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Friday, March 15, 2013

Addendum to SL Letter of the Day

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 7:57 PM

Dear AAAAA,

Let me back up, and complicate, Dan when he writes...

remember that TVC and NOM and FRC and AFA are all shooting themselves in the foot. So are all the freelance haters lurking in comments threads on blogs and on news websites spouting off about buttsecks and feces and pedophilia.

You see, today most people know someone who's LGBT. The homophobic nonsense that straight people used to find so persuasive—gay people are all icky perverts! they're coming for your children! they hate the family!—doesn't work on straight people who actually know someone who's LGBT.

Because it's not just that hate fades when haters know someone who's LBGT: hate fades, or gets complicated, when people know someone whom they know is related to someone who's LGBT. One degree of separation can suffice.

To wit: I am a regular patron at a bar where I've literally known the bar owners, and one of the bartenders, and many of the patrons, my entire life (I've lived in the same zip code for all of my 50 years). It's the kind of low-key neighborhood joint where everyone talks sports, local news, whatever. Some of the regulars are old-fashioned prejudiced Never Really Thought About It regarding various things; some are actual bigots. Either way, years ago, if someone would spout some homophobic bullshit, I'd clear my throat (I'm usually at a table in the window, reading the paper, not right at the bar engaged in the chitchat). Then one or the other of the regulars or the bartender would remind the rest of who my brother was, or the bigot would just remember that when you make a disparaging remark about fags, you're talking about Bill's brother Dan. You know, Dan, went to school with your little sister? You know, Bill, who can talk Cubs and Bears and why Loyola is fucking up the 'hood, Bill, he's one of us. So shut the fuck up about his brother.

This didn't necessarily change their minds about Queers Being Icky, but they kept their bullshit quieter in deference to me. Because they knew me, and my whole family, including the queer one. And I have to think that over the many years this has gone on, where Dan's appearances on Maher or CNN, or in the Reader or the Tribune, have been the subject of conversation, they've come to realize that maybe they're full of it a bit, on the wrong side of history.

And when our mother died five years ago, everyone in that bar was right there for us. Not just for me, for us all.

Continue reading »

SL Letter of the Day: Anti-Gay Haters Are Doing Us a Favor

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 5:52 PM

How do I deal with the boiling anger I feel after reading/hearing the anti-gay talking points that inevitably appear after stories like Ohio Sen. Rob Portman's decision to support gay marriage after his son came out to him? I'm reading things like, "Choices that hurt himself and society," and, "He'll eventually die of AIDS or oral cancer." I read that and I just want to strangle the person who said it.

What are my options besides flipping the fuck out several times a day or not reading the news anymore? Neither one of those is acceptable to me. I don't know where to put the rage that I feel when I hear assholes call me less than human, and I don't have the money to donate to causes that fight that nearly as often as I'd like. What do you think I should be doing instead?

Always Angry About Anti-gay Assholes

My response after the jump...

Continue reading »

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Where Are You Gonna Have a Beer on Saint Patrick's Day?

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 5:47 PM

I think you should go have one with Pammy, here, before she's bulldozed to into the ground, to make room for more condos. Click the photo, to read more...

Don't Tell My Coworkers, But I Kind of Like the New Pope

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 5:19 PM

I know. I know. I KNOW. I know. But! But. It can't be denied. The stuff about him cooking his own meals and living in a modest apartment and riding the bus to work? And then being super casual/common/ordinary on his introduction to the world as the new pope? And insisting the cardinals all ride the elevator with him right afterward?* And hopping into a minivan with all of them, leaving the papal car empty? And personally paying his hotel bill the next day? And ducking out the side door of the Vatican to pray in public? To say nothing of this detail:

Francis comes from Argentina, which was hit by a crippling sovereign debt crisis in 2001 from which it has not fully recovered.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France, recalled that he had asked Cardinal Bergoglio why he was not going to Rome last December when Benedict was naming more cardinals.

“And he told me that right now the situation in Argentina was too terrible; he couldn’t leave Argentina,” Cardinal Barbarin said. “For me, that was significant. In a moment where the country is going badly, he said, ‘I have to be here.’ He could have happily come to a party in Rome, but he didn’t.”

His colleagues were all hopping on jets to go do Jager bombs with Ratzinger; not this guy. Yes, he's opposed to common sense modernizing reforms regarding women, vis-a-vis reproduction and ordination, and that totally sucks, and I hate it. But! Let's all just admit the church could really use a shock to its system regarding its focus on poor people (hey Mario, howzabout you sell off every gold-encrusted Catholic-commissioned bauble in Europe and give all that money, every single cent, to the poor? Cuz you're the kinda guy who may just do that!). And the thing about hating all sex outside of marriage, including gay sex? Uh, I think that's inevitable when you're choosing among a bunch of cardinals in their 70s. Plus, I'm sure you've heard, there's a liiiiitle problem in the church with repressed gay dudes who have alcohol, absolute power, and fantasies about penises, plus no outlet for their fantasies except the bodies of innocent children they have absolute power over (and maybe also the bodies they find in local bathhouses). Francis's lifelong commitment to austerity and simplicity might be a sign that the Catholic church's evil, corrupt, nauseating attitude toward power over other people (a problem the church has had since day one) might be—might be! Let us hope!—coming to a close.

* Mitt Romney's head must be spinning.

Prisoners of Color Have Less Access to Education Than White Prisoners

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 4:41 PM

A new study in this month's Prison Legal News shows that private prisons incarcerate a higher percentage of people of color than state-run prisons. (To prevent skewing the numbers, the authors excluded federal detention centers run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other high-immigration facilities.)

Prisoners of color in California: 75% in the public prisons, 89% in the private ones.

In Texas: 66% in public, 71% in private.

In Arizona: 60% in public, 65% in private.

From the study:

Our research indicates that although people of color are already overrepresented in public prisons relative to their share of state and national populations, they are further overrepresented by approximately 12 percent in state-contracted correctional facilities operated by for-profit prison firms.

So prisoners of color are being systematically routed to for-profit prisons. (The state of California, for example, makes it a policy to send prisoners with immigration issues to for-profit prisons, which has a much bigger impact on prisoners of color.) What does that mean?

Take it away, Dr. Lisa Wade of Occidental College:

Companies that house prisoners for profit have a perverse incentive to increase the prison population by passing more laws, policing more heavily, sentencing more harshly, and denying parole. Likewise, there’s no motivation to rehabilitate prisoners; doing so is expensive, cuts into their profits, and decreases the likelihood that any individual will be back in the prison system. Accordingly, state prisons are much more likely than private prisons to offer programs that help prisoners: psychological interventions, drug and alcohol counseling, coursework towards high school or college diplomas, job training, etc.

If prisoners of color are being systematically siphoned off to for-profit prisons and for-profit prisons are less likely to offer education and other programs, prisoners of color are being systematically denied those programs.

Any lawyers out there looking for a class-action discrimination lawsuit?

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An Update on the Good, the Bad, and the Fucking Nutty Bills Flopping Around Olympia This Session

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Earlier this month we highlighted the good bills, the bad bills, and the fucking nutty bills working through Olympia this legislative session.

Now here's an update of where all those bills we wrote about stand:

The Good News: The bill that would raise the price of car tabs to help fund King County Metro will be debated during upcoming budget negotiations; ditto for the so-called dance tax on Seattle's dance floors; the bill that would grant cities the power to lower speed limits on non-arterial streets is alive; and three bills encouraging voter access—through pre-voter registration for teens, Election-day voter registration, and district-based elections (which promote minority representation)—are also still kicking. In "meh" news, the bill requiring insurance companies to cover abortion costs if they cover maternity care on their policies (called Reproductive Parity) is alive but was assigned to a Republican-controlled Senate committee that will likely abort it.

The Good-Among-the-Dead News: Among bills we hated, the "training wage" bill that would've allowed employers to pay 75 percent of the state's minimum wage to "train" workers suffered a fatal on-the-job accident, and one of the bills that would've invalidated Seattle's local sick leave ordinance died from untreated syphilis on the Senate floor. (Another sick leave bill lives, and would exempt businesses outside of Seattle city limits. Boo.)

The Bad News: A bill that would help fully fund schools through a five percent increase to the capitol gains tax is dead, while a bill that would flunk kids who don't pass third-grade reading in their underfunded schools passed out of the Senate and is working its way through the House. Also, the "gunshow loophole" will remain open, because the bill designed to close it is was shot in the face at close range. Bummer.

The Fucking Nutty News: The fucking nuts bills are all fucking dead. There will be no tax exemptions for purchasing clay pigeons, $40,000 in taxpayer money will not be devoted to honoring Ronald Reagan's lifetime achievements, and the two-thirds tax requirement will not be revived, thank the fuck.

Happiest Hour: Ducks and Free Cheetos at Speckled & Drake

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 4:30 PM

Happiest-570.jpg
  • Kelly O
Speckled & Drake is outfitted with duck-oriented novelties of every imaginable variety: taxidermied ducks, duck-hunting decoys, tiny wooden toy ducks clutching tiny wooden toy rifles, a Russian-doll-style trinket collection with shrinking ducks all in a row. Owner Justin Martinsen has a Brooklyn bar, too (it's called duckduck), and the theme of both commemorates his old hairdo: "It flipped up in the back and looked like a duck's ass." Like his hair, Justin's lounge is nostalgic-styled—it's got '60s-esque cubbies and vintage signs and slatted wood walls. S&D occupies the snug yet airy bi-level space on Capitol Hill's Olive Way where the Living Room used to be.

What else: They have free Cheetos! Not the standard crunches, but the swollen variety whose forms resemble the spongy black snakes that spritz up from certain firework tablets. Justin hypothesizes that this is how Cheetos harvests the puffs—that, following ignition, "they form long tubes that are cut into segments."

Happy hours: Daily 5–8 pm.

Happy-hour drink specials: $1 off most everything, from whiskey (including fancy-schmancy $11 Hudson Manhattan Rye, $7 Eagle Rare bourbon) to cocktails (the $9 Rootbeer Float has Art in the Age ROOT liqueur, Oola vodka, cream); also $3 wells, $2 off drafts from 5–6 pm (that means $1 Olympia!), and from 6–8 pm, $1 off selected drafts like Lagunitas Pils and Schooner Exact King Street Brown Ale.

Continue reading »

The Best of Slog: A Pope, Some Poop, and Slog Is Wrong About Star Trek

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 4:20 PM

We Have a Pope Bigot! Dominic Holden and Dan Savage have feelings about Pope Frank.

You're Not In Traffic, You Are Traffic: Now that we're officially in the top ten for suck-ass commutes, and now that Seattleites are more public-transit-happy than we've been since the 1950s, maybe we should talk about real transit options? Mayor McGinn and Tim Burgess got a little catty over transit this week, but none of the mayoral candidates are proposing anything revolutionary, along the lines of London's bike-friendly proposal.

The Drunkard's Tale: The complicated story of the Canterbury's closing has inspired lots of emotion.

It's a Food-Based Shitstorm! PETA's offer to cook vegan food for kids is refused, and Stranger staffers discover that they very likely might have eaten rat shit.

Charity Case: Christopher Frizzelle considers sending the executive director of DList magazine back to Las Vegas.

Who Knew That Would Be Controversial? Slog commenters feel very strongly about living in small, affordable apartments. Many of them are against it?

Nerds Have Feelings: About Google Reader and what the best Star Trek series is. (Spoiler alert: The Slog poll is wrong; everyone with any sense knows that the best Star Trek series is the original. Period.)

Comment Thread of the Week: I very much enjoyed the comments on this post.

Go forth and enjoy your weekend, Kirk-and-Spock style.

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Texts and Testimony from the Steubenville Rape Trial

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 3:54 PM

I haven't written about the ongoing Steubenville rape trial here on Slog—even though I know you guys have been HOWLING for more rape coverage—because reading about it makes me want to drink heavily in my crying closet. But it's important, so here we go.

Texts from the NYT:

"Swear to God I don't remember doing anything with them," the girl wrote to a friend, a boy who authorities say saw the assaults. "I wasn't being a slut. They were taking advantage of me."

In a text to a boy who lives in the house where the second attack is said to have happened, Mays wrote: "Just say she came to your house and passed out."

The coach "took care of it," Mays said in one text introduced by prosecutors.
"Like he was joking about it so I'm not worried," Mays said in another text.

Testimony from CNN:

One of the witnesses, a 17-year-old, told Judge Thomas Lipps that he used his cell phone to record Mays putting his fingers inside the girl's vagina during a drive from one party to another. The boy said he deleted the video the next morning when he realized it was wrong.

... The teen also told the court Mays later attempted to have the girl perform a sex act on him in the basement of a home, where they ended up after the initial alleged incident in the car.

"She didn't really respond to it," he said.

One [text] message asked Mays: "Did u do it?"
He responded, according to [a computer forensic investigator named Joann] Gibb: "No, lol. She could barely move."
Still another graphic message from Mays to a friend appeared to detail his anger over being accused of rape.
"I'm pissed all I got was a hand job, though. I should have raped since everyone thinks I did," the message said, according to Gibb.

I keep returning to this point: Regardless of whether 16-year-old Ma'Lik Richmond and 17-year-old Trent Mays are found guilty as charged of digitally penetrating the allegedly drunk teen in their company (an act that constitutes rape in Ohio), there's no question in my mind that she was thoroughly degraded. Re-read those text messages. Look at that blurry photograph that shows her being slung around like big game, or dead meat. A trophy. Plenty of people took notice of her that night but seemingly didn't attempt to stop what was happening (if they tried, we have to assume it wasn't very hard).

Perhaps Richmond and Mays were prompted by malice when they decided to cart her around all evening, or perhaps they were raised to believe that women really are humanish playthings and this was their fucked-up version of a lighthearted game. The end result was the same—this poor teenager was objectified and humiliated by seemingly everyone she came into contact with that night. She was in a bad situation, she needed help, and she didn't receive it.

Even if Richmond and Mays are found guilty, how do you find peace after a betrayal of that magnitude? When what feels like half a town witnessed you helpless, and vulnerable, and failed to act? When you can't remember what was done to you? When you'll never know for certain what exactly happened?

SXSW: Endurance & Reincarnation

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Stevie Nicks takes a bow
  • Stevie Nicks takes a bow

Perhaps my favorite thing that happened yesterday at South by Southwest was when Stevie Nicks spent a good five minutes just recounting, in intricate detail, the major plot points of Joe Wright's film adaptation of Anna Karenina. This was in response to a question from Ann Powers, I think, about her songwriting inspiration and process, and was only one of many fascinating digressions in an hourlong afternoon interview that included a glimpse into her entry into Fleetwood Mac, the role of women in rock music (and her general outrage at a sense of modern-day setbacks for women), and negotiating the dynamics of taking breaks from a band to pursue a solo career. Other fun facts: she really loves Beauty and the Beast both the Jean Cocteau and television version) and always wanted/wants to be a witch for Halloween.

Continue reading »

That Doesn't Sound Very Superheroic

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 2:55 PM

A British real-life superhero quit real-life superheroing after he had the shit beaten out of him.

Roger says a street attack triggered his decision to scale down his crimefighting, although he will be tempted back into costume for charity appearances... Roger, 20, said: “We were recognised when we were walking through Clifton and some lads started punching me. My face was all swollen."

Apparently during the beating, his super power—common sense—finally kicked in.

(Via Bleeding Cool.)

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The Stigma of the Hotel Restaurant: Relish Burger Bistro Opens

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 2:45 PM

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Relish Burger Bistro opened on March 1st, inside the Westin Hotel on Fifth Avenue. A huge banner on the patio railing reads: “Your search for the perfect burger ends here.”

Last night, they held a “black jeans” (ugh) opening party for schmancy business people and a few schlubs from the press, and they went all out. A video camera captured people as they entered, and the host had an awards-show style microphone with SEEN on its cube base (presumably from the advertising company Team Photogenic, who run a web show by that name). An ice sculpture bar melted over the course of the evening, with Heinz ketchup and mustard bottles suspended in the base and RELISH carved in bas relief. I was informed the artist is Kevin Roscoe, a Seattle-based, international promotional marketing guy. Colored disco lights shot upward from the windowsills.

Most of the food wasn't great. The grilled steelhead salmon came with a pine nut, mushroom, raisin, and tomato relish, cooked until all of those things had the same texture (which could be blamed on the heat lamp setup) and the salmon itself was noticeably fishy/not fresh (which could not). The beer-battered fried pickle came with a "chipotle remoulade" that was SO GROSS; it had a strong, pungent flavor that doesn't pair well with the already strong, pungent flavor of a freaking pickle. Pineapple-carrot-mascarpone cakes made to look like tiny burgers—the “lettuce” was coconut flakes dyed green—were clearly for novelty rather than taste. The sweet potato fries came pre-drizzled with "garlic aioli" that was very sour, almost bleach-y.

But none of that really matters. Do they have the perfect burger? Surprisingly—judging by the sliders/mini-versions—they might. The beef slider was juicy in the literal sense, meat juices running in your mouth (but the bun wasn’t soggy! Sorcery!) and the right amount of pink in the center. With shredded lettuce, tomato, fried onion, Beecher’s flagship cheese, and just a touch of tangy, housemade steak sauce (instead of being smothered in mayo), the toppings were light, so as not to distract from that juicy, juicy middle. The chicken in the chicken slider (under the dependable combo of mozzarella, tomato, and arugula) was crispy and fatty and reassuringly irregular in shape, rather than pounded senseless into a puck.

The assistant manager of restaurants and bars at the Westin, Kristina Dziedzic, said that they're trying to get away from the "stigma of the hotel restaurant" by being engaged in the community and integrating Seattle-specific food-makers: Macrina brioche buns, Beecher's cheese, Whidbey Island ice cream, Fremont whiskey. They served several different Elysian beers at the party, and 19 of the 21 planned tap beers will be local. The beef is sourced from Niman Ranch, a network of humane farms (husbandry method, free-range, no antibiotics, grain fed—but not necessarily local), and ground in house.

The chef, Ali Majedi, just moved to Seattle; he ran the first Relish Burger Bistro at the Phoenician (another Starwood hotel) in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dziedzic insisted the two Relishes have very little in common, given their focus on local tastes.

So can a corporate hotel restaurant be more than another way to gouge hotel guests? At Relish, I’m willing to entertain the idea. You can’t judge a restaurant by the launch party, but I’ll be back for a burger.

I Am "Insane"

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 2:34 PM

Takes one to know one:

The NRA's Wayne LaPierre says those who favor mandatory background checks may be, quote, "insane."

Because nothing is crazier than suggesting that we should check to see if somebody is legally ineligible to possess a firearm (felon, restraining order, actually insane, etc.) before selling that person a firearm.

Great Moments in Minority Outreach at CPAC

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 2:26 PM

Think Progress:

A panel at the Conservative Political Action Committee on Republican minority outreach exploded into controversy on Friday afternoon, after an audience member defended slavery as good for African-Americans. [An] audience member from North Carolina, 30-year-old Scott Terry, asked whether Republicans could endorse races remaining separate but equal. After the presenter, K. Carl Smith of Frederick Douglass Republicans, answered by referencing a letter by Frederick Douglass forgiving his former master, the audience member said “For what? For feeding him and housing him?”

...

ThinkProgress spoke with Terry, who sported a Rick Santorum sticker and attended CPAC with a friend who wore a Confederate Flag-emblazoned t-shirt, about his views after the panel. Terry maintained that white people have been “systematically disenfranchised” by federal legislation. When asked by ThinkProgress if he’d accept a society where African-Americans were permanently subservient to whites, he said “I’d be fine with that.” He also claimed that African-Americans “should be allowed to vote in Africa,” and that “all the Tea Parties” were concerned with the same racial problems that he was.

At one point, a woman challenged him on the Republican Party’s roots, to which Terry responded, “I didn’t know the legacy of the Republican Party included women correcting men in public.”

But, yeah, a commenter on Daily Kos called George W. Bush a Nazi in 2004, so... both sides do it, right?

Are You a Woman? Are You a Nerd? Do You Have Information to Share?

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 1:50 PM

The 2013 edition of Geek Girl Con is now taking submissions for panel ideas. They're looking for topics as varied as science, media, business, sci-fi, comics, film, computer programming, and sports. You can pitch your ideas at their website through May 15. This year's Geek Girl Con will take place at Washington State Convention Center's Conference Center on October 19 and 20; you can buy tickets here.

Bras and Cassette Tapes

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 1:30 PM

On top of a roof.
  • Saint Genet
  • Saint Genet on top of a roof.

Wrapping the cassettes.
  • Saint Genet
  • Saint Genet wrapping the cassettes.

This Sunday, Saint Genet and Trench Art Records will host/perform Sorrows: Music from Transports of Delirium, with music by Jeff Huston, Salo (Joy Wants Eternity) Garek Jon Druss (A Story of Rats, Dull Knife), and Brian Lawlor (Los Inquietos Del Norte, Implied Violence).

There will also be a new Saint Genet short film by Wes Hurley ("a pre-dawn fever dream atop the Fischer Flour Mill"), performances, and a chance to buy a limited audio cassette release of music from Saint Genet's 2011 experiments at Lawrimore Project.

Your dough will go to fund SG's Paradisiacal Rites at the Donau Festival in Austria and at On the Boards this spring.

Also happening this weekend—the Heavenly Spies' tenth anniversary show at the Triple Door. Check out Paul Constant's adventure at one of their rehearsals:

It's not easy for 18 dancers to simultaneously remove their tops while standing in a row on a small stage. Last week at Fred Wildlife Refuge, during a rehearsal for the Heavenly Spies' 10th anniversary show, choreographer and dancer Fae Phalen suggested that half the women leave their tops on.

"I feel like it would be a better line with all our tits out," another dancer argued. In that case, Phalen said, everyone might have to perform this four-minute closing number "without a bra on." Some of the top-heavier dancers groaned. But bras, Phalen pointed out, make everything more complicated. Rhinestones and lace don't often peacefully coexist, causing weird shapes and catches in the costumes. Plus, Phalen worried that if the dancers strip too enthusiastically, people in the front row might wind up with brassieres in their desserts. But you can't let the bra limply drop either—hooks tend to gravitate toward fishnets. "I've had to do half a dance with a bra hooked to the side of my leg," Phalen warned her crew...

What did they decide? Bras or no bras? Find out this weekend at the Triple Door...

Fight Your Fears with Our News-and-Politics Calendar

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 1:23 PM

If you, like me, religiously attended Jewish summer camp growing up, you have a Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). You can't eat because somewhere in the city, kickball is happening. You can't sleep because ditto goes for talent pageants. Fighting FOMO is tough, but I have a little trick for fighting this pervasive fear. Come closer and I'll tell you.

Closer.

My secret is called The Stranger's News-and-Politics calendar, which handily tracks all the fun politics and newsy events you don't want to miss. Come closer and I'll give you a taste.

Closer.
Even closer!

Continue reading »

West of Memphis: Another Great, Infuriating Movie About the West Memphis 3

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 1:00 PM

WEST OF MEMPHIS A brilliant distillation of a decade-spanning legal travesty.
  • WEST OF MEMPHIS A brilliant distillation of a decade-spanning legal travesty.

As a diehard fan of Joe Berlinger's and Bruce Sinofsky's Paradise Lost Trilogy, I greeted news of Amy Berg's West of Memphis with trepidation. Not only had I already spent nine hours swimming through the West Memphis 3 saga, but the Berlinger/Sinofsky trilogy proved to be one of the most profound film experiences of my life. The brain-exploder from me was the transition from the second film—which appeared to make it very, very clear who the real killer might be—to the third film, which decisively exonerates the "obvious suspect" of the second film while pointing toward another, even more likely "real killer." It's a stunning turn of events, and one that put us, the viewers, in the exact same boat as all the West Memphis citizens who "knew" deep in their hearts that those three devil-worshipping teens were murderers. It's a mind-fucking, deeply humbling experience I'll never forget, and I imagine my resistance to Berg's new film is in part based on fear that no one will ever take the full 9-hour plunge of Paradise Lost ever again.

As it it, Berg's West of Memphis is a brilliant addition to Paradise Lost, summarizing the basics of the trilogy (with the great benefit of hindsight) in the first 45 minutes before diving into new territory: the glorious release of the West Memphis 3, and it's contingency on a stomach-churning Alford plea (explained in full in my interview with the WM3's Jason Baldwin here.) It's a terrific, infuriating movie, and you can read Denis C. Theriault's Stranger review of it here.

North Dakota Senate Effectively Bans Abortion After Six Weeks of Pregnancy

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 12:50 PM

This is fucking terrible:

BISMARCK, N.D. — The North Dakota Senate on Friday approved banning abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, sending what would be the most stringent abortion restrictions in the U.S. to the state’s Republican governor for his signature.

The measure would ban most abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, something that can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The House already approved the measure. Gov. Jack Dalrymple generally opposes abortion but has not said whether he will sign the bill into law.

To put things in perspective:


If North Dakota Governor Dalrymple signs this bill into law, it'll basically ban abortion in North Dakota.

Neighborhood News: Naming Baby Lions and Losing Street Cred

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Last Chance to Name Giant Kittens: My Ballard warns that the deadline to submit names for the Woodland Park Zoo's new baby lion cubs is today at 5 p.m. Caveat: The names have to be recognized in the African languages of Zulu or Sotho. Guess I'll have to save "Baby Ben Steiner" for that roadkilled crow on 12th and Pine St.

The Central District Loves Bikes More Than Capitol Hill: The prized title of Seattle's "Bikiest Neighborhood" is quickly slipping out of Capitol Hill's fingerless glove-adorned hands. Central District News even has a "block-by-block heat map" to prove it.

Hurray For Megan Seling, Hockey Trendsetter: The Angry Beaver is fast becoming the bar to find a conglomeration of Seattle's teamless but tenaciously passionate Hockey fans, Phinneywood blog reports.

Man Suspected of Wielding Knives and Snatching Purses in Wedgewood Wedgwood Remains Jailed: His bail is set at $250,000, the Wedgwood View reports.

Developers Set Sights on Vacant Capitol Hill Lot: The empty lot between Harvard Ave and Broadway once known for its impressive wildflower fields is now slated to become a seven-story apartment complex, Capitol Hill Seattle Blog reports. This is a distantly-sad story of lost wildflowers and weeds, but the article's commenters are more interested in discussing the project's relative superiority to dog poop, aPodments, or views of the Space Needle.

Chicago Schools Banned Persepolis and All Hell, Predictably, Broke Loose

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Robot 6 reports that Marjane Satrapi's excellent memoir about growing up in Iran, Persepolis, has been banned from the curriculum in Chicago Public Schools. In response, teachers and parents are planning a protest that will start in about an hour.

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Bleeding Cool published a letter Chicago Public Schools sent to schools in the Chicago area. Here's an excerpt:

Persepolis is included as a selection in the Literacy Content Framework for seventh grade. It was brought to our attention that it contains graphic language and images that are not appropriate for general use in the seventh grade curriculum. If your seventh grade teachers have not yet taught this book, please ask them not to do so and to remove any copies of the book from their classrooms.

We have determined Persepolis may be appropriate for junior and senior students and those in Advance Placement classes. Due to the powerful images of torture in the book, I have asked our Office of Teaching & Learning to develop professional development guidelines, so that teachers can be trained to present this strong, but important content. We are also considering whether the book should be included, after appropriate teacher training, in the curriculum of eighth through tenth grades. Once this curricular determination has been made, we will notify you.

It's been a few years since I last read Persepolis, but I don't recall anything too outrageous in it. Satrapi's artwork is very intentionally simplistic; there's definitely no gore, although Iranian history is addressed fairly straightforwardly in the book. It's ironic in an Alanis Morrisette kind of way that a book about the effects of censorship and government control has been singled out by a public school board for censorship, while books like Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games are often taught to kids. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he'll "look into" this. Hopefully, he's swearing at somebody right now.

Lunchtime Quickie: And Now, A Report From FOX News Connec-TIT-cut

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 12:03 PM

And be sure to watch the evening news, at tit, I mean ten...

Good Morning, Kickstarter News!

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Kickstarter! Kickstarter! There's nothing else to talk about except KICKSTARTER! So c'mon! Let's kick it into "start"!

Veronica Mars KICKSTARTER surpasses three million!

Veronica Mars creator and KICKSTARTER genius Rob Thomas talks about kickstarting his Kickstarter with Warner Brothers over a year ago.

But what does Wallace (Percy Daggs III) think about the KICKSTARTER campaign? (Spoiler alert: Shockingly, HE'S IN.)

But what about a KICKSTARTER for Firefly or Dollhouse? (Spoiler alert: Shockingly, creator Joss Whedon is NOT IN.)

But what about a KICKSTARTER for The Gilmore Girls? (Spoiler alert: NO ONE WANTS TO SEE THAT.)

Why the Veronica Mars KICKSTARTER is probably a bad thing for indie movies trying to raise money.

And finally, here is the only project worth supporting on KICKSTARTER—somebody wants to build an actual working Death Star. (Maybe to use against KICKSTARTER?)

CPAC Proves that Conservatives Have No Idea What They're Doing

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 11:40 AM

So far, the biggest splash at CPAC, the annual conservative conference, has been made by NRA Chairman Wayne LaPierre, who, according to National Review's The Corner, called for much bigger government by stationing police officers at every public school:

"There’s not a mom or a dad anywhere who wouldn’t feel safer seeing a police car in parking lot when they drop their kids off to school,” he said.

Acknowledging the ire that has been directed his way since December’s shooting, LaPierre announced, “I didn’t come here to be popular; I came here to stand for what I believe is true.” As for the elitists in the mainstream media and the nation’s capital: “Let them be damned,” he said.

Meanwhile, Marco Rubio sounded safe and uninteresting, causing lots of Republican pundits to claim he's Romney 2.0, and Rand Paul continued to push the party toward libertarianism. Politico immediately started pitting the two men against each other in a battle for the future of the party.

Also, Rick Perry said that the reason Republicans don't win presidential elections is that they keep picking candidates who are too damned liberal, Donald Trump said our government is run by "very stupid people," and Paul Ryan said the same stuff Paul Ryan has always said. And a few minutes ago, Mitt Romney basically admitted that he's a fuckup but pointed out that several Republican leaders could fuck up less than he did in the near future.

After the jump, find the full speeches. Perry's is probably the most interesting, in a Bizarro comedy sort of way.

Continue reading »

Shut Down: Seattle Tofu Company and Restaurant Had "Rodents (Live and Dead) and Rodent Feces in the Processing Facility," Among Other Horrors

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Chu Minh owner Tanya Nguyen in November.
  • Kelly O
  • Chu Minh owner Tanya Nguyen in November.

Stranger resident vegan Dave Segal reviewed Chu Minh Tofu & Veggie Deli in the International District this past November and found that the "tiny, unassuming" restaurant for the tofu company had good tofu dishes, if very little in the way of atmosphere. He also found it had a good story: Owner Thanh-Nga, aka Tanya, Nguyen left Vietnam when she was in her fourth year of medical school in Saigon, then got a biochemistry degree at the University of Washington in 2002, and started running Chu Minh in 2006 (her parents started the company in 1998).

(Dave initially went to check out Chu Minh on the recommendation of Slog commenter Anne X, who said, “ChuMinh Tofu & Veggie Deli at 12th and Jackson is a rad all-vegan Vietnamese deli that, in addition to a vegetable-heavy hot entree selection and fresh soymilk & tofu, has some delicious chili lemongrass tofu banh mi. A sweet li'l hole in-the-wall place with good food.” Comments on Dave's review were also universally supportive, like this one from Benj: "I've been going since the first week, and I've never had a bad experience... The people at ChuMinh are earnest and generous... Bonus points: they have a sign on the wall that reads, 'We care more about your spiritual well-being than making money.'" After Dave's review, Chu Minh Tofu delivered a bunch of food to The Stranger's office at lunchtime, and we all ate it and thought it was great.)

Now the Washington State Department of Agriculture has taken away Chu Minh's license "after finding repeated health violations at the company’s facility," also fining the business $17,800 in civil penalties, according to Food Safety News. FSN reports that "the company had been warned repeatedly" by both the WSDA and the FDA, and that its license has been suspended twice already, "most recently in October of 2012."

And last August, two months prior to Chu Minh's most recent previous shutdown (HOLY HELL WHY DIDN'T THEY SHUT IT DOWN RIGHT THEN AND THERE?!?!?!?):

The FDA sent a warning letter to the company following an inspection during which the agency noted 16 different types of significant violations. Investigators noticed several sanitation problems, including pigeons sitting on exposed vats of soaking soybeans outside the facility, an employee picking his nose before handling ready-to-eat tofu, rodents (live and dead) and rodent feces in the processing facility and cracks in equipment used to process foods.

FDA also noted that some soybean drinks contained an illegal color additive. Other drinks were sold with ingredient lists that omitted additives used to make the beverages. Nutrition labels were also found to contain false information.

I cannot currently find words to address the above.

Chu Minh owner Tanya Nguyen, however, has found some words—her letter to her customers is after the jump. But before that, here is what she told Dave Segal in November—one month after the business was shut down for the violations above, about four months before this Monday's shutdown:

Discussing her mission, Nguyen says: "I can help people to explore a nourishing world of the wonderful taste, texture, and beautiful color that they did not even know existed. I can help people who want to be vegetarian but they don't have time to cook. I can help people to reduce their meat in their diet and live a healthier and longer life. This is the reason that inspired me to open ChuMinh Tofu and Veggie Deli."

Continue reading »

Park Geun-hye's "Venomous Swish of Skirt"

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 10:49 AM

The New York Times has an interesting look at the effects of sexist language North Korea is using against South Korea's first female president, Park Geun-hye, whose "venomous swish of skirt" North Korea recently called out as partly responsible for rising tensions between the countries:

The North Koreans, masters of outrageous propaganda, no doubt picked their phrase carefully for the South’s first female president. “Swish of skirt” was long an insult in Korean culture, directed at women deemed too aggressive, far from the traditional ideal of docile and coy.

“North Korea is taunting and testing her,” said Choi Jin, head of the Institute of Presidential Leadership in Seoul. “It’s an important test for her at home, too. People supported her for being a strong leader, but they also have a lingering doubt about whether their first female president will be as good in national security as she sounds.”

The sexist barb is one small piece of the early challenge the North has posed for Ms. Park, who came into office just after Pyongyang detonated its third nuclear test and has spent her first three weeks in office managing increasingly fraught relations between the two countries.

Does her gender matter to leaders in North Korea? To citizens in the South? Experts in the article disagree.

Bloomberg the Social Engineer Goes After Teen Pregnancy

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 10:00 AM

But here is the problem:

Whatever choices women make at work and in life, those choices are easier if they delay child-bearing. Having a kid while you are a still a teenager can seriously curtail your options. Which is why it is good news that American teen-pregnancy rates are at historic lows! The rate of teen pregnancy has been falling since 1991 and dropped again dramatically in the last four years.
So, I must ask, why in the world, as the crisis is abating and fewer teens are facing the challenges of early child-rearing would the city of New York spend $400,000 on a campaign to publicly shame teen parents? That’s why this week’s letter goes to the man who signed off on that campaign.
An image of the ad is here. In the way I admire Robert Moses for being a master builder, I admire Bloomberg for being a muscular social engineer. But Moses built horrible expressways, and Bloomberg often makes mistakes. Teen pregnancy is actually on the decline; leave that matter alone. But what is on the increase?
A government report released on Wednesday shows pregnancy rates among women in their early 20s falling nearly 18 percent from 1990 to 2008. But pregnancies among older women rose far more dramatically: rates for women ages 40 to 44 went up nearly 65 percent. There were just 11.4 pregnancies per 1,000 women in that age group in 1990, compared with 18.8 in 2008.
This is what Bloomberg should be really addressing. Science has made what was once rare very common—middle-age pregnancy. Because humans as a whole should be making less babies, it's not at all good news that older women are now "picking up the slack." If babies are to be made, it makes more sense and seems more fair that it should be the business of younger women. Instead of shaming teenagers, Bloomberg should be shaming middle-aged women. The more rational and social thing for them to do is not contribute to the overflowing human pool but absorb the surplus—adopt a child.

"It's Unsinkable!"

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 9:17 AM

I sure hope it's true that Boeing has engineered a fail-safe solution to the Dreamliner's self-immolating battery problem, but their confident claims have that disturbing famous last words ring to it:

Two top Boeing executives delivered an unflinching defense of the 787 Dreamliner in a Friday morning news conference in Japan... “We’ve been able to demonstrate that no fire is possible,” [Boeing VP Mike] Sinnett concluded.

Not that it'll keep me from flying in a 787, and this is probably more of a PR issue than a technical one. But if there's one thing we've learned from history, it's that the gods hate hubris and love irony.

Stagnant Youth

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 8:58 AM

NYT:

Stagnant Wealth for Younger Generations
In 2010, the average person of 20 to 28 had a net worth of $37,223, just slightly more than the average person of 20 to 28 in 1983. In contrast, the average person of 56 to 64 in 2010 had more than twice the wealth that someone the same age would have had 30 years ago.

So what's the solution? We are not going back to the golden-age compromise between labor and capital (1947-1973). And even if we were somehow to find a way to supply the middle class with the means to consume at rates that maintain the desired levels of profits (during the golden period, this was done with high wages; during the neoliberal moment, with credit), compound growth even at 1.5 percent (and most economists are only happy with 3 percent) can't be sustained. And what if this stagnancy is actually something more, something permanent? Meaning, in the past, growth was generated by things that are now proving to be unrealistic: universal home ownership, car ownership, and the consumption of fossil fuels. So what's really going on in this NYT report is that capital is confronted with a real limit and trying to imagine it as stagnancy. A limit is the end; stagnancy is just a phase.

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