Blog Note

[Content Note: Illness.]

Shakesville will be on hiatus for the next couple of weeks, starting this evening.

I am dealing with a new and somewhat serious health complication, which requires some medical tests I've got to get done promptly and some new meds to which my body's having a very difficult time adjusting.

Also, to be perfectly blunt, I need a break from the daily torrent of threats and abuse that this work obliges me to navigate, while I focus on my health. The stress and anxiety of escalating harassment recently has taken a toll on my ability to focus on self-care, and I've just reached a point where I need a mental health break, in order to take care of my physical health.

Thank you to all the community members here who have been incredibly supportive. I'm sorry that the abuse that is directed toward me and the mods outside this space affects what happens here.

I expect to return on Tuesday, September 16. If I need longer, I will let you know.

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Happy Dogs Are Happy

[Content Note: Animal cruelty, but happy endings.]

A year ago, the ASPCA and responders from The Humane Society of the United States rescued 367 dogs from a multi-state dog fighting ring in one of the largest documented federal dog fighting busts. The ASPCA just posted an update on some of the dogs who were rescued, who have gone to new homes where they are safe and loved, and it's pretty much the best thing ever. ♥

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Film Corner!

[Content Note: Christian Supremacy; racism. DoNotLink used in first paragraph to Glenn Beck's site.]

Well, it's been two minutes, so it's time for another terrific new Kirk Cameron film! His newest cinematic masterpiece is called Saving Christmas (because of course it is), which is "a scripted story about a guy named Christian White who represents the typical white Christian male and he's got a bad case of religious bah humbugs."

Christian White! The lead character is named Christian White! LOLOLOL.

Anyway. This movie is about the real meaning of Christmas—which is, naturally, getting super pissed at straw-atheists.

And while he has no idea exactly how atheists will respond to the feature film, which is slated to open November 14 in theaters across America, he predicts they likely won't be too elated with its storyline.

"I assume they're going to get frustrated to see some of their best arguments deflated by this movie, because we take on some of the most commonly parroted myths about the origins of Christmas," Cameron exclusively told TheBlaze Tuesday.

...Cameron continued, "It's obvious that there is a deliberate attempt to snuff out the holy root that has produced all this wonderful Christmas-time fruit. I think it's about time someone spoke out and made a movie about this."
FINALLY. The brave HERO, who has the jingle bells to speak out about the totally real and definitely not imaginary War on Christmas, that we have been waiting for has arrived! MYRRH FOR EVERYONE!

To the trailer!

Kirk Cameron, in voiceover over his CAMFAM production logo: "Do you ever feel like Christmas has been hijacked?"

Cut to the scene of a Christmas party. In the kitchen, Kirk Cameron is talking to a blond white lady. The sound production on this scene is spectacular. Did they get a hold of an iPhone 6 for this thing?!

Kirk Cameron asks: "Hey, uh, where's Christian? How's he doing? Is he okay?"

Blond White Lady says: "Oh, he's fine, really. He's just—he's just not into Christmas this year, that's all." She walks out of the frame, leaving Kirk Cameron to linger behind, making one of his patented Confused Faces, which lets his audiences know that something ain't right.

screen cap of Kirk Cameron standing in a kitchen looking confused
"This calls for my finest Sherlock Jesus investigative skills!"

Cut to Christian White, a white bearded man in glasses and a winter sweater, picking his teeth, thus conveying his disinterest in Christmas. In voiceover, Kirk Cameron says (apparently continuing from his question about Christmas being hijacked): "By all the commercialism, and those who wanna replace Merry Christmas with Happy Holidays—or Season's Greetings, whatever that means!"

Oh boy. The terrorism of Happy Holidays. When we can roast that old chestnut on an open fire?

Cut to Kirk Cameron sitting in a car in the dark with Christian White. The acting in this scene is so bad that it's like Kirk Cameron and someone even less good at acting than Kirk Cameron were acting in it. "You okay?" Kirk Cameron asks. "This is not what Christmas is all about," says Christian White.

Over images of Christmas gifts and decorations, Kirk Cameron says in voiceover: "Some want to pull down every manger scene and tell us why our favorite Christmas traditions are wrong."

Cut back to the car. "Newsflash!" exclaims Christian White, gesticulating at something we can't even see. "Not in the Bible! That's a pagan idol symbol! With the Winter Solstice! Jesus was not born in December! That's exactly what the Druids did. It's like a carjacking, but, like, of our religion! And guess what? Santa got in the car, kicked Jesus out, and was like: Rollin', rollin', rollin'!"—here, he mimes what is clearly meant to be a gang member driving a low-rider—"and took it."

Throughout this incoherent, racist, and poorly edited rant, Kirk Cameron makes so many confused faces.

Cut to a creepy grinning Santa Claus in close-up, and Kirk Cameron says in voiceover: "Isn't it time that somebody spoke up?" YES. YES IT IS TIME THAT SOMEBODY SPOKE UP—and explained to me what the fuck is even going on in this movie. Are we supposed to be more mad at people who don't care about Christmas at all, or people who care about it in the wrong way? Why does 3/4 of it appear to take place in a car in the dark? And why is Christian White such a goddamned racist shitlord?!

Cut back to the car. (Great.) Kirk Cameron says, again gesturing to something we can't see: "Everything you see inside there? It's all about Christmas. It's all about...Jesus." Cue the inspiring music and cut to—I shit you not—an actual light bulb turning on. Goddammit.

Montagery. A white child looking up at something. A scene from the manger? Joseph lurking in some bushes. Mary resting her head near the baby lord.

Cut back to the car. WHAT?! GET ME OUT OF THIS FUCKING CAR! Kirk Cameron says, "I know you love Christmas, and you want it to be all about what it's all about." It feels like that's going to go somewhere, but nope! Montagery! A white child looking up at a backlit cross. Christian White running into the Christmas Party like a giddy child, while Kirk Cameron stands behind him holding up his hand like he's a wizard who just cast a dipshit spell on him.

screen cap of Christian White running into the Christmas Party like a giddy child, while Kirk Cameron stands behind him holding up his hand like he's a wizard who just cast a dipshit spell on him

Sassy Christmas music over images of happy Christmas party-goers. In voiceover, Kirk Cameron says: "This Christmas, dive headfirst into all of the joy, the dancing"—literally just scenes of people dancing; yanno, like CHRISTMAS—"the celebration, the feasting, the imagination, and traditions that glorify the true reason for the season."

Christian White, overwhelmed by the true Christmas spirit, slides across the floor on his belly into the room and crashes into some shit. A black man exclaims, "Woo! Work, Holy Spirit! Ha! Can I get a amen? The scales are falling off! Glory! Ah! Glory! Mm!" The crowd of people behind him cheer.

Cut, for one last time, to the car. Kirk Cameron is smiling. In voiceover, he says, "Join me, and my family, and together let's put Christ back into Christmas." Text onscreen: "Saving Christmas. In theaters November 14. Limited engagement."

Amazing. I can't wait to not see this movie!

[H/T to Deeks.]

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

"I think a lot of people want to be able to walk into a grocery store—particularly, a lot of the women—want to go and buy a bottle of wine for dinner, go down, buy a six-pack or two six-packs, buy dinner, and go home rather than what I just described as at least three stops in Pennsylvania."—Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, explaining why women support his proposed liquor law reform. Currently, only state-licensed liquor stores and some grocery stores are able to sell liquor in the state.

Listen, women are busy! We need fewer stops so we can get home quicker to cook dinner for the menz!

Obviously, I love everything about this, but I continue to enjoy in particular how Republican men talk about women. "A lot of the women." Can you please give me a better idea of how many "a lot" is, Governor Corbett? How many binders full of women would you estimate "a lot" to be?

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[Content Note: Racism.]

I don't even know: "Lifetime Fails Its Awful Mission to Bring Out the 'Strong Black Woman' in White Women."

Because black women make great accessories for folks basking in too much white privilege, Lifetime has announced a new show called "Girlfriend Intervention." From the looks of it, the show — featuring four stereotypically "strong" black women (Tracy Balan on beauty, Nikki Chu on "home and sanctuary," Tiffiny Dixon on fashion, and reality star Tanisha Thomas) — will bring out the "girlfriend" in timid white women.
There is so much wrong with this, and Linda Holmes teases out quite a bit of it here. See also: Charing Ball, who notes: "Normally, this trope is occupied by an individual, however the Lifetime Network appears to be going for the Harry Potter-level of black wizardry with its recently announced show entitled 'Girlfriend Intervention,' which totally sounds like a magical negro 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.'"

The "inner" construction—e.g. inner strong black woman, inner fabulous gay man—is always problematic, because it suggests that these identities aren't real; that they are merely constructs. And to the extent that they represent stereotypes, they are. But that masks the reality that (for example) black women's non-monolithic identities are neither constructs nor stereotypes that can be adopted by people who are not black women.

It also suggests that these identities aren't comprehensive and equal, but subsets of privileged people's humanity. As if every privileged person has lurking within them an "inner" version of marginalized people's identities.

I have had the experience of a thin man saying to me that he needs to channel his "inner fierce fat woman" in order to navigate something that was challenging him. Blink blink. Naturally, he intended it as a compliment, but what it communicated to me was that he views "fierce fat women" (and me, in particular) as impervious to harm, as though we're naturally imbued with a feisty resistance rather than having developed by necessity strategies for dealing with a world that hates us.

Identities aren't costumes, and they cannot be borrowed nor lent.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt lying on her back with her belly and paws in the air
Zelly Belly.

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

Barry White & Luciano Pavarotti: "You're the First, the Last, My Everything"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Anti-immigrationism] Who cares about people's lives when there's an election to win? "Both political parties are in a state of high anxiety about the possibility that President Obama will allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the country, fearing that White House action on the issue could change the course of November's midterm elections. In the past few days, Democratic candidates in nearly every closely fought Senate race have criticized the idea of aggressive action by Obama. Some strategists say privately that it would signal that he has written off the Democrats' prospects for retaining control of the chamber, deciding to focus on securing his legacy instead. Senior Republicans, meanwhile, have their own worries about a 'September surprise' on immigration. They know their volatile party's tendency to erupt at such moments—including government shutdowns and impeachment threats—and that the GOP brand is even more tattered than the Democratic one."

[CN: Harassment; threats; misogyny] Anita Sarkeesian, the creator of the Tropes vs. Women series in which she provides feminist critiques of video games, was driven from her home by threats of violence this week. This shit has got to stop.

[CN: War on agency; misogyny; racism] In Indiana, another woman of color is facing decades in prison after trying to self-terminate a pregnancy, then allegedly giving birth prematurely and disposing of the body. Now Purvi Patel "is being charged with both neglect and feticide, allegations that actually conflict with each other. She was initially charged with 'neglect of a dependent' after prosecutors learned she left her baby in in a dumpster, a charge that won't apply if the baby was already dead. But she's now also being charged with 'fetal murder of an unborn child'—a charge that an Indiana judge allowed to stand this week—for taking drugs that could have illegally ended her pregnancy. ...As the Daily Beast's Sally Kohn points out, the logic doesn't exactly hold up. 'The State of Indiana intends to convict and incarcerate Purvi Patel one way or another, whether the fetus she delivered was alive or not—never mind the fact that the facts necessary for filing the one charge (that the fetus have been alive) entirely contradict the facts necessary for filing the other (that the fetus have been dead) and vice versa,' Kohn writes."

[CN: Guns; death] A crew member of the show Cops was killed when police opened fire on a robbery suspect, who was also killed. According to police, the suspect fired at officers, who then fired back. It was only after both suspect and crew member were dead that police discovered the suspect was holding a plastic pellet gun.

[CN: Guns; death] Just days after a firearms instructor in Arizona died after his 9-year-old student lost control of the 9mm Uzi he was teaching her to use, the NRA Women's Twitter account "blasted out suggestions for making practice at the shooting range fun for kids." Of course they did.

In the biggest news that ever newsed, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt got married last weekend. This is perfect: "Jolie and Pitt's wedding caps years of rampant speculation on when the couple would officially tie the knot." That is hilarious, even though it was not intended to be.

And finally! Here is just a terrific video of a juvenile bald eagle playing in a sprinkler.

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Last night was the finale (or, at least, the performance finale) of So You Think You Can Dance, and OMG Nigel Lythgoe was the biggest shitlord he has ever been, which is really saying something. I'm not even going to waste my energy recounting the numerous inappropriate and offensive things he said, but please feel free to discuss in comments with relevant content notes.

Anyway. I was honestly pretty indifferent to most of the performances last night, except for this one, which is one of my favorites of the whole season:

Video Description: Contestant Zack does a tap dance routine with all-star Aaron, set to Billy Joel's "Piano Man" and choreographed by Anthony Morigerto.

Granted, this is one of my favorite ever pieces of piano music, but I got goosebumps during the sequence set to that rollicking piano solo. The musicality and synchronicity of this piece is just magnificent. I loved it so much.

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Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Victim-blaming.]

Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, the former president of George Washington University and a current professor of public service at the school, was part of a panel of guests on The Diane Rehm show earlier this week, the subject of which was "the roles of fraternities and sororities on campus, which eventually turned into a discussion of the roles these organizations play in promoting rape culture." And here is part of what Trachtenberg had to say:

Without making the victims responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave. And so part of the problem is you have men who take advantage of women who drink too much and there are women who drink too much. And we need to educate our daughters and our children in that regard.
Wow. That is a lot of wrong in 81 words.

Saying that women need "to be trained not to drink in excess" is exactly "making the victims responsible for what happens." It also suggests that men are powerless to control themselves around incapacitated women.

Further, saying that women "need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave" also tasks victims with the responsibility for rape prevention.

(And let us note that Professor Trachtenberg just described raping someone as misbehaving.)

The idea that a woman can prevent a man from raping her if only she punches him in the nose is both incredibly offensive and extraordinarily naive. Many women correctly assess that fighting back will only increase their risk of more extensive harm, and failure to "punch a guy in the nose" does not mean that someone being assaulted has failed to protect hirself. In many cases, it is a wise calculation to mitigate the possibility of escalated violence.

And, of course, there is the critical issue that women who use violence to defend themselves are frequently prosecuted.

Trachtenberg concludes by saying "we need to educate our daughters and our children in that regard," which, no, for the above reasons, but also I just find that construction so interesting. "Our daughters" and "our children" are not mutually exclusive categories. The more obvious construction would have been "our daughters" and "our sons," but funny how his language here reflects the cultural resistance to teaching men to not rape. "Our sons" don't get singled out for any responsibility at all. And they are instead "our children." Children. Boys. Who will be boys.

This is heinous victim-blaming. There are no circumstances, none, under which a woman's behavior means she deserves to be raped; in which it's okay for a man to rape her.

Drinking to excess does not give someone permission to rape you. The end.

I have been blackout drunk exactly one time in my life. It was my first year at college, and one of my first times drinking. I eventually passed out in the dorm room of my friend Tim. Tim scooped me up and took me down the flight of stairs between our rooms and got my keys out of my pocket and put me to bed.

That's a story plenty of people would use to tell me that I was a lucky fool, instead of to observe that that's precisely the way things should be.

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[Content Note: Misogyny.]

From the Great Mysteries of Life files:

A detailed report commissioned by two major Republican groups — including one backed by Karl Rove — paints a dismal picture for Republicans, concluding female voters view the party as "intolerant," "lacking in compassion" and "stuck in the past."

Women are "barely receptive" to Republicans' policies, and the party does "especially poorly" with women in the Northeast and Midwest, according to an internal Crossroads GPS and American Action Network report obtained by POLITICO. It was presented to a small number of senior aides this month on Capitol Hill, according to multiple sources involved.

...The report — "Republicans and Women Voters: Huge Challenges, Real Opportunities" — was the product of eight focus groups across the country and a poll of 800 registered female voters this summer. The large-scale project was a major undertaking for the GOP groups.

...When female voters are asked who "wants to make health care more affordable," Democrats have a 39 percent advantage, and a 40 percent advantage on who "looks out for the interests of women." Democrats have a 39 percent advantage when it comes to who "is tolerant of other people's lifestyles."

Female voters who care about the top four issues — the economy, health care, education and jobs — vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Most striking, Democrats hold a 35-point advantage with female voters who care about jobs and a 26 percent advantage when asked which party is willing to compromise. House Republicans say jobs and the economy are their top priorities.

...The report is blunt about the party's problems. [It found] that Republicans "fail to speak to women in the different circumstances in which they live" — as breadwinners, for example. "This lack of understanding and acknowledgment closes many minds to Republican policy solutions," the report says. The groups urge Republicans to embrace policies that "are not easily framed as driven by a desire to aid employers or 'the rich.'"
Again, the suggestion is not to embrace policies that aren't actually total garbage, but to embrace policies that can't be "easily framed" that way.
The solutions offered include neutralizing Democratic attacks that the GOP doesn't support "fairness" for women; "deal honestly with any disagreement on abortion, then move to other issues"; and "pursue policy innovations that inspire women voters to give the GOP a 'fresh look.'"
Insert all the mirthless laughter in the universe here. Just "neutralize attacks" that the GOP doesn't support fairness for women, instead of supporting fairness for women. Change the subject when abortion comes up! And try to scrape the bottom of the barrel for some new conservative idea that can be mendaciously framed to appeal to modern women. Distract 'em from the misogyny with something shiny! Terrific.

Republicans' primary problem with women is, and will always be, this: They think that we're stupid. They think that there's some way they can trick us into not caring or not noticing that their policies are crap.

They don't even have respect for the decision-making of their own current female voters. They don't realize that those (almost exclusively white, straight, married) women are casting calculated votes, too. It's just that there aren't a whole lot of women who are keen to abdicate self-interest in order to cast a vote to uphold the kyriarchy.

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Open Thread

image of the spice saffron

Hosted by saffron.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Brenda A.: "What games or imaginary friends did you make up as a kid?"

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Good Grief

[Content Note: Homophobia.]

Yesterday, ESPN aired a report on first out gay NFL player Michael Sam's bid to earn a spot on the St. Louis Rams' final roster which included information on Sam's showering habits: The reporter noted a "defensive player told me that 'Sam is respecting our space' and that, from his perspective, he seems to think that Michael Sam is waiting to take a shower, as not to make his teammates feel uncomfortable."

Some people had a wee problem with that, for reasons that I'm going to assume are obvious to anyone with a functioning sense of decency.

This morning, ESPN responded to the criticism with this tepid statement: "ESPN regrets the manner in which we presented our report. Clearly yesterday we collectively failed to meet the standards we have set in reporting on LGBT-related topics in sports."

Ya think?

By the way, it takes some fucking cheek to reference your own "standards" in reporting on LGBT topics, as if they're sterling, in your non-apology for a report that invoked the despicable stereotype of the gay male predator.

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Police brutality; racism; victim-blaming.]

"He wasn't unarmed. He was armed with his incredibly strong, scary self."—The relentlessly execrable Ben Stein, discussing the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

That is a perfect, terrible example of the sort of horrendous, reprehensible, racist apologetics circulating among lots of white people, as though it is simply a fact, which all of us are meant to understand, that black men are "scary." Their very "selves" are scary. They are inherently scary.

And note that this racist characterization of black bodies serves a very specific twofold purpose: It serves to demonize black people, and simultaneously to write the narrative that racists' reflexive fear of black people is a natural reaction to innate scariness, rather than a totally unreasonable and unjustifiable projection of their own rank racism.

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Whoops for America 2: The Rewhoopsening

photoshopped image of a grinning Mitt Romney in front of a flag, underneath a banner reading 'Still least worst!' and flanked by two stars reading 'Whoops for America!'

Mitt Romney keeps saying he's definitely for sure absolutely not running for president again, but that doesn't mean the all-time winner in being the least worst in Republican primaries isn't still Republicans' least worst of the possible candidates for the 2016 election:
A USA Today/Suffolk University survey of Iowa voters released Wednesday should add to the feeding frenzy over a possible 2016 presidential bid by the 2012 GOP nominee.

...According to the new poll, if Romney was added to the list of potential 2016 GOP White House contenders, 35% of Iowa Republicans say he'd be their first choice in the Iowa caucuses, which kick off the presidential primary and caucus calendar.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses and is considering another bid in 2016, is a distant second, at 9%. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who narrowly won the 2012 caucuses, are each at 6%. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are each at 5%, with the remaining potential candidates tested were all in the lower single digits.

...[A recent CNN/ORC poll] suggested Romney losing to Hillary Clinton by a 55%-42% margin in a hypothetical 2016 matchup.
LOL. Well, that oughta convince him!

Good luck least-worsting yourself all the way to another non-victory, Mitt Romney!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat lying on a pillow with her front legs stretched out and hanging over the side of the pillow
I mean. LOL.

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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Wage Stagnation: Our Central Economic Challenge

[Content Note: Class warfare.]

This economic report by Elise Gould for the Economic Policy Institute is a must-read: "Why America's Workers Need Faster Wage Growth—and What We Can Do About It." Here is just part of the intro:

The last year has been a poor one for American workers' wages. Comparing the first half of 2014 with the first half of 2013, real (inflation-adjusted) hourly wages fell for workers in nearly every decile—even for those with a bachelor's or advanced degree.

Of course, this is not a new story. Comparing the first half of 2014 with the first half of 2007 (the last period of reasonable labor market health before the Great Recession), hourly wages for the vast majority of American workers have been flat or falling. And even since 1979, the vast majority of American workers have seen their hourly wages stagnate or decline—even though decades of consistent gains in economy-wide productivity have provided ample room for wage growth.

The poor performance of American workers' wages in recent decades—particularly their failure to grow at anywhere near the pace of overall productivity—is the country's central economic challenge. Indeed, it's hard to think of a more important economic development in recent decades. It is at the root of the large rise in overall income inequality that has attracted so much attention in recent years. A range of other economic challenges—reducing poverty, increasing mobility, and spurring a more complete recovery from the Great Recession—also rely largely on boosting hourly wage growth for the vast majority.
Emphasis mine.

There's so much good information in this article, which makes clear how wealth redistribution upwards has been happening; how theft of both workers' wages and productivity have enriched the top 1%; and how increasing income inequality stagnates quality of life improvements for the vast majority of the population, whose labor is being harvested by the top 1%.
In recent decades, the vast majority of Americans have experienced disappointing growth in their living standards—despite economic growth that could have easily generated faster gains in their living standards had it been broadly shared.

...It is clear that most of the overall income gains from 1979 to 2007 bypassed the vast majority of American households. As such, their living standards are lower than they would be had these gains been shared more broadly. In other words, there is a growing wedge between economy-wide average income growth and income growth of the broad middle class—a wedge we sometimes refer to as the "inequality tax"—that has effectively reduced middle-class incomes.

...The U.S. economy has generated enormous amounts of income in recent decades, even in the post-1979 period when overall growth slowed. It can certainly provide far faster growth for the broad middle class than it has over the past generation, and its failure to do so is an economic catastrophe.
Our economy is being destroyed by greed. People's lives are being destroyed by greed. It is not that there isn't enough to go around. It's that the 99% are busting our asses so that the 1% can accumulate more money than they could spend in a hundred lifetimes.

We know this intuitively, but Elise Gould's work here makes the irrefutable case.

[Related Reading: The Haves and the Have-Nots.]

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Carole King & James Taylor: "You've Got a Friend"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Racism] Charles Belk, a black film producer "who was in Beverly Hills to attend a pre-Emmy party Friday night, was handcuffed and detained for about six hours before authorities investigating a nearby bank robbery realized they had the wrong man." In a statement, Belk wrote: "What I don't why, during the 45 minutes that they had me on the curb, handcuffed in the sun, before they locked me up and took away my civil rights, that they could not simply review the ATM and bank's HD video footage to clearly see that the 'tall, bald-headed, black male'...did not fit MY description."

[CN: Guns; death] A firearms instructor in Arizona has died after he was shot by his 9-year-old student who lost control of the 9mm Uzi he was teaching her to use. Apparently, her family was on vacation at the "property in the Mohave desert, which creates a 'Desert Storm' atmosphere for shooters, their websites says. At the range, guests can take guided tours that include a private range and a certified ex-military firearms instructor. The tours require children to be at least 8 years old and stipulate that minors under 18 must be accompanied by parent or legal guardian at all times." I am sad this man died, and I am sad for this little girl, who now has to spend the rest of her life knowing she killed someone because all the adults around her thought it was okay for a 9-year-old to handle an Uzi.

[CN: Class warfare] Whoooooooops: "At a Koch Brothers-hosted secret strategy conference of right-wing millionaire and billionaire political activists in June, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised that if his party wins control of the United States Senate this November, the Senate will not waste time on things like increasing the minimum wage for people making only about $15,000 annually. ...McConnell, who has been attacked by his opponent for voting 17 times against minimum wage increases, made it clear that under his leadership there would not be any increase in the current $7.25 federal minimum wage. 'And we're not going to be debating all these gosh darn proposals. That's all we do in the Senate is vote on things like raising the minimum wage,' he told the billionaires in attendance." What a jackass. A cruel, shameless jackass.

This is good news: "Three retired U.S. generals added their names Tuesday to growing calls for the U.S. military to repeal its ban on transgender service members, arguing that doing so would not harm the armed forces' readiness or require major changes to administrative or medical policies. In a joint statement, Maj. Gen. Gale S. Pollock, former acting surgeon general of the Army; Brig. Gen. Clara Adams Ender, former chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps; and Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Kolditz, a professor emeritus at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, said 'allowing transgender personnel to serve openly is administratively feasible and will not be burdensome or complicated.' 'Implementation could proceed immediately and will be successful in its execution,' they added." I really love how they anticipated all the usual arguments and preemptively dismissed them out of hand. Nice.

Michelangelo Signorile tells is like it is on (lots of) corporate displays of support for LGBT rights.

Wowwwww: "Cosmic effort provides best view yet of distant colliding galaxies."

Michael Rooker (Yondu) and Dave Batista (Drax the Destroyer) reenact the Dancing Groot scene from Guardians of the Galaxy. Everyone I know seems to have Groot fever!

And finally! "A new law has been passed in California that will allow pet owners to dine together with their pets at restaurants outdoors when patio seating is available. Governor Jerry Brown, proud pet parent of a Welsh corgi named Sutter signed the bill into law together, and they couldn't be happier about the decision. The rules seem pretty basic. The dog must remain leashed, can only be seated in an outdoor-dining section, and must remain well behaved at all times. Also, the dog cannot be brought into any areas where food is being prepared. So it all seems fairly simple. ...The law fully goes into effect as of January the 1st." Yay! I think this is really excellent news for people whose dogs are not official service dogs, but whose companionship nonetheless helps them get out and about.

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John Crawford Update

[Content Note: Racism; guns; police brutality.]

Earlier this month, I wrote about John Crawford, the 22-year-old black man in Ohio who was killed by police in a Walmart after another customer called 911 to report a man waving an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, even though Crawford was actually holding a BB/pellet rifle which is sold at the store. The original police account was this:

"The officers gave verbal commands to the subject to drop the weapon," [police chief Dennis Evers] said in a statement. "The subject … was shot after failing to comply with the officers' commands. The quick response of officers was instrumental in containing this situation and minimizing the risk to customers."
LeeCee Johnson, who was on the phone with Crawford at the time, said she heard "the police start shooting, and they said 'Get on the ground,' but he was already on the ground because they had shot him."

So, right from the start, there was a conflicting account with what the police were claiming.

Now, Michael Wright, the attorney for Crawford's family, says that surveillance video from the incident, made available to Wright and Crawford's family for viewing by the Ohio's attorney general, also contradicts the police account.
"John was doing nothing wrong in Walmart, nothing more, nothing less than shopping," Wright said.

The attorney said surveillance video showed Crawford facing away from officers, talking on the phone, and leaning on the pellet gun like a cane when he was "shot on sight" in a "militaristic" response by police.

...He said the video suggests Crawford probably did not see or hear officers as they arrived.
Although an investigation by a special prosecutor is underway, the police officers are not under arrest, and one of the officers involved is already back on duty.

And, just like in Ferguson, "evidence" is being released piecemeal to the public, in a way that favors police:
Wright said the family objected to the piecemeal release of evidence, such as dispatch audio and video on the day of the shooting, was biased toward the police.

"Everything released is one-sided," Wright said. "There is nothing favorable to John Crawford. You can't show different pieces, show it all, don't trickle pieces to gain favor of the public."
Meanwhile, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says the surveillance video will not be released to the public, "to avoid tainting the jury pool." Without, of course, a trace of irony that withholding it taints the jury pool, too, but in a way that facilitates the posthumous criminalization of another black man killed by police.

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Video Games!

In the spirit of our Books! thread yesterday: What video games are you currently playing? Anything you've played recently that you'd recommend?

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[Content Note: Police brutality; racism; white supremacy; lynching.]

Here is some difficult but important recommended reading that sets what happened, and what is ongoing, in Ferguson in context, both currently and historically:

Jelani Cobb: Between the World and Ferguson

Joseph Shapiro: In Ferguson, Court Fines and Fees Fuel Anger

Adam Serwer: Eighty Years of Fergusons

Tamura Lomax: For Lucia Mcbath, Sybrina Fulton, and All Other Black Mothers Who've Considered Righteous Rage When Black Respectability Politics Ain't Enough

Natasha Chart: Want Peace? Killing Black People Needs to Be Treated as a Crime

And finally, a current report from the AP: Ferguson Shooting Protests Move to St. Louis.

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Open Thread

image of a mama tiger licking her cub's head

Hosted by Siberian tigers.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker RachelB: "What book / essay / article / poem that you read years ago are you still thinking about?"

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Police militarization.]

"Fusion has learned that 184 state and local police departments have been suspended from the Pentagon's [controversial '1033 program' program to equip local and state police departments with military surplus weaponry] for missing weapons or failure to comply with other guidelines. We uncovered a pattern of missing M14 and M16 assault rifles across the country, as well as instances of missing .45-caliber pistols, shotguns, and 2 cases of missing Humvee vehicles."—Daniel Rivero and Jorge Rivas, in an incredible report on their investigation into the number of police departments across the US which have lost "loads of military-issued weapons."

According to their investigation, police departments in the state of Mississippi alone have lost track of 12 M14s, a 12-gauge shotgun, two flyer helmets, and a .45 caliber pistol, which was sold at a gun exchange.

So, basically, apart from all the other problems with police militarization, which have been on abundant display in Ferguson, a lot of police departments are having trouble holding onto the military-grade weaponry they're getting care of the Pentagon.


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[Content Note: Homophobia.]

As I mentioned earlier, the three judges empaneled for the 7th Circuit review of Indiana's and Wisconsin's same-sex marriage bans were predicted to lean toward equality. But Maude Almighty they really let the bigots have it and it was terrific.

Judge Richard Posner, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, was dismissive when Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Timothy Samuelson repeatedly pointed to 'tradition' as the underlying justification for barring gay marriage.

"It was tradition to not allow blacks and whites to marry — a tradition that got swept away," Posner said. Prohibition of same sex marriage, he said, is "a tradition of hate."
YES!!! But wait—there's more!
Posner frequently cut off Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fischer, just moments into his presentation and chided him to answer his questions.

At one point, Posner ran through a list of psychological strains of unmarried same-sex couples, including [their children] having to struggle to grasp why their schoolmates' parents were married and theirs weren't.

"What horrible stuff," Posner said. What benefits to society in barring gay marriage, he asked, "outweighs that kind of damage to children?"

The answer has to do with "procreation," Fisher answered.

"All this is a reflection of biology," Fisher said. "Men and women make babies, same-sex couples do not... we have to have a mechanism to regulate that, and marriage is that mechanism."
Blah blah yawn. That's a garbage-ass argument even outside the context of a judge specifically asking you about the children of same-sex couples. Within that context, I think it's pretty commendable that Judge Posner managed to not laugh directly in Fisher's face.
There was some levity during the hearing. As Samuelson struggled to offer a specific reason for how gay marriage bans benefit society, he suddenly noted a yellow courtroom light signaling his allotted time was up.

"It won't save you," [Judge Ann Claire Williams, a Clinton appointee] told him, prompting laughter in court.

Samuleson smiled, saying "it was worth a try."
HA HA HA HA fuck you. What a fun day in court playing a silly game with people's lives for Mr. Samuelson. Jokity-joke-joke.

The court will issue its ruling soon. I have a pretty good feeling about how this one's gonna go.

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Good Grief

[Content Note: Christian Supremacy; anti-atheism.]

Oh brother. Have y'all seen the trailer for God's Not Dead, the terrific new film starring Kevin Sorbo as a meany atheist professor who hates god? It actually came out in theaters (allegedly) earlier this year, but the trailer is running on a fucking loop on my cable provider's OnDemand service, just to make sure all of us who somehow missed its debut at the cinemaplex get a chance to see it.

Anyway, the trailer is full of great things like:

* Dean Cain, wearing a business suit, talking on the phone to his good Christian sister who tells him he should come home to see their ailing mother, to which he responds, "What's in it for me?"

* Kevin Sorbo, wearing a tweed jacket, telling his classroom full of college students that god is dead.

* One of the dudes from Duck Dynasty (???), wearing a beard and patriotic bandana, telling a reporter that being Christian is the best, or whatever.

* Kevin Sorbo, wearing a tweed jacket, shouting at his rebellious Christian student: "You think you're smarter than me?! You think there's any argument you can make that I won't have an answer for? In that classroom, there is a god: I'm him!"

* Ladies playing important supporting roles in men's lives, including creating a trenchant life lesson for them by getting cancer.

* Kevin Sorbo, wearing a tweed jacket, shouting at his rebellious Christian student, while gesturing at the rest of the classroom full of students: "You just want to ensnare them in your primitive superstitions!"

DAMN. Atheists are the worst!

Also? That was definitely exactly like my college experience, lolololololol.

Clearly, this movie already made billions at the box office, which is why we have all for sure heard of it and been converted to its perfect brand of Christianity by its compelling message, but Kevin Sorbo is nonetheless promoting its DVD release in Big Time Media, like End Times fanatic Rick Wiles' radio program, where the two gentlemen discussed why it is that atheists are so angry.

[T]he two concluded that atheists are so angry because they secretly know that God does exist and hate him for "judging how they live their life."

Sorbo said he doesn't understand why atheists are so "filled with just hatred and anger," saying that he feels sorry for them but also can't help but laugh at them for spending "so much time ranting and raving about something that they don't believe in."

Wiles agreed, saying that he doesn't "believe in the Tooth Fairy but I don't spend all my time from trying to stop people from believing in the Tooth Fairy."

Of course, one could just as well make the same point in response to Sorbo and Wiles, noting that while they don't believe in atheism, they sure do seem to be spending a lot of time ranting and raving about it.

In the end, both Wiles and Sorbo agreed that the real reason atheists are so angry is because, deep down, they know that God exists.

"The truth is," Wiles said, "they know he exists and they hate him. That's what it's all about."

"That is exactly what it is," Sorbo responded. "I know these guys must believe in something, otherwise they wouldn't get so angry about it and they don't like the fact that there is a higher power out there that is judging how they live their life."
Perfect deductive reasoning. And let's face it: They should know the imaginary reason that the angry straw-atheists they've invented are super angry all the time.

image of actor Kevin Sorbo, a white middle-aged man, grabbing his young white male student from behind
"Hey, get back here, Christian scum! I need to yell at you some more!"

I know there are some angry atheists or whatever; there are lots of people who believe lots of things who are angry and yell about those beliefs. But there are a lot of atheists, like myself, who are essentially apatheists and really just don't give a shit.

And would kindly like you to shove your caricatures of atheists into the nearest bin, thankyouverymuch.

I mean, not for nothing, but if the worst complaint you can make is that some atheists are kind of aggressive about their atheism, you really need to STFU.

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Animal Rights Victory

[Content Note: Animal cruelty.]

Earlier this year, we reached an important milestone when South Dakota became the final state in the US to enact a felony provision for animal cruelty. And now Oregon is leading the way in legally recognizing that animals, even if they are still considered property, can be victims.

In two landmark rulings earlier this month, the Oregon Supreme Court said that animals -- whether they be horses, goats, dogs or cats -- shall be afforded some of the same basic protections as human beings.

The dual rulings are expected to make it easier for police to rush to the aid of ailing animals without first obtaining a warrant. They also could result in harsher criminal repercussions for those found guilty of abusing or neglecting animals.

"These are hugely helpful to the prosecution of animal-cruelty cases," said Jacob Kamins, a Corvallis-based prosecutor assigned to pursuing such cases across Oregon.

Specifically, in State v. Arnold Nix, the supreme court ruled that a Umatilla County man who was convicted of starving 20 horses and goats on his property could be sentenced -- not just on one count of second-degree animal neglect -- but on 20 different counts, meaning each animal counted as a separate "victim."

...In State vs. Linda Fessenden and Teresa Dicke, the supreme court found that a sheriff's deputy was legally justified in 2010 in rushing onto a Douglas County pasture to get medical help for a horse that was so malnourished every one of its ribs was showing. The state's high court ruled that the deputy, who thought the horse was in immediate danger of falling and dying, didn't need a warrant to step onto private property and get the animal to a veterinarian.

...The high court agreed that animals are still defined by law as "property." But the court ruled that the deputy didn't violate the constitutional search and seizure rights of its two owners because "exigent circumstance" existed -- that is that swift action was required to prevent harm to people or to property.

...In making its findings -- some of the strongest favoring animal rights to date -- the high court noted how Oregon law is evolving to reflect the sentiments of society in general.

..."To acknowledge that animals are victims of crime, that's really common sense to us," said Lora Dunn, staff attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund in Portland.
This is very good news indeed for animals, and for the humans who care about them.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie with her head tucked under my hand so I can scratch the top of her head
"Yes, Two-Legs. Right there. FOREVER."

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

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: War] In Israel and Gaza: "Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to an indefinite ceasefire, putting an end to seven weeks of catastrophic loss of life and destruction—but on terms that are likely to leave many on both sides of the conflict wondering what had been achieved. ...The terms of the deal—brokered by the Egyptian government, and reached on the 50th day of the conflict—are expected to be similar to those agreed at the end of the previous war 21 months ago. Israel will open crossings on its border to allow the movement of people and goods, and extend the permitted fishing zone off the coast of Gaza. Rafah, the border between Gaza and Egypt will also be opened; reconstruction of Gaza will begin. More difficult issues will be deferred for further talks in about a month. They include Hamas's demands for an airport and seaport in Gaza and the release of Palestinian prisoners, and Israel's insistence of the disarmament of militant groups and the return of the remains of two of its soldiers killed in the fighting."

[CN: Police brutality] Why Civil Rights Groups Are Calling for the Ferguson Prosecutor to Step Down: "Prosecutors are law enforcers, like police. In most every case they take, they rely on police to provide them with cases, make arrests, present evidence, and even testify at trial. If prosecutors can't work with cops, they can't convict anybody. And they don't want to alienate those very same people, particularly because they often maintain personal relationships. As a result, when faced with a case charging the police, 'prosecutors face enormous pressure from both police and fellow prosecutors not to go forward with such cases,' explains law professor David A. Harris in a law review article on police accountability."

[CN: Police brutality] I don't even have words: "A coroner's report obtained exclusively by NBC News directly contradicts the police version of how Victor White III, a 22-year-old black man, died in the back seat of a Louisiana police cruiser earlier this year—but still says the man, whose hands were cuffed behind his back, shot himself. ...'You can't make me understand,' said Rev. Victor White II, 53, a Baptist minister and former substance abuse counselor. 'You can't make me understand how my son took his left hand, when he was handcuffed behind the back, and shot himself. I don't believe a thing they’re saying at this point.'" Yeah, I don't blame him.

[CN: War on agency] Today in pushing back on the strategy to chip away at Roe until it is an empty statute: "Friday, the Center for Reproductive Rights joined a federal lawsuit challenging a Louisiana TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) law set to take effect September 1. The suit, filed on behalf of health care workers in Baton Rouge, seeks an injunction against Louisiana HB 388, which requires abortion providers in the state to obtain local hospital admitting privileges. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed HB 388 into law in June. In the written complaint, the Center for Reproductive Rights argued that the law makes an impossible demand since hospitals will not be able to respond to providers about admitting privileges before the law takes effect."

[CN: Homophobia] In good news, the three-judge 7th Circuit panel who will hear today's same-sex marriage case are probably favorably disposed toward ruling in favor of equality.

[CN: Religious supremacy; war on agency] Imani Gandy says "The Obama Administration Should Stop Bending to the Religious Right's Will," and I agree with her. I know you are so shocked!

Here is a complete list of last night's Emmy winners. I'm thrilled the Emmys took my advice and just gave all the awards to Breaking Bad!

And finally! DOG POOL PARTY! (If you can't view the video, it's a pool party at a doggy daycare with SO MANY DOGS HAVING SO MUCH FUN!)

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Tina Turner & David Bowie: "Tonight"

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By popular and repeat request: What are you currently reading? Anything you've read recently that you'd recommend?

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NYT Public Editor Responds to "No Angel" Piece

[Content Note: Victim-blaming; racism.]

Yesterday I mentioned a piece on Michael Brown in the New York Times in which Brown was described as "no angel," followed by a list of his supposed unangelic features, including an alleged theft, living "in a community that had rough patches," use of drugs and alcohol, and having "taken to rapping in recent months, producing lyrics that were by turns contemplative and vulgar."

There were an awful lot of objections to the piece, and the Times' public editor, Margaret Sullivan, has now responded, in a typically insufficient way:

Let's get the obvious out of the way first: That choice of words was a regrettable mistake. In saying that the 18-year-old Michael Brown was "no angel" in the fifth paragraph of Monday's front-page profile, The Times seems to suggest that this was, altogether, a bad kid.

Some people take their protests further; they say that The Times is suggesting a truly repellent idea — that Mr. Brown deserved to die because he acted like many a normal teenager.
Well, that's pretty much exactly what the police have suggested, by releasing footage allegedly showing Brown committing a theft before his was shot, by releasing a comprehensive police report of the robbery and a cursory report of the shooting, by accusing Brown of attacking the officer who shot him, etc. And by repeating the police justification of the shooting, tucked among details like Brown's residency in a rough neighborhood and his rapping, the Times, deliberately or not, made the same case. That's the point. It is a "truly repellent idea," but Sullivan should not act so surprised that people are accusing them of participating in this heinous victim-blaming.

Sullivan then makes sure we know that the author of the piece, John Eligon, is "a 31-year-old black man himself," before letting him defend the piece:
"I understand the concerns, and I get it," Mr. Eligon said. He agreed that "no angel" was not a good choice of words and explained that they were meant to play off the opening anecdote of the article in which Mr. Brown saw an angelic vision. That anecdote "is about as positive as you can get," Mr. Eligon said, and noted that a better way to segue into the rest of the article might have been to use a phrase like "wasn't perfect."

"Hindsight is 20/20. I wish I would have changed that," he said.
To say Michael Brown "wasn't perfect" would have had the exact same connotations. The point is that listing a victim's flaws, separate and sequential from any other characteristics, is always going to be interpreted as victim-blaming. And there is the problem of treating residency in certain neighborhoods, or rapping, as flaws in the first place.
There is other language in the article that some readers are objecting to — in particular, the references to Mr. Brown's interest in rap music with its sometimes provocative lyrics. Mr. Eligon said he pressed his editors to make changes on parts of the article that dealt with rap. "Rapping is just rapping. It's not indicative of someone's character," he told me.
And yet there it was, listed as evidence that Michael Brown was "no angel."

Sullivan concludes:
In my view, the timing of the article (on the day of Mr. Brown's funeral) was not ideal. Its pairing with a profile of Mr. Wilson seemed to inappropriately equate the two people. And "no angel" was a blunder.

In general, though, I found Mr. Eligon's reporting to be solid and thorough. I came away from the profile with a deeper sense of who Michael Brown was, and an even greater sense of sorrow at the circumstances of his death.
Not ideal. Inappropriate. Blunder. Oopsy! But it was a solid piece, so move along.

I guess that settles that.

The fact that Margaret Sullivan needed to read an article to feel "an even greater sense of sorrow at the circumstances of his death," because there was some mysterious reason to withhold some sorrow about the extrajudicial killing in the street of this unarmed black teenager, and that she doesn't imagine that's a very strange thing to say, pretty much says everything one needs to know about what the problem is here.

Our sorrow at any loss of life in this manner should not be predicated on the goodness of the victim.

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Open Thread

image of a large St. Bernard dog lying in the snow, looking majestic

Hosted by a St. Bernard.

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Question of the Day

When is the last time you wrote or received a handwritten letter? Doesn't necessarily have to be sent or delivered by snail-mail. An in-person delivery counts, too! Letter, note, card, whatever.

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The Emmys Are Tonight

Are you going to watch? Do you even care? I am so over awards shows at this point, I practically fall asleep at the mere thought of them. I used to love them! OH WELL.

Just give ALL OF THE AWARDS to Breaking Bad and call it a day, The Emmys. GOOD NIGHT!

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Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Rape culture; tasking women with rape prevention.]

Via Lauren Chief Elk, I learned of a new nail polish called Undercover Cover, developed by four male students at North Carolina State University, which can detect some common "date rape drugs" in drinks. The product, like other similar "rape prevention tools" which have come before, is being hailed as an awesome new rape prevention strategy.

Yeah. I have a couple of problems with that. Tara Culp-Ressler does a good job of compiling some of the obvious objections being made by anti-rape activists.

Like: Once again, potential victims are being tasked with rape prevention.

Like: Once again, we're preemptively blaming victims. (How long before a woman who is sexually assaulted after being drugged is asked why she wasn't wearing nail polish that could have prevented it?)

Like: Once again, we're focusing on women detecting roofies, rather than the men who put roofies in drinks in the first place.

Like: "Activists point out that most students are assaulted by people they know in environments where they feel comfortable—situations when wearing anti-rape nail polish doesn't necessarily make sense. Plus, the vast majority of those assaults don't involve date rape drugs in the first place. According to a 2007 study from the National Institute for Justice, just about 2.4 percent of female undergrads who had been sexually assaulted suspected they had been slipped a drug."

Like: Someone who is determined to rape will find a way to rape.

Like: Being able to detect roofies in your drink only protects you; the person who put them there can move on to someone who isn't wearing nail polish.

There are so many reasons that this is problematic, and they all boil down to this: Individual solutions to systemic problems don't work. It's true whether we're talking about unemployment, childcare options, or rape prevention.

You can't bootstrap your way out of being raped.

And let us all take a moment to appreciate that we're being told to buy something to prevent rape. Of course. Because the market solves everything. The market has never met a problem that screaming "bootstraps!" and admonishing crass consumerism can't fix.

(I'm not knocking anyone who would find a use for this product. I think there are some women who might find it useful, and that's fine. I just don't want to ignore the implication of the people selling it equating "tasking potential victims with prevention" with "empowerment." And I don't want to ignore the implication that a product which tasks potential victims with prevention gets way more attention than any anti-rape initiative aimed at men.)

The narrative that if only you try hard enough and use this great new tool and that awesome new strategy and avoid doing these things but always do those things, even when those things are totally contradictory, you can avoid being raped is utter bullshit.

What determines whether someone is raped is [CN: description of assaults] the presence of a rapist who is determined to rape you.

Here's the thing about rapists: They rape people. They rape people who are strong and people who are weak, people who are clever and people who are foolish, people who fight back and people who submit just to get it over with, people who are sexually active and people who are not, people who have been sexually assaulted before and people who have not, people who rich and people who are poor, people who are young and people who are old, people who are tall and people who are short, people who are fat and people who are thin, people who are blind and people who are sighted, people who are deaf and people who can hear, people of every race and shape and size and ability and circumstance. The only thing that the victim of every rapist shares in common is the bad fucking luck of being in the presence of a rapist.

Rapists are determined to rape. And if no one drinks a rapist's poisoned drink, then he'll find another way to obtain his victims.

Victim-blaming is based on the damnably fucked-up notion that people (and women in particular) allow themselves to be victimized by virtue of carelessness or stupidity, and they need to be warned and educated and lectured and hectored and cajoled and shamed into never being victims (again).


Our culture creates rapists—and they create victims. No one has ever been a victim of rape, until they had the bad fucking luck of being in the presence of a rapist.

Enough victim blaming. Enough.

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Death; police brutality; racism.]

"Michael Brown's funeral is underway at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Mourners made their way into the chapel today with their hands up."—Aura Bogado at Colorlines, just two simple lines of text accompanying a solemn photo of mourners waiting to enter the church, holding their hands in the air.

Hands up; don't shoot was one of the primary chants used by justice-seeking protestors in Ferguson.


If you were not able to watch the funeral, Tom McCarthy has a good timeline of live updates during the event at the Guardian.

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Get Ready to Have Your Mind Blown

Or not! Depending on your individual circumstances and interest in science and other things!


"Radical New Theory Could Kill the Multiverse Hypothesis," by Natalie Wolchover.


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Rick Perry: Serious Statesman

This is how seriously Rick Perry is taking his indictment for coercion and abuse of his office: His super PAC is selling t-shirts with his mugshot on them:

screen shot of RickPAC website selling shirt
Screenshot of current front page of RickPAC.

Hunter Schwarz at WaPo writes:
"Wanted for securing the border and defeating Democrats," the front of the shirt reads.

On the back is the mugshot of Rosemary Lehmberg, the Travis County District Attorney that Perry asked to step down after she was arrested and accused of drunk driving in 2013. Perry's two felony accounts are in connection with his request, and threats to pull funding if she refused.
In other words, the front is a "joke" about how Perry did nothing wrong and the charges are trumped up political persecution, and the back is a reference to the very thing that he actually did wrong.

Cool guy.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound with a big panty grin and his tongue lolling out
Dudley's big silly greyhound face after a walk this weekend.

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

Dolly Parton & Melissa Etheridge: "Come to My Window"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: War] In Ukraine and Russia: "Ukraine's government has said its forces have clashed with an armoured column that crossed the border from Russia as Moscow ramped up tensions ahead of crunch talks by pledging to send in a new aid convoy. ...A Ukrainian military spokesman told AFP border guards were battling 'several dozen' armoured vehicles that crossed the border and headed in the direction of the government-held city of Mariupol. ...If confirmed, the incursion could represent a dangerous push into territory in the Donetsk region under Ukrainian control after a brutal offensive by Kiev had led to government forces pinning back insurgents." Just fuck.

[CN: Rape; description of assault; domestic violence; guns; image of gun at link] A Georgia police officer who raped a domestic violence victim, and threatened to rape her with his weapon, has been given back his right to carry a firearm. Because nothing is more important than guns.

[CN: Rape; description of assault] A female passenger on a Malaysia Airlines flight to France was sexually assaulted by the chief steward. She managed to record part of the assault, and the steward has been detained. On the recording, the steward can be heard "pleading with her that his 'intentions were good.'"

[CN: Shooting; police brutality] Experts on police protocol say the shooting of Kajieme Powell was "justified." I just don't know, y'all. I really don't.

Cornel West says that President Obama "posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit." I can't say that I agree. There was plenty of evidence when President Obama was running that he was not a progressive on many issues.

[CN: Homophobia] This about sums up the state of homophobic resistance to same-sex marriage in Indiana: "We're sick of waiting and waiting for something that should have been done years ago. It's just tedious." That is some beautiful contempt, right there.

RIP Richard Attenborough.

Here is a picture of Beyoncé being awesome. (In case you can't see the image, it's Beyoncé onstage with the word FEMINIST behind her in giant all-caps letters.)

And finally: Here is just a terrific video of a newly rescued kitten booping a very patient Doberman!

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Earthquake in California

[Content Note: Earthquake; injuries; destruction.]

A 6.0 earthquake hit Northern California around 3:20am Sunday morning, injuring dozens of people and causing extensive damage:

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency after the South Napa Earthquake, which struck about 3:20 a.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Its epicenter was located about six miles south-southwest of Napa, California, and 51 miles west-southwest of the state capital, Sacramento. Officials have variously referred to the earthquake's magnitude as 6.0 and 6.1.

The earthquake was the largest one to shake the Bay Area since the 1989 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta Earthquake. Dozens of aftershocks followed.

...At least 120 people were treated at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, hospital officials told ABC News. Only a handful of patients needed to be hospitalized.

Six of those people suffered critical injuries, including the child hurt by the fireplace, who was flown to UC Davis Medical Center for further treatment, said hospital president Walt Mickens. The child was in stable condition.
Emergency personnel are stretched thin, as 15,000 people were left without power immediately after the quake, multiple fires had to be fought, and a number of water main leaks were also reported.

It is remarkable and fantastic that there are no reported casualties, and I hope that it stays that way.

There's going to be a lot of clean-up, and I know people will be looking for ways to help. We've got some Shakers in that region, so if anyone who's there would like to tell us the best ways to help, please feel very welcome and encouraged to do so in comments.

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[Content Note: Police brutality; racism; victim-blaming.]

Today, Michael Brown's funeral will take place. The state of emergency declared by Democratic Missouri Governor Jay Nixon remains in place, and police continue to make arrests during protests in the evening, but as the federal investigation proceeds, and the police presence remains strong, the number of protesters has decreased.

Michael Brown, Sr., the father of Michael Brown, has asked that today be a day of silence and peace: "All I want is peace. That's all I ask."

* * *

There have been demonstrations in support of Officer Darren Wilson. They have been routinely described by the media as "peaceful rallies," rather than protests and certainly not riots. On CNN, a white female supporter of Wilson said, "We will no longer live in fear."

If you feel more fearful of black people protesting a killer cop than of the killer cop, you are well and truly fucked.

Anyway. You know what I think about privileged people's manufactured fears.

* * *

In the New York Times, in an article most people will read on the day of his funeral, Michael Brown is described as "no angel."

Michael Brown, 18, due to be buried on Monday, was no angel, with public records and interviews with friends and family revealing both problems and promise in his young life. Shortly before his encounter with Officer Wilson, the police say he was caught on a security camera stealing a box of cigars, pushing the clerk of a convenience store into a display case. He lived in a community that had rough patches, and he dabbled in drugs and alcohol. He had taken to rapping in recent months, producing lyrics that were by turns contemplative and vulgar. He got into at least one scuffle with a neighbor.
No. He was not an angel. He was a human being.

* * *

Finally: I have not been able to find any updates about any investigation into the shooting of Kajieme Powell. If and when I can find anything, I will provide an update.

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Open Thread

image of a bottle of sarsaparilla sitting beside a filled glass

Hosted by sarsaparilla.

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Open Thread

image of red and purple rhododendrons

Hosted by rhododendrons.

This week's Open Threads have been brought to you by the letter R.

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Open Thread

image of two raccoons sitting on a birch branch

Hosted by raccoons.

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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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image of Rebecca Black with text reading: 'Top Weekend Priorities: 1. Partying 2. Partying 3. Fun 4. Fun 5. Fun 6. Fun 7. Hoping this weekend will never end'

[Previous FYI: Rick Astley; Eddie Murphy; The Eurythmics; Eddie Rabbit; Sinéad O'Connor; Was (Not Was); Bon Jovi; Kenny Rogers; Bobby McFerrin; Starship; Dead or Alive; Right Said Fred; Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians; Salt n Pepa; Nelson; The Cure; The Soup Dragons; Europe/BushCo; Elton John; Eddie Money; Human League; Glenn Frey; Van Halen; Alanis Morissette; Depeche Mode; The Beatles; The Proclaimers; Bruce Springsteen; Meat Loaf; Cyndi Lauper; Cole Porter; Tina Turner; The Jets; Starland Vocal Band; Kenny Loggins; Gloria Estefan; Martha Reeves & The Vandellas. Hint: They're better if you click 'em!]

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ACLU Argues for Michigan to Recognize Legal Same-Sex Marriages

[Content Note: Homophobia.]

Because there are a number of states (including the state in which I live, Indiana) where same-sex couples have briefly been able to legally marry before rulings declaring state bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional have been stayed, this case in Michigan is very interesting:

A lawyer urged a judge Thursday to order Michigan to recognize hundreds of same-sex marriages performed during a brief window in March, saying the unions were valid even if a higher court eventually reinstates the state's ban on gay marriage.

"The state cannot mandatorily divorce you," University of Michigan law professor Julian Mortenson said during a 90-minute hearing on a request for a preliminary injunction.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down the state's gay marriage ban on March 21, and more than 300 same-sex couples in four counties got hitched the next day, Saturday, before an appeals court suspended the decision and blocked additional marriages.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati recently heard arguments about whether to overturn or affirm Friedman's decision. In the meantime, the American Civil Liberties Union is fighting to force the state to recognize the marriages that did happen for the purpose of benefits and other issues.

"States don't undo people's marriages … there are no laws to support this argument that the state is making, I think some would say it's probably political and it's unfortunate that you are playing politics with people's lives, with their families," said Jay Kaplan with the ACLU of Michigan.
There are a number of reasons that the marriages performed in these windows of opportunity be recognized now, or as soon as possible. There's no telling exactly when the Supreme Court will decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, even though it's presumed to be soon, and there's no guarantee that the Court will find in favor of marriage equality.

These were legal marriages when they took place, and the people in them should have access to all the rights enjoyed by legally married people.

The state cannot mandatorily divorce you. Exactly right.

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Number of the Day

[Content Note: Police brutality; racism.]

75: The percentage of jurors who are white on the grand jury "empaneled to decide whether evidence presented in Michael Brown's shooting warrants criminal charges against Ferguson officer Darren Wilson."

And here's why that's a problem: "Stark Racial Divisions in Reactions to Ferguson Police Shooting." In case you need a poll to prove what is manifestly evident to anyone paying attention.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat sitting on my belly, with her arm stretched out across my chest, as if to hold me in place
"Don't even think about moving. I am too comfortable."

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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Insurers Illegally Denying Contraceptive Coverage

[Content Note: War on agency; classism. NB: Not only women need access to birth control.]

Despite the Hobby Lobby decision that created an exemption for religious private employers, most employers and insurers are still required to cover contraceptives. But Kaiser Health News has found there are still all sorts of attempts to deny coverage of certain types of contraception or deny coverage of contraception altogether:

In one of those messages recently, a woman said her insurer denied free coverage for the NuvaRing. This small plastic device, which is inserted into the vagina, works for three weeks at a time by releasing hormones similar to those used by birth control pills. She said her insurer told her she would be responsible for her contraceptive expenses unless she chooses an oral generic birth control pill. The NuvaRing costs between $15 and $80 a month, according to Planned Parenthood.

Under the health law, health plans have to cover the full range of FDA-approved birth control methods without any cost sharing by women, unless the plan falls into a limited number of categories that are excluded...

As an official from the federal Department of Health and Human Services said in an email, "The pill, the ring and the patch are different types of hormonal methods … It is not permissible to cover only the pill, but not the ring or the patch."

Guidance from the federal government clearly states that the full range of FDA-approved methods of birth control must be covered as a preventive benefit without cost sharing. That includes birth control pills, the ring or patch, intrauterine devices and sterilization, among others.

But despite federal guidance, "we've seen this happen, plenty," says Adam Sonfield, a senior public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research and education organization. "Clearly insurance companies think things are ambiguous enough that they can get away with it."

If you are denied coverage, your defense is to appeal the decision, and get your state insurance department involved.
And throughout the duration of that process, you get to pay for your own birth control out of pocket, if you can afford to. And if you can't, too bad. And if you get pregnant, well, hope you live within distance of an accessible abortion clinic, and can afford an abortion.

This is not a functional healthcare system.

An insurance company, trying to save money to pass onto its wealthy shareholders, denies the $15-$80 a month coverage of a NuvaRing to a woman who is insured by them. The woman then has to pay that cost herself, at least until the insurance company is forced to reverse their illegal denial of coverage. She is subsidizing the profits of a corporation and earnings of wealthy shareholders.

And that's the best case scenario after this sort of denial of coverage. In the worst case scenario, a woman who can't afford $15-$80 a month gets pregnant, and can't afford an abortion, either, and then has a child she didn't want and can't afford. Escalating costs passed on to her because an insurance company made an illegal decision about her coverage.

This is not a functional healthcare system.

A for-profit healthcare system will never be a functional healthcare system. Not for people who truly depend on it to access healthcare.

[H/T to Shaker Kathy_A.]

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Arthur Prysock: "At Last"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: War; terrorism] Goddamn: "Internal administration deliberations over a response to Isis continue, and US officials predicted that there would be little departure from the strategy of limited airstrikes launched since 8 August. One said the military plan 'may ultimately evolve'. ...Army general Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told reporters in a Pentagon briefing that while Isis would eventually have to be defeated, the US should concentrate on building allies in the region to oppose the group that murdered an American journalist, James Foley. 'It is possible to contain them,' Dempsey said, in a Pentagon press conference alongside the defence secretary, Chuck Hagel. 'They can be contained, but not in perpetuity. This is an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision which will eventually have to be defeated.'" I know it's the height of gauche to say this, but fuck George W. Bush and his entire administration and the architects of the Iraq War, which created the chaos in which this is happening.

[CN: Racism] Republican Iowa Representative Steve King continues to be a reprehensible shitlord, calling Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton "race hustlers," accusing the Congressional Black Caucus of " always looking to play the race card," and saying, without a trace of irony, "our culture and civilization was built on a number of things but it was certainly built on reason and our ability to reason," in order to call what's happening in Ferguson "irrational."

[CN: Natural disaster] Major landslides caused by the collapse of mountainsides on the outskirts of Hiroshima, Japan, have necessitated the evacuation of more than 4,000 people from their homes. "The confirmed death toll on Friday stood at 39 but the number of missing was raised to 52, having risen steadily over the last two days from initial single figures." Fuck.

[CN: Misogyny] Of course: Men who request flexible work schedules for childcare are more likely to get it than women. "Whereas men are rewarded at work for trying to help out at home, women continue to be penalized. The reason? Entrenched gender stereotypes. People continue to believe that men will meet their obligations at work—because they are men. In other words, according to Dr. Munsch, 'We think, What a great guy.'"

[CN: Transphobia] Despite promises to support Pfc. Chelsea Manning in her transition, the military is failing to deliver. "For example, in my daily life, I am reminded of this when I look at the name on my badge, the first initial sewed into my clothing, the hair and grooming standards that I adhere to, and the titles and courtesies used by the staff. Ultimately, I just want to be able to live my life as the person that I am, and to be able to feel comfortable in my own skin."

[CN: Misogyny] Fark says it's going to stop tolerating misogyny in its forums. Well, I hope they're serious about it, and I am already annoyed by the cookies they're getting for doing what should be considered a basic bit of decency.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers at Arizona State University have discovered "the genetic 'recipe' for lizard tail regeneration," which may aid in the development of "ways to stimulate the regeneration of limbs in humans" as well as "new therapeutic approaches to spinal cord injuries, repairing birth defects, and treating diseases such as arthritis." Neat!

A team of scientists from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan have detected traces of one the universe's first stars. Wow.

And finally! Hank Aaron meets Hank the Dog: "Hank the Dog was a stray when the Brewers found him at their training camp in Arizona this past February. The team then adopted him as their new mascot—complete with a jersey bearing his own special number, 'K9'—and gave him a new home with the team's general counsel Marti Wronski. The Brewers also donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Hank-related merchandise to the Wisconsin Humane Society, and they have held other events with him to promote rescue-pet adoption. And of course, right from the moment he first arrived at the Brewers camp, the staff and players there named him in honor of Milwaukee's greatest sports legend."

screen cap of a tweet authored by the Tap Milwaukee reading: 'Cute Alert: Hank Aaron meets Hank the Brewers dog for the first time' and accompanied by a picture of Hank Aaron, an older black man, with Hank the Dog, a small fluffy white dog

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