The Virtual Pub (+ Programming Note)

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!

We are going to be taking next week off, since next week is Thanksgiving week in the US and many of the mods will be traveling and/or visiting with family and friends.

Since this holiday can be a troubling time for lots of folks, and it's a time when some of us most need community, I will be opening and modding a thread mid-week so people can hang out together here, if they want and need company.

We will resume our regular schedule on Monday, December 1.

If you are someone who celebrates Thanksgiving, I hope you have a nice holiday. Safe travels to everyone who may be traveling next week!

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The Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by dirt.

Recommended Reading:

Tracy: [Content Note: Transphobia; violence] TDoR Is Forever, but Transphobia Doesn't Have to Be

stavvers: [CN: Sexual assault; rape culture] On Ched Evans, Rehabilitation, and My Total Lack of Pity

Israa: [CN: Misogyny; racism; objectification; discussion of orientalism in porn] On Orientalism

Alessandra: [CN: Human rights violation; detention] Nobel Laureates Call for Release of Iranian Student Omid Kokabee

Kari: [CN: Abduction; violence] Mexico Protesters Confront Police in Mass Protest for Missing Students

BYP: [CN: Police brutality; racism] Unarmed Man Fatally Shot by Police in Brooklyn

Kyler: [CN: Homophobia] ACLU Will Sue Kansas to Force State Agencies to Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

CaitieCat: Review of Firefly: The Board Game

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

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Republicans Sue Over Affordable Care Act

And here we go:

House Republicans filed a long-threatened lawsuit Friday against the Obama administration over unilateral actions on the health care law that they say are abuses of the president's executive authority.

The lawsuit — filed against the secretaries of the Health and Human Services and Treasury Departments — focuses on two crucial aspects of the way the administration has put the Affordable Care Act into effect.

The suit accuses the Obama administration of unlawfully postponing a requirement that larger employers offer health coverage to their full-time employees or pay penalties. (Larger companies are defined as those with 50 or more employees.)

In July 2013, the administration deferred that requirement until 2015. Seven months later, the administration announced a further delay, until 2016, for employers with 50 to 99 employees.

The suit also challenges what it says is President Obama's unlawful giveaway of roughly $175 billion to insurance companies under the law. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the administration will pay that amount to the companies over the next 10 years, though the funds have not been appropriated by Congress. The lawsuit argues that it is an unlawful transfer of funds.
The unmitigated cheek of Republicans suing a Democratic administration for a corporate giveaway. I am literally without words.

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Garbage Treasures! (And Happy Birthday to Deeks!)

As you may recall, Deeky collects and saves useless garbage like we're beyond Thunderdome and useless garbage is now a form of currency and he's a garbageaire. Then, instead of throwing it away, he throws pieces of his fancy detritus collection into an envelope and pays money to ship it to me, at which point I put them in plastic treasure chests and put them out by the curb every week to be collected by the "treasure man," who buries them at the "treasure dump" for me for safe keeping.

But not before taking a picture of the bounty so that I can post it, natch.

image of the collection of garbage treasures described below

Clockwise from left: A pamphlet for the Mütter Museum, which is apparently "disturbingly informative"; an "I'm Ready for Hillary" bumper sticker, because Deeks knows how much I love Clinton pressure campaigns THEY ARE MY FAVORITE; an "I voted" sticker; an advertisement for erotic videos, which warns it should be only be opened by recipients interested in perusing a "sexually oriented advertisement," and has already been opened; and a brochure on fraud warning that "cheating the system" is illegal.

This is, by the way, only about half of the total contents of the envelope. Also: Here is what happened the first three times I tried to take the above picture, lol.

As you also may recall, Deeky loves sending me Guy Fieri garbage treasures, and this package arrived with Guy Fieri's trademark "Mop & Slop!" scrawled on its top in Deeky's handwriting.

image of box with Mop & Slop!!! written on it in purple

Before I even opened it, I texted him: "There had better not be some Guy Fieri trash up in this box!" To which he replied: "LOL!!!"

Two minutes later...

image of a bottle of Guy Fieri sauce sitting on my kitchen counter


Deeks: Hahaha!!!!!!!

And then he texted me a picture of himself holding the bottle before he sent it, which he'd thoughtfully memed for me.

image of the bottle in close-up, so the 'Mop & Slop' can be read on the label, to which Deeks has added text reading: 'MOP & SLOP?'

Finally, the package included a bright orange shark friend for me!

image of a rubber orange shark sitting on my kitchen counter
We are already having SO MUCH FUN together!

* * *

Whenever I'm having a day where I can't decide about what to write, I text Deeks and ask him, "What should I write about?" And every time, he replies, "Me!"

Since Sunday is his birthday—HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEEKS!—I have decided to do just that.

One of the luckiest things that has ever happened to me because of this blog is meeting and becoming friends with Deeky W. Gashlycrumb.

We have made each other laugh, we have talked about the worst things that have happened to us, we have annoyed the shit out of each other, we have gotten tattooed together, we have watched terrible television via text, we have survived watching Heaven Is for Real together in his lovely Baltimore flat, we have sent each each other obnoxious gifts through the mail, we have eaten the best macaroni and cheese on the planet together, we have talked about movies and music and television shows and politics and culture and food and cats and dogs and love and sex and aging and family and surviving.

We celebrate when one of us has a success, and commiserate when one of us is hurting. Which, you know, is the basic job of being a friend, I guess.

But what makes a friend your family is the hard stuff. We worry about each other; we make sure the other is taking our meds and doing self-care. We always have each other's backs. We don't fucking disappear, and we carry each other's pain when the burden is too much to carry alone. We know when the right thing is to say, "What can I do?" and when the right thing is to make the grossest of jokes, to provide the space to think about something, anything, else.

Which, you know, is not actually the easiest thing for two people who are shy and awkward and selfish and guarded and a thousand miles apart. But Deeks is worth the effort, and I try to make myself worth the effort right back.

My life is better because Deeky is in it. To have a friend like that is a precious thing, and I am very lucky.

I love you, pal. Happy birthday.

image of Deeks and me together, smiling

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

"We wish to express our support for members of the community who rightly brought this issue to the fore, and we condemn the unreasonable attacks they experienced as a result, which caused deep distress in our community. ...The AAS Council reaffirms the importance of the Society's anti-harassment policy to our mission to enhance and share humanity's scientific understanding of the universe. Only when all astronomers feel welcome and supported in the profession can our discipline realize its full potential for excellence."—From the American Astronomical Society's statement on Dr. Matt Taylor's misogynist shirt donned during the Philae landing, and in defense of those who criticized it.

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Daily Dose of Cute

Earlier today, I walked into the living room to find Zelda curled up on the loveseat using her big plush ducky as a pillow:

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt, curled up as described above

When I sat down on the ottoman beside her to give her all the snuggles because she is SUCH A GOOD GIRL, she rolled over onto her back with a big smile on her face, imploring me to rub her belly:

image of Zelda as described above

Just look at her! The grin on her face! Naturally, enormous amounts of cuddly belleh rubbing immediately commenced!

* * *

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

[Content Note: There is a strobe-light effect in this video.]

The Spin Doctors: "Two Princes"

This week's TMNS brought to you by the number two. I bet you thought the Open Threads were gonna be brought to you by the number two! Did I fool ya?!

Btw, this is one of my most loathed songs of all time. I hate this band, I hate this song, and I hated that I COULDN'T ESCAPE it for at least two years but what felt like FULLY ONE HUNDRED YEARS in the early '90s, lol.

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Extreme weather; death] The snow has slowed in and around Buffalo, after a truly epic (in the old sense of the world) snowstorm, which caused 13 deaths, including two elderly residents of a nursing home yesterday, who died during an evacuation when the roof began buckling. Buckling roofs and busted doors and windows are the major concern now, and, once such an enormous amount of snow starts melting, flooding will be a major concern. I've been there, after major snows, and it's incredibly stressful. My profound sympathies to everyone who's dealing with this stuff right now.

[CN: Police brutality; racism] Police are arresting protestors every night in Ferguson, because of course they are.

[CN: War on agency] Ohio Republicans are really determined to be choice-restricting assholes: "This week, Republican lawmakers in Ohio pulled out all the stops to advance an extreme anti-abortion bill in the state's lame duck session. They added the legislation to the schedule at the last minute on Thursday morning, and even restructured a House committee—replacing the legislators who oppose the measure with different legislators who support it—to ensure the bill's passage. HB 248, which now heads to a vote in the full House, would criminalize abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, something that typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy. That shaves off about 17 weeks from the window that [pregnant people] can access legal abortion services under Roe v. Wade. It's also so early that many [people] may not even realize they're pregnant at that point."

[CN: Misogyny] BIG TENT! "House Republicans filled every one of their open committee chair spots with men even though there are more women in Congress than ever before. All nine of the new committee chairs are men, and all are white except for Devin Nunes (R-CA), who is of Portuguese descent and will chair the Intelligence committee. Of 21 House committees, only one will be headed by a woman, Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), who will chair the House Committee on Administration. The Senate is also likely to only include one female committee chair out of 16, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AL), with the other 15 chairs being white men." It continues to be a real mystery why Republicans aren't connecting with a majority of female voters.

[CN: Homophobia] Goddammit: "Gambia's leader Yahya Jammed signed a bill into law that would imprison citizens for homosexual acts." People who are found guilty of "aggravated homosexuality" will be sentenced to life in prison. Why is this shit happening in Africa now? In large part because of US conservative Christians who are peddling their violent hate gospel over there.

[CN: Privacy violations] Privacy schmivacy! "The ACLU is filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request today for information about a newly revealed Marshals Service program that uses aircraft to suck up location data from tens of thousands of people's cell phones at a time. The U.S. Marshals Service program, exposed last week by the Wall Street Journal, involves Cessna planes equipped with 'cell site simulators' flying from at least five airports around the country. Cell site simulators, also called IMSI catchers, impersonate a wireless service provider's cell tower, prompting cell phones and other wireless devices to communicate with them instead of the nearest tower. In doing do so, the simulators can learn all sorts of information that facilitates accurate location tracking, including the electronic serial numbers and other information about the phone and the direction and strength of the phone's signal." Neat! America 2.0 is terrific!

An older sister shared (with permission) her younger brother's text conversation with his best friend during which he came out to him. It is probably the best thing you'll read all day.

This is just an amazing video of a crow using the lid of a jar to ski down a roof. The great thing about being a skiing bird is that you've got your own build-in ski lift!

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How Magnanimous

[Content Note: Police brutality; racism.]

Officer Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, may resign from the force:

Officer Darren Wilson is close to resigning from the Ferguson Police Department as a grand jury continues to decide whether to indict him in the fatal shooting of an unarmed teen.

Various media outlets, including CNN, have reported that Wilson has told associates he would resign to help ease tensions and protect his fellow officers ahead of the grand jury announcement.
Oh fuck off forever.

First of all, why is his resignation even an option for him? He should have been fired months ago.

Secondly, there aren't instruments sufficient to measure my contempt for this guy positioning himself as some kind of martyr who will resign to protect other officers, allowing him to then claim responsibility for "easing tensions" if he is indicted and the world does not, in fact, blow up as he and every other asshole from Ferguson to Fartsville is predicting it will.

That is some kind of extraordinary chutzpah, right there. "If people don't riot, it will be because of my generous peacemaking gesture!" Dude. The only reason there is a possibility of riots is because you are a cruel murderous fuck.

Let us all take a second to appreciate that the officer who totally definitely for sure didn't shoot Michael Brown in the street because of racism is implying that he is a white savior who will sacrifice himself in order to protect other people from violent hordes of black protestors.

This fucking guy.

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So the President Gave a Speech Last Night... which he announced a series of executive actions on immigration that will provide at least temporary relief to nearly five million undocumented immigrants in the US.

Some relevant links:

* The transcript of his address.

* The White House Fact Sheet on the announced executive actions.

* Sahil Kapur's helpful "All You Need to Know" piece at TPM.

Naturally, of course my garbage nightmare governor wants to sue the President to stop the executive action. And if he doesn't do it, some other garbage nightmare governor will. Or maybe they'll do it together! Cute.

My take is that it's something, and that's good, but it's insufficient, which is bad. I basically need a macro to insert that as a response to virtually every single Democratic policy that gets enacted in Washington.


Last night, after hearing some conservatives complaining about how "illegal immigrants" (*grinds teeth*) don't pay taxes (which is not universally true), I said to Iain: "Those same conservatives bitterly complain about paying taxes all the time and constantly argue for ever greater tax cuts. They want an effective tax rate of 0%. So why do they even care if undocumented workers don't pay taxes? JEALOUSY?"

Relatedly, I've found that people who complain about undocumented workers' failure to pay taxes don't respond well to having it pointed out to them that the best way to ensure people can and do pay taxes is via amnesty. Huh.

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Open Thread

image of a sand sculpture of Dorothy and her traveling companions from the Wizard of Oz, resting on the side of the Yellow Brick Road on the way to the Emerald City

Hosted by a sand sculpture of the Yellow Brick Road and its travelers.

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Question of the Day

What words inspire you when you are feeling defeated by the world?

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It's the Simple Things

Every year around the holidays, I get some emails from people asking if they can send me a little gift. Most of them have something in mind, often something they've made (yay!), but occasionally someone will ask me if I want or need anything. And I usually respond, extremely gratefully, by recommending a charity to which a donation can be made.

But this year, I am letting you all know now that if you want to get me something, please buy me the $4,739 gold-plated Easy Health Angel Juicer which Gwyneth Paltrow has included on her annual Goop Gift Guide.

screen cap of the gift guide, showing the $4,739 gold-plated juicer, with Paltrow's commentary: 'Absurd, but awesome.'
"Absurd, but awesome."

And don't worry if several of you end up buying one for me haha! I know normally that would be a real OOPSIE, but multiples just means I won't have to lug my $4,739 gold-plated Easy Health Angel Juicer between Shakes Manor, our house in the Hamptons, and our gold-plated mansion on the moon.

You're all the best! Can't wait for my juicer(s)! *wink*

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[Content Note: Misogynoir; racism.]

I don't even know where to fucking begin:

The children's author Daniel Handler has apologized for an "ill-conceived" joke he made about the black American writer Jacqueline Woodson while hosting the National Book Awards.

When Woodson collected her prize for young people's literature, Handler, who writes as Lemony Snicket, joked about her being allergic to watermelon.

"My job at last night's National Book Awards #NBAwards was to shine a light on tremendous writers, including Jacqueline Woodson and not to overshadow their achievements with my own ill-conceived attempts at humor. I clearly failed, and I'm sorry," Handler said on Twitter.

Woodson won her award for Brown Girl Dreaming, a poetic memoir about growing up in South Carolina and New York in the 1960s and 70s, and coming to an awareness of the civil-rights movement. She was the only non-white finalist in the category.

After she ended her acceptance speech, Handler returned to the stage.

"I said that if she won I would tell all of you something I learned about her this summer. Jackie Woodson is allergic to watermelon. Just let that sink in your minds," he said. "I said, 'You have to put that in a book.' And she said, 'You put that in a book.' And I said, 'I'm only writing a book about a black girl who's allergic to watermelon if you, Cornel West, Toni Morrison and Barack Obama say, 'This guy's OK.'"

After a few jittery laughs from the audience, Handler added: "We'll talk about it later."
You know what? You fuck up this badly, on this vast a scale, "ill-conceived attempts at humor" doesn't cut it. Especially because it's not "ill-conceived attempts at humor" for which you need to apologize. It's vile racism directed at a black woman in her moment of professional triumph.

Which, sure, created a controversy that has "overshadowed" Jacqueline Woodson, but, rather more importantly, demeaned her in the very moment, the one fucking moment, in which she was meant to be celebrated, honored, respected, admired. Not belittled by some racist jackass.

What a cruel, selfish thing to do. And how further cruel and selfish to try to pass it off as a failed joke.


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Jamie Oliver: Still the Worst

[Content Note: Child abuse.]

Jamie Oliver is basically a professional bully, who has, among other things, donned a fat suit as part of his eliminationist campaign against fat people, so I'm not entirely surprised that he's publicly bragging about being a bully to his own kid:

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver said recently that he secretly gave his 12-year-old daughter, Poppy, one of the world's hottest peppers in order to discipline her, according to The Daily Mail.

At the recent BBC Good Food show, Oliver said, "Poppy was quite disrespectful and rude to me and she pushed her luck. In my day I would have got a bit of a telling-off but you are not allowed to do that. Five minutes later she thought I had forgotten and I hadn't. She asked for an apple. I cut it up into several pieces and rubbed it with Scotch Bonnet and it worked a treat."

"She ran up to mum and said, 'This is peppery'. I was in the corner laughing. [My wife, Jools] said to me, 'Don't you ever do that again.'"

How spicy is a Scotch Bonnet pepper? It ranks a whopping 100,000 to 350,000 on the Scoville heat unit scale; for comparison, a jalepeño has a score of 3,000 to 6,000 units.
That is not "discipline." That is child abuse.

It's an excellent lesson, though, if what he wanted to teach her was that she can't trust her father.

And, totally aside from the gross parenting issue, I'm pretty sure most professional chefs would find it appalling that any chef would want to instill in any child an association between food and harm.

It's bad enough this guy continues to have show after show after miserable show, without the media cheerily passing on his "cute" anecdotes about betraying the trust of his own kid.

The worst, this guy.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound sleeping on the couch, from above and behind him, showing his ears sticking out while he naps

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

Bill Withers: "Just the Two of Us"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

House Republicans have passed legislation that forbids scientists from advising the Environmental Protection Agency on their own research: "In what might be the most ridiculous aspect of the whole thing, the bill forbids scientific experts from participating in 'advisory activities' that either directly or indirectly involve their own work. In case that wasn't clear: experts would be forbidden from sharing their expertise in their own research—the bizarre assumption, apparently, being that having conducted peer-reviewed studies on a topic would constitute a conflict of interest. 'In other words,' wrote Union of Concerned Scientists director Andrew A. Rosenberg in an editorial for RollCall, 'academic scientists who know the most about a subject can't weigh in, but experts paid by corporations who want to block regulations can.'" Perfect.

[Content Note: Guns; death] Three students at Florida State University were wounded during a shooting on campus, one of whom is in critical condition. The gunman was killed by police. So far, there are no additional details about the shooting.

[CN: Sexual assault] Another woman has disclosed that she was sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby.

[CN: Extreme weather; death] Areas already hammered by massive snowfall have been hit again: "A second band of lake-effect snow pounded the cities and towns near Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, heaping more misery on people whose cars and even houses were already buried. Authorities confirmed an eighth death blamed on the storm, a 60-year-old man who had a heart attack while retrieving his snowblower. The storm had already dumped more snow than many places see in a full season—even in wintry western New York. Some homes had the equivalent weight of two or three pickup trucks bearing down on their roofs." Fuck.

The US Senate takes a small (and thus insufficient) step to improve childcare for low-income families by reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

RIP Mike Nichols. I just watched Working Girl for about the billionth time last weekend. Sigh.

The Associated Press FTW: "Two presidents have acted unilaterally on immigration—and both were Republican. Ronald Reagan and his successor George H.W. Bush extended amnesty to family members who were not covered by the last major overhaul of immigration law in 1986. Neither faced the political uproar widely anticipated if and when President Barack Obama uses his executive authority to protect millions of immigrants from deportation." Seriously, go read that whole article. It's amazing.

The universe is huge and we are very tiny.

This video of grandmas smoking weed for the first time is my new favorite thing. Spoiler alert: They do know what dildos are. They do not know what queefing is. ...Well, they do now.

Russian photographer Ivan Kislov, who works in Russia's remote north-eastern Chukotka region as a mining engineer, spends his spare time photographing local wildlife, and foxes are some of his most amenable and photogenic subjects. Adorbz!

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Class warfare.]

"The Republicans have a pretty simple philosophy: They say if those at the top have more—more power for Wall Street players to do whatever they want and more money for tax cuts than somehow they can be counted on to build the economy for everyone else. Well, we tried it for 30 years and it didn't work. In fact the consequences were nearly catastrophic. We tested the Republican ideas and they failed; they failed spectacularly."—Democratic Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren, being awesome. As usual.

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Today in Fat Hatred

[Content Note: Fat hatred; eliminationism.]

There is an absolutely breathtaking article in Fortune today, accompanied by an image of Chinese children stretching poolside at a "fat camp," because the pathologization of fat children (who are often merely children about to have a growth spurt) is all the rage these days.

Actual Headline: "Fat-the $2 trillion burden on the world's economy." Note how profoundly othering that is: Fat is a burden on the world. As if we are not part of the world. This is a common rhetorical device I've highlighted before, often in discussions about how "taxpayers' money" is being somehow wasted on fat people, as if fat people ourselves aren't taxpayers.

Actual Lede: "Obesity is now a threat to the world economy to rival war and terrorism, according to a new report published Thursday."

Holy shit.

This is what I'm talking about when I say there is an eliminationist campaign against fat people. We are compared to fucking terrorists.

And that heinous demonization is done on the basis of studies on higher healthcare costs and lost productivity which are total bullshit. They are based on correlations and "obesity related diseases" that not only fat people have, and not all fat people have.

They fail utterly, utterly, to account for prejudice against fat people in medical care: Major illnesses missed because symptoms are misattributed to weight; fat people discouraged from seeking preventative care because of bias. They frequently do not address or control for systemic factors contributing to weight gain.

These numbers are totally cooked, and they're being used to compare us to motherfucking terrorists.

Obesity in and of itself doesn't kill. But fat hatred does. And this, right here, is some rank fat hatred.

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