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7 Church signs with painfully unfunny puns

17 Oct

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There are so many good reasons to avoid church– hypocrisy, corruption, child abuse, child abuse enabling and covering up. Now you can add a new one:  billboards trying and failing to be funny through painfully unfunny puns.

1. Put the fun back in fundamentalist. At least they’re honest about being fundamentalist.

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2. The Devil’s in the Pun’s Clever Details.

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3. When Hell is and isn’t a Curse. 

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RIP Elizabeth Peña, actress who defied stereotypes about race and gender

16 Oct
image via

(Image via)

Elizabeth Peña, who died Tuesday night at the age of 55, was more than a prolific and exceptional actress. She was an exceptionally talented woman who changed the way Latina women are represented in film and challenged notions of race and gender.

Peña was born in New Jersey to parents who immigrated from Cuba. Her father was an actor, writer, and director and her mother was the executive director of The Latin American Theater Ensemble in New York. Peña and her family returned to Cuba when she was a baby but wound up moving to New York City, where she attended the prestigious High School of Performing Arts, of Fame fame and studied with Lee Strasberg.

Peña’s acting career, which spanned five decades, kicked off with the Spanish-langage film El Super (1979) and included roles in films like Tortilla Soup, La Bamba, TransAmerica, Batteries not included, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Jacob’s Ladder, as well as TV shows like Resurrection Blvd. Modern Family, and Matador

Peña directed episodes of YlseThe Brothers Garcia, and Resurrection Blvd., becoming only the fourth Latina member of the Director’s Guild of America when she joined.

Peña was prolific but chose her roles wisely, once saying, “There are a lot of jobs I’ve turned down because they wanted me to play what I call ‘Miss Cuchifrito’ types.”

Peña rejected the way all Latinos and Latin Americans were presented as a monolith: “In the United States, all Spanish-speaking people are lumped into one category… But we’re all so different. Argentinians are completely different from Mexicans. Mexicans are completely different from Cubans. Cubans are completely different from people from Paraguay and Uruguay.”

There are two films, in particular, that offered roles that defied stereotypes.

Director Georgina Garcia Riedel’s debut film, How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer (2005), which also stars Lucy Gallardo and America Ferrera, focuses on one summer in the lives of three generations of Mexican women living in an Arizona border town. In an interview about the film, Peña praised the way the movie actually acknowledged sexuality in women over 35:

In American cinema and in television for that matter—with the possible exception of Desperate Housewives—women over, literally, 35 are non-sexual, except for getting raped or beaten. They don’t write roles for women that express and explore older women’s sexuality and I found [Georgina's script] so fantastic; to have a 70-year-old woman have sex, y’know? I loved the character of Lolita obviously, I loved her on the page; but—once I started to embody her—it was rough because she’s such a frustrated lonely person that it was quite challenging to play that consistently. I actually started grinding my teeth again when I started shooting that movie.

Lone Star (1996) is one of my favorite movies from the 1990s and one of my favorite John Sayles film. It has an amazing cast, including Chris Cooper, Joe Morton, Kris Kristofferson, and pre-fame Matthew McConaughey. The mystery takes place in a border town in Texas and explores racism, immigration, family, relationships and history. Peña’s performance as Pilar, a teacher and single mother, won her the 1997 Independent Spirit for Best Supporting Female Actress.

Peña was thrilled to work with Sayles, who she calls a “Director/God” and whose films, which include Men with Guns, Brother From Another Planet and Passion Fish, raise important questions about gender, class, race, ableism, and colonialism: ”This is an amazing role… Its a real role for a woman… I was home and the phone rang. It was my agent saying John Sayles has a movie that he’s doing and he’d like you to be in it and I said fine, great close the deal.  And he said, `Wait a minute.  Don’t you want to read the script.’  I’m going no if it’s John Sayles, I want to do it.  I don’t care what it is.  And then I got the script and I said my God, bonus!”

And to prepare for her role in Lone Star, Peña honored the diversity of Latina women and eschewed the lumping together she described above. She worked hard to capture the unique reality of the women who live in border towns: ”I crossed the border a whole bunch to collect a lot of history. I would sit for hours looking at the women, how they dressed. I talked to people. I hung out. I shopped at the stores to see what kind of clothing was there and what food was eaten.”

Peña should be remembered for her outstanding talent and historic trailblazing. Eva Longoria tweeted, “Rest in Peace Elizabeth Pena … you paved the way for so many of us!!” And she would know.

Originally posted on Feministing

This is what Columbus Day would look like if you included an actual Native American

16 Oct
Photo by Rodrigo Jardon

Photo by Rodrigo Jardon

See Also: Five scary Christopher Columbus quotes that let you celebrate the holiday the right way

I went to New York City’s Columbus Day Parade on Monday to see how people were celebrating the man who is credited more with  “discovering America” than he is not knowing where he was, spreading disease, advocating slavery, spreading the inquisition, and coordinating rape.

What was fascinating was seeing not just Italians and Italian-Americans marching but people who were the descendants of people who had been colonized.

But not everyone was OK with the sanitization of Christopher Columbus. As I was leaving I ran into Eagle Sun, who was arguing with an Italian-American over the virtues of Columbus.

This should explain why some cities and states are refusing to observe Columbus Day and observing Indigenous People’s Day instead.

Originally posted on RawStory

Five scary Christopher Columbus quotes that let you celebrate the holiday the right way

13 Oct

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Happy Columbus Day! I hope you’re celebrating the holiday appropriately, by breaking into someone’s home and claiming that you discovered and now own it! Or you could just, you know, mourn the genocide of indigenous people by shopping. Because we all grieve in different ways.

You’ve probably heard lots of great things about Christopher Columbus and tons of inspiring quotes from him about hard work, god, the sea etc. But those don’t really capture what Columbus and the colonial expansion of which he was part were all about. So, without further ado, allow me to present these quotes that you may not have heard, from or about Christopher Columbus.

1. Conquest: the perfect chaser for expelling Muslims and Jews. You don’t have to be an academic to link Spain’s colonial expansion abroad with its inquisition at home. Columbus made the connection himself. Of course he saw this as a good thing, not a bad one– a killer combo, if you will. He wrote to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain

YOUR HIGHNESSES, as Catholic Christians and Princes who love the holy Christian faith, and the propagation of it, and who are enemies to the sect of Mahoma [Islam] and to all idolatries and heresies, resolved to send me, Cristóbal Colon, to the said parts of India to see the said princes … with a view that they might be converted to our holy faith …. Thus, after having turned out all the Jews from all your kingdoms and lordships … your Highnesses gave orders to me that with a sufficient fleet I should go to the said parts of India …. I shall forget sleep, and shall work at the business of navigation, so that the service is performed.

2. These Natives are so nice, we’d be crazy not to enslave them! This excerpt from Columbus’ diary describes the Arawak people who greeted him and his men:

They … brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned… . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… . They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.

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Fracking company honors the victims of the breast cancer they help cause with pink drill bits

9 Oct

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No… this isn’t The Onion. It’s an unbelievable case of pinkwashing, greenwashing and whitewashing. As we mentioned yesterday, the Susan G. Komen Foundation–which you’ll recall tried to pull funding for cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood a couple years ago–is teaming up with the fracking company Baker Hughes to distribute 1,000 drill bits around the world. Fracking is extremely dangerous and has been linked to several cancers, including breast cancer. But, at the same time, the drill bits are pink. So that totally empty color-based symbolism more than makes up for it. 

In order to understand the mind-blowing irony and dishonesty of the campaign, let’s quickly review what fracking is. Fracking is actually the adorable nickname for hydraulic fracturing, a drilling technique used to extract oil or gas from deep underground. A high-pressure mix of water, sand, and chemicals is injected into the ground, which fractures the rock, creating fissures and cracks through which the gas or oil comes out. Fracking harms the environment and our health. It releases methane gas that contributes to global warming, requires the use and transport of huge amounts of water–millions of gallons of water are used in just one fracking operation–and triggers earthquakes. The chemicals used in fracking include known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors which poison the water, the land, and the air. According to Breast Cancer Action, at least 25 percent of the more than 700 chemicals used in fracking are linked to cancer.

To see the dramatic effects of fracking, watch this excerpt from the Emmy Award-winning and Oscar nominated documentary Gasland:

So, how beautiful for the Baker Hughes Company, which made $22.4 billion fracking last year, to donate $100,000 to Susan G. Komen. Komen has previously pinkwashed everything from toxic perfume to guns and now, as it explains on its website, Baker Hughes “will paint and distribute a total of 1,000 pink drill bits worldwide. The pink bits serve as a reminder of the importance of supporting research, treatment, screening, and education to help find the cures for this disease, which claims a life every 60 seconds.”

In an appropriately snarky press release–because it’s better to laugh than cry–Breast Cancer Action praised the partnership between Susan G, Komen and the Baker Hughes company as “the most ludicrous piece of pink sh*t they’ve seen all year.” Continue reading

The rantings of the Brooklyn Coffee shop owner who calls Jews ‘greedy infiltrators’ and himself a ‘nudge’

6 Oct

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We Shall overcome: the lesbian sperm bank remix

2 Oct

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Most women who, for whatever reason, cannot become pregnant on their own, are thrilled artificial insemination enables them to have a child. But Jennifer Cramblett, of eastern Ohio is so upset about her daughter, she’s suing the sperm bank. Why? Because the sperm bank accidentally mailed her sperm from a black donor. And that means that Cramblett’s two-year-old daughter, Payton, is… wait for it… bi-racial.

As David Ferguson reported on,  this is something Cramblett, who had requested a white man’s sperm, didn’t want. So, she’s suing the Midwest Sperm Bank, which mixed up the sperm batches when it read a vial labeled  380 as 330. According to her lawsuit and attorney, Cramblett should be compensated so she can move because she lives in an intolerant town, has an intolerant family and intolerant friends. Attorney Thomas Intili said, “she lives in an all-white community in eastern Ohio. She did not encounter any African-American people until she entered college. Not all her friends and family members are racially sensitive.” Perhaps most painful of all is that Cramblett is forced to travel a long distance to get her daughter a semi-decent haircut. The lawsuit reads,

Getting a young daughter’s hair cut is not particularly stressful for most mothers, but to Jennifer it is not a routine matter, because Payton has hair typical of an African American girl. To get a decent cut, Jennifer must travel to a black neighborhood, far from where she lives, where she is obviously different in appearance, and not overtly welcome.

It’s bad enough to have to shlep to a hair dresser who can disentangle the mystery that is African American girl hair. On top of that, it seems, Cramblett risks her life every time she ventures into a neighborhood where she is “othered” by African Americans who, presumably, commit hate crimes against her with their eyes.

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3 Exciting Things We Learned About Sex This Week

29 Sep

For once, science has given us some good news about weight and sex.

This week, science brought us a surprising study about sex work, an unsurprising study blaming everything on women’s allegedly low sex drives, and the link between body fat and sexual stamina. Here’s what we learned.

1. The bigger the cushion, the longer the pushin’.

I get most of my life lessons from comedian Christopher Guest, so I’m not surprised that a new study confirms (kind of) a claim made by a song from This is Spinal Tap. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll definitely remember the epic rock ballad, “Big Bottom.”

The bigger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin’/That’s what I said/The looser the waistband, the deeper the quicksand/Or so I have read

It turns out a similar song could be written about men’s big bellies. A new study shows that men with bigger bellies may last longer in bed than lean men, because men with more fat have higher levels of oestradiol, a female hormone that inhibits orgasms in men. “We found that patients with lifelong PE [premature ejaculation] were leaner than the healthy control cases… As the BMI [Body Mass Index] increased, the number of patients decreased in the PE group,” said the study’s authors.

On average, the study found, overweight men stayed erect for seven minutes before climaxing, while slimmer guys lasted two minutes. To put that into perspective, it takes an average of 10-20 minutes for women to orgasm. I guess we need to write another song: “The bigger the cushion, the longer the pushin’ that’s what I said. The looser the waistband the more time in the quicksand, or so I have read.”

2. Dissatisfied with your job? Maybe you should consider becoming a sex worker.

Canada’s first national study on sex workers had some interesting findings that undermined its conservative government’s arguments for criminalizing sex work. Justice Minister Peter MacKay claims that Bill C-36, which aims to abolish sex work, is needed because, “the vast majority of those that sell sexual services do not do so by choice. We view the vast majority of those involved in selling sexual services as victims.” Yet the five-year study found that 82 percent of workers felt appropriately rewarded, 70 percent were satisfied with their jobs, and 68 percent felt they have good job security.

Perhaps, you might argue, the study is biased, or the workers delusional. What still doesn’t make sense is how criminalizing their behavior helps them. It has the opposite effect, making them less safe by pushing them further underground and making it harder for them to seek help and support. So whether you like to think that every single sex worker is a radical, feminist, subversive, anti-patriarchal, empowered, autonomous revolutionary on the one hand, or a hopeless, helpless victim on the other, we should all be able to agree that persecuting and prosecuting them doesn’t help anyone.

3. When in doubt, blame women’s low sex drive.

Hong Kong’s birth rate has dropped from 1,933 births for every 1,000 women in 1981, to 1,285 in 2012. What’s behind this trend? According to a poll conducted by Hong Kong’s Family Planning Association, it’s ladies’ low libidos.

This is how the South China Morning Post article describes the results of the study:

“The association polled around 2,100 ethnic Chinese women aged between 21 and 40 from December 2007 to December 2009, and found almost six out of 10 had at least one sexual problem.

“Of that number, about 400 said they had no sexual desire and had arousal problems, 500 did not have orgasms and 430 experienced pain during sex.”

OK. First of all, what is a “sexual problem”? Second of all, do these 400 women have no sexual desire and arousal problems at the same time? Or is it one or the other? And if they are simultaneous, couldn’t it be that the arousal problems they encounter hamper their sexual desire? In other words, couldn’t it be that nothing is wrong with their own sex drives, but it’s something related to what their partners are or are not doing? Or, perhaps, just perhaps, their failure to orgasm and you know, physical pain, are preventing them from getting in the mood. But why talk about how women’s sexual needs aren’t being met or fulfilled when it’s so much easier to paint women as frigid?

Cop who killed young Black man with dreads warned of Rasta drug culture

25 Sep

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The same cop who shot and killed a 21-year-old Black man who wore dreadlocks had a lot to say about the nefarious connection between drugs and Bob Marley music.

Corporal Matthew Schauerhamer of Saratoga Springs, Utah, is one of the two police officers who were involved in the shooting and killing of Darrien Hunt, which took place last week. The police claimed they shot Hunt as he lunged at them with a samurai sword. The Prosecutor initially backed up the claim but has since stated that Hunt was actually dozens of yards away when he was shot multiple times and killed. An independent autopsy and witnesses corroborate not only that Hunt was far away from police, but that he was running away and shot from behind.

It has been revealed by The Guardian that in June of this year Schauerhamer, 32, had written an article in the local newspaper offering parents tips on how to figure out if their kids are into drugs:

If parents are able to familiarize themselves with the specific trends of drug culture, they will be more likely to recognize if their child is descending into the culture and subcultures that drug users associate with. It will be easier for parents to distinguish whether their child is using or associating with people who use drugs.

According to Schauerhamer’s helpful guide, which was published in a local newspaper in June, one of the gate-way subcultures into drugs is “Rasta” culture.

 if your child is listening to Bob Marley’s “Kaya” is wearing a Bob Marley shirt with Bob Marley on it smoking a joint, has a Bob Marley poster in his room, and is wearing a Rasta hat (red, yellow and green), it is highly likely your child is highly high. If they have Rasta colored anything, it is a good bet your child uses or hangs out with drug users.

Nor does the officer shy away from overstating the allegedly indestructible link between style and criminality. He actually writes that,

the spade associated with this [SRH] clothing brand is so mainstreamed now that simply wearing it makes you a walking billboard proclaiming to the police, ‘I use drugs! Arrest me now!’

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The Endless March of Police Brutality—7 Stories From Just This Week

22 Sep

Amid the new wave of protests in Ferguson, the sad and tragic cycle continues.

From Ferguson, Missouri to Staten Island, New York, it seems like a new story about police brutality breaks every day. Here are some recent incidents of police violence from around the nation that you may not have heard about. Because honestly, who can keep up?

1. 22-year-old black man police claim they shot in self-defense was actually shot from behind

The two officers who shot and killed 22-year-old Darrien Hunt in Saratoga Springs, Utah, claimed that they acted in self-defense after the young man lunged at them with a samurai sword. This week, the family’s lawyer announced that Hunt’s parents had a private autopsy performed, which determined that Hunt had actually been shot in the back six times from a distance of 100 yards. Witnesses also say Hunt was shot as he was running away from the cops. As the family’s lawyer said, “The shot that killed Darrien, which was straight in the back, did not have an exit wound…. It raises the question as to how you can lunge at someone and be shot in the back at the same time.” Hunt’s mother, who is white, explained why she thinks this happened to her son, who is bi-racial: “They killed my son because he’s black. No white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he’s running away.” Less than 5% of the population of Saratoga Springs, a wealthy community 30 minutes south of Salt Lake City, is non-white.

2. 17-year-old is in critical condition after being tased, stepped on and allowed to fall

Last Sunday, 17-year-old Bryce Masters, of Independence, Missouri, was driving to a friend’s house to play video games, when the police pulled him over for driving a vehicle for which they had a warrant. According to the police, Masters, the son of a Kansas City Police officer, “became uncooperative, physically resistitive [sic] to exiting the car, and an altercation ensued leading the officer to deploying his Taser.” According to witnesses, however, when the police officer asked Masters to roll down his window, he explained that he couldn’t because the window was broken. So, the police officer did what anyone would do when faced with a slight teenager who had made no physical threat whatsoever: tase him in the chest against department policy, pull him from the car, handcuff him and allow him to fall face first onto the concrete. And then, for good measure, put his foot on his back. The Independence Police Department only permits tasering if the subject is an immediate threat to an officer or another person, uses force to resist arrest, flees or attempts to hurt himself. Sitting in a car does not meet any of these requirements. As a result of the totally unnecessary tasing, Masters went into cardiac arrest, stopped breathing, had to be resuscitated, was hospitalized and put into a medically induced coma. Doctors began to bring him out of the coma on Monday and, as of Tuesday, he was in critical but stable condition and was being treated for acute oxygen deprivation to the brain during his cardiac arrest.

3. Milwaukee police officer won’t be punished for lying about witnessing an illegal strip and cavity search

In August, a jury awarded Leo Hardy half a million dollars in damages after determining that Milwaukee police had illegally, “maliciously,” and with “reckless disregard” for civil rights, strip and cavity searched him. Officer Stephanie Seitz, who is either forgetful or legally blind, told investigators she was unaware of these searches. The only problem is that the prosecutor’s office recovered a surveillance video in which Seitz “clearly observes” the anal search. They determined that she had had been “clearly untruthful” and committed perjury. But, she won’t be charged with anything. Because, what’s the big deal? I mean, lying, perjury, probing? They kind of cancel each other out, right?

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