Feminism: Filibuster Retrospective (Part 3)

Previous Post: Filibuster Retrospective Part 2

This is a continuation of the filibuster retrospective post I started here. I was forced to break the post up into multiple postings because of the huge number of tweets involved (which was making the page LOAD-ANGRY on some browsers). This post starts at the 5:00 pm mark during the filibuster and covers the first sustained Point of Order (POO).

Tweets after the jump.

Feminism: Filibuster Retrospective (Part 2)

Previous Post: Filibuster Retrospective Part 1

This is a continuation of the filibuster retrospective post I started here. I was forced to break the post up into multiple postings because of the huge number of tweets involved (which was making the page LOAD-ANGRY on some browsers). I started that filibuster retrospective on Wednesday. It's now Sunday as I write this. A couple of things have happened since then.

One. Governor Rick Perry has already called another special session, and will probably succeed in pushing the bill through. This is a really terrible thing because women will die if this bill is passed. But at the same time, I've said myself and seen other women say that if this bill is fated to pass (for usages of "fate" which does not disappear the grody terrible people choosing to make it pass), then it is a very slight, very cold, but nevertheless present comfort that it's being done so soon after the Epic Filibuster and so soon after the Republicans very clearly tried to cheat to win. It won't mean even a single person of uteri is in less danger, but it does at least help just a tiny bit for us to all know that we're in this together.

We may have our rights taken away, but we WILL NOT BE GASLIGHTED about it, is what I am saying.

Two. There is a possibility that citizen testimony will be allowed again in the special session. Depending on how that goes down, Silver Adept has suggested that a "citizens' filibuster" might could occur. Smarter heads than mine are looking into that, but either way if they accept citizen testimony on this thing, I may be driving down to Austin, depending on health and finances. We'll see, stay tuned, etc.

Tweets after the jump.

Open Thread: Writer Workshop

A couple of you have requested a special monthly open thread dedicated to talking about writing projects (and other artwork-creation). So here it is!

Pencil by Elisa Xyz

What are you working on? How are you feeling about it? What thoughts and/or snippets would you like to share? How does your activism work into your art? What tropes are you hoping to employ and/or avoid? Open thread writing workshop below!

Metapost: Computer Conundrums

My new computer arrived two days ago (sort of. Since it was coming from FedEx, that actually meant I had to make four phone calls and drive to three different places to get it, but don't get me started.) and I'm now in the process of setting it up. I had hoped to be able to use Clonezilla to just move from one machine to the other painlessly, but that isn't going to happen now because of Technical Difficulties.

This is one of many reasons why I've been basically offline for the past couple of days and why the Filibuster Retrospective has not been updated yet. I hope to get everything ironed out and back to posting in a day or three, but I beg that you bear with me in this time with my deepest apologies for being so quiet at the moment.

Thank you all in advance.

Open Thread: Joyful Garden

Hosted by a garden in Manila

Source for Belief
What if everything I believe is wrong?
It's a perilous thought, dark with destructive power
For don't we form our actions from beliefs?
Should I seek a guru, then?
Someone wise and knowing
To fill the void of my belief
With firm ideas of virtue?
And should I then disdain all others as false prophets,
Denounce them, deride them, destroy them?
Such tension in choosing --
Such peril.
For now, I will put these thoughts aside
And walk into the bath of light
That calls me to my garden.
Red berries swarm a deep green bush
Frail buds form in advance of spring
Hummingbirds thrum by on their way to a promise.
My heart sings with the joy of being part of this day.
Whatever else I believe, let it come from this.
~ Mary Beth Watt

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s coming up, give us something new to explore!   

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else! 

Feminism: How Not To Be A Privileged Ass (A Lazy Person's Guide)

[Content Note: Discussion of Anti-Semitism ]
(A previous version of this was posted at Stealing Commas.  This version is cross-posted to The Slacktiverse.)

Why this matters

There are activists out there to make the world a better place, this post is not for them.  A key component of being an activist is the whole "active" thing.  (What happened to the "e" when the ending was added is a story for another time.)  This is for the rest of us.

The rest of us is an important group.  Without the rest of us doing some small part activists find their work difficult at best.  If the rest of us are hideously wrong then activists have to devote their time to correcting the rest of us when it might better be used elsewhere.  But even more important than that, the rest of us make up the world in which everyone is forced to live.

Unless someone has got a way to hitch a lift on a passing flying saucer, the rest of us are who they're stuck with.  We surround them like water surrounds a fish.  We make the world in which they live.  The background radiation of social reality is emitted by the rest of us.

That can be used for good or ill.  The rest of us can make the world (or at least our corner of it) a space that is safe for all.  Or we can make it a place where people are afraid to speak their minds or be themselves, a place where people feel constantly beset by incoming fire.  A place that one wouldn't want to live but, again barring hitching a lift on flying saucers, everyone has to.

This post is about how to be a good part of the rest of us rather than a bad part of the rest of us while expending minimum effort.  There's a reason it says, "lazy person's guide."

As it turns out there is nothing difficult or complex.  It requires only two things:
1 Listen.
2 Take into account what you hear when you listen.

That's it.

Why you have to listen

You have to listen because you don't know everything.  Fortunately human beings have adapted a way to deal with this: Language.  You may not know what it's like to be a certain type of person, but they can tell you.  So, for example, I didn't know that the word, "Lame," was used as a way to describe and insult disabled people.  I knew it was used to describe injured horses, chess pieces that can't jump, and uncool things, but I had no idea it was used on people.

There is a reason for that.  Not being disabled I don't have to live my life with people constantly throwing insults at me that are based on being disabled.  In fact I don't think I've ever been present when such insults were hurled.  That's my world, a world where these things don't even pop up on the radar.  If it weren't for someone telling me that, yes, that word is used on people and, yes, it is incredibly hurtful to use it as a generic way to say uncool and, yes, it is used as a slur... I would not know these things.  I would be blissfully ignorant --which is nice, note the "blissful"-- but leaves me in a position where I can end up hurting people.  Because maybe someone who's just been called "lame" 85 times in a vitriol filled rant about how they're an evil asshole mooching off the system to get good parking spaces just walked into the room and maybe, without knowing the varied connotations of the word, I say, "That's so lame," about something I think sucks and the word, "lame," hits them like a punch to the gut.

Sometimes people do go too far, and sometimes the standard repository for all knowledge which contains much that is apocryphal or at least wildly inaccurate gets things wrong.  The example that comes to mind is, "Brouhaha."  It's impossible to be totally certain about anything in the past.  Maybe the dinosaurs all had iPads.  But insofar as we can be certain "brouhaha" did not originate in antisemitism.*

I bring this up mostly because I feel like if I didn't, the perfectly reasonable objection would form in someone's mind, "But other people can't always be right."  No, they can't always.  This is a fact of life.  But what is true is that, for any slur, the people against whom it is used know a hell of a lot more about how the slur is often used than everyone else.

And it's not just slurs.  I started with them for the reason that they're an easy thing to understand.  When someone is using a racial, ethnic, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, abilist, [any number of other things] slur it's pretty easy to see that they're in the wrong.

Most prejudice is more subtle and thus much easier to miss when you're not the target.  Not being the target, by the way, is part of what privilege is.  You don't have to be under fire, you don't have to know anyone is under fire, you don't have to live with the realization that we live in an extremely fucked up world where people are treated like shit just for being who they are.  You get to live with blinders and whatever problems may befall you, no matter how severe they might be, you never quite realize how other people have to deal with systemic hurtful bullshit on top of the ordinary problems of life.  Except that's not even it, because that skips how ingrained it is.  For them systemic hurtful bullshit is part of the ordinary problems of life because it's part of ordinary life period.

Listen to people, listen to what makes them feel safe and unsafe, welcome and unwelcome, so forth.

How to Listen

This might be hard, people might say things about you that you don't want to hear.  You may feel yourself going on the defense.  You might want to argue, "No, I'm totally not doing X because..." or, "I'm not a Y, I'm insulted that you could even think to say I remind you of a Y."  These impulses are perfectly natural, what matters is not that you have them, if you have them, but how you respond to them.

Don't take the defense.  Don't say, "I can't possibly be alienating [so-and-so] people because I have a [so-and-so] friend."  People who have been here before will instantly know that you have your head up your ass if you take that road.  Don't try to argue that people are wrong to feel unsafe or unwelcome.  They're not.  Their feelings are not yours to dictate.  Maybe you can't make them feel safe and welcome, but then that comes down to you accepting that such people will not be safe and welcome in your area, be it your house, your school, your blog, your youtube channel, your club, your circle of friends, your church, your facebook page, your forum, your camping trips, your business, your...

Don't try to argue that you doing X totally should not have produced response Y because [whatever].  The issue is not what it should have done, but what it did.  Y has happened, the question is what, if anything, you're going to do about it.

Don't try to argue that you're not a [bad thing].  What you are is between you, yourself, your soul if such things exist, and your god if such things exist.  For the rest of us what matters isn't what you are but what you do.  If the things you do are [bad thing] then it doesn't matter that in your heart of hearts you're not [bad thing], you're still doing [bad thing] things.  This also leads us into another thing, by shifting from what you did to what you are you're making it all about you.

Say someone says, "You did X and that makes me feel Y."  If you then you make it all about you and how you feel, you're ignoring the other person.  You're cutting them out of a conversation about how they feel.  Or, in short, you're being an asshole.

If someone says you hurt them the first thing to do is to apologize for hurting them.  Even if this is one of the rare cases where you didn't do anything wrong, they still got hurt and you didn't want that so you should have no problem whatsoever with giving a sincere apology.

Next comes asking them how you hurt them so that you won't do it again.

And finally comes self reflection and priorities.  I'll talk more about priorities later (I know this because I'm typing out of order right now) but the basic thing is how important it is to you not to hurt others.  If it isn't important at all, congratulations: you're an asshole.  But there are levels where it might not be your most important priority.  Maybe they were hurt because they thought brouhaha was an anti-Semitic slur and you think educating them about the origins of the word not being anti-Semitic is more important than stopping using the word.  Depending on the situation, though, this, in itself, this behavior can still make you an asshole (even if you're factually right).  We'll get to priorities.

How to Respond

Sometimes people will give you suggestions, sometimes solicited and sometimes not.  Some suggestions you might think are already in force for everyone, if they're being suggested that implies they are not for the group suggesting it.  Try harder.
Do not:
1 Take suggestions as personal attacks.  ("Go to Hell," can be considered an exception.)
2 Say they won't work without trying.

If you're not going to follow a suggestion then say why, and realize that in so doing you're stating your priorities.

This is where I talk about priorities.

Some people that I respect very much run a forum that is not a safe space because their rules are that anything that is neither spam nor a direct personal attack gets to stay up.  Usually this is fine and usually the space is safe.  When someone started comparing business tactics to rape it became very clear very fast why this leads to spaces that are not safe.

I talked directly to someone basically in charge of the forum and he made two things very clear.  The first was that he thought what rape metaphor guy was doing was horrible and he intended to oppose it in any way he could short of breaking the rules on which the forum was based.  The second was he was not going to oppose the rules on which the forum was based.  This was because the rules, to them, were not just arbitrary guideposts for how to deal with a given thing, they were the founding principles on which the entire place was based (I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.)

All speech short of direct personal attacks was sacrosanct there, which meant all other priorities (including making it a safer space by keeping it clear of callous rape metaphors) were secondary.

When you make a decision like that you're ordering your priorities.  In that space free speech was a higher priority than avoiding triggering a rape victim who might be reading a thread about copyright and some shenanigans with a game and the company making it.  The people who made that determination never thought the question would come up, but when it did they stuck by their own rules and tried to shoot down the rape metaphor person as users rather than administrators.

If people triggered by mentions of rape say that they don't feel safe there, there can be no argument.  In that space free speech is considered more important than making such people safe.  That's the decision that was made.

I bring up this tangent to point something out, having your space not be safe does not make you evil.  Choosing a set of priorities that leaves the space unsafe is not a sign you're demonic.  The people who made the forum I just described were good people.  If you want to be like them you can be, but you should take something else from it: they were honest about it.

They didn't make any arguments saying, "No, this really is a safe space," or that they were addressing to the needs of those who would be triggered.  They didn't push back against those who pointed out it wasn't a safe space.  They didn't make a fight of it.  They simply said in straightforward terms that they had a certain set of priorities by which they governed and that meant it was not going to be an always safe space.  It was going to be an, "As safe as the commenters can make it without using any administrative powers save for direct personal attacks," space which is decidedly not the same thing as a safe space.

If you decide that a space you have control over is going to be run by a set of rules that doesn't result in a safe space, do not argue that it does.  Do not argue against those who say it isn't safe.  Do not argue at all.  Be up front, you have some other guiding principle that's more important to you than making the space safe.  Admit it, own it, and leave it at that.

Listening doesn't mean that you have to incorporate everything everyone says, but if you're going to go flatly against it you should at least acknowledge it, probably say why, and do it in such a way that you're not presenting an argument why what the person said was wrong but instead simply stating why you will not be using it.

And that goes for anything, if someone says, "X would make me feel safer/more welcome," and you want to say, "No way I'm doing X," be honest about the fact that your reason for not doing X is more important to you than making the person feel safer/more welcome.  (If this should make you feel like you need a shower, reconsider your reason for not doing X.)

Listen and incorporate that into what you do, but sometimes you may incorporate it by saying, "Not gonna do it," rather than incorporating it by doing it.  Be aware that this will keep some people away, be aware that (depending on what "it" is) this may make some people think you're an asshole.  Do not argue with these people.  They've told you what it would take to make them come, they've told you what it would take to make them not think you're an asshole, you've chosen not to do that.  Discussion ends there.  Leave them the fuck alone; it's their right to leave/think you're an asshole when you're choosing not to meet their needs.

Only you can determine your own priorities, but everyone else gets to determine how they react to your priorities.  For whatever it's worth, your priorities might make you an asshole.  They might make other people think you're an asshole when you're not.  They might do any number of things.  Many of those things are good but I'm going for warning here and thus sticking to the bad.



This is the single most active thing I will tell you to do in this article, but it's important.

Say your group is mostly male, or mostly white, or mostly straight, or mostly straight white males, or mostly whatever and you think it should be more diverse.  Ask how you can get a more diverse following.  Again:
1 Listen.
2 Take into account what you hear when you listen.

And here's a problem I haven't gotten into before.  The people who speak up might take a lot of flack.  They might get shouted down.  You can't listen to someone who has been shouted down.  If someone responds to your request for advice you had better be fucking ready to defend them.  You got them to stick their neck out, don't you dare abandon them.

If you're the reason someone is speaking, if they're responding at your request, then you've just grabbed yourself the job of bodyguard until they're no longer speaking at your request.  If they start getting personal attacks because of their response to your question it is your job to shoot those attacks down.

You can't just ask and then watch the chaos ensue.  You drew these people out so they could say something you wanted to know, you have to protect them from the consequences of doing what you asked.  The bigotry that can come out of the woodwork at times like these is stunning and disheartening and you need to make sure it's not silencing the very voices you asked to speak.

Some parting thoughts

There's probably a lot more to that, but I note that for all the words it's still very, very simple.  None of it is activism.  It's not really very active at all.  It doesn't require any more effort than you currently expend.

Listen.  If you listen you will learn.  If you learn you will be changed.  If you are changed that will change how you act.  It all starts with listening, which is a very passive thing to do.

If you don't want to be a privileged ass then listen to those who do not share your privilege.  Don't just make a show of listening, actually fucking listen.  Then, having listened, make use of what you learned.

* Because the belief that “brouhaha” has antisemitic origins is so ingrained it was suggested that I go into a little more detail here. My first try was three pages (or longer if you don't single space), my next was shorter but still too long. This is attempt three to keep it short.

The word “brouhaha” does enter the historical record eventually and so we get things like Moliere's play** including the term which premiered on November 18th, 1659.  There we find that "brouhaha" can be translated as “applause” because at the time it meant an uproar good or bad. But where it comes from has never been proven and barring time machines likely will never be proven. For the longest time it was just assumed to be a bit of onomatopoeia invented for French theater.

Then the antisemitic origin theory arose. The major problem with it is that it requires a phonetic change the likes of which have never been seen before, concurrently, or since. It would be the only time in the history of any language that such a change took place and fly in the face of everything we know about phonetics and linguistics. Compared to that, the fact there is absolutely no evidence to back up the antisemitic origin theory is minor at best.

The theory, in full, reads like someone saying, “Tell me, Muse, of the word of many twists and turns,” and as you might expect that leaves you with 12,110 lines of dactylic hexameter which is why I've had such difficulty keeping this short, but I'm going to try. The theory, with details stripped away to save space, goes like this:

Someone who didn't really know Hebrew overheard the words, “barukh habba,” and coined a new eight word phrase based on them (“Brou brou brou ha ha, brou ha ha,”) which entered into French theater of the farcical variety with a negative meaning. Then the meaning completely reversed itself into something of equal and opposite negativity. Then time passed and the words before the comma were thrown out (leaving “brou ha ha”.) Then time passed and the phrase was collapsed into a single word (brouhaha.) Then the meaning completely changed again, this time shedding all negative connotations and denotations and going from something a single person would say in a play to a simple description of the disposition of a crowd.

And at that point the theory ends because we've reached Moliere and that puts us into the realm of firm history rather than theory.

And that's it, basically. With the details it goes on forever but the short version is:
barukh habba → brou brou brou ha ha, brou ha ha → brou ha ha → brouhaha
(While the meaning went through much more radical and unexplained changes.)

It's the first step (barukh habba → brou brou brou ha ha, brou ha ha) where the theory really falls flat on its face. Words don't change that way. They can change radically (e.g. Caseus → Cheese) but there are things that govern how those changes take place and unless aliens did it “barukh habba → brou brou brou ha ha, brou ha ha” does not track. What is the same and what is different between “barukh habba” and “brouhaha” doesn't work from a linguistic standpoint if we're saying the second came from the first. We're in dinosaurs with iPads territory.

And that's probably as short as I can make this. Hopefully viciously removing all context, detail, and supporting evidence in an effort for brevity hasn't made it look like I'm talking out my ass.

** Ana's Note: I've asked Chris to go into this detail here so that the comments on the post can be largely about the content of his excellent guide and not a huge derail on the etymology of brouhaha. (So if he has looked like an ass in the above, I take full blame for the assitude.)

I was able to dig up the specific Molière reference if anyone cares to research this further in their own spacetime. The play in question is Molière's L'impromptu De Versailles. You can find the link to the "brouhaha" quote on Google Books here. A side-by-side French-to-English version can be found on Amazon Kindle here. The line in question is there rendered:
   Là, appuyez comme il faut le dernier vers. Voilà ce qui attire l’approbation, et fait faire le brouhaha.

   There, lay the proper stress on the last line; that is what elicits approbation, and makes the public applaud you.
This translation (clapping, applause) is also viewable in the 1728 edition of "The Royal Dictionary" available on Google Books here. The scholar I spoke to believed the word to be onomatopoeia in reference to the sound of the clapping crowd, and noted that onomatopoeia can vary widely across languages. Thank you, and thanks to Chris for writing this wonderful post.

Feminism: Filibuster Retrospective (Part 1)

I need to say a few things first.

One. Last night was the most amazing night of my life. I have never experienced anything like it before. I will never forget it. I saw men and women and people of every type and shape and kind come together in my state to protest a travesty of justice and to protest it in a way that was incredibly, amazingly positive and powerful.

Two. Everything has changed and nothing has. The bill will still be pushed through because our governor has a black hole of voiditude where his compassion should be. The mainstream media will continue to mostly ignore us. The federal government will continue to mostly ignore us. The members in charge of Big Feminism -- the ones who pointedly didn't join in until the eleventh hour -- will continue to mostly ignore us. The fauxgressives who urged us to leave our homes or "just vote him out!" as if gerrymandering isn't a thing down here will continue to mostly ignore us.

Even some of the allies who stood firm with Senator Wendy Davis will drop away from this issue, because it takes spoons to deal with this shit. Seriously. I was so tired today that I wanted to crawl under my desk at work and sob from exhaustion after staying up most of the night dealing with the emotional rollercoaster that was this filibuster. None of this advocacy comes for free. It takes something -- time, energy, money, emotions, something from all of us. In some cases it takes everything from some of us.

But. I need to keep talking about this. I need to keep talking about this. And many of you have asked me to do that very thing. And some of you have made me aware that what I thought was nothing, what I thought was Poor Allyship -- sitting in my study, watching the livestream for most of the day and most of the night -- actually put me in a position to talk to this filibuster in a way that many people who weren't there, who couldn't watch at home, who had to work, can't. So I will speak for those who can't, and I hope you can find the spoons to listen.

This is going to be a long post. I ask that you bear with me. I want to talk about the filibuster as I experienced it at the time, using nothing more than my tweet stream and my notes. Later in the month I will speak to the actual senate feed. For those who want to follow along, there is a poor quality feed here in the senate archives. (You will have to download Real Player, which I'm told does bad things to some peoples computers.) I am looking into purchasing a program which will let me convert the feed to something easier to access and/or to purchase an official version through official channels. I will keep everyone updated on that.

Please note, in advance, that I am neither a lawyer nor a senate aficionado. The material I present here is my opinion, and my own limited understanding.

Tweets after the jump.

Feminism: Rick Perry Calls Another Special Session

Rick Perry has called another special session.

I don't know what to say about this that most of us aren't already thinking. I'm sad that this bill is probably going to be railroaded through, because it will cost Texas money that should be spent elsewhere and women will die. Let me repeat that: Women will die because of this bill. I'm sad about that. And angry. And outraged. And I'm utterly furious that the democratic process is being circumvented like this. And I'm so fucking pissed off that Rick Perry is blaming us for this:

We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do."

Unruly. Indecorous. Indecent. I called every word, Governor Perry. Because I've heard them all before.

People will say that the bright spot in this is that at least it's happening while the world is watching. Except that it's not, not really, not like it should be. The media is ignoring Texas. Our federal representatives have given only cursory notice. To the best of my knowledge, President Barack Obama has still not used his pulpit to speak strongly against this war on women. The only "bright spot" in all this is looking pretty fucking bleak compared to what it could be, what it should be.

Texas women and people with uteri and allies will fight this bill, just as we've been fighting it already. But it doesn't come without a cost. I was incoherently exhausted today. I know many of you were too. We spend our bodies and our minds and our money and our time and our tears and our emotions and every ounce of our energy. And Rick Perry laps it all up because he is THE WORST.

Update: It has been pointed out to me in email that the Texas legislators make $7,200 per year (plus per diem) and are usually expected to hold second jobs in addition to their legislative work. (Unless, of course, they're rich enough to treat politics like a game and/or corrupt enough to leverage their political power into more money. But this is not the ideal, is what I am saying.)

Asking legislators to work an extra 30 days (again!) without more pay because the governor's pet bill wasn't ready and/or didn't get passed in the regular session is bullshit. And yet here we are. Because Rick Perry and his Republican buddies don't give a shit about people who have different bodies, different salaries, different responsibilities, or different anything from them and their Privilege Club. 

Much credit to eastsidekate for pointing this out.

Feminism: SCOTUS Struck Down DOMA

All the blubs. Forever. Yes. YES. More here.

Open Thread: The Morning After

Hosted by sunrise over the mountains
...I had a fantastic post planned for today, all about my happy morning rituals and the song my mother used to sing to wake us up in the morning.

You don't get that post.  Sorry.  Maybe on Monday.

It's now 1:31 am my time, and I'm STILL not sure WTF just happened in Texas.  I will probably go to bed not being entirely sure.  Right now I know it looks bad.

BUT! Whatever just happened, today is a new day; we will "begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with [our] old nonsense." If the news was ultimately good (still hoping, dammit), we will begin today with a sense of peace and optimism. And if, as it currently seems, the news is bad, we will begin it with a renewed sense of hope and courage and passion for the continuing fight - because it absolutely will continue.

Sorry. I usually keep open threads light and non-topical. Long night.

Open thread! Thoughts on last night? Thoughts on other things? Happy distractions? Meditations and musings on fresh starts and new days? Anybody do anything FUN last night? Anyone doing anything fun this morning? Anyone have anything they need to get out of their system, because the powers that be know I sure do! Any new discoveries appropriate to new days?

Wednesday Reminder!& Open threads are meant to be fun, chatty places to discuss anything that doesn’t “fit” into a deconstruction or other regular thread. This can be something totally off-the-wall and random, or it can be something interesting that a deconstruction prompted you to think of, but which would be derailing to get into in the deconstruction thread. When in doubt, move it over here - that’s what it’s for!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Feminism: The Bill Is Dead

The bill is dead. The Republicans conceded gracelessly after a pic from the Senate floor circulated showing that the official printed minutes indicated the vote had occurred AFTER the midnight deadline. That official record was briefly entered into the online record, screen capped, and then changed online to before midnight -- these images circulated too.

The speaker for the Republican concession called the brave men and women who risked arrest with their cheers -- CHEERS, not threats -- "unruly".

You would have to be monumentally out of touch with Texas culture to not realize that isn't the insult they seem to think it is. But then, you would have to be monumentally out of touch with Texans to not realize or care how unpopular this bill was.

Unruly. Uncharitable. Indecorous. That's what they call me now. Fine. Let me add a word of my own: Unshakable.

I'll have a much longer post up soon on what happened last night because I really want to detail what I saw when I watched (from before 11 am to after midnight), which much the mainstream media isn't reporting because they didn't watch. In the meantime, HUGE hat-tip to Kristy who stayed up all night when I couldn't. You are an amazing lady.

Update: Here is a decent story about how the Republicans tried to win by cheating.

Initially, Republicans insisted they had started voting before midnight, but official computer records and printouts showed the vote took place on Wednesday, but had been changed to read Tuesday. Senators then convened for a private meeting, after which Dewhurst acknowledged that the vote had been derailed.

And I saw it happen. I saw the screencap when the vote times went up online, and I saw the new screencap after they altered the online record. And I saw the picture of the official printed record, snapped on the Senate floor. It is vitally important that the takeaway from last night isn't "no phones or recording devices on the Senate floor". Democracy worked today because we dragged it into the light and WATCHED IT. Over 120,000 of us.

While CNN talked about muffins.

image of CNN broadcast last night, while Piers Morgan and Dr. Drew talk during a segment labeled onscreen as 'BLUEBERRY MUFFIN = 350 CALORIES'
[Photo via Elizabeth Plank.]

Feminism: Texas Live Blogging

I ran out of tweets for the day, so moved over to my twitter jail account ... then someone maliciously reported my updates as spam and now that account is locked pending review. Way to go, pro-lifers. Updates in the comments. 

Feminism: Live Stream of the Texas Senate


Feminism: Texas and Rape

[Content Note: Rape, Reproductive Coercion]

The majority of Texans oppose the abortion ban that Wendy Davis is attempting to filibuster today.

A minority do not. A minority do not care that the ban will require, among other things, women to bear their rapist's child. A minority do not care that many states in the US allow rapists to sue for visitation and custody rights in an attempt to further harass and control their victim. A minority do not care that by preventing abortions in the case of rape, they are guaranteeing that many wanted babies will never be born because some Trying To Conceive (TTC) women will decide not to get off their birth control after all.

This minority view wrecks all my shit. I should not, in the year of our fjord 2013, have to justify myself if I do not want to bear my rapist's child. THAT IS BULLSHIT.

Narnia: The Seven Cloned Lords

[Content Note: Body Transformation, Genocide, Racism]

Narnia Recap: In which Eustace is turned back into a boy.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chapter 7: How The Adventure Ended

When I was a child, I used to love reading Sherlock Holmes stories. I loved the progression of logic throughout the stories from the first clues to the final answer, and I loved the way in which once everything was explained, you could frequently see how you yourself could have gotten to the answer first, if only you'd followed the same steps that Sherlock Holmes was able to follow. The experience of reading the stories felt deceptively like learning, and I believed I understood people better as a result.

Open Thread: Iregularly Scheduled LOLCAT

[Content Note: Content-Generated Ads]

Primary Cat does not fully understand the new camera, nor why it does not look like a smartphone.

Feel free to share pics of furry or fuzzy companions in the comments!

Feminism: Living With Fear In Texas

[Content Note: Infertility, Reproductive Coercion, Disability, Rape]

I don't use birth control.

I don't use birth control because I'm in a relationship with a man, and we would like to become pregnant. Two years ago, we spent a lot of time and money and tears trying to become pregnant through IVF -- a step we thought was necessary due to low sperm count after a vasectomy and vasectomy reversal -- but we didn't succeed. We didn't succeed because all the embryos we created ended up failing to thrive due to genetic abnormalities; the doctors decided that my husband and I were genetically incompatible to create healthy babies. And we decided that maybe this was for the best, since no one has ever been confident that my disabled body could handle a full-term pregnancy without serious risks to my health and possibly even my life.

But we still hope. And so we don't use birth control, because there's always that chance, that very slight possibility for a miracle, that somehow one sperm might make it out and that one sperm might meet an egg and they might make a healthy baby against all the odds.

We don't really believe it will ever happen. But it's easier to hope than to use birth control (much of which conflicts with my disability medication) or to permanently sterilize one or both of us and admit for certain that a child will never happen to us. Hope is easier for us than certainty.

As of this morning, the Texas legislature has effectively banned abortion past the 20th week of pregnancy, with no exception for rape and no known exception that I can find for the health or life of the pregnant person. The bill has moved on to the Texas senate, where Republican senators are trying to use the absence of a Democratic senator -- a senator who is attending her father's funeral today -- to attempt to change the rules and force the bill's passage. If the bill passes the senate, it will move to the governor's desk to sign; Gov. Rick Perry will almost certainly be happy to do so.

As of this morning, I have to decide whether or not to give up my hope for conceiving a wanted child.

If I am raped, I don't know that I will have access to emergency contraception. (The proposed bill attempts to limit the usage of "abortion-inducing drug[s]", which in itself is an unclear statement, considering the anti-choice position on hormonal birth control.) Even if I had access to the pill after my hypothetical rape, would I take it or would I want to wait and see if any pregnancy that developed was the product of my husband or of my rapist? I haven't found good information on when it's possible to tell who the father of a fetus is; I can't believe that I'm even being forced to consider this right now as a preemptive act of self-protection against my state.

If I were pregnant with my husband's child, would we be able to determine before the 20th week cutoff whether the fetus had dangerous genetic abnormalities (as our embryos did) or whether the pregnancy would pose a serious risk to my health and my life? It's very possible that we wouldn't be able to tell in time -- but even if we could, would that information do us any good when this bill also intends to shut down 37 of the remaining 42 clinics in the state? Would I have to drive to Oklahoma to get my abortion? Fly to New York? Would my husband be legally culpable for transporting me across state lines to get my abortion? Would I need to go alone? Which state can I flee to, if my life is in danger from a wanted pregnancy?

I don't use birth control because I would dearly like a baby. But I don't want one so badly that I want to die. Or to be disabled for life even worse than I already am. Or to bear one that has no chance at life, and is doomed only to a short, painful death. Or to bear my rapist's child just because he didn't wear a condom and I found out too late that the pregnancy wasn't a result of my and my husband's attempts at conception.

Now today, thanks to the Republicans in the Texas legislature and senate, I have to make a decision. I have to decide whether the hope I've been clinging to is worth more than the fear they've imposed on me. And if I decide that I can't live with the fear, then I have to figure out how to become sterilized, how to convince doctors to let me do so despite my relatively young age, how to get my insurance to cover the procedure, how to pursue sterilization in ways that don't conflict with my current disability or my medications.

And I have to give up my hope.

I love Texas with all my heart. It's my home. It's where I wanted to raise my child. But today, Texas doesn't love me back. Texas, or rather the people who run it, are content with knowing that I (and people like me) must live with fear in Texas.

Twitter tags for following this issue: #SB5, #HB60, #TXlege.
Recommended background reading: A Sunday at the Capitol by Dan Solomon

Open Thread: Photography

Hosted by a red rose in a black-and-white picture
I will admit this - I am fascinated by photography.  By pictures that get the lighting just perfect, that capture true emotion, that bring colors and movement to life.  I love tricks like the one above that startle the eye and make two beautiful things even more beautiful through contrast.  I love how a good photographer can bring out the beauty in anyone or anything.  (True fact: I hate the way I photograph.  The number of pictures of myself that I can stand, I can count on the fingers of one hand... except when a certain photographer friend of mine is behind the camera.  For some reason, when she takes my picture, I look amazing.)

Sadly, the skill is not mine.  I wish it were.  I've tried.  I can take not-awful pictures.  I'm a perfectly serviceable photographer for, say, capturing the highlights of an annual meeting/awards dinner.  But I lack the eye to know exactly how to craft a beautiful shot, or to recognize the perfect moment and capture it.  (I also lack the $3000 super mega camera, but that's only part of the problem!)

Open thread!  Any budding photographers among us?  What's the best photo you've ever seen?  What's the best photo you've ever seen of you?  What's the most cringe-worthy?  Are there people in your family/friends who always get handed the camera, and are there people who can always be counted on to put their thumbs over the lens?  Do you love getting your picture taken, or do you hate it?  When you do get your picture taken, do you smile or scowl?

Monday Reminder!  While I have fun coming up with pretty pictures and/or interesting “prompt” questions for open threads, you aren’t limited to those!  These threads are open - go wild, talk about whatever moves you!  (Just remember that this is still a safe space, please!) 

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else! 

Feminism: Word Magnets

This is a good article and you should go read it. It's an amazingly thorough breakdown by Edinburgh Eye over what words are covered in those little refrigerator magnet sets "for girls" and "for boys", including the very good point made that even the base set does not have a concept for an unmodified-by-familial-ownership woman:

Put together, unsorted by gender, and these are a good set of words, if a little Americanised. But sorted into gendered sets they’re appalling. And betray how peculiar our gender expectations are. Why shouldn’t boys make sentences about friends and ice-cream and clothes? Why shouldn’t girls make sentences about the moon and a ghost and some trees?

What’s the word oddly omitted from the national literacy strategy for years one to three?


Seriously, please go read the whole thing because it is awesome in every sense of the word.

Feminism: Abortion Ban In Texas

[Content Note: Reproductive Coercion]

As of this morning, the Texas legislature has virtually banned abortion in the state. The bill passed 97-33 mostly along partisan lines and will ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, with no exception for rape or incest.

I'm unclear whether there's an exception for the life or health of the mother, but whether there is or not may be immaterial since the bill will also effectively shut down 37 of the remaining 42 clinics in the state under the guise of regulating health care. And, of course, forcing people to travel out of state to get an abortion just makes it that much harder to get under the 20-week deadline.

The bill still has to go to the Texas Senate and then to Governor Rick Perry, but Rick Perry is not an ally to women. Many members who voted to support the bill had flyers on their desks quoting Bible scripture.

Many members of the conservative majority had flyers on their desks that read "Psalm 139:13-14," which reads in part: "You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

For the record, I do not interpret that verse to be anti-abortion. But even if I did, I did not consent to be governed by a Christian theocracy. I expect my government representatives to vote for the people and what we want and need, and not for what the representatives personally desire to impose on us against our will in order to control our bodies and make us serfs of the state. That's all I can manage to say about that.

This particular Texas woman is now grappling with whether or not to get her tubes tied, and whether her insurance will cover it. And I hate -- to the point of bitter tears -- that I even have to consider these questions in the year of our fjord, 2013. I'm writing this dispatch from the heart of Gideon and hoping that my red robes and white wings don't show up in the mail soon.

Review: Mega Mall Story

Mega Mall Story
by Kairosoft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Considering that the last time I was laid up for any length of time, I ended up writing a FAQ for Cafe Nippon, it shouldn't come as any surprise to me that I was seized with the same urge to break Mega Mall Story into tiny little pieces for min-maxing purposes when my desktop and laptop both stopped working in the same week. If you're just tuning into this series, Kairosoft makes "spreadsheet games" (or so Husband calls them as he sniffs over his Diablo-clones, heh.) for Android and Apple and oh my I love them so.

Feminism: Because Math Is Hard

A six-person jury was picked last Thursday to sit on George Zimmerman's trial. The jury is made up entirely of women, none of whom are black.

The prosecution has refused to comment on the glaring omission that there are no black people on the jury. The defense had this to say on the subject:

“People can look at it and have this response, that there’s no blacks on the jury, or no this or no that, or no men on the jury,” he said. “Tell me that we did something wrong in the process and I’ll agree with you.”
Sure. That seems reasonable. You could look at a case that has been and continues to be tried in the press on racist narratives about a Scary Young Black Man who was once photographed wearing a hoodie and may have flipped someone off at one time in his life and note that not a single black person is going to be on the jury that decides whether his murder was legally murder or not. Or you could note that the jury appears to be made up entirely of lady-persons and how terrible that is. Both of these things seem pretty equally bad here.

It needs to be said that one marginalized group (such as, for example, white women) is not the same as another marginalized group (such as, for example, black men). They're not interchangeable, and white women are fully capable of being racist.

Possibly my favorite part of this story, though, is the statement in the Washington Post that:
The central Florida community of Sanford is in Seminole County, which is 78.5 percent white and 16.5 percent black, roughly mirroring the jury’s racial makeup.
Roughly mirroring the jury's racial makeup. As long as 16% is the new zero. Or to quote Melissa in private conversation: Math is hard.

Open Thread: Supermoon

There's a lovely full moon out tonight, shining in through my bedroom window. Tomorrow night it will be officially full, and since the moon is currently at the point in its elliptical where it is closest to earth, the moon is called a "supermoon".

And while you probably already knew that the full moon is a special time for a lot of Wiccan and pagan practitioners, you might not know that the June full moon -- the June esbat -- is a time for lovers, honey, strawberries, roses, and metamorphosis.* (If you're into that sort of thing. And if you're not, that's fine too. The brand of Wicca we practice at my house is extremely laid back.)**

Which means that today, the 22nd, is kind of extra-special depending on when and how you celebrate, because the June esbat is tomorrow (the 23rd) and the Summer Solstice / Midsummer / Litha sabbat was yesterday (the 21st) for a lot of folks.

Here are some amateur pictures of the moon and our baby willow tree. How are you celebrating the moon, if at all?***

* Especially and particularly the metamorphosis that comes from having computers break down, ha. Little joke there. 
** And when I say 'we', I mean me and the cats. Obviously. 
*** In addition to taking pictures, we also watched Legion because Paul Bettany. But that was not moon related.

Feminism: DNA Samples

[Content Note: Prejudice and injustice; examples of victim-blaming]
[Note: This post was previously published at Shakesville.]  

Boston Globe—Supreme Court rules police can take DNA samples from those arrested

WASHINGTON (AP) — A sharply divided Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for police to take a DNA swab from anyone they arrest for a serious crime, endorsing a practice now followed by more than half the states as well as the federal government.

The justices differed strikingly on how big a step that was.

‘‘Taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment,’’ Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court’s five-justice majority. The ruling backed a Maryland law allowing DNA swabbing of people arrested for serious crimes.

But the four dissenting justices said the court was allowing a major change in police powers, with conservative Justice Antonin Scalia predicting the limitation to ‘‘serious’’ crimes would not last.

‘‘Make no mistake about it: Because of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason,’’ Scalia said in a sharp dissent which he read aloud in the courtroom.
Previously, taking a cheek swab from a non-convicted felon required a warrant issued by a judge. The Supreme Court has now ruled that taking DNA at arrest time constitutes only a minimally invasive search on the grounds that a cheek swab is not painful, and can be performed without a warrant or a conviction.

There are a lot of concerns I have about this decision, not the least being that institutionalized bias in the police force leads to the disproportionate arrest of marginalized people over privileged people. Indeed, I worry that this ruling will further increase this gap between marginalized and privileged: if a mentality of "the more arrests, the better" takes hold in service to filling out the federal database, then we may see an uptick in arrests among those populations of people which are ill-equipped to defend themselves.

At the same time, if arrests start to lead to permanent DNA collection to be stored in a database for time and eternity, the privileged people who are able to call in favors and pull strings to dodge justice are going to be empowered to do so even more: "You don't want to bring in Johnny on a simple little mistake, do you? His DNA will go into the database, and that's a big penalty for a little college hijinks, especially when he has such a big future ahead of him..."

And, of course, victims will be pressured even more to not press charges or file complaints, because an arrest would obviously ruin the perpetrator's life, and what if you were wrong, are you sure you're remembering correctly, ad nauseum.

It is entirely possible that we need to revisit DNA collection (and other methods of high-tech search and seizure) now that we're in the enlightened space age of 2013. But the institutionalized prejudice which unfairly targets the marginalized, re-victimizes victims, and protects the powerful is still tremendously present, and any conversation regarding DNA collection needs to acknowledge this. 

Open Thread: Starfish

Hosted by a starfish
(This story is my mother's explanation for her activism.)

A man walked along the beach after a storm.  Looking down the shore, he saw starfish - hundreds, thousands of them - littered on the sand: washed up by the storm's waves, and stranded when the waters receded.

As he walked, he saw a small boy making his way slowly down the beach.  Every step or two, the boy would stop, bend over, and throw a starfish back into the water - saving it from drying out in the sun and dying.

The man shook his head.  "Hey kid," he called out, walking up to the boy, "look around you.  There's thousands of starfish on this beach.  You can't possibly get to all of them before they die.  What you're doing - it's a nice idea, but in the long run, it's not going to make a difference."

The boy looked at him a moment, then turned away, bent down, and threw another starfish into the surf.  Turning back to the man, he shrugged.  "Made a difference to that one."

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s coming up, give us something new to explore! 

(And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!)

Film Corner: Super Sperm Baby

[Content Note: Reproductive Coercion, Gender Essentialist / Heteronormative Narratives]
[NB: Not only women need freedom from reproductive coercion.]

I couldn't get past the birthing issues.

Husband took me to see Superman this week, or I suppose it's technically called Man of Steel. And actually, he took me to see it twice: the first time we went, it was sold out. Our local movie theater of choice is never sold out, so I was doubly surprised; I've never been a big Superman fan, to tell the truth. I find invincibility kind of boring and secret identities incredibly dull. But that's just me!

Twilight: Policing Our Daughters

[Content Note: Abusive Parenting]

Twilight Summary: In Chapter 14, Edward and Bella spend the night together.

Twilight, Chapter 14: Mind Over Matter

Now that it's been established that Edward has been stalking Bella and entering her home at night without her awareness or consent, it's time for Charlie to walk in while the lovebirds are still at the kitchen table. And this is one of my least favorite parts of this chapter -- and indeed of the entire book -- because it shows complex interactions between Charlie and Bella without providing contextual characterization for either.

Metapost: Radio Silence and Spirit Bears

Folks, an update on the computer situation: It's dead, Jim.

Husband stayed up waaaaaay too late last night trying to figure out why he had internet but my computer didn't and neither did the phones, the wireless devices, or the television. It was like the internet gods had deemed everyone except him unworthy of their blessings. Which was ironic because, between the two of us, I use the internet about eleventy billion more internet-units than he does. SO THANKS, INTERNET GODS.

Anyway, the electrical storm that struck over our house basically fried ethernet ports on our routers and in my computer. Husband was able to wire around the router issue, but my computer is damaged enough that its days are numbered. We purchased a new computer for me -- which was an unexpected expense that I'm honestly still reeling from, but it helps that we'd been cutting expenses lately in preparation for a rainy day -- and it'll be here in 7-10 days if the internet gods don't interfere. In the mean time, we duct taped a wifi usb dongle to my damaged computer, and sprinkled the chassis with the ashes of an old user manual, and I have just enough internet to compose this post.

So I'm going to be very-almost-not-at-all online for the next week or so until the new computer comes. We've got a Twilight post scheduled for tomorrow, a somewhat-distractedly written Narnia post scheduled for Tuesday, and ... so far I think that's it. I'll try not to let this interfere with posting, but I rely on the internet a lot for research when I write (as evidenced by my one billion links to things) and I've also got to run some errands to get my finances to speak to me because right now they have a bad case of the miffed.

In the meantime, here is something interesting that landed in my inbox before my internet went out and which some of you might care about: a Kickstarter for a educational book on Canadian Spirit Bears, which are (if I understand correctly) basically to brown/black bears what white tigers are to orange tigers, which is to say a genetic mutation that usually means the animal has difficulty surviving because its camouflage is all funky. I have a special place in my heart for white tigers because they tend to have scoliosis (LIKE ME!), so this caught my eye if only because I wanted to leave you all with something interesting beyond my computer woes.

Also: Some of you have had good things to say about this collection of lesbian steampunk stories. I put it on my watchlist and noticed a price drop today from ~9 dollars to 6 dollars so it is entirely possible that you should get it while it's hot. I haven't read it though. Can anyone speak to the contents, because the current reviews on Amazon -- and I say this as a professional reviewer -- pretty much blow.

(The thought occurs that this has to be the ONLY post on the internet that combines "Canadian Spirit Bears" and "Lesbian Steampunk". Why not google those terms in all the spare time while I'm gone and we'll confuse the internet? Ha. Okay, clearly I'm a little drunk on sleep deprivation right now.)

See you all in a week or two. I WILL MISS YOU. (Thankfully, I'll still be able to read comments on my phone.)

UPDATE: The link is in the image (click on the book cover) but if that doesn't work, you can try this.

Open Thread: Rain

Hosted by rain on the pavement
As you may remember from the last open thread, this has been on my mind recently ;)

There are songs about the rain.  People talk about taking walks in the rain.  In movies, there's always that one meaningful scene where the main character experiences a life-changing realization while standing in the rain.  Rain is seen as cleansing, beautiful, romantic even.

And I do not get it.

To me, rain is wet.  And cold.  And, depending on the wind, occasionally downright painful.  It makes everything muddy and dirty; it makes the roads slippery and reduces visibility; it blocks out my beautiful, life-giving sunshine.  I see rain as a necessary evil; something I have to put up with, but I don't have to enjoy.

This is not a popular opinion.

Precisely one of my friends shares my dislike of rain, and we huddle inside together and glare out the window in solidarity.  Everyone else goes "Oh, rain is fun!  It's just a little water!  Come outside and splash in the puddles with us!!"


Open thread!  Where do you stand?  Are you a singing-and-dancing-in-the-rain kind of person, or do you feel storms are best enjoyed from inside with a cup of hot cocoa?  Have you ever had a particularly good or bad experience in the rain?  Do cold drizzly days inspire you to take a long walk, or to find a long book?

Wednesday Reminder!  Open threads are meant to be fun, chatty places to discuss anything that doesn’t “fit” into a deconstruction or other regular thread.  This can be something totally off-the-wall and random, or it can be something interesting that a deconstruction prompted you to think of, but which would be derailing to get into in the deconstruction thread.  When in doubt, move it over here - that’s what it’s for! 

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else! 

Metapost: Sad Trombone

Folks, an electrical storm hit here last night and fried my desktop computer such that when I woke up this morning, there was no internet connection. Husband diagnosed the problem to be unfixable, before then hooking up a jury-rigged solution which is much slower and very sad. So not only has this eaten up my entire morning, it has also left me feeling very much like this picture of a sad cat:

Sad Cat @ ghcorps.org
I'm not sure how this will affect posting for the next few weeks (months? please god, not months), but there it is. In the meantime, I'm kind of in mourning because I have a tendency to get emotionally attached to my gadgets -- I've been with this desktop for almost as long as I've been with Husband, and had planned to hold on to it for at least another 3-4 years. So. 

Narnia: Marginalized Characters vs. Marginalized People

[Content Note: Body Transformation, Genocide, Racism]

Narnia Recap: In which Eustace is turned back into a boy.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chapter 7: How The Adventure Ended

Chapter 7 has a very peculiar sub-title: How The Adventure Ended, even though the book has sixteen chapters total and we're nowhere near the end. What Lewis means, I suppose, is how the-adventure-in-which-Eustace-was-turned-into-a-dragon ended, and indeed this directly references the sub-title of Chapter 6, which was The Adventures of Eustace.

Open Thread: Vacation

Hosted by a hat and flip-flops on the beach
So, since I took a bit of an unplanned mini-vacation last week (sorry), I thought this was an appropriate topic!

The time of year is upon us, when tourists from all around the world flock to my home state of Florida, convinced that the Sunshine State is the best place to spend a nice, relaxing summer vacation, lounging on a beach and basking in the sun's gentle rays.

And we laugh, and we laugh...

Because what they don't realize, you see, is that Florida weather in the summer has exactly two settings:

1) broilingly, swelteringly, oppressively hot; or
2) tropical storm.

Often both in the same day, if you're lucky!  (Fun fact: this morning, I intended to get up early and walk, rather than drive, my daughter to daycare.  At 6 am, I was awoken by a thunderclap that no joke, went on for a full minute before finally losing steam and fading away.  And I said "Nnnnnope!", rolled over, and went back to sleep.)  Not very conducive to lounging on a beach, or even spending all day outside in a theme park, is what I'm saying here.

Which is why Floridians, when we go on vacation, tend to go away from Florida.

Open thread!  When's the last time you went on a vacation?  Any funny stories about vacations interrupted by unfriendly weather or other unpredictable factors?  What's your dream vacation - do you fantasize about relaxing in a tropical locale, roughing it camping out in the mountains somewhere, exploring the nightlife in a faraway and glamourous city, hiking through ancient ruins, etc.?  Do you live in an area that attracts a lot of tourists, and if so, what do the tourists rarely realize about your home town until they get there?

Monday Reminder!  While I have fun coming up with pretty pictures and/or interesting “prompt” questions for open threads, you aren’t limited to those!  These threads are open - go wild, talk about whatever moves you!  (Just remember that this is still a safe space, please!) 

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else! 

eReader: Companion eBooks at Manning

[Content Note: Ads, Disability]

Husband bought a couple of paper programming books this week, and is finding (surprise!) that they're kind of heavy to lug around with him. So we were heartily shocked and more than a little pleased to learn that the publishers of these particular books -- Manning Publications Co. -- had included inserts in their paper books such that you could register an account with them and download ebook versions of the paper book you already owned. Sweet!

And they don't just limit you to one version: you can get mobi (Kindle), epub, and pdf versions, as well as a zip file download of code examples. Which means that he can read the epub version on his secondhand Nook, and later mark up the PDF version with a stylus on our Galaxy Note. And this is obviously freaking awesome. Best of all, the Manning downloads appear to be DRM-free. (They may have social DRM or watermarking; I haven't checked. Note that those do carry privacy issues.)

This isn't just a nice bonus for everyone. For many people, being able to switch between a print version and an electronic version is a disability issue. If your wrist breaks or you hurt your back or you develop a hernia or your arthritis starts flaring up or any number of other ailments suddenly drop in like they do, you are still able to enjoy your hobbies and/or perform your work without knowing that you're going to have to shell out thousands just to replicate your library into a format that's compatible with your disability. I cannot describe how psychologically important that is.

So here's a shout out to Manning Publications Co. for being awesome.

Review: Skinomi TechSkin for Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

[Content Note: Ads]

Skinomi TechSkin for Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 / B00C9HYTVS

Normally I like the Skinomi skins; they aren't good for eInk devices (as I belatedly learned with my Kindle), but they work well with tablets and phones. And I love that the wet application method reduces bubbles and fingerprints and all the other little hassles which accompany putting on tablet skins.

However, I have sadly learned that the Skinomi skins simply do not agree with the S-Pen that comes with the Samsung Note. The Skinomi skin has a pleasant "give" to it that makes it spongy, and the pen presses down into the spongy skin and leaves a permanent impression. After the Skinomi skin was applied, I drew a dinosaur later that night with the Sketch 'Em app, and the dinosaur was permanently etched into the skin to be seen forevermore. I ended up having to peel the skin off and toss it; a complete waste.

I have attached pictures which I hope illustrate the problem. 

~ Ana Mardoll

Film Corner: Will Graham is a Raging Asshole

[Content Note: Murder, Rape, Animal Cruelty, Misogynistic Language, Red Dragon spoilers]

@ rockmnation.com
I wanted to like Will Graham.

No. Stop. Wait. Let me first back up and give everyone a little view into the super-happy-unicorn-fun of pop-culture blogging in our corporate dystopia wasteland:

I wanted to head this post with a screenshot from the Red Dragon movie. I figured that would be easy.

First, I googled for the screen capture that I wanted: a picture of Will Graham as played by Ed Norton sitting cozily next to his wife Molly Graham as played by Mary-Louise Parker. I needed this very specific screenshot in order to make a point that I very much wish to make. It wasn't available on Google. Not terribly surprisingly, this one was [cn: gun violence] as was this one, neither of which I wanted. The first one has a tendency to focus on Will Graham's manpain over Molly's pain (this is made more explicit in the book) and the second one is more of an evaluatory image of Molly being attractive and reticent. I wanted an image which represented communion. I couldn't find it.

But that was no problem: I had purchased a used copy of the Red Dragon movie on blu-ray after I wrote about The Silence of the Lambs. (I could feel this post coming on, I suppose.) I don't usually buy movies on blu-ray, but the price was right and I knew I'd want a good picture quality for the blog. So I got up from my desk, popped the movie into my computer, lined up to the scene I wanted, played the pause-play-rewind-play-pause game until I had precisely the shot I wanted, and pressed the PRINT SCREEN button on my keyboard.

Some of you know what's coming next.

Fat Acceptance: Drawing Anime

[Content Note: Fat Hatred]

I've been having fun lately with a stylus and the Sketch 'Em app on the Google Market, which is supposed to be a drawing tutorial for the "artistically aspiring". It's really just a tracing program, but with the pieces of the sketch appearing little by little as you fill in the lines. But I've been disappointed with the content, which is entirely divided between Dinosaurs (yawn) and Anime, specifically the kind of anime that I would prefer not to draw because it replicates harmfully unrealistic views of human bodies.