ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Sunday

26

February 2017

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COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – February 26, 2017

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Today is the five year anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s murder. Please consider reading the book his parents have written: Rest in Power.

Fight Back

  • “Why had a man spent two days on a mission to tell the entire world that I was a journalism-destroying fascist? Because I deleted his comment on my personal Facebook page.
    If this shocks you, you are likely not a semi-prominent woman on the internet, because this happens, to greater or lesser severity, about once a week.” When A Woman Deletes A Man’s Comment Online (by Ijeoma Oluo for The Establishment)
  • “Speaking out in support of the trans, non-binary, and genderqueer community is comedian Rhea Butcher, who currently co-stars with her real-life wife Cameron Esposito in the Seeso series Take My Wife. Last night, Butcher took to Twitter to share some of her experiences, as a genderqueer-butch lesbian whose gender expression may not read as traditionally feminine.” In Support Of Trans Youth, Rhea Butcher Shares Story Of Her Bathroom Assault (by Kristy Puchko for Pajiba)
  • “When his comments about pedophilia/pederasty came to light, Simon & Schuster realized it would cost them more money to do business with Milo than he could earn for them. They did not finally “do the right thing” and now we know where their threshold, pun intended, lies. They were fine with his racist and xenophobic and sexist ideologies. They were fine with his transphobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. They were fine with how he encourages his followers to harass women and people of color and transgender people online.” All I really need to say (by Roxane Gay)

Horrific Executive and Legislative Actions

  • “As the State Senate fact sheet on the bill states, the RICO statutes allow prosecutors to take options like forfeitures when people are convicted. The bill stipulates that an “overt act is not required as proof of a riot offense.” That means the planners of the protest could be charged because someone else committed an “overt act” that caused a riot. The bill also expands the definition of riot to include people causing damage to someone else’s property.” Plan a Protest, Lose Your House: Arizona Senate Passes SB 1142 Charging ‘Provocateurs’ With Racketeering (by Ray Stern for Phoenix New Times)
  • “Alcohol and tobacco, both legal drugs, have high annual death tolls. Pot has zero. Pot being a “gateway drug” is a catchphrase, not a fact. “Most people who try marijuana, don’t even continue smoking marijuana.” The reason the government made pot illegal had nothing to do with health risks. Instead, it was because of a budget-hungry bureaucrat, Federal Bureau of Narcotics commissioner Harry Anslinger, who ruthlessly created anti-weed propaganda that exploited a growing anti-Mexican sentiment.” Trump Has Found A New/Old Way To Target Minorities (by Kristy Puchko for Pajiba)
  • “Trump doesn’t have a clue about what goes on in Black communities. In his view, we are all utterly jobless; going to schools that are ill-equipped to educate us; and walking down so-called inner-city streets dodging bullets, risking a gunshot to the chest with every step that we take. As the self-announced “least racist person,” Donald Trump finds this state of affairs unacceptable. But Trump doesn’t appear to understand what an “inner city” even constitutes, aside from a place where all Black Americans live in abject poverty. He has no idea of the terror overpolicing can inflict in Black communities—yet he continuously propagates myths about crime to justify that overpolicing.” There is Much for Black People to Fear from Trump’s ‘Law and Order’ Presidency (by Imani Gandi for Rewire)
  • “But even before the memos were revealed, Trump’s orders began to take shape when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) carried out a series of nationwide sweeps, detaining nearly 700 undocumented immigrants. Fact sheets prepared by ICE characterized all who were detained as “criminal aliens,” “illegal re-entrants,” and “immigration fugitives.” Daniel Ramirez Medina doesn’t meet any of these criteria, yet he has been in a prison-like detention center since February 10.” Trump’s ‘Smart and Strategic’ Immigration Approach: Everyone Is Deportable (by Tina Vasquez for Rewire)
  • “The White House budget office has drafted a “hit list” of programs, according to The New York Times, all of which cost under $500 million a year to run. In fact, they total approximately $2.5 billion – just 0.0625% of the projected $4 trillion budget. “It’s sad in a way because those programs aren’t causing the deficit,” Steve Bell of the Bipartisan Policy Center told the Times. “These programs don’t amount to a hill of beans.”” Eliminating arts funding programs will save Donald Trump just 0.0625% of budget (by Christopher Hooton for The Independent)

Reproductive Rights

  • “The AP reports that Judge Sam Sparks was particularly pointed in his decision against the state, noting that they had failed to provide “any evidence” to support their claims that Planned Parenthood was doing anything other than providing desperately-needed healthcare resources for the estimated 11,000 people who would’ve been affected by the decision.” Judge Blocks Texas from Cutting Planned Parenthood Funding from Medicaid (by Megan Reynols for Jezebel)

Ableism

  • ““For me, being able to use Comic Sans is similar to a mobility aid, or a visual aid, or a hearing aid,” she tells me while we’re both visiting our family in Maryland. “I have other ways of writing and reading, but they’re not like they are for someone who’s not dyslexic.”” Hating Comic Sans Is Ableist (by Lauren Hudgins for The Establishment)

Representation

  • “Watson has taken popular paintings from Vincent van Gogh, Leonardo da Vinci, and Picasso’s Blue Period, and wiped them clean of the white figures so often portrayed. In their place, she’s added black faces, lots of them. She put a black woman with short curly hair into her take on Picasso’s paintings, and a dark-skinned black woman into her spin on Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”” The Power Of Centering Blackness In Iconic Art (by Brittany King for The Establishment)
  • “The researchers found that suicide attempts by high school students decreased by 7 percent in states after they passed laws to legalize same-sex marriage, before the Supreme Court legalized it nationwide in 2015. Among LGB high school students, the decrease was especially concentrated, with suicide attempts falling by 14 percent. But in states that did not legalize same-sex marriage, there was no change.” Same-sex marriage laws linked to fewer youth suicide attempts, new study says (by Corinne Segal for PBS)

Anti-Semitism

  • “It’s at least the fourth wave of bomb threats targeting American JCCs since January. Prior to Monday, roughly 48 Jewish centers in 26 states reported received unsettling phone calls this year—allegedly from a caller using a voice disguiser—in what is being described as “telephone terrorism.” Although none of the incidents have uncovered actual bombs or resulted in physical harm to the patrons of the centers, the fear-based attacks are rattling Jewish groups.” Fourth round of bomb threats hits Jewish Community Centers across the country (by Jack Jenkins for Think Progress)

Xenophobia

  • “The hunters told police they suspected the shooters were undocumented immigrants they had seen on the ranch earlier in their trip. Their story soon jumped into online right-wing circles, thanks in part to Texas Commissioner of Agriculture and Donald Trump ally Sid Miller. But it was a lie, according to police and, now, a grand jury. Investigators determined that guides Walker Daughetry and Michael Bryant in fact shot at one another by accident, striking Daughetry and hunter Edwin Roberts in the process. Daughetry and Bryant were indicted for third-degree felonies last Wednesday.” Texas hunters who blamed immigrants actually shot each other, cops say (by Alan Pike for Think Progress)
  • “Theresa May introduced the rule change in 2012 as home secretary. It means British citizens must earn at least £18,600 a year to bring in a non-EU spouse. The Home Office has suspended applications from couples who do not meet the minimum income threshold while they consider the issues raised by the case. The Supreme Court acknowledged the impact of the policy on couples but said: “The fact that [the income rule] may cause hardship to many does not render it unlawful.”” The Supreme Court Has Ruled It’s Legal For The Government To Keep Couples Apart Because Of Their Income (by Emily Dugan for Buzzfeed News)
  • ““We’ve read many times in newspapers of some kind of shooting happening,” she said at a news conference at the headquarters of Garmin, where Kuchibhotla worked as an aviation systems engineer. “And we always wondered, how safe?” Of the two of them, she said, she was most concerned, asking her reassuring husband: “Are we doing the right thing of staying in the United States of America?” Dumala is returning to India for Kuchibhotla’s funeral. She said she wanted to come back to their home in south Olathe, fulfilling her husband’s wishes for an American life and “me being successful in any field I choose.”” Widow of Olathe shooting victim: ‘I need an answer’ on how U.S. stops hate crimes (by Rick Montgomery and Glenn E. Rice for The Kansas City Star)

Making Me Smile

Sunday

19

February 2017

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COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – February 19, 2017

Written by , Posted in Feminism, Politics, What I'm Reading

Fight Back

Horrific Executive and Legislative Actions

  • “Upset about damaging leaks of his calls with world leaders and other national security information, Trump has ordered an internal investigation to find the leakers. Staffers, meanwhile, are so fearful of being accused of talking to the media that some have resorted to a secret chat app — Confide — that erases messages as soon as they’re read.” Upheaval is now standard operating procedure inside the White House (by Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker for the Washington Post)
  • ““The unique thing about President Trump is that he knows what it costs to run a plane. Going down [to Mar-a-Lago] ain’t free.” The three Mar-a-Lago trips in Palm Beach cost the federal treasury around $10m, based on figures used in an October government report analysing White House travel. This includes cash for coast guards to patrol the exposed shoreline. Trump family trips cost taxpayers $11.3m in one month – almost as much as Obama’s cost in a year (by Peter Walker at The Independent)

Homelessness

  • “If Pippin had lived in a house, the officer’s actions likely would have amounted to an illegal search. Unless an officer has a warrant or extenuating circumstances, the US Constitution protects you from a cop walking in your front door, seeing drugs, and arresting you. The Fourth Amendment guarantees people’s right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures,” and the Washington State Constitution adds that “no person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law.”” Is a Tarp a Home? (by Heidi Groover for The Stranger)

Criminal Justice

  • “Understanding how the penal system operates helps to illuminate that, counter to Bauer’s claims, the CCA are not the ones calling the shots. Rather, they are following the laws and policies put in place by the state legislature and other state officials. For instance, Bauer implies that Winn’s guards and officials revoke incarcerated men’s “good time” for slight prison violations so that CCA officials may collect more cash for their extended incarceration. This assertion simultaneously ignores the routine taking back of good time at publicly run state prisons and erases the decades-long assaults on good time by tough on crime politicians that have created the mechanisms for guards to reduce and revoke good time in the first place.” Getting the Facts Right: How the Mother Jones Fixation with Private Prisons Misleads Us (A Late Rejoinder) (by Lydia Pelot-Hobbs)

Ableism

  • “If your goal is to get people to see our humanity, why is it wrong for us to act human?
    Because I am human, I’ll get angry and frustrated if you say things that are hurtful to me. Because I am human, I’ll get tired and struggle in the face of persistent barriers. Because I am human, I’ll have needs and take up space. I trust that the people in my life will see these truths as well and adjust their attitudes to make room for me. I am lucky enough that for the most part, they do. As for those who do not, who hold me to a standard they would never hold themselves to — we are not operating from the same basic premise in the first place. No number of words from me can change that.” I’m Not Going To Be Nice About Ableism (by Alex Lu for The Establishment)

Trans Rights

  • ““What people should know about these bathroom bills that criminalize trans people… is that these bills are not about bathrooms,” Cox told “CBS This Morning.” “They’re about whether trans people have the right to exist in public space. If we can’t access public bathrooms, we can’t go to school, we can’t work, we can’t go to healthcare facilities ― this is about public accommodations and public accommodations are always key to civil rights. I can’t help but think about that moment from ‘Hidden Figures’ when Taraji P. Henson’s character has to walk 45 minutes to the bathroom ― Gavin had to go to a special ‘gender neutral’ bathroom, a nurses bathroom that was way out of the way.”” Laverne Cox References ‘Hidden Figures’ To Make Powerful Point About Trans Rights (by James Michael Nichols for Huffington Post)

Minimum Wage

  • “So picture a hypothetical situation for a moment: Based on a regulation from the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, a restaurant with a steep staircase leading to its front door is required to add a ramp to its entrance. Now imagine that business added an “ADA surcharge” to the bottom of its checks, along with a passive-aggressive note explaining that the fee is to pay for the installation of the ramp. Customers would understandably lose their minds. There would be a very real, very loud—and very deserved—furor over the owner’s business decision.” What to Do When A Restaurant Puts a Minimum-Wage Service Charge on Your Bill (by Paul Constant)

Sex Work

  • “Edel McGinley of the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland (MRCI) said the new laws will not protect the most vulnerable – migrants, asylum seekers, refugees doing survival sex work. She said: “It promotes harmful stigmatisation and obstructs access to justice. We know from our decade of work on human trafficking and forced labour that this approach will not help victims of trafficking.”” ‘This approach will not help victims of trafficking’: Groups at odds as sex bill passes final stage (by Garreth MacNamee for The Journal)

Awesomeness

Monday

13

February 2017

0

COMMENTS

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for: Humans of earth. Seriously, this woman was a national treasure.

In a nutshell: Celebrity shares memories of her youth, her mental illness, and her substance abuse.

Line that sticks with me: “But no matter what the dictionary says, in my opinion, a problem derails your life and an inconvenience is not being able to get a nice seat on the un-derailed train. Given that, I’ve had three and half problems. A dead guy in my bed, substance abuse, and manic-depression.”

Why I chose it: I’m working my way through Ms. Fisher’s catalogue this year.

Review: Ah. So good.

I think at this point most of us are familiar with how witty and honest Ms. Fisher is. In this, the first of her three non-fiction works, she tells entertaining stories that also manage to be insightful and blunt without feeling preachy. Yes, she uses sarcasm, which isn’t for everyone, but I enjoy it when it’s deployed with this level of skill.

I recently watched the HBO documentary about Ms. Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds, so some of these stories were familiar. But it didn’t matter, because the stories were still great. Ms. Fisher has an ability to share what are objectively challenging moments with a self-awareness I aspire to.

I will definitely be re-reading this when I need both a laugh and a reminder that

Monday

13

February 2017

0

COMMENTS

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for: Anyone who likes a well-told story.

In a nutshell: Young girl growing up in Iran in the 70s and 80s.

Line that sticks with me: “In any case, as long as there is oil in the middle east we will never have peace.”

Why I chose it: A friend and I were discussing books and I shared how much I enjoyed the March graphic novels. She lent me this one, and I’m very glad she did.

Review: I’d heard of this book before, and it met the expectations I’d built up. I’ve now read a couple of books set in this time in Iran, and I have to say I am still a bit confused (and annoyed that my education didn’t cover this, either – seriously, what did I learn in school?!). Side note, the New Yorker has a list of six essential books about Iran, so these are going on my TBR pile.

Ms. Satrapi is a great storyteller, evoking strong emotions while telling this story of growing up in Iran as the government changed hands multiple times. I appreciated the honesty of a child forming such strong beliefs and then having to reconcile them as the government changes. She also shares her experience of such traumas as having loved ones arrested and neighbors killed in bombing in a way that feels both childlike and mature.

This is the fourth graphic novel I’ve read this year, and I think that I finally get that, just like literally every other genre, there are good ones and bad ones. I think the first couple I read just weren’t good fits with my interests, but I almost let that keep me from looking at other ones. Thankfully, with the March series, and now with Persepolis, I can say that I’ve moved past my unnecessary mental block that has kept me from this world in the past.

Sunday

12

February 2017

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COMMENTS

What I’m Reading: February 12, 2017

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Fight Back

  • “As a first step, we propose to help build an international strike against male violence and in defense of reproductive rights on March 8th. In this, we join with feminist groups from around thirty countries who have called for such a strike. The idea is to mobilize women, including trans-women, and all who support them in an international day of struggle–a day of striking, marching, blocking roads, bridges, and squares, abstaining from domestic, care and sex work, boycotting, calling out misogynistic politicians and companies, striking in educational institutions.” Beyond Lean-In: For a Feminism of the 99% and a Militant International Strike on March 8 (via Viewpoint Magazine)
  • ““In pretty much all cases,” Jennings says, CBP officers have searched travelers’ devices in tandem, or asked them “to divulge their passwords, or log into their accounts, and show what’s on there,” he says. “It’s quite invasive.” Although the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects U.S. citizens against “unreasonable searches and seizures” without a warrant, the country’s points of entry historically have been places where such searches are considered reasonable.” How to protect your data when traveling internationally (by Seth Rosenblatt, via The Parallax)
  • “”I’m not going to the White House,” the Patriots’ Devin McCourty told Time in a text message Monday. “Basic reason for me is I don’t feel accepted in the White House. With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others won’t.”” One by one, black New England Patriots players are refusing to visit Donald Trump’s White House (by Zak Cheney Rice via Mic)

Horrific Executive Orders and Legislation

  • “Trump has been vetting candidates to run the agency, which regulates the safety of everything from drugs and medical devices to food and cosmetics. Among them is Jim O’Neill, a former Health and Human Services official who is an associate of the Silicon Valley billionaire and Trump supporter Peter Thiel. O’Neill has argued that companies should not have to prove their drugs work in clinical trials before selling them.” Trump’s FDA pick could undo decades of drug safeguards (Katie Thomas via Boston Globe)
  • “The men and women who reportedly handcuffed small children and the elderly, separated a child from his mother and held others without food for 20 hours, are undoubtedly “ordinary” people. What I mean by that, is that these are, in normal circumstances, people who likely treat their neighbors and co-workers with kindness and do not intentionally seek to harm others. That is chilling, as it is a reminder that authoritarians have no trouble finding the people they need to carry out their acts of cruelty. They do not need special monsters; they can issue orders to otherwise unexceptional people who will carry them out dutifully.” Ordinary Americans carried out inhumane acts for Trump (by Chris Edelson, via Baltimore Sun)
  • “The agent pressed. Did my meetings and talks abroad focus on U.S. law or the law of other countries? Not understanding what any of this had to do with my ability to return home, I found myself explaining that in addition to the Constitution, the United States is bound by international treaties. I explained that there are fundamental human rights that belong to everyone and apply in all countries in the world, including the United States, and that my work covers both.” Flying Home From Abroad, a Border Agent Stopped and Questioned Me … About My Work for the ACLU (by Hini Shamsi via ACLU)
  • “Lupita is thought to be one of the first undocumented immigrants to be deported under Trump’s executive action, and may even be the first since Trump became president to be arrested while meeting with immigration officials. Her case has garnered national attention because her community rallied around her. They did the same thing several years ago, the first time Lupita was detained.” Jackie Rayos-Garcia Tells About the Deportation of Her Mother, Guadalupe García de Rayos (by Aura Bogado via Teen Vogue)
  • “A group of protesters, including her two teenage children, chanted “liberation, not deportation” as they surrounded a van for nearly three hours to keep it from leaving an Arizona immigration center with Rayos inside, an organizer, who asked not to be named, told Fusion. One protester, Manuel Saldana, bound himself to the van’s tire.” This mom of two has lived in the U.S. for 21 years. Last night she was hauled off in a deportation van. (by Wilfred Chan via Fusion)

Reproductive Rights

  • “As Rewire reported in May, 77 percent of all those sterilized in North Carolina were women; about 2,000 were people 18 and younger. Before the 1960s—when Black people became the majority of those sterilized—poor, rural white girls were the primary targets of authorities and women reformers.” Segregation had “shielded some Black women from the eugenicist’s scalpel,” explains Rebecca Kluchin, a health-care historian, in the film because they were excluded from white health-care institutions. After the racial segregation era of Jim Crow, North Carolina’s Black population became eligible to receive public assistance, which also meant it became a target population for sterilization.” ‘State of Eugenics’ Film Sheds Light on North Carolina’s Sterilization Abuse Program (by Tina Vasquez, via Rewire)

Geography

  • “Let’s first take a look at Greenland. A very large country, right? Almost as big as the entire continent of South America. But when its position is shifted to the same latitude of the USA, it’s clear that Greenland is nowhere near as big as we thought. And when moved still further to the equator, we can see that it’s nothing special compared to other islands.” After You’ve Seen These Maps, Your Image of the World Will Never Be the Same Again! (via Bright Side)

Sunday

5

February 2017

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – February 5, 2017

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Fight Back

  • The Stranger is compiling ways to fight back. Check it out! Resist Trump
  • “That message of affirmation continues to resonate far beyond Garza’s words — and it’s what makes the movement she co-founded (along with Cullors and Opal Tometi) so different from the fights for civil rights that came before. From Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr. to Nelson Mandela, social justice movements have always been about more than their courageous and inspirational leaders. It’s the multitude of diverse individuals who unified behind a common cause that propelled movements forward.” These Black Activists Are Mobilizing A More Inclusive Movement (by Kathleen Wong, via @Mic)
  • “So Gregoire jumped in her car and headed to the airport, figuring that she might pry some information out of the agency if she could meet someone in person. Along the way, she called former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan and asked her to meet at the airport. If she was racing toward direct negotiation with a federal agency, she thought, it would be helpful to have someone who knew the territory.” Stop that plane: The frantic race to halt a deportation (by David Kroman, via Crosscut)
  • Faxing is a thing again! Fax your representatives: Fax Senators
  • “We stand at the edge of one of the most important periods of our lives. We cannot become immune to the suffering of others simply because they are not in front of us. One of literature’s greatest powers is the ability to illustrate our shared humanity and evoke empathy within the reader. To that end, here are some recommended books from the countries on Trump’s list:” Book Recommendations from Countries Targeted by Trump’s Ban (via Bookriot)
  • ““Not all white people!” and “Not ME!” isn’t going to cut it. We all saw the stats and the racial breakdown of votes. White voters overwhelmingly voted for that monster and helped elect him. Yes, you may not have done it, but your friends did. Your family did. It’s time to face that. It’s time to be ashamed. It’s time to be enraged at your friends and family who are currently brushing aside what’s happening.” White People, Here’s Some Tough Love (by Clare Maceira, via @Pajiba)

Horrifying Legislation and Executive Action

  • ““The very country to which many of our people were taken as slaves during the transatlantic slave trade has now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries,” said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.” African Union criticises US for ‘taking many of our people as slaves’ and not taking refugees (by Adam Withnall, via @Independent)
  • “It’s extremely rare for administration officials to circumvent Republican leadership and work directly with congressional committee aides. But the House Judiciary Committee has some of the most experienced staffers when it comes to immigration policy.” Hill staffers secretly worked on Trump’s immigration order (by Rachel Bade, Jake Sherman, and Josh Dawsey, via Politico)
  • “Restrictions on abortion are already in themselves the most outright attacks on women’s autonomy and sovereignty possible in the 21st century, sending the message that fertilized eggs have human rights while incontrovertibly living women don’t. But on top of this, the new Arkansas law throws us back a century by regarding women as mere objects at their husbands’ disposal. Perhaps it’s one thing to say abortion is a decision families and their doctors rather than lawmakers should be making is one thing, but to assert that a woman’s bodily autonomy comes second to the wishes of her husband is entirely another.” Arkansas Law Allows Men to Block Their Wives’ Abortions, Since It’s 2017 and Women Are Still Property Apparently (via @Pajiba)
  • “So, now we have a former executive of Breitbart and a white nationalist calling the shots when it comes to foreign diplomacy. Meanwhile, he’s completely cutting other voices out of the process: General Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, was not consulted. We found out today that neither was Rex Tillerson, the probable Secretary of State. The Homeland Security Secretary, John Kelly, was not consulted or even briefed on it until it was signed. The Office of Management and Budget was told not to put it through the normal channels, including the DOJ.” This Steve Bannon Guy? He’s Pure Evil. (via @Pajiba)

Righting Past Wrongs

  • “Today the Government posthumously pardoned all gay and bi men who were convicted under pernicious laws in the last century that enabled the police to criminalise people for being who they are, and crucially that pardon was accompanied by a clear apology to everyone, both living and now dead, persecuted under these laws in the past.” Turing Law receives Royal Assent (via Stonewall)

Friday

3

February 2017

0

COMMENTS

Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for: Someone looking for a quick, wit-filled read.

In a nutshell: Film actress Suzanne enters rehab, leaves rehab, attempts to figure out her next move.

Line that sticks with me: “I just want you to feel something, in between all this talking and thinking that you do. I want you to lead a life instead of following one around.”

Why I chose it: After Ms. Fisher died in December, I realized I’d never read any of her writing. I ordered all her books and decided to start at the beginning.

Review: This book isn’t exactly what I thought it would be, as my familiarity comes from the movie. I’ve not seen it, but I had the impression that the book would focus on the relationship between the main character and her mother. That’s not the case.

But the book it actually is was fun to read. It’s broken up into a few sections, starting with a back-and-forth of two characters, one of whom is consuming a whole lot of drugs. Ms. Fisher can write from different perspectives and make each feel equally real. I almost wish the rest of the book played out in the same way, but I understand why she made a different choice.

The main character is interesting and self-aware. Ms. Fisher somehow makes a woman with addiction issues who is also a famous and successful-enough actress that she doesn’t have to stress about working relatable. The description of drug use in the beginning was intense, and given Ms. Fisher’s life experience I’m guessing it’s accurate.

One thing that I enjoyed in this book is that as I’m writing this review, I can’t come up with more of a plot summary than the little nutshell I provided above. It feels unfinished, but it still left me satisfied. I didn’t think was possible in a book, but here we are.

Sunday

29

January 2017

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COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – January 29, 2017

Written by , Posted in Feminism, Politics, What I'm Reading

The last week has shown what a monster we have in the White House. Remember that every day.

Fight Back

  • “The New York Taxi Drivers Alliance on Saturday said it would not make any pickups from John F. Kennedy International Airport after two Iraqi travelers were detained trying to enter the U.S. following President Trump’s immigration ban.” NY taxis refuse to pick up from JFK over refugee detention (by Brooke Seipel, at The Hill)
  • “The freedom struggles of black people that have shaped the very nature of this country’s history cannot be deleted with the sweep of a hand. We cannot be made to forget that black lives do matter. This is a country anchored in slavery and colonialism, which means for better or for worse the very history of the United States is a history of immigration and enslavement. Spreading xenophobia, hurling accusations of murder and rape and building walls will not erase history. No human being is illegal.” Here’s the Full Transcript Of Angela Davis’s Women’s March Speech (Angela Davis)
  • “On Friday, during Inauguration Day protests, D.C. police arrested 230 demonstrators after corralling them at 12th and L streets NW. Defense attorneys and some of those arrested are likening the treatment to the problematic mass arrests at ­Pershing Park nearly 15 years ago, saying these protesters, too, were “trapped and detained” and then arrested without being given dispersal orders.” Defense attorneys allege police trapped and then arrested protesters (By Peter Hermann and Michael E. Miller via @postlocal)
  • “The intention of this weekly document is to make clear suggestions for action backed by well-considered research. If an issue doesn’t affect you, consider whether you would support this issue on behalf of other Americans and act accordingly. Although these topics have been well researched and are intended to be helpful, they are still subject to human error. Please do your own research!” What to Do This Week
  • “Rewire Legislative Tracker is an easily searchable database of the laws, people, organizations, and litigation involved in sexual and reproductive health and justice in the United States, as well as the connections among them. Primarily focused on the anti-choice universe, the database provides factual summaries of key topics, lawsuits, and laws. It is available for use by the public with credit to Rewire.” Legislative Tracker
  • “While many tech reactions have been muted and largely focused in how to deal with hardships that could result for employees because of the ban, some tech leaders — such as Netflix’s Reed Hastings — have issued strong challenges to Trump’s action. “Trump’s actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all,” wrote Hastings in a personal statement on Facebook. “Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe.”” Airbnb, Salesforce and Etsy’s CEOs are the latest tech leaders to speak out against Trump’s Muslim ban (by Kara Swisher via Recode)

Horrifying Legislation and Executive Action

  • “If the REINS Act had been in effect, it’s unlikely that the Tea Party-dominated Republican caucus in the House would have approved of any of these rules. Future standard setting under the entire body of legislation enacted over the past 40 years to protect the public, from the Clean Air Act to the Dodd Frank financial sector reforms, would be frozen. Over time, as new health, safety, consumer and labor protection issues arise, all of these laws will effectively have been repealed, with no public debate and no accountability. It will also be impossible to restore them as long as the REINS Act is in effect, because by requiring Congress to approve every regulation, it makes it impossible to pass technically complex and scientifically valid rules on any topic of controversy.” The Most Dangerous Bill You’ve Never Heard Of Just Passed The House (by Carl Pope, via Huffington Post)
  • “In its simplest form, turning Medicaid into a “block grant” simply means handing control of the program — and the funding for it — over to the states. But in all these plans the details reveal something else, too: a massive cut to Medicaid spending that could throw tens of millions of people off the program. To understand how that works, you need to understand the unusual way that Medicaid works.” Donald Trump’s plan to cut Medicaid spending, explained (by Sarah Kliff via @Vox)
  • “None of that money is spent on performing abortions. The Helms Amendment has prevented U.S. tax dollars from funding overseas abortions since 1973. Proponents of the global gag rule believe the policy is nevertheless still necessary, arguing that Helms isn’t strong enough by itself. But the Guttmacher Institute and other opponents of the gag rule say that such restrictions have devastating effects on international organizations, often forcing them to close their clinics or reduce their services, denying women access to help from safe providers and even hampering HIV prevention efforts.” Donald Trump Reinstates Ronald Reagan’s Abortion ‘Global Gag Rule’ (by Amanda Terkel and Laura Bassett, via The Huffington Post)
  • “President Barack Obama signed a continuing resolution Dec. 10 that included $100 million specifically for Flint’s water crisis, but as reported by MLive, that legislation included a process for the city to apply for the funds through a grant program at the state Department of Environmental Quality. Anna Heaton, press secretary for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, said in an email to MLive that the “statutory language is being reviewed to see if the [Drinking Water Revolving Fund] grants [targeting Flint] would be affected.” “We haven’t received any guidance from the federal government,” Heaton’s statement said.” Flint, Mich., Left Wondering How Trump’s EPA Freeze Will Impact the $100,000,000 It Was Promised in Grant Aid (by Monique Judge, via The Root)
  • ““It’s basically a fear tactic,” Wang told BuzzFeed News. “The weekly list is part and parcel of Trump’s efforts to intimidate and coerce cities, counties, and states.” Wang said declined detainer outcome reports are unreliable because they’re issued without probable cause to believe they are deportable and have lead to people being wrongly detained, including UC citizens. As recently as Tuesday, a federal court found that immigration authorities and the state of Rhode Island violated a US citizen’s constitutional rights by detaining her without probable cause.” Trump To Publish Weekly List Of Crimes Committed By Undocumented Immigrants In Sanctuary Cities (by Adolfo Flores, at Buzzfeed News)
  • “Weatherford says that he woke up the morning after the event to “several homophobic and transphobic slurs as well as (sexual) threats” on social media, through his UW work email, and on a website where students can rate their professors.” UW Instructor Gets Doxxed, Harassed and Threatened After the Milo Yiannopoulos Protests (by Amber Cortes via The Stranger)

White Feminism

  • “When women of color speak out of the anger that laces so many of our contacts with white women, we are often told that we are ‘creating a mood of hopelessness,’ ‘preventing white women from getting past guilt,’ or ‘standing in the way of trusting communication and action,'” Lorde said. In short, black women were accused of stunting feminism, thwarting its efficacy and momentum. They were bursting the bubble of “sisterhood” and “solidarity” within a movement that has historically marginalize them. In order to make any true progress, Lorde maintained that women must agree in some measure to abandon these illusions of unity. Acknowledging women’s differences, accepting criticism and embracing each other’s anger will only make the feminist movement stronger.” Women of color are being blamed for dividing the Women’s March — and it’s nothing new (by Marie Solis, via @mic)

Good Things

  • “In an unprecedented event, nine black women were elected as circuit and district judges in Jefferson County, Alabama, this November. For a predominantly Republican state, the Democratic sweep came as a surprise, as Alabama is one of the few states that judges still have to run on party lines to get elected.” Why the Election of 9 Black Female Judges in Alabama Matters (by Lindsay Peoples via @TheCut)

Saturday

28

January 2017

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COMMENTS

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

Written by , Posted in Feminism, Politics, Reviews

Four Stars

Best for: People interested in one story of life under authoritarian governments.

In a nutshell: A professor uses literature as the framework for her memoir of life teaching in Iran.

Line that sticks with me: “Lack of empathy was to my mind the central sin of the regime, from which all the others flowed.”

Why I chose it: I flew the weekend after the election, and saw this in the airport. I figured perhaps it would be good to study up on life under leadership that doesn’t view everyone equally.

Review: I’d heard about this book many times before, and thought it was all about a group of young girls who got together to read literature that they couldn’t access in other venues. That’s not entirely accurate. Instead it is the memoir of a professor that includes, in some parts, a group of women in their 20s getting together with the professor to discuss literature.

The book is organized into four parts, each using an author as the background to the events. It does not go chronologically; it jumps around a bit, which I found somewhat challenging, although I think it ultimately works well.

The book spends a lot of time exploring what it means to both receive an education and try to educate others with the implementing many strict rules. Dr. Nafisi spends a fair bit of time, for example, looking at what it would mean to follow the requirement to wear the veil, as she would not choose to wear one if it were not mandated. Is that a fight that it is worth undertaking if it means she would not be able to share her lectures with her students?

I think one of the more shocking things for me was how almost casually the author discusses how many people – including some of her own students – are thrown in jail for years for seemingly minor issues. And then they are released and it’s … it’s a big deal but also not surprising. It’s terrifying, and I have to say that given the utterly despicable things the 45th president has done in just the last eight days, I don’t think it’s too ridiculous to think it could happen here, too.

Before reading this book, I knew very little about Iran in the 80s and 90s. And obviously reading one book does not mean I know much more than I did before. But through the lovely writing of Dr. Nafisi, I feel like I understand some of the different perspectives of those living under the regime.

Wednesday

25

January 2017

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COMMENTS

Finding Zoe by Brandi Rarus

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Two Stars

Best for: People interested in learning a bit more about Deaf culture in the U.S. and who also have a strong stomach for not great writing and questionable storytelling.

In a nutshell: Deaf mother with three hearing sons desperately wants a daughter; Deaf husband not totally on board; teenager gets pregnant and surrenders daughter for adoption. True story.

Line that sticks with me: “He felt that part of the magic and mystery of giving birth to a child is parenting that particular child. However, he believed that the one benefit of adopting a child was being able to decide whether that child was right for his family.”

Why I chose it: A colleague selected this for our equity and social justice book club, as she was interested in learning about Deaf culture and about adoption.

Review: First, I should explain that the line that sticks with me is because I found that opinion really challenging and ultimately a bit offensive.

Author Brandi Rarus went deaf when she was six, and was raised in a hearing family. This story is mostly her story, and it is educational but ultimately frustrated me. The biographical parts of Ms. Rarus’s story are interesting, as she can effectively describe the different factions in Deaf culture, the challenges Deaf children can face in education and in determining where they fit and who they are in the hearing world. She also was involved in many important moments in Deaf history in the U.S., including the Deaf President Now protests at Gallaudet and the passage of the ADA. Additionally, she was Miss Deaf America.

I appreciate the honesty Ms. Rarus shares throughout the book but MAN does she put a lot of pressure on the imaginary daughter who eventually materializes in Zoe. She is essentially desperate for a daughter to add to her family of three boys, and while I’ll never understand that desire (I don’t have kids), I get that people have it. The frustrating part for me is the assumptions and the language she uses to describe her future child – basically she sounds like she wants a doll and a best girlfriend. It looks like it turned out okay but what if Zoe turned out to hate shopping or pretty clothes, and got along better with her father than mother?

Additionally, even though I just lauded the honesty, there is something about how all of the players involved in Zoe’s adoption are described that feels false. Like everyone got final review, so nothing is true. And there are so many players – the birth mother, the birth father, the first adoptive family, the foster family, and everyone’s extended family. It can be hard to keep up. There’s also a very confusing situation with the birth father and birth mother and the courts that makes zero sense to me – basically the birth father wants to keep Zoe, but the birth mother wants to place her up for adoption, so she sues to terminate the birth father’s rights so she can have full rights and then surrender the daughter. I just found it odd that courts would terminate parental rights without any cause just so the child could then be adopted. I’m sure there’s a legal reason, but the book doesn’t explain it.

There is a fair bit of religion in here, which is not my thing but was fine and obviously fits as it is part of their story. However, there were some glowing comments about what appears to be a crisis pregnancy center (yikes) and some disparaging and questionable comments about Planned Parenthood and abortion, so that was unpleasant to read.

And finally, I found the discussion the first adoptive family have when they find out that Zoe might have hearing and other developmental challenges to be deeply distressing. First, the idea that there is only ‘one’ good thing about adoption seems very narrow-minded. And the man who made the comment I shared above sounded a bit more like this adoptive father thinks of adopting a child is like picking out a puppy. I get the idea that when adopting, the child should be placed in the home that will be best for her, but more I think this particular father just wanted a more “perfect” child.