Shared posts

14 Aug 12:44

vicanlp: goddamn nerd


via ThePrettiestOne.


goddamn nerd

13 Aug 17:31

Deep impact

Joe King

NASA Earth Observatory

Shane Torgerson

United States Geological Service

© K. Sawyer Photography

Deep impact

13 Aug 03:00

Anne Rice Condemns Political Correctness and “Internet Lynch Mobs” After For Such a Time Scandal - FlusteredMal.gif

by Carolyn Cox

follow up via firehose. Criticism is not censorship. Well, ok. But scaring people or witch-hunting people into being afraid to putting ideas out there... that's a form of censorship. But I think it's how the criticism is framed, and critique formed from group-think is pretty suspect, in my opinion.


On Tuesday, renowned genre writer Anne Rice took to her Facebook page to address what she calls “the new era of censorship,” joining the well-established ranks of public figures who legitimately feel that political correctness—AKA being sensitive to how your actions affect marginalized groups—is a societal ill.

Signing off with thanks to all who have participated in our discussions of fiction writing today. I want to leave you…

Posted by Anne Rice on Monday, August 10, 2015

Rice specifically addressed the controversy surrounding For Such a Time, Kate Breslin’s romance novel about a relationship between a Nazi concentration camp commander and a Jewish prisoner. For Such a Time was published in 2014 (and nominated that year by the Romance Writers of America for Best First Book and Best Inspirational Romance), but has gained attention online recently after a reviewer wrote an open letter condemning the book’s nominations.

According to Rice, the book’s recent attention has led Internet users to abuse Amazon’s review system:

Want to see the new censorship in action? Want to witness an internet lynch mob going after its target? Check out the…

Posted by Anne Rice on Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Rice, (who has a bit of a history with “internet mobs,” herself) went on to explain that she personally has yet to read the book, but that its subject matter should be irrelevant:

Screenshot 2015-08-12 at 2.38.10 PM
Screenshot 2015-08-12 at 2.38.00 PM

I’m certainly not going to deny that the Internet can create a scary group mentality (sometimes on both sides of debates), but it’s exhausting to see influential figures continuing to get on the nonsense podium to conflate political correctness with censorship.

I understand why Rice thinks readers should at least engage with a piece of media before condemning it (although I sympathize with people who elect not to, especially with For Such a Time), but giving an ill-informed opinion about a book is not censorship; and to characterize it as such, particularly while using the phrase “lynch mob,” is ridiculous and irresponsible.

Say it with me: criticism is not censorship, even if it feels that way. And, although this obviously doesn’t need to be said, “people demonstrating understandable concern about power dynamics in a questionable romance novel” is not a lynch mob.

(via Mediaite)

—Please make note of The Mary Sue’s general comment policy.—

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12 Aug 22:05

Anne Rice: political correctness is new form of censorship in the book biz

by David Pescovitz

The fun exercise suggested by a journalist elsewhere on the interwebs to replace "political correctness" with "treating people with respect" sort of breaks down here. Is the tension that seems to be under discussion here actually manufactured, or is there something going on between freedom of speech and political correctness?

Anne Rice, of The Vampire Chronicles fame, posted on Facebook her concern that novelists "are facing a new era of censorship, in the name of political correctness." From her post:

BRAND_BIO_BSFC_152647_SF_2997_005_20131029_V1_HD_768x432-16x9There are forces at work in the book world that want to control fiction writing in terms of who "has a right" to write about what. Some even advocate the out and out censorship of older works using words we now deem wholly unacceptable. Some are critical of novels involving rape. Some argue that white novelists have no right to write about people of color; and Christians should not write novels involving Jews or topics involving Jews. I think all this is dangerous. I think we have to stand up for the freedom of fiction writers to write what they want to write, no matter how offensive it might be to some one else. We must stand up for fiction as a place where transgressive behavior and ideas can be explored. We must stand up for freedom in the arts. I think we have to be willing to stand up for the despised. It is always a matter of personal choice whether one buys or reads a book. No one can make you do it. But internet campaigns to destroy authors accused of inappropriate subject matter or attitudes are dangerous to us all. That's my take on it. Ignore what you find offensive. Or talk about it in a substantive way. But don't set out to censor it, or destroy the career of the offending author.

(via Facebook)

12 Aug 19:36

"Somewhere out there beyond the firmament, past the asteroid belt, there were other worlds where..."


via rosalind.

“Somewhere out there beyond the firmament, past the asteroid belt, there were other worlds where children did not regularly fear their bodies. I knew this because there was a large television set resting in our living room. In the evenings I would sit before this television bearing witness to the dispatches from this other world. There were little white boys with complete collections of football cards, and their only want was a popular girlfriend, and their only worry was poison oak.”

- Ta-Nehisi Coates, ‘Between The World and Me’
12 Aug 15:47

What We’re Reading

by Emily Gadek [BackStory Digital Producer]

Not that I'm currently reading anything, buuut....

As producers are putting together each new show, we read…a lot. Here are a few of the works that helped shape this show.


African American SatireAfrican American Satire: The Sacredly Profane Novel
Darryl Dickson-Carr

University of Missouri, 2001

Dickson-Carr argues that many works by major authors included Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, and Ishmael Reed, are first and foremost satires. Only by reading them as satire can we understand the eras in which they were written, and their authors’ intent.






418fYK9hseL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_Black No More
George S. Schuyler

Dover Publications

Schuyler’s biting novel — part sci-fi, part satire — imagines a version of 1930s New York where a revolutionary new skin-bleaching process allows his protagonist the option of escaping racial prejudice for good. Of course, things don’t turn out quite that neatly, and the “black no more” process starts a whole new wave of discrimination.







Mark Twain satireMark Twain: A Short Introduction
Stephen Railton
Wiley-Blackwell, 2003

Fond memories of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer? Pick up  A Short Introduction, which offers close reading of Twain classics, as well as an examination of tension between Samuel Clemens and his alter-ego pen name.







41qoZYJQ+kL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_The War Prayer
Mark Twain, illustrations John Groth
Harper Colophon reissue, 2001

Twain wrote The War Prayer during the United States’ occupation of the Philippines, which had quickly degenerated from its stated goal of liberating Filipinos from Spanish tyranny and introducing American democracy into a brutal guerrilla war between the U.S. Army and Filipino independence fighters. The essay. which mocks a patriotic church service praying for victory, wasn’t published until 1923.

Curious about Twain’s unpublished essay on lynching? You can read the full text of “The United States of Lyncherdom” on the University of Virginia’s website.




Rum Romanism RebellionRum, Romanism and Rebellion: The Making of a President, 1884
Mark Summers

University of North Carolina Press, 2000

Summers unpacks the 1884 presidential race, which pitted the clever but corrupt James G. Blaine against reformer Grover Cleveland in the first modern presidential contest, where the candidates personal histories mattered far more than their platforms. It was a race of identity politics, scandal, libel , and violence, that riveted the country and ended up being decided by a margin of just 1,000 popular votes, and the old political alliances and party lines  that had held in the dccades following the Civil War were made obsolete.




what fools these mortals beWhat Fools These Mortals Be! The Story of Puck
Richard West
IDW Publishing, 2014

A lively account of Puck, America’s first humor magazine. Half-forgotten, but extremely influential, Puck‘s had a profound impact not only on the politics of its day, but the creation of the modern comic strip and editorial cartoon.

11 Aug 20:16

The best notes written in manuscripts by medieval monks


via Cary Renquist.


Colophon: a statement at the end of a book containing the scribe or owner’s name, date of completion, or bitching about how hard it is to write a book in the dark ages

  • Oh, my hand
  • The parchment is very hairy
  • Thank God it will soon be dark
  • St. Patrick of Armagh, deliver me from writing
  • Now I’ve written the whole thing; for Christ’s sake give me a drink
  • Oh d fuckin abbot
  • Massive hangover
  • Whoever translated these Gospels did a very poor job
  • Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night
  • If someone else would like such a handsome book, come and look me up in Paris, across from the Notre Dame cathedral
  • I shall remember, O Christ, that I am writing of Thee, because I am wrecked today
  • Do not reproach me concerning the letters, the ink is bad and the parchment scanty and the day is dark
  • 11 golden letters, 8 shilling each; 700 letters with double shafts, 7 shilling for each hundred; and 35 quires of text, each 16 leaves, at 3 shilling each. For such an amount I won’t write again
  • Here ends the second part of the title work of Brother Thomas Aquinas of the Dominican Order; very long, very verbose; and very tedious for the scribe; thank God, thank God, and again thank God
  • If anyone take away this book, let him die the death, let him be fried in a pan; let the falling sickness and fever seize him; let him be broken on the wheel, and hanged. Amen
11 Aug 18:53

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Economically Sensible


via TPO. There was an excellent Freakonomics radio podcast on Homo economicus recently. Relevant.

Hovertext: I don't care that we're barely out of a recession, start maxing out your credit cards!

New comic!
Today's News:

BAHFest East tickets are still available! 

11 Aug 03:01

hersheywrites: trappunzelll: imaginebackwards: keoooooooo: ja...


I wish this could have existed 15 years ago when I was entering college.

10 Aug 20:02

A Quiz for the West’s Great Free Speech Advocates and Supporters of Anjem Choudary’s Arrest

by Glenn Greenwald

via thewumpus.

(updated below)

As we all know ever since the inspiring parade in Paris following the Charlie Hebdo attack, “free speech” is a cherished and sacred right in the West even for the most provocative and controversial views (of course, if “free speech” does not allow expression of the most provocative and controversial views, then, by definition, it does not exist). But yesterday in the U.K., the British-born Muslim extremist Anjem Choudary, who has a long history of spouting noxious views, was arrested on charges of “inviting support” for ISIS based on statements he made in “individual lectures which were subsequently published online.”

This arrest has predictably produced the odd spectacle of those who just months ago were parading around as free speech crusaders now cheering the arrest of someone for ideas he expressed in a lecture. That simply shows what was obvious all along: That for many participants, the Charlie Hebdo “free speech” orgies were all about celebrating and demanding protection for ideas that they like (ones that castigate Islam and anger Muslims), not actual principles of free speech (having the Paris march led by scores of world leaders who frequently imprison those with unpopular views was the perfect symbol).

Indeed, many of the West’s most vocal self-proclaimed free speech champions are perfectly happy to see ideas criminalized as long as the ideas are the ones they hate, expressed by those they regard as adversaries (beyond Choudary, just look at all the prosecutions for free speech they tolerate from their own governments when directed at the marginalized and disliked). Worse, they love to invent terminology to justify why their side’s views are totally appropriate and legal, but the other side’s views are criminal and beyond what “free speech” includes.

The principal justification I saw yesterday from those defending Choudary’s arrest was that “advocacy of violence” or “incitement to violence” is something different than speech, and can thus be legitimately punished, including with prison. With this standard in mind, I offer a few examples of statements and would like to know whether it should be legal to express them or whether one should be arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned for doing so:

(1) Saddam Hussein is a major threat and has WMD, and we should use all our might to invade Iraq, bomb the country, take it over, and kill him and his supporters!

(2) Obama is absolutely right to use drones even though he’s killing innocent people. In fact, we should use more drones to kill more people. Even if it means having civilians and children die, the need to wipe out The Terrorists requires we use more violence now, no matter how many innocent Muslims will die from it!

(3) Whenever Hamas shoots a rocket at Israel, Israel should retaliate with full, unbridled force against Gaza, even if it means killing large numbers of women and children. Nobody in Gaza is truly innocent — after all, they elected Hamas — and so they deserve what they get.

(4) If Iran doesn’t immediately give up its nuclear program, we should nuke them — blow them back to the Stone Age!

(5) Set to a musical score: we should bomb, bomb, bomb — bomb, bomb Iran.

(6) Muslims have been engaged in violence against the West for too long. It’s long past time we took the fight to them and did violence back to them.

(7) The West has spent decades bombing, occupying and otherwise interfering in Muslim countries. Western governments have killed countless innocent men, women and children. They’ve used violence indiscriminately, without regard to whether it kills innocents. They seem unwilling to stop unless forced to. It’s thus not only justified but mandatory for Muslims to use violence back against the West. If it kills civilians, so be it: Civilians elected the governments doing the violence.

(8) ISIS has valid grievances against the West, and I understand the reasons someone would want to join them. I agree with many of those reasons. Only ISIS has been successful in stopping Western aggression.

These are all very easy examples for me. Despite the fact that they all advocate, justify and on some level “incite” violence, and despite the fact that almost all of these ideas have led to actual violence and the killing of innocents, they are all political opinions that nobody should be sanctioned or punished by the state for expressing, and if anyone is punished for them, it means, by definition, that they live in a society without “free speech.”

That’s because I agree with what the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 45 years ago in Brandenburg v. Ohio. That case overturned the conviction of a KKK member for giving a speech that threatened political officials (including the U.S. president) with violence. The Court invalidated as unconstitutional the Ohio law that made it a crime to “advocate . . . the duty, necessity, or propriety of crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform.”

The Brandenburg Court’s key reasoning: “the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force.” Only incitement of imminent violence — e.g., leading a mob holding torches outside of someone’s house and directing them to burn it down — can be punished; advocacy of violence by itself cannot be (my most comprehensive argument against criminalizing ideas on the ground that they are “hateful” or “violent” is here).

But if you don’t agree with that well-established principle of American law, and instead believe that it is legitimate to punish people for advocating or “inciting” violence, then it’s critical to specify what you mean. More to the point, it’s crucial that these high-minded standards not be exploited to render permissible advocacy of ideas that you like while outlawing and criminalizing ideas that you hate — or, worse, to legalize advocacy of violence by one’s own side while criminalizing advocacy of violence by the other side. That desire — to imprison people for expressing views one dislikes — is the defining attribute of a petty tyrant, and is the precise opposite of “free speech.”

With that in mind: which of the above examples should be considered criminal, if any, and why? And if the answer is “none,” then why would anyone applaud or justify the arrest of someone for “inviting support” for a group? None of this is abstract: Numerous Western nations are increasingly punishing speech from Muslims, and Muslim citizens of Western nations frequently express fear of even discussing political views for fear of having those opinions used to turn them into criminals or “terrorists.”

UPDATE: I’ll add one more example, from the 1980s and 1990s when the African National Congress was designated a “terrorist” group:

(9) Apartheid is such a profound moral evil that the African National Congress is justified in engaging in violence against the apartheid state, and I urge all of you to support the ANC and Nelson Mandela in every way you can.

Could someone expressing that view be legitimately imprisoned for doing so consistent with “free speech”?

The post A Quiz for the West’s Great Free Speech Advocates and Supporters of Anjem Choudary’s Arrest appeared first on The Intercept.

10 Aug 13:48

RIP Frances Kelsey, Who Saved The Nation From Thalidomide

by Andrew Liptak

via firehose.

On Friday, Dr. Frances Kelsey passed away at the age of 101. She was the Food and Drug Administration official who changed the way drugs were tested and marketed to the general public when she began asking questions about the safety of thalidomide.


10 Aug 02:45

by Wrong Hands


via TPO. (on a roll) Fucking cats.

10 Aug 02:44

asiainferno: micdotcom: Meet the man who survived both...


via TPO. I really need to watch this film.



Meet the man who survived both Hiroshima and Nagasaki 

70 years ago today, 29-year-old Tsutomu Yamaguchi was visiting Hiroshima on business and had been walking to his office. In a 2010 interview with ABC News Australia, Yamaguchi spoke of the horror he felt that day. He described that it appeared as if the “sun had fallen.“ Yamaguchi was lucky, though he suffered severe burns, he was able to escape the city. But fate would strike twice.

The U.S. Education system really needs to correct the way Hiroshima and Nagasaki are taught in classes.

10 Aug 02:31

classictrek: Start every day with this speech. The music’s...


also via TPO. I'm going to use this at work tomorrow.


Start every day with this speech.

The music’s good, too.

10 Aug 02:30

From Dave Itzkoff: “My rough transcript of Jon Stewart’s...


"If you smell something, say something." via TPO.

10 Aug 01:56

metrodorus: tetris


So Uk, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong

10 Aug 01:56


09 Aug 14:02

August 9th 1945, Nagasaki bombed “just for the hell of it.”


Eiichi Matsumoto,

August 9th 1945, Nagasaki bombed “just for the hell of it.

07 Aug 20:30

wilwheaton: micdotcom: micdotcom: Canada sent a friendly...


The concise story.




Canada sent a friendly robot to America. Americans destroyed it.

This is why we can’t have nice things.  On Saturday, vandals in Philadelphia destroyed a hitchhiking robot from Canada named HitchBot, two weeks into its U.S. trip. Designed as a social experiment, HitchBot could talk to humans and upload photos to social media. If you found it, HitchBot would tell you where it wanted to go and ask for a ride. Worry not though, HitchBot may get a happy ending.

Update: There’s now video of HitchBot being destroyed.

There will never be a better metaphor for the way America treats the rest of the world than this.

06 Aug 23:28

“In one micro-second, the city of Hiroshima didn’t exist.”


In one micro-second, the city of Hiroshima didn’t exist.

06 Aug 19:58

Paul Arden

06 Aug 11:53

70 years - August 6th, 1945 : Rare photos of the mushroom cloud...

05 Aug 22:14

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Supernatural Selection


Hovertext: Your move, people who aren't reductionists.

New comic!
Today's News:
05 Aug 20:36

I had a miscarriage, and it forced me to rethink everything I believed about abortion

by Julia Pelly

Really good reflections on what's important in the discussions around abortion.

I first learned about abortion in church. I was in middle school, in the class on sexuality and reproduction that young Unitarian Universalists take during Sunday school: "Our Whole Lives."

There was a box where students could submit questions anonymously to be read and answered by the teacher at the close of class. These questions were sometimes personal: "How does someone know they're gay?" And they were sometimes practical: "How do you know what size condom will fit?'"

One day the question in the box read: "What is an abortion, and why would someone have one?" The teacher paused. This was a bigger question than she was used to answering.

"Well," she started, "an abortion is the process by which someone terminates a pregnancy. It can be done in the doctor's office by physically removing the products of conception, or at home by taking pills that will make the body expel the pregnancy. Women have abortions because they cannot or do not want to have a baby. Some women are sad, some women are relieved, and some women are both."

The explanation was simple and clean. It made sense and levied no judgment against those who chose abortion. In my teenage years, as I became more politically aware and women's rights began to feel relevant to my life, I viewed abortion through this simple, clean lens.

By the time I entered college I was attending rallies and waving signs in support of women's access to health care, birth control, and abortion. I wrote letters and called my representatives and door-knocked for candidates who had woman's rights in mind. In 2008, I cast my first vote ever for Hillary Clinton, a woman who vowed to defend a woman's rights to abortion.

During that election and the next, my anger at pro-lifers grew as politicians and pundits vilified women who have had abortions. They characterized these women as either vindictive baby killers or as so naive as to be tricked by malicious doctors or clinics into killing their babies.

Even in extreme cases of conception by rape, many politicians argued that women should be denied access to abortion. "As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child," said Rick Santorum as he campaigned for the presidency.

Regarding publicly funded contraception, one of the best strategies to reduce unwanted pregnancies and, thus, abortions, Rush Limbaugh said, "If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want you to post the videos online so we can all watch."

I saw these comments as patronizing and paternalistic, and they gave me all the more reason to fight to maintain the right to choose.

I pondered whether I would ever choose to have an abortion if faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Thinking of the choice in the context of my own life made me uncomfortable. I resolved to use reliable birth control and hope for the best.

And then, just a few weeks after my 23rd birthday, with a semester left in graduate school and an intermittently empty back account, I found out that I was pregnant. When I confirmed the pregnancy at the same Planned Parenthood from which I obtained my first birth control prescription as a teenager, the nurse asked if I wanted to "discuss my options" — in other words, if I wanted to consider having an abortion.

"There's no need," I responded as I smiled at the prospect of motherhood. Though it wasn't the circumstances under which I had hoped to become a mother, I was excited and hopeful and in love with my baby already.

My husband and I had been married for over a year. We were sure to have the love and support of our families. And we would, hopefully, both be gainfully employed by the time the baby arrived. We laughed and cried as we told my parents and my siblings. We made doctor's appointments. We started planning to be parents.

I began to bleed while I was crafting valentines for my friends, ones with ultrasound pictures taped into lace hearts that read:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
We're having a baby and couldn't wait to tell you!

The bleeding was light. I was told to rest. It stopped, and then it started again. I went back to the doctor, and the ultrasound showed no heartbeat, just a still, white form, stark against the black background of the screen. The gummy bear that had been fluttering around, dancing for us just days before, was dead.

I was devastated. I felt hopeless and helpless, scared and sorrowful. I was scheduled for a dilation and curettage on the next Monday, and that weekend, as the Mardi Gras parades rolled by a few blocks from my home and the bands marched and played, I lay in bed crying and mourning for the baby that would never be born.

When I checked into the hospital that Monday, the stark terminology used during my stay was jarring. Though I knew that "spontaneous abortion" was a medical term, it shook me to see the word "abortion" associated with my much-wanted baby. Later, when the doctor explained that after the procedure they would send the "fetal tissue" for testing, I caught my breath. "That's not fetal tissue," I wanted to shout, "that's MY BABY." I was put under with tears in my eyes and woke up still crying.

The weeks after my miscarriage were hard. I lay in bed a lot and took the pain pills the doctor prescribed, mostly to help me sleep. My husband grieved, too, and together we had many conversations about who our baby would have been.

Mark Zuckerberg recently shared his experience of pregnancy loss with the world: "You feel so hopeful when you learn you're going to have a child," he wrote. "You start imagining who they'll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they're gone. It's a lonely experience."

I understand the pain behind his words, the difficulty of capturing the grief you feel over an invisible loss. My husband and I too had been hopeful; we had imagined who our child would be, had crafted hopes and dreams for them already. Miscarriage is lonely, perhaps particularly lonely when you're young and your baby was unplanned though very wanted.

A persistent sticking point in my grief was the confusion I felt around a topic I'd always had a clear and strong opinion on prior to my miscarriage: abortion. I realized that I was referring to my miscarriage in traditionally pro-life terms. I talked about "losing my baby" and daydreamed of kicks and contractions. Typically it's pro-life activists who argue that life starts at conception, not pro-choicers like me. But my baby had certainly felt alive to me.

Billboards, featuring pictures of beautiful infants that shouted, "I can hear my mom's voice in the womb!" or, "Heartbeat 18 days after conception!" had always angered me because they're manipulative to women who may be considering abortion. Now I had a new reason to object to them: They made me worry that my baby hurt as it died.

I wasn't shy about telling people about my loss. Though it felt awkward at first when professors asked me why I'd been absent from class or when new acquaintances asked if I planned to have kids anytime soon, I responded with the truth. Their responses seemed to be informed by when they believed that life started and, by extension, their views on abortion. Those who were anti-abortion spoke only of my baby; those who were pro-choice spoke only of me.

Many people told me that my baby was with God now: "A baby angel," said a nurse as she slipped a pocket-size booklet about babies in heaven into my hand as I walked out the door. The booklet explained that some babies were so perfect that God wanted to keep them with him, but that you would meet them in heaven one day. I threw it away when I got home.

At the same time there were those who tried to minimize my grief by minimizing the baby, and the loss, that I felt was very real. More than a few individuals suggested that I simply try again, as if this baby was not unique — was just a blob of tissue no different from how the next might be. One asked if I had even "felt" pregnant at only 10 weeks along. Another would-be well-wisher reminded me that my "baby" was really just a ball of cells that was incompatible with life, and that I should appreciate the sophisticated system within my body that resulted in miscarriage.

As I worked through my grief, I felt guilty both for supporting women's choices to end their pregnancies and for feeling so sad about the end of mine. What made my baby so different from those I was advocating women be able to "terminate"? I felt a great internal pressure to choose between seeing my baby as a baby or as a ball of cells, as a life or as nothing at all.  I did not feel entitled to be both sad about my miscarriage and a supporter of other people's abortions.

The questions that kept me up most at night were ones pro-life activists would love for women to have as they consider whether to keep their baby: "Did my baby have a soul? Did my baby know it was alive? Did my baby feel scared as it died?"

Two years later and with a toddler at my feet, I finally feel at peace. I'm at peace with the sadness I felt about my miscarriage — and with my belief that abortion is a fundamental human right. The question, really, comes down to: When does life begin? Is it the moment sperm meets egg? Implantation? The first kick? The first kick that the mom feels? Is it weeks later, when the baby could survive outside the womb? Or weeks after that, when he or she actually does?

I've decided that I don't know when life really begins, and that is okay. My mother, the woman who rewove childhood tales to include strong female leads and who always told me I could be whatever I wanted, had two miscarriages, one before my sister and one before me. As I mourned, I turned to her for support, and I hoped she could answer my questions — about life and pain, beginnings and endings.

Over and over, her response, lovingly, was, "I don't know." Her comfort with uncertainty, with not knowing, helped me ease into being okay with not having the answers.

I don't know when life really starts, but I do know that it's okay for me to mourn the loss of my 10-week-old fetus and for me to simultaneously fight for another woman's right to end hers. In something so personal, so profoundly life-altering as pregnancy, it's silly to think that there is a simple black-and-white answer. It's also silly to think that if you're pro-choice you can't mourn a miscarriage or if you're pro-life you must be devastated by one.

What's right for me, or sad for me, or joyous for me, may be just the opposite for another woman. In the absence of this knowing, knowing when life begins, we must defer to the woman and to what feels right to her, to the balance she strikes between the life she carries and the life she has.

For me and my baby, life began the moment I knew I was pregnant, and it ended as I watched the dark screen stay still. For another woman life may begin at conception, for another not until the baby is wet and wiggling in her arms. Each woman has a backstory, the things that came before the pregnancy, the things that will inform her feelings and her choices. My backstory — the fact that I was nearly done with my education, that I knew my family would support any decision I made, that I had made this baby with the man I loved and with whom I planned to make all my children — informed my feelings about my loss. A different backstory or a different time in my life might have made me feel differently.

I trust women to know themselves, to know their lives, and to make good choices for themselves. I know now too that making a family is hard, that the beginning of life is ambiguous, part science, part spirit. With something so fragile, so hard, we should do all we can to support women in their journey, to celebrate when they celebrate, to mourn when they mourn. I will always mourn the loss of my unborn baby, and I will always fight to keep women's right to choose, and access to abortion, alive.

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full-time in the field of positive youth development. She is writing a memoir on pregnancy, motherhood, and sisterhood. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and son.

First Person is Vox's home for compelling, provocative narrative essays. Do you have a story to share? Read our submission guidelines, and pitch us at

05 Aug 20:32

bitch-media: The Mask You Live In, a follow-up to to the 2011...


@Lev, @CC, and @Bjorno. For that retreat we talked about.


The Mask You Live In, a follow-up to to the 2011 documentary Miss Representation, was created by The Representation Project to dissect modern masculinity as the universally destructive force that it is. The film combines personal stories from boys and men about the expectation to “be a man” and to never be vulnerable with conversations with experts in psychology, gender, and media. There are too many touching and insightful moments throughout the film to list them all here, but the message is clear: the mask of invulnerability boys are expected to wear every day ultimately hurts us all.

We are so thrilled to add The Mask You Live In to our list of resources when people ask us how men and masculinity fit into feminism. Be sure to watch the trailer above, host a screening yourself, and read our full review here.

05 Aug 18:05

It's okay to keep not taking Donald Trump seriously

by Matthew Yglesias

"There's something interesting and important about the fact that a significant minority of Democrats are drawn toward a vision of a Nordic-style Social Democratic Party. And there's something equally interesting and important about the fact that a significant minority of Republicans are drawn toward a vision that broadly resembles France's quasi-fascist National Front."

Is it time to start taking Donald Trump seriously? Charts like this one showing him with a large and apparently growing lead in the polls seem to say so, but I don't believe it:

Real Clear Politics

Why? Well, the issue is that Trump benefits at the moment from running against a gigantic field of Republican contenders. There's only one Donald Trump in the race, while there are many genuine Republican Party politicians. So many, in fact, that veteran former governors of Texas and New York can't so much as work their way onto a 10-candidate debate stage.

Aggregate them all together, though, and you can see that "real politicians" are kicking Trump's butt:

Of course, if a nationwide first-past-the-post primary election were being held tomorrow, this would be irrelevant. Trump is polling ahead of any of the real politicians, and he would win. But there is no nationwide first-past-the-post primary, and the voting in Iowa and New Hampshire won't start for months. Between today and the settlement of the nomination, lots of these candidates are going to drop out — Bush and Walker and Rubio and Kasich and Christie and Jindal and Huckabee and everyone else have their differences, but none of them wants to see the GOP nominate a fatally weak general election candidate who'll lose to Hillary Clinton and endanger the party's grip on the US Congress.

As candidates start dropping out and endorsing someone left standing, the polls will start looking less like the first chart and more like the second chart.

This isn't to say that Trump isn't worth paying attention to. His level of support seems broadly similar to what Bernie Sanders is pulling down. There's something interesting and important about the fact that a significant minority of Democrats are drawn toward a vision of a Nordic-style Social Democratic Party. And there's something equally interesting and important about the fact that a significant minority of Republicans are drawn toward a vision that broadly resembles France's quasi-fascist National Front.

But Trump is no more going to actually win the nomination than Sanders is.

The difference is that Sanders is facing a party establishment that's already unified around a clear champion, while Republicans have a deep bench of plausible and quasi-plausible nominees. In a weird way, the strength of the GOP field — as reflected in the large number of people with the basic résumé attributes of a presidential nominee — has made the party look more vulnerable to a fringe candidate than it really is.

05 Aug 13:57

Things You Didn't Know About Alfreb Einstime

by Brad

via Wumpus. Einstime sounded like a chill bro.

05 Aug 02:44

Tumblr | 9d3.png


via osias. funny, but fking sources pless.

04 Aug 03:16

micdotcom: When it comes to embarking on the journey of...


Not sure how to take these little snippets. I chose not to have kids until I did, too. If or until you're biologically unable to have kids, I think it's a choice to have or not have them. The people that said they're not interested may very well change their minds in a few years. Or not, and that's great, too. I guess what I'm reacting to is the apparent finality in the way this was presented.


When it comes to embarking on the journey of parenthood, lots of millennials are saying, “Thanks but, no, thanks.“ To find out why so many young people are eschewing tradition, we solicited dozens of responses from people of all identities. From financial to biological concerns, their reasons were myriad — and all equally valid.

(Thanks to everyone who submitted answers!)

04 Aug 00:53

The energy I use to second guess my every thought and action could power the Eastern seaboard for a...



The energy I use to second guess my every thought and action could power the Eastern seaboard for a...