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I am BACK AT SCHOOL, I had Village Inn for brekkie, and I have leftover hash browns and pancakes just waiting to be reheated in my NEW (USED) CAST IRON SKILLET. Also, I brought back my complete The X-Files on DVD. I am a happy, happy blogger.

(Which, like, never happens)


> The Slacktivist on the Gabriel Giffords shooting.

> Wonkette: "
America Acts Shocked As Nut Murders 6, Injures 12 Including U.S. Rep." I'd like to point out that I really, really like that Wonkette makes the focus of the statement that six people were murdered, and then that the Congresswoman survived - not "Congresswoman in critical condition but responsive! Also, people dead." Which is, frankly, how a lot of the major networks (HuffPo, Al-Jazeera, Salon) were displaying it.

> The ever-eloquent
rm on "metaphor, violence, and bullying": "...words have consequences. And when political violence has occurred (and let’s be clear, by the way, that political violence occurs every since day in the US, it occurs, among other occasions, every time someone is assaulted for their race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity), we must pause to consider the consequences of our rhetorical flourishes."

> Similarly, Sady Doyle of
TBD: "A Joke, A Guy, A Gun, Six Bodies: Why We’re Careful."

> Even CNN joins the fray (with a conservatively-toned piece): "
Shooting throws spotlight on state of U.S. political rhetoric." I really, really hope people haven't forgotten this by the time the next election season really starts heating up. Also, I should watch Dupnik's press conference (although: "mecca" was possibly a poor choice of words? Maybe 'epicenter' would have been better?).

> Although Sarah Palin's aide
wants you to know that the now-infamous (and mysteriously disappeared) crosshairs map had nothing to do with violence or guns. (thanks to Reddit for the imgur file)

> Foreign Policy mag on
the dangers of the US government endorsing online democracy movements.

> FP has
a beautiful photo essay on Southern Sudan's city of Juba, which will become the country's capital if the referendum goes as most expect it will.

> FP's (and Time's)
Fareed Zakaria on Samuel Huntington. I had not previously heard of him, (Huntington, on Zakaria) but now I want to look up his books.

> FP (again, I know, I know)
on the Egyptian tradition of dark political humor and Mubarak's apparently infinite presidency

Hosni Mubarak, Barack Obama, and Vladimir Putin are at a meeting together when suddenly God appears before them.

"I have come to tell you that the end of the world will be in two days," God says. "Tell your people."

So each leader goes back to his capital and prepares a television address.

In Washington, Obama says, "My fellow Americans, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I can confirm that God exists. The bad news is that he told me the world would end in two days."

In Moscow, Putin says, "People of Russia, I regret that I have to inform you of two pieces of bad news. First, God exists, which means everything our country has believed in for most of the last century was false. Second, the world is ending in two days."

In Cairo, Mubarak says, "O Egyptians, I come to you today with two pieces of excellent news! First, God and I have just held an important summit. Second, he told me I would be your president until the end of time."

> FP (last one, I promise) on the new appointments within the Obama administration: "Smart White House personnel moves presage more inside-out foreign policy."

This week, President Obama dug deep into the pool of 100 people who are considered for every senior Democratic position in Washington and came up with a couple of very good choices for top White House jobs. While those of you who follow these things might wonder if, in a country of 300 million people, there might be a few fresh names who could produce a little fresher thinking, keep it to yourself.

That's not the way things work here in Washington -- the only city in the world in which someone like George W. Bush could have been described as an outsider upon assuming an office his father had held 8 years earlier.

In the rest of the world familiarity breeds contempt. In Washington, like in some towns in the Ozarks, familiarity just breeds.

> BWAH HA HA. Elmo visits the White House kitchen to learn about what he will apparently be eating when he starts school. I would like to point out that I would have fallen over and died if my elementary cafeteria (which was a well-funded school in a well-funded neighborhood) had had anything close to fresh vegetables available for lunch. The White House chef and Elmo discuss the importance of "eating your colors" when it comes to vegetables. I believe every school lunch I ever consumed ever was predominantly tannish-brown (pizza! corn! tater tots! chicken nuggets!), with a dash of radioactive purple from that little pyramidal slushie sherbert thing (remember those? I don't think they were actually meant to be consumed).

> Two somewhat interrelated articles from Pandagon: "Keeping up appearances" and "Professional homobigots losing their spirit."

> An (apparently) really cool scholarship campaign aimed at getting Turkish girls through school: "‘
Snowdrop’ girls stand on their own feet with scholarship"

This article
on the allocation of UN food aid (and its declining budget) is heartbreaking:

This is the ugly, inhuman side of international aid. As long as there isn't enough money to go around, and as long as billions are being spent to rescue banks and countries, aid will mean democratizing need. And aid will be doled out in accordance with a system in which the poor are continually questioned and categorized, eventually yielding a group small enough to be accommodated by existing funds.

> (Conservatively origined) Muslim girls, love, sex, and taboos in Germany. Most of the girls in the article come from conservative Turkish families, and as much as I'd love to call bias with this article (y'know, a German newspaper on the Turkish community)...I can't. Honor killings are a significant problem in Turkey, accounting for half of the country's murders, and honor suicides are on the rise.

> Two accounts of Coptic Christian and Muslim solidarity in the face of anti-Christian violence in Egypt.
The first is a description of thousands of Muslims behaving as human shields during Christmas services (in my defense, I was exhausted when I read it, but my eyes were a bit leaky). The second
is a Spiegel interview with the Egyptian ambassador to Germany on discrimination against Egyptian Christians. It features typical ambassadorial backpedaling:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The US State Department has also criticised the lack of religious freedom in Egypt and blamed the government for not changing laws which discriminate against Copts. Is there any need for change?

Ramzy: There are no laws that discriminate against Christians in Egypt. Change in the sense of evolution of society to attain fulfilment in every sense is an objective for all governments, and we in Egypt are no exception in that.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Copts are hardly allowed to build churches, and they are rarely accepted into the civil service. Isn't that discrimination?

Ramzy: There is absolutely no discrimination by Egyptian law. 

> I keep getting Robert Gates and Robert Gibbs mixed up. Oops. This would be Robert Gates: "And my general line for those both at home and around the world who think the US is in decline is that history's dustbins are filled with countries that underestimated the resilience of the United States." Um. Really? Korea? Vietnam? Iraq? Afghanistan? That dustbin's been pretty unattended for, what, sixty years?

> The Slacktivist on anti-family positions taken by supposedly pro-Family groups:

If those pro-The Family groups really were pro-families -- if they really were in favor of strengthening, supporting and defending actual families of actual people -- then you might expect them to support efforts like Oportunidades or Bolsa Familia.

But they don't. They view such real, tangible assistance for real, tangible families as a Bad Thing. Those programs empower poor women, and empowering women, the "pro-family" groups say, weakens The Family. Those empowered poor women are more likely to use safe contraceptives, and the use of contraceptives, the 'pro-family' groups say, threatens The Family. So in the name of The Family, the pro-family agenda opposes policies that help families.

> Garland over at TBD on "Radical Masculinity, Sumptuary Gender, and The Unfriendly Queer."

> Also on TBD:
Sady Doyle on Bradley Manning. I need to be following that case more closely.

Sady Doyle on Not Deleting TBD, trolling, and blogging. (Look, kids, I've been neglecting my blogroll for, like, weeks.)

> So remember in the first episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip when Wes Mendell went on an on-air rant about the state of televised sketch comedy? (Here's
a clip, because I know you don't.) (Also, here is text!) (That was a terrible show, but it had great moments.) A Russian journalist did the same the other day (but about Russian journalism, not sketch comedy). I sent the article to my flatmate, a Russian grad student who insists that the Russian media is entirely free of controls, that Putin is glorious, and that things were much, much better under the USSR (no bribery! no starvation! no oppression!) (I have a sneaking suspicion that we're going to come to verbal blows over the conviction eventually) (I ought to mention that in general I'm quite good friends with her - she came home with me for the last two breaks and likes The X-Files and Firefly and has a great sense of humor. As long as the USSR doesn't come up, we get along swimmingly).

> I am having some difficulty taking
this article seriously: "A new addition to the Leipzig Zoo has yet to be seen by the public, but that hasn't stopped her from becoming a star. Heidi, a young cross-eyed opossum, is shaping up to be the most popular furry critter in Germany since Knut the celebrity polar bear." Not Knut the celebrity polar bear! Seriously. There are songs (which I can't even think about without "The hero of Canton / The man they call Jayne" running through my head. Jesus, I miss my Firefly DVDs).

Iron and Wine performs forthcoming album Kiss Each Other Clean on NPR



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