“Newspaper Movie” insults copy editors, but that’s OK — we’re used to it

One obligatory quibble: The bit diminishing the copy editor is a disservice to this incredibly important step in the process. It’s only a little bit about getting the grammar right — which is why in these movies, they often include this seemingly throwaway cut to the copy desk. I assure you it’s not just to build tick-tock urgency.
In a typical newsroom, the copy editor is not intimately involved with the reporting and writing of the piece, and therefore serves an ESSENTIAL dual role!!
As the “first reader,” they are audience proxies, making sure that the reader’s experience is good — Does this make sense? Is the information presented logically and in a comprehensible way? Can a reader get what they need from this story? And yes, is the grammar correct enough that they don’t ever stop reading and say “huh?”
Secondly, and ultimately more importantly to the newspaper, they are protectors of the institution: Is there anything here that could be considered libelous? Are we all very clear on who’s a public figure and who isn’t? Did an attribution get dropped? Is a statement possibly mis-attributed? Are the names all spelled properly so that the wrong person isn’t pulled into this? Does the math add up? Are the dates congruent? And yes, is the grammar right — because readers have a harder time trusting big reporting and bold assertions when they see obvious basic errors, and especially when you’re presenting scary information, credibility and reader faith is absolutely everything.
I salute every copy editor who has ever raised a flag to the bosses in an attempt to both serve their readers and protect their institutions.
Case study from my own hometown newspaper, and later, my employer: A news story and then a commentary column misreported and mischaracterized Atlanta Olympic security guard Richard Jewell as being involved in causing a fatal bombing at the 1996 Summer Games — when in fact he probably saved lives by discovering the explosive and moving people away. A copy editor raised the flag that certain statements should not be published, but her concerns were dismissed and it turned into a huge mess that caused personal damage to a lot of people, not least of which was poor blameless Jewell, as well as seriously impairing the AJC’s credibility and causing deep rifts in the newsroom. Anita Harkins, I will always remember you. You are a role model and journalism hero, even though they didn’t listen, and even though you suffered for doing your job so well. I am sorry I never got the chance to work with you. (RIP)
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‘Yeah… feisty with LOVE, Mom!’

Overheard in my house:
Just found out that my 70+ y.o. mother hasn’t been to the gyno in “so many years.” (!) The topic came up because she mentioned a friend who unfortunately has been diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer. I hope we all know that ovarian cancer is not obvious in its early stages, but if detected early, extremely curable. So this is very sad and common but sadly could probably have been caught in time to prolong this woman’s life.
I then asked Mom when was the last time she had her lady parts checked out by a doctor and she airily says “awhile.”
“No, mom, ‘awhile’ is not a unit of time. How many years?”
“A couple…”
“Don’t lie — sounds it’s been more than two!”
“OK, more than two. But I get my mammograms!”
“I didn’t think about it because I haven’t needed a Pap test…”
“Mom! Just because you don’t still get a period doesn’t mean you don’t have a cervix. Cervical cancer is also detectable and treatable. That’s why they have a test for it! And you still have ovaries and a uterus and they can all get cancer. I’m glad you are concerned about cancer in other places but you need to get your lady parts checked every few years at least! Next time you get your annual, you tell your PCP that you haven’t had any gynecological screening in however many years it has been because you do know even if you’re not telling me. Consider your friend your canary in the cancer coal mine and you have somebody look at all your business even if it’s a little unpleasant to get checked.”
“Well I’m not worried about unpleasant. You know I get the colonoscopy regularly…” [Her father died miserably of colon cancer, which would be surprising if he wasn’t so aggressively gluttonous and slothful his whole life and sad if he wasn’t such a terrible man. And he’s one of several cancer patients in our family, so yeah, it’s a known risk. Hence all my concerned-yelling here.]
“Yes, Mom, I know and that’s great. If you want to have it all done at the same time, you tell the colonoscopy guy you want him to look at everything all up in there from navel to knee, the whole business.” [Yes, yes, I know, that’s not how it works. But I was on a roll.]
“OK, thank you, I hear you. I’ll put it on my list. All right? *sighs* Clearly, you are feeling better from your cold. You are really being feisty right now.”
“FEISTY WITH LOVE, Mom! Damn right!”
In conclusion:
PSA: Make sure your senior moms don’t neglect to get their parts checked occasionally even after the factory closes. 😉
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Um, actually, you’re not such a ‘nice guy’

An acquaintance of mine was speaking about #metoo and the Aziz Ansari story about the grey area where men pester until a woman gives grudging consent. She proferred that all men have been guilty of putting this pressure on women, and acknowledged that most men get defensive about that premise because most men are basically decent and no one wants to think of themselves as a sexual predator — and therefore most don’t want to really confront their own motives and histories to figure out where they have misstepped or caused discomfort to others. Because that is very hard work, and we are sympathetic to the fact that the patriarchy trains all men in our culture that this aggression is not only OK, but it’s actually a totally normal and proper way to pursue sex. I mean, we’re sympathetic up to a point.

Anyway, then she got this gem of a comment:

I don’t think any of us are disagreeing with you on your point as a whole, but to say that “all men” are guilty of something is outright sexist, and diminishes your argument. To follow that up with inferring men are evil and terrorists, is incredibly reckless. Our reaction is not about “hurt feelings” or “being defensive”, it’s about clarifying your original point. Don’t you see, for the most part we agree with you that there is a conversation that needs to be had, but when you classify every member of a group due to the actions of some, then you are discrediting your objectivity. It’s actually very similar to the ‘every Muslim is a terrorist’ narrative that has gone around.
I understand that these are your beliefs, and you are entitled to those, but speaking as one of the ‘nice guys’,.. you’re wrong, and I’m not going to sit idly by while you cast guilt on me or anyone else based solely on our chromosomes.

(emphasis mine)

Oooof. So many fallacies! So many offenses!
At her request, and for support, I jumped in … and found myself getting more and more fired up as I went along. Here’s where my responses landed:

Personally, I think a “nice guy” wouldn’t disrespect [friend] enough to misspell her name while he intentionally misses her point repeatedly, takes her statements entirely too personally, and then over-explains why he objects to an over-generalized and inaccurate interpretation of her point of view. With allies like that, who needs enemies?

Please don’t hyperbolically say [friend] (or anyone) is blaming your chromosomes and then blithely bypass hundreds of years of cultural training that build the concepts of “manhood” in our society. Your (again, hyperbolic) rhetorical device of equating [her] frustration with patriarchal thinking by comparing it to bigoted statements like “every Muslim is a terrorist” is faulty because the “terrorist” line is demonstrably false: There are billions of Muslims worldwide and maybe a few hundred or few thousand terrorists.
But every man IS A MAN. Every man in our culture was raised in our culture. Every man in our patriarchy was promised certain gifts because he is a male. Every man who wants to undo his brainwashing has to do active, difficult work. He doesn’t have to undo his chromosomes, and no one is asking him to do that — because of course it’s impossible. So by saying “chromosomes” you render the request to do deep, difficult, personal cultural retraining work as silly, and therefore let yourself off the hook.

Here’s another framing:
White people have to actively undo their own lifelong white supremacy training, same way. So therefore, if in an essay or complaint, a person of color says “all white people,” I don’t get to respond with “stop blaming my skintone” and get off scot-free just as long as I don’t actively turn firehoses on protesters or hang up a Confederate flag. As a responsible aspiring ally, I have to understand that I’m complicit every day that I allow injustice to prevail. I’m working on it, but it ain’t over, and therefore if I want to be an ally, *LITERALLY THE LEAST I CAN DO* is listen to oppressed people rail out loud, as long and as angrily as they want, against my actual and metaphorical/collective complicity and the culture that trains us all that ongoing injustice is fine — and let them do so without my criticism or objection.

If you want to actually be a “nice guy” and not just think of yourself that way, maybe do some of these things. Certainly stop patting yourself on the back and announcing what a nice guy you are. At least try not to say “I’m a nice guy” and then have your VERY NEXT words be “you’re wrong and I’m not going to sit idly by”. There’s a little more to being “nice” to women beyond not actually raping anyone, that you know of, in your own opinion. But um, thanks for not doing that, I guess?

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Certified baloney!! (Bye-bye Roy Moore… for now at least)

I think this story is rather important: Roy Moore still refuses to concede the Alabama special Senate race, and in fact tried to call “shenanigans” on the whole election. It’s baloney, of course, and now it’s officially been ruled baloney.
1) Sigh of relief! Congrats again, Doug Jones!
2) Thank you, establishment Republicans who actually value the rule of law. I have to believe you exist and you will do the right and good thing even if you’re disappointed or you disagree. This challenge was batted down by fellow GOP officials, not Dem opponents. That’s very important.
3) This is just one more signal of how hard the fight will be to create a more just America: Those who feel they are owed the reins of power will scratch and claw rather than relinquish them. Paradigm shifts are not pleasant or peaceful, and “love” is not enough of an answer when the enemy is full of hate, fear, desperation, anger and entitlement. (Not all political opponents are enemies… see point 2.)
4) Note that certain types simply will not accept or concede a loss — even a clear loss. This is currently considered a flaw in personal character… if that refusal turns into a trend, it could morph into a group show of strength, and could fundamentally alter a basic American value: peaceful transfer of power. and YES, I am looking at the Federal government and White House fearfully when I say that. (THESE are the folks who see all opponents as enemies. That is very scary for democracy and domestic tranquility.)
5) The exceedingly dramatic and ongoing battle for the Virginia statehouse is a related story, in terms of electoral operations, resolutions, and overall stakes. Don’t forget to keep an eye on that one, too. 
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Fire hazard safety reminder!!

Do you practice basic fire safety? Do you have an escape plan and “go bag” with insurance and overnight essentials if you need to leave your home suddenly? Is your renters or homeowners insurance policy current?

I was awakened this morning by firefighters knocking on my door, but I didn’t realize who it was until I heard them stomping around on my roof. There was a small fire three floors down and across the hall, so evacuation was recommended. I didn’t panic but I grabbed my warmest coat and threw on the warm boots I keep by the door; the whole insurance file; and my phone, laptop, wallet and ipad, which I used to take a quick video inventory of my possessions and wardrobe in case I needed to file a claim. The end result was an hour in the hall watching the watery aftermath warily with neighbors. We think it’s electrical, but that wasn’t clear. There were no injuries, but a few apartments in the line have smoke, and the apartment of the fire’s origin definitely will have a ruined Christmas. 😞 

My point today is to remind everyone that winter, but especially December, is prime time for fires as people do more cooking, light more candles, put up more lights, use more extension cords, and have more kindling scattered around their apartments in the forms of trees, wreaths, gifts, etc. The time to plan and react to fire is NOT when the firefighters knock on your door! I am taking the hint and today I’m SUPER MOTIVATED to make sure my emergency prep is in order. 

1) I’m a big believer in renters insurance. I don’t consider it any more optional than homeowners insurance. It’s a few hundred dollars annually, and pays off bigtime if you ever have to make a claim for fire or theft.

2) Everyone in your household should know how to get out of every room of your home in case of worst-case fire.

3) Assuming you will usually have a couple of minutes to evacuate, you should have an escape bag stored by the door. (Your essentials may vary but this should include copies of vital documents, fresh underwear, socks and gloves for everyone in the household, nonperishable snacks, cash, water, a physical list of emergency contact numbers and maybe a cheap pre-paid phone. There are countless resources online with lists of emergency items to consider including for you/your family.)

4) Take a video inventory of your possessions, not just your most valuable ones, and upload it to cloud storage. This will be helpful in a claim and replacing 100s of small items does add up to big $$$ ! Itemize your most valuable things and consider giving them additional insurance protection.

That is the bare minimum, IMO. I welcome additional insight and recommendations… I know several of my friends have been through fire events and I am sorry if this brings up bad memories, but I am grateful for anything you might teach us.


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Where I was when the (Roll) Tide turned

Tonight I had the honor of being in the audience for Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce show at Town Hall. It was a magnificent show, as to be expected. I can speak more about that another time.

But when the transcendent program was concluded, and the audience had taken a breath, suddenly there were shouts and cheers popping up all over the auditorium. People had taken out their phones and checked their news updates, and were learning that Doug Jones had defeated Roy Moore in Alabama.

Joy and celebration spread through that room full of queer and marginalized people, women and allies, older and younger, Uptown and Downtown, as we thrilled to the understanding there is, in fact, a limit to how low America will go for raw power, and that if Progressive values can win — even by a tiny margin — in Alabama, we can win anywhere in America, and perhaps just perhaps all is not lost in this country. 

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Rightwing “pro-Israel” advocates mostly are not, actually.

[Post in progress… this is a placeholder because I need to develop this further when I get a chance, but it’s worth including this iceberg-tip here.]

It’s essential to stay constantly aware that “pro Israel” right-wing U.S. policies have NOTHING to to with supporting Jewish people in that country, this one, or any other. Evangelical support for Israel is rooted in Armageddon and Rapture fantasies, which (not coincidentally) blithely predict the destruction of the majority of unfortunate Jewish Israelis, oh well, *shrug*. This is neither a conspiracy theory not a secret, and I guarantee Pence subscribes 100% to the End Times newsletter. This is sick warmongering. Violence is inevitable. Monsters.

This stance also explains how the right wing can be comfortably pro-Israel and anti-Semitic at the same time. Jews were the old covenant, but Christians know they have the new promise and the ticket to paradise through Jesus. But before Rapture, there must be a unified Israel and vast destruction — not a two-state solution and peace. Also know that they are rabidly anti-Muslim because of the Israel problem and also because Muslims feel *they* have the new Promise so it’s basically epic sibling rivalry, but with bombs.

GWB was another big subscriber. Basically if you’re a superChristian and you’re obsessed with Israel, you’re definitely prepping for the Rapture.

I think it is absolutely essential that the ordinary Americans get real, real familiar with Armageddon theology. The “Left Behind” series is not considered entertainment by millions of people, but a Bible studies course. And also Prosperity Gospel. I genuinely think that these are two areas that are shaping our public policy right now that the vast majority of Americans are simply completely unaware of.
Growing up as someone in but not of the South, and as an outside observer of the dominant Christian culture, I have always been aware of these, and did kind of assumed that other people knew about it too. But I really think most people just do not.








Nikki Haley’s speech regarding Jerusalem decision. This clip is hosted by UN Watch, an organization that I I’m a little wary of. It claims to be an advocacy and human rights organization, but it has a very clearly demonstrated pro-Israel bias. Note also the comments on this clip (if you choose to brave them) are very pro Trump and Christianist inclined pro-Israel. I think it is all in line with what we are discussing here. https://www.facebook.com/unwatch/videos/10154975172886561/Manage

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