Open Thread

Hosted by a squeaky hedgehog.

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of a pub Photoshopped to be named 'Fiscal Cliff Clavin's'
[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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Film Corner

There is a movie. It is called Europa. It is about a "crew of international astronauts [who] are sent on a private mission to Jupiter's fourth moon." It is coming to a theater near you in 2013. This is its trailer.

You want to see Europa now.

* * *

Video Description: Techno-y music. Thumping. Big metal thing in outer space. Not as big as the Death Star, but bigger than Space Jump pod. It rotates. It has solar panels. There are two people in it. They wear grey suits. Planet. Pod to planet. Thumping. The pod opens. Arm. A lady astronaut smiles. Planet. Thumping. A dude astronaut grimaces? Planet. Astronaut. Skipping video. FOUND FOOTAGE? FUCK YOU! NO MORE FOUND FOOTAGE MOVIES! THIS LOOKED COOL BUT IT'S JUST THE BLAIR ALIEN PROJECT! GO TO HELL!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt sitting on the couch looking thoughtful while she appears to be glancing down at a line-up of remotes on the arm of the couch

"Why do we have so many remotes?"

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Makes Perfect Sense

So...the new film with Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren is about how Alfred Hitchcock's wife Alma Reville, despite being his creative partner and an integral collaborator in his film-making process, was routinely and casually disappeared behind him and a towering narrative of individual genius that yet lingers to this day, and this film is called Hitchcock? Okay then.

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Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by aluminum.

Recommended Reading:

Courtney: Story Time [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussions of funding abstinence-only sex ed and bullying.]

Spectra: 4 Powerful Documentaries about African Women Everyone Should Watch [Content Note: The descriptions of the films contain references to misogyny, classism, and sexual violence.]

Tracy: The Invisible War Exposes the Banality of Misogyny and Sexual Violence in the US Military

Samhita: Dominique Strauss-Kahn to Settle out of Court with Nafissitou Diallo [Content Note: Sexual violence.]

Jorge: Study Finds Negative Portrayals of Muslims Get More Media Attention

Atrios: The Only Votes That Matter

Brian: Elizabeth Warren and Otis [Content Note: Pet loss.]

Letters of Note: With Deepest Sympathy, Fido

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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Attack at Casper College

[Content note: mass shooting, deaths]

There are reports of a shooting at Casper College in Wyoming. Although information is still unclear, recent reports indicate that three people have died as a result. It is being reported as a bow-and-arrow attack. According to updates from the college's Facebook page, a lockdown has been lifted, but personnel not involved with the attack have been encouraged to go home and counselors are available for those who need them. There will be a briefing at 1.30 PM local time, which will be live streamed here. ETA: The briefing was held at 1 PM.

My thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of the deceased, as well as with the campus community who are dealing with this horrible situation.

Please feel free to use the comments as a place for discussion, taking care with content notes and other measures to maintain this as a safe space.

Update: The local newspaper has an update here which confirms the attacker is among the deceased. (h/t Shaker Teaspoon, in comments.)

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The Parks and Rec Open Thread

image of Leslie Knope standing next to a sign reading 'Now Entering Pawnee: Good Luck With That.'
Eagleton! *shakes fist*

(Spoilers are frolicking in pocket parks herein.)

This was a weird episode for me, because I didn't love the whole park arc, AND I never love the episodes where everyone is all split up. (Plus, I just didn't buy that Leslie wouldn't have found a way to be part of Tom's store launch.) But that said, there were a lot of funny lines, it gave me one of my biggest laughs from any episode ever (I'll come back to that), and I loved some of the sweet, subtle peeks into relationships between characters: April gently nudging Andy forward; the gang raising money for Tom; Ron helping out Chris by teaching him woodworking. So: MIXED BAG!

(But a mixed bag from Parks & Rec is still about a million times better than pretty much any other show on TV, lol.)

Here are other things!

Ron Swanson head bullet-point "Your show last week on dolphin lactation was just riveting radio."

Ron Swanson head bullet-point "Worm Park. I'm Guilty."

Ron Swanson head bullet-point "Much like women in '90s stand-up comedy routines, Tommy be shoppin'. … So if you see a 14-year-old kid wearing a Louis Vuitton cravat, you know who to thank: Me. And Louis Vuitton—for making some dope-ass cravats."

Ron Swanson head bullet-point "Chris gave me this great job as a weekend security guard at City Hall. Only one problem: It's a terrible job."

Ron Swanson head bullet-point "Leslie, look what Reston commissioned from the balloon artisan—it's us!"

Ron Swanson head bullet-point "Say what you want about Pawneeans, but we never give up!" "We have a mural called The Many Surrenders of Pawnee."

Ron Swanson head bullet-point "I think what's important is that we all had a goal, and we achieved it." "So you like the place?" "Oh no. It's quite terrible."

Ron Swanson head bullet-point "If there were more food and fewer people, this would be a perfect party."

Ron Swanson head bullet-point "Wow, you made those losers very happy."

Ron Swanson head bullet-point "I've never met two people more passionate about their hometown." "Oh, I'm actually from Minnesota." "Why do you know so much about Pawnee?" "Well, I'm in love with a woman from here—a strange, passionate, goofball of a woman."

Ron Swanson head bullet-point "You were in the FBI."

Ron Swanson head bullet-point "I hate all of this. Which probably means it's good for your business."

Ron Swanson head bullet-point And this, which made me laugh SO HARD (I must've watched it 12 times): "How are there palm trees here?" "Well, Eagleton lies on top of a hot spring, which creates a micro-climate zone. We are, uh, heh, truly blessed."

image of Ben sticking out his tongue in the most hilariously juvenile expression ever

Amazing. Adam Scott is a national treasure.


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Garbage Treasures: Now with extra Chester A. Arthur!

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.]

Counter-clockwise from top left: An ad for $30/month of unlimited yoga at Charm City Yoga; three b-movie trading cards for Robots on the Run, Earthmen Land on Mars, and Lord of the Fleas, obviously; a giant magnet of Chester A. Arthur; and a burned DVD copy of the 1986 horror classic Trick or Treat, starring Marc "Skippy Handelman" Price.

There were also some Flula stickers, but I already stuck 'em on stuff.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

The Three O'Clock: "I Go Wild"

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In The News

[Content note: Homophobia, violence, rape culture]

Friday News:

A state ethics commission in Maine voted unanimously to fine the antigay National Organization for Marriage for violating campaign finance law.

DNA evidence proves Big Foot is real! Maybe.

Trans woman wins custody battle in Australia. yay!

The death penalty portion of Uganda's kill-the-gays bill may or may not still exist. It is unclear.

What is clear, however, is that Family Research Council's Tony Perkins loves the bill either way!

Romney really did believe he was going to win. (See also.)

Why I hate sports: part 2,963,630.

African lions may now deserve protected status under the Endangered Species Act.

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Quote of the Day

"On Election Day, The Boston Globe reported, Logan International Airport in Boston was running short of parking spaces. Not for cars—for private jets. Big donors were flooding into the city to attend Mitt Romney's victory party. They were, it turned out, misinformed about political reality. But the disappointed plutocrats weren't wrong about who was on their side. This was very much an election pitting the interests of the very rich against those of the middle class and the poor. ... So keep your eyes open as the fiscal game of chicken continues. It's an uncomfortable but real truth that we are not all in this together; America's top-down class warriors lost big in the election, but now they're trying to use the pretense of concern about the deficit to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Let's not let them pull it off."Paul Krugman.

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The Puppy Room!

For many university students, faculty, and staff, it's the Most Not-Wonderful Time of the Year: Finals! This year, Dalhousie University has a solution: the Puppy Room.

Dalhousie University in Halifax is turning to some big, slobbery experts to help students deal with the stress of upcoming exams.

The student union is opening a Puppy Room on Tuesday where students can hang out with several dogs, including Roc, a St. Bernard who happens to be a therapy dog.

"They can come in and sit down, they can pat the dogs, talk to the dogs," said his owner, Mark Grant. "That's our hope – that the dogs will bring as much comfort to the individuals that we're going to meet as the individuals will bring to the dogs."

Roc will be joined by other dogs, including a Dalmatian and a golden retriever.

"A lot of the folks that we're going to have the pleasure of seeing probably have dogs back home. They miss their dogs, and just want to hug a dog," said Grant.

I hereby decree that all schools and workplaces should have a Puppy Room. Universe: make it so!

(Until we get that thing going, though, here is a virtual version. No final exams required.)

The Whistling Puppy!

Food-Seeking Counter-Jumping Beagle!

Tap-Dancing Corgi!

An Extremely Excited Basset!

The Great Beagle Escape!

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Submitted Without Comment

A new study that found a higher prevalence of diabetes in countries with a high level of fructose corn syrup in their food supplies came under attack before it was even released Monday, highlighting the rising controversy over sweeteners and the role they play in the nation's health.

The study found that type 2 diabetes occurred 20 percent more often in countries where high-fructose corn syrup was in common use, compared with countries where it was rarely — or never — added to food.

The study's authors reached their conclusion by evaluating existing statistics on body mass index, diabetes rates and global food consumption. But the correlation increased after adjustments were made for country level differences in body mass, population and gross domestic product.

"We're not saying that high-fructose corn syrup causes diabetes or that it is the only factor or even the only dietary factor with a relation to diabetes," said Dr. Michael I. Goran, a professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and an author of the study. "But it does support a growing body of evidence linking high-fructose corn syrup and diabetes." [Link]
Related Reading: Well, Well, Well.

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Zeke Miller at BuzzFeed: White House: Obama and Romney "Pledged to Stay in Touch."

President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney "pledged to stay in touch," after a lunch meeting today, according to the White House.

According to a read-out of the meeting, Romney congratulated the president on his victory and wished him well in the coming four years.

"The focus of their discussion was on America's leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future," the administration statement said. "They pledged to stay in touch."
According to my sources, President Obama then signed Mitt Romney's yearbook: "It was great meeting you in English class this year!" Mitt Romney reportedly signed the crease in the front cover of the President's yearbook: "Hey Barry I wanted 2 B the 1st 2 sign ur crack!"
In his news conference after winning reelection, Obama said he looked forward to sitting down with Romney because "there are certain aspects of Governor Romney's record and his ideas that I think could be very helpful."
Like, you know, if President Obama ever feels like he needs to throw a golf game, because Mitt Romney's the biggest loser he knows and obviously has great ideas about losing.

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Fiscal Cliffery: The Latest

Well, the Obama administration's opening salvo in Fiscal Cliff talks (insert my repeated objection to this bullshit premise here) was a pretty significant departure from the crap they were agreeing to a year ago. To put it bluntly: This is good stuff.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner presented the House speaker, John A. Boehner, a detailed proposal on Thursday to avert the year-end fiscal crisis with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, $50 billion in immediate stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.

The proposal, loaded with Democratic priorities and short on detailed spending cuts, met strong Republican resistance. In exchange for locking in the $1.6 trillion in added revenues, President Obama embraced the goal of finding $400 billion in savings from Medicare and other social programs to be worked out next year, with no guarantees.

...Amy Brundage, a White House spokeswoman, said: "Right now, the only thing preventing us from reaching a deal that averts the fiscal cliff and avoids a tax hike on 98 percent of Americans is the refusal of Congressional Republicans to ask the very wealthiest individuals to pay higher tax rates. The president has already signed into law over $1 trillion in spending cuts and we remain willing to do tough things to compromise, and it’s time for Republicans in Washington to join the chorus of other voices — from the business community to middle-class Americans across the country — who support a balanced approach that asks more from the wealthiest Americans."

That's a pretty strong play—in policy and rhetoric—from the Obama administration. (These ARE the Democrats we've been looking for!) David Dayen has more on the details of what he quite rightly calls the administration's "aggressive opening bid" here.

Two observations:

1. It appears that maybe Team Obama has at long last given up the fantasy of bipartisan compromise with the Republicans. Or at least the notion that bipartisan compromise can be reached by concession as a starting position. I hope this signals a change for the rest of the President's second term; it would be a huge relief.

2. It appears that maybe Team Obama is willing to embrace its legit electoral mandate. Elections matter.

So: How did the Garbage Obstructionist Party react to this bid? Ha ha guess! Go on! I bet you won't need more than ONE GUESS!

USA Today: GOP Calls White House Cliff Offer a Non-Starter.

The Weekly Standard: McConnell 'Burst Into Laughter' as Geithner Outlined Obama's Plan.

The Hill: Boehner Rejects Obama's Opening Bid.

Et cetera.

Republicans might do well to heed public polling which has found: "If the two sides fail to find common ground on reducing the deficit, 53% said congressional Republicans will be to blame while 29% said the responsibility falls on President Barack Obama."

If only voters were as stupid as Republicans think they are!

Anyway. This is good news for now, but Scott Lemieux wisely notes: "This first bid is encouraging, but until there's an actual deal skepticism and political pressure from the left are very much in order." It would not be a terrible idea to submit some encouraging and grateful words here to let the administration know that their progressive base wants them to stick with an aggressive approach and framing that puts the onus on the Republicans to compromise.

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Top Five

Here is your topic: Top Five Favorite Vegetarian Dishes. You don't necessarily need to be able to prepare 'em yourself; as long as you enjoy eating 'em, that's good enough. 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

Hosted by a floss rope.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Applesauce Parker: "What project are you currently working on? 'Project' being any kind of creative (short story, knitted item, playlist, etc.) or practical (building those bookshelves, organizing my pantry, trying out that paella recipe, etc.) idea you're trying to implement."

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Homophobia.]

"Hate is never of God, never."—Megachurch monster Rick Warren, after conceding that "probably" some of the evangelical Christian churches in the US "are responsible for some of the attitudes towards gays in America, the negative attitudes." But not him, of course. His comparing homosexuality to rape, for instance, is some hate the sin but love the sinner shit, or whatever.

And even though SOME hatred emanates from SOME OTHER churches, the people engaging in it aren't real Christians.

And there are No True Scotsmen.

Ugh, this guy. Ugh.

I really don't think people like Warren understand how truly offensive such arguments are to people who have been marginalized, threatened, hurt, their lives made worse in myriad ways by self-identified Christians.

At a certain point, saying that hate isn't of your god when millions of people practice active and often violent hatred in the name of your god is kind of splitting hairs, from the perspective of those of us targeted by that hatred.

I'll happily concede your god has never personally emailed me a death threat. But lots of people have cc'ed him on them.

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Photo of the Day

Mitt Romney and President Obama shake hands in the Oval Office
President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talk in the Oval Office following their lunch, Nov. 29, 2012. [Official White House Photo by Pete Souza]
That's a crop I did of the hi-res version of the image. Here's the whole thing:

image of the whole bodies of the two men standing with the rest of the room now visible

The hat tip goes to Jordan, who captioned it: "NO MITT YOU CAN'T SIT AT THE DESK."

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Bill Bennett, Stop, You Are Killing Me!

Bill Bennett, last seen making us laugh with his treatise on how the meanie poophead Democrats won the election by playing identity politics (oh my aching sides), is back with more of his very solid theories: "Why Liberalism Will Ultimately Fail."

Obviously, as I'm sure I don't need to tell you, the whole piece is GREAT, but this is definitely my favorite part:

For the college student struggling with student loan debt, the single mother who can barely afford to provide for her children, the minority family in the inner city struggling to find work, liberalism offers immediate relief: subsidized student loans, national health care and entitlements for the elderly and the poor.

Rather than waiting on free markets to correct themselves and start creating wealth again, liberalism's cure is immediate, and so are the political payoffs. This explains partly why many voters feel liberals care about them more than conservatives.

Talk about projection: The reason conservatism is failing is because the idea that wealth created by free (rigged) markets will magically trickle down to the "inner city"—or, you know, much of rural Real AmericaTM—and rescue struggling people from entrenched, systemic, generational poverty has been COMPREHENSIVELY DISCREDITED.

If struggling people helped by liberal policies waited for "relief" care of trickle-down economics, they would be waiting FOREVER. And, although Bill Bennett may be stupid enough to believe otherwise, the people in need of immediate help are not.

Any conservative who can continue to make the incredible argument that wealth is shared from the top down while insufferable millionaires are endlessly whining pitiably about a moderate tax increase is a fucking joke. If your position depends on some fantasy about the greediest, stingiest, most selfish fucks in the developed world sharing their wealth with the hoi polloi, via job creation or increased taxation or philanthropy, instead of screaming BOOTSTRAPS! into the faces of starving children, your position is garbage and you are a monster.

Get fucking real.

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Like a Horse and Carriage

So, when one of us has seen something funny or great on YouTube during the day that we want to show the other, or when Flula has a new video, or whatever, Iain and I will watch it together on our television via our AppleTV. It's run through my account, so Iain has parked a bunch of shit there that he likes, in case he wants to show it to me, or Kenny Blogginz, or some other poor unsuspecting guest.

Like, for example, "A Romantic Tribute to Grand Admiral Thrawn."

Which is pretty much the least embarrassing thing that Iain has parked on my account.

Occasionally I will (re)discover these things, and I will laugh and laugh and laugh. And also feel slightly mortified that someone might imagine I have favorited them.

Please enjoy this favorite of Mr. McEwan's.

Video Description: A "Star Trek Fartershop Quartet," which is simply, per its own description, "four members of Star Trek, farting in the Transporter Room."

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound lying curled up on the loveseat in front of the window while Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt stands on the loveseat next to him, looking out the window
Watch Dog and Not-Watch Dog

image of Zelda sitting in the living room, looking up at me

image of Dudley in close-up lying on the couch, his cheek resting against the arm, looking at me

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I'm currently on a Shakespeare roll:

Get involved, tweeps!

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

David Naughton: "Makin' It"

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George Zimmerman Update

[Content Note: Gun violence; racism; exploitation.]

In other Reprehensible Fuckers Who Think Killing Black Teenagers Is Justified news, George Zimmerman is now selling his autograph to fund his defense in the murder of Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman is now mailing autographed cards to anyone who donates cash to help him fight murder charges over Miami teenager Trayvon Martin's shooting death.

Zimmerman announced the autograph scheme on his website [URL redacted] while revealing that the once flush account -- which had collected $140,000 -- has now dwindled to under $15,000.

"Currently, the balance of the George Zimmerman Defense Fund is at its lowest, and new funds must be raised to support George's living expenses and legal costs," the site says.

Zimmerman promises to send a handsome signed card -- conveniently mailed in an blank envelope with "no reference" to Zimmerman -- for sending him some cash.
Discreet! Just like your pornography!

image of the stationery printed with his name on the outside, and reading inside: 'Thank you for your support.' It has been hand-signed 'Your Friend, George Zimmerman.'

I like how it's signed "Your Friend, George Zimmerman." What a nice personal touch from the guy who stalked and killed an unarmed teenager.

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In The News

[Content note: Homophobia, sexism, weight loss surgery]

Some Old Bullshit:

Scientists have just discovered the biggest ever black hole, which weighs 17 billion times as much as the Sun. Yes!

A Sasquatch researcher has video of Bigfoot ravaging his apple orchard in Vermont. Neat!

A David Sedaris movie is heading to the big screen. Neat!

Secretary of State Clinton told a professional group for LGBT employees "creating an LGBT-welcoming workplace is not just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do." Neat!

Weight loss surgery may not be effective for treating Type 2 diabetes. Huh.

Oh, look!: A Walking Dead zombie bikini calendar. (Don't look.)

This might make your brain hurt. Ouch.

Gun deep fried at restaurant; man arrested. Okay then.

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Note to iProduct Commenters

A couple of people have mentioned to me lately that they're having trouble logging into Disqus from iPhones and/or iPads. Here is a little helpful trick: At the top of any comment thread, on the right, there's a Disqus logo. Click on that to bring up a log in option. You can usually log in there, even if you have problems logging in via the comment form.

screen cap of what I'm describing

Hope that helps!

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Top Five

Here is your topic, suggested by Shaker soupcann314: Top Five Favorite Blogs. And I'mma add soupcann314's qualifier "besides Shakesville," not because I'm presuming this is a favorite blog of its every reader, but because I don't want to oblige anyone to include it. This isn't a solicitation for accolades; I'm as curious to see others' favorite reads as much as everyone else is! 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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He Felt Threatened

[Content Note: Gun violence; death; racism.]

On Tuesday, I wrote about the murder of 17-year-old black teenager Jordan Davis, who was shot by 45-year-old white man Michael Dunn after Dunn asked the car full of teens in which Davis was a passenger to turn down their music in a public parking lot and they refused. Dunn shot at the car "eight or nine times" and then fled the scene.

He has pleaded not guilty a charge of murder, and his defense attorney is making a pretty remarkable argument for him:

"Once all the facts come out, that what really happened is known, it will be very clear that Mr. Dunn acted responsibly and as any responsible firearms owner would have acted under these same circumstances," said his attorney, Robin Lemonidis, reported, the website for NBC station WTLV in Jacksonville.
Somehow I doubt that.

Jacksonville Homicide Lieutenant Rob Schoonover said (presumably with a straight face): "His side of the story is he felt threatened and that is the reason he took action."

He felt threatened. That old chestnut.

I feel like I'm running out of ways to write that "feeling threatened" is not a justification for violence (nor a justification for bullshit self-defense gun laws). The United States is a country with powerful systems of privilege and entrenched bigotry, where fear of the Other is continually exploited by people in power. Lots of people "feel threatened" by lots of stupid shit that is underwritten by nothing but stereotypes, straw, and ghosts.

Dunn clearly didn't "feel threatened" when he strode over to a car full of teens to demand that they turn down their admittedly loud music. And, given that there are no reports of any of the kids in the car, including Jordan Davis, having any sort of weapon, or even getting out of the car to confront him, he probably had no justification for feeling physically threatened.

I don't know what happened, but here's what I think happened: I suspect Dunn didn't "feel threatened" until after he'd gone to the car and then been (quite rightly) told to get to fuck.

I suspect Dunn walked over to the car all puffed-up and prepared to Be Respected, and instead the kids in the car refused to automatically bend to his will, and probably (quite understandably) scoffed contemptuously at his evident belief he owns the world.

I suspect that made his authority, his world view which is preciously perched on a precipice of crumbling privilege, feel threatened.

I suspect that Dunn is one of those guys who loves that whole Fox News Bill O'Reilly War on Everything "your birthright as a Real American is being eroded" shtick that grows toxic insecurity in old white conservative dudes like mold in a petri dish.

I suspect he's one of those guys, a kind of guy who unfortunately feels familiar to me, who just gets explosively enraged when people he perceives as his inferiors don't do what he wants them to do, because he thinks he has the right to demand it.

I suspect that Dunn erupted like an emotional volcano because he was fear-raging at being denied some show of deference to which he believes he's entitled, sheerly by virtue of who he is.

Or: He "snapped," as it is known in the common parlance when white men behave this way, as though it is inexplicable behavior instead of inevitable behavior when certain portions of any population are told they are special and then their frustrations at a world that treats them otherwise redirected onto scapegoats by the very tricksters who created their discordance of identity in the first place.

I suspect that the problem was not that Dunn "felt threatened" in that particular moment, but that he "feels threatened" all the time, in ways that are carelessly encouraged by all the institutions that exploit the impotent rage of people whose identities and self-worth are inextricably tied to unearned privilege, fanning the flames of their insecurity that their privilege, nay their very identities, are being eroded by nefarious Others whose very existence is an existential threat.

And I suspect that as long as the people who exist in this constant state of corrosive anxiety are the most likely to stockpile and carry weaponry, Jordan Davis will not be the last victim of a man who "feels threatened."

My heart hurts.

[H/T to Elle.]

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Everyone Hates Romney

Even the guy who got the Mitt Romney face tattoo, and vowed to keep it after Romney lost, has now turned his back face on the sore loser:

30-year-old Eric Hartsburg of Indiana is removing the Romney/Ryan logo tattooed on his face. Hartsburg had vowed to keep the tattoo, even after Romney lost and he received an offer to have it removed for free, but Romney's "gifts" remark changed his mind.

"It stands not only for a losing campaign but for a sore loser," Hartsburg said. "He's pretty shameful as far as I'm concerned, man. There's no dignity in blaming somebody else for buying votes and paying off people. I can't get behind that or stay behind that."
Mitt Romney: You stand convicted of assholism! Your proper punishment will now take place. Look pretty for your descent to oblivion, Mitt!

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Rick Warren Doesn't Believe in Evolution

[Content Note: Homophobia; anti-choicery.]

Hey, remember how President Obama chose reprehensible bigot and deceptively sunny-faced megachurch monster Rick Warren to do the invocation at his first inauguration ceremony, even though Warren has compared homosexuality to rape and abortion to the Holocaust? Fun times.

In the interceding four years, President Obama has, of course, affirmed his personal support for marriage equality.

Meanwhile, Rick Warren is still shooting off his gross mouth about how being gay is an urge upon which people shouldn't act, like wanting to punch someone or eating arsenic.

I trust this means we won't see him anywhere near the Capitol on Inauguration Day this time around. Because FORWARD.

Right, Mr. President?

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Open Thread

image of red and blue 'Jolly Balls,' which are indestructible balls for dogs with handles for easy throwing

Hosted by Jolly Balls.

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Question of the Day

Nicked from MaryAnn: If your life were a TV show, what kind of show would it be?

MaryAnn says her life "would probably be a Sunday morning news talk show... except all the guests would be required to be in their pajamas, and we'd drink tea and coffee and eat pastries while we yakked about movies and TV and pop culture."

I want to be a guest on her show!

My life would probably be a Showtime sitcom. Nurse Jackie, but with less addiction and more texting with Deeky.

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Racism; classism.]

"On Nov. 6, Romney carried the majority of every economic group except those with less than $50,000 a year in household income. That means he carried the majority of middle-class voters. While John McCain lost white voters younger than 30 by 10 points, Romney won those voters by seven points, a 17-point shift. ... [A]ny party that captures the majority of the middle class must be doing something right."—Stuart Stevens, chief strategist for Team Romney, in an op-ed for the WaPo, boasting that, even though Romney lost, he got all the GOOD VOTES, i.e. rich white people.

Such a cool party filled with so many great people!

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Discussion Thread: Operation Tell Liss & Deeks What Tattoos to Get

Deeky and I have both been contemplating getting tattoos (first for each of us) for, well, forever basically, but neither of us have decided what to get.

So, with his permission, I'm opening a discussion thread for you to tell us what tats you think we should get.

Serious and/or humorous suggestions are all welcome, naturally.

You are also welcome and encouraged to submit custom-made designs for our consideration.


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If Cats and Dogs Were People

This video made me laugh SO HARD! Everything about it is perfect. Perfect. The guy playing the Cat is amazing. OMG.

A young man (who appears to be white) in a blue sweater walks through his front door, as if coming home from work. He is greeted by another young man (who appears to be white) in a green t-shirt running toward him and enthusiastically hugging him, telling him it's so good to see him again. "I know I just saw you this morning, but it feels like it's been forever! We gotta celebrate! Whaddaya wanna do? Hey—" He grabs a football. "Let's go throw this around, huh?! Go out and get some fresh air?" The man in the blue sweater says, "Sure, just let me put my stuff down." He peers around the corner at another young man (of whose ethnicity I'm not sure, but he appears to be white, Asian, or Latino) in a red shirt and says, "What's up, Jimmy?" The man in the red shirt, slowly walking past an entryway, suddenly scurries away.

Cut to the man in the green shirt standing and smiling broadly, nodding enthusiastically and giving a thumbs-up. He is labeled "DOG."

Cut to the man in the red shirt standing expressionless, then lunging threateningly like someone angling for a fight. He is labeled "CAT."

Cut to the man in the blue sweater (hereafter "PERSON") sitting on the couch, reading the paper. Dog sits next to Person, staring at him and smiling. Cat comes into frame and walks on top of Dog and Person, crunching the paper under his feet before sitting down on the other side of Person. Dog smiles and rests his head on Person's shoulder. Cat bats annoyingly at the corner of the paper.

Cut to Person standing in the kitchen, cooking at the stove. Dog runs in and says, "Hey, man—whaddaya doing? Are you cooking? Do you need any help? I can help!" Person says, "Nah, I'm good." Then after a beat, "Actually, where's the basil?" Dog says, "Bottom drawer," and when Person bends over to get it, Dog sniffs his butt.

Cut to Person walking into the living room, where Dog and Cat are hanging out and a glass of milk is overturned on the floor. "What is this?!" demands Person. Dog hangs his head and says in a low, regretful voice, "I'm so sorry. I don't even deserve to be here. I'll just go get paper towels and clean it up and leave." He walks out of the room. Person looks at Cat. Cat stares back, and, without averting his gaze, knocks over a glass of milk beside him onto the floor.

Cut to Person lying in bed asleep. Cat comes in and crawls on him, kneading his chest and slapping his face to wake him up. "Wha?" mumbles Person sleepily. "We're out of cereal," says Cat, then leaves.

Cut to Person sitting at the dining room table with a friend. Dog sits beside the friend, nudging the football against him and smiling. "Your friend's weird," says the friend. The camera pans to Cat, peering around a doorway from a distance. "Yeah," agrees Person. "I'll bet he likes you. He doesn't really like anyone." The friend looks at Cat. Cat flips him off then disappears.

Cut to Person in kitchen. Cat is sitting near him on the counter. He rubs his belly and groans. "What's up with you?" asks Person. Cat hops down onto the floor and starts contorting like he's going to vomit. "Jimmy, no!" says person. Jimmy barfs then runs away. Person reaches for a roll of paper towels. Dog comes in. "Hey, don't worry. I got this!" He takes the paper towel and tucks it into his collar like a dinner napkin, licks his lips, and falls to the floor. "That's a good boy!" says Person. The end.
[Via Jill, who also get the hat tip for the post title.]

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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; passive violence.]

#14: All fat people are unhealthy.

Nope! That is absolutely not true. Wrongity-wrong-wrong. False.

I'm not even going to provide you with examples of fat Olympians, fat marathoners, fat dancers, fat cyclists, fat long-distance swimmers, etc. as is the typical response to the erroneous assertion that all fat people are unhealthy, because those are exceptional people among the entire population (that is, most thin people aren't marathoners, either), and it is actually not exceptional for fat people to be healthy.

And physical prowess is only one measure of "health," which itself is not exclusively about physical ability anyway.

There are fat people who do not have health problems, fat-related or otherwise. There are fat people who do have health problems that are unrelated to their fat. There are fat people who have health problems that are associated with, and in some cases the direct result of, their fat. And there are fat people who are fat as a result of disability, disease, injury, trauma, or some other divergence from "ideal health."

This makes fat people like the rest of the population: Various levels of health, some of which correlates with and/or results from and/or causes a particular body type.

That's it. It's really that simple.

You don't need to take my word for it. There are studies you can find that say the same. And the ones that don't, well, I would caution you to look at the source of their funding, because it's usually someone with a vested interest in the notion that fat axiomatically correlates with a lack of health, e.g. the Diet Industry.

Go read everything you can find by Marilynn Wann and Paul Campos. Go check out the Health at Every Size Blog. Go read the archives—the beautiful, beautiful archives—of Junkfood Science.

The dubious often suggest that fat activists have their own agenda, and I will concede that is true. I have an agenda. My agenda is prioritizing the dignity and safety of fat people over prejudice and profiteering. You are welcome to weigh that (see what I did there?) against the unprofessed agenda of for-profit corporations who seek to exploit prejudice for profit.

I don't fear the comparison.

Anyway. There is another part to the "fat people are unhealthy" discussion that needs to be had, and that is the part where lots of fat people have worse health outcomes not because of inherently worse health, but because of the strong disincentives against seeking healthcare that fat people face.

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Top Five

Here is your topic: Top Five Favorite Debut Novels. 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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Daily Dose of Cute

Matilda the Long-Haired Sealpoint Cat, sitting on a chair with the tip of her tongue hanging out

We are coming up on ten years since we adopted Matilda. I don't remember what day it was exactly, but it was either right before or right after Christmas 2002. She was a kitten, about 13 weeks old.

I used to have pictures of her as a wee thing, but the disk on which they were saved was long ago destroyed by some inexplicable corruption. She was not so fuzzy. We didn't even expect her to be a long-haired cat. Otherwise, she is exactly the same.

She has always been the most regal-looking beast, and all who know her only by photograph expect her to be a classic cat stereotype—queenly, aloof, dignified, stoic. She is anything but. In real life, she is silly, playful, talkative, unfathomably graceless and klutzy.

This photo of her, snapped earlier today as she sat beside me on her chair in my office, captures her perfectly. At first glance, she is the picture of imperious feline comportment—but, upon closer inspection, the tip of her little pink tongue gives her away as the goof that she is.

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Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by cat whiskers.

Recommended Reading:

Ragen: Obama Administration Actively Encourages Discrimination [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of fat bias and dieting.]

Jessica: CRR Files Motion to Protect Abortion Access in Mississippi after Hospitals Refuse Licenses to Providers

Rana: The Problem of Assuming All Americans Are Middle Class

David: Scarborough to Republicans: Start Attacking Susan Rice for Her 'Temperament'

Echidne: On Trash

Max: The Sun (Never) Sets on the British Empire: The Neocolonialism of Skyfall [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of misogyny, racism, privilege, and violence. It also contains spoilers from the film.]

Trudy: Utterly Exquisite

Nick: Worth Doing

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Queen Latifah: "U.N.I.T.Y."

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People Who REALLY Have Women's Best Interests at Heart Lie to Them. Obviously.

[Content Note: Anti-choice fuckery.]

FMF News: Arizona Launches Website to Discourage Abortion.

Last week the state of Arizona launched "A Woman's Right to Know," a part of the Arizona Department of Health Services website that is designed to discourage women from having an abortion. The website is part of Arizona's recent legislation to restrict access to abortion 20 weeks after a woman's last menstrual period, or 18 weeks into gestation.

The website provides a misleading list of the potential complications of an abortion procedure... One section of the website addresses risks of childbirth in attempt to provide a different perspective. However, the website lists "death" as a complication of abortion (1 in 11,000 after 21 weeks) and "rarely, death" as a complication of childbirth (1 out of 6,897).

Representative Kimberly Yee (R), who sponsored the legislation, hopes the website will discourage women from seeking an abortion. According to the Arizona Daily Sun, Yee "a staunch foe of all abortions, acknowledged she believes the website will convince some women considering an abortion not to go through with it." Yee proposed the website under the guise of providing women with the information necessary to give "informed consent."
Emphases mine. [NB: Not only women need access to reproductive healthcare, including good information about their legal rights and options.]

It's breathtakingly mendacious. I am, of course, not surprised in the slightest that anti-choice scoundrels would shamelessly lie to abortion-seeking people under the guise of providing comprehensive information for solid decision-making. But I am nonetheless outraged.

"Informed consent" means something. And it shouldn't even come out of the mouth of a person who endorses this dishonest dogshit.

teaspoon icon Let us start making our voices heard. Let us tell the Arizona State Republican Party that we are watching, we are angry, and we expect more.

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In The News

Wednesday Makes Me Feel All Gooey Inside:

GQ Magazine has named Mitt Romney the Least Influential Person of 2012. LOL! Whoops!

Top Toy, one of the largest toy chains in Sweden, has published a gender-neutral toy catalogue for the Xmas season.

2(x)ist is opening its first pop-up shop in New York City and is donating all of the store's proceeds to the Red Cross to aid in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

Huell Howser is retiring. Sad face.

With fewer police officers on the streets, auto and home burglaries are up 43 percent in Oakland. But hey, your taxes are lower!

It is mathematically impossible for you to win the Powerball Lottery tonight. Sorry!

Almost a quarter of new HIV cases are seen in young people, and more than half of them don't know they're infected.

Stacie Laughton, the first openly transgender state legislator elected in New Hampshire, will give up her office in light of the revelation that she has been convicted of a felony. Dang.

Here is an interview with Steven Eric Wilson of L.A. powerpop band Plasticsoul.

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Dear Cardinal Dolan: You Are Still an Asshole

To: Cardinal Timonthy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

From: Dr. Aphra Behn, Associate Professor of Historical Ladybusiness at Southern Gothic University

Re: You Are an Asshole

Your Eminence:

I knew you were an asshole of truly gargantuan proportions.

But congratulations. You have managed to astound me--AGAIN--with how large a rectal mitre you truly are.

Your blatantly cynical use of your religion to gain right-wing secular power has really reached a new low with your campaign for the canonization of Dorothy Day.

Ms. Day spent much of her life campaigning for pacifism, social justice, and the plight of the poor. Yet you and your fellow bishops are trying to canonize her as a glibertarian crusader who would bless the denial of women's health care. And you have the obscene audacity to reduce her complex life to a misogynist trope, the whore-turned-Madonna:

Describing for reporters at the bishops’ meeting Day’s life as a young woman, Cardinal Dolan offered a litany of concerns: “Sexual immorality, religious searching, pregnancy out of wedlock and an abortion.” But, he said, after her conversion, she not only flourished, but she also became an icon “for everything right about the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life.”

You, sir, are a despicable misogynist. If you cannot even respect the wishes of a woman who specifically asked not to be turned into a saint, then can you not at least respect the wishes of her living descendants, who would rather see her life story understood as that of a human being, not as a prefab Female Stereotype Saint, whose private life you can publicly pontificate upon?

But her granddaughter, Martha Hennessy, 57, who volunteers in the East Village at Mary House, a Catholic Worker refuge for the poor that Day founded, said in an interview that she found the bishops’ increasing focus on her grandmother’s abortion uncomfortable.

“I wish we would focus on the birth of her child more than on her abortion because that’s what really played a role in her conversion,” said Ms. Hennessy, whose mother, Tamar, was Day’s only child. “It’s hard for me to hear these men talking about my mother and grandmother that way.”

Don't get me wrong. For those who believe in things like recognizing those in a Communion of Saints, I can think of few candidates more worthy of that honor. Dorothy Day is certainly an exemplar of Christian charity and I have nothing but respect for her life's work.

And I have nothing but contempt for the sexist re-writing of her life in order to lend Divine support to your grab for temporal power, a power which you propose to use in order to further the oppression of women, queers, and the poor.

So, contemptuously: Good day, sir.

I said, GOOD DAY.


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

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Number of the Day

0: The number of women who will lead any of the major House committees in the 113th Congress.

At the top of House committees, it's a man's world.

Not a single woman will lead any of the major House committees in the 113th Congress.

After a day of meetings closed to the public, the House Republican Steering Committee announced an all-male slate of committee chairs, including 12 returning lawmakers who will head up some of the most important panels in Washington. The chairs for the House Ethics Committee and House Administration Committee have yet to be chosen, so a woman could end up in one of those slots.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle...
House Democrats are likely to have five women as ranking members committees: Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.) or Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) on Appropriations, Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.) on Financial Services, Rep. Louise Slaughter (N.Y.) on Rules, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas) on Science and Rep. Nydia Velazquez (N.Y.) on Small Business.
Imagine how different everything would be if the Republicans didn't hold the majority in the House by virtue of gerrymandering.

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Fiscal Cliff News Round-Up & Open Thread

Fiscal Cliff background. So, as you may recall, fully one million years ago, the Obama administration + Congressional Democrats struck a terrible budget deal (Budgetfuck 2011) with Congressional Republicans that kicked the can of finding a functional economic deal down the road. To now.

And so the Dems and the GOP are back to arguing about whether tax cuts solve everything, whether we really need a social safety net in this country, and whether indigent children can actually survive on bootstraps. Or whatever.

This is when that whole Whoooooooooooops Obama Is Actually Not an Economic Liberal thing becomes super important. As well as when the Uh-Oh Obama's Negotiations Always Start with Concessions to Conservatives Who Don't Play Fair thing rears its big stupid head.

So far, however, it's looking like the President might actually be paying attention to the idea that the country gave him a fat mandate for Election Day this year, and is making noises about not compromising on entitlement programs. FINGERS CROSSED!

Anyway, here's some of what I've been reading about the Fiscal Cliff this morning. Please feel welcome and encouraged to leave other links and resources in comments.

Reuters—Obama to Meet Executives, Go to Pennsylvania for Fiscal Push: "President Barack Obama will launch a multipronged push this week to garner support for his proposals to solve U.S. fiscal problems, meeting with business executives at the White House and visiting a small business in Pennsylvania to press his case. Obama has sought to go on the offensive since his re-election on November 6 in the fight with Republicans over the 'fiscal cliff' - a combination of tax increases and spending cuts that would go into effect next year if the two sides do not reach a deal to stop it."

Greg Sargent in the WaPoReasons to Be Encouraged About Fiscal Cliff's Endgame: "Now this is encouraging. I'm told that representatives of major unions and progressive groups met privately this morning with senior Obama administration officials at the White House — and were pleased with what they heard. Things can always change at a moment's notice. But attendees at this meeting came away convinced — for now — that the White House firmly believes it has the leverage in the fiscal cliff talks, and has no intention of budging on the demand for higher tax rates from the rich or on other core priorities."

Steve Benen at the Maddow Blog—Dems to Avoid 2010 Misstep on Debt Ceiling: "Just as important as what was in the agreement [two years ago] is what was omitted: the White House and congressional Democrats did not include a debt-ceiling increase in the deal, perhaps hoping Republicans wouldn't be so reckless as to hold the nation hostage in 2011. We know how that turned out. Two years later, Congress and the White House are once again having an interesting conversation about taxes, and once again there's the possibility of a deliberate, man-made debt-ceiling crisis on the horizon. Democrats don't intend to make the same mistake twice."

David Dayen at FDL—Durbin Outlines Democratic Approach on Grand Bargain:

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who has almost become the liaison to the left for cuts to federal health care programs in the grand bargain, gave a speech today at the Center for American Progress that included a couple important points:

• Durbin sequenced the provisions of the deal, saying that Republicans would have to build the framework on taxes, which includes an increase in the top marginal rates, before any Democrat will even begin to talk about social insurance programs. This seems like a hardline stance, but it just mirrors the dominant conversation, which has focused on taxes to the exclusion of practically everything else.

• Though Durbin has sought to bring rank-and-file Democrats along on a grand bargain that would include cuts to those social insurance programs, he set out some red lines. In addition to rejecting the privatization of Medicare or Social Security and the block granting of Medicaid – a common tactic to reject the extreme view to provide space for more modest but still damaging cuts – Durbin took Social Security almost entirely off the table. This matches White House Press Secretary Jay Carney's statements yesterday. It does appear that’s been filed away for the time being.

In addition, Durbin said, regarding spending cuts on anti-poverty social programs, "Let me be clear: Those cuts will not happen." And he sought to line up with the Administration’s viewpoint that any changes to Medicare and Medicaid can happen without cuts to benefits, through payment reforms or provider cuts. This would "strengthen" those programs through the reform, he said. He also wanted to exempt infrastructure spending fully from any cuts.
As for the private sector opposition: Pat Garofalo at Think Progress—CEOs Looking to 'Fix the Debt' by Cutting Social Security Sit on Huge Retirement Accounts: "The 71 Fix the Debt CEOs of public companies have average retirement assets of $9.1 million. Of these 71 CEOs, 54 participate in their company's retirement programs and have collective pension assets of $649 million, or more than $12 million per CEO — enough to generate a $65,873 pension check each month for life. In contrast, the average monthly Social Security check for retired workers is $1,237."


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[Content Note: Scatological humor.]

So, last night, some genius on Twitter started the hashtag #addwithdiarrheatoamovietitle.

(If you're not on Twitter, what this means is that everyone who participates inserts that phrase and then you can see all of the tweets together in one place, even if you don't follow the individual participants.)

In case it's not obvious, participation meant taking a movie title—say, An Affair to Remember —and then adding "with diarrhea" to it, thus creating the new film An Affair to Remember with Diarrhea.

Now, I have a totally gross sense of humor, a love of wordplay, and a garbage gut that means my entire life should have "with diarrhea" added to it, so I pretty much found this the most hilarious thing ever.

Kenny Blogginz was over, and he was the first one to see it in his Twitter feed. He and Iain and I started reading them aloud to one another, and we were absolutely crying with laughter. And then we started adding our own.

Iain was first in, prompting Jess to tweet:

LOL! My husband, everyone.

Below, some of my favorite tweets from last night—and, naturally, please feel enthusiastically encouraged to turn this thread into an Add With Diarrhea to a Movie Title masterpiece.

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Open Thread

Hosted by a ChuckIt.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker kwill: What have you lost that you wish you had back?

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Heyyyyyyy, Breaking Baddies!

Aaron Paul, aka Jesse Pinkman, is really excited about the final season of everybody's favorite show about terrible meth-making monsters, Breaking Bad.

I can't waaaaaaaaaaaaaait!!!

[That headline should be sung to the tune of Gangnam Style. Obviously.]

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Women at War

[Content Note: Misogyny; war.]

Reuters—ACLU sues over policy barring women from combat:

The American Civil Liberties Union and four servicewomen sued the U.S. Defense Department on Tuesday to end a ban on women in combat, calling the military the last bastion of discrimination by the federal government and saying modern warfare has already put women in the line of fire.

The civil rights group argued in a legal complaint filed in federal court in Northern California that the military policy barring women from roles primarily focused on combat solely because of their gender was unconstitutional.

Hundreds of thousands of women veterans returning from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are finding career paths off limits, sparking the challenge to a policy that has been in place officially since 1994 and unofficially for around two centuries.

"Nearly a century after women first earned the right of suffrage, the combat exclusion policy still denies women a core component of full citizenship - serving on equal footing in the military defense of our nation," the suit reads.
Which, in reality, means simply that women are still not officially allowed to serve in infantry or other combat units, but, "in Iraq and Afghanistan, where there are no clear battle lines, women have been pulled into combat in spite of the policy." Women are given all the risk and responsibility of serving in combat, but none of the reward.
The women challenging the Department of Defense policy flew search-and-rescue helicopter missions and patrolled with male Marines in nominally non-combat counter terrorism job roles. Two of the four were wounded. But they found their work unrecognized when it came to promotions.

"In America today it's hard to conceive that there are still things you are not allowed to do, just because you are a woman," Captain Zoe Bedell, a Marine Corps reserves officer who served two tours in Afghanistan, told a news conference.

Her female marines, tasked with engaging with residents in support of male infantry units, found themselves fighting, too.

"They patrolled every day with the infantry, and sometimes twice a day. They lived every day on the same combat outposts in remote corners of Afghanistan. They wore the same gear and they carried the same rifles, and when the unit was attacked, my marines fought back," she said.
Seems to me the very least we owe women who are willing to risk their lives to protect their country is equal standing within it.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image from my perspective of Zelda lying on top of me as I'm stretched in the chaise, with her head on my chest looking up at me with big puppy-dog eyes
Zelda, lying on me last night while I was stretched out on the chaise.

This dog is made of sweetness. When she crawls up in my lap, because she is a 55-pound lapdog, and lays her head on my chest, and looks at me with her big brown eyes that are just endless pools of love, I do the only thing that can possibly convey I love her back in equal measure: I tell her the story of the day we adopted her.

It's not that I think she understands the words I'm saying. I'm quite sure she doesn't. It's just that I can't tell that story—especially not to her, gazing into her sweet face and rubbing the tips of her wee Dorito ears—without pouring into it all my feelings of relief and joy that we found her. And she always knows what I am feeling.

Nobody else was looking at you except me, I tell her. I couldn't believe they could pass you by. Her tail wags and thumps against my leg. Her eyes hold my gaze, and she gives me that grin of hers. I told the Dadsy I didn't think I'd be able to put you back in your cage. I imagine my fondness for her, my fierce protectiveness, my loyalty, moving through my fingertips and into her velvety ears.

They are all the things I see in her face, and I want to give them right back.

I knew you were my dog, I tell her. You are my dog.

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People Kill People

[Content Note: Gun violence; death; racism.]

In February of this year, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in an incident that stank of racism and underscored the obscenity of Florida's gun laws—specifically the "Stand Your Ground" self-defense statute.

Last Friday, in a shooting eerily reminiscent of the murder of Trayvon Martin, Brevard County Floridian Michael David Dunn, a middle-aged white man, killed 17-year-old black teenager Jordan Russell Davis after an "exchange of words" over the volume of music emanating from a car in which Davis was a passenger.

Michael David Dunn, 45, and his girlfriend were in Jacksonville Friday for Dunn's son's wedding when they stopped at a convenience store, Jacksonville sheriff's Lt. Rob Schoonover said.

Jordan Russell Davis, 17, and several other teenagers were sitting in a sport utility vehicle in the parking lot when Dunn pulled up next to them in a car and asked them to turn down their music, Schoonover said.

Jordan and Dunn exchanged words, and Dunn pulled a gun and shot eight or nine times, striking Jordan twice, Schoonover said. Jordan was sitting in the back seat. No one else was hurt.

Dunn's attorney Monday said her client acted responsibly and in self-defense. She did not elaborate.
That's a real shame, because I'd love to hear some elaboration on how shooting into a parked vehicle, then driving the fuck away, is an act of self-defense.

There will, of course, be all sorts of explanations and rationalizations for how this is not an incident of violent racism. I don't know all the facts, but I do want to make this observation: There may have been a good reason for Dunn to ask a car full of teenagers to turn down their music. Maybe he needed to make an emergency phone call and the music was so loud that even with rolled-up windows, he couldn't make the call, and there were no other spots in that parking lot to pull into, and nowhere quiet to walk, and everything in that moment depended on quiet in that exact space.

But I doubt it.

What I suspect is that Dunn felt, not necessarily consciously, that his age and his race and his gender gave him the right to tell a bunch of kids, at least one of whom was a young black man, who were there first, to do what he wanted them to do. And he got miffed when they wouldn't, when they failed to acknowledge and defer to his privilege.

I could be wrong about that.

But desperation generally doesn't pull a trigger "eight or nine times." Rage does. Resentment does. Entitlement does.

And it's the same thing that generally drives the fuck away from the scene of killing a teenager who got mouthy about turning down the volume on a car stereo, and then claims self-defense.

[H/T to Jordan Banks.]

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

D.H. Peligro: "Purple Haze"

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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; discussion of disordered eating.]

#13: Fat people looooooooooove Twinkies!

This is closely related to Parts One and Four, but, beyond the notions that all fat people consistently "overeat" to get fat and all fat people routinely binge on massive amounts of food, there lies another myth that all fat people love and consume copious amounts of junk food specifically.

[NB: Although I'm using the commonly understood phrase "junk food" here to refer to foods with little nutritional value, it is not an untroubled term, as, within our current food system, cheap high-calorie foods are of value, i.e. not "junk," to poor children in particular.]

Because Hostess has been in the news lately, there has been a lot of anti-fat humor either suggesting that fat people are devastated by the news, or that fat people are responsible because they weren't eating enough Twinkies—long the iconic emblem of fat-making junk foods.

In either case, the implications are that only fat people consume junk food, and that all fat people consume junk food.

These assertions really ought to be self-evidently false, but nope! Even thin people who talk about loving Twinkies in one breath will make a joke in the next about how only fatties eat Twinkies.

So, let me just say flatly: Not only fat people consume junk food. Not all fat people consume junk food. The end.

But of course that's not really the end, because the real issue hidden behind this particular flavor of anti-fat humor (bullying) is some acknowledgment that "everyone" loves Twinkies, but it's different when fat people love them.

This is one of the most ubiquitous, insidious, casual ways that fat people are Othered: The tacit recognition that, sure, thin people eat junk food, too, but fat people looooooooooove it.

That when thin people eat a Twinkie, it's just a Twinkie, but when fat people eat a Twinkie, it's a symbol of our gluttony, our lack of self-control, our grotesque moral turpitude.

That when thin people eat a Twinkie, it's "naughty," but when fat people eat a Twinkie, it's gross. We're gross.

In both cases, eating junk food is absurdly assigned a moral component (which is itself a whole other post), but when a thin person eats a Twinkie, it's bad behavior, and when a fat person eats a Twinkie, it's being a bad person.

How could you? Don't you know that putting that stuff in your face is what's making you fat? And the rest of us have to LOOK AT YOU.

Because if we had any decency, we wouldn't be all fat in thin people's faces.

The ardent passion for junk food that fat people are alleged to have is shorthand for that repulsive indifference to polluting the world with our hideous bodies. We don't eat Twinkies. We devour them. Inhale them. Gobble them. Shove them in our fat faces.

Because we looooooooooove them. We can't get enough of them.

Remember that the next time someone tells you they food police fat people, or make "innocent jokes" about fat people loving Twinkies, because they're concerned about fatties' health. Remember what it means to imply that only fat people eat junk food, that all fat people eat junk food. Remember what's the real intent behind erasing the existence of fat people who don't eat junk food, and the thin people who do.

Remember it all the next time some thin jokester with hir great jokes and concern trolling about fatties' food choices insists it isn't about aesthetics.

Sure it isn't.



#12: Fat people don't like/want to see media representations of themselves.
#11: No one wants to be fat.
#10: Fat people need you to intervene in their lives.
#9: Fat people don't know how they look.
#8: Fat people don't deserve anything nice.
#7: Fat people are permission slips for thin people to eat what they want.
#6: Any fat person eating a salad or exercising is trying to lose weight.
#5: Fat is axiomatically ugly.
#4: Fat people eat enormous amounts of food.
#3: Fat people are jolly/mean, and fat people are shy/loud.
#2: I can tell how someone eats all the time, because of how they eat around me.
#1: Everyone who is fat is fat for the same reason.

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Top Five

Here is your topic: Top Five Favorite YA Novels. 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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In The News

[Content note: Homophobia, transphobia, war]

News For Your Tuesday News Hole:

The Associated Press has banned its journalists from using words like "homophobia" and "transphobia". The AP prefers "something more neutral." Okay.

Gun dorms attract zero students at University of Colorado's campuses.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is now a potential 2016 presidential contender. Good lord.

Why I hate sports, part 345,094.

This is what happens when a lion steals your camera.

Also: Polar bears frolicking in fresh snow.

Coldplay announced it's taking a three-year break. Viva la Sad Face.

Just FYI: I never did get a review copy of the new Glenn Beck novel. Sad face. But here's a nifty trailer for the book.

In the 1950s, the U.S. considered detonating an atom bomb on the moon as a display of America's Cold War muscle. Dang.

\m/ This is basically just a great sweater. \m/

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Quote of the Day

"Now you, as a commuter, will pick. You can either drive to work or you can take public transportation... Public transportation is different from driving to work. You will make that choice."Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, on the Chicago Transit Authority's proposed 16% increase "to the cost of a 30-day pass and higher jumps for one-day, three-day, and seven-day passes."

Because apparently the Mayor is under the impression that everyone in Chicago owns a car.

Fun Fact! Not everyone in Chicago owns a car.

Fun Fact! Many of the people who don't own cars cannot afford to own a car.

Fun Fact! For residents of Chicago who cannot afford to own a car, public transportation is the most cost-effective way to get around the city, and CTA passes are the most cost-effective way of using public transportation.

Basic Math! If you are poor, it is better to purchase a pass of some description than individual fares.

Fun Fact! Individual fares are not being hiked.

So, here's the deal: If you are the sort of person who has the disposable income to buy a car in a city where car ownership is not generally a requirement of daily life the way it is in much of suburban and exurban America, you are also the sort of person who can afford taxis, and Zipcars, and individual CTA fares. Thus, this increase in the cost of public transportation will not affect you at all.

If, however, you are the sort of person who does not have the disposable income to buy a car—which, by the way, probably means you're living in a part of the city to which CTA service has been cut or was never very good in the first place, making a car more useful to you than someone living in, say, Lincoln Park—you are also the sort of person who can't easily afford taxis, or Zipcars, and who maybe has to watch every dollar, every quarter, every penny, so you opt for CTA passes, which make every ride cheaper than if you paid individual fares.

And if you're really poor, then you might only be able to scrape together the money for a weekly pass, which is increasing by 22%, or a three-day pass, which is increasing by 43%, or a one-day pass, which is increasing to $10 from $5.75—an increase of 74%.

Thus, if you are one of the people who most needs affordable access to public transportation, you will be shouldering the biggest burden of keeping base rates low for people who don't need the discount that passes convey, for people who can afford a monthly pass without breaking a sweat.

And if you don't like that, well, according to Mayor Emanuel, you can just drive your car to work.

Because apparently the Mayor is under the impression that everyone in Chicago has a job, too.

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Tomato Tomahto

[Content Note: Racism.]

So Prominent conservative thinker [sic] Bruce Bartlett, who made a decades-long career out of being a rightwing ideologue, has written a long piece about how he realized awhile ago that US conservatives were closing themselves off from facts that challenged their beliefs and was persona non grataed for sounding the alarm.

Krugman calls Bartlett a mensch for his confession. Or whatever it is.

I don't disagree with Krugman very often, but I'm not sure I agree that it's time to "hail Bruce Bartlett" for showing evidence of the very insularity he's condemning, since, not for nothing, every sentient liberal I know has been making the same observation for a decade.

I mean, good job for catching up, Bruce Bartlett! Yay for you!

But I'm not exactly ready to genuflect in awed reverence to a guy who, in a piece bemoaning conservative detachment from the reality-based community, writes, as evidence of his own alleged connection to reasonable thinking:

Seeing the demographic trends toward an increasingly nonwhite electorate, which were obvious in easily available census projections, I decided to write a book about how Republicans could deal with it. I concluded that the anti-immigrant attitude among the Republican base was too severe for the party to reach out meaningfully to the fast-growing Latino community. Recall that Bush's proposal for immigration reform was soundly rejected by his own party.

If Republicans had no hope of attracting Latino votes, what other nonwhite group could they attract? Maybe the time had come for them to make a major play for the black vote...

The best way to get Republicans to read a book about reaching out for the black vote, I thought, was to detail the Democratic Party's long history of maltreatment of blacks. After all, the party was based in the South for 100 years after the war, and all of the ugly racism we associate with that region was enacted and enforced by Democratic politicians. I was surprised that such a book didn't already exist.

I thought knowing the Democratic Party's pre-1964 history of racism, which is indisputable, would give Republicans a story to tell when they went before black groups to solicit votes. I thought it would also make Republicans more sympathetic to the problems of the black community, many of which are historical in their origins. Analyses by economists and sociologists show that historical racism still holds back African-Americans even though it has diminished radically since the 1960s.

So I wrote Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party's Buried Past. Unfortunately, it was published the day Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses.

...After the failure of my race book, I turned my attention again to economics.
It's hard to believe such a great book could fail! Oh well, I'm sure it was definitely because Obama won the Iowa caucuses and not because even newborn kittens can intuit that black USians would rightfully hold in contempt a condescending white paragon of arrogance who believes people of color need their histories explained to them by white conservative men.

Maybe it's okay if we don't call Bartlett a fucking hero for stating the manifestly obvious and being only slightly less up his own ignorant ass than the rest of his ideological compatriots.

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