Category Archives: The Rest

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Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Still Fucking Hurt

One is a lonely numberI was bullied when I was a kid.  Mercilessly, unceasingly, and every fucking day since grade school.  I had no friends, and  I dreaded getting up each morning.  I was called everything in the book.  ”Chink”, “Jap”, “Minnesota Fats”, and a whole slew of other insults. I was told to go back to my country, and kids on the playground did that “Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees*” thing while pulling up the corners of their eyes.  I was physically harassed from time to time as well.  The one time I stood up for another Asian kid on the bus, his tormentor, a white girl, spit on me.

When I was a teenager, adults would tell me  that these were the best days of my life and how they wished they could be young again.  My silent response was always, “If these are the best days of my life, I might as well kill myself.”  From the time I was eleven until fairly recently, I wanted to kill myself every day of my life.

In high school, I didn’t belong to any group.  I wasn’t a jock or a cheerleader or a druggie or even a nerd.  I was a nobody.  There was a girl who teased me every day in science class (either chemistry or physics.  I don’t remember which class, but I still remember her name), and one day I snapped.  I grabbed her by her hair, pulled her head back, and told her in a very quiet voice that I would kill her if she ever bothered me again.  She never did, but there was no happy ending to that story as others continued to pick on me.
(click for more childhood reminiscing)

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Site Maintenance Announcement

The latest WordPress update borked my blog, so while we work out the kinks, I’ve switched back to my old theme, which is also somewhat borked (hi, random-ass words floating on the left sidebar), but not as borked.

Please stand by.

-ABLxx

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TSA Terminates Contract With Rapiscan: No More Creepy Scans at the Airport

Seriously, Rapiscan. Change your name.


The TSA is ending its contract with the company that makes “rapiscan” (Really?  You couldn’t have come up with a less rape-y sounding name?) because the company failed to deliver software that would stop the scanner from projecting naked images.

Creepy.

The TSA is switching to a company that uses radio waves to show any hidden objects on an avatar image, rather than on an image of the passenger.

Less Creepy.

Via LA Times:

The Transportation Security Administration has ended a contract with the Hawthorne-based manufacturer of a controversial full-body scanner used to screen passengers.

Rapiscan, a unit of OSI Systems Inc., manufactured about half of the full-body scanners used by the TSA to screen passengers for hidden weapons at airports across the country.

But TSA officials said the agency has canceled its contract with the company because it had failed to deliver software to protect the privacy of passengers.

The Rapiscan scanner uses low-level X-rays to create what looks like a naked image of screened passengers to target weapons hidden under the clothes.

A second type of TSA scanner, built by L-3 Communications Holdings, uses radio waves and shows hidden objects on an avatar images on a screen — not on an image of a passenger.

TSA gave Rapiscan until June 2013 to come up with a software upgrade to prevent the scanner from projecting the naked image. TSA officials said Rapiscan won’t be able to meet that deadline.

I miss the days when you could just waltz into an airport and right up to your gate without disrobing and having full containers of lotion or Kiehl’s Rare Earth Facial Scrub snatched from you because they are 5 oz instead of 4.

But I’m not bitter.

[via LA Times]

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Violence Against Women Act: One in Four Women [by @Katie_Speak]

***This post was originally published last week on KatieSpeak.

The House Majority Leader was misquoted this morning as saying “We blocked the Violence Against Women Act because the Senate forced it on us without our consent. I’m sure women understand.”

I, along with a number of people I trust, reposted the offensive quote with the expected outrage. Politically literate women have been a bit edgy about violent rape talk since April when the Senate passed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), only to find the previously unanimously supported and typically bipartisan legislation stalled in the House by GOP leadership who objected to new language protecting LGBT, immigrant and Native American women. The legislation has expired and will have to pass anew even in the Senate when the 2013 Congress hits Washington should it stall another three weeks.

The quote was a rape joke in reference to the obstruction Majority Leader Eric Cantor continues to show in negotiations with Vice President Biden (the author of the original VAWA legislation) on finding a way to pass VAWA before the end of the lame duck session. It was in poor taste and the apologies and retractions spread on social media as quickly as the quote initially had.

As my anger failed to wane, I began pondering why so many journalists and activists I trust had the same initial response I did, which was to repost the quote with commentary about the gender gap and protecting women – and on International Human Rights Day! The nerve! Does Cantor not understand irony, timing or politics?

Nobody thought it was a hoax. Amidst all the hand wringing, hair pulling, face palming, fist clenching and blood pressure raising responses we had – the impulse to simply believe it was universal.

That we believed it would itself be unbelievable just a year ago. We’re smart people, many of whom have been misquoted, misconstrued and misjudged in the past, making us sensitive to the harm blind retweeting and reposting can do.

So, what happened? Simple: the phrases “forced ultrasound” and “legitimate rape” entered the body politic.

The subtle misogynistic attacks on women’s access to equal pay, reproductive rights, basic civil rights and simple, dignified humanity transformed into a proud peacocking competition of which GOP candidate could proclaim the most outrageous inaccuracy. From women’s bodies “shutting that whole thing down” to prevent pregnancy through rape (Senate candidate Todd Akin) to rape being just being one “method of conception” (Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan), we’ve heard a lot of bullshit over the last twelve months. Frankly, it’s no wonder that the outrage wasn’t paired with shock this morning when someone started a hoax quote attributed to the man refusing to pull together the support to reinstate the most important legislative protection for women in the history of this country.

I’ll say it again. The Violence Against Women Act is the most important legislative protection for women in the history of this country. According to the Department of Justice, one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. One. In. Four. And before VAWA, resources were scarce. How effective has VAWA been? Here are the stats and facts on the first 15 years:

  • The number of women being killed by partners dropped 43 percent; partner violence against women fell 53 percent.
  • Stalking became illegal. Before VAWA, stalking was not a felony. Federalizing the crime has provided a wealth of new resources for law enforcement and made it easier to share information and track perpetrators while protecting victims.
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline was established and now fields over 22,000 calls each month, providing crisis intervention and referrals to women in all 50 states.
  • Rape became a crime with no exceptions. Rape by a partner or a date became the same as rape by a stranger.
  • VAWA funds train 500,000 law enforcement officials every year in assisting domestic abuse victims. Judges, police and prosecutors are educated on the signs of abuse and allocated necessary resources to help victims and punish offenders.

Last year, as the reauthorization collected dust in the House, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a statement commemorating VAWA’s 18th anniversary. From the office of this country’s chief law enforcement official (Sept 13, 2012):

Since the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) became law 18 years ago today, VAWA has vastly improved our ability to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking and has helped countless victims of these crimes get access to needed services. It’s important to remember that none of this progress has been inevitable – it has been the result of the tireless work of advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors, and others. On the front lines of this effort, the Office on Violence Against Women administers VAWA programs, providing states, territories, local and tribal governments, and nonprofit organizations with critical resources to initiate and sustain efforts to reduce and stop violence against women. As Congress moves to consider reauthorizing this critical law, we urge lawmakers to come together on a bipartisan basis, as it has historically, to pass a VAWA reauthorization that expands rather than limits victim access to justice and strengthens law enforcement and prosecutorial tools to seek justice and hold violators accountable. VAWA has been strengthened each time it has been reauthorized, with bipartisan support, and this year after 18 years of progress, it should be no different.

Except it is different.

Language matters. Attitude matters. Public discourse matters. All three have become pervasively abhorrent in the party which retains control of the House of Representatives. So, when that legislative body’s second in command has a hoax quote go viral as he “negotiates” the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, it is he – not I – who should be considering why it was so immediately widely believed.

**Call/email/tweet your representative and tell them that Majority Leader Cantor does not have your support in holding the safety of women hostage. Let he or she know that VAWA is important and that you’re paying attention. Find your representative here.

[via Katie Speak

***Follow at @Katie_Speak on Twitter.

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Jovan Belcher: Murder is Domestic Violence [by @QuadCityPat]

20121203-180607.jpgA must-read post from @QuadCityPat, #teamuterati, #dudedivision:

Jovan Belcher was a murderer. He shot and killed his girlfriend and mother of his child, Kasandra Perkins. In the days since the murder, and Belcher’s subsequent suicide, there has been a throbbing hum of stupid regarding the whys and wherefores of domestic violence, guns and the NFL. I have some knowledge of the subject. One of the child abuse/neglect allegations my agency investigates is Risk due to ongoing domestic violence in the home.

First, for those who are looking for simple answers as to why this happened, stop.

There are no simple answers. A combination of mental illness, and easy access to guns? Maybe. A man hell bent on controlling his woman even if it meant ending her life? Perhaps. Early onset of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and alcohol abuse? Could be.

You see all of these factors could have made a man a murderer, but not all will be discussed. Media rarely discusses domestic violence. I want to discuss the people hell bent on controlling women. These are the guys we commonly call batterers, domestic abusers etc. And yes I am using the pejorative ‘guys’ because almost all batterers are men. In 20 years I’ve investigated maybe 15 women who battered their husbands in front of the kids. Out of around 3000 or so reports.

What Belcher did was domestic violence taken to its ultimate end. I had a twitter fight on Saturday with someone trying to say it wasn’t DV. By definition, killing your lover is domestic violence. Period. We will never know if Belcher battered Kassandra before Saturday, it just doesn’t matter. What matters is that a man who was mad at his girlfriend, murdered her when he couldn’t keep her in her place.

That’s what domestic violence is. Domestic abusers want to keep their women in their place. They do so with physical assaults, sexual assaults, finances, using the children as pawns. Much like rape is about power and control, so too is domestic violence.

A short disclaimer, when I first started my job and thought I knew it all, my default positions were either “what did she do?” or “why won’t she leave?’ I’ve learned a lot about the cycle of abuse and I know longer look at things that way.

Women don’t have to “do” anything to get battered. Batterers will find any excuse. The “she had it coming” mentality that a shocking number of people have is truly unfathomable to me. Nobody has it coming. Nobody.

So many women who are victims of abuse can’t leave the abuser because of finances, threats that things will be worse, or threats made to the children. Many women I have interviewed really love their partner, think he will get better, think that “this will be the last time”.

Some women do walk away, but even then they need support and counsel to help them get their lives back together, and to help them continue to make good choices.

Jovan Belcher was a murderer. I have no idea what the NFL is going to do regarding Belcher. I do hope the league and the Chiefs put Belcher’s remaining contract $ in a trust for his daughter.

Whatever is done by the league, here’s what we can do as a society. We can stop looking down on women as inferior. We can stop blaming and slut shaming women for choices they make. We can make sure our daughters are treated respectfully.

Most of all when a man murders his girlfriend, we can stop pretending it was something other than domestic violence.

Precisely.

[via QuadCityPat's Musings]

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President Obama’s Last Campaign Event in Iowa [photos]

It’s Election Eve, y’all, and I’m a dangerous combination of mildly intoxicated, excited as hell, and freaked the fuck out.

Here are a couple of photos from our president’s last day of campaigning, via NYT‘s Doug Mills’s Twitter feed.

First, President Obama plants one on FLOTUS:

Second, a tear rolls down the OMG! KENYAN ISLAM! cheek of our first black president during his final campaign speech in Iowa:

You’re welcome.

(I’m seriously freaking out, but you’re still welcome.)

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Nate Silver is Not a Witch… He’s You.

20121105-212442.jpgI’m two glasses into a bottle of single malt, y’all, and in no position to be blogging about anything, but I wanted to share a couple things with you.

One: Nate Silver — the most hated man on the right, places President Obama’s reelection chances at 92%. This is a goddamn lie, obvs, because math is for hippies.

Two: The fact that someone created this website — isnatesilverawitch.com — restores my faith in humanity.

That is all.

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What Woman Would Vote for Mitt Romney? [by @ReelSmartCookie]

My good friend Danielle aka @ReelSmartCookie has some thoughts on tomorrow’s election and what’s at stake for women:

Been thinking all day about what sort of woman would vote for Romney, trying to understand the mindset of putting a man in power who represents a party that blatantly does not care for women. Regardless of your religious beliefs or fiscal desires, a vote for Romney is a vote against the welfare of ALL women.

As the chosen representative of a party that does not endorse affordable and accessible healthcare to women in need, that does not have an understanding or empathy for the victims of rape and incest, and that does not endorse fair and equal pay, nor the added protection of the Violence Against Women Act, Mitt Romney is not a candidate that cares about women. He cares about our vote as a means to his end, but that’s as far as it goes. And, as a woman, each time I see another woman in my timeline “like” Romney, I am saddened. My fate, as much as your fate, as much as every woman’s fate – your mothers, your sisters, your friends, your aunts, and especially your daughters, granddaughters – is tied into tomorrow’s results.

As much as I have been trying to understand it, even empathize with it, I find that I cannot even come close to understanding why another woman would vote for this man. Yes, I am liberal – I believe in equal rights for all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation, and I believe in the right to have a safe abortion, even if it is not a choice you ever have to make (or even ever choose to make – because Pro-Choice does not equate Pro-Abortion). But, even if I did not hold those beliefs, I would hope that I would believe that I, as a woman, and all of the women I know and love – and even the ones I’ve never met – deserve more.

We deserve respect, protection, equality, and an advocate for our rights. Based on all I have seen and read, Mitt Romney embodies none of those things. It scares the hell out of me that I might wake up on Wednesday to discover that my basic civil rights are in the balance (I can’t even imagine what other minority groups go through on a daily basis). It scares the hell out of me that my rights may end up stripped away, that my health and welfare may be discounted and diminished, that I may be disrespected and devalued, that I may be labeled as LESS THAN. To the women who plan to vote for Romney: how does this not scare you, too?

What she said.

***If you have thoughts that you would like posted here, send them to me on Twitter @AngryBlackLady or email them to me at stopthemadness@angryblacklady.com.

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Happy Halloween, Angry Black Readers!

I’ve been scarce lately, I know. I KNOW. I’ve got election fatigue, plus I have a job now (!!!) so I’m focusing most of my attention on that.

Still, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Halloween! I also wanted to let my mom know that I forgive her for making me be a squash when I wanted to be a pumpkin.

20121031-173654.jpg

You’re welcome.

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Hurricane Sandy [updated 3x]

20121029-120647.jpg

It occurred to me I should throw up a post about the Hurricane. I’m following it rather obsessively (I grew up in Philly and spent summers in Jersey, so the people getting clowned by Sandy are my peeps).

If you want to keep track of the goings on with this hurricane, The Weather Channel is your best bet. If you want to follow how people are experiencing the Hurricane, you should check out instacane.com.

I’ll be updating this post periodically. When? Whenever.

UPDATE: A reader retweeted this post that I wrote last year about the Joplin tornadoes. The post is pretty doggone relevant, so I’m reposting a section of it.

Commenter jinxtgr at Balloon Juice got me thinking (his comments are after the jump): whether or not you believe that the recent floods, hurricanes, and tornados are the result of natural or human-caused climate change, it seems fairly obvious that the weather as of late has been bizarre, to put it mildly; so the question becomes what now?

The below explanation about the patterns of weather I find fascinating and compelling. As I understand it, his argument boils down to this: Weather is a chaotic system, but falls into predictable chaotic patterns. There are no weather flukes or outliers, only weather indicators. Climate change simply shifts the weather patterns (like an Overton Window, if you will), creating storms more destructive than we’ve ever seen because it pushes the outer limits of how destructive a storm can be to Really Fucking Destructive.

This doesn’t mean that every storm is going to be as destructive as the one in Joplin. It means that Mother Nature is telling us “This is how bananas I can get. Just you wait and see.” In any event, the weather tomorrow is supposed to be terrible throughout the Midwest, so there’s that.

I don’t know what to take away from all of this. After the tsunami hit in Japan, I stayed awake all night, reading about the Ring of Fire, waiting for an earthquake to hit, and wishing I had some earthquake insurance. I spent the following days watching every Discovery Channel program I could find on tsunamis.

Needless to say, I don’t know anything about this stuff, but I find it fascinating:

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