Quick Note on Elementary

[Content Note: Fat hatred.]

I just got around to watching the latest episode of Elementary, and there will be a full discussion thread about it upon my return, but I didn't want to leave it a full week without any comment at all. So I wanted to give everyone a heads-up that I just sent a series of tweets to the writers of Elementary, requesting greater sensitivity regarding fat characters, in case anyone wants to retweet them or add your voice to the conversation.

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Open Thread

A capybara

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

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

TFIF, Shakers!

Belly up to the bar,
and name your poison!

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Blog Note

cartoon image of a man and a woman meant to look like Iain and Liss sitting on beach chairs fishing, next to a sign reading Gone Fishin'

I'm taking a holiday next week—nothing fancy, just a staycation to recharge my batteries and engage in some self-care, because I'm burned out like a used match.

There will be a Virtual Pub tonight, and an Open Thread tomorrow, which will stay open throughout the week and will be moderated. If it gets unwieldy, number-of-comments-wise, during the week, I'll put up a fresh thread.

See you soon.

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Tom Hardy and a Puppy Visit Sapo National Park

image of actor Tom Hardy and a grey pit bull puppy standing in front of a section of Sapo National Park in Liberia

"Tom," said the puppy, licking its nose, "do you ever think that it's strange that we're such good friends, what with you being a human fella and me being a puppy and all?"

And Tom said, "No, puppy, I don't think it's strange. I remember my friend Liss telling me a story once about her grandmother Mil, who was a passionate jigsaw-puzzler, with hundreds of the things crookedly lining overstuffed shelves in her cellar. Mil always kept a card table with a semi-completed puzzle on its top which she would carry from room to room, so she could do her puzzles while cooking dinner, and later while watching re-runs of Fawlty Towers. Sometimes her puzzles would have an extra piece that didn't go anywhere; the puzzle would be done, but there would be this one odd piece. It was almost always a middle piece, instead of an edge, so it wasn't until the puzzle was complete that the odd piece out revealed itself. Mil kept these odd pieces, throwing them all into an old canister, as if one day, perhaps, they'd all make a puzzle of their own."

Tom continued: "When Liss was maybe six, she tried putting all of her grandmother's odd puzzle pieces together. Mil told her: 'If you stick those together, they might not come apart, because they weren't designed to fit.' And Mil was right. They were tough to connect together, but even tougher to break apart. I think some people and puppies are like that. Odd pieces. Struggling a bit with making connections, which can be brutal—watching the beauty of connection lay itself across the faces of people to whom it comes so easily, over and over, and always just out of your reach. But once we connect, in our odd way, we stick."

And the puppy said, "I like being an odd piece. I'm glad you're an odd piece, too, Tom."

And Tom said, "So am I, puppy."

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President Obama at Planned Parenthood

This morning, President Obama spoke at the 2013 Planned Parenthood National Conference. He was originally slated to give the keynote address last night, but he had to travel to Texas for the West, TX, memorial and the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, so he spoke instead this morning. Below is the video of his address, and a full transcript of PP President Cecile Richards' introduction (done by me) and a transcript of the President's speech (provided by the White House) is below the fold.

I have the usual quibbles with exclusive and/or reductive language (which we can all discuss in comments), but, listen, I am super grateful the President did this. The timing was not great (not his fault), and it's too bad this won't get more attention.

I still hope, fervently, that he will give a national address on reproductive rights. Women and other people with uteri are half of this nation. We deserve dedicated time.

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Discussion Thread: Favorite School Subjects

I was just catching up with an old friend on the phone, who was filling me in on what his kids are up to at school, and what they're studying, and it put me in mind of some of my favorite classes when I was their age.

What were your favorite classes and/or subjects at school? (Or in whatever environment in which you learned, if it was not a traditional school setting.) Are your favorite subjects related to what you're doing today, either professionally or as an active hobby/interest?

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat, sound asleep in her bed

Livsy, furry little bowling ball, asleep in her bed.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by owls.

Recommended Reading:

Esther: Boston Magazine's Heart-Shaped Shoes: The Story Behind the Beautiful Cover [Content Note: The post at this link contains discussion of the terrorist attack in Boston.]

Erik: Workplace Safety and the Gilded Age Theory of Risk [Content Note: The post at this link contains discussion of the building collapse in Bangladesh, worker safety, and corporate malfeasance.]

Alexis: Black Female Lawmakers Walk out of Florida House over Racial Arguments Made for Abortion Bill [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of hostility to agency, race-baiting, and racial appropriation.]

Indian Homemaker: Panchayat Orders Girl to Marry Her Rapist [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of sexual violence and rape culture, including legal marital rape and retributive rape.]

Jorge: Two Women Shot at by LAPD During Dorner Manhunt Settle for $4.2 Million [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of gun violence and police malfeasance.]

Tressie: Race and Grad School, Redux [Content Note: The post at this link contains discussion of racism and classism.]

BYP: The League of Young Voters Launch #NoGunsAllowed Campaign [Content Note: The post at this link contains discussion of gun violence.]

Brian: On Fat Suits, Privilege, and Oppression [Content Note: The post at this link contains discussion of fat bias, racial appropriation, and hunger—unavoidable and self-imposed.]

Annalee: Whitewashing? KHAAAAN! [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of racism and whitewashing.]

Trudy: On Patricia Hill Collins' observation that "African-American women's oppression has encompassed three interdependent dimensions." [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of racism, misogyny, classism, and exploitation.]

Ana: Tropes: My Wife Left Me [Content Note: The post at this link contains discussion of misogyny and gender essentialism.]

Finally: Heads-up, Atlanta Shakers! There's a grassroots fundraiser for the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition today!

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

One Direction: "Kiss You (Alt. Version)"

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Community Note

I have made some updates to the Commenting Policy. Now would be a good time for everyone to reacquaint themselves with the policy and check out the additional info.

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In The News

[Content note: Homophobia, bullying]


Nike has signed sponsorship deal with out basketball star Brittney Griner.

A One Direction pop-up store ... uhh.. popped up in Boston.

Cartoon Network will air a special commercial-free presentation of CNN's half-hour documentary The Bully Effect.

New York is introducing legislation to ban gay conversion therapy.

Related: John Paulk is still gay.

Here is some awesome: The Sachal Studios Orchestra, from Pakistan, playing a cover of Take Five.

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Guns; threats of violence.]

"Part of me feels that this betrayal deserves a quick implementation of my 2nd amendment rights to remove a threat domestic. Because no matter how much one group says it is inevitable to start down the road to socialism it isn't as long as we use our creativity and energy to creating solutions that don't take us that way. ...We need to let those who will come in the future to represent us [know] that we are serious. The 2nd amendment means nothing unless those in power believe you would have no problem simply walking up and shooting them if they got too far out of line and stopped responding as representatives. It seems that we are unable to muster that belief in any of our representatives on a state or federal level, but we have to have something, something costly, something that they will fear that we will use if they step out of line."—Chris Nogy, the husband of Benton County Republican Party Secretary Leigh Nogy, in the April newsletter of the Benton County, Arkansas Republican Party.

To be abundantly clear, this was a Republican threatening other Republicans.

Nogy, who says his letter was "misunderstood" and whose wife says it has been "taken out of context" by the media, has since issued a clarification: "While we most likely won't try to kill them or harm their families, they should be much more certain of our response than fearful of the actions of those who will not identify themselves."

Arkansas state police investigated Nogy, but decided not to pursue criminal charges.

I say again: Let's Get This Straight: Both Sides Are Not Just as Bad.

[H/T to Shaker Brunocerous, who got it from Taegan Goddard.]

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Todd Akin Breaks His Legendary Silence on What a Heinous Rape-Apologist Shithead He Is

[Content Note: Rape culture.]

Former Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin—who famously tanked his chances for election after stating that pregnancy as a result of rape "is really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."—has [video starts playing automatically at link] broken his silence (whoops) about what he's been doing since he lost ("I had chance to change oil in cars, fix things around the house, see my grandchildren") and about his reprehensible comments.

In an exclusive interview with KSDK-TV, the former Missouri congressman said, "I'm not going to try to get even with anybody. If you start to blame everyone else for something that happened you didn't like, it will destroy you. It will eat you alive."

After 12 years representing Missouri's 2nd Congressional District, this infamous quote, "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," derailed his campaign and his reputation.

Would he take those six seconds back?

Akin said, "Oh, of course I would! I've relived them too many times. But that is not reality."

In the past, Akin said he regrets those remarks but does he believe they are true? Does he believe in his heart that the female body can stop a pregnancy in the case of a rape?

Akin said, "No, no and I apologized for that. All of us are fallible, we make mistakes, and we say things the wrong way. I really lived that moment many, many times."
Ha ha neat description—really, a PERFECT description—of what happened!

What actually happened: Akin went on Fox News and explained to Dana Loesch that "he meant to argue that women sometimes lie about being raped. ...Since he first made the comments over the weekend, Akin claimed that he meant to say 'forcible,' rather than 'legitimate' rape."

Which, you know, is total rape apologist garbage.

I love, ahem, that Akin apparently thinks if only he'd said instead, "If it's a forcible rape, and not one of those not-really-rape rapes that women are always inventing, the female body will totes prevent pregnancy," then everything would be fine and he would today be a United States Senator.

This fucking guy.

[NB: Not only "female bodies" get pregnant.]

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Why Isn't There More Media Coverage of the West Explosion?

by Jessica Luther, a proud Texan who can also be found at her own blog, Speaker's Corner in the ATX, and blazing trails of righteous fury on Twitter, among other places. This piece originally appeared at her home blog.

[Content Note: Explosion; images of destruction; injury; death; racism; disablism; regionalism.]

On Wednesday of last week, between the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday afternoon and the violent police chase for the Tsarnaev brothers through Watertown, Massachusetts on Thursday evening, a fertilizer plant explosion happened in the central Texas town of West.

Background from a piece I wrote at Austinist (updated with correct numbers of the dead):

Just before 8:00pm last Wednesday evening, a fertilizer plant in the small central Texas community of West exploded. It had been burning for at least 20 minutes and volunteer firefighters from the town were on site trying to put out the blaze. Suddenly hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate combusted, creating such a massive explosion that people heard the blast 50 miles away. The explosion left a 22-foot-deep crater at the site. It tore through neighboring buildings, demolishing an apartment complex and a nursing home, and destroying 150 homes in only a few seconds of time. In a town of 2800, roughly 8% of the entire population was either injured or killed with 15 people dying (12 of them first responders) and nearly 200 injured.
image of fire at fertilizer plant

There has been very little coverage of the explosion, especially in comparison to the non-stop, wall-to-wall coverage of the Boston bombings. This despite the fact that West killed 5 times as many people, and many of those first responders, and injured roughly the same number of people injured in Boston. National media has been relatively silent. And I mean relatively: Mike Elk has done good coverage, All In With Chris has covered it, CNN has a small part of their homepage dedicated to West.

But it has mainly been local reporting in Waco, Dallas, Austin, and Houston that has shed light on what happened last Wednesday evening, who was harmed, and why things weren't handled earlier. Kudos to local news.

Theories about why this is the case (culled from many conversations with many smart people on Twitter):

1) West is about the greed of capitalism and we just don't have a good narrative in this country to talk about that. If we want to seriously talk about what happened in West, we have to talk about a lot of things people just don't want to discuss: de-regulation of industry, failure of oversight, workplace safety (again, Mike Elk is amazing on this particular issue). All of these topics are part of our country's current and on-going obsession with "free market labor practices" that leave much of regulation, oversight, and workplace safety to the owners of these plants, the very people who make more money when they walk the dangerous line between profit and explosion. For example, we'd have to admit openly that 13 people die on the job every day in the US and that most of those deaths go unnoticed and, in fact, are seen as collateral of an otherwise successful industrial, political, and economic systemic.

Terrorism, on the other hand, especially any that we can tie to Islam, has a built-in narrative of "The Other" onto which we can all immediately latch. This was most obvious when the identities of the two bombers were released on Friday and the mainstream media took to calling them "ethnic Chechens," focusing mainly on their ties to that particularly restless part of Russia and very little on the 10 years they spent living in the US in the post-9/11 era. Are Chechens Really White? became a valid question, one that pushed on the easy narrative of "Muslim bombers = not American, not us" but one that has not made many inroads in the national media.

Mike Elk at the Washington Post:
Aaron Albright, who worked on failed mine safety legislation in the wake of the Upper Big Branch mine as an aide to Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), joked on Twitter that the media opted to focus almost exclusively on the Boston bombings because the two stories were like "CSI/Mission Impossible vs. [a] PBS documentary." The story of alleged terrorists with Chechen links seems far more exotic and threatening than does the story of a workplace disaster that would have been preventable if the company followed the rules.

Yet, death in the workplace is a much more real possibility for almost all Americans than is death at the hands of a terrorist. In 2011, 4,609 Americans were killed in workplace accidents while only 17 Americans died at the hands of terrorists — about the same number as were crushed to death by their televisions or furniture. One could argue that terrorists get more attention because they intentionally aim to kill people, but disasters like at Upper Big Branch are also the result of companies violating workplace safety laws.
This is related to telling the stories of Others. When the story is about capitalism and greed, it's harder to pinpoint a single person and if we do, then we may not like what we learn.

Aleksander Chan points out how little we have talked about the owner of the Fertilizer plant, Donald Adair:
Out of focus for much of the proceedings so far has been the plant's parent company, Adair Grain. That stands to change and very quickly as lawsuits will likely aim to name the company and its owner, Donald Adair, as defendants in lawsuits. News reports have depicted an unexpected swell of support for Grain, with Reuters penning this story about how the town isn't holding a grudge against him.
We know almost every detail about the Tsarnaev brothers' lives and next to nothing about the man who heads a company that just destroyed a huge part of a town, killed first responders and residents, and has left many in the community with injuries that they will deal with for the rest of their lives. I could, if pushed to, probably even pick the mother of the Tsarnaev brothers out of a lineup because her face has been all over the internet and TV.

What does Donald Adair look like? I could not begin to say. I cannot find an image of him anywhere online.

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Open Thread


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Question of the Day

We've done this one before, but not for a long while: What piece of information or anecdote about your life would Shakers (or family, or coworkers, or whatever group you prefer to use) find most surprising?

I can't imagine what anyone would or would not find surprising about me, since I'm always amazed by what wildly divergent impressions people draw of me from the blog. I have answered previously that maybe people would be surprised to find out how naturally introverted I am. But maybe not, now that I've written about that a little.

I dunno. Maybe people would be surprised to find out that I have constantly filthy feet, which Iain affectionately refers to as my "dirty urchin feet," because I love being barefoot. If it is even the slightest bit warm outside, I'll resist wearing shoes in the garden, and I've even been known to get the mail in bare feet while there's snow on the ground.

When I do wear shoes, it's always without socks. Even my winter boots. I can't even remember the last time I had socks on my feet. I hate socks. They make my feet feel strangled!

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Tom Hardy and a Puppy Visit Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere/Franz Josef Glacier

actor Tom Hardy, holding a grey pit bull puppy in his arms, stands in front of a glacier in New Zealand

"Tom," said the puppy, licking its nose, "this glacier makes me feel so small!" And Tom said, "It makes me feel so young—not just because its enormity reminds me of being little, when everything in the whole world seemed to be bigger than I was, but also because its imposing ancientness whispers a practiced verse about how briefly I've shared its space upon this rock. I meet its stoic gaze and I think about all the history through which it has stood, everything it knows, everything it has seen, and I cannot even contemplate the vastness of the things I don't know and never will." And the puppy said, "That makes me feel a little guilty about peeing on the glacier." And Tom said, "Such is the life of a titan of nature, puppy."

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Photos of the Day

Photos from today's dedication of the George W. Bush Book Building of all the living US Presidents and their respective First Ladies:

image of Presidents B. Obama, GWB, B. Clinton, GHWB, and Jimmy Carter
Left to Right: President Barack Obama with former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush (with attendant) and Jimmy Carter. [REUTERS/Jason Reed]
image of First Ladies M. Obama, Laura Bush, H. Clinton, Barbara Bush, and Rosalynn Carter
Left to Right: First Lady Michelle Obama with former First Ladies Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush, and Rosalynn Carter. [REUTERS/Jason Reed]
I love how the Clintons are both totally cracking up. "Ha Ha the Dubya library! HA HA! Pass the wine, Jimmy!"

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Whoooooooops Your Garbage Party!

This would be hilarious if only it didn't negatively affect our lives in myriad ways:

Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, has been trying for months to remake the image of the Republican Party, from one of uncompromising conservatism to something kinder and gentler.

It isn't working so well.

On Wednesday, Republican leaders abruptly shelved one of the centerpieces of Mr. Cantor's "Making Life Work" agenda — a bill to extend insurance coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions — in the face of a conservative revolt. Last month, legislation to streamline worker retraining programs barely squeaked through. In May, Republican leaders will try again with legislation, pitched as family-friendly, to allow employers to offer comp time or "flex time" instead of overtime. But it has little prospect for Senate passage.

So it has gone. Items that Mr. Cantor had hoped would change the Republican Party's look, if not its priorities, have been ignored, have been greeted with yawns or have only worsened Republican divisions.

"We need to look at these issues through a more human lens and realize government has a role here, especially on some of these pocketbook issues," said Representative Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, who expressed frustration with the lock-step opposition of the House's fiercest conservatives. "Have we been successful? No. We're still trying to find our way."
Oh dear. You mean members of a party which has been explicitly built around a void of empathy, hostility to the social contract, and the entrenchment of privilege aren't enthusiastically embracing compassionate governance on behalf of vulnerable people who don't share their privileges? I am shocked, I tell you. SHOCKED.

Decades ago, the Republican Party embraced a conservative ideology which scoffs at such hippie nonsense as social welfare and advocates an Ownership Society. Every person for hirself, and fuck you if you're failed by this fucked-up culture in which we pretend everyone is equal but national candidates disagree about whether people are entitled to food.

But a society of disconnected individuals without responsibility for one another isn't a society at all. And no matter how hostile to the notions of a social contract conservatives may be, the fact stubbornly remains that we are all connected to and influenced by a culture—a culture that has been severely weakened and imperiled and made infinitely more dangerous for its oppressed members by a conservative approach that rejects human interdependency and shared accountability.

But instead of acknowledging the reality of having created an ever more difficult path to the (gossamer) "American Dream" for marginalized people, instead of owning it, conservatives dismiss calls for social accountability, and double down on the notion of individual responsibility.

We are in this together. "Bootstraps" doesn't fucking cut it.

I hope Congressman Cantor appreciates the rich irony of being tasked with finding an individual solution to the systemic problem of his party's cruel indifference.

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Cool Priorities

[Content Note: Racism; Islamophobia; terrorism.]

Amidst the stellar journalism that was happening all over the place during coverage of the bombing in Boston, Caption Solutions TV captioning service erroneously captioned Dallas-Fort Worth Fox network affiliate KDFW's coverage with: "...marathon Bombing, he is 19-year-old Zooey Deschanel." How Zooey Deschanel showed up instead of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a mystery lost to the sands of time incompetence.

Anyway. Caption Solutions has apologized to Deschanel for the error.

Meanwhile, the NY Post, which featured teenager Salah Barhoun and another young man on its cover under the headline "BAG MEN," despite the fact they had nothing whatsoever to do with the bombing, still has not apologized to Barhoun.

So, just to be clear, Zooey Deschanel gets an apology for a captioning mistake, but the NY Post still hasn't apologized to Salah Barhoun for its cover photo. COOL.

For the record: I'm not saying that Zooey Deschanel didn't deserve an apology. I'm saying that Salah Barhoun DOES.

And, yeah, I realize the NY Post is a mountainous heap of fetid garbage, but I don't believe a habit of indecency is a justification for continued indecency. I expect more.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

One Direction: "More Than This"

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Discussion Thread: The Terrible Bargain

[Content Note: Misogyny; kyriarchy.]

From "The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck," originally published August 14, 2009:

These [expressions of misogyny], they are not the habits of deliberately, connivingly cruel men. They are, in fact, the habits of the men in this world I love quite a lot.

All of whom have given me reason to mistrust them, to use my distrust as a self-protection mechanism, as an essential tool to get through every day, because I never know when I might next get knocked off-kilter with something that puts me in the position, once again, of choosing between my dignity and the serenity of our relationship.

Swallow shit, or ruin the entire afternoon?

It can come out of nowhere, and usually does. Which leaves me mistrustful by both necessity and design. Not fearful; just resigned—and on my guard. More vulnerability than that allows for the possibility of wounds that do not heal. Wounds to our relationship, the sort of irreparable damage that leaves one unable to look in the eye someone that you loved once upon a time.

This, then, is the terrible bargain we have regretfully struck: Men are allowed the easy comfort of their unexamined privilege, but my regard will always be shot through with a steely, anxious bolt of caution.

A shitty bargain all around, really. But there it is.
Although this piece was written about interactions between men and women, it is applicable to any power differential conferred by privilege and marginalization. It has been borrowed and rewritten for different axes of oppression (here, for example, is Andy the Nerd's variation on distrusting cis people).

With wide application in mind, when was the last time you were left with the colossally awful garbage choice between swallowing shit or ruining the afternoon?

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Daily Dose of Cute

two images of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt: On the left, she is sitting on my lap, looking to the side and panting contentedly. On the right, she has turned her face toward me and is giving a huge grin.

Zelda, chilling on my lap last night. Happy dog is happy. "It's a day!"

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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In The News

[Content note: Terrorism, death, disaster, misogyny, rape]


The U.S. believes the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its own people.

The body of Sunil Tripathi, the man misidentified as a suspect in the Boston bombing case, has been found in Rhode Island.

The story of the factory collapse in Bangladesh just got much, much worse.

President Barack Obama will attend a memorial service for the 14 people killed in West, Texas last week.

The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum opens today. How many copies of The Pet Goat will they have?

Wikipedia appears to be moving female novelists from its "American Novelists" category to its "American Women Novelists" subcategory.

A student at the University of Arizona gave a sermon about how "if you dress like a whore, act like a whore, you're probably going to get raped" while holding a sign reading "YOU DESERVE RAPE" on the same day as a campus sexual assault awareness event. The interim dean of students says he "has yet to, at this point, violate the student code of conduct."

Harry Shearer has been unceremoniously fired by KCRW.

This is a neat motorcycle helmet.

One Direction's Louis Tomlinson treated his girlfriend to afternoon tea on the Orient Express. Sweet!

It is World Penguin Day, just FYI.

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An Observation

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

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ENDA to be Reintroduced Today

FMF News:

Both the House and the Senate are expected to reintroduce The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) this Thursday. In the House, ENDA will be introduced by Representative Jared Polis (D-CO), an openly gay member of the House. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) will be introducing the Senate version of ENDA. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would ban discrimination by employers based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

While the number of co-sponsors in the House is yet to be determined, the Senate version has five original sponsors: Senator Merkley, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME); and Tom Harkin (D-IA), the Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

ENDA legislation has been introduced in every Congressional session since 1994 except one. According to the Center for American Progress, only 21 states and the District of Columbia prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and only 16 and the District prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

"The bottom line is no worker in America should be fired or denied a job based on who they are. Discrimination is wrong. Period. And I think the Senate is ready to take that stand," said Senator Merkley (D).
Are they? Are they ready to take that stand on behalf of basic decency? I hope so! I hope you are right, Senator Merkley!

teaspoon icon If you are in the US, contact your Senators and your Representative, irrespective of their party affiliations, and urge them to support an inclusive ENDA.

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Boston Bombing: Update

[Content Note: Terrorism.]

I have been following the news about the latest developments—or reported developments, care of a variety of anonymous sources—in the Boston bombing case, but I haven't been sharing a whole lot, because, although the news is coming out more slowly now, there is still a lot of conflicting information and whooooops that might've been wrong happening.

Where we are right now, though, is that there is some question about what the FBI and CIA knew when and what they did with that information. This piece at TPM is pretty good in outlining the informational flow between agencies and their respective interactions with the Russian government, regarding the deceased suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

I'm still practicing patience, waiting for a solid picture before I make any judgments—but I will make the observation that it's looking a lot like, despite the establishment of new law and new security positions and the entire Department of Homeland Security after 9/11, all of which was implemented ostensibly with the purpose of centralizing counter-terrorism efforts and facilitating communication between agencies, the left hand still doesn't know what the right hand is doing.

That would be a problem even if we hadn't conceded liberties and privacy rights to our government under the auspices of ensuring that dysfunction would end.

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Tweet of the Day

[Content Note: Disablist language.]

This is not merely the Tweet of the Day: It is the greatest tweet in the history of Twitter. SHUT TWITTER DOWN! WE'RE DONE HERE!

screencap of a Donald Trump tweet reading: '@kristinaoakes: @realDonaldTrump No, you're overrated.' By who, a moron lile [sic] you!

Just so we're clear on what is happening here: @kristinaoakes tweeted at Donald Trump, billionaire fuckbrain, that he's overrated. And he responded with: "By who, a moron [like] you!"

I won't pick on his typo, since I am Queen Typo of Typovia, but I will offer Trump the unsolicited advice that if you're in the process of impugning someone's intelligence, make sure to proofread!

The thing that's really spectacular about this tweet is how Trump either agrees (?) or doesn't agree (?) that he is overrated, but he's definitely sure that it's morons who overrate him (?).

"Smart people think I'm the worst!"—Donald Trump.

Well. It's not even noon, and I've already found myself in agreement with Barbara Bush and Donald Trump! What a day!

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EARWORMZ! Random Insomnia Edition

Ah, Shakers, I spent last night dealing with allergy-induced insomnia! Made worse by EARWORMZ!

A misspent youth in musical theatre granted me this one last night:

(see also: 1996 film with Madonna and Antonio Banderas:)

(and also: John Barrowman of Torchwood fame:)

(AND ALSO: a shaky rendering of Mandy Patinkin and Patti Lupone on opening night:)

So, do you have any earworms keeping you up at night lately? Or, just annoying your days? Feel free to share in the thread below.

P.S. If I don't respond to your comments swiftly it is because I am bloody asleep. Because earworms. And insomnia.

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What a Neat Family!

Former first lady Barbara Bush isn't going to waste her beautiful mind on contemplating son Jeb's potential presidential run:

Amid the celebration surrounding the opening of son George W. Bush's presidential library, former first lady Barbara Bush is brushing aside talk of a Jeb Bush run for the White House.

Appearing in an interview Thursday on NBC's Today show, Mrs. Bush was asked how she felt about Jeb, the former governor of Florida, seeking the presidency in 2016.

Mrs. Bush replied, quote, "We've had enough Bushes."

She went on to say she thought there were many worthy candidates, telling anchor Matt Lauer, "There are people out there" who are qualified. Mrs. Bush, who had a reputation for bluntness when her husband George H.W. Bush was president, spoke from the site of the presidential library. On Wednesday, George W. Bush told CNN he thought Jeb Bush should run for president.
We've had enough Bushes! LOL! Welp, I'd never thought I'd see the day when I agreed with Barbara Bush about something, but there you go!

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Marriage Momentum: Rhode Island

After Rhode Island's state senate judiciary committee approved a bill yesterday which would legalize marriage for same-sex couples, the legislation went to the full state senate for a vote, and it passed 26-12!

Governor Lincoln Chafee has promised to sign the bill, which will make Rhode Island the 10th state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to legalize same-sex marriage—a number that will now include 100% of New England.

Congratulations, Rhode Island!

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Open Thread

The Loch Ness Monster

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Question of the Day

What is the last movie you saw in the theater?

Iain and I saw Oblivion, which was visually beautiful and had an amazing score. But the ending stunk.

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Tom Hardy and a Puppy Visit Silex Springs in Yellowstone National Park

image of actor Tom Hardy, a young white man, holding a grey pit bull puppy, which is licking its nose

"Tom," said the puppy, licking its nose, "what is it like to be able to contemplate your own mortality?" And Tom replied, "It's tremendous and it's tragic, puppy." And the puppy asked, "What do you mean?" And Tom explained, "Well, on the one hand, knowing you will die someday has the capacity to infuse every moment with poignant meaning, because you know it is an extraordinary thing to be part of a rare sliver of time and space in a vast universe where intelligent life is a vanishingly infinitesimal possibility. But, on the other hand, knowing you will die someday has the capacity to make the time spent scrabbling to survive, the profusion of which varies from individual life to individual life, feel empty of meaning. You must work, to eat and to shelter yourself, whether working means sourcing your own food and building your own shelter, or working a job, even a job you love, to earn money to access those things, or working within a hostile system to access resources you can't provide for yourself. You must survive to survive, and some parts of survival can feel wasteful, even though they are necessary, because they steal from us so many moments that we want to be rich with existential meaning." The puppy tilted its head at Tom and blinked. "Cats don't wear YOLO gear because they have nine lives," said the puppy. And Tom laughed.

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This Fucking Guy

[Content Note: Misogynistic slur; classism.]

Aviva at Think Progress:

Steve Kush, executive director of the Bernalillo County Republican Party in New Mexico, took to Twitter on Tuesday to verbally abuse a 19-year-old Working America volunteer who testified in favor of raising the minimum wage. Bernalillo County, the largest county in New Mexico, was considering a proposal to increase the county minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50.

Rather than listen to the 19-year-old woman's testimony, Kush mocked her on social media, calling her a "radical bitch":

screen cap of Kush's tweet reading: 'Nice hat Working America chick but damn you are a radical bitch'

...Despite the slew of hateful comments made by Kush over social media, the county passed the proposal to raise the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 by 3-2 on Tuesday night.
I am officially out of words. Luckily, through the magic of technology, I don't need any!

image of me flipping off the camera with a contemptuous expression
Me, right now. Not offended; contemptuous.

I got your radical bitch right here, sir.

[H/T to Shakers Bearpaw01 and MammaBear, in comments.]

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This is what I have felt like for two weeks.

image of Daenerys, a young white woman, from Game of Thrones, with fire erupting behind her


P.S. If you're interested, Jess and I discuss the latest episode of Game of Boners here.

P.P.S. Did I say two weeks? I meant thirty-eight years.

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Prolly Cuz I've Got a Silly Ladybrain

I am really failing to understand how Choice USA's Bro-Choice campaign doesn't, as Alexandra observes at the link, "[attempt] to 'masculinize' a feminist effort so dudes can feel comfortable [and condescend] to the targeted men (who I'd imagine will join up because of their convictions, rather than a transparent gimmick and a 'p' switched out for a 'b') while simultaneously prioritizing them. The clear message is that guys can't be part of a generally woman-led movement, and we need to cater to their need to feel manly."


Men can, and should, be pro-choice. Campaigns that seek to challenge the war on agency must be inclusive of people who don't neatly fit into the gender binary. Women and genderqueer people should not be deprioritized to "make space" for men in advocacy where there is already room for men, especially through borrowing the language of bro-culture, which is in many significant ways antithetical to the goals of empowering women and other people with uteri.

I couldn't be more in favor of men getting involved in pro-choice activism—for lots of reasons, not least of which is that leaving "women's work" to women is some richly ironic antifeminist shit.

But this type of campaign is not the way I want to see it happen. Not at all.

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Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by oranges.

Recommended Reading:

Pam: Afro Inspections in the Age of Terror… [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussions of terrorism and racism.]

Chris: Face Blindness: The Misidentification of Sunil Tripathi as the Boston Marathon Bomber [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of racism, xenophobia, and violence.]

Relatedly, the Angry Asian Man reports that a body recovered from the Providence River may be Tripathi.

Mia: Hey, White Liberals: A Word on the Boston Bombings, the Suffering of White Children, and the Erosion of Empathy [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of violence, racism, dehumanization, and privilege.]

Samantha: All Skulls On: Teaching Intersectionality Through Halo [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of intersectional oppressions and some references to video game violence.]

Jorge: Hospitals Caught 'Deporting' Sick, Undocumented Immigrants [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of racism, violence, and disablism.]

Suzanne: UN Commission Opens Session Focusing on Migrants' Rights [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of misogyny, exploitation, and violence.]

Alan: West Virginia Republican: Make Kids Work as Janitors for School Lunches [Content Note: The post at this link contains discussion of classism.]

Adrienne: Armie Hammer Apparently Talked to Some Natives Who Love Lone Ranger [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of racism and appropriation.]

And finally: Hi, Loki!

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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Wealth Gap

Meanwhile, as workers are striking in Chicago in pursuit of a livable wage, Pew reports that, from 2009 to 2011, "the mean net worth of households in the upper 7% of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28%, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93% dropped by 4%."

From the end of the recession in 2009 through 2011 (the last year for which Census Bureau wealth data are available), the 8 million households in the U.S. with a net worth above $836,033 saw their aggregate wealth rise by an estimated $5.6 trillion, while the 111 million households with a net worth at or below that level saw their aggregate wealth decline by an estimated $0.6 trillion.

Because of these differences, wealth inequality increased during the first two years of the recovery. The upper 7% of households saw their aggregate share of the nation's overall household wealth pie rise to 63% in 2011, up from 56% in 2009. On an individual household basis, the mean wealth of households in this more affluent group was almost 24 times that of those in the less affluent group in 2011. At the start of the recovery in 2009, that ratio had been less than 18-to-1.
Twenty-four times. Twenty-four times.

And our national conversation is still about austerity, and slashing funds to social programs, and fucking bootstraps.

Let me repeat myself: I'll leave aside for now the tropes about the legions of straw-people who could be earning a livable wage at an awesome job with excellent benefits, but inexplicably choose to work at a minimum-wage job without benefits, or choose not to work at all, living high on the hog off our generous welfare system. Suffice it to say, that is abject nonsense, and being poor is one of the most difficult things to be in this country. Poverty is not for lazy people.

My present concern is with the working poor, and the way they are regarded by the architects of the Ownership Society.

Those men—and they are indeed almost all men, most of whose lives have been dictated by inherent privilege and family connections, which we're not meant to note while admiring their shiny bootstraps—believe quite firmly, and without seemingly a trace of irony or compunction, that one gets what one deserves in life. From the imposing height of their handsomely recompensed sinecures, they will assert with the particular condescending authority bestowed only by unearned success that, with a little hard work, anyone can be a productive member of their magnificent Ownership Society.

Now, I don't feel inclined to get into a whole Marxist discussion about the means of production here, but what these insufferable, vainglorious, classist captains of self-aggrandizing bullshit seem never to grasp, or possibly just acknowledge, is that if you want to live in a capitalist society that gives you the opportunity to get nasty rich, then we can't all be wealthy. And if you want to be the kind of person who doesn't pump your own gas, or make your own sandwiches, or clean your own house, or manicure your own fingernails, or drain your own dog's anal glands, or build your own car elevator, then there are going to have to be people who fill all those jobs.

And most of those professional, hard-working people will put in at least 40 hours a week, or more, and even still, many of them won't be given healthcare benefits, and many of them won't earn enough money to feed a family, and many of them won't be able to save as much as they'll need for their retirement.

People who honorably dedicate their time, energy, and talents to jobs that might not pay well are indeed entitled to something—to not work their whole lives only to find themselves poverty-stricken, or hungry, or homeless after one small (or not small) financial crisis. And if we're not going to ensure that every job comes with a livable wage, access to affordable healthcare, and retirement benefits, then we've got to provide a robust and well-funded social safety net.

I don't think that's asking for much, in exchange for a lifetime of providing service to their chosen vocation.

Though I grant it's certainly easier to scream BOOTSTRAPS! and carelessly assert that people who don't have everything they need just aren't trying hard enough.

Funny how the Grand Advocates of Hard Work are always the ones making the easy arguments.

The working poor in the US—and all of the people who navigate a tenuous existence in the middle class, from which they could be unceremoniously exiled after a brush with unemployment or a health crisis—are not working any less hard than their wealthy counterparts (in fact, many of us work a lot harder, but had the silly idea to pursue a vocation not as highly valued as making privileged people and corporations wealthy), and we not are not fools, and we do not "deserve" to have twenty-four times less wealth and its attendant security and opportunity.

This cavernous disparity is the result of wanton avarice, of cruel greed, of a void of empathy and a colossally short-sighted contempt toward the notion of culture, toward the idea that we are all in this thing together.

Beneath all the bullshit conservative narratives of earned privilege and deserved prosperity and bootstraps lies the truth: This inequality is the result of the Ownership Society's inherent indecency.

And I invite its architects to own that.

[Related Reading: Racism is why are whites are five times richer than blacks in the US.]

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In The News

[Content note: Terrorism, disaster]

Wednesday News:

The Elvis Impersonator accused of sending ricin-laced letters to the President and a Mississippi judge has been released. He says he was framed.

One Direction will tour the US in a replica Scooby Doo Mystery machine van. Neat!

Construction is set to begin on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. Neat!

An eight-story building collapsed in Bangladesh, killing at least 80 people and injuring hundreds.

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Reproductive Rights Updates: Michigan, North Carolina, Kansas, Iowa, North Dakota, Hawaii, & National

Quite a bit has happened in the past few days, some good and some, well, the same anti-autonomy bullshit as ever.

In Michigan, some legislators are trying to make it so more people can legally opt-out of doing their jobs if they don't want to because they choose to believe in some sort of supernatural rule system.

For 35 years, Michigan law has protected health care providers who refuse to perform an abortion on moral or religious grounds.

Hospitals and clinics can't be sued. Doctors and nurses can't lose their jobs for objecting to terminating a pregnancy.

Legislation that could be voted on as early as this week in the Republican-led Legislature would extend the same legal protections for any medical service such as providing contraception or medical marijuana, or taking someone off life support. Employers and health insurers — not just medical providers — also could opt out of paying for services as a matter of conscience.

Supporters say the legislation protects religious freedom and is needed particularly in the wake of the federal health care law mandating employer-provided birth control in their health plans. ...
You know what? If you cannot do your job because of your choice to believe in some set of religious rules, you should find a different fucking job. ESPECIALLY when your job is to provide needed health care and services to people. You are supposed to be a HELPER. Be a sanctimonious asshat when you aren't on the clock.

Also: we see your attempt at a workaround for employers to provide health insurance that includes birth control coverage, Michigan.


In North Carolina, eyeballs are now on the governor:
This session, [legislators] presented a bill that would require doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, which can be difficult to obtain.

One recent bill would establish civil penalties for doctors who knowingly perform abortions in cases in which the child's sex is the driving factor. Another would broaden so-called protections of conscience and exempt businesses from providing contraception coverage to employees, which its sponsor acknowledges contradicts federal law.
In his last election debate, Gov. McCrory promised he would not sign any new anti-choice legislation into law. His spokesperson said that McCrory will make the decision when the legislation is on his desk.


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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

One Direction: "Live While We're Young"

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound sitting beside Zelda the Mutt, who's lying on the floor; both of them look very stoic

The puppies do their best American Gothic.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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LegisLaughter Corner

Here's this week's big story in Wisconsin:

Republican legislators in Wisconsin are outraged over the reasonably responsible budgets of thousands of academic departments in the University of Wisconsin system.

It turns out that various departments throughout the system maintain reserves that, on average, equal 25% of their annual budgets. According to the UW's president, that's less of a reserve than a lot of other state university systems.

Anyhow, some Republicans think he should resign.

State Senator Alberta Darling implied the existence of a conspiracy:

It looks like a scheme. It looks like you intended to put this money all over so that people wouldn't know what you were doing.
Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald questioned why the UW sought to offset $250 million in budget cuts by raising tuition:
“How can you sit there and look at that cash balance and say, ‘You know what? We're still going to go in and ask for a 5.5 percent [tuition] increase in each year.’ I can't imagine what that discussion was like.”
Senate President Mike Ellis tried (unsuccessfully) to show solidarity with the working class in the face of the elitists in Berkeley Austin Madison:
“There’s a degree of arrogance here on the part of the university [system]. They all think they're Ph. D's and we ought to be working at a Jiffy Lube.“
I mean, I TOTALLY GET that the Republican legislature would have cut the UW System's budget EVEN MORE and would have cut student aid (rather than merely refusing to raise it) had they known that's how budgets work. I'm just not sure [I'm totally sure] they would have practically ended collective bargaining with public employees' unions had they known that some department at UW Oshkosh was sitting on three months' worth reserve funding.

Also of note, this all went down during a hearing on how the hippies in UW System administration wanted to adopt harsh personnel rules favored by Republican Governor Scott Walker.

In conclusion, PRINCIPLES.

Update: Earlier today, Democratic legislators joined the republicans in calling the surplus unjustifiable. Neat!

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Quote of the Day

"I think I'm doing more than what I should, and for $8.25, it's not enough"Esly Hernandez, a Dunkin Donuts worker making $8.25 an hour, who is one of the hundreds of service workers striking in Chicago today in pursuit of a $15/hourly wage and the right to unionize.

Hernandez, who said he lives "paycheck-to-paycheck," joined the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago (WOCC) after being approached by a coworker. That workers organization, with the support of other local workers groups and unions, is leading the Fight for 15 campaign to raise wages and form a union.

Hernandez said he joined the strike in large part because he wanted to be a good father to his four-year-old son. "I want to be able to go to school, to pay for school, and for him to be proud of me," he said. Because his son—who does not live with him—is anemic, Hernandez said he is sometimes forced to choose between buying medically recommended nutrition for his son and paying his electricity bills.

"I don't want my son to go through the struggles that I've been through," said Hernandez.

Labor unrest in low-wage service and retail sector workplaces has become increasingly prevalent over the last few years, as those sectors have come to occupy increasingly central roles in the U.S. economy. Low-wage jobs in those industries have driven post-recession job growth to a great degree, leading observers such as labor reporter Andrew Kroll to refer to the American economy in its current form as "the McJobs economy."

...Wednesday's strike in Chicago is remarkable because it shows just how contagious this kind of labor unrest has become. Until now, major fast food strikes have been confined to New York City, which recently held a second strike, even larger than its first. The strike in Chicago is the first major labor action to afflict the fast food industry in a city besides New York.
The striking workers in Chicago today include employees of McDonald's, Subway, Macy's, Sears, and Victoria's Secret.

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STFU, Limbaugh

[Content Note: Racism; violence; terrorism.]

So, Rush Limbaugh, professional dirtbag, is complaining that there is "a media conspiracy to 'define deviancy down' by portraying Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an adorable kid through teenage anecdotes and photos that make him look handsome." That would be objectionable enough, but then he went on to compare admitted terrorist Tsarnaev to murdered teenager Trayvon Martin:

"You notice also that the news media are doing to Dzhokhar what they did to Trayvon Martin," Limbaugh said on his radio show Tuesday. "They're regularly showing a photo of Dzhokhar that was taken when he was about 14. Soft, angelic, nice little boy, harmless, cute, big lovable eyes."
I'm so fucking angry about that comparison, even and especially in service to one of Limbaugh's entirely typical bullshit media conspiracy stories, that I'm struggling to craft a coherent response.

Trayvon Martin was not a terrorist. He was not terrorizing George Zimmerman's community. He wasn't doing anything wrong at all. He was a kid walking down a street with a bag of Skittles in his hand, who was stalked and harassed and eventually murdered by someone who believed he was up to no good because he was a black kid in a hoodie in his neighborhood.

(And I utterly refuse to indulge any debate here about whether Martin "went after" Zimmerman. If he "went after" him, that was an eminently reasonable self-defense response to an unknown adult who was stalking him in a vehicle and then on foot, something Zimmerman admits doing, though he wouldn't call it "stalking" because he fancies himself some kind of goddamn vigilante hero.)

Limbaugh's attempt to equate Trayvon Martin with a terrorist, for any reason, is a heinous personal attack on Martin, and a profoundly contemptible and harmful narrative that entrenches racist tropes about the violent nature of black men, but the thing that's making me seethe beyond measure is the breathtaking audacity and unfathomable cruelty of comparing one of the most well-known black victims of gun violence to a terrorist, while the country determinedly ignores that young black USians are being terrorized by gun violence.
[T]here exists a clear and unfortunate connection between race and gun violence in this country, and if you are African American, you are far more likely to be a victim of gun violence in America, whether the shooter is Black or White.

...[T]he Children's Defense Fund's Protect Children, Not Guns 2012 reports that in 2008 and 2009, Black children and teens accounted for 45 percent of all child and teen gun deaths, but were only 15 percent of the total child population. Moreover, gun homicide was the leading cause of death among Black teens between the ages of 15 and 19.

For too many Black families, these staggering statistics are not just numbers but ingrained into their everyday lives. For instance, Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old honor student, was fatally shot in Hyde Park just days after she returned from participating in President Obama's inaugural parade.

In Prince George's County, Maryland, six high schools students have died of gun violence this academic school year' five of these students were African American and the sixth was Hispanic.

A shooting in Chicago last month took the lives of seven people and injured six others. Ronnie Chambers was among those killed on January 26, 2013; he was the youngest son of Shirley Chambers, who had already lost three other children in three separate shootings. In 2000, Ms. Chambers presciently told the Chicago Tribune after she lost her third child, "I only have one child left, and I'm afraid that [the killings] won't stop until he's gone, too."

In another case, seventeen-year old Jordan Russell Davis was killed on November 23, 2012 by 45-year old Michael David Dunn for playing loud music in Jacksonville, Florida. Dunn pulled up next to Davis and his three friends outside a convenience store. While Dunn's girlfriend went inside to get food, Dunn, agitated by the loud music coming from the SUV, demanded the African American teens to turn down their music.

The teens refused. Dunn shot at least eight times at the SUV while the teens frantically tried to reverse; two of these bullets fatally hit Davis.
Which is to say nothing of the murder of young black people by police, as in the case of Oscar Grant.

This was a letter to the editor in our local paper earlier this month:
While there are many troublesome aspects of gun violence in America, perhaps the most disturbing is the statistical disparity of death by gun violence of black Americans. This disparity is across the board, regardless if shootings are accidental, homicidal or suicidal.

The National Institute of Justice reports that young black males from 15 to 19 are five times more likely to be killed by gun violence than their white counterparts. Black teens are dying at an alarming rate of 11.3 per 100,000 compared to white teens dying at the rate of 2.3 per 100,000.

Chicago further illustrates the incidence of gun-related deaths, as it is reported that in 2012 the 515 individuals killed in Chicago's streets outnumbered the 301 soldiers killed in that same year in Afghanistan.

Investigation into the causes of these racial disparities of gun violence in America can shed light on the larger question of how to reduce gun violence in our population as a whole.

- Sheila R, Taylor, Gary
This isn't an abstract issue to me. This is happening in my community. Like Shirley Chambers in Chicago, Lenore Johnson of Gary has lost all four of her children to gun violence. Do you understand? There are multiple black mothers who have lost four children to gun violence just in this area. Now multiply that across the entire country. And then think about Rush Limbaugh equating someone who was probably not so dissimilar to their dead children to a confessed terrorist.

Trayvon Martin was not a terrorist. He was terrorized. Being five times more likely to be killed by gun violence because of your race, and the dread of living under a heightened threat of violence, and the devaluation of your life by your country's indifference to this ongoing threat, is terrorism, if the word is to have any meaning at all that doesn't center exclusively around scared white people.

I don't have a well-tied bow to conclude this piece. Rush Limbaugh can fuck off.

[Note: Do not tell me that responding to Limbaugh is only giving him oxygen and my outrage is what he wants and blah blah. I don't want to hear it. Just don't. I am not raising my voice for Limbaugh; I am refusing to remain silent for the people he victimizes.]

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Marriage Momentum: Delaware & Rhode Island

How about a little good news to start the day?

In Delaware yesterday, the state house of representatives approved a bill legalizing marriage for same-sex couples:

The bill, which was introduced less than two weeks ago, will go to the Senate for a vote before heading to the desk of Gov. Jack Markell, who has said he would sign such a bill into law.

The state has extended civil unions rights to all same-sex couples since 2011. The legislative procedure to make marriages legal for Delaware's same-sex couples is relatively simple. Current law restricts marriage only to two "people [not] of the same gender," but there is no constitutional ban on marriage equality. The proposed legislation will revise the statute language to establish marriage equality. With a strong Democratic base of voters, Democratic control over both the house and senate, and Gov. Markell's endorsement, equality supporters don't anticipate a drawn-out fight toward equality.

Meanwhile, in Rhode Island, the state senate judiciary committee approved a bill which would legalize marriage for same-sex couples:
By a vote of 7 to 4, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, while allowing religious leaders who oppose such marriages to refuse to perform them. The landmark vote by the full Senate could come on Wednesday. Gay rights advocates said that they think they have the votes to prevail, all but ensuring adoption of same-sex marriage by the only state in New England that does not already allow it.

"We think that when the vote is called, we can win," Ray Sullivan, campaign director of Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, said Tuesday afternoon of the imminent Senate vote.

A similar bill passed the House in January by a vote of 51 to 19, and Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a onetime Republican who is now an independent, has strongly supported marriage equality.

There are, of course, states where achieving marriage equality for same-sex couples is going to be even more difficult, because of constitutional bans on same-sex marriage and the continued existence of DOMA. The more states that legalize same-sex marriage through the legislatures, the more pressure it will put on states with constitutional bans to lift those bans and do the right thing. These legislative victories will not only be crucial for same-sex couples who want to get married in Delaware and Rhode Island, but for same-sex couples in states who are still awaiting the first steps toward marriage equality.

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Open Thread

One Direction action figures

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Question of the Day

What is the one recipe you have totally perfected, and what is the one dish you just can't get exactly right?

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Tom Hardy and a Puppy Visit the Patrick Dougherty Environmental Sculpture at the Morton Arboretum

image of actor Tom Hardy holding a grey pit bull puppy licking its nose, standing in front of a building sculpted out of the surrounding environment

"Tom," said the puppy, licking its nose, "I've been thinking about the nature of humor." Tom nodded agreeably, with a lifted eyebrow. "Oh, really?" he said, with piqued interest. "And what have you been thinking about it?" And the puppy said, "I've been thinking about how when humor challenges privilege, it's a radical act, but when humor mocks marginalized people and puppies, it's just bullying." And Tom said, "You know, puppy, the great Molly Ivins had a marvelous quote about that. She said: 'Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. I only aim at the powerful. When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel—it's vulgar.' She was a smart lady." And the puppy wagged its tail and said: "She sounds terrific!" And then the puppy added, ruefully: "Tom, I wish people wouldn't be bullies." And Tom said, "Me, too, puppy. Me, too."

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Headline of the Day

screen cap from the National Journal website of an article headlined: 'Go Ahead, Admit It: George W. Bush Is a Good Man' and sub-headed: 'In the rush to mythologize and demonize our presidents, we forget they’re human.' and accompanied by a picture of the former president with his mouth hanging open

Ha ha NOPE!

This story is currently posted at the conservative National Journal, to which I won't be linking, but it's easy enough to find it if you're really so inclined.

There are few bad faith arguments I more loathe than the one which implies anyone who criticized George W. Bush did so exclusively for partisan and personal reasons. I don't give a fucking shit whether George W. Bush is "a good man" (whatever that means). What I care about, and always have, is that he was a terrible president.

[Related Reading: Rehabilitating Bush.]

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Shakers Are So Dreamy

Part four in an ongoing series.

Recently, I have received not one, not two, but three separate missives from Shakers who have had dreams incorporating me, Tom Hardy, and a grey pit bull puppy! Which is obviously awesome.

Naturally, we shall use this as the jumping-off point for another thread about how frequently I and the other contributors/mods and other Shakers appear in each other's dreams. Shakes-related dreams come up in comments fairly regularly, and one of the most common subjects among reader emails is telling me that they dreamed about me and/or another contributor. (And, no, the vast majority of these are not the least bit creepy.)

So: Fess up. Have I appeared in your dream as your first-grade teacher? Has a fellow Shaker met you for drinks on the moon in your sleep? Has Deeky come to you in the night as a gummi-worm wielding organ grinder? Did I just invent the quadruple entendre with that last sentence...?

Tell the tales of your Shakesville Dreams here.

image of actor Tom Hardy kissing a grey pit bull puppy on the muzzle, with my silly grinning face in the background, waving
Your dreams are weird.

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Silence & Military Sexual Assault: A Survivor Story

by Amy McCarthy, an editor, writer, community manager, and feminist who can be found playing Top Chef in her kitchen when not causing all kinds of trouble on Twitter. Follow Amy.

[Content note: Sexual violence, description of assault, reproductive coercion, self-harm.]

Over the past few years, we've started hearing more frequently the stories of a number of women and men who were sexually assaulted while they served in the United States Armed Forces and reported their assaults.

In mid-2012, 35 instructors at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX were removed from their positions, a majority of whom were removed for "illicit sexual conduct," including rape. We have heard the story of Marine Lt. Elle Helmer, who was raped in 2006 by a superior officer. According to CNN, when she reported her assault to her commanding officer, he discouraged her from getting a rape kit. You can read the survivor stories of Rebecca, Terri, Heath, Darchelle, Panayiota, Jenny, Michael, Heath, and Amando here.

What we don't hear as often, though, are the stories of the thousands of other women and men in the United States Armed Forces, deployed and stationed stateside, who are victims of rape at the hands of superior officers, peers, and civilian instructors, but never report their assaults.

According to Protect Our Defenders, an organization that works to support military rape victims, "only 13.5% of sexual assaults within the services were reported." That means, instead of the official number of 3,158 sexual assaults that were reported in 2010 (the most recent year that reporting is available), it is likely that the number is much closer to 19,000.

One of those 19,000 victims who have been silenced by rape culture is my dear friend, who has chosen to be identified here only as "S." She spoke to me about her experience, with the explicit intent of publicly sharing her story.

S, a strong, vibrant young woman who has a bright future ahead of her, joined the Navy to get out of her small town, get a little direction, maybe see the world. She served in the Navy from 2009 until 2012, during which time she studied aircraft electrical systems.

The assault happened at a party celebrating her group's "A" School Graduation. (At "A" School, sailors learn how to do the jobs they enlisted to do.) After the ceremony, most of her graduating class got rooms at a local hotel because they'd all been drinking. S shared her room with a woman in her class.

After deciding to call it a night, S left for bed, telling her roommate that she'd leave the deadbolt to their room unlocked so she could get in when she was through partying. When S woke up a few hours later feeling sick, her attacker was raping her. Even though she was sick and continued to vomit on her attacker, he continued to assault her.

Once the assault was over, S's attacker left and she hid in the bathroom until morning. Soon after, S flew home several states away to celebrate Christmas with her family, not telling anyone.

She kept the assault to herself until she had to tell her boyfriend. She'd become pregnant as a result of the rape and wanted an abortion. Her boyfriend "didn't believe in abortion," and wanted S to carry the pregnancy to term so that he could "raise the child as his own." He propsed, because he thought it was the "right" thing to do.

Seventeen weeks into the pregnancy, S realized that she couldn't go through with it. She ended her pregnancy, and her relationship suffered because of that decision. It eventually fizzled out.

Undiagnosed PTSD, stress, and anxiety were beginning to wear on her and she felt like she had to get out. In February of 2012, S attempted suicide.

S told her supervisor at work, who was also a friend and insisted that S go to the hospital for a check-up. Doctors checked her into the hospital for a mandatory overnight psychiatric evaluation.

"I had already started therapy when I attempted suicide," says S, "but I hadn't really told anyone my story. I had avoided thinking about it for so long that the memories had become overwhelming." Now just over one year later, S is out of the Navy and doing better. I asked her how she's healing.

"Getting out of the Navy helped. I had to get away from that uniform—it was a constant reminder. It's easier to talk about it now," she says.

But she still experiences the lingering effects of the sexual assault in sometimes unexpected ways: "The FedEx guy at work touched me yesterday at work and I freaked out, and I still can't get in an elevator with a man and not feel threatened, but I'm doing better."

I also asked her what she hoped to accomplish by telling her story. Her response was poignant: "I hope that it makes someone feel less alone. I felt lost when it happened. Like, I couldn't tell anyone. So I didn't. When I found out I was pregnant, I told [my ex-boyfriend] about it. He flipped out and blamed me. Saying I shouldn't have been there and that I was stupid for putting myself in a situation where it could have happened."

"I just hope that I make someone realize that there are people all around them who have experienced what they're going through...and the aftermath. And they just have to reach out. The sooner, the better."

S and the 15,841 other silenced sexual assault victims in the United States Armed Forces deserve more.

* * *

If you have survived sexual assault and want to reach out for support, there are resources that can help you (the following is not a comprehensive list):

Resources within the military: Military OneSource and US Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.

In conjunction with the military: RAINN's SAFEHelpline.

Resources outside the military for veterans of the US Armed Forces: Military Rape Crisis Center.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

One Direction: "Little Things"

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Tsarnaev Cites War as Motivation for Bombing

[Content Note: Terrorism; war.]

According to anonymous sources "familiar with the interviews" of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, he has cited "the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan" as the motivation for the attacks carried out with his brother.

The 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings has told interrogators that the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated him and his brother to carry out the attack, according to U.S. officials familiar with the interviews.

From his hospital bed, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has acknowledged his role in planting the explosives near the marathon finish line on April 15, the officials said.

...The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation, said Dzhokhar and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed by police as the two attempted to avoid capture, do not appear to have been directed by a foreign terrorist organization.

Rather, the officials said, the evidence so far suggests they were "self-radicalized" through Internet sites and U.S. actions in the Muslim world. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has specifically cited the U.S. war in Iraq, which ended in December 2011 with the removal of the last American forces, and the war in Afghanistan, where President Obama plans to end combat operations by the end of 2014.

Obama has made repairing U.S. relations with the Islamic world a foreign policy priority, even as he has expanded drone operations in Pakistan and other countries, which has inflamed Muslim public opinion.
I am not justifying the Tsarnaevs' attack when I observe the following: The wars and drone operations continually justified as "spreading freedom" and/or "making us safer" do neither.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat lying on her back on the stairs
Sophie, greeting me in the morning at the bottom of the stairs: "RUB MAH BELLEH, TWO-LEGS!"

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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Texting! With Liss and Deeky!

As Deeky mentioned In the News, I recently gifted him a Star Wars bow tie. Here is the text conversation had upon its arrival...

Deeks: Thanks for the bow tie!

Liss: You're welcome! I wanted to send you something non-garbagey for a change!

Deeks: LOLOLOL. I just assumed it was garbage prior to opening it.

Liss: "Wait—what? Who is this from again?"

Deeks: I had to check the note they included.

Liss: LOL!

I don't know what he is on about. Just because the last thing I sent him was a pair of marshmallow dolls with googly eyes! Harrumph.

image of two marshmallows: on the left, one has been painted orange and a white handlebar mustache and googly eyes affixed to it; on the right, one has been painted purple with purple-lidded and lashed googly eyes and is wearing a turquoise bow

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In The News

[Content note: Homophobia, rape, rape culture]


Steubenville's football coach got a two-year contract extension. I hate everything.

Folk singer Richie Havens died yesterday.

Watch Havens' legendary performance of Freedom at Woodstock.

One Direction is heading for a showdown with Justin Bieber at the Billboard Music Awards. Be safe, everyone!

Here is everything you need to know about the Senate's online sales-tax bill.

Delaware's House is set to debate and vote on marriage equality today. Yay!

Rhode Island's Senate Judiciary Committee will consider a marriage equality bill today. Yay!

The French National Assembly gave its final approval today to marriage equality. Yay!

Check out this awesome Star Wars bowtie that Liss gave to me. Yay!

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