.
Emphasis mine.

Over the course of three years, in a not-war for which there is no direct authorization by Congress as required by the US Constitution, and no oversight, and thus no accountability, we have killed an estimated ~2,000 people in Pakistan.

There were things I expected about Barack Obama when I cast my vote for him. Some of them were low expectations—I expected fuck-all on women's issues, and he has managed to limbo right underneath even my rock bottom garbage expectations—but some of them were great expectations, among which were high hopes that his foreign policy would be a radical departure from the warmongering, secretive, accountability-free nightmare of the preceding administration.

This has not been the case, and it is a grave disappointment.

[H/T to Atrios.]

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Obama Thinks He's Better Than Jesus!

Also, as we all know, he is Muslim, so it's no wonder that his giant Capitol Christmas tree doesn't even feature (or maybe does but WHO KNOWS!) any ornaments about Jesus, even though it's sporting an ornament about him!

screenshot from the website of the 'Conservative News Service' of a story headlined 'U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Pays Homage to Obama—But Not Jesus' and showing an image of an ornament obviously made by a child reading 'I [heart] President Obama.'

OMFG I love the Conservative News Service. It is the greatest thing ever.

I can't decide what my favorite part of this story is: I mean, the headline is obviously GREAT, and the picture of the ornament that has obviously been handmade by a child is TERRIFIC, and the breathless reporting that the office of the Architect of the Capitol, which curates the tree, could not confirm "whether or not this year's Christmas tree does in fact include even a single ornament that directly references or depicts Christmas or Christ" is PERFECT in every conceivable way, and the scare-quoting of "lesson plans" is BRILLIANT, but, ultimately, I guess my favorite part might just be the straight-up length and detail of the story.

Congratulations, CNS. You have won me over yet again with your passionate dedication to creating an online repository of petty, suspicious, and unjustified complaints that would rival any professional crankypants' Big Leatherbound Book of Grievances. Good job!

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Rumors of His Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

image of Jon Bon Jovi standing in front of a Christmas tree holding a handwritten sign reading 'Heaven looks a lot like New Jersey. Dec. 19, 2011 6:00.'
Jon Bon Jovi responds to erroneous reports on the internetz yesterday about his premature demise.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Judas Priest: "You've Got Another Thing Comin'"


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Number of the Day

11%: The percentage of USian respondents in Gallup's latest poll who "approve of the job Congress is doing, the lowest single rating in Gallup's history of asking this question since 1974. This earns Congress a 17% yearly average for 2011, the lowest annual congressional approval rating in Gallup history."

One has to imagine the other 11% were asleep, misunderstood the question, or are a sitting member of Congress.

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Primarily Stupid

Here's the latest from Who Farted, Too: Electric Boogaloo aka the Republican Primary...

Newt Gingrich is having a wacky day today (hey, maybe he is zany after all!), as he gets a swell endorsement from Prop 8 ringleader Pastor Jim Garlow of Skyline Church in La Mesa, California, who is a huge fan of Gingrich's antigay bigotry and finds that Gingrich "understands the moral component" of marriage. That is to say, preventing same-sex marriage. Ahem. But despite his admirable ethics [sic] on social justice issues, CREW is alleging that Gingrich's campaign is engaging in shady accounting. Such a conundrum! On the one hand, Gingrich is a paragon of moral virtue [sic], and on the other, he's a thieving dirtbag. HOW WOULD JESUS VOTE?!

Obviously not for this guy: Mitt Romney, who is still a Mormon, has struck out a controversial path by announcing he "agree[s] with the Constitution." Way to set yourself apart from the Republican pack, sir! None of the candidates are incessantly invoking the Constitution this year! In other news, Romney campaign strategist Flurg Flunderton has confirmed that their strategy of "listen to what everyone else is saying, then say that, too, only wayyyyy more awkwardly" is working great. Also: Mitt Romney is one of you.

Michelle Bachmann, a sitting member of Congress who has been a nationally known candidate for years because of her incendiary politicking, is one of you: "Republican hopeful Michele Bachmann seems to have found a new favorite tag line in the midst of her bus tour: 'I'm one of you.' It's a phrase she's been using more and more, and Monday she seemed to be saying it everywhere she went. 'I am not a politician. I am a real person. I don't even know how to be a politician.'" Ha ha. Okay, player. One of us! One of us!

Rick Perry is still definitely in the race! He has not dropped out yet.

Carter Eskew of the Washington Post has a great theory on why Ron Paul won't win the nomination: "Ron Paul's un-electability will be his undoing." Solid observation. Sometimes I daydream about having a column in the Washington Post, but I then remember that you've got to have the Big Ideas to get a job like that. Aw, shucks!

Jon Huntsman's "long-shot campaign hinges on South Carolina," according to CBS. Wait a second—I thought it hinged on New Hampshire! Garsh, it's hard to keep track of on what wildly improbable victory Jon Huntsman's futile campaign for the presidential nomination and slightly less futile (but still definitely very futile) campaign for the vice presidential slot on the ticket depends. In good news, his campaign to be sent back to China is looking GREAT!

Rick Santorum got an enthusiastic endorsement in the Letters section of the paper from a lady in Sioux City, Iowa. "I am angry and hateful, and I support Rick Santorum!" Ha ha perfect. She also suuuuuuuuper loves playing Conservative Bingo. Who loves this endorsement as much as I do?

image of Rick Santorum raising his finger

And here's a bit of bright news for all you Palin-Heads in the crowd: Sarah Palin said in an interview on Fox Business Network that "it's not too late for folks to jump in." Told ya! Go get 'em, Sarah!

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

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Open Thread

Hosted by a Bossk bobblehead.

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Question of the Day

Who is your favorite character on a currently-airing television show? (Please feel free to interpret the question broadly to include "characters" on reality shows, talk show hosts, etc.)

image of Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, standing in front of the city of Pawnee seal

I don't guess I'm surprising anyone by casting my vote for Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) of Parks & Recreation, followed closely by her BFF Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones).

image of Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins, at a bar wearing a nametag labeled Ann followed by a smiley face

Honorable mentions to Gloria Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith) on Nurse Jackie, Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) on The Big Bang Theory, and Amy Jellicoe (Laura Dern) on Enlightened.

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Number of the Day

$156 billion: The approximate estimated total of 2011 bonuses at seven of the biggest US banks—Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, US Bank, and Wells Fargo. The total is "slightly larger than last year's record-breaking number."

Perfect. Good for them.

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Caption This Photo

image of Rick Santorum with his hands splayed and mouth open

Iowans were surprised and delighted to note that, for a guy who hates gays and ladies, Rick Santorum can throw a mean jazz hands.

(That's one just for you, Eastsidekate.)

[AP Photo]

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An Observation

[Trigger warning for rape culture.]

I find it interesting, ahem, how much public musing I've read over the years about whether fantasist Stephen Glass deserves a second chance in a new career ("being a lawyer is a privilege, not a right"), or has sufficiently earned forgiveness, or can be successfully rehabilitated, and other variations on questions of trust, integrity, and decency.

The reason I find it interesting is because I have not seen nearly the same about of public musing about, say, Mike Tyson, or Roman Polanski, even though they each did something rather quite worse than telling lies, even big lies that hurt and embarrassed and betrayed people.

We sure do have interesting priorities, and interesting beliefs about the things people do. Especially people who are men, admired by other men.

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Things You Definitely Don't Need During the Holidays (Especially in a Cold Winter Climate)

1. Mail service.

2. Garbage service.

3. Access to your garage.

4. Access to your driveway.

It's not like anyone needs to send or receive letters and packages during the holidays—and, anyway, it's superfun to go stand in a line at the post office for an hour just to collect your bills because your mailbox is lying on your front porch. And very few people who celebrate Christmas need to come and go a lot, often with several parcels or big grocery shops, at this time of year. Plus, it's also superfun to clear snow and frost off your car. I hope my driveway looks like this FOREVER.

image of my driveway, covered in planks and tarps

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Quote of the Day

James Franco, caught napping during a lecture at Columbia University, March 2009.

"The school has bent over backwards to create a Franco-friendly environment, that's for sure."—Former NYU professor José Angel Santana, who alleges that he was fired from the university after giving star pupil James Franco a D in his class.

What—did you think that New York University wasn't going to bend over backwards to create a Franco-friendly environment? You're so weird. OF COURSE they were toing to bend over backwards to create a Franco-friendly environment, because James Franco.


You get a D in LOGIC, Professor Santana! And an F in Francology.

[H/T to everyone in the multiverse, and thanks to each and every one of you!]

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Daily Dose of Cute

Video Description: Dudley and Zelda and I play Catch in the backyard, this morning. At Shakes Manor, Catch is a cooperative sport. And it's not really Catch—or Fetch, for that matter. It's more like chase the ball and maybe pick it up, run around with it in your mouth, bump everyone else with it, drop it, run around some more, look cute, and get scratches, then wait until someone else brings the ball back, or Two-Legs goes and retrieves it. Yay! Set to the Peanuts' Lucy and Linus Theme.

At the end is a little bit of Dudley's new favorite game, Bump, where all 75 pounds of him flops into me over and over, while he points his wee nosehead up at me, grinning like a goofball.

For those who can't view the video but can view images, here's a photo of Dudley chasing Zelly around the garden:

image of Dudley the Greyhound chasing Zelda the Black-and-Tan Mutt through the ivy

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Gabe and Tycho Still Think Rape Is Hilarious

[Trigger warning for rape culture.]

Once upon a time, two dudes who write a web comic called "Penny Arcade" posted a strip that included a rape joke. Some people objected to this. It got nasty from there, in the same infuriatingly predictable way these things always get nasty. And then it got nastier, and more awful, and uglier, and more horrible, and worser, oof just so horrendo like whoa.

(The whole history is detailed here.)

The only thing that was certain is the only thing that's ever certain, which is that feminist survivors of sexual violence who don't find rape jokes funny are stupid, hypersensitive, rage-seeking missiles who want to censor the world. [sic]

It's funny the reputation feminists have. Because even in spite of being presumed to be a dour, man-hating, pessimistic cynic, I still sort of figured (or hoped) that Gabe and Tycho would, once the din subsided, chew on everything that had been said exhorting them to kinder selves, and maybe eventually get to a place where, even if they never made any sort of public amends, they could internally acknowledge The Point, and be a little more sensitive in future.

Whoooooooooooooooooooooops I am a real dunderhead!

Because last Friday, they ran a guest comic at the center of which was a rape joke and a "comical" image implying non-consensual sexual activity: Their recurrent character the "Fruit Fucker" is forcibly feeding a piece of fruit to Humpty Dumpty (ETA. or HD is wearing a ball gag), who's clad in bondage gear and looks terrified. It's labeled, in big letters: "NON-CONSENSUAL BREAKFAST!"

People objected. Brendan Atkins tweeted: "I'm an Enforcer, I love you guys, but I really hate it when you run rape jokes." To which Gabe responded: "the fruit fucker is a rapist of food. I'm not sure an egg can give consent anyway. Maybe a chicken, but not an egg."

Which seems a pretty weak defense when the joke, such as it is, turns on the word "non-consensual" and the egg being sentient and not giving consent.

I would say this is a terminal case of Not Getting It, if I thought that Gabe and Tycho really don't get it. But I think they do get it. At this point, it's not that they're just being insensitive to survivors who asked them to stop; they're actually being actively hostile to them. Contemptible.

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You know what would have made this piece about "Nerds and Male Privilege" better...? If its male author had linked to any one of the hundreds (thousands?) of female writers who have said the very same thing before.

It's not that I don't appreciate the effort and all that, cookies for everyone, but when the central idea of one's thesis is "A man can expect to have his opinion considered, not dismissed out of hand because of his sex," if one doesn't want to more deeply entrench that marginalizing dynamic, one would do well to acknowledge any of the many, many, many women who share his opinion and have, in fact, been disregarded.

Just a suggestion.

[H/T to Iain.]

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Monday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by concrete.

Recommended Reading:

Susie: A Tribute to Václav Havel

Peter: Václav Havel on Kim Jong-Il

Pam: [TW for racism and violence] Ohio Landlord Posts 'Whites Only' Pool Sign—It's 'Historical' and She's 'Sticking Up for [Her] White Rights'

Nadya: [TW for sexual and emotional abuse] Time Could Be Right for Yemen to Ban Child Marriage

Biyuti: [TW for Western imperialism and appropriation] Gender Imperialism

Melissa: Meryl Streep on the Narrowing of the Film Audience

Fannie: [TW for biphobia] Anti-Feminists Discover TOP SECRET Feminist Ideas

Michael and Christian: Sweating Bullets: Body Scanners Can See Perspiration as a Potential Weapon

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Pseudo Echo: "Funkytown"

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The Dexter Thread

image of a painting featuring Dexter's face as the proverbial Beast

lol your garbage tableau

The series finale of Dexter will be discussed in detail, which means that SPOILERS lurk herein. If you don't want to know what happened, please pack your plastic wrap and go...

1. All my previous complaining stands.

2. The whole Deb Loves Dexter subplot? No. That's all I got. Just an emphatic no.

3. Remember at the beginning of the series, how Dexter constantly used to give Deb tips to make her look good on the job? Now he constantly undermines her and doesn't care whether her job gets risked because he wants to kill Doomsday himself? Bullshit. That particular piece of empathy didn't evaporate into thin air. The writers can't just pretend that a central part of the character at the series' genesis never happened. There needed to be some scene of reflection, some annoying conversation with Harry about consciously choosing to move from supporting Deb on the job to subverting her on the job.

4. Lions and lambs. Ugh. Who wrote this shit—Dan Brown?

5. The last 30 seconds of the episode? Great. Best 30 seconds of the season. That is not enough good seconds. Please deliver more good seconds next season, writers of Dexter. And stop fucking with Deb!

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Primarily Horrendo

Here's the latest from Who Didn't Fart?: The Hunt for Fred Thompson aka the Republican Primary...

New Iowa frontrunner (whut) Ron Paul (!) is surging thanks in part to his foresight in having a functional campaign in place. Good job on knowing how to be a candidate, sir! That is only HALF the sarcasm it normally would be, because it is actually true that most of the other candidates haven't bothered to consider the importance of building a serious campaign infrastructure staffed by coordinated employees and volunteers. Whooooooooooooops!

Former frontrunner (oopsy) Newt Gingrich continues to implode. (Ha ha omg you are making Ron Paul look like a centrist!) I'm sure there are people who get electionboners for candidates who dabble in moderation-torching bellicosity like threatening to send US marshals to arrest "activist judges" and promising to "ignore Supreme Court decisions that conflicted with his powers as commander in chief [and] press for impeaching judges or even abolishing certain courts if he disagreed with their rulings," but I am pretty sure they are usually the same people who consider cheating on your wives, plural, a grave affront to the Baby Jesus, so.

Former former frontrunner Mitt Romney is probably spending a lot of time thinking about the last election, when the super boring and resoundingly unlikable John McCain just hung the fuck in there until he eventually got the nomination by default. Good luck, Willard! I have every faith that you are at once totally mediocre and breathtakingly awful enough to win this staring contest with the worst people in the country! If there's one thing that Republican primary voters can't do, it's stop meddling in other people's reproductive and marriage rights, but if there's A SECOND THING that Republican primary voters can't do, it's not blink in the radiant glow of a straight white patriarch who, at the end of the day, seems pretty likely to let them continue to stockpile automatic weapons.

Michele Bachmann doesn't believe in the Kinsey Report. Of course she doesn't. The Kinsey Report is of science, and science is of the devil, no doy. If god had wanted Michele Bachmann to believe that hokum, he would have transcribed it to the lesser-known thirteenth disciple, St. Chad of Fabulous. But he didn't! And that's why gays are a myth and science is stupid. The end.

Rick Perry is still definitely in the race! He has not dropped out yet. Also: He got totes pwned by a 14-year-old girl.

Jon Huntsman is putting all his eggs in New Hampshire. He might come in second! "Even if he comes in second, that's a win," says Bob Bestani, a former congressional candidate. In a tumultuous primary contest so full of knuckleheads and dildobrains that even Donald Trump and Herman Cain have been the leading contenders at one time, I'm not sure even first is a win, no less second.

The Associated Press does not mince words about the pointless vanity candidacy of Rick Santorum: "In a presidential campaign marked by sharp rises and falls, Republican Rick Santorum has experienced neither." Ouch. No one cares about you, Rick Santorum! Go home and go to bed!

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

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The Kim Jong-Il Thread

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has died, leaving his son Kim Jong-Un as the "Great Successor" to "Dear Leader."

I don't have anything insightful or kind to say. All I feel at the moment is sad that the North Korean people are inheriting another dictator, leaving their future as a nation uncertain, at best—and worried for North Korea's neighbors, especially South Korea.

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Open Thread

Hosted by a Ben Linus bobblehead.

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Sunday Shuffle

U2, Bad


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Open Thread

image of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

Hosted by Madeleine Albright.

This week's Open Threads have been hosted by cool ladies with the initials M.A.

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Open Thread

image of actress Maria Conchita Alonso

Hosted by Maria Conchita Alonso.

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of a pub photoshopped to be named 'The Shakesville Arms'
[Explanations: lol your fat. pathetic anger bread. hey your gay.]

TFIF, Shakers!

Belly up to the bar,
and name your poison!

And don't forget to tip your bartender!

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Film Corner!

Below, the trailer for Jack the Giant Killer, which is not a movie about a dude named Jack of enormous proportions who kills people, but a dude named Jack who kills giants. Or a giant. Many giants? At least one giant.

Here is the movie's synopsis, which should help with this whole conundrum: "Jack the Giant Killer tells the story of an ancient war that is reignited when a young farmhand unwittingly opens a gateway between our world and a fearsome race of giants. Unleashed on the Earth for the first time in centuries, the giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing the young man, Jack, into the battle of his life to stop them. Fighting for a kingdom, its people, and the love of a brave princess, he comes face to face with the unstoppable warriors he thought only existed in legend—and gets the chance to become a legend himself."

Hmm, that didn't really help at all, in terms of determining how many giants are actually murdered at the hand of this young farmboy. ("As you wish!") Well, whatever. What's important is that we definitely know this is based on a classic Western hemisphere fable (that was probably ripped off from some classic Eastern hemisphere fable), which means that it stars lots and lots of white men, which is the important thing, obviously.

Nicholas Hoult, who is definitely 22 now, I checked Wikipedia and everything, has turned into a very attractive man after being a very awkward little dude in About a Boy. In his short career, he has been in a lot of movies I like and/or like a lot—About a Boy, A Single Man, Clash of the Titans, X-Men: First Class—and I will probably like this movie, too, even though I'm totally going to make fun of this trailer.

Anyway! Nicholas Hoult is handsome and he is a farmhand named Jack. There is Ominous Music. He is given a handful of beans, which are, according to an urgently whispering fellow with monk-hair, "holy relics from a very special place far, far away." Ha ha sure they are. "They are born of dark magic." Holy AND magical, you say? Why, these ARE special beans. "They have the power to change the world as we know it." By revealing that god is a wizard? "Don't lose them." KEEP THEM SECRET! KEEP THEM SAFE! THEY ARE THE ONE BEANS! "Whatever you do, don't get them wet." Uh-oh! I already put them in the toilet!

Ominous Music gets ominouser. There's a rainstorm. A princess with boobs walks down a castle hall. Them beans is getting wet, yo. A cat meows. Someone says in voiceover, "Once darkness gets a taste for light, it will not stop." Stop what? Eating light? Do these giants eat lightbulbs? Is this an allegory about energy conservation? Hmm, maybe not, since a giant and evil green plant (I bet it's a beanstalk!) just crashed through the floor of Jack's garbage hovel. Maybe this is an allegory about how stupid nature is. It's like Al Gore and Ayn Rand are having a capoeira fight on top of a moving train in my head.

The king wants to know where the princess is, Jack. Jack looks up the beanstalk. I guess she's up there? What was the princess doing in his shitshack? Never mind that. SOMETHING GIANT IS COMING! What is it?! Oh, it's a giant. And the giant has grabbed the princess. Horses. Run! Unsheathe your swords and get ready to fight! Flaming trees over the castle wall. Damn, you really don't want to fight giants. This is why we told you not to get those magui beans wet, son!

Rain. Running. Grabby giant! Swarthy giant eyeball. Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes.

Jack the Giant Killer, coming to a theater near you in June 2012, just about the time we'll be looking for anything to lift our spirits and distract our minds from contemplating the possibility that Newt Gingrich could be our next president.

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