Sunday Reads: Hero Shrews, Jim Crows and Deep Fried HexapusPosted: July 28, 2013
It’s the last Sunday in July, can you believe it?
I’ve got a variety of links for you this morning, several of them are rather long so you will need to go and read them in full because the articles are very good and should not be missed.
To start, let’s look at some headlines this morning:
The violence in Egypt is escalating: With dozens dead, U.S. tells Egypt to pull ‘back from the brink’ | Reuters
Yesterday the news out of Anthony Weiner’s campaign was yet another chance for Drudge to use the phrase “pulls out” in a headline, as in Weiner’s Campaign Manager Pulls Out: Weiner’s Campaign Manager Quits After Latest Revelations – NYTimes.com
Did you see this story out of Italy? Damn, it is disgusting…and is relavent to some of the other links I have for you today. Bananas Thrown At Black Italian Minister, Cecile Kyenge, During Speech
Italy’s first black minister, a target of racist slurs since her appointment in April, has condemned a spectator who threw bananas towards her while she was making a speech at a party rally.
Integration minister Cecile Kyenge, who was born in Democratic Republic of Congo, has angered far-right groups with her campaign to make it easier for immigrants to gain Italian citizenship.
Shortly before the incident on Friday, members of the right-wing Forza Nuova group left mannequins covered in fake blood at the site of the rally in Cervia, central Italy, in protest against Kyenge’s proposal to make anyone born on Italian soil a citizen.
“Immigration kills,” was written on leaflets accompanying the dummies – a slogan Forza Nuova has previously used when referring to murders committed by immigrants in Italy.
Although the bananas missed the stage where Kyenge was speaking, she responded to the gesture on Twitter, calling it “sad” and a waste of food, considering the economic crisis.
“The courage and optimism to change things has to come above all from the bottom up to reach the institutions,” she added.
There was also a new Op/Ed in the New York Times, A New Defense of Voting Rights
On Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. took an important step toward repairing the damage from last month’s Supreme Court ruling striking down a central element of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He is right to adopt an aggressive approach to defending the most fundamental right in our democracy.
In a federal lawsuit first brought by black and Hispanic voters against Texas over its redistricting maps, the Justice Department relied on a rarely used provision of the act, Section 3, to ask a federal court to require Texas to get permission before making any voting changes in the state.
Until last month, Texas already had to get such permission under the act’s “preclearance” process. This process had long been the most effective means of preventing racial bias in voting laws in states with histories of discrimination. It required state and local governments that wanted to change the laws to first show there would be no discriminatory effect. In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the act as unconstitutional; that provision laid out the formula that determined which jurisdictions had to get permission.
This is something that Ralph has been posting articles about in the comment section for quiet a while now…go to the link up top to read the rest of the op/ed. No disagreement with it from me…but I post it here along with the banana incident and this interview with Justice Ginsberg from last week, where she discusses the ramifications of SCOTUS decision on the Voting Rights Amendment: Ginsburg says push for voter ID laws predictable
Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg poses for a photo in her chambers at the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2013, before an interview with the Associated Press. Ginsburg said during the interview that it was easy to foresee that Southern states would push ahead with tougher voter identification laws and other measures once the Supreme Court freed them from strict federal oversight of their elections. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she’s not surprised that Southern states have pushed ahead with tough voter identification laws and other measures since the Supreme Court freed them from strict federal oversight of their elections.Ginsburg said in an interview with The Associated Press that Texas’ decision to implement its voter ID law hours after the court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act last month was powerful evidence of an ongoing need to keep states with a history of voting discrimination from making changes in the way they hold elections without getting advance approval from Washington.
“The notion that because the Voting Rights Act had been so tremendously effective we had to stop it didn’t make any sense to me,” Ginsburg said in a wide-ranging interview late Wednesday in her office at the court. “And one really could have predicted what was going to happen.”The 80-year-old justice dissented from the 5-4 decision on the voting law. Ginsburg said in her dissent that discarding the law was “like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”
Just a month removed from the decision, she said, “I didn’t want to be right, but sadly I am.”
Damn, her voice states the truth of this decision…and down here in the South…we are in an awfully wet monsoon.
Roberts relied heavily on another decision from 2009 in which the justices essentially left the law alone while warning Congress about serious problems with the data and urging lawmakers to do something about it. They didn’t.
In that case, Ginsburg joined Roberts and every justice but Clarence Thomas to leave prior approval in place.
Ginsburg said she probably shouldn’t have done that. “I think in the first voting rights case, there was a strong impetus to come down with a unanimous decision with the thought that maybe Congress would do something about it before we had to deal with it again,” she said. “But I suppose with the benefit of hindsight, I might have taken a different view.”
As I said up top, this is one of those articles you need to follow the link to read the rest of the interview, where she discusses affirmative action and other items like Scalia and his vocal position on gay marriage.
The next three articles are dealing with college campuses, and the rape culture mindset. I know that Boston Boomer and Mona have written about this recently, and you have probably already read a couple of the articles but I just thought I’d bring them up again.
From the New York Times: Sex on Campus – She Can Play That Game, Too
At 11 on a weeknight earlier this year, her work finished, a slim, pretty junior at the University of Pennsylvania did what she often does when she has a little free time. She texted her regular hookup — the guy she is sleeping with but not dating. What was he up to? He texted back: Come over. So she did. They watched a little TV, had sex and went to sleep.
Their relationship, she noted, is not about the meeting of two souls.
“We don’t really like each other in person, sober,” she said, adding that “we literally can’t sit down and have coffee.”
Ask her why she hasn’t had a relationship at Penn, and she won’t complain about the death of courtship or men who won’t commit. Instead, she’ll talk about “cost-benefit” analyses and the “low risk and low investment costs” of hooking up.
“I positioned myself in college in such a way that I can’t have a meaningful romantic relationship, because I’m always busy and the people that I am interested in are always busy, too,” she said.
“And I know everyone says, ‘Make time, make time,’ ” said the woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity but agreed to be identified by her middle initial, which is A. “But there are so many other things going on in my life that I find so important that I just, like, can’t make time, and I don’t want to make time.”
That is enough of that.
Here is one response, via The Guardian: End the rape culture at university | Alexandra Brodsky
When someone attempted to rape me my freshman year, I asked my college, Yale University, for help, but instead I was basically advised to keep quiet. I shouldn’t formally report the assault, I was told. Despite my clear and repeated “no”, school administrators cast the whole event as a misunderstanding among friends.
In short, I was told to be a good girl. And for four years, I listened.
Women everywhere are used to being told to accommodate those who wrong us. With family, friends, bosses, and partners, we must always be understanding and flexible, ready to dig deep into our well of second chances and generosity. We must never complain or make trouble.
Our devotion to this image of the good girl particularly infects our responses to survivors of sexual violence. As the media coverage of the Steubenville trial showed, those who seek justice are blamed for overreacting and “ruining the lives” of their rapists. Because of our insistence on the femininity of victims, even male and genderqueer survivors are held to the good girl standard.
And this link here is to a response from earlier this week, and I actually read the article shortly after it was published in the Guardian…so I got to see some of the offensive comments before they were omitted by the Guardian staff. I obviously don’t need to tell you what the jest of the statements were…you already are familiar with that sort of shit talk.
Frat party in full swing. Photograph: Chuck Savage/Corbis
It’s freshman year. I’m at a new student orientation party at the University of Pennsylvania, wondering what exactly is in my cup. “Jungle juice”, I’m told, as if that should explain things. I make out the words “everclear” and “blackout drunk” over the din of awful house music blasting from the expensive-looking speakers in some fraternity house. I have no idea what’s going on, and neither do many of my fellow classmates, which doesn’t stop them from passing out drunk.
I stayed for an hour or so – enough time to get asked, in the tradition of great cliches, if I were a lesbian, a prude, or a slut. Enough time to see multiple strangers pair off in dark corners, trying and failing to stand up straight.
From expensive bottles of vodka to nonexistent conversation, to black lights and vomit, this was an idea of fun that I hoped wouldn’t cross over to all sectors of campus life – though I eventually found out that it did. Swap out vodka for beer, or cheap nameless grain liquor, fraternity houses for bars or clubs, and this scene was replicated over and over for four years.
For an elite few at Penn, that night was fairly typical, including the confusion felt. A friend I wouldn’t meet for another three years was raped that night, at that party, probably in the room I stood in for all of 60 minutes. That was not too unusual an occurrence either.
“It’s not representative!” “It’s too accurate!” “It’s not news!” “It’s old news!”
Well, this next bit is the part of Jalabi response that I want to highlight…
The reporter chose my alma mater for her exploration of college-age women’s sexuality, and her findings indicate that women were leaning into their careers and opting out of long-term romantic entanglements, for which they didn’t have the time, in favor of fleeting sexual encounters. In short, they were “hooking up”.
I have since graduated, but some of the observations made in Kate Taylor’s article rang an unfortunate bell, one I hear loudly tolling – even 100 miles and two years away from campus. That hook-up culture is now rampant is no surprise to me or anyone else who’s graduated from college in the last 25 years. But women, Taylor tells us, are the driving force behind hooking up in 2013, a product of a generation of women facing “broader opportunities” than ever before.
But this assertion of women’s agency in sexual encounters doesn’t sound quite right. How are we to interpret the fact that, despite their insistence on being sexually liberated, the women Taylor featured wouldn’t let their names (or number of sexual partners) be printed? Evidently, they still feared unwelcome repercussions from their touted sexual liberation.
…sentences such as: “Women said universally that hook-ups could not exist without alcohol, because they were for the most part too uncomfortable to pair off with men they did not know well without being drunk,” or “In general, she said, she thought that guys at Penn controlled the hook-up culture” sound more like the university life I knew.
So-called “hook-up culture” never was about women taking control. Instead, it always seemed to me a by-product of an institutionally destructive “college culture”, one that hurts women and whose effects can still be felt years after graduation.
College culture is a nebulous term, one defined divergently along racial, socio-economic, religious and geographic lines – lines that, on a campus like Penn’s, still hold incredible sway. I’m aware that my experiences are not necessarily representative of 8,000 other undergraduates’, but anecdotally, looking back, I can’t think of a single woman who spoke of exclusively positive experiences on campus.
From my friend who was raped at that “typical” Penn party, to the myriad others who were similarly subjected to sexual violence; to respected professors dismissing shared thoughts with a casual “thanks for that, sweetheart” in a room full of male peers; to grievous double standards when it came to sororities’ and fraternities’ respective rights and privileges; to disillusionment with our female university president’s indifference to women’s efforts on campus; to being labeled a lesbian-prude-slut for not hooking up … every female student had a story, and most of them weren’t pretty.
Through various women’s groups I was involved with on campus, I interacted with hundreds of different women: gay, straight, Catholic, black, poor, wealthy, white and more. And in our conversations, whether structured or informal, we kept coming back to the same issue: women rarely felt “safe” on campus – safe from familial, academic and peer pressures, safe walking home alone from a party at the other end of campus, safe from the dreaded email circular with an unflattering and compromising image, safe from friends’ judgment. Statistically, one in four college women will survive rape or attempted rape. This is the “culture” we should be looking at more closely.
Wow, powerful stuff…go. Read the rest of her article. Now.
In fact, I will take this opportunity to pause a moment…more reads after the jump.
So, I’ve got one more “rape culture” mindset article for you, it is not dealing with college universities. This is dealing with a family courtroom. Check this out: Disturbing Video Shows Court Officer Sexually Assaulting, Then Arresting Mother While Judge Does Nothing
A CBS affiliate in Clark County, Nevada, has uncovered video of a disturbing incident in family court, in which a mother present for a routine proceeding is sexually assaulted and then arrested in full view of the court. An internal investigation has since revealed that both the harassment and its alleged cover-up may be part of a wider problem of abuse within the family court system.
The initial events took place in 2011, when Monica Contreras was led from the court into a waiting room for a supposed, though unexplained, drug search. She then says a court marshal named Ron Fox touched her and ordered her to lift up her shirt. When she fled back into the courtroom and complained to the hearing master, asking at least for a female marshal, Fox had her arrested for “making false accusations against a police officer.”
Contreras’ two year old daughter was present the entire time. The hearing master, Patricia Doninger, never responded as Contreras pleaded with her and the marshall to know why she was being arrested, instead turning her chair from the incident to play with Conteras’ duaghter. At one point in the video, Contreras is heard begging Doninger to turn around and watch what was happening to her.
Contreras filed a complaint with internal affairs, and Fox has since been fired—though Contreras only found that out when the news station told her. The hearing master is also “no longer employed” by the court, the station learned.
The internal investigation has reportedly uncovered numerous additional incidents of abuse in the family court, and now is investigating why none have been reported.
Video at the link…you can see the full six minutes of Conteras begging to be listened to at the local station’s link here: I-Team: Cover-Up Alleged in Clark County Family Court – 8 News NOW
Contreras said Fox touched her buttocks, breast, and ordered her to lift up her shirt. A later internal investigation by Clark County courts validated her claims. Contreras went back into the same courtroom and told hearing master Patricia Donninger that her requests to have a female marshal handle the search were ignored.
“I think I’d rather have a female in here and he went anyway. I was just offended by it. I’m just offended that he asked me,” an upset Contreras told Donninger, who did not respond to her.
The video shows Marshal James Kenyon preparing to arrest Contreras. She can be heard pleading with him.
“For what, sir? Why would I be arrested? Can you please tell me?”
Marshal Kenyon is heard telling Contreras to turn around and put her hands behind her back. As Contreras continues to ask why she is being arrested, marshal Ron Fox replies.
“Because of false allegations made against a police officer,” he told her.
The I-Team could find no law that would support the arrest. It is also highly unlikely a sexual assault victim would be placed under arrest by the alleged assaulter.
After repeated attempts by the marshals to get Contreras to recant her story, she breaks down.
“Let me go. It was all lies. I don’t want to deal with anything. It was all lies. All lies. All lies. All lies. Please stop,” she said.
Fox tells Contreras the only way she can avoid jail is to step up to the microphone and recant. Contreras agrees, but does the opposite.
“You put me in a room. You asked me to lift up my shirt without a witness,” Contreras said into the microphone.
At that point, Fox replied, “OK, take her to jail.”
For four minutes, Contreras pleaded to hearing master Patricia Donninger to listen to her, but Donninger never acknowledged Contreras, instead she talked and played with Contreras’s daughter.
“How can you do this to me? How can you watch?” Contreras pleaded.
Contreras kisses her daughter before being sent to jail. Her young daughter was sent to Child Haven. Two months later, Contreras filed a complaint with Court Marshal Internal Affairs.
Sources tell the I-Team, investigators were shocked they had not heard of the alleged courthouse sexual assault from family court Lt. Steve Rushfield. After a six-month internal affairs investigation, Fox was fired.
Nobody from Clark County courts told Contreras that her claims were validated. She only recently found out from the I-Team.
It is disgusting.
The rest of the links will be in link dump fashion…do take some time to check them out!
I don’t know where they get the “Hero” name from…is it from the show Heroes? Couldn’t they come up with a more creative name for this thing?
- A new species of Hero Shrew with the ‘most bizarre mammalian spine on Earth’ has been found in the Democratic Republic of Congo
- Chicago’s Field Museum examined its spine, which has previously baffled evolutionary biologists to suggest that the little creature uses it to lift rocks
- The unique interlocking vertebrae of the Hero Shrew render its spine four to five times more robust relative to body mass
North Pole Melting Leaves Small Lake At The Top Of The World (VIDEO) –That is one scary lake to see!
Samantha Geimer Book: Polanski Victim’s Memoir Cover Hides Surprising Twist (PHOTO)-This looks like in interesting book…but I don’t know if I could read it myself.
9 ‘Old Wives’ Tales’ That Are Actually True (PHOTOS)-Uh, just here for shit’s sake.
Ready to get a laugh? John Pike, Pepper-Spraying Cop, Seeks Workers Comp From UC Davis
Oh, and that major fuck-up reporting job over the names of the pilots that flew the jet that crashed in San Francisco earlier this month? Here is an update: Embarrassing KTVU report allegedly started as an internal joke
Kate and William: royals living the dream of modern middle class parents? I think the second paragraph is a telling paragraph:
The royal family has had more scandalous sub-plots than any television soap. There’s been madness, abdication, fornication – and many of them have included a George – but, two decades after the Queen’s “annus horribilis”, how skilfully the team has revived, restored and reincarnated itself, blessed by the apparent ordinariness, warmth and ease of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
It’s an irony – or perhaps a lucky twist of fate for ardent royalists – that just as the middle classes are imploding, whacked by flatlining salaries, rising prices, low interest rates, restricted employment opportunities, a weak pound against the euro cancelling out that second holiday, escalating boarding-school fees and the dawning understanding that social mobility means dropping down several rungs as well as climbing up, here is a couple who can live out their lives in a fantasy middle-class bubble.
And finally…from the dumbass files: Tourist Smashes, Kills, Eats Octopus Only To Find Out It’s An Extremely Rare ‘Hexapus’
A tourist killed and ate an octopus he found while on vacation with his family in Greece, only to discover the rare six-limbed “hexapus” was the second ever found.
Labros Hydras, a 49-year-old mechanical engineer from Washington, D.C., was snorkeling in Greece when he saw a six-legged octopus at Papa Nero beach on the Pelion peninsula, according to the United Kingdom’s South West News Service.
He pulled the creature from the water and smashed it against a rock to kill it. When he took it to a local tavern to be cooked, the chef refused. Hydras then fried it up on his own, eating it with a slice of tomato and lemon, before he researched and discovered the octopus was actually an extremely rare, six-limbed hexapus.
You ready for the idiotic jerk’s statements?
“It tasted just like a normal octopus but now I feel really bad,” Hydras told SWNS. “When we caught it, there was nothing to suggest it was any different or had been damaged. I thought it had just been born with six tentacles. We go to Greece every year and when we catch an octopus we do the same thing so we just did not think about it.”
He now plans to pursue the “scientific angle” and use his photos to help make scientists more aware of this animal.
Because the culinary angle was an ordinary one.
The only other hexapus ever discovered was found in Wales in 2008. “Henry” lived out his days at the Blackpool Sea Life Centre in England.
“We’ve scoured the Internet and talked to lots of other aquariums, and no one has ever heard of another case of a six-legged octopus,” an aquarium supervisor told the Agence France-Presse at the time.
One marine biology professional recently offered theories on how the hexapus came to be.
“It is rare to find an octopus like this,” Matt Bentley, a marine biology professor at Newcastle University, told the Telegraph about the hexapus found in Greece. “There is every possibility it could have grown an abnormality in early development. But there is nothing to suggest it that it is a different species. Another explanation is it could have been injured and has healed very well over time.”
Sad isn’t it? You can go take a look at the “cooked” plated up hexapus at the link…I was going to put the picture up here but I decided not to…it was just too depressing to see the thing shriveled up on the plate with a pathetic mangled slice of tomato. I also didn’t want to horrify Connie aka ecocatwoman…I know that she would be upset by it.
I don’t want to end on a bad note so, have you all seen this new series on Netflex? Orange Is the New Black? Here is a review of it from Tom and Lorenzo: You Need to be Watching “Orange is the New Black” | Tom & Lorenzo
NOTE: This post will be so gushing that we feel we should skip right to the end and thank Netflix for buying us that car.
But really, that’s how much we’re going to gush. Bear in mind the last time we pretty much ordered y’all to watch a TV show was when we wrote a little post entitled “If you’re not watching Mad Men, you’re crazy.” And we all know how that one turned out, don’t we? Trust us: you need to watch this show. We would like to think that our personalities are so forceful and our reputation for being tastemakers and pop culture influencers so impeccable that we don’t have to write another word and you’re all making firm commitments to watch the show immediately, but you’re going to make us keep typing to convince you, aren’t you? Fine.
Based on Piper Kerman’s best-selling memoir of the same name, the Netflix original series tells the more fictionalized story of Piper Chapman, a privileged, engaged WASP who finds herself doing time in a federal prison because she had a same-sex fling in college ten years before with a glamorous drug runner who got her involved in the business. Her youthful fuckup catches up with her just as she’s about to launch her line of artisanal soaps and settle into newly engaged bliss with her perfect fiance, Larry. We don’t blame you if this doesn’t sound appealing; like some sort of borderline-offensive cross between Private Benjamin and Oz, glossing over the realities of the U.S. prison system by looking at it through the eyes of a white woman. You’ll be happy to know that not only is the show way more than that, but it’s so self-aware that it makes both Private Benjamin and Oz jokes during the season. Hell, it’s so self-aware that it has an African-American character saying to a white character, “This isn’t The fucking Help, bitch, but you will eat my shit.”
What we want to get across to you more than anything else is just how much this show sticks with you for days after you watch it. Since the entire season dropped on Netflix last week we wound up binge-watching the whole thing. Maybe you could be a little more judicious in your viewing and spread it out more, but honestly, we don’t see how. Practically every episode ends with the viewer wanting more, urging them to immediately click on the next one.
Actually, that’s not quite true. That’s not what we want to get across to you the most. What we really want you to understand is that this show isn’t what you probably think it is.
Yes, it starts from the point of view of a white woman in the prison system; and yes, you are going to see the story play out some “caged women” tropes that could rightly be called cliche, like the shower sex and the prison yard death threats and the “scary” bull dykes and violently crazy women of color. But almost immediately, the show makes the choice to move past Piper and her wide-eyed introduction to this world in order to tell the stories of all the other women in there with her. By employing a series of Lost-style flashbacks in order to show everyone’s path to a life behind bars, the show can go pretty much anywhere in American life and shine a light on it. The result is a story about choices and about the losses that come with bad ones. This is why it’s such a good show and why it sticks with you for days; because there isn’t an adult alive who can’t understand how hard it is to make choices and how devastating it is when those choices backfire and the punishments come.
But, in some ways, more importantly, this show isn’t just about general, universal truths. These are clearly and specifically women’s stories; about the choices women have to make in this world and about the millions of different ways the world conspires to rob women of their agency or hold them back from their potential. This is not to say that every character is an innocent flower and merely a victim. No, these are difficult, hard women; and their choices are not always easy to watch, but they are almost always understandable and heartbreaking.
But digging down even further, it’s clear to us that the strength of the tale isn’t that it’s universal and isn’t even that it’s women-specific, but that it tells the stories of the types of women who don’t get their stories told in our culture: black women, Hispanic women, fat women, butch women, bi women, old women, immigrant women, uneducated women – and even a trans woman’s story. When the season is done, you will be astonished at the vast range of women you’ve been exposed to and if you reflect on it, will probably be a little depressed that such stories are so rare in our culture.
Oh…T&L go on for quite a while more, so go read the rest of the review at the link. I’ve seen the whole first season and it is very good, the review above is pretty accurate in my opinion. Which is why I thought this next little nugget of news was so interesting: ‘Orange Is The New Black’ Star Laverne Cox’s Twin Brother Plays Her Pre-Transition Counterpart (VIDEO)
Transgender actress Laverne Cox covers some familiar ground in her role in Netflix’s “Orange Is The New Black,” which includes the emotional story of her character Sophia Burset’s transition from man to woman.
But that’s where the similarities between life and art end. Unlike Cox, her character is a prison inmate. And even more unlike her real life, a completely different person played the man who existed pre-transition.
And it wasn’t just any different person — it was her twin brother.
Funny innit…how things work out.
Cox dished to HuffPost Live’s Marc Lamont Hill about how her twin, musician M Lamar, got a role on “Orange Is The New Black” even though he isn’t an actor. An intensive casting process began when the production team needed a man who looked convincingly like Cox to appear in the scenes depicting Sophia’s backstory. Cox said a slew of “really butch black men” auditioned until a perfect solution fell into the show’s lap.
“Our casting director found out that I have a twin brother, and she insisted that he should audition for the role,” Cox said. “He auditioned, and he got the part.”
Though the casting turned out to have a happy ending, Cox said she originally wanted to play the male role herself. But Jodie Foster, who directed the episode in which Sophia’s backstory is explored, didn’t think it would work.
And……………that’s all folks!
Have a great Sunday, see y’all in the comments!