Intro post

Feb. 2nd, 2020 08:57 pm
erinptah: (Default)
My active journal is the one you're looking at. My active blog is [syndicated profile] erinptah_feed ([wordpress.com profile] erinptah). Locked personal posts and [livejournal.com profile] fail_fandomanon link roundups are found here on DW. Fic recs and weekly fanwork roundups are on Wordpress. Everything else is found on both.

[personal profile] ptahrrific - fanfiction and mixes
[archiveofourown.org profile] ErinPtah - fanfiction
[deviantart.com profile] ErinPtah - [fan]art
[tumblr.com profile] bicatperson - fanart

And you can like it all on Facebook.

But I'm A Cat Person is a webcomic about magical shifting battle monsters and the humans who are just trying to get on with their lives.

Leif & Thorn is a sparkly queer fantasy dramedy. Thorn is a knight guarding a foreign embassy; Leif prunes the trees and admires his sword. Bilingual shenanigans and budding romance ensue.

And don't miss the archives of And Shine Heaven Now, the world's second-most-popular Hellsing-related comic.
erinptah: (Default)
"[Kevin Pratt-King] had asked McCain for help after being diagnosed with the same form of aggressive cancer, glioblastoma. Instead of offering aid, according to Roy’s tweet, McCain advised them to move to a different state."

"Social workers began going door to door in San Juan housing projects, explaining that a pill could be taken daily to prevent pregnancy. Once women were told what the pill did, they signed up by the hundreds. However, these women were not informed that they were part of a clinical trial or that the treatment was experimental."

"Side effects [of the vaginal implant] can range from chronic pain and loss of sexual function, to major complications like the implant protruding through the bladder, or bowels, even necessitating removal of organs ensnared in the mesh. It can shrink inside your body, slicing through nerve endings, tissue and organs."

"If someone makes the effort of going to doctor after doctor, and all they are given is a pat on the head and told, 'Oh, sweetie, you'll be OK—you just need to smile more,' that is a failure of the physicians." Article covers both social biases (like doctors assuming a woman's problems are psychosomatic instead of doing tests) and biological ones (like researchers only testing on male mice, leaving them with huge gaps in knowledge regarding biologically female humans).

"The Gay Men’s Chorus posed to illustrate the impact of AIDS. Those dressed in black, with their backs turned, represent those who had died." This 1993 photo is a punch in the heart.

"The military spends five times as much on Viagra as it would on transgender troops’ medical care."

And for something more hopeful:

An experiment, recounted in comic form: If you put rats alone in cages, they'll addict themselves to morphine. If you put them in an enriching environment with a bunch of other rats to hang out with, they'll avoid it.

Gisella Perl, the "Angel of Auschwitz" -- who got that title by providing abortions, so the Nazis wouldn't have pregnant Jewish women to experiment on.

"As what was thought to be the largest referral service in the country, which referred an estimated half million women for abortions in its six years of existence, the [Clergy Consultation Service] had significant market power that it leveraged to reduce the going rate for an abortion." The name isn't a euphemism. It was literally a coalition of Protestant and Jewish religious leaders.

"Intersex advocates are rejoicing at a paper released by three former US Surgeons General. The surgeon-generals called for an end to forced medical surgeries on young intersex people."
erinptah: (space)
People killed by police in the US, 2017. Currently at 759.

Charlottesville-based organizations that can take your money. (The Twitter thread have been going around; this is a blog post that rounds up the links.)

"'I was expecting him to come home, not to be buried,' [the 16-year-old's grandmother] told the station. 'I was telling him, give yourself a little while and you’ll be home with me.'" Justice for Aries Clark.

"We are among the vast majority of Americans who believe that we must take sensible steps to prevent massacres like the one that took my daughter’s life. We will continue to speak up. We will not go away."

2014 FBI study: "There were, on average, 16.4 [mass] shootings a year from 2007 to 2013, compared with an average of 6.4 shootings annually from 2000 to 2006. In the past 13 years, 486 people have been killed in such shootings, with 366 of the deaths in the past seven years." This was commissioned by Obama post-Sandy Hook, and was the first FBI study of its kind.

"...two officers who encountered the armed off-duty officer ordered him to the ground. He complied. When they recognized the off-duty officer, they told him he could stand up and walk toward them. Another officer just arriving at the scene saw the off-duty officer get up and, not knowing he was an officer, fired his weapon once at the man."

"Southaven officers went to the wrong house to serve a warrant on Monday, which resulted in the shooting death of a man who did not have any active warrants out for his arrest." Worse, they shot Ismael Lopez through his front door.
erinptah: (daily show)
You can send a set of ITMFA pins to your Congressperson. Proceeds go to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the International Refugee Assistance Project.

"'The refugee agencies didn’t really feel comfortable sending their kids anywhere,' Adams says. 'We needed to be that place for them.” It’s no coincidence that as Sullivan has established itself as the go-to school for refugees in the last couple of years, its academic standing has also risen."

"Airwars researchers estimate that at least 2,300 civilians likely died from Coalition strikes overseen by the Obama White House—roughly 80 each month in Iraq and Syria. As of July 13, more than 2,200 additional civilians appear to have been killed by Coalition raids since Trump was inaugurated—upwards of 360 per month, or 12 or more civilians killed for every single day of his administration."

"I was having lunch with Shonda Rhimes last week and a woman stopped at the table — well-dressed, probably in her 40s or 50s — and she said, ‘I just can’t leave this restaurant without telling you I’m just so devastated,’ and she just started to cry. I was on the other side of the table, or I would have done what I have done countless times since the election, which is just put my arms around her. Because people are so profoundly hurt." The surreal post-election life of Hillary Clinton.

"Not only were the Hartes upstanding citizens with clean records, they were also both former Central Intelligence Agency officers. And they were not weed growers. Rather, the quick-trigger suspicion of law enforcement had snagged on — it would later turn out — tea leaves and a struggling tomato plant."

"Initially, the city would impose property and sales taxes, but the property tax would ratchet down to zero over time. The business-friendly environment would draw new economic activity to Von Ormy, and eventually the town would cruise along on sales taxes alone." Spoiler alert: it did not cruise. It crashed and burned.

"A Facebook group for Norwegians opposed to immigration was widely mocked after members apparently could not tell the difference between empty bus seats and burka-clad women."
erinptah: (daily show)
"Over the years, prisoners have packaged coffee for Starbucks Corp. and wrapped software for Microsoft Corp. They manufacture furniture, schools supplies and food products. They make dental products, train animals, work in call centers and even pick cotton. All of these activities put prisoners in direct competition with blue-collar American workers; the latter has essentially no chance."

"...in the substantial majority of instances (68 percent) overall employment increased after a federal minimum-wage increase. In the most substantially affected industries, the rates were even higher: in the leisure and hospitality sector employment rose 82 percent of the time following a federal wage increase, and in the retail sector it was 73 percent of the time."

"...it seems safe to conclude that Seattle has tolerated its minimum wage increase well and that, by extension, other strong economies could do so. It also suggests that a key to successful large increases is a gradual phase-in that gives businesses time to adjust and experts time to study the impacts as they unfold."

"If [McCain, recently diagnosed with brain cancer] and his fellow Republicans in Congress have their way, health insurers could soon be allowed to deny me coverage — or to double or triple the cost of my insurance — due to the fact that I lost two close blood relatives to the same disease."

"Republicans are now pushing up against a growing consensus that the government should guarantee health insurance. A Pew survey in January found that 60 percent of Americans believe the federal government should be responsible for ensuring that all Americans have health coverage. That was up from 51 percent last year, and the highest in nearly a decade."
erinptah: Vintage screensaver (computing)
Over the course of more than 10 years, I uploaded almost 6,000 images.

A month ago, Photobucket broke them all and demanded I pay $400 to fix it.

Wish I'd taken a screenshot of my Account stats page before I started deleting, but here's what it looks like as of right now:



And I'm about to hit "delete" and make it go away entirely.

It took a bunch of exhausting busywork to get to this point, but I gotta say, now that I'm here, it feels pretty good.
erinptah: Madoka and Homura (madoka)
Madoka Magica features a ton of references and/or obvious influences from other magical-girl series. This bit, I would lay good odds, is a Doctor Who reference.

Here's some production art of the Seal of Rassilon:

Seal of Rassilon

Here's Homura with her shield:

Homura and shield

And here they are side-by-side. Either someone on the Madoka design team was a Who fan, or that's a heck of a coincidence. (The Coincidence of Rassilon, perhaps.)

Seal and shield
erinptah: (pyramid)
This guy is safely back at the local shelter where he came from.

(Full details in locked posts -- if you didn't see them, and would like to be on a filter that includes stuff like cat drama, feel free to comment.)

The name on the shelter paperwork is Eli, so that's what I'm going to call him, not the name picked out by the roommate who brought him home and then wasn't around to take care of him.

Eli is super shy and super timid, but also totally mellow -- even when he was scared he never bit or scratched, just hid. In the three weeks he was at the flat, there was literally one time when he felt safe enough to approach a human on his own volition. Then he got spooked again, and there weren't enough days to re-reassure him before returning him to the professionals.

But I did get photos of him on the couch.



Petting for a sweet boy.



I hope he gets adopted by someone he can climb all over.
erinptah: Cat in a backpack (cat)
Linguistics links:

Nothing new under the sun: "in tibullus 1.8 (a poem about his boyfriend Marathus) has this line about “pugnantibus linguis” (literally battling tongues) which means that the idea of tongues battling for dominance in homoerotic fiction has been going on since at least the 1st century bce"

From Seaspeak to Singlish: cool English dialects and English-based creoles.

Hawaiian pidgin has a great all-purpose noun -- it's "you-know-what", "whatchamacallit", "so-and-so", and "the thing" all at once.

Cat links:

Before there were laptops, cats were happy to sit on our portable typewriters.

"I was right there in case he got upset — I was expecting him to hiss or growl or slink away. But then one of the ginger kittens started licking Mason’s ear, and Mason sort of leaned into it and closed his eyes like it was the most amazing thing ever."

erinptah: Madoka and Homura (madoka)
Down to my last 48 images on Photobucket. Have a rescued picspam.

It's Mma Precious Ramotswe and Mma Grace Makutsi, the heroines of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Hugging. Seriously, it's just screencaps of this one great time they hugged.

Precious and Grace

That's Mma Ramotswe on the left. She's the detective. Very smart, very good with emotions, lots of tragic backstory. IIRC she's feeling the tragic backstory pretty hard in this moment.

And Mma Makutsi on the right. Very serious secretary/manager, first in her class, doesn't much approve of Feelings. The fact that she's having some is a big deal.

Doubles as an art reference for anyone looking to draw a hug. )
erinptah: (daily show)
While the Internet is going "can we impeach him NOW?" over Donald Trump's kid releasing his own treasonous emails, here's a grab-bag of other terribleness the right has been up to.

Donald: "On the campaign trail, Mr Trump repeatedly criticised President Barack Obama for golf outings during his presidency but as of his last trip to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, Mr Trump has spent his 35th day at one his own golf properties." That's over 20% of his "presidency," for those keeping score.

'This is an act of insanity,' a former Trump inner-circle associate told me, 'but it’s how he functions.'”

Mike Pence: "He touched a piece of critical space flight hardware in the Orion clean room, despite the fact that there was a sign that clearly read, 'DO NOT TOUCH.'"

The State Department: "His team apparently waited too long to book accommodations for the President [at the G20] and his travelling staff and were told none of the major hotels had vacancies." And this isn't even the first time: "Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had to stay several miles away - at a sanitarium outside of Bonn - from other leaders at the February G20 ministers' meeting."

The Defense Department: "National security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all supported Trump [reaffirming Article 5] and had worked in the weeks leading up to the trip to make sure it was included in the speech, according to five sources familiar with the episode. They thought it was, and a White House aide even told The New York Times the day before the line was definitely included."

Eric Trump: "...while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses."

Mitch McConnell: "I didn't expect Donald Trump to win, I think most of my colleagues didn't, so we didn't expect to be in this situation [of having to follow through on our own promises]."

Hobby Lobby: Hobby Lobby has been smuggling thousands of illegally-gained artifacts out of Iraq. In case you're wondering, yes, this almost certainly means Hobby Lobby directly funds terrorists. Hobby Lobby is a sponsor of terrorism.

The RNC: "Political data gathered on more than 198 million US citizens was exposed this month after a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee stored internal documents on a publicly accessible Amazon server." (Hey, remember how many Americans' personal data was exposed because of Hillary's emails? None of it!)

The House: "Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) praised the recent Islamic State attack in Tehran as a 'good thing' and suggested that maybe the United States should work with the militant organization."
erinptah: Cat in a backpack (cat)
The couch I'm sitting on to write this, the one I'm usually sitting on when browsing/coloring/ficwriting, is really old. My parents got it (with a matching set of chairs) when I was in high school. It's the one big piece of furniture I took when I moved to Massachusetts.

More interestingly, it's been sat on by every cat I've ever lived with.

And I have photos!

2003-2006: Tabitha )

2009-2010: Ziggy Stardust )

2010: Bingley )

2010 again: Darcy )

2013: Isis )

2017: Molly )
erinptah: A map. (books)
Fixed all the broken images in my DW layouts tag. Here's one I never posted:

preview

Original layout using this Creative-Commons-licensed Manhattan panorama.

Live preview | Screenshot

Title: New York Evening (Fluid)
Credit to: [personal profile] erinptah
Base style: Tabula Rasa
Type: Full layout in CSS
Best resolution: 1024x768+
Tested in: Firefox, Chrome
Features: customizable, variable-width, 2 columns




To use:
  1. Go to Select Journal Style and set your theme to one of the Tabula Rasa styles: 2 columns, sidebar on the right.

  2. Go to Customize Journal Style: Custom CSS, untick Use layout's stylesheet(s), and copy the contents of the above textarea into Use embedded CSS.

  3. Save and enjoy!
erinptah: (Default)
Down to the last 399 images in my Photobucket account! Among the randomest of the broken images: desktop-screenshot memes from 8 years ago.

Here's what it looked like June 2009, two computers ago, running Windows XP:



And here's September 2009, my previous computer, running the just-released Windows 7:



Picking up the theme, the computer I got during grad school and still have, in July 2017:



That's the wonderful Desktop Calendar app running in the lower right. And in the second column of icons, you can see the folder with miscellaneous Photobucket rescues.
erinptah: (Default)

When last we left our heroes, democracy had been subverted on almost every level, including the level where the writers don't understand how American democracy works. But a shockingly-decent human being was pulled out of left field and appointed Vice President. It sets up the prospect of a happier ending than I would have thought possible.

Will the new VPEOTUS turn out to have been an evil mastermind all along? Let's find out!

---

Episode 13 opens with a fleet of mystery drones over the US. Our election-rigging not-Russian Someones have borrowed the tactic that the "good guys" used earlier. Awkward.

Villain uses the phrase "your loved ones...as you call them." That's how you know he's a villain, he doesn't believe in foolish things like 'love'.

They have his co-villain in custody in a bunker under the White House, and obviously the prospect of torture comes up, because these people still haven't figured out that it doesn't get accurate intel. Still President Fitz says that if they torture her, "we spit on the Constitution," and they'll be no better than the villains...if they do it on WH grounds. In foreign secret prisons? That, he would've been totally fine with.

Anyway, they decide to bluff her instead, and she cracks in like a minute. Which should've been a hint that she was counter-bluffing, but nope, they go along with it. Even agree to send David Rosen -- the guy she was dating, the guy who found out who she was but had to keep sleeping with her so she wouldn't catch on, the easiest possible person for her to psych out -- to deliver the immunity agreement.

Villain: "Can we start over? You know my real name now...."

Rosen, disbelievingly: "You murdered Elizabeth North!"

Villain, wheedling: "I know...!"

(He ends up punching her in the face. I'm okay with that.)

They get her with a more complicated bluff in the end. Olivia's dad pretends to talk his way into the bunker and bust her out -- with a gun, which, you know, maybe was supposed to be a clue that this was a scheme. But given how terrible these people have been about security before, I was totally willing to believe that nobody frisked him.

(He gets her back to the museum, then stabs her with a dinosaur tooth. I, uh, would've liked her alive to testify, but if you ignore that bit it's a cool scene.)

---

The bad guys were sending Olivia's dad random packages, which turned out to be full of bricks, but calculated to make up the approximate weight of a human head. Which is apparently terrifying and intimidating, that they can afford to waste that much on postage.

So this episode opens with David Rosen bringing Abby an actual head. (The woman Dad Pope just killed. Abby calls her "ponytail bitch," which is as good a name as any.)

Third-to-last episode and we kinda have a case-of-the-week! Olivia Pope and Associates are trying to convince Fitz to do a last-minute pardon (for a black guy convicted of killing a white guy acquitted of killing a black guy). Huck and Quinn face down a bar full of heavily-armed racists and walk out untouched (and carrying a few extra guns), which is the kind of content I like to see.

David and Abby bond over their mutual angst about being manipulated. It's kinda cute. I would like them to have a happy ending, if only because they were broken up in such an awful way.

I was reeeeally worried the Shocking Twist would be that our victim-of-the-week is guilty after all, but never fear! We're 26 minutes into the episode and Olivia hates the idea: "You want me to take your racially-sensitive tinderbox of a closed case to an outgoing President with a legacy to protect because you have a feeling?"

Five minutes from the end, and some of our heroes have a shocking revelation that the Mystery Villains were working for someone! This is a twist? Y'all thought you were chatting directly with the top brass of the superconspiracy this whole time?

On the plus side, it turns out Olivia was testing Quinn -- "Running this firm will mean going up against the White House sometimes, I needed to know that you could handle it." Would've had more impact if the viewers didn't know from experience she would be wrong, but you take what you can get.

The evil mastermind is Olivia's mom! On Luna Vargas' behalf, I am delighted.

---

Mellie: "It's official, everyone in your family has wanted me dead at some point or another." She's not wrong.

Mom Pope gets a long monologue about how she's been secretly working in the name of good all along, and this just one more example of black women's work not being appreciated. On Luna Vargas' behalf, I'm worried again.

Olivia tries to bluff out her mom ("I'm totally on your side, but you need to give them something"), and overplays it horribly. So it doesn't work, and she tries strangling instead. Who on this writing team has a thing for choking?

Oh, and Quinn's pregnant. I guess at this point someone had to be.

---

IT WAS LUNA.

Dammit, show. I didn't want to be right about this. For this narrative, the really shocking twist would be someone turning out to be a genuinely decent human being.

...or at least, it was sort-of Luna. She "paid someone", presumably Mom Pope, to kill Frankie. Mom Pope passed the orders to Team Rocket, who passed them on via blackmail to half the main cast.

That still doesn't answer the question of where Team Rocket came from in the first place. Luna didn't create them, and I don't think Mom Pope did either. Their identities were almost perfectly scrubbed, they had millions to throw around and the financial infrastructure to cover their tracks, they were playing next-level blackmail chess. They had tracking chips in their necks, and were able to pull out a dozen covert drones at a moment's notice.

This only makes sense if they're agents of a serious organization -- and if they have motives other than money. I'm not even sure where Luna was supposed to have whipped up secret presidential-assassination levels of payment in the first place, but the effort these people went to, they would've needed power or ideology or both. Russian agents: makes sense! Random assassins: terrible narrative Plan B.

(It's also implied Cyrus gave her the idea, which, again...nobody's motives line up with the idea of killing Vargas before the EC vote.)

Abby to Quinn: "You wanted to have a baby? Let's have a baby." Uh...you two aren't the canon ship here...are you?

After a successful inauguration where nobody got shot, Olivia and Jake talk Luna into killing herself. Because hey, let's wrap up that loose end before any viewers start asking awkward questions. At least it got us this little gem:

Olivia: "Raise your hand if you've killed a Vice President before." [raises hand, looks meaningfully at Jake]

Jake: "Mine was Argentine."

Olivia: "That counts."

After all that, it's looking like the next season is going to have all the same people in power in Washington, just shuffled around a bit. Like, we might even have Cyrus installed as Mellie's VP after all.

I was going to say "still better than Trump," but, you know what? The last scene we get of President Mellie is her signing an executive order that Olivia puts in front of her, without reading it. (She accepts Olivia's summary, that it's setting aside a bit of cash for the military. It is, in fact, setting aside a bit of cash for Olivia.)

Sorry, America. The votes from the state of Shondaland are in, and it turns out you lost.

erinptah: (daily show)
The photobucket clearout has turned up some fun fake-news images. In the spirit of Independence Day, here they are on their brand-new host.

Illustrated Jons, from otherwise-forgotten articles:

Jon Jon


Jon and Stephen playing cards, from a 2008 pro-Obama deck:

Colbert playing card Stewart playing card


This one is (a) very NSFW and (b) not actually Jon, but isn't it fun to look at?

NSFW art under the cut )


This one is definitely a 100% authentic gif of "Stephen":

confused eagle


And finally, the only thing better than Jon and/or Stephen, a digitally-fused portrait that's both-Jon-and-Stephen-at-once:

Jon-Stephen fusion

Either that, or they secretly had a kid, because their BFFdom is just that magical.
erinptah: (Default)

Since Photobucket's "all your image hosting is broken and you'll have to pay $400 to get it back" stunt, I'm reuploading everything that's still relevant to my A Small Orange web hosting. Less than a quarter of the price, no fuss about hotlinking, and it lets you make a whole website to go with the photos.

In the process I've rediscovered a bunch of old picspams I totally forgot doing:

And a lot of stuff I don't feel guilty about flat-out deleting:

  • screencaps & doujinshi scans for posts in now-defunct LJ/DW communities
  • long-deprecated TopWebComics incentive art
  • 10-year-old fanart (still findable in my DA scraps, for anyone who's truly invested)
  • so many random Daily Show photos. Soooo many.
  • memes where I don't even remember where they came from

All that went quick. The slow & more laborious to re-upload includes all my fic illustrations, fanmix covers, and icons. (Over 800 icons. Fun!)

So there's a mountain of stuff left to pickaxe through -- but it's an encouragingly dwindled mountain. Last night I had almost 6,000 images on Photobucket. This afternoon, it's nearly down to 2,000, and still shrinking.

erinptah: (Default)
Watched the last episode of this season live when it aired, had so many thoughts that I had to go back and rewatch/liveblog, just to make sure I got them all in order.

Spoilers ahoy!

'I was secretly on your side all along, you silly sausage.' )
erinptah: A map. (writing)
Hey folks, I have a hashtag urban living question. Trying to frame it so it's not obvious which person I was....

The scene: a busy laundromat. Person 1 arrives, sets machine to do their laundry, observes how long it's supposed to run, leaves to run a few errands.

Machine finishes its cycle while Person 1 is still gone. No other machines are free.

Person 2 removes Person 1's laundry, sets the machine to do Person 2's laundry. Person 1 returns to find their clothes in one of the handy baskets next to the machine.

So...is Person 1 more inconsiderate, by hogging the machine space while other people are waiting? Or is Person 2 more inconsiderate, by messing with someone else's stuff instead of being more patient?

Short & long answers both welcome. Maybe mention where you're from, in case the standards turn out to vary by country/region.
erinptah: (daily show)

Welcome back to Scandal, where the morals aren't real and the votes don't matter.

Our story so far: Two mysterious Someones, who were reportedly supposed to be Russian agents until the reality of 2016 forced the writers to think of something more original, arranged a murder-and-framing-spree around the President-elect. Mostly through surrogates that they've threatened and/or slept with, including about half of our main cast.

The heroes are dealing with this through a strategy of random guessing, dramatic confrontations, torturing people for inaccurate intel, forgetting to frisk people at key moments, and angsty self-reflection about that time when they rigged a presidential election.

Seven episodes left. Who will win? Not America, that's for sure.

---

Episode 10 (of the season, episode 100 of the show) is a whole Imagine Spot about what if Olivia hadn't voted to rig Fitz's election way back when.

For some reason AU Pope and Associates can't afford the swanky office. I thought she got there on her own amazing skills and reputation -- is this implying that her business was somehow propped up by Fitz's presidency? Or is it that she turned a moral corner with the election-rigging? Maybe the show wants us to see this as "she got more ruthless in doing whatever it takes to support wonderful deserving people," so down this fork-in-the-road she's not as good because she's held back by silly things like ethics.

Also, she's wearing her hair natural. Found a post that unpacks that a bit.

Fitz gets divorced, marries Olivia. Cyrus won't sit with his not-yet-husband at the ceremony, and, uh, ends up making out with Mellie for some reason? (No word, not even a mention, of who gets custody of their kids.)

We do get a couple of sweet details. Huck walks Olivia down the aisle, looking super awkward in a nice suit, while Abby is the maid of honor. Shots of various smiling friends and allies in the refreshingly multiracial audience.

Fitz gets a cheesy TV pundit spot. Also, for some reason it's a year post-wedding and they're not living together. Abby and David are namechecked as happily married.  Cyrus and Mellie...are...married and pregnant? Quinn didn't even get roped into the firm, so she's being cute and giggly on a Bachelor-type reality show.

...oh my god, the Bachelor says to not-Quinn "You really love torturing me, don't you? Is that your thing?"  (And Huck is clapping! He's rooting for her!) This is beautiful and they're so innocent and it hurts that they don't live in this universe.

Final score: Cyrus stays closeted and career-driven and miserable. Mellie is also pretty glum, but she's a better human being who cares about others. Fitz and Olivia have a lot of stress and fighting, including the revelation that she could've stolen the White House for him...but they pleasantly surprise me by both ultimately realizing that politics is soul-sucking and they're better off without it.

Totally should've gone with this reality.

---

Aaaand we're back to the merry-go-round of people yelling about who the Electoral College should vote for, based on whose kink for power they're most interested in indulging.

Mellie yelling at Olivia: "Get off your high horse! Like you never killed anybody? Like you never stole an Oval or two?" Look at all that sense and logic.

Olivia's response: "I know you. You are better than most. You are inherently good." Have you never seen your own show.

...She switches to Team Cyrus later in the episode, for reasons, and there's a lot of back-and-forth between Team Cyrus (he knows he's not worthy, but he wants to do it for Frankie!) to Team Mellie (Cyrus was a terrible husband and also she deserves it!). Until the point where Mellie meets the Someones...and one of them murders not!Veronica in front of her. Dammit, I liked Veronica!

Also, remember how the FBI director and the President are doing it? Yeah, that comes up again.

Fitz accuses her of being jealous of Olivia. She responds: "Boy, I am the director of the FBI, not some chick who got dissed at prom." Federal Director of Sass. And currently holding the mantle of Only Likeable Character Left Alive.

The EC votes! Mellie is in! Possibly in a landslide! Wonder how many of the electors were flipped via murder.

---

Episode 12 finds Dad Pope in protective presidential custody, although he's cranky because he sees more murder on the horizon.

...and we finally get one of the Someones confronting Olivia in person. Threatens her to replace Mellie's VP candidate. She goes to him and says "you should try being head of the NSA instead," as if our mysterious enemies would be totally chill with that.

FINALLY, a ploy with some strategy! Our heroes send one of their own drones into WH airspace, giving security an excuse to drag all attendant Someones into a secure bunker with phone signals blocked. Time for a secure war council.

(Or at least, I hope it's secure. Mellie's office was bugged for months and they never noticed. Have they learned a lesson from that? Time will tell! And there's a mention of Mellie's kids being in Secret Service custody -- are we taking it for granted that the Service hasn't been compromised?)

...so, okay, there was not a lot of actual council-ing in the secure council. Lots of angry yelling about various bombshell secrets that Subset X was hiding from Subset Y. (I remembered Dad Pope killing one of Fitz and Mellie's kids, but I forgot that Fitz knew. Mellie...finds out here.)

Then they split off into subgroups for a bunch of one-on-one conversations. Pairs up people who haven't interacted much all season, and I appreciate the character moments that come from exploring underused dynamics...but is this really the time?

By the end it seems like the only decision they've made is picking Mellie's replacement VP. No progress in figuring out who, exactly, is blackmailmurdering their way into the US government? Do we have a long-term safety strategy? Because that was not mentioned.

---

True fact: I am genuinely impressed by the VP reveal. I didn't see it coming at all, and yet in retrospect it's perfectly suited to the themes this season has brought up over and over -- how decent people usually aren't the ones who run for office, how they can honor the voters who chose Vargas by giving his position to someone he trusted, how political wives (and husbands in Cyrus' case) deserve more credit for all the sacrifices and compromises they've made to support their husbands.

It's Frankie Vargas' widow. She's consistently been a Good Person in all her appearances, and yet I haven't even been mentioning her in my tally of likeable characters because she's so mild and unassuming and respectable. Which I suppose was probably the point.

Scandal being Scandal, I give it 50-50 odds that it'll turn out she was the evil mastermind behind the Someones this whole time.

But if she isn't...possibly the American people will end up kinda-sorta winning? Or at least not totally losing?

Nicely done, show.

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