Month: November 2014

Virtually Cool

Clint Dempsey of Sounders FC is depicted in FIFA 15 for Xbox.

Shane Evans notes the interesting statistics surrounding the many video game lives of Sounders FC:

If you’re a soccer fan, chances are you enjoy playing a little FIFA 15 as well. If you’re a soccer fan in the USA, chances are (according to EA Sports) you’re playing FIFA 15 with the Sounders FC.

In a post on EASports.com, the Sounders FC was named as the most used MLS club in the USA with over 1.9 million matches played since the game was released on September 23. That’s a lot of FIFA right there.

He’s got a point. Then again, for an article about something seemingly so trivial, there isn’t a sentence that isn’t impressive.

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Evans, Shane. “FIFA 15 players in the United States really love using the Sounders FC”. SoundersFC.com. 25 November 2014.

Not Quite a Polish Joke, or, Rather, a Joke from Poland That Isn’t Really a Joke

Sorry, Pooh-Bear, you’re just not manly enough for Tuszyn.

Pooh-Bear is apparently not masculine enough for the satisfaction of Tuszyn, Poland.  Fuck you, Tuszyn, you stupid fucking bigots.Officials in a Polish town have opposed a proposition to name a playground after Winnie-the-Pooh due to the bear’s unclear gender and immodest clothing.

The matter was debated in a closed-door meeting weeks ago in the central Polish town of Tuszyn, but didn’t get much media attention in Poland until recent days.

Voice recordings of the meeting were leaked to the media in which officials complained that Pooh Bear is immodestly dressed and also lacks a clear gender. One called the bear a “hermaphrodite.”

(Associated Press)

Sorry, Tuszyn, you’re just not smart enough to demand respect.

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Associated Press. “Polish town opposes Pooh Bear for unclear gender”. KATU. 22 November 2014.

Pigskin Piggy Priggy

Oh, those poor Washington Piggy-Piggy-Pigskinners.

The National Football League’s Washington Redskins can sue a group of American Indians for seeking to block trademark protection for its name, which has been criticized as offensive.

Just Say No ... to the Washington Racists NFL organization.U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee in Alexandria, Virginia, today denied a request to dismiss the case. Throwing out the complaint would deprive the team of the opportunity to review the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s decision to cancel the mark as disparaging, Lee said in a written opinion.

“Defendants show no reason why their interest would cease to exist considering reversal of the TTAB’s cancellation of the Redskins marks would subject defendants to the very harm they sought to eliminate by filing the petition,” Lee wrote.

The ruling is the latest in a 22-year dispute over a brand worth an estimated $145 million, according to Forbes. The board’s decision to cancel six trademarks, if left intact by the court, would make it harder for the team to enforce rights to its name and protect revenue associated with it. The franchise ranked third in the NFL in August, with a valuation of $1.7 billion, according to Forbes.

(Pearson)

Just so we’re clear: You can call the team name an “honor” to the indigenous tribes right about the same time we have a team called the Pale Riders that features mass rape and murder as part of his halftime genocide show. You know, to honor white people.

Meanwhile, yes, this is the way it goes. Assholes need to be able to sue the people who call them out as assholes, or else Justice herself goes to Hell as a handmaiden in a handbasket.

Poor Piggy-Piggy-Pigskinners.

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Pearson, Sophia. “Redskins Can Sue American Indians Over Team’s Trademark”. Bloomberg. 25 November 2014.

What Is Caesar’s

12-month graph showing stock prices for Caesar's Entertainment Corp. (CZR), as of 25 November 2014. (via Yahoo! Finance)

Try to follow the latest twists and turns in the CZR debacle—

A Caesars Entertainment Corp. (CZR) creditor group said managers should be stripped of control of the casino company’s operating unit because they looted the subsidiary of billions of dollars in assets.

UMB Bank, trustee for first-lien noteholders owed about $1.25 billion, sued Caesars today in Delaware Chancery Court, repeating allegations made by junior creditors in August.

Today’s suit, the first by senior creditors, came after some of them had agreed on the outline of a debt restructuring plan for the operating unit. The first-lien creditors today asked the court to appoint a receiver for the unit ....

.... Bonderman and the other directors “have thoroughly ransacked CEOC in a sweeping and now transparent plan to take CEOC’s prime assets for themselves and leave its liabilities and creditors behind,” according to today’s filing.

Caesars has said its largest division won’t have enough cash to repay debts by the fourth quarter of 2015 if it can’t restructure its obligations through refinancing, creditor negotiations or bankruptcy.

(Church and Keller)

—and then shrug and tell yourself, “It’s business. Nothing unusual here.”

Now, then, how does that feel?

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Church, Steven and Laura J. Keller. “Caesars Lenders Seek Receiver, Claiming Unit Was Looted “. Bloomberg. 25 November 2014.

Some Manner of Fun With Google

As fun as it might be to pop jokes about the Carolinas, there does come a point where we have to admit something seems more like juvenilia than dangerous hatred. Then again—

Jennifer Mann and Jodi McDaniel have lived together in their small home off Hilltop Farm Road for the past four years without any problems or disparaging remarks from neighbors or anyone else.

The lesbian couple didn’t expect the first nasty encounter to come from Google Maps.

“My son was on Google Maps at school when he (searched) ‘street view’ for our address and it said, “Fagits live here,'” Mann said, recalling the incident of about a month ago.

She couldn’t believe it initially, but when she checked Google Maps, the anti-gay slur was there, showing their driveway as the inappropriately named street.

“I just thought, ‘Are you kidding me?'” said Mann, 39. “I tried to contact Google, but I was put on hold forever and ever and ever. This day and time, with people and hate, you just can’t live your life.”

(Boyle)

—it probably reads a little differently when you’re the target of such childishness.

Google Maps logoFor its part, Google has struck the offensive tag and proclaimed its innocence; Kathy Hoglen of Haywood County also removed her department from the suspect list, noting that the driveway has no such registered name and asserting, “Of course we would never have approved anything like that.” And, indeed, with the “democratization” of the internet, the most likely explanation is juvenile idiocy.

And the McDaniel-Mann family seems to be taking that part in stride; despite their disgust the message seems consistent: People need to grow up.

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Boyle, John. “Lesbian couple in Canton disparaged on Google Maps”. The Citizen-Times. 19 November 2014.

Another Broken Closet Door

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (R) and U.S. Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland speak to journalists in Riga on November 20, 2014. (Ilmars Znotins/AFP/Getty Images)

The Gay Fray might get a lot of headlines around the U.S., and there is certainly the closet case running the morbid puppet show in Russia, but just who the hell is Edgars Rinkevics?

Actually, he is the Foreign Minister from Latvia who decided to kick down his closet door a few weeks ago:

The Washington Post: Why did you decide to come out now, and what have you made of the reaction?

Rinkevics: These decisions were building very slowly. It certainly takes time and it takes a lot of reflection. A lot of journalists are asking this, trying to find rational or irrational issues. Basically, after a lot of reflection, after also seeing how some of the discussions here in Latvia were proceeding on partnership issues, and also seeing that there has been quite some progress in understanding issues of gays compared even to 10 years ago, 20 years ago, I thought it would be the right decision not to pretend to answer questions about how is your wife doing or your family doing, but simply to make a public announcement. Probably also it helps many people who had a bit of a different situation. In general I have to say that the reaction has been better than I even expected that Thursday night [November 6]. There have been people who simply put out statements of support, there have been people who certainly made critical remarks, some hysterical remarks, but in general it has been received in a very balanced way. And I think it’s very slowly moving off the agenda and people are concentrated on foreign policy agenda as they should be.

It’s a process, and of course attitudes are changing, changing slowly. Let’s not forget that during the whole Soviet Union years and the first years of independence, there have been highly negative attitudes. Those attitudes cannot change overnight. It’s been an issue not just here in Latvia but also in many countries. Such things really take time, such things really need more openness from people.

In general terms, what I have heard many times is we really don’t care who you are in your private life so long as you do your job properly.

The interview with Michael Birnbaum of The Washington Post is one of only a few Mr. Rinkevics has given on the subject.

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Birnbaum, Michael. “INTERVIEW: The gay Latvian foreign minister whose coming out stunned Eastern Europe”. The Washington Post. 25 November 2014.

“Post-Racial” America

Sometimes the narrative is simply undeniable:

Seldom in Barack Obama’s presidency has he looked quite so impotent as he did last night, pleading from a podium in the White House for calm while the cable news split screens showed clouds of tear gas enveloping the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. He repeated the same themes as every time he has spoken about this subject — people have legitimate grievances but there’s no excuse for violence, we’ve come a long way but we have a ways to go, and so on. It never rang more hollow.

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press regarding the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury decision, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Nov. 24, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)But what should he have said? Obama never actually promised to bind up the nation’s racial wounds — that was a hope others placed upon him, far too naively. Even before taking office, Obama found that no matter how hard he tried to be unthreatening, to incorporate different perspectives into his rhetoric, and to stress what Americans share, many of his opponents would never see him as anything but an agent of racial vengeance. No matter what he did, whether passing an economic stimulus or reforming health care, some would spin a story of race around it, one in which whites were under threat.

If anyone ever thought that with little more than the power of his example Obama could mitigate racial resentments, let alone fray the institutional ligaments of racism, they were quickly disabused of those ideas. His presidency has seen an extraordinary backlash against racial progress, from the Supreme Court to the statehouse, where affirmative action is dismantled, the Voting Rights Act is gutted, one Republican legislature after another passes laws to make it harder for people (mostly minorities) to vote, and conservatives are told again and again that they are the racial victims whose problems are the fault of the black president coming after them because of the color of their skin.

(Waldman)

And this is where we’re at. In America. In the twenty-first century.

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Waldman, Paul. “Barack Obama, Ferguson, and racial wounds unhealed”. The Washington Post. 25 November 2014.

Holst, Lindsay. “President Obama Delivers a Statement on the Ferguson Grand Jury’s Decision”. The White House. 24 November 2014.

A Reminder: Funerals Are for the Living

Transgender pride

“I am disgusted. A great and dear friend’s mom went to the funeral today. It was not closed casket. They cut her hair, suit on. How can they bury her as Geoff when she legally changed her name. So very sad. Jen you will be missed and people who know you know that you are at peace.”

Stacy Dee Hudson

Sometimes it bears reminding that funerals are rituals performed for the sake of the living.

James Nichols reports:

In a depressing reminder of the times in which we live and how far we still have to go to reach equality for everyone in the LGBT community, a Twin Falls, Idaho, transgender woman was presented as male in an open-casket funeral service this week.

Jennifer Gable, 32, reportedly died suddenly of a brain aneurysm while working at Wells Fargo Bank on Oct. 9. At her funeral, Gable, who legally changed her name in 2007, was reportedly not referred to as Jennifer once.

Additionally, the late Gable’s family cut her hair short and presented her wearing a suit and her obituary reportedly skipped the decade of her life she spent transitioning to live authentically as Jennifer.

There is no question, even from afar, that the proposition of refusing one’s own child’s identity in order to present them after death as something and someone other than who they really were is cruel beyond measure. It is selfish and hateful and ultimately stupid.

But it is also, such as things are, what funerals are for.

Not hatred and stupid, selfish cruelty per se, but the dead are either with God and thus otherwise preoccupied, suffering eternal punishment and thus otherwise preoccupied, or simply dead in a fucking box in the ground, in which case how their families abuse them at the memorial service just flat doesn’t matter to them.

Funerals and memorials are for the living.

That Jennifer Gable’s family apparently chose to celebrate their own desperate hatred? That is what it is. Call it what you want. But it is what they chose to celebrate, and such rituals and ceremonies are not for the dead. They are for the living.

In which case the best advice is to simply remember your friends for who they were, so that at least someone in this world still loves them.

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Nichols, James. “Jennifer Gable, Transgender Woman, Presented As Man At Her Funeral”. The Huffington Post. 24 November 2014.

The Real Dangers and Rewards of Geek Humor

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 25 November 2014.One of the dangers of geek humor is that the setup often requires more labor than, say, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” or “A U.S. Senator walks into an airport bathroom ....”

Naturally, Zach Weiner’s Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is anxious to demonstrate the point.

But therein also lies one of the hidden treasures of geek humor. Complicated setups offer myriad thematic variations, digressions, and mutations. To wit, it might occur to someone considering the proposition of ten-thousand iterations of a metaphorical argument about reality, somewhere in there reality itself invented the Republican Party.

Do away with science, and there are no more arguments about reality, metaphorical or otherwise.

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Weiner, Zach. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. 25 November 2014.

Abrams, Lindsay. “House Republicans just passed a bill forbidding scientists from advising the EPA on their own research”. 19 November 2014.

Marcos, Cristina. “House passes bill to limit EPA ‘secret science'”. The Hill. 19 November 2014.

What Americans Wanted

Rep Trey Gowdy (R-SC04), chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi Conspiracy Theories.  (Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP).

Post-something?

The election of President Obama in 2008 was heralded by some as the beginning of a “post-racial” society; then reality set in and Republicans reminded us why that hope had not come to pass.

President Obama himself hoped to be a “post-partisan” president; then reality set in and Republicans reminded us why that could not happen.

Some have gone so far as to speculate that the GOP has become “post-policy”, and there is considerable evidence for that argument.

But on Benghazi, Republicans appear to have set a new standard. Post-reality? It is hard to say.

Speaker John A. Boehner announced Monday he will reappoint Rep. Trey Gowdy as chairman of the Select Committee on the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya in the 114th Congress.

“On September 11, 2012, four Americans were killed in a brutal terrorist attack in Libya. Two years later, the American people still have far too many questions about what happened that night — and why,” Boehner said in a statement. “That’s why I will reappoint Rep. Trey Gowdy and the Republican members of the House Select Committee to investigate the events in Benghazi in the 114th Congress. I look forward to the definitive report Chairman Gowdy and the Select Committee will present to the American people.”

(Eldridge)

Let us consider:

The House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and the State Department’s independent Accountability Review Board have all published reports on the 2012 attack, and each found the same thing: none of the conspiracy theories are true.

In addition, the attack has been scrutinized by the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Homeland Security Committee, the House Oversight Committee, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, each of which has held hearings, and each of which failed to find even a shred of evidence to bolster the conspiracy theorists.

Do Boehner and other Republicans believe their own allies are somehow in on the conspiracy? That GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate have somehow been co-opted into hiding imaginary evidence?

(Benen)

There is no point in complaining. This sort of determined paranoia is exactly what Americans just voted for.

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Eldridge, David. “Boehner Reappoints Gowdy to Head Benghazi Panel”. Roll Call. 24 November 2014.

Benen, Steve. “When even ‘definitive’ isn’t enough for the House GOP”. msnbc. 25 November 2014.