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friday favourites :: 13.01.12

ok, i totally skipped friday favourites on the first friday of the new year. i own up to that. as it happened, it got working on my initial rouge bunny rouge review and it took longer than i thought it would to put the whole thing together, so when i finished, all i could think about was rouge bunny rouge and the enchanted garden and, really, getting those products was probably my favourite thing last week, along with watching the insanity of the republican iowa caucus and "cnn after dark", which i'd also already blogged about. but now i'm back and i have more things that are cheering me through the darkest days of winter. [not actually the darkest days, since the solstice is passed. -ed.] [i was being metaphorical, tight ass.]

image borrowed from
the traveling red dress :: technically, this is sort of a repeat from a previous friday favourites, which i normally don't do, since it's about "the bloggess" jenny lawson, but this time, rather than just making me blow tea out my nose with laughter, she's using the internet to do something really amazing.

this is a project that actually started a few years ago, when she invested in a beautiful red dress, just for the opportunity to feel the beauty, glamour and decadence it accorded. then, wanting other women to be able to experience those same feelings, she decided to send the red dress out into the world, offering it to anyone who needed that sort of fairytale magic in their lives.

although the original dress is apparently a little worse for wear [literally], the project was resurrected recently when lawson blogged about her battles with depression and her propensity to self-harm. while she has never made a secret of her mental health issues, she usually addresses them with the same humour that has made her blog famous and famously popular [over a million hits a month]. this piece was different, because it exposed the horrors of a woman trying at once to deal with mental disorders and their attendant social stigma and at the same time, trying to protect her young daughter from her shadowy passengers.

from this article flowed a new tide of "traveling red dresses", a network of women offering their own beautiful garments to others in need of a bit of joy. no corporate sponsor has donated to the project- it is strictly an internet phenomenon transmitted largely through tweets [twitter's resurgence after it was thought to be on life support a couple of years back is a sort of remarkable story in itself], with dozens of offers.

jenny lawson has become a sort of personal hero for me. reading her tweets and her blog are highlights of virtually every week and she could easily occupy a place on every installment of "friday favourites". i have to stop myself from putting her on here more often. i can't wait until the official launch of her forthcoming memoir "let's pretend this never happened" and i'm always looking forward to the next way she devises to make people "furiously happy".


mississippi attorney general jim hood :: normally when we hear about legal professionals using technicalities and procedural get-arounds to achieve their ends, it's a cause for anger, because too often, this is the sort of chicanery that results in guilty people continuing to roam the streets. however, now and again, there are cases where a legal anomaly can be used to accomplish what the law was intended to do- protecting a community from its most anti-social members.

as most governors [and presidents] are wont to do, mississippi's haley barbour used his executive prerogative to pardon criminals as he prepares to leave office. of course, most governors don't pardon two hundred criminals at once. although, in a press communique [the only statement his office has made thus far on the issue] barbour defends his actions because "90% of those released were no longer in custody"- meaning that they had been granted parole after relatively minor offenses and were being granted pardon in recognition of the fact that they had shown themselves to have reformed. at least, we hope that that's the logic.

but most people have not been concerned with that 90%, but with the 10% who were still in custody and were pardoned anyway- rapists, murderers, violent predicate felons like david gatlin who shot his estranged wife while she was holding their six week old baby. [he also shot a good friend of hers, who survived despite a blast to the head and now lives in fear that gatlin will come back to finish the job.]

there have been some obvious objections raised; a number of the convicts pardoned, including gatlin, worked at the governor's mansion, possibly indicating that the pardons were based on personal favouritism rather than a sober review of case histories and; a pardon does not mean simply that a convict can go free- which would be questionable in itself- but that the entire record of that person's criminal history is removed from the public record. like it never happened. as a result, those pardoned face no conditions that might normally be imposed were they released on parole; conditions like not being able to carry a firearm, not being eligible for certain types of employment or having restrictions on their ability to travel.

and the truly frightening thing is that governors have absolute authority when it comes to granting these sorts of pardons. for victims, there is no recourse to have them turned over. cnn legal analyst jeffrey toobin, looking bewildered and forlorn, confirmed this to anderson cooper the day the story hit.


enter jim hood, the state attorney general and therefore mississippi's highest ranking legal authority. hood either has an uncanny memory for the law or a crack staff, because he has been able to exploit a little-known quirk in the state's constitution that requiring a governor wishing to grant a pardon to advertise this at least 30 days in advance of when the pardon is to be granted. and in many of the cases, barbour did not do so. in any other state, the victims' and their families would be s.o.l., but in mississippi, there is some faint hope, especially in light of the fact that hood has a real bee in his bonnet about reversing the most questionable of the pardons.

part of me wishes that hood wasn't the only democrat serving in a republican government, so that he could not be accused- as he has been- of using the case for political ends. because it does seem that he really wants to find a way to help. he's already received an injunction on the pardons [although all but 27 of those pardoned had already been released] while his office sifts through the gubernatorial rubble to determine which pardons can be reversed on the basis that they violated the state's constitution.

it promises to be an uphill battle. four murderers have already disappeared from the grid, presumably out of state, before the injunction- which would have required them to report their whereabouts to the authorities- was granted. hood's office can search for them, but the fact that these people no longer have criminal records means that he cannot do the most effective thing- issue a warrant for their arrest. plus, of course, it will take time to determine who among the pardoned can even be reincarcerated on the basis that the pardon was improperly granted.

but i wish him the best. there's an old joke that 99% of lawyers make all the others look bad. apparently, jim hood is the 1%.

well, normally i do more favourites than that, but since these were a couple of particularly wordy favourites, i'll stop there. well, o.k., one more, just because it's so spectacularly bizarre and unbelievable that i feel like i have to post it here before someone in newt gingrich's entourage realises it's the worst idea ever in political campaigning and yanks it from the internet. behold, if you dare, team gingrich's new weapon against current republican pack leader mitt romney:

aside from the fact that i live in a french-speaking province and watching this makes me want to get all 1812 on newt's ass, the idea that speaking french somehow disqualifies one from being president reaffirms just about every awful stereotype that people have about americans. and doing that is absolutely something that should disqualify one from being president. what the heck is the point of having a president who makes you look bad? [then again, i seem to recall that in 2008 the g.o.p. tried to make an issue out of the fact that barack obama said he regretted that he hadn't ever learned another language, as if this somehow meant he was unpatriotic, so perhaps this is a more commonly employed tactic than i realised.]

it bears mentioning that the image of the effete, ineffectual frenchman is largely a u.s. caricature. anyone who believes that the french are all excessively liberal should google jean-marie le pen. or for that matter, visit eastern quebec. not exactly a bastion of liberal thought. 

ironically, there is a story tangentially related to romney's french fluency that would make an appropriate target for political opponents: he learned french while living in france in the 60s, where his father sent him so that he could avoid the draft to vietnam. however, since gingrich also received deferments to avoid the draft, he can't really start that fight.

but in the meantime, this horrendously awesome ad exists to entertain us all. and to help us separate the thinking people [who will be the ones laughing] from the douchebags.

so that's it for this week. i'm currently looking out at our second straight day of snowstorm and thinking about how wonderful it's going to feel to walk out there into the gloom and run some errands. i'd be tempted to throw down some serious snow angels, but i have to admit that knowing what most montreal streets look like under the fluffy and fresh white blanket is a pretty powerful reason to do no such thing.

temperatures are supposed to drop to around -20C for the entire weekend, so i suspect that this will be my last opportunity to venture into the outside world for a few days without risking death and dismemberment. out of curiosity, does anyone know what happens to zombies in the cold? i mean, without internally generated body heat, do they just freeze up in place like grotesque statues? i'm trying to see if there's an upside to montreal winters i might not have considered.

have a great week everyone and, if you're in an area that's going to be frozen over this weekend, remember it makes a fine excuse to cuddle. like so:


as long as you're here, why not read more?

wrong turn

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where possible, i try to track down stories of my better-known relatives and in doing so this week, i realised that i couldn't connect one of my greatĖ£ grandfathers to his son through any outside sources. what's worse that i found numerous sources that con…

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now, if we're being really strict about things, my scottish ancestors would probably disown me for supporting England, because those are the bastards who drove them off their land and sent them packing to this country that's too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. and indeed, shops in scotland have sold through their entire stock of croatian jerseys, as the natives rallied behind england's opponents in the semi-final. however, a few generations before they were starved and hounded from the lands they'd occupied for centuries, my particular brand of scottish ancestors would have encouraged me to support england [assuming that national football had even…