misstatement

Though it is often claimed that the left stands for equality while the right stands for freedom, this notion misstates the actual disagreement between right and left. Historically, the [right-winger] has favored liberty for the higher orders and constraint for the lower orders. What the [right-winger] sees and dislikes in equality, in other words, is not a threat to freedom but its extension. For in that extension, he sees a loss of his own freedom. ‘We are all agreed as to our own liberty,’ declared Samuel Johnson. ‘But we are not agreed as to the liberty of others: for in proportion as we take, others must lose. I believe we hardly wish that the mob should have liberty to govern us.’ Such was the threat Edmund Burke saw in the French Revolution: not merely an expropriation of property or explosion of violence but an inversion of the obligations of deference and command. ‘The levellers,’ he claimed, ‘only change and pervert the natural order of things.’

Conservatism, then, is not a commitment to limited government and liberty…These may be the byproducts of conservatism, one or more of its historically specific and ever-changing modes of expression. But they are not its animating purpose…[It] is impelled by a more elemental force – the opposition to the liberation of men and women from the fetters of their superiors, particularly in the private sphere. Such a view might seem miles away from the libertarian defense of the free market, with its celebration of the atomistic and autonomous individual. But it is not. When the [right-]libertarian looks out upon society, he does not see isolated individuals; he sees private, often hierarchical, groups, where a father governs his family and an owner his employees. ”

-Corey Robin

reuters.com
U.S. Army fudged its accounts by trillions of dollars, auditor finds
The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled it had to make trillions of dollars of improper accounting adjustments to create an illusion that its books are balanced.

The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled it had to make trillions of dollars of improper accounting adjustments to create an illusion that its books are balanced.

The Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up.

As a result, the Army’s financial statements for 2015 were “materially misstated,” the report concluded. The “forced” adjustments rendered the statements useless because “DoD and Army managers could not rely on the data in their accounting systems when making management and resource decisions.”

Disclosure of the Army’s manipulation of numbers is the latest example of the severe accounting problems plaguing the Defense Department for decades.

The report affirms a 2013 Reuters series revealing how the Defense Department falsified accounting on a large scale as it scrambled to close its books. As a result, there has been no way to know how the Defense Department – far and away the biggest chunk of Congress’ annual budget – spends the public’s money.

The new report focused on the Army’s General Fund, the bigger of its two main accounts, with assets of $282.6 billion in 2015. The Army lost or didn’t keep required data, and much of the data it had was inaccurate, the IG said.

“Where is the money going? Nobody knows,” said Franklin Spinney, a retired military analyst for the Pentagon and critic of Defense Department planning.

The significance of the accounting problem goes beyond mere concern for balancing books, Spinney said. Both presidential candidates have called for increasing defense spending amid current global tension.

An accurate accounting could reveal deeper problems in how the Defense Department spends its money. Its 2016 budget is $573 billion, more than half of the annual budget appropriated by Congress.

The Army account’s errors will likely carry consequences for the entire Defense Department.

Congress set a September 30, 2017 deadline for the department to be prepared to undergo an audit. The Army accounting problems raise doubts about whether it can meet the deadline – a black mark for Defense, as every other federal agency undergoes an audit annually.

For years, the Inspector General – the Defense Department’s official auditor – has inserted a disclaimer on all military annual reports. The accounting is so unreliable that “the basic financial statements may have undetected misstatements that are both material and pervasive.”

In an e-mailed statement, a spokesman said the Army “remains committed to asserting audit readiness” by the deadline and is taking steps to root out the problems.

The spokesman downplayed the significance of the improper changes, which he said net out to $62.4 billion. “Though there is a high number of adjustments, we believe the financial statement information is more accurate than implied in this report,” he said…

Some employees of the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS), which handles a wide range of Defense Department accounting services, referred sardonically to preparation of the Army’s year-end statements as “the grand plug,” Armstrong said. “Plug” is accounting jargon for inserting made-up numbers.

At first glance adjustments totaling trillions may seem impossible. The amounts dwarf the Defense Department’s entire budget. Making changes to one account also require making changes to multiple levels of sub-accounts, however. That created a domino effect where, essentially, falsifications kept falling down the line. In many instances this daisy-chain was repeated multiple times for the same accounting item.

The IG report also blamed DFAS, saying it too made unjustified changes to numbers. For example, two DFAS computer systems showed different values of supplies for missiles and ammunition, the report noted – but rather than solving the disparity, DFAS personnel inserted a false “correction” to make the numbers match.

DFAS also could not make accurate year-end Army financial statements because more than 16,000 financial data files had vanished from its computer system. Faulty computer programming and employees’ inability to detect the flaw were at fault, the IG said.

DFAS is studying the report “and has no comment at this time,” a spokesman said.

A Note of Reflection and Intention

Customers, Friends, and fellow Astral Adventurers,

This is a small blog focused on keeping you in the loop, and to basically be a “state of the business address” so to speak. This is a bit lengthy, there may be errors and misstatements as this was written as a kind of stream-of-consciousness. Please ignore any errors that may be present!

First of all, Magickal Menagerie is composed of two people. We haven’t ever considered ourselves a ‘company’ or a ‘business’ in the classical senses of the world. As we learn, develop, and grow – so does Magickal Menagerie. As we falter, err, and mess up, so does Magickal Menagerie. As we improve, re-evaluate, and progress, so does Magickal Menagerie. We are human. Magickal Menagerie is, in a way, human as it is the reflection of ourselves, our souls, and the work that we do and aim to do. There’s no corporate office, no team of PR agents, and no employees beyond us. We are two hopeful, optimistic, and loving people that want to bring a passion of ours to the world at large. If something we do is upsetting, doesn’t work well, or slows down our process (such as a way we handle shipping, etc.) we want to know about it. Email us, tell us what the issue is, and we promise we will hear you out. As we -are- human, there is also the experience of hate-mail and abusive writing. We believe in all of you. Even those of you that dislike us, wish us harm, we love you still because you are still innately human as we are. You feel the same emotions we feel, though things you may be passionate about are not yet on our radar or have not been examined as closely on our end. We want you to teach us. We want you to show us what matters to you, and if something we do infringes on that, we want to know about it. We aim to stay true to what we personally know, but if we are making an egregious error in your eyes, we want to know about it so we can re-evaluate and re-consider. There will invariably be some differences in our belief systems and those of others, but we don’t aim to bring discomfort to anyone. Magickal Menagerie is a collage of our ideas, our experiences, and our faith. We are pantheistic and hold all divinity very highly in our hearts. We do our best to thoroughly communicate with all entities and share only what we know to be the highest truth. If you can help us expand our knowledge, that is all the better for us. As we learn, so does Magickal Menagerie.

Now, onto the topic of our here-and-there absence from Tumblr and the Internet. We have still been working on orders throughout this time, and we thank you for your patience.

Many have told us not to put our business out there, but we stand by the belief that Magickal Menagerie reflects us as humans. We want transparency and we want improvement for all of you. This is why we want to share with you the reality of the experiences we have had that will make us better able to serve you, to understand you, and to help meet your needs on the personal level.

We went through some rather interesting and momentous changes in our lives, which, unfortunately, have impacted our speed. We expect that to no longer be the case shortly. Over the four years we have been in ‘business,’ we have gone through some interesting shifts. We moved, Carmen was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, we were afterward involved in three car accidents, one of which resulted in months of physical therapy. Curtis was diagnosed with ADHD and Carmen was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, both ailments we have had for quite a long time without realizing it.

During this time we have tried to make sure that our customers and friends did not suffer with waiting and irritation. This was not always the case, and for that we really apologize. We have received treatment. We have had our morale boosted by friends. We have taken each blow as a lesson. Each kind letter and each not-so-kind letter as powerful lessons. We have used these lessons to grow as people. We have worked on expanding ourselves and our services. We believe in personal evolution, and only from pain and struggle can we truly find that within ourselves. We have learned powerful skills of empathy and service from doctors, lawyers, patients, strangers, and old friends. We have been so supremely blessed to finally understand our struggles and symptoms and to be able to do something about them. We are so supremely blessed to also have such caring friends, customers, peers, and spirit companions who were there every step of the way. We will not take that patience, that help, and that guidance for granted. They were tools we will use to further ourselves, to further our craft, and to further our grasp on what we do.

There is still much more to do, to learn, to make, and to understand, to learn, and to improve but this is our dedication, our pledge to do so. You have all blessed us, and we hope to do good in this world in return for the grace afforded to us.

This period will be remembered as one of the most tumultuous in history. There are masses of people coming together, building each other, becoming stronger individually. We want to be a part of that. We want to help expand consciousness, learn and teach, grow and help grow. In this time that we have been with you, we have received numerous letters, art pieces, gifts, care packages, kind notes, and amazing stories. We have connected some beautiful, powerful, lovely entities with people of equal beauty, power, and love. That is the intrinsic reward for us. There are many things we could be doing. There are many things we could try to do. Magickal Menagerie has been one of the biggest challenges of both of our lives. It is, however, the most fulfilling thing either of us have been able to do. We felt the call to do it, and we have been blessed to do it as long as we have. We look forward to four more years. We look forward to growing, evolving, and doing better by each and every one of you. It is a work in progress. Nothing is built or perfected overnight, and we are not sure we will ever be the perfect duo that this world and these people deserve, but we dearly want to be. You have all been so amazing, so insightful, and so transformative. We are all struggling with something. Every one of you we have spoken with in depth, every one of those order notes or emails has opened our eyes to how much each of you deal with. There’s so much anxiety, tension, dysphoria, and drama in this world, and so many of us are reaching for any amount of peace we can obtain.

Here’s to the creation of great change, and to the creation of great peace.

This world is wild, wonderful, terrifying, and in major need of new voices.

We are going to work on some ways to channel the transformative voices of our community (the paranormal community/spirit companion community), and are working on ideas that will allow for open, peaceful communication that evokes understanding rather than violent discourse. So many people are hurting, and over different things. Maybe we can create change through understanding at this lower, community level. Maybe we can learn from each other if we open our minds a bit.

We cannot thank you enough for teaching us about your passions – about what excites you and upsets you, and for teaching us also about the beautiful spectrum of experiences there are in spirituality. This is the most diverse, powerful, and experimental community we have had the blessing of experiencing, and we hope to help it grow in all the right ways.

We love each and every one of you – customers, friends, commentators. We haven’t had the ability or time to communicate with you all in the ways we have wanted to, but that time and that forum is coming. We thank you guys for the outpouring of support we have had since opening and especially as we have grown and evolved. We started (online) on April 16th 2013 with a big dream to show people our experiences in the otherrealm. When we were first experiencing the spirit companionship aspect of our journeys, it was not an affordable venture if you wanted to have the work done for you. Justifiably so, as the conjurers at the time were overloaded and were pioneering an art that we hope to continue to develop conjointly. We had a dream to be able to bring a different aspect to this ‘market,’ and connect amazing beings with people of equal bravery and gall. This idea was a turning point for us, something we were and still are highly passionate about.

Truthfully, we never expected anything to come of it.

Now we have a community of people supporting us, teaching us, and showing us things we have never experienced. This is the highest blessing to us. No matter what struggle we have gone through trying to maintain it, grow it, nurture it, and make sure that it helps the most people, this dream and this blessing has been the highest honor we could have received. You have trusted us with helping you on one of the most momentous of journeys, and for that we cannot thank you enough. That is something we will never forget or take for granted.

You are the soul that brings life to this project, and you are the breath that inspires it.

We love you all, and thank you.

Here’s to four more years. ❤

Happy anniversary. 4/16/17

Originally posted by aqua-isabelle

3

To expand upon that Žižek/Rand video post:

At LDR, we’d argue that Hans-Hermann Hoppe is potentially an even better example of ruling class ideology laid bare than Ayn Rand. He advocates everything that we lefties should oppose: hyper social authoritarianism, racial/ethnic hierarchy, the elevation of “natural elites”, monarchy over democracy, etc.

To quote him from “Democracy: The God That Failed”:

“In a covenant concluded among proprietor and community tenants for the purpose of protecting their private property, no such thing as a right to free (unlimited) speech exists, not even to unlimited speech on one’s own tenant-property. One may say innumerable things and promote almost any idea under the sun, but naturally no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to the very purpose of the covenant of preserving and protecting private property, such as democracy and communism. There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society. Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal. They – the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centered lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism – will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.”

A little while back, Greg and I were looking for a Murray Rothbard quote that drew parallels between right-libertarianism/anarcho-capitalism and monarchy, but in hindsight that quote we were thinking of may have come from this guy. He so succinctly describes the common thread running through all rightist ideology by not only loosely advocating various supposedly different viewpoints (right-libertarianism, capitalism, monarchism, conservatism), but also through the terminology he uses and the ideal society he paints – he detests “the masses” so strongly that he desires a social order where “natural elites” impose their hegemonic standard on others; this is a man who endorses a veneer of liberty, but he will always temper it in an intensive private property regime where freedom for individuals is always curbed by an owner-imposed contract. In essence, he is the “Emperor’s New Clothes” to right-libertarianism – he exposes how private property draws a direct line of influence from monarchism, since they both elevate particular individuals over the broader group by virtue of ownership or sovereignty; his ideal society is essentially a bunch of small feudal kingdoms where owner-kings have varying degrees of control over their tenant-peasants.

His acknowledgment of the libertarian left is also telling – he understands that there is a direct link between democracy and socialism, between freedom for all individuals and the abolition of private property (not personal property). My oft-used democracy vs autocracy (horizontal social order vs vertical social order) spectrum is at the crux of the political left-right debate, especially in the debate of the two libertarian variants. Social relationships that require decisions made in the name of the whole group can, by definition, only be democratic or autocratic, and Triple H’s ideal society is one where all those social decisions are made by autocrats who sit apart from the masses. His “both sides of the mouth” advocacy of liberty/freedom and an intensely stratified society centered around property acquisition is the pinnacle of Orwellian double-speak. By extension, it demonstrates the authoritarian statism of a private property regime – “a rose by any other name would smell just as foul.” You can call it an individualist society built around the free association of contract and acquisition of property, but as long as the social institutions (production, collective housing, education, etc.) and resources are predicated on ownership claims that facilitate autocratic control, the society itself will always be a series of monarchies where owner-kings impose their will into the public sphere and onto the masses of individuals. 

Even issues of diversity don’t escape Triple H’s radar. Take note of his comment about how democracy “leads to the ultimate disappearance of a universal standard of beauty” – he’s essentially saying that, because of its structural traits, democracy breeds egalitarian difference, diversity with regard to tastes, preferences, and views. What’s more, he’s also inversely highlighting vertical society’s tendency towards enforcement of hegemony, a particular set of ideas and standards that preserve power and crush subversion – again, all his talk of freedom is a facade, a facade to conceal his desire for a uniform society that conforms to the standards set by those at the top of the pyramid.

Do we even really need to go into his overt bigotry? He’s obviously racist, homophobic, classist, and nationalist, and he’s probably also sexist, ableist, and transphobic. This goes without saying though – his push for exclusionary societies built around owner-kings of private property covenants goes hand-and-hand with the view that certain people are just “naturally better” than others.

This whole right-libertarian idea that democracy leads to “mob rule”, where the whims of the collective stunt the expression of the individual, is farcical. Triple H argues this like other right-libertarians do, but he has consistently demonstrated that not only does he not actually believe it (democracy leads to the dissolving of universal tastes and introduces diversity, after all), he also goes on to imply with admiration that it’s actually autocratic societies that stunt individual expression, all in the name of hierarchy preservation and private property enforcement.

To quote Corey Robin’s “The Reactionary Mind”:

“Though it is often claimed that the left stands for equality while the right stands for freedom, this notion misstates the actual disagreement between right and left. Historically, the [rightist] has favored liberty for the higher orders and constraint for the lower orders. What the [rightist] sees and dislikes in equality, in other words, is not a threat to freedom but its extension. For in that extension, he sees a loss of his own freedom. ‘We are all agreed as to our own liberty,’ declared Samuel Johnson. ‘But we are not agreed as to the liberty of others: for in proportion as we take, others must lose. I believe we hardly wish that the mob should have liberty to govern us.’ Such was the threat Edmund Burke saw in the French Revolution: not merely an expropriation of property or explosion of violence but an inversion of the obligations of deference and command. ‘The levellers,’ he claimed, ‘only change and pervert the natural order of things.’” (Emphasis added) (Changed “conservative” to “rightist”)

Triple H is merely following in the reactionary footsteps of rightists before him – the words “freedom” and “liberty”, when used in this ruling class context, have always meant the continued existence of class domination. We even have a window into this thought process with how he phrases things in “Democracy: The God That Failed”: “no beggars, bums, or homeless” – like most rightists, he believes that there is natural order, an order of “deference and command”, and he sees people who happen to be at the bottom of the strata as fixed there. To him, a person is a beggar or bum by virtue of being a beggar or bum, not because of exploitative systems forcing them into destitute conditions. 

“The mob” rhetoric has always been used as an attempt to discredit democracy. Who do you think makes up “the mob” according to Triple H and other rightists? That’s right, the traditionally-oppressed of society – the working class, women, people of color, the LGBTQ community. Why else do you think political participation was withheld from these population sectors for so long? Introduction of democracy, allowing “the mob” to have say, would have presented a scenario where “the levellers” would overturn the systems of domination. 

More than anything else, Triple H and rightists of all sort fear this eventual scenario. Most don’t come right out and explicitly say it as bluntly as Hoppe does (to do so would be in bad taste these days), but we can’t claim rightists were ever unclever – they’ve found ways to adapt language, particularly around the rhetoric of “freedom”. But ask yourself: “Freedom for whom?” 

All said, Triple H is the owner-king of all rightist philosophers who inadvertently make what they oppose sound awesome – a society of diverse nature-worshiping LGBTQ democratic leftists? Sign us the hell up.

-Daividh

anonymous asked:

Do you think it's possible for Jen to ever have anything close to what we would consider a normal family life? It seems that actresses that have been as successful as her are only able to achieve it when they marry someone who is NOT involved in Hollywood.

Of course I do! What is normal these days anyway? Who are the purveyors of normal anyway. Who decides what is and isn’t “normal”. Normal is the reality that works for you and it’s different for everybody. All these couples have lived and loved with the glare of fame on them. They found what works best for them and made families of their own. They found their own happiness. Life is never perfect and I’m sure all of them have had their major downs with every up and so it takes work to be happy. 

Sure there are stories like Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, and Joan Crawford - perpetually looking for happiness in all the wrong places but that is so many of us without fame as well. 

So I would say “actresses that have been as successful as her are only able to achieve it when they marry someone who is NOT involved in Hollywood” is a total misstatement. 

washingtonpost.com
President Trump dismisses FBI Director Comey
The White House said that the president has accepted the recommendation of the attorney general that Comey be dismissed.

Well, shit.

Okay, look, he sucks. It’s reasonable to fire him because he sucks. But he was also running the Russia probe – will that still be happening? (Was he in the process of fucking that one up too?) Is he going to be replaced by some batshit ideologue? Fuck! What now?

Viewers have been able to watch live as Senate Republicans indulge, and Democrats cross-examine, Donald Trump’s nominees for his cabinet. Within a 24-hour period Tuesday and Wednesday, three of the most controversial and quite possibly the least qualified of these nominees paraded across the screen in a cavalcade of misstatements, lapses of judgment, conflicts of interest and from time to time spectacular displays of ignorance and insensitivity.

Where to begin? Our pick is Betsy DeVos, the nominee to be education secretary, whose energies and considerable family wealth have been devoted to promoting privately run charter schools at the expense of traditional public schools in her home state, Michigan. She refused multiple times to agree that traditional public and charter schools should be held to the same level of accountability. She seemed unaware of some of the basic functions of the education department. She seemed surprised to learn, when Senator Al Franken brought up the matter, of a long-running debate over whether and to what extent to use test scores to measure student achievement or student growth.

She also won the tin ear award hands down. When Christopher Murphy asked whether she would agree that schools are no place for guns, she did not give the obvious right answer to a Democratic senator whose state suffered the horrendous Sandy Hook massacre (“Senator, there is no place for guns in schools”). Instead she said that localities should decide, and — in a transcendently odd moment — suggested that schools in places like Wyoming might need a gun “to protect from potential grizzlies.”

Next up, Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma attorney general initiated endless lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency, which he’s been asked to run, and who very nearly matched Ms. DeVos in the wrong answer department. One Democrat after another asked whether he would recuse himself in cases involving those lawsuits and cases involving companies that contributed copiously to his campaigns. The obvious response was, “Of course I will!” Instead, Mr. Pruitt would only say that he would do so if the agency ethics officer tells him to. Mr. Pruitt’s answer to climate change questions was equally depressing. Nearly all mainstream scientists say that human activities have been largely responsible for the rise in global atmospheric temperatures. Mr. Pruitt’s response was that the jury was still out.

Lastly, there was Mr. Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, a representative from Georgia. Mr. Price made the preposterous claim that repealing the Affordable Care Act really wouldn’t hurt people as long as they had bare-bones insurance policies that paid for treatment only in catastrophic circumstances. He couldn’t offer any convincing defense of his proposals to strip hundreds of billions of dollars from the budgets of Medicare and Medicaid. In response to questions by Senator Elizabeth Warren, he said that spending on the programs was the “wrong metric” to judge them by and argued that lawmakers should instead focus on the “care of the patients.” Quality of care is certainly the most important standard, but why would drastic cuts to those programs magically result in people getting better medical treatment?

Mr. Price also could not explain why he and a broker he hired traded health care stocks when he was proposing and voting for legislation that would affect those companies. He refused to see that even if he didn’t violate insider-trading laws, his investments represented a huge conflict of interest.

And so it went on another episode of Mr. Trump’s unreality show.

— 

OP-ED in the New York Times“Donald Trump’s Cabinet Picks Stumble By.”

Grizzly fucking bears.

youtube

Trump’s Attack on the Freedom of the Press

Historically, tyrants have tried to control the press using 4 techniques that, worryingly, Donald Trump is already using.

1. Berate the media and turn the public against it. Trump refers to journalists as “dishonest,” “disgusting” and “scum.” When Trump lies – claiming, for example, “massive voter fraud” in the election, and that he “won in a landslide” – and the media call him on those lies, Trump claims the media is lying. Even televised satires he labels “unfunny, one-sided, and pathetic.”

2. Limit media access. Trump hasn’t had a news conference since July. (His two predecessors had news conferences within days of being declared president.) He’s blocked the media from traveling with him, and even from knowing with whom he’s meeting. His phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which occurred shortly after the election, was first reported by the Kremlin.

3. Threaten the media. During the campaign, Trump threatened to sue the New York Times for libel in response to an article about two women who accused him of touching them inappropriately years ago, and then another that revealed part of his 1995 tax returns. He says he plans to “open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”

4. Bypass the media and communicate with the public directly. Trump tweets incessantly, issues videos, and holds large rallies – all of which further enable him to lie directly to the public with impunity.

The word “media” comes from “intermediate” between the powerful and the public. The media hold the powerful accountable by correcting their misstatements, asking them hard questions, and reporting on what they do. Apparently Trump wants to eliminate such intermediaries.

Historically, these 4 techniques have been used by demagogues to erode the freedom and independence of the press. Donald Trump seems intent on doing exactly this. 

5

Want more Brexit info? We’ve got you covered:

1. How UK’s search terms *after* Brexit show Brits had no idea what they were voting for.
2. What simple thing about making voting easy the US can learn from the Brexit ballot. (Remember the 2000 election anyone?)
3. How Brexit affects your 401(k) if you live in the United States.
4. And finally, a truly ~creepy~ Harry Potter anniversary happens to fall on Brexit day. Coincidence????

ETA: original chart misstated the British pound on 6/23/16 as $1.70 USD. It was actually $1.50 as @ladyworered points out. 

FOLLOW REFINERY29

(I wrote out this reasonably thoughtful reply to peetasallhehasleft‘s post, and then Tumblr ate it, and I just don’t have the spirit to go back and re-think those thoughts. So here’s what you get instead, and I’m sorry. It’s lame.)

But at the least what I’m saying is timely. 

Gale is no more a villain than Einstein was a villain or Oppenheimer was a villain or Truman was a villain or Tibbets was a villain. Even though the first man proposed E=mc2, the second invented the atomic bomb with his team of scientists, the third was ultimately responsible for the drop of the bomb on Hiroshima as President of the US, and the fourth man flew the Enola Gay and who therefore physically dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, murdering anywhere from 90,000-170,000 people. None of these men were villains. No one man was a villain. 

War was the villain. It always is. It is filthy and reprehensible, and it makes monsters of men. The people who suffer the most are those with the least to gain from it. It’s not the President Snows or Alma Coins who suffer. It’s the Prims. The Peetas. The Katnisses. The Finnicks. And even the Gales. It’s those who try to help. Who try to save their loved ones. Who follow orders. Who fight on the front lines. Who try to stay alive, at any cost. 

This doesn’t absolve any man of his actions in war… it’s just reminding everyone of who the real enemy is. I’m speculating, but I think SC would want us to know this… as someone whose father fought in Vietnam and whose war is stocked with its own atrocities. 

I’m not apologizing for Gale or making excuses for his actions. I think that SC fulfilled the character arc she promised us in the first book, the same way she fulfilled Katniss’ (who didn’t want to contribute anything good to an ugly world) and Peeta’s (who didn’t want an ugly world to take away his goodness). Gale asks Katniss, when she is faced with killing children in the arena,”How different can it be, really?” and, horribly and tragically, he gets his answer. He learns, too late, what Katniss and Peeta learned in the 74th Games: to murder innocent people costs everything you are. He is our cautionary tale and is as necessary to the story as oxygen is to fire.  

He didn’t ask for forgiveness. How could he? Can you expect someone to forgive you when you know you can never forgive yourself? Can you place that obligation on someone to respond in any way that isn’t filled with disgust and loathing- to try to make them look at you when you have just destroyed them? I personally couldn’t, and yes, everyone is different. But not everyone who can’t bear to ask forgiveness is a villain, either. They’re just weak.  

I think dialogue and discussion and differing opinions are essential, and I think SC would be proud that we’re talking about this. Especially today. The bomb on Hiroshima was dropped 70 years ago, on Aug 6, 1945. 

titania522: thanks for tagging me on the original thread!

U.S. Army fudged its accounts by trillions of dollars, auditor finds

The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled it had to make trillions of dollars of improper accounting adjustments to create an illusion that its books are balanced.

The Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up.

As a result, the Army’s financial statements for 2015 were “materially misstated,” the report concluded. The “forced” adjustments rendered the statements useless because “DoD and Army managers could not rely on the data in their accounting systems when making management and resource decisions.”

Disclosure of the Army’s manipulation of numbers is the latest example of the severe accounting problems plaguing the Defense Department for decades.

The report affirms a 2013 Reuters series revealing how the Defense Department falsified accounting on a large scale as it scrambled to close its books. As a result, there has been no way to know how the Defense Department – far and away the biggest chunk of Congress’ annual budget – spends the public’s money.

This is why we can’t have nice things like universal health care and kindergarten through college education and minimum guaranteed incomes.

8

11 incredible Bernie Sanders quotes show he’s the progressive we’ve been waiting for 

To say Bernie Sanders is the most liberal candidate in the race is not just an understatement, it fundamentally misstates his place on the political spectrum. From a policy perspective, Hillary Clinton has more in common with Republican hopefuls like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) than Sanders, who advocates for single-payer health insurance, free college for all Americans and rewriting U.S. free-trade agreements. And he has a strong message for his 2016 rivals.

5

Okay, kids, it’s time to theorycraft with Kousagi, we got beers in the back. Indulge.

So, I was reading this post (and it’s lovely) from @those-celestial-bodies and really thought about a thing. Aside from how hilarious and kinda cute it is if that really is Vision’s room. (Do yourself a favor and check out the tags and comments people have added onto that post too, awkward oddball Vision is such a damn gift. I love the headcanon that this is his room and a painting he’s just… incredibly enthusiastic about.) 

Personally, I am not sure that this is Vision’s room, I think it might be some kind of common area. But at the same time, if some concept material came out that described this as being Vision in his room, I would be 110% unsurprised.

But anyway, that post got me thinking about a thing from the comics. I don’t know if it’s a reference to anything in particular. But given that the writers inevitably had to do their research and they appear to be interested in the Scarlet Witch / Vision love story, maybe this is intentional. Of all the things that they could have chosen for Vision’s painting, they chose a tree. One lone tree.

There’s a few reasons I can imagine Vision may have an appreciation for a painting of a tree.

Thor. Thor, Asgard, Yggdrasil. Vision’s cape is pretty much agreed to be a creation out of Vision’s appreciation for Thor (MCU, anyway.) So I can buy that he chose a painting of a tree as a reference to Yggdrasil (the “World Tree” in most mythologies.)

Life, as a symbol (and Vision describes himself as on the “side of life.”) Trees are pretty universally a symbol for life and nature. So I can see Vision have an appreciation for the painting of a tree as like a symbol of life. 

Then, my theory regarding whether or not this is some intentional reference on the creative team’s part is that this is a blatant reference to 616’s canon, as well as perhaps foreshadowing of the future of the MCU Scarlet Witch and Vision story.

As Wanda tells Wiccan in the comics, long after the wedding and separation and everything in between, she and Vision had been married in a double ceremony, conducted by Immortus, in the shade of a “lovely old tree, which the other bride had been marrying.” She also goes on to say that this was after fighting Dorammu, during which, she helped her husband (Vision) self-actualize and “get in tune with his head crystal.“ (Image from a pretty damn nifty post by @elementroar. I recommend checking out Roar’s theorycrafting posts.)

The other couple who married with Wanda and Vision’s double wedding ceremony were Mantis and the Swordsman (that’s a long story I’m not gonna get into.) 

What happened to them? 

They pretty immediately after, they merge together into that tree they married under, and I mean, it’s not the end of them by any means, their story goes on separately and there’s explained reasoning behind why these two characters suddenly merge into each other and a tree. Which again, I’m not going to go into because I don’t think it will show up in the MCU or have bearing on the MCU. 

I do, however, feel that the imagery and theme of these two may be referenced or alluded to. Take that theory as you will (and of course, with a grain of salt.) I don’t think that Mantis and Swordsman will show up in MCU, but, who knows, they might. But they definitely aren’t going to just be forgotten. We’ll probably see an echo of them in some way. If there’s any way, it might very likely be this way. Let’s also not forget the Henry Jackman track for Wanda and Vision’s scene in the kitchen—”Celestial Bodies” on the Civil War soundtrack.

Really—can I just stop and think about what MCU’s writers and outline planners have in mind for Vision and Wanda? I mean, hot damn, we know something universe-shaking is going to happen to them as their power levels increase, as their powers grow. 

As Vision develops more control and understanding of the infinity stone powering him and as Wanda’s powers seem to just keep growing exponentially to the point we will see in Infinity War (and if it’s anything like the comics, we know she’s going to grow into a reality warper who will potentially become the Nexus Being.) 

I remember in an early Age of Ultron interview with Elizabeth Olsen, she had mentioned that Wanda could see all the different timelines and probabilities as an effect of her power. I think it may have been a slight misstatement, though, because I don’t think that by Age of Ultron, Wanda can see all continuities. Maybe senses it at that point, but not sees and comprehends it. But is it coming? I’m totally sure of it. 

The writers behind Civil War addressed how they want to explore Vision and Wanda’s relationship and in one interview where, when asked about a Scarlet Witch and Vision film, they answered very cryptically, "Sure, if they survive.” (Again, thanks, Roar!)

At this point, I think I’m just rambling, half-theorycrafting out loud. 

But the bottom line is that, right now, it’s probably very fifty-fifty whether or not the Scarlet Witch / Vision story is going to go on past Infinity War. They could live, they could die.

If they live, we’ll see Vision and the Scarlet Witch in some form or another.

If they don’t, I’m putting my money on the writers using the infinity stone to have the two have a very dramatic exit of the series together. Considering their 616 counterparts, this is probably as close to a happily ever after that we’ll probably see for Vision and Wanda. If I’m wrong about this, then my bets are on the new Tom King “Vision” series bringing them back together—and I don’t think it will. That line in particular, “I too, will be saved by love” against the atmosphere of the story feels like confirmation that, no. 616!Vision will not be saved by love. I think Tom King’s Vision might be a transition story from Protagonist to Antagonist, honestly, but we’ll see

So anyway.

That’s what I got after spending a disproportionate amount of time laughing about how enthusiastic Vision seems to be about a painting of a tree.

Then I kinda thought “Oh, wait, this is a Hollywood narrative and that tree could very well be foreshadowing.”

Then it very promptly became less funny and potentially a bit genius in a fridge-logic way. These writers are trying to hit as many birds with one stone as they can and I think they’re blowing it out of the fucking water.


And now for something (not completely) different, since we’re probably all sad now:

anonymous asked:

One quote says Denzel thinks of Cloud like a brother, one says he looks up to him like a parent. Hello mixed messages haha. I'm not sure how trustworthy these ultimania's are to be honest. They don't seem to stay very consistent.

The big brother quote comes from the AC Prologue book. Denzel’s profile from the 10th anv. Ultimania is what tells us he is Cloud and Tifa’s new family and adores them like parents.

And the Ultimania are very trustworthy. If anyone has any confusion about canon then it’s always newer overrides older. Over the years every single guidebook has been very constant on these matters. And a few misstated dates or actual changes made to certain aspects of the compilation that might be reflected in later guidboooks doesn’t change that.

Although the idea that the Ultimania are unreliable comes from clerith shippers who hate the glut of information about Cloud and Tifa’s love for each other, and since CC came out a glut of Zerith as well. 

There is also the fact that if the Ultimania mean less then all that ancillary nonsense like AU games, artwork, merchandise and commercials mean more right? Right?

8

Serena Williams & Her Amazing Bod Is EVERYTHING In New York Magazine’s Fashion Issue

Come through queen! Serena Williams is shutting down the Internet today with her amazing cover and spread for New York magazine’s newest fashion issue. And she’s giving us life.

Hi haters!

What a perfect way to shut down all of those silly “she was born a man” comments. For New York magazine’s fashion issue, Serena Williams, the world’s No.1 tennis player, serves major BAWDY and grace for the cover and accompanying spread. And one thing’s for sure, she’s NO man. She’s all woman…perfectly toned and effortlessly sexy.

While she continues to dominate the tennis court, arguably as the greatest women’s player of all time, the 33-year-old tennis superstar proves tennis isn’t all she’s good at. Give chick two bars, a cut-out body suit by Baja East and she can create a sizzling hot spread that no one can deny as being totally flawless.

Switching gears, she can also serve elegance and grace when glammed up in an uber sexy dress. For the spread, shot by Norman Jean Roy, the YBF chick brings the gorgeousness in an Elizabeth and James long sleeve high slit gown styled with Jennifer Fisher Jewelry, Leticia Linton jewels and Platt Boutique Jewelry.  Her cute Yorkie pup, Chip, even brings the cuteness in one of the pictorials.

In another editorial, it’s clear her muscular physique can serve fabness in…anything. Above, the tennis superstar shows off her curves in a Wolford bodysuit, accented with Platt Boutique & Robert Lee Morris cuffs, a necklace by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co. and VRAM rings. YAS Serena!

And because we can’t get enough of her hot bod:

Chick served up a few behind-the-scenes shots of her spread. She captioned, “Split Warm up exercises… #proceedwithcaution” #BodyGoals

Next up for Serena? She’s weeks away from the upcoming US Open tournament set to go down at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in NYC starting August 31st. If she wins, it will be her fourth grand slam title win in a calendar year, further proving why she’s the best to ever do it! We’ll definitely be watching.

Serena Williams Is Eyeing a Fashionable Post-Court Life, But First She’s Got Tennis History to Make

It’s a little past midnight at HSN headquarters, and Serena Williams is nine minutes into a disquisition on a piece of fabric she’s called “Convertible A-line Top With Scarf,” available to you, the home shopper, for $39.95 or three “flexpays” of $13.32. “It’s like one huge circle that has a lot of style in it,” she says, not without conviction, fiddling with the bottom of the one she is wearing (“This is, um, mustard”), flapping it like a fan, rubbing one hand on her arm, and smoothing her hair. She forgets the names of colors, misstates a price. There with the right number and the right name is HSN savant Bobbi Ray Carter, sheathed in a hot-pink Convertible A-line Top With Scarf and raccooned in black eyeliner, filling in her co-host’s “ums” with the deft patter of a sales professional: “Amazingly transitional, think-fall-think-summer-think-winter-summer-into-fall versatility, quality, surprise scarf.” Bobbi Ray Carter knows how to touch a piece of fabric: She gives it a crisp snap between her fingers, smartly smooths the drape, all the while growing progressively more tense as Serena fumbles some hangers and launches, at 56 minutes, into a long anecdote about packing jeans for Wimbledon. “Mmmm,” says Bobbi Ray Carter, tight-lipped and possibly not breathing, awaiting the arc of Serena’s story to make its mumbly descent — “I felt good packing my own jeans, I had a moment there” — so she can finally change the subject — “And it’s our customer pick!” — and steer us back to the safe harbor of Denim Moto Legging color choices.

A little background on HSN’s least comfortable saleswoman: Serena Williams is the best women’s tennis player in the world, breezing through one of the best seasons of her life. Should she win the U.S. Open next month, she will have swept all four grand slams in a calendar year, cementing her reputation as the greatest women’s player of all time and making her a serious contender for the greatest athlete of her generation.

She is a 33-year-old woman who won her first major at the tail end of the previous century, a simpler era you will recall for its consequenceless Napster-facilitated intellectual-property theft and the looming threat of Y2K. By now, her shoulder should be shredded, her elbow a constant wail of hurt. Instead, she spends her days bageling 20-something moppets who have never known the game without her. The last time a man as geriatric as Serena won a grand slam was 1972. She has won three in the past six months. Her 16-year run is, in the words of Sports Illustrated, “one of the most sustained careers of excellence in the history of athletics.”

“I didn’t think it would last this long,” says Serena, on break from the HSN grind.

“Not to suggest that your career is over — ”

“But even if it was over,” she interrupts, “it’s a really long career.”

Serena Williams travels with her teacup Yorkie, Chip, and dreamboat assistant, Grant, who went to Haverford and plays lacrosse. She is here hawking “Serena’s Signature Statement Collection,” because her career will one day end and she wants there to be something beyond nostalgia on the other side of it. Williams isn’t much for nostalgia. “I have lots of trophies, and I’m just — I’m not that person that needs to see all these trophies,” she says, under a blanket in the greenroom with Chip on her lap. “I have some in my house here, some in my house there, some I don’t know what happened to ’em. I have my grand-slam trophies … somewhere.”

A flippant past-tenseness has crept into her language. “We were so fast,” she says of herself and her sister Venus as children. “We are. We were. Gosh, is this over?” She laughs. There’s a weird anxiety in her stilted professional bio: Serena “continues to also pursue her other interests and has set herself up for a career after tennis.”

Serena is the daughter of one Richard Williams, the perfect embodiment of his perfectly executed, perfectly bonkers plan. You may have heard that Richard was watching TV when he saw a Romanian player win $40,000, at which point he decided to learn a game he knew nothing about, teach this “sissy sport” to his athletic wife, Oracene, and conceive two children whom the Williamses would together turn into champions. You may have heard about the used tennis balls he cadged from country clubs, the 78-page typewritten document in which he detailed his training regime, the broken glass on the Compton courts. But the story is a good deal crazier than you’ve heard, because the facts don’t conform to the tennis-as-ticket-out-of-the-ghetto song-and-dance the networks used to play before a match. Richard Williams was not a poor black man living in the hood. He was the comfortable — very comfortable, according to his autobiography — owner of a security company who lived in Long Beach with his wife and five daughters. He moved his family to Compton, where Venus and Serena served to the sound of gunfire and his stepdaughter was later shot to death, because he thought it would “make them tough, give them a fighter’s mentality.” Oracene Price was against this plan then; one can only imagine what she thinks of it now.

Entire childhoods were devoted to slapping serves over the net and running the court in the California heat, the mundane and lactic-acid-inducing specifics of a 78-page training regime. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is an incantation Richard imposed on his daughters, who were made to keep journals about their goals and how best to achieve them. Serena’s onboard-ness, her total and unquestioning obedience to her father’s vision, is best illustrated by an anecdote she tells in her autobiography, On the Line, in which her father walks around the corner to get sports drinks mid-practice, leaving the girls alone with a basket full of tennis balls and a sack of oranges for a snack. Nine-year-old Serena impishly tosses up some oranges and serves them over the net, to her father’s consternation. End of story. “I’ve got no justification or explanation for my behavior,” she writes. “It was just that devil streak spilling forth … I just went a little crazy.” This is the sum total of what Serena Williams has to say about youthful rebellion, and she still thinks it’s pretty outrageous.  

Serena wanted not just to design clothes but to design wedding dresses. “That was my first real love,” she says, “but then I was like, Listen. I’m playing professional tennis. I’ll just do athleticwear.” In her sartorial interests, as in all things, she followed Venus, who encouraged her to take some college design classes. Together, they brought to the game black lace, flesh-colored underwear, and knee-high sneaker boots. Today, Venus has her own line, EleVen — “Ten is just another number, but EleVen is a lifestyle” — an affordable athleticwear line far tamer than much of what Serena and Venus wear on the court. “We brought fashion back to tennis,” Serena says. “It was great when Chris Evert was around. Tracy Austin had some great designs. But the ’90s was not a good time.”

Inevitably, the sisters’ on-court style was described as “confrontational.” One sensed in early accounts of the Williams sisters’ dominance, and senses even now, a certain tightening of the available vocabulary in describing a muscular black woman on the court. Doubles-sideline-to-doubles-sideline-in-three-strides is an act of avian grace, and yet Serena is perpetually “crushing” and “slamming” and “rolling over,” as if the entire sports commentariat picked up English at a construction site. It’s instructive here to spend a few minutes googling “Roger Federer,” two words that inspire sportswriters to pseudo-spiritual cant: Federer crushes and slams but also “lifts” and “lobs” and “taps,” his stroke “liquid,” his forehand a humanity-saving treatise on the seraphic potential of the fallen human form, his feminine delicacy evidence that he exists on a higher spiritual plane. When Serena and Venus are called “masculine,” when they are accused of having been born male, when the head of the Russian Tennis Federation calls them “the Williams brothers,” it is not meant as a compliment. This impulse may also explain why Serena Williams, who has prevailed over Maria Sharapova 18 times and fallen to her only twice, makes less in endorsements than her blonde Russian counterpart, and why last month political pundit David Frum, whom no one has ever accused of being excessively masculine, publicly speculated that Serena was on steroids, whereas Venus had stopped juicing in order to get pregnant.

Serena and Venus can never simply be Serena and Venus. They are inevitably spectacle, fodder for abstractions both crude and lyrical. They have inspired not just racist commentary but also celebrated works of poetry. “Some tough little European blonde / pitted against that big black girl from Alabama / cornrowed hair and Zulu bangles on her arms / some outrageous name like Vondella Aphrodite,” wrote white poet Tony Hoagland, whom many confused for the racist speaker of his poem. “And you loved her complicated hair / and her to-hell-with-everybody stare.” Their losses could not simply be their losses. “Every look, every comment, every bad call blossoms out of history, through her, onto you,” writes black poet Claudia Rankine, of Serena, in her book Citizen, which was nominated for a National Book Award. These are works in which the sisters stand for the Sweep of History or the Black Body, and they do little to prepare one for meeting a five-nine, selfie-obsessed, hyperfeminine phenom under a blanket and a Yorkie.

Serena has been ascendant for so long now that it’s easy to forget how highly anticipated were her matches with her sister. (Venus Williams, at 35, suffering from an immune disease known as Sjögren’s syndrome, is currently ranked a more than respectable 15th.) It was a Serena-Venus match in 2001 that precipitated the infamous Indian Wells incident, in which the crowd grew enraged after an injured Venus withdrew. This was a time when Richard was often accused, in the absence of any corroborating evidence, of fixing matches such that he decided which daughter would win a tournament. With her sister out of sight, the crowd turned its ire on Serena, slinging slurs from high arena seats down to the 19-year-old woman standing alone between bright white lines. Her father turned toward the hecklers, fist raised in a black-power salute. “I will not play there again,” Serena says of Indian Wells in On the Line. “I won’t go back. I will not give these people the validation. I will not stand down.”

One can only speculate about whether the Williamses would have been better received had they been more willing to conform, to pretend to care about tennis tradition, to hop on Nick ­Bollettieri’s tennis-star assembly line. They never nailed the rehearsed humility, never mastered the stone-faced just-want-to-do-my-best-so-grateful-for-the-opportunity-thanks-to-all-my-amazing-fans act calibrated to negate the possibility of an athlete’s interiority. Serena answers most questions with mischievous half-statements, eyebrows raised over a good-natured ironic side-eye. On her eventual retirement: “I will finally be able to make some Miami Dolphin games,” she says, laughing, “and make some, uh, better decisions down there with the players.” On the way she has changed the game: “My dad taught us to have early preparation. I notice the other girls have similar preparations to mine, and I’m like, ‘Hmmm … well, you don’t want to admit where you got that from, right?’ ”

Richard Williams is a man who says what he thinks. Serena Williams is a woman who says what she thinks and follows it up with a winking retraction. On Indian Wells: “All I could see was a sea of rich people — mostly older, mostly white — standing and booing lustily, like some kind of genteel lynch mob.” Then, “I don’t mean to use such inflammatory language,” though she evidently did not not mean it enough to delete it from her autobiography. There was her 2011 attack on an umpire after a bad call, about which Serena seems less outraged than genuinely hurt: “You’re nobody,” she said, “you’re ugly on the inside.” Asked about this later, Williams was mostly concerned with the indisputable lameness of her trash-talking: “What a nerd!” And then there is 2009 — the “I’ll fucking take this ball and shove it down your fucking throat” incident, for which she was fined $82,500. “She topped me that one time,” John McEnroe said. Of the outraged reaction to her outrage, Williams tells me, “I just think it was weird. I just really thought that was strange. You have people who made a career out of yelling at line judges. And a woman does it, and it’s like a big problem. But you know, hey.”

But You Know, Hey could be the title of a second Williams autobiography, subtitle The Mellowing. This spring, after a 14-year boycott, she returned to Indian Wells, writing in Time that she wanted “a different ending” to an ugly episode, though she assures me she will still engage in something she calls “being myself.”

“If someone has a bad call, I’m really forthcoming. I’ll look you in the eye and say, ‘Are you sure?’ I’m okay with confrontation. I’ve just” — eyebrow raise — “changed the way I state certain things.”

Richard Williams’s autobiography is called Black and White and barely even approaches the subject of tennis until 150 pages in. Up until that point, it is an account of his family’s treatment at the hands of white people and a memoir of his own “acts of defiance against white people.” Christmas to the child Richard was “a holiday created by and for white people.” His daughters would have to “run even harder, just like I did when I was fleeing white people in the South.” He wondered: “Would the entrance of strong, fast, ghetto-bred black people into the game change it as dramatically as it had all other sports? … My plan was simple: to bring two children out of the ghetto to the forefront of a white-dominated game.”

Until I read Black and White, I had assumed Serena’s swagger to be a result of her talent, intertwined with but ultimately exogenous to that 78-page plan. But Richard was grooming his girls for a takeover, bestowing upon them a carapace strong enough to withstand the doubt, discomfort, and contempt of an entire culture. Winning depended on self-belief so impenetrable that a genteel lynch mob could not slice through. This was all part of the vision: a “fighter’s mentality”; a lacrosse-playing, Haverford-attending yes-man; that to-hell-with-everybody stare.

Serena hadn’t been aware of Rankine’s Citizen. I read some to her while, in the background, a redheaded HSN sales professional moves some units of Serena’s Wide Leg Knit Jumper. I ask what it is like to bear the weight of representing people of color, women, 33-year-olds who want to believe in the imagined possibility of their athletic dominance.

“I don’t think about it,” she says. “I don’t dwell in the past. If I do, I’ll be swallowed up by negativity. As Mandela once said, ‘I will be in a mental prison.’ ”

It’s a ballsy thing to do, quoting Nelson Mandela in your explanation for why you’re not going to think about race right now. But Serena is not yours or mine, and she is less and less her father’s daughter. There can be no further distance from Compton-tough than the spectacle unfolding before Grant, Chip, and me, as Serena steps back on set. “Do you like French terry?” asks the saleswoman. “Who doesn’t?” replies Serena. Richard Williams raised her to go to war with the world. Post-tennis, she plans to live in it.

Styling by Lawren Howell at Lalaland Artists; hair by Johnnie Sapong for Jed Root using Leonor Greyl; makeup by Fiona Stiles using YSL for the Wall Group.

*This article appears in the August 10, 2015 issue of New York Magazine.

There is a meme I see a lot in progressive circles. The meme goes like this.

“Idea: a reality show where gay marriage opponents have to live under 100% biblical laws for six months so they can show us how awesome it is.”

The meme is credited in the version I have seen most recently to Molly Manglewood of Alternet, but I have seen variations on the theme posted in all sorts of places in different words.

I hate this meme.

I stated in an earlier post that I hate it for about seven discrete reasons but that’s a slight misstatement because really all the reasons are tied together pretty fundamentally.

Here they are.

- If you’ve followed me for any length of time or heard me talk about this before, you’ve already all heard the one I often raise first, a little defensively. The trope presumes that no one would be so far out and ridiculous as to actually keep the laws of the Old Testament in particular, because that would somehow be far too burdensome and ridiculous for anyone in the modern world to deal with. That patently isn’t true because Orthodox Jews exist. I know from my own experience and the experience of many of my friends and family members that there are people who live full and modern lives while keeping the dietary laws, the Sabbath, the imperative not to mix wool and linen in clothing, any supposedly “wacky” thing you can find in the Old Testament (or as we call it, the Torah), as well as any number of laws in the commentaries that I would argue are even more onerous, such as the laws of family purity. The argument implies that the people I know to exist and thrive cannot really be existing and thriving. It’s deeply Christian-centric in a way that I think really ridicules Jews. Ok, that’s obvious to me at least, but now it’s out of the way.

- The argument, as a result, completely fails to address homophobia within Jewish communities, which, as a bisexual Jew who lost my faith partly as a result of my anger at the biblical and consequent community attitudes to gender and sexuality well before I was willing to acknowledge my bisexuality as a real thing, is kind of a big deal to me.

- it presumes that homophobic religious people are hypocrites and it does that from a place of real and dramatic ignorance of scripture and doctrine. I know some people who like the meme like it because that has been their experience in the religious communities in which they were raised, but it still bothers me for a few reasons:

- it implies that religious homophobia stems from idiocy and a lack of contemplation basically, and proceeds to try to effect change on that basis. I understand the impulse to take that attitude but I think it’s naive, unrealistic, arrogant and strategically completely defeatist. When is the last time you ever convinced anyone of anything by insulting their intelligence and telling them that if only they were clever and farsighted like you they would agree with you? And haven’t you known otherwise intelligent people who surprised and even disgusted you with their positions on matters? Wasn’t there usually more to it, something slightly more complex and profound than “they were dumb I guess, despite all evidence to the contrary”?

- it implies that religious people don’t know their own texts better than snide atheists. First, I admit that I’m biased about this, as a Jew, since education about matters of Torah and the commandments is a huge component of my relationship with my culture and history and is so frequently a huge part of Jewish faith. I admit that sometimes certain religious groups do not encourage such study, leading to the presumed ignorance and the presumed supreme knowledge of people who pass the meme around. Often, though, this is emphatically not the case, and one example of when this is not the case is the trope itself. Unlike Judaism, Christianity does not demand adherence to a whole host of the laws of the Torah/Old Testament - it’s one of the formative aspects of Christianity. Someone can be a deeply faithful person who strives for Christian values and not keep many of the commandments of the Old Testament. A lot of the people who pass the meme around don’t know that, and I think if you’re going to engage people in debate about something that is deeply central to their moral and spiritual lives you should probably bother to do enough research to know that before accusing THEM of ignorance or of skating over biblical principles. There are great biblical arguments to have in a Christian framework about whether homosexuality was ever actually condemned by Jesus and whether the Leviticus statement should even be considered applicable. Have those instead; engage genuinely with biblical scholarship if you care what religious people think, which I feel you should. Similarly I see a lot of people saying things like “oh well everyone would just be stoned immediately if they tried to live according to the bible because that’s how people were punished” and I cannot speak for Christianity here but Judaism actually has addressed that - there are no courts of sufficient Jewish authority to give those punishments out anymore and additionally we have a religious obligation to follow the laws of the land and not wildly administer killings. There is a perception that religious people do not think about or tackle the challenges of living piously in the modern world. They often do.

- It implies that the main problem with religiously based homophobia is hypocrisy, and that if you are consistent you can be as hateful of queerness as you like. What do you say to someone who kept all the biblical laws in this hypothetical reality show and, far from finding them burdensome, found the whole experience fascinating and moving? Are they now given license by this meme to keep on keeping on with their belief that queerness is an abomination? Have they passed the test?

- What do we say to the genuinely pious? This is a huge issue I think we shy away from tackling - when you’re arguing with a religious person who wants to be good and kind and loving but also wants to live by their faith’s commandments, you are facing an argument where you are asking someone to betray themselves, to pit some of their values against others and make them choose. To decide that a part of your religion is false is to fundamentally change your life; a lot of ex-religious people understand that but a lot of people who pass that meme around have never been religious, have never understood what they are asking of a religious person when they ask them to reject something their faith demands they believe. We’re talking loss of moral centre, loss of family and community … it’s huge. You need an argument that is cognisant of that, not an argument that presumes they were never that attached to most of their faith in the first place.

- deep down it suggests that the main problem with keeping biblical law is that it is too hard, that the main problem with repressing queer desire is that it is too hard. That buys into the idea that the acceptance of queer people and queer sex and love is about buying into a culture of easy fixes, laziness, licentiousness, lack of personal responsibility, lack of discipline and childishness. Paying your taxes is hard. Being constantly mindful of consent is hard. Treating your fellow human with kindness and respect is often very hard indeed. The argument that you shouldn’t do something because it is hard or because other things asked of you by the same source that issued the directive are hard does not address the central problem of homophobia or of the characterisation of queer sex as an abomination. The central problem is not that it is too hard not to be queer. It is that that isn’t a fair thing to ask, that it harms people, that people should have the right to autonomy when harm is not being done … We won’t even get into it because there are heaps of arguments expressed possibly billions of times. The “it’s too hard” argument buys into myths about queerness that are already way too popular in religious circles and does no justice to the centre of the problem of repressing and punishing queerness.

Anyone subject to the madness and distortion fame brings with it is less likely to yearn for someone to write a controlled, sanitized account if their life than you might imagine. Why bother, if the result is planned from the start to be only one further twisting of their reality, another funhouse mirror , even when it is one constructed to flatter them? For most subjects, the appeal of being  benevolently misrepresented quickly pales, because it offers no real antidote to the slush of nonsense, half-truths, carelessness, lies and misunderstanding that surrounds them. Often, after a while, they hanker instead for silence, or some truth.

It’s not even necessarily that they want, or expect, most people to understand their life and its strange predicaments; it is perhaps just that it would be nice for there truly to be something reliable and honest from which anyone who truly cared to could form an accurate opinion. I think people who are famous and over-examined often also just want to see some truth about themselves simply for themselves so that for once, when they see or hear themselves reflected back in their own direction, they can at least recognize what they see or hear. In this respect, being famous is perhaps like being in a canyon with an unreliable echo: whenever you shout, the echo you hear is of the same voice, but different words, or the same words but a different voice. Sometimes it would be nice just to hear something you recognize as yourself.

People who encourage truthful accounts of their life and living also sometimes say that they want to set the record straight after all the lies and misjudgments they have faced. Sometimes they do, but I think that is rarely their main motivation. The big lies hurt, of course; they can hurt hugely. But you can point out a big lie; you can do battle with it, and perhaps you can rebut it. At least people will listen when you say: “I didn’t sleep with her/sleep with him/smash that/hit him/speak ill of them/buy that/betray anyone…”

I think that in the long run it’s the little lies that somehow do most damage, because you’re defenceless against them. These aren’t the grand libels and slanders. They’re the tiny untruths, the endless small misstatements of where you were and what you did and why you did it and what happened and who you are. If you try to point out a little lie, no one usually listens and, if they do, often they’ll think you mad for making a fuss about something so unimportant. They are the grains of sand eroding a building; if you live inside the walls for a lifetime, you see the destruction they cause, but to everyone else they’re just dust in the air. But these are the lies that tell the person being lied about that everything they believe to be true is subtly wrong; it is the little lies that can, in the long run, undermine your faith in reality and your relationship with the outside world.

To be famous in the twenty-first century is to be pelted with little lies, day after day. To be famous in the twenty-first century is to find yourself trapped as a character in a book with an unreliable narrator, forever trying to shout from the pages to explain how it really was. How could you not sometimes wish for it to be different?

—  Feel (Robbie Williams) by Chris Heath
OCTOBER 2014 CPA BOARD EXAMINATIONS: THE SUMMARY

Hello to all members of Tumblraccountants!

Like what other admins Kharla and Cedric did in the October 2013 and July 2014 board exams, I who took the CPA board exam last October 2014 will share to you my insights and previews about the exam. Para ito sa mga susunod na mga mageexam na gusting malaman kung ano ang mga nagaganap sa actual board examinations. Mahaba haba ito, so sana di kayo tamarin magbasa. :)

(Disclaimer: It might be different from what will be given in the next board exams tentatively to be held on May 2015. And it is my own observation, it might have different interpretations from others who took it. Also, I cannot post the complete actual questions, as I signed a non-disclosure agreement to the PRC not divulging the content of the exams, still it is an overview. I did this post hours after each day of the CPA board examinations.)

DAY 1

THEORY OF ACCOUNTS: Sabi ng ibang ka-dorm ko, galing sa ReSA preweek saka handouts yun karamihan mga tanong, consistent sa trend noong last July 2014 exams. (Taga CPAR ako kaya di ko masyadong nabasa yun sa ReSA, huhu.) Pero, I felt na sa TOA, labanan lang tlaga ng concepts. So I suggest na sapat na yun materials sa review center niyo. Mas marami pa rin kayo matatandaan kung makikinig kayo sa reviewer niyo. Maraming lumabas about the framework, financial instruments, shareholders equity, mga ilang tanong rin yun about sa EPS, preference shares saka retained earnings. May lumabas rin about service concessions (IFRIC 13) na noong preweek at actual board exam ko lang nalaman, so aside from review materials, try to read the standards and interpretations themselves kahit yun summarized lang. May konting government accounting pero ang simple lang. At walang employee benefits sa board exam ngayon.

AUDITING THEORY: Also known as “Auditing Theory and ENGLISH 1”. Paano ba naman, the Auditing Theory grammar questions introduced last July are again in this board exam. Limang tanong na proper use ng capitalization, pronouns, apostrophe saka paggamit ng active and passive voice ang lumabas. May tanong pa nga na yun other three choices are JEJEMON TEXTS. (That “K b der, 9am @ ofc, thx” choice for example.), na kung tutuusin ay bonus questions. Back to the main subject, maraming IT audit at audit sampling questions na lumabas. The rest are usual questions about audit reports and substantive procedures. For the reference, most of the questions reportedly came from Wiley. But, I think yung Salosagcol + CRC-ACE handouts sapat na rin sakin. So again, it’s all about concepts. Another tip: choose both the BEST and CORRECT answer. May tanong kasi doon na anong opinion ang ibibigay kapag may material misstatement ang FS. Di ba qualified or adverse opinion ang sagot depending on pervasiveness? Pero napilitan akong isagot ang qualified only kasi yun isa sa choices, “qualified and ADVISE opinion”. Kasi it may be the best answer, but NOT the correct one, kasi may error sa choice. Pwede kang magassume na typo error siya pero sabi nga “never assume unless otherwise stated”. Always think that your exam is correct, so if there are errors in the exams, choose the next best alternative, or if a worse error, call the attention of the watcher.

DAY 2

MANAGEMENT SERVICES: For me, it is one of the easiest examination in this board examination, pero DON’T be complacent because marami ring tricky questions doon. Maraming lumabas about financial statement analysis especially related to equity (EPS, dividend payout and yield, P/E ratio). May capital budgeting rin, pero ingat sa net annual cash inflows. Net income ang given, iba yun sa cash flow ah, dahil pag di mo naadd yun depreciation, damay damay yun NPV, payback period at simple rate of return mo. May budgeting rin: may computation ng budgeted production, at may collections from quarterly sales. May isang contested situational problem rin doon, about sa feasibility study budget proposal. Bumalik rin yun cost concepts, which some are theories. There were more problems this time compared to last July, albeit theories still dominated the exams. Lastly, there is one only question about economic concepts, about demand and supply. As for the reference, MAS Theories are reportedly lifted from Cabrera while the problems, CPAR handouts would be enough. May grammar question rin pala ang MAS, proper capitalization, kaya dapat talagang title nun “Management Services and ENGLISH 2”

PRACTICAL ACCOUNTING 1: Also known as “AUDITING PROBLEMS PART 1”. Bakit? Around 5 situational problems with five questions each ba naman ang binigay sa board exams. Di ba madalas pag P1, one-situation, one-problem lang, or at most dalawa? In short, mala AP talaga ang level ng questions sa P1. Actually pinaclarify ni Sir Valix of CPAR yun mga questions na iyon. Anyway, most of them are about cash flow statement, financial statement presentation, accrual to cash basis (not cash to accrual, kasi cash basis net income ang tinanong), inventory at accounts receivable. Wala dun yun “favorite topics” dun like employee benefits, at simple ang leases doon (as in operating lease lang). Another tip, tignan muna ang required bago yun situational problem. Bakit? May isang tanong dun na sobrang haba, almost one page yun may investment in equity securities + investment in associate + trademark + patent… tapos pagbuklat ko ng next page ang tanong lang pala simpleng dividend revenue. Badtrip di ba? Nasayang tuloy oras ko noon kakabasa. Lastly, don’t be careless in reading, may time kasi na computable lahat ng choice pero dahil sa isang additional information lang, nababago ang mga sagot. Ayun, kung next board exam ganun ang trend, after reviewing P1 handouts in your review center, isunod agad ang AP kasi magkarelate talaga sila. I would still recommend Valix books, dahil masasabi mo sa libro na yun na: “nasayo na ang lahat~” pero if gusto niyo ng AP level P1 questions, try Empleo’s FA books.

DAY 3

AUDITING PROBLEMS: “…PART 2”. One of the problems (about cash recieipts, disbursements and shortages) are very familiar with me dahil inexam ko siya dati noog undergrad ako, with the same amounts. That was lifted from the reviewer of Ocampo. (So may sure 5 points na ako. Hihi.) Pero beware, pwedeng baguhin yun tanong, so wag magkabisado ng sagot. For example, sa problem na yun, may lalabas na sagot if gross profit on cost ginamit mo at may lalabas rin pag gross profit on sales ginamit mo. So, INGAT, kasi pag nagkamali ka ng gamit, domino effect yun sa ibang related questions. Sabi naman ng isa kong classmate, may kinuha raw kay Roque. So, I would really suggest, like what I did in the review, that reading both of them are effective.  May lumabas na problems about shareholders’ equity (mainly issuance of shares), revenue cut off tests, and collections and payments. May isa lang na problem na medyo nanibago ako, about investment in joint venture and operations, kung paano mo hahatiin yun assets, liabilities and equity between sa mga venturers. Lastly, may THEORIES ulit ang auditing problems, like last October 2013 board exams. Mga walo or siyam yata. Related naman ito sa substantive procedures to be taken sa different transactions like in payables and receivables, at saka sa subsequent events. WALANG PROOF OF CASH. Kaya compared raw sa July 2014, mas madali ang AP ngayon.

PRACTICAL ACCOUNTING 2: Also known as “AUDITING PROBLEMS PART 3” dahil may 4 situational problems ulit with 5 questions each. It is this board examination’s KILLER SUBJECT. It was the subject that made me cry after finishing it dahil sobrang hirap niya, at paguwi ko sa dorm binalibag ko sa sahig yun mga materials ko sa P2 sa inis. :( May isang tanong doon about business combination na aakalain mo na 3-step acquisition siya dahil akala mo magkakapangalan sila. (I am talking about Kitty Kat, Kit Kat and Kitty Kit, I know makakarelate yun iba dito). Yun pala, tatlong companies pala ang nagacquire sa iisang company. (Yun dalawa ay investment in associate, at yun isa doon subsidiary) May lumabas ulit na about joint operations or assets yata about sa yachts na akala ko hindi pagtutuunan ng pansin: this time, pinacompute sa amin yun revenue, net income at share sa kada venturer. Naiinis talaga ako kasi sobrang gulo kung ilang araw talaga yun sail-days nila, pati yun costing nila. May isang problem naman doon about partnership operations na feeling alam ng marami ang gagawin pero nakakainis kasi sobrang haba ng kailangang solution dahil dalawang taon + ang hatian pa nila average capital balances + nag-admit pa ng bagong partner.  Naghahanap ako ng medyo madadaling topics sa P2 like Franchising, LTCC, Home Office & Branch, Corporate Liquidation, NPOs, Government Accounting, etc., pero WALA. Habang maraming Forex Transactions saka Forward Contract questions, Process Costing na nasa isang situational problem at dalawang Joint Costs problems. May theories na naman sa Practical Accounting 2. Doon ako nagulat, may about sa Activity Based Costing na ang alam ko part na siya ng MAS. Overall, even yung topnotchers nahirapan sa exam na yun dahil mahahaba na, nakakalito pa at habang nag eexam ako, malapit ng magtime pero walang labasan. Di tulad noong MAS, AT at TOA may nagpapasa na ng 1 1/2 hours pa lamang. Kung saan galing yun tanong, sorry, I do not know, dahil mas mahirap siya compared sa problems nina Dayag at Guerrero, na kung Level 1 yun sa libro, level 100 yun nasa exam na yun. Feeling ko self-constructed ang mga tanong kasi until now walang makapagturo ng source. Consolation na lang siguro dun yung mapaggamit nilang mga company names tulad ng Raikage at Temari ng Naruto, cast ng series na Suits, at sina June Mar (Fajardo), Andray (Blatche) at Jimmy (Alapag) + Paul (Lee) na players ng Gilas. Sabi nga ng isa kong classmate sa problem ni June Mar, sana raw sinama na nila si James Yap, PJ Simon at Marc Pingris.

DAY 4

BUSINESS LAW & TAXATION: The former killer subject last July 2014 doesn’t have its sting anymore, pero hindi pa rin siya gaanong kadali. Actually, may contested situational problem doon about community tax certificates or cedula dahil wala raw siya sa syllabus ng CPA board examinations. On the Tax part, may situational problem about income tax payable per quarter, dividend income, donors’ tax, pati na VAT. Theoretical lang ang Estate Taxation doon, at more focused rin ang exam sa assessments. Sa BL naman, may hustisya dahil well distributed ang mga tanong sa mga topics: may obligation, contracts, pledge, partnership, corporation at negotiable instruments. Although may mga tanong doon na medyo nakakalito. Example is kung ano ang promissory note na order to the bearer. May ilang Latin law terms na never heard sakin, tulad ng “pactum reservati dominii” or contractual reservation of title. Napa-“ano iyon” ako doon, so I suggest na dapat may legal dictionary kayo pag nagrereview. May isa pang situational problem sa BL, about sa appraisal right ng isang corporation, na kung nakinig ka noon sa lectures ng reviewer niyo, masasagot mo talaga siya. Naging sapat na sakin yun CPAR handouts at preweek on BL at Quick Notes ni Jack De Vera para makasurvive sa subject na ito. Pero dahil alam naming killer subject ang BLT last time, marami rin kaming binasa na libro doon, like ReSA handouts ni Tamayo, Soriano, etc.                       

—- ooo —-

Nakakawalandyo *with matching voice of Atty. D of CPAR* yun exam di ba? Dahil inexpect na namin na mahirap ang CPA board examinations tulad noong July dahil sa change ng composition of BOA, pinaghandaan talaga ng karamihan ito. Pero ang nangyari, parang standard costing: ang standard ay mahirap, pero ang actual MAS MAHIRAP pa, kaya naging UNFAVORABLE sa amin. Masasabi mo talaga na ACCOUNTING ang tunay na MAHIRAP. ACCOUNTING ang tunay na PURO PASAKIT. </3 Sabi nga ng ilan, pati ng iCPA, it was one of the toughest CPA board exams ever. (Di kasama yun time na hindi pa multiple choice ang board exam ah, mas mahirap naman yun.)

Sa lahat ng nagdasal at sumuporta, maraming maraming salamat! Sa lahat ng CPAs na, congratulations and see you sa oathtaking, testimonial dinner or baka sa work na rin. Sa mga hindi naman pinalad, di pa tapos ang laban! Balang araw, susunod na rin kayo na matutupad ang mga pangarap bilang CPA. At sa lahat ng magtatake this coming May 2015, I am wishing you all the best. Tiwala lang kay Lord plus efforts, magiging CPA ka rin.

KEEP CALM AND BE A CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT.

To God be all the glory!     

- P.M.G. Clamor, CPA