Your liberal media.

imageNew York State Capitol building.
CC-BY-SA-3.0/Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia

The city of Albany, New York and its surrounding area is the third most populous metropolitan region in the state and 38th in the country. Over a million people live in the Capital District alone. The Capitol building is recognized as one of the most beautiful state houses in the nation, but it has an ugly side: it has long been home to the most dysfunctional and corrupt legislature in the country. Although pundits prefer euphemisms like “conservative Democratic political machine,” the entire scam is actually run by the Squirrel People, along with their BFFs and natural allies among Dick Cheney’s Lizard People. It should surprise no one that leading up the recent New York primary, the Squirrel People of Albany were loyal campaigners for Hillary Clinton; she was (and is) supported by every name brand Democratic politician in the state. Albany’s Times Union, the largest local newspaper in the region, endorsed her. Clinton won the New York primary handily by about 15 points, collecting 139 of the state’s delegates to Sanders’ 108.

Interestingly, Sanders beat Clinton in the Albany metropolitan region by almost 7 points—but Albany’s Times Union didn’t report it.

The Times Unionarticle posted on the night of the primary didn’t mention Sanders’s victory at all. Instead, the article, headlined “Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton win in New York,” gave the impression of a Clinton and Trump sweep. “New York,” it proclaimed, “turned out to be the state where the presidential front-runners regained their mojo.” Although the article devoted a good deal of attention to the activities of primary voters in the capital district, it somehow omitted reporting on whom they had voted for.

[Read more…]

Mothers Day 2016.

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Thank you to all the moms who are raising generations of kinder and wiser people. I appreciate you this Mothers Day—and always—for making the world a better place.

For those who face a difficult time on Mothers Day, I get you. Whether it’s grieving the loss of a beloved mother (or mother figure) in your life, and/or navigating an abusive or toxic family member, please be extra kind to yourself and do whatever you need to do to feel safe and loved. You don’t need anyone’s permission to do that, you know.

By the way, if anyone is looking for me over the weekend, I’ll be in Mothers Day hell.

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Mothers Day finger sandwiches.

FROM HELL.

Sorry gay people! You don’t get to go to crappy cartoon paradise!

This video produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses has been making the rounds in my feeds, and I finally watched it this morning. Pink News has a partial transcript, but the gist of it is a little girl gets coached by her mom to tell her friend that God does not approve of her same-sex parents’ lifestyle, nosiree, not one bit, and he will not let them play in his sandbox if they don’t straighten up. (Geddit? Straighten up? Hahaha I crack myself up.)

There is much to mock here of course, but also much to fear. This is indoctrination into bullying for the elementary school set which, if the roles and messaging were reversed, would have the religious right screaming about persecution. (And for once they might actually have a point.) No child deserves to be told that her parents are going to burn in a lake of fire forever for the unspeakable crime of loving each other and raising a family together. And in a nod to widely-discredited and dangerous “conversion therapy,” mom tells the kid, “People can change. That’s why we share his message.”

STFU 4EVER KTHX.

The most heartbreaking part of it is that the little girl has it exactly right when she tells her mom, “Carrie drew two mommies. She told me they’re married to each other. My teacher says that all that matters is that people love each other and that they’re happy.”

But mom’s not having any of that. And neither is the ultimate bully, Jehovah. Mom says:

“People have their own ideas about what is right and wrong – but what matters is how Jehovah feels. He wants us to be happy and he knows how we can be happiest. That’s why he invented marriage the way he did.”

“I’LL TELL YOU WHEN YOU’RE FUCKING HAPPY, RAWR!!!” -God.

Christ, what a shitshow. Anyway, let’s just focus for a minute on this paradise we’re all supposed to want to get into. With a truly bizarre metaphor, mom compares entering heaven to…getting on an airplane. If you’ve ever flown coach on American, I’m sure you’ll grok the irony here. Worse: in this scenario a gay partner is forbidden cargo, and Jehovah is the TSA? Or something?

MOM: It’s kind of like going on an airplane – what would happen if someone wanted to bring something on the plane that wasn’t allowed?

KID: They can’t go on the trip!

MOM: Right! It’s the same with Jehovah! He wants us to be his friend, and live in paradise forever, but we have to follow his standards to get there…To get there we have to leave some things behind – that means anything Jehovah doesn’t approve of.

The cartoon d00d looks at his (super gay!) bag, twice, before unceremoniously ditching it and dashing through the heavenly purple metal detector.

heavenlytsa

Leave your gay “baggage” behind—and enter hay fever paradise.

I wouldn’t want to share an elevator ride with these insufferable assholes, much less eternity.

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Just your regular reminder (on the remote chance there’s no Wifi in the afterlife): if you’re looking for me, I’ll see you in hell. 2nd circle, VIP section.

US health care is sickening.

The theme of my day yesterday was health care. First, I read this blood pressure spiking article from Pro Publica. Remember when I mentioned payday lending? Well, it’s the same idea—leeching off of the very people who can least afford it—except with medical debt.

In 2013, 79,000 debt collection lawsuits were filed in Nebraska, a state with fewer than 2 million residents. One collection agency in the state files an average of 120 lawsuits a day. The charges are often less than $100, but the judgements tack on court costs, attorney fees and interest, so for example one bill for $66 became $275. The collection agency then proceeds to relentlessly seize meager bank accounts and garnish the wages of low income people. Nice racket, right?

Nebraska may be the most egregious outlier among the 50 states, but it is hardly alone. The number one cause of personal bankruptcy in the US is medical debt; it results in more collection actions than credit cards. And the majority of bankruptcy filers have some type of health insurance.

This is your health care on capitalism.

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Rebranding anthropological textbooks.

This link to a blog post by design anthropologist Dori Tunstall has been popping up in my feeds.

Beloit College Anthropologist, Associate Professor Jennifer Esperanza was feeling frustrated. Why is there always images of “exotic” peoples on the cover of anthropology textbooks? “Why can’t there be images of, for example, a group of white American women eating salads, on the cover?,” she asked.

Why indeed.

The design brief that I offered to my former Swinburne Design Anthropology postgraduate students was the following:

Greetings Danthro Alums. I have a quick weekend project for you to do as a favor. A friend of mine pointed out how all anthropology textbooks have these “exotic” images of others on the covers and never an image of “white women eating salad”. 

Me, being Dr. Smarty Pants, said, “Wouldn’t it be great to replace those exotica images with those of middle class American/Australian Caucasians doing stuff, maybe even using stock photos?”

So, I would ask you to select a cover from a cultural anthropology textbook and replace the “exotica” image with an image equivalent of “white women eating salad.”

Design anthropologist, business coach, and branding specialist, Julie Hill accepted the challenge and produced nine images for the project. She describes her experience below:

I found this exercise interesting and fun to explore. Especially focusing on the shift in the lens, from traditional anthropology to contemporary ethnography, and what that means. The longer I did it, the more interesting it got – I accessed deeper cultural themes, such as beauty, festivities or core cultural values.

I found the results of this exercise thrilling and thought-provoking. See what you think. [Read more…]

Twitter bot mockery FTW.

A good friend and Loyal Reader™ linked me to this Twitter feed, with the comment “I swear you’re behind this.” It’s generated by a bot (named Joel Dongsteen) that replaces the word “God” with “your dick” in the tweets of the insufferable pastor Joel Osteen. Much hilarity ensues.

Hahaha. Awesome.

While I am deeply flattered by my friend’s complimentary* comparison to the fine work of Mr. Dongsteen, I never in a million years would have done this. I would have replaced “God” with “your vagina.”

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*A psychologist once taught me to take anything as a compliment if it can be reasonably construed that way. Depression-prone veterans of cognitive therapy will recognize this tactic as an antidote to taking everything—literally everything—as a validation of our worst and most irrational convictions about ourselves. But then I thought, why stop there? Instead of simply negating those persistent negative thoughts with reality-based assessments, why not take everything as a compliment that can possibly be construed that way, even unreasonably? I mean, if unreasonable interpretations of everyday messages and events are a core part of the depressive psyche, why can’t they be a really fun part of the cure? In any case, it’s very satisfying to deliberately react with ostentatious gratitude to intentional insults lobbed in your direction; you feel great, and it confuses the hell out of your enemies.

Signs of the times.

On a lovely day this weekend, I went for lunch at an outdoor waterside bar in a small town in Northern Maryland where my mother lives. Part of the, uh, decor comprised three signs, all hung on the bar within a few feet of each other.

L: pinup-style drawing of apparently topless smiling woman from collar bone up with text that reads "MEN, no shirt no service, WOMEN, no shirt free drinks!" C: silhouette of animal featuring large antlers with text that reads "Every hunter loves a big rack." R: "WANTED: Good Woman, Able to Clean, Cook, Sew, Dig Worms And Clean Fish. Must Have Boat and Motor. PLEASE SEND PICTURE OF BOAT AND MOTOR."

L: pinup-style drawing of smiling, apparently topless woman from collar bone up with text that reads “MEN, no shirt no service, WOMEN, no shirt free drinks!”
C: silhouette of animal featuring large antlers with text that reads “EVERY HUNTER LOVES A BIG RACK.”
R: “WANTED: Good Woman, Able to Clean, Cook, Sew, Dig Worms And Clean Fish. Must Have Boat and Motor. PLEASE SEND PICTURE OF BOAT AND MOTOR.”

Now I get kitsch, I really do. And I love pinup art, especially my friend’s photography. And I’m not exactly humorless—well, at least not for one of those horrible feminists, anyway.

But here’s the thing.

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Casualties of conservatives.

[CONTENT NOTE: suicide.]

I woke up this lovely morning to a news alert from The Washington Post about soaring suicide rates in the U.S.:

The U.S. suicide rate has increased sharply since the turn of the century, led by an even greater rise among middle-aged white people, particularly women, according to federal data released Friday.

Well, not exactly. Ten paragraphs later, we learn that Native Americans and Alaska Natives have seen an even greater rate of increased suicides than whites. There’s even a colorful graphic and everything:

[Read more…]

I approve this mockery.

IMAGE: Sunset at Waterrock Knob © Robert Ludlow, North Carolina photographer (Used with permission. All rights reserved.)IMAGE: Sunset at Waterrock Knob
© Robert Ludlow, North Carolina photographer
(Used with permission. All rights reserved.)

As readers here know, the stunningly beautiful state of North Carolina recently enacted an egregious law that voids and prohibits any and all anti-discrimination statutes enacted by local municipalities to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, among others. The law also prohibits local anti-discrimination statutes and/or state law remedies for discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, ethnicity and religion. And since this was not nearly enough doucheweaselry to pack into a single bill introduced in an “emergency session” and passed into law 11 hours and 10 minutes later, it went even further: with respect to public-sector contractors, HB2 also prohibits local municipalities from enacting laws concerning minimum wages, health insurance standards, family leave policies, child welfare protections and the number of consecutive hours an employee is required to work without a break. I mean that is impressive people, amirite?

The most notorious provision of HB2 is the one requiring people to use restrooms corresponding to their assigned gender at birth. Putting aside (for the purposes of this particular rant) its significant implications for those of nonbinary genders, HB2 means, among other things, that these people must now use restrooms designated “WOMEN”: [Read more…]