ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Sunday

21

April 2019

0

COMMENTS

Bullsh*t Jobs by David Graeber

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for:
People interested in labor issues and economic theory.

In a nutshell:
Some jobs don’t serve a purpose. They’re usually paid fairly well, but they don’t need to exist. Why do we as a society allow these jobs to exist, and what are they doing to the people who hold them?

Worth quoting:
“We can probably conclude that at least half of all work being done in our society could be eliminated without making any real difference at all.”
“The underlying assumption is that if humans are offered the option to be parasites, of course they’ll take it. In face, almost every bit of available evidence indicates that this is not the case.”
“How does it come to seem morally wrong to the employer that workers are not working, even if there is nothing obvious for them to do?”

Why I chose it:
It looked kind of interesting. And it was! Kind of.

Review:
There is a lot going on in this book, and while the author tries to make it accessible and interesting, it sometimes falls a bit more into the academic text realm than I’d prefer. Additionally, despite the academic appearance, so much of the data supporting the theory is qualitative, which isn’t bad per se, but there isn’t enough quantitative support for the broad statements Graeber offers.

The book grows from an essay on the topic Graeber wrote a few years back for a labor magazine. The premise is that there are many jobs out there that don’t actually need to exist, but do, and at times even pay quite well. He’s interested in exploring not only what this does to the workers who hold these positions, but what it means for society that we all just allow these jobs to exist. Capitalism suggests that such positions will be eliminated as inefficient, but still they persist. Why is that?

Graeber takes us through a quick history of labor in exchange for money, spending a fair bit of time on the concept (relatively new, apparently) that our bosses / companies are paying us for our time as opposed to our work. The idea of not being able to do something personal when you finish your work but are still ‘on the clock’ would have been odd until fairly recently, according to the author. But now we see people having to create work that doesn’t exist to fill their time.

The author spends the first chapters of the book developing a definition of bullshit jobs, which I appreciate. These aren’t shitty jobs, as those ones so ofter serve a purpose. No, these are the jobs that perhaps are middle management, or ‘box tickers.’ He ultimately offers five different categories, and support for them using anecdotes from people who contacted him after his original essay was published.

I want to have gotten more out of this book. I definitely appreciated his argument, especially as it relates to the idea that we all could be working less but our values won’t allow it. But I didn’t finish it feeling as though I had much that I could do. I have to admit to skimming the last chapter where that information would be; at that point my eyes had started to glaze over. I don’t think the book is bad, but maybe it’d be better placed in a serious book club or a course on labor studies.

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

Sunday

21

April 2019

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – April 21, 2019

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Impacts of the Trump Administration

““After the U.S. intelligence community publicly announced its assessment that Russia was behind the hacking operation, Assange continued to deny that the Clinton materials released by WikiLeaks had come from Russian hacking,” the report reads. “According to media reports, Assange told a U.S. congressman that the DNC hack was an ‘inside job,’ and purported to have ‘physical proof’ that Russians did not give materials to Assange.” Thursday’s long-anticipated release adds new details about Assange’s interactions with the officers in Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate. Still, it leaves one question unanswered: Why was Assange so determined to exonerate the Russian intelligence agents who gave him the material?” Mueller Report: Assange Smeared Seth Rich to Cover for Russians (by Kevin Poulsen for The Daily Beast)

“To ignore a president’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways,” Ms. Warren wrote on Twitter. Elizabeth Warren Calls for Impeachment Process Against Trump (by Astead W. Hampton for The New York Times)

“The world’s five deadliest countries for journalists include three — India, Mexico and, for the first time, the United States — where journalists were killed in cold blood, even though those countries weren’t at war or in conflict, the group said. “The hatred of journalists that is voiced … by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists,” Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in a statement.” United States added to list of most dangerous countries for journalists for first time (Reuters)

Religious Buildings on Fire

“But it has survived: While the damage to the interior of the historic building is still uncertain, the fire did not consume Notre-Dame, according to authorities in Paris. The blaze stopped short of the two belfry towers that house the cathedral’s immense bells, the site immortalized by Victor Hugo in The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. “The worst has been avoided even though the battle is not completely won,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.” Amid Notre-Dame’s Destruction, There’s Hope for Restoration (by Kriston Capps and Feargus O’Sullivan for City Lab)

“Footage showing smoke and fire emerging from the roof of a structure known as the Marwani Prayer Room, or Solomon’s Stables, could be seen on social media. The Palestine News Agency, the official outlet of the Palestinian National Authority, cited a guard as saying Monday that “the fire broke out in the guard’s room outside the roof of the Marwani Prayer Room, and the fire brigade of the Islamic Waqf handled the matter successfully.” No injuries or damage was reported during the short blaze.” Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque Fire (by Tom O’Connor for Newsweek)

“Most of the victims were killed in three churches where worshippers were attending Easter Sunday services. Three other bombings struck luxury hotels – the Cinnamon Grand, the Kingsbury and the Shangri-La – located in the heart of the capital Colombo, killing at least 35 foreigners. Among the dead were Japanese, Dutch, Chinese, British, American and Portuguese tourists. No immediate claim of responsibility was made for the carnage in a country that was at war for decades with Tamil separatists until 2009, a time when bomb blasts in Colombo and elsewhere were common.” Sri Lanka Easter bombings: Mass casualties in churches and hotels (Al Jazeera)

World Politics

“Police statements have several times called the violence “orchestrated”. But PSNI Det Supt Jason Murphy, who is leading the investigation, said he did not think media presence affected events. An MTV spokesperson pointed to the PSNI’s statement and said there was “no evidence of any sort to show that the presence of the media on the ground contributed or impacted the situation on the Creggan estate.”” Dissidents accused of stoking Derry riot for Reggie Yates documentary (by Rory Carroll for The Guardian)

“The Liberal government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, says it intends to change the law to make it harder for refugees to go “asylum shopping”. But legal experts and refugee advocates warn these changes could flout domestic and international law, and ruin Canada’s reputation as a defender of refugees. “I think that the Liberal government has really taken a sharp turn,” says law professor and refugee lawyer Warda Shazadi Meighen. “Canada was really an outlier in the last five years as a country upholding refugee rights in the face of populism… and this will really chip away at that.”” Trudeau takes ‘sharp turn’ away from ‘refugees welcome’ (BBC)

Something Good

Do you watch Game of Thrones? Then you should be reading these recaps on Pajiba.

Sunday

14

April 2019

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – April 14, 2019

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Good luck to all my friends in the U.S. who are spending today frantically doing their taxes.

Islamophobia

“The allegation is that Omar trivialized 9/11 by describing it as “some people did something.” I’m reminded of Cardinal Richelieu’s quote: “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.” Omar isn’t even being afforded six words. For those who care about accuracy, Omar’s full 20 minutes of remarks present the correct and clear picture of her opinion on terrorism. The “some people did something” quote refers not to the 9/11 terrorists or Saudi Arabia — whom she has repeatedly condemned — but to unjust elements within the U.S. government who have denied Muslim Americans the equality that every citizen deserves.” Ilhan Omar’s 9/11 comments spark more false outrage — and expose anti-Muslim bias (by Qasim Rashid for NBC)

“Chu, who said Wednesday that she remembered the day the ban was put into effect with sadness, said in a tweet that the legislation was designed to ensure that not only would the ban be repealed but that the power to take racist actions like it would also be curtailed. “Trump’s Muslim ban is unAmerican,” Chu said. “That is why Sen. Chris Coons and I are introducing our No Ban Act today to not only repeal Trump’s hateful ban but also prevent any future president from issuing a ban based on religion or nationality.”” Dems Introduce Bill to End Trump’s ‘UnAmerican’ Muslim Ban (by Eoin Higgins for Common Dreams)

Police Failure

“The parents of Shana Grice, Sharon Grice and Richard Green, told the BBC that they felt their daughter had been “treated like a criminal” when she should have been protected by the police. “Our daughter took her concerns to the police and instead of being protected was treated like a criminal,” they said. “She paid for the police’s lack of training, care and poor attitude with her life. It’s only right that the police make changes, but it’s too little too late for Shana. Sussex Police should not be applauded for this.” Police Officers Face Disciplinary Action After Murdered Teenager Was Fined For Reporting Stalker (by Jenn Selby for Rights Info)

Fighting Illegal Occupation

“Airbnb are trying to absolve themselves by stating they will donate the profits from these listings to charity, but that fails to change the fact that by continuing to drive tourism to illegal settlements they are helping to boost the settlement economy. Airbnb had a clear opportunity to make the right decision to uphold human rights and use their influence to set a precedent in the tourism industry. Instead, they have chosen to bury their heads in the sand – ignoring blatant evidence that they are helping to fuel violations that cause immense suffering to Palestinians.” West Bank: Airbnb’s decision on listings in illegal Israeli settlements is ‘deeply shameful’ (Amnesty International)

U.S Government Failures

“The languishing Vieques hospital is one of many places where rebuilding has stagnated nearly a year and a half after the ruinous September 2017 hurricane. Repairs have yet to begin, slowed by disagreements over the project’s scope and cost, though reopening the hospital is supposed to be a top priority. Puerto Rico was in financial distress and had crumbling infrastructure before Hurricane Maria, and many residents complain of government malfeasance that exacerbated the storm’s impact, echoing criticism from Washington. But Puerto Rican leaders say the delay to the Vieques hospital and thousands of other stalled projects is a reflection of unequal treatment from the White House and Congress, which last week failed to pass disaster relief legislation because of a dispute over how much money to send the island.” Hunger and an ‘Abandoned’ Hospital: Puerto Rico Waits as Washington Bickers (by Patricia Mazzei for The New York Times)

Something Good

I am lucky enough to know the women in these two features, and they are both inspirational bad-asses.

“I went to college right before the boom in game-related degrees started; I also went to college in the middle of nowhere in Montana. Most of my friends got their degree in horsemanship. I dropped out with half an English degree and a minor in Philosophy and Religious Thought. Learning to code is always good because it lets you make your own games and honestly that matters so much more than any specific degree.” Jobs in Games: Future Games of London’s Elizabeth Sampat on being a creative director and the truth about the ‘Idea Guy’ (by Matthew Forde for Pocket Gamer)

“If you love books so much you like to inhale the scent of fresh pages when you crack a new one, Immortal Perfumes may just be for you. JT Siems runs the micro-perfumery out of her Seattle studio, crafting all handmade perfume blends from original recipes. She draws from dozens of scents to create her historically inspired perfumes, which includes her flagship line, Dead Writers. Inspired by her love of literature, bottles range in name from Dharma Bum to Capulet to Lady Day.” Immortal Perfumes, JT Siems’ Micro-Perfumery In Her Seattle Studio (by Meghan Nolt for 1889)

Sunday

7

April 2019

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – April 7, 2019

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2020 US Presidential Election

“Biden is the Democrats’ answer to the hunger to “make America great again,” dressed up in liberal clothes. The New York Times’ Jamelle Bouie has in fact argued that Biden’s racial politics have offered a form of Trumpism on the left, a “liberal cover to white backlash.” To that I would add, he has provided liberal cover to anti-feminist backlash, the kind of old-fashioned paternalism of powerful men who don’t take women’s claims to their reproductive, professional, or political autonomy particularly seriously, who walk through the world with a casual assurance that men’s access to and authority over women’s bodies is natural. In an attempt to win back That Guy, Joe Biden has himself, so very often, been That Guy.” Joe Biden Isn’t the Answer (by Rebecca Traister for The Cut)

“I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, “I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual fuck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?” He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused. There is a Spanish saying, “tragame tierra,” it means, “earth, swallow me whole.” I couldn’t move and I couldn’t say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me. My name was called and I was never happier to get on stage in front of an audience.” An Awkward Kiss Changed How I Saw Joe Biden (by Lucy Flores for The Cut)

“Biden, considered a potential candidate for president in 2020, chaired the committee during the hearings to confirm Thomas’ nomination to the high court, and has since been frequently criticized for the way Hill was treated during her testimony. A year ago during Glamour’s Women of the Year summit, Biden said that he was “so sorry that she had to go through what she went through” during the hearings, and later told Teen Vogue that “I owe her an apology” for not doing more to rein in attacks on her character by Republican members of the committee. “He said he apologized, but he hasn’t apologized to me,” Hill said amid frequent applause and two standing ovations during USC Dornsife’s “From Social Movement to Social Impact: Putting an End to Sexual Harassment in the Workplace” event Thursday afternoon.” Anita Hill: Joe Biden ‘Hasn’t Apologized to Me’ for Handling of Thomas Hearings (by Susan Seager for The Wrap)

Racism

“This was not the place. Despite the care I take in these sessions to center people of color, to keep them safe, this still was not the place. Once again, what might have been a discussion about the real, quantifiable harm being done to people of color had been subsumed by a discussion about the feelings of white people, the expectations of white people, the needs of white people. As I stood there, gazing off into the memory of hundreds of stifled conversations about race, I was brought to attention by a white woman. She was not nervously looking around to see who might be listening. She didn’t ask if I had time to talk, though I was standing at the door. “Your session was really nice,” she started. “You said a lot of good things that will be useful to a lot of people.” She paused briefly: “But the thing is, nothing you talked about today is going to help me make more black friends.”” Confronting racism is not about the needs and feelings of white people (by Ijeoma Oluo for The Guardian)

Ridiculous Government Action

“UA police determined Friday that they “will be charging” two students involved in the incident with “interference with the peaceful conduct of an educational institution,” which is a misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor could result in up to six months of jail time. Charges have not been filed yet, UA Police Chief Brian Seastone said in an email. The names of the two students have not been released. Robbins wrote that UA police will continue to investigate the matter for potential “additional criminal violations.” The Dean of Students’ office also is reviewing the incident to determine if the student code of conduct was violated.” University of Arizona will charge 2 students over protest of Border Patrol event on campus (by Rachel Leingang for AZ Central)

“In Monday’s Bucklew v. Precythe, the court rejected his claim by a 5–4 vote. Justice Neil Gorsuch’s opinion for the court, however, does much more than condemn Bucklew to a harrowing demise. It also quietly overrules, or at least erodes, more than 60 years of precedents, including several written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Gorsuch embraced a vision of the Eighth Amendment supported by Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia that has consistently been rejected as dangerously extreme by a majority of the court.” The Supreme Court’s Conservatives Just Legalized Torture (by Mark Joseph Stern for Slate)

UK Politics

“The PREVENT policy was conceived for Muslims. Not killers, rapists or ‘bad people’ – Muslims. At its inception, around the time of the UK’s illegal, devastating invasion of Iraq, PREVENT’s purpose was to prevent British Muslims from ‘breaking bad’ and radicalising. This decision was made before any major domestic attack took place on British soil (I say this as people erroneously believe PREVENT was conceived following 7/7 – it wasn’t). This begs the question: can this policy, with a raison d’etre to thwart the uncertain threat of British Muslim violence, be ‘translated’ to curtail White Rage? Could it prevent a Christchurch in the UK? We have to think in structures to answer this question: how was PREVENT conceived, how does it operate and what is its relationship to White privilege?” The UK’s PREVENT policy would not prevent white supremacist attacks like Christchurch – it’s part of the problem (by Dr Tarek Younis for Media Diversified)

“Beckett has made no secret of her very strong feelings about May’s handling of Brexit, and of the need to put the issue back to the people. She found May terrifying. “The more I look and listen to this woman the more I think she’s capable of doing literally what she says, driving us right to the last minute, and then saying ‘it is my deal or no deal’,” she says. “I have become increasingly worried that the house could decide something which is so far away from what people thought they were getting when they voted to leave that it could cause serious ructions. Some very strong Leavers say they don’t think people should have a second opportunity to be consulted because they might have changed their minds. That seems to me to be incredibly dangerous as well as completely indefensible.”” Margaret Beckett: why Brexit has to go back to the people (by Toby Helm for The Guardian)

Rich People Doing What They Do

“Every parent assumed that whatever alchemy of good genes and good credit had gotten his child a spot at the prep school was the same one that would land him a spot at a hyper-selective college. It was true that a quarter of the class went to the Ivy League, and another quarter to places such as Stanford, MIT, and Amherst. But that still left half the class, and I was the one who had to tell their parents that they were going to have to be flexible. Before each meeting, I prepared a list of good colleges that the kid had a strong chance of getting into, but these parents didn’t want colleges their kids had a strong chance of getting into; they wanted colleges their kids didn’t have a chance in hell of getting into. A successful first meeting often consisted of walking them back from the crack pipe of Harvard to the Adderall crash of Middlebury and then scheduling a follow-up meeting to douse them with the bong water of Denison.” They Had It Coming (by Caitlin Flanagan for The Atlantic)

 

 

Friday

5

April 2019

0

COMMENTS

The Secret Barrister by Anonymous

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
Anyone interested in the English criminal justice system.

In a nutshell:
An actively practicing barrister shares what goes on in the English justice system, and offers suggestions of ways to fix it.

Worth quoting:
“Early guilty please equal cheap guilty please. It does not follow, of course, that early guilty please equal correct guilty please.”
“Defense legal aid, and the effective adversarialism that it permits, doesn’t simply protect the defendant; it protects the public by keeping the prosecution, and the court system, honest.”
“In many respects, the released innocent is worse off than the released convict, the latter of whom will at least have a measure of institutional assistance with their reintegration.”

Why I chose it:
I’ve seen this book prominently displayed in nearly every bookshop I’ve visited. I’ve enjoyed similar books related to the healthcare field, and thought this might be an interesting switch.

Review:
I know very little about the England / Wales justice system (which is not the same as the Scottish justice system or the Norther Ireland justice system). I’ve seen Mark Darcy defend Pussy Riot dopplegangers in British Jones’s Baby, and I watched a few episodes of that show where Gillian Anderson was a detective and the guy from 50 Shades of Grey kept killing people. But as someone born and raised in the US, there is a huge blank space where any knowledge of English justice might be.

Given that, this book was a fantastic was to fill in that space. Less ‘here’s an interesting story from my day as a barrister’ (which, side note, I finally kind of understand the difference between a barrister and a solicitor!) and more ‘let’s walk through the trial system from start to finish,’ this book is an examination of how the English adult criminal justice system is meant to work, how it works in reality, and what should be different. It is written by an anonymous — though active — barrister, who I suspect is a man (more on this in a moment) but who is dedicated to exposing how the system fails pretty much everyone, including the accused and the complainants.

The overarching theme of this book is that it is in EVERYONE’S best interest to have a well-functioning criminal justice system that protects the rights of the accused and looks after victims in an honest way. Areas I found especially interesting — and that might run counter to what some people think — were the ones that looked at the dangers of putting victims first in the way England currently does. One question that comes up a lot is — if you were falsely accused of a crime, what protections would you want in place to ensure you were treated fairly? The Barrister’s argument is that this is where we should focus, because, as most people agree, if we need to balance the two, it is better for society if someone is wrongly freed than wrongly imprisoned.

The book is laid out as the progression of a criminal case, although it doesn’t follow just one all the way through. The first chapter introduces the players, which, again, is extremely helpful to those of us not from here. (Seriously, I feel like they should issue a copy of this book with each residency visa.) From there, they cover charges, bail, prosecution (including the lack of sufficient funding), the problems with current Victim First thinking, legal aid / paying for defense, a look at the adversarial vs. inquisitorial systems, sentencing, and appeals. It’s exhaustive but not exhausting (unless you count how exhausting it is that funds keep getting cut because elected officials don’t fully grasp the issues).

My one big complaint is that two of the cases the author chose to illustrate things are sexual assault, and I think they were the wrong choices. One was an example of someone who was probably guilty not being convicted, and that one wasn’t as problematic. However, that was then followed by the use of a false accusation of sexual assault to illustrate a deep miscarriage of justice. The author swears up and down that they fully understand how rare such false allegations are, and that the more likely scenario is someone who is guilty not even being charged. But they still chose this instead any of the hundreds and thousands of other crimes that have horrible incorrect convictions. This is what makes me think the author is a man; I don’t think a woman would have been so cavalier in her choice of example.

Setting that frustration aside, I think this book is well worth a read, and one I will be recommending to all my friends who are new to the UK or are just interested in better understanding the UK criminal justice failures.

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

Monday

25

March 2019

0

COMMENTS

Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer

Written by , Posted in Reviews

3 Stars

Best for:
Women needing a nudge to tend to their friendships with other women.

In a nutshell:
Through memoir and research, author Kayleen Schaefer explores the special bond women share, and how those bonds can be tested by society.

Worth quoting:
“It can hurt to break up with a friend just as much, if not more, than to break up with a lover, but women don’t grieve these losses as publicly.”
“Devoting ourselves to finding spouses, caring for children, or snagging a promotion is acceptable, productive behavior. Spending time strengthening out friendships, on the other hand, is seen more like a diversion.”

Why I chose it:
After moving back to London early last year, I’m simultaneously far away from some of my closest girlfriends and working on deepening new relationships with girlfriends I’d moved away from eight years ago. And trying to figure out how to do this in ways that make sense.

Review:
I haven’t ever had a squad of girlfriends. I wasn’t someone who shied away from having women friends (or girls as friends when I was kid); I just preferred more 1:1 time. At most, a group of three (including me) felt the best. I’ve never had long lists of close friends — or even not-so-close friends — I’ve just wanted to spend quality time with people who get me and who I get.

Right now, I’m dealing with a lot of different issues related to friendship. In addition to leaving my hometown after high school, I’ve made four big moves in my life where I’ve physically left friendships. During each move, some friendships dissipate, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; friendships don’t need to last a lifetime. But at the same time, especially as I get older (40 next year), I recognize the value, power, and beauty of someone having known me at different stages of my life, and me having known them. In fact, one of my closest girlfriends and I had a chat maybe five years ago, when she was dealing with some challenges as a parent. She shared how important it was that she still had friends like me and another of her close friends, who have known her since before she was a mom. We knew what she was like before, and could help her see how she still was that same woman in many (but not all) ways.

I’m also dealing with a friend who has, for lack of a better term, ghosted me. We’ve known each other for 16 years, and had stayed (what I thought was) good friends through her moving away, then me moving near her, then me moving away again, and now me being back in the same city. But as much as I’d thought and hoped that we’d pick up where we left off, I’ve not heard from her in months, and I don’t expect to. That’s hard.

That’s all background to say that when I saw this book, I knew I needed it, because I needed not a reminder that friendships are important, but permission to focus on making sure the existing friendships I have are tended to. Of course not all friendships will stay the same, and not all will need — or deserve — the same level of attention. But if we want to keep those relationships up (and we should), we need to work at them. And not as an afterthought.

Author Schaefer looks at the friendships girls and women have with each other through different stages of life. She focuses on how she treated female friendship first as a child in school (and examines the idea of ‘mean girls’), then as possible competition at the office, and then as a primary relationship in one’s life. She looks at the history of women supporting each other, and offers examples of times when women have supported their best friends through serious, trying times. She includes examples from pop culture as well as from people she knows.

She makes a strong case that we need to be supporting people in their friendships. The relationships we have with our partners (if we have one) or our kids (if we have any) are important, but friendships should be up there as well, and deserve our time and energy. Of course, that could seem like just one more thing we have to learn to juggle, but I think it’s more like something that, if we make the time, will give us much more than it takes from us.

The book obviously stirred up a lot in me, but I’m not sure it is a great book. I think it is good, and perhaps I was expecting less anecdata and memoir (which is on me, not the author), but it felt like some things were missing. There are also some areas where the author does demonstrate some ignorance (one section talks about women entering the workforce in the 50s which, I think she meant fairly well-off white women, because poor women and women of color have been working forever). In spite of that, I do think this is worth a read.

I could write more, but I’m off to dinner with two of my girlfriends.

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

Sunday

24

March 2019

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – March 24, 2019

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Criminal Punishment System

“In other words, the Supreme Court just gave ICE license to round up undocumented immigrants and detain them indefinitely, even if they had been picked up and released from custody four days or 40 years earlier.” Supreme Court Rules Immigrants Can Be Detained without Bond Hearing Even Years After Release (by Melissa McEwan for Shakesville)

Fighting Back

“Ardern, on the other hand, immediately showed that she had no time for the perpetrator of the mosque shootings.“Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand; they may even be refugees here,” she said. “They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence.”” Jacinda Ardern has Rewritten the Script for How a Nation Grieves After a Terrorist Attack (by Masha Gessen for The New Yorker)

“The Republican move was referred to as a “legislative coup.” It took away key appointment powers from the governor and limited the ability of the Democratic officials to join national lawsuits (or to withdraw from them). In each instance, authority was shifted to the legislature, where Republicans retain majorities. Walker signed the legislation in December, completing the lame-duck power grab. At the time, former US attorney general Eric Holder said of the Republicans, “Their actions are grossly partisan, deeply undemocratic, and an attack on voting rights. They must not stand.” Now, a court has agreed with Holder, issuing a decision that has significance for Wisconsin and for the nation.” A Wisconsin Judge Upends the GOP Power Grab and Restores the Authority of the Democratic Governor (by John Nichols for The Nation)

Be Better

“Second, you must learn the difference between intent and impact. Your intentions may be as pure as the driven snow, but if your intentions negatively affect the communities you claim to be passionately fighting for, then your intentions mean bupkis. Any notion you “meant well” and therefore are above criticism is not only dangerous, it’s patently absurd. It’s not enough to fumble your way through allyship, ignoring all the signposts and the people waving their hands frantically telling you to slow down and think about what you’re doing. As activist and historian Blair Imani noted, “If you can’t listen to the very people you passionately fight for and then move forward with humility, you need to do other work.”” Dear Alyssa Milano: Will You Be My Co-Conspirator? (by Imani Gandi for Rewire)

Elections

“But the way it works right now, come general election time, presidential candidates don’t travel to every state. They zero in on just a few battleground states, and they don’t get to hear about the issues that are on the top of people’s minds everywhere else in the country. But your power in our democracy shouldn’t be determined by where you live.” It’s time to get rid of the Electoral College (by Elizabeth Warren)

Something Excellent

Seriously.

Sunday

17

March 2019

1

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – March 17, 2019

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

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

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

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.