Dear Diary: June 27, 2016

Tuesday, 28 June 2016 01:00 am
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Posted by Ella Carlander

A lot of good and bad all at once. —Ella

A lot of good and bad all at once. —Ella


Walkers fling strands of beads and wristbands into the crowd, hands going up at lightning speed to pluck them out of the sky. “FREE HUGS,” someone has Sharpied across their collarbones. Read More »


I can’t wait to see this world tremble as rightful voices claim the podium to speak. I can’t wait to be there, a spectator in a sea of people. I can’t wait for us to claim the conversation that is rightfully ours. Read More »

James Dobson is reliably untrustworthy

Monday, 27 June 2016 11:31 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

It seems that some of the same right-wing hacks who have for years suggested that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim now want us to believe that Donald Trump is a secret born-again Christian. Asked to defend his claim of Trump's secret conversion, James Dobson instead pointed out that, to him, defeating Hillary Clinton was more important than whether or not he's telling the truth.
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Posted by Natalie Geismar

The Supreme Court voted today in a 5-3 decision to strike down draconian abortion restrictions in a case about Texas House Bill 2 (HB2), declaring the state’s law and thusly others modeled after it across the nation to be unconstitutional. However, looking forward to the fall elections, abortion rights advocates cautioned against complacency, with the next President likely to shape the Court for a generation.

Senators Kirk Watson (D-Austin), Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston), Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio), Royce West (D-Dallas) and Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio) at a 2013 rally against HB2. via Beth Cortez-Neavel and licensed under Creative Commons 3.0

Senators Kirk Watson (D-Austin), Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston), Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio), Royce West (D-Dallas) and Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio) at a 2013 rally against HB2. via Beth Cortez-Neavel and licensed under Creative Commons 3.0

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt was centered on HB2, a TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) law passed in 2013 that required healthcare providers at each abortion clinic in Texas to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles from the clinic and dictated that every health care facility offering abortion care must adhere to the same building standards required for ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs). HB2 had an enormous impact on women seeking abortions in Texas and forced over half of clinics in the state to close due to these extraneous and medically unnecessary requirements.

“Today women across the nation have had their constitutional rights vindicated,” President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights Nancy Northrup said in a press release. “The Supreme Court sent a loud and clear message that politicians cannot use deceptive means to shut down abortion clinics.” The Center filed the Supreme Court suit on behalf of Whole Woman’s Health, a Texas clinic.

Though HB2 was proposed under the guise of “protecting the health of Texas women,” it was clearly an attempt to target and shut down Texas abortion clinics by forcing them to comply with outrageous regulations. To force each abortion care provider to convert to ASC status would be to force them to “essentially become mini-hospitals,” a task which the vast majority of abortion clinics in the state do not have the resources to complete.

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, the ASC and admitting privileges measures would have combined to shut down all but nine or 10 abortion providers in the state. Since the law was first passed in Texas, nearly 53% of the abortion-providing facilities in the state have shut down or halted abortion services; 11 clinics closed the very same day the admitting-privileges provision took effect. HB2 hit poor women of color the hardest, decimating abortion access in the lower Rio Grande Valley and requiring women there to make an over 500 mile round-trip to obtain an abortion. The drastically decreased number of abortion clinics in Texas left clinics overwhelmed and had women waiting for weeks to get appointments, paying higher fees for care, and traveling hundreds of miles to secure the procedures they need. It also had women attempting to self-abort and crossing state lines to access abortion care.

The Court’s decision today grants women across America hope and reassurance that they will be able to dictate their own futures and maintain control and sovereignty over their bodies—but it didn’t push the movement for abortion rights forward. Instead, it leaves in its wake the damage already done by TRAP laws around the country. TRAP laws have not only closed clinics in Texas but, as Ms. highlighted in our Spring 2016 issue, have also closed an estimated six abortion clinics in Ohio, two in Virginia, five in Pennsylvania, one in Tennessee and 12 in Arizona. Many of these clinics will not be able to re-open after losing their staffs and and building leases

“This is a victory for women’s health and lives in Texas and throughout the nation,” Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, said in a statement today. “But women’s rights advocates must continue to fight until women’s bodies are no longer stripped of their humanity and used as battling grounds for political gains in male-dominated state legislatures and Congress. We must not let down our guard. Until the Supreme Court slams shut the door that permits state legislatures and Congress to chip away at this fundamental right and decides, once and for all, that women have the right to make their own health decisions, including whether or not to have an abortion, we must continue to elevate the voices of the majority of women across the country who demand this right.”

The Supreme Court first acknowledged the constitutional right of women to abortions in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case and further affirmed that ruling in its decision in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Today’s decision affirms both. “So long as this Court adheres to Roe v. Wade and PP v. Casey,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her concurring opinion, “TRAP laws like HB2 that do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion cannot survive judicial inspection.”

However, Casey imposed a new standard that required judges to consider whether abortion laws impose an “undue burden” upon women seeking abortions—and while the Court’s decision said that Texas’ TRAP law violated this standard, the explicit right to an abortion remains to be won for women in the U.S. Since the Court’s decision today didn’t shift the law away from an “undue burden” standard, the door remains wide open for anti-abortion extremists and politicians to craft new ways to legally interfere with a woman’s right to abortion access.

The Court’s decision today is also a reminder of the threat vacancies on the Supreme Court can pose to women’s lives. Given that the Supreme Court remains a battleground for abortion rights, the appointment of one or more new Justices—likely to be made by the next President—has become all the more important. “In the 2016 election, many candidates for state legislature, Congress, and the presidency, are pledged to ban access to abortion and to limit access to birth control,” Smeal added in her statement today. “The balance of the Supreme Court will be determined by the next President. The closeness of this decision calls attention to the high stakes for women in this next election and for the next quarter of a century. In fact, this election may determine for millions of women their reproductive fate and the course of their lives.”

Today certainly marks a victory in the fight for reproductive rights—but this ruling is also a stark reminder of how precarious our progress remains.

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 11.04.13 AMNatalie Geismar is an Editorial Intern at Ms. and a rising sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis, where she double majors in International and Area Studies and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is an ardent feminist with a passion for human rights work and advocacy of all varieties and hopes to become some combination of international lawyer/activist/journalist/Amal Clooney in the future.

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What Will Brexit Mean for Women?

Monday, 27 June 2016 09:16 pm
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Posted by Emma Watson

Women have been conspicuously absent from the debates surrounding the Brexit referendum. But after United Kingdom (UK) citizens voted 52% to 48% to leave the European Union (EU) Friday, many have begun to look forward in an attempt to figure out what comes next—and although Britain’s status as a member of the EU has had an impact on everything from the country’s tourism to its trade benefits, it has also shifted the UK landscape of women’s rights.

via Ungry Young Man and licensed through Creative Commons 3.0

via Ungry Young Man and licensed through Creative Commons 3.0

The UK’s membership in the EU was a key element shaping policies there that impact women’s lives. The EU, for example, requires from its members nondiscrimination in the workplace and a minimum of 14 weeks paid maternity leave. It has taken its commitment to gender parity seriously, allotting over six billion dollars over the next three years toward achieving it. The EU also puts pressure on all of its members to meet certain requirements of gender justice – a pressure that has historically pushed the UK to raising its own standards. Such was the case in 1982, when the UK’s lack of a strong policy requiring equal pay for equal work caused the European Commission to take it to task.

In spite of fear-mongering appeals to women voters by politicians support Brexit, polls released forty-eight hours before the referendum indicated that a greater number of women than men remained undecided, and 5% more men than women intended definitively to vote remain. The difference, however, was so slight that other sources reported no gender gap whatsoever, while still others found a 10% disparity in the other direction. Without exit polls, it is impossible to know just how the final breakdown came out.

Now, the referendum results have roused concerns about where the UK will stand on these issues, and whether the vote to leave the EU will have an adverse impact on women. The UK will no longer have access to that EU funding for political gender parity, and in the midst of shifting their policies in the Brexit fallout, it’s impossible to predict where progressive policies on women’s rights will fall. These questions won’t just impact women within the UK, either—the women and children who make up 60% of migrants are undoubtedly waiting anxiously to see how British immigration policies change moving forward in the wake of the racist and xenophobic campaign that was waged in support of UK’s departure from the EU.

Friday’s revelation of David Cameron’s intended resignation makes it tough to know just who will be at the helm of future policy-making on women’s rights issues, and it adds a layer to the uncertainty about what Brexit will mean for women. What is clear, however, is that women in and even outside of the UK had a lot at stake on Friday—and now, many questions remain about how the fallout from the Brexit movement will impact women’s lives.

HeadshotEmma Watson is an editorial intern at Ms. and a rising senior at Smith College, where she studies English literature and neuroscience and works as a peer writing tutor. She has a zeal for fiction, through which she engages with queer and feminist issues. Emma spends her free time listening to sea ballads and writing peculiar YA fantasy novels.

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Take a Hike

Monday, 27 June 2016 07:30 pm
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Posted by Stephanie Kuehnert

Illustration by Sunny.

Illustration by Sunny.

I was never a nature girl. Family camping trips got me stressed out about spiders and other creepy crawlies—not to mention where I’d pee or shower. But when I arrived in the Pacific Northwest three years ago, the mountains, forests, and bodies of water around me were just too beautiful to resist. I decided to give the Great Outdoors another shot by getting into hiking, and I am so glad I did.

On hikes, I’ve gotten to see some truly spectacular things, like secret waterfalls, eagles, marmots, enormous 100s-of-years-old trees, and mushrooms growing on logs that look like people. Hiking also has helped me get some great exercise without even really thinking about it. (OK, sort of: I am definitely thinking about it when I’m huffing and puffing my way up a mountain; but when I reach the top and can see for miles, I forget all about my previous complaints.) Perhaps most important, hiking has helped me get into a much better mental state.

My partner and I instituted a tradition of Sunday hikes, a ritual that has become like going to church. We get into the natural world to breathe the clean air, let go of the week behind us, and get relaxed and ready for the week ahead. Hiking makes my worries feel smaller and less significant, in a good way. And I’m not the only person who experiences these benefits: A 2015 research study at Stanford found “quantifiable evidence that walking in nature could lead to a lower risk of depression.”

So whether you are fighting some tough feels or are looking for a summer adventure (and maybe some big trees to shade you, or a watering hole to cool off in), a hike is a beautiful, restorative day trip. I’ve got you covered on how to prepare, but first I want to mention four important caveats:

  1. Bring a buddy. Though that Stanford study talks about people walking alone in nature—and I am sure that is super peaceful and lovely—we need to be real about safety. The park by my house is the only place I would ever be comfortable hiking alone because (A) I know it super well, and (B) there are always lots of people around. Hiking alone is risky for a few reasons. You could get lost or hurt yourself on the trail. You might also have an unpleasant encounter. Now, in three years of hiking, I haven’t come across an animal like a bear or mountain lion, though this may be because I am always with my dude, talking and tromping down the path pretty loudly. I make my presence known because I don’t really want to meet such creatures. However, I have to say the animal I’m most concerned about is the human. People can be terrible, and I do not want you to run into a terrible person alone in the woods, OK? So hike with a buddy, a partner, your crush, or a sibling or other family member. It can be a great opportunity for bonding—whether that means having deep convos, singing your favorite songs, or making a pact to remain as quiet as possible and just enjoy your surroundings together.
  2. Remember that phones often do not work in the woods. Google Maps sometimes outlines trails in popular hiking spots, BUT you may or may not be able to get a signal. Even if you do, it could be weak or spotty. Using maps also drains your phone’s battery. So, please promise me that you will not rely on your phone alone to keep you from getting lost. It is a great tool, but it should not be your only tool. Bring a map, or hike trails that are well-marked and have posted maps along the way. The more established hiking areas (as in, not in the total wilderness) will have kiosks with paper maps and/or posted maps. Do use your phone to take pictures of them so you can refer to them later! This has prevented me from getting lost more than once. If you have a fully charged phone and closely monitor your battery, you can track your hike (I track my hikes with the Runkeeper app). There are also some super rad apps—like Cornell Labs’ Merlin Bird ID and Virginia Tech’s Tree ID—that can help you identify the cool flora and fauna you are seeing.
  3. Respect nature. “Take only pictures, leave only footprints” is a sign you’ll see at some hiking spots. Please take heed. Don’t litter. Remember that everything out in the woods or along that beach is a part of an ecosystem. Another little critter might need to climb into that shell, so take a picture of it instead of taking it home. In some places, berry-picking is OK, but DO NOT eat anything you cannot clearly identify. Mother Nature is tricky that way—things that look delicious can make you really sick. Also, know what the plants that will make you terribly itchy look like. I’m specifically talking about poison oak and poison ivy and any other poisonous plants in your area.
  4. Stay on the trail. Finally, resist the urge to go off the trail—for your own safety and because going off-trail means you are trampling plants and contributing to soil erosion. Sometimes you will see little shortcuts that other people have created—ignore them and don’t be part of that problem. If you bring a canine friend with you, keep them on a leash so they stay on the trail, too.

Now that we’ve gotten all of that out of the way, let’s hike!

How to find trails:

Ask friends. I started by getting recommendations from friends and neighbors because I was new to my area. If you have some more outdoorsy buds, asking them about their favorite hiking spots is a good way to go.

Get a book. Because I am a book person, I like to go to the bookstore or library and browse hiking guides, which are usually in the local travel section. These books have trail maps in them, which is why I like buying/checking them out—it puts a map in my hand.

Search online. While I love my books, their info can be a few years out of date, so the internet rules in terms of searching for the most up-to-date info on hikes. Just Google the name of your state or area and “trails,” and you will probably find some sort of database like this. Washington has a Trail Association, and their website has become my Number One resource. It is searchable in multiple ways—by region and by type of hike, for example—and people post trail reports. Sites with trail reports will let you know if a tree blew down last week or when the trail is super muddy after heavy rains.

Lakes, waterfalls, wildflowers, bird-viewing, historical landmarks—these are all the kinds of features you can generally search for in most book and internet trail guides, so you can plan the hike of your dreams. And per our convo about phones, I urge you to copy, print, or save PDFs of directions or maps you find so you can reliably access them on the trail.

How to choose a trail:

Now that you have all the resources for finding hikes, how do you pick one? A lot of trail guides will rate the trails as easy, moderate, challenging, et cetera. If you are just starting out, pick an easy one! There’s no shame in that. Easy hikes are often more enjoyable, and you can build to harder hikes when you’re ready. (And Rooks, despite my long-term love affair with hiking, I still don’t do strenuous hikes. I know my own physical limitations.) These ratings usually don’t have to do with the length of the trail—we’ll get to that in a sec—but with elevation changes. If you live in a hilly/mountainous area, you definitely want to look at that and probably start (as I did) with hikes that don’t gain more than 300 feet or so (though it depends on the length of the hike—you can use sites like this one to calculate a trail’s difficulty). You also have to read the map’s descriptions of how a trail’s elevation gain takes place: A steady, gradual climb is great for beginners. Doing hundreds of feet all at once might cause you to call it quits before you get to that great view.

Now, in terms of a hike’s length, that depends on you. Are you an avid walker or generally active person? Then you might be up to start with a four or five mile hike. If not, try one or two miles. I am fairly active, but I started with two-mile hikes, and I still do them because guess what? If you find the right one, it is just as pretty as a long, epic journey! You can always lengthen your actual trip by picnicking halfway through or finding a trail that ends at a lake you can swim in.

Parrot as witness?

Monday, 27 June 2016 03:27 pm
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Posted by Mark Liberman

Peter Holley, "Foul-mouthed parrot may be used as evidence in murder trial, prosecutor says", WaPo 6/26/2016:

Family members believe Bud, an African gray parrot, may have witnessed the shooting that left Martin Duram dead and his wife severely injured.  

They believe this because the bird’s latest phrase — the one he won’t stop shouting at the top of his lungs mimicking his owner’s voice — is a chilling one: “Don’t f—ing shoot!”  

Duram’s body was found near his wife, who suffered a gunshot wound to her head but is alive. Although police initially assumed she was a victim of the shooting, police reports obtained by WOOD-TV revealed that she eventually became a suspect in the slaying. […]

Relatives told the station that they think Martin Duram’s final moments were imprinted in the bird’s memory and that he continues to relive the slaying. They noted that Bud mimicked both the victim and his wife.


Makeup Trick: Channel Orange

Monday, 27 June 2016 03:00 pm
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Posted by Cammy

An orange dream.

An orange dream.

I LOVE ORANGE SHERBET!!! And orange Creamsicles are so dreamy. Today I’m going to show you how to do an eye shadow look inspired by these icy orange treats.

What you’ll need:


How to do it:

Step One (Optional)


Put eye shadow primer on each eyelid and some below your lower lash lines, too.

Step Two


Take your deep orange eye shadow and brush it all over your eyelids.

Step Three


Apply the red-orange shadow to the outer corners of your eyelids, kinda like you would with winged eyeliner.

Step Four


Take your gold or coppery eye shadow and dab it in the inner corners of your eyelids. Gradually spread it across each lid.

Step Five


Brush some red-orange eye shadow across your lower lash lines.

Step Six


Use some eyeliner (I like Tattoo Liner by Kat Von D) to make a cat-eye if you want, then…


Put on a few coats of mascara and you’re done. Looks pretty sweet! ♦

Some speech style dimensions

Monday, 27 June 2016 02:13 pm
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Posted by Mark Liberman

Earlier this year, I observed that there seem to be some interesting differences among individuals and styles of speech in the distribution of speech segment and silence segment durations — see e.g. "Sound and silence" (2/12/2013), "Political sound and silence" (2/8/2016) and "Poetic sound and silence" (2/12/2016).

So Neville Ryant and I decided to try to look at the question in a more systematic way. In particular, we took the opportunity to compare the many individuals in the LibriSpeech dataset, which consists of 5,832 English-language audiobook chapters read by 2,484 speakers, with a total audio duration of nearly 1,600 hours. This dataset was selected by some researchers at JHU from the larger LibriVox audiobook collection, which as a whole now comprises more than 50,000 hours of read English-language text. Material from the nearly 2,500 LibriSpeech readers gives us a background distribution against which to compare other examples of both read and spontaneous speech, yielding plots like the one below:

[If you're not puzzled by that plot, you should be — but all will be explained below.]

The earlier posts were based on the output of a Speech Activity Detector (SAD). The advantage of a SAD-based approach is that no transcript is required, and we can even use material in an unknown language. One disadvantage is that it's hard for the program to decide accurately whether short silences are stop gaps or silent pauses, as discussed in one of the earlier posts. So for this exploration, we decided to perform forced alignment between the audio and the corresponding text, which enables us to classify short silences accurately, and to use silent pauses to make an accurate division into speech and silence segments.

The LibriSpeech datasets comes with alignments supplied by its compilers, but we realigned everything in order to be able to make an appropriate comparison with other data sources. The result was about two million segments of each type, with overall duration distributions as shown in the density plots below:

But those are the distributions of speech and silence durations for all 2,484 readers — how should we characterize the distribution of individual readers' characteristics? The best way to do that would be to fit an appropriate statistical model, and look at the distribution of model parameters.

The speech-segment plot look like the same sort of gamma distribution discussed earlier. The silence-segment plot is clearly bimodal, with the minimum between the two modes at about 200 milliseconds. So the obvious way to characterize individual readers is in terms of a mixture of gamma distributions.

But there are lots of ways to carry this program out in detail, and the interpretation of the resulting parameters in each case may be a little opaque. So we decided to start with a cheap trick, namely to characterize each reader in terms of the proportion of their silence segments that are greater than 0.2 seconds, and the proportion of their speech segments that are greater than 0.6 seconds. The result looks like this, expressed as a 2D contour plot with the speech-segment proportion on the x axis and the silence segment proportion on the y axis:

So we have a distribution, but is it a useful or interesting one?

Let's add to the mix the speech and silence segment durations from some other sources:

Fresh Air: Fourteen radio interviews, involving public figures ranging from Lena Dunham to Stephen King to Gloria Steinem, from National Public Radio’s Fresh Air program. Recordings and transcripts were downloaded from NPR's website, and the transcripts were “dis-edited” to include disfluencies and to correct other transcription errors. The host Terry Gross is treated separately from the interviewees.

YouthPoint: YouthPoint was a radio program produced by students at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1970s, comprising interviews with opinion leaders of the era. The broadcast versions, are all 30 minutes in duration though the original interviews may be much longer. Our data set includes a subset of 50 sessions with 57 interviewees,  including Ann Landers, Mario Andretti, Francesco Scavullo, Mark Hamill, Annie Potts, Chuck Norris, Buckminster Fuller,  Erica Jong, Chaim Potok, Isaac Asimov, Ed Muskie and Joe Biden.

Political speeches: 50 weekly radio addresses given by George W. Bush during 2008, and 127 weekly addresses and prepared statements given by Barak Obama between 2009 and 2011. The official transcripts were again "dis-edited" to conform with the audio. Bush and Obama are treated separately.

If we plot the speech segment and silence segment distributions for these sources in comparison to the overall LibriSpeech distributions, we see not only some individual differences, but a suggestion that the read-speech sources (LibriSpeech, Obama, and Bush) are different from the spontaneous-speech sources (YouthPoint, Terry Gross, FreshAir guests):

And if we add the other sources to the 2D distribution shown earlier, we get a sensible result:

Bush and Obama are quite different from one another, but both are near the modal region of the 2,484 LibriSpeech readers.

In contrast, the three spontaneous-speech sources are relatively close to one another, and almost completely outside the read-speech region.

And the quantitative difference between the spontaneous and read-speech sources makes qualitative sense. There are presumably fewer long speech segments in spontaneous speech because the compositional process requires additional pauses for thought. And there are presumably fewer long silence segments in the radio interviews because radio hates dead air, so that interviewers (or editors) are likely to intervene if a silent pause goes on too long.

My guess is that unedited conversations, in different cultural and interactional settings, would show a wider range of silence-segment distributions. And the distribution of both speech and silence segment durations will obviously also be a function of the fluency, topic knowledge, inhibition, and arousal of the speakers.

For a more formal report on this research, see Neville Ryant and Mark Liberman, "Automatic Analysis of Phonetic Speech Style Dimensions", InterSpeech 2016.

Game of Thrones Open Thread, Finale Edition

Monday, 27 June 2016 12:29 pm
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Posted by Libby Anne

The Game of Thrones Season 6 finale was yesterday. I thought it was probably the best finale of any season yet. I am also amazed, now that the season is over, at how dramatically its treatment of women changed as compared to the last season. I would love to know what conversations took place in the writers' room! Now that the season is over, what did you guys think?Click through to join the discussion!

Daily Links: Brexit Edition

Monday, 27 June 2016 01:05 pm
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Posted by Tari Ngangura

Good morning, Rooks! Get ready for Monday with this edition of Daily Links

Photo of UK Prime Minister David Cameron via Vox.

Photo of UK Prime Minister David Cameron via Vox.

If you keep up with international politics and trending hashtags, you’ve likely noticed the prevalence of #Brexit throughout the weekend. This six-letter amalgamation of “Britain” and “Exit” signaled the tumultuous end of a tug-of-war that raged in the UK over the past several months in regard to maintaining their position in the European Union. In a referendum last week, 51.9 percent of Brits voted to leave the EU and 48.1 percent voted to stay. Supporters of the leave campaign have said the decision was pushed forward because the British people wanted a democracy free of EU intervention, greater economic control, and “to take their country back.” Critics of the leave campaign, however, have spoken out about heightened xenophobic fear-mongering and propaganda behind the decision to leave the EU. It’s too early to tell the long-term effects this will have on Britain and the rest of the world, but this type of isolationism can be damaging. It’s also been reported that 73 percent of people 18 to 35 voted to remain in the EU. Those who chose to leave were mostly seniors, who thereby voted for a future that will not affect them, and instead will create a legacy that many young Brits do not want.

President Obama officially made New York City’s Stonewall Inn the first LGBTQ+ monument in America, setting a precedent that hopefully sees more facets of LGBTQ+ history recognized as having national significance and being treated as such. This decision comes a year after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, and a few weeks after the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. These stark contrasts show that even though momentum is being gained in the fight for equal rights, bigotry and intolerance still follow those who choose to authentically live their lives, and that is something we will need to continue fighting against. Let’s remember the legacies of the Stonewall Uprising–era activists, including Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, and their messages of inclusion and equity.

Photo via The Huffington Post.

Photo via The Huffington Post.

Abigail Fisher, a white student from Sugar Land, Texas took race politics all the way to the Supreme Court when she decided that it was affirmative action, and not her low grades, that made it impossible for her to be accepted into the University of Texas-Austin. Fisher believed that affirmative action favored black people, and as such put her at a disadvantage as a non-black person. Her case was dismissed, but that didn’t stop Black Twitter from reacting with shade and finesse. #AbbyWithTheBadGrades.

A photo posted by Priyanka Paul (@artwhoring) on

Get acquainted with Priyanka Paul, a 17-year-old artist shaking up the art world by highlighting women of color and challenging accepted beauty norms.

Photo via Mic.

Photo via Mic.

This funny comic really captures what White Feminism is all about; who it forgets, what it means, and why it sucks. ♦

The Devil, Not So Black and White

Monday, 27 June 2016 05:00 am
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Posted by Richard Beck

I want to introduce you to a new podcast hosted by Missio Alliance. My good friend Sean Palmer with John Alan Turner are co-hosting a new podcast called Not So Black and White.

The premise of Not So Black and White is to discuss issues in the church and world that tend to get unhelpfully reduced to "black or white" positions. Those issues, Sean and John argue in the podcast, are actually more complicated, not so black and white.

For example, I think Sean and John's podcast on 5 Views of Christianity and Politics is a really helpful overview that I think pastors and church leaders should have everyone in their church listen to during this anxious election year. Using that podcast as small group discussion material would, I think, really help people talk about the church and politics in a much more non-anxious, theologically informed and charitable fashion.

For my part, I was honored to be interviewed by Sean and John Alan about my new book Reviving Old Scratch. In the spirit of the podcast I try to talk about the devil in my book in a way that is not so black and white, finding space between progressive silence about the devil and charismatic excesses on the other.

Give that episode a listen.

But more importantly, put Not So Black and White on your podcast feed.


Monday, 27 June 2016 07:46 am
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Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum

Driving back from the airport last night in unusually heavy traffic I came to a sign that said "FORM TWO LANES".

I tried. Honestly, I did try.

Brexit: Christmas or The Fourth of July?

Sunday, 26 June 2016 11:51 am
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Posted by Mark Liberman

Or, we could ask, is Brexit like Passchendaele or like The Somme?

I mean, of course, whether the noun Brexit should normally be used with a definite article ("Are you for or against the Brexit?") or without ("Are you for or against Brexit?").

We need to ignore all the constructions in which Brexit is a modifier of another noun: the Brexit vote, the Brexit campaigners, the Brexit turmoil, etc.  But when Brexit is the head of a noun phrase, I've been assuming that it's a strong proper name that should be anarthrous, like Christmas or Passchendaele or Language Log.

Recently I've learned that not everyone agrees with me. Some examples:

Ben Casselman, "How To Make Sense Of The Brexit Turmoil", FiveThirtyEight 6/24/2016: The “Brexit,” as the British exit from the EU is widely known, is unprecedented — no country has ever left the union. […] But the shock of the Brexit and the uncertainty over what happens next could make investors more cautious, hurting stock prices and making banks more reluctant to lend.

David Nelson, "Why the Brexit is really British Independence Day", Yahoo Finance 6/26/2016: Already, nationalist parties throughout the continent have petitioned to hold exit referendum’s similar to the Brexit.

"Scotland is so pissed about the Brexit it might break up with the UK", Vice News 6/25/2016: Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan said in response to the Brexit that, ultimately, the future unification of Ireland would be in the best interest of its citizens, but that holding a referendum while the Brits were negotiating their exit from the EU would only create further chaos and division.

I've been even more surprised by the use of Brexit with an indefinite article, apparently because the actual event hasn't entirely happened yet, so that the future is full of many different virtual Brexits:

Heather Saul, "Ricky Gervais explains why a Brexit won't actually make a difference", The Independent 6/25/2016: The narrow vote for a Brexit by 52 per cent means some millennials, who could now see two recessions before turning 30, believe they have been denied the financial stability, secure pensions and job opportunities enjoyed by the baby boomers who voted to leave.

Georgi Kantchev et al., "Fund Managers Tally the Cost of a ‘Brexit", WSJ 6/24/2016: Ahead of the end result, San Diego-based Sunrise Capital Partners LLC shut down most of its short term-trading systems, wary that they would be ill-equipped to deal with the volatility that a Brexit would generate in currency markets.

Leonidas Stergiou, "What a Brexit could mean for Greece", ekathimerini 6/24/2016: A Brexit would have significant economic, social and political consequences for Greece, both short- and long-term.

But just to show that I'm not alone:

"Nigel Farage says Britain heading for recession 'regardless of Brexit'", The Guardian 6/26/2016: “There’s nothing new here,” he told the Sunday Telegraph. “I think we are going into a mild recession anyway, completely regardless of Brexit."

Jeffrey Sachs, "The Meaning of Brexit", Project Syndicate 6/25/2016: Moreover, leaving the EU will wound the British economy, and could well push Scotland to leave the United Kingdom – to say nothing of Brexit’s ramifications for the future of European integration. Brexit is thus a watershed event that signals the need for a new kind of globalization, one that could be far superior to the status quo that was rejected at the British polls.

Gautam Mukunda, "What Brexit Means for the Openness of the World Economy", Harvard Business Review 6/24/2016: So what does Brexit mean for this important relationship?  Brexit, assuming that the Parliament does not exercise its right to overrule the voters, seems likely to be one of the most consequential events for America and the world since the end of the Cold War.


Lesbian Duplex 74: An Open Thread

Sunday, 26 June 2016 09:00 am
[syndicated profile] lovejoyfeminism_feed

Posted by Libby Anne

It’s time for another Lesbian Duplex thread! If you have a link or article or interesting thought that’s not relevant to an ongoing thread, you can share it here. If a conversation on another post has turned entirely off topic, you can bring it here also. Enjoy!
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"This is my prayer: that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best."
-- St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians 1:9-10

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