The Virtual Pub Is Open

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

TFIF, Shakers!

Belly up to the bar,
and name your poison!

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The Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by seagulls.

Recommended Reading:

Miriam and Akiba: [Content Note: Racism; displacement; violence] INFOGRAPHIC: Race and Recovery 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina

Sesali: [CN: Fat hatred] Is "Confident" the New "Pretty for a Fat Girl"?

Feminist Aspie: [CN: Disablism] Expectations, Expectations Everywhere!

Aja: Adult Women Are Now the Largest Demographic in Gaming

Squinky: A Nonbinary Actor Playing a Nonbinary Character

Atrios: Why Is Lindsey Graham Always on My Teevee?

Veronica: [CN: Discussion of the beauty standard] Should Feminist Parents Tell Their Daughters They Are Beautiful?

Jessica: [CN: Misogyny] Star Wars Preaches Some Truth on Facebook About Female Armor

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

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Feminism 101: More Helpful Hints for Dudes

[Content Note: Misogyny; harassment.]

So, here's the thing about dudes who request, politely or not so politely, education from a feminist on demand: I can tell you, from more than a decade of experience as a feminist with an internet presence, that the vast majority of dudes who seek "education" don't really want education at all.

(And, as always, this same dynamic is applicable for any privileged person demanding education of any marginalized person.)

The vast majority of dudes who ask for education on some feminist issue or other want one of two things:

1. They want to prove me wrong. Specifically, they want to play Devil's Advocate, demand scientific proof quantifying my lived experiences, debate me, audit me, argue with me, and, when all else fails, insult me. They use a request for education as cover to get me to engage with them, just in order to try to discredit me.

2. They want to prove a point about how mean feminists are. These are the dudes who understand that feminist women are tired as all fuck of being asked to educate men on demand and are well aware that they're likely to elicit contemptuous responses if they do, so they request education in bad faith, recognizable as bad faith to seasoned feminists familiar with this tactic but possibly reading as good faith to casual observers, only to provoke hostile declinations and then crow about how mean feminists are—which was, of course, the whole point of the exercise.

That second one is a no-win situation for feminists, because if we know what game they're playing, but go along with it for the benefit of people watching, these dudes will simply revert to #1. It's a lose-lose proposition for any feminist who's approached by these guys.

This happens all the time. It is vanishingly rare that a dude approaches me asking for education who actually wants an education. And please note that I, as do all feminists, learned these patterns only by engaging in good faith over and over and over, only to discover that virtually none of the men were engaging in good faith with me.

So, if you're one of the #NotAllMen! who approach feminists for an education, here is some free education for you: Understand the above described dynamic, and understand that marginalized people do not owe privileged people an education, and then go spend some time with Google and leave us the fuck alone.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

The Beatles: "Hey Jude"

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Racism.]

"Xenophobia is the lowest form of political strategy. It is something we all need to fight together, not only for us, but also for the evolution of all humanity and those who will come after us."—Singer Ricky Martin, in an op-ed calling for Latin@ unity against Donald Trump.

I don't know that any population will ever be unified for or against everything, because people are different. (It's true!) But I understand the rhetorical strategy, and I take up space in solidarity with Latin@s and all immigrants who oppose Donald Trump and his reprehensible candidacy.

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Daily Dose of Cute

Yesterday, the puppehs got one of their FAVORITEST treats: Once every summer, they get a small cup of vanilla custard from Culver's, and that day is THE GREATEST DAY EVER!!!!!11!!!1!

They started out huddled together, Zelly underneath Dudley, which is a pretty common treat-consuming formation.

image of Dudley the Greyhound standing on the back patio eating out of a small plastic cup, while Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt eats out of a small plastic cup beneath him

Dudley luxuriates in ice cream: He licks it soooooo slowly, savoring every delicious morsel.

image of Dudley leaning down to lick out of his ice cream cup

Sitting on the back porch, I offered to hold the cup for him so he wouldn't have to bend over, but he was having none of it. ON THE GROUND, MA'AM.

Meanwhile, Zelly had pushed her cup straight under Dudley, between my feet, and halfway under the porch stair on which I was sitting. She picked it up in her mouth, carried it a few feet away to the grass, where it wouldn't slide, and continued to make sweet love to it, even long after all the custard was gone.

image of Zelda lying in the grass, her muzzle directed at the empty cup
Mmmmmmmmmmmm custard.

They are too hilarious and TOO CUTE!!!

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

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Police misconduct; racism; possible self-harm] Goddammit: "Jamycheal Mitchell, who had mental health problems, was discovered lying on the floor of his cell [in Portsmouth, Virginia] by guards early last Wednesday, according to authorities. While his body is still awaiting an autopsy, senior prison officials said his death was not being treated as suspicious. ...Mitchell's family said they believed he starved to death after refusing meals and medication at the jail, where he was being held on misdemeanour charges of petty larceny and trespassing." Mitchell, a young black man, had spent almost four months in the jail without bail for stealing groceries worth $5. "A clerk at Portsmouth district court said Mitchell was accused of stealing a bottle of Mountain Dew, a Snickers bar, and a Zebra Cake worth a total of $5 from a 7-Eleven." Again, I will note that police are legally responsible for the safety of the people they take into custody. They did not have to murder Mitchell to be accountable for his death.

[CN: Rape culture; child abuse] In news that won't shock anyone who is paying attention: "A former Subway franchisee claims she warned Subway about Jared Fogle's sexual interest in children seven years ago and that the sandwich chain did nothing. ...Mills says she shared this information with Subway in 2008 but that the company ignored her complaints. That's when she decided to hire a lawyer. ...Subway didn't respond to a request for comment on this story." I'll bet they didn't.

[CN: Rape culture; child abuse; sexual assault; Christian Supremacy] Over at Love, Joy, Feminism, Libby Anne documents how the leadership of the Christian treatment center to which Josh Duggar was sent is allegedly involved in a sex abuse coverup. Yes, it's a real fucking mystery why this fucko keeps harming women and children. Rage. Seethe. Boil.

Neat: "The University of Tennessee Office for Diversity and Inclusion is asking students and faculty to use [gender neutral] pronouns in order to create a more inclusive campus." By the way, here's how that news article opens: "The University of Tennessee is asking students to use 'ze, hir, hirs, and xe, xem, xyr.' No, those words are not another language." Oh my aching sides.

Do you like actress Ellen Page? If you like actress Ellen Page, then maybe you will enjoy this interview with her, where she talks about disclosing she is a lesbian to the general public, and what that did for her personally and professionally. I like Ellen Page!

Whut: "Gay people are like an Army that has occupied America, and now they're about to start targeting pastors and churches, according to one Texas-based anti-LGBT hate group." Hahahaha okay! But don't get ahead of yourselves now, Gay People! You haven't even destroyed my marriage yet! First things first!

I love every single thing about this story: "Firefighters were called out to assist a cow after its head became stuck in a plastic chair. ...Officers from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service attended but said the cow managed to get out of its predicament without their help. It is not known how the garden chair came to be in the field or why the cow put its head through it." Perfection.

And finally! I cannot. stop. laughing. at these brilliant photographs of dog guardians mimicking their dogs' expressions. AMAZING.

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Finish This Sentence

My favorite game to play on my mobile device is...

...Peggle. Still forever Peggle. But I am currently engaged in a torrid love affair with Panda Pop, which makes me so happy when I rescue the baby pandas and they all cheer and makes me SO SAD LOL when I fail to rescue them and they cry. Hahahaha this game!

Anyway. What's your current or forever favorite?

Acceptable answers include, but are not limited to: I don't own a mobile device; I hate mobile devices; I hate games; and please for the love of Maude stop sending me Candy Crush requests.

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Donald Trump ♥s the Bible

On Bloomberg, Mark Halperin (who favors white men almost as much as Donald Trump does) was interviewing Donald Trump when he asked him to name his favorite Bible verse—which I frankly find an odious question for a number of reasons, but it's typically a standard softball for Republican candidates.

Halperin: You mention the Bible—you've been talking about how it's your favorite book, and you said, I think last night in Iowa, that some people are surprised that you say that. I'm wondering what one or two of your most favorite Bible, uh, verses are and why.

Trump: I—I wouldn't wanna get into it, because to me that's very personal. You know, when I talk about the Bible, it's very personal, so I don't wanna get into verses; I don't wanna get into—

Halperin: There's no verse that means a lot to you that you think about or cite?

Trump: No, I— I just— [makes this face] The Bible means a lot to me, but I don't wanna get into specifics.

Halperin: Even to cite a verse that you like?

Trump: No. I don't want to do that—

John Heilemann (Halperin's co-host): You an Old Testament guy or a New Testament guy?

Trump: Uh, probablyyyyyy...equal. I think it's just an incredible— The whole Bible is an incredible— I joke, uh, very much so, they always hold up [my book] The Art of the Deal; I say: "My second favorite book of all time."
The Bible is super classy and incredible and I am a massive fan! Make America great again! Good night! *runs offstage*

Honestly, I don't think religion has any place in politics, and I don't think that any politician should be obliged to talk about their religion. But the fact is, Donald Trump goes around talking about how much he loves the Bible, because that's what Republican candidates do, so he can't then claim that questions about which parts of the Bible he likes are off-limits.

Especially when he says things that seem to indicate he has a unique, ahem, interpretation of the Bible and the central tenet of Christianity, like: "I'm not sure I have [ever asked god for forgiveness]. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don't think so. If I do something wrong, I think I just try and make it right. I don't bring god into that picture."

It seems pretty clear that Trump isn't actually desirous of privacy around his favorite Bible verses, but is using that pretense as a deflection because he doesn't actually know the first damn thing about the Bible. He loves all of those incredible verses equally—just like Sarah Palin reads all the magazines!

This fucking guy.

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[Content Note: Misogyny.]

Hillary Clinton went all in on the Republicans and their institutional misogyny yesterday during a speech in Cleveland:

Now, extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don't want to live in the modern world, but it's a little hard to take from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States. Yet they espouse out-of-date, out-of-touch policies. They are dead wrong for 21st century America. We are going forward; we are not going back.

I would like these Republican candidates to look the mom in the eye who caught her breast cancer early because she was able to get a screening for cancer or the teenager who didn't get pregnant because she has access to contraception. Or anyone who has ever been protected by an HIV test.

This is happening all over the country, even here in Ohio. Programs and services women use to take care of themselves are being cut down.

I take it a little personal when they go after women.
Hell fucking yes.

Naturally, most of the coverage of these comments (example; video autoplays at link) is all about how OUTRAGED Republicans are to be compared to terrorists, and not about how Clinton has a point, considering the Republican support of one of the most flagrant domestic terrorism campaigns in the country.

Hey, "liberal media": Instead of seeking outraged quotes from Republicans, howsabout instead you ask them why, if they don't like the comparison, they are so keen to align themselves with anti-choice terrorists?

Because as much as I'm sure we all enjoy reporting on how Hillary Clinton has hit (yet another) "new low," it might be a nice break in your tiresome disgorgement of trite misogyny to read something that challenges Republicans to engage with the charge she's leveling at them for a damn good reason.

[I did some tweeting about this subject this morning. Those tweets are collected in a Storify, if you would like to see them.]

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Open Thread

image of an old comic advert for x-ray specs

Hosted by a x-ray specs!

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

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker kittenboots: "Should you 'just go for it'? What is 'it'?"

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Photo of the Day

image of a twin jet nebula, which looks like a shimmering butterfly in outer space
The Twin Jet Nebula, a bipolar planetary nebula. (Photo Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

Rachel Feltman at the WaPo:
This "butterfly" (which also kind of looks like two space squid head butting each other, if you're as into that as I am) is called the Twin Jet Nebula. Those gorgeous, iridescent colors come from dying stars within, casting out jets of gas and then illuminating the resulting clouds with their fading light.

The Twin Jet is a planetary nebula—so named for their usual round shape—but it's obviously not very spherical. Scientists believe that it gets its wings from the pair of stars at its center. The binary system includes two stars around the same size as our sun. One is already a white dwarf—the final stage of such a star's life—and the other is following close behind.

While only one star is giving off gases, the way the stars interact with each other (gravitationally speaking) causes the gas to spew out in two directions. The gas can travel more than 600,000 miles per hour, and the wings (which probably only formed about 1200 years ago) will continue to grow.

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The Walking Thread?

So, that The Walking Dead spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead, premiered last Sunday, and I have a question for y'all: Are you watching it? Do you want a Fear the Walking Thread recap a la my Walking Dead recaps, or are not enough people watching it that it would be of interest?

Let me know in comments!

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Primarily Speaking

image of Rand Paul wearing sunglasses, to which I've added text reading: 'I am the fucking worst. Deal with it.'

[Content Note: Racism.] Today's WORST CLOWN IN THE CLOWN CAR AWARD goes to Senator Rand Paul, who lectures #BlackLivesMatter activists, by way of Sean Hannity because OF COURSE, that they should change their name and their tactics: "I think they should change their name maybe—if they were All Lives Matter, or Innocent Lives Matter... But commandeering the microphone, and bullying people, and pushing people out of the way—I think that really isn't a way to get their message across."

First of all: Fuck off. Secondly: Fuck off. Third: If commandeering the microphone weren't a way to get their message across, then why the hell is every presidential candidate being asked about their movement and message, hmm? Finally: Fuck off.

In summation: Fuck off.

[CN: Racism] Following Gold Toilet Aficionado Donald Trump's ridiculous and indecent attack on journalist Jorge Ramos, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said at a townhall event that "people in the press should be treated with more respect and dignity." Hahahaha I agree! Except I actually mean it!

Let's all bookmark that quote just in case WHY JEB ever holds office again and resumes treating the press with contempt as he did while governor of Florida, because accountability ain't his bag.

Blah blah Trump says he won't mount a third-party run. Who even cares. Because he was never going to mount a third-party run. If he doesn't get the nomination, he knows he can't win, so he wouldn't waste his time and money. It will stop being fun for Donald Trump the moment he actually has to work for it (and spend for it) and isn't getting loads of free press and every privileged wankstain in the multiverse stops drooling over how "hilarious" he is.

Meanwhile, Senator Marco Rubio says that Trump will never be the Republican nominee: "I don't believe Donald Trump will be our nominee. I think our nominee is going to be someone that embraces the future, that understands the opportunities before us, that's optimistic but realistic about the challenges before us." Wait—Hillary Clinton is going to be the Republican nominee?!

At the same campaign stop, which was held "outside a car service center" in Orford, New Hampshire (YOU'RE BURNING IT UP, RUBIO!), the Senator also had this shit to say about Trump and his HAT-BASED PHILOSOPHY: "There's another gentleman running for president whose slogan is Make America Great Again. And I understand what he's trying to say. But I would remind him that America is great. Ask yourself this question: Who would you trade places with? Would you rather be China? Would you rather be Brazil or India or anyone else for that matter? There's no nation on earth I'd trade places with. The issue's not that America isn't great. The issue is that America has the chance to be greater. And we're not fulfilling our potential."

The way these bozos talk! Honestly. Yes, correct, the issue is that the US has the chance to be greater (defined in ways with which Rubio would never agree, because his definition of "greater" is rolling back the clock on social progress and killing more people around the globe, but I digress), which literally has nothing to do with competing with other countries. But framing national greatness as a competition is the only way to satisfy nationalistic urges to chant "USA! USA!" while waving oversized foam fingers emblazoned with "We're #1!" so.

Pro-torture doc Ben Carson, pugilist Chris Christie, Joe McCarthy impersonator Ted Cruz, corporate power-failure Carly Fiorina, real person Jim Gilmore, reasonable-by-comparison Lindsey Graham, professor of bible bigotry Mike Huckabee, nerdiest clown Bobby Jindal, "moderate" John Kasich, charisma void George Pataki, trainwreck Rick Perry, waking nightmare Rick Santorum, and Indiana dumpster diver Scott Walker continue to run for president.

[CN: Video autoplays at link] On the other side of the aisle, Vice President Joe Biden isn't sure that he has "the emotional fuel" to run for the White House: "We're dealing at home with...whether or not there is the emotional fuel at this time to run," Biden told members of the Democratic National Committee on a conference call. "If I were to announce to run, I have to be able to commit to all of you that I would be able to give it my whole heart and my whole soul, and right now, both are pretty well banged up."

I'm not a huge fan of Biden as a politician, never have been, but it breaks my heart how much he and his family have gone through. It's upsetting to me, even though I don't want him to run, to think that might be the reason he doesn't.

In other news, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that using a private email server wasn't the best decision: "I know people have raised questions about my email use as secretary of state, and I understand why. I get it. So here's what I want the American people to know: My use of personal email was allowed by the State Department. It clearly wasn't the best choice. I should've used two emails: one personal, one for work. I take responsibility for that decision, and I want to be as transparent as possible, which is why I turned over 55,000 pages, why I've turned over my server, why I've agreed to—in fact, been asking to—and have finally gotten a date to testify before a congressional committee in October. I'm confident that this process will prove that I never sent, nor received, any email that was marked classified." All right then.

Senator Bernie Sanders makes his pitch to the Democratic establishment: "Sanders huddled with advisers at his home [on] Wednesday to chart what he describes as the second phase of a campaign that has exceeded all expectations but still lacks the infrastructure and support from the party elites that could help him compete with Clinton on a national level. He said he will issue a slew of detailed policy proposals, including for a tax system under which corporations and the wealthy would pay significantly more for initiatives that would benefit the poor and middle class, and will pour resources into voter outreach in early nominating states. The senator also will appear with other White House hopefuls this week at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee and will urge party leaders to embrace him as a candidate who can attract new voters and energy, just as President Obama did eight years ago." Good luck, Bernie! I hope that the Democratic elite changes their minds and suddenly welcome in a real way proposals to heavily tax corporations and the wealthy to fund a robust social safety net! That would be terrific!

Get a load of this fucking guy: "Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard professor who is exploring a long shot presidential run, said on Tuesday that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is 'running a campaign to win, not to govern.'" Hahahahahaha shut up, Lessig! This is the same guy who is fixing to run as a "referendum candidate" who "would remain in office just long enough to enact financing reform before stepping aside in favor of the vice-president." And he's accusing Sanders of running only to win but not to govern?! Okay, player.

Martin O'Malley, Lincoln Chafee, and Jim Webb continue to run for president.

Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Donna Summer: "Could It Be Magic"

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: White supremacy; racism; anti-immgrationism; antisemitism.]

"If Mr. Trump loses, this could be the last chance whites have to vote for a president who could actually do something useful for them and for their country."—A dude who runs a white supremacist website, whose name I'm not even going to mention because fuck him, in an article about how white supremacists love the fuck outta Donald Trump.

And why do they love him? Well, that should be obvious by now: It's because he's an inveterate, unapologetic racist.

In an interview on Wednesday with BuzzFeed News, [redacted, same dude as quoted above] further explained that his support for Trump was based on his desire for whites to remain the majority racial group in the United States.

"Why should whites want to be a minority?" he said. "Answer me that question. Why should we want to celebrate diversity when celebrating diversity means celebrating our dwindling numbers and influence? And to the extent that Trump succeeds in putting the brakes on immigration, he will also be succeeding at reducing the speed with which whites are reduced to a minority."

He added that this was the way "frankly that all whites feel, we just never dare say so."

[Another dude], who writes under the pseudonym [redacted] for the white nationalist blog [redacted] ("We don't want to see our peoples be submerged"), said in an interview that he supports Trump for other reasons. In addition to his staunch opposition to immigration, he also noted the candidate's positions on "trade, political correctness, and campaign finance."

"I like the fact that he's funny," Griffin added.
So. They don't just like him because he's a racist shitlord; they also like him because he tells it like it is, he says what "everyone" is thinking but refuses to say, and because he's funny.

Gee, where have I heard that before?

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat standing on a glasstop table on the back porch, looking innocent
"What? I'm definitely supposed to be on this table!"

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

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Death] Absolutely awful: "As many as 50 refugees were found dead in a parked truck in Austria near the Hungarian border on Thursday, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the discovery had shaken European leaders discussing the migrant crisis at a Balkans summit. ...Merkel told a news conference at the summit on the West Balkans in Vienna: 'We are of course all shaken by the appalling news. This reminds us that we must tackle quickly the issue of immigration and in a European spirit—that means in a spirit of solidarity—and to find solutions.' Tens of thousands of people, mainly from Africa and the Middle East, have put to sea this year in the hope of reaching Europe, often dangerously packed into small vessels that were never designed to cross the Mediterranean."

[CN: Privacy violations] Annalee Newitz has found that the vast majority of female Ashley Madison members were probably faked accounts. "We're left with data that suggests Ashley Madison is a site where tens of millions of men write mail, chat, and spend money for women who aren't there."

[CN: Transphobic violence] Your liberal media: "2015 has seen a disturbing spike in the number of recorded murders of transgender people, and especially transgender women of color, in the U.S. Though the trans community has historically been disproportionately targeted by violence, the murders of seven trans women of color in just the first two months of 2015 alarmed groups like the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, which warned of an 'epidemic of violence' against trans women. ...But beyond [Janet Mock]'s powerful MHP segments, and despite growing national attention, national cable news outlets have largely ignored the alarming spike in murders of trans women of color. Between July 27 and August 21, neither CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC aired a segment drawing attention to the murders."

[CN: Mass shooting] James Holmes, the man who opened fire in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater in July 2012, killing 12 people and injuring 70 others, has been sentenced to 12 consecutive life sentences plus 3,318 years in prison.

In good news: "The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections. ...Voter registration began over the weekend in cities Madinah and Makkah, where a small number of women showed up to register. Jamal Al-Saadi was one such woman, saying that she was 'quite ready' for this time to come. 'The participation of Saudi women in the municipal elections as voters and candidates was a dream for us,' Saadi said. 'The move will enable Saudi women to have a say in the process of the decision-making.' Voting for all women will be opening in upcoming weeks."

[CN: Homophobia] What will it take for this person to be fired? "Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis is trying for one last anti-gay Hail Mary after the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals denied her request to stay a federal order calling on her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Davis will petition U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan for a stay on the order, according to Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver who is representing Davis in court."

[CN: Flood; displacement; death] I can't imagine a more pitiful, contemptible thing: Former FEMA Chief Michael "Brownie" Brown marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with an article headlined: "Stop Blaming Me for Hurricane Katrina."

Whoa: "Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego have reportedly created a school of synthetic swimming microfish, smaller than the width of a human hair, which can sense and respond to chemicals in their environment. The technology potentially could be used to neutralize toxins such as bee venom or even deliver drugs to targeted areas of the body. The multipurpose fish-shaped microrobots swim around efficiently in liquids, are chemically powered by hydrogen peroxide and magnetically controlled. These proof-of-concept synthetic microfish will inspire a new generation of 'smart' microrobots, researchers said."

[CN: Racism] Let the redemption begin! "Paula Deen Joins Dancing with the Stars Season 21 Cast." I can't wait to keep not watching that show!

Is a new Adele album imminent? I HOPE SO!!!

And finally! "20+ Crossbreed Dogs That Will Make You Fall in Love with Mutts." Zelda approves!

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Virginia News Shooting: Updates & Thoughts

[Content Note: Guns; death; self-harm; racism; homophobia; animal abuse.]

Background here.

[CN: Video autoplays at link] This morning, WDBJ had a moment of silence on air for reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Blub.

Vicki Gardner, the chamber of commerce executive being interviewed by Parker at the time, who was shot in the back, has come out of surgery and is reportedly doing well, although she will have a long recovery, after losing a kidney and part of her intestines.

* * *

A lot of the early news coverage about yesterday's shooting was wrong about a few key details: It was reported that the shooter, Vester Flanagan (also known by his on-air name Bryce Williams) was an ex of one of the people he killed, which turned out not to be true. He was, however, a former colleague of both. It was also reported that he had ended his own life, while he was still alive, though he had shot himself and later succumbed to his injuries.

Later in the day, and this morning, much of the discussion around Flanagan has been about his motivation for the shooting, which he detailed in a 23-page manifesto faxed to ABC News after the shooting. The document alleges racial and homophobic bullying at his former place of employment, but also reveals Flanagan to be someone with deeply fucked-up thinking: He expresses admiration for other mass shooters, and, at one point, blames his former employer and coworkers for his decision to kill his own cats in a forest.

Flanagan is (as per usual) being routinely said to have been mentally ill. But the usual suspects, who reject out of hand that hatred plays a role in mass shootings when privileged straight white cis men do it, are highly focused on reports that Flanagan "played the race card."

screen cap of news headlines about Flanagan 'playing the race card'

His former employer and coworkers say that Flanagan was difficult, and that he saw discrimination, based on his race and sexuality, that wasn't there. Other former black employees, like Pamela Mack-Brown, who "worked for 16 years before retiring as a production coordinator at the station," have been quoted as saying there were not racial tensions at the station: "There was no tension. No racial issues. We were like family. That's all."

Let me be abundantly clear: Workplace discrimination of any sort is not justification for murder. The end.

But because so much of the discussion around Flanagan is centered around his assertions of discrimination, particularly racial discrimination, I just want to address this "debate" (such as it is) around whether he was imagining racism and homophobia: It is eminently possible—in fact, it is likely—that there was racism and homophobia in his workplace, that he had legitimate grievances, and that he also fixated on things both real and imagined.

Ultimately, because discrimination is not (nor should ever be) a defense of murder, it's irrelevant to Flanagan's motive whether he experienced racism and homophobia in the workplace. But it's not irrelevant to our cultural conversation when we pretend there's even a possibility that a workplace in the US exists that is wholly free from racism and homophobia.

It's okay—and necessary—to hold both thoughts in our heads: That Flanagan may well have experienced discrimination, and that Flanagan was a troubled and troubling coworker who committed a terrible, vicious act of deliberate violence for maximum notoriety, for which there can never be any defense.

* * *

It's also okay, it must be, to talk about the fact that these murders likely would not have happened had Flanagan not had access to a gun.

And, no, I'm not saying he shouldn't have had access to a gun because he was possibly mentally ill: I'm saying that the average person doesn't need access to guns, period. (Not sorry for thinking the word "regulated" has a meaning in the Second Amendment.)

But now is not the time to politicize gun ownership blah blah yawn. It never is. Not in this country.

Our president, for one, is tired of that rule, and I am glad.

Discussing the shooting, President Obama said: "What we know is that the number of people who die from gun-related incidents around this country dwarfs any deaths that happen through terrorism."

That is a good place to start this conversation. If only the rest of us were willing to have it.

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