When I’d first heard that Marian Call was doing a garage band album with foul language, at some point I thought about Kaywinnet Lee Frye and Simon Tam discussing the appropriate times to swear. Regardless of what you do or do not know about Call personally, her singing persona doesn’t necessarily readily suggest anything other than the Simon end of that conversation.

Of course, being television, we not much later do see Simon swear. (Who could blame him, given the circumstances.)

When I posted about the first single dropping earlier this month, I’d said that it gave me “complicated feelings of expectations both met and confounded” that at the time I couldn’t explain. I probably could have; it’s mostly that somehow I’d imagined Call roughing up her voice more than she does here. That’s not a failing of the single, or of the album; it’s simply a mismatch of trying in advance to imagine the album in my head.

At any rate, the five-song EP itself — Swears! — drops today, and the only real thing I will say about it now is that “Glacier Bones” is brutal and while I always expect certain Call numbers to break me I fully did not at all expect to be broken by a garage band.

Fuck you, too, Nature.

Richard Kreitner and Rick Perlstein for The New York Review of Books present a short history of the “outside agitator” in American politics and social change (via Alex Wittenberg). Carve out some time to sit down and read this one.

The man in charge of the Pentagon, a former Raytheon executive, then said, “And we get back to a…”—he paused, then offered an even more pregnant formulation—“the right normal.” This was the lens through which the institutions of the American security state began thinking about protests that had assembled to protect and preserve black lives: by constructing an entire model of military engagement, with the outside agitator trope as its foundation. Evidence suggests they still are thinking that way. At the end of June, with any violence in demonstrations associated with the George Floyd protests at least three weeks in the past, Barr formed a task force to monitor “anti-government extremists” engaging in “indefensible acts of violence designed to undermine public order,” possibly even “fortified by foreign entities seeking to sow chaos and disorder in our country.”

There is no world in which Tom Cotton saying that slavery should be taught as “the necessary evil upon which the union was built” is being taken out of context. Here’s the context.

In the interview, Cotton said the role of slavery can’t be overlooked.

“We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country. As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction,” he said.

Instead of portraying America as “an irredeemably corrupt, rotten and racist country,” the nation should be viewed “as an imperfect and flawed land, but the greatest and noblest country in the history of mankind,” Cotton said.

Notice that he doesn’t say, “We need to study how the Founding Fathers said it was a necessary evil.” He says, “As the Founding Fathers said…” — a grammatical construction one uses when one is citing a source to support one’s own view.

Hannah Thomasy for Undark outlines the debate over changing the names of American bird species named, for example, for figures known for fighting for the Confederacy or massacring Native Americans.

McLaughlin and some other researchers suggest that birds shouldn’t be named after people at all. “The landscape of birding is changing,” says Ward. “Why not change these bird names as well? I say throw them all out the window and rename all the birds named after old dead White ornithologists.”

Instead, Ward points out that many birds are named after their behaviors, their preferred habitat, or physical features, and these characteristics could be used to rename birds like the longspur as well. “[McCown’s longspur] is common in the Great Plains, so we could call this bird the prairie longspur,” says Ward. “If you look at the bird, it also has a beautiful red-colored, chestnut-colored patch on its wings. Birders have so many different names for red. So, we could call this bird the rufous-winged longspur or the chestnut-winged longspur.”

There’s been this “don’t police the protest” line going around apparently (I’m getting this from Twitter), and I find it weird. At a fundamental level, a protest or demonstration essentially runs on a sort of rolling consensus, and pivotal there is in the word consent. No one person’s protest tactics are automatically owed the consent of other protesters, and insisting otherwise is actually just the exercise of power.

So, I don’t know why it wasn’t until this that I realize it, but now I see that some TERFs seem to think that reacting to a (perceived) loss of privilege is not actually transphobic; that an inclusive feminism somehow (inexplicably) cheapens hard-won feminist advances. But let me just respond to one point directly.

Twitter is obviously not the ideal place to conduct a nuanced argument but even by its standards there’s been a remarkable amount of “reading in” to her tweets. In the one that sparked the current shouting match, she suggested that phrases like “people who menstruate” (or, by analogy, “pregnant people”) tend to erase women’s identity. Is she wrong?

She is wrong, and the suggestion that “people who menstruate” erases “women’s identity” pretty much literally exemplifies TERF thinking.

What an inclusive feminism does is expand and correct “women’s identity”. None of the hard-won feminist advances somehow are despoiled if a more modern expansive thinking transforms you specifically into a cisgender woman rather than exclusively woman.

The thing is, I’d retracted the good will I’d offered that white-people band that changed their name from Lady Antebellum to Lady A, because it turned out they didn’t bother to google and learn that Lady A already existed and she was a Black musician. Apparently, the two sides had been in talks about usage for both parties going forward that now have completely broken down. Here’s my thing, though: I don’t really fucking care that the white-people band trademarked Lady A back in 2010, when the real Lady A has been Lady A since 2001 at least. I feel like there’s possibly a story in here somewhere about access to intellectual property lawyers and privilege. There shouldn’t have to be a challenge: the band could have googled, their manager could have googled, the trademark office could have googled. The band’s usage as a nickname from 2006 onward postdates Lady A’s usage in her trade, period.

Naturally, I think even Jill Filipovic overstates the problem but there’s lots in her look at the overblown reaction to cancel accountability culture that’s worth taking some time on. The analysis of weaponizing people’s employment when employers already have too much power is especially interesting, I think; I don’t know that I fully agree but it’s enough to give me pause. It’s worth running the analysis through for yourself, anyway.