Question of the Day

What was the last thing you bought yourself in celebration and/or to reward yourself for accomplishing something?

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Quote of the Day

"In sum, having considered the purported rational bases proffered by both BLAG and Congress and concluded that such objectives bear no rational relationship to Section 3 of DOMA as a legislative scheme, the Court finds that no conceivable rational basis exists for the provision. The provision therefore violates the equal protection principles incorporated in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution."—US District Court Judge Vanessa L. Bryant, holding today in a federal case in Connecticut that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional.

Bryant, in a case brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, follows several other federal judges over the past two years to have reached the same conclusion. Federal judges in Massachusetts, California — in two different courts — and New York also have found DOMA's provision defining "marriage" and "spouse" as only being unions of one man and one woman in all federal laws unconstitutional, as well as one federal appeals court.

Bryant — appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush on April 2, 2007 — found that laws that classify people based on sexual orientation should be subject to heightened scrutiny by courts — as the Department of Justice and plaintiffs argued in the case — but found the provision of the 1996 law unconstitutional "even under the most deferential level of judicial scrutiny."
Bush appointees are ruling DOMA unconstitutional. Those dominoes, they are falling fast.

[H/T to Shaker GoldFishy.]

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Whoooooooooooops Your Rape Joke

[Content Note: Rape joke; violence.]

So, I'm just watching this video of one of my favorite comedians, Paul F. Tompkins, interviewing fellow comedian Zach Galifianakis, and I get to minute 6, at which point begins a segment innocuously titled "On Encouraging Friends."

ZG: I convinced my friend Jody to come out to California, 'cause I thought he was really funny, and try stand-up. So he comes—he moves out [laughs] to California, and he's like, "What jokes should I do?" 'cause I was gonna take him to an open mic, and I said, "Well, just do that thing that you said on the phone to me once. That was funny." So he gets onstage at The Gypsy Café, and his opening joke was: "I'm designing a board game for children and adults to play together. It's called Suck My Dick or I'll Break Your Neck." [PFT laughs; ZG laughs.] Now, I'm like, "This is a good joke!" [Makes a face that implies there was dead silence in response to the joke.] I mean, there was nothing—you could—it was also followed by the cappuccino machine, you know, making it worse." [PFT laughs.] But, uh, yeah, that was it. He never—he never did it again.
What a loss for us all, I'm sure.

I'm not even really sure how to describe what my reaction was to getting blindsided with a joke about sexual violence while watching a video that I was hoping would make me laugh. I wasn't triggered; I rarely have physical reactions of anxiety anymore. But I did have a conscious thought about that being a rape joke which inevitably evokes a certain feeling, an unpleasant visceral memory, of being a survivor of sexual assault.

I went from feeling invited to sit in a room with Paul F. Tompkins and Zach Galifianakis, listening to them talk, to feeling like I was trapped in a room with two men who think that joking about sexual violence is funny. It was a discernible shift in my perception, and my sense of safety.

I imagine a lot of survivors of sexual violence know exactly what I'm talking about.

It's hardly the worst feeling I experience as a survivor with PTSD, but it's a terrible feeling all the same, in all its banality.

I'm not writing this because I'm mad. I'm not mad; I'm tired. And I'm not writing it to make another argument about rape jokes potentially triggering survivors, or how rape jokes empower rapists; I've written enough on those subjects in the last few weeks.

And I'm not writing this for Galifianakis, who has enough integrity to refuse to work with Mel Gibson, but is totes cool about working with convicted rapist Mike Tyson. I don't expect that he cares very much about dismantling the rape culture.

I'm writing this because I have always regarded Paul F. Tompkins as a thoughtful guy, and I hope he will see this and consider what it means that I watched that video hoping for some fun escapism, and instead landed squarely in the center of a history I cannot escape.

I am, unfortunately, part of a large demographic. One out of every 6 women. One out of every 33 men. People with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and self-harm. People who could use a laugh.

I am writing this hoping that Paul F. Tompkins will reconsider if he really wants to be the sort of comic who creates with his comedy a space that is unsafe for survivors, for people who are his fans, who seek out his content to be uplifted.

I always liked him because I thought he wasn't that sort of comic.

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Photo of the Day

image of two male Olympic synchronized divers mid-dive, gripping their legs and making twisted expressions of deep concentration and physical difficulty
Bronze medalists Nicholas McCrory, front and David Boudia, rear, from the US compete during the Men's Synchronized 10 Meter Platform Diving final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Monday, July 30, 2012. [AP Photo]
One of my favorite things about the Summer Olympics is the diving. And one of my favorite things about the diving are the mid-dive expressions on the divers' faces captured in still photography. They're so great! And I am pretty sure I pull the same expressions just watching them do those amazing dives, lol.

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Today in Mitt Romney Stands in Front of Something

image of Mitt Romney standing at a podium in front of a banner reading in large text: 'Wolność i Demokracja' to which I have added a dialogue bubble reading: 'Hey, does anyone know how to say 'freedom & democracy' in Polish?'
Well, Mitt Romney's Disaster Tour was a huge success, in case you were wondering. His campaign declared it so.
[T]op Romney strategist Stuart Stevens later held a gaggle with reporters (damage control?) after Romney's speech to push back against the perception the trip hasn't gone well. The highlights, [NBC's Garrett Haake] notes, include Stevens pronouncing the trip a "a great success, generally."
So there you go. It must be true.

In other news about how successful the trip was, Romney's traveling press secretary Rick Gorka yelled at reporters today before Romney's big speech in Warsaw.
When members of the press tried to ask Romney about some of the mishaps on his trip, his traveling press secretary Rick Gorka verbally dressed down reporters. Here's a transcript of the questions and Gorka's response:

CNN: "Governor Romney are you concerned about some of the mishaps of your trip?"

NYT: "Governor Romney do you have a statement for the Palestinians?"

Washington Post: "What about your gaffes?"

NYT: "Governor Romney do you feel that your gaffes have overshadowed your foreign trip?"

CNN: "Governor Romney just a few questions sir, you haven't taken but three questions on this trip from the press!"

Gorka: "Show some respect"

NYT: "We haven't had another chance to ask a question..."

Gorka: "Kiss my ass. This is a Holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect."

Moments later, Gorka told Jonathan Martin, a reporter for Politico, to "shove it." About a half-hour later, the aide called reporters to apologize.
Ha ha what a great campaign! A great candidate with a great team! I can't wait to not vote for him!

Finally: Do you want to find out who Romney's running mate is five seconds before the rest of the world? THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT! lulz.

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Daily Dose of Cute

So, the thing about Olivia is that she is the beggingest thing in all of Beggarton. We literally cannot eat anything without her getting up in our grill and trying to steal food right off our plates and out of our hands. She once grabbed a whole taco off my plate and ran down the hall with it, its contents spewing out in a trail of tasty destruction behind her.

She doesn't have worms. She doesn't suffer from lack of food. It's not like she never gets yummy treats. (Every time I open a can of tuna, all five furry residents come barreling into the kitchen, mewing and whining for their share of tuna water!) She is just completely food-obsessed, which makes her the most obnoxious beggar in the house by a country mile.

We also cannot leave any glass of water, tea, or especially coffee unattended, because she will have her paws in it instantly. And she's so tall that she can peer right over a table while she's standing on her back legs, staring at us and reaching her paws out for our food.

Here is a typical scene as Iain tries to eat his breakfast—oatmeal and coffee—yesterday morning (pictures posted with Iain's permission):

image of Olivia standing beside Iain, who's sitting at the end of the chaise, eating his breakfast
"Hey! Hey, Two-Legs! Can I have some of that?"

image of Olivia standing next to the chaise on her tiptoes, trying to peer into Iain's bowl
"Can I lick that bowl? Please? Save some for me!"

image of Olivia standing in front of the table on her hind legs, looking at Iain's food
"Just one sip of coffee! I promise!"

image of Olivia sitting beside Iain
"I'll just sit here and wait 'til you're done. Are you done yet?"

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Fatsronauts 101

Fatsronauts 101 is a series in which I address assumptions and stereotypes about fat people that treat us as a monolith and are used to dehumanize and marginalize us. If there is a stereotype you'd like me to address, email me.

[Content Note: Fat bias; body policing; eliminationism.]

#9: Fat people don't know how they look.

As preface, I want to acknowledge that there are people with body dysmorphic disorders who are genuinely unaware of how their bodies actually look to other people, and many of us, to one degree or another, have some dissonance about some aspect our appearance when we, for example, see a picture of ourselves. This post is not about that. This post is about the concept of thin people (and sometimes other fat people) reflexively concluding a fat person is unaware of how zie looks if zie does not present hirself in a way that conforms to cultural expectations about fat people's performance.

* * *

Not only are most fat people aware of "how we look," and the precise ways in which "how we look" deviates from the kyriarchal norm and fails to conform to what is considered acceptable for people of our size, we are also keenly aware of the negative commentary being delivered on "how we look" via the unsubtle judgmental gazes of body policers.

Internal judgment and external judgment conspire to ensure that we generally have a heightened awareness of both "how we look" and "how we are perceived"—which are often two different things.

But both of them are about deviating from the expectation that fat people should be seen as making some sort of demonstrable effort to be ashamed of their fat and hide it from view, which is second best to not existing at all.

In the comments of the last entry in the series, I observed: "One of the key things to understand about systemic fat hatred is that fat people are asked to be invisible. Once you understand that we are asked to keep ourselves from view, to take up less space, to be less noticeable, all the rest of it makes perfect sense. We are not even meant to visible, no less flashy about it."

We are meant to abide The Rules that prescribe not calling attention to ourselves, folding ourselves up to take up as little room as possible, and, crucially, seeking maximum coverage of our fat bodies by loose garments that mask our shapes.

In practical terms, this means that we are not supposed to wear anything that clings to and thus outlines fat; we are supposed to cover as much of our flesh as possible; we are supposed to strap our fat bodies into "shaping" garments that prevent unseemly jiggling; we are not supposed to wear anything that flatters our figure or suggests that we might be attractive and/or sexy; we are supposed to avoid anything that calls attention to ourselves at all.

The perfect outfit for a fat person is something black and shapeless. The justification is that it's "slimming." The reality is because it helps blend us into the background. Just another shapeless shadow.

(Fashion designers are happy to oblige in the shame department, routinely designing clothes for fat people—if they have plus-size lines at all—with the evident expectation that we are ashamed of our bodies.)

Thus, when a fat person—especially a fat woman, who has no purpose in life since she is axiomatically deemed unfuckable and hence worthless as a woman/sex object—refuses to be unseen, and instead demands to be seen, and/or refuses to live a life of discomfort, and instead wears what makes hir feel good, when zie lets hir fat body hang out of hir clothes, when she wears sleeveless shirts or short shorts, when hir belly meets the breeze, when zie dons bold colors and patterns and (gasp!) horizontal stripes, when zie shows off fat flesh bedecked with brilliant tattoos, when zie wears short hair (or long hair, depending on The Rules according to fat policers around hir), when zie insists on being a visible participant in life, zie is thought to have no concept of what zie looks like.

How could zie go out of the house all openly fat like that? Doesn't zie know people can see hir body?! Doesn't zie know people are judging hir?! If zie had any idea what people are thinking, zie would cover hirself up and have the decency to be ashamed of hir self.

Because it is incomprehensible that anyone could be fat and content (or even happy!), it is inconceivable that a fat person who is unabashedly fat in public, who isn't remorsefully covering hirself in eight yards of unflattering fabric to conceal hirself in deference to the delicate gazes of body policers offended by hir very existence, knows what zie looks like and made the deliberate choice to look that way.

It is a radical notion that some of us are visibly fat ON PURPOSE.

Fat people who aren't conforming to The Rules on how we must exhibit remorse for failing to be invisible are not unaware of our transgressive appearance. We've made the conscious choice to reject the obligation to take up less space, physical and psychological, than we need.

We know "how we look" to you. We don't care. (At least not insomuch as we're going to let your opinion dictate how we present ourselves to the world.) What is important, the only thing that should matter, is how we look to ourselves.

Disagreement with that notion comes in many forms, the most frequent of which is the ubiquitous criticism that is some variation on, "Zie shouldn't be wearing that." Shouldn't be. As if it's a moral act.

The implication is that zie should be, instead, wearing something more appropriate for a fat person; that is, something that better communicates zie acknowledges hir body is hideous and ought to be hidden. Something that renders hir invisible.

That's straight-up eliminationism, and yet we give it a pass because of the profound cruelty of asking fat people to do it to themselves.

Fewer things more pointedly than that underscore that fat hatred is not about "health," but about aesthetics.

Which is why I'm slowly but determinedly giving up every last trace of any urge to hide myself for other people's pleasure and comfort. My once almost exclusively black-and-grey wardrobe is now filled with color. And the clothes are in the right size—not a size bigger to conceal my shape. I have cut off my hair, despite my roundy face and double chin that was supposed to make me look terrible with short hair. I have worn sleeveless shirts all summer—Flabby Arms Meet World! I will soon get my first tattoo.

There are and will be people who wonder, sometimes loud enough that I can hear, if I don't know what I look like. I do. I look like someone who refuses to agree with the idea that I shouldn't exist.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Asha Bhosle: "Nindiyan Na Aaye Sari Raat"

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Random Nerd Nostalgia: It's a Complete Game SYSTEM


[Image description: A white-skinned, gender indeterminate elf on a horse with no back legs, a white dude(?)/dudess(?)/ duderin@(?)in a swoopy long purple cape with a super-high collar, and a bearded white dude in a hooded green cloak with his hand sticking out of his cloak holding a bag, walk down a cobblestone street in what may be the freakiest advertising art ever. Two squares are the covers of Dungeons and Dragons books. At the bottom, five kids are sitting around a table; four of them are definitely white, one (a girl with long dark hair in braids) is hard to determine from the ad. There are 2 girls and three boys, possibly waiting for the Rapture but more likely swept up in the ecstasy of gaming. Big text says "THE ADVENTURE IS YOURS with DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS FANTASY ADVENTURE GAMES!" Smaller text:D&D basic set opens your world to adventure... D&D expert set gets you involved! our D&D game is the world's most talked-about role-playing adventure. And with good reason. It's a complete game SYSTEM." [ed--SYSTEM, people!] "In fact, our basic game sets the pace for the additional excitement and character development you'll find in our Expert Set. So if you think our Basic set in great, GET INVOLVED...capture even more adventure in our expert system." There are addresses to write for a free catalogue in the US and the UK.]

Observation 1: Gee, remember when advertising didn't automatically assume that all gamers are men or boys?

Observation 2: I remember that the freaky elf on the 2-legged horse squicked me right out when I first saw this ad.

Observation 3: Yep. This is what we did before World of Warcraft. The graphics aren't much, but the system requirements are super easy to meet.

(Scanned from Superman Special 1983.)

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Benefits of Contraceptive Use to Women in the US

The invaluable Guttmacher Institute has produced another excellent video, this time on the benefits of contraceptive use in the United States:

[Transcript here.]
Contraception is basic preventive health care for women—a simple truth that is too often lost in our national political discourse. To put facts squarely back into the debate, Guttmacher is launching a short, animated video titled "Benefits of Contraceptive Use in the United States." The video highlights that proper timing and spacing of births leads to healthier pregnancies; that contraception, when used consistently, is highly effective at preventing unintended pregnancy; and that cost can be a barrier to a woman using the contraceptive method that's right for her.

The video is timely, too, as new insurance coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act are taking effect this week: Specifically, most private health plans written on or after August 1 will cover a range of women's preventive health services—including contraceptive counseling and all FDA-approved contraceptive methods—without additional out-of-pocket costs to patients.
[NB: Not only women get pregnant and/or use contraception.]

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Top Five

Here is your topic: Top Five Favorite Films With At Least One Person of Color in a Lead Role. Go!

Please feel welcome to share stories about why your Top Five picks are what they are, though a straight-up list is fine, too. Please refrain from negatively auditing other people's lists, because judgment discourages participation.

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Tweet of the Day

[Content Note: Homophobia]

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Clinton on Bachmann's McCarthyist Revival

[Content Note: Islamophobia.]

I haven't written anything about Representative Michele Bachmann's latest bigoted tomfoolery, her war on "rooting out" Muslim spies in the US government, because there's nothing I could say that wouldn't be self-evident to anyone with a scintilla of decency.

I will, however, pass on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's comment, when asked about Bachmann's crusade, which has included among its targets Clinton's longtime aid, Huma Abedin, who Bachmann charges with being a plant of the Muslim Brotherhood:

Leadership is incredibly important. Leaders have to be active in stepping in and sending messages about protecting the diversity within their countries. And frankly, I don’t see enough of that, and I want to see more of it.
Translation: Hey, Michele Bachmann! Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck youuuuuuuu.

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Open Thread

Divine as Rosie Velez in 'Lust in the Dust.'

Hosted by Rosie Velez.

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Question of the Day

For Shaker Time-Machine, by request, and to provide pun-hating Deeky with "You're such an asshole" fodder for at least another year: What is your favorite pun?

My favorite pun is always the last one I made in Deeky's vicinity.

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Quote of the Day

"A good marriage is one of the greatest gifts you can have in this world."—Actress Sigourney Weaver, in the most recent issue of People magazine, on her marriage to Jim Simpson, founder and artistic director of Manhattan's Flea Theater, whom she wed in 1984.

With requisite caveats about how not every person is the sort of person who wants to get married, nor should anyone ever feel obliged to fit that mold, I agree with her. A good marriage is a great gift indeed, for the people who want it.

Which is why I think it's incomprehensibly shitty that anyone would ever deny the opportunity to someone else.

I support marriage equality.

And I really, really, really hope the Democrats will, too.

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Photo of the Day

image of a chipmunk sitting near a tin can, holding up a snack bar wrapper in a way that looks like the chipmunk is reading the newspaper
From the Telegraph's Pictures of the Day for 30 July 2012: This hungry chipmunk must be a real health nut, as it appears to be reading through the list of ingredients on a breakfast bar wrapper before tucking in. Keen photographer Michael Higgins spotted the chipmunk looking as though he was reading a newspaper while on a camping trip at Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. [Michael Higgins/Caters News]

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Random YouTubery: Bane, Baby, & Hip-Hop v. Rap

Do you need to see Tom Hardy with a baby strapped to his chest performing KRS-One's "Hip-Hop vs. Rap"? I don't see why you wouldn't.

Video Description: Tom Hardy, wearing a baseball cap and a chest halter in which sits a wee baby, stands in the street and raps while a woman (who occasionally laughs during the video) films him. The baby's hands are wrapped around his thumbs, which makes the baby's arms move as he gestures.

[H/T to everyone in the multiverse who knows I like Tom Hardy.]

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Today in Mitt Romney Sits in Front of Something

image of Mitt Romney sitting with former Polish President Lech Walesa in front of a series of Polish flags, to which I have added a dialogue bubble reading: 'This is all really great, but I do hope at some point we can take some pictures in front of a Polish flag. I like flags.'
Republican presidential candidate and former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney (right) meets with former Polish President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa, during a meeting at Artus Court, in Gdansk, on 30, 2012. White House hopeful Mitt Romney is to hold talks with Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk and the anti-communist icon Lech Walesa, as he makes his first venture beyond the old iron curtain. On the final leg of a three-stop tour designed to burnish his foreign policy credentials, the Republican contender has chosen to visit a country which has notably testy relations with Russia and is now a key pillar of NATO and the EU. [Getty Images]
Mitt Romney's Disaster Tour continues as he flies around the world in what I'm presuming is a gold-plated jet, insulting our allies, inflaming centuries-old tensions, and generally being a dildobrain.

AP—Romney comments at fundraiser outrage Palestinians: "Mitt Romney told Jewish donors Monday that their culture is part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than the Palestinians, outraging Palestinian leaders who suggested his comments were racist and out of touch with the realities of the Middle East. Romney's campaign later said his remarks were mischaracterized."

Harriet Sherwood at The GuardianMitt Romney 'providence' comments in Israel outrage Palestinians: "Palestinian leaders expressed offence and outrage at comments by Mitt Romney during his lightning visit to Israel, in which he said the Jewish state's economic success compared with its Palestinian neighbours was due to 'cultural' differences and the 'hand of providence', and declared Jerusalem to be 'the capital of Israel'."

Amanda Peterson Beadle at Think Progress—Romney praises Israel's universal health care system, which includes individual mandate: "Throughout his presidential campaign, Mitt Romney has been running away from the individual insurance mandate in the Affordable Care Act... But during his trip to Israel, Romney inadvertently praised the individual requirement and universal health care. '[F]or an American abroad, you can't get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country than you do in Israel,' he said. And according to The New York Times, Romney spoke favorably about the fact that health care makes up a much smaller amount of Israel's gross domestic product compared to the United States... Israel spends less on health care because of a universal health system that requires everyone to have insurance."

Yiiiiiiiiiiiiikes. This guy should be president of Whooooooooopsylvania.

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Teaspoon for New Zealand Marriage Equality

by Shaker bekitty.

Hey everyone! Marriage equality may very well become law VERY SOON in New Zealand! There's a site here about New Zealand Member of Parliament Louisa Wall's marriage equality bill, and what Kiwis (and others!) can do to support it.

Right now, two-thirds of NZers support marriage equality, and 54 of 121 MPs support it. Only 17 MPs are against it. The remaining 50 are unknown or undecided.

You don't have to be from New Zealand to send a message. If you select "all MPs voting NO" or "all MPs currently undecided/unknown", then a postcard will be automatically sent to each Member of Parliament on that list.

The final vote on the bill will be a conscience vote, so it won't be split along party lines as bills usually are. One of the people voting "YES" is the Prime Minister, John Key. However, his deputy, Bill English, voted "NO".

NZ has had civil unions since 2005. We need your help to take that final step towards true marriage equality. Cheers!

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At the supermarket over the weekend:

image of Iain's hand holding a bottle of Axe shower gel called 'Thai Massage'
Axe is, of course, known for its reprehensible advertising, which generally features women humping plumbing or having wanton sex with a strange dude in an elevator because of the allegedly irresistible power of Axe products.

(Which, as an aside, smell absolutely horrendous.)

So if you had a momentarily urge to defend the product on the basis that maybe it isn't a gross, exploitative wink at narratives about Asian masseurs doubling as sex workers, don't bother. Axe long ago disabused anyone with critical thinking skills of any notion that they deserve good faith.

I'm sure the company would assure it's all ha ha harmless good fun, but I'm guessing the Asian women who work as masseurs and routinely get harassed by d-bags making (not really) jokes about "happy endings" might not appreciate the humor. JUST A GUESS.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound lying on the couch in early morning sunlight, craning his impossible long neck around to groom his side
Dudley, at sunrise this morning, doing a little grooming and giving a presentation on the impossible flexibility of the greyhound neck.

He is so goofy. And he is so elegant.

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Number of the Day

Six million: The number of USians who now "have no income other than food stamps. Food stamps provide an income at a third of the poverty line, close to $6,300 for a family of three. It's hard to understand how they survive."

From Peter Edelman's "Poverty in America: Why Can't We End It?"

Spoiler Alert: Because the people who hold all the power aren't themselves impoverished, and don't have the will or the decency to change it.

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Monday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by apples.

Recommended Reading:

Rachel: Women on Waves Launches Global Directory of Sexual/Reproductive Health Services & Abortion Providers

Andy: Marriage Equality Plank Reportedly Drafted into Democratic Platform in Unanimous Vote

John: Who Gets to Be a Geek? Anyone Who Wants to Be.

Genevieve: Readercon: The Bad and the Ugly and Readercon: The Verdict. [Content Note: Both of these posts contain discussion of stalking and harassment.]

Jon: Questions About Romney's Taxes Aren't Going Away

Peter: Climate Denialism Is America's Great Shame

Amelia: Swollen eyelid? It's a bug bite, you'll be fine, you have a healthy immune system. Now let's talk about your weight. [Content Note: The post at this link contains discussion of fat bias, food policing, and disordered eating.]

Resistance: WWJD? [Content Note: The post at this link contains discussion of religious-centered racism.]

Katy: Wangu's Story: From Rape Victim to Campaigner [Content Note: The post at this link contains a description of a sexual assault and rape apologia.]

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Cornershop: "Brimful of Asha"

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Meet an Olympian: Tahmina Kohistani

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Today Host Meredith Vieira, onscreen: You know, these games are all about firsts, and, this year, it's all about the women. For the first time ever, all 205 countries competing in these games are sending female athletes, and, on the homefront, on Team USA a first as well: Women athletes at these games outnumber the men. The London Olympics may just be the girls' games of 2012.

Vieira, in voiceover, over Sports Illustrated cover featuring the USA women's gymnastics team: The girls of the London Games have already made history.

Alan Ashley, USOC Spokesperson, onscreen: We have 269 women and 261 men on the team, and, as you can see, that really represents a strong group of women.

Vieira, in voiceover, over video of female Olympians training: And on the global stage, Middle Eastern countries Brunei, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia will send female Olympians to London. For the first time in history, every country competing in the Olympics will send women. Twenty-two-year-old Tahmina Kohistani is a sprinter from Afghanistan.

Vieira, walking alongside Kohistani: Can you believe that you're here?

Kohistani: No. [laughs]

Vieira: [laughs] When do you think it's going to sink in?

Kohistani: Sometimes I'm—I think that it's like a dream. But I'm here! [smiles]

Vieira: You're here!

Vieira, in voiceover, over video of performers: I met up with Kohistani at the Olympic village, where performers welcome athletes to the games. She understands this is a special time, and she recognizes her own place in history.

Vieira, now sitting down with Kohistani: Here you are at the Olympics, the only woman on your team—

Kohistani: Yeah.

Vieira: —only the third woman ever from Afghanistan [Kohistani nods] to compete in the Olympics, but it has been a hard road for you to get here, hasn't it?

Kohistani: Yeah, yeah. It was very hard and very difficult for me. There's a lot of people that they're supporting me, but there's also lots of people that they don't like me, and they just hate me.

Vieira: What do they say?

Kohistani: Sometimes they will saying that I'm not a good girl, because I'm doing sports. And they'll thinking that I'm not a good Muslim—like these ideas they have about me.

Vieira: Are you seen as less of a woman than those around you because of the fact you're in sports?

Kohistani: There's a lot of Afghan women that, that, they don't accept me and my—my rules, my way. They are thinking that I'm wrong, but I am not wrong. [smiles]

Vieiea: So it's not just the men; it's the women, too.

Kohistani: Yeah, yeah.

Vieira, in voiceover, over video of Kohistani walking, then photographs of her parents: She says her strength comes from her family. At every step, her parents encouraged her Olympic-sized dreams.

Kohistani, sitting down with Vieira: In my family, they don't have any problem with my sports, all the time. They just, ah, they are supporting me. I can say that the most supporter of my life is my father, all the time. My father told me that, "One day you will achieve your goals. Don't stop." And that was the reason for me that I am here.

Vieira, in voiceover, over video and stills of Kohistani: Tahmina is a Muslim and will compete in the Olympics in a traditional headscarf and Islamic uniform.

Vieira, sitting down with Kohistani: Do you feel in any way that that will limit you as a sprinter?

Kohistani: No. I never think that it's just disturbing me during the competition. I don't think like this.

Vieira: What do you think the likelihood is that you will medal?

Kohistani: It's very difficult to win medal from Olympic Games. [smiles] It's just like a dream! But, if I got the medal, I think that I will start a new way for the gals, for the women, of Afghanistan—know that I was right and on that time they will believe theirself that they can do everything that they want.

Vieira, in voiceover, over video of Kohistani training: With hopes for the future and a fierce determination to make a difference, Tahmina will compete in the 100 meters for Afghanistan. I asked her how to say "good luck" in her home language, Persian.

Kohistani: You can say me "movaffagh baashi."

Vieira: Movaffagh baashi?

Kohistani: Yeah. It means "good luck." [smiles]

Vieira: Movaffagh baashi.

Kohistani: Thank you!

Vieira: It's a pleasure! [they hug]

Vieira, at camera: Tahmina is a part of these historic games that they are calling the Year of the Woman. I mentioned that she is going to run the 100 meters; she is a long shot, but you never know—she has a sign in her room that she keeps about that says, "Dreams can come true." And she's looked at that every day, especially when she was under so much pressure from others not to compete.

Matt Lauer: She is going to inspire a lot of people by being here.

Vieira: She sure is.
[H/T to Shaker Hillary.]

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Breaking Bad Open Thread

image of Jesse (Aaron Paul) and Walt (Bryan Cranston) in hazmat suits moving giant black cases labeled 'Vamonos Pest'
Today in Good Ideas.

Last night's episode will be discussed in spoileriffic detail, so if you don't want any spoilers, please gather any medication you may need for the next few days and vacate the premises.

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Top Five

Here is your topic: Top Five Favorite Words. (Based on the way they sound, rather than what they represent. In any language.) Go!

Please feel welcome to share stories about why your Top Five picks are what they are, though a straight-up list is fine, too. Please refrain from negatively auditing other people's lists, because judgment discourages participation.

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

image of Newsweek's latest cover, featuring an image of a grinning Mitt Romney and the text: 'Romney: The Wimp Factor. Is he just too insecure to be president?'
That's the actual cover of Newsweek's latest edition, and the cover story by Michael Tomasky, whom I usually really like, is an appalling mess of retrofuck sneering at Romney for insufficient compliance with traditional definitions of masculinity. Truly, when you are mocking a dude for riding on the back of a jet ski captained by his wife in the year of our lord Jesus Jones two thousand and twelve, you have lost the plot.

Apart from the tiresome sexism, the piece gets it precisely wrong about the source of Romney's social ineptitude, unprincipled opportunism, and evident desire "to sneak into the White House through a side door, without having to do any of the difficult and controversial things candidates have to do." It's not that he's a wimp. It's that he's an entitled beneficiary of political nepotism with undiluted privilege.

It's that he's a bully, who's never known meaningful accountability.

And it's really too bad that Tomasky missed an opportunity to seriously explore what it means when we elect bullies who resist accountability to lead the nation, and instead wasted precious space with a snide schoolyard taunt of his own.

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Open Thread

Divine as Francine Fishpaw in 'Polyester.'

Hosted by Francine Fishpaw.

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Sunday Shuffle

Big Country, In A Big Country

How about you?

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Open Thread

A unicorn standing in front of a rainbow.

Hosted by a unicorn.
This week's open threads have been brought to you by things and people with horns.

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Open Thread

A b&w photo of a woman using an ear trumpet with a man speaking into it.

Hosted by an ear trumpet.

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of a pub photoshopped to be named 'The Sans La Dinde Saloon'
[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

Coming this fall to a theater near you: The Turkey Slice Heist. This caper is as cute as it is delicious, but your turkey is long gone, fool. Starring:

image of Matilda the Cat lying on the chaise, meowing
Matilda as The Brains

close-up image of Olivia the Cat licking her paw
Olivia as The Brawn

image of Sophie the Cat looking mysterious
Sophie as The Feint

image of Zelda the Mutt looking out the window
Zelda as The Lookout

image of Dudley the Greyhound sitting on the couch with goofy ears, grinning
And Dudley!

Shakes Manor's A-list stars come together to pull off the most daring heist the kitchen has ever known... Five animals, twenty legs, ten slices of turkey, one chance to pull it off!

Rated R for Ridiculously Adorbz.

[Thanks to Shaker friday_freakin_jones for the suggestion.]

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Today in Mitt Romney Gets a Great Reception from Passers-By in London: "Scowl." "LULZ."

image of Mitt Romney on a street corner in London, with one older male pedestrian who appears to be white scowling mightily at him and another younger male pedestrian who appears to be white laughing at him
U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is recognized by pedestrians at Grosvenor Place in London, July 27, 2012, as he was forced by gridlock traffic to walk from his hotel to the Irish Embassy to meet with Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny. [Reuters Pictures]
Aww, lol. No wonder he doesn't like mingling with the hoi polloi!

In other great news for Mitt Romney:
Former American sprinter and gold medal winner Carl Lewis today waded into the row over Mitt Romney's comments about London's preparedness for the Olympics.

...Carl Lewis, who spoke to The Independent as the First Lady, Michelle Obama, arrived in London to lead the US delegation, said: "Every Olympics is ready, I don't care whatever he said. I swear, sometimes I think some Americans shouldn't leave the country. Are you kidding me, stay home if you don't know what to say."

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Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by clocks.

Recommended Reading:

Laura: Planned Parenthoods Rescued by Obama Administration with Large Title X Grants

Indian Homemaker: Do You See a Connection? [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of violent misogyny.]

Pam: Around the Country, Students Demand Removal of Chick-Fil-A from Campuses [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of homophobia.]

Ana: This Is a Real Thing in the Real World [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of racism; clicking through to the "Save the Pearls" site will also launch a video with blackface, and that site contains racism, heterocentrism, and misogynist eliminationism.]

Jessica: Equality on the Pitch: Major League Soccer's Support of the LGBT Community [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of homophobia; please also note that a video begins to play automatically on click-through.]

Philippa: Policing Blame: A Failful Anti-Rape Campaign [Content Note: The post at this link contains discussion and imagery of victim-blaming and rape culture.]

Chloe: Faster, Higher, and Stronger—But No Less Sexist [Content Note: The post at this link contains discussion of body policing, fat bias, and misogyny.]

Angus: Andrew Sullivan, Sally Ride, and Bayard Rustin

Andy: Kirk Cameron Rejects Request to Meet with Bullied LGBT Teens

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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What Does a Serial Rapist Sound Like?

[Content Note: Sexual violence; rape culture.]

Pretty much exactly what you'd expect.

That link leads to a Reddit thread in which a man admits to being a serial rapist, talks about why and how he raped women and got away with it, and answers questions about his history. He claims on one hand to be remorseful, but, on the other, still says a lot of stuff that suggests otherwise, including his rather chilling enjoyment of the fact that his anonymity will allow him to engage with other Redditors without their knowing who he really is: "I'm going back to my main account to do normal reddit looking at cats and posting pictures of bacon, and I think it's kind of funny that no one will ever know if the person they're talking to on reddit, or someone who moderates their subreddit, is me on my main account... just food for thought."

I just wanted to provide a space in which to discuss this thread, without worry of encountering an abundance of rape apologia, so I'm not going to say a whole lot about it. Only this:

There are a lot of disturbingly familiar details about his story. I'm not suggesting, at all, that this guy was the person who raped me. It's just remarkable to see the similarities in their approaches, down to the use of a blanket, and, later, in comments, the way in which he convinced his wife that a friend's warnings about him were the invented fantasies of a jilted crush—precisely the way the person who raped me convinced the girl he dated (groomed) after me that she should ignore me. (Unfortunately, she later told me he raped her, too.)

It's not coincidental that the details are similar.

If there is one thing that the Reddit thread makes clear, it's that no one is more intimately familiar with the rape culture, and how to exploit it to his advantage, than a rapist.

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

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Reproductive Rights Updates: South Dakota & Michigan

South Dakota has long waged a war to be the state most hostile to autonomy (for those keeping track Mississippi is hoping to surpass them soon, with Kansas being heavy competition) and, as such, has spent some time in court defending its various legislation designed to interfere with access and autonomy in health care.

Last December I posted that a federal appeals court had agreed to re-hear arguments regarding one particular aspect of then-recently passed legislation that would require doctors to lie to people seeking abortions by informing them that abortion may lead to wanting to commit suicide. Lie. It's a well-documented outright lie (.pdf).

On Tuesday of this week, the court upheld the legislation requiring doctors to lie to people--and the state of South Dakota has apparently spent $377,335 dollars to defend this specious, unethical legislation.

The defense of a 2005 abortion law has cost the taxpayers of South Dakota $377,735, according to the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office.

On Tuesday, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a provision in the informed consent law that requires doctors to tell women seeking an abortion that the procedure could lead to an increased risk of suicide.
From the 2008 American Psychological Association Mental Health and Abortion report (.pdf):
The most methodologically strong studies in this group showed that interpersonal concerns, including feelings of stigma, perceived need for secrecy, exposure to antiabortion picketing, and low perceived or anticipated social support for the abortion decision, negatively affected women’s postabortion psychological experiences.


[T]his Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion concludes that the most methodologi- cally sound research indicates that among women who have a legal, first-trimester abortion of an un-planned pregnancy for nontherapeutic reasons, the relative risks of mental health problems are no greater than the risks among women who deliver an un- planned pregnancy.
Which backed up a 1990 report that came to the same conclusions. So, South Dakota, since you are all about "informed consent", I can't wait to see the legislation requiring doctors to inform people who want to continue a pregnancy about how doing so may lead to wanting to commit suicide. It's all about "protecting women", right?


I'm sure you recall the recent events in Michigan where a House legislator was sanctioned and silenced by the Republican leadership, not for saying "vagina" (though that did get a reaction from her colleagues), but for saying "no means no" in response to more anti-autonomy legislation (which ultimately passed the House). Well:
With only 19 hours public notice, the Senate Judiciary Committee met Thursday morning and pushed through a controversial anti-abortion bill that sparked controversy in the House of Representatives last month.

At the end of a two-hour session almost solely devoted to the abortion bill, the committee recommended the bill to the full Senate with a vote of 3-1.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bruce Rendon, R-Lake City, would add regulations to clinics that perform abortions and requires fetal remains past 10 weeks to be treated as a deceased infant.
I have discussed my miscarriage (note: emotionally graphic) here before, in where I miscarried at home. I passed everything into the toilet. This is not uncommon. I was in my 10th week of gestation. But, you see, I miscarried at home. So, under this legislation, it wouldn't necessarily matter. Its aim is for people who have abortions.
"Miscarriage" means the spontaneous expulsion of a nonviable fetus that has completed less than 20 weeks of gestation.


(5) If a fetal death occurs without medical attendance at or after the delivery or if inquiry is required by the medical examiner, the attendant, mother, or other person having knowledge of the fetal death shall notify the medical examiner who shall investigate the cause and prepare and file the fetal death report. Except as otherwise specifically provided, this section and section 2848 do not apply to a miscarriage that occurs outside an institution.


Sec. 2836. (1) ALL fetal remains resulting from abortions shall be disposed of by means lawful for other dead bodies, including burial, cremation, or interment. Unless the mother has provided written consent for research on the fetal remains under section 2688, a physician who performs an abortion shall arrange for the final disposition of the fetal remains resulting from the abortion. If the fetal remains resulting from an abortion are disposed of by cremation, the fetal remains shall be incinerated separately from any other medical waste. However, this subsection does not prohibit the simultaneous cremation of fetal remains with products of conception or other fetal remains resulting from abortions.

(2) This section does not require a physician to discuss the final disposition of the fetal remains with the mother before performing the abortion, nor does it require a physician to obtain authorization from the mother for the final disposition of the fetal remains upon completion of the abortion.
All "fetal remains" are equal but some are more equal than others.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

The Finn Brothers: "Only Talking Sense"

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Meet an Olympian: Marlen Esparza

Via Women You Should Know: "Twenty-two year old, 5'3" boxer Marlen Esparza will be making history competing in women's boxing for the first time as an Olympic event. Boxing since the age of 11, Marlen is already a winner. She holds the bronze medal from the 2006 Women's World Boxing Championships, and is a six-time consecutive National flyweight champion. Ranked sixth in the world, Marlen is a serious medal contender in London and will be fighting her way to gold, turning her dreams into reality along the way."

Recently, Soledad O'Brien profiled Esparza for CNN's Latino in America series:

Marlen Esparza, a young Latina woman, stretches next to her car at sunrise, then begins to jog down a quiet suburban street. Cut to video of her in a boxing ring, punching another female boxer. Montage of her training, fighting, winning. In voiceover, she says, "When you beat somebody in the ring, you're not just beating them up or something. You're, like, beating the entire symbolism of them. You're beating who they are."

Montage of Esparza doing push-ups, fixing herself a shake at home, more training and sparring. In voiceover, CNN's Soledad O'Brien says, "Marlen Esparza's early mornings always start with math—how much to eat, how far to run, how many pounds, sprints, crunches, how many endless hours of training will it take to win?"

Video of O'Brien sitting down with Esparza in the gym. O'Brien asks, "Why are you here every day?"

Esparza, smiling: "Because I want to win. This is my life, and this is what I do, like, and I can honestly say, like, this is who I am, like, right here, you're with it, you see it, this is what I do."

More montagery of Esparza training at the gym. In voiceover, O'Brien says, "Esparza trains in a gym along a lonely stretch of Houston's I-10. Coach Rudy Silva took charge of her life when she was just 12. She's now 22."

Video of O'Brien sitting with Silva. "Is she allowed to have a boyfriend," O'Brien asks. "No." "Is she allowed to party on the weekends?" "No." "Is she allowed to just take a few days off and not train when she's worn out?" "No." "That's a lotta nos." "Yes." He smiles.

More montagery of Esparza winning bouts and showing off her medals/belts and grinning. In voiceover, O'Brien says, "Esparza won the first of seven national championships by age 16. She dreamed of fighting at the Olympics, even though boxing was the only sport that didn't allow woman."

Video of O'Brien standing with Esparza in the ring at the gym. "The Olympics is a goal—a big goal," says O'Brien. Esparza replies, "Yeah, it's huge. It's probably—I honestly, truly feel like if I go to the Olympics and medal, that, uh, I could probably be totally happy for the rest of my life." O'Brien chuckles. "Yeah," adds Esparza, "like completely happy."

More montagery of Esparza training, shooting a Coke advert, meeting fans, and signing autographs. In voiceover, O'Brien says, "Now the Olympic glass ceiling has been shattered, women will be boxing at the London Games for the first time in history. Sponsors have lined up behind Marlen—Nike, Covergirl, Coca-Cola. And her community is excited to have a Latina star." In voiceover, Esparza says, "The Mexicans are tooootally gonna love it—they're gonna freak when it happens!"

Video of Esparza boxing. In voiceover, O'Brien says, "Esparza was the first American female boxer to qualify for the Games. Her dream of going to the Olympics is now just around the corner."

Onscreen, Esparza says, "I think like the atmosphere and the energy is just gonna be like something I've never felt, and I think that's one of the main things that I'm kind of looking forward to. I think that's really gonna put me over the top and ready to compete." Video of Esparza being given a USA boxing medal after winning a fight.

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I'm a Fat Fascist Communist, No Doy

[Content Note: Homophobia; fat bias.]

I've spent part of the morning on Twitter expressing my regret that Chick-Fil-A's right to use its corporate profits to advocate against marriage equality is protected free speech, because corporations are people and money is speech, but Chicago (or anyplace) has no legal right to protect its citizenry against corporate-funded advocacy against their basic rights.

(Please note I'm not arguing that the private citizens who own Chick-Fil-A should not be allowed to do whatever they want with their private money; I'm just grousing about corporate donations being used in pursuit of legislating discrimination. Also: Slippery slope arguments blah blah, I believe it's eminently possible to draw clear distinctions between corporate agendas that seek to limit rights, which hurts populations, verses those that seek to expand rights, which benefits populations.)

I feel like it's super fucked-up that, in a democracy, we prioritize protecting the right of for-profit enterprise to operate anywhere with any political intent, over empowering states to expand and protect the rights of their citizenry.

I know that's the way it is; I don't think that's the way it should be.

Anyway. Whatever. There are some other progressive writers who disagree with me, and that's fine.

But of course I couldn't get through the discussion without tweets calling me a communist (sure), and then this brilliant observation:

LOL! It always comes back to the fat. Always.

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Top Five

Here is your topic: Top Five Favorite Poets. Go!

Please feel welcome to share stories about why your Top Five picks are what they are, though a straight-up list is fine, too. Please refrain from negatively auditing other people's lists, because judgment discourages participation.

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Number of the Day

$2.5 million: The amount of money pledged by founder and president Jeff Bezos and his wife, author MacKenzie Bezos, "to help pass a same-sex marriage referendum in Washington State, instantly becoming among the largest financial backers of gay marriage rights in the country."

With the gift, the couple have doubled the money available to the proponents of Referendum 74, which would legalize same-sex marriage in the state by affirming a law that passed the Legislature this year.

...Mr. Bezos was approached via e-mail on Sunday by Jennifer Cast, one of Amazon's earliest employees and a lesbian mother of four children who is now a fund-raising chairwoman of the pro-referendum effort.

In her e-mail, sent Sunday evening, Ms. Cast, 50, implored Mr. Bezos to understand the importance of the issue to her and her longtime partner.

"I want to have the right to marry the love of my life and to let my children and grandchildren know their family is honored like a 'real' family," Ms. Cast wrote. "We need help from straight people. To be very frank, we need help from wealthy straight people who care about us and who want to help us win."

In an interview on Thursday night, Ms. Cast said she had no idea how Mr. Bezos would respond. Though she had worked closely with him when Amazon had only a few dozen employees, she left the company in 2001 and said she had never talked about same-sex marriage with him.

"We were chatting about the biz. We weren't chatting about our lives," she said, recalling her time at the company. "I never, ever in my life talked to him about gay marriage."

In the e-mail, Ms. Cast described in detail the pain she endured as a young adult and the difficulties she faced publicly acknowledging her sexuality. At the end, she pointedly asked him to donate between $100,000 and $200,000 to the referendum cause.

"Jeff, I suspect you support marriage equality," she wrote. "I beg you not to sit on the sidelines and hope the vote goes our way. Help us make it so."

She hit "send" and waited.

Two days later, on Tuesday, she received a reply while in a car with her family. Recalling that moment, she said she had to read it out loud twice to make sure she had read it right.

"Jen," the e-mail said, "this is right for so many reasons. We're in for $2.5 million. Jeff & MacKenzie."
Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos will quite rightly get a lot of credit for donating such a substantial sum to marriage equality. Without taking anything away from them, I want to congratulate Jennifer Cast for being so brave and making herself vulnerable, on behalf of her community. It's not easy to put yourself out there in the way she did, and we all get a lot of cultural discouragements against the simple and intimidating act of asking.

Asking can be a radical act. And so can answering. What a great story.

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Open Thread

A great horned owl, wings spread.

Hosted by a great horned owl.

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Question of the Day

What is your least favorite show currently airing on television? And by currently airing, I don't mean it has to be in-season now, since most US networks are on summer hiatus; I mean only that it has to be airing new episodes when it is on, rather than a show available exclusively in re-run.

I have only seen a few minutes of one episode, but that was enough for me to nominate without hesitation Two and a Half Men.

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Quote of the Day

"In keeping with our special relationship, the president also made it clear that he has the utmost confidence in our close friend and ally, the United Kingdom, as they finalize preparations to host the London Olympics."White House Spokesman Jay Carney.

Ouch. LOL.

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Headline of the Day

Bloomberg Businessweek: Karl Rove: He's Back, Big Time.


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Garbage Treasures: Now with extra Chuck Norris!

As you may recall, Deeky collects and saves useless garbage like we're beyond Thunderdome and useless garbage is now a form of currency and he's a garbageaire. Then, instead of throwing it away, he throws pieces of his fancy detritus collection into an envelope and pays money to ship it to me, at which point I put them in plastic treasure chests and put them out by the curb every week to be collected by the "treasure man," who buries them at the "treasure dump" for me for safe keeping.

But not before taking a picture of the bounty so that I can post it, natch.

image of the collection of garbage treasures described below
[Click to embiggen.

Clockwise from bottom left: A schedule effective January 9,2012 for the Metrolink; a promotional sticker for Allagash Brewing Company of Portland, Maine; a Trojan-Enz lubricated condom (my preferred brand!) that looks to be about a decade old; a pamphlet on STD Facts; a stack of glossy "Get Out of Jail Free" business cards; a stack of glossy "Over the Top" business cards; a flyer for Maryland Deathfest ("America's biggest metal party of the year!") which took place two months ago; a post-it stack featuring an army of Bossk the Bounty Hunter action figures; a burned DVD labeled "Cowboy George"; and, the pièce de résistance, a hardcover copy of Chuck Norris with Ken Abraham's Against All Odds: My Story, which came with a note attached on post-it stationery from the desk of Jim Devlin, Vice President of Finance for GM, that read: "I thought this might make a good replacement for your Bush book! Love, Deeks."

image of handwritten note stuck to book cover
In case you hadn't guessed, Deeky's real identity is not Jim Devlin, Vice President of Finance for GM.

All of which came in a package for which the return address was simply: "DEEKY."

image of envelope


1. I will definitely do something with the Chuck Norris with Ken Abraham book. I don't know what yet. Watch this space.

2. I will carry around some of the Chance cards with me wherever I go, and the next time someone around me says something ignorant about fatties (FOR EXAMPLE) or immigrants (FOR EXAMPLE), and then realizes I am fat or married to an immigrant, I will hand them one of those cards.

3. The Bossk post-its, which Deeky created for his desk "but didn't realize til they got here that there is NO PLACE TO WRITE ON THEM," which is WHY I LOVE THEM MOST OF ALL, are going with me every time I travel. And I will leave one, mysteriously, wherever I go.

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Generally Speaking

There is A LOT of presidential election-related news today! Most of it is about how Mitt Romney is terrible! In ways we hadn't even yet begun to imagine! So here is a Generally Speaking post, which still won't be daily again for awhile, to collate a bunch of those election-related items, plus a picture of President Barack Obama campaigning that I really like. Hooray for us all!

image of President Barack Obama in a crowd, visible between the raised arms of someone taking a picture of him on a mobile phone
Portland, Oregon: July 24.

Steve Holland for Reuters—"Anglo-Saxon" quote overshadows start of Romney tour: "Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney began a foreign tour on Wednesday forced to disavow a report that an adviser had accused President Barack Obama of not understanding the shared 'Anglo-Saxon heritage' of Britain and the United States. ... Romney, in an NBC News interview, dismissed the comment but said the United States and Britain do enjoy specialties and that he believes Obama recognizes this as well." How magnanimous, etc.

Pema Levy at TPM—Anger Games: Cameron, British Press pounce on Romney's Olympics critiques: "Mitt Romney's big international tour got off to a rocky start Thursday morning, as British officials including Prime Minister David Cameron took offense at the Republican candidate's criticisms over London's preparedness for the Olympics. Romney expressed wariness over England's ability to pull off the Olympics without a hitch, as well as reservations over security [and wondered if Britons would unite to make the Olympic Games successful]. ... The comments did not go over well in Britain."

Owen Gibson in the GuardianDavid Cameron hits back at Mitt Romney over London 2012 doubts: "Cameron, who was due to meet Romney later on Thursday, said: 'In terms of people coming together, the torch relay demonstrated that this is not a London Games, this is not an England Games but this is a United Kingdom Games. We'll show the world we've not only come together as a United Kingdom but are extremely good at welcoming people from across the world.' Cameron said he was going to make this point to Romney when he met him later on Thursday."

Greg Sargent in the Washington PostRomney: Foreign trip not the time to detail foreign policy: "If a foreign trip is not a good time to discuss foreign policy, why take the trip at all? This raises questions as to whether the trip is only about staging political theatrics for a domestic audience."

Aviva Shen at Think Progress—Heavily edited Romney video targets black voters, shows NAACP audience applauding: "Mitt Romney's speech at the NAACP was defined in the media by the resounding chorus of boos he elicited from the crowd. Campaign staffers had a different interpretation, insisting that he received 'thunderous applause over and over again.' Reflecting this idea, the campaign's new video targeting African American voters, 'We Need Mitt Romney,' rewrites history by splicing together Romney's speech with shots of a couple audience members nodding as if in agreement. While Romney received a polite standing ovation when he was done speaking, the video has been edited to make it seem like the audience rose to their feet to applaud him mid-speech."

Michael D. Shear for the New York TimesConservative paper faults Romney on tax disclosure: "The Union Leader newspaper in Manchester, N.H., known for its conservative editorial stances, slammed Mitt Romney on Thursday for not releasing multiple years of his tax returns. 'Maintaining the secrecy creates the impression, justly or not, that there is something there to hide. No escaping that reality. The impression is there,' the paper wrote in an editorial posted online early Thursday. The newspaper expressed surprise that Mr. Romney had not ensured that his tax returns were 'above reproach' in the many years he was pursuing a national political career."

Daniel J. Weiss and Seth Hanlon at the Center for American Progress—Romney tax plan: Many happy returns for Big Oil: "Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's economic plan slashes corporate tax rates while failing to identify a single corporate tax loophole to eliminate. Highly profitable large oil companies that already enjoy lucrative tax breaks stand to receive some of the biggest benefits from Gov. Romney's plan. The world's five biggest public oil companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell—would keep special tax breaks worth $2.4 billion each year. And by cutting corporate tax rates, the Romney plan could lower the companies' annual tax bill by another $2.3 billion, based on an analysis of the companies' tax expense for 2011. The special tax breaks, supplemented by Gov. Romney's lower corporate rates, could benefit the oil companies by more than $4 billion annually."

And in Obama news...

Gallup—U.S. Business Owners Now Among Least Approving of Obama: "U.S. business owners' approval of President Barack Obama fell in the second quarter of 2012 to 35%, essentially tying farmers and fishers for the lowest approval among major occupational groups. Overall, professional workers remain the most approving, at 52%."

Darren Samuelsohn for the PoliticoObama: AK-47s belong on battlefield, not streets: At the National Urban League conference in New Orleans, President Obama said, "I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms. I think we recognize the traditions of gun ownership passed on from generation to generation, that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage. But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers and not in the hands of crooks. They belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities."

In related news: Colorado gun sales up after cinema killings.

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

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Photo of the Day

image of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sitting next to President Barack Obama during a cabinet meeting
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton listens at left as President Barack Obama speaks to members of the media during a Cabinet Meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July, 26, 2012. [Getty Images]
Look at her. No doubt still plotting to ruin his electoral chances and personally destroy him the way all those highly-paid and very smart pundits predicted she would after losing the 2008 primary! It would be just like Hillary Clinton to insinuate herself into his cabinet, do an awesome job for four years, get absurdly high approval ratings, reflect well on his presidency, and then, when we're all LEAST EXPECTING IT, do something conniving like campaign for his reelection. She's dastardly, that one. She'll stop at NOTHING to fulfill her ambitions!

Insert ALL the derisive snorts here. And all the hearts for Hilz.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound lounging on the couch with his ears perked up
This is Dudley.

image of Dudley sitting politely
This is Dudley sitting politely like a Good Boy, begging for a treat.

image of Dudley yawning with part of a purple flower on his head
This is Dudley yawning with a bit of violet on his head.

image of Dudley looking at me from the corner of his eye while he hangs his head over the edge of the chaise
This is Dudley giving me the stink-eye.

image of Dudley sprawled out asleep on the chaise
This is Dudley taking a nap because he is worn out from being cute.

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An Observation

I'm in the middle of moving. And I don't want to have to stop and cook.

So I bought some really cheapo frozen pizzas and entrees to eat while I'm packing the apartment, but I might have gone TOO cheap. This pizza is listed as having a "pepperoni FLAVORED" topping.

I don't even want to know what's in it, or where you get "pepperoni flavor."

ETA: Maybe a vestment?

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I Write Letters

[Content Note: Violence; misogyny.]

To Whom It May Concern:

What the fuck? CNN, we really don't need Bill Bennett exploiting the Aurora Shooting to promote more of his misogynistic garbage. I'm not just saying that as a feminist, and a woman, but as a human being with a modicum of fucking decency. Jesus Jones.

Also: What the fuck? Wall Street Journal, exactly how fucking gross does James Taranto have to be before you sever your relationship with him? I'm not just asking that as a feminist, and a woman, but as a human being with a modicum of fucking decency. Jesus Jones.

I love, ahem, how even the Denver Shooting has to become a referendum on the value of women.

Get it together, planet.


cc. Aphra-Behn, who gave me the head-ups on the Taranto tweet, care of Digby.

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Do You Need a Nice Story?

Here is a very nice story about a retired racing greyhound named Audi who became a therapy dog and a reading companion to children (and adults) at his local library.

"I want them to learn about being gentle, about being kind," [said Audi's guardian Cheryl Woolnough]. "But I also want them to love coming to the library. I want them to love reading and stories."
I don't guess I need to tell you that the fact Audi resembles a certain other greyhound I know who's hung out the library made me blub with above-average blubbiness.

[Via @GreyhoundSafe.]

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Today in Mitt Romney Is Confused

image of Mitt Romney visiting the UK, standing in the middle of a display with giant text reading 'GREAT BRITAIN' on the ground, to which I have added a dialogue bubble reading: 'What country are we in again?'
US Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney (2nd R) tours the Great Pavilion exhibit with British Secretary William Hague (2nd L), alongside other government officials, at the Foreign Ministry in London, July 26, 2012. [Reuters Pictures]
[Content Note: Guns; discussion of shooting in Colorado.]

I'm sure Mitt Romney is aware he is in Great Britain. He is not, however, aware of anything resembling facts about gun access and the shooting outside Denver:
Well, this person shouldn't have had any kind of weapons and bombs and other devices and it was illegal for him to have many of those things already. But he had them. And so we can sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away. It won't. Changing the heart of the American people may well be what's essential, to improve the lots of the American people.
As Annie-Rose points out at Think Progress: "In fact, 24-year-old Holmes legally purchased every firearm, bullet, and piece of tactical gear that he used for the attack, according to local law enforcement. He bought most of it over the Internet."

Romney's spokesperson is now trying to spin this bullshit with: "Romney was referring to the bombs the shooter set in his apartment, which police found and disarmed after the shooting occurred." Except that all of the bombs found in James Holmes' apartment were fashioned from totally legal materials.

The fact is, Mitt Romney either has no idea what he's talking about, or is deliberately lying in order to justify his bullshit argument that tighter gun controls wouldn't have saved lives lost in Holmes' massacre. Possibly both. Either way, he's a jackass who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the US presidency.

In other news: Water wet.

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Random Nerd Nostalgia: The Exciting Ant Farm

[Image Description: Headline: "Now! Your Very Own! EXITING ANT FARM! As Seen On TV! AN ANT'S ENTIRE WORLD! COMPLETE WITH LIVE ANTS!" There is a picture of a white boy and girl, starting in apparent rapt appreciation at their EXCITING ANT FARM, where ants the size of the kids' EYES burrow into the ground and also hang around the ant farmhouse, windmill, and ant-barn. There is also a lot of super-tuny text exhorting you to apprecate the wonders of the ant farm. Headlines include:"WHAT IS AN 'ANT FARM'?" "FASCINATING!....EDUCATIONAL!....WORLD'S TINIEST ENGINEERS! SEE YOUR TINY PETS! ONLY $2.98!" (but whooops the DELUXE version will run you $6.98. "Discover how ants now!"

I love the urgency of these ads. It's as if the entire future of the Cold War depends on your immediate consumerism. "ORDER THE ANT FARM OR THE COMMIES WIN!"

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Neil Finn: "Sinner"

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Anaheim Protests/Police Violence: Two Americas

[Content Note: Police brutality; shooting; violence.]

There have been protests in Anaheim, California, all week, following two separate police shootings over the weekend that left two Latino men dead. The FBI has agreed to review the shootings. As the rioting has continued, tensions with police have escalated, and there has been some property damage and lots of arrests. More protests are scheduled.

I've been following this story, although I've not written about it because, for one, I'm on a serious shortage of spoons at the moment, but mostly because I was sort of waiting to see what the national coverage would be like, not figuring it would be essentially nonexistent.

But it is.

Part of that is because the media is still very focused on the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, and Maude forbid we focus on two whole stories at once. And part of it is the usual racism: We routinely fail in the US to give attention to the ongoing problem of state-sponsored police brutality and murder of people of color.

I also suspect, rather cynically, that there is no small urge among our national corporate media to downplay evidence of class-based unrest across the US. The situation in Anaheim is not merely one of police vs. people, or white supremacy vs. Latino communities, but also one of the Haves vs. the Have-Nots.

Anaheim could hardly be a town more symbolic of the increasing class divide in the US, with Disneyland ("the happiest place on earth!"), populated by rich tourists, taking up one part of town, and extremely poor communities with high unemployment taking up another. Desperate residents of Anaheim who long for the ability to provide stable lives for themselves can watch from the front porches a parade of privilege, just out of their reach.

How can that not take a toll?

As the city blows up, its evident suitability as an emblem for the nation at large cannot be missed. It can, however, be ignored by a media whose wealthy private owners would certainly prefer not to broadcast encouragements to revolution across a nation whose compliance keeps them in gold-plated bidets.

But they are delaying the inevitable. This is where we are all headed, if something doesn't change. Meaningfully. And quick.

The Two Americas are breaking in half.

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Top Five

[Content Note: Food, eating.]

Here is your topic: Top Five Favorite Foods. (Dishes, individual foods, beverages, savory, sweet, whatever.) Go!

Please feel welcome to share stories about why your Top Five picks are what they are, though a straight-up list is fine, too. Please refrain from negatively auditing other people's lists, because judgment discourages participation.

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

Frank Deford for NPR: From Obscurity to the Olympics Back to Obscurity.

Jessica (@scatx) absolutely destroyed this article on Twitter yesterday (a sample: "'Can you even name a gymnast?' Your problem is that they are getting attention only once every 4 yrs so instead they should get none? Also, the answer to that question was YES."), during which she observed: "Is there more of a time that women's sports are praised and followed than during the Olympics?"

And to that I'd add: Or when men's sports frequently coded as "feminine" (gymnastics, trampoline, equestrian events, ice skating in the winter games, etc.) and/or are not directly physical, aggressive contests (swimming vs. American football) are given so much attention?

There are legitimate criticisms to be made about the Olympics, and privilege, and indulgent displays in a context of global need, and other things, but many of the harrumphy grump pieces like Deford's that you'll being seeing over the next couple of weeks will justify their hostility with some variation on "unseriousness" or "frivolity" or "useless sports," which is simply coded misogyny.

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Open Thread

Louis Armstrong playing the trumpet.

Hosted by Louis Armstrong.

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Question of the Day

What is your favorite show currently airing on television? And by currently airing, I don't mean it has to be in-season now, since most US networks are on summer hiatus; I mean only that it has to be airing new episodes when it is on, rather than a show available exclusively in re-run.

Obviously, I gotta go with Parks & Rec.

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Tweet of the Day

Earlier today, the US Senate passed a bill to extend Bush-era tax cuts for another year for middle class Americans (defined as individuals making up to $200,000 and families making up to $250,000). It was, however, an exercise in futility: "Senate Democrats called for House Republicans to act immediately so the president can sign the bill into law. But House Republicans have no plans to do so. They plan to take up their own bill next week that would extend the Bush tax rates for all Americans for one year while taking up comprehensive tax reform."

Where "comprehensive tax reform" equals "further rigging the system in favor of the one-percenters and corporations."

[See also.]

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