Sunday Shuffle

Mumford & Sons, Not With Haste

How about you?

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Open Thread

A carrot creature from the movie
Hosted by a Star Creature, who apparently doesn't know that hair pulling is totally unfair.
 This week's open threads have been brought to you by plant creatures from Hollywood.

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Open Thread

The creature from
Hosted by The Thing.

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of a pub Photoshopped to be named 'The Fat Fucking Pub'
[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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Photo of the Day

image of a stainless steel sculpture of a greyhound play-bowing
Memorial Sculpture to a Greyhound named Isabel.

I came across this image while looking for something else entirely earlier today, and I thought it was just so beautiful. It's a stainless steel sculpture done by an artist named Chris Williams, who specializes in large, custom-made sculptures of animals.

Of the above pictured memorial, he says: "Another Memorial piece, this Greyhound was made for a couple living in Kennebunkport ME. After losing their dog Isabel to natural causes, the couple decided to mark the burial site with a lasting memory of her spirit and endless energy. This piece was done using stainless steel so the color will remain through the tough elements of New England. The overlapping style was something new for me. I wanted to show off the muscles and yet still keep the piece looking light and playful."

Love. Love love love.

It captures one of my favorite greyhound gestures so perfectly (see Dudley here at 2:05). Amazing.

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And Now, from the GOP's Incense-Burning Division

[Content note: this post contains reference to anti-gay bigotry, misogyny, sexual abuse, religious discrimination, and Christian Dominionism.]

Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, of Springfield, Illinois, doesn't want to tell you who to vote for. Nope. He just wants you to know that the Democrats' platform is full of "intrinsic evil," but the GOP's is basically okay. Gee, thanks Your Excellency! Thanks for totally telling your diocese how to vote not telling anybody how to vote, but letting Catholics know they will PROBABLY GO TO HELL if they vote for Democrats. How nonpartisan!:

"There are many positive and beneficial planks in the Democratic Party Platform, but I am pointing out those that explicitly endorse intrinsic evils," the bishop explained. "My job is not to tell you for whom you should vote. But I do have a duty to speak out on moral issues..."

"So what about the Republicans? I have read the Republican Party Platform and there is nothing in it that supports or promotes an intrinsic evil or a serious sin," Paprocki added. "One might argue for different methods in the platform to address the needs of the poor, to feed the hungry and to solve the challenges of immigration, but these are prudential judgments about the most effective means of achieving morally desirable ends, not intrinsic evils."
Definitely! Addressing the needs of the poor by trying to feed and clothe those most in need and trying to create jobs for them vs. letting them fend for themselves in the Randian world of Romney-Ryan, where they will be armed with only their bootstraps, a pocket knife, and some pocket lint? Those are definitely just "different methods" to handle "the needs of the poor."

But the bishop is certainly NOT TELLING YOU HOW TO VOTE! Just what kind of vote will condemn your eternal soul:
"Again, I am not telling you which party or which candidates to vote for or against," he concluded, "but I am saying that you need to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy."
Apparently the Right Reverend Bishop is under the impression that his flock is made up of especially sleepy tree sloths, because to anyone even slightly more discerning, it's clear he is, in fact, telling them EXACTLY how to vote.

Three points:

1. For perspective, Saprocki also has no problem with racial/religious profiling in airports and as part of immigration policy, as long as it is aimed at Muslims.

So: gay marriage = bad, discrimination against minorities = okay. (Extra irony points for fearmongering about a religious takeover of the United States! We wouldn't want that, now would we?)

2. Saprocki once suggested that survivors of sexual abuse who sued the Church were in league with the Devil.

So: survivors of sexual abuse = Devil abettors, slashers of the social safety network = just doing God's work in a different way. Cool! Very cool cosmology ya got there!

3. After making such garbage-brained discriminatory remarks, Saprocki was elevated to lead the Diocese of Springfield anyway.

The Vatican has made it pretty clear what sort of person it wants to see leading the Church as its "authentic teachers." They are men who are perfectly comfortable defending the priorities of the GOP plutocrats. I just wonder how they reconcile that with the priorities of the dirty hippy construction worker they claim to follow.

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Today in Solid Resources

This is just a very good video about the Skywalker Family Tree, in case you need one:

Video Description: A classic family tree with parallel/perpendicular lines indicating relationships between people represented by "100% authentic and recognized" headshots, detailing the Skywalker family history, set to pieces of John Williams' iconic Star Wars score.

[H/T to Iain.]

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Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by the smell of freshly cut grass.

Recommended Reading:

Andy: DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to Issue Written Guidance on Immigration Deportation Cases: 'Family Relationships' Include Same-Sex Partners

Krysten: Hundreds Rally for NYPD Accountability & Community Safety

Michelle: Fat People and Binge Eating [Content Note: The post at this link contains discussion of fat bias, stereotypes, and disordered eating.]

Melissa: Men Directed 85% of TV Shows Last Season

Renee: Dolce & Gabbana's Racist Earrings [Content Note: The post at this link includes racist imagery and racist apologia.]

Christine: Uruguayan House of Representatives Allows Abortion up to 12 Weeks, but Imposes Other Barriers

Julianne: Hollywood Takes Up School Reform's Latest Agenda in Won't Back Down

Atrios: Of Course

Spooky: The Real Starry Night—Astronomy Student Recreates Van Gogh's Painting Using Hubble's Deep Space Images

[Content Note: Death] To my neighbors in the Chicagoland area who may have been following the news about missing Northwestern student Harsha Maddula, I have sad news: Maddula's body has been found in Wilmette Harbor. Blub.

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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The Parks and Rec Open Thread

[Content Note: Fat hatred; body policing; food policing.]

There is no way to soft-pedal it (nor would I try, anyway): Last night's episode of Parks and Recreation was terrible.

It was terrible because it was fat-hating; because it erroneously treated taxes on soda as a public health issue, which is wrong for all the reasons about which I've written previously; because it actually oh my god included images of headless fatties right in the episode.

image of a fat person from the neck down sitting on bleachers drinking a soda

It was terrible because the heart of Parks and Recreation, what makes it great, is its kindness. And last night's episode was profoundly unkind.

It was terrible because, in this episode that took aim at fat people, that promoted eliminationist and dehumanizing fat hatred underlying Othering narratives that kill, the fat female character Donna and the fat male character Jerry each appeared exactly once, briefly, as hidden in the episode as they could be short of not appearing at all, lest viewers accidentally be reminded that fat people are human beings who deserve to be treated with dignity.

I am very sad.

It's too bad Chris Traeger's moving epiphany that he needs to stop chasing external perfection was buried in such a garbage episode. Because that was really sweet. It was LITERALLY the best part of the episode.


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Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Rape culture.]

US Weekly has a story about actress AnnaLynne McCord disclosing having been sexually assaulted during an appearance as an advocate against global slavery and human trafficking.

The very first sentence of that story? "AnnaLynne McCord is a survivor, not a victim."


(A sigh directed at US Weekly, not Ms. McCord.)

Because "victim" is such a loaded term—turned into a dirty word by people who have no patience with those who refuse to "get over it," or aren't "moving on" in what's arbitrarily deemed the "right" way or in the "right" amount of time—now every survivor of sexual violence is obliged to insist (or it will be insisted for hir) that zie is "not a victim."

And I understand wanting to distance oneself from that word, because it has come to mean someone oversensitive, someone broken, someone weak, someone who can't or won't get over it.

But rape is not a victimless crime.

It's no coincidence that it's rape apologists who have turned "victim" into a loaded term that no one wants to bear. If there are no "victims," then no one is being victimized by predators. There are only survivors of something that happened to them once upon a time.

Victim is a word rape apologists hate, because it evokes those who victimize in a way survivor does not. Victim doesn't play into narratives about how surviving rape makes women strong, turns them into superheroes even. Victim doesn't elide the powerlessness of having sexual violence done to your body.

Sexual violence is not victimless.

To call oneself a "victim," to identify as a victim, is received as an announcement of one's weakness, or a solicitation of pity. "Zie defines hirself as a victim," even other survivors will sniff derisively.

But in a time and space where we are discouraged from saying that we are victims, and in a time and space where most discussions of rape already protest and abet and graciously exclude rapists, to identify as a victim is a radical act of bravery.

Survivors have been victimized by predators.

I would not presume to tell anyone else how they should identify. I speak only for myself.

I am a victim, and I am a survivor.

Those are not mutually exclusive identities.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Mutt sitting on the floor in front of me, her face turned into the sunlight from the window; her eyes are closed and she is grinning blissfully

Zelda, reminding me how easy it is to find contentment in a little bit of sun on your face while you sit beside someone you love.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

David Bowie: "Life On Mars?"

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In The News

[Content note: Racism, violence]

All The News In Fits and Spurts:

Five people were killed and four critically injured late Thursday afternoon in a workplace shooting in Minneapolis.

Confirmed: Mars once had water: Curiosity team scientists determined that flowing water was once present near the Gale Crater landing site based on the telltale size, shape and scattering of pebbles and gravel nearby.

A judge in Cook County, Illinois on yesterday dismissed over 90 cases against Occupy Chicago activists on the grounds that they violated the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Bo Xilai has been expelled from the Communist Party in China and relieved of his duties for abusing his power and making severe mistakes in a much-publicized killing.

Members of an Ohio tea party group are taking it upon themselves to police make-believe voter fraud, launching challenges to a targeted list of voters that includes hundreds of college students, trailer park residents, homeless people and African Americans in counties President Obama won in 2008.

In a rare public apology, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote a letter to customers acknowledging complaints about the company's new Maps application.

Russia suspended the import and use of Monsanto's genetically engineered corn, following a study released last week that found serious health problems in rats fed this corn.

What happens when your camcorder is stolen by a seagull? This.

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Top Five

Here is your topic: Top Five Best Inventions Ever. 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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Todd Akin Is the Worst

[Content Note: Misogyny; rape culture.]

Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, Republican Senate candidate from Missouri, recently debated his opponent, incumbent Democratic Senator Clare McCaskill. Afterwards, Akin had this to say:

I think we have a very clear path to victory, and apparently Claire McCaskill thinks we do, too, because she was very aggressive at the debate, which was quite different than it was when she ran against Jim Talent. She had a confidence and was much more ladylike [in 2006], but in the debate on Friday she came out swinging, and I think that's because she feels threatened.
1. Why is this guy still talking? Someone give him a one-way ticket back to whatever wormhole from the 12th century he crawled out of.

2. Everything that anyone with a modicum of decency who's seen this quote would say about his retrofuck definitions of the behavior befitting "a lady."

3. Leaving aside whether McCaskill actually "felt threatened" (unlikely) or was unreasonably "aggressive at the debate" (no), there aren't enough rage-snorts in the world for this guy, a dude who believes there's such a distinction as a "legitimate rape," complaining about a woman responding "aggressively" when she "feels threatened."

I guess Akin would have preferred McCaskill to lie back and think of England, like a proper lady.

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Global Safe Abortion Action Day

image of a quote from Hillary Clinton reading: 'Being pro-choice is trusting the individual to make the right choice for herself and her family, and not entrusting that decision to anyone wearing the authority of government in any regard.'
Today is Global Safe Abortion Action Day, the history of which has its roots in Latin America: "This day of action has its origin in Latin America where women's groups have been mobilizing around September 28 the last two decades to demand their governments to decriminalize abortion, to provide access to safe and affordable abortion services and to end stigma and discrimination towards women who choose to have an abortion. This date was chosen in commemoration of the abolition of slavery in Brazil which is now remembered as the day of the 'free womb' demanding for safe and legal abortion for all women."

Pathfinder International, who provided the above image with that great quote from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is marking Global Safe Abortion Action Day by sharing stories of what abortion looks like in parts of Africa, where reproductive rights are not guaranteed. As we know, reproductive rights aren't guaranteed anywhere, not even in the US, without fierce defenders among policymakers. Securing reproductive rights globally is an active, ongoing pursuit.

Pathfinder is doing fundraising through the 30th that's being matched by a generous donor, if you'd like someplace to point your teaspoon today.

Other suggestions for donations, volunteer opportunities, and other ways to wield your teaspoon: Planned Parenthood. Doctors Without Borders. The Lilith Fund. Care. The Guttmacher Institute. The National Abortion Federation. The Feminist Abortion Network. Choice USA. European Pro-Choice Network. NARAL. Catholics for Choice.

There are many other organizations around the world marking Global Safe Abortion Action Day in different ways. Please feel welcome and encouraged to leave links to other pro-choice orgs marking the day and/or additional teaspooning opportunities.

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Good Morning! (Or Whatever)

Video Description: Gandalf nodding his head on a loop to a Europop beat.

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Open Thread

Audrey II from
Hosted by Audrey II. I'm very excited that the Director's Cut Blu-Ray is coming out!

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Question of the Day

What is your favorite tongue-twister?

She sells seashells by the seashore. My sibilant s just makes it sound an awesome mess.

Audio Description: Me saying "she sells seashells by the seashore."

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Today in Mitt Romney Is Terrible

David Corn for Mother JonesNew Romney Video from 1985 Shows Mitt Romney Saying Bain Capital Would "Harvest" Companies for Profits:

Mother Jones has obtained a video from 1985 in which Romney, describing Bain's formation, showed how he viewed the firm's mission. He explained that its goal was to identify potential and hidden value in companies, buy significant stakes in these businesses, and then "harvest them at a significant profit" within five to eight years.
Transcript: Bain Capital is an investment partnership which was formed to invest in startup companies and ongoing companies, then to take an active hand in managing them and hopefully, five to eight years later, to harvest them at a significant profit.


The fund was formed on September 30th of last year. It's been about 10 months then. It was formed with thirty-seven million dollars in invested cash. An additional fifty million or so of what I'll call a call pool, which is money that we can call upon if the deals are large enough that they require more than a two or three million dollar initial investment. Why in the world did Bain and Company get involved in this kind of a business? We're not particularly noted for having years and years of experience in financing. Three reasons.

We recognized that we had the potential to develop a significant and proprietary flow of business opportunities. Secondly, we had concepts and experience which would allow us to identify potential value and hidden value in a particular investment candidate. And third, we had the consulting resources and management skills and management resources to become actively involved in the companies we invested in to help them realize their potential value.
This would probably be as good a time as any to recommend "Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital," of which you should definitely read every last stinking, infuriating word, if you haven't yet read it.

Asked for comment on this newly unearthed video, current Republican candidate for the US presidency and former corporate raider Mitt Romney was quoted as saying:

image of Mitt Romney looking stricken, to which I have added the word FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK

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It is a function of my privilege that this passage, in an LA Times article about President Obama's relationship with Native American tribes, surprised me: "[Obama] is the first president to hold an annual summit with leaders from the 566 federally recognized tribes."

I don't think it's a coincidence that it is our first African-American president who was the first president to hold an annual summit with tribal leaders.

...Which is why I want to rage-quit the world every time I read that Mitt Romney is on the campaign trail dog-whistling racist shit like "I want us to get back to being America."

[NB: Native American tribes are not collectively nor internally monolithic, and there are among them many different feelings about President Obama.]

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The First Border House Virtual Game Jam Starts Today!

by Alex, a regular contributor to The Border House, who posts some of her sewing projects and cosplays on her Tumblr; you can also find her babbling about sewing and games and Parks and Recreation on Twitter.

I'd like to invite you to participate in the first-ever Border House Game Jam, which begins today!

What is a game jam?
If you don't know what a game jam is, basically it is an event where people get together to make a game under very strict time restraints. Most game jams are weekend events where participants spend 48 hours straight just making a game. Since this game jam isn't a physical meetup, I'm giving you one week. Your goal is to make a game using TWINE, a tool that enables the creation of Choose Your Own Adventure-style games.

Why Twine?
First of all, it is very easy to use. Anna Anthropy recently published a great tutorial for it. You don't need to know how to program to make a working game using Twine.

Secondly, the output of Twine is a single HTML file, meaning it is very easy to distribute. TBH will be happy to host your game if you'd like, or you can post it in your own space, and we will link to it in the wrap-up post.

So how does this work?
Starting today, make a game! Submit your HTML file or a link to your game to editors-at-borderhouseblog-dot-com by the following Thursday at midnight (your local time) and we will post it on the blog. Then check out the games the rest of the folks in the community made!

How can I possibly make an entire game in a week?
You can totally do it! Trust me.

The spirit of a game jam is just to make games–any kind of game. It doesn't have to be long, or technologically impressive, or deep, or innovative, or polished. It just has to be yours. Because more personal games should exist for their own sake. For art's sake.

If this interests you at all, please spread the word. Feel free to ask questions or collaborate with others in the comments here or in the TBH IRC channel. And if anyone has any suggestions for an (optional) theme, please leave a comment at the kick-off post.

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I Hope You're Sitting Down on Your Fainting Couches

It turns out that living on food stamps isn't the life of indulgent luxury that we keep hearing it is. (No!) Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) was challenged "to live on a food stamp budget for a week to mark Hunger Awareness Month" and found that it was no picnic. Literally.

Stanton kept a diary on the challenge, which allotted him roughly $29 a week, the same amount 1.1 million Arizonans receive from the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP) each week.

By day four, Stanton noted that he was "tired" and "it's hard to focus" after leaving the house for work without time to scramble eggs or eat a decent breakfast:
OK- ran out the door today with no time to scramble eggs or even make a sandwich. So I'm surviving on an apple and handful of peanuts, and the coffee I took to the office until dinner. I'm tired, and it's hard to focus. I can't go buy a sandwich because that would be cheating- even the dollar menu at Taco Bell is cheating. You can't use SNAP benefits at any restaurants, fast food or otherwise. I'm facing a long, hungry day and an even longer night getting dinner on the table, which requires making EVERYTHING from scratch on this budget. It's only for a week, so I've got a decent attitude. If I were doing this with no end in sight, I probably wouldn't be so pleasant.
There are conservatives, lots of them, in this country (and not a few liberals, too) who genuinely believe people aspire to live on food stamps, who believe that being poor is easy, who believe that we've got a social safety net that is providing well for the people who need it.

Mitt Romney, for instance: "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich, they're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling."

This insidious myth that poor people are doing fine, that they're just a bunch of lazyasses who don't want more out of life, this bootstraps bullshit, is one of the grossest stories told by the Republican Party.

You try "lifting yourself out of poverty" when you aren't eating enough for your brain to work. Try lifting anything. It isn't easy when your body's devouring its muscles to stay alive.

These are easily discernible facts about poverty and our garbage social safety net. I mean, most USians probably know someone who is or has been on food stamps (if we haven't used them ourselves). Most USians don't need to Google this shit, which goes to show you how out of touch Mitt Romney really is.

Then again, Mitt Romney thinks people are not entitled to food. MITT ROMNEY THINKS PEOPLE ARE NOT ENTITLED TO FOOD!!! So.

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Blog Note

As many of you have noticed, every day around this time for the past week or so, comments have started going wonky—comments take forever to appear on the page, and/or they appear and then disappear.

It makes having a conversation difficult, and I know it makes commenting frustrating, because you don't know if your comment got saved and will eventually appear, or if it's lost in the ether—and many of you have emailed me thinking your comments got deleted for some reason.

Comments are being saved. They're just taking a while to appear (or reappear, as the case may be).

It's a known technical problem that Disqus is working on. Last night, Disqus let me know via Twitter "it might be rough for next few days to a week until some of our planned improvements come online."

So, I just want to say again that I'm sorry for the inconvenience, and hopefully it will be resolved soon.

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The Many Faces of Schmidt

So, it became apparent in the thread about my spite-fandom for Zooey Deschanel that many of you also love New Girl, and thus love Schmidt, because DANGER lulz. (It also became apparent that some of you DO NOT love New Girl, and I am sorry that this post is not for you! Win some; Schmidt some.)

Anyway! I thought the Schmidt-heads would enjoy this fun pictorial in Entertainment Weekly of Schmidt (the amazing Max Greenfield) hero-posing for a slide show that was supposed to premiered at his rebranding party, "but time constraints left that sequence on the cutting room floor."

Max Greenfield as Schmidt posing as Ponyboy Curtis

Schmidt as Ponyboy omglol. The rest are here. Enjoy!

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In The News

{Content note: homophobia, police brutality, death, murder]

All The News In Fits and Spurts:

French President François Hollande urged the UN to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Homosexuality is currently illegal in 76 countries and punishable by death in eight, including Iran, Mauritania, Sudan, Saudia Arabia and Yemen.

A transgender third-grader in New Hampshire will be allowed to wear clothing and use the bathroom that corresponds with her gender identity while at school.

Newt Gingrich issued a harsh assessment of the GOP nominee's campaign strategy yesterday, saying Romney's presidential bid was struggling in key battlegrounds because of a messaging failure. LOL! These guys, they're the best!

J.K. Rowling has launched her long-anticipated first book for adults. The Casual Vacancy went on sale today in London.

A website tracking the use of gay slurs on Twitter has tracked more than 2.5 million instances of usage of the word "faggot" on Twitter in the last two months. If this rate remains consistent, the homophobic slur will be used more than 15 million times in the course of a year.

Sons of Anarchy actor Johnny Lewis was found dead yesterday outside the Los Feliz home of a woman who was found murdered inside. It is still unclear how Lewis died and how the deaths are connected.

Young African Americans ages 12 to 20 see far more alcohol ads on television and in magazines than youths in general.

The University of California regents will pay about $1 million to twenty-one current and former UC Davis students who were pepper-sprayed during a peaceful campus protest last November.

Today marks National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which the Centers for Disease Control has commemorated for the past five years as a time for us to reflect on the heavy toll that HIV takes on gay and bisexual men across the country and to recommit to fighting the disease. Get tested, if you can.

Related: The OraQuick home HIV test is now available at CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreens drugstores, along with Kroger and Walmart.

Mexico has captured one of the country's most-wanted drug traffickers, Ivan Velazquez Caballero, known as "El Taliban."

Want a $100,000 stove? Sure you do. Comes with an optional mixer, deep fryer, vacuum sealer, induction zone, and a USB port. Of course it comes with a USB port!

"If you want Lestat to come back, can you tell me why in one sentence?" — Anne Rice. "Because I don't have enough softcore vampire porn to jerk off to." — Deeky

"Where is the weirdest place you've ever gotten the urge to make whoopie?"

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HA HA OUCH. Also: Accurate!

Shaker pbrim dropped a link to this in comments: It's a video of Mitt Romney's "Too Many Americans" ad spliced with footage of him from other places contradicting his own message of purported compassion. Awesome.

Now Mitt Romney: Too many Americans are struggling to find work in today's economy.

Then Mitt Romney: I like being able to fire people.

Now Mitt Romney: Too many of those who are working are living paycheck to paycheck.

Then Mitt Romney (making a bet with Rick Perry at a debate): I'll tell ya what—ten thousand bucks?

Now Mitt Romney: President Obama and I both care about poor and middle class families.

Then Mitt Romney: I'm not concerned about the very poor.

Now Mitt Romney: The difference is: My policies will make things better for them.

Then Mitt Romney: And so my job is not to worry about those people—I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

Text Onscreen: Mitt Romney's "Romney: Believe in America" logo. The words "half of" are written in between "in" and "America."

Mitt Romney: I'm Mitt Romney and I approve this message.

Text Onscreen: Paid for by the Democratic National Committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Sun Ra: "Watusa"

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Quote of the Day

"Frankly at this early stage, polls go up, polls go down."—Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who, as Taegan Goddard notes, is "apparently not aware the election is 41 days away."

Do you love all the conservatives complaining about the media fixing polls? I love it. Mostly because WHO CARES. For all the conservative voters who see Mitt Romney trailing and think, "I won't bother voting, because he's definitely going to lose," there are liberal voters thinking, "I won't bother voting, because Obama's definitely got it in the bag." And still other conservatives who think, "Shit, I've really got to get out there and vote to help Romney."

There aren't a lot of people who vote based on polls. It's foolish to pretend that there are, and further foolish still to pretend that polls only motivate people in a single direction.

Though, admittedly, not as foolish as asserting we're in the "early stage" of the election.

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Daily Dose of Cute

Guess what?! We have another new baby! We've been going back and forth on getting another kitty and yesterday I randomly browsed petfinder (as you do) and saw this sweet baby. Well, we could not resist and she was equally as charming when we went to meet her. Presenting...Lady Jane!

Her coloring marks her a 'red point Siamese'

A mighty bath rug hunter

She is four months old, though we do not know her exact birthday. "Jane" had been one of many suggestions for her name and I cannot hear "Jane" and not think "Lady Jane" because in a book series I adore, Outlander, the main character (Claire--which was another name option) is affectionately called "Lady Jane" by a friend of hers. So that's how she ended up being Lady Jane instead of Jane.

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The Man with the Plan

Anything Mitt Romney can do, Barack Obama can do better. He can do talking directly into the camera better than you! Yes he can, yes he caaaaaan!

During the last weeks of this campaign, there will be debates, speeches, and more ads, but if I could sit down with you, in your living room or around the kitchen table, here's what I'd say: When I took office, we were losing nearly 800,000 jobs a month and were mired in Iraq. Today, I believe that as a nation we are moving forward again. But we have much more to do—to get folks back to work and make the middle class secure again.

Now, Governor Romney believes that, with even bigger tax cuts for the wealthy and fewer regulations on Wall Street, all of us will prosper. In other words, he'd double down on the same trickle-down policies that led to the crisis in the first place.

So what's my plan? First, we create a million new manufacturing jobs, and help businesses double their exports; give tax breaks to companies that invest in America, not that ship jobs overseas.

Second: We cut our oil imports in half and produce more American-made energy—oil, clean coal, natural gas, and new resources like wind, solar, and biofuels—all while doubling the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks.

Third: We ensure that we maintain the best workforce in the world, by preparing 100,000 additional math and science teachers, training two million Americans with the job skills they need at our community colleges, cutting the growth of tuition in half, and expanding student aid so more Americans can afford it.

Fourth—a balanced plan to reduce our deficit by four trillion dollars over the next decade. On top of the trillion in spending we've already cut, I'd ask the wealthy to pay a little more, and, as we end the war in Afghanistan, let's apply half the savings to pay down our debt and use the rest for some nation-building right here at home.

It's time for a new economic patriotism, rooted in the belief that growing our economy begins with a strong, thriving middle class. Read my plan. Compare it to Governor Romney's. And decide for yourself. Thanks for listening. I'm Barack Obama, and I approve this message.
And P.S. good luck finding Governor Romney's plan, because he doesn't have one. Unless you count: "Trust me, I've definitely got a plan, which I will totally tell you once you elect me."

I'm always going to be way to the left of either candidate in either party, so at least 56% (rough estimate) of the stuff in President Obama's summarized plan here is stuff I find wholly uninspiring, or straight-up garbage, either because just no or because lulz priorities, but I have respect for him for making his case straightforwardly and with integrity.

Which is more than I can say for Mitt Romney.

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Top Five

Here is your topic: Top Five Favorite Items of Clothing and/or Accessories. 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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Open Thread

Audrey Junior, the plant from
Hosted by Audrey Junior.

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Question of the Day

What did you once think to be true about yourself, which you have discovered is not really true after all?

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Nothing to See Here


Mortgage giant Freddie Mac did not keep homeowners trapped in high-interest loans in order to boost profits on billions of dollars' worth of complex financial bets it had made. That's the conclusion reached in a report released today by the inspector general that oversees the agency in charge of Freddie Mac.

Last January, ProPublica and NPR reported that Freddie had dramatically expanded its holdings of mortgage-backed securities that would profit if homeowners stayed in their existing high-interest-rate loans. At the same time, the company had taken steps that made it harder for homeowners to refinance at lower interest rates. Our report stated that there was no evidence of a coordinated attempt to bet against homeowners' ability to refinance. The inspector general's report concludes that there was none.

But the inspector general left a key stone unturned: It did not independently evaluate the firewall within Freddie Mac designed to keep Freddie's investment arm from profiting from insider information about the mortgage giant's plans to tighten or loosen homeowners' access to credit. Instead, the inspector general relied on the word of employees it interviewed and conducted no further investigation.
Ha ha perfect. That sounds like a perfect and super responsible method of making sure the guarantors of most of the mortgages in the US are not exploiting millions of homeowners for profit. "Oh, we just took their word for it." PERFECT.

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The Latest from the Worst Campaign in Worstville

Today, the Romney campaign released this ad, in which Mitt Romney speaks directly into the camera, making his appeal to voters as a compassionate conservative, or whatever pretending to give a fuck about the 99% is getting called these days:

Too many Americans are struggling to find work in today's economy. Too many of those who are working are living paycheck to paycheck, trying to make falling incomes meet rising prices for food and gas. More Americans are living in poverty than when President Obama took office, and 15 million more are on food stamps.

President Obama and I both care about poor and middle class families. The difference is: My policies will make things better for them.

We shouldn't measure compassion by how many people are on welfare; we should measure compassion by how many people are able to get off welfare and get a good paying job.

My plan will create 12 million new jobs over the next four years, helping lift families out of poverty and strengthening the middle class.

I'm Mitt Romeny, and I approve this message—because we can't afford another four years like the last four years.
Okay, obviously everything about this is undiluted garbage, but I don't have time to detail in all the ways this one-minute video of the Republican candidate for the US presidency is dishonest, contemptible rubbish, because I'm too busy measuring compassion by how many people are on welfare, which is for sure something real people definitely do.

I will just point out two quick things:

1. The title of this video is "Too Many Americans." Obviously, Team Romney meant for us to extrapolate that "too many Americans" are suffering under the nightmare rule of the despot Obama, but it reads more like Mitt Romney's proposal to deal with all those goddamn government moochers: "Too many Americans! Let's get rid of some of 'em!"

2. Note that Mitt Romney says his policies "will make things better for them." For them. Those people, who are poor and middle class. Which sort of raises the (rhetorical) question: Just whom, exactly, is this video for? Garance Franke-Ruta observes:
Mitt Romney keeps talking about the people whose votes he needs as "them."

In the 47 percent video, it was "those people."

"I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," Romney said.

...The problem with Romney's campaign is not just a secret video, or media- and PAC-hyped candidate gaffes. It's an approach to talking to and about people in a way that is othering, rather than empathetic -- so much so that in direct appeal to middle-class voters, Romney doesn't think to say (or, rather, no one on his campaign thinks to have him say), "The difference is my policies will make things better for you."
There aren't enough derisive snorts in the world for this guy.

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Top Five

Here is your topic: Top Five Favorite Desserts. (And for those of you who prefer savory—e.g. cheese plates—to sweet, or enjoy instead after-dinner beverages, are welcome to treat those as "desserts" for the purposes of this question.) 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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Photos of the Day

[Content Note: Violence; police brutality.]

image of protestors in Spain standing the doorway of a shop, raising their hands in the air and shouting
Protesters react during a demonstration organised by Spain's "Indignant" protesters in Madrid. Spanish riot police fired rubber bullets and baton-charged protesters as thousands rallied near parliament in Madrid in anger at the government's handling of the economic crisis. [Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/GettyImages—via]
image of protestors in Spain cringing away from a police officer who is wielding a baton threateningly
Protesters clash with riot police during a demonstration organized by Spain's "Indignant" protesters to decry an economic crisis they say has "kidnapped" democracy in Madrid on Sept. 25, 2012. [Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/GettyImages—via]
Related Reading: AP: Spain Counts Cost of Anti-Austerity Protest.

AFP: Spain Police Block Protesters' Access to Parliament.

Reuters: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Says All Must Sacrifice.

Also at Reuters: Spain to Keep Freeze on Civil Servant Wages in 2013 Budget.

The Guardian: The Shape of Modern Spain Is Being Questioned.

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Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by sparkles.

Recommended Reading:

Stassa: The Media Tells Female Candidates to Be Nicer

Michele: 'We Do Not Need Any More Proof' [Content Note: The post at this link includes a discussion of challenging the use of rape as a tool of war.]

FMF News: Federal Court Will Hear Walmart Sex Discrimination Case

Pam: Akin's in it…but We Can't Afford for Him to Win it…

Mike: How Class Bias Can Kill

Pam: Paul Ryan in Ohio: Preventing Marriage Equality Is a 'Universal Human Value'

Oly Mike: Ocean Report

Kira: Creepshots and Revenge Porn: How Paparazzi Culture Affects Women [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of stalking, harassment, sexual assault, hostility to consent.]

Jane: The Sikh Woman Who Stood Up to Online Abuse about Her Facial Hair [Content Note: The post at this link contains discussion of body policing, gender policing, religious ignorance, harassment, misogyny, and hostility to consent.]

Andy: Adam Lambert is an 'Outlaw of Love' for Marriage Equality in Maryland

Spooky: Artist's Hyperrealistic Drawings Look Like Black and White Photos

Jay Smooth: The Tale of the Tapes [video]

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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Living, and Dying, Under Drones

[Content Note: War; violence.]

Remember how I said there are things I like and don't like about President Obama, his administration, his policies, his presidency...? I'm fixing to talk about one of the things I don't like, which is a tremendous understatement.

Yesterday, the Stanford International Human Rights & Conflict Resolution Clinic, a group comprised of human rights advocates from Stanford and New York Universities, released a report entitled "Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan." I want to quote just a piece of the executive summary of the report:

In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling "targeted killing" of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.

This narrative is false.

Following nine months of intensive research—including two investigations in Pakistan, more than 130 interviews with victims, witnesses, and experts, and review of thousands of pages of documentation and media reporting—this report presents evidence of the damaging and counterproductive effects of current US drone strike policies. Based on extensive interviews with Pakistanis living in the regions directly affected, as well as humanitarian and medical workers, this report provides new and firsthand testimony about the negative impacts US policies are having on the civilians living under drones.

Real threats to US security and to Pakistani civilians exist in the Pakistani border areas now targeted by drones. It is crucial that the US be able to protect itself from terrorist threats, and that the great harm caused by terrorists to Pakistani civilians be addressed. However, in light of significant evidence of harmful impacts to Pakistani civilians and to US interests, current policies to address terrorism through targeted killings and drone strikes must be carefully re-evaluated.

It is essential that public debate about US policies take the negative effects of current policies into account.
Those negative effects, as painstakingly documented in the report, include: Extensive (though unacknowledged) civilian casualties; extensive (though unacknowledged) harm "to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury"; evidence that drone strikes are not, as routinely argued by the Obama administration, making the US safer—to the contrary, the New York Times has reported that "drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants"; continued contempt for and subversion of the rule of law and international legal protections; setting disturbing new domestic and international precedents about when and how war is waged.
In light of these concerns, this report recommends that the US conduct a fundamental re-evaluation of current targeted killing practices, taking into account all available evidence, the concerns of various stakeholders, and the short and long-term costs and benefits. A significant rethinking of current US targeted killing and drone strike policies is long overdue. US policy-makers, and the American public, cannot continue to ignore evidence of the civilian harm and counter-productive impacts of US targeted killings and drone strikes in Pakistan.
There is more, so much more, at the link. It is difficult to read. But I cannot recommend enough that you take some time to engage with this report, and the reality of what is being done by this administration in the names of US citizens, whose consent has never been given for waging this secret war, for which there is no oversight or accountability.

In a piece for Truthout about this report, John Knefel notes that drones "are a bipartisan issue. You can't cast a vote for a viable candidate in 2012 who won't continue to — in the words of the report — 'terrorize' the people of Pakistan, of Yemen, of Somalia, with flying robots. The ACLU has called the drone program the 'centerpiece of the Obama administration's counterterrorism policies.' Mitt Romney has promised to continue the program on the off-chance he's elected, and has even gone so far as to say Pakistanis are 'comfortable' with drones."

There is no meaningful choice in the upcoming election, on the issue of whether the US should be using drones in a secretive war, irrespective of how many civilians are being killed, and in contempt of the rule of law, and without seemingly the merest regard for the actual efficacy of such campaigns.

Later in his piece, Knefel observes that a Pew survey done earlier this year found 62% approval for drones. He images that's attributable to media coverage that relies almost exclusively on leaked information that is favorable to the Obama administration.

I am certain he's right—but I also believe quite fervently that the approval for drones is reflective of that aforementioned lack of a meaningful choice. When our choice is between a Democratic candidate who will wage war with "targeted" drone attacks, or a Republican candidate who will wage war with troops and tanks and treasure and mercenaries and false promises and no exit strategy, I "approve" of drones, too—but only by default.

I authentically, enthusiastically, desperately choose diplomacy over drones. But that is not the choice I'm given.

I live in a war-mongering empire, and the only choice I'm given is in which way I want to wage war. That I don't want to wage war at all doesn't really matter, not to this president, nor any other.

I don't have any idea, at all, about how to begin to change that. Except to plead with you to read that report, and let it matter to you.

Also see: Charlie Pierce.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman: "Time to Say Goodbye"

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Daily Dose of Cute

Zelda the Black-and-Tan Mutt lying near the railing in the loft, grinning


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In The News

[Content note: fat hatred, war, terrorism]

All The News In Fits and Spurts:

Federal agents and local police are investigating an explosion outside Democratic congressional candidate Brendan Mullen's northern Indiana home.

Mitt Romney has lowered expectations of his performance at next week's debate, noting it is his first time in a presidential debate. Good lord. What a great candidate you have there, Republicans!

Scientific American: Why airplane windows don't roll down.

California Governor Jerry Brown rode to Google headquarters in a self-driving Toyota Prius before signing legislation yeseterday that will allow driverless cars in that state. Neat!

Work has begun on two permanent rainbow-colored crosswalks on Santa Monica and San Vicente Boulevards in West Hollywood, California. Neat!

At the intersection of fat-shaming and war-mongering comes a bizarre public health campaign: an effort by retired generals and admirals to ban sugary sodas and snacks from public schools. The kids today, say the former brass, are too fat to fight for their country.

Nevermore: Baltimore's beleaguered Edgar Allan Poe House will be shutting its doors Friday, with plans to reopen in 2013 under the auspices of a nonprofit group hoping to increase attendance and make the city landmark self-sufficient.

Juvenile joke of the day: AFA is offering yard signs reading "Jesus Came For You".

Here is the new Life of Pi trailer. Neat!

Starting today, you can use Google Maps to find a sea turtle swimming among a school of fish, follow a manta ray, and experience the Great Barrier Reef at sunset. Neat!

Richard Hell and the Voidoids: "Love Comes In Spurts".

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Justin Trudeau's Leadership Bid (or Not)

In today's news comes a report that Justin Trudeau, Liberal MP for Papineau (and son of Margaret Sinclair and the late former PM Pierre Trudeau) is throwing his hat into the arena for leadership of the Liberal Party. Then again, there's his announcement of a non-announcement as well.

I've really not had time to digest this information or formulate much analysis of it, but I thought that Canadian Shakers (and other Shakers interested in Canadian politics) might want to discuss the strong-ish possibility of a Trudeau run.


My initial reaction to the idea of a Trudeau leadership is cautiously enthusiastic. I've been impressed with the way he grappled with a family background that inevitably thrust him into the spotlight. He's made a career of trying to wield his influence, his intellect, and his considerable charisma for good at home and abroad. (His official biography, for those who are interested. His Wikipedia entry.) if his enthusiasm and drive could rejuvenate the Libeals, i think that would be for the best. Although my own politics lean more NDP, I do not think it's good for Canada to have a less-than-healthy Liberal Party; it makes it easier for the Harpercons to shift the "centre" steadily rightward.

That's not to say his leadership would be without problems. He's been heavily and bluntly critical of Quebec sovereignty, complicating the party's prospects in francophone Quebec. He's still inexperienced, a quality which has doomed many a politician. I'm not keen on this back-and-forth dance about stepping into the ring, either.

(And he may well have other disadvantages or negative qualities which I am leaving out, not from a desire to whitewash, but because I am (a) not aware of them or (b) because my brain is a leaky sieve of slowly disappearing information and I can't think of them this morning.)

Still: Trudeau makes me feel inspired and optimistic--and that is no small thing in today's world. I very much like the Canada he seems to believe in. It sounds a lot like he one I believe in, too.

Any thoughts, Shakers?

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You've Got MittMail(TM)!

Obviously, subscribing to Mitt "Airplanes, how the fuck do they work?" Romney's email list was a brilliant move on my part:

Mitt's a warm, friendly guy -- and a very proud grandpa -- who just happens to be running for president.

If you happen to win this "On Board" contest and end up meeting Mitt on the campaign plane at 30,000 feet -- I'm sure you'll find him to be as grounded and down to earth as I do. But the contest ends tonight.

So donate $3 before midnight tonight to be automatically enrolled for a chance to join Mitt on the campaign plane.

[Image of Mitt presumably joking within some passengers about their portfolios; upon the image "ON BOARD with MITT-- We'll save two lucky winners a seat on the campaign plane" is written, along with the Air Romney logo]
Tough luck Shakers, "midnight tonight" was earlier this morning!

As for me, I'll take my chances with American Eagle. At least this well-timed email reminded me to check Outlook to see if I "just happen to be running for president."

PS: Accord to Outlook, it turns out I'm not running for president, but I just happen to have a doctor's appointment next Monday.

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Today in Mitt Romney Is Terrible

Oof. Yesterday, in Ohio, at a campaign event during which both Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan were making an appearance, this happened:

Video Description: At an outdoor campaign event, just after Paul Ryan has left the stage, Mitt Romney takes the stage and says, to the cheering crowd, "It's quite a guy, isn't it? Paul Ryan! Isn't that something?" The crowd waves campaign signs and chants, "Ryan! Ryan!" Mitt Romney interrupts: "Wait a second, wait a second—Romney Ryan Romney Ryan Romney Ryan. There we go, all right, that's great."


As Steve Benen notes, "The moment helped capture a larger area of concern for the Republican ticket."
The New York Times reports today that the campaign will have the two men campaign together with increasing frequency, even though it's inefficient to cover less ground, because aides fear Romney is "not generating enough attention and excitement" on his own.

No wonder Romney didn't like the crowd chanting Ryan's name.

As it turns out, Ryan may not be thrilled, either. Politico's Roger Simon has a column today on the right-wing congressman deciding to "distance himself from the floundering Romney campaign." Ryan has apparently "been marching around his campaign bus, saying things like, 'If Stench calls, take a message' and 'Tell Stench I'm having finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.'"

The quote is a reference to Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa, telling the New York Times over the weekend, "I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he'll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him."
Whoooooooooops your campaign!

The Romney campaign is so horrendo that the latest ABC/WaPo poll (ad with audio begins to play automatically at link) found that 61% of respondents "hold an unfavorable view of how Romney's handling his presidential campaign."


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Important Announcement

[Content Note: Violence; misogyny.]

I am really grossed-out by the intense, aggressive, irrational hatred of Zooey Deschanel. By which I don't mean people who just aren't fans for whatever reason or people who have valid criticisms about her manic pixie dream career choices, but the people who have responded to her popularity with a seething backlash of epic proportions that manifests in disproportionate levels of ragey hostility.


So I'm having a backlash of my own. The more incidents I see of intense, aggressive, irrational hatred of Zooey Deschanel, the more I like her. That's right! I LIKE ZOOEY DESCHANEL OUT OF SPITE! So there.

We'll probably be best friends soon, so WATCH OUT, WORLD!

image of actress Zooey Deschanel, smiling
Zooey Deschanel, actress and not at all my friend, but definitely a human being who seems all right.

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Open Thread

A triffid plant from the movie
Hosted by a Triffid.

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Question of the Day

What is your favorite song by a non-US band?

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Top Five

Here is your topic: Top Five Favorite Bygone Fashion Trends. You know—bell-bottoms, hair crimping, ski vests over denim jackets. 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 a real thing in the world.

The Mitt Romney Victory Wallet:

screen cap of text of an email asking people to sign up for the Mitt Romney Victory Wallet
If you haven't signed up for Victory Wallet yet, we have at least three good reasons why you should.

First of all, we are offering a free, limited edition gold "R" pin to those who create a Victory Wallet account today. This is a real collector's item -- as only a limited number of pins have been produced -- so sign up for Victory Wallet to get yours.

Second, Victory Wallet only takes a minute to set up and will save you ample time in the future. Just save your credit card information to your MyMitt account, and you'll be able to make donations instantly online.

Third, it's never been this fast or easy to donate and support Romney Victory. With Victory Wallet, you can make donations in one quick and easy step via email, Web, or mobile phone.

Sign up for Victory Wallet and get your free gold "R" pin today:

We have less than 50 days until the election to help get Mitt and the entire Republican team elected -- let's get it done.
Eastsidekate got this in her email, because there's an app for Mitt, and not only did it tell her a nanosecond before Dana Milbank who Mitt Romney chose as his running mate, but it now constantly spams her inbox. Free market, bitchez.

Naturally, she immediately forwarded the email to me because: 1. She's at work; and 2. VICTORY WALLET!

OMGLOLFOREVER. Victory Wallet.



It's never been this fast or easy to donate to Mitt Romney! SIGN ME UP! The thing that's been holding me back from donating ALL THE MONEY to Mitt Romney is that I couldn't do it FAST ENOUGH! Also, that gold pin sounds terrific.

Although I do think an actual wallet made from 100% genuine Romney Family Bootstraps would have been a much nicer freebie.


"Victory Wallet is Romney's Secret Service code name."—Eastsidekate. LULZ.

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Fifty Shades of Goldberg: 9. SLIPPERY SLOPE

The slippery slope argument is the worst. I hate how liberals totally use it to cheat in the War on of Ideas. Wait, what's that, Jonah Goldberg?

So long as one remembers that the slippery slope isn't a thing but a metaphor, it's not so bad. [italics, actual quote original]

I remember last summer we planned on going down to Willmar with the Gustafsons to see the slippery slope. Thanks to ObamaCare, we could only afford to see the giant walleye in Garrison. Ida was so disappointed.

PS: Gay marriage is destroying America.

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I Don't Even Know What He's Talking About Anymore

image of Mitt Romney making a goofy expression, to which I've added text reading: 'Oh, you're a plumber? What on EARTH is that?'

Mitt Romney opened his mouth today, and thus I have something to report about something stupid that Mitt Romney said. Heads-up, teachers!
Mitt Romney joked Tuesday about being "terribly partisan" during a question and answer session devoted to the subject of education.

Romney said as president, he wouldn't prevent teachers from going on strike, as they recently did in Chicago. But the GOP presidential nominee said he thought the influence of teachers' unions on the Democratic Party was bad for policy.

"I don't mean to be terribly partisan, but I kind of am," Romney said, according to written pool reports.
Ha ha hang on—I haven't even gotten to the gold star stupidity yet! I just wanted to throw that in as an amuse-bouche.
[Romney said] in the education forum that neither class size nor the money spent per student was the deciding factor in a good education.

"It was the quality of teachers," Romney said.
Cool! Cool theory. So, basically, if you're a public school teacher for a district that spends a below-average amount per student and puts 40 kids to a classroom, and you fail to give each and every one of those kids a quality education with sub-par resources and virtually no individual attention, it's because YOU ARE A TERRIBLE TEACHER.

Look, I'm not a public school teacher, and the only contact I've had with public school teachers is being taught in public schools for thirteen years; my parents, who are both retired public school teachers; most of their friends, who are/were public school teachers; my godfather, who is a retired public school teacher; my oldest friend who I have known since I was five years old and is a public school teacher; my two oldest girlfriends, who are public school teachers; and my first writing mentor, who is a retired public school teacher, none of whom ever share stories about being a teacher (ahem), so please bear my total lack of perspective in mind when I say: MITT ROMNEY SHUT THE FUCK UP.

All those teachers on that list? They don't agree about what it takes to make public education a success. They don't all share the same politics. They don't even agree on the value and priorities of teachers' unions. But I'm pretty fucking sure that they all agree it is some rank bullshit to assert that class size and funding are not "deciding factors" in whether students get a good education—because even the best teacher on the entire planet can only be the best teacher with a finite number of students and sufficient resources.

The best teacher on the entire planet can be overwhelmed.

I guess Mitt Romney rejects that idea. Oh, speaking of rejecting ideas...
In the session, sponsored by NBC, Romney was asked if all children in America should be afforded the type of education Romney himself received at Cranbrook, the private prep school in Michigan.

The candidate said tuition figures don't always equate with the quality of education.

"I reject the idea that everybody has to have, if you will, a Harvard-expense level degree to be successful," Romney said.
Sure. I reject that idea, too. We all reject the notion that it should cost exorbitant amounts of money to access a quality education. But that means robustly funding public education! Not just talking total shite about how all that matters is hiring good teachers.

(Which, by the way, is an increasingly difficult task when you don't pay intelligent and talented people competitive salaries.)

And here's one other thing about Romney "rejecting" the idea that one doesn't have to pay for Harvard to be successful: He's casually eliding the reality that being able to present to a potential employer, or investor, a piece of paper saying HARVARD on it means something very different than a piece of paper on which one has written: "I read all the books on my own. All of them. I am smart as hell, even though I don't have an Ivy League institution, or any institution at all, certifying that fact. Please hire me, anyway."

Romney is so devastatingly privileged he can't even imagine what life is like for someone who lacks access even to the shitty versions of his opportunities.

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Two Facts

1. David Brooks is still inexplicably being employed by the New York Times to write a garbage column that is full of obfuscations, simplifications, and lies.

2. David Brooks uses this week's garbage column to write a modern history of conservatism, which completely elides the shit-nightmare that is radical extremist social conservatism.

This is what that column would look like, if David Brooks were half as smart and honest as he imagines himself to be.

[As always, drifty is all over Brooks' bullshit, too.]

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In The News

[Content note for homophobia, misogyny, war]

News and Information:

A new survey shows 49% of voters said they would approve a constitutional amendment barring marriage equality in Minnesota, while 47% definitely oppose it. Four percent remain undecided.

Someone made an Atlas Shrugged cake. (See left.)

As Spain tries desperately to meet its budget targets by introducing one austerity measure after another, cutting jobs, salaries, pensions and benefits, even as the economy continues to shrink, more and more of its citizens are going hungry.

Joel and Ethan Coen are developing a television adaption of Fargo for FX. Okay then. NB: This is the second time an adaption of the show has been made. In 1997, a pilot was filmed starring Edie Falco as Marge Gunderson. (I was going to link to a video clip, but it's since been removed from the YouTubes.)

The Supreme Court released its list of cases today that they will take up this session and none of the DOMA cases nor the federal Prop 8 case is on the list.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says homosexuality is ugly. I rebut.

So, yeah, Romney thinks "it's a real problem" that you can't roll down the windows on jetplanes. I rebut.

A world shortage of pork and bacon next year is now unavoidable.

Japanese and Taiwanese vessels began sparring Tuesday in a territorial dispute over a group of uninhabited islands. The boats are, as of now, only spraying each other with water. Let's hope hostilities don't escalate.

Bananarama has a new E.P. out. I bet you didn't even know there were still around.

Weather conditions and continued insecurity are hampering aid agencies' efforts to reach hundreds of thousands of people displaced by armed conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Staten Island borough president James Molinaro called Lady Gaga a slut yesterday at an anti-substance abuse initiative. Nice, Staten Island borough president James Molinaro!. Real nice.

Republican Darrell Issa wins "most corrupt" award from non-partisan watchdog group CREW. Whoops! Sucks to be Darrell Issa.

Here is a 2(x)ist Commercial. It's for underwear. More commercials should be like this.

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Healthcare News

Dow Jones has just added UnitedHealth to the Dow Jones 500. In the 2010 fiscal year, the insurer had profits of $4.63 billion.

Crossposted from A Cunt of One's Own.

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Headline of the Day

New Study Confirms What Many Have Long Believed to Be True: Women Use Contraception to Better Achieve Their Life Goals.

Or: Guttmacher Institute does yet another study confirming that we could all save money on studies by just listening to women speak truth about their experiences.

Maude bless the Guttmacher Institute for doing this stuff. Guttmacher's a national treasure, and if I had Mitt Romney money, I would build a monument to their awesomeness in every state in the union.

It would be a giant, gold-plated ear, with the gold-plated forms of three women talking into it, and from the ear would extend two gold-plated hands, one taking notes on a gold-plated notepad, and the other eternally handing to passers-by a gold-plated press release reading "Study Finds Women's Voices Only Matter When Computed into Datapoints."

Often, not even then, of course. But I am profoundly grateful to the Guttmacher Institute in trying to amplify our stories by collating them.

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Daily Dose of Cute

Matilda the Cat, sitting at the top of the stairs, gazing down at the living room below

Queen Matilda

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Sarah Brightman: "Who Wants to Live Forever"

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Harassment; violence; anti-Semitism.]

"It was like a game thing."—A "troll," who wreaked terroristic havoc in Leo Traynor's life, online and offline, explaining why he did it after Traynor confronted him.

Traynor's piece about the incident, which takes a rather surprising turn, is here.

I don't know that I would have made the same decision, in the end, that Traynor did. I wouldn't have had faith that the lesson being learned wasn't simply to mess with different sort of people, in future. People even more vulnerable.

If I'm totally honest, it's also because I know a woman who lets shit slide, even with the best of motivations, doesn't get called a hero, especially if there's any chance that shit will happen again to someone else.

Anyway. This isn't really about what happened to Traynor's harasser. It's about why he was a harasser in the first place. It was like a game thing. That is terrifying evidence of the dehumanization underlying harassment. It's all just a game.

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Is This Guy for Real?

Annie-Rose at Think Progress: Romney Doesn't Understand Why You Can't Roll Down Windows on a Plane.

Ann Romney's plane was grounded Friday after the main cabin filled with smoke. The small electrical fire caused no injuries...

"When you have a fire in an aircraft, there's no place to go, exactly," [Mitt Romney] told the LA Times. "And you can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don't open. I don't know why they don't do that. It's a real problem."

Air crafts do not open windows because the cabins are pressurized to fly safely at an altitude of tens of thousand feet. Opening a window in an airplane would seriously sicken the passengers and crew.
Seriously, this guy doesn't know anything about anything. It's extraordinary.

Cool candidate, Republicans!

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