ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Daily Archive: March 29, 2015

Sunday

29

March 2015

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COMMENTS

What I’m Reading: March 29, 2015

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Racism

– “I do atypical work for a white person, which is that I lead primarily white audiences in discussions on race every day, in workshops all over the country. That has allowed me to observe very predictable patterns. And one of those patterns is this inability to tolerate any kind of challenge to our racial reality. We shut down or lash out or in whatever way possible block any reflection from taking place.” Why White People Freak Out When They’re Called Out About Race (h/t @sallyt)

– “Nobody really wants to talk about racism with people who haven’t gotten their morning joe yet. But if a white barista really hands a black person like me a latte and expects her to talk about race, she’d better not have to pay for the coffee. And the first time a customer says “you people” to a group of black baristas, there had better be guidelines for whether they still have to serve the damn coffee, or if the customer has to pay twice – and it’s definitely not togetherness if the customer gets to come back the following week and act like nothing happened.” Starbucks wants to make baristas talk about race. Show them the money (via @Ijeomaoluo)

– “Novella Coleman, the ACLU attorney, had already filed a complaint about the practice in 2012, to no avail, Coleman said on Thursday. She filed another complaint based on Singleton’s experience, and on Thursday the two women said that the agency had agreed to conduct anti-discrimination training sessions with its officers to avoid what they called racial profiling of hair.” TSA agrees to stop singling out black women for screening based on their hairstyles (h/t @thewayoftheid)

– “Sibley said he placed the bomb on the trail as a “patriot” because he felt that no one is paying attention to the world, and if someone found the explosive device they would understand that a bomb could be placed anywhere, according to the criminal complaint.” Georgia ‘patriot’ plants real bombs and fake evidence trying to blame the Muslim community (via @DailyKos)

– “A Long Island woman’s insistence that President Obama follows her on Twitter made doctors at the Harlem Hospital psych ward think she was delusional and suffering from bipolar disorder — but she was actually telling the truth, a lawsuit charges. Kam Brock’s frightening eight-day “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” ordeal at the mental facility included forced injections of powerful sedatives and demands she down doses of lithium, medical records obtained through her suit filed in Manhattan Federal Court show.” L.I. woman says psych ward doctors believed she was delusional for insisting Obama follows her on Twitter (h/t @allisonkilkenny)

Sexism

– “I deleted my original tweet after the game, before all hell broke loose, to make amends for any genuine offense I may have committed by describing play as “dirty.” (Of course, other people, including my uncle who is a chaplain, also expressed fear that the athletes would be hurt badly. But my uncle wasn’t told he was a smelly pussy. He wasn’t spared because of his profession; being a male sports fan is his immunity from abuse.)” Forget Your Team: Your Online Violence Toward Girls and Women Is What Can Kiss My Ass (via @AshleyJudd)

– “I understand that when the white men see their guns disappear into thin air before their very eyes—a fate that most certainly awaits them, due to the actual existence of an actual gun vaporizer over which I have complete actual control—they may feel distress or sadness. This is why my evil matriarchal regime will be collecting white men’s tears during the vaporization process, for research purposes and also to sweeten the beverage of my people: a strong tea brewed of oppression and misandry. It is, of course, naturally very bitter.” I Made a Joke About Guns and a Man Threatened to Assault Me (via @andreagrimes)

Labor

– ““We were never interviewed for these articles and we did not close our … location due to the new minimum wage,” Kounpungchart and Frank said in an email. “We do not know what our colleagues are doing to prepare themselves for the onset of the new law, but pre-emptively closing a restaurant seven years before the full effect of the law takes place seems preposterous to us.”” Truth Needle: Is $15 wage dooming Seattle restaurants? Owners say no (via @seattletimes)

Classism

– “The barriers to inclusion will not be removed at Wash. U., or other leading colleges, until an aggressive policy of affirmative action based on social class is added to existing affirmative-action programs. Your new “commitment” is a travesty of that essential policy.” Class Bigotry at Washington University in St. Louis: A Resignation (h/t @sarahkendzior)

Sports

– “He said he made his decision after consulting with family members, concussion researchers, friends and current and former teammates, as well as studying what is known about the relationship between football and neurodegenerative disease.” SF’s Borland quits over safety issues (h/t @jordanbks)

Reproductive Health

– “Cisgender people, particularly white individuals, have the privilege when seeking health care of being able to present as their authentic selves without fear. Transgender people, especially people of color, do not. Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler, an Oakland, California-based filmmaker, writer, and scholar who is also a Black transgender man, told me that for himself and other trans men he knows, the experience of accessing medical services is fraught with bodily exposure and the risk of discrimination.” Cisgender Women Aren’t the Only People Who Seek Abortions, and Activists’ Language Should Reflect That (h/t @christinedavitt)

– “Young was tasked with lifting boxes as heavy as 70 pounds in her job as a UPS worker. When she got pregnant, her midwife recommended that she not lift more than 20 pounds, and wrote a note asking her employer to put her on light duty. Had Young been written a similar note because Young broke her arm carrying boxes, or suffered from a disability, UPS would have put her on what is known as “light duty.” But UPS wouldn’t do it for Young on account of her pregnancy. The alternative was to take unpaid leave without medical benefits.” Supreme Court Sides with Pregnant Workers in Discrimination Case (h/t @msfoundation)

Policing

– “The act would bar law enforcement, as well as all government entities, from releasing an officer’s name for 60 days following the incident. If the officer has a disciplinary record, or is disciplined as a result of the shooting, his name may still not be released for the full 60 days.” Arizona Legislature Passes Bill to Keep Cops’ Names Secret After They Shoot Civilians (via @Slate)

Homophobia

– “Sure, it is cleverly labeled with a market-tested name (the Religious Freedom bill), but please don’t be fooled: This is nothing more than a government endorsement of discrimination. Yes, in this land of liberty, our state’s government is prepared to push into law a measure allowing one group of people to tell others that they are not equal and not welcome at their businesses.” Tully: Statehouse Republicans embarrass Indiana. Again. (h/t @JohnGreen)

– “If you’re a person who criticizes sanctions against foreign nations because you understand that they harm the people of the nation more than the government, but then turn around and advocate boycotting states, you’re not a progressive—you’re a fauxgressive. And if you understand that this “religious freedom” bill was a reactionary act by people who were angry that the federal government did something they didn’t like (force them to legalize same-sex marriage), then you should understand that a reactionary act by people angry at our state government because they did something you didn’t like (codify bigotry) is just part of the same damn problem. Stop. (via @shakestweetz)

– “The fact that legislation like this is so widespread probably gave Pence some confidence in signing the bill, despite the controversy in Arizona last year over its bill that was ultimately scrapped, and in other states, like Georgia, which are considering similar measures this year (the NCSL found 13 additional states are considering their own RFRA legislation).” 19 states that have ‘religious freedom’ laws like Indiana’s that no one is boycotting (h/t @sarahkendzior)

Sunday

29

March 2015

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COMMENTS

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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Four Stars

Station eleven

Usually I’m at least a year behind on these things (I read the Hunger Games trilogy maybe two months before the movies came out; I read Gone Girl about six months prior). When I saw this in a book shop while on vacation I mentioned to my husband that I thought it had been reviewed a bunch this year, and was the subject of a book club, but that I knew nothing about it. I feel lucky to have come into it without any realy background information, because I didn’t know what to expect.

I loved this book. I’m currently in Paris, and have a really nasty cold, so we’ve been alternating between exploring the city and then coming back to the hotel to rest. During those hours when I did’t feel well enough to wander, I read this book. It was captivating, it was interesting, and it is a book I’d recommend. As someone who works on emergency management planning, the basics of the pandemic (although we didn’t get tons of details ) were really interesting to me. I’ve got another book to read soon – “The Knowledge: How to Rebuild our World from Scratch” – but I wonder how long it really would take for certain things – for example, electricity – to return to this world.

It’s not my favorite book ever (or even of this CBR), but it’s so very good. What I think is interesting is that, for me, I didn’t get absorbed into the world. I was always aware of the fact that I was reading a book, and even though the descriptions Ms. St. John Mandel are vivid, I am left feeling as though I both can and cannot picture any of the main characters. That might not make sense to anyone not inside my head, but usually when I read what I consider well-written literature, it feels like a film is playing in my mind. I didn’t ever get that from this book, or I should say, I only got it on occasion. It’s unclear whether that is me or the book, but it’s what keeps it from a five star rating.

As for the book club discussion, I think who people think is the main character is an interesting one. For me, I didn’t think there was really any question that Kirsten was the main character. I thought that was obvious, so it’s really interesting to read other folks who think that clearly Clark, or any of the other characters, was the main character. I do love that and think it speaks to the author’s ability to create a world that speaks to readers in different ways.

Sunday

29

March 2015

0

COMMENTS

The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz

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Two stars. I suppose.

I read this 200-page book in a day, after finding it while browsing at a book store in London. It looked interesting; it was stories by a psychoanalyst, talking about cases and what we can learn from these patients.

The stories are sometimes interesting, but mostly kind of boring. I’m not familiar enough with psychoanalysis to full get what they do (do they just keep asking questions until their patient comes up with answers?), but I’m not a big fan of how this one writes. The stories are told, and then … they end. Abruptly. With no discussion about what they really mean for the patient, or even why the author felt the need to include them in a book. That makes sense to a degree, I suppose, but honestly I can read stories about anyone anywhere and try analyze them; I was expecting more from this book.

I get the sense that the author is trying to be poignant at times, trying to get us to really understand ourselves and learn from these patients. He even ‘helpfully’ categorizes these stories into broad topics. But really, I didn’t get much out of this book beyond a couple of interesting stories, a couple of really boring stories, and a bunch of meh stories.

Apparently this was a best seller in the U.K. Reviews called it brilliant and compelling. I’m really not sure that it is anything close to either, unless by ‘brilliant’ they meant ‘good way for the author to make a bunch of money off of other peoples’ lives.’

Sunday

29

March 2015

0

COMMENTS

Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger

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Three Stars

waistcoats

Sophronia and her friends are getting ready to head back to her hometown for her brother’s engagement masquerade ball (ah, yes. the traditional engagement masquerade – the husband and I really missed out). Their good friend, who is part of a werewolf pack (although not a werewolf herself), is distraught and leaves their dirigible school when she gets bad news. From there, things get even odder.

Steampunk is a fairly new genre for me, but I get its appeal, and I enjoy these somewhat quick reads. Things can’t be solved with a quick text message or crowdsourced post on social media – people have to really work to puzzle things out. It’s refreshing. Plus, it’s fun to picture these worlds where everyone is dressed really nicely and worries about manners. I wouldn’t want to actually live in that time (apparently some members of the conservative party in Ms. Carriger’s universe are just as racist as some of the politicians in our universe), or in a world with vampires and werewolves, but it can be fun to visit.

Slight side note – can people who are creating new world consider creating ones where being gay isn’t a thing that people find ‘shocking?’ Or find to be a bad thing? There’s so much creativity in this book that it’s disappointing that sexuality – and conservative views of it – seem to have been transplanted directly from our universe to theirs.

Regardless, if you like steampunk and YA, I think you’ll probably enjoy this book.

Sunday

29

March 2015

0

COMMENTS

What If? By Randall Munroe

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Five Stars

What If

I don’t think that I’ve laughed out loud at a book that wasn’t a straight up comedy memoir in a long time. Randall Munroe is the cartoonist behind xkcd. In this book, he takes on some pretty awesome questions that are utterly ridiculous (but still fun to think about) and sorts out the science. The tone kind of reminded me of my favorite fiction book this year, “The Martian.” There are a lot of calculations that I don’t fully understand, but he explains them well and with loads of humor.

Each response include some hilarious footnotes (seriously, there’s one that’s a somewhat obscure reference to the TV show Friends) and lots of his great cartoons. A sample question (and one of my favorites, because it involves maps) is ‘which US state is actually flown over the most?’ To answer this, Mr. Munroe looked at 10,000 flights and determined a state was flown over if a flight did not take off or land in the state, but crossed the state’s airspace. He also, for a little extra fun, calculated which airport is responsible for the most flights that cross that state. The answer to the question, by the way, is probably not what you’d guess it is.

The editing of this book is superb; some of the best comments appear as a surprise turn after flipping the page. And the questions are mostly really interesting; only a couple responses did I feel like skimming. Mr. Munroe also offers up examples of some of the more disturbing questions he’s received. He doesn’t answer these, but provides sometimes hilarious cartoon responses to them.

I read this book over a couple of days while travelling and think it’s mostly perfect as a travelling book. Each question only takes up three-five pages (and probably 20% of that is cartoon), so you can pick it up for ten minutes at a time. Really the only drawback for reading a physical version (as opposed to the ebook) is that it is currently in hardback and a slightly odd size – the height seems to match most hardcovers, but it is a bit wider. If you travel with a partner, I suggest bringing it as once you finish it your partner can pick it up and will likely enjoy it.