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!

Open Wide...

An Observation

[Content Note: Hostility to consent.]

There is a video, which I am not sharing here for reasons that will become obvious, of North West, the two-year-old daughter of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, being taken to ballet class by her nanny. (As an aside, her mother usually accompanies her to ballet class, but is currently heavily pregnant, which I suspect is why the nanny was taking her.) Paparazzi snap millions of photos and shoot video of her. In her little toddler voice, she says, "No pictures! I said no pictures!" Her nanny repeats, "She said no pictures."

The paparazzi make "Aww, how adorable!" noises, while they continue to take pictures of her.

Against her explicit request that they not.

The hostility to consent starts so fucking early.

Her "sassy" response to be photographed is "adorable," read the news stories. She is "taking control of her image," just like her parents!

They assign grown-up motivations to a child, and reduce her resistance to being exploited to something "cute," in order to justify this gross disrespect of her consent.

There are people who will certainly be inclined to argue that North West is fair game, because her parents are famous, and/or because her parents have shared images of her.

But those arguments are irrelevant—not least of which because her parents weren't there. North West was asserting her own agency. She was saying in her own voice that she didn't want her photo taken.

And everyone laughed at how adorable it was. This tiny female child imagining that what she wants matters.

I heard you, Nori.

Open Wide...

The Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by chickens.

Recommended Reading:

Jenn: [Content Note: Police brutality; racism; xenophobia] Defense Attorneys Go "Full Xenophobia" in Blaming Indian Grandfather for Being Paralyzed By Cop

Anand: What Trans People Need to Know–and Do–to Make the Affordable Care Act Work for You

Jon: Trump, Like Romney, a Riches to Riches Story

Katie: [CN: Misogyny; pay inequality] Talking about Salaries with Your Coworkers

Matt: [CN: Image of bat at link] Bats Are Awesome

Adam: Halo 5: Guardians Has Something for Everyone, But Fails to Impress

CeCe: Got Thick Legs? Here Are 8 Gorgeous Wide Calf Boots

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!

Open Wide...

Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

David Bowie: "Love You Till Tuesday"

This week's TMNS brought to you by David Bowie tracks for films.

Open Wide...

Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound lying on the couch, sound asleep, with his tongue hanging out
LOL this dog.

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

Open Wide...

In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: War; video may autoplay at link] Welp: "President Obama is directing the Pentagon to send special forces into Syria to advise the Syrian opposition in its fight against ISIS, sources confirmed to ABC News. ...A U.S. official says the White House will announce that Obama has authorized somewhere around 50 special operations forces to go into Syria to work with the rebel group known as the Syrian Arab Coalition. These forces will work along the Syrian border and not on the front lines with the rebel groups. They will provide training, assistance, and advice just as U.S. troops are doing in Iraq. They will not be in combat, they will work with the Syrian Arab Coalition to facilitate airstrikes, but they are not forward air controllers. They will be at the group's headquarters speeding up coordination of potential airstrikes. The White House is expected to characterize the change as 'an enhancement' of the existing training, advisory and assist mission in Iraq against ISIS."

[CN: Rape culture; sexual assault] For fuck's sake: "A Polish court has rejected a US extradition request for the film director Roman Polanski over his child sex conviction. '[Polanski's] extradition is inadmissible,' said Judge Dariusz Mazur at the district court in the southern city of Krakow. ...Mazur said the case was very complicated, but an extradition procedure would violate Polanski's human rights because he could be subjected to confinement." Boo hoo.

Hillary Clinton has picked up a couple of notable endorsements: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gautam Raghavan and Jamie Citron, who are respectively President Obama's liaison to the LGBT community in The White House Office of Public Engagement from 2011 to 2014 and the former National LGBT Vote Director for Obama for America.

[CN: Carcerality; racism] In other campaign news, Clinton has proposed criminal justice reform that would disallow racial profiling by police and eliminate sentencing sentencing disparities "between crack cocaine and powder cocaine users," important because "lengthy crack cocaine sentences disproportionately affected African Americans who were not more likely than their white or Hispanic counterparts to use crack."

[CN: Death penalty] In less good news, Clinton still refuses to support abolition of the death penalty: "We have a lot of evidence now that the death penalty has been too frequently applied, and too often in a discriminatory way. I do not favor abolishing it, however, because I do think there are certain egregious cases that still deserve the consideration of the death penalty, but I'd like to see those be very limited and rare, as opposed to what we've seen in most states." The thing is, no matter how "limited and rare" the death penalty is, there is still a real chance of executing an innocent person, which is to say nothing of ethical objections to state-sanctioned murder. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is explicitly in support of abolishing the death penalty: "I believe it is time for the United States of America to join every other Western, industrialized country on Earth in saying no to the death penalty."

[CN: Sexual violence] This is a difficult but compelling piece in the New York Times: "States Struggle with What to Do with Sex Offenders after Prison." This quote from Democratic Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton sums up the problem very succinctly: "I consider myself certainly as committed to improving our social service efforts on behalf of people who need help in our society. But there's a line you need to draw for public safety—and these people, if you look at some of their case files, it's repeated, horrific crimes that put them in this situation." The "situation" being that they have finished prison sentences, but are still being held by the state, because they have been assessed to be likely to reoffend. This is the nature of many sexual predators: They simply can't/won't be rehabilitated. So what is the state to do with them?

The title of this piece is crap, but this story about how a trans woman's family greeted her disclosure and transition is lovely, particularly this heartbreaking passage about her elderly mother: "My Mum has dementia and quite a few of my family were concerned about what would happen if I came out to Mum, whether she might be too stressed to handle it. And anyway, so when I eventually came out to Mum, I did it early in the morning and she listened. I kept it very simple. And she said—at the end of it, she said, 'Well,' she said, 'What do you know?' She said, 'I've got a beautiful new daughter.' And she said, 'Come here, love.' And I cried on her shoulder and Tess cried too and it was all wonderful. ...I go and see Mum every few weeks and she's forgotten each time, and every time I tell her again, she gives me just the same beautiful reaction that she did exactly the same, almost word for word every time. I'm kind of the luckiest one of all because I get to come out to Mum 100 times a year, and every time, she's beautiful."

Neat! "Using the VISTA telescope, astronomers in Chile have discovered a previously undetected band of young stars hidden away behind thick clouds of dust in the central bulge of the Milky Way. ...Using data pulled in by the Vista Variables in the Vía Láctea Survey (VVV) from 2010 to 2014, the astronomers found 655 candidate variable stars of a type called Cepheids. These stars are unique in that they expand and contract at regular intervals. Their brightness can change dramatically in just a few days or months. ...'All of the 35 classical Cepheids discovered are less than 100 million years old,' explains study co-author Dante Minniti in a release. 'The youngest Cepheid may even be only around 25 million years old, although we cannot exclude the possible presence of even younger and brighter Cepheids.' This would imply that there's a previously unconfirmed, continuous supply of newly formed stars in the central region of the Milky Way. What's more, by mapping these Classical Cepheids, the team highlighted an entirely new feature of our galaxy: a thin disc of young stars that stretch across the galactic bulge."

[CN: Animal cruelty] This story about rescued circus lions! "This male has no idea of the new life of freedom that starts in November." Blub.

David Beckham's daughter doodled a figure beside a heart on his palm, and he got it tattooed on him. Because Becks forever.

[CN: Violent imagery] Tom Hardy on whether he should be given an Oscar: "Lock me out of that, for your own good. It's like putting a wig on a dog, or a tutu on a crocodile. It doesn't look right, it's not fair to the animal, and inevitably someone will get bitten and hurt." LOL!!!

And finally! Breaking News: DADDY's HOME!!!

Open Wide...

The Walking Thread

[Content Note: Descriptions of violence and self-harm. Spoilers are lurching around undeadly herein.]

image of actor Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, with bandages all over his face
Looking good, Grimes!

Welp, I finally got caught up on the first three episodes of Season 6 of my favorite show that I love to hate, so here it is—the return of The Walking Thread!

When last we left our totally trepid band of zombie slayers, Grimes Gang had made themselves at home in Aarontown, and by "making themselves at home," I obviously mean "introduced them to Grimes' special brand of Patriarchial Authoritarianism." Also: The W-Heads, a violent gang of exiled scoundrels, were looming ominously as the foils for this season.

Let's run through the first two episodes quickly, so we can get to the most recent episode, which has been the focus of MUCH DISCUSSION for REASONS!

The season premiere set out to accomplish two things:

1. To remind us that The Walking Dead is ART—beautiful, meaningful art—which is accomplished via awkwardly splicing together present-day color scenes of Grimes Gang shepherding a mass of zombies out of a quarry because GRIMES SAYS SO and black-and-white Pleasantvillian flashbacks to the hatching of the plan. A plan which is so fucking stupid, because, yes the noisy zombies in the giant pit are attracting other zombies, but those zombies are falling into the pit, so why not just contain the pit and fix the leak, as suggested by Ethan Embry? (Hi, Ethan Embry! I bet you can't hardly wait to be killed by a zombie, amirite?!) The quarry is basically a natural trapping pit of enormous size, which is SO LUCKY, and it seems a lot smarter and easier to secure the potential exits than lead a horde of easily distracted zombies to wherever the fuck Grimes is intent on leading them. "I never settle for smart or easy when MANLY AND COMPLICATED will do!"—Rick Grimes.

2. Reestablish that Grimes is King Patriarch Who Is Always Right and Must Never Be Questioned, which is established by Morgan's first line being "You were right!" and Deanna's first line being "Rick is right!" and Ethan Embry, who dares to question Grimes' infallibility, being killed by a zombie. That's what you get for challenging the Patriarchy, ya jerk!

Episode One ends with the sound of a blaring car horn leading some of the zombies off-track from their march to wevthefuck. WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED SOMETHING WOULD GO WRONG WITH ONE OF GRIMES' SOLID PLANS?

We are left wondering: Who was blowing the horn?! And where are the W-Heads who were clearly being set up as the villains of this season? Which brings us to Episode Two.

This episode takes place back in Aarontown, featuring all the Leftbehindsies who weren't approved by Grimes to help execute his STELLAR PIT PLAN.

Ostensibly, the episode is about the W-Heads invading Aarontown, and their crashed truck whose perished driver leans on its horn, but that's just a backdrop for the REAL story, which is about Morgan's discomfort with Grimes Gang's murdery tendencies. He doesn't want to kill anyone, and he's real judgy about Grimes Gang killing everyone.

Naturally, by the end of the episode, he has to kill someone to save himself—a W-Head who conveniently taunts him about his reluctance to kill him!—thus proving once again that Grimes is right about everything. Literally an entire episode dedicated to humiliating a black man for advocating nonviolence. COOL.

Also in this episode, we catch up with Carl the Hat, who is: 1. Becoming the perfect little patriarch, yelling at Enid, who wants to leave during the W-Heads invasion, that SHE ISN'T GOING ANYWHERE SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP. (She leaves anyway. Good girl!) 2. Suddenly hatless and sporting a haircut that makes him look like he's slowly morphing into Tig Notaro. I rechristen him: Tig Nocarl.

And Merritt Wever as the new doctor! Hi, Merritt Wever! (Merritt Wever was Nurse Zoey on Nurse Jackie, and that is a good show that I did not hate! I highly recommend it!)

As Episode Two ends, shit is fucked up and shit. Grimes' Zombie Relocation Plan is falling apart, Aarontown has barely survived a siege from the W-Heads, Aarontown extras are dropping like flies, and the only thing that ever saves anyone is a willingness to MURDER and FOLLOW GRIMES WITHOUT QUESTION.

We thus arrive at Episode Three, which opens with Grimes, Michonne, Glenn, Douchebag Beta, and assorted Aarontownians racing through the woods toward Aarontown to try to figure out who's blaring the G.D. horn! They are being slowly chased by the distracted faction of the zombie horde, and Grimes barks at Daryl over his walkie-talkie that he and Sasha and Sgt. Red Bull should keep leading the rest of the zombies to WHEREVER IN SLOW MARCH HELL they are supposed to be taking them.

Grimes then breaks off from the group on his own, explaining he's going to get the RV and (MAGICALLY!) redirect the distracted faction before they reach Aarontown. He tells Michonne and Glenn to leave the Aaronvillians in the group behind if they can't keep up, because they're WEAK and DON'T GET WHAT'S IT LIKE OUT HERE and blah blah fart.

Commence maneuvering to try to rescue this shitshow of an unaccountably stupid plan. Grimes Gang are competent and ruthless killers, because they've been in the shit, man. The Aarontownians are hapless rubes, who get picked off. One dude gets bitten in the shoulder, but soldiers on with Michonne and Glenn because he wants to see his wife one more time before he kicks. They swear to get him home.

While Grimes is off doing whatever the shit he's doing with the RV, Michonne, Glenn, and their quickly diminishing lot get trapped inside a pet store by the distracted faction of zombies. Glenn and Douchebag Beta volunteer to go set a feed store on fire to distract the zombies.

Eventually, Michonne and the others make a break for it. They are slowed by a fence, and Michonne barely makes it over. The dude who was bitten in the shoulder gets overrun by zombies, trapped against the fence, and they all STAND THERE AND WATCH HIM SUFFER instead of killing him as he's devoured. WHUT. This show.

Meanwhile, Glenn and Douchebag Beta discover the feed store has already burned down. Oh no! They get trapped in an alley by zombies, and they climb up on a dumpster as the zombies surround them. Douchebag Beta, who's been slowly losing it, puts his gun to his head and kills himself. As his dead body falls over, Glenn is knocked to the ground, directly into the center of the zombie horde.

Glenn screams and blood spatters all over his face, as we are meant to believe that he is being chomped to his demise. (I'll come back to that.)

As Episode Three closes, shit is even more fucked up and shit! Michonne and the two remaining Aarontownians, Heath and Scott, arrive at Aarontown only to find the outlying buildings have been torched. Grimes makes it the RV, only to be besieged by a bunch of W-Heads. He successfully kills them, only to discover the RV engine has failed, as zombies converge on him.


That's where the episode ends. So! Let's go back to the MAJOR OMG MOMENT in the episode, which is Glenn's death. EVERYONE IS SO SAD! NOT GLENN!

I call bullshit. Glenn isn't dead.

We're definitely supposed to think that Glenn is dead! But unless Glenn has anatomy unlike every other human being on earth, and his intestines are actually in his throat, it wasn't Glenn's innards that were being eaten; it was the innards of Douchebag Beta, whose corpse was lying on top of him, after their fall from the top of the dumpster.

The only question is: How will Glenn get away?! Or will he not get away?! I would laugh for ten million years if it turns out I'm right and Glenn has been protected by Douchebag Beta's corpse, only to then be immediately killed in the next episode!

I hope Glenn finds a way to crawl into the dumpster and just live there forever.

I mean, if I had the choice between living in a dumpster, surrounded by the dulcet tones of gurgling zombies and the ceaseless echo of their rotting limbs thrashing against the dumpster's exterior, or having to spend one second of my life obliged to genuflect to the alleged wisdom of Rick Grimes, I would dive in that dumpster faster than Dr. Mulletsworth can volunteer to stay behind on a dangerous mission.

Next week: More of this garbage.

Open Wide...

This Sounds Fun

Remember how this Republican primary was not going to be a total shitshow? Whooooooooooops!

Republican presidential campaigns are planning to gather in Washington, D.C., on Sunday evening to plot how to alter their party's messy debate process — and how to remove power from the hands of the Republican National Committee.

Not invited to the meeting: Anyone from the RNC, which many candidates have openly criticized in the hours since Wednesday's CNBC debate in Boulder, Colorado — a chaotic, disorganized affair that was widely panned by political observers.

On Thursday, many of the campaigns told POLITICO that the RNC, which has taken a greater role in the 2016 debate process than in previous election cycles, had failed to take their concerns into account. It was time, top aides to at least half a dozen of the candidates agreed, to begin discussing among themselves how the next debates should be structured and not leave it up to the RNC and television networks.
There's complete chaos and constant revolt in the Congressional Republican caucus. Why not in the Republican primary?

If I weren't all too aware that nothing reunites Republicans like a Democratic nominee they are keen to defeat, I would enjoy watching the spectacle of the Republican Party potentially destroying itself.

Plus there's that whole thing about how there's still a real chance that one of these bozos could become the next president and steer the country into utter ruin, which kind of puts a damper on any potential enjoyment at watching this clusterfucktastrophe.

Open Wide...

"Inappropriate" Doesn't Begin to Cover It

[Content Note: Misogyny; victim-blaming.]

On Wednesday, I noted that Bernie Sanders' "brain trust," apparently comprised of three men, told some terrific (ahem) jokes about how Hillary Clinton would make a swell vice-president: "Look, she'd make a great vice president. We're willing to give her more credit than Obama did. We're willing to consider her for vice president. We'll give her serious consideration. We'll even interview her."

Immediately and understandably, a number of people criticized these comments as belittling and misogynistic.

Coming on the heels of Sanders' accusing Clinton of "shouting," which he insisted was not the misogynistic dogwhistle that it seemed to be, one might imagine that Sanders, who defended himself by saying, "All that I can say is I am very proud of my record on women's issues," might prove those oft-claimed feminist bona fides by forcefully condemning his team's demeaning "joke" about Clinton.

Instead, all Sanders could muster was: "Every campaign has statements come out which are inappropriate. That was inappropriate. Clearly, I have a lot of respect for Secretary Clinton."

Actually, Senator, that's not very clear at all. Especially when you refuse to name what's happening here as misogyny, substituting instead a lesser, vague categorization of the comments as "inappropriate."

Yes, those comments were inappropriate. But the reason they were inappropriate is because they were sexist.

Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign manager and the man who made the shitty comments, wouldn't even acknowledge they were inappropriate. Instead, he offered: "It certainly, I think, could be interpreted as edgy or snarky but nothing more."

Edgy? Really? He went there. The tired defense of the most odious comics, trading in ancient stereotypes and calling it cutting edge humor.

And he didn't stop there. He then victim-blamed Clinton, laying the responsibility for his own misogyny at her feet, and at the feet of feminists who defend her against misogynistic attacks:

"When we are the subject of attacks and innuendo from a super PAC that is openly coordinating with the Clinton campaign, when the opposing campaign is going to level accusations of sexism against the senator, which have been widely criticized in the media and condemned, I think it's important for people to know that we are not just going to take those attacks and be a punching bag for the Clinton campaign," he said. "It's just not what we are going to do. They launched a vicious attack on us, we let them know that we're not going to be a punching bag and now we're ready to resume important issues facing the country."

..."We have controlled the agenda in this campaign, I think it's fair to say the other side has controlled the tone," he said. "We hope that tone returns to the kind of civil discourse on the issues we've been looking for the whole time."
So, because Clinton has "attacked" Sanders for using language ("shouting") that has a long and well-known context of being used to discredit women, and because his team thinks it's mean that she pointed out he had used marginalizing language against her, it's her own fault for being "uncivil," and thus she deserves to be targeted by more misogyny. Which isn't misogyny! Geez! It was just a joke!

This is literally the same dynamic that misogynistic men use in spaces like this one, day after day. Use loaded rhetoric, either as a deliberate dogwhistle or because they don't know or care the first thing about the history of sexist language, to imply that a woman with whom they disagree is a hysteric; then deflect being called out by rejecting feminist analysis of that language and its context, while simultaneously claiming to be a great feminist ally; then project blame for their hostility onto the woman they'd demeaned by accusing her of a lack of civility. All with a heaping helping of "jokes don't matter."

It's straight from the Misogyny 101 Playbook, and the best Sanders, who asserts an unassailable record on women's issues, can do is say it's "inappropriate."

This is a perfect replication of the abuse dynamic used against outspoken women every day of our fucking lives.

"Inappropriate" is insufficient. To put it politely. After all, I wouldn't want to be accused of being uncivil.

Open Wide...

Open Thread

image of a snow goose in flight

Hosted by a snow goose. [Image via.]

This week's Open Threads have been brought to you by birds.

Open Wide...

Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker DesertRose: "What's the last thing that made you laugh so hard you had tears in your eyes/a sore tummy/whatever happens to you when you really laugh hard?"

Playing a memory game with Deeky, the rules of which are very simple, but we kept making it more and more elaborate as we went along. Both of us were laughing so hard at times that we were crying, coughing, about to collapse. It was perfect.

Open Wide...

Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

David Bowie: "Real Cool World"

Open Wide...

Quote of the Day

"The cynics will scoff. They'll say it's not possible [for the House to become functional again]. You better believe we're going to try."—Newly elected Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, during remarks on the floor of the House today.

Uh, I don't think it makes someone a "cynic" to be dubious about his election being a magical panacea for the divisive ills in Congress. I'm pretty sure it's not "cynical" to conclude that there might be dysfunction in a place that has been profoundly compromised by dysfunction for a very long time.

But hell. Republicans have never been fans of logic.

Open Wide...

Ugly Provision in Budget Deal for People with Student Loan Debt

[Content Note: Harassment.]

A provision in the new budget deal will allow federal student loan debt collectors to bypass the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in order to bombard borrowers via auto-dialers:

Consumers with cell phones who haven't given companies permission to bombard their mobile devices with texts, pre-recorded messages or calls made using auto-dialers are typically protected under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

But the measure in the potential budget deal (Section 301) would amend existing law to allow companies to use auto-dialers when they call borrowers' cell phones -- even when federal student loan borrowers haven't consented to them, and even if the borrowers will be charged for them. Creditors already have the authority to auto-dial borrowers' land lines without consent.

...Consumer groups have warned that allowing debt collectors and loan servicers to auto-dial borrowers' cell phones would waste precious cell phone minutes, especially for low-income households that rely on prepaid plans, and that even when borrowers manage to get student loan specialists on the phone, they're frequently misled or given incomplete information, including about income-driven repayment plans.
And lest you imagine this is just the work of outgoing Speaker John Boehner, who has close ties to debt collections industry lobbyists, or his pro-corporate, consent-hostile party, President Obama is fully on board, too: "Obama has repeatedly pushed Congress to change the law to allow more of these calls, on the grounds that doing so would lead to higher recoveries on delinquent student loan debt."

This, despite the fact that there is "little, if any, independent evidence that giving debt collectors or loan servicers this power would lead to fewer loan defaults or delinquencies."

Basically, it's an excuse to harass people. People who are frequently already under an enormous amount of stress and pressure because of student loan debt.

Really just fucking thrilled that both parties could find a way to work together in order to devise a way to harass people with student loans, especially after they came together years ago to tell under- and unemployed people to take out those loans and buy themselves an education, instead of creating and keeping onshore for those people jobs with a livable wage.

Open Wide...


[Content Note: Domestic violence.]

This is how you show that you're really taking domestic violence seriously:

On Sunday, the NFL unveiled its new anti-domestic violence PSA, featuring Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay talking about his mother, who was killed at the hands of a domestic abuser when Gay was only eight years old.

On Wednesday, the NFL fined Gay $5,787 for wearing purple shoes in honor of his mother and Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

"I broke the rule," Gay told's Aditi Kinkhabwala, adding that he hopes the NFL will donate the fine to a domestic violence cause, despite the fact that the NFL usually donates fines to the NFL Player Care Foundation and the Gene Upshaw Players Association’s Player Assistance Trust.
For the record, the NFL has repeatedly failed to fine, or in any other way hold accountable, players for committing domestic violence. But they have fined William Gay nearly $6,000 for advocating against it.

Cool priorities, NFL. As always.

My belated condolences to William Gay, and my thanks to him for being an advocate, and for breaking the rules to do it.

Open Wide...

Daily Dose of Cute

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat sitting on the ottoman, looking sassy
Someone is thinking about Tony again!

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

Open Wide...

In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

Representative Paul Ryan has been elected Speaker of the House. Which puts him way closer to the presidency than being on a ticket headed by Mitt Romney ever did.

[Content Note: Reproductive coercion; misogyny; violence] China has gotten rid of its long-standing "one child" policy, but has not altogether removed reproductive restrictions. Instead, it has been replaced with a "two child" policy. "Some celebrated the move as a positive step towards greater personal freedom in China. But human rights activists and critics said the loosening—which means the Communist party continues to control the size of Chinese families—did not go far enough. 'The state has no business regulating how many children people have,' said William Nee, a Hong Kong-based activist for Amnesty International. 'If China is serious about respecting human rights, the government should immediately end such invasive and punitive controls over people's decisions to plan families and have children.'"

[CN: Police brutality; racism] Of course: "Nearly one year after 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by Cleveland Police Department Officer Timothy Loehmann, the grand jury has begun to hear evidence and decide if Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, should face criminal charges for their actions on November 22, 2014. While the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association told ABC that the officers were subpoenaed to testify both last week and on Monday, Rice's family says it learned of the proceedings from press reports." The way this family has been treated. I am angry beyond description.

[CN: Death; disablist language; moving gif at link] This is an incredible and heartbreaking story about the tenacity of a man who mourned his wife, who died on a perilous mountain, by spending 22 years digging out a ridge with his bare hands so that no one else would suffer her fate. He didn't literally use a teaspoon, but, you know: Teaspoons.

I love this girl: "A 10-year-old girl who was born in China wants lawmakers to change the Constitution so she can run for president. ...Alena Mulhern testified on Wednesday before a Massachusetts State House committee that everyone should have the opportunity to lead the country. Alena was adopted from China and moved to Kingston, Mass. when she was 10 months old. 'I am an American as much as you are and everyone else. And I don't really remember China that much. All I know is America,' she told WBZ-TV. ...Alena is trying to persuade state lawmakers to pass a resolution asking the U.S. Congress to amend the Constitution to state that natural-born citizens include foreign-born adopted children. She asked the committee to consider 'all the great candidates' who cannot serve their country due to 'a law that came into existence more than 200 years ago.'" Kids today! Get ON my lawn!

[CN: Homophobia] Carefully chosen words: "Former senior Vatican priest Krzysztof Charamsa who came out earlier this month, and was subsequently defrocked by a Polish bishop, is criticizing the Vatican's treatment of gay Catholics saying they've made their lives 'a hell,' in a letter addressed to Pope Francis."

Neat! "NASA's Cassini spacecraft successfully completed its close flyby of Saturn's moon Enceladus today, passing 30 miles (49 kilometers) above the moon's south polar region at approximately 8:22 a.m. PDT (11:22 a.m. EDT). Mission controllers established two-way communication with the spacecraft this afternoon and expect it to begin transmitting data from the encounter this evening. Images are anticipated in the next 24 to 48 hours." *jitters with excitement!*

[CN: Violence; assault; transphobia] What in the everloving fuck??? "Fast and Furious star Michelle Rodriguez will go under the knife for Tomboy, A Revenger's Tale, the gender-swapping action movie to be directed by Walter Hill. Sigourney Weaver is already on board to also star in the project... The script, written by Hill from a story by Denis Hamill, centers on an ace assassin who is double-crossed by gangsters and falls into the hands of rogue surgeon known as 'The Doctor,' who turns him into a woman. The hitman (now a hitwoman) sets out for revenge, aided by a nurse named Johnnie, who also has secrets." I am literally without words.

[CN: Images may be NSFW] Someone put me into a fucking cannon and fire me directly into the sun already, because I AM DONE: "Men are taking photos of their balls in front of beautiful landscapes: Nutscaping is a photo-taking trend which involves dropping your trousers, whipping out some testicles (yours, if you have them), and gently hovering above the camera so your balls hang down like a majestic moon in the sky."

In 100% more adorable news: THESE PICTURES of a baby orangutan! Squeeeeee!

Open Wide...

Please Look at This

Kaiser: "Tom Hardy cuddles some big dogs on an episode of For the Love of Dogs." I promise you won't regret it.

My expert recommendation is that you look it now, and at least three other times throughout the rest of the day.

Open Wide...

Round Three Wrap-Up!

Last night was the third Republican debate (only eight more to go!) and I did not watch it! I tuned in just in time to see the closing statements, and I immediately regretted it!

After reading the transcript and watching clips this morning, I believe it's pretty clear that, although the official theme of the debate was "Your Money, Your Vote," the unofficial theme of the debate was WE HATE EACH OTHER SO MUCH!

Here's a fun exchange between Ohio Governor John Kasisch and gold toilet aficionado Donald Trump that essentially translates as:



What a neat debate!

And here's a fun exchange between former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Florida Senator Marco Rubio that essentially translates as:



Rubio was right about that last bit! Nothing Jeb Bush does is working! He's definitely not a job creator FOR HIS OWN DAMN SELF! Boom!

The debate was long on bickering and short on substance—and what policy ideas were discussed were of course total garbage. Rubio won the night, in my opinion, and had the best line of the evening (which, by the way, followed one of the worst lines of the evening):

Rubio: —to take off from that point and argue the same thing, and that is that one of the things you're watching tonight are eleven quality candidates debating an important issue. The Republican Party is blessed to have eleven good candidates—there are ten good candidates—and the Democrats can't even come up with one. And on this issue, on Medicare in particular, it's important, because they're gonna demagogue over what we're saying here tonight. Everyone that's up here tonight that's talking about reforms, I think, and I know for myself I speak for this, we're all talking about reforms for future generations. Nothing has to change for current beneficiaries. My mother's on Medicare and Social Security. I'm against anything that's bad for my mother! [laughter and applause] So, we're talking about reforms for people like me and people like Senator Cruz, as he talked about earlier, who are years away from retirement and have a way to plan for these changes. [glitch in audio] It's not too much to ask of our generation, after everything our parents and our grandparents did for us.
Eleven quality candidates! LOLOLOLOLOL NOPE!

But this is terrific: "I'm against anything that's bad for my mother!" Good one, Rubio. (He's used that in other speeches and debates before, but not quite so effectively. He really delivered it perfectly last night.) Naturally, when I say it's a good line, I mean it plays really well to his base—one of the few traces of effective politicking last night. Which doesn't mean it's not a shitty sentiment, because it is. Perfectly emblematic of conservative politics, which are about What's Good for Me and Mine and Fuck You.

Also: What he is proposing is dishonest garbage. And with any change in benefits, the concern isn't the people who are an entire generation away from retirement (and good job subtly reminding the viewers how young he is), but the people who are nearing retirement and don't have "a way to plan for these changes."

Anyway. You don't need me to tell you that Republicans' policies are crap!

You also don't need me to tell you that Mike Huckabee is a dirtbag, but I enjoy it so much! So here is Mike Huckabee answering a question about his biggest weakness:
I don't really have any weaknesses that I can think of. But my wife is down in the front, and I'm sure if you would like to talk to her later, she can give you more than you will ever be able to take care of.
Oh ho ho. What a card, this guy. He's perfect, but his harpy of a wife will give you a litany of complaints about him!

Mike Huckabee: Delivering policy AND comedy from the 1950's straight to your face!

In conclusion: These nightmares want to be your president. (Unless you don't live in the US. In which case, I will accept money and chocolate as sympathy gifts that they want to be my president.) And none of them should be allowed within eleventy-seven miles of the Oval Office. Or an Office Depot. Just to be safe.

Open Wide...

Take a Nap, Lindsey Graham. Just Take a Nap.

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

Actual Headline: "Lindsay Graham pours beers, contemplates marrying Carly Fiorina."

Actual quote:

"Date, marry, or make disappear forever," said Bash. "Take your time, senator."

Graham, a natural wit, found his way around the question. "Date" came first. "Sarah Palin -- we'll go hunting on our first date," he said. Next was "marry," an easy joke set-up.

"Carly, because she's rich," said Graham.

When Bash pressed, and asked Graham if he would erase the existence of Hillary Clinton, he was ready with the punchline.

"No, but is she rich? She said she was flat broke."

Actual laughter: [this space intentionally left blank.]

Actual GOP candidate: Lindsey Graham. Can someone call the Senator a cab? It's clearly time for him to go home. Goodnight Senator! Don't forget to take your nonsensical misogynist asshattery with you!

Open Wide...

Open Thread

image of a yellow-shafted northern flicker woodpecker in a tree

Hosted by the yellow-shafted northern flicker.

[Photo: "Northern Flicker" by Nature's Pic's. Licensed under Attribution via Commons.]

Open Wide...

Question of the Day

What is the most regrettable album you've ever purchased?

The Return of Bruno by Bruce Willis. On cassette.

Open Wide...

Round Three

Tonight is the third Republican presidential primary debate. Are you so excited for another presidential debate?! If you are so excited about another presidential debate that you can barely contain your enthusiasm, please check this box: □

Here is apparently everything you need to know about it. Also you should know that it is definitely going to be terrible!

Am I going to watch the debate? Probably not! Am I going to live-tweet it? Probably not!

I didn't watch the second Republican debate, and I still feel really great about that decision!

Irrespective of my debate decision-making, here is a space for discussion about the debate, before and during. Spoiler Alert: Donald Trump is going to say a lot of garbage words!

Open Wide...

The Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by hats.

Recommended Reading:

Sikivu: [Content Note: Misogynoir; police brutality] Black Girls and the Police State Menace

Anne: [CN: Disablism; misogyny; self-harm] What I Wish Everyone Knew About Sylvia Plath

Fannie: [CN: Misogyny] Saletan to Clinton: Stop Shouting

Danielle: [CN: Misogyny] Female Scientists Asked How They Will Cope without Men or Makeup in Space

Sean: [CN: Sexual assault] Dennis Hastert Pleads Guilty in Sexual Misconduct Cover-Up Scandal

Fae: [CN: Marginalization] We'll Be Making the Asexuality Visibility Happen

Veronica: Thinking of Doing NaNoWriMo? I am.

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!

Open Wide...

Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

David Bowie: "Buddha of Suburbia"

Open Wide...

Quote of the Day

"one hundred trillion neutrinos pass through each of us every second, yet we cannot feel them with sensual registers already discovered. there are things so very small, so small that even the word 'small' is too imprecise. yet. we are, likewise, so minuscule. we are so very tiny in comparison to the expanse of the universe. ...isn't it beautiful that something as small as we can experience such feelingly big emotions like joy and happiness and peace and love? and isn't it beautiful that we that are so small can experience loss and grief and heartache from those lived who have passed on and away? isn't it beautiful that the smell of earth and flowers and the taste of good food can move us deeply? and yet such things are nothing…? not nothing to us who experience such things, but nothing in terms of the great expanse of space-time, the great expanse of other worlds? beautiful."Ashon Crawley, a beautiful writer and a neat person, who challenges me in all the best ways, to expect more of myself.

Open Wide...

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.

* * *

I can't believe it's been more than a month since our last Fat Fashion thread! What the heck?!

And I still haven't bought anything new, so here's a recent pic of me wearing one of my favorite Old Navy tees—a staple of my summer and early autumn wardrobe—on a day when the misandry helmet was ON FIRE:

image of me sitting on the deck, making a cheeky expression with one raised eyebrow, with my hair spiky, wearing a grey t-shirt

I really loathe that Old Navy has taken their plus size sections out of stores and put them online only, lest we fatties gross up their classy stores, but I can't find affordable t-shirts that fit and last as well anywhere else. Damn you, Old Navy!

Anyway! As always, all subjects related to fat fashion are on topic, but if you want a topic for discussion: Do you have to make any devilish compromises with retailers to access plus size clothing you like and can afford?

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.

Open Wide...

Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt standing in the middle of the living room, grinning
It's a day!

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

Open Wide...

In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: War; bombing] Fucking hell: "Airstrikes carried out late last night by the Saudi-led coalition in northern Yemen destroyed a hospital supported by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), MSF announced today. The small hospital, in the Haydan District in Saada Province, was hit by several airstrikes beginning at 10:30 p.m. last night. Hospital staff and two patients managed to escape before subsequent airstrikes occurred over a two-hour period. One staff member was slightly injured while escaping. With the hospital destroyed, at least 200,000 people now have no access to lifesaving medical care. 'This attack is another illustration of a complete disregard for civilians in Yemen, where bombings have become a daily routine,' said Hassan Boucenine, MSF head of mission in Yemen." If you can afford to and would like to donate to Doctors Without Borders, you can do so here.

[CN: Police brutality; misogynoir; video may autoplay at second link] Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says that Senior Deputy Ben Fields, who was captured on video violently assaulting a black teenage girl at she sat at her desk, "bears some responsibility" for what happened. Some, he says. And you know with whom he rests the lion's share of the blame: "If she had not disrupted the school and disrupted that class, we would not be standing here today. So it started with her and it ended with my officer." The rankest fucking victim-blaming. Meanwhile, he also defended Fields on the basis that he's dating a black woman. I mean. I love (ahem) how we're not only supposed to understand that means he's not racist, but also ignore that lots of men hurt female partners.

[CN: Misogyny; classism] Ian Millhiser: "Justice Ginsburg's Warning to a Dysfunctional Nation." Just go read the whole thing.

Serena Williams is the guest editor and cover star of the latest issue of Wired, and writes about why she feels her participation is so important: "We need to see more women and people of different colors and nationalities in tech. That's the reason I wanted to do this issue with WIRED—I'm a black woman, and I am in a sport that wasn't really meant for black people. And while tennis isn't really about the future, Silicon Valley sure is. I want young people to look at the trailblazers we've assembled below and be inspired. I hope they eventually become trailblazers themselves. Together we can change the future." She also gives an amazing shout-out to my friend Adria Richards: "And when we're not talking, we can get coding. Adria Richards (see "Take Back the Net") has suggested solutions to online harassment, including my favorite, Send-a-Puppy, where you'd send a digital doggy to support someone who's being harassed." WOOT!

Nepal has elected its first female president: "Communist leader Vidya Devi Bhandari was today elected as Nepal's first woman President by the parliament, weeks after it adopted a new landmark Constitution that declared the country a secular state. ...'I announce that Vidya Devi Bhandari has been elected to the post of Nepal's president,' Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar said, to loud cheers from lawmakers." I honestly don't know enough about Nepalese politics to know if her platform is a good thing for the country politically, but what I do know is that visibility of female leaders matters, even when those female leaders are the worst (*cough* Thatcher *cough*) because their very existence communicates what is possible to girls with very few global female role models in politics.

[CN: Misogyny; video may autoplay at link] Meanwhile, in the US, Bernie Sanders' "brain trust," apparently comprised of three dudes, tell some haha jokes about how Hillary Clinton would make a swell vice-president. "Look, she'd make a great vice president. We're willing to give her more credit than Obama did. We're willing to consider her for vice president. We'll give her serious consideration. We'll even interview her." Fuck. Off.

In other presidential election news, Rand Paul is a lying liar who won't stop lying about fake quotes from the Founders. Sounds about right.

[CN: Rape; video may autoplay at link] And Mike Tyson has endorsed Donald Trump, because of course he has. They have lots in common.

[CN: Gendered slurs] Do you want to read an amazing interview with Adele? Here is an amazing interview with Adele.

And finally! "Jealous Pup Epically Photobombs Owner's Engagement Pics." LOLOLOL FOREVERRRRRR.

Open Wide...

Fox News Continues to Be Totally Trenchant

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

Yesterday, Fox News' terrific program Fox & Friends hosted a totally trenchant panel of dudes debating whether women should be allowed to wear leggings.

Steve Doocy: Leggings ain't pants. Does she have a point? We have brought in an esteemed panel of fathers right here to see if they would allow their daughters to wear leggings to school. Joining us right now we have Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson—round of applause for Willie, ladies and gentlemen. Fox News legal analyst, Arthur Aidala, and Andrew Sansone is the father of two young girls and he happens to be married to our own Fox News' Julie Banderas. All right. Let's just start by asking general questions about leggings. Willie, are you comfortable with the women in your life parading in public in leggings?

Willie Robertson: I am.

Doocy: Because they ain't pants, I've heard.

Robertson: They ain't pants.
And it just got better from there!

Now, instead of being uncharitable and getting all mad about this totally trenchant segment (hahaha feminists, amirite?!), I think we should be generous and instead helpfully offer Fox News some suggestions of other totally trenchant panels we'd like to see!

I for one would love to see some of these panels in Fox & Friends' future:

image of an S inside a square A panel of cis dudes debating the virtues and drawbacks of DivaCups vs. tampons.

image of an S inside a square A panel of infants debating the efficacy and ethics of international sanctions.

image of an S inside a square A panel of cats debating whether dogs should pee on fire hydrants.

image of an S inside a square A panel of dogs debating whether cats should crawl in the blinds so much.

image of an S inside a square A panel of fish debating whether birds are narcissists for flying. Side-debate: SELFIES!

What have you got for our pals at Fox & Friends?

Open Wide...

The Clown Car Is Parked and Ain't Going Anywhere

[Content Note: Bigotry; guns.]

I love everything about this Washington Post article by Dave Weigel and Jose DelReal, hilariously headlined: "Why aren't the GOP's presidential stragglers dropping out of the race?" HA HA GOOD QUESTION!

The article is largely about how it's because they all think they can win, by hanging on through the early primaries in which they hope voters will flinch when it comes time to vote for Donald Trump or Ben Carson and instead vote for a professional politician instead of a "celebrity candidate." Maybe! That could happen!

The less obvious reasons are, of course, that most people who run for the presidency are also running for the vice-presidency, in case the whole presidential nomination doesn't work out. And that running for president can eventually land you a sweet sinecure at a Beltway lobbying firm with all kinds of cool perks and sillymoney compensation, if you can prove you're a breathing organism whose pants don't generally fall down during public appearances.

But what I love most about this article is the further insight we get into what a cool cat Rand Paul is:

"I'm for the other nine quitting and just coronating me," Paul said, adding, "We'll actually have votes, and the votes will determine who the winner is."
That first part is supposed to be a joke, with the second part a serious commentary on his ability to win this thing. But, in reality, it's the other way around. He definitely wants to be "coronated," and ha ha nope you will never have the votes to win.

His supporters are pretty awesome, too:
"With so many people still in the fray, it feels like you have to hang in long enough to let the others fall to the side," said Paul backer Vern Brooks, 40, a Second Amendment activist whose belt buckle was a fully functional .22-caliber pistol. "When I sit down and talk to people and we go over what they know and what they don't know, it's very easy to spread the message. There's no fundraising problem with this campaign. It's about getting over the shouting from Trump."
I'm sorry, what were you saying? I couldn't concentrate when your belt buckle was threatening to kill me.

This is a common refrain among Paul supporters, and Paul himself has said as much: The issue is that Trump is sucking up all the oxygen in the room, and the media are too busy reporting his odious antics to pay attention to the Serious Candidates. All of the second- and third-tier campaigns are trying to figure out how to steal the spotlight, and it looks like Rand Paul has a plan: "Rand Paul Says He'll Filibuster Debt Ceiling Bill."

Of course he will.

None of the GOP presidential stragglers are dropping out of the race because they believe once people find out more about them, they'll win. It's convenient to blame the monster coverage of Trump for their woes.

But maybe it's time they considered that they're straggling because they're all terrible candidates. Just a thought.

Open Wide...


[Content Note: Misogyny; harassment; threats; violence; disablist language.]

Y'all, I can't tell if Chris Kluwe is angry about SXSW's decision to cancel a panel on online harassment because the three women who would be sitting on it were being harassed. Can someone please read this and tell me if you can figure out if he's angry?

(LOL) (Thank you, Chris Kluwe.) (I love the smell of righteous anger in the morning.) (Also at any other time of day.)

In related news: BuzzFeed has threatened to withdraw from SXSW if they don't reverse their contemptible decision. GOOD.

I guess I'mma be the eleventieth person to observe that canceling a panel on online harassment because of online harassment is a bitter, bitter irony. Congratulations on being part of the problem, SXSW, and proving exactly why this panel was necessary in the first place.

Open Wide...

Open Thread

image of a blue jay, sitting on a branch, looking over its shoulder

Hosted by a blue jay. [Image via.]

Open Wide...

Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Drazil: "What's the book you most often recommend that a new friend read?"

Instead of one book in particular, I tend to recommend whatever book I last read about which I was super excited. But probably the book I've recommended the most times since I first read it is Toni Morrison's Beloved.

Open Wide...

Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

David Bowie: "As the World Falls Down"

Open Wide...

The Walking Whoooooooooops!

A bunch of folks have asked me if I'm going to resume my Walking Thread recaps, especially since something big happened—OR DID IT?!—on Sunday night's episode.

I have been so overwhelmingly busy with various stuff in offline life recently that I barely have any time to watch the shows I enjoy, no less The Walking Dead, lol, but I will try to find some time to get caught up!


(I will.)

Open Wide...

Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Racism; appropriation; food policing.]

"In the United States, immigrant food is often treated like discount tourism—a cheap means for foodies to feel worldly without leaving the comfort of their neighborhood—or high-minded fusion—a stylish way for American chefs to use other cultures' cuisines to reap profit. The dishes of America's recent immigrants have become check marks on a cultural scavenger hunt for society's elite. ...This cultural appropriation stings because the same dishes hyped as 'authentic' on trendy menus were scorned when cooked in the homes of the immigrants who brought them here."—Ruth Tam, in a great piece for the Washington Post, "How it feels when white people shame your culture's food—then make it trendy."

(The article is from August, but I only just read it today, and I highly recommend reading the whole thing.)

This culinary appropriation exists at the intersection of food policing, racism, and classism. Tam focuses primary on the racist aspects, and does so brilliantly. Classism is a major feature of this, too: "Peasant food," as it is often called, is garbage food until it is the hands of a professional chef, who "elevates" it. Or doesn't even elevate it, but simply calls it "rustic fare."

Like many other issues, often the racism and classism of culinary appropriation overlap. And it doesn't even have to be "foreign" food: Southern US cuisine must be "elevated" by a professional chef to be considered gourmet, even if that chef's grandmother is still cooking at home the same recipes she gifted to hir.

Open Wide...

Shaker Gourmet

Whatcha been cooking up in your kitchen lately, Shakers?

Share your favorite recipes, solicit good recipes, share recipes you've recently tried, want to try, are trying to perfect, whatever! Whether they're your own creation, or something you found elsewhere, share away.

Also welcome: Recipes you've seen recently that you'd love to try, but haven't yet!

* * *

I haven't tried this recipe yet, as I just stumbled across it yesterday, but I am VERY EXCITED ABOUT IT! I love tuna salad and I love avocados, so I am finding this recipe for Avocado Tuna Salad extremely appealing! I can't wait to try it out. Yummmmmmmmm.

Open Wide...

Tweet of the Day

[Content Note: War on agency. NB: Not only women need access to abortion.]

Video Transcript: Hillary Clinton, speaking onstage before a large crowd at the Iowa Jefferson-Jackson dinner: "And don't you wonder—don't you wonder? You know, for people who claim they hate big government, Republicans sure love using government to step in and make decisions for women about our bodies and our rights!" Cheers and applause. "Well, I'll tell you—I'll tell you: I will do everything I can to protect a woman's right to choose and to defend Planned Parenthood!" Cheers and applause. "Now I know—I know when I talk about these things, Republicans say I'm playing the gender card." Shrugs. "I know." Audience boos. "Well, if talking about equal pay, paid family leave, affordable childcare, and women's health is playing the gender card, DEAL ME IN!" Cheers.

Open Wide...

Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat peeking up from between the folds of a white comforter on the bed
Sophie, arising from the folds of the comforter on my bed.

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

Open Wide...

In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

Damn: "China has reportedly summoned the US ambassador after Washington launched a direct military challenge to Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea with naval manoeuvres near two artificial islands. State television reported that the Chinese vice-foreign minister, Zhang Yesui, had branded the move 'extremely irresponsible' when meeting with the US ambassador to China, Max Baucus. Chinese authorities said earlier they had monitored, followed and warned US warship USS Lassen as it 'illegally' entered waters near the disputed reefs, and urged Washington to 'immediately correct its mistake.' ...The guided-missile destroyer reportedly received orders to travel within 12 nautical miles (22.2km, or 13.8 miles) of the Spratlys' Mischief and Subi reefs, which are at the heart of a controversial Chinese island building campaign that has soured ties between Washington and Beijing. Chinese officials were not informed of Tuesday's mission, US officials said."

The ink isn't even dry on the budget deal, and Congressional conservatives are complaining about it, because of course they are: "Asked about the tentative agreement after the briefing, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions replied: 'My knees quiver at the sound.' In an interview, Sessions expressed frustration that outgoing Speaker John Boehner was hammering out the deal just days before he plans to give up the gavel for good. 'What does Boehner got to do with it?' said an exasperated Sessions, the former top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. 'I'm worried about how fast it's moving. I see no reason for that. Based on what I know now, it appears the president got whatever he wanted.'"

CBS' new Supergirl series premiered last night, to the fall's highest ratings: "The series premiere of the action-adventure series opened strong Monday night, delivering a fall new series record of 14 million viewers and a 3.2 rating among adults 18–49." I haven't watched it yet, but I will! Do you want to see star Melissa Benoist talking to Stephen Colbert about how it's a feminist show for a wide audience? Well, here you go!

OMG LOL FOREVER: "Texts from Hillary and 4 other DIY Hillary Clinton costumes for Halloween." A+

Dr. Ben Carson is beginning to edge gold toilet aficionado Donald Trump in national polling: "Ben Carson has taken a narrow lead nationally in the Republican presidential campaign, dislodging Donald J. Trump from the top spot for the first time in months, according to a New York Times/CBS News survey released on Tuesday. Mr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, is the choice of 26 percent of Republican primary voters, the poll found, while Mr. Trump now wins support from 22 percent, although the difference lies within the margin of sampling error. The survey is the first time that Mr. Trump has not led all candidates since The Times and CBS News began measuring presidential preferences at the end of July. No other candidate comes close to Mr. Carson and Mr. Trump." What a great party with such great candidates!

[Content Note: Privilege] GLAAD "has released its 20th annual report, which tracks the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender characters on scripted, primetime television. The study found that while there is increasing LGBT representation on broadcast, cable and streaming television, the characters are overwhelmingly white." Intersectionality is central to meaningful visibility.

[CN: Misogynoir; class warfare] Speaking of intersectionality, this is a terrific piece by Akwugo Emejulu about how women of color are urged toward solidarity at the expense of their own needs: "The experiences of women of colour in left-wing anti-austerity movements in Britain and the Black Lives Matter movements in the United States highlight the persistent problem of our erasure in these supposedly radical democratic spaces. Women of colour's struggles to have our intersectional social justice claims taken seriously by 'allies' exposes the fragility, and in some cases, the impossibility, of building solidarity across race, class, gender, sexuality and other categories of difference in protest movements."

[CN: Pillaging] Oh for fuck's sake: "Federal authorities are investigating whether the owners of Hobby Lobby illegally imported stolen artifacts for their planned Museum of the Bible. U.S. Customs agents seized up to 300 small clay tablets shipped from Israel in 2011 to the Christian business owners' headquarters in Oklahoma City, reported The Daily Beast. A senior law enforcement official confirmed to the website that the Green family, which owns the arts and crafts retailer, has been under investigation for the last four years for illegally importing cultural artifacts from Iraq. ...Cary Summers, the president of the Museum of the Bible, confirmed the seizure of the tablets, which are inscribed in the cuneiform script of Assyria and Babylonia, and the federal investigation that remains underway—but he described it as a mere paperwork error." Even if it's legal, that doesn't make it ethical.

[CN: Homophobia] Predictable: "A City Council candidate from Indiana who opposes LGBT protections maintains a profile on a gay dating website." Listen, I've got nothing against this guy, who is divorced, doing whatever he wants to do! And I equally disdain any politician who votes against LGBT protections. But the hypocrisy is, as always, stunning.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Haha! "Space debris dubbed 'WTF' on collision course with Earth." Don't worry—"When the object enters the atmosphere, it will likely burn up completely, though whatever does not burn will likely plunge into the Indian Ocean." Be careful, sea monsters!

[CN: Video autoplays at link] And finally! "Kittens Meet Puppies for the First Time." It is exactly as adorable as you'd expect!

Open Wide...

Fatsronauts 101: Fat Halloween

[Content Note: Fat hatred.]

Halloween is right around the corner—and thus Halloween costume parties—and, every year, after Halloween, I see pictures circulated on social media, without their subjects' consent, of fat adults dressed up as recognizable characters who aren't fat. (Very occasionally, I see this done to fat kids, too.) These pictures are inevitably shared to mock the fat costumed person, often under the presumption that the fat person doesn't understand how they look and frequently accompanied by resentful accusations that the fat person is "ruining" the character.

Don't do this.

Let me tell you that fat people dressed as thin characters understand we look different than the thin character. It's not that we don't know how we look; it's that we don't care what you think.

And why should we, when you think that a fat woman dressed up as Trinity or a fat man dressed up as Spock "ruins" the character? That's a garbage opinion. You're telegraphing to us that your opinion shouldn't be valued.

I have seen arguments on social media in which mockers of fat costumed people justify their mockery, their assertions that the characters are "ruined" by fat people, on the basis that "Batman could never be fat" or "Wonder Woman could never be fat," literally without a trace of fucking acknowledgment that Superman and Wonder Woman could never exist at all. It's a fantasy.

What they're saying, with their also-bullshit contentions about what fat bodies can and cannot do (which are almost always wrong), is that a fat body ruins the fantasy for them. Which is really their problem. Not the fat person in the costume.

And frankly, if one can imagine a man who can lift an entire skyscraper with one hand, but couldn't lift his own ass into the air if it were fat, one really doesn't have much of an imagination.

But the problem isn't a lack of imagination so much as it is a lack of decency. All year long, fat people are expected to hide ourselves away from view—to not take up space; to speak softly; to exercise, but not in public; to cover ourselves in yards of fabric to conceal the shapes of our bodies; to carry ourselves hunched and bowed, so that we might be smaller and convey the shame we are obliged to communicate for our very existence—and it's the same on Halloween. Best that we don't show ourselves at all, and certainly not dressed as a thin character.

The message is clear: You don't deserve to be that character, because you are fat.

Fuck that.

We aren't required to wait to live our lives, to do the things we want to do, unless and until we lose weight. We can live and do and thrive right now.

The public mockery of fat people in thin character costumes is explicitly designed to shame us back into hiding, into not living, unless and until we earn the right of participation by making ourselves thin.

I repeat: Fuck that.

And then there's this: I am a fat person who actively wants to dress up as fat characters for Halloween. And before Melissa McCarthy made it so that I could be a cop, a spy, a goddamned Ghostbuster, three whole characters, there wasn't a hell of a lot from which to choose. Not if you want to dress as a person. A fat person. Like yourself.

So, you know, if you're mad that a fat woman like me comes to your Halloween party dressed up as a fat Lara Croft, direct your ire at the rest of the fucking world, which denies us a delicious array of visible fat characters we can cosplay.

And if you really want to be mad at a fat Halloween costume, how about the costumes that treat fat people's personhood itself as a costume?

Because, honestly, if you're angry about a fat person dressing like a thin fictional character, but not angry about thin people dressing like fat people as though we're monsters, you have derailed.

Open Wide...

Oh Jeb

[Content Note: War.]

I didn't expect that Jeb Bush would be the amazing candidate that lots of folks predicted he would be, but I didn't expect him to be this bad, either:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says his brother George W. Bush responded in an "awe-inspiring" way to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and suggests he would learn from his sibling's leadership if he wins the presidency.

..."The case study of leadership is how George responded to 9/11, period, over and out," Jeb told the audience of some 175 donors and supporters who gathered in a ballroom at a Houston hotel, according to a pool report.

"And the idea that a candidate could think that they could make political hay to create a new … narrative on the reality on how he led is a joke," Bush said.

..."How he responded to 9/11," Jeb Bush said of his brother, "was just awe-inspiring."

"People were united. And people really got it that he had a heart for them," Bush added. "At that time, as you know, kids were crying. All around people, children and grandchildren, didn't know what was going on."

"The whole world was turned upside down, and you had a president who was staid and sure and strong."
image of former President George W. Bush sitting and reading a children's book in a classroom at 9:05am on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001

Oh, I know, I know—I'm being so uncharitable. That's not what Jeb! meant. He meant in the weeks and months and years following 9/11. Like when his brother took us to war in another country that had nothing to do with 9/11, using cooked intelligence suggesting otherwise, promising it would take six months, instead of the eight years and trillions of dollars and countless lives and millions of displaced people and political chaos and the emergence of the Islamic State that were collectively the actual cost.

Jeb! says he's gonna learn from that "awe-inspiring" leadership. Okay. Well, unless he means learning what not to do—and he doesn't!—then he is unfit for the US presidency. One of many reasons.

Open Wide...

Spring Valley Police Brutality

[Content Note: Police brutality; assault; descriptions of violence.]

At Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina, Richland County Senior Deputy Ben Fields was captured on video violently assaulting a black teenage girl at she sat at her desk, flipping her over backwards, and then dragging her from the classroom. I will not be reposting the video in this space, but it is viewable at a number of different sites, including here. The incident is being investigated.

[CN: Moving gifs of the assault at link] According to students who witnessed the assault, it began simply because the girl refused to leave the classroom:

A witness who posted a video of the incident on Youtube said the girl was asked by the teacher to get off her cell phone, but refused, and then would not leave the class room when asked by an administrator, so police were called. She allegedly refused the deputy's requests to get up from her desk, and that is when the videos begin.

...The 15-second video was posted on social media just hours after the incident happened on Monday. It shows a white officer grabbing the black student by the arm as she sits in her desk.

Deputy Ben Fields, at one point during the incident, says to the girl, "Are you going to come with me or am I going to make you? Come on. I'm going to get you up."

In the video, Fields pulls on her arm, moving the desk and the girl and then grabs hold of her shoulder and neck area. He turns over the desk, throwing it and the unnamed student to the ground. He then drags her toward the door, pulling the desk along with her and then throws her out of it before jumping on top of her to handcuff her as the video ends.

Students in the classroom sit silently, as a teacher also watches.

...A student in the classroom tweeted his eyewitness account of the video, saying "to be clear," the girl was "sitting quietly at her desk," and did not provoke the deputy before the video started. Aaron Johnson said "nobody even knew what she did," and why he grabbed her.

Johnson said, "When I asked (their teacher) Mr. Long if he felt bad for what happened to her … his reply was 'she should have cooperated.'"

He added, "I think we were all in shock and afraid they would say something to us, he put another girl in handcuffs for standing up, like standing up for the girl."
The video is difficult and upsetting to watch, but it is not surprising. At least, it shouldn't be. Not at this point. The only shocking thing to me is that there are still people who imagine that body cameras are going to be a meaningful and comprehensive deterrent to this sort of vicious abuse.

I do not accept that a teenage girl who was noncompliant with an order to leave a classroom "provoked" this attack. I do not accept that there were no alternatives to this outburst of violence toward her. I do not accept that this assault could have been justified, in any way.

I am angry, and I hope that you are angry, too.

I've said before, and I will say again: #BlackLivesMatter cannot be and is not just about ending police killings. It's also about ending the violent, discriminatory policing that is fundamentally incompatible with freedom, safety, and justice. It cannot be and is not just about preventing death, but about preventing torment and state-sanctioned oppression against the living.

Please go read Prison Culture, who is spot-on, as always: "Black Girl Down…and Up."

Open Wide...

Open Thread

image of a red tailed hawk, sitting on a branch

Hosted by a red tailed hawk.

Open Wide...

Question of the Day

What is your favorite part of whatever season it is in your part of the world?

It's autumn here, and I love the changing color of the leaves so much. I look forward to it every year.

Plus: Sweater weather!

Open Wide...

Budgetfu@# 2015!

New York Times: Congress and White House Near Deal on Budget.

Congressional leaders and the Obama administration are close to a crucial budget deal that would modestly increase domestic spending over the next two years and raise the federal borrowing limit. The accord would avert a potentially cataclysmic default on the government's debt and dispense with perhaps the most divisive issue in Washington just days before Speaker John A. Boehner is expected to turn over his gavel to Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin.

While congressional aides cautioned that the deal was far from certain, and the Treasury Department declined to comment, officials briefed on the negotiations said the emerging accord would call for cuts in spending on Medicare and Social Security disability benefits.
Rank-and-file House Republicans, in particular, have been resistant to authorizing an increase in the debt limit without some accompanying adjustments to mandatory federal spending programs.
And because tax increases just aren't even considered a possibility anymore, apparently by either party, Congress is looking to offset spending by further decimating the social safety net, a concession Democrats are willing to make to stop the Republicans from holding the entire country hostage again.

I don't even know what to say anymore. We are so fucked.

Open Wide...

Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

David Bowie: "Cat People (Putting Out the Fire)"

Open Wide...

Quote of the Day

image of Hillary Clinton at the Benghazi hearing, with her chin in her hand and a slight smile on her face

"It was a televised witch trial. But the tribunal had before it a woman who would not confess transgression and who defied the flame. ...I keep being surprised by the astonishing degree to which Clinton's opponents continue to underestimate her."Charles M. Blow, on "the spectacular debacle of the Benghazi committee hearing."

Open Wide...

Your Best Photograph

If you're a photographer, even if a very amateur one (like myself), and you've got a photo or photos you'd like to share, here's your thread for that!

It doesn't really have to be your best photograph—just one you like!

Please be sure if your photo contains people other than yourself, that you have the explicit consent of the people in the photos before posting them.

* * *

Here's one I quite like which I took over the summer at a train station near Lake Michigan:

image of a personhole cover in a brick pathway, with grass overgrowing the area

Open Wide...

The Monday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by the color fuschia.

Recommended Reading:

Ragen: [Content Note: Stalking; harassment; fat hatred] When Online Trolls Become In-Person Stalkers

Shane: [CN: Racism] Racism Is…

Libby Anne: [CN: Sexuality policing; rape culture] Your Child's Virginity Is None of Your Business

Hina: [CN: Misogyny; objectification; choice policing] Forearm-Ankle Skin Visibility: The Measure of Muslim Women's Relationships

Kenrya: Hillary Clinton Vows to Turn Down Donations from Private Prison Companies

Carly: Kristen Wiig "Bummed Out" by Ghostbusters Reboot Backlash

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!

Open Wide...

Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt and Dudley the Greyhound investigating brightly colored autumn leaves on the ground during our morning walk
Investigating the leaves on their morning constitutional.

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

Open Wide...

In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Earthquake; death] Goddammit: "More than 100 people were reported killed Monday when a powerful earthquake centered in northeast Afghanistan triggered landslides, building collapses, stampedes, and panic from Central Asia to India. The U.S. Geological Survey reported the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.5 and was centered in the Hindu Kush mountains, 158 miles north-northeast of Kabul. The epicenter was near the Jarm district in the remote northeastern province of Badakhshan, one of Afghanistan's most inaccessible regions, where a massive landslide last May killed hundreds of people. The Pakistani military said 123 people were killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and nearly 1,000 injured." The Guardian is providing live updates. Aid relief information will surely become available as the day goes on; please feel welcome and encouraged to share links to relief efforts in comments. If you are hoping to locate someone in the area, Google's dedicated Person Finder is a good resource.

[CN: Arson; racism; terrorism] A seventh church has been damaged by arson in the Ferguson area: "'Holy God...if we ever needed a wake-up call to believe that racism is alive in St. Louis—if this is not it, I don't know what it could be,. the Rev. Mike Kinman, an Episcopal priest at St. Louis' Christ Church Cathedral, told the Post." (Previously.)

This fucking guy: "Marco Rubio is a U.S. senator. And he just can't stand it anymore. 'I don't know that 'hate' is the right word,' Rubio said in an interview. 'I'm frustrated.' This year, as Rubio runs for president, he has cast the Senate—the very place that cemented him as a national politician—as a place he's given up on, after less than one term. It's too slow. Too rule-bound. So Rubio, 44, has decided not to run for his seat again. It's the White House or bust. 'That's why I’m missing votes. Because I am leaving the Senate. I am not running for reelection,' Rubio said in the last Republican debate, after Donald Trump had mocked him for his unusual number of absences during Senate votes." Um, okay. Except you're still meant to be representing the people who elected you, dipshit. And also? If you think the Senate is slow and frustrating, you might want to talk to President Obama about whether the presidency is a high-octane thrillfest when it comes to enacting an agenda which depends on Congress for passage. Do any of the Republicans running for president understand how the government actually works?!

[CN: Privilege] GOOD GRIEF Donald Trump's rags to riches story: "'It has not been easy for me. It has not been easy for me. I started off in Brooklyn. My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars,' Trump remarked. 'I came into Manhattan, and I had to pay him back, and I had to pay him back with interest. But I came into Manhattan and I started buying properties, and I did great.'" He pulled himself up by his gold-plated bootstraps! What have YOU ever done?!

Welp! "In April, Dan Price, CEO of the credit card payment processor Gravity Payments, announced that he will eventually raise minimum pay for all employees to at least $70,000 a year. The move sparked not just a firestorm of media attention, but also a lawsuit from Price's brother and co-founder Lucas, claiming that the pay raise violated his rights as a minority shareholder. But six months later, the financial results are starting to come in: Price told Inc. Magazine that revenue is now growing at double the rate before the raises began and profits have also doubled since then."

I love this with one million hearts: "Every afternoon, the students riding on bus 7 in Arlington, Washington, receive warm waves from an elderly woman as they pass by her home... Known as 'the grandma in the window,' she is a daily staple for this group of kids, as well as for the bus driver, Carol Mitzelfeldt. So, when one morning in September, the window was empty, the students on the bus were concerned and wanted to make sure their 'grandma' was OK. ...Mitzelfeldt learned from the elderly woman's husband, Dave, that her name is Louise Edlen, she'd had a stroke a few days prior and was being cared for at a local rehabilitation center. ...The students then posed for a photo of themselves waving out the windows of the bus, just as Edlen sees them each afternoon. Mitzelfeldt had the picture mounted on a large foam board, signed it on behalf of bus 7, and delivered it to Edlen at the care center. Though she struggled to speak because of the stroke, Edlen was able to tell Mitzelfeldt that she loved the children and they mean a lot to her. Fortunately, last Tuesday, Edlen returned home. And fanfare awaited her—Mitzelfeldt and a large group of students put together colorful signs welcoming their 'grandma in the window' back home, cheering from the windows and honking horns." ♥♥♥

YESSSSSSSSSS! "A spokesperson for David Bowie has confirmed that his new album will be released in January 2016. Entitled Blackstar, the album will also feature a single of the same name." I AM SO EXCITED!!!

In case you were wondering why Adele uses a flip phone in her new video, now you know!

[CN: Racism; misogyny; homophobia] Oh for fuck's sake just SHUT UP, Roger Moore: "I have heard people talk about how there should be a lady Bond or a gay Bond. But they wouldn't be Bond for the simple reason that wasn't what Ian Fleming wrote... It is not about being homophobic or, for that matter, racist—it is simply about being true to the character." (Previously.)

!!!!!!!!!!!!! "Mega-shark teeth wash ashore in North Carolina: Recent storms and high tides have unearthed a prehistoric marvel on the coast of North Carolina. Fossilized shark teeth, some as big as an adult hand, have been plucked from the sand by beachgoers in North Topsail Beach and Surf City, North Carolina... The teeth are immense and immensely old: Researchers say the teeth once belonged to a Megalodon, the largest shark ever to live. Megalodon went extinct some 2.6 million years ago."

[CN: Moving gifs at link] And finally! Baby deer rescue and rehabilitation! Adorbz! And what a terrific success. Yay!

Open Wide...