R.I.P. Meatball, 2009-2019

I miss that wonderful dog so much

Too Long; Don’t Tweet is moving to my Patreon page, so please sign up there if you’re interested in staying in the loop.

If it’s okay with everyone, I’m going to share some of my favorite Meatball photos/videos/moments in this thread.

It started when a friend of mine sent me an email in August 2014 about a dog she saw at a shelter/rescue event. The dog’s official name was “Honey.”

Within 2 days, I’d adopted her. She had an unbelievable amount of energy, a giant heart, and several missing teeth.

The foster family she was staying with had re-named her Meatball on account of her giant gut (they originally thought she was pregnant, but it turns out she just had a permanently distended belly). The running theory was that she was used in a puppy mill. She was found as a stray

We quickly learned that she didn’t like the cone of shame, did like wearing shirts, and was just a generally fun-loving little monster.

Her hobbies included stealing food off of plates if we accidentally left them where she should reach

She had a very specific strategy to avoid doing things she didn’t want to

Very specific

And she LOVED belly rubs

She had a habit of photobombing

She was good with kids, as shown last year when Kayla’s niece came to visit

And was never shy about giving out kisses

An expert at begging for food

Seriously, expert

But her favorite thing was riding in a car with the top down

The way she’d look up at the sky in just absolute wonder...

And she was always just such a bundle of joy. Look, even when getting her nails trimmed:

Here she is, winning my dad over

We brought her to a party at a friend’s place a while back. She immediately made everyone bust out in smiles.
Within like 20 minutes, I looked over and people were holding her

And she always knew where the camera was. Photos with Kayla, my sister, my mom, and my mom/me/sister/dad

She supported local businesses. Like the neighborhood pet store (which she’s make us stop by even if they weren’t open yet)

She was the unofficial quality control pup for the local dog treat truck

Big fan of Christmas

Didn’t mind snow

It definitely not a fan of super cold conditions

We used to go to this place in Wisconsin every year around this time where she could run off-leash

She loved it there. I really want to believe that this is the type of place she is now, even if that sounds ridiculous

Barking at llamas

She had some friends

Most importantly, she is, was, and will always be family

But then around May, something went wrong.

She stopped wanting to go on walks, began refusing to go up or down stairs, and actively resisted being moved.

Her tail stopped wagging. While she was losing weight everywhere else, she was gaining it in her stomach

And then she suddenly lost her eyesight. Completely. She tried to fake it for a bit. She got confused. She’d sit and stare where she thought we were, and so we started going to doctors in hopes of finding out what’s wrong.

Tests weren’t coming back with anything, she had an ultrasound with a specialist that didn’t turn up anything, and she recently spent 3 nights at the animal hospital to figure out what was wrong.

She was in kidney failure.

We gave her subcutaneous fluids twice a day, but the best we could hope for was that her condition would remain the same. She’d never get better.

Her personality had changed. She couldn’t see, she struggled to walk, she was always tired, she didn’t want to eat, she didn’t want to drink.

She was miserable.

And it just kept getting worse.

It was clear things were only getting worse. She couldn’t even get comfortable when trying to sleep.

And so today... we had to do what was right for her.

And so we said our goodbyes today.

My heart is crushed. I can’t remember ever feeling so sad. I already miss Meatball so much. She was only 10. She deserved better.

But this is how I’ll always remember her: staring up at the clouds with total wonder.

I love her and I miss her so much already.

In one funny final act of extremely on-brand defiance, after being injected with the first of two shots at the vet today, Meatball let out a massive fart, giving us one last laugh.

In any case, thank you to everyone for the kind words/texts/replies/DMs. They mean a lot to me, and I’m sure it would have made Meatball really happy to know how much joy she brought to people who she’d never even met.

She was a very good dog. One of a kind.

I might be out of sorts for a bit, but I’m trying my best. Goodnight, all.

tl;dt is moving to Patreon ... for now, at least.

Sorry, Substack, but you're bumming me out.

I’m feeling conflicted about Substack.

While I enjoy sending out “tldt” archives (and really do like Substack’s extremely clean interface), I’m having a tough time wrapping my head around some changes being made here and the favoritism being displayed by one of the site’s co-founders. (Some users get more features than others, for instance.)

So, for the moment, I’m going to be posting my tldt threads to my Patreon, instead.

Mainstream media still don't get why headlines matter

This is a problem in desperate need of fixing ahead of the 2020 election

Welcome to Too Long; Don’t Tweet, a new project where I take Twitter threads the probably should have been articles, and turn them into blogs. If you follow me on Twitter (@ParkerMolloy), you probably know what’s in store. I’ll try not to send out more than 1 or 2 e-mails a week with updates.

For the most part, I won’t be changing a whole lot in terms of formatting from Twitter to blog. As my tweets auto-delete after a set period of time, though, I figured that this would be a decent way to create a somewhat more permanent home for threads I think are noteworthy.

October 4, 2019:

Bad headlines will be the death of U.S.

Please. Stop. Doing. This.

Every one of these headlines could be fixed by simply adding "Caving to Trump pressure" or "After Trump calls on Ukraine to take action."

Most articles are fine and provide important context, but headlines suggest impropriety where there isn't any.

I know that no journalist wants to hear this, but it's the truth:

No matter how great your reporting is, no matter how many interviews you do, no matter how many thousands of words you write... no single sentence matters more than the headline.

Of the people who come across your article... whether that's from a news outlet's homepage or Twitter or Facebook or anywhere else, just a tiny fraction of them will even click through to it. 90%+ will see only the headline. Period.

And of the people who *do* click through to your article, only a small fraction of THEM will actually take the time to read the entire article.

And of the people who actually read the entire article... there will be a lot of people who didn't comprehend what you wrote or missed out on key details here and there.

The writing is important. The reporting is important. The interviews are important. Of course.

Without those things, there's no story to slap a headline on in the first place.

But in the end, the actual impact of your work will hinge mostly on what single sentence sits at the top of the page — which you probably didn't write.

Kind of sucks, right? But it's 100% true.

Oh, and another bummer: even if someone reads the entire article and really takes everything in, a bad headline or a bad photo pairing could still lead them to come to the wrong conclusion.

Earlier this year, I wrote an article about bad headlines and how to fix them (and why this matters).

There are 3 paragraphs in it you should read.

There's also something called the illusory truth effect. The tl;dr of that is basically that the more we hear a lie, the more likely it is that we believe it even if deep down we know it's not true.

That's why I've advocated against just quoting Trump's lies verbatim unchecked.

Which, sadly, is something a lot of reporters and news organizations do.

Like... a LOT.

And it's not limited to Trump or conservatives or anything like that.

Here's an example. Both of these tweets are reporting on the same thing, but one is better than the other. Can you tell? (It's CNN's, as it adds that there's no evidence of his claim).


My number 1 bit of advice for people writing headlines is this:

Write your tweets and headlines as though they're the only things people will see — because they probably are.

There's so much misinformation out there about trans people

Even well-meaning people fall for anti-trans fearmongering.

Welcome to Too Long; Don’t Tweet, a new project where I take Twitter threads the probably should have been articles, and turn them into blogs. If you follow me on Twitter (@ParkerMolloy), you probably know what’s in store. I’ll try not to send out more than 1 or 2 e-mails a week with updates.

For the most part, I won’t be changing a whole lot in terms of formatting from Twitter to blog. As my tweets auto-delete after a set period of time, though, I figured that this would be a decent way to create a somewhat more permanent home for threads I think are noteworthy.

July 31, 2019

Alright, let’s talk about this.

 https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/mario-lopez-candace-owens-parents-transgender-kids-dangerous-200050915.html …

Here’s his quote. It’s something I’m sure a lot of people will say sounds reasonable. This comes up a lot: “well, it’s just too early to make a BIG DECISION about something like that, blah blah blah.”

But here’s the thing: it’s not a big decision. And here’s why.

If a 3 or a 4 year old (people always go straight to the most extreme circumstances) is *truly insistent* that they are a girl or that they are a boy, it’s not as though parents just whisk them away to doctors for irreversible medical procedures or anything.

In fact, there are no medical aspects to this at that age. At all.

“Transitioning” at that age just means social stuff. Letting kids wear what makes them feel comfortable, letting them go by a different name if they’re really distressed by the one they were given at birth. Nothing more.

If a kid named William says he doesn’t like the name William and would rather go by Billy, most parents would probably be fine with that, right? There’s not likely a bunch of handwringing over making such a huge decision at such a young age.

Why? Because if that name doesn’t fit a year or two or 10 later, they can change it back. Maybe it was just his “Billy” phase. In any case, it’s fine. No harm done.

The same goes for kids who insist they’re trans. “Mom, I’m a girl.” Okay. If a year or two or 10 pass and the kid says “actually, I’m not a girl,” then they can go back with no harm done. Sometimes this *is* a phase. But sometimes it’s not, and insisting that a young child suppress themselves is cruel in a lot of ways.

Growing up is all about finding out who you really are.

 https://www.livescience.com/62893-transgender-kids-puberty-blockers-hrt-hormones.html …

People love to fearmonger about trans kids. “WHAT ABOUT 4 YEAR OLDS?!?!” By the time that 4 year old ends up on the path to anything even remotely definitive, they’ll have 12 more years to work with their family, therapist, and medical doctor to make sure it’s right for them.

 https://www.mdedge.com/endocrinology/article/109858/mental-health/how-young-too-young-optimal-age-transitioning-transgender …

“Yes, but can’t people wait until they’re adults?”

I mean, sure, but as someone who did that, let me be the first to say that it sucks and that there’s not a day that goes by without me wishing I could have avoided my body’s puberty, which was a hellish experience.

What’s telling about so much of this “debate” is how willing people are to torment trans kids in the off-chance that they’re actually cisgender (non-trans). Nothing a parent does will change whether or not their child turns out to be trans. But let’s not pretend this is actually about children at all.

Lopez made these comments on a far-right PragerU show. That’s the same phony outlet that tells adult people who are trans that we’re not valid, either. So don’t pull this “Just wait until you’re an adult” BS.

Don’t act like you give a crap about trans people, our mental health, our suicide attempt rates. If that was the case, you’d be trying to create a better and less discriminatory world. “I just think it’s better to get the mind to match the body, not the other way around” stuff is always such nonsense. Hi, real live trans person here. I’d have liked that, too. It would have saved me a lot of despair.

There’s a reason that the medical community, with the exception of grifter groups like the American College of Pediatricians (literally founded with the sole purpose of giving a faux “medical” argument to claims that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to be parents), gets that social and *eventually* medical transition is the best approach to treating gender dysphoria *if it persists*.

But the question when it comes to kids is really this: as a parent, are you going to let your child figure out who and what they are? Or are you going to try to mold them to fit a certain ideal, their actual sense of self be damned?

In any case, I’m really sick of people who don’t have the first clue what they’re talking about going on TV to go on and on about this issue. Just like it’s pointless to have a climate change denier go on TV to say “It snowed last week. Where’s your global warming now?” it’s equally pointless and uninformative to have Mario freakin’ Lopez running his mouth about things he doesn’t know anything about.

Anyway, looking forward to all the predictable right-wing articles about “SJWs cancelling Mario Lopez because PC culture, blah blah blah” articles bound to come out of this crap. But it’s not “PC culture,” it’s an expectation that people who use their platform to speak out on issues actually know what they’re talking about.

Also, this is the person who was interviewing Lopez, FYI. Not exactly a good-faith discussion on the topic:

Jason Campbell @JasonSCampbell

Candace Owens says using preferred gender pronouns means "I am now required to have a mental disorder because you have one"

Guest Michael Knowles equates being trans to having schizophrenia

Embedded video

9:12 AM - Jul 14, 2019

This is just what her show is 

Jason Campbell @JasonSCampbell

Candace Owens says that trans acceptance means "mental disorder becomes the norm"

Embedded video

7:51 AM - Jun 2, 2019

Bobby Lewis @revrrlewis

The morning after the Trump administration launches an all-out legal attack on trans civil rights, Candace Owens wants you to know that "there is nothing to be upset about. This country is doing amazingly right now."

Embedded video

6:00 AM - Oct 22, 2018

I don't think Mario Lopez meant any harm in his comments, by the way. I do think it speaks to a lot of the misinformation out there about trans kids, however. People and groups spread misinformation that gets regurgitated as fact, leading people to draw false conclusions.

Owens, on the other hand, is one of the people willingly pushing misinformation. She's terrible. I hope Lopez reflects on this a bit, maybe meets with a trans kid or two to better understand where they're coming from.

No one goes "Oh no, my daughter picked up a football, therefore she MUST be a boy!" That's not a thing that happens anywhere outside of anti-trans fever-dreams

Twitter user reply:

I think it's more to the point people are saying if a little girl likes cars, or boy likes dolls, it means they was born on the wrong body.

That is absolutely harmful to children. Let them live without trying to pathologize any child who doesn't fit archaic gender norms.

9:25 AM - Jul 31, 2019


And right on schedule...

Here's how the press got fooled into thinking Trump would be a pro-LGBTQ president. Have they learned the lesson yet?

2016 was a disaster when it came to accurate reporting on LGBTQ issues. 2020 might be worse.

Welcome to Too Long; Don’t Tweet, a new project where I take Twitter threads the probably should have been articles, and turn them into blogs. If you follow me on Twitter (@ParkerMolloy), you probably know what’s in store. I’ll try not to send out more than 1 or 2 e-mails a week with updates.

For the most part, I won’t be changing a whole lot in terms of formatting from Twitter to blog. As my tweets auto-delete after a set period of time, though, I figured that this would be a decent way to create a somewhat more permanent home for threads I think are noteworthy.

June 21, 2019:

For #PrideMonth, I wrote about how the press failed LGBTQ Americans in their rush to label Trump as "pro-LGBTQ" or somehow less extreme than his opponents.

Trump got a lot of credit for saying he’d “protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.” But this wasn’t actually any kind of statement of “support for gay rights.”

Trump only referenced "protecting" LGBTQ people in the context of "protecting" from immigrants/Muslims. It was awful, xenophobic bait. Pair that with the fact that the GOP's party platform was virulently anti-LGBTQ, and the pundit reactions were just... offensively incorrect.

Trump came out in favor of a bill that would have legalized discrimination against LGBTQ people nationwide in December 2015. Remarkably, that was left out of virtually every article and segment about his views on LGBTQ rights.

In January 2016, he was asked whether or not he'd appoint judges with the intention of overturning the marriage equality decision: "I would strongly consider that, yes." The following month, he said evangelicals could "trust" him on the issue.

Trump was asked for his views on a North Carolina law during an appearance on the Today show. While he first said he thought the law wasn't a great idea because boycotts were hurting the state, he flipped on that opinion the same day and later offered his full support.

There was a sense that there was no way to know where Trump stood. That was wrong. He said 1.) he'd be open to adding judges to overturn the marriage ruling, 2.) he was OK w/ states banning trans people from bathrooms, said he's fine with banning trans people from the military.

Meanwhile, TIME magazine posted a video titled "Everything President Trump Has Said About The LGBTQ Community."And despite the word "Everything" in there, NONE of these aforementioned examples were included. That's terrible, irresponsible journalism.

When Trump said that he might kick trans people out of the military, no network or cable national broadcast ever mentioned it at all. His endorsement of the anti-LGBTQ First Amendment Defense Act was only mentioned once the entire campaign on TV. 

One pet peeve of mine is that there are still major, national news outlets that say “LGBT rights” when they mean any reference to LGBTQ people in any capacity.

Another failure of the press was only looking at the superficial. Some things (sending tweets or proclaiming June LGBT Pride month) are *extremely* superficial. They're nice, but no replacement for policy. Being able to tolerate the existence of LGBTQ people doesn't = pro-LGBTQ

Ask anyone to point to something pro-LGBTQ that Trump has done, and the response is always either "Well, he appointed a gay person to a position here or there" or "Not sure if you knew this, but he launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality."

And... about that...

Yes, there are more than 70 countries worldwide where it's illegal to be gay. Yes, that is terrible. Yes, the US should use leverage to get those countries to improve their human rights records.


But... what, exactly IS this grand campaign to decriminalize being gay in other countries? Details are hard to come by, unfortunately. And at first, it didn't seem that Trump was aware that this was even something in consideration.

And very little of it added up. The administration has been ignoring the horrors happening in Chechnya, and the state department hasn't bothered to fill the vacant Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons role (which you'd think would be worth having here).

Whatever the case, it's odd there hasn't been more information about this campaign published. That is, if it's an actual campaign to accomplish something and not a "Be Best" type front. But people have pointed to this and said, "But see? Obama didn't do this. Trump did." And...

Well, first, credit where credit is due. This was a really good speech about the importance of getting the US involved in advocating for LGBT+ rights on a global level. Good on the Secretary of State for delivering it at the UN.

... in 2011.

But yes, this was also an Obama administration goal, in other words.

And that continued on for years with... varying levels of success (yes, sometimes extremely unsuccessful).

Even earlier than that, in 2009, the Obama administration did push for language in an appropriations bill that would allow the State Dept. to start tracking which countries make it illegal to be gay. It wasn't (yet) even suggesting advocacy for changes to those laws.

Guess who threw an absolute fit because he believed that saying that being gay shouldn't be a crime was "at odds with the majority of the American people?"

Mike Pence

And just last year Mick Mulvaney (who is currently Trump's chief of staff) gave a speech where he called the Obama administration's efforts to persuade countries to decriminalize being gay "religious persecution."

Unfortunately, journalists rarely ever put this in perspective when writing about this supposed campaign that is supposedly new and different from past efforts. Again, another failure of the press in how it reports on LGBTQ issues.

40% of 2016 voters said LGBTQ issues were "very important" in deciding who they'd choose that November. By not accurately informing audiences what Trump's positions on LGBTQ issues actually were, they failed those audiences *and* LGBTQ people nationwide.

And this is a message for journalists who might have downplayed LGBTQ issues in 2016 or promoted Trump as progressive on the issue:

What are you going to do in 2020 to make sure that doesn't happen again? What have you changed? What will you change? These policies matter.

I'm not very hopeful, though. Many of the journalists who covered 2016 have flatly refused to consider that they did anything but an exemplary job. I want to point to a piece I really, truly... to this day... don't understand its purpose.

It overlooks his policy positions (you know, the things that would indicate whether or not he was more "accepting" than others). Instead, the piece points to 11-year-old blog posts saying "congrats" to Elton John and a 16-year-old anti-discrimination idea. Annotated:

2nd half of the annotation:

What was frustrating was that there were people responding to the author of the piece trying to give her additional context. She never responded. These were all good-faith criticisms. These went ignored.

I've tried tweeting about this article to her, as well, but no luck.

Even months later, she'd share this piece, which included just... a *lot* of omissions. She brushed off criticism. "This was a historical piece," and that it was meant to just show the facts.

But it didn't. I really wish I could understand the thought process on this piece.

Thanks for sticking along for the ride on this one. I'm happy with how this piece turned out. Thanks for reading, and be sure to share it if you're so inclined.

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