What decision that you regretted, or about which you had mixed feelings at the time, turned out to be a great decision after all?
"We're thinking about you, Oklahoma," said Tom and the puppy.
"Some of the accusations, I mean you wouldn't believe some of this stuff. It's just—I mean, you've got to be on Mars to come up with some of this stuff."—An anonymous senior Republican aide, on the party being "overly consumed with chasing down or addressing inaccurate or unfounded accusations emerging from the inquiry" into the Benghazi attack. This anonymous aide is reportedly one of an increasing number of "senior GOP aides [who] are worried that the partisan overtones are diverting Congress from identifying and addressing the real lessons learned from the attack."
Or, you know, anything that actually matters.
A teacher in Moore, Oklahoma, finds one of the students in his class that he thought he'd lost in [yesterday's] tornado. Via Curt Autry NBC 12.All the blubs.
[H/T to Portly Dyke.]
[Content Note: Fat bias.]
It remains a radical act to be fat and happy. If you're fat, you're not only meant to be unhappy, but deeply ashamed of yourself, projecting at all times an apologetic nature, indicative of your everlasting remorse for having wrought your monstrous self upon the world. You are certainly not meant to be bold, or assertive, or confident—and should you manage to overcome the constant drumbeat of messages that you are ugly and unsexy and have earned equally society's disdain and your own self-hatred, should you forget your place and walk into the world one day with your head held high, you are to be reminded by the cow-calls and contemptuous looks of perfect strangers that you are not supposed to have self-esteem; you don't deserve it. Being publicly fat and happy is hard; being publicly, shamelessly, unshakably fat and happy is an act of both will and bravery.
Rare indeed is the fat person who manages to find contentment in hir own skin, because everything around hir is designed so that zie will not. Thusly, the idea of a culture that maintains an inclusive attitude about a spectrum of natural (and acceptable) shapes and sizes is almost impossible to imagine—and yet important enough to imagine and set as goal nevertheless, because the person who is healthy but fat is not being served by our scorn, and the person who is unhealthy but thin is not being served by our approbation.
[Updated from "Weighty Matters," January 02, 2007.]
[Content Note: Fat hatred and shaming; body policing.]
Yesterday, actor Keanu Reeves arrived at the Cannes Film Festival looking like he weighed slightly more than he does usually. This was, naturally, a Major News Story, with pop culture commentators wondering, "What happened to Keanu?" and engaging in all sorts of reprehensible body policing and fat shaming. But US Weekly really managed to stand out as especially despicable, among a sea of contemptible stories:
Before I get into the content of this garbage article, I want to observe that "looks bloated" is often used as a synonym for "appears to have gained some weight," and they are not the same thing. Bloating can be caused by and is often a symptom of illness; it can also be a side-effect for the treatment of illness. So can weight gain (and weight loss). Commenting on someone "looking bloated" is often not merely fat-hating, but eliding illness, disability, and/or treatment for either/both.
Actress Kathleen Turner famously weathered nasty commentary about her weight gain and rumors about drug addiction and alcoholism for years before disclosing that she had rheumatoid arthritis, the steroids prescribed for which caused changes in her appearance. Not everyone who "looks bloated" has "let themselves go," as haughtily sniffed by the body-policing tyrants who believe we owe them conformance to beauty standards to indulge their delicate eyes, so easily offended by the obligation to gaze at imperfection.
I have no knowledge of Keanu Reeves' health, nor is it any of my business. I also don't give a fuck that he (might have) gained a few pounds and wouldn't even be talking about it were I not compelled by a metric fuckton of fat hatred. The US Weekly article begins:
Whoa! Keanu Reeves, 48, was spotted at Cannes looking quite different from the slim-hipped looker he was a decade ago. The actor, whose last hit movie was in 2003, which saw the release of both The Matrix Revolutions and Something's Gotta Give, is at the French film festival to promote his directorial debut, The Man of Tai Chi, but he didn't seem quite ready for the spotlight on Sunday, May 19.Wow. That is a lot of bullying horseshit to pack into three paragraphs. The piece then includes a picture of Reeves looking pretty much like his usual self the next day.
Wearing baggy jeans, a gray V-neck tee, and a linen blazer, the former hunk sported stubble, shaggy hair, and a noticeably bloated appearance as he stepped off the yacht "Odessa" in the French Riviera.
The next day, Reeves cleaned up, thankfully, for his movie's photocall. Dressed in a black blazer and navy tee, the actor looked groomed, clean-shaven, and more like the actor audiences first swooned for in Speed.
(And the "random unflattering picture" used in service to body policing narratives and/or fat-shaming and/or reproductive policing and/or plastic surgery spotting, etc. that's all the rage in pop culture media these days is a whole other post entirely.)
I hate a lot about all the gross body policing fuckery packed into this story, but perhaps most of all I hate that "thankfully." Thankfully he cleaned up for us to spare us all the agony of looking at his grotesque self! It's not just the shitty judgment of his appearance, but the implicit expectation that we are somehow entitled to have Keanu Reeves look a certain way for us. That is so fucking vile. THAT IS SO FUCKING VILE.
Keanu Reeves is a 48-year-old agency-bearing human being who has the goddamned right to look however the fuck he wants to look. He doesn't owe the public a thing, least of all a promise to never change, never age, never diverge from whatever arbitrary benchmark separates "hunk" from "former hunk." I can't believe these are sentences I am typing in the year of our lord Jesus Jones two thousand and thirteen because our "civilized" culture still doesn't fucking understand the basic concept of autonomous choice, nor the simple principle of mind your own fucking business and stop bullying people for a pastime.
Fuck. FUCK. Fuck.
[Content note: Violent misogyny, gun violence]
Tuesday News and Stuff:
The Secret Service is is investigating right wing radio host Pete Santilli after he said he wanted to shoot former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the vagina. Good lord, what is wrong with these people?
The Doors' founding keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, died after a long fight with cancer.
Apple: Kinda sleazy.
The Royal Horticultural Society has lifted its century-old ban on gnomes. Viva la gnomes! Viva la freedom!
President Barack Obama announced Sally Ride will be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Woot!
Immaculate anteater conception! Hallelujah!
NASA is funding research into 3D-printed food. Sounds delicious.
Zelly Belly. Such a good girl.
As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.
[Content Note: Misogyny; hostility to consent.]
Another issue with the latest Star Trek film is a scene of Dr. Carol Marcus in her underwear. Not only is the scene gratuitous, but she explicitly asks Kirk not to look at her, and then HA HA THAT SCAMP he turns and looks at her. Yesterday, one of the writers of the film, Damon Lindelof, took to Twitter to respond to some of the criticism:
There is so much wrong there. "Copped to it," indicating, even if unintentionally, they knew it was gross but did it anyway, hoping no one would call them out on it. "Shirtless Kirk," as if women and men are objectified in the same way, as if imagined parity can justify real objectification. "Some construe," as if sexism cannot be objectively assessed. It's all just a matter of opinion! And, yeah, when you're trying to assure people you're listening and taking their criticism seriously, maybe learn how to spell "misogynistic" before you start pounding out bullshit on the keyboard.
[Related Reading: Things That Amuse Me.]
Vermont has become the fourth state, in addition to Oregon, Washington, and Montana, to grant people with terminal illness the right to request an assisted death from doctors:
With the strokes from three gubernatorial pens, Vermont on Monday became the fourth state in the country to allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients.I fervently hope that Barbara Coombs Lee is right that legislation giving people greater choice over their end-of-life decisions will increase in popularity nationwide. I would certainly like to have this choice available to me, when and if I need it.
Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the measure in a state House ceremony in Montpelier, capping a decade-long effort on the issue in Vermont.
..."This historic achievement is a political breakthrough that will boost support for death-with-dignity bills nationwide," said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee. The group describes itself as the nation's leading advocacy group for end-of-life decisions.
The law, which went into effect Monday, allows for an end-of-life procedure with the consent of a patient's doctor after the patient has made more than one request for help in ending life. The bill also stipulates that the patient has a chance to retract the request.
Under the bill, a qualifying patient must be at least 18 years old, a Vermont resident and suffering from an "incurable and irreversible disease," with less than six months to live. Two physicians, including the prescribing doctor, must make that medical determination. The patient must also be told of other end-of-life services, "including palliative care, comfort care, hospice care, and pain control," according to the bill.
If you're interested in learning more about assisted death laws in the US, the documentary How to Die in Oregon is an excellent resource.
Illinois, which already offers civil unions to same-sex couples, has been quietly moving toward legalizing same-sex marriage, and it looks like marriage advocates may have the votes to get it done by the end of the month:
With the end of the Illinois' spring legislation session just days away, LGBT leaders say that equal marriage legislation has the support needed to pass by month's end.It's crucial for Illinois legislators to pass this bill ASAP, rather than push it back until the fall session, not just because it's the right and decent thing to do to get it done now, but because delaying it "will give anti-gay organizations and churches time to mobilize opposition." Right now, it's just the tiresome Illinois Family Institute having weekend rallies, but, given the summer, out-of-state groups will have time to try to influence the process.
Sponsors have until May 31 to pass the "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act," which would allow all couples, regardless of their gender, to marry. Failing that deadline, the bill's passage would be delayed for months.
LGBT groups pushing for the bill say they are ready to see it come up for a vote.
"I have absolutely no doubt we're going to be done with this by May 31," said Jim Bennett, Midwest regional director for Lambda Legal. "I believe that this bill is going to pass." Bennett declined to give a specific vote count, but said that he expected the bill could be called and passed any day.
Rick Garcia, policy advisor for The Civil Rights Agenda, said he thinks the bill has the 60 votes needed for passage in the House. "I believe we're there," said Garcia. "The cake is baked. We're waiting for the icing."
The bill passed the Senate on Valentine's Day. House sponsors have since struggled to pull together enough votes to pass it in the House.
Illinois Unites for Marriage, a coalition of groups working for the bill, has scheduled a community meeting to update supporters on the bill's progress and share plans surrounding the vote Wednesday evening.
The bill has the backing of major political players in Illinois, including Gov. Pat Quinn, who told Windy City Times that he has met personally with more than a dozen representatives in an attempt to get the bill passed. Quinn has said he will sign the measure into law.
The sponsor of the legislation, Greg Harris, has been waiting to schedule a vote until he's sure he's got the votes it needs to pass.
Get it done, Illinois. The time is now.
[Content Note: Death; injury.]
Here is the latest. Please note that the same guidelines re: photos and politicizing remain in effect for this thread.
New York Times—Vast Oklahoma Tornado Kills at Least 91:
A giant tornado, a mile wide or more, killed at least 91 people, 20 of them children, as it tore across parts of Oklahoma City and its suburbs Monday afternoon, flattening homes, flinging cars through the air and crushing at least two schools.KFOR reports officials have confirmed 91 fatalities, and that 101 people were found alive in the rubble overnight.
The injured flooded into hospitals, and the authorities said many people remained trapped, even as rescue workers struggled to make their way through debris-clogged streets to the devastated suburb of Moore, where much of the damage occurred.
Amy Elliott, the spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City medical examiner, said at least 91 people had died, including the children, and officials said that toll was likely to climb. Hospitals reported at least 145 people injured, 70 of them children.
The Guardian—Facebook Page Set Up:
A Facebook page has been set up asking people to post any pictures or documents they have found in their yard or in the street after the tornado in the hope of reuniting them with their owners. One woman said she lives more than 100 miles away in Tulsa and found a picture of a woman in her flower bed.FEMA—President Declares Disaster for Oklahoma: "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Oklahoma to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and tornadoes beginning May 18, 2013, and continuing. ...Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster."
People are also sharing pictures of missing people, including a four-year-old girl.
On the same page people have posted pictures of lost and found animals.
There is also a dedicated site for lost and found pets as a result of the tornado.
Roll Call—Coburn Wants Tornado Disaster Aid to Be Offset: "The tornado damage near Oklahoma City is still being assessed and the death toll is expected to rise, but already Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., says he will insist that any federal disaster aid be paid for with cuts elsewhere. CQ Roll Call reporter Jennifer Scholtes wrote for CQ.com Monday evening that Coburn said he would 'absolutely' demand offsets for any federal aid that Congress provides. Coburn added, Scholtes wrote, that it is too early to guess at a damage toll but that he knows for certain he will fight to make sure disaster funding that the federal government contributes is paid for."
Please consider this an Open Thread to share information as it becomes available, to provide links to local services and charitable support, to report in if you're an Oklahoma Shaker, and for considerate discussion. I'm so sorry, Oklahomans.
If you tend to do most of the cooking for yourself and/or any others in your household, when was the last time someone cooked for you? If you generally don't do the cooking, when was the last time you cooked for someone else?
[Content Note: Death; injury.]
Earlier this afternoon, a tornado nearly a mile wide struck down in Oklahoma, causing widespread devastation. I've read reports that there have been two deaths and many more injuries, some serious, but I can't find good confirmation on that right now.
Please consider this an Open Thread to share information as it becomes available, to provide links to local services and charitable support, and to report in if you're an Oklahoma Shaker.
I am going to politely ask that we not share photos of the destruction in this space, which may be triggering for some readers, especially those who live and/or have friends, family, colleagues in the area. There are plenty of places to see and share those photos elsewhere on the web. Thanks.
UPDATE 1: KOCO Oklahoma City has confirmed two deaths: "Glen Irish, 79, and Billy Hutchinson, 76, both of Shawnee were killed, according to a medical examiner." My condolences to the people who cared for them.
UPDATE 2: The search continues for children at an elementary school in Moore, OK, which was flattened by the tornado.
UPDATE 3: Tom McCarthy is live-blogging events for the Guardian. Please be advised, at this point, there are pictures of some wreckage, but no images of injury.
UPDATE 4: MSNBC is reporting that the Oklahoma medical examiner is confirming 37 fatalities so far. Many of those are reportedly children who were trapped in their school. I don't even know what to say.
UPDATE 5: MSNBC is reporting that the Oklahoma medical examiner has raised the number of confirmed fatalities to 51.
[Content Note: Body policing.]
"Tom," said the puppy, licking its nose, "did you hear about how Vin Diesel said that 'Hollywood is more concerned about its male actors being in shape than its female actors,' ha ha for real no kidding he actually said that?" And Tom laughed and said, "Yes, I did hear about that." And the puppy said, "I'm pretty sure I know what you're going to say here, Tom, but do you think that's true?" And Tom said, "I will only make this observation: I believe the closest Jack Black has ever come to having a fat leading lady is Gwyneth Paltrow in a fat suit." And the puppy said, "So that's a no then?" And Tom said, "Yes, puppy. That's a no." And then Tom added: "Which is not an argument that Jack Black should look any different than he does. It is instead an argument that female leads should be more diverse than they are. And so should male leads, frankly." And the puppy nodded, then ran off to buy a lemon ice.
Eesha Khare is an 18-year-old science student who may have fundamentally changed the way we charge mobile devices:
An 18-year-old science student has made an astonishing breakthrough that will enable mobile phones and other batteries to be charged within seconds rather than the hours it takes today’s devices to power back up.Kids these days! Get ON my lawn!
Saratoga, Calif. resident Eesha Khare made the breakthrough by creating a small supercapacitor that can fit inside a cell phone battery and enable ultra-fast electricity transfer and storage, delivering a full charge in 20-30 seconds instead of several hours.
The nano-tech device Khare created can supposedly withstand up to 100,000 charges, a 100-fold increase over current technology, and it's flexible enough to be used in clothing or displays on any non-flat surface.
It could also one day be used in car batteries and charging stations not unlike those used by the Tesla Model S, which includes "supercharger" technology that promises to charge vehicles in 30 minutes or less.
"I'm in a daze," Khare told CBS San Francisco after being honored among the three finalists at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix over the weekend. "I can't believe this happened."
...Khare was the runner-up to 19-year-old Romanian student Gorden E. Moore, who created a low-cost artificial intelligence that can drive vehicles. She tied with Louisiana 17-year-old Henry Wanjune, who figured out new ways to measure dark matter and energy in space.
[H/T to Susie, who has at her place video of Khare talking about her invention.]
Fatsronauts 101 is a series in which I address assumptions and stereotypes about fat people that treat us as a monolith and are used to dehumanize and marginalize us. If there is a stereotype you'd like me to address, email me.
[Content Note: Fat bias; body policing.]
#19: All fat people hate/want to change their bodies.
This weekend, I saw an advert for some diet pill or piece of exercise equipment or gut surgery—I don't even remember what—that started with a voiceover matter-of-factly stating: "All of us want a flat tummy."
Nope. That is not true.
Not all of us want a flat tummy. I don't want a flat tummy, and not just because I would have to compromise my health to have one. I don't want a flat tummy because I'm perfectly happy with my tummy as it is.
There are lots of things, lots and lots and lots of things, that try to make me hate my roundy belly, as well as the rest of my fat body. But the fact that I can't, for example, always easily find clothes that fit me doesn't make me wish my body were different: It makes me wish that the clothing industry would make clothes that fit my body as it is.
Always, fat people who say they are perfectly content with their fat bodies are accused of dishonest bravado. We are presumed of saying we like our bodies in spite of really hating them. We are thought to be in denial, to be harboring secret hatred for our transgressive bodies, to be masking insecurity with faux esteem. Anything to avoid accepting the possibility that there exist in a fat-hating world people who refuse to hate our fat.
But life would be easier if you were thin, argue the fat haters, who cannot abide my contentment. How can you not admit you'd prefer to be thin, knowing life would be easier? As if I don't know how privilege works. But that is truly an irrelevant question, when it comes to whether I like my body, which is not defined by external privileges or preferences or arbitrary standards of beauty. I love my body as it is in contravention of external narratives.
Sometimes that's hard to understand, from a perspective of never having your body be marginalized, be hated simply for being the shape that it is.
There are certainly fat people who don't love their bodies, for a multitude of reasons, but I am not one of them. I can speak for no one else—although I am not alone—but I am not harboring a secret hatred of self. I am pleased when I look in the mirror. I like what I see. I don't give a fuck if no one else does. I don't want to change the shape of my body. I love it so much I want to decorate it with ink and top it with nifty hats.
My tummy is just fine, thank you very much. I've no urge to change it.
#18: You can diagnose fat people's health issues by looking at them.
#17: Fat people's choices are always dictated by their fat.
#16: You are helping fat people by shaming them.
#15: Fat people hate having their pictures taken.
#14: All fat people are unhealthy.
#13: Fat people looooooooooove Twinkies!
#12: Fat people don't like/want to see media representations of themselves.
#11: No one wants to be fat.
#10: Fat people need you to intervene in their lives.
#9: Fat people don't know how they look.
#8: Fat people don't deserve anything nice.
#7: Fat people are permission slips for thin people to eat what they want.
#6: Any fat person eating a salad or exercising is trying to lose weight.
#5: Fat is axiomatically ugly.
#4: Fat people eat enormous amounts of food.
#3: Fat people are jolly/mean, and fat people are shy/loud.
#2: I can tell how someone eats all the time, because of how they eat around me.
#1: Everyone who is fat is fat for the same reason.
[Click to embiggen.]
From the Telegraph's Big Picture Photography Competition—Round 255: "This week's Big Picture winner is Steve Lindon, of Michaelchurch Escley, Hereford, for this image of a dramatic rainbow in the Golden Valley of Herefordshire."Amazing.
[H/T to Alison.]