Still Ill

Morning, everyone. I'm still really under the weather, as the flu seems to be causing complications with my autoimmune disorder. So I'm out for at least another day. I'm really sorry. I'll be back as soon as I can.

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Open Thread

Hosted by Creepy Pumpkin Gumballs. Happy Halloween!

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Out Today

I have some kind of horrendous flu that came on very suddenly yesterday afternoon, so I'm taking at least today off. Hopefully I'll feel better by tomorrow, but, if not, I'll let you know.

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Open Thread

Hosted by a Mayor McCheese bobblehead.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Harriet_The_Spy: "What's something you have made lately (with photos if appropriate)? I want to see the wonderful baking/art/building/craft/knitting projects that people keep mentioning!"

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This will be my favorite show, on one condition...

Oh boy:

[W]e need to get serious for a second because there is a sentence coming up after this colon that demands your full attention: NBC has ordered a script for a new procedural about a Boston private investigator who (a) is an angel and (b) can talk to animals.

Let's back up. One does not simply order a series about a heavenly private dick who can chit-chat with wildlife. It has to come from somewhere. In this case, that magical place is Thomas Sniegoski's Remy Chandler novels, which Deadline describes as a series "about an angel who, having grown weary of celestial warfare, chose to embrace earthly life and develop a deep appreciation for humans and their vices." And he's not just here deeply appreciating us and our vices, either. He's also fighting crime using his special angel powers, which include things like invisibility, mind reading, the ability to speak any language, and, as I mentioned once in the headline and twice in the text already, the ability to talk to animals. I don't see how this can possibly get any better.
Ohhhhh but I DO. Who has ALREADY successfully played an angel who "chose to embrace earthly life and develop a deep appreciation" for Meg Ryan and her terrible bike riding skills...?

image of Nic Cage from the movie City of Angels, with a dog


His former angel-man clearly had the ability to talk to animals, too. Or, at least appeal enough to dogs that they would sniff his bits, which is practically the same thing.

NBC, I promise this will be my new and forever favorite show, if only you convince Nicolas Cage to be its star. Let's make this happen.

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Transcript Update!

Folks, I kept holding off on this update because I really wanted the next update to be "surprise, we're done!!" but that's not going to happen, so here is a "surprise, we're getting super close to the end" update instead. Partly because I want to keep up the excitement and participate (TRANSCRIBE! TRANSCRIBE LIKE THE WIND, LOVELIES!) and partly because I know that ya'll aren't sitting in my study watching me work and I want to reassure everyone that progress is still happening.

SB5 Transcript (Also known as filibuster night.)
This one is almost done. We have literally 4 more videos to transcribe, and 11 videos to proof before going up. I have pinged the volunteers and asked them to try to complete the work by this weekend.
Google Link:

HB2 Transcript
This one is close. We have 21 videos left, but they're mostly short ones. (And 10 videos out for proofing, plus those 21 will need proofing when they're transcribed.) I have asked the volunteers to try to complete these by the end of November.
Google Link:

SB1 Transcript
This one is also close. We have 19 videos left to transcribe, with 11 videos out for proofing right now. I have asked the volunteers to try to complete these by the end of November.
Google Link:

The two Citizen Testimonies are still being listened to and spliced. We're about 7 hours into one and 9 hours into the other, which is about halfway done for each.

For awhile, I'd hoped to get this out more formally (i.e., on Kindle and Nook) before the November 5th election day in Texas, but that's not going to happen at this point. That's honestly okay; back when I was expecting to do these by myself, I was sure that the project wouldn't finish in 2013, so we're still way ahead of where I thought we'd be and I'm so proud and grateful to you all. THANK YOU.

My plan forward right now is to start formatting SB5 for a Kindle edition and "update in" the new material (HB2, SB1, and the Citizen Testimonies) as they finish. I'm not sure if that's an option, so I'm going to have to play around a little with the Kindle settings. I was really hoping to do a Kindle Serial with the material, but that takes special permission and I've still not received authorization from Amazon for that.

In addition to the organizing on my end, I also need to contact my cover artist and my editor and speak to them about the project; I want to make sure the finished version is something we can all be happy with. What you can do to help is to complete your videos as quickly as possible (assuming you have any) and/or contact me if you'd like to be added to the list of transcribers -- I NEED MOAR, especially for the upcoming citizen testimonies.

Thank you all!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Matilda the Fluffy Sealpoint Cat sitting in between two pillows, giving me a silly look

Cat Sandwich!

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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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

The Chordettes: "Lollipop"

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Two Americas

[Content Note: Misogyny; racism.]

Gary Langer for ABC News: Poll Finds Vast Gaps in Basic Views on Gender, Race, Religion and Politics.

An almost unfathomable gap divides public attitudes on basic issues involving gender, race, religion and politics in America, fueled by dramatic ideological and partisan divisions that offer the prospect of more of the bitter political battles that played out in Washington this month.

A new ABC News/Fusion poll, marking the launch of the Fusion television network, finds vast differences among groups in trust in government, immigration policy and beyond, including basic views on issues such as the role of religion and the value of diversity in politics, treatment of women in the workplace and the opportunities afforded to minorities in society more broadly.

While these issues divide a variety of Americans, this poll, produced for ABC and Fusion by Langer Research Associates, finds that the gaps in nearly all cases are largest among partisan and ideological groups – so enormous and so fundamental that they seem to constitute visions of two distinctly different Americas.


• Among all adults, 53 percent think women have fewer opportunities than men in the workplace. But that ranges from 68 percent of Democrats to 38 percent of Republicans, a difference of 30 percentage points. Comparing the most unlike groups, liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, it’s 76 vs. 35 percent.

• Forty-one percent overall think nonwhites have fewer opportunities than whites in society. Fifty-six percent of Democrats say so, as do 62 percent of liberal Democrats (more than the number of nonwhites themselves who say so, 51 percent). Among Republicans that dives to 25 percent.

• Forty-three percent of Americans say it would be a good thing if more women were elected to Congress – but the range here is from six in 10 Democrats and liberals alike to just 26 percent of conservatives and 23 percent of Republicans. Instead two-thirds or more in these latter two groups say it makes no difference to them.
Et cetera.

Two Americas: One interested in social justice, and one that believes it's already been achieved—or imagines their privileged selves to be the victims of profound injustice.

That feels overwhelming. It is difficult to not become hardened and despondent, reading something like that. I resist it with the resolve to invite my twin countrypersons to empathy, and hope that they affirmatively RSVP.

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today!

NBC News Investigations published what it clearly feels is a BIG STORY about how the Obama administration knew that millions of people would not be able to keep their health insurance once the Affordable Care Act rolled out. Over at Think Progress, Igor details what's wrong with that story. What's really at issue is not so much that some people will lose their current health coverage (generally for better health coverage), but that Obama sold the plan with the lie (and, ahem, some people pointed out it was a lie at the time) that anyone who loved their health coverage would definitely be able to keep it. The truth is, as Jon puts it so well here: "The scandal is not that reform will change people's insurance. After all, the point of any 'reform' is to change things. The scandal is that Obama lied the whole time and kept lying even after his administration set the rules making sure this impossible promise would never be kept."

The NSA is in hot water, now that Congressional Republicans are pretending to care about surveillance since they calculate it might hurt President Obama. I'd prefer it if they were concerned about it because they have integrity and decency, but we'll have to settle for the principle of Whatever Hurts the Democratic President!

[Content Note: Guns] Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mom, is an amazing woman. Today, she will testify before the US Senate Judiciary Committee as part of a hearing on clarifying "Stand Your Ground Laws." Fulton will have to speak in front of Senators who defend these heinous laws. In prepared testimony, she will tell them that Stand Your Ground "in its current form is far to open to abuse."

Fingers crossed: "As lawmakers gather in Honolulu for a special session to consider marriage equality legislation, Hawaiian news outlets are reporting that both chambers have secured the votes necessary for passage."

John McCain definitely thinks Hillary Clinton will run for president and win, because he's already angling for a spot in her cabinet. He's also throwing a bone to Biden, just in case.

This is not good: "Scientists said Monday they have for the first time documented that an Asian carp species has successfully reproduced within the Great Lakes watershed, an ominous development in the struggle to slam the door on the hungry invaders that could threaten native fish."

A Golden Girls Lego Set. WANT.

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Liss and Ana Talk About Elementary

[Content Note: Violence; harassment; misogyny. Spoilers for the most recent episode of Elementary.]

image of Sherlock and Joan standing beside a table; Sherlock is gesturing toward a window
"Elementary, my dear Watson! This show has obviously gone right out the window!"

Liss: All right, I just need to start this entire thing by saying I HATED THE ENTIRE SUBPLOT ABOUT SHERLOCK AND JOAN'S FRIEND. I hated it SO MUCH! Everything about it was terrible! And Sherlock DOESN'T WEAR CONDOMS?! WHUT. Nope. No. Nope. Fail.

Ana: OMG, lady, the Friend Subplot. I was going along really side-eying the whole thing because it seemed like we were supposed to be proud of Joan for forging her own path, etc. except that I was wondering if Joan has any friends who AREN'T terrible stereotypes of women, because Friend A makes a match-making profile for her and Friend B has her track down a one-night stand in a way that was setting off my stalker- and privacy-alarm bells right after an episode arc wherein Joan got to find out how it feels to be hacked and tracked down and victimized?? Like, remember when it was creepy because that Nice Guy showed up on her doorstep and I wanted to give the writers cookies for (maybe) recognizing that it was creepy? I TAKE IT BACK. I WAS TOO CHARITABLE. "Hi, I'm the girl you slept with; I had my detective friend find you" is NOT OKAY. Give me my cookies back, Elementary.

And then the Reveal that it was Sherlock All Along was SO awful. He was spying on her? We're going to retcon that in now, even though they were so rarely apart that it was a HUGE plot point and her friends staged an intervention and NOPE NEVERMIND JOAN DIDN'T NOTICE HIM BEING OUT ALL NIGHT LONG WHILE HE WAS SLEEPING WITH HER FRIEND! AND MAYBE DRINKING, EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS TESTING HIM AFTER EVERY ABSENCE! I did sorta cheer a little when she said an apology wouldn't smooth things over (because if they're going to serve us a shit sandwich, I want Joan to at least point out that it's stinky as butts), only I guess she was lying to us, because that seemed to smooth everything over perfectly. *that face*

Liss: It was so bad. SO BAD. And I hate that every time we see Joan with one of her female friends, they're talking about Some Dude. It's like the writers of Elementary are deliberately laughing at the Bechdel Test. "What completely contrived interaction can we conceive in order to make Joan talk about nothing but a dude with any lady to whom she speaks?"

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[Content Note: Hostility to agency; eugenics.]

Republican Senator Rand Paul continues to be a delight:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Monday warned that the combination of abortion and scientific advances could one day lead to the practice of eugenics.
Of course he did.

His speech was in support of Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, and naturally it was delivered at Liberty University, that glorious bastion of conservative Christian matriculation founded by the late Jerry Falwell.
Paul looked to energize conservative supporters by warning that genetic tests could identify those who are predisposed to be short, overweight or less intelligent so that they could be eliminated. With one week remaining before Election Day, Cuccinelli is hoping the joint appearance with the U.S. senator from Kentucky will encourage the far-right flank of his party to abandon third-party libertarian spoiler Robert Sarvis.

"In your lifetime, much of your potential - or lack thereof - can be known simply by swabbing the inside of your cheek," Paul said to a packed sporting arena on Liberty's campus. "Are we prepared to select out the imperfect among us?"
I always love this framing: This EXTREME THING could possibly happen, so let's ban SCIENCE! And ABORTION! Heck, while we're at it, let's not just defund Obamacare; let's ban DOCTORS and MEDICINE!

Conservatives are so great. They consistently govern expecting the worst of human nature on social issues, despite the fact there is a preponderance of evidence that we can, as a culture, agree to social progress and protections for vulnerable populations, and consistently govern in spite of the worst of human nature on economic issues, despite the fact there is a preponderance of evidence that people with wealth and power do not self-regulate to the benefit of the masses, nor do provide charitable subsidy when a public social safety net is decimated.

Sure, it's possible that we could go down a road where fetuses fated to be aesthetically deviant people are aborted. But, personally, I think we're capable of having that conversation and ultimately making wise decisions about limitations on science that could also save lives.

Of course, I have a terrible habit of expecting more.

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Philadelphia Passes Sweeping LGBT Legislation

Here is some good news to start the day!

When Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed legislation Thursday to afford equal rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, he said he hoped Philadelphia would become "the most LGBT-friendly" city in the world.

...Nutter, city and state lawmakers and gay rights advocates said the legislation makes Philadelphia the first city in the U.S. to offer tax credits to companies that extend the same health care coverage to LGBT employees' domestic partners and their children as they provide to heterosexual spouses and their children.

Officials said the legislation also makes Philadelphia the first city to offer businesses tax credits as a way to encourage providing transgender-specific health benefits.

image of Mayor Michael Nutter, a middle-aged black man, signing the bill while flanked by a woman and three men, all of whom appear to be white
Mayor Nutter signs the legislation into law.

"My goal is for Philadelphia to be one of, if not the most, LGBT-friendly cities in the world and a leader on equality issues," said Nutter, adding that the signing struck a personal note because his friend, the late City Councilman John Anderson, was a gay man and a mentor who inspired him 30 years ago to pursue a life of public service.

In addition to the business tax incentives, which were backed by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce as well as LGBT advocacy groups, and the gender-neutral restrooms, the legislation revises Philadelphia's anti-discrimination law to include transgender people, extends decision-making rights to life partners on medical and other issues, and changes city forms and websites to offer options for same-sex couples and transgender people.

..."This is a city that is truly respecting all its citizens," said state Rep. Brian Sims, a Philadelphia Democrat and the first openly gay candidate to be elected to the Legislature. "It is because of that respect that we are indeed a first-class city and we will continue to shine."
It would be helpful to many residents of Philadelphia if the state legislature of Pennsylvania legalized same-sex marriage, too. At the moment, Pennsylvania is the only remaining northeast state to have failed to legalize same-sex marriage.

But back to the good news: In addition to the protections mentioned above, the legislation "requires that new or renovated city-owned buildings include gender-neutral bathrooms in addition to traditional men's and women's restrooms." Further: "For trans employees, the new legislation now means they have access to health benefits which include psychotherapy, hormone treatment, hair removal, and gender reassignment surgery." Which should be a basic benefit of any healthcare plan, but isn't.

Good for Philly for taking these important steps. Congratulations to all the trans, lesbian, gay, bi, and allied activists who worked so hard to make this legislation happen.

[Photo via.]

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Open Thread

Hosted by a desktop fan.

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Question of the Day

Originally suggested by Shaker picaflor and requested again by Shaker gwyllion: What mystery would you like to see finally solved?

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Bow Wow Wow: "I Want Candy"

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Number of the Day

Zero: The effective tax rate of just over 10% of the companies on the S&P 500.

There are 57 separate companies listed on the index that paid a zero percent rate from the past year. Those companies include both household names like Verizon and News Corp. and lesser-known corporate giants like the data storage manufacturer Seagate (market value $15.9 billion) and Public Storage (market value $29.5 billion). Many of the companies USA Today identified in its analysis as paying negative rates make the list because they lost money, but several were profitable. Previous analyses have shown that the typical corporation pays a lower effective tax rate than most middle-class families, and a far lower one than the statutory corporate tax rate against which business interests disingenuously rail.

Getting to a zero percent tax rate despite turning a profit requires creative accounting, but not lawbreaking. The corporate tax code allows companies to avoid tax liability even in years when they turn a profit. Some of the profitable companies on the newspaper's list, such as General Motors, achieved a zero percent rate by banking tax credits from previous years when business was bad. But the more common gambit involves moving revenues from parent companies to offshore subsidiaries based in tax haven countries in the Caribbean, Europe, and elsewhere.

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Breaking News

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is "a strong supporter" of widespread surveillance and thinks Edward Snowden is a traitor. Because of course he does.

Terrific "exclusive," CNN.

screen cap from CNN's front page reading: 'EXCLUSIVE: CHENEY WEIGHS IN ON SPYING | Cheney backs the NSA: Former Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking with CNN's Jake Tapper, suggests there is an interest in conducting surveillance on a country or a leader. FULL STORY'

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The Monday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by birds.

Recommended Reading:

Emi: [Content Note: Violence, abuse, bullying, self-harm] The Uses of Negativity: Survival and Coping Strategies for Those of Us Who Are Exasperated by the Empty Promise of "It" Getting "Better"

Flavia: [CN: Racism; imperialism, violence] An Intersectional Feminist Approximation to Aesthetics around Zwarte Piet

Robert: [CN: Drones, violence, PTSD] Psychologists Propose Horrifying Solution to PTSD in Drone Operators

Libby Anne: [CN: Homophobia, abuse, emotional auditing] Can We Not Tell Gay Christians What to Do Please?

Angry Asian Man: [CN: Racist Halloween] The Guys Who Dressed Up as Bloody Asiana Flight Attendants

Summer: [CN: Racist Halloween] Today in Post-Race History: The Halloween Press Release

Marisa: [CN: Disordered eating Halloween] Part One: That 'Anna Rexia' Halloween Costume Is Back. Part Two: Sketchy Halloween Site Selling Anna Rexia Costume Taunts Us Via Text. (I love how no one ever gives two shits about what fat women think about anything except when it comes time to defend the Anna Rexia costume.)

And Trudy's got Janelle MonĂ¡e's excellent performances on SNL (video of one; link to the other), in case you missed 'em. SHE WAS SO GREAT.

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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This weekend, while we were out running errands, a church sign reading:

We knew the dead would rise again long before zombies were cool.

I'm just sorry I didn't have my camera with me to take a picture of it, because it was obviously perfect the end.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt lying on the living room floor, grinning with her eyes closed, looking SO HAPPY

Look at this face! Just look at it! She is SO FREAKING CUTE!

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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The Walking Thread

[Content Note: Violence. Spoilers are lurching around undeadly herein.]

image of Grimes rage-screaming while Daryl holds him back
Uh-oh. Daddy's on the brink again.

This week on The Walking Dead: Everyone has a job, feelings are for dum-dums, and there's a new Governor Cyclops in town!

When we pick up with our ragtag group of future zombie chow, the Icky Poopoo Cough Flu is ravaging the population of no-names at Grimes Jail. Dig dig dig. So many graves. Glenn and Maggie share a Meaningful Look. RIP people who never even got a line because the excruciatingly meticulous investigation of the Newton's Cradle kinetic pendulum that is Grimes' emotional state does not leave room for NONSENSE like other people's lives.

Elsewhere, Tyreese, standing over the charred bodies of his girlfriend Karen and Rick from Accounting, gets super enraged by the collective lack of concern being demonstrated by Rick, Daryl, and Carol. On the one hand, Karen was Tyreese's girlfriend, and if you think it's hard to find someone who gets you in the real world, imagine how hard it is during the zombiepocalypse. On the other hand, Karen and Rick from Accounting were definitely going to die anyway and in the meantime were totes contagious, so.

The weighing of these realities are plastered all over Grimes' and Daryl's and Carol's faces as they look at Tyreese's angry face, and their ambivalence only makes him hulk out all the more. He smashes Daryl up against a fenced wall, and Daryl wisely gestures to Grimes to back off and let Tyreese get it out of his system, and Grimes takes that excellent advice for fully three seconds before jumping in and telling Tyreese to "calm down." It is at this point I figure Tyreese will just murder Grimes and I won't mind and let's wrap it up the end.

But Tyreese just pins Grimes, a tiny little man who somehow manages to overcome the much larger Tyreese, and smashes his face into the pavement, until Daryl pulls him off before he kills him. Grimes looks horrified and stares at his bloody fist. Whooooooops your brain is broken again, Grimes!

That is, of course, Hershel's cue to find Grimes and have some insufferable conversation about how Grimes has to protect and save people blah blah fart. Which happens.

Meanwhile, Sasha is sick, too. Oh hell no. These writers are so goddamn lazy! Off the top of my head, I can think of about eleventy-seven different ways to create emotional conflict for Tyreese that doesn't involve endangering and/or killing the two women who are affiliated with him. BUT FUCK INGENUITY! And double-fuck giving female characters their own agency so they can do more than just serve as imperiled appendages to facilitate male plot arcs. It's so much easier to just demolish Tyreese's property.

Something something council meeting. Daryl and Michonne will go on a run to a veterinary hospital 50 miles away to collect antibiotics. Children and old people will be quarantined for their protection.

Carl the Hat is pouting (NO WAY!) about having to go into quarantine with a bunch of babies and fogies. Grimes tells him to shut it. He's got people to protect. "You wanna be treated like a patriarch?! THEN ACT LIKE A PATRIARCH!"—Grimes, probably. Carl the Hat tween-sneers that he hopes his dad realizes he will have to shoot anyone who gets sick and turns. This terrific conversation lasts a few moments longer.

Uh-oh. The water hose is clogged. Someone needs to go out in zombie territory to fix it. Uh-oh. Glenn is sick. You know it's really getting dire when someone with a name AND a penis gets it!

(NB: Not all men have penises. Not all people with penises are men. But this show has neither the sophistication nor the sensitivity to include trans* characters. If, however, I am one day happily proven wrong about that, I will eat Carl's hat.)

Maggie and Blonde Girl have a great conversation through the quarantine door about everyone has a job (which is the vaguely drawn thematic topic of this episode) and about how having a job to do means "we don't get to be upset." Whut? One of the most exhausting and infuriating things about this show is the aggressive emotional auditing and policing that goes on between characters constantly. Telling other people how to feel is as constant a presence as gurgling zombies.

If I had even the slightest faith that the writers of this show knew what they were doing, I might be inclined to make an argument that the show was secretly a brilliant commentary on how the ubiquity of emotional policing in our terrible culture of judgment can feel like an onslaught of voracious, fetid, nightmare creatures lurching toward you with outstreched arms, seeking to poison you with their toxic disease.

But I'm pretty sure this show is actually arguing that emotional policing is the awesomest tool in the kyriarchy toolbox.


Hershel heads for the woods to collect elderberries to make tea for the sickies, and Carl the Hat insists in a typically obnoxious way on accompanying him. Carol heads for the stream to fix the water hose, and Grimes has to save her (or at least he thinks he does), so he yells at her. Tyreese and Bob the Army Doctor join Daryl and Michonne, and they all head for the vet clinic.

Hershel says a bunch of things about choosing how to risk your life, which I can't hear over the sound of my own yawning. The doctor coughs blood DIRECTLY into Hershel's face, which is presumably not supposed to be funny, but makes me laugh uproariously. Blonde Girl holds Baby Zombie Whistle Grimes, because we all have a job, and that is hers! Glenn coughs. Maggie frets. The vet run crew hears a voice on the radio. Whuzzat?! Before we can find out, they drive into a swarm of zombies. SO MANY ZOMBIES! The car gets stuck in the muck of zombie corpses, so they have to make a run for it. Slash slash slash. Thump thump thump. Arrows. Tyreese is taking his anger out on all the zombies.

Grimes investigates the scene of the murder, and finds a bloody handprint smaller than his own. THAT COULD ONLY BE ONE PERSON! He confronts Carol and asks her if she killed Karen and Rick from Accounting, and she says yes. Which is really going to complicate things since all the dudes have been promising to ruthlessly punish whoever dunnit.

Next week on The Walking Dead: The plot moves forward in a virtually imperceptible increment.


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Early Birds

This morning, a passing migration of birds set down in our neighborhood. For just a few brief minutes, tens (hundreds?) of thousands of birds descended on lawns and in trees, resting and seeking a quick bite, chattering noisily. And then, as quickly as they'd arrived, they were gone.

I watched the first part of their visit from my porch, and then went back in for the camera, so I could catch a bit of it to share.

Video Description: Across from me, in a small field, dozens of black birds congregate in the grass. (When I first looked out at that same field right after they landed, the grass was not even visible for all the birds on it.) There is much chirping and chattering. More and more birds swoop in and land. I pan up, to catch the birds in the trees and air, then back down to the field. Then, in one movement, the entire field of birds lifts into the air and flies into formation. All of the birds from the surrounding trees take off into the air. A huge swarm flies overhead, making all kinds of communicative noise. The clouds of birds come and come. And then they are gone.

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today!

The Spanish government has asked for the US ambassador to Spain to account for reports that the NSA spied on more than 60 million phone calls in Spain. What a fucking embarrassment.

Juan Cole: "Among the founding principles of the United States was 'no taxation without representation.' But the NSA appears to be a secret kingdom that appropriates our money with no oversight or accountability. We didn't elect it, and if it doesn't let our chosen representatives know what it is up to, then it is taxing us without giving us any representation. It is a tyrant. It is an ominous homunculus within the body politic. Secrecy is anathema to a democratic republic. If we ever had one, it is long gone."

Meanwhile, the trial of Rebekah Brooks and her colleagues employed by conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch, resulting from the phone hacking scandal at the now defunct British tabloid News of the World, begins this week. Seems kind of horrifyingly quaint post-Snowden.

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham is "threatening to block every single nomination from the Obama administration until he gets what he wants on Benghazi." I don't have enough sighs in my lifetime for this guy.

[CN: Misogyny] Whenever some d-bag like Richard Dawkins asserts that feminism and Islam are incompatible, I think of Saudi women's driving campaign: "Saudi women demanding the right to drive said they would keep up their campaign a day after government warnings and a heavy police presence thwarted their call for many women to get behind the wheel." Brave, brave women.

Surprise: The US pays more for broadband because of corporate monopolies. Thanks for busting those antitrust laws, President Reagan!

There were two digital shorts on SNL this weekend that were pretty darn funny.

RIP Lou Reed.

RIP Marcia Wallace.

This is your regularly scheduled reminder that not everyone wants to get married. The neat thing about opening up choice is that the spectrum of choices becomes ever more evident.

I mean, once cats and dogs start teaming up, it's all over for humans.

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Call of Cheesethulhu

Do you like looking at pictures of specially-styled party food? If not, you might want to skip this post! If so, read on!

This weekend I hosted my irregular-but-regular Arkham Horror board game night. If you are not familiar with the game, it is a co-operative game (meaning, all the players work together for a group win), set in the universe of USian horror writer H. P. Lovecraft.

So I served some appropriately Cthulhu-themed foods (which basically means a lot of tentacled-looking stuff). Like a Cheese-thulhu ball! With crackers! Covered in turkey bacon bits, pecans and green onions.

 photo cheesehulhu_zps414f377c.jpg

And a Vegthulhu! Rising from the sea guacamole.

 photo cthulhucruidites_zps4eeccbda.jpg

And here is the Cthulhu army of hot-dog cephalopod minions!!!

 photo cthulhudogs_zps4bb94fa6.jpg

And for dessert? Well here are always cupcakes... cupcakes topped with Cthulhu's evil visage (aka a marshmallow chocolate cookie), minty wings and tentacles formed from chocolate Twizzlers.

 photo 10a32175-1328-4276-87c7-a62662ffaebd_zps6213645f.jpg

And then we played the game, which, as you can see, takes a little doing (thus the food-fortification.)

 photo arkhamocto_zps9fa5e8a1.jpg

Do you have any fun party food you'd like to share? Feel free to do so in comments.

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Condoms for Everyone!

In a policy statement that will surprise no one who has ever paid attention to teenagers, sex, or facts, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Adolescence has said that making condoms available to teens is a good idea.

[The AAP committee] said schools are a good place to make condoms available. To be most effective, they should also be accompanied by sex education programs.

There is still some resistance to making condoms more accessible for young people, researchers said.

"I think one of the main issues is the idea that if you provide condoms and make them accessible, kids will be more likely to have sex. But really, that's not the case," Amy Bleakley said. "Getting over the perception that giving condoms out will make kids have sex is a real barrier for parents and school administrators," she told Reuters Health.

...She said some studies suggest teenagers with access to condoms and comprehensive sex education actually start having sex later than their peers who don't.

...The new policy statement, an update to the AAP's 2001 statement on condom use by adolescents, was published Monday in Pediatrics.

"The biggest difference is that we have more evidence about how effective they are against sexually transmitted infections," Dr. Rebecca O'Brien, the policy statement's lead author, said. That's especially true for viruses like herpes and HIV, she added.

...In its recommendations, the committee said doctors should support consistent and correct use of condoms. They should also encourage parents to discuss condom use and prevention of STIs with their adolescent children.

Sexually active teenagers should have access to free or low-cost condoms, such as in pediatricians' offices and schools, the committee emphasized. At retail stores, condoms sold in multi-packs typically cost 25 to 50 cents each.

"For teens to use them, they have to have them available, and they're not going to come in necessarily asking for them," O'Brien said.

O'Brien specializes in adolescent medicine at Boston Children's Hospital. She said her office has a fishbowl full of condoms.

"Having them available, not just in healthcare settings is really important," she told Reuters Health. "Have them in the mall. They should be everywhere."
It should basically be raining condoms anywhere there is a concentration of teenagers.

This idea that making contraceptives available to teenagers will encourage, enable, tacitly permit them to have sex is absurd and tiresome. That's not the way humans work, at any age. The availability of condoms will not make a huge difference in the number of kids having sex; it will only make a difference in how many kids have safer sex.

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The Worst Part of Halloween

[Content Note: Racism; racist imagery; appropriation; violence.]

In the year of our lord Jesus Jones two thousand and thirteen, there are still white people who think it's okay to do blackface for Halloween. (See also.) Over the weekend, actress Julianne Hough was snapped in a blackface costume, and a couple of nightmares from Florida dressed up as George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, the latter complete with blackface and bloody bullet hole in chest.

This is not okay. This is not okay.

Treating eliminationist violence like a joke is not okay. Turning identity into a costume is not okay. Making costumes that look like pieces of a marginalized person's body have been literally torn from their bodies and turned into trophies for privileged people to wear like a fucking punchline is not okay.

Stop it. Just stop.

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Open Thread

Hosted by scissors.

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Sunday Shuffle

Billy Joel, The Longest Time (a cappella)


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Open Thread

Hosted by a hat.
This week's open threads have been brought to you by snowperson accessories.

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Open Thread

Hosted by coal.

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

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

Belly up to the bar,
and be in this space together.

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[Content Note: Rape culture; child sexual abuse.]

This is an actual fucking headline in the world: Dave Herman, Radio Personality, Tried to Arrange Sex With Girl, 7.

Nope. No, he didn't. What Dave Herman, Radio Personality, tried to do is rape a child. He did not try to "arrange sex with" her. Specifically, he tried to "arrange" to kidnap who he thought was a 7-year-old child but was actually a law enforcement agent, and take her from New Jersey to the Virgin Islands so he could rape her.

Special contempt sneers at NBC News for repeating that shit right on its front page in the featured news section:

screen cap of NBC News featured news section with linked headline reading 'Radio star tried to arrange sex with girl, 7, feds say'

This is rape culture.

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Discussion Thread: Halloween Costumes

If you are dressing up for Halloween this year, for a party or to take a younger person trick-or-treating or to answer your door, what is your costume going to be?

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The Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by sweaters.

Recommended Reading:

Aaron: [Content Note: Racism; violence] 12 Years a Slave and the Power of Owning Our Own Narratives

Dianna: [CN: Christian supremacy; misogyny; sexuality policing; rape culture] Purity Culture as Rape Culture: Why the Theological Is Political

Shannon: [CN: Privilege; emotional auditing; tone policing] Hey Allies, Let's Talk Shall We?

crunktastic: [CN: Misogyny; bullying] On Black Men Showing Up for Black Women at the Scene of the Crime

Jon: [CN: Hostility to consent; class warfare] Right to Life [sic] Chapters Sue to Prevent Medicaid Expansion in Ohio

Trudy: [CN: Misogynoir; illness] On Those UK Stats about Young Black Women and Young White Women with Breast Cancer

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound lying on the loveseat looking guilty

I don't know...he looks pretty guilty about something.

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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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

David Bowie: "Life on Mars?"

This week's TMNS brought to you by songs whose titles are questions.

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Just a quick reminder to not use the reply function in order to maintain flat threads. Thanks so much for your understanding.

I'm sorry for the inconvenience, and we are working on finding a long-term solution.

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today!

[Content Note: Torture] Juan E. Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, has called on the US to stop the use of prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement in its prisons. "The use of solitary confinement in the US penitentiary system goes far beyond what is acceptable under international human rights law."

The NSA "monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden." This shit? Is not making us safer. Spying on world leaders undermines national security, because global good will is crucial to national security.

[CN: Racism; slurs; dehumanization] The North Carolina GOP official who gave a racist interview to The Daily Show has been forced to resign.

President Obama wants to pass immigration reform this year: "Democrats in the House have introduced a bill similar to the Senate bill. 'So now it's up to Republicans in the House to decide whether reform becomes a reality or not,' President Obama said." Welp.

NBC plans to reboot Murder, She Wrote with Oscar winner Octavia Spencer in the role made famous by Angela Lansbury. Neat!

Tom Hanks is nice. Not "Jay Leno Nice," but really nice for realsies.

These mugs are THE CUTEST.

[CN: Misogyny; racism] Breaking News: White men run the country! (But for real: It's even more stark than you might think.)

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The Cruelty of "Medical Necessity"

[Content note: Transphobia. Disablism. Disallowing people from being experts on their own lives and needs. This post also contains some very triggery stuff about depression and self-harm. Please note the commenting guidelines at the end of the post.]

Last week I wrote a piece about why I don't like "love your body" campaigns. When I wrote it, I made a deliberate decision to omit any of my issues with self-harm. I've been thinking about that a lot.

First off, I think it's inappropriate to start talking about self-harm at the same time that I'm raising money for my medical bills. The whole "give me money or I'll cut myself" thing is manipulative as hell.

Just to be clear that I'm not being passive-aggressive, I've long since decided that if I ever find myself insinuating that self-harm is eminent, I'm absolutely stopping raising funds prior to doing so. It's just not cool to put folks in that position, full stop.

And you know, since friends and family are likely reading, let me just say that I'm having a fairly decent week, all things considered. I'm an old hand at managing my depression. I've got a great support network. This being trans* shit ain't fun (nor is mental illness). If it was, all the kids these days would be doing it.

As much as I like to ground my writing in my experiences, I'm not really here to talk about me as much as I am why I'm usually careful to not publicly talk about self-harm.

If you're trans* (or intimately involved in a trans* community), you've probably already noticed this: we're constantly talking amongst ourselves about self-harm.

When I first came out and was involved in face-to-face and online support networks, the subject came up all the time. In some circles, self-harm is a badge of honor. In some folks' minds (and I'm talking about trans* women here, as I haven't spent the same amount of time in gender queer or trans* masculine circles), women who don't have a history of self-harm aren't really trans. There's this whole fucked up competitive aspect of sharing your history.

"Kid, I've being trying to kill myself since before you were born. I have done the following self-destructive things on the following large number of occasions. It's bad, and it's going to get worse and so on and so forth."

That's some toxic shit, and it's the single biggest reason I don't spend more time in trans* spaces. I've got my own issues to deal with, and as much as I really want to help my sisters, I don't have the bandwidth to address that dynamic on a regular basis.

Here's the thing, and this is important. Not only are these women not lying, but I need you to remember this: cis people are the ones who created this dynamic.

I'm gonna use some html so y'all can pay attention:

Trans* women are bragging amongst themselves about their suicide attempts and other self-destructive actions. While my sisters and I have to do the work to fight this dynamic, it's ultimately cis people's fault. You created this phenomenon. It's your fault. And it's your responsibility to help us fix it. You.
And the first thing you need to understand is that trans* women talking about self-harm is not only a real response to a culture that questions our very existence and denies us access to necessary healthcare; it's also a thing we feel like we have to do in order to prove that our pain is sufficient enough to warrant access to healthcare.

Let me say that again, in case you missed it the first time: Ciscentrism obliges us to contemplate and discuss self-harm to prove we hate our bodies enough to earn healthcare.

This is one more double-bind that cis people put my sisters and I in. See, we already have to deal with all sorts of gatekeepers and financial barriers to access health care. (Even in those countries with robust government-run healthcare systems there are still significant financial barriers, although that's a topic for another time.)

In order to receive healthcare, we have to prove that it's medically necessary. This is one of those areas where the threshold for necessity depends on who's doing the talking. It goes without saying (although we should talk about it) that it's medically necessary to extend affluent white cis hetero men's lives by a few months (erections included, natch).

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The Trifecta of No

[Content Note: Public marriage proposal; pranking; misogyny.]

Just watch/read this, keeping in mind how much I hate 1. Public marriage proposals; 2. Pranks; 3. The narrative that marriage is more important than ANYTHING ELSE EVAR in any woman's life, and try to imagine the look on my face when I encountered this garbage.

Al Roker: Before we get to the weather, I wanted to bring in Simone Jhingoor, who's a part of a great non-profit. What's the great non-profit?

Simone Jhingoor: It's called the Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation.

Al Roker: That's fantastic. That's great you're doing that. And you—you've got a support staff here—you've got, uh, this is, uhhhhh, Chirag Shah. How are you doing, Chirag?

Jhingoor: This is my partner.

Chirag Shah: Hi, how you doing?

Roker: Your partner, huh? Nice. All right. Why—why are you here?

Shah: Actually— [grabs mic from Roker] Oh, sorry. [laughs] Sorry, actually the question is why is Simone here. Simone, you're actually not here to talk about the amazing work that you do. I'm sorry. BUT. You are here because, as a child growing up in Canton, Michigan, I held onto a vision of, one day, coming and living in New York. Had it not have been for the fulfillment of that vision, I would've never realized my larger purpose of finding such a beautiful and inspiring human being. I am more thankful at this very moment than I have ever been. Simone, you are here today because, yes, it is our anniversary [laughs] and this is happening. I am standing right here, at Rockefeller Plaza, live, on The Today Show, but with nothing on my mind other than to ask you one question. [crowd cheers and shouts as he gets down on one knee and offers her a ring] Will you marry me?

Jhingoor: Wow—yes.

Roker: I was worried there when she paused, Chirag. Congratulations. Wow. [Shah takes out the ring to put it on Jhingoor's finger as the crowd cheers] That's beautiful. Very nice. Congratulations. [Roker points the mic at Jhingoor] So, did you have any idea?

Jhingoor: No, not at all. I thought I was here about my organization and giving back to the community. That's what I thought I was here for!

Roker: Wow. She's very—she's very determined.

Shah: Yeah, if only you could see the rehearsal videos we had yesterday on the way in the car. She had me role-playing you—running through the lines she—

Roker: Ah, you have too much hair. And I like the, the knee switch there. What was that? You started on one knee; you went to the other.

Shah: Yeah, I never practiced the, uh, the "drop of knee" they call it, right? So…. [crosstalk]

Roker: Well, congratulations. Congratulations.

Shah: Thank you.

Roker: That's what's going on around the country. Here's what's happening in your neck of the woods.
Grossssssssssss. GROSS! Every thing about this is THE WORST! (I am sorry, Simone Jhingoor. I hope you are happy! I'm sorry I hate your marriage proposal! I really did want to hear about the Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation, by the way!) When Al Roker says, to Shah, "She's very determined!" when Jhingoor says she thought she was there to talk about her work, I want to yell things loudly in his face!

I am so glad no one ever put me in the position of thinking I was going to get to talk about my work on national television, only to have it be a SILLY TRICK so they could propose to me instead. What a fun day! I'm engaged—oh, and I had the hugest disappointment of my professional life as my apparently not-even-real thunder was stolen by the person who loves me. Yay?

That would make me SO ANGRY. Which is something I would not even begin to know what to do with while there were cameras pointed in my face and millions of people were watching this shit go down live.

FUCK PUBLIC PROPOSALS! FUCK PRANKS! Throw them all in the garbage and then put that garbage bin in a cannon and fire it directly into the sun!

[Via Marisa.]

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Santorum vs. The Devil

Hey, remember how we all watched the trailer for Rick Santorum's terrific-looking Christmas movie, The Christmas Candle, and decided we will all definitely see it because it looks so great? Well, in case you were having any doubts that we all FOR SURE made the right, nay, the PERFECT decision, here is Rick "Lights, Camera, Jesus!" Santorum himself to close the deal:

Santorum, a devout Catholic, was speaking on the Christian-oriented Trinity Broadcasting Network about the film, and said: "This is a tough business, this is something that we're stepping out ... and the devil, for a long, long time, has had this, these screens, for his playground. And he isn't going to give it up easily."
If you don't buy a ticket to The Christmas Candle, THE DEVIL WINS. Do you understand?! If you don't spend your money to support The Christmas Candle, Rick Santorum's Movie Emporium will not be able to keep making Christian films for white conservatives and THE DEVIL will keep making movies like Paul Blart: Mall Cop. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? IS IT?!

You know what to do, people.

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Open Thread

Hosted by a scarf.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Lostshadows: "What's the strangest thing you own?"

I don't even know what the strangest thing I own is. Probably Matilda. *wink*

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How much cool stuff do you think can fit into Mitt Romney's hidden room? I bet it's a lot of cool stuff.

My BFF Mitt Romney is building a new mansion in Utah, because who can live without a fifth mansion these days, and it will be THE COOLEST HOUSE, because it has a secret room (at least, it was a secret until the Salt Lake Tribune went blabbing about it!):

The architectural drawings say it's for "office storage." It measures 11 feet long and is lined with cabinets. The "hidden door," as it's labeled on the documents, is masked as a bookshelf and swings into the study. There are no other details, and Romney's spokeswoman declined to comment.
Oh man! I need to hear some comments about this sweet secret room!

What is Mitt Romney going to store in there?! It's definitely not office stuff. Ha ha no way. What kind of loser builds a rad secret room just to shove it full of No. 10 envelopes and binder clips? Not a loser like Mitt Romney, that's for sure!

Here are my top ideas for what Mitt Romney will store in his secret room:

1. Rubies.
2. Detailed plans for his moon mansion, which has TWO secret rooms.
3. Just piles and piles of cash.
4. A domino set that once belonged to Ernest Borgnine. (Unauthenticated.)
5. 10,000 mint condition "Romney 4 Pres" buttons.
6. Giant bricks of gold.
7. Gold nuggets.
8. Gold-plated gold.
9. Framed photos of Paul Ryan.
10. His plushy Grumpy Cat collection.

image of Mitt Romney grinning, surrouded by plushy Grumpy Cats I have photoshopped into the picture

I feel you, bro. That cat is adorable.

Anyway! Those are just my best guesses. But what do YOU think Mitt Romney will store in his hidden room...?

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Matilda the Long-Haired Sealpoint Blue-Eyed Cat lying on the chaise with her head barely lifted and her eyes wide


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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Puttin' On My Rage Face

[Content Note: Misogyny] 

There are so many good things I could write about this article titled "The Angry Ladies of Jezebel" that Liss and I were snorting over yesterday. Written by Mark Judge, the entirety of the article consists of an extremely disconnected opening and the remainder is just him pointing and frowning at various encyclopedic entries in The Book of Jezebel and waiting for his audience to nod and agree with him that these modern feminist women are the worst, just the worst. No real argument is needed to make his case, because apparently we're all on-board with the starting premise that Bitches Be Flippin'.

I could point out that opening with the statement that the book is "a very angry book" is the sort of thing that really needs to be justified somewhere in the article. Because, honestly, everything he quotes in apparently self-evident support of that assessment strikes me as the sort of thing which can be, and often is, said with wry humor and a sparkle in the eye.

I could point out the extreme irony in opening the review with examples of Real Feminists who are all, totally coincidentally!!, men. It's particularly amusing when Mark Judge identifies Robert Bly as "a champion of genuine feminism", which manages to both make the point that the biggest problem with modern feminism today is all the women fucking it up, and to also accuse us all of being bra-burning bitches who won't graciously accept a nice champion to fight for us. (We probably insist on opening our own car doors, too.)

I could point out how incredibly dehumanizing it is to reduce every modern feminist to a monolithed stereotype, as Mark Judge does when he insists that, "The bogus “war on women” is really nothing but liberal women acting out against bad fathers." And thus so we are all the same woman, with the same bad father, and the same motivations for being feminists, and none of us are people in our own right who make decisions for ourselves and forge our own ideologies; instead, we are political automatons with Bad Father as an input command and Feminism as an output response. In contrast to Mark Judge, I'm sure, who would probably (correctly) maintain that he is a jackass for his own entirely unique reasons and not because he was exposed to Jackass Rays from the dying planet of Asshattery at the exact moment of his birth or whatever.

I could point out that the false assumption that all feminists are women cruelly invisibles people who are not women from the feminist movement, in an attempt to isolated the marginalized from their privileged allies while simultaneously trying to erase people outside the gender binary from existence entirely.

I could point out how the assumption that all feminists are just angry women who are angry at a bad father places feminist women with good fathers (or feminist women with fathers who are not good but at whom they are not angry, because love and family and relationships can be complicated) instantly on the defensive on behalf of their fathers and thus conveniently turns the conversation away from social patriarchy and instead derails to focus on the unwanted armchair psychoanalysis of a specific woman and her specific father.

I could point out that feminists who are also women who are angry at a bad father are allowed to be angry at a bad father. If a woman is angry at a bad father, and if that anger led her to identify as a feminist, that doesn't make feminism automatically a bad thing -- it could make feminism a great outlet for women with bad fathers who would like to protect other women from future bad fathers. Among other things.

I could point out that women (and other marginalized groups of varying intersections) constantly labor under the false assumption that anger is never valid, that anger always means the argument has been lost, that anger is the one thing they must never show, because the moment they are accused of anger is the moment they can be ignored forever. I could point out that anger is not automatically a bad thing, that there are many things in the world about which anger is an appropriate response, that the ability to never feel personally affected by oppression and tragedy may (not necessarily, but may) be a sign of immense privilege.

I could point out how sick and tired and, yes, angry I am at the repeated insistence that the only good feminism that certain privileged men are willing to support is the "good-natured" kind, a statement which tells me outright that I won't get any help from these would-be "champions" unless the cookies are always sweet and fresh from the oven and never, ever stale. And that the one time I run out of chocolate chips will be the time that they jump ship and sulk for eternity over how they tried to be an ally but those angry women didn't sufficiently appreciate him. I am bone-weary of that sort of "support".

I could point out the amusing juxtaposition of a man who doesn't want to be called a "Frat Bro" or a "right-winger" but has no problem with calling feminists apoplectic and liberals convulsed with rage. Okay, player, that seems super-fair.

But I would instead like to focus on the point made in the article that places the blame for feminism at the door of the Industrial Revolution -- "[Bly] indicted not only male irresponsibility but the Industrial Revolution, which separated fathers from their families." -- and which prompted me to note to Liss the following:

Ana: Lady, did you know that prior to the Industrial Revolution, fathers were always at home and never left their families or went to war or traveled as merchants or sailors or hired hands on another estate or sent their families from court or were separated from their families by forces beyond their control? Everyone worked alongside their family in the fields prior to the invention of the Steampunk Abortion Robots.

Liss: Except for Joan d'Arc's dad, who was a total d-bag.

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Duly Noted

[Content note: Transphobia]

The chair of Jelly Belly Candy Company donated $5000 to the campaign to recall a new California law that respects the identity of transgender* students.

You know that feeling when you unwittingly bite into a buttered popcorn flavored Jelly Belly? That.

Via @TransEquality

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Everything About This Article Terrifies Me

[Content Note: Hostility to agency and consent; addiction; medical malfeasance.]

Here is a sequence of events as I understand them:

1. Alicia Beltran, who is pregnant, helpfully informed her doctor during a prenatal visit that prior to her pregnancy she had lived with and eventually overcome a pill addiction to prescription pain meds.

2. The physician didn't believe her that the addiction was over and pressured her to get on an expensive prescription (which Ms. Beltran cannot afford) which would block the opiates that Ms. Beltran isn't taking.

3. After Ms. Beltran reused to take the prescription, the physician sent a social worker to her home unannounced. The social worker threatened Ms. Beltran with a court order if she wouldn't take the prescription.

4. After Ms. Beltran told the social worker to leave, the social worker sent county sheriffs to surround her home and take her to a jail cell in handcuffs.

5. Ms. Beltran was taken to a family court and was denied a lawyer or legal representation of any kind. (Her fetus was given a legal advocate, though! Because of course it did!)

6. One Dr. Breckenridge, who has not examined or even met in person Ms. Beltran, testified to the court that Ms. Beltran lacks self-control and should be incarcerated or the child will die.

“She exhibits lack of self-control and refuses the treatment we have offered her,” wrote Dr. Breckenridge, who, according to Ms. Beltran, had not personally met or examined her. She recommended “a mandatory inpatient drug treatment program or incarceration,” adding, “The child’s life depends on action in this case.”

7. I will note here in response to Dr. Breckenridge's medical opinion, that since Ms. Beltran was only 14 weeks pregnant at this stage, and the Wisconsin limit on abortions is 24 weeks, Ms. Beltran should still have a legal right to termination, should she so choose.

8. The court threatened to send Ms. Beltran to jail if she didn't submit to confinement to a treatment center; Ms. Beltran was placed in the treatment center until October 4th. (She was arrested on July 18th.)

9. Ms. Beltran has lost her job as a result of all this and is looking for temporary work. Her very real fear at the moment, besides not being able to find work, is that the government will take her baby away after it is born.

So just to be very clear, if you are pregnant in the U.S., it is entirely possible for your physician to accuse you of drug use (despite a clean urine test) and incarcerate you until your due date (at which point the baby may be taken from you against your will) and all without you ever being allowed to so much as speak to a lawyer or legal advocate.

I don't know what to add to that except an expression of personal terror and a hope that Alicia Beltran and her child remain safe and together. I am horrified to live in a society which has so thoroughly tried to strip her of her personal agency.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Whitney Houston: "Didn't We Almost Have It All?"

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Teenage Boy Carrying Replica Rifle Killed by Police

[Content Note: Guns; police brutality; racism. Video begins playing automatically at link.]

Andy Lopez, a 13-year-old boy from Santa Rosa, California, was shot and killed by police Tuesday night, after they saw him walking down the street with a replica assault rifle and, according to their own report, repeatedly told him to put it down and he refused.

Lopez's parents, the parents of his friends and classmates, and school administrators all say that he was not the kind of kid who would have pushed back against police.

And even by the police's own account, this doesn't sound like a kid who was resisting, as much as a kid who was shot before he even had a chance to respond to what was happening:

The sheriff's department outlined the basic facts from the agency's point of view. Two deputies patrolling near Moorland and West Robles avenues in Santa Rosa about 3 p.m. spotted a "male subject" carrying what appeared to be an assault style rifle, similar to an AK-47 assault rifle.

The deputies hit their sirens and called for backup. Then, according to O'Leary, the deputies "repeatedly ordered the subject to drop the rifle."

Initially, officers said the subject's back was toward them, but as they ordered him to put down the weapon they said he began to turn toward them. The department issued this statement:
"One of the deputies described that as the subject was turning toward him the barrel of the assault rifle was rising up and turning in his direction. The deputy feared for his safety, the safety of his partner, and the safety of the community members in the area. He believed the subject was going to shoot at him or his partner. The deputy described that he is aware an assault weapon of this type is capable of firing a bullet that can penetrate his body armor, the metal exterior of his car, and the walls of the residential houses behind him. The deputy then fired several rounds from his service weapon at the subject, striking him at least one time."
The deputies still commanded Lopez to move away from the rifle, the sheriff's statement read, but at this point, he was "unresponsive." Deputies handcuffed him, administered First Aid and called for medical help.

But it was too late. Andy was pronounced dead at the scene.
Other information provided in the news report: Andy Lopez was wearing "a blue hoodie."

Information not observed in the news report: Andy Lopez was a young man of color.

There are people who will say: What were the cops supposed to do? And, on the one hand, I understand that. We live in a culture where children of Lopez's age can get access to deadly weaponry and in which some of them commit deadly crimes. Right now, one of the major news stories is the murder of a high school teacher allegedly committed by a 14-year-old student. Police understand as well as or better than anyone that teenagers are capable of harm.

On the other hand, the kid was carrying a toy gun. And it sounds like all he was doing was turning around to see who was talking to him when police asked him to put it down.

If the majority is going to agree that we're all going to live in a culture in which there a fuckton of guns, and it's considered acceptable for kids to play with plastic replicas of those guns, and we're definitely not going to enact any kind of gun control even after a bunch of mass shootings, some of which were carried out by kids, then we also need to be realistic that those decisions mean that kids are going to die.

Because police are scared for their own safety, which is yet another consequence of our failure to take action on guns. Additionally, there is increasingly little public expectation that law enforcement agents risk their lives to save other people, even people suspected of being perpetrators, so we defend their right to shoot anyone anytime they have reason (or not) to feel scared.

And, you know, I think it matters that the people who tend to end up dead because cops felt scared, because those people didn't instantly respond to police instruction in the way that was anticipated, are young men of color. Who are, culturally, stereotyped as perpetrators of gun violence.

Truly, at this point, if you don't support meaningful and comprehensive gun reform, you do support the occasional killing of innocent people, including children, as an acceptable cost of unfettered gun ownership. That is a price no decent person should be willing to pay.

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today!

[Content Note: Violence; death] Fourteen-year-old freshman Philip Chism has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder in the death of 24-year-old math teacher Colleen Ritzer. He is currently being held without bail, and there is still no information on motive. This story is so awful. I am so sad for everyone who's been affected by this heinous crime.

[CN: Sexual violence; misogyny] MRAs don't care about female rape victims, because "when it comes to really marginalizing rape victims, to proving you don't give a shit about what happens to people, nobody has anything on feminists when it comes to the subject of rape, nobody." Okay, player. You know, even if that were true and not MRAs' typically bizzaro world version of reality, all female rape victims aren't feminists, so feminists' (allegedly monolithic) disposition toward rape still wouldn't justify not giving a shit about female rape victims.

Terrific: "Germany's foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, has called the US ambassador to a personal meeting to discuss allegations that US secret services bugged Angela Merkel's mobile phone." You know, even if it turns out the US didn't actually bug the German Chancellor's mobile phone, just the fact that it's even considered to be within the realm of possibility is appalling.

[CN: Drunk driving; death] Matthew Cordle, the man who confessed on YouTube to killing someone while driving under the influence of alcohol, knowing he would be tried and punished, has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison after pleading guilty.

[CN: Racism; police malfeasance] Trayon Christian, a 19-year-old black man, was detained by police after he bought a $349 belt because they didn't believe he could afford it. "The detectives were asking me, 'How could you afford a belt like this? Where did you get this money from?'" He got the money from his job, by the way.

Nicolas Cage says smart things about the lack of visible Asian actors in mainstream US movies and demonstrates an awareness of his own white privilege.

Japanese scientists "have successfully tested a space cannon that will be used to blast a hole in an asteroid as part of an upcoming mission." That is great news, as it means my giant cannon from which I will be able to shoot stuff directly into the sun can't be far behind.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton handles a heckler in her inimitable way.

Tom Hardy will play Elton John in Rocketman. Now y'all know I love Tom Hardy with eleventy million hearts, but I'm PRETTY SURE there are gay actors in Britain who might be able to play this role who would also do a very good job! I'm just saying.

image of Tom Hardy and a grey pit bull puppy each wearing a pair of Elton John's sunglasses while standing in Elton John's sunglasses closet
"Elton John sure has a lot of sunglasses."       "He sure does, puppy. He sure does."

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This is a real thing in the world.

Brogurt, packaged to appeal to manfluencers.

It remains a mystery who, if anyone, identifies with the ups and downs of Jamie Lee Curtis' digestion—but it's probably not young men.
Aaaaaaaaaand I'm already annoyed, because Activia, though the potential benefits of probiotics are not female-specific, is a product that is explicitly marketed to women. The only reason anyone would care whether it's appealing to young men is because there is this expectation that every single purchasable and consumable item ever in the world has to be valued by young men to have any value. And because there is an expectation that women should and will buy something of use to them personally, even if the marketing is geared toward men, but that men will never, ever, buy something of use to them personally if its marketing is directed primarily at women.
Curtis' endorsement of Dannon's Activia yogurt is by no means the only female-geared marketing tactic to beset the dairy aisle, where pastel colors abound. But with more "manfluencers"—or, men "responsible for at least half of the grocery shopping and meal preparation for their households"—taking the reins of the grocery cart, the gender identity of food products is undergoing a major shift, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.

Lu Ann Williams, who works for the marketing firm that coined the manfluencer term, tells the Journal that the grocery store shelves are littered with branding and packaging that undermines masculinity.

"A beer or soda in a long-necked, brown bottle makes a man feel like a man. Drinking out of a straw does not—puckered lips and sunken cheeks are not a good guy look," she says.

So how do you sell yogurt, which is inherently gender neutral, to men? Black labels, bold fonts, more protein. One new product, Powerful Yogurt, features the slogan "Find Your Inner Abs," which may be the meathead pitch for probiotics.
Just so we're all on the same page: A woman who is "responsible for at least half of the grocery shopping and meal preparation for their households" is just a woman doing her womanly duty as prescribed by nature. A man who does the same is a "manfluencer." Perfect.

Enjoy your brogurt, dudes.

[H/T to Shaker MMC.]

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This is rape culture.

[Content Note: Rape; rape apologia.]

In 1992, Mike Tyson was convicted of raping Desiree Washington. He faced as many as 60 years in prison, was sentenced to 10, and served 3. Tyson still claims that he did not rape Washington: While he was in prison, he wrote a letter to sportscaster Jim Gray, saying in part (as recalled by Gray), "Mr. Gray, I will never admit to raping this woman, even if it lessens my time, because I just didn't do it, and I'm not going to say I did. However, there have been five to seven other things throughout the course of my life that I have done which are far worse than that of which I've been accused, so I feel I'm in the right place."

Tyson may say he did not rape Washington, but Washington, Tyson's limo driver, and a medical examiner testified otherwise. And a jury convicted him. And a judge sentenced him.

Along the way, he has been accused of (and confessed to) domestic abuse, settled a lawsuit with two women who alleged he physically assaulted them after they rejected his sexual advances, was sued by an exotic dancer who alleged Tyson punched her while she was working, and has been again accused of sexual assault. These are only the reports of sexual violence. He has also bitten a boxing competitor, knocked down a boxing ref, thrown glass ornaments at a journalist, assaulted people during various confrontations.

Tyson is a violent, dangerous man. That is the undisputed truth.

Tyson's Undisputed Truth, the title of his memoir to be published in November, tells a slightly different tale, it seems:

Description: A bare-knuckled, tell-all memoir from Mike Tyson, the onetime heavyweight champion of the world—and a legend both in and out of the ring.

Philosopher, Broadway headliner, fighter, felon—Mike Tyson has defied stereotypes, expectations, and a lot of conventional wisdom during his three decades in the public eye. Bullied as a boy in the toughest, poorest neighborhood in Brooklyn, Tyson grew up to become one of the most thrilling and ferocious boxers of all time—and the youngest heavyweight champion ever. But his brilliance in the ring was often compromised by reckless behavior. Years of hard partying, violent fights, and criminal proceedings took their toll: by 2003, Tyson had hit rock bottom, a convicted felon, completely broke, the punch line to a thousand bad late-night jokes. Yet he fought his way back; the man who once admitted being addicted “to everything regained his success, his dignity, and the love of his family. With a triumphant one-man stage show, his unforgettable performances in the Hangover films, and his newfound happiness and stability as a father and husband, Tyson's story is an inspiring American original.

Brutally honest, raw, and often hilarious, Tyson chronicles his tumultuous highs and lows in the same sincere, straightforward manner we have come to expect from this legendary athlete. A singular journey from Brooklyn's ghettos to worldwide fame to notoriety, and, finally, to a tranquil wisdom, Undisputed Truth is not only a great sports memoir but an autobiography for the ages.
"Criminal proceedings." Well, that's certainly a neat euphemism for having been tried, convicted, and sentenced for rape.

"Tyson's story," and it is indeed quite a story, is hardly an "American original." The powerful man who spends his life harming women, only to be publicly rehabilitated again and again, is about as routine as American stories come.

This is rape culture: A space in which a survivor of rape will never be remembered as anything else, and in which a violent rapist will be remembered as a happy, stable, tranquil, wisdom-dispensing legend.

[H/T to Jess.]

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Open Thread

Hosted by mittens.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Emily: "What is your favourite family recipe, and what makes it so special?"

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An international team of astronomers has, using the Hubble Space Telescope, detected the most distant galaxy yet to be discovered.

The galaxy is about 30 billion light-years away and is helping scientists shed light on the period that immediately followed the Big Bang.

It was found using the Hubble Space Telescope and its distance was then confirmed with the ground-based Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

The study is published in the journal Nature.

Because it takes light so long to travel from the outer edge of the Universe to us, the galaxy appears as it was 13.1 billion years ago.

Lead researcher Steven Finkelstein, from the University of Texas at Austin, US, said: "This is the most distant galaxy we've confirmed. We are seeing this galaxy as it was 700 million years after the Big Bang."

The far-off galaxy goes by the catchy name of z8_GND_5296.

...The system is small: about 1-2% the mass of the Milky Way and is rich in heavier elements.

But it has a surprising feature: it is turning gas and dust into new stars at a remarkable rate, churning them out hundreds of times faster than our own galaxy can.

It is the second far-flung galaxy known that has been found to have a high star-production rate.

Prof Finkelstein said: "One very interesting way to learn about the Universe is to study these outliers and that tells us something about what sort of physical processes are dominating galaxy formation and galaxy evolution. What was great about this galaxy is not only is it so distant, it is also pretty exceptional."

P.S. We are all made of stars.

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