ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Sunday

26

March 2017

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – March 26, 2017

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Fight Back

  • “But we really mean it this time when we say there’s a tech tool that will take the headache out of reaching out to your congresspeople. It’s called “Resistbot,” and it’s by far the easiest way to gradually chip away at Trump’s spirit.” This New Anti-Trump Tech Is The Most Genius Thing Of 2017 (by Kate Ryan for Good Magazine)

Horrific Executive Orders and Legislation

  • “The affected airlines are Royal Jordainia, Egyptair, Turkish airlines, Saudia airlines, Kuwait airways, Royal Air Morocco, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad. The email – described as a “circular” – is not a public regulation, but airlines will be expected to enforce the new rule. Airlines were issued the circular on Monday and given 96 hours to comply; the rules apply to flights both to and from the US, according to Royal Jordanian airlines.” US bans larger electronic devices on some flights from Middle East (by Sam Thielman for The Guardian)
  • “Documentary evidence confirms she complained to others at the time about these statements, including to law school administrators. A second former student from the same class has submitted an anonymous declaration to the Judiciary Committee stating that Judge Gorsuch “said that many female lawyers became pregnant, and questioned whether they should do so on their law firms’ dime.” If accurate, these descriptions— which are corroborated by more than one person and were reported contemporaneously — suggest that were Judge Gorsuch elevated to the Supreme Court, critical precedents and legal interpretations protecting women from sex discrimination at work would be at risk.” Reported Gorsuch Statements Show Disqualifying Disregard for Women’s Workplace Rights (by Emily Martin, National Women’s Law Center)

Police Violence

  • “Both deputies pulled their weapons and fired at Renee. It was 6:57 p.m., one minute after they had entered the house. That one minute would become a focal point during the investigation into Renee’s death.” Pregnant mom calls for help, ends up killed by police. Her tribe wants answers (by Amy Radil for KUOW)
  • “While the details of the morning Hayes died are still fuzzy, news of the grand jury’s decision is sure to spark anger amongst community and family members who’d called for Hearst’s badge in the wake of the shooting.” The Portland Officer Who Killed Quanice Hayes Last Month Won’t Face Charges (Dirk VanderHart fore the Portland Mercury)
  • “Police killings are actually increasing in the United States, according to new data, but because our current president is leading every news cycle, brutality is being pushed to the back burner, activists contend. The rate of police-involved deaths of American citizens is higher than in any month in 2016, and January and February each saw more killings of Americans by police officers than in any month in 2016, according to killedbypolice.net.” More Americans Killed by Police in 2017, but Trump Dominates Headlines (by Angela Helm for The Root)

Ableism

  • “Around the country on March 1st, small groups of disabled people — along with friends and families and professionals focused on social justice — gather in real and virtual spaces to name the dead and to mourn. When weather and accessibility permits, we meet outside and light candles. I had spent months reading reports about the murder of disabled people, and decided to finish the project by flying to Washington and processing my own sorrow with some of the organizers of this somber ritual. I sat with my community, listening, our voices hushed.” Disabled Americans: Stop Murdering Us (by David M. Perry for Pacific Standard)

Racism

  • “Yes, in the clearest display of the bigotry still plaguing the NFL, no team – in a league desperate for capable quarterbacks – has signed Kaepernick, a man who led a team to the Super Bowl just a few years ago, and, oh yeah, started a nation-wide conversation about racial injustice and police brutality last year when he took a knee during the national anthem before football games.” The bigotry behind Colin Kaepernick’s unemployment (by Lindsay Gibbs for Think Progress)
  • “But thanks to Twitter user @BlackMarvelGirl, who shared pictures of the eight Black girls who had been reported missing, the news quickly went viral last weekend. Some of these teenagers have thankfully been found in the last couple of days, but that still leaves two questions unanswered: Where are the remaining kids, and why hasn’t this made national news?” Black & Latinx Teenagers Keep Disappearing In D.C. — But No One’s Talking About It (by Andrea Gonzalez-Ramirez for Refinery 29)

And Finally, A Little Joy:

The ACHA Bill Was Killed & People Are Celebrating With The Best Pop Culture Gifs

Sunday

19

March 2017

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – March 18, 2017

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

Essential Read

  • “Hi! I see you there! Welcome to the anti-racism movement. I know you were kind of hoping to sneak in the back of class in the middle of this semester and then raise your hand in a few days to offer up expert opinion like you’ve always been here — but you’ve been spotted, and I have some homework for you, because you’ve missed A LOT and we don’t have the time to go over it all together. I’m glad you are here (I mean, I’d really rather you arrived sooner and I’m a little/lot resentful at how often we have to stop this class to cover all the material for people who are just now realizing that this is a class they should be taking, but better late than never I guess) and I know that once you catch up, you can contribute a lot to the work being done here.” Welcome To The Anti-Racism Movement — Here’s What You’ve Missed (by Ijeoma Oluo for The Establishment)

Fight Back

  • “There was a time when I assumed that your anti-Black responses to my posts were an indication that you simply didn’t understand what you were saying. There was a time when I’d spend days figuring out how to explain why your comments were so fucked up, all the while making sure I didn’t say anything too confrontational. Because you’d accuse me of pulling the “race card” (no such thing) and of getting too emotional, and then refuse to listen until I “calmed down,” I’d put extra effort into projecting civility and calm, hoping you’d understand the rationality and legitimacy of what I had to say. I’d call your words “insensitive” instead of racist, because using the r-word is an automatic eject from a conversation.” Dear People Who Comment On My Facebook Posts To Silence Me (by Talynn Kel for The Establishment)
  • “The NAACP proposal does not strictly define ethnic studies, but the subject is often described as an interdisciplinary study of power, race, ethnicity and national origin, often including gender and sexual orientation, from the perspectives of marginalized groups. It’s meant to fill in the wide gaps left by traditional textbooks, literature and curricula that predominately focus on the contributions and world views of white men.” Seattle Schools may make ethnic studies mandatory (by Ann Dornfeld for KUOW)

Horrendous Executive Orders and Legislation

  • “Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to me when immigration agents came into my apartment after they arrested my father outside. I was arrested, too, detained and brought to this center. Agents said that a tattoo on my arm means I’m in a gang. I got that tattoo when I was 18 to honor La Paz, Mexico, the city where I was born. Agents interrogated me for hours and insisted I was a gang member because I’m from the Central Valley. They are all gang members there, they told me. It didn’t seem to matter how many times I told them that I wasn’t.” Daniel Ramirez Medina: I’m a ‘dreamer,’ but immigration agents detained me anyway (by Daniel Ramirez Medina for Washington Post)
  • “Born and raised in Houston, Barazi is a Muslim whose father emigrated from Syria and has been a US citizen for nearly four decades. Barazi’s mom said she couldn’t deal with the fear that her son might be singled out for extra inspection or, worse, detained when he tried to re-enter the United States. So Barazi, 22, joined the ranks of American Muslims whose ability to travel is restricted not by official Trump administration policy, but because they’re scared of what might happen when they land in US airport.” American Muslims Are Canceling Spring Break Trips To Avoid Being Hassled At The Airport (by Hannah Allam for Buzzfeed)
  • “House appropriations subcommittees began reviewing the plan late Wednesday. Among the cuts: drastic reductions in the 60-year-old State Department Food for Peace Program, which sends food to poor countries hit by war or natural disasters, and the elimination of the Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program, which subsidizes flights to rural airports.” Donald Trump Budget Slashes Funds for E.P.A. and State Department (by Glenn Thrush and Coral Davenport for the New York Times)
  • “”One of the officers calls out to me and says, ‘Hey, give me your phone,'” recalled Shibly. “And I said, ‘No, because I already went through this.'” The officer asked a second time. Within seconds, he was surrounded: one man held his legs, another squeezed his throat from behind. A third reached into his pocket, pulling out his phone. McCormick watched her boyfriend’s face turn red as the officer’s chokehold tightened.” American Citizens: U.S. Border Agents Can Search Your Cellphone

Racism

  • “Within the last week, nearly a dozen teens of color have gone missing in the Washington D.C. area. According to the D.C. Police Department, more than 10 Black and Latinx teens have been reported missing. Sadly, the only mention of their disappearance comes from a series of tweets including several messages from the police department’s Twitter account and a small number of online news sites, including The Root and Teen Vogue.” What We Know So Far About D.C.’s Missing Black and Latinx Teens (by Mariya Moseley for Essence)
  • “But former KKK leader, white supremacist, and former GOP Louisiana gubernatorial nominee David Duke praised the tweet as proof that “sanity reigns supreme” in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District (which King represents).” Congressman Steve King stands by racist tweet: ‘I meant exactly what I said’ (by Josh Israel for Think Progress)

Transphobia

  • “But it appears that Just Want Privacy’s latest fear-mongering effort has backfired. Last week, the group tried to use the story of Kelly Herron, a local marathoner who was allegedly attacked by a man in a Golden Gardens bathroom, to promote their anti-trans ballot measure in a fundraising e-mail and on Facebook. Unfortunately for Just Want Privacy, Herron has now spoken out against their campaign. “To the people behind I-1552, I say ‘not today, mutherf*ckers,'” Herron said in a public statement today about Just Want Privacy’s attempts to use her story, repeating the words she says she screamed at her attacker. “I refuse to allow anyone to use me and my horrific sexual assault to cause harm and discrimination to others.”” Golden Gardens Jogger Demands Anti-Trans Group Retract Fundraising Effort Using Her Story (by Sydney Brownstone for The Stranger)

Heroin Overdoses

  • “Drug overdoses have led to a spike in the number of bodies coming to the Stark County morgue — an increase of about 20 percent in the last year. The additional bodies led to the need for more space, so the coroner’s office borrowed a trailer from the state until it gets caught up. “I’ve been involved in public safety for 40 some years; I remember the drug problem we had in the late ’60s and early ’70s when I joined the department,” Walters said. “The fatality numbers are nothing even close to this.”” Drugs are killing so many people in Ohio that cold-storage trailers are being used as morgues (by Kristine Phillips for the Washington Post)

Reproductive Rights

  • “Unlike the rest of the UK, abortion is a criminal offence in Northern Ireland, where women face up to life in prison. It is estimated that more than a thousand women each year travel to Great Britain for terminations. However, Northern Irish women are not entitled to free abortions on the NHS, despite being UK taxpayers and they instead must pay for private procedures. Activists say this means low-income women are increasingly unable to travel and are instead buying abortion pills online and taking them at home in Northern Ireland.” Northern Irish police raid women’s homes in crackdown on abortion pills (by Siobhan Fenton for The Independent)
  • “When it comes to issues related to health, state Rep. Jessica Farrar says that men should have to undergo the same “unnecessary” and “invasive” procedures that she says Texas women are subjected to under recently passed state laws. That’s why the the Houston Democrat on Friday filed House Bill 4260, which would fine men $100 for masturbating and create a required booklet for men with medical information related to the benefits and concerns of a man seeking a vasectomy, a Viagra prescription or a colonoscopy. The bill would also let doctors invoke their “personal, moralistic, or religious beliefs” in refusing to perform an elective vasectomy or prescribe Viagra, among other proposed requirements in the bill.” With proposal to penalize men for masturbating, legislator aims to shake up health debate (by Alex Samuels for The Texas Tribune)

Saturday

18

March 2017

0

COMMENTS

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for: Those who enjoyed Arrival; people who aren’t totally sure that they are into science fiction but want to see.

In a nutshell: Eight short stories connected only by the fact that they are science fiction.

Line that sticks with me: “What he insists on is that they not love God under a misapprehension, that if they wish to love God, they be prepared to do so no matter what His intentions. God is not just, God is not kind, God is not merciful, and understanding that is essential to true devotion.” (pg 234)

Why I chose it: I saw (and loved) Arrival, and immediately added this collection to my list.

Review: I don’t usually pick science fiction books. Fiction in generally isn’t usually in my rotation, so adding a layer of complexity by narrowing it from generic literature to a specific genre means there are a lot of great books out there that I’ve not even considered reading. I tried reading a famous author’s most popular work earlier this year and couldn’t get past all the new words. I didn’t find the concept difficult to understand in the context of the stories; I just don’t enjoy having to learn new vocabulary created by the author.

This book, however, I found to be mostly accessible to someone who isn’t traditionally a science fiction reader. In fact, the first story, “Tower of Babylon,” is based on a story in the Bible. I read it in one sitting, and found myself reading almost all of the other short stories in one sitting as well.

My least favorite essay was easily “Seventy-Two Letters,” but even that one I mostly enjoyed. Again, it suffered from having a lot of new vocabulary to learn, but there were a couple of twists that I did not expect. That one also didn’t end in a way that I found satisfying.

I enjoyed the essay Arrival was based on, called “Story of Your Life;” I think the storytelling was elegant. It’s slightly different from the movie, and I understand why it was adjusted for the screenplay. But because I’ve seen the movie, I couldn’t help but read it all picturing Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.

The essay I enjoyed the most was probably “Hell is the Absence of God.” The premise of this one fascinated me: there is no question of whether the is a heaven, or hell, or god; the question is only will individuals be devoted to god. People literally see flashes into hell (and can see if their loved ones are there at times), and angels come to earth on a regular basis.

I can’t say whether these short stories are demonstrative of most science fiction as a whole, but I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed them, and so would at the very least recommend this to anyone else who is interested in seeing if they like science fiction but aren’t sure of a good starting point.

Thursday

16

March 2017

0

COMMENTS

The Unspeakable and Other Subjects of Discussion by Meghan Daum

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for: Those interested in some fairly dark but also interesting personal essays.

In a nutshell: Columnist Meghan Daum writes multiple essays on fairly mundane topics, but with a more unexpected voice.

Line that sticks with me: “I am convinced that excellence comes not from overcoming limitations but from embracing them. At least that’s what I’d say if I were delivering a TED Talk. I’d never say such a douchy thing in private conversation.” (p192)

Why I chose it: My sister recommended it. So far, she’s never steered me wrong.

Review: I’ve previously reviewed a book associated with Ms. Daum; she edited “Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed,” which, if I recall, I mostly liked but found the selections frustratingly focused on a particular type of childfree person. This book contains Ms. Daum’s own essays, covering topics from her mother’s death (which kicks off the book, so you should know what you’re getting into right off the bat) to the love of a dog, to career and life choices.

The topic areas are mostly relatable, but her take on them is unique in many ways. Her thoughts on her mother’s death, for example, are authentic in their honesty. She doesn’t go on and on about their special relationship, or talk about all the things she’s going to miss about her mother; she uses the essay as opportunity to talk about how complicated their relationship is.

My least favorite essay – and what I found unpleasant enough to drop this from five stars down to four – is called “Honorary D**e.” I’ve censored the slur here not because she did, but because as someone who doesn’t identify as a lesbian I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to say. But Ms. Daum doesn’t hold the same opinion, and I find this entire essay extremely tone deaf. She also uses some other words in the book that I feel she might not use if she were to write this today (such as a slur for transgender people), but who knows.

Some of the essays end anti-climatically, with sort of trite, let’s-wrap-it-up-ness, but others end with a perfect gut punch or laugh. And the essays themselves more than make up for the occasional poor ending.

My favorite essay is probably “On Not Being a Foodie,” which the quote above comes from. But I found myself relating to many of the essays, even with their ‘unspeakable’ nature.

Tuesday

14

March 2017

0

COMMENTS

Women, Race and Class by Angela Y. Davis

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Five Stars

Best for: Readers interested in learning more about the history of the women’s movement from a race and class perspective (it’s right there in the title).

In a nutshell: Brilliant academic and activist Angela Y. Davis provides a thorough history of the women’s movement, with a focus on the contributions of Black women and men and a deep analysis of the ways that white women in particular failed to support the needs of their Black sisters.

Line that sticks with me: “Yet there were those who understood that the abolition of slavery had not abolished the economic oppression of Black people, who therefore had a special and urgent need for political power.” (p73)

Why I chose it: Angela Davis is amazing. Also, I wanted to learn more about the history of the women’s movement outside the white lens.

Review: This book. I need to read this book again. Maybe twice a year. There is so much within it to unpack, to think about.

Ms. Davis starts with slavery and the entire concept of womanhood, looking at how the Black experience of womanhood in the U.S. differed from the experience of the white woman. She continues on through abolition and suffrage, focusing a large portion of her time on the 1850s-1930s. Each chapter feels like it could have been the start of a seminar on the topic; I assume there are (or at least could be) entire graduate-level courses constructed around examining each of these essays.

I didn’t really learn much about the U.S. suffragettes in school, so when I saw this article (http://the-toast.net/2014/04/21/suffragettes-sucked-white-supremacy-womens-rights/) a few years ago, I remember thinking ‘oh fuck.’ You may have seen a few of the more recent articles – like during the election – pointing this same thing out. But Ms. Davis gives so much more context to this, providing a detailed history, full of great original source material from speeches and other documents. It is frustrating and fascinating and infuriating, all at the same time.

She also focuses chapters near the end on the racial implications of rape (“Rape, Racism and the Myth of the Black Rapist”) and on how racism factored into and colors how Black women view birth control and reproductive right. Holy shit, people. These chapters are SO GOOD. Rage inducing, but critical to understanding this nation’s race relations history.

Not that I’m in any position to disagree with Ms. Davis on anything, but I did have a bit of a problem with the final chapter, on housework. Once you read it, you might understand when I say that I don’t disagree with her, but I think that she missed a big part of the picture. In that chapter, she takes issue with the fight for women to earn wages doing housework. She raises valid points, but in this area, I think fails to take into consideration what could bridge the gap between the current (bad) situation and the ideal situation.

But that’s one minor issue – and one I might change my mind about once I think on it more. The whole book is just fantastic. Go get it.

Sunday

12

March 2017

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – March 12, 2017

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

Fight Back

  • “After a stop at the locked-down East Precinct at 12th and Pine, the huge three-block crowd of marchers made its way down 12th toward the King County Youth Services Center — also known as juvenile hall. Last week, activists learned that the the Hearing Examiner had dismissed an appeal blocking construction of a new youth jail and justice center at the site. In a decision issued last week, the examiner dismissed the appeal brought by Ending the Prison Industrial Complex’s asking for exceptions made in permits issued by the city to be overturned.” Protest march covers Black Lives Matter hot spots from Capitol Hill to youth jail to Midtown Center (by J Seattle for Capitol Hill Blog)

Horrific Executive Action and Legislation

  • “Today, Governor Daugaard signed Senate Bill 149 into law, making South Dakota the first state in 2017 to pass anti-LGBT legislation. The bill will allow taxpayer funded agencies to refuse to provide any service, including adoption or foster care services, on the basis on the agency’s religious or moral convictions.” Governor Daugaard Signs Discriminatory Senate Bill (ACLU)
  • “The officials told the Chronicle that agents feel free to engage in more “collateral arrests,” or arrests of people who are not the intended targets of the operation. These kinds of arrests were discouraged in the Obama years, when those with criminal records were the targets of raids. Now, agents are free to detain them if they’ve broken immigration law.” Immigration agents are reportedly basking in their new, less-regulated roles under Trump (by Matthew Rodriguez for Mic)

Transphobia

  • “Adichie saying that trans women once experienced male privilege before “changing” genders and implying that this disqualifies them from being women without an adjective erases their experiences of womanhood at all stages of their lives. It further ignores the very real violence they face (Chyna Gibson’s name still fresh on our lips, images of Dandara dos Santos’s brutal murder splashed across social media, at least seven trans women of color murdered in the US since 2017 began) and leaves nonbinary trans people and trans men out of the conversation entirely.” Why Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Comments on Trans Women are Wrong and Dangerous (by Jarune Uwujaren for Unapologetic Feminism)
  • “A lawyer representing the family told LGBTQ Nation this all started last month, with the parents trying to get medical help for their daughter, who has type 1 diabetes and epilepsy. Although they agreed to something called a “therapeutic separation,” the attorney confirmed the parents never signed any documents surrendering their parental rights or authorizing any treatment of her gender identity, and in fact have attempted to have her moved to another hospital.” Is Christian-run hospital forcing this 5-year-old transgender girl to be a boy? (by Dawn Ennis for LGBTQ Nation)

Racism

  • “In addition, the majority of more than 1,800 innocent defendants framed by law enforcement since 1989 in widespread police scandals are African American, says the report, “Race and Wrongful Convictions in the United States,” published Tuesday as a companion to the annual National Registry of Exonerations. “Judging from the cases we know, a substantial majority of innocent people who are convicted of crimes in the United States are African Americans,” the report declares.” Innocent Blacks More Likely Than Whites To Be Wrongfully Convicted (by Matt Ferner for Huffington Post)

Health Care

  • “His claim—that if people would just make the right choices, they wouldn’t be so ding-dang poor—is part and parcel of the GOP’s long tradition of demonizing low-income members of the public. Republicans have been spouting the same canards for decades, castigating people with low incomes as lazy, moochers, and on the endless hunt for free stuff. And somehow the GOP seems to consistently equate poor with Black.” Jason Chaffetz’s Stance on iPhones and Health Care Is Both Heartless and Unoriginal (by Imani Gandy for Rewire)

Representation

  • “Despite this context, the creators of Speechless and the family drama Switched at Birth, both on air this spring, are talking to people with lived experience with disability, casting disabled people to play disabled characters, and using the structure of their respective genres to tell stories that ring true to a parent like me. And by incorporating unconventional families — which resemble my own in their battles over access and stigma — into classic American television genres, they are directing contemporary dialogues about disability straight at a mainstream audience.” The Shows Shaking Up Disability Representation on Television (by David M. Perry for Pacific Standard)

Misogyny

  • “Co-host Allison Kilkenny, who is also Kilstein’s estranged wife (they separated last year), announced Kilstein’s departure from the show via a Facebook post last Monday in which she wrote, “Recently, some disturbing allegations have been brought to my attention entailing several women who have accused Jamie of being manipulative, emotionally abusive, and predatory in his behavior.” It’s not clear, however, whether any specific incident triggered the departure.” Progressive Performer Jamie Kilstein Ousted From Citizen Radio After ‘Disturbing Allegations’ (by Prachi Gupta for Jezebel)

Wednesday

8

March 2017

0

COMMENTS

Monday

6

March 2017

0

COMMENTS

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for: Fans of Lauren Graham, fans of Gilmore Girls. If you’re just a fan of her work on Parenthood, there’s only one chapter in here for you.

In a nutshell: A loosely chronological collection of essays by Lauren Graham, discussing how she got into acting, her time on Gilmore Girls, and her time filming the recent series of films for Netflix.

Line that sticks with me: “What was it I’d encountered that day, and those other times? Why would anyone assume I’d need help with, or take credit for, something that wasn’t my work? Was it … sexism?”

Why I chose it: I really enjoy the characters of Lorelai Gilmore and Sarah Braverman, and I’m a sucker for a memoir written by a woman.

Review: I read this book in an afternoon plus one 30-minute session on the elliptical. It’s well-written, amusing, and offers some very sweet insight into Ms. Graham’s experiences as an actress. She even (for the first time) sits and watches all seasons of Gilmore Girls to give us readers her insights.

This book was fine. It’s definitely not bad, so I’m not sure why I’m leaning towards three stars instead of four. Maybe I was hoping for more? I’m not sure why – Ms. Graham seems extremely guarded (which is totally her right), and this book fits with that. I don’t think I learned anything surprising about her from her, although I made a few inferences of my own from what was included – or not.

The stories she tells are fun (thought rarely laugh-out-loud funny, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) and kind and generous to her colleagues. I did thoroughly enjoy the Gilmore Girls-specific chapters, but did wish there was more about her time on Parenthood.

As an aside, there was one section, however, that might just change my life as far as my writing is concerned. In one chapter, she shares advice she received from a fellow writer, called “the kitchen timer.” It’s obvious as hell once one reads it, but I’m using it right now and honestly, it’s really helpful.

Sunday

5

March 2017

0

COMMENTS

Hell is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement by Jean Casella, James Ridgeway, and Sarah Shourd

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for: People interested in learning more about the real cost of solitary confinement.

In a nutshell: A collection of essays about solitary confinement, with the vast majority being authored by those who have actually experienced it.

Line that sticks with me: “I could see grass through the window at the end of the hall. When they found out I could see it, they put a plate over it. We are way worse than other countries.”

Why I chose it: This was a recommendation from my husband.

Review: Each essay written by one of those who has been placed in “SHU” (Secure Housing Units, a.k.a. solitary confinement) is heartbreaking and infuriating in its own way. Solitary confinement has always sounded horrible; these stories confirm it. From the absurd reasons guards – and judges – find to lock people away for 23 hours a day in a tiny cell, to the long-term detriment this causes after just fifteen days, it is all bad.

All of it.

And it’s mortifying that in the U.S., we put more people in these tortuous cells than anywhere else on earth. People are denied human contact. They must jump through absurd hoops just to get access to the occasional book. And some have been in solitary for thirty years.

Can you imagine?

I don’t buy into the idea that people who have committed crimes deserve to be tortured. Yet it seems that so much of the U.S. prison system is focused on revenge fantasies instead of finding ways to rehabilitate people.

The only reason this book isn’t getting five stars is because I didn’t find the final section to be as compelling. It’s a few essays about the psychological and legal concerns about solitary confinement. It felt a bit unnecessary, but I do understand why it was included. It just took away from my experience.

Sunday

5

March 2017

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – March 5, 2017

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

Fight Back

  • “US District Court Judge Mark R. Hornak issued a temporary injunction barring Pine-Richland School District from enforcing a policy that said transgender students could either use single-person bathrooms or facilities matching their birth sex. In issuing his opinion suspending that policy, Hornak ruled that the students would likely prevail on their claims that the rule denied their equal protection rights under the equal protection guarantee of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.” Transgender Sister Of Singer At Trump Inauguration Wins Federal Court Bathroom Ruling (by Dominic Holden for Buzzfeed)

Horrific Executive Action and Legislation

  • “A recent Department of Homeland Security draft report did not find evidence that the people excluded because of the Muslim ban pose a terror threat to the country. As the Washington Post reported, “more than half of the 82 people who died in the pursuit of or were convicted of any terrorism-related offense inspired by a foreign terrorist organization, slightly more than half were native-born U.S. citizens.”” Trump lied. Right-wing extremists — not foreigners — commit more terror attacks in the U.S. (by Esther Yu Hsi Lee for Think Progress)
  • “The bill, SF 253, would give a fetus “the same rights and protections guaranteed to all persons by the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Iowa,” and the laws of Iowa. A three-person state senate subcommittee on Monday voted to advance the bill.” Bill Outlawing Abortion Advances in Iowa Legislature (Updated) (by Michelle D. Anderson for Rewire)
  • “Whenever there’s a serious infectious disease outbreak, inside or even outside the US, the CDC leads the response. The scientists and researchers there are tasked with identifying outbreaks, and creating plans to stop them from spreading. Should a pandemic or any other public health crisis occur, we would want a team of experienced professionals in place that already knows the lay of the land, and has the administration’s trust,” said Wendy Parmet, a professor of health policy at Northeastern University. “The sooner that team forms, the better.”” Trump has set the US up to botch a global health crisis (by Julia Belluz for Vox)

Arts

  • “Ali is the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar, a particularly notable achievement in 2017, when the White House has placed travel restrictions on individuals from several Muslim-majority nations. This win also makes Ali the fifth black actor to achieve a Supporting Actor Oscar.” Mahershala Ali Becomes The First Muslim Actor To Win An Oscar (by Maddie Crum for the Huffington Post)
  • “Davis, a Juilliard alum, has had quite the impressive journey. After winning a 2001 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her portrayal in the original production of King Hedley II, she power-walked into her breakout film role in Doubt, which earned the actress her first Oscar nomination. Once critics and audiences alike saw her accomplish the seemingly impossible–stealing a scene from Meryl Streep–her fame skyrocketed into oblivion. Davis went on to portray powerhouses in The Help, Shondaland’s How to Get Away With Murder, and mostly recently Fences–each of these roles brought the actress an array of accolades.” No, Viola Davis is Not the ‘Black Meryl Streep’ (by Tonja Renee Stidhum for Ebody)

Misogyny at Work

  • “The allegations of AJ Vandermeyden, who still works at the celebrated electric car manufacturer, paint a picture of a hostile work environment dominated by men where inappropriate sexual behavior is tolerated and women face numerous barriers to advance their careers.” A female engineer is suing Tesla for alleged sexism and harassment (by Sam Levin for The Guardian)
  • “Declarations from roughly 250 women and men who worked at Sterling, filed as part of a private class-action arbitration case, allege that female employees at the company throughout the late 1990s and 2000s were routinely groped, demeaned and urged to sexually cater to their bosses to stay employed. Sterling disputes the allegations.” Hundreds allege sex harassment, discrimination at Kay and Jared jewelry company (by Drew Harwell for Washington Post)
  • “In one instance, a woman corporal in uniform was followed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina by a fellow Marine, who surreptitiously photographed her as she picked up her gear. Those photographs were posted online in the Facebook group “Marines United,” which has nearly 30,000 followers, drawing dozens of obscene comments.” Hundreds of Marines investigated for sharing photos of naked colleagues (by Thomas James Brennan for Reveal)
  • “While the team is committed to maintaining their professionalism and quality as the world’s best squad on the field, they’ve also been tasked with the herculean task of coaxing a federation that unfairly allots time and resources towards the men’s squad to see them merely as equals to their male counterparts. And however the women’s squad might have tried to maintain this difficult balance, the cracks of this tenuous relationship had already begun to show before this action against peaceful protest was put into place, and the context of that relationship simply can’t be ignored.” New US Soccer National Anthem Policy Unfairly Targets, Silences Women’s Team (by Claire Watkins for Vavel)

Racism

  • “Kalyb kept trying to walk away from the officer, and got more upset the farther they walked. The officer then handcuffed the 50-pound, four-foot boy and marched him to the principal’s office. According to the incident report, the officer said he cuffed the boy, who “appeared to be out of control,” to keep him from hurting himself.” Kids in Cuffs: Why Handcuff a Student With a Disability (by Hannah Rappleye, Brenda Breslauer, Stephanie Gosk and Kenzi Abou-Sabe for NBC)

Reproductive Rights

Anti-Sex-Worker

Homelessness

  • “So here’s what actually happened to those 12 or so individuals, according to Chloe Gale. Gale is the program director for REACH, the organization that provides outreach and offers services during encampment sweeps. REACH has been working with encampment residents “for about a year,” Gale says, “trying to figure out good solutions for the folks who were living there.”” The City Swept an Encampment Near the Ballard Locks. Here’s Where the Campers Went (by Erica C. Barnett forC is for Crank)