ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Sunday

17

March 2019

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – March 17, 2019

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Accessibility

“Looking at the data set as a whole, the likelihood of damage to wheelchairs and scooters in the month of December 2018 was around 2%. Since the data is based only on damage reported by passengers, it is important for wheelchair users to file a claim each time a mobility device is mishandled, even if the damage is minor or cosmetic. The Air Carrier Access Act states that wheelchairs and scooters must be returned “in the same condition” in which they were received.” First Data on Wheelchair Damage by Airlines Released by DOT (by John Morris for Wheelchair Travel)

“Of course, it’s unclear whether the students involved in the college admissions scam actually needed accommodations, though court records allege their parents exploited this feature to help their children get higher test scores. This, Cokley says, could delegitimize those students who depend on accommodations, making their requests seem like a leg up, rather than a leveling of the playing field. “This behavior is harmful because when celebrities and others with privilege use a marginalized community’s civil rights as a ‘VIP pass,’ it frames reasonable accommodations as something ‘special’ that you should be able to buy, versus actual civil rights that give people with disabilities an equal seat at the table,” she says. “My need to preboard on an airline due to my arthritis isn’t extra — it’s to ensure I don’t get trampled by average-height folks rushing onboard. The manipulation of a system that is put into place to ensure that students who have disabilities have their needs met can cause folk on the outside to infer that the entire system is corrupt. This is not the case.”” The College Admissions Scandal Could Have Lasting Impacts for Disabled People (by Brittney McNamara for Teen Vogue)

Sex Work

“In response, sex workers—both young women and longtime activists—got together and mobilized to fight for full decriminalization of their work. They rejected the so-called Nordic Model, which mandates the arrest of clients and managers but not of prostitutes, saying it impoverished them and still gave the police control over their lives by allowing police surveillance of their workplaces. They focused on lobbying politicians. The closing words of Ramos’s statement—“I’m here to say thank you for having the bravery of being yourselves, of advocating for yourselves. I can’t wait to keep working with you”—showed how effective their efforts have been.” ‘Whores But Organized’: Sex Workers Rally for Reform (by Molly Crabapple for The New York Review of Books)

Criminal Punishment System

““Our death penalty system has been — by any measure — a failure,” Newsom says in prepared remarks he is expected to deliver at a Capitol news conference Wednesday morning. “It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can’t afford expensive legal representation. It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent. It has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars.” Newsom also argues in his remarks that the criminal justice system is susceptible to error, citing a November Los Angeles Times editorial that reported 164 condemned prisoners nationwide who were wrongly convicted have been freed from death row since 1973. He also cites a 2005 Santa Clara University Law Review study that concluded people convicted of killing whites were more likely to be sentenced to death than people convicted of killing blacks and Latinos.” Gov. Gavin Newsom to block California death row executions, close San Quentin execution chamber (by Phil Willon for the LA Times)

A Few Good Things

“The couple’s love story started almost a decade ago, when they met in 2010 while they both played for the U.S. National Team. They started out as friends, and, Harris said, “The rest has kind of been history. Here we are nine years later, and we’re going to be getting married this year.” During a September 15 picnic near the rocks of Clearwater Beach, Florida, Harris, 33, surprised Krieger, 34 by popping the question.” Two Women’s Soccer Stars Are Getting Married (by Lisa Ryan for The Cut)

“And, to further inconvenience myself for YOU, our honored guest, I have finally procured and thusly scoured the Williams-Sonoma catalog for wares that will alight poor people all across this nation over in righteous fury. Because what is Christmas unless I invite a bunch of hoity-toity strangers over, break my back trying to entertain them, and then quietly seethe when they don’t appear to be jovial enough? It’s nothing. So, with that in mind, let’s have a belated look inside this tome of impossibly WASP-ish treasures. I hope there’s a $650 toaster in here! (SPOILER: There is!)” The 2018(ish) Hater’s Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog (by Drew Magary for Deadspin)

Tuesday

12

March 2019

0

COMMENTS

Nuts and Bolts of Self-Publishing by Chris Longmuir

Written by , Posted in Reviews, Writing

Four Stars

Best for:
People interested in self-publishing a book.

In a nutshell:
Author Chris Longmuir shares their experience in self-publishing while providing seriously detailed instructions to prospective self-publishers.

Worth quoting:
(Mostly because it’s a fun bit of trivia) “Project Gutenberg was launched in 1971. This was the year they digitized the United States Declaration of Independence, making it the first ebook in the world.”

Why I chose it:
I want to get my book out there.

Review:
A couple of weeks ago I was texting with a friend about the book I wrote a few years ago. It’s a non-fiction advice book, focused on the relationships between people who don’t have kids (me) and people who do (damn near everyone else). I’ve put together book proposals, built a supporting website (my goal is to write multiple advice books along the same theme), and reached out to agents, but I don’t have the type of platform agents look for. In lamenting this, my friend pointed out that her sibling self-published their books.

To be honest, I’d passed on this idea because I fell into the same trap that Longmuir references: self-publishing is just a vanity option for people who can’t write well. The reality is there are so many books out there, and a limited number of agents and publishers. I’m not a celebrity with a few hundred thousand followers; no one is going to make money off of me. But I like to write, and I think there is a market for the type of book I’m writing. I spent a lot of time on it (and still have editing and sensitivity reading ahead of me), and it’s silly that it’s just sitting here in Scrivener.

So, I bought this book. And it is exactly what it says it is: nuts and bolts. To the point where Longmuir provides detailed step-by-step instructions not just of the process but of the actions needed. It runs the risk of getting out of date if Amazon or other self-publishing outlets dramatically change their software, but it’s going to be wonderful when I get to the point of publishing. Instead of saying “when you get to the eBook details, fill in the information”, they list out all the information you will need (and whether you have to come up with it yourself or if they is a menu of options) so you aren’t starting at a screen, scrambling for the details.

Similarly, Longmuir offers warnings and suggestions based on their experience. Some publishing platforms will need to have exclusive rights unless you uncheck certain boxes. Others will provide the things you need (an ISBN) but then they are the publisher and you aren’t. Longmuir even offers a detailed breakdown of how royalties work.

It’s not the most riveting read, but it’s definitely as well-written as a book on this topic could be while still being useful. I’m not ready to hit submit yet, but when I am, this is the book I’m going to rely on to get me through it.

And then I hope a few of you will check it out.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it

Sunday

10

March 2019

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – 10 March 2019

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Fight Back

“Thompson has now joined over 70 UK women in the UK in writing an open letter in support of more inclusive gender recognition laws, in the process challenging a poisonous anti-transgender narrative that has taken root in some corners of the country’s discourse. A number of media outlets, commentators, and celebrities in the UK have been using their platform in recent years to argue that by advancing legislation that grants transgender people—specifically transgender women in this case—more of their human rights, governments are actually infringing upon the rights of non-transgender women. Proponents of this view have come to be known as trans-exclusionary radical feminists.” ‘They Do Not Speak For Us’: Emma Thompson and Other Female Celebrities in UK Pen Letter Condemning Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists (by Petr Knava for Pajiba)

“The suit, in United States District Court in Los Angeles, comes only three months before the team will begin defense of its Women’s World Cup title at this summer’s tournament in France. In their filing and a statement released by the team, the 28 players described “institutionalized gender discrimination” that they say has existed for years. The discrimination, the athletes said, affects not only their paychecks but also where they play and how often, how they train, the medical treatment and coaching they receive, and even how they travel to matches.” U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Sues U.S. Soccer for Gender Discrimination (by Andrew Das for The New York Times)

Health Care

“The Center for Reproductive Rights and Maine Family Planning—the state’s sole recipient of the Title X family planning funds targeted by the administration—on Wednesday filed the latest lawsuit against the recently finalized rule. Officials in 21 states are slated to bring lawsuits against the “gag rule,” expected to go into effect in early May. Pro-choice advocates see the rule as a backdoor attempt to defund Planned Parenthood—a longstanding goal of anti-choice activists and Republican lawmakers. The anti-choice policy bans Title X money from going to health-care providers who refer patients for abortions and requires clinics to physically separate Title X-funded family planning services and abortion services.” ‘More Than an Undue Burden’: Trump’s Domestic ‘Gag Rule’ Faces Flurry of Lawsuits (by Dennis Carter for Rewire)

Technology

“Today’s big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy. They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation. I want a government that makes sure everybody — even the biggest and most powerful companies in America — plays by the rules. And I want to make sure that the next generation of great American tech companies can flourish. To do that, we need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor.” Here’s how we can break up Big Tech (By Elizabeth Warren)

Misogyny

“Are you the office cut-up—the person who can’t resist responding to a tedious presentation with a well-timed witticism? Do you wonder at times whether this behavior is helping or hurting your career According to a new study, it depends in part on whether you’re a man or a woman. A research team led by Jonathan Evans of the University of Arizona reports that using humor in the workplace raises the status of male employees, but has the opposite effect for women. The team argues that these divergent reactions are the result of ingrained gender stereotypes.” Witty Women Are Less Likely to Get Promoted Than Men (by Tom Jacobs for Pacific Standard)

“We are like this because girls are taught to never walk alone. Don’t use public restrooms solo. No drinks from strangers. We’re told to get to our cars quickly, start the car, and get driving. No lingering. Dress modestly, be aware of your surroundings, carry pepper spray, and learn basic self defense. The list of things we do to keep ourselves safe is long. But as Jackson Katz, an activist educator, found out through his research: Sexual assault safety is a nonissue for many men.” ‘Text me when you get home.’ We shouldn’t have to say it. But we do (by Jenee Osterheldt for The Boston Glob)

Racism

“The researchers then analyzed how often the models correctly detected the presence of people in the light-skinned group versus how often they got it right with people in the dark-skinned group. The result? Detection was five percentage points less accurate, on average, for the dark-skinned group. That disparity persisted even when researchers controlled for variables like the time of day in images or the occasionally obstructed view of pedestrians. “The main takeaway from our work is that vision systems that share common structures to the ones we tested should be looked at more closely,” Jamie Morgenstern, one of the authors of the study, told me.” A new study finds a potential risk with self-driving cars: failure to detect dark-skinned pedestrians (by Sigal Samuel for Vox)

Life

“This seems to ring especially true in creative fields, where these days selling art is less likely to be considered “selling out” than self-actualization. But even those who are commercially successful in creative fields often lament the disconnect between what it is like to do their jobs and how society views their life and work. Adam J. Kurtz, author of Things Are What You Make of Them has rewritten the maxim for modern creatives: “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life work super fucking hard all the time with no separation or any boundaries and also take everything extremely personally.” Which, aside from being relatable to anyone who has tried to make money from something they truly care about, speaks to an underrepresented truth: those with passion careers can have just as much career anxiety as those who clock in and out of the mindless daily grind.” The Modern Trap of Turning Hobbies Into Hustles (by Molly Conway for Man Repeller)

Something Good

A cool design video focused on furniture. 

Saturday

9

March 2019

0

COMMENTS

American Kingpin by Nick Bilton

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
People who enjoy investigative journalism told in narrative form.

In a nutshell:
A very Libertarian dude decides to make a statement and start a website that sells drugs. Things spiral. The federal government gets involved in multiple ways.

Worth quoting:
N/A

Why I chose it:
After listening to Bad Blood, I needed another audio book for my runs. Memoirs have been my go-to in this format, but I think they have been replaced, as it’s easy to stay invested when it’s essential real-life suspense. And bonus: the narrator for this book happened to be the same one, and I like his style, so double-win.

Review:
I was vaguely aware of the Silk Road website, where people could buy and sell drugs and other contraband, but I had no idea about the story behind it. And OH MY GOD is it absurd. Like, this young guy with very specific ideals who is desperate to be successful in some realm just .. Starts a site. And it blows up to the point that it is doing hundreds of thousands of dollars of business a week.

A week.

What?!

The story alternates among a few major players: the site’s founder, two different homeland security inspectors, the FBI, and an IRS agent. The personalities are strong and interesting. Some people make horrible decisions. Some people make good decisions. And I yell “Are you KIDDING ME?” at least every 15 minutes. I felt like I was listening to a suspense novel, and then had to remind myself that this was real life.

If the whole Theranos situation has you intrigued, I think you’ll find this an interesting read as well.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it

Tuesday

5

March 2019

0

COMMENTS

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Five Stars

Best for:
Anyone who enjoys a true story about shady people who (for the most part) get what’s coming to them.

In a nutshell:
An experienced Elizabeth Holmes convinces a lot of people that she is on to the next big thing in biotechnology. She isn’t, and she gets VERY touchy when people point that out. Also, lots of powerful old white guys make some absurd financial decisions.

Worth quoting:
N/A

Why I chose it:
I listened to the podcast “The Drop Out,” which is just a few episodes long, but was definitely enough to get me interested.

Review:
Oh MY god did I love this book. I purchased the audio version and planned to listen to it during some long runs I have coming up. Instead, I could barely put it down, and listened to it every chance I got. It is a meticulously researched book, and Carreyrou explains complicated things (like how blood tests work) in ways that are not condescending or difficult to understand. The story develops slowly but never drags, as Carreyrou lays out the entire fiasco step by step.

What it comes down to is the Elisabeth Holmes was — is — a fraud. I think she started out with an idea (blood testing without the needles), and then became like a dog with a bone. She couldn’t and wouldn’t accept anyone disagreeing with her, because she was going to change the world. I don’t believe she was motivated by greed or money; I think she was fully motivated by her ego. She couldn’t dare admit that she was in over her head, or that her company Theranos wasn’t able to do what she promised; she just kept lying to others (and possibly herself) in the hopes that everything would work itself out.

The story is at times unbelievable. The number of attorneys involved. The cloak and dagger way the company treated its ‘trade secrets.’ The threatening letters. The lawsuits. The firings of anyone who questions anything. To think that people act this way — and think it is justified — is distressing to say the least. And frankly, I reserve about as much disgust for the attorneys who did Elisabeth Holmes’s bidding as I do for Holmes and her C-suite colleagues. The way the tormented people is offensive.

One area I think could have been developed a little bit more is the exploration of what the failures of the blood testing did to people’s lives. Carreyrou does share some stories of those who were harmed — such as a woman who ended up with $3,000 in unnecessary medical bills — but that can at times get lost in the story. And of course many of the whistle-blowers were motivated by the danger that faulty blood testing can cause, but it still wasn’t necessarily woven in as much as I would have liked. But that’s a very minor quibble, because it’s definitely discussed.

A little more than halfway through the book, the author become part of the story. It’s a slightly dramatic moment, but I think it is handled very well. The investigation of the Wall Street Journal article that predates the book is a huge reason why Theranos has been sued and why some of its leadership have been charged with crimes. It would be impossible for him to stay out of it, and the book would have suffered greatly without his perspective being shared in this way.

There were many moment when I got so angry at the things people were getting away with, but the last couple of chapters — I mean, there are some serious just deserts being served. It’s chef’s kiss come to life.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it: Keep it. And probably listen again soon.

Sunday

3

March 2019

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – March 3, 2019

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Islamophobia

“One staff member was physically injured during the morning’s confrontations, and another official resigned after being accused of making anti-Muslim comments. The display featured a picture of the World Trade Center in New York City as a fireball exploded from the one of the Twin Towers, set above a picture of Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is Muslim. “‘Never forget’ – you said. . .” read a caption on the first picture. “I am the proof – you have forgotten,” read the caption under the picture of Omar, who is wearing a hijab.” GOP’s anti-Muslim display likening Rep. Omar to a terrorist rocks W. Virginia capitol  (by Dareh Gregorian for NBC News)

Sex Work

“Raven was among the roughly 150 advocates who gathered in Manhattan, New York, on Monday to announce the launch of Decrim NY, a sex-worker-led coalition of LGBTQ, immigrant rights, harm reduction, and criminal justice groups. Coalition supporters also gathered to express their support of state bills to decriminalize sex work throughout New York state.” Advocates Gather in New York City to Demand Decriminalization of Sex Work (by Victoria Law for Rewire)

“Niki Adams, a spokeswoman for the collective, said female sex workers were forced to work in isolation. “One woman working alone was viciously attacked, raped and beaten. The case went to court and the man was convicted but the woman then thought: ‘I never want to work alone again.’ She started working from another woman’s flat, and within a few months the place was raided by police … The women were arrested for brothel-keeping. That woman spent months and months before the case came to court and was dropped at the last minute due to a big campaign by us highlighting how outrageous [it was] that women working together were prosecuted.”” Decriminalise sex work to protect us from crime, prostitutes say (by Sarah Marsh for The Guardian)

Health Care

“Lucas, who had a rare form of muscular dystrophy, used a power wheelchair and a ventilator. She also had low vision, was hard of hearing, and had type 1 diabetes. As she documented on her personal blog in January 2018, Lucas became ill with a bad cold. According to her Facebook page, her health insurer, UnitedHealthcare, refused to pay for a specific medication she needed, owing to its cost of $2,000. Consequently, she had to take a different and less-effective medication, which caused deleterious reactions. Lucas’ health rapidly declined, resulting in numerous hospital stays over the last year and the loss of her ability to speak. The obituary on her Facebook noted, “United Healthcare’s attempt to save $2,000 cost over $1 million in health care costs over the past year.” More importantly, Lucas’ friends and family argue, it cost her her life.” Carrie Ann Lucas, Disability Rights Activist and Attorney, Dies Following Denial From Insurance Company (by Robyn Powell for Rewire)

Sexual Harassment and Assault

“They are not talking about what happened during their swim meets, but rather what they’ve endured outside the pool. The girls say they received sexually explicit or violent text messages from a male teammate. Those texts are now at the center of a school district investigation and a growing controversy impacting Fishers High School, one of the state’s most talented swimmers, and the organization that oversees high school athletic competition in Indiana.” Harassment controversy surrounds Fishers High School swim team (by Bob Segall for NBC)

“According to the documents, over a thousand allegations of sexual abuse against unaccompanied minors in HHS custody were reported to federal authorities each fiscal year since 2015. In total, between October 2014 and July 2018, 4,556 sexual abuse complaints were reported to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) — an agency within HHS in charge of caring for unaccompanied migrant minors. An additional 1,303 complaints were received by the Justice Department between fiscal years 2015 and 2018, but it’s unclear whether these complaints overlap with those reported to ORR.” Thousands of migrant children were sexually abused in U.S. custody, HHS docs say (by Camilo Montoya-Galvez for CBS News)

Something Good

Interview with Christopher Pike

Thursday

28

February 2019

0

COMMENTS

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Written by , Posted in Reviews

4 Stars

Best for:
People who enjoy autobiographies that don’t feel overly edited or ghost written.

In a nutshell:
Former (sob) First Lady Michelle Obama tells her story, from early childhood through her departure from the White House.

Worth quoting:
“This may be the fundamental problem with caring a lot about what others think: It can put you on the established path — the my-isn’t-that-impressive path — and keep you there for a long time.”
“…because having been brought up in a family where everyone always showed up, I could be extra let down when someone didn’t show.”
“As the only African American First Lady to set foot in the White House I was ‘other’ almost by default. If there was a presumed grace assigned to my white predecessors, I knew it wasn’t likely to be the same for me.”

Why I chose it:
I mean, duh. It’s Michelle Obama. How could I not?

Review:
I love the fact that Obama doesn’t become First Lady of the U.S. until page 282 in a 426 page book. She was only First Lady for eight years, but I can see a lesser publishing house or editor wanting to really focus on those eight years. In fact, given what was kept in and what was left out, I can see that this could EASILY have been a two-book volume. Instead, it is a true auto-biography that gives us real insight into who Michelle Robinson is, and how her life became entwined with our 44th President.

Obama is a great writer. I found her stories evocative, and interesting. I could picture the apartment she grew up in, her law office, her family. And while fairly early on her future husband enters the picture, the focus is still on her and how she experienced all these adventures. He’s almost a minor character; I feel like I get more of a sense of her children than her husband. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing — he tells his story, and has told his story, many times. This is about HER and how she felt about the things she has experienced as a Black woman filling a role that no Black woman has filled before.

It was hard to read again about some of the political things — reading asshole Mitch McConnell’s offensive and frankly anti-American comments, and being reminded of how aggressively Republicans fought to harm so many people in the US by blocking any sort of progress, just pissed me off even more than my regularly daily pissed-offedness thanks to the current President. But it was fascinating to learn a bit more about how the White House works, and how their family adjusted to that life.

I found myself relating to her in some ways – she is a planner, and super organized, and had a good home life growing up. I related hard to the quote I included up top, about staying on a path because one is worried about what other’s might think. I spent most of my youth through the end of college thinking I was going to be a lawyer, and it wasn’t until the summer before I was supposed to enroll at UCLA Law that I got the courage to tell my folks I didn’t want to do that. I had to figure everything out from scratch, and it terrified me. And I did another form of that again a year ago, when I moved overseas and left my career behind. For some of us its hard to not care what other people think, and it was refreshing to see someone be so honest about that.

There were definitely quite a few things that were either edited out or just never written. There is virtually nothing in there about her time in law school, which I found odd. But there is a lot about her time in college, so perhaps the two experiences weren’t different enough to be considered compelling reading? There is also not a ton in the White House, nor a lot about the second Presidential campaign. It’s a good read, but some of it does feel a bit ‘wait, you’re not even going to mention that?’, which is what kept me from giving it the full five stars.

I started this book in January and found myself only reading it in spurts, primarily because I tend to read on the go, and this book is HUGE. It was just too heavy to cart back and forth. But I sucked it up and read the back half in two days. So it’s not a slow read, or a dense read, but it’s not a book you can stick in a small purse and bring with you on the bus.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it: Keep it AND Pass to a Friend

Sunday

24

February 2019

1

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – February 24, 2019

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Politics

“But Feinstein was, in fact, demonstrating why climate change exemplifies an issue on which older people should listen to the young. Because—to put it bluntly—older generations will be dead before the worst of it hits. The kids whom Feinstein was talking to are going to be dealing with climate chaos for the rest of their lives, as any Californian who has lived through the past few years of drought, flood, and fire must recognize.” The Hard Lessons of Diane Feinstein’s Encounter With the Young Green New Deal Activists (By Bill McKibben for The New Yorker)

“According to some who have worked closely with Sanders over the years, “grumpy grandpa” doesn’t even begin to describe it. They characterize the senator as rude, short-tempered and, occasionally, downright hostile. Though Sanders has spent much of his life fighting for working Vermonters, they say he mistreats the people working for him. “As a supervisor, he was unbelievably abusive,” says one former campaign staffer, who claims to have endured frequent verbal assaults. The double standard was clear: “He did things that, if he found out that another supervisor was doing in a workplace, he would go after them. You can’t treat employees that way.”” Anger Management: Sanders Fights for Employees, Except His Own (by Paul Heintz for Seven Days)

“As three Conservative MPs quit their party to join the new Independent Group of MPs, I wondered if, among the reasons for their departure, any would make reference to the Islamophobia that has become so rampant within their party. Many of those who joined the new group from the Labour party had made reference to antisemitism as one of the reasons for choosing to leave, so I wondered if anti Muslim bigotry would also be treated as an equally abhorrent form of hatred, meaning none of the MPs could bare remaining in the party. Antisemitism and Islamophobia are both equally reprehensible forms of hatred and both must be treated equally and tackled. It appears however that bigotry towards Muslims in the Conservative party doesn’t seem to be of much concern to many of its MPs, let alone a reason for wanting to leave.” Why doesn’t the media portray Islamophobia in the Conservative Party as a scandal? (Media Diversified)

Sexual Assault and Harassment

“Despite mountains of reporting — not nearly enough, mind you — and evidence, people found ways to disregard allegations as rumors, and cited his 2008 acquittal on child pornography charges as a reason to leave the matter be. The same community that knows how unfair and inadequate the criminal justice system can be will lean on it when someone they love has been legally exonerated. But now, finally, it feels like there is a sea change happening.” R. Kelly’s Time Is Finally Up (by Jamilah Lemieux for Huffington Post)

“In her op-ed, Watson points out the failure of the Virginia General Assembly to allow her the chance to testify. “Despite the professed belief of numerous elected officials in Virginia and elsewhere that Vanessa Tyson, who says that Fairfax sexually assaulted her in 2004, and I have brought forward credible allegations,” Watson wrote, “the Virginia General Assembly has not taken the simple and responsible step of arranging the thorough public hearing that we have sought.”” Justin Fairfax’s Second Accuser Reaffirms Offer to Testify in Public (by Ibn Safir for The Root)

“Last month, Skydance announced their hiring of John Lasseter to head their animation wing, a story that disappointed many, given Lasseter’s exit from Disney-Pixar over inappropriate behaviour towards female employees. Lasseter had also been accused of helping to foster a climate of sexism, intimidation and harassment, with women being shut out of meetings because Lasseter apparently couldn’t control himself around women. Any who questioned this hostile environment were branded ‘difficult’, demoted or even let go from the company, and the root of that toxicity goes all the way to up Lasseter’s management.” Emma Thompson Departs Skydance Animated Film After Hiring of John Lasseter (by Kayleigh Donaldson for Pajiba)

Health Care

“This could be devastating for many marginalized people in the country seeking health care. But it could be especially dangerous for LGBTQ people, who have fought hard to establish legal protections that would guard them against exactly these kinds of denials. When your very body and existence are considered objectionable, seeking health care at the best of times can be dangerous. “Trans and gender nonconforming people already face really severe discrimination in health-care settings,” said Bridget Schaaff, If/When/How’s reproductive justice federal policy fellow at the National LGBTQ Task Force. Rules like these “are going to make this even harder.”” The Trump Administration Is Trying to Make It Easier for Doctors to Deny Care to LGBTQ People (by s.e. smith for Rewire)

“Twenty-one states cover abortion under Medicaid in the cases allowed and use state funds to cover abortion in other cases, and 15 states cover abortion only in the circumstances allowed by Hyde, according to the GAO. The remaining 15 states violate federal law and do not cover some abortions in the cases allowed. The report found that states aren’t reporting when they’re using federal funding to cover abortions.” States Are Violating Medicaid Requirements by Refusing to Fund Some Abortions, Government Report Finds (by Josephine Yurcaba for Rewire)

Racism

“Some residents in the area have looked on the store as a stain on the community that should be razed and forgotten. Others have said it should be restored as a tribute to Emmett and a reminder of the hate that took his life. As the debate has played out over the decades, the store has continued to deteriorate and collapse, even amid frequent cultural and racial reckonings across the nation on the fate of Confederate monuments. At stake in Money and other communities across the country is the question of how Americans choose to acknowledge the country’s past.” Emmett Till’s Murder, and How America Remembers Its Darkest Moments (by Audra D. S. Burch, Veda Shastri, and Tim Chafee for The New York Times)

“In practice, the guidelines give legal recourse to individuals who have been harassed, threatened, punished, demoted or fired because of the texture or style of their hair. The city commission can levy penalties up to $250,000 on defendants that are found in violation of the guidelines and there is no cap on damages. The commission can also force internal policy changes and rehirings at offending institutions. The move was prompted in part by investigations after complaints from workers at two Bronx businesses — a medical facility in Morris Park and a nonprofit in Morrisania — as well as workers at an Upper East Side hair salon and a restaurant in the Howard Beach section of Queens. (The new guidelines do not interfere with health and safety reasons for wearing hair up or in a net, as long as the rules apply to everyone.)” New York City to Ban Discrimination Based on Hair (by Stacey Stowe for The New York Times)

“In it, Sutton argues the KKK could put Washington, D.C., on the right track through heinous, violent acts. “They do not understand how to eliminate expenses when money is needed in other areas,” he wrote. “This socialist-communist ideology sounds good to the ignorant, the uneducated, and the simple-minded people.” Sutton doesn’t back down from his garish criticism. Instead, he doubles down calling socialists/communists un-American. “If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out D.C., we’d all been better off,” Sutton told the Advertiser.” Alabama Newspaper Editor Calls For The Return Of The KKK To ‘Clean Up’ Washington D.C. (by Ricky Riley for Blavity)

Criminal Punishment System

“In one sense, Ginsburg’s opinion is sweeping—it finally opens the federal courthouse door to victims of civil asset forfeiture, like Timbs, who believe they’ve been wronged. But Wednesday’s decision leaves some questions unanswered. The court has already ruled that when the federal government seizes money or property, the fine must not be “grossly disproportional to the gravity of [the] offense.” Presumably, this same standard now applies to the states. But when is a forfeiture grossly disproportionate? Does Indiana’s seizure of Timbs’ Land Rover meet this standard? Ginsburg didn’t say, instead directing the Indiana Supreme Court to evaluate the question. Prepare for a flood of litigation urging federal courts to determine when civil asset forfeiture crosses this constitutional line.” The Supreme Court Just Struck a Huge, Unanimous Blow Against Policing for Profit (by Mark Joseph Stern for Slate)

Parenting

“But it’s not just overzealous mommy bloggers who construct a child’s online identity; plenty of average parents do the same. There’s even a portmanteau for it: sharenting. Almost a quarter of children begin their digital lives when parents upload their prenatal sonogram scans to the internet, according to a study conducted by the internet-security firm AVG. The study also found that 92 percent of toddlers under the age of 2 already have their own unique digital identity. “Parents now shape their children’s digital identity long before these young people open their first email. The disclosures parents make online are sure to follow their children into adulthood,” declares a report by the University of Florida Levin College of Law. “These parents act as both gatekeepers of their children’s personal information and as narrators of their children’s personal stories.”” When Kids Realize Their Whole Life Is Already Online (by Taylor Lorenz for The Atlantic)

Something Excellent

“Three decades since William S Preston Esquire (Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) first hatched their scheme to ace their history exam by bringing Napoleon and company to class, Bill and Ted remains a joyous anomaly. The humour is pathologically silly, the performances broader than one of the surf boards Reeves would subsequently pose beside in Point Break. And scenes in which Bill and Ted travel by phone-booth along the time-lines – rendered as CGI phone cables – are creaky even for a low-budget action-comedy in 1989.” ill and Ted’s Excellent Anniversary: How two guitar-wielding airheads conquered comedy 30 years ago (by Ed Power for The Independent)

Sunday

17

February 2019

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – 17 February 2019

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Content note: Racism, transphobia, sexual assault, Islamophobia

Racism

“Then, McLaurin said, that student replied, “I’m just trying to be honest with you on why we did not end up calling you.” Part of the reason, the student wrote in an email, was “because I found it easier to lead the discussion without black presence in the room, since I do feel somewhat uncomfortable with the (perceived) threat that it poses — something which I have been working on, but it will take more time than I would like it to be.” Mclaurin posted a screenshot of the email on Twitter. “You would think,” he tweeted, that “NYU was not like this, especially their SOCIAL WORK program. But I guess it is. I’m very tired. I’ve been dealing with this since I started.”” After Black Student Is Kept Out of Class Discussion, NYU School Acknowledges ‘Institutional Racism’ (by Emma Pettit for The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Trans Erasure

“As trans people and allies from all walks of life took issue with this interpretation, Levy flatly denied wrongdoing. “Write your own book,” she insisted repeatedly, rejecting what she calls ‘the trans take’ on Barry’s life. The utter absence of any comprehensive ‘trans take’ on history speaks volumes about Levy’s interest in her own protagonist. Recent research into James Barry’s relationship with his own gender has been a rare, precious find for trans communities. This isn’t just because his historical record shows evidence of a trans man living a full, rewarding, and exciting life. It’s because history — both the recording and doing of it — rarely offers up such a fascinating, complex, and well-documented case study of a transgender person.” “The Trans Take”: Towards a Transgender Public History (by Jack Doyle via Medium)

Labor

“Activision Blizzard made the layoffs official on Tuesday, the same day it reported record revenue and earnings per share for both the fourth quarter of 2018 and the year. Despite the record numbers, the company fell short of Wall Street’s expectations for revenue and gave disappointing guidance. As the news broke, many in the video game industry criticized Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick for boasting about the company’s record revenue as hundreds of people were laid off with no advance notice.” People in the video game industry are rallying around the 800 employees laid off by Activision Blizzard (by Kevin Webb for Business Insider)

“According to reports it was mainly support staff, QA, esports, IT, and publishing affected by the layoffs. While Activision Blizzard posted $1.98 billion profit for 2018, up from $1.3 billion the year prior, Kotick told investors that the publisher hasn’t “grown at the rates that reflect the opportunities our industry afford”. Game Workers Unite argued that Kotick’s $30 million salary is “built from the stolen wages of his workers”.” Game Workers Unite sparks campaign to fire Activision Blizzard CEO following mass layoffs (by Haydn Taylor for Games Industry)

Reproductive Health

“Listen to me when I am talking to you. I am a human being, and I am more than a vessel and I speak for my daughter whom I never heard cry. I speak for that 17-year-old girl bent across a kitchen counter. I speak for the strange woman I have become. And I speak to all of the women like me, the ones who came before, and after, who have been or will be in the same position ― or perhaps your story is completely different and powerful in its own right.” I Wish I’d Had A ‘Late-Term Abortion’ Instead Of Having My Daughter (by Dina Zirlott for Huffington Post)

“In late 2018, Devos issued her own Title IX guidance, to the immediate alarm of advocates for sexual assault survivors and women’s rights groups. Among other things, the Devos rules restricts the scope of what counts as sexual harassment, limits the types of school employees responsible for reporting sexual assault, and narrows the very definition of what, exactly, counts as a campus sexual assault.” Betsy DeVos is making campuses safer for rapists and their enablers (by Lindsay Gibbs for Think Progress)

“Arkansas and Tennessee lawmakers are planning for the fall of Roe v. Wade, Republicans in multiple states are still obsessed with bathrooms, and legislators in at least ten states have introduced measures this year to ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat has been detected.” Legislative Lowlights: Lawmakers in Ten States Have Introduced ‘Heartbeat’ Bans This Year (by Brie Shea for Rewire)

Judges Being Assholes

“In an article that she wrote for the Yale Herald in 1994, Rao questioned whether some women who reported that they were sexually assaulted while intoxicated were really just making false accusations stemming from regret. In that same article, Rao said that “a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober.” In another piece published at the Yale Free Press in 1993, Rao suggested that women need to “understand and accept responsibility for their sexuality” in order to prevent the problems of date rape. She claimed that the term “date rape” “removes the burden of sexual ambiguity from the woman’s shoulders.” And she criticized feminists for claiming that “women should be free to wear short skirts or bright lipstick,” because, according to Rao,“[m]isunderstandings occur from subtle glances, ambiguous words.”” Getting ‘Kavanaughed’ Isn’t a Thing; Neomi Rao Just Isn’t Fit for the Federal Judiciary (by Shiwali Patel for Rewire)

“Hughes is known for delivering history lectures, issuing blunt critiques about improper courtroom attire and accusing the Justice Department of abusing government resources. Visitors to his court either perceive him as obnoxious and vindictive or witty and astute. He’s been called a loose cannon who lashes out at attorneys unaware of his expectations or revered as a no-nonsense defender of constitutionally-guaranteed rights. A 2017 Houston Bar Association poll found that lawyers felt he needed the most improvement in being impartial, following the law and being courteous to attorneys and witnesses.” Houston federal judge bars female prosecutor from trial, sparking standoff with U.S. attorney’s office (by Gabrielle Banks and Lise Olsen for Houston Chronicle)

Islamophobia

“It’s an issue that is overlooked, not least of all because it’s a ‘hidden second layer’ for many Muslims seeking support for mental health difficulties, but also due to the lack of awareness surrounding the important issue. The Runneymede Trust’s report on Islamophobia highlights an increased risk between perceptions of discrimination and mental disorders, and this is echoed by mental health charities and campaigners. Jolel Miah, founder of Our Minds Matter, a charity promoting mental health awareness in Luton, a town with a significant Muslim population, says Islamophobia is a form of abuse, whether it manifests itself in physical attacks or the perception that Muslims are constantly ‘under the microscope’, which he has seen lead to ‘depression and low self-esteem’.” “A state of constant anxiety and hypervigilance” – Islamophobia and how it affects the mental health of Muslims (Media Diversified)

Something Good

Sunday

10

February 2019

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – 10 February 2019

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Reproductive Health

“Threatening people’s lives is always wrong, but there is no possible world in which Ted Shulman’s two threats create an entire new category of “pro-choice extremism” that the FBI should be worried about. As Jodi Magee, the CEO and president of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, said at the time of his arrest, “Our doctors have received hundreds and thousands of death threats and worse at the hands of anti-abortion activists …. That kind of violence is a noted pattern in the anti-abortion movement. To my knowledge, [anti-abortion activists] are not persecuted in the same way that physicians providing legal medical services to patients have been.”” A Movement of None: The FBI’s Bogus ‘Pro-Choice Extremist’ Label (by David S. Cohen for Rewire)

“The California measure would be the first mandate of its kinds in the United States after state legislators made history last year by passing the first-ever legislation to address the rights of intersex people. The non-binding resolution, authored by Wiener, recognized intersex people as “a part of the fabric of our state’s diversity” and called for deferring surgeries “until the child is able to participate in decision making.”” California Could Be First to Ban Medically Unnecessary Surgeries on Intersex Babies (by Amy Littlefield for Rewire)

“Instead of talking about Republicans’ move to outlaw early abortion—which is when most terminations happen—the national discourse around reproductive rights is focused on rarely performed procedures that almost always happen because of fetal abnormalities or a risk to women’s health. The vast majority of abortions in America—over 91 percent—are performed in the first trimester of pregnancy. Even after that, most abortions still happen before 20 weeks. In fact, it’s only a little over one percent of abortions that are performed past the 21st week of pregnancy.” The Truth About ‘Late-Term Abortion’ (by Jessica Valenti on Medium)

“The act would remove reckless restrictions on international recipients of U.S. funding, ensuring that organizations can effectively serve their communities. It would allow NGOs to use non-U.S. funds to provide, counsel, or advocate for legal abortion care. It would ground U.S. health assistance in evidence rather than ideology, and ensure that NGOs never again have to choose between receiving U.S. funds and offering comprehensive care. And critically, it would remove—in perpetuity—the U.S. president’s power to restrict health care for millions of women with merely a signature.” The Global Gag Rule Has Put Women in Danger for Decades. Here’s How We Can Stop It. (by Vanessa Rios & Nina Besser Doorley for Rewire)

Racism

“However the 50 or so people who were deported today, the 50 black people of Jamaican descent, we know far less about them, we know a couple of their faces but we didn’t hear in their own words published by the mainstream media why they were detained by the UK home office. In fact when would they have had time to write for Comment is Free? They were arrested from their homes with no warning, detained and shipped off to immigration detention centres, the horrors of which have been detailed in numerous articles including on this site.” There is a war on Black people in Britain. If you’re complacent, you’re complicit (by Samantha Asumadu for Media Diversified)

“Black folks have always been interested in our history, our families, and their unique legacies of resistance and survival. But as a new wave of young Black people attempts to learn more about its heritage, some of the only places available for us to look are sites of deep violence and trauma, like that plantation. In the search for your own history, whether personal or communal, you may find yourself on the way to a similar historic site. Here are some things you may need to prepare for, and ways to structure the trip to mitigate harm.” What to Expect When Visiting A Plantation Where Your Ancestors Were Enslaved (by Benji Hart for Teen Vogue)

Mental Health

“Even without being a heaping pile of metaphors, the show is excellent and well worth every second of its brief runtime. But for those of us with mental illness, Russian Doll is an absolute gift, understanding experiences that often feel impossible to describe or explain — right down to their cyclical, seemingly unending nature. Grief, pain, mental illness, addiction, trauma: These experiences are not linear. There is no clear endpoint, and you can find yourself feeling true progress one day only to end up right back where you started by the next.” Russian Doll and the (Seemingly) Neverending Cycle of Trauma (by Courtney Enlow for SyFy)

Anti-Muslim Bigotry

“This, however, is the same Supreme Court that has rewritten fundamental principles of its own religious liberty jurisprudence in cases like Burwell v. Hobby Lobby when conservative Christians claimed that their religious beliefs were under attack. It is also the same court that upheld President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban despite the fact that Trump literally bragged repeatedly about his plans to ban members of a certain faith from the country. Moreover, as Kagan notes, the prison warden did not deny Ray’s request to have his imam present until January 23. So Ray went through the prison’s administrative channels to get the relief he sought, and then he filed suit just five days after his request was denied. Given this timing, it appears very likely that the majority’s claim that Ray waited too long to file his suit is pretextual.” The Supreme Court just handed down a truly shocking attack on Muslims (by Ian Millhiser for Think Progress)

Climate Change

“The answer, by the way, is that climate isn’t weather. Weather is what’s happening over the short term, climate is what happens over the long term. The National Centers for Environmental Information, a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says that weather tells us what to wear on a given day, while climate tells us what we should put in our closets. It’s why you don’t find many South Floridians with an extensive down coat collection.” For a Climate Reporter, a Dreaded Question: ‘Then Why Is It So Cold?’ (by Kendra Pierre-Louis for New York Times)

Something Good

A little Freddy Mercury, as interpreted by Patrick Wilson.