Open Thread

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

(Sorry I forgot to post an OT yesterday! I'm such a dingaling!)

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of a pub Photoshopped to be named 'The Shakesville Arms'
[Explanations: lol your fat. pathetic anger bread. hey your gay.]

TFIF, Shakers!

Belly up to the bar,
and name your poison!

I have to wrap up early this afternoon, because I've got to go back to the doctor. I was starting to feel better, and then whatever this garbage nightmare flu is came back with a vengeance, and now I feel worse than ever. Because I've got an autoimmune disorder, the doctor wants to see me back in the office to figure out what's next.

Hope everyone has a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat lying on the sofa, looking at the camera, with Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt curled up asleep behind her
"You're cutting the dog out, right? You're not including the dog in my photo, are you?"

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

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Eddie Vedder: "Let My Love Open the Door"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has died at age 90. His successor is his brother, Salman, who has already been crowned king. King Salman is expected to maintain King Abdullah's oil policy, which means that the US wil continue its "la la la we don't see any human rights abuses" policy.

[Content Note: Trans hatred; violence; death] RIP Lamia Beard, a black trans woman of 30, who was shot and killed January 17 in Norfolk, Virginia. There have been no arrests in her murder. Following the predictable story, local media misgendered and victim-blamed her. My condolences to her family and friends, and to everyone in the trans community who mourns another sister.

[CN: Misogyny; war on agency; sexual assault] The Republican Party continues to be a hot misogynist anti-choice mess.

[CN: Misogyny; war on agency; sexual assault] But they're still not the hotter even more misogynist anti-choicier mess that the "pro-life" movement would like them to be!

[CN: White supremacy; anti-blackness; discussion of racism, misogyny, and violence] Robert Jones, Jr. pens a stunningly moving open letter to Ava DuVernay, the director of Selma.

[CN: Harassment; abuse] So actress Jessica Chastain gave a speech at the Critics Choice Awards last week on the importance of diversity in the film industry, and now, after saying that artists must "stand together against homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, and racist agendas," she's getting all kinds of pushback from people with those agendas: "I've had really terrible people who are racists comment on the speech and say really terrible things. I'm understanding that some people in this world, how much hate they can have." Prove her point more, assholes.

Neat! "Fish Found in Extreme Spot Beneath Antarctic Ice Shelf."

This video of whales and dolphins playing together is a couple of years old, but I only just saw it for the first time (thanks to Shaker aforalpha for passing it along). I was struck both by how little we really know about animals and play and interspecies play, and by how completely ginormous whales really are, when you see how tiny dolphins look beside them!

And finally! Reggie the Cat is the most patient puppy-sitter in the entire world. ♥

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I Write Letters

[Content Note: Sexual violence; rape culture.]

Dear Dudes:

By now, surely you've heard that superstar Bill Cosby has been accused of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault by around 35 women. And maybe you've also read the number of defense of Cosby which have been offered by his family, friends, and colleagues, the latest of whom to weigh in was Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who played his son on The Cosby Show for many years:

"I can't really speak on any of the allegations because obviously, I was not there. The Bill Cosby I know has been great to me and great for a lot of people," he said.

"What he's done for comedy and television has been legendary and history-making. What he's done for the black community and education has been invaluable. That's the Bill Cosby I know. I can't speak on the other stuff."
Dudes, we need to talk about this, because this response is a textbook example of What Not to Do, even though dudes do it all the time.

If you really care about sexual assault, and victims of sexual assault:

1. Don't pretend like you're not "speaking on the allegations" when you are defending the accused. This is a real tricksy bit of bullshit that I see men doing all the time: "I can't really say, but Bill is a great guy who has accomplished a lot!" You are really saying. You are taking a position. There is no neutral in rape culture. Being silent is not neutral, and talking about what a great guy an accused rapist is sure as shit isn't neutral, either.

2. Don't give life to the garbage lie that "nice guys" aren't rapists.

3. Don't offer as implicit evidence of innocence that an accused rapist was always great to you. Who fucking cares. If a man who has been accused by 35 women (or one woman) of sexual assault was always great to you, that should chill you to the bone, not serve as some sort of defense of his character. It's not evidence of his innocence; it's evidence of misogyny and deceit.

4. Don't think you can have it both ways. Either you believe women, or you want to defend your pal or your hero. And if you want to defend your pal or your hero, then you go right ahead and make that choice—but do us all the favor of not obliging us to act like you're not making that choice. If you want to defend an accused rapist, then own it. And stop trying to make it look like something else with mealy lies about not being able to "speak on the allegations."

If that feels uncomfortable to you, well, no one ever said being on the side of a rapist should feel good. But if that's the team you pick, you don't get to pretend like you're on mine.


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Breaking Clown Car Nooz

[Note: Video may autoplay at link.]

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Eallythirsty) is throwing his hat into the clown car:

Sen. Marco Rubio has begun taking concrete steps toward launching a presidential bid, asking his top advisors to prepare for a campaign, signing on a leading Republican fundraiser, and planning extensive travel to early-voting states in the coming weeks, ABC News has learned.

"He has told us to proceed as if he is running for president," a senior Rubio advisor tells ABC News.
Blah blah he's got a fundraising powerhouse in place, he's skipping Senate votes to go beg for money, and he "has also scheduled a book tour that will take him to all the early primary states." Yep, sounds like he's running for President!

No word yet on who his burgeoning campaign has hired to be in charge of water bottle placement.

[During the SOTU rebuttal, a dry-mouthed Sen. Rubio awkwardly reaches offscreen for water.]

Good luck with all your presidential ambitions and your hydration, Senator!

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Open Thread

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Hosted by kumquats.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker themiddlevoice: "What kind of alternate world would you create if you had the chance?"

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Finish This Sentence

Nothing makes me feel older than...

...when I see an internet acronym that everyone else understands and I have to Google it. LOL.

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Well, the Headline Pretty Much Says It All

[Content Note: Climate change.]

"New Senate Environment Chair Gets His Gavel, Goes on Rant Arguing Climate Science Is a Hoax."

Welcome to your new Republican-controlled Senate. Sob.

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Statement by the President on the 42nd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

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

Office of the Press Secretary


January 22, 2015

Statement by the President on the 42nd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Forty-two years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Roe v. Wade, a decision that protects a woman's freedom to make her own choices about her body and her health, and reaffirms a fundamental American value: that government should not intrude in our most private and personal family matters.

I am deeply committed to protecting this core constitutional right, and I believe that efforts like H.R. 7, the bill the House considered today, would intrude on women's reproductive freedom and access to health care and unnecessarily restrict the private insurance choices that consumers have today. The federal government should not be injecting itself into decisions best made between women, their families, and their doctors. I am also deeply committed to continuing our work to reduce unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, promote adoptions, and minimize the need for abortion.

Today, as we reflect on this critical moment in our history, may we all rededicate ourselves to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons.



I know, I know—I'm the most ungrateful ingrate in all of Ungratefulville if I don't love this statement and thank our President for being such a stellar feminist ally.

But here's the thing: While I am indeed very appreciative that our President affirms abortion as a constitutional right and has promised to veto [pdf] HR 7, I do not appreciate that, on a day marking the passage of Roe v. Wade, the President's statement includes tired language that implies abortion decisions should be made in consultation with anyone other than the abortion-seeker.

Of course many abortion-seeking people make abortion decisions with the input of partners, friends, doctors. But many abortion-seeking people don't, for a whole host of reasons (like the pregnancy being the result of rape, or not having access to a regular doctor).

There's nothing wrong—and, frankly, there is everything right—with saying "The federal government should not be injecting itself into decisions best made my women." Full-stop.

(Or, even better, now that the President has acknowledged that trans people exist: "Best made by pregnant people.")

I am also deeply unthrilled with this: "I am also deeply committed to continuing our work to reduce unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, promote adoptions, and minimize the need for abortion."

The continual emphasis, even by pro-choice legislators and leaders, on "minimizing the need for abortion" as a worthy objective contributes to the stigma of abortion.

Because if all you mean is that you will continue to support access to contraception, access to healthcare, childcare services, and livable wages, then say that. Don't say "minimize the need for abortion," as if the existence of abortion itself is a problem.

Whatever number of people need abortions, that's the need for abortion. And what matters is whether the people who need abortion have access to it.

Finally: "May we all rededicate ourselves to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons." How about instead let's all rededicate ourselves to ensuring that women have the rights, freedoms, and opportunities they deserve as human beings. No "daughters" and no comparison to men necessary.

This language matters. The language that speaks about women as autonomous, rights-bearing human beings empowered to make their own decisions without shame or judgment matters. On every day. And especially this day.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat sitting beside me on the couch, staring at me intently
"Pet me."

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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Top Chef

Is anyone else watching Top Chef this season? Without giving away any spoilers in the main post, I am SO EXCITED about the finalists this season! It's basically my favorite season ever.

When the finalists were holding hands and jumping up and down in a circle at the end of last night's episode, I wanted to be jumping with them! Yayayayay!

[Spoilers will be stirring the pot in comments.]

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Adele: "Rolling in the Deep"

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Fat Hatred at the Psychiatrist

by Shaker BigDots

[Content Note: Fat hatred.]

Last week I went to my psychiatrist for a regularly scheduled check-up, at which we discuss my anti-depressant medications and whether we should change anything. Because my psychiatrist is a resident, I consult with her for about 20 minutes, then she brings in the supervising doctor, who reiterates everything we went over. I've gone through this process several times over the past few years and had no problems.

This time around, though, was different.

My psychiatrist and I chatted about my medicine, which is working well and doesn't need to be changed. I mentioned to her that I've changed some of my eating habits to include more vegetables and that I've significantly reduced my caffeine intake—actions I've taken, as I told her, to be healthier.

She agreed, then took my blood pressure, a standard procedure, and remarked that it was good. I bristled a bit, because doctors tend to assume I'll have high blood pressure because I'm fat. But my blood pressure and cholesterol are fine. I actually have no health problems related to my fatness.

Anyway, after the blood pressure check, she left to get the supervising doctor, who came in a few minutes later. The doctor discussed my medicine and confirmed that it was working well for me. Then she said, "I hear you are concerned about your weight."

I stared at her. I said, "I didn't say that."

The resident spoke up and said, "Well, being healthy. You talked about being healthier."

I said, "Yes, but that is not the same thing as being concerned about my weight." Being healthy does not (necessarily) equal weight loss.

The supervising doctor retreated from her original remarks, but without apologizing. We discussed my healthier choices. I mentioned my good blood pressure and cholesterol readings. She asked if I was getting regular exercise. I replied that I was.

She then said that we might think about reducing Medicine A in the future, because it can cause weight gain. I said I was perfectly happy with the current dosage and did not want to reduce it.

We exchanged a few more words and then the appointment was over.

I walked out of there stunned. I've been fortunate that I haven't encountered such rank fat hatred from doctors before. It ruined my day. It makes me want to not return to that resident or that supervising doctor. I don't know what I'll do in three months, when I'm due for another appointment. My psychiatrist is supposed to help relieve mental anguish, not cause it.

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: War on agency] Today is the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And Republicans in Congress are celebrating it by trying to push through an anti-abortion bill so extreme that female members of their own caucus have forced them to pull it (for now). And, in case you missed it the first time I linked it, this Guttmacher piece on the state of abortion rights in the US paints a grim but clear picture of how anti-choicers have endeavored to render Roe an empty statute.

[CN: Police brutality; racism; death] And again: "Jerame C. Reid was unarmed and had his hands in the air when he was shot and killed by city police officers the evening of Dec. 30, police video shows. Video taken by a Bridgeton police cruiser's dashboard camera also shows Officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley shooting at Reid several times after an apparently unarmed Reid got out of the car in which he was a passenger." This happened in New Jersey.

[CN: State violence; torture; religious intolerance] This is so fucking awful: "Saudi Arabia has postponed the flogging of blogger Raif Badawi for the second week running, according to human rights group Amnesty International. Amnesty said the decision was made after doctors advised against this week's 50 lashes on health grounds. Mr. Badawi was sentenced last May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for 'insulting Islam' and disobedience. He was due to receive the lashes over 20 weeks and was given the first round on 9 January." He's not healthy enough to be flogged, so the next session has been postponed to let him regain his strength, not because flogging is cruel and indecent. "Earlier this week, the BBC learned that Mr. Badawi's case had been referred to the Supreme Court by the king's office." Let us fervently hope that the decision is made to end this reprehensible torture.

[CN: Racism] Dr. Brittney Cooper takes on Maureen Dowd's latest garbage column about Selma and Ava DuVernay's "artful falsehood" against LBJ. I love how many of the arguments defending LBJ are predicated on acting as though he sprang from the womb fully supportive of black people's civil rights. If you agree that he probably had to do some learning on the issue at some point in his life, what difference does it make if he's shown to do that learning in the White House? So many white people are pissed about this because they think it's shameful to have to examine your white privilege (instead of the truth: that it's shameful not to examine it), and that is very revealing. Anyway, go read Professor Crunk, because she is awesome.

Watch out, Utah! "Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are set to meet in Utah this week for a meeting that Bush scheduled before Romney announced this month that he's seriously considering a third presidential run. ...[The meeting] was requested by Bush as a gesture of respect for Romney's leadership role in the party... And now? 'Well obviously Governor Romney has changed the dynamics,' the source said." LOL!

This definitely doesn't sound like a trainwreck: "Nicolas Cage to Star in Osama Bin Laden Satire From Borat Director."

And finally! GOOD DOGS: "Two dogs saved two different families alerting them to fires in their homes in the early morning hours." Human rescue, y'all.

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Fatsronauts 101: Choosing to Be Fat Is Okay

[Content Note: Fat hatred; disordered eating.]

Something that comes up a lot in conversations about privilege and marginalization is that marginalized people don't have a choice over their identities, either by virtue of birth or circumstance. This is a crucial step beyond the rhetoric of bootstraps, in which marginalized people are expected to will their way to privilege by hard work and conformity.

But it is also important to move beyond the idea of not having a choice, because it tends to suggest if marginalized people could choose to magically manifest the privileged characteristic, they should or would definitely want to. And also because, in some cases, marginalized people do have a choice, which they are not obliged to make.

This is extremely relevant to discussions of fat people.

It is absolutely a true thing that some fat people have no control over being fat, either because that's how our bodies work, or because of environmental factors, or because of a medicine we take for a medical issue, or whatever.

But I also want to note that fat people don't owe being thin to anyone else.

It has to be okay for people to choose to be fat, even if we do have control over it.

I know it's tremendously difficult for lots of thin people (and even many fat people) to understand, but some fat people want to be fat.

Among the wide spectrum of humanity, there are people who simply prefer the way their bodies look when they are fat. There are women who like being fat because they are left alone by men more. There are actors who aren't handsome enough to play leads and get more work if they're fat. There are all sorts of reasons that some people actively want to be fat.

And there are plenty of fat people who just don't want to be thin. (Which may or may not coexist with actively wanting to be fat.) People for whom losing weight would reactivate disordered eating. People for whom losing weight would disassociate them from an identity very tied to their being fat. People who simply can't afford to buy a whole new goddamn wardrobe if they lose weight.

I have no interest in losing weight at this point in my life. Coming to love my body has been hard fucking won, and I do love it. I don't want to change it. I don't want to even contemplate having to love a whole new body all over again—and, contrary to popular belief, that my body would immediately be lovable to me if it were a thin body is not accurate.

My body would change. I would probably have loose skin and I would l look older and my breasts would change and there are parts of my body I wouldn't even recognize. That would be a whole new body, and it would demand a whole new process of coming to love the things that my culture tells me are imperfect and ugly and wrong.

I have no interest in that, when I am perfectly content as I am.

I have two female friends who have lost a significant amount of weight, and both of them have talked to me about what a mind-fuck it is, to have people be nice to them, who never would have been nice to them before. People who were never nice to them. It makes one see the world differently. I don't have any interest in processing that shit, just to be thin.

I don't want to lose weight, even if I could. And I need for that to be okay. With my doctors and with everyone else.

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Submitted Without Comment

[Content Note: Guns; racism.]

Raw Story: "White 'vigilante' puts 62-year-old black man in chokehold for legally carrying gun in Florida Walmart."

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has asked vigilantes to please be careful about which gun owners they choose to attack after a black concealed carry permit holder was wrongly assaulted at a Florida Walmart.

According to the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office, 62-year-old Clarence Daniels was entering Walmart with his legally concealed firearm to buy coffee creamer on Tuesday when he was spotted by 43-year-old vigilante Michael Foster.

Foster, who is white, had observed Daniels conceal the weapon under his coat before he came into the store. When Daniels crossed the threshold, Foster tackled him and placed him in a chokehold, Hillsborough Sheriff's Office spokesperson Larry McKinnon explained.

"He's got a gun!" Foster reportedly exclaimed.

"I have a permit!" Daniels repeatedly shouted back.

After a struggle, the men were separated. Deputies later arrived and Foster was charged with battery.

"Unfortunately he tackled a guy that was a law-abiding citizen," McKinnon noted. "We understand it's alarming for people to see other people with guns, but Florida has a large population of concealed weapons permit holders."

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Open Thread

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