Callin’ it: Here’s a thread, and it is open.

I’m sure I have NO idea what Ta-Nehisi is about today, what with no open thread and it’s already an hour and a half past Open Thread O’Clock. So here’s an A thread [“an thread”? I’m sure I have no idea what I was about!], and it is open, should you need it.

If you’re new around these parts – please feel free to chime in! But please also take a peek at my About Commenting page. We’re a very friendly lot, those of us who hang out at Ta-Nehisi Coates’s blog, but we are very particular about discoursing politely. As TNC himself once put it: This is a dinner party, not a lunch room.

106 Comments

  1. Please send cute dog, cat, or kid stories. Or photos. I have had a long and draining week — as apparently, has EVERYONE ELSE I KNOW, which does not make mine less taxing — and need the d’awwwwwwwww relief.

    • Your wish, my command! Etc.

      Kittehs in French: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0H2PIcspvU (check out the computer mouse…! So.much.CUTE! [said after the manner of Despicable Me’s “It’s.So.FLUFFEH!”])

      This, btw, via this super-cool site that I discovered today when they linked to me – squee! Skepchick: http://skepchick.org/

    • Captain Button

       /  September 16, 2011

      I’m a fan of Cats in Sinks:

      http://catsinsinks.com/

      • Byrk

         /  September 16, 2011

        One of our cats is obsessed with sitting in a sink. To the point where you turn the water on and he sits there for a few seconds before getting out. Once it’s off he lays down in the wet sink.

        • Ani sits in the sink in the morning and is always very put out when it’s time for teeth brushing.

    • Well, you can start here:



      • I didn’t expect the videos to be automatically embedded. And for some reason, the second one didn’t get embedded, but became a bare link. This is one of the reasons I prefer commenting systems that allow you to preview your post before submitting it, or at least allow editing afterward.

    • SWNC

       /  September 16, 2011

      It has been a long week, hasn’t it? All right, for your amusement, this week in two-year-olds:

      Me: “What would you like to be for Halloween this year?”
      Kid: “A stick bug.”
      Me: (internally ??? How the heck can I make a stick bug costume???) “Wow, that’s an interesting idea. Or you could be a lion! Or a tiger!”
      Kid: “No. Lions and tigers bite. I want to be a stick bug. They don’t bite.”

    • David L

       /  September 16, 2011

      I started a new workout routine this week. I’ve been doing them last thing in the evening, so I get into bed hot, sweaty, and sore. I don’t know whether Newman is responding to the sweat, or the body language, or some sort of stress pheromone, but he’ll do the same routine that he does when I’m sick — hop up onto the bed, groom my beard a bit, then lie at the head of the bed facing me rather than lying at the foot of the bed facing away from me. It’s very sweet to know that he cares.

    • Oh, I have one that is delightfully in bad taste, but it’s cats.

      It’s forwarded to me by my kids, and it’s from icanhazcheeseburger.

      I daren’t post it.

  2. Captain Button

     /  September 16, 2011

    Over on Disqus, I now have over 1000 likes, it snuck up on me while I was sleeping.

    What do I get with that?

    A secret decoder ring?

    The secret to Life, The Universe, and Everything?

    The ability to turn violent criminals into frogs?

  3. Hmm. Can we insert pics on WordPress comments?

    • I do not know. I am a Luddite blogger, basically.

    • Wearyvoter

       /  September 16, 2011

      Unrelated: Paul, check out today’s Pearls Before Swine. Also,too:Mutts.I’m on through an iPod touch,and am aiming badly at this virtual keyboard,so I’m skipping links to the comics.

      • corkingiron

         /  September 16, 2011

        Unrelated? With this bunch? Not bloody likely!

        • wearyvoter

           /  September 16, 2011

          You speak the truth. And at least now I’m back at a “real” keyboard. I say real, even though computer keyboards still don’t feel entirely right. I learned to type on an IBM Selectric before being relegated to a rickety manual typewriter at the J-School at MSU back in the dark ages of the back half of the 70s. It took a few years, but I finally got the hang of *not* pounding the hell out of the keys.

  4. David L

     /  September 16, 2011

    Combining a couple minor thoughts…

    Today in “Mother Nature is a cruel bitch sometimes”: First good rain storm since July, right as a big outdoor music festival starts. Also, I discovered when I went to turn them on that the drought has caused my wiper blades to disintegrate.

    Today in new workout routines: Did an hour of lower-body and core work last night. The only thing that hurts more than standing is sitting. I considered calling in muscle-fatigued to work today, then decided against it.

    • helensprogeny

       /  September 16, 2011

      Dude, do yourself a favor and go sometime this weekend and get a nice, gentle, professional massage. It can help you with both the sitting and the standing.

  5. Ok, I had this all set and ready to post in the OTAN, which gets a ba-jillion more views that I ever will, but I’ll just put it here for the time being.

    It’s really important, y’all:

    A NEW (and very easy) ACTION TO HELP TROY DAVIS’S CLEMENCY BID

    The clemency hearing for Troy Davis will be held on Monday. I’ve been hounding you to sign the Amnesty petition and write to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, and it’s not too late to do either/both (links below), but here’s one more thing to sign – a petition asking Georgia’s Chatham County DA to request that the court withdraw the death warrant: http://www.change.org/petitions/chatham-county-district-attorney-request-that-troy-davis-death-warrant-be-withdrawn

    This petition was put up by Davis’s sister Kimberly just yesterday afternoon, so the signature count isn’t huge yet – please help swell the numbers, because it’s important to approach this from all possible directions.

    The good news is that yesterday Amnesty delivered 650,000 signatures to the Board, along with letters signed by 3,300 members of the clergy, 1,500 legal professionals, 26 exonerated former death row inmates, and over 50 family members of murder victims.

    If you want to go to a Day of Solidarity event, here are details: http://www.amnestyusa.org/troyevents/

    Amnesty petition: http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=6oJCLQPAJiJUG&b=6645049&aid=516510

    Email address for a letter to the Board of Pardons: Clemency_Information@pap.state.ga.us (thank you AndyHall) and a sample letter: https://emilylhauserinmyhead.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/troy-davis-contact-georgia-board-of-pardons-and-paroles/

  6. dmf

     /  September 16, 2011

  7. SWNC

     /  September 16, 2011

    Horde! After 4 years of my spouse and I both being in salary freeze, I got a $1000 equity bump and a 2.8% raise! Hot damn!

    We’re not eating leftovers tonight, by golly! It’s the pizza parlor for us. (Not exactly Chez Panisse, but we can take the sprout without worrying that preschooler antics will spoil someone else’s romantic night out.)

  8. David L

     /  September 16, 2011

    I’m glad that SCOTUS has decided that the Duane Buck case at least needs a look. There may be no doubt that he committed horrible acts of violence, and I’d put a few bucks down on his life ending strapped to a gurney in Huntsville no matter whether he gets a new sentencing hearing or not, but the sheer racism in the original sentencing hearing tainted the process beyond belief, and I wish that there had been more attention given to it before Perry jumped into the presidential race, because it deserved it.

  9. Saw this on Colorlines:

    What a wonderful concept and solution.

  10. Wearyvoter

     /  September 16, 2011

    Hi. I’m at Panera,taking a break from trying to evict an old toilet seat so I can install a new one. Seems the old one is happy where it is;the screws are refusing to let go. In other news,Paul’s sinus plague has decided to open an annex in my head. So, when I say I feel your pain, I’m sincere.

    • I’m so sorry that all of this made me laugh. But it did, right out loud!

      I hope that all your sorrows pass and your weekend shines bright upon you!

      • Wearyvoter

         /  September 16, 2011

        After a week like this has been–and these are very definitely first world problems–I was aiming for at least a chuckle😉. Tomorrow, we’re on the road to St. Louis to retrieve the offspring and route her to some of her buddies. Another friend of hers is getting married, and the ladies in the wedding party are having what amounts to a weeklong slumber party.

      • Wearyvoter

         /  September 16, 2011

        Thanks!

        • wearyvoter

           /  September 16, 2011

          Update on toilet seat uninstall/reinstall: The screws are still refusing to budge past a certain unscrew, about halfway to where they need to be. This and several other things are why I very, very, very much respect people who know how to do this stuff. I’ll get there eventually, but it may involve pliers, a hammer, and failing that, an explosives expert.

          • I’m really curious what kind of commode and seat you have that it’s not coming apart easily. Most of the systems I’ve replaced have been extremely easy to disassemble, but some of the older ones were kinda corroded & hard to remove. Usually a pair of channel grips and a wide-blade screwdriver work the best.

            • wearyvoter

               /  September 17, 2011

              What it boils down to is that I’m a klutz at this stuff. Corrosion’s not the problem. I need the channel grips, and to probably come at it from a different angle than head -on. I was only working with the stupid wide-blade screw driver. Worst-case scenario, I’ll sic my husband on it.🙂 Actually, I think I need to buy a pair of the grips. They’d work better than the pliers that I have at hand. Thanks!!!!!!!

  11. (As of this writing, there are 621 comments in TNC’s atheism thread. I’m afraid to look).

    • helensprogeny

       /  September 16, 2011

      I know. I was there for a bit this morning and then got called away for several hours. I don’t know if I can wade into that. I mean, an OTAN with that many comments – at least you’re likely to find a variety of topics and some levity. 621 comments on the existence of god? Sounds like too much for a Friday, really.

      (Although, to be complete honest and hopefully fair, the comments that I read there this morning were captivating and informative. It’s just all more than my pea brain can take on today.)

    • David L

       /  September 16, 2011

      It’s actually not that horrible, but it’s not exactly a good topic to try to skim, either. There are some pretty philosophical debates going on in there, as far as I can see.

    • It is interesting. I wasn’t thinking it was going to be a parade. I was thinking it might be a few desultory comments.

      I don’t meet those kinds of people IRL. Something about being on the internet releases people in a way I don’t find useful.

      I responded to one person’s comment that the behavior of the adherents does not prove or disprove the validity of their beliefs, which would apply, I think, to any system. (There are leftists who are intolerant and conservatives who are rude; neither behavior is proof in itself that their belief systems are right or wrong. I think it was the Jesuits who said that the abuse does not disprove the use.) That became a peculiar thread in itself, and not where I thought it would go (which is, if you think your belief system changes your behavior, then wouldn’t your behavior reflect your belief?)

      Maybe it’s that IRL we pay attention to each as humans better. I don’t know. It’s not quite a train wreck. But it’s not pleasant.

      I wanted to post a comment to TNC to ask “what exactly did you think would happen when you asked your question?” because I don’t think 5% of the responses are following his request.

      I can’t imagine what goes on in his head some days. He would be fascinating to listen to, and yet I think I would not last five minutes with him before I realized I was living at a whole different, and lower, level.

      • I honestly have a feeling that he thought he would be around to deal with it and something pulled him away. It’s really not like him to post such a thing and then disappear all together.

    • I got home from work at it was up to 711. No fucking way am I going in there.

    • wearyvoter

       /  September 16, 2011

      He finally closed the comments. Oh…he forgot oatmeal. 🙂

  12. Wearyvoter

     /  September 16, 2011

    WRT to kid stories: a coworker’s younger son is getting the hang of this whole kindergarten thing. By day 2, he’d landed in the principal’s office for 2 violations. 1. Asking for a crayon by punching a classmate. 2.Finding his older brother on the playground during recess and landing solid chomp on him. The playground supervisor admonished him with,”We don’t bite people.”
    His reply:”He’s not people;he’s my brother.”
    Anyway, mom was not a happy camper, and the wee limits tester faced some consequences, but coworker/mom said she had to stifle a giggle about the playground bit.

    • SWNC

       /  September 16, 2011

      ”He’s not people;he’s my brother.”
      Priceless.

      A 3rd grade teacher I know was out for the day earlier this week. The note from her substitute teacher included this, “J. bit G. during recess. Biting is serious.” Obviously, horrible behavior for 3rd(!) graders, but the “biting is serious” line from the sub cracked both of us up.

      • wearyvoter

         /  September 16, 2011

        Here’s the fun part: She brings the boys to work sometimes, and the little nipper (couldn’t resist) is very capable of using his words. He seems to prefer to take the fast way rather than the long way.

  13. helensprogeny

     /  September 16, 2011

    Well, shit. I had a post all lined up (in my head, of course) for the OTAN that was the final, definitive, authoritative, take-no-prisoners, last word on why all the acupuncture deniers are wrong, wrong, wrong. But apparently the gods (whom we have proved do not exist on TNC’s other thread this morning) had other plans. This doesn’t seem like the place. I’ve likely dodged a bullet and been spared looking like a fool.

    So, I’ll talk instead about the fact that I made a very nice banana bread this morning and I’m going to eat a piece as soon as I finish the salad I’m having for lunch.

    Also, the cat portion of this thread is just the ticket for the end of this week.

    And too: LOVE what you’ve done with the place, Emily. It looks great. I feel like I should bring a housewarming gift.

    • dmf

       /  September 16, 2011

      practicing voodoo without gods doesn’t sound like much fun. i kid but about as much chance of convincing someone about invisible curing powers as of invisible beings, it’s a shame that our education systems have done such a miserable job in helping folks sort out what the limits of debate/conversation might be tho I have learned from the Horde that many people enjoy talking in circles as a form of sport/game/entertainment, different strokes i suppose

    • Thank you!

      :: curtsies ::

      And aren’t the comments just soooooooooooooo much better now? Yowza. That part of it was a happy accident. I’d done all the other stuff and then clicked on some comments and went all Keanu on it. (“Whoaaaaaaaaaaaa!”)

  14. OH MAH GAD mini-alterna-Horde I have to tell you this even though I’m sure to jinx it somehow:

    I had a piece accepted by The Hairpin – and it goes live in 37 minutes…!

    (For those who don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, which may be everybody: http://thehairpin.com/ )

    • “I knew you when…”

      I’m holding on to that, you know. Because when you’re famous & all that.

      You’re in The Atlantic & quoted by Glenn Greenwald and The New York Times.

      I once won a contest for a Hallowe’en poster. But that’s about it as regards my own claims to fame.

      • corkingiron

         /  September 16, 2011

        I won a dance contest once in Grade Eight. I won a copy of “Puff the Magic Dragon”. It was, oddly enough, appropriate.

    • dmf

       /  September 16, 2011

      ok i looked and i still don’t know what it is, but if your happy than i’m happy

    • helensprogeny

       /  September 16, 2011

      You are On. A. Roll, woman! That’s fantastic! I’m with Matlock: I knew ye when….

    • I will let you all in on a secret.

      You know all this big-time stuff I’ve achieved since about May? Two TV appearances, nods from Greenwald and the NYT, two weeks at Feministe, a piece in the Atlantic, a post yesterday at the Foreign Policy Association (re: Troy Davis), this Hairpin thing? And probably more?

      When you add alllllll the big-time related pay-checks together, here’s what they’ve added to my bank balance so far:

      Zero dollars.

      So.

      Big time, schmig time. It’s very, very nice to get my words in front of more eyes, I will not lie to y’all, but I made $600 in July and August combined, and my best hope (and I mean this most sincerely) among all the job applications I’ve sent out in the past month is for substitute preschool teacher. Which I would love to do, actually, but it gives you some indication of where I’m really at.

      • helensprogeny

         /  September 16, 2011

        Are you telling me you didn’t get PAID for any of the articles? That, my friend, is just plain WRONG. There has to be a way to remedy that. Seriously. You have too much talent and too much to say to simply give it way. I don’t know enough about the business to know how to make money from it, but there’s got to be a way. Truly.

        • Dude. Welcome to life as a freelance writer, circa 2011.

          I spent about 17 years being paid, albeit badly, and then that disappeared in the big Print-Media-Fall-Go-Boom of Aught-Eight. If there was any hope at all for print to recover, that was destroyed by the big Financial-World-Go-Ker-blooey! later that same year. (I was inches from syndication at that point, by the way, with the backing of a member of the Chicago Tribunes’ editorial board. Story of my fuckin’ career — I can al-mo-st touch it, and BAM! It goes away. Srsly. I have about 10 examples of this sort of thing).

          I now do about 95% of my writing (other than this blog) for other people: PR/Communications firms, nonprofits, influential people. I write it, someone else signs it. I’ve been in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, The Hill, USA Today, etc and so on that way (on my own, back in the day, I was in the Chicago Tribune a lot and the Dallas Morning News and a few times in the Christian Science Monitor, among many others). After a few years of really nasty and miserable emotional struggles over it, I’ve reached the point where, if the words get seen? I’m happy. Ish. I’d rather be paid — I’d rather be on staff at someplace like The Atlantic or the International Crisis Group, come to that, and I’d be an asset to either — but the jobs aren’t there. I’m now paid in eyeballs.

          PS I SHOULD ADD Most people apologize over not being able to pay me. The folks at The Atlantic were particularly sweet about it. But the money just ain’t there.

          • dave in texas

             /  September 16, 2011

            Your line about getting paid poorly made me think of a funny Molly Ivins line. She was talking about writing for the Nation and pointed out that Victor Navasky was (in)famous for paying “in the high two figures.”

          • helensprogeny

             /  September 16, 2011

            I do get the free-lance life. My partner the painter has made his living substitute teaching for years. His best year as a painter he made $20K. (Not that he makes anything subbing either, but it’s work he can pick up and put down depending on his show schedule.) What I find hard to believe is that The Atlantic didn’t pay you anything. Or the NYT. It’s unconscionable. And while being paid in eyeballs isn’t nothing, it’s also really hard to pay bills with.

            It just seems as though the kind of connections you have and the kind of exposure you’ve had and continue to have should snag you SOMEthing other than eyeballs. I can’t imagine the frustration.

            That said, I’m really glad you keep writing even though no one pays you. You’re doing wonderful work and touching a lot of lives in a positive and thoughtful way. (I genuinely mean this, I’m not just sucking up to the blog host[ess].) I hope you’ll soon also reap the financial rewards that you deserve for doing the work that you do.

            • Thank you! Let me be clear on the NYT, though: They just hat-tipped me, in a round about way. It’s just that’s the sort of thing that should count as exposure-that-will-lead-to-money, and doesn’t really, anymore.

              I have one friend out here in Meat World who really understands all this — she’s an artist. I have a feeling that she and your partner would understand each other pretty well!

          • corkingiron

             /  September 16, 2011

            “I’m now paid in eyeballs.”

            Would you like a scratched record of Puff the Magic Dragon?

            (Which is marginally better than my first inclination – which involved eye banks.)

      • All kidding aside – this is the kind of stuff that gets noticed, and eventually it pays off – both the passion and the talent. (I wish I had more passion in the people I work with. I have lots of talent.)

        You don’t need anyone to tell you to keep it up. But, do keep it up.

        • Ah yes. So I’ve been told. For 20 years. While working in all the parts of non-fiction short form that you might imagine.

          Speaking only for myself and my own career, I’m done, to a certain extent. I’m not closing doors, but if something else arrives, they’ll close on their own.

          • wearyvoter

             /  September 16, 2011

            That really sucks. I sold one story back during my very brief time as a journalist (while still a student). The check was a whopping $15.00, which was sucky even in 1980.

      • dmf

         /  September 16, 2011

        wallace stevens was in the insurance business:

        A Rabbit As King Of The Ghosts

        The difficulty to think at the end of day,
        When the shapeless shadow covers the sun
        And nothing is left except light on your fur—

        There was the cat slopping its milk all day,
        Fat cat, red tongue, green mind, white milk
        And August the most peaceful month.

        To be, in the grass, in the peacefullest time,
        Without that monument of cat,
        The cat forgotten in the moon;

        And to feel that the light is a rabbit-light,
        In which everything is meant for you
        And nothing need be explained;

        Then there is nothing to think of. It comes of itself;
        And east rushes west and west rushes down,
        No matter. The grass is full

        And full of yourself. The trees around are for you,
        The whole of the wideness of night is for you,
        A self that touches all edges,

        You become a self that fills the four corners of night.
        The red cat hides away in the fur-light
        And there you are humped high, humped up,

        You are humped higher and higher, black as stone—
        You sit with your head like a carving in space
        And the little green cat is a bug in the grass.

        that said un/underemployment is a hell of its own…

      • dave in texas

         /  September 16, 2011

        I think you’d love the preschool job. I substituted at middle school and high school some years back, and one morning the district called for take a third grade class. I told them I was in no way qualified to do that and they told me “Well, it’s just a teacher’s aide gig, ” and so I figured I could probably handle that. But when I got there, they were all in a panic because someone else had called in sick and could I pleasepleaseplease take this second grade class. I said OK, and honestly, it was the most fun I had as a substitute all year.

        At one point we had all gotten a little rowdy, and all of a sudden the intercom came on with some disembodied office-person voice asking if everything was OK. I told the voice we were fine and then stage-whispered to the class, “Y’all didn’t tell me they could hear us from the office!” ’cause, well, I really didn’t know. They all got an enormous kick out of that, and we were all fast friends the rest of the day. Little sponges is what they are at that age, so eager to learn new stuff.

        My only regret is that it was toward the end of the school year and I didn’t have a chance to go back.

        Oh, and BTW, love the new format, but where are links to the places you crosspost? Am I supposed to find ABL all by myself? I’m kind of a technoramus, y’know.

    • wearyvoter

       /  September 16, 2011

      Nicely done!

    • helensprogeny

       /  September 16, 2011

      Loved the piece! And I’m childless and forever to be so. But the writing…yes! Congrats.

  15. I’m wearing one of those headpieces with a microphone so I can type and talk today (I’m doing interviews).

    The microphone thingy j-u-u-u-s-t fits right down into my coffee cup when I raise it up to my lips.

  16. dmf

     /  September 16, 2011

    i’m out, good weekend all

    • David L

       /  September 16, 2011

      That must be nice. I’ve got another 43 minutes or so (but who’s counting?) left before I can actually leave the building although I’m more or less mentally checked out at this point.

      • dave in texas

         /  September 16, 2011

        I’ve been mentally checked out most of the day. Don’t these people know the legislative session ended a couple of months ago? I’ve just been buried in work all week, because not only have we gotten a metric fnckton of work, we’ve been really short-staffed all week (as befits time during the interim, fer cryin’ out loud). We had precious few weeks during the damned session when we had this much work to do.

        /end rant

  17. caoil

     /  September 16, 2011

    Man, it just *figures* that on the day I can finally see comments on The Atlantic, that would be the day there’s no OTAN. Fie on you, god(s) who may or may not be controlling the whole thing!

    (Is it wrong if I have a sliver of hope that the Raelians are the ones who are correct?)

    • Not WRONG-wrong, but probably mistaken.

      A fie and a pox! Say I.

      • caoil

         /  September 16, 2011

        I don’t know why I’m so tickled by them. Maybe all my early viewings of ‘Close Encounters’ shaped my brain.

  18. wearyvoter

     /  September 16, 2011

    Just got back from McMegan’s forum. It makes me strongly consider the idea of picking up a virtual hazmat suit.

    I should have known better than to read the thread on the ACA. The tone in that neck of the woods seems to avoid most mentions of “there, but for the grace of go I.”

    There’s a permatroll there who keeps changing his handle by adding a number to get around the banhammer. He’s made a complete handle change, but it’s the same guy.

    In short, thank you Emily for opening the haven when TNC is busy elsewhere.

    • wearyvoter

       /  September 16, 2011

      Okay, so I’m getting used to the way WordPress does this. Correcting sentence 2/paragraph 2: “there, but for the grace of insert-deity-or-nondeity-of-your choice here, go I.”
      Thank you for your patience.

    • Wearyvoterisamoron.

      • wearyvoter

         /  September 16, 2011

        Craig: Ah, you know exactly who I am talking about. He trolled me on an NPR thread several months ago. (And ChrisJ is very calculatedly not throwing troll chow his way anymore.)

  19. I figure that since TNC is out for the weekend & not keeping an eye on the threads I’d post here. I can’t post over there and look like I’m participating.

    I despair of my fellow humans. There is such ugliness being expressed over something that (IMO) should be seen as a place to start a discussion.

    Maybe his goals is to spark a discussion, reveal the ugliness, and see if the regulars refuse to get drawn into the mess. I don’t know.

    My only hope is that there are perhaps only 5 or 6 people who are posting the junk, and not simply representatives of a larger number of people who are so very, very ugly in their souls.

    I despair over my own feelings of despair.