After the enduring the War of Secession, a tumultuous Civil Rights era, Hurricane Katrina, the reputation of being first in everything bad and even being compared in unflattering terms to the eighth month of the year, Mississippians have developed a thicker skin than denizens of most other states.
We expect it, and persevering in spite of it is the very thing that makes us Mississippi.
But the latest Miss. diss is almost too bizarre for words, and in some ways stings a little worse. In its coverage of Isaac -- the tropical storm that is likely to become a hurricane when it slams onto shore later this week -- a national cable TV weather network reportedly described the geographic area the storm will affect as the land mass between New Orleans and Mobile (Ala.).
To be fair, in the video we found, they didn't actually refer to Mississippi as a landmass. But in talking about about where Isaac might hit, the reporter did conspicuously decline to name Mississippi, which could get the brunt of the impact.
Perceived slight or not, proud Magnolia Staters did not hide our indignation from That Channel That You Leave On for the Cat During the Day.
"I know that a lot of awesome meteorologists come from landmass state university…also known as Mississippi State University," wrote one wise-cracking commenter under a Sun-Herald article about Landmassgate.
Overnight, a Facebook page sprouted up to carry Mississippi-related coverage of Tropical Storm Isaac and to let Mississippians show their statetriotism and disdain for That Channel Between That Guy Eating Gross Stuff and That Guy Eating Way Too Much Stuff. One page is already even selling Landmass-themed T-shirts.
Clarion-Ledger editorial cartoonist Marshall Ramsey lampooned meteorologists at That Channel Owned By That Network that Used to Have Really Good Shows in the '80s and '90s as feckless explorers discovering a nation it never existed.
If it seems like we're being sensitive, Channel That's Only Useful When Your Internet Isn't Working, it's because the national media never ceases to find new ways to thumb their noses at us. It happened during Katrina, and it's happening again.
As one Internet meme that plays on William Faulkner's famous quotation about Mississippi, states: "To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Land Mass."
The sooner people like those in charge at That Channel That Pissed Off Mississippi realize that, the better.
As if it's not bad enough that Rep. Todd Akin believes that women who are legitimately raped (I cringe to put those two words together), he was also part of a House Republican effort to redefine rape. The point, Mother Jones reports, was to keep federal funding for abortion away from teenagers, arguing that they might pretend they were raped by an older man (statutory rape, which is very common) in order to get the money because the right didn't want to "federally fund the abortion of tens of thousands of healthy babies of healthy moms, based solely on the age of their mothers."
More from that piece:
The implication of his position is that if you were raped and became pregnant, you must have actually wanted it—it wasn't really rape.
This isn't the first time Akin has expressed fringe views about rape in the context of the abortion debate. Last year, Akin, vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and most of the House GOP co-sponsored a bill that would have narrowed the already-narrow exceptions to the laws banning federal funding for abortion—from all cases of rape to cases of "forcible rape."
Drugged, raped, and pregnant? Too bad, says the House GOP. After I reported on the "forcible rape" language in January 2011, a wave of outcry from abortion-rights, progressive, and women's groups led the Republicans to remove it. But a few months later, in a congressional committee report, Republicans wrote that they believed the bill would continue to have the same effect despite the absence of the "forcible" language.
So, what we have here, are a bunch of dudes in Congress once again trying to decide what happens to women and what to do about it. Anyone else OK with that?
The news exploded today that a Republican senatorial candidate in Missouri, Rep. Todd Akin, has declared that women can't get pregnant from "legitimate rapes." This idiot was defending his anti-abortion stance (including rape and incest, of course):
“It seems to me, first of all, what I understand from doctors is that’s really where—if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
“Let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work, or something,” Akin said. “I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”
Clearly, every woman who has ever gotten pregnant from a rape is lying about it being rape, according to this fool's logic.
Much has been made so far this year about the "war on women"—from Rush Limbaugh's horrendous attacks on Sandra Fluke to many Republicans supporting all sorts of anti-women regulation including outlawing in vitro and birth-control pills.
This latest affront to women—1 in 6 are sexually assaulted before age 18 as I was—is where we must say "ENOUGH"! We must demand that all of our elected officials disavow Akin's remarks. More importantly, we must demand pro-women and actual pro-family legislation from our elected officials, including right here in Mississippi. Women have the power to stop these attacks on us and our rights, if we only will.
This is too much, and it's time we decide what kind of nation we're going to be in the future. Speak up, women and men. An attack on one woman's rights and self-respect is an attack on us all.
Here at the Jackson Free Press, we get a lot of mail.
Much of it is legitimate correspondence in the form of helpful news tips and provocative letters to the editors. Some of it is comprised of the off-the-wall brain leakings of people who clearly have more free time on their hands than other human beings to interact with.
But it's all good. We take the good with the crazy.
Every now and then we get a piece of mail that even sends a shudder through us grizzled newspaper veterans. Such was the case this afternoon with a manila envelope showed up addressed to Central Mississippi Tea Party c/o Jackson Free Press with a return address of Chicopee, Mass.
Donna, Todd and me all had the same initial reaction to the shady-looking epistle: Where the hell is Chicopee and is there a hummus factory there? Then we wondered why a Tea Party chapter on the East Coast would be sending us -- us! -- mail.
Maybe they saw our recent interview with three members of the local Tea Party during which the group's female president said the country might have been better off if women had never been given the right to vote and thought 'This is our kinda paper.'
When very, very cautiously opened the package, we were a bit surprised what was in it.
Can you guess?
After thousands upon millions of requests -- okay, more like nine -- we're ready to reveal the contents of the letter that arrived at the JFP offices yesterday.
It was just a couple photos and a rather bizarre letter denouncing Democratic Party ideals and complaining about how hard how tough it is to be a Tea Partier in the "liberal bastion" that produced the current Republican presidential nominee.
The letter also highlighted such weirdly out of context maxims as "'DEMOCRAT'" IS COMMUNISM WITH AN INVITING TAPIOCA FLAVOR" and "America--enchained and slowly eaten alive by the sofa."
If you're disappointed, so are we. We've come to expect so much lunacy from the Tea Party that we were dismayed that the envelope didn't contain Level III biohazards, effigies of progressive politicians, a Ted Nugent promotional CD or actual tapioca.
It's still early, though.
The band DEVO has teamed up with Dogs Against Romney to take a jab at presumptive presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
From the press release: "Gerald Casale, a founding member of the American punk/New Wave band DEVO, has announced a new single “Don’t Roof Rack Me, Bro! (Seamus Unleashed).” The track, written by Casale, will be released in conjunction with a mobile game titled The Crate Escape: Seamus Unleashed, a new mobile game that satirizes the dog-on-roof incident. Both the single and game are planned to launch on August 26, which is both National Dog Day and one day before the Republican National Convention. The single will be available at all digital music retailers while the game is initially being launched as an app on iTunes.
"In releasing this single, DEVO has joined forces with Dogs Against Romney, an online advocacy group with more than 70,000 members on Facebook, and Censault LLC, a Dallas mobile/social game publisher, to help call attention to Mitt Romney’s 'crate-gate' scandal."
“'I can’t overstate how excited we are to have DEVO’s Gerald Casale as a partner with us in making sure every voter in America knows Mitt Romney strapped his dog, Seamus, to the roof of his car for a 12-hour trip to Canada,' said Scott Crider, founder of Dogs Against Romney. “The new DEVO song Gerald created with his bandmates is awesome, and I believe it will be the soundtrack for Romney’s defeat in November.'
"... The Crate Escape: Seamus Unleashed game will be launched as a free app for the iPhone and iPad. Pledges are being sought on Kickstarter to raise money for adding additional features to the game and for the creation of version compatible with and playable on other devices. For additional game info and images, go to www.facebook.com/CrateEscapeGame."
Read more about it and listen to the song on the Rolling Stone website.
Daniel MacGregor is an abstract artist and photographer with a studio in Flowood, and one thing I look forward to daily is seeing what painting he will share next on Facebook. HIs Facebook page has hit the 1000-like benchmark for good reason: his paintings are vivid and rememberable. A common theme of his is a landscape of trees with a rainbow sky in the background - my personal favorite. He sometimes asks Facebook visitors to name his painting, so I like this level of interactivity between artist and viewer.
MacGregor also offers acrylic painting classes every Thursday from 7-9 p.m. The classes are only $15, and you get $5 off if you bring your own 11-by-14-inch canvas. More details here. Sounds like a good way to spend an evening!
Lost in some of the Rand/Medicare/Taxes discussion of Rep. Paul Ryan was a glib line that he's now offered a few times on the stump, taking President Obama's "You Didn't Build That" line out of context to suggest that Obama was saying that small businesses didn't build their businesses.
The irony is two-fold (a.) Ryan has spent his adult entire career working in government in Washington, aside from a year he listed as a "marketing consultant" for his family's company and (b.) his family business, Ryan Incorporated, began in the 1800s building railroads for the government, switched to roads and highways (for the) government in the 20th century, had a hand in building O'Hare in Chicago, and more recently has made a a fair bit of scratch on defense contracts. In other words, the family fortune has done just fine by way of the government and, particularly, the infrastructure that Obama was talking about when Ryan misquoted him.
A current search of Defense Department contracts suggests that “Ryan Incorporated Central” has had at least 22 defense contracts with the federal government since 1996, including one from 1996 worth $5.6 million. … Mr. Anti-Spending secured millions in earmarks for his home state of Wisconsin, including, among other things, $3.3 million for highway projects. And Ryan voted to preserve $40 billion in special subsidies for big oil, an industry in which, it so happens, Ryan and his wife hold ownership stakes.
Speaking of his wife, Janna Ryan was a D.C. lobbyist before she became the "stay at home mom" that she has been introduced as -- for big pharma, big oil, "nuclear waste issues," health insurance and the cigar lobby, as they fought to keep the same warnings off cigars that cigarettes have.
We just received this verbatim statement from the Tea Party Patriots based in Alexandra, Va.:
"Tea Party Patriots welcomes the selection of Paul Ryan as the Vice-Presidential running mate for Governor Mitt Romney. With this selection, Governor Romney and the Republican Party make it clear that they have accepted the Tea Party Patriots values of fiscal responsibility, limited government and free markets as the best course of action for economic recovery and restoring personal freedom and individual responsibility to our national values."
Mississippians Against Racism is asking everyone to sign a card for Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas to congratulate her for her gold medal wins, and encourage her after the controversy surrounding how she wore her hair during the competitions. Here is the press release with minor corrections to the dates:
In light of the huge controversy over the natural hair texture, Mississippians Against Racism wanted to tell the exceptional 16 year old, 90 pound, Olympic Gold Medalist, Gabrielle Douglas, that the weight of our race is not on her shoulders. Such is the responsibility of Adults and institutions. In addition, we wanted her to know that we fully understand why her natural hair showed itself during her performance and we happy she was nappy, beautiful like God made her.
Mississippians Against Racism will be inviting others who share these sentiments to express their love for Gabby on a special congratulatory card made in & for Mississippi. Everyone interesting in telling Gabby we love her because we love our daughters, nieces and sisters should jointly visit Marshall’s Music and Book Store, 618 North Farish St. in Jackson, MS to sign this special card. We begin at Noon on Friday, August 10th with this symbolic gesture of love. A special signing will begin on Saturday, August 11th , 2012 at 3:15pm prior to the monthly community forum. The Monthly Sick & Tired and Seeking SOULutions Community Forum will be held at the Afrikan Arts & Cultural Studio, 612 North Farish Street 4 - 5:30pm. After the forum, interested signers can come to Marshall’s Music and Bookstore 10am-5pm Monday and Tuesday.
The "Mississippi Loves Gabby Card" will be mailed to Gabby Douglas on Wednesday, August 15th, 2012. We hope to have at least one thousand signatures on the Mississippi Loves Gabby card, so join us Saturday, August 11th at the Afrikan Arts & Cultural Studio, 612 North Farish Street, 3:15pm to sign the card. Or stop-by Marshall’s Music & Book Store, 618 North Farish Street on Monday or Tuesday to add your love. Bring your daughters, nieces and sisters, because Black Self-Hate affects, effects, and destroys us all and Black Love heals of all.
For more details about this special expression of love for Gabby, call 601.355.5335 or 601.979.1413.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson doesn't think too highly of Hinds County Supervisor Kenny Stokes' proposal to fine kids 10 bucks for wearing their pants a certain way.
Rev. Jackson spoke at this morning's convocation for returning Jackson Public Schools Employees, who reported today for their first day of work in the new school year. School starts on Friday.
If local leaders don't focus on what's important in children's lives,"People will be arguing about sagging pants and not sagging (access to) computers. Sagging pants not sagging salaries."
The line drew applause from the crowd of 4,000 JPS workers. A Hinds County supervisors' meeting yesterday drew public comments from both sides of the sagging pants controversial issue.
When we looked at the clock last night and realized it was only about 20 minutes before Curiosity was set to land on Mars, I decided to root around and find a Web feed to see if we could watch it in action. Having been warned that there might be a blackout on communication between Curiosity and Earth, I figured it'd be a relatively uneventful web feed, if still a bit dramatic while they waited.
Well, it turned out that the 10-year-old satellite that NASA has in orbit around Mars -- Opportunity -- didn't fail JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) the way they were concerned it might, so they were able to maintain communication throughout and learn how Curiosity had done step-by-step through its complicated landing sequence.
Curiosity started the journey on Nov. 26, 2011, blasting off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, arriving at Mars pretty much exactly on time.
The video starts after a long deceleration that included Curiosity employing a heat shield to enter the Mars atmosphere (thus slowing down from its interplanetary cruising speed) and then free-falling from 81 miles up to 7 miles up, reaching about 900 mph.
At that point, the most crazy-bad supersonic parachute ever deployed opens up and slows the 2000-lb contraption until its braking jets kick in -- I said braking jets -- and Curiosity slows down to basically hover about 65 feet in the air, when the "sky crane" deployed and gently placed the rover on the surface. (This is, for the record, pretty much how Hollywood has always envisioned the Martians invading us.)
The crew seems pretty excited for the 10 minutes prior to where this video starts, presumably because they knew they had access to Opportunity and would receive data on the descent -- instead of waiting minutes or hours for a quiet confirmation from their $2.5 billion rover on the surface.
Remember, though, that because of the 14-minute delay, by the time they do receive word that Curiosity has entered the Martian atmosphere, Curiosity has actually already hit the surface of Mars... they have no control over the landing; just an opportunity to find out "how hard."
The video starts with JPL communications desk saying "ready for sky crane" and saying "down to 10 meters per second" which means Curiosity has decelerated to under 10 miles per hour at about 40 meters above the surface. It continues decelerating quickly to nearly hover, followed by the "sky crane" going into action and placing the rover on the surface.
In case you couldn't hear it for the cheering, the line is: "Touchdown confirmed. We're safe on Mars."
Update: Here's another fun version that NASA has put together that includes their animation of the Curiosity landings along with an edit of the live call from JPL.