The Widdershins

Good afternoon Widdershins. It is my sincerest hope the week holds good and glorious things for you. Without fear of contradiction, today’s post won’t be one of those things. I’m reminded of Yogi Berra quote, “You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” So read on if you dare venture to the place I probably won’t recognize when I pass it by.

Michelle eat your heart out...

Michelle eat your heart out…

Last Thursday night I watched Sunset Boulevard all the way through for the first time. What a great movie! So many great lines! Like Norma Desmond saying, “I’m still big, it’s just the people who got small.“ Or, “See that floor — used to be hardwood, but I had it torn out to put in tile. Valentino said the tango is best on tile.“ And when it comes to Norma Desmond’s crazy eyes, just imagine Michelle Bachmann dialed up to eleven.

Norma had defined her reality — it just wasn’t a reality anyone else could see — a reality without a basis in objective fact.

At times it feels like we have jumped through the looking-glass and are living in NormaWorld. It’s a world where the media is absolutely giddy about an Ebola case on American soil. It’s a world where fear trumps any semblance of reality. It seems to be a world where news executives probably pray for a full-blown Zombie apocalypse.

Stephen Colbert’s explanation of this world seems to rule: If it feels like a fact then it is a fact. I know that’s right because my pre-existing opinion feels factual and it is a fact that I feel.

With just about a month before the midterms, there are three issues where it seems reality has been pissed to the wind and NormaWorld prevails with its tenuous grasp on reality.

The first is the A.C.A. or Obamacare as it is known in NormaWorld. Remember the omens of the cows going dry, the locusts eating the crops, and just about all the other plagues being visited upon us by the passage of Obamacare. Its passage resulted in the slovenly sluggards who currently call themselves Congress.

Here’s a flash you won’t see on the teevee: Obamacare is working and working quite nicely thank you. Health care access it way up. Cost of the program is way down. Competition is up. Choice is up. The rate of hospital cost increases is down. More private insurers are joining state exchanges. Are there problems? Yes, but on balance the positive benefits of Obamacare far outweigh the negative so far.

In NormaWorld, you never hear about these things. They don’t exist in the alternate factual reality.

Median Household Income 1989 to PresentAnother example is the quantitative easing monetary policy by the Federal Reserve. I know, the name itself makes your head explode, but the short explanation is this: The Fed dropped interest rates and then turned around and bought up the Treasury bonds in order to resuscitate the economy. Remember the gnashing of teeth by the Republican/trickling down crowd — it was end-of-times stuff. “Inflation!” they whined and moaned. “Buy gold!” was the cry bellowed and belched from Limbaugh, Hannity, Fox, and every other fear channel in NormaWorld without so much as a whimper about gold being one of their primary advertisers.

Truth is inflation didn’t happen and shows no sign of happening. Unemployment is down below 6.0% and growth might be up to over 4% for the year. Huge positives, but have you heard about it? Of course we haven’t heard about it because the 1% crowd is always more worried about inflation because inflation can eat away at the returns on their sanctified investments.

What really blows is this: According to Economics 101, the only real threat of inflation would come from increasing the purchasing power of the middle class and working poor. In other words, raising salaries to ensure the working classes experienced an increase in real purchasing power.

Name any proposal to do just that — increasing the minimum wage, paycheck fairness, an infrastructure jobs bill, reauthorizing some of the million plus jobs axed by the sequestration debacle — and the Tea Party tricklers have blocked any such proposal. So simply put, the one good policy initiative by the Federal Reserve would have been blocked by the Tea Party tricklers had they had their way.

The other issue is the effort to thwart the corporate inversions. Corporate inversions are where corporations change their corporate address to a foreign country in order to avoid U.S. taxes. All we hear in the bent reality ofNormaWorld is lowering the corporate tax rate from 35%. The reality is this: No corporations pay the 35% rate because of loopholes and tax code carve-outs. A full third of Fortune 500 companies play less than 10% and the average tax rate is somewhere between 12% and 19%.

Essentially the same amount cut from food stamps by the Tea Party crowd...

Essentially the same amount cut from food stamps by the Tea Party crowd…

Have you heard or read much of anything about the efforts to stop inversions through Executive Orders? Of course not because that doesn’t fit within the NormaWorld reality. The corporations renouncing their U.S. citizenships want the benefits of U.S. talent and the U.S. market but not the responsibilities. Government funded research is the reason many of these corporations got so big — initiatives like the Internet, GPS, voice recognition, pharmaceutical research, biotech research, and any number of other innovations were developed through such research upon which these businesses capitalized and profited.

What these deserting companies want amounts to increased corporate welfare. They want the benefits without helping to pay for it. They don’t want to contribute through taxes while at the same time they fail to increase wages or expand jobs domestically.

These three issues touch a majority of the electorate — that is if the electorate knew they were issues. We pitied Norma Desmond because she had constructed an alternate reality for herself. Isn’t it more pitiable to allow others with their Möbius strip thinking to construct a reality to which we don’t object?

There’s a month until the midterms. There’s an old political saying, “Everyone has ten votes,” — in other words everyone can influence ten voters. Influence your ten voters. We can’t let the self-serving opinions cooked up in the echo chambers define our reality. If we do, we are no better than crazy-eyed Norma Desmond.

This is an open thread.

Good Monday, Widdershins! Wow, that was an active sports weekend here at TW. I hope you all had fun with football and baseball! (My husband says October is the best month of the year because of the World Series and the end of Chat’s Dark Times, and it sounds like most of you agree.)

Something else happened over the weekend which combined both of my passions: feet-on-the-street activism and classical music, so I thought I’d post about it today.

Just after intermission, about 50 people interrupted the St. Louis Symphony’s performance of Brahms Requiem on Saturday night, singing “Justice for Mike Brown.”

As symphony conductor Markus Stenz raised his baton to begin the second act of German Requiem, one middle-aged African-American man stood up in the middle of the theater and sang, “What side are you on friend, what side are you on?”

In an operatic voice, another woman located a few rows away stood up and joined him singing, “Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all.” Several more audience members sprinkled throughout the theater and in the balcony rose up and joined in the singing.

Those in the balcony lowered white banners about 15 feet long with black spray-painted letters that said, “ Requiem for Mike Brown 1996-2014” and “Racism lives here,” with an arrow pointed to a picture of the St. Louis Arch. Another banner said, “Rise up and join the movement.”

I am very comfortable saying, at this point, that I believe Michael Brown was shot and killed for WWB (Walking While Black). This is completely unacceptable. It’s the equivalent of Saudi Arabian Wahhabis killing women because their burqas slipped and exposed a wrist or an ankle. Really, Ferguson police? Is this the example you want to follow? I’ll bet if you asked those men who shot Michael Brown what they thought of radical Islam, they would respond with a sense of moral superiority. From where I’m standing, I see not superiority, but similarity.

Of course, the organizer of the protest was a woman.  A white one, in fact. (Take that, Third Wavers.)

The St. Louis American tracked down and interviewed the organizer of the event – Sarah Griesbach, 42, a white woman who lives in the Central West End. She said that the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teen who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, has opened her eyes to the inequalities that exist in St. Louis. She has been protesting since Brown was shot on Aug. 9.

“It is my duty and desire to try to reach out and raise that awareness peacefully but also to disrupt the blind state of white St. Louis, particularly among the people who are secure in their blindness,” said Griesbach.


The group of demonstrators was…a mix of African Americans, Latino and white residents – from college kids to college professors, she said. There were “representatives” from Clayton, Webster Groves, South St. Louis, Central West End and Ferguson. Although she lives in the Central West End, her children attend school in Clayton. As a mother, she has been deeply affected by Brown’s death.

“This cannot be just a Ferguson issue,” she said.

Here is the video of the protest. I hope that someday soon, the murderers of that young man will be jailed for life.

This is an open thread.

wacko criminal lineup

And I’d still like to know what that little Scottie in the lineup did to get him placed there.  ;-)

So once again we’ve had a week full of drama with hearings on the assault on the White House and the Secret Service agents…doing what?  A host on one talk show asked if they were allowed to carry their iphones on duty and hinted that maybe they were busy gaming or chatting when the crazy guy vaulted the fence and strolled around inside the White House.  So, let’s take a break and look at some odd or unusual things I’ve found on the internet.

Can we all say “Thank God for Mississippi” once again?

All of us in the South have always been able to say “Thank God for Mississippi” when studies have show how badly some Southern states do at certain things.  Good ole Missisip would always be there at the hind end of the numbers.  Well now some English guy Fraser Nelson (probably just having a first name of Fraser means something bad is coming and it would be even worse if this Fraser too had a brother named Niles) found some numbers and crunched them.  And when he was through with the crunching he discovered that if Britain somehow left the E.U. and decided to join us in the U.S. it would be the 2nd poorest among the states.  He explained his methodology this way:

You take the US figures for GDP per state (here), divide it by population (here) to come up with a GDP per capita figure. Then get the equivalent figure for Britain: I used the latest Treasury figures (here) which also chime with the OECD’s (here). A version of this has been done on Wikipedia, but with one flaw: when comparing the wealth of nations, you need to look at how far money goes. This means using a measure called Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).

Hunter Schwarz took the data and put it into a bar graph you can see here.  Now you’ll have to click in on the graph to be able to scroll down, but do scroll down and you’ll see there’s the United Kingdom:  right behind Alabama… but ahead of Mississippi.  Now if we enterprising Widderhins folk got together, perhaps we could publicize that info in the U.K.,explaining about the gret stet of Mississippi, then we could produce and market tee shirts with the Union Jack on it saying “We aren’t Mississippi either”.  Well it’s a thought.

Yeah, everyone wants their money’s worth
but maybe just not here and in this way

Oh the delights of going to a stripper bar.  I personally have only been to a couple of these establishments on Bourbon Street and it was years ago when even the dives were better than what’s on the street now.

So William McDaniel decided he wanted to visit Sagebrush Sams, located in suburban Butte Montana.  Suburban Butte?  I had no idea there was even an urban Butte.  So William was at Sams and plunked down $350 for a private dance in a backroom.  Will thought the private dance should include sex and when the dancer told him otherwise, he just got all worked up and called 911.  Well the cops arrived, they heard the story and then decided to arrest ole Will on a charge of soliciting.  Will didn’t get a refund and after being arrested he had to pay a bond of $550 so Will’s trip to Sams cost him almost a cool $1000.  And as you can see Sagebrush Sams seems to definitely be lacking in, uh, the appearance department.  Yep, it’s the building there that looks like a barn or something.

“Officer I’d help you find my daughter, but I have to get on stage”

A scene in the revised “All about Eve”?  Perhaps an ingenue in her first play on The Great White Way?  Nah.  It was Bobbie Joe Boucher who had to do her dance at the “jiggle joint” where she worked.

The young girl was last seen Wednesday evening when Boucher dropped her off at a barbecue on her way to work at Calendar Girls in Hudson. The child was meant to come home after the dinner, but hadn’t been seen for four hours, the girl’s grandmother told police.

Cops then called Boucher on her cellphone to get more information on the child. While the mom said she was the last person to see her daughter, she was apparently too busy to offer more help.

“I have to get on stage,” the woman told cops before hanging up the phone, police said.

When they asked Bobbie Joe about the hang up she said she tried to answer another call and lost the call with the police.  The police didn’t by and arrested her for obstructing the investigation.  Her daughter was found a short time later.  Sometimes the show should not go on; or at least it could wait a little bit.

It must be really dull in Idaho

Because when this is what passes for fun, it’s time to move.

A rollover crash on a suburban Idaho road that sent three teenagers to the hospital was the result of a fiery prank gone wrong when one of the passengers used a lighter to ignite the armpit hair of the driver.

(I’m trying to figure out where the driver’s arm was that enabled a passenger to be able to get a lighter near the said armpit hair)  I’m wondering and doubting if the driver had his hands at the 10 and 2 positions on the steering wheel!

When police first responded to the mangled wreck early Sunday outside Boise, the driver, 18-year-old Tristian Myers, told cops he lost control of his Ford Bronco when he swerved to avoid an animal in the road.

But once Ada County Sheriff’s Office deputies spoke with all five teens a different story emerged. A 16-year-old boy admitted to lighting Myers’ armpit hair on fire, deputies confirmed. None of the five teens in the SUV were wearing seat belts and police said two people – girls, ages 16 and 17 – were thrown from the vehicle in the resulting 5:30 a.m. crash.

Myers was citing for inattentive driving [I'm sure he was!  He was trying to put a fire in his armpit hair!] while the boy with the lighter got a citation for interfering with the driver’s safe operation of a vehicle.

Some assorted youtube clips

Do you remember the first Prancerise video I put up here?  If not, you can find it here.  She certainly had some interesting ideas about how to dress in her sweats(?), or rather how they fit on her, shall we say.

Well, she’s back with a new and improved Prancercize!  In a big ole field with horses!  With better music and a partner this time!  And what can we say about the partner?  How ’bout what someone put in a comment on youtube: what is the name for a male camel toe?

Here’s an Onion clip that a teenager’s parents could identify with.

Awright, the guy has a booorring job.  March up here – stop.  Turn around.  March down there – stop.  Turn around.  Can’t blame him for wanting to liven things up just a bit.  It’s cute and he cuts a move at around 2:25 or so in the clip and then a few seconds later.

Lastly, this cat just really enjoys being vacuumed!  Funny to watch.

Okay Widdershins, that’s it for the day and until Monday.  This is an entirely open post so throw in your comments on anything you want to.

Good Thursday, Widdershins.  It has been an interesting week – again.  I have spent much of the past few days watching the Congressional hearings regarding the latest Secret Service snafus and the public excoriation of now ex-Director Julia Pierson.

Ms. Pierson, you may recall, was promoted in order to stifle the “frat boyz” of the Secret Service after the hotel/prostitutes scandal in Cartagena.  To her everlasting credit, we have not heard so much as a whisper of sexual misconduct in the workplace since she assumed the directorship.  Unfortunately, there have been a number of bungles that have occurred during her watch.

I think that we can all agree that Obama is likely to take all of the records for threats against his life,  We can belabor the “hows” and the “whys” and a “wherefore” or two, but I suspect that we should just pass on that one.  One would therefore assume that the Secret Service would be on heightened alert at all times.  Maybe they have been, but it sure doesn’t look like it from here.  There was the famous shooting episode that was “thoroughly investigated”, except for the fact that it was the maid who found the evidence while cleaning the family quarters.  Then there was the armed contractor in the elevator with the Prez at the CDC who turned out to be a felon.

Now, there are all kinds of felonies.  I know one man who is a great guy and also a convicted felon.  His crime?  He stopped payment on a check to a mechanic who had not really fixed his car and would not make it good.  Nonetheless, in Florida this is a third degree felony,  Hopefully, the armed individual at CDC was of that particular ilk, but apparently the Secret Service was blissfully ignorant of the entire situation.  I always thought that anyone who was to interact with the US President was to be vetted prior to the occasion, but this was apparently not the case.

The final blow came with the man who made it over the gate, across the lawn, through the open front door through the White House to the East Room, which is almost to the base of the staircase to the family quarters prior to being tackled by an off-duty Secret Service agent.  There are so many lapses here that I’m not sure where to even start.  He whizzed by several sets of agents and an undeployed canine before entering the unlocked White House and cruising through a number of equally unlocked rooms.  This particular crasher got through an amazing number of rooms, and our Friends at Fox began reporting immediately:

The revelation that the intruder made it much farther than originally known came on the eve of a scheduled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing that will address the breach, as well as lawmakers’ “concerns” about the Secret Service’s security protocols.

A series of what one source called “catastrophic” security failures apparently allowed the intruder to get deep into the White House.

The Secret Service did not follow basic protocols during the incident to protect the White House, the president and the first family and the agency still does not know why, a source intimately familiar with details of the investigation told Fox News.

And so begins the Congressional input.  Now, I grant you that Ms. Pierson appeared overwhelmed and underprepared for the Congressional onslaught.  Normally even-keeled Reps like Elijah Cummings were upset about what they were hearing.  Of course, Darrell Issa and Jason Chafitz are all over this.  Chafitz wants to authorize deadly force and Issa plans to form a committee to further investigate, etc. etc, etc.  There really should be record low unemployment in the District courtesy of all of Issa’s committees.  However, two questions leap immediately to mind:

(1) What will Congress do?  Who knows, and really who cares?  The USSS works for the Department of Homeland Security, which is a function of the Executive Branch.  Congress has the Capital Police Force, the Justice Department has the US Marshals and the FBI.  Government is divided, and I’m pretty certain that Congress would be righteously indignant should the marshals invade the Senate building.  I guess they can advise through the Homeland Security Committees, but I’m not certain that their recommendations come with a full set of teeth and I’m even less certain about how Congress fits in with the separation of powers concept.

(2) Is it even possible that this is revenge of the Frat Boyz?  Ms. Pierson is the first woman to ever lead the USSS, and she was appointed to keep the boyz in line.  Hmmmm……..  Anyone who has ever worked in a bureaucracy is keenly aware that  it is possible to make their boss look like a star or a failure with a wee bit of coordinated effort.  Now, I’m not saying that this is what happened, but it sure would be a dandy way to ascertain that it’s a long, long time before another woman sits in that chair again.

This is an open thread.

cha-chingor shall we ask what does it cost to investigate and have a look-see at, say, police documents, or some emails or records about Michael Brown and his shooting by a Ferguson police officer?  Well apparently in Ferguson Missouri it costs a lot.

Press organizations and others are asking for copies of  public documents, which should be released in compliance with state public records request laws.  And indeed, Missouri does have a public records request law.  It is codified in their Missouri Revised Statues and in their case, Missouri refers to them as Sunshine laws.

Now getting back to Ferguson, it seems that officials there are charging up to 10 times the cost of some of their employees salaries just to do some xeroxing for folks.  After the Associated Press made an inquiry with the state Attorney General, he in turn contacted the city attorney in Ferguson to see what was going on.  Well what is going on is pretty simple:  If you arbitrarily jack up the price of providing copies of again, public records, you then make it difficult for some press organizations and civil rights groups to obtain the funds needed for their requests.

The city has demanded high fees to produce copies of records that, under Missouri law, it could give away free if it determined the material was in the public’s interest to see. Instead, in some cases, the city has demanded high fees with little explanation or cost breakdown.

No explanation needed if the only purpose is to discourage people from requesting such documents.  Now I’m sure our good Prolix can attest to the need to break down costs when he’s been in some legal tangles of one sort of another  Attorneys in their meticulousness will break down the cost of a page of paper that goes into the copier that provides copies, say, in a lawsuit…or so I’ve heard.  ;-)

As stated in the linked article, the city of Ferguson billed the A.P. $135 an hour :

for nearly a day’s work — merely to retrieve a handful of email accounts since the shooting. That fee compares with an entry-level, hourly salary of $13.90 in the city clerk’s office, and it didn’t include costs to review the emails or release them. The AP has not paid for the search because it has yet to negotiate the cost.

As Rick Blum, who coordinates the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a coalition of media groups that advocates for open government says:  “The first line of defense is to make the requester go away.”  He said charging hefty fees “to simply cut and paste is a popular tactic.”

In another instance:

The Washington Post was told it would need to pay $200 at minimum for its requests, including city officials’ emails since Aug. 9 discussing Brown’s shooting, citizen complaints against Ferguson officers and Wilson’s personnel file. The website Buzzfeed requested in part emails and memos among city officials about Ferguson’s traffic-citation policies and changes to local elections, but was told it would cost unspecified thousands of dollars to fulfill.

When asked about pubic records requests, the city attorney, Stephanie Karr, declined to respond to repeated interview requests from the AP since earlier this month.  And then finally, through a spokesperson,  Karr said Missouri law can require fees but she didn’t address why charges specific to the AP’s request were nearly tenfold the lowest salary in the city clerk’s office. Karr said searching emails for key words constitutes “extra computer programming” that can bring added costs.

This however, was the best or worst excuse I read in the article and I’ll just copy it in here.

In late August, the AP asked Ferguson officials for copies of several police officials’ emails and text messages, including those belonging to Wilson and Chief Thomas Jackson. The AP sought those records to reveal the city’s behind-the-scenes response to the shooting and public protests.

Ferguson told the AP it wanted nearly $2,000 to pay a consulting firm for up to 16 hours of work to retrieve messages on its own email system, a practice that information technology experts call unnecessary. The firm, St. Louis-based Acumen Consulting, wouldn’t comment specifically on Ferguson’s contract, but said the search could be more complicated and require technicians to examine tape backups.

So I really have to ask:  What is it you are trying to hide, city of Ferguson?  Were your actions and responses in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s shooting so bad that you have to cover them up by making them unaffordable to obtain by press and civil rights organizations?  I can assure you those actions and responses will come out eventually.

It’s an open thread so talk amongst yourselves as you wish.

Good afternoon Widdershins. Fall, the bestest of seasons, is upon us. This past weekend my hometown had its forty-third annual arts and crafts festival built around the making of sorghum molasses. It was all the fun you can imagine when you throw out the welcome mat for 40,000 humans and the town’s tornado ravaged infrastructure was built for fifteen hundred. I hope your weekend was a good one as well.

Today I thought we would play a short game of Wudja — would you rather have the life of person X over the life of person Y? For purposes of today’s little thought experiment, person X is President Obama and person Y is China’s President Xi Jinping.

So would you like to be Barack where he is “relicking the calf” on Iraq and Syria? A president elected by touting a Obama Coffee Salutefortuitous, opportunistic anti-Iraq War speech on a Chicago sidewalk where he was the last-minute substitute is faced with again spilling blood and treasure on the sands of the Middle East. He’s making decisions as would a make-up artist playing the part of a dermatologist — any decision is merely covering up a long-festering pustule that could erupt at any juncture.

You could be the Obama who is faced with finishing his presidency with the bookends of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell actively leading a Congress in rabid inactivity. Given that this Congress has been the least productive in the history of the Republic, the obvious next step is going for the world record in placing 535 people in simultaneous cryogenic stasis.

Or you could be the U.S. President who is protected by an agency that seems to recruit from the Barney Fife school of protective services. In any event the Secret Service has given Hollywood the premise for the next incarnation of the Home Alone franchise. Allowing a fence jumper to breach the North Portico into the White House, get through the East Room, almost to the Green Room and then issuing a misleading statement about the matter is a better film treatment than 95% of what the studios have turned out this year.

And just for good measure, there remains Sarah Palin and her ilk lumbering about the country like Brontosauruses  proving that 140 million years just isn’t enough evolution for some walnut-sized brains.

Xi JinpingOr would you like to be China’s Xi Jinping? The leader of a country of 1.3 Billion where between 150-170,000,000 still live in poverty. While a startling number, China has reduced its poverty by a staggering 71% in just three decades.

Xi has the privilege of running a government where corruption is almost as plentiful as the smog choking the skies. He also enjoys the burden of leading an economy that is slowing down where every decision is a Gordian knot of increasing wages for a growing middle class or making it less advantageous for Chinese manufacturing thus slowing the economy further.

Perhaps the newest Damoclesian issue began unfolding last Friday and escalated over the weekend. Succinctly put the issue is: Whether or not the central Beijing government will make good on the right of Hong Kong to democratically elect its leader — a confrontation building for almost 20 years.

The riots and demonstrations of the weekend were met with a violent response obviously sanctioned by Beijing authorities. What is most disconcerting to Beijing and Xi has to be, this is Hong Kong! The very same Hong Kong that is an affluent and orderly Eden bordering on obsessive compulsive adherence to civility and graciousness. Hong Kongers have somewhat of a superiority complex — seeing themselves well above and beyond the authoritarianism and disorder of mainland China.

Hong Kong Riot 2

Hong Kong two days ago…

When the British turned over Hong Kong in 1997, one of the central tent poles of the deal was allowing Hong Kong’s citizens to democratically elect their top leader for the first time ever in 2017. Chinese leaders reaffirmed the promise in 2007, but last July the government began to “crawfish” on the deal. The “newly reformed” deal is that Beijing must “approve” all the candidates from which the voters may choose. That doesn’t sit well with the wealthy, independent, and socially entitled Hong Kongers, especially the youth.

This whole episode is reminiscent of Tiananmen Square. For those living in Hong Kong, they believe they have a special obligation to maintain the memory of 2,600 peaceful protesters being mowed down. The obligation is a solemn one since all semblance of Tiananmen has been erased from the history of mainland China and the current generation knows nothing of the massacre.

Xi’s choice is literally an existential one for China. Can he allow democracy to gain a foothold? How can he differentiate between a two-system dichotomy ruling over a billion citizens? The greatest question is whether China has opened the door too wide and for too long to ever hope to close it to the infection of free enterprise capitalism? The inevitable loss of control terrifies Beijing. The eyes of the world would be well-advised to keenly watch China’s reaction to that fear since it will be a defining milestone for the next decade.

So wudja be Barack or Xi? There are no neithers in Wudja.

Unlike the Chinese intertubz, this is an open thread.

Good Monday, Widdershins. I hope you had a lovely weekend; as for me, I experienced some extremely odd weather – in the 90’s on Saturday and Sunday. And, I heard a lot of noise about Emma Watson, a goodwill ambassador for the UN, and her “He for She” campaign.

On the principle that no publicity is bad publicity, I would say that having a camera-friendly, articulate young woman claim the mantle of “feminist” is always a good thing. Just ask Beyonce.

….[In] Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards…the 33-year-old closed out the show with an epic declaration of the F-Word, a giant “FEMINIST” sign blazing from behind her silhouette.

As far as feminist endorsements are concerned, this was the holy grail: A word with a complicated history reclaimed by the most powerful celebrity in the world. And then she projected it — along with its definition, by the Nigerian feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — into the homes of 12 million unassuming Americans. Beyoncé would become the subject of two-thirds of all tweets about feminism in the 24 hours after her appearance, according to a data analysis by Twitter, making Sunday the sixth-highest day for volume of conversation about feminism since Twitter began tracking this year (the top three were days during #YesAllWomen).

While Beyonce’s endorsement was a great marketing moment, Emma Watson’s speech championing the UN’s new initiative, “He for She” (which I’ll post in full below), in my opinion, was the beginning of a new era for feminism. The UN’s efforts, and Watson’s bravery in being the spokesperson for them, mark the first step towards reclaiming feminism as a mantle that includes and invites men; a call for activism which gets back to the true roots of what our First Wave foremothers were trying to do: gain equal rights for women.


Here is the transcript, for those who would rather read than watch.

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