Question of the Day

Inspired by Shaker masculine_lady: To what are you looking forward at the moment? It could be as simple as looking forward to getting to put your feet up at the end of the day, or as grand as looking forward to a vacation you've been planning for years.

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Discussion Thread: Nostalgic Toys

One of the things that makes me love 2048 so much is that it reminds me of playing with slide tile puzzles when I was a kid. Remember slide tile puzzles?

image of a vintage slide tile puzzle with the words PIG, COW, CAT, and DOG on it

I had about a million of the things, and I would play with them for hours. Long after I'd already solved them multiple times, I'd just mix 'em up and solve them again and again.

I can still picture the crumbling cardboard box in my bedroom in which I kept all my slide tile puzzles, my Jacob's Ladder, and my magnetic gyro wheel. It sat right beside my cardboard box full of "little animals," which was just a tumbling mass of miniature plastic animals with which I used to play "zoo."

Anyway!

I thought it would be fun to have a thread on what toys (or games, or hobbies, or whatever) are nostalgic for you. It doesn't necessarily have to be a mass produced toy, especially since not everyone owned mass produced toys. If what's most nostalgic for you is an old pie tin your granny gave you to play "kitchen" in the backyard, that totally counts.

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Yawn

Something something headline about Republicans who think Obamacare is a failure. Something something headline about Republicans who think Obamacare is a disaster. Something something headline about Republicans who think Obamacare is socialist or Communist or fascist. Something something headline about Republicans who think Obamacare needs to be repealed immediately before it DESTROYS THE ENTIRE NATION. Something something headline about Republicans who think Obamacare is unpopular. Something something headline about Republicans who say no one likes Obamacare and no one ever will.

You know who likes Obamacare? People who now have insurance, some of them for the first time in their lives.

I'm not saying the Affordable Care Act is perfect. It isn't. I'm not saying that the Obama administration rolled it out effectively. They didn't. And I'm really, really not saying that I think running healthcare through a for-profit insurance industry is a good system. It ain't.

I'm just saying that maybe the Republicans can STFU unless and until they've got a better plan.

Because not only are they shitting all over the President; they're ignoring and silencing all the people who are grateful to have healthcare. They're behaving, as usual, like those people don't matter.

That's not just partisan politicking. That's cruel indifference in the interest of political expedience.

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Important News

[Background: Part One; Part Two.]

Over the weekend, this finally happened:

screen capture showing I finally reached 2048 on the game '2048'

I thought: "YES. Now I can get on with my life." Followed immediately by: "Well, I know it's possible to get to 4096, so..."

This game has destroyed me.

My only solace is knowing that I am not alone. Which is my way of inviting you to discuss in comments about how 2048 has taken over your entire existence. Or any other game, for that matter.

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The Walking Thread

[Content Note: Descriptions of violence; descriptions of an attempted sexual assault; child abuse; fat hatred. Spoilers are lurching around undeadly herein.]

image of Andrew Lincoln who plays Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead
Lord Richard Grimes of Traincar Abbey, looking markedly less sweaty than usual.

This fucking show. Just when I think there is no way it could gross me out even more (and I don't mean with zombies, but with its penchant for narrative fuckery), it hits a whole new low.

Right off the top, I want to address, with the seriousness it deserves, the scene in which the Dirtbags catch up to Grimes, Michonne, and Carl the Hat, and one of the Dirtbags (the fat one, obviously, because fat conveys extra immorality and weakness of character) tries to rape Carl, and Michonne is also threatened with rape. You see, it wasn't enough just for Fat Dirtbag to threaten to kill Carl and Michonne, because the entire episode is about how you can still be A Good Person (fixed identity!) if you've killed people in the zombiepocalypse. So, to show how extra super-duper evil these fuckos are, they have to threaten sexual violence: The fate even worse than death, as is constantly implied by pop culture.

It's completely reprehensible that a show which has never responsibly addressed how dangerous the threat of sexual violence would really be for women and children in the midst of such social chaos would suddenly introduce it as essentially a lazy piece of character development, for characters we already understand are terrible, amoral scum, in order to provoke Grimes into a brutally violent act of revenge, for a tired commentary on moral relativism that this show has already mined bare.

And it has not escaped my notice that the writers essentially decided to throw in a graphic threat of child rape to add a little extra shock value to the season finale.

Further, I was deeply distressed watching a 14-year-old boy be pretend-assaulted for a television show. Call me old-fashioned, but I just don't think that a child ever needs to be subjected to participating in a staged sexual assault for my entertainment.

Adult actors who have filmed rape and attempted rape scenes have spoken about how unexpectedly traumatic those sorts of scenes can be. This show has come nowhere close to the threshold for justifying putting a kid through shooting a potentially lingeringly distressing scene.

So, yeah. That scene was basically the centerpiece of the first half of the episode. Which opens on an image of Grimes, sitting on the ground with his face and hands covered in blood.

From there, we cut to a flashback of better days at Grimes Jail, and Hershel is being all Hershelly and lecturing Grimes on how he needs to make life at Grimes Jail as normal as possible and teach Carl the Hat how to garden and be a man. The episode is intercut throughout with flashbacks to this Golden Era of the Zombiepocalypse, before Captain Murder destroyed everything. They are typically saccharine and heavy-handed and introduce nary a single new idea about compromising one's principles in order to survive.

Then we go back to before Grimes was bathed in blood. Grimes, Michonne, and Carl the Hat are discovered on their journey to Terminus by Daryl and the Dirtbags, and Grody Joe holds a gun to Grimes' head and tells him, in retribution for Grimes having killed one of his men, he's going to make Grimes watch his son and his friend be raped before killing him.

Daryl steps in to stop Grody Joe, who orders the rest of the Dirtbags to beat Daryl to death. I mean, this fucking show.

While Daryl gets a beating, and Michonne is held with a gun to her head, and Carl the Hat is nearly raped, Grimes watches and slowly boils. When the Fat Dirtbag, who's got Carl pinned to the ground, reaches down to unbuckle his pants THIS FUCKING SHOW, Grimes loses it, and knocks Grody Joe's gun away from the side of his head, then lunges at Grody Joe and FOR THE LOVE OF MAUDE tears out his throat with his teeth, then turns on the Fat Dirtbag and stabs him A MILLION TIMES as Carl, clinging to Michonne, watches.

The next morning, Grimes, Michonne, Carl the Hat, and Daryl take off for Terminus, and Carl is scared of Grimes now, but Michonne tells him he doesn't have to be and makes her point (?) by telling him a terrific story about horrible things she did and how he and his dad and Andrea (!) brought her back.

Grimes buries their cache of weapons in the ground outside the perimeter of Terminus, and they each carry just one weapon as they climb the fence and head inside to investigate.

They meet a bunch of Terminus Heads, who seem hesitantly welcoming and super creepy. And then Grimes notices that one of them is carrying the stopwatch Hershel gave Glenn, and he grabs him by the neck and demands to know where "their people" are. Shit gets wild. They try to make a run for it, but a sniper shoots at their heels, directing them to a train car like a border collie corralling sheep.

Mary, meanwhile, is still cooking barbecue. And there is a big open pen (sure) past which Grimes et. al. run, filled with human bones. And the Terminus Heads say things about how the more people arrive, the better their odds of survival. So basically, it looks like we're dealing with a cannibal cult. Just what this show needed.

Grimes ("Ringleader"), Daryl ("Archer"), Michonne ("Samurai"), and Carl the Hat are ordered inside the train car, where SURPRISE! they are greeted by Glenn, Maggie, Sasha, Bob, Tara, Sgt. Red Bull, Doctor Mulletsworth, and Rosita Espinoza.

Immediately, Grimes assumes his Patriarch Posture, and says to everyone, inside their train car prison from which there appears to be no escape, "They're gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out."

"Find out what?" asks Sgt. Red Bull.

And Grimes replies: "They're screwing with the wrong people."

LOL OMG I AM NOT EVEN MAKING THAT UP. THAT IS REAL DIALOGUE. THAT PIECE-OF-SHIT CLINT EASTWOOD REJECT LINE ARE THE FINAL WORDS OF THE SEASON FINALE.

The writers of this show THIS FUCKING SHOW couldn't come up with anything better than "They're screwing with the wrong people." That's not even quippy and it's not even cool! It's terrible!

I mean, right off the top of my fucking head, something like "That we endure" would have been way more powerful (and quotable) and representative of what this season (and every season) has been about.

(Or, they could have gone the route of the EXTREMELY BRILLIANT, like: "That Grimes Gang always takes out the garbage." Which at least would have had the benefit of being deliberately funny.)

But instead they went with the wettest of all wet farts. "They're screwing with the wrong people." Okay, player. Enjoy your nap in the corner of the train car until Carol and Tyreese show up to rescue you, tough guy.

Next Season: More zombies!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat sitting on top of a stack of books sitting on top of the piano
Sophie, on one of her favorite perches, atop the piano.

She's so stinking cute, I don't even know what to do!

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 Monday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by thistles.

Recommended Reading:

Jess: [Content Note: Domestic violence; violence apologia] The Baltimore Ravens and Domestic Abuse

Tressie: [CN: Racism] A Nasty Piece of Cornbread: Chait, Coates, and White Progressivism

Jon: Chris Christie's Implausible Deniability

Digby: [CN: Violence; disablism] Another Casualty in the War on the Mentally Ill

enuma care of Libby Anne: [CN: Rape; rape apologia] A Rape Trial from behind the Scenes

Kyler: Days of Our Lives' Gay Couple Will and Sonny to Finally Tie the Knot

Becky: Frozen Is Now the Highest-Grossing Animated Movie of All Time

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

[Content Note: There is a strobe-light effect in this video.]



UB40: "Red Red Wine"

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An Annotated Index of Ross Geller (119-124)

[Content Note: Misogyny, Patriarchal Relationships, Disability]

So did you enjoy the very slight Ross-reprieve on the last disc (which didn't even last the entire disc)? I hope so because now it's back to really-horrible-Ross-ville, population: YOU. And also probably lots of eyerolls and maybe some judicious rage, lol.

(Also, I'm sorry this one is coming after such a long delay--I've been sick this week, ugh.)



An Annotated Index of Ross Geller: Disc 4

Episode 119: The One Where the Monkey Gets Away

Synopsis: Rachel babysits Marcel, but he escapes the apartment.

Analysis: Hooboy, this is a bad one. Let's start with the fact that this episode sets the scene for the upcoming Barry arc (the next episode will be "The One With the Evil Orthodontist"). Rachel opens the episode by finding out that her ex-fiance is engaged again (this time to her bridesmaid), and immediately proves that she is better than Ross at all the things because instead of being angry at her friend and ex-fiance, she acknowledges that (a) she should be happy for them and (b) any issues she has over the wedding are her issues that she needs to sort out. She doesn't blame her feelings on others as Ross so often does.

Of course, Ross is constantly on the lookout for ways to introduce a mega-list of All The Reasons Why You Should Be Dating Me, so instead of talking to her about her feelings, or commiserating with her about how it can be hard to see old lovers move on, or even just honestly saying "hey, would you like to go out sometime", he instead wants to dredge up her post-Paolo vent about not wanting to date anymore (because it's very important that she admit she was wrong to say so!) and so he quizzes her about "the whole penis embargo". (UGH.) And then he immediately gets pissy when she talks about Paolo, and shuts her down. Women: You give them an inch, and they'll start thinking you wanna hear about their feelings, amiright.

Anyway, Ross mentions that he wants Rachel to babysit the monkey in Monica's apartment, and when Monica objects because the monkey is dirty, he defecates and urinates on her clothes and furniture, and he touches all the cooking utensils, Ross tells her cuttingly to "unclench" because she's "not even gonna be [here]". Haha, definitely a great brother and potential life mate! And because Rachel isn't used to caretaking small animals, Marcel slips out the door and gets lost.

Now, I want to say a thing: This is very easy to do. I'm a very careful cat owner, and I've still had one of mine slip out a couple times without my knowledge. (Always immediately rescued because they were more curious than wanting-to-run-away, in my case.) But Ross pretty much explodes when he gets home and accuses Rachel of being stupid and criminally careless, saying that he "should've started you off with like a pen or a pencil". Rachel starts crying and reveals that she's called Animal Control, at which point Ross literally starts stalking her around the dinner table (while Rachel backs away from him) and telling her that Marcel is illegally owned but that he never felt the need to tell anyone that.

So let's recap: He left, in the apartment of his Sister and the Woman He Loves, an animal which, if found, could get them up to two years in prison (according to this episode) and didn't warn them, presumably because he felt they wouldn't consent to Marcel's visits otherwise. And so it is very definitely Rachel's fault for calling for help in this situation. From there the episode just gets worse and worse, culminating in Ross heaping verbal abuse on Rachel for not magically intuiting that he has pants-feels for her:

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Racism; emotional policing; harassment.] In case you haven't been following the #CancelColbert story, here is some basic background. I've been tweeting about it, but I haven't written about it here, because I'd basically be rewriting this post. My position remains the same: Satire that looks indistinguishable from actual bigotry directed at marginalized people on a daily basis often isn't funny to them/us. It's not a matter of getting or not getting a joke. It's a matter of: Why the fuck should I find your ability to replicate bigotry funny? Naturally, there has been SO MUCH whitesplaining at Asian people (and their allies) who objected to the joke, and SO MANY threats against Suey Park, who started the hashtag. But, in a twist of typical awesomeness, Suey Park and other feminists on Twitter have shown they know exactly how effective satire works.

[CN: Violence] Of course: A demonstration in Albuquerque descended into a chaotic, violent confrontation between police and protestors, who were protesting the high number of police killings in the city—23 fatal incidents since 2012. Welp.

[CN: Environmental disaster] The IPCC has issued a new report detailing how climate change is already well underway and warning "the worst was yet to come. Climate change posed a threat to global food stocks, and to human security, the blockbuster report said. ...Monday's report was the most sobering so far from the UN climate panel and, scientists said, the most definitive. The report—a three-year joint effort by more than 300 scientists—grew to 2,600 pages and 32 volumes. The volume of scientific literature on the effects of climate change has doubled since the last report, and the findings make an increasingly detailed picture of how climate change—in tandem with existing fault lines such as poverty and inequality—poses a much more direct threat to life and livelihood. This was reflected in the language. The summary mentioned the word 'risk' more than 230 times, compared to just over 40 mentions seven years ago." And the debate, such as it is, that we're having in the US is about how regulation will kill jobs. So instead I guess we'll just do nothing and eventually kill everybody. Cool.

[CN: Human rights violations] "U.N. Holds U.S. Accountable for Human Rights Violations at Home and Abroad." At least, they called it out. Which is as about as accountable as it's going to get at the moment. Still: "Within one year, the U.S. government is required to submit a follow-up implementation report on four key recommendations: gun violence (including Stand Your Ground laws), lack of accountability for the Bush administration's violations of human rights, closing Guantánamo, and NSA surveillance."

[CN: Death; natural disaster] The search for survivors of the massive landslide, and/or to recover bodies, continues with difficulty. There are least 21 confirmed deaths. In better news, the number of missing has gone down dramatically, as people potentially in the affected area have turned up. There are, however, still around 30 people unaccounted for.

[CN: War on agency] Ohio is making its play for becoming the worst state in the nation on reproductive healthcare. Rage. Seethe. Boil. I'm sorry, Buckeyes.

And finally: A rescued German Shepherd dragged his 80-year-old owner out of bed and down the hall after he'd lost consciousness due to a gas leak. Says his grateful owner: "I'd be dead. He saved my life." Good dog!

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Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Sexual violence; classism; white cis male privilege.]

Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden has sentenced Robert H. Richards IV, an heir to the du Pont fortune who is unemployed and lives off a trust fund, to probation for the rape of his three-year-old daughter because, she says, he "will not fare well" in prison.

Court records show that in Judge Jan Jurden's sentencing order for Robert H. Richards IV she considered unique circumstances when deciding his punishment for fourth-degree rape. Her observation that prison life would adversely affect Richards confused several criminal justice authorities in Delaware, who said that her view that treatment was a better idea than prison is typically used when sentencing drug addicts, not child rapists.

Jurden gave Richards, who had no previous criminal record, an eight-year prison term, but suspended all the prison time for probation.

"Defendant will not fare well in Level 5 [prison] setting," she wrote in her order.

...Kendall Marlowe, executive director of National Association for Counsel for Children, said that individuals who abuse youngsters deserve to be punished.

"Child protection laws are there to safeguard children, and adults who knowingly harm children should be punished," said Marlow. "Our prisons should be more rehabilitative environments, but the prison system's inadequacies are not a justification for letting a child molester off the hook."
Shades of the sentencing of Ethan Couch, the 16-year-old wealthy white Texas teenager who received probation after killing four people while drunk driving, because he suffers from "affluenza," i.e. being a privileged shit who's never held accountable for his actions.

As I said regarding that case, I agree that the worst way to deal with a lot of criminalized behavior is sending people into our terrible for-profit prison system, and I strongly believe that the US prison system needs major reforms, but "rich white cis male perpetrators get probation and therapy" does not constitute meaningful prison reform. Privileging the privileged merely entrenches existing inequities.

Further, this is a man who raped his own child. (Possibly both his children: He also stands accused of sexually abusing his infant son.) He is vanishingly less likely to benefit from treatment than a person convicted of just about any other crime.

This is what constitutes "justice" in the US: A rich white man gets probation for repeatedly raping his daughter, while a poor black woman is facing charges and prison time for leaving her children in a car for less than an hour while she went to a job interview in the hopes of providing for them.

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Great News

[Content Note: Misogynoir; class warfare; criminalization of need.]

Last week, I wrote about Shanesha Taylor, a homeless, single mother of two children, who was arrested for child abuse after leaving her children in the car while interviewing for a job, because she had nowhere else to leave them. I mentioned the fundraiser started for her, which had an original goal of $9,000, an amount that would have covered her bond and nothing more.

Yesterday, Lynette Holloway reported at The Root that over $50,000 has been raised in support of Ms. Taylor and her children. The total currently stands at $63,000.

And more good news, via Prison Culture: As of this morning, Ms. Taylor has been released from jail.

The charges against her, however, are still pending. So if you haven't already signed the petition to drop the charges, please take a moment to add your name if you can.

And if you'd like to send a personal note of support to Shanesha Taylor, send them to her directly at: PO Box 5988, Glendale, AZ 85312.

#ISupportShanesha

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Open Thread


Hosted by peonies.

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Open Thread

image of a pit bull curled up in the grass with a snowshow Siamese cat, with wee chicks standing all over them

Hosted by a pit bull, a cat, and chicks, who all live together on a farm.

This week's Open Threads have been brought to you by adorable animal friends!

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Open Thread

image of a giraffe stretching out its long blue tongue to lick a red squirrel on the head

Hosted by a giraffe kissing a squirrel.

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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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An Important Milestone

[Content Note: Animal cruelty.]

Earlier this month, South Dakota became the final state in the US to enact a felony provision for animal cruelty:

The new law represents the emergence of a nationwide consensus that egregious animal abuse should be treated as a serious crime. Although there is much more work left to be done, this event marks a significant milestone in an undeniable trend favoring humane treatment of animals.
Text Onscreen: "How many states have felony animal cruelty laws?"

A young, thin, white man appears onscreen. He is identified as Chris Berry of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Speaking directly into the camera, he says: "My home state of South Dakota just become the fiftieth and final state to enact a felony animal cruelty law. The new law rights an injustice that previously put malicious animal abuse on par with writing a bad check. In 1990, less than ten states had felony provisions. In the 2000s, ALDF began tracking those laws, naming South Dakota one of the five worst states for animals in 2013. We congratulate South Dakota, and local grassroots organizations like South Dakotans Fighting Against Animal Cruelty Together, for helping being America's laws in line with the humane values of the 21st century."
Stephen Wells has more on recent successes in animal protection here. There is still a long, long way to go in the treatment and protection of all kinds of animals, but this is a very important milestone along that journey.

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Number of the Day

$400 million: The amount of money the US federal government and state governments could save in ink costs if they exclusively used Garamond fond on printed materials, as determined by clever and curious 14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani "when he was trying to think of ways to cut waste and save money at his Pittsburgh-area middle school."

Collecting random samples of teachers' handouts, Suvir concentrated on the most commonly used characters (e, t, a, o and r).

First, he charted how often each character was used in four different typefaces: Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans. Then he measured how much ink was used for each letter, using a commercial tool called APFill® Ink Coverage Software.

Next he enlarged the letters, printed them and cut them out on cardstock paper to weigh them to verify his findings. He did three trials for each letter, graphing the ink usage for each font.

From this analysis, Suvir figured out that by using Garamond with its thinner strokes, his school district could reduce its ink consumption by 24%, and in turn save as much as $21,000 annually.

Encouraged by his teacher, Suvir looked to publish his findings and stumbled on the Journal for Emerging Investigators (JEI), a publication founded by a group of Harvard grad students in 2011 that provides a forum for the work of middle school and high school students. It has the same standards as academic journals, and each submission is reviewed by grad students and academics.

Sarah Fankhauser, one of JEI's founders, says that of the nearly 200 submissions they have received since 2011, Suvir's project was a real standout:

"We were so impressed. We really could really see the real-world application in Suvir's paper."

Fankhauser said Suvir's findings were so clear, simple and well thought-out, it had the peer reviewers at JEI asking, "How much potential savings is really out there?"

For the answer, JEI challenged Suvir to apply his project to a larger scale: the federal government.
This is SO GREAT. Kids today, amirite?

[H/T to my old pal Jenn Stewart.]

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt and Sophie the Torbie Cat sitting on the stairs beside each other

Two good girls! TWO OF THEM!

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 Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by infinity scarves.

Recommended Reading:

Veronica: [Content Note: War on agency; sexual violence] Stop Parental Notification Advocacy Day (#StopPNA)

Françoise: At UN, Governments Agree Equality and Health for Women Means Progress for All

Digby: [CN: Misogyny] What Do Women Want Part XXX

Amanda: [CN: Disablism; worker exploitation; class warfare] Goodwill Paying Disabled Employees Pennies Per Hour

BYP: [CN: Racism] Residents Face Fine for saggy Pants (I've written about saggy pants ordinances previously here.)

Brian: [CN: Misogyny] The Very Definition of Self-Serving

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime



Jeff Buckley: "Hallelujah"

This week's TMNS have been brought to you by one of the most covered songs ever.

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LOL Your Terrible Ad

[Content Note: Disablist language.]

Shaker GoldFishy emails, which I am sharing with his permission:

I remember you had a post about the Cadillac commercial. Thought you might be interested [in this]: "Remember that Cadillac ad bragging about American exceptionalism that made everyone who doesn't drive a Cadillac feel pretty bad about America? Ford can play that game, too, apparently."
"Take this, Cadillac!"—Ford.

A young black woman named Pashon Murray, a real person who is the founder of Detroit Dirt, stands with her back to the camera, looking out over a reservoir of water with dirt piled high on either side.

"Why do I work so hard?" she asks, glancing over her shoulder. "For what?" She holds out her hands, gesturing at the dirt. "For this?" She turns and looks at the camera. "For dirt?" She begins walking, in a cheeky mimic of the Cadillac ad. "Other countries, they work; they stroll to the market and buy locally-grown food. Locally. Why aren't we like that?" She looks directly into the camera. "Well, more and more of us are like that."

She walks into a greenhouse. "Because we're crazy entrepreneurs trying to make the world better." She high-fives a white male gardener working in the greenhouse as she passes him.

Cut to a cafe; she walks toward the camera as she speaks. "Some people might think we're nuts. Whatever! Me? I collect food scraps from restaurants." A black man hands her vegetable scraps as she passes him in the kitchen. "Manure from zoos." She looks at the camera. "Manure. Do you know why?"

Cut to "her home," where she speaks as she disappears into the bedroom then immediately comes out wearing a suit, just like in the Cadillac ad. "To keep this stuff out of landfills. And use it to make good, rich dirt, that's why. Yeah, look, it's pretty simple."

Cut to "her car," a white electric Ford plugged into a wall being charged. She unplugs it. "You believe that anything is possible, and you try to make the world better. You try."

Cut to inside the car, where she pushes the ignition button. "As for helping a city grow good, green, healthy vegetables, that's the upside of giving a damn."

Cut to close-up of Murray in the car. "N'est-ce pas?"

Text onscreen: Ford logo. #Upside.
Ha ha ha BOOM! Fuck you, Cadillac!

Now listen, I'm not operating under the misapprehension that Ford is actually super concerned about growing vegetables in Detroit. One commercial does not mitigate a history (and present) of shitty corporate practices.

But this doesn't meaning nothing, either. And I feel pretty happy about driving a crappy old Ford today. *wink*

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

The Guttmacher Institute, which I will say once again is truly a national treasure, has published a new report on insurance coverage of abortion through the plans available via the Affordable Care Act. This is a must-read.

[Content Note: War on agency] In Tennessee: "A bill is currently moving through the Tennessee legislature that would make pregnant [people] criminally liable for the outcome of their pregnancies. According to National Advocates for Pregnant Women, HB 1519 would 'create a gender-specific set of crimes that would make [people] criminally liable for an undefined and indefinable range of acts and omissions that may be perceived by outsiders as affecting pregnancy outcomes.'" Jesus fucking Jones. At any point will our ostensibly pro-choice President give a dedicated address to the erosion of access to abortion and the attendant erosion of agency?!

[CN: War on agency] In South Dakota: "This week, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) approved an unnecessary abortion restriction that reinforces racial stereotypes about the Asian American community. House Bill 1162 bans abortions based on a fetus' sex, and makes it a felony for doctors to perform this type of 'sex-selective' procedure—based on the misperception that Asian women are more likely to terminate a pregnancy if they find out the fetus is a girl."

Over to Michigan for some good news: "Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday extended federal recognition to the marriages of about 300 same-sex couples that took place in Michigan before a federal appeals court put those unions on hold. Holder's action will enable the government to extend eligibility for federal benefits to the Michigan couples who married Saturday, which means they can file federal taxes jointly, get Social Security benefits for spouses and request legal immigration status for partners, among other benefits." His action will also make it even more difficult for the state to claim there's no equal protections violations in denying the same rights to other same-sex couples.

[CN: Homophobia] A Mississippi news anchor says that the LGBTQI community has "been in the news too much lately. Maybe they should take a short break. Go on gaycation." The station for which he works has condemned his homophobic outburst. What a fucking dirtbag.

The ACLU has filed "a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI, the DEA, the Secret Service, and several other agencies asking for information about a surveillance technique known as a 'cell tower dump.' If you’re wondering what that is or why we're worried about it, a story from a few years back might help to illustrate. In 2010, the FBI was looking for a pair of bank robbers known as the 'high country bandits.' Security footage from the banks wasn't very revealing, so the Bureau turned to cell phone companies for help. To find out who was consistently near the banks when these robberies took place, they asked for the number of every single phone that was connected to cell towers near the robbed banks around the time the crimes occurred. In response, they got back over 150,000 numbers. This is a cell tower dump: the practice of demanding an enormous amount of cell phone location information—anywhere from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of data points—in an effort to identify just a few suspects. ...Cell tower dumps aren't rare. A congressional inquiry found that companies received at least 9,000 tower dump requests in 2012, and in 2013 Verizon alone reported receiving 3,200 such requests."

Here is a blub-inducing video of 39-year-old Joanne Milne hearing for the first time after receiving a cochlear implant. The technician reads her the days of the week and the months of the year, and Milne is overwhelmed with emotion. She tells the tech that her voice sounds very high-pitched, and the tech explains to her that her brain will adjust the tones over time; it won't always sound that way. And there is a lovely story, in text form at the link, about Milne's friend preparing music for her, at her request.

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The Legend of Uterine Gold

[CN: misogyny, war on agency, classism, reproductive coercion]

It seems there's a lot of misapprehension going around GOP circles (but not only GOP circles!) about what it means to have a uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, vagina, etc. From Supreme Court Justice Antony Scalia musing about how very cheap an IUD is, to the US Appeals Court deciding that forcing Texas women to drive 150+ miles, multiple times, to get an abortion isn't an "undue burden," many people in positions of power seem confused on an important point.

So let me clear this up for you: my uterus didn't come with a super-special UTERUS TRUST FUND, dedicated to paying for my reproductive-related health care. Nor leprechaun gold. Nor the sunken treasure of the fabled City of Ys.

This may come as a shock. And not just to prominent Republicans, either. I can't tell you how many times I've had some variation on this conversation with a glibertarian dude:

Me: So you oppose funding for Planned Parenthood/the contraceptive mandate/public employees insurance coverage for abortions/etc? Isn't that an intrusion into other people's private health?

Glibertarian Dude: (with a pained expression, because I'm obviously stupid) Of course it isn't! I'm not trying to tell other people what to do; I just don't want to pay for it.

So, to everyone, everywhere, making this argument, I repeat: my uterus did not come with a trust fund.

That means I, and other uterus-havers, don't have a special bank account we dip into when our uterus/ovaries/fallopian tubes/etc. need health care. That health care could include lots of things, like birth control pills to try to control the crippling pain of endometriosis, or birth control pills to control the spacing of my children. Or birth control pills to do both things, at once! And as much as I might like to be able to say "YOU'RE RIGHT JUSTICE SCALIA! I will just go to the Bank of Ladybits and withdraw my Uterusbuxxxxxx!!! to pay for this healthcare!" I actually cannot do that.

Instead, I have to simply use whatever money I do have, however much or little it is, to try to care for the body I have. And since I DO have a uterus, I will be paying more than a non-uterus-haver, which means I may or may not be able to get needed healthcare at all. Or, I may be able to, but only with considerable financial hardship--hardship which will, in turn, put me at a considerable disadvantage when compared to people without uteruses. Which does not a level playing field make.

So let's be totally clear on this.

When someone says that they're not trying to interfere with the healthcare of uterus-havers, they ONLY expect them to pay extra to care for care of said uterus, then the speaker is being deeply dishonest.

That person is absolutely trying to impose their own beliefs on someone else, by force. That person is absolutely trying to tell other people what to do. That person is absolutely trying to manipulate, control, and meddle with other people's lives.

So maybe we could get a little more truth about what those persons are actually saying, and a lot less storytelling about the Legend of Uterine Gold.

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Live It

You know how every once in awhile, a politician tries to live for a month on food stamps? (Ex. Cory Booker; Greg Stanton.) I want them to start trying to access abortion in their home states.

I want every legislator in the US congress and every legislator in each state house to go through the process of trying to secure an abortion as a poor person and see what they think then about undue burdens.

I want them to have to do the research to find out what the guidelines for abortion are in their home states. (Is there a waiting period? Do they have to submit to an ultrasound?) I want them to start out from a position of living paycheck-to-paycheck at an hourly job with no benefits. I want them to find out how easy it is to take the required time off work from a local employer, without losing their jobs. I want them to figure out how long it would take to save up the money for the abortion. I want them to locate the nearest clinic. I want them to walk by shouting protestors.

I want the people making decisions about abortion to know what getting an abortion is really like.

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US Appeals Court Upholds Texas Abortion Laws

[Content Note: War on agency; class warfare.]

A US appeals court of three Republican-appointed female judges has upheld the extreme abortion restrictions passed in Texas, passage of which Democratic Texas gubernatorial candidate famously filibustered. The Fifth Circuit panel said the new rules don't jeopardize women's health or create an undue burden:

A panel of judges at the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court judge who said the rules violate the U.S. Constitution and serve no medical purpose. After the lower court's ruling, the appeals court had allowed the restrictions to go into effect while it considered the case, which could ultimately end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The new law requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and places strict limits on doctors prescribing abortion-inducing pills. More regulations that are scheduled to begin later this year weren't part of the case.

In its opinion, the appeals court said the law "on its face does not impose an undue burden on the life and health of a woman."

...In passing the rules, Texas lawmakers argued they were protecting the health of women. But abortion-rights supporters called the measures an attempt to effectively ban abortion through overregulation.

Many abortion doctors do not have admitting privileges, and limiting when and where they may prescribe abortion-inducing pills discourages women from choosing that option, they argued.

Other aspects of the new rules, including a requirement that all procedures take place in a surgical facility, are set to begin in September, though they may also be challenged in court.

At least 19 clinics have shut down since the new law was approved and the 5th Circuit allowed the provisions on hospital-admitting privileges and abortion-inducing pills to take effect, leaving around 24 still open to serve a population of 26 million Texans. More closures could happen after the additional restrictions are in place.

In reversing the lower court's decision, the appeals panel said Thursday that the district court opinion erred in concluding the law "imposed an undue burden in a large fraction of the cases."

"The evidence presented to the district court demonstrates that if the admitting-privileges regulation burdens abortion access by diminishing the number of doctors who will perform abortions and requiring women to travel farther, the burden does not fall on the vast majority of Texas women seeking abortions," the appeals court found.
Andrea Grimes, who tweeted the Fifth Circuit panel ruling on #HB2, highlighted this passage regarding undue burden, and the supposed lack thereof:

screen cap of text reading: '...Texas only thirteen had abortion facilities before HB2 was to take effect. The Rio Grande Valley, moreover, has four counties, not twenty-four, and travel between those four counties and Corpus Cristi, where abortion services are still provided, takes less than three hours on Texas highways (distances up to 150 miles maximum and most far less).'

By law, abortion restrictions must not create an undue burden, which is why we are getting this tortured explanation of how driving 150 miles (each way, possibly multiple times) to get an abortion is not an "undue burden."

Which is manifest claptrap. According to this Guttmacher study (pdf), "Can't afford a baby now" was cited by 73% of women who terminated pregnancies as a reason for seeking an abortion.
In the qualitative sample, of women who stated that they could not afford to have a child now, the majority had children already. Financial difficulties included the absence of support from the father of either the current pregnancy or the woman's other children, anticipating not being able to continue working or to find work while pregnant or caring for a newborn, not having the resources to support a child whose conception was not planned and lacking health insurance.
And that study was done in 2004, several years before the beginning of the Great Recession.

If the most common reason that people seek abortions is for financial reasons, then by any reasonable definition it is an undue burden to expect them to: 1. Have a reliable car; 2. Be able to afford a costly trip (or trips) in that car; 3. Have the ability to take off at least one full day of work, and possibly more, without losing that job; 4. Be able to afford childcare for children they already have, unless they want to bring their children with them and drag them through a gauntlet of screaming protestors; 5. Raise the funds to be able to do all of this, in addition to paying out-of-pocket for the abortion, in time to meet the deadline for a legal abortion at the nearest clinic.

The entire goal of these restrictions is to create an undue burden.

And I don't believe for a moment that this panel of judges could not see through the thin veneer of "women's health" plastered over these deliberately designed burdensome restrictions. They are not stupid; they are complicit.

Next stop: Supreme Court.

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Open Thread

image of a tiny monkey gently hugging a dove

Hosted by a baby macaque hugging a dove.

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Question of the Day

What is the best gift you've never gotten? By that I don't mean the most expensive, indulgent luxury item you can imagine, but some little thing that any old friend or lover could buy you without much trouble or unreasonable expense, which would be perfect for you, but no one's ever thought to buy it.

[Originally run February 06, 2008 .]

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Wow

[Content Note: Descriptions and imagery (at link) of surgery.]

Shaker Erin M sent me this remarkable story about a woman with a bone disorder whose life has been immediately and immeasurably improved by a 3-D printed skull. Before I even post the link, I'm going to share Erin's perfect content note from her email, which I'm posting with her permission: "The top of that page has a very large close-up image of her head taken immediately post-op. There are surgical drapes that have what is possibly blood but may be spinal fluid or both, not a lot, but it's clearly visible. Her brain is somewhat visible through the clear implant. There is operating room equipment visible in the background."

It's not a particularly graphic image, in my estimation, but it's SO HUGE and right at the top of the page that I wanted to offer a clear heads-up. So, that being said, here's the link to the story: "Neurosurgeons successfully implant 3D printed skull."

And if you don't want to click through at all, here's the amazing gist of it:

A 22-year-old woman from the Netherlands who suffers from a chronic bone disorder -- which has increased the thickness of her skull from 1.5cm to 5cm, causing reduced eyesight and severe headaches -- has had the top section of her skull removed and replaced with a 3D printed implant.

The operation was performed by a team of neurosurgeons at the University Medical Centre Utrecht and the university claims this is this first instance of a successful 3D printed cranium that has not been rejected by the patient.

The operation, which took 23 hours, was led by Dr Bon Verweij. The patient's skull was so thick, that had the operation not been performed, serious brain damage or death may have occurred in the near future.

...The skull was made specifically for the patient using an unspecified durable plastic. Since the operation, the patient has gained her sight back entirely, is symptom-free and back to work.
Wow.

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Fat Fashion

This is your semi-regular thread in which fat women can share pix, make recommendations for clothes they love, ask questions of other fat women about where to locate certain plus-size items, share info about sales, talk about what jeans cut at what retailer best fits their body shapes, discuss how to accessorize neutral colored suits, share stories of going bare-armed for the first time, brag about a cool fashion moment, whatever.

 photo modskirtfsshoes.jpg
Beauty of Botany skirt by ModCloth; patent red heeled shoes by Franco Sarto.

I know. I will get a full-length mirror as soon as I can afford one, lol.

These Franco Sarto shoes are some of my absolute favorites. You can't really see the detail too well in this image, but the lacing is a play on a corset. I've had them for years, and I've taken really good care of them because I love them so much! (Although Matilda, who is a chronic lace-chewer, did manage to chew the aglet off one of the laces. Grumble.)

I own a couple pairs of red shoes, and they always make me feel extra good. You can't beat a good pair of red shoes.

I just got the skirt not long ago, during a week of feeling I CANNOT TAKE THIS FUCKWINTER FOR A MOMENT LONGER AND I AM BUYING SOMETHING TO WEAR IN THE SPRINGTIME! And if spring ever arrives, I will wear it outside the house!

Anyway.

Have at it in comments! Please remember to make fat women of all sizes, especially women who find themselves regularly sizing out of standard plus-size lines, welcome in this conversation, and pass no judgment on fat women who want to and/or feel obliged, for any reason, to conform to beauty standards. And please make sure if you're soliciting advice, you make it clear you're seeking suggestions—and please be considerate not to offer unsolicited advice. Sometimes people just need to complain and want solidarity, not solutions.

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Recommended Reading

[Content Note: Sexual violence; physical assault; homophobia; police malfeasance.]

Angus Johnston revisits the Kitty Genovese case and the legend that emerged therefrom about bystander intervention: "Don't Look Now." It's a tremendous piece, reexamining what was written, and not written, about the case, and addressing the tales that are told in order to maintain public trust in the criminal justice system.

[H/Ts to Jessica Luther and Aaron Bady.]

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Throwback Thursdays

image of me as a tiny little kid, clad in pink footie pajamas and sitting with my legs crossed in a child's chair, making a contemptuous expression

One of my favorite pictures ever: The Pink Petulance!

I'm pretty sure I was born making that face.

[Please share your own throwback pix in comments. Just make sure the pix are just of you and/or you have consent to post from other living people in the pic. And please note that they don't have to be pictures from childhood, especially since childhood pix might be difficult for people who come from abusive backgrounds or have transitioned or lots of other reasons. It can be a picture from last week, if that's what works for you. And of course no one should feel obliged to share a picture at all! Only if it's fun!]

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat and Olivia the White Farmcat sitting bum-to-bum, stretching away from each other, on the arm of the couch

Matilda and Olivia do their pushmi-pullyu impression.

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



Willie Nelson: "Hallelujah"

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Rep. Speier on the Sinclair Sentence

[Content Note: Rape culture; sexual violence.]

Last week, I wrote about Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who struck a plea deal after a captain who served under him in Afghanistan alleged he forced her to perform oral sex and threatened to kill her. Sinclair was sentenced to pay $24,100 in fines and restitution, but was not sentenced to any jail time nor demoted.

Yesterday, Democratic US Representative from California Jackie Speier, who has long been working on the issue of reforming the way sexual assault is handled by the US military, took to the House floor to address the garbage sentencing in Sinclair's case, and note that the military is making reformers' point for them. Let 'em have it, Rep. Speier.

Transcript as prepared for delivery. There are minor deviations from the actual delivery in the above video.

Last week, as the world watched in disbelief, the trial of Brigadier General concluded much how it began, flawed and unjust.

Even with the world watching, along with countless survivors watching and reliving their similar experience, the military once again demonstrated its OUTRIGHT incompetence at administering justice.

Brig. Gen. Sinclair walked out of the court a free man even though he had pleaded guilty to these charges:

• Inappropriate relationship with his accuser

• Inappropriate relationship with another female Army captain

• Inappropriate relationship with a female Army major

• Possessing and displaying pornographic images and videos on his computer in Afghanistan

• Using a government-issued travel card for personal purposes for a trip to Tucson, Arizona and trip to Fort Hood, Texas, to see his accuser

• Attempting to start an inappropriate relationship with an Army lieutenant

• Sexually explicit communications with a female major Requesting and receiving nude photos and a sexually explicit video of her

• Vulgar language to describe female staff officers

• Impeding an investigation; and

• Adultery with his accuser

These aren't the charges that the judge found Sinclair innocent of, but all the charges he pled guilty to.

His punishment? No demotion in rank. No forced retirement. No jail time.

Instead, a small fine that he will pay with his generous taxpayer funded pension and a potent message of those that are thinking of coming forward: you will be dragged through the mud and punished, not the perpetrator.

I would like to say that I was shocked by this ridiculous decision, but after working on this issue for years I have learned that this pattern is the rule, not the exception.

Whether the Army intended it or not, this was a high profile test case for whether the military can hold its highest officers accountable for committing serious offenses. And it failed.

A civilian would have been fired. The misuse of government funds and gross misconduct Sinclair pleaded guilty to should have been more than enough to fire General Sinclair.

The military seems to be determined to make our point for us – the current military justice system is incapable of meting out justice in an impartial and effective way.

When Sinclair was challenged by his staff for his conduct and remarks towards women, the General replied: "I'm a General, I'll say whatever the (expletive) I want."

You know what, he was right.

Until these cases are taken out of the chain of command, the reality and perception will continue to be that the military justice system is tainted by undue command influence and is inherently unjust. The American people look at how this case was handled and see that a commanding officer without legal expertise and a built-in conflict of interest and are not competent to prosecute serious crimes.

It should now be clear to everyone in congress that the military is incapable of holding perpetrators accountable. It is our duty to reform this system which we created in the first place and let legal experts make legal decisions, not commanders with a built-in conflict.

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Fundraiser and Support for Shanesha Taylor

[Content Note: Misogynoir; class warfare; criminalization of need.]

Yesterday, I wrote about Shanesha Taylor, a homeless, single mother of two children, who was arrested for child abuse after leaving her children in the car while interviewing for a job, because she had nowhere else to leave them.

In comments, Shaker Kimand48 linked to a fundraiser for Taylor, which I confirmed care of Prison Culture would be directing all collected funds to Taylor.

Last night, Prison Culture tweeted, which I am quoting with her permission: "Only $50 away from $5,000 4 #ShaneshaTaylor. Called Maricopa County this afternoon & learned that bond is $9,000."

Which means, as Shaker LeahC observed, that only funds raised beyond $9,000 will start paying for anything beyond getting Taylor out of jail.

Currently, the fundraiser stands at $9,994.

So, if you can afford to donate, please keep the donations coming.

And, if you cannot afford to donate, there are other ways to help. Prison Culture offers these additional suggestions "for how we might proceed in support of Shanesha."

1. Sign the following petition to Bill Montgomery who is the County Attorney for Maricopa County. Share the petition with everyone you know. Can we gather 10,000 signatures by Saturday? Let's try.

2. After you have signed the petition, directly EMAIL Bill Montgomery to ask that he DROP THE CHARGES against Ms. Taylor.

3. It's always great when Prosecutors also receive phone calls. Please call the Maricopa County Attorney's office to ask them to drop the charges against Shanesha Taylor. Be polite about it but suggest that resources would be better spent providing Ms. Taylor and her children with help over punishment. They have already suffered enough.
Maricopa County Attorney's Office
Phone: (602) 506-3411
Hours: 8am – 5pm Mon-Fri
4. Are you on Facebook? Post a message on Bill Montgomery's Facebook Page explaining why he should DROP THE CHARGES against Ms. Taylor.
If you have additional suggestions for how to help, please feel welcome and encouraged to drop them in comments.

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

Earlier this week, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced they're separating, and lots of people have thoughts about that, and a bunch of folks have asked me what my thoughts are about that. My response to the end of any marriage that 1. isn't mine; 2. was not abusive, as far as I know, is always the same.

[Note: Video may begin to play automatically at link] In a major decision by the National Labor Relations Board, Northwestern University football players on scholarship have been ruled "employees of the school and therefore entitled to hold an election to decide whether to unionize." Nice! This could have far-reaching ramifications for college athletics, including (and most importantly, in my opinion) drastically reducing universities' ability to exploit athletes.

Democratic Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon has been arrested by the FBI and "and accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes. ...Cannon was charged with theft and bribery, accused of taking cash payoffs at least five times. He was brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Keesler, required to surrender his passport and released on $25,000 unsecured bond pending an indictment that could come as early as next week." A lot of disappointed Cannon supporters in Charlotte today.

Republican Louisiana Senate candidate Bill Cassidy "told an annual meeting of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association that uninsured Americans are 'less sophisticated' and 'less educated' people who might find the Affordable Care Act too complicated and cumbersome to take advantage of." It continues to be a real mystery why Republicans are losing ground with nearly every demographic that isn't old straight white men!

Astronomers have discovered "a probable dwarf planet that orbits the Sun far beyond Pluto, in the most distant trajectory known. ...The newfound object's official name is 2012 VP113, but the discovery team calls it VP for short, or just 'Biden'." LOL perfect.

Like, for real, no one on the planet is more tired of hearing about Frozen than I am, and this story warmed even the cockles of my cold, dark, miserable heart: "Firefighters Sing 'Let It Go' to Comfort Little Girl Stuck in Elevator."

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Your Progressive President Meets Your Progressive Pope

[Content Note: Anti-choice garbage; transphobia; homophobia; misogyny; clergy abuse.]

Today, President Obama is meeting with Pope Francis, and it already sounds terrific:

The goal of the meeting: Focus on areas where two of the world's most influential men agree and gently tread ground where they differ.

The President and the Pontiff will, as the White House said in a statement, focus on "shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing (income) inequality" and gingerly navigate such thornier topics as same-sex marriage, contraception and abortion.
So, basically, two of the world's most influential men will be ignoring major social issues that don't affect either one of them. And will talk about poverty and income inequality as if systemic oppression and the inability to control one's reproduction have no effect on one's financial stability. Sounds great!
In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Obama pointed to the Pope's concern for income inequality, saying, "Given his great moral authority, when the Pope speaks it carries enormous weight."

Continuing to focus on income inequality, Obama said, "And it isn't just an economic issue, it's a moral issue. I think the Pope was speaking to the danger that over time we grow accustomed to this kind of inequality and accept it as normal. But we can't."

The President said he admires the Pope's courage to speak out on economic and social issues.

"It doesn't mean we agree on every issue, but his voice is one that I think the world needs to hear. He challenges us," Obama told the newspaper. "He implores us to remember the people, especially the poor, who are affected by the economic decisions we make."
Decisions like denying people the right to control their reproduction, you mean?

It's just mendacious shit to argue that the Pope is saying bold and challenging things on poverty, when he manifestly refuses to advance a complex deconstruction of the reasons for poverty. The Pope still argues that women should not have employment equality; that women should not have access to contraception and abortion; that gay/bi people should not be allowed to marry (which, in the US, denies lots of same-sex partnered people crucial access to partners' employee-sponsored healthcare, which is a major financial issue); etc.

Meanwhile, I know the President is a big proponent of "both sides have a valid point" dialogue, but I have to call big-time bullshit on his contention that, despite disagreements, the Pope's "voice is one that I think the world needs to hear." I really don't think that the world needs to hear this dusty relic saying that trans* people are "demonic" or haughtily asserting that "no one else has done more" for victims of clergy abuse than the Catholic Church.

And I get that it's not like the President could say this kind of thing, even if he agreed. That he's obliged to say nice things and praise the Pope as a "moral authority." Which is maybe why don't meet with the Pope.

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This F#@king Guy

[Content Note: Misogyny; leering; dress policing.]

A semi-retired federal judge in Omaha, Nebraska, US District Court Richard Kopf, wrote in a blog post found by Talking Points Memo that he "appreciates" a female lawyer in his court who "wears very short skirts and shows lots of her ample chest." He then offers his "three rules that young women lawyers should follow when considering how to dress for court."

1. You can't win. Men are both pigs and prudes. Get over it.

2. It is not about you. That goes double when you are appearing in front of a jury.

3. Think about the female law clerks. If they are likely to label you, like Jane Curtin, an ignorant slut behind your back, tone it down.
As if to prove that "men are both pigs and prudes," Kopf opens the piece with a story about making his daughter cover up with a "demure white sweater" from a church lost-and-found at a wedding, which is immediately followed by the admission: "In candor, I have been a dirty old man ever since I was a very young man. Except, that is, when it comes to my daughters (and other young women that I care deeply about)."

Welp. That about sums it up. Women you care about have bodies that are yours to police. And women you don't care about have bodies that are yours to ogle.

And this jackass is a federal judge.

He's right about one thing: Women can't win.

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Open Thread

image of a baby hippo and a giant tortoise chilling together

Hosted by a hippo and a tortoise who are totes BFFs.

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Question of the Day

Bearing in mind the many things that constitute "help," what was a crucial time when you got help in your life when you really needed it?

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I Get Letters

[Content Note: Fat hatred.]

One of the most frequently leveled charges against people who do fat advocacy is that we don't care about fat people's health, that encouraging people to love themselves and live their lives and not hate their bodies is tacitly encouraging people to be unhealthy.

(Never mind that fat does not axiomatically equal unhealthy.)

Yesterday, I received this email from a Shaker, who wishes to remain anonymous but who gave me hir consent to share its contents:

Hi Melissa,

I'm a long time lurker/reader on Shakesville and wanted to thank you for all that you and the Shakesville community have done to educate me on my internalized fat-phobia/fat shaming.

Reading Shakesville is what convinced me that my doctors were wrong, that the excruciating pain I felt when I walked was NOT because I was fat. You made me look at myself and say, "Wait, why do I believe that I'm lazy about this when I work 80+ hours a week?" Your writing gave me permission to believe that I deserved to be able to walk without pain, that the stabbing pains I had in my lower leg were not punishment for being fat, but an indication that something was seriously wrong and my body needed help.

I found a solution because of you. Not because of doctors. Not because of medicine. Because you and Shakesville told me I deserved it.

Thank you so much.

[Name Redacted]
I do fat advocacy because I care about fat people's health.

And anyone who purports to be concerned about fat people's health will stop trying to demonize our bodies and shame us for having them, and instead get on board with the idea that there is little incentive to take care of a body you hate, that fat hatred is a barrier to seeking care, that fat hatred kills.



My inbox is always open, if you need emotional support in seeking healthcare while navigating fat hatred.

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Assvertising

[Content Note: Fat hatred.]

This Australian advertisement for Weight Watchers (WW) is one of the grossest—and unintentionally revealing—commentaries on the weight loss industry that I have ever seen (which is really saying something):

Text onscreen: "Dedicated to everyone who refused to give up trying." followed by the WW logo.

Over tinkly music, there is video of what is meant to be a montage of a thin white brunette woman's life (throughout, the aging representations of this woman are thin, white, and brunette): A baby being born; a toddler swimming in a pool; a young girl on a school bus; a teenage girl kissing a white boy; a young woman running into the water on a beach with a white young man; a woman smashing a plate during a fight with a man; a woman on a date with a man; a woman breastfeeding a child; a middle-aged woman negotiating at work; a middle-aged woman standing in her kitchen looking tired; an older woman seeing a doctor with her older white husband.

Over these clips is a female voiceover saying: "You were incredible from minute one. You refused to give up trying. You survived school. You didn't run from your first kiss. You sought out adventure. You fell out of love; bravely back into it. You said yes to always being there. You stood up for what you believed in. You conquered the impossible daily. You won unwinnable battles."

The video then shows a series of individual people: A young thin white woman; a middle-aged thin black man; a young thin white woman; a thin middle-aged white woman;

Over these clips, the female voiceover says: "These are your stories. Never forget how incredible you are."

Text onscreen: "Awaken YOUR incredible. Weight Watchers."
This advertisement is straight-up hateful garbage.

1. WW has a virtually nonexistent success rate for long-term weight loss. Which means that they make lots and lots of money off of people who "refuse to give up trying," hoping that WW's promised "lifestyle change" (i.e. permanent diet) will work for them this time. WW is deeply invested in promoting the idea that if you fail to lose weight on their program, it's down to your lack of effort, not down to their program being garbage that doesn't work for most people on a long-term basis. They are exploiting fat hating narratives that attribute fatness to laziness, and doing it under the auspices of telling fat people we're "incredible."

2. Every person in this video is thin. There isn't a fat person to be seen. This is because images of thin people are supposed to be aspirational for fat people, and because the weight loss industry is explicitly eliminationist: The stated objective is to get rid of fat people. WW on the one hand tells fat people that they're "incredible," but also erases us from the world. The message is, of course, that fat people are really only incredible once we've lost weight—or at least commit ourselves to trying.

3. Pervasive, intense, aggressive fat hatred stops lots of fat people from being able to survive school, or seeking out romantic relationships, or seeking out adventure. It's particularly cruel to show images of thin people doing these things, that many fat people can't or don't do, because of the hatred directed at us for our bodies, with a voiceover suggesting "you're incredible because you've done these things."

4. The takeaway, naturally, is that: "If you haven't done these things, it's because you're fat. And if you're thin, you'll be able to do all of them!" The constant misattribution of restricted lives to "being fat" instead of "being targeted by incessant fat hatred" is bullshit. And WW knows it's bullshit. But they don't make money if fat people don't feel like we don't deserve to live until we are thin.

5. Fuck you, Weight Watchers. I'm fat and incredible. Precisely because I don't consider those mutually exclusive conditions.

[H/T to Marilyn Wann.]

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Today in Great Ideas

[Content Note: War on agency; misogyny; choice policing.]

This guy sounds like a genius:

An Alaska lawmaker on a mission to eradicate fetal alcohol syndrome is defending his plan to provide state-funded pregnancy tests in bars in case birth control fails "chronic drinkers."

State Sen. Pete Kelly (R) said Monday before the Alaska Senate that birth control may not protect Alaskan women who drink regularly from getting pregnant.

"If you have people who are binge drinking or chronic drinkers, we're hesitant to say 'use birth control as your protection against fetal alcohol syndrome,' because again, as I say, binge drinking is a problem," he said. "If you think you can take birth control and then binge drink and hope not to produce a fetal alcohol syndrome baby, you may be very wrong. Sometimes these things don't work. Sometimes people forget. Sometimes they administer birth control improperly, and you might produce a fetal alcohol syndrome baby."

State Sen. Berta Gardner (D) then asked to correct the record to reflect that birth control is used as a protection against pregnancy, not fetal alcohol syndrome.
High-give, Sen. Gardner!

I mean, everything about this idea is totally terrific. (And, in case I'm not laying it on thick enough, that was sarcasm.) But I think the thing I love the most about it is a (small-government!) senator who is willing to spend taxpayer dollars on forced pregnancy tests, but is not willing to spend taxpayer dollars on free contraceptives or reproductive healthcare. Neat!

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And Next Month, and Next Month, and the Next...

The subject line of an email I just received, from some organization trying to convince me they give a fuck about women: "What Are You Doing to Celebrate Women's History Month?"

The same thing I do every month: Care about women's issues like care is a verb that compels action.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound lying on the loveseat with his legs in the air and his head on the arm of the couch

This goofy dog. ♥

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 Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by wax.

Recommended Reading:

Libby Anne: [Content Note: Rape culture] A Complete Misunderstanding of the Term "Rape Culture"

Danielle: [CN: Misogynoir; violence] I'm Not an Angry Black Woman But Should I Be?

Adele: [CN: War on agency] In Unprecedented Assault, Koch Brothers Aim for Anti-Choice Senate in 2014

Kai: [CN: Class warfare] What We've Learned from Obamacare

Latoya: [CN: Misogynoir; class warfare] Study Shows That Black Women Have More Financial Burdens Than White Women

Resistance: [CN: Racism; White Supremacy] Thoroughly Racist Thoroughly Modern Millie

Amanda: [CN: Racism; assault] Man Sues Railroad after Co-Worker Cuts His Dreadlocks

Michelle: Why I'm Doing a Dietetic Internship

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime



k.d. lang: "Hallelujah"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: War on agency; Christian Supremacy] Over at ProPublica, Nina Martin has a terrific round-up of pieces on the Hobby Lobby case before the Supreme Court.

[CN: Disaster; death] More bodies have been recovered from the aftermath of the Washington landslide. Absolutely devastating. There was some good news, though, as an infant and a four-year-old boy were rescued alive. To give some idea of the conditions with which rescuers are contending: "The boy was so firmly embedded in the slide that crews literally had to pull him out of his pants."

And one very lucky family found their dog alive. Yay! [Note: Video may begin to play automatically at link.]

If you have been trying to enroll in health plans through the federal insurance marketplace, but aren't able to finalize enrollment by the March 31 deadline: "Federal officials confirmed Tuesday evening that all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, but who do not finish by Monday, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension."

[CN: Transphobia; police malfeasance] The ACLU has filed an amicus brief "as part of our ongoing efforts to end the abuse that transgender people experience in the custody of police departments and corrections agencies. The Court should follow clear law that officials cannot meet their constitutional obligations by placing vulnerable individuals in an obvious path to harm."

Good grief: "Two CNN producers were arrested Tuesday while allegedly trying to break into the World Trade Center site to report on recent security breaches."

[CN: Gender policing] A Christian school in Virginia has refused to enroll a little girl because she doesn't conform to a traditional presentation of femininity. Just like Jesus would do!

Swell: "A BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana leaked an unknown amount of oil into Lake Michigan Monday afternoon, an incident that occurred less than two weeks after the U.S. lifted BP’s ban on seeking new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico. BP says the spill, which has since been stopped and contained, was caused by a 'disruption in the refining process' at its Whiting refinery in northwest Indiana." Oh, okay then. "Lake Michigan acts as the drinking water source for 7 million people in the Chigago area alone, but EPA officials said on the call that the drinking water wouldn't be affected by the spill." For some reason, I don't feel reassured.

A shelter in West Virginia celebrated its six-month anniversary of not euthanizing any animals for space considerations by tearing down its incinerator. Love.

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This Is Not a Solution; This Is the Problem.

[Content Note: Misogynoir; class warfare; systemic abuse.]

The Myth of Bootstraps goes something like this: I never got any help from anyone. I achieved my American Dream all on my own, through hard work. I got an education, I saved my money, I worked hard, I took risks, and I never complained or blamed anyone else when I failed, and every time I fell, I picked myself up by my bootstraps and just worked even harder. No one helped me.

This is almost always a lie.

There are vanishingly few people who have never had help from anyone—who never had family members who helped them, or friends, or colleagues, or teachers.

Who never benefited from government programs that made sure they had electricity, or mail, or passable roads, or clean drinking water, or food, or shelter, or healthcare, or a loan.

Who never had any kind of privilege from which they benefited, even if they didn't actively try to trade on it.

Who never had an opportunity they saw as luck which was really someone, somewhere, making a decision that benefited them.

Who never had friends to help them move, so they didn't have to pay for movers. Who never inherited a couch, so they didn't have to pay for a couch. Who never got hand-me-down clothes from a cousin, so their parents could afford piano lessons. Who never had shoes that fit and weren't leaky, when the kid down the street didn't.

Most, maybe all, of the people who say they never got any help from anyone are taking a lot of help for granted.

They imagine that everyone has the same basic foundations that they had—and, if you point out to them that these kids over here live in an area rife with environmental pollutants that have been shown to affect growth or brain function or breathing capacity, they will simply sniff with indifference and declare that those things don't matter. That government regulations which protect some living spaces and abandon others to poisons isn't help.

The government giving you money to eat is a hand-out. The government giving you regulations that protect the air you breathe is, at best, nothing of value—and, at worst, a job-killing regulation that impedes the success of people who want to get rich dumping toxins into the ground where people getting hand-outs live.

When people really don't have any help from anyone, it doesn't look like gold-plated car elevators. It looks like this: Arizona Mother Arrested after Leaving Kids in Car During Job Interview.

Shanesha Taylor is a homeless, single mother of 2 children, who was arrested for child abuse this week. Taylor left her children, ages 6 and 2 years old, in her Dodge Durango while she attended a job interview in Scottsdale, Arizona.

A passerby found the children in the car, with the engine turned off and the windows cracked open. Once Taylor returned to the car, 45 minutes later, she informed the police officer that she did not have a babysitter for her children.

"She was upset. This is a sad situation all around. She said she was homeless. She needed the job. Obviously not getting the job. So it's just a sad situation," said Scottsdale Police Sergeant Mark Clark.

She was arrested and booked into jail for child abuse.

Her children are now in CPS custody.
At the link, Taylor is seen in her mugshot, tears streaming down her cheeks.

The bootstrappers will argue that she should have found someone to watch her kids. Everyone has someone they can ask to watch their kids. No. Not everyone does. That's what really having no help from anyone looks like.

People who don't have family they can ask usually have neighbors, but Taylor is homeless. Or co-workers, but Taylor is jobless. Or someone they can pay, but Taylor has no money. With whom could she leave her children? There is no free daycare offered by the government—the same government that is trying to force women to have as many children as possible.

She and her children need food and shelter. She needs a job to provide food and shelter. She needs to go on an interview to get a job to provide food and shelter. She needs to leave her children somewhere while she goes on an interview to get a job to provide food and shelter.

She doesn't have anywhere to leave them. She leaves them in the car, because it is her only option. And she is arrested and her children removed from her care.

Nothing makes sense about indefinitely separating Taylor from her children, as punishment from her leaving them for 45 minutes. But criminalization is the only solution we have. We offer jail, instead of help.

Last fall, I read this story in the local paper: "Poor school attendance leads to charges against parent." That story, too, features a mugshot of a black mother, looking grieved. Because of her son's truancy—he had 19 unexcused absences and was tardy 30 times during the school year—Moina Lucious was arrested, charged with a felony count of neglect, and faced six month to three years in prison.

There were no details in the story about what may have been happening in this family's life that was contributing to the truancy. (I will also note that excused absences cost money; if your kid is sick, and you can't afford to take hir to the doctor, your kid might stay sick for longer, and you also don't have a doctor's note to provide to the school.) Naturally, we're meant to assume that Lucious is just a Terrible Mother, but I can imagine about 2,000 reasons why this could have been happening when support from her community might have solved the problem.

In a way that sending her to prison never will.

What if all the taxpayer money that's used arresting, processing, probably public defending, possibly trying, and maybe jailing women like Taylor and Lucious were instead used toward social programs that would have supported them in the first place?

The people who claim to never have had any help from anyone are the same people who tend to criticize "government hand-outs" and talk about the social safety net like it's a giant waste of taxpayer money—a "wealth redistribution program" to steal rich folks' money and give it to the poor.

(They're also the most likely to say shit like, "Don't have kids if you can't take care of them," while they simultaneously support policy that seeks to deny women control over our reproduction.)

But people need help. Everyone needs help. And not everyone is fortunate enough to have the kind of help that is so reliable it's possible to dismiss it out of hand as not even having been help at all.

This is what really having no help looks like. We don't actually reward not having help in this country; we criminalize it.

And that's not a solution. It's the problem.

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