Just change the fucking name already!

I’m from Baltimore, but for most of my childhood, we had no football team, so people I knew were Redskins fans. Since I wasn’t interested in football, I didn’t pay much attention to it. But for as long as I can remember, some have been advocating for changing the name of the team.

I still haven’t figured out to watch The Daily Show or The Colbert Report online while in England. Not that I ever was much of a fan of The Colbert Report. I just find his satire frustrating. It seems like too many people seriously think the way he pretends to. Not his fans.

Enter #CancelColbert. As I understand it, Colbert or the show wanted to draw attention to how offensive the name Redskins is by offending another minority group. And he succeeded. Of course it was satire. I don’t think anyone is saying that it wasn’t. But I feel like the upset by the people promoting #CancelColbert kind of proves his point: it’s not cool to use offensive terms to describe people. By contrast, the backlash against #CancelColbert seems to miss not only #CancelColbert’s point but also Colbert’s. Example:

misuseofyodaNot only is the use of Yoda bizarre (I can’t imagine him defending racism or telling someone to fuck off), the point of Colbert’s satire was in no way to tell those offended by the name Redskins to fuck off. I see no difference between Colbert fans telling those offended by his joke to calm down, it was just a joke and Dan Snyder telling those offended by the team name to calm down, it’s only tradition.

Of course people were offended by Colbert. He intended to be offensive. If you didn’t take the offense from it, you missed the point.


No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.

A corollary to the Heraclitus quote is that no two men ever step into the same river. Or so I tell myself to explain why I feel like I constantly disagree with people over the things we both read. Today, I’ll talk about the minority opinion on Lupin in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Relatively early in the novel, Lupin comes to Harry, Ron, and Hermione when they are at Grimmauld Place and offers to help them. He doesn’t know what they are doing and says he doesn’t need to know, but he can still help. After all, he has 20+ years of experience on them. He was privy to a lot of the goings on within the Order that the trio wasn’t, so he also probably has some intel.

Harry rejects Lupin’s offer because Lupin’s new wife is pregnant. He tells Lupin “I’m pretty sure my father would have wanted to know why you weren’t sticking with your own kid,” and “My father died trying to protect my mother and me, and you reckon he’d tell you to abandon your kid to go on an adventure with us?”

I think Harry has a fair point, and Lupin doesn’t do himself any favors when he goes on and on about how he made a mistake in marrying Tonks. Charming fellow, Lupin. Ultimately, Harry calls Lupin a coward and Lupin walks out.

Reading this, I couldn’t separate Lupin’s desire to help Harry, Ron, and Hermione from what had been said earlier in the series that some things are worth dying for. I read Lupin wanting to help the trio as the best way for him to protect his family, even if it places him in danger.

Fast foward to the end of the novel. Lupin and Tonks’s kid is born, and the new parents join in at the Battle of Hogwarts. When Lupin joins, Fleur asks him about his new son, he shows her a picture and says, oh yeah, the kid’s fine. That’s it. There is no mention of him cowardly shirking his fatherhood duties to have an adventure.

Later, Tonks appears. Harry asks where the kid is, and she says offhandedly that her mom will watch him before going off to join her husband. There is no mention of her cowardly shirking her motherhood duties to have an adventure.

Spoiler alert: they both die. When Harry sees them, he thinks how peaceful they look. He doesn’t spare a thought for their orphaned kid. And this really grates me. Why was it cowardly for Lupin to want to help Harry, Ron, and Hermione try to weaken Voldemort but not cowardly for him to want to fight in the battle? The same result–Lupin abandoning his kid–occurred. If that was Harry’s argument of why Lupin shouldn’t be fighting Voldemort, what difference did the timing make? Granted, Lupin made crappy arguments for wanting to help early in the book, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have good reasons too–namely making the world a better place for his kid.

I just can’t shake the feeling of a “prolife” message in the book. That somehow, the baby was worth more to Harry unborn and that once actually born, he cared less about its fate.

Most of the people I’ve talked to about this side with Harry in the beginning, even if they think he was harsh to Lupin, and don’t see the contradiction in Lupin being cowardly when he actually could make a difference and heroic when he was just acting as cannon fodder.

Don’t buy a nook if you ever plan on leaving the US

As you can infer from the title, I’m a nook owner and a recent emigrant from the US. I moved to the UK about two and a half months ago. When our movers schleped in all my, my husband’s, and my kid’s boxes of books, they told us to get an ereader. But I just can’t resist a used bookstore.

Anyway, so I do own a nook and recently had an issue with it. For some unknown reason, one of the ebooks that I purchased through Barnes and Noble’s website relocked itself. I bought the book in December, read it, then wanted to reread it the other day but I couldn’t. To unlock an ebook, you have to enter in the number of the credit card used to buy the book. Unfortunately, the credit card I used to purchase that book had been stolen, so this task was not so easy. So I went to Barnes and Noble’s customer support. I was told that this would be an easy fix. Just delete the information from my stolen credit card, enter a new card, then reset my nook. Resetting my nook would delete all the books currently on it, but I could then download them again from the Barnes and Noble website (though I’d have to unlock them again).

Dutifully, I complied. Again, this deleted and relocked not just the problem book from my nook, but all the ebooks I had purchased from Barnes and Noble in the 2 1/2 that I had the nook. I went to re-download the books to my nook and unlock them, and it didn’t work. I tried again. Nothing. So I went back to Barnes and Nobles website to ask what was going on.

For the first time in my 2 1/2 years of owning a nook and “purchasing” ebooks, I learn that I can only do so with a US credit card with a US billing address. Not only can I not buy anymore books through Barnes and Noble, I can’t even access the ones I had “bought” before. I don’t think this is a licensing issue. I can still download my books from a foreign IP address. I just can’t read them.

I was not told this when I purchased the nook. I was not told this the first time my nook acted funky and customer service advised me to reset it (I was also abroad and chatting with tech support from a foreign IP address when that happened). I don’t remember reading this when I had “purchased” ebooks on the website. I was not told that, if I leave the country, the nook would be of little use to me and all the money that I had spent on reading material wouldn’t allow me to read those books ever again.

In which I respond to a troll, think better of it, then post my answer here

On facebook a friend of mine posted something about sexual assault in the animal rights community and how accusations were not believed. Since I’m not exactly active in the animal rights community, I can’t speak to it other than just saying generally, yeah, victims of sexual assault are often not believed.

A troll popped up stating that “Presuming someone’s guilt without any evidence or clear sense of the facts is its own injustice.” He asked what was wrong with that statement, assuming that nothing was. No one answered because troll.

I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and write an answer. If someone genuinely believes that and is asking why their thought process is flawed, maybe he wants to learn. So I wrote an answer. But then I read some of his other comments, comments by my friend, and realized, yeah, troll. He didn’t want to learn. He wanted to trip people up.

But so my time isn’t completely wasted, here is my answer as to why his statement is utter bullshit:

First, no one’s talking about “without any evidence.” An accusation is evidence. Unless you believe that a victim’s testimony isn’t worth anything or worth half that of the accused or something.

Next, justice is the administration of law. If I think you’re guilty just for my own amusement and I’m not on a jury or denying your civil rights, there’s no injustice there. Sure, you might have choice words for me, but injustice is only one of them if you’re ignorant. There’s no injustice in boycotting Woody Allen, for example.

Finally, does the inverse of the statement also apply? Is it wrong to presume someone is lying “without any evidence or a clear sense of the facts”? By your very question, you imply no. Yet this can’t be right. It can’t only be wrong if we believe one person over the other. In both scenarios, someone is looking at the same evidence and making a decision. You just don’t like the decision the other person reached. Victim blaming assumes that the victim is lying and the accuser is telling the truth, even though there is evidence in the form of an accusation and a denial to support both theories and even though false accusations of sexual assault are statistically much more rare than false claims of innocence. Victim blaming relies on “innocent until proven guilty” and conflates that with how people make evaluations of others in real life. Innocent until prove guilty is something to be celebrated in American law, but this isn’t something that we have to live by. Especially considering that our justice system is set up to allow and to want those who committed crimes to go free (see Blackstone’s ratio). Accepting that as part of America’s justice system (which though still flawed has some great ideals), how can we then say oh, because he wasn’t found guilty in a court of law, the victim must be lying?

In short, everything is wrong with your statement. In these cases, there usually is evidence to support both sides but statistically usually the victim is telling the truth. Your opinion has little to do with justice, and disagreement over evidence is not the same as injustice.

Did I miss anything?

Moral dilemma

As I continue to try to acclimate to life in England, I think my biggest adjustment is something like city living. I miss grass and trees and green space. Funny since the town I live in boasts that it has the greatest number of trees per person. But I live near the city center (or centre), so not so much here. I’m also trying to get used to small living spaces and no car.

Which brings me to troubles with grocery shopping. There are local stores near us where we can get some of the things we need at higher prices. Or we could take a bus to the bigger store, get more of what we need at better prices, and struggle on the bus home with all our crap. And of course, we can order things online.

My husband chose to do this and ordered food from Asda. I’m not in love with the idea of ordering my food online. I want to be able to pick out the apples that I think look the freshest and make sure my yogurt has the plastic seal in tact and make sure the cheese I get isn’t the one moldy package on the shelf (yes, I’ve seen this in grocery stores). But he tried this and seemed pleased with the results. I was less pleased when I saw this:


Ok, I know “chosen by kids” and “approved by mums” is supposed to mean that kids like them and mom’s are happy because they are healthy. Like “kid tested, mother approved!” on Kix. But I can’t shake the eerie feeling that these clementines were picked by child laborers. Because Asda. Because Wal-Mart.

To be honest, I don’t know a lot about Asda. But I do know they are owned by Wal-Mart, the company that every time they have to choose between two business practices, they choose the evil one. Even if the non-evil one is something easy like not making your employees work off the clock or not discriminating. So seeing “chosen by kids” on what is essentially a Wal-Mart product makes me uneasy. In the States, we didn’t shop at Wal-Mart. Is it ok now to shop at Asda?

A lot of my problems with Wal-Mart are rendered moot when applied to Asda simply because I’m living in a socialist country. Example: Wal-Mart employees are often on Medicaid because they don’t make enough to pay for health insurance. But apparently Asda won awards for being one of the best places to work for. Great, but there are still a host of others (including child labor) and Asda carries some of the same products as Wal-Mart (George clothes, for example). Not to mention that the money still goes in the Walton family’s pocket. But they know where their money comes from. If they get a better return per store from Asda than Wal-Mart, will that teach them that consumers respond when they treat their workers right and are less evil?

I don’t know if I can in good conscious shop there.


Friday Five: TV dads

This ad by Wells Fargos, I hates it.

I like Sydney and the song. I hate the guy at the end. When the banker asks the husband and wife (assumption) what they want help financing, at the same time, the wife says remodeling and the husband says motorcycle. He then makes the little motion of revving an imaginary bike when his wife isn’t looking.

From the beginning, when I hear Sydney playing on her guitar, I grit my teeth because I know what’s coming. That husband with his selfish quest to get a motorcycle at the expense of (in my imagination) needed renovation in the family home. That husband, who reminds me so much of the bumbling dad trope.

The bumbling dad is the lazy, inept father that’s pretty common in sit-coms. Think Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, or Al Bundy. In additional just being the most annoying part of these shows for me (not that I think Married With Children has many redeeming qualities), it’s a harmful stereotype that minimizes the roles of fathers in families, encourages men to know little about parenting. So the guy in the commercial might be infertile for all we know, his selfishness and lack of self-awareness reminds me much of this stereotype.

Why is the media still promoting this crap?

So, in honor of this ad, here are my favorite TV dads:

1. Cliff Huxtable from The Cosby Show.

I shouldn’t even have to explain this.

2. Martin Crane from Frasier.

Down to earth when his kids are living in a fantasy world. I love it when he shoves it in those smarty pants’ faces.

3. Frank Costanza from Seinfeld.

Really, again, and explanation should not be needed. But in a word, Festivus. NB: this list isn’t dads who I wold want to be my dad. Just ones that are my favorite to watch on tv. This one’s hilarious. Not so much bumbling as dear God, what are you thinking?!

4. Darrin Stevens from Bewitched.

So he might actually fall a little into the bumbling dad category, but it wouldn’t be his fault. His daughter’s a witch, and he’s trying his best.

5. Dan Connor from Rosanne.

I see him as more of an everyman than as bumbling and would wonder if any criticism of him as a bumbling dad might be classism. But it’s been a while since I’ve seen the show. It was always such an event in my house. My bedtime was later on nights Rosanne was on. One day, our power went out. My dad got out the generator so my mom could watch, back in the days before most families had generators, I suppose. And of course, the Halloween specials were excellent.

Ceci n’est pas une faute de frappe*

I gave my nephew a $200 book. He’s seven and getting into Harry Potter, so he asked me if he could “borrow” my book four. Foolishly, I agreed, forgetting that my sister never returns books. And her son seemed to inherit this trait and thanked me for “giving” him Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in terms that made it certain he thought it was a forever gift.

So I’m looking to replace it and saw it’s about $200. At least, that’s how much people are trying to sell a first edition for on ebay. And that’s the edition I have. Had.

In addition to just being a first before the hype got extra hype-y, one of the reasons why Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire might be so pricey is because of the typos. Maybe particularly the one about the reverse spell effect. When Harry duels Voldemort at the end of the book, all of Voldemort’s victims (or Wormtail’s, if he killed them with Voldemort’s wand) come out of Voldemort’s wand in the reverse order in which they died. Except for Lily and James.

Here is a (terrible) picture of this portion in the first edition:

image two

As Rowling originally wrote it, James came out first and told Harry his mother was coming. We know this isn’t the correct reverse order in which James and Lily died from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. There, James went to fight Voldemort to give Lily and Harry a chance to hide or protect themselves. Voldemort had to get past James to get to Lily and Harry, and Harry remembered hearing them dying when the Dementors (or a boggart) came near him.

Here it is corrected in later editions to show Lily, who died second, coming out first (thus the correct reverse order):

image one

But to be argumentative, I think this is wrong. If Lily was meant to come out first followed by her husband, why did she feel the need to tell Harry that James was coming? Harry had probably figured it out by then, having seen all the reverse spells be regurgitated by Voldemort’s wand. And not just the spells that killed people. He also saw or heard echoes of his own torture and of Wormtail’s hand in the reverse order in which it occurred. Why would one parent have felt the need to tell Harry that the other was coming unless something had happened that Harry had not expected? Thus telling Harry that the other was coming makes more sense if his parents appeared in an order he didn’t expect. At least, I like that reading better, and that was why I tried to find an “uncorrected” version of the book after my nephew stole it and debated whether it was worth paying $200 for.

Before Harry did the disarming charm on Voldemort, Harry thought of his father. He realized he wanted to die bravely just as his father had. This thought was what allowed him to come out from behind the grave and face Voldemort. It just makes some sort of sense to me that as Harry was about to face death he thought of his father, and so his father, or the echo of his father, wanted to jump in line. Maybe that’s how I rationalized it in my mind when I first read it and so didn’t even notice the “error.” Of course, that leaves me now with the question of so why didn’t James come out first, before even the echoes of Harry being tortured or Wormtail’s silver hand (which held so much promise in terms of werewolf lore and Lupin, but I digress)? I can’t answer that. Maybe it was a typo after all. But since it was how I first read the book, it’s what I’m used to. And it just seems wrong to me to picture James waiting his turn when he was that last thing on his son’s mind before he faced the probability of his own death, even if that’s technically “correct.”

*My French isn’t great, but Google told me that this means “typo.”