And can you believe this?
Cartoons via Cagle:
Some disturbing videos out of Yellowstone:
Meanwhile in Mexico City:
This kid has the moves:
And just an update…my daughter Bebe has a new kitten, she picks her up later tonight. It is a little 11week old female.
So have a good day, try to keep cool.
This tweet by Jim Cantore sums things up into one single word…yeah, that is your latest update on Hurricane Irma.
This post is a quick round-up of links and tweets on the storms. (Don’t forget about Jose.)
One of those cranes just collapsed on a building:
And if all this wasn’t bad enough:
A little humor to lighten the mood:
Houston sunk 2cm, thank you Harvey:
Update in the Mexico earthquake:
Guess y’all heard about the “stupids” in Florida and their plans to shoot at Irma? Even the sheriff had to make a statement.
LOLGOP had the perfect response:
I will end it there. This is an open thread.
Some times we need to be reminded that behind every individual is the potential to make a small or big difference. I’m celebrating them today.
The first picture you see is an artificial glacier that its creator–Sonam Wangchuk–has named an ice stupa. The mechanical engineer’s name means “lord of wisdom” in Tibetan. The stupa is a traditional Himalyan Buddhist representation of Buddha Mind. The ice stupas are turning into water giving oases in the middle of the harsh Ladakh plains and valleys. A tree farm grows in the “land of high passes”.
This is a land of extremes, where rainfall is scarce and temperatures range wildly from torrid to far below freezing.
The locals say it’s the only place in the world where a man, sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade, can suffer sunstroke and frostbite at the same time.
It’s the Ladakh region — meaning “land of high passes” — sandwiched between two of the world’s tallest mountain ranges, the Himalayas and the Kunlun.
Rainfall is rare here. Water, essential for irrigating the farmlands that are the lifeblood of the local population, mostly comes from melting snow and ice.
But climate change is making this land even drier, leaving farmers without water in the crucial planting months of April and May, right before the glaciers start to melt in the summer sun.
One man’s solution to the problem? Make more glaciers.
In 2014 a local mechanical engineer, Sonam Wangchuk, set out to solve the water crisis of the Ladakh.
The natural glaciers are shrinking due to rising global temperatures. For that reason, they provide far less water in early spring but then release a lot in the summer heat, shrinking even more.
Wangchuk had a simple idea: he wanted to balance this natural deficit by collecting water from melting snow and ice in the cold months, which would normally go to waste, and store it until spring, just when farmers need it the most.
“I once saw ice under a bridge in May and understood that it’s the sun that makes the ice melt, not ambient temperature,” he told CNN.
“I realized that ice can last a long time, even at low altitudes.”
Louisiana and Differently-abled Americans every where owe some thanks to Rock Star Rod Stewart.
Researchers trying to develop an AI realized two of their machines had created their own language. The code created was more efficient for the purpose of negotiating exchanges but it also creeping far from the English language the AI were supposed to use. Their negotiations led to an entirely new language and their shut-down.
An artificial intelligence system being developed at Facebook has created its own language. It developed a system of code words to make communication more efficient. Researchers shut the system down when they realized the AI was no longer using English.
The observations made at Facebook are the latest in a long line of similar cases. In each instance, an AI being monitored by humans has diverged from its training in English to develop its own language. The resulting phrases appear to be nonsensical gibberish to humans but contain semantic meaning when interpreted by AI “agents.”
The observations made at Facebook are the latest in a long line of similar cases. In each instance, an AI being monitored by humans has diverged from its training in English to develop its own language. The resulting phrases appear to be nonsensical gibberish to humans but contain semantic meaning when interpreted by AI “agents.”
Representative Maxine Waters continues to be a one woman show when it comes to unraveling the injustices and trespasses of Trumplandia. She skillfully shut down the mansplaing Treasuring Secretary Steve Mnuchin and went viral in the process.
When you’re, say, reading a book about politics, and suddenly interrupted by a man who “hasn’t read that one” but would like to supplement your reading with all of the information he’s heard related to it–maybe this was last week, and maybe this was a book about Russia (okay, this is a specific scenario)–do as Maxine Waters does. Look him in the eye blankly, and state, over and over:
Reclaiming my time.
Reclaiming my time.
Reclaiming my time.
Reclaiming my time.
Reclaiming my time.
Reclaiming my time.
Reclaiming my time.
Reclaiming my time.
For the record, this is a clip from the House Financial Services Committee hearing on Thursday, and Waters is referring to a group of Democrats’ formal request that the Treasury Department disclose President Trump’s financial ties to Russia. It has so far been ignored.
Secretary Mnuchin began his response by thanking Rep. Waters for her service to California. Like Mikayla at the Olympics, Rep. Waters was unimpressed. She cut him off, “We don’t want to take my time up with how great I am,” effectively winning the gold medal in interrogation with a breathtaking move called The You Got The Wrong One Today, Friend.
You don’t have to tell Rep. Waters how great she is. She is aware. Are you new? This isn’t a Lifetime Achievement Award dinner, this is a congressional hearing. Rep. Waters is trying to get the president impeached by lunch time and take the rest of the afternoon off. Let’s speed this up.
Poor Secretary Mnuchin; he never stood a chance. Rep. Waters doesn’t even let bespectacled boo-thang Chris Hayes get a word in and she actually likes him. You think you can just come up in here and give your life story when she wanted a simple answer? No, you cannot. Secretary Mnuchin showed up like that person at church who gives a testimony for 45 minutes and Maxine Waters is the organist who plays him off with a quickness. “Wrap it, buddy. Save it for the Rapture.”
First of all, if Maxine Waters writes you a letter, you better pull out your good stationary with the watermark, brush up on your Mavis Beacon skills and get to replying. How you gonna leave Rep. Waters on read? You tried to ghost her like a Tinder date.
And let’s not forget the Two Republican Women Senators who stood firm in the face of Republican threats and hostility.
Cities around the country are going around the EPA. Minneapolis is the latest city to post the climate change data deleted from the EPA website. Want Climate Data? Try the City of Minneapolis’ website.
The city of Minneapolis has joined cities around the country in posting thethat was deleted after the Trump administration took office. The posted data is a snapshot of the before climate the change information was removed.
Back in April, the EPA announced its updatedLanguage associated with the Clean Power Plan, written by the last administration, is out of date,” the EPA said. “Similarly, content related to climate and regulation is also being reviewed.”
In addition to Minneapolis, cities including Atlanta, Boston, Houston, San Francisco and Seattle have also posted the information.
(For more local news, click here to sign up for real-time news alerts and newsletters from Minnesota Patch, click here to find your local Minnesota Patch. Also, follow us on Facebook, and if you have an iPhone, click here to get the free Patch iPhone app.)
“Recognizing that climate change is real, the City is helping make sure people have access to information on it,” the city said in a statement. “The City is committed to taking action to adapt to climate threats while reducing its dependence on fossil fuels.”
Jeff Sessions continues to go after so-called “Sanctuary Cities”. These cities continue to resist despite threats to lose grants to their local police.
Local leaders of sanctuary jurisdictions also lashed out at the Justice Department last week.
“This is not the administration’s first attempt to unlawfully withhold funding, and it probably won’t be their last,” a spokesman for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the Chicago Tribune. “But we will not be bullied into abandoning our values.”
San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera told Courthouse News that the restriction may be unconstitutional. Supervisor Jane Kim told the news organization that the city would resist federal efforts to alter its policies.
“Threatening to cut San Francisco’s criminal justice grant funding because we are a sanctuary city will not change our commitment to protect our undocumented residents,” she said in a statement provided to Courthouse News.
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts shows us how we basically have one functional branch of government right now actively protecting the Constitution and looking out for our Bill of Rights.
Last week the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts issued a significant ruling concerning the enforcement of both federal immigration law and local law in the so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions. In this post I want to summarize the case, Sreynuon Lunn v. Commonwealth, and then briefly scrutinize a very peculiar legal claim advanced by the Trump-Sessions Justice Department. (Note that it is a bit unusual for the federal government to file a brief in state court when the legal issues concern state law, but the Trump administration is being aggressive, to say the least, on matters relating to immigration enforcement.)
First, by way of background, this case involves the power to arrest people. In America, the government’s power to arrest is limited by both constitutional and statutory law. The police may be able to write tickets for certain offenses (littering) but they are not arrestable offenses because that’s they way the legislature wrote the law. In places like North Korea, the police power to arrest is unlimited. The police there can arrest anyone at any time. To keep our country free, we have to be vigilant about governmental attempts to weaken the limits on the power to arrest.
Turning now to the case before the Massachusetts court, Sreynuon Lunn was being held in a jail cell at the Boston Municipal Court. The criminal charge against him, unarmed robbery, was dismissed.
When a criminal charge is dismissed by the court, that ordinarily means the prisoner must be freed. In this case, however, Lunn was not released. Local officials kept Lunn locked away because of a request from federal immigration police.
Hours later, federal police arrived and took Lunn into federal custody. Lunn’s attorneys filed an action in the state court that said the local officials acted unlawfully in keeping Lunn locked up when he was otherwise free to leave the jail.
The legal crux was this: What was the legal source of that power to arrest and detain?
The Massachusetts high court could not un-do what had already been done because it lost jurisdiction when Lunn was taken into federal custody, but it recognized that similar situations might arise—so it decided to go ahead and clarify its own law in this area. That is, whether local officials, going forward, should keep people like Lunn locked up at the request of federal immigration police.
The court’s analysis began with the first principles regarding the power to arrest. Depriving a person of his liberty, holding a person against his will, is an “arrest” under Massachusetts law.
President Trump’s announcement that he plans to ban transgender people from serving in the military made an end run around Defense Secretary James Mattis, calling into question a relationship that so far has seemed solid.
Until now, Trump has given Mattis latitude to do as he sees fit, granting the retired four-star general power to manage troop levels and other operational aspects of the United States’ wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
But on the issue of transgender troops, conservatives who worried that Mattis was steamrolling them won out, with Trump siding with them less than a month after Mattis committed to a six-month review of the issue.
“It’s never a good sign when a major policy pronouncement is made that was clearly not coordinated with senior leadership,” said a source familiar with the matter. “I can tell you, no matter how they’re spinning it, I was there that day, and everybody was caught — all the senior officers who were left there with Gen. Mattis on vacation — they were all caught totally flat footed. They were all scrambling, because they were getting killed by Congress for not giving a heads up.”
On Wednesday, Trump declared on Twitter the military would have a new policy on transgender service members.
The military, Trump said, would “not accept or allow” transgender people to serve “in any capacity.” Trump claimed he made the decision after consultation with “my generals and military experts.”
The White House said Wednesday that Trump made his decision on Tuesday and informed Mattis that day.
But on Thursday, the Pentagon made clear that it does not consider a tweet an order. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said the current transgender policy will remain unchanged until Trump sends an official directive to the Pentagon.
Transgender troops have been able to serve openly since the Obama administration lifted the ban in summer 2016. New transgender recruits have not been able to enlist, which was supposed to change on July 1.
Part of life is losing people who make small differences.
Let’s hope hundreds more of these difference-making people and actions occur every nanosecond.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
2007’s Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother. In an outtake posted to YouTube, Arquette declared “No one in my life or on the streets can say or do anything that’s going to persuade me from becoming … who I am.”
In fact, the only label she ever truly embraced was the one she gave herself – The Lady Chablis. “I just try to be who I am without all the labels people try to put on you,” she told the reporter at Savannah Magazine.
“The legacy that she wanted to leave was one of ‘believe in who you are and never let the world change who you are,'” [her sister Cynthia]Ponder said. “Love yourself first and respect yourself first and others will love and respect you.”
The leaves are starting to change their colors here in the mountains. That normal process that creates a marvelous paint of brilliant transformation has begun. Same trees…same hills…same mountains. Whatever nature has planned, that innate process that happens when the leaves change from green to vivid hues of crimson and gold, radiant orange and fire…colors that you could describe with names that sound more like MAC lipstick color hues…than the shade of leaves hanging from the trees. Which seems appropriate, because this post is a tribute to two ladies who gave glam to transgender before hashtags and tweets.
I think the best way to start the ball rolling is with this article from The Guardian.
The two transgender women were activists and entertainers who dared to be themselves – and set the tone for future generations
In the last week, America lost two pioneering transgender women entertainers:Alexis Arquette and The Lady Chablis. Both died relatively young, Arquette at 47 and Chablis at 59. Then again, perhaps that’s actually rather old, given the world they were born into: although there’s no good data on life expectancies for trans and gender non-conforming people in the United States, the statistics we do havesuggest that they face greater health concerns with fewer resources than their cisgender counterparts, and that they are therefore more likely to die younger as well. Yet both Arquette and Chablis lived outsized lives despite their short durations, and along the way, they managed to break barriers for transgender artists everywhere.
In the 1990s, if you wanted to see a trans actor on the big screen, you had remarkably few options. Despite a plethora of films with large transgender roles, ranging from the deplorable (Ace Ventura Pet Detective), to the complicated (The Crying Game), to the tragic (Boys Don’t Cry), trans actors were almost entirely sidelined from major productions. Today, a small handful are gaining traction in mainstream film and television projects, such as Laverne Cox, Tom Phelan, Mya Taylor, Jamie Clayton and Trace Lysette. And if a cisgender actor does play a transgender character, there’s bound to be some uproar, as there was when it was recently announced that Michelle Rodriguez would play a transgender assassin in the new Walter Hill film, (Re)Assignment.
But that wasn’t even a conversation in the 90s, when Arquette and Chablis became two of the first trans actors to play trans roles in major mainstream films – Arquette as the gender non-conforming George (based on Boy George) in Adam Sandlers’s The Wedding Singer (1998), and Chablis as herself in the 1997 docu-thriller, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Both women had nuanced, complicated and shifting understandings of their own genders. Perhaps reflecting the time in which they grew up, over the course of their lives both used (or had applied to them) a wide variety of labels, from “drag queen” and “female impersonator”, to “transgendered” and “gender suspicious”. Yet no matter what words they used, both were always vocal advocates for trans people, rights and representation.
Arquette came to movie work early in her career, thanks in part to her famous family. The Lady Chablis, on the other hand, was a well-known performer in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia, but it wasn’t until the publication of the true-crime book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (in 1994), that she gained wider notoriety. After spending over 200 weeks on the New York Times’s bestseller list, the book was made into a film starring Kevin Spacey and a young Jude Law. Chablis was shocked when they asked her to audition for the role of herself. In an interview with NPR, Chad Darnell, the film’s casting director, recalls that she informed him “there’s nobody else who can play me but me”. When he suggested Whitney Houston, she slapped him so hard she drew blood – and got the role.
Like the leaves on the trees, both The Lady and Arquette lived life being who they truly are…as nature intended. Here are some quotes from articles over the past few days that will be good to read.
The Lady Chablis, the transgender performer featured in the 1994 best seller “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and in the film version, died on Thursday in Savannah, Ga. She was 59 and had been working until about a month ago.
The cause was pneumonia, said Cale Hall, a longtime friend and an owner of Club One, where she had performed for three decades.
Ms. Chablis was a standout character in the book, in which the author, John Berendt, introduced the world to Savannah and the sometimes eccentric people who live there.
“She was The Lady Chablis from morning to night,” Mr. Berendt said in an interview on Thursday. “She had a great repartee,” he said, “and she had a way with words. She was creative.”
They first met when Ms. Chablis, who had just received her biweekly estrogen shots, insinuated herself into Mr. Berendt’s car for a ride home.
“She had both hands on her hips and a sassy half-smile on her face as if she had been waiting for me,” he wrote.
She would become the book’s most popular character, Mr. Berendt said. She was also his favorite.
“It’s not as if she died without knowing,” he added. “She knew. And she also knew she was everybody’s favorite.”
After the book came out, Ms. Chablis appeared on “Good Morning America” and “Oprah.” Readers from around the country went to see her at Club One. She published an autobiography, “Hiding My Candy,” in 1996 and the next year played herself in Clint Eastwood’s film adaptation of the Berendt book.
She was born Benjamin Edward Knox in Quincy, Fla., on March 11, 1957, and never finished high school. She took the name Chablis as a teenager. As she recalled in Mr. Berendt’s book, her mother, inspired by a wine bottle label, had intended the name for a younger sister but had had a miscarriage. Ms. Chablis immediately expressed interest in the name.
“I said, ‘Ooooo, Chablis. That’s nice. I like that name,’ ” she was quoted as saying in the book. “And Mama said, ‘Then take it, baby. Just call yourself Chablis from now on.’ So ever since then, I’ve been Chablis.” She had her name legally changed to The Lady Chablis.
Over twenty years ago, Chablis was written in as a character in John Berendt’s non-fiction narrative, Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil. The story centralizes around Jim Williams, a noted Savannah socialite and antiques dealer who was found guilty of murdering a local male prostitute named Danny Hansford. Berendt wrote Chablis into the book as one of the many eccentric true-life characters and he uses her to better paint the picture of queer nightlife in Savannah. In both the book and the film, Chablis acts as a light-hearted contrast to the more serious themes of the story, with memorable one-liners such as “two tears in a bucket, motherfuck it” and “yes, I am a bitch, and proud of it, honey”. Her performance both on the page and on screen established her as an icon within the drag world, however, Chablis has contributed more to the community than just her work with Kevin Spacey.
In 1996, a year before she graced Clint Eastwood’s rendition of Midnight, Chablis published an autobiography entitled Hiding My Candy: The Autobiography of the Grand Empress of Savannah. In her book, Chablis spills the T on her upbringings in drag, beginning with her introduction to Miss Tina Devore in a Tallahassee nightclub. Devore would go on to become Chablis’s drag mother and in Midnight, Chablis remarks that she got her drag name from Devore, saying “my mama got the name Chablis off a wine bottle. She didn’t think it up for me though. It was supposed to be for my sister”. While in Atlanta, Chablis began her transition towards becoming a transgender woman, taking hormones and legally changing her name to Brenda Dale Knox, all while still developing a budding drag career. In his book, Berendt remarks that he meet Chablis at a doctor’s office after a routine estrogen injection, writing that “her big eyes sparkled. Her skin glowed. A broken incisor tooth punctuated her smile and gave her a naughty look”. But it wasn’t just Berendt who was captivated by the queen because after the film’s release she went on to guest on Good Morning America and the Oprah Winfrey Show. Despite her growing fame, Chablis stuck true to her roots throughout the 2000s, headlining Savannah Pride and hosting the Miss Gay Pride Pageant. In 2013, she made an appearance on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, reading the wives to filth before a live audience.
Many have commented on the drag icon’s passing, including the book’s author John Berendt. “She’ll be remembered for her outrageous profanity-laced spontaneity and for being one of the first up-front transsexual personalities to be accepted by a wide audience.” Today we see many transgender actors and actresses beloved by millions on the big screen, however, Chablis and her role in Midnight made her a legend and a role model for others who have followed in her footsteps. And while Chablis was loved by audiences for her role on screen as well as by those who had the chance to watch her perform, the road to stardom wasn’t easy for Chablis. In her autobiography, Chablis explains that performing in Atlanta taught her about the realities of prejudice and she was even arrested for falsification of identification. “They took my purse and my gowns and they took The Doll to jail, honey…”, Chablis writes and she shows readers that performing in drag and living as a pre-operative transgender female was not as accepted at the time as it is today.
Chablis continued to perform at Club One in Savannah up until she was hospitalized on August 6th 2016. On social media, Club One paid tribute to their resident queen, sharing that “just as The Book shined the spotlight on Savannah, so too did Chablis shine the spotlight on the gay scene, and especially on Club One. She was Club One’s very first entertainer, officiating our grand opening in 1988, and paving the way for female impersonation in Savannah. No one, however, could outshine the Grand Empress herself.” And while Chablis may no longer be performing on the main stage at Club One, her legacy as a drag performer and transgender pioneer will live on for many generations to come.
I’ve always been fascinated with The Doll…something about her way of expressing herself made me feel like she was an old friend.
As for Alexis….The Arquette family has issued this statement:
“Our brother Robert, who became our brother Alexis, who became our sister Alexis, who became our brother Alexis, passed this morning September 11, at 12:32 am,” Richmond wrote. “He was surrounded by all of his brothers and sisters, one of his nieces and several other loved ones. We were playing music for him and he passed during David Bowie’s Starman. As per his wishes, we cheered at the moment that he transitioned to another dimension.”
The Arquette family have paid tribute to their daughter Alexis Arquette and commended her fight for the “understanding and acceptance” of the transgender community.
The Arquette family have requested privacy and asked for donations be made to organisations which support the LGBTQ community in her honour.
Her sibling’s statement in full:
“Our sister, Alexis Arquette, passed away this morning, September 11th, 2016.
“Alexis was a brilliant artist and painter, a singer, an entertainer and an actor. She starred in movies like ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’, ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Jumpin’ at the Boneyard’, ‘Of Mice and Men’, ‘The Wedding Singer’, and ‘The Bride of Chucky’. Her career was cut short, not by her passing, but by her decision to live her truth and her life as a transgender woman. Despite the fact that there are few parts for trans actors, she refused to play roles that were demeaning or stereotypical. She was a vanguard in the fight for understanding and acceptance for all trans people.
“She fiercely lived her reality in a world where it is dangerous to be a trans person — a world largely unready to accept differences among human beings, and where there is still the ugliness of violence and hostility towards people that we may not understand.
“Alexis was born as Robert, our brother. We loved him the moment he arrived. But he came in as more than a sibling — he came as our great teacher. As Alexis transitioned into being a woman, she taught us tolerance and acceptance. As she moved through her process, she became our sister, teaching us what real love is.
“We learned what real bravery is through watching her journey of living as a trans woman. We came to discover the one truth — that love is everything.
“In the days leading to her death, she told us she was already visiting the other side, and that where she was going, there was only one gender. That on the other side, we are free from all of the things that separate us in this life, and that we are all one.
“She passed away surrounded by love. We held her and sang her David Bowie’s ‘Starman’ as she punched through the veil to the other side. We washed her body in rose petals and surrounded her with flowers.
“Alexis always had to do everything first. She left before we were ready to let her go. We are all heartbroken that she is no longer with us, but we are grateful for the grace and kindness we were all shown during this difficult time. We are comforted by the fact that Alexis came into our family and was our brother and then our sister, and that she gave us so much love. We will love you always, Alexis. We know we were the lucky ones.
“The family asks that in lieu of flowers or gifts, donations please be sent to organizations that support the LGBTQ community in honour of Alexis Arquette.
“Please respect our privacy during this time of grieving.”
Actress and transgender activist Alexis Arquette transitioned to a woman in her late thirties, so why did her brother, Richard, and ex-boyfriend, Ryan Black, refer to her with male pronouns? It’s especially confusing for some, considering sister Patricia referred to Alexis with all female pronouns in the family’s press release about Alexis’ death Sunday.
GLAAD, formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, encourages the media to becautious of “pronoun confusion”: “Ideally a story will not use pronouns associated with a person’s birth sex when referring to the person’s life prior to transition. Try to write transgender people’s stories from the present day, instead of narrating them from some point in the past, thus avoiding confusion and potentially disrespectful use of incorrect pronouns.”
The Associated Press Stylebook writes reporters should: “use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.”
So if Alexis transitioned to a female more than a decade ago, why is there confusion about her gender? Lesser known to the public, Alexis became more fluid about her gender later in life. In fact, she said she was “not transgender anymore” when Caitlyn Jenner came out last year.
“She was like, ‘Yeah, sometimes I’ll be a man, sometimes I’ll be a woman. I like to refer to myself as gender suspicious,’” her brother, David Arquette, said on “Kocktails with Khloé” in February.
David was confused. “I said, ‘You’re my sister and brother?’” he recalled asking. “[Alexis] said, ‘It depends on how I’m dressed.’”
Alexis believed there was only one gender after death. “In the days leading to her death, she told us she was already visiting the other side, and that where she was going, there was only one gender,” Patricia wrote in the family’s press release. “That on the other side, we are free from all of the things that separate us in this life, and that we are all one.”
Arquette remained fiercely private about her health struggles and obstinate about seeking treatments, ignoring her friends’ and family’s entreaties to take the life-saving AIDS drugs that were emerging every year. In recent weeks, the battle became a losing one: Arquette, 47, had developed an infection in her liver that spread throughout her body.
She was pronounced dead at 12:32 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11. The news was first shared in a Facebook post from her eldest brother, Richmond Arquette, 53, perhaps the least-known member of a powerhouse acting family that includes Rosanna, 57, Patricia, 48, and David, 45. “Our brother Robert, who became our brother Alexis, who became our sister Alexis, who became our brother Alexis [has] passed,” began his announcement.
Alexis had left specific instructions for her death: David Bowie’s “Starman” was to play as her final moments approached. (Glam rock had always been her favorite genre of music, followed by new wave and punk.) And when the final breath passed her lips, she asked that everyone cheer “the moment that [s]he transitioned to another dimension.”
A few other links:
Whether or not AIDS complications played a role in either woman’s death, they can still teach us a lot about the health inequality of transgender life.
This week has seen the death of two famous transgender women. First was Lady Chablis, the 59-year-old African-American performer made famous by the best-selling book and later Clint Eastwood film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Chablis spent much of her life as an elegant and attractive cabaret performer at nightclubs in Savannah, Ga., and Columbia, S.C. Her death from pneumonia did little to diminish her star power which had grown from her role in Midnight (she played herself) to appearances on The Real Housewives of Atlanta and Bizarre Foods America: Savannah. According to The Advocate’s Neal Broverman, she continued her club performances, wrote an autobiography, and “used her fame for good, raising money for diabetes and LGBT causes. She remained beloved in Savannah, even though she lived in South Carolina.”
Lady Chamblis (above) made Savannah a destination
In her obituary, pneumonia was listed as the cause of Chablis’s death. Pneumonia, literally an infection in one or both lungs, affects 1 million people a year in the U.S. and kills about 50,000. There’s a vaccine, but it’s usually only recommended for people over 65 or those with immune system issues like HIV.
Pneumonia, just like what Hilary Clinton has, is common and can be caused by bacteria or viruses from things like the flu, whooping cough, and chicken pox. People who have HIV are more susceptible, as are those who smoke, or have diabetes, asthma, or heart disease. When people in the HIV world hear someone died of pneumonia, and they are otherwise in decent health, we can’t help but wonder if it that pneumonia was a complication of their HIV.
Chablis died, at 59, just days before actress-turned-artist Alexis Arquette did so as well.
Arquette, 47 at her death, was the second youngest of a Hollywood dynasty that began with her grandfather Cliff Arquette, a man who dressed as both Mrs. Butterworth (replete with falsetto and mustache) and a character, Charlie Weaver, that became so famous and ubiquitous he occupied the Hollywood Squares in character longer than most other stars of the time. (Cliff, in fact, was rarely seen in public without playing the Charlie Weaver character.)
The family bloodline traces back to Meriwether Lewis (half of for the the 1800s era Lewis and Clark Expedition) for whom Alexis’s own father was named. (He was on The Waltons.)
Arquette’s siblings — Rosanna, Richmond, Patricia, and David Arquette — were reportedly by her side at the end, and supportive throughout her tabloid-ridden life. But if People magazine, ex-boyfriend Robert DuPont, and “anonymous sources” are to be believed, Arquette died of complications from AIDS — an inoperable cancerous tumor and some sort of infection — at Cedars Sinai hospital, as her family played David Bowie’s “Starman.” These same “sources” reported that Arquette had been living in a West Hollywood, Calif. Actors Fund home for people with HIV, rather than with her wealthy siblings, out of a need for independence.
Here the thing about all this, and about the attendant reports debating over whether Arquette’s transition a decade ago was still relevant, whether she was misgendered by family members in death or whether she now identified as “gender suspicious” and thus open to pronouns of any sort — the thing here is that nothing about Arquette’s health or death has been confirmed by those closest to her, by her family or by her doctors, and until then we can’t say she had HIV at all. That won’t stop the tabloids though, which requires us, too, to comment.
The same can be said for Lady Chablis.
What we do know is that when we hear about transgender women dying in their 40s and 50s, and the cause isn’t violence, we know that complications from AIDS is a very real possibility. That’s because HIV disproportionately impacts transgender women, especially those, like Chablis, who are women of color. We know that the life expectancy for a a black trans woman it’s extremely low and often unlikely to be from old-age natural causes and far more likely to be violence or AIDS complications.
And, those of us in the world of HIV healthcare and activism know that for years, pneumonia and cancer have been code words for AIDS complications.
Go to the link to read the rest of that post…which also touches on the Hillary conspiracy.
This is an open thread. Please post links to whatever you like in the comments below. I just would like to end with this last bit from the very first article I discussed in this post. It phrases my thoughts and feelings:
Today, we are a little further down that road to equality thanks to pioneers like The Lady Chablis and Alexis Arquette, but our world is also a little dimmer without their light. The roles they won might seem small or stereotypical by today’s standards, but they were exceptional 20 years ago. Rest in power, Goddess Chablis and Goddess Arquette.
Rest in power is right…and may the glam be with you!
Maybe it’s just me, but I think today must be the slowest news day yet in 2014. I’ve gathered a hodge-podge of reads for you, some that look back over the past year and some current news stories that I found interesting or humorous. So here goes . . .
Looking back, I think the biggest story of this year has been the many events that have revealed how racist the United States still is nearly a century-and-a-half after the end of the Civil War and more than a half century after the Civil Rights Movement.
In the news yesterday: Driver Destroys Mike Brown Memorial, Community Rebuilds By Morning. From Think Progress:
A memorial set up in the middle of Canfield Drive where teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer in August was partially destroyed Christmas evening when a car drove through it. Neighbors and friends of Brown quickly came together to clean up the damage, rebuild the site, and call for support on social media….
Activists on the ground also reacted angrily to the Ferguson Police Department’s public relations officer, who told the Washington Post, “I don’t know that a crime has occurred,” and called Brown’s memorial “a pile of trash in the middle of the street.”
Since Brown’s death, the memorial has been a key gathering place for protests and prayers, and a receiving station for those that poured in from across the country to pay their respects and demonstrate against police brutality. Supporters also had to rebuild the memorial in September after it burned to the ground.
Also from Think Progress, photos of the some of the people who were killed by police in 2014.
As you can see, most of them have black or brown skin.
Sadly, we know Brown and Garner were just one [sic] of many people who died at the hands of police this year. But a dearth of national data on fatalities caused by police makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact number of deaths. One site put the total at 1,039.
What we do know is that police-related deaths follow certain patterns. A 2012 study found that about half of those killed by the police each year are mentally ill, a problem that the Supreme Court will consider 2015. Young black men are also 21 times more likely to be killed by cops than young white men, according to one ProPublica analysis of the data we have. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also compiled data which shows that people of color are most likely to be killed by cops overall. In short, people who belong to marginalized communities are at a higher risk of being shot than those who are not.
Go to the link to see a table showing which groups are most likely to be shot by police.
Mother Jones has released its yearly list of top long reads of 2014. First on the list is The Science of Why Cops Shoot Young Black Men, by Chris Mooney. It’s about the unconscious prejudices that plague all of us. A brief excerpt:
On the one hand, overt expressions of prejudice have grown markedly less common than they were in the Archie Bunker era. We elected, and reelected, a black president. In many parts of the country, hardly anyone bats an eye at interracial relationships. Most people do not consider racial hostility acceptable. That’s why it was so shocking when Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught telling his girlfriend not to bring black people to games—and why those comments led the NBA to ban Sterling for life. And yet, the killings of Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Trayvon Martin, and so many others remind us that we are far from a prejudice-free society.
Science offers an explanation for this paradox—albeit a very uncomfortable one. An impressive body of psychological research suggests that the men who killed Brown and Martin need not have been conscious, overt racists to do what they did (though they may have been). The same goes for the crowds that flock to support the shooter each time these tragedies become public, or the birthers whose racially tinged conspiracy theories paint President Obama as a usurper. These people who voice mind-boggling opinions while swearing they’re not racist at all—they make sense to science, because the paradigm for understanding prejudice has evolved. There “doesn’t need to be intent, doesn’t need to be desire; there could even be desire in the opposite direction,” explains University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek ….
We’re not born with racial prejudices. We may never even have been “taught” them. Rather, explains Nosek, prejudice draws on “many of the same tools that help our minds figure out what’s good and what’s bad.” In evolutionary terms, it’s efficient to quickly classify a grizzly bear as “dangerous.” The trouble comes when the brain uses similar processes to form negative views about groups of people.
But here’s the good news: Research suggests that once we understand the psychological pathways that lead to prejudice, we just might be able to train our brains to go in the opposite direction.
Read much more at the second link above. Go to the previous link to see the 13 other stories on MoJo’s list of the magazine’s best 2014 long reads.
Also from Mother Jones, a list of “the stupidest anti-science bullshit of 2014.” Check it out at the link.
Another “worst of” list from The Daily Beast: 2014: Revenge of the Creationists, by Carl W. Giberson.
Science denialism is alive in the United States and 2014 was yet another blockbuster year for preposterous claims from America’s flakerrati. To celebrate the year, here are the top 10 anti-science salvos of 2014.
1) America’s leading science denialist is Ken Ham, head of the Answers in Genesis organization that built the infamous $30 million Creation Museum in Kentucky. He also put up a billboard in Times Square to raise funds for an even more ambitious Noah’s Ark Theme Park. Ham’s wacky ideas went primetime in February when he debated Bill Nye. An estimated three million viewers watched Ham claim that the earth is 10,000 years old, the Big Bang never happened, and Darwinian evolution is a hoax. His greatest howler, however—and my top anti-science salvo of 2014—would have to be his wholesale dismissal of the entire scientific enterprise as an atheistic missionary effort: “Science has been hijacked by secularists,” he claimed, who seek to indoctrinate us with “the religion of naturalism.”
2) Second only to Answers in Genesis, the Seattle based Discovery Institute continued its well-funded assault on science, most visibly through Stephen Meyer’s barnstorming tour promoting his book Darwin’s Doubt. I was a part of this tour, debating Meyer in Richmond, Virginia in April. Meyer’s bestselling book is yet another articulate repackaging of the venerable but discredited “god of the gaps” argument that goes like this: Here is something so cleverly designed that nature could not do on her own; but God could. So God must have designed this. Meyer insists, however, that his argument is not “god of the gaps” since he says only that the anonymous designer was “a designing intelligence—a conscious rational agency or a mind—of some kind” and not the familiar God of the monotheistic religious traditions. For his tireless assault on evolutionary biology and downsizing the deity to fit within science, I give Meyer second place.
Go over to TDB to read the rest of the list.
Also in this vein, Talking Points Memo offers a list of worst sports stories: From Donald Sterling To Ray Rice: 2014 Brought Out The Worst In Pro Sports.
The past year brought out the worst in professional sports players, owners, and fans alike, from domestic violence scandals in the NFL to the removal of racist team executives in the NBA.
Of course, shockingly bad behavior wasn’t limited to major league football and basketball alone. The most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, was just sentenced to probation for drunken driving. FIFA was enough of a mess to inspire a 13-minute Jon Oliver segment ahead of the World Cup this summer.
But even the most casual sports observer understands what’s at the center of the Washington Redskins naming controversy, or can form an opinion on whether Ray Rice should be allowed to play football again. The NFL frequently surfaced in the headlines this year for all the wrong reasons, and its domination on this list suggests the league needs to get its act together on a couple fronts.
Check out the list at the TPM link above.
Recently, I posted some links about the 75th anniversary of the movie Gone With The Wind and the racist attitudes it portrayed. Today Newsweek published a piece about the efforts to curtail the racism in the movie before it was filmed and released: Fixing Gone With The Wind’s ‘Negro Problem’
In the spring of 1938, Rabbi Robert Jacobs of Hoboken wrote to Rabbi Barnett Brickner, chairman of the Social Justice Commission of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, “Soon the David O. Selznick Studios of Hollywood will begin production of the play ‘Gone With The Wind.’ The book, a thrilling romance of the South, was shot through with an anti-Negro prejudice, and while it undoubtedly furnished almost half a million people in this country with many glowing hours of entertainment, it also in a measure aroused whatever anti-Negro antipathy was latent in them.”
Rabbi Brickner in turn wrote to Selznick. “In view of the situation,” he wrote, “I am taking the liberty of suggesting that you exercise the greatest care in the treatment of this theme in the production of the picture. Surely, at this time you would want to do nothing that might tend even in the slightest way to arouse anti-racial feeling. I feel confident that you will use extreme caution in the matter.”
Brickner wrote a similar letter to Walter White, Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. White also wrote to Selznick, suggesting Selznick “employ in an advisory capacity a person, preferably a Negro, who is qualified to check on possible errors of fact or interpretation.”
In his reply to White, Selznick wrote, “I hasten to assure you that as a member of a race that is suffering very keenly from persecution these days, I am most sensitive to the feelings of minority peoples.” He added, “It is definitely our intention to engage a Negro of high standing to watch the entire treatment of the Negroes, the casting of the actors for these roles, the dialect that they use, etcetera, throughout the picture.
Read the rest at the link.
At Daily Kos, David Akadjian offered a list of 21 Ayn Rand Christmas Cards–a satire, of course, but Akadjian learned that Rand actually did send out Christmas cards, despite her atheism. Here are some of her odes to a selfish Christmas.
I’ll wrap this post up with some current news stories:
USA Today: North Korea suffers another Internet shutdown.
Seattle PI: Woman who bared breasts in Vatican square is freed.
Washington Post: Baby gorilla shunned by other gorillas to switch zoos.
Washington Post: Pakistani forces kill alleged organizer of school massacre.
The Telegraph: More than 160,000 evacuated in Malaysia’s worst ever floods.
Special for New Englanders from the Boston Globe: Will The Rest Of Winter Have Lower Than Average Snowfall?
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a stupendous Saturday!