This week's open threads have been brought to you by the letter A.
[Explanations: lol your fat. pathetic anger bread. hey your gay.]
Belly up to the bar,
and name your poison!
I will posting the Virtual Pub shortly, because we're taking tomorrow off. Tomorrow, Aphra_Behn is coming to visit (news I am sharing with her permission), and I AM SO EXCITED because it's the first time we'll be meeting in person after knowing each other for SO LONG!
Earlier today, I emailed Aphra and said: "Do you know what the best thing is about your visiting, besides EVERYTHING? That I don't have the least little bit of anxiety about meeting you. Like, I totally need a haircut, and our yard looks like shit after this garbage winter, and I have a laundry explosion in my bedroom, and, with lots of other people, I'd feel totally obliged to get every last thing together before their arrival, but I don't with you—which probably doesn't sound like a compliment, lol, but it really, really is!"
Which, of course, she totally received as a compliment, because she understands completely. ♥
See you Monday!
Selfie by Vice President Joe Biden.
Maude, I love this stuff:
It is a bit bigger and somewhat colder, but a planet circling a star 500 light-years away is otherwise the closest match of our home world yet discovered, astronomers announced on Thursday.Yay! Now we can totally go there once we've ruined this planet! It turns out the nefarious alien aggressors from the movies who travel the universe invading and exploiting like-planets after destroying their own are us!
The planet, known as Kepler 186f, named after NASA's Kepler planet-finding misison, which found it, has a diameter of 8,700 miles, 10 percent wider than Earth, and its orbit lies within the "Goldilocks zone" of its star, Kepler 186 — not too hot, not too cold, where temperatures could allow for liquid water to flow at the surface, making it potentially hospitable for life.
"It's Earth size," said Elisa V. Quintana of the SETI Institute and NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. "It's in the habitable zone. So we now know these planets do exist."
...With its smaller size, Kepler 186f is more likely to have an Earth-like rocky surface, another step in astronomers' quest for what might be called Earth 2.0.
"It's a progression," said another member of the discovery team, Thomas S. Barclay of the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute. "This is a very, very exciting milestone discovery. It has a much higher probability of being habitable. This planet really reminds us of Earth."
The researchers speculate that it is made of the same stuff as Earth. "It probably has a composition made up of iron and rock and ice and some water, as Earth does," Dr. Barclay said, though he added that "the relative combination of those things could be very different."
The gravity on Kepler 186f, too, would be roughly the same as Earth's. "You could far more easily imagine someone being able to go there and walk around on the surface," said Stephen Kane, an astronomer at San Francisco State and another member of the research team.
Kepler 186f is not a perfect replica, however. It is closer to its star — a dwarf star that is smaller and cooler than the sun — than the Earth is, and its year, the time to complete one orbit, is 130 days, not 365. It is also at the outer edge of the habitable zone, receiving less warmth, so perhaps more of its surface would freeze.
On the other hand, the researchers said that with its greater mass, Kepler 186f could conceivably have a thicker, insulating atmosphere to compensate.
"Perhaps it's more of an Earth cousin than an Earth twin," Dr. Barclay said.
Just kidding! We'll definitely destroy Earth before we figure out how to leave it! You're safe, inhabitants of Kepler 186f!
(In all seriousness: Neat!)
[Content Note: Gender essentialism; fat bias; appropriation.]
Mrs. Doubtfire is getting a sequel, because innovating is hard.
"Helloooo there! Again!" as Robin Williams' Mrs. Doubtfire might say. The Hollywood Reporter announced on Wednesday that a sequel to the 1993 comedy is a go, with the actor and original director Christopher Columbus attached, along with "Elf" writer David Berenbaum.I don't even know how there could possibly be a sequel to that piece-of-shit film, what absurd premise they've conceived to put Williams back in Doubtfire drag, but whatever.
The original film, about a newly divorced and out-of-work dad who dressed up as a Scottish nanny to trick his ex and spend time with his kids, earned more than $400 million worldwide and won two Golden Globes (including one for Williams) and an Oscar for makeup.
I hate basically every single thing about that movie. The whole premise of trickery. The gender essentialist trope that he couldn't really understand his wife until he knew her as a woman. The treating a man dressed as a woman as a punchline. The evident belief that an actor in a fat suit is acceptable; that a man in a "woman suit" is acceptable. The shitty Scottish accent. The fact that the nanny is a "little old Scottish lady" in the first place, part of the winning combination of random attributes that makes his wife, with her posh English boyfriend, hire him.
That's hardly a comprehensive list.
This movie needs a sequel like I need a second butthole.
[Content Note: Racism; carcerality; guns.]
"The real tragedy here is that one aspect of prison is the idea of rehabilitation. Here we have somebody who has led a perfect life for 13 years. He did everything right. So he doesn't need rehabilitation."—Peter Joy, director of the Criminal Justice Clinic at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, on the case of Cornealious Anderson, who, in 2000, was convicted of armed robbery after he and his cousin robbed a Burger King with a BB gun, and was subsequently, because of a clerical error, never asked to report to prison to serve his sentence of 13 years. In the intervening time:
[Anderson] spent the next 13 years turning his life around — getting married, raising three kids, learning a trade. He made no effort to conceal his identity or whereabouts. Anderson paid taxes and traffic tickets, renewed his driver's license and registered his businesses.When the clerical error was discovered, Anderson was not asked to report to prison; instead, a SWAT team armed with automatic weapons showed up at his front door while he was making breakfast for his three-year-old daughter.
...[Anderson's attorney, Patrick Megaro] described Anderson as a model citizen — a married father of three who became a carpenter and started three businesses. He paid income and property taxes and kept a driver's license showing his true name and address. When he was pulled over for a couple of traffic violations, nothing showed up indicating he should be in prison.
Joy is right that "one aspect of prison is the idea of rehabilitation," but, in most prisons, it's just that—an idea and nothing more. And, here, even where there is clear evidence of rehabilitation (if living a good life aside from one bad, desperate act constitutes "rehabilitation," as opposed to merely offering evidence that it was indeed one bad, desperate act, which is a whole other discussion), the state is insistent on making Anderson serve his sentence for no other reason than punishment.
Despite the fact that the rationale for punishment is supposed to be either deterrence (which Anderson doesn't need) or separation from society to protect the public (which the public doesn't need). It's punishment for punishment's sake.
If only Anderson were a rich white kid who'd killed four people, he'd be on probation. Instead, he's a black man who committed a robbery during which no one was hurt, sentenced to thirteen years in prison.
And still expected to serve that sentence, even though it will serve no purpose and potentially derail the productive and safe life he was leading.
[H/T to Shaker Brunocerous. Sign the petition asking Attorney General Chris Koster to release Cornealious Michael Anderson III from prison.]
As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.
It Continues to Be a Real Mystery Why Republicans Aren't Connecting with a Majority of Female Voters
[Content Note: Misogyny.]
A Texas political action committee called Boats 'N Hoes PAC will be just a memory by Thursday, according to the Republican political consultant who is the boss of the man who started it.Welp, that pretty much sums it up.
Houston consultant Allen Blakemore confirmed Wednesday evening that his firm's bookkeeper, Shaun Nowacki, started the PAC, which is a reference to a song from the 2008 film Step Brothers. The committee will be dissolved on Thursday, Blakemore said.
..."Texas Republicans say they want to reach out to women, to be more inclusive, but actions like this reinforce a pattern of disrespect," Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Lisa Paul said in a statement. "There's no defending the use of a derogatory and offensive term like 'hoes'. How can women possibly take the GOP rebranding effort seriously? Their consistent contempt towards women is simply unforgivable."
Me, circa 1993, in my then-boyfriend's dorm room, with a punching nun puppet on my hand. Note the empty Zima bottle on the windowsill behind me, for full '90s awesomeness.
[Please share your own throwback pix in comments. Just make sure the pix are just of you and/or you have consent to post from other living people in the pic. And please note that they don't have to be pictures from childhood, especially since childhood pix might be difficult for people who come from abusive backgrounds or have transitioned or lots of other reasons. It can be a picture from last week, if that's what works for you. And of course no one should feel obliged to share a picture at all! Only if it's fun!]
Aretha Franklin: "Nessun Dorma"
1998: Following Luciano Pavarotti's last-minute cancellation due to illness, with barely 20 minutes' notice, Aretha Franklin stuns Grammy audience with soulful interpretation of Puccini's aria from "Turandot."
Here is some stuff in the news today...
[Content Note: Military aggression] Russian President Vladimir Putin has asserted Russia's right to use military force in eastern Ukraine, saying "that the upper chamber of Parliament had authorized him to use military force if necessary in eastern Ukraine, and he stressed Russia's historical claim to the territory in language not often used before, signaling a new and more aggressive policy. Mr. Putin repeatedly referred to eastern Ukraine as 'New Russia'—as the area north of the Black Sea was known after it was conquered by the Russian Empire in the late 1700s." Hoo boy.
Meanwhile: "Secretary of State John Kerry is headed to Geneva to meet with his Russian counterpart Thursday as part of the Ukraine contact group—but administration officials said Wednesday they're already expecting the result will be more sanctions, not any kind of breakthrough. ...Asked about the prospect of new sanctions in an interview with CBS News Wednesday, Obama reiterated that he's said consistently that 'each time Russia violates Ukraine’s sovereignty…there are going to be consequences.' In the geopolitical chess game that's been unfolding over recent weeks, they admit they aren't sure what Vladimir Putin's next move would be then. Without any direct knowledge of his mindframe, they say they're relying on their best assessments of the Russian leader."
(I love, ahem, "geopolitical chess game," as if it's just abstract strategy and not massive upheaval that is already affecting many people's lives and threatens the lives of many more.)
[CN: Antisemitism] And this is very, very worrying: "Jews emerging from a synagogue [in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk where pro-Russian militants have taken over government buildings] say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city's Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee 'or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated,' reported Ynet News, Israel's largest news website. ...The leaflet begins, 'Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality,' and states that all people of Jewish descent over 16 years old must report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and 'register.'"
[CN: Sexual assault] Director Bryan Singer, who directed The Usual Suspects and helms the X-Men franchise, has been accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a teenage boy in 1999. "Marc Collins-Rector, the former chairman of Digital Entertainment Network, an ambitious Internet startup that sputtered in the dotcom bust of 2000, is also cited in the Singer lawsuit, although he is not named as a defendant. He is accused of initiating the sexual abuse of Egan and arranging for Singer to assault Egan at a house in Encino, Calif. Collins-Rector is a registered sex offender, having pleaded guilty in 2004 to luring minors across state lines for sexual acts." Xeni Jardin recalls that, in 1997, "a 14-year-old movie extra filed a lawsuit claiming that Singer and others 'ordered him and other minors to strip for a scene that was shot in the showers of a school locker room.'"
[CN: Disaster; death] The captain of the ferry that capsized off the coast of South Korea says "I am really sorry and deeply ashamed. I don't know what to say," but hasn't made any further statement indicating what might have happened. The investigation continues, as does the search, rescue, and recovery: Nearly 300 people are still missing.
[CN: Class warfare] A new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities has found that the US is an oligarchy: "The US government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country's citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful."
In totally unrelated news (cough): "Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who run Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries Inc., added $1.3 billion to their collective fortune yesterday on reports that U.S. industrial production gained more than forecast. The surge elevated their net worth to more than $100 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The Koch's ascent comes as Freedom Partners, one of their fundraising networks, last week aired its first batch of television ads targeted at this year's U.S. Senate races, including commercials knocking Democratic Senator Mark Udall of Colorado and Representative Bruce Braley of Iowa for supporting President Barack Obama's health-care law."
[CN: Misogyny] Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren reports she was told by an unnamed Obama adviser (COUGHLARRYSUMMERSCOUGH) that her primary role for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency she helped create, would be "cheerleader." Writes Warren in a new book: "I assume that was meant as a metaphor, but I had to wonder: Cheerleader? Would the same suggestion have been made to a man in my position? I did not rush out to buy pom-poms."
Here's some good news: "Over the past two decades, the rates of heart attacks and strokes among diabetics fell by more than 60 percent, a new federal study shows. The research also confirms earlier reports of drastic declines in diabetes-related kidney failure and amputations. The drop is mainly attributed to better screening, medicines, and care. ...'It is great news,' said Dr. John Buse, a University of North Carolina diabetes specialist. 'The prognosis for folks with diabetes has improved dramatically over the last two decades, at least for those with good access to care,' Buse said in an email." Universal healthcare now. Repeat ad infinitum.
And finally! Here is a terrific video of a greyhound being silly!
[Content Note: Antisemitism.]
Daniel Clevenger, the mayor of a town in Missouri near the residence of Frazier Glenn Cross, who killed three people at Jewish centers in Kansas earlier this week, says he knew Cross well, and shares his antisemitic beliefs, even though he doesn't agree with his actions.
There is a whole fucking story about this guy's rank antisemitism, which includes this incredible passage:
Although Clevenger puts blame on some minorities, he said he stands firmly against violence. He also said he doesn't hate anyone.Oh, I'm quite sure he said that he doesn't hate anyone. That's what every jackass bigot says. But I am tired to my very bones of reading that line of bullshit in every news story featuring quote after quote of unapologetic disgorgements of vile hatred.
That isn't news. It is the opposite of a fact; it is a demonstrable lie. It doesn't belong in a news story.
I'm achingly fed up with this habitual, reflexive inclusion of some line of manifestly absurd apologia in news stories. Who the fuck cares if someone who rattles off six paragraphs of hatred then asserts he doesn't hate anyone? That's a lie. Stop printing it.
There is absolutely no need to continually breathe life into the ridiculous narrative that it's possible to dehumanize, other, oppress, marginalize, scapegoat, or otherwise demean an entire population of people while not "hating" them.
And even in some semantic game where it's possible to monolithize and demean an entire population of people without "hating" individual human beings from that population, who the fuck cares. It's irrelevant.
"Hating" someone isn't the bigger offense. Between oppressing me with a smile, and hating the fuck out of me but nonetheless respecting my basic rights, I'll take the latter every time.
[Content Note: Rape culture.]
Last night, my friend and amazing activist Jessica Luther appeared on The Last Word with guest host Ari Melber to discuss the Jameis Winston case and the New York Times article published yesterday about the flawed investigation.
One of the main points Jess wanted to make is that the Winston case is not an exception, but a frustratingly typical example of the barriers to justice that many survivors face, and she did an excellent job making that point. This isn't just about "football culture," but about rape culture.
Below, is video with complete transcript.
Ari Melber, anchor, a young white man, on-screen: In the spotlight tonight, college football and a flawed rape investigation. The New York Times is out with a scathing report today about the failures in the investigation of Florida State University student's rape accusation against star quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. In an in-depth investigative report, the Times recounts failure after failure, by both the Tallahassee police department and Florida State University in this troubling case.The thing is, there are a lot of problems with the current paradigm in which the only recourse for a survivor is through a criminal justice system which is corrupt, and which itself is compromised by endemic sexual abuse. There is virtually no will to focus on rehabilitation, and rape is not a corrective for rape culture. But as long as this is the only recourse survivors have, that system should work for survivors, not to protect predators.
Beginning on December 7, 2012, when the accuser first went to the police, to November 12, 2013, nearly a year later, when police finally obtained DNA samples from Jameis Winston, to December 5, 2013, when prosecutors announced they weren't pursuing the case further, it has left critics asserting that both the police department and the school were giving preferential treatment to Winston because he's a football player in a college town that lives for its football team. And not any ordinary team or player, but a team that was on the verge of winning a national championship, and a star quarterback who was about to win, as I said, the Heisman Trophy.
The New York Times provides a laundry list of inadequacies here, that includes the failure to immediately interview two people who witnessed this sexual encounter [sic]; as a result of that failure, one of those witnesses went on to delete a video that he had taken of the encounter [sic] before police could ever review it. The paper reports that detectives failed to review surveillance video at the bar where Winston and the accuser met, and, when a detective finally contacted Winston, he just did so by phone, which, of course, would give someone who is a potential suspect time to call a lawyer and refuse to answer any further questions—that's what he did.
It also left the Florida State Attorney, Willie Meggs, answering questions about the police during a press conference this past December.
[cut to video of press conference in which Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs, an older white man, is answering questions at a press conference; text onscreen: "Question: Was there any indication that they mishandled the case in any way early on?"]
Meggs: That will be something that others will have to decide. I'm, I'm not trying to decide that.  We worked very closely with the police department; obviously, it would've been somewhat better if we had, uh, all gotten involved a little earlier. But, uh, uhhhhh, uh, we were involved from beginning on November the 13th and, uh, we worked hand in glove with them since then, and they've been most cooperative, and we've accomplished all the things that we feel like we need to accomplish.  We might've had some additional facts earlier, uh, there might've been some better memories—I don't know. Uh, time is important; it certainly would have been nice to, uh, to have known all the things we know now back in December.
[cut back to the studio]
Melber: Joining me now is Jessica Luther, who's been reporting on this story extensively for the Nation magazine, and Faith Jenkins, an MSNBC legal analyst and attorney—welcome to you both.
Jenkins, a young black woman who is sitting in the studio with Melber: Thank you.
Melber: Jessica, let me start right with you—
Luther, a young white woman who appears via satellite on a screen in the studio with Melber and Jenkins: Sure.
Melber: —having covered this for awhile, what is your view of what we learned today in this exhaustive New York Times report, and what it tells us broadly about the way we handle sexual assault cases on campuses in this country, and particularly when big sports is involved?
Luther: Okay. Ah, part of me was not surprised at all; I think that Willie Meggs was really understating how much the Tallahassee PD did not do, and that was pretty clear— Meggs released a two hundred and forty-eight page report about the case at the time that he announced that he was not pressing charges, and anyone who read through that, which I did, multiple times, it was pretty clear that the Tallahassee police department just didn't do their job. And, as you said, you know, they didn't follow—he didn't follow up immediately; they didn't go to the bar; they didn't call the cab company. They could have actually identified him immediately, had they taken up the details that she gave them. And they just didn't do any of that. So, I wasn't surprised by that aspect of the report.
I didn't know as much about the FSU side, and their Title IX, um, the fact that they didn't follow through as they should, under Title IX, but, at the same time, that's not uncommon, either. So, right now we—I think there are two grassroots organizations that are helping women across the country file reports with the, uh, Office of Civil Rights against their universities for failing to, um, do what they need to under Title IX. And we just had, uh, the University of Missouri—there was a case that ESPN broke, um, from a couple years ago, and they did an independent investigation—
Luther: —and just last week they found that Missouri hadn't done what it was supposed to do under Title IX.
Melber: Right. Jessica, and let me bring in Faith here—um, when you look at the potential crime here that is alleged, as a very serious felony in Florida, up to fifteen to thirty years sexual battery, which includes rape, and you look at this case, and you say: "We don't know the whole story, and the gentleman is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law." But why wasn't this investigated better? It's outrageous when you read it.
Jenkins: Right, right. There's no reason that a full and complete investigation should—should not have been done here. I mean, here, here you have an alleged victim [sic] who came forward, who gives a credible account of an assault, a violent crime, committed against her; it was reported immediately afterward; she called her friends; her friends called the police; she then went to the hospital; the parole—the patrol officers responded, and then they called the special victims detective who was on duty. So all of those things happened accordingly.
Then, that detective—this is where it gets so perplexing for me: This is a special victims detective. He is trained, and specially trained to investigate these kinds of cases. Sexual assault cases are incredibly difficult to investigate and prove, but here you have a young lady who comes forward and gives you a name of someone—
Jenkins: —who tells you that that person is a football player at the school, and also tells you that there are apparent witnesses to this assault. So the first thing you do, you try to find out who those people are. The fact that they were at a bar, and she says they left the bar, and that this bar is known in that particular town—
Jenkins: —to have thirty surveillance videos, and that this detective did not follow up and try to get video— Detectives do that for fistfights. They do that for purse snatchings. But here you have someone saying that they were, they were sexually assaulted, and the fact that this detective didn't even go and try to get the video—that is appalling to me. And I don't understand why that wasn't done. There's really no excuse for it.
Melber: And Jessica—
Melber: —do you read that as entirely a function of the power of football in this community?
Luther: No, I don't. I mean, I went to Florida State, um, over a decade ago, and I recognize the bar that they talk about in the piece, and the sort of alcohol culture—um, none of that seems to have changed. But the fact that he's a football player I think probably exacerbated everything in this case, maybe it's a little more extreme—
Luther: —but twenty percent of women who go to college, before they leave, are raped. Um, there are huge problems with reporting on college campuses, because of instances like this: Women don't feel comfortable coming forward and going to the authorities. Um, we know that possibly more than ten percent of high school girls are raped before they leave high school. Um, the fact that, at that age, just at, you know, eighteen, nineteen, they already have a fear of authority and reports, um, shows how deep this goes. I think when it comes to football, definitely it matters; it's extremely profitable—I think in 2011, it was like 34 million dollars that FSU's football team brought in.
Luther: All those things matter. But, at the same time, we have to remember that this is not uncommon; there's nothing extraordinary about what happened, and that's a big part of what we need to be focused on.
Melber: Well, you're— I, yeah, I appreciate the point, and, Jessica, what you're speaking to is almost the other aspect of this, which is: We're focusing it this partly because of the fame of one of the individual's involved, when it's all too common for many other people whose names we never heard of.
Melber: Ah, Jessica Luther and Faith Jenkins—thank you both for your time tonight.
When oh when am I going to be able to start complaining about how hot it is?!
It's that time again: What would you like to see asked as a future Question of the Day? Either something that's never been asked, or something that I haven't asked for awhile and you really enjoyed the first time around.
Earlier this month, I was watching Pretty in Pink, because it was on and I needed to look at James Spader's glorious 80s hair. Naturally, I was texting Deeky about it, because we were both awake and still breathing, and I told him: "I love when Duckie tries to beat up Blaine, then spins around and slams into a locker before tearing down the prom banner, lol. It's SO great. The most perfect expression of teenage angst ever."
So, naturally, Deeks made this for me:
[Video of Duckie running down the school hallway and tearing down the banner.]
To which I replied: "LOLOLOLOLOLOL! Amazing. You are the best. I am a LITTLE sad that it starts after his bouncing off the locker and spinning into the run, though. -1 angst. LOL."
So, naturally, Deeky made this for me:
[Video of Duckie bounding off the locker and then running down the hall.]
To which I replied: "OH MY GOD THAT IS THE GREATEST THING OF ALL THE THINGS. Also: '(Extended Cut)' LOLOLOL."
And then, naturally, Deeky made this for me:
[Ten-minute loop of Duckie's angst-run.]
To which I replied: "OMG THIS IS WHAT I NEEDED IN MY LIFE AND I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT."
Deeks: Did you watch the whole thing?
Liss: No, lol. Should I?
Deeks: The last 30 seconds at least.
Liss: [watches the end of the video to find it ends with a clip of James Spader saying, "Nice, huh?"] OMFG I JUST LAUGHED OUT LOUD SO HARD!!!
Deeks: That made it all worth it.
Liss: I watched the last two minutes, so I could really rev up for whatever was coming, and it was entirely worth it.
* * *
1. Obviously, this should join Kiefer Sutherland jumping into a Christmas tree as a frequently used expressive video at Shakesville. Basically what I'm saying is: Prepare to see a clip of Duckie running down the hall and tearing down the prom banner next time the President says "our wives and daughters." FOR EXAMPLE.
2. I never noticed until I watched this clip two million times that one of the prom king candidates on the sign is "Chris Christie." LOL!