ASK Musings

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Daily Archive: 02/04/2017



April 2017



The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for: Carrie Fisher fans, Star Wars fans, memoir fans.

In a nutshell: Carrie Fisher tells stories of her time before and during the filming of the first Star Wars film, and looks at what it has all meant to her.

Line that sticks with me: “I act like someone in a bomb shelter trying to raise everyone’s spirits.” (p153)

Why I chose it: I was in a bookstore the day after Ms. Fisher died, and this was the last copy of any of her books left. I knew I wanted to start reading her writing, but then decided to start at the beginning and save this for last.

Review: Mission sort of accomplished. After reading two of Ms. Fisher’s four novels, I started the third and decided that her fiction just isn’t my favorite. But I enjoyed her two previous works of non-fiction, so still went forward with this one. And I’m so glad I did.

I am not a big Star Wars fan. The first time I saw it was with a guy named Brandon something. I was a freshman in high school, and he was a senior. He played an instrument in the school marching band – I want to say saxophone – and I was on the drill team, which meant I wore a cheerleader outfit but twirled two small flags instead of two large pom poms. He showed me the first film, in what I later learned was an attempted … seduction? No, that’s too dramatic. Dude wasn’t interested in getting into my pants – I think he was just looking for like a kiss or something. Didn’t work though. (Sorry Brandon! Hope you’re doing well!)

So even though I’m not a big fan, I live in the world, and thus I’m familiar with the movies. I’ve grown to enjoy them, and have now seen all of the films save Episode II (which is actually the fifth one released, right?). I appreciate that Princess Leia has grown to become General Leia. And while I know that Ms. Fisher is not Princess Leia, I also know that much of her life has been consumed by the blurring of those identities.

To me, however, Ms. Fisher is first and foremost Marie from When Harry Met Sally, so reading this book was a great way to learn more about her time as Leia, and what that meant. The middle section is literally pages from her diaries from the time shooting Episode IV, and some of it is delightful, some of it is sad, and some of it is filled with truly bad poetry. It’s fantastic to see someone lay all of that out there. Especially considering just a week ago my own mother called to tell me she’d found some horrible poetry of mine about a crush I had on a boy named Ryan. Oh god, I didn’t even let her finish reading it to me. She held the phone to the shredder as she put that mortifying bit of my history in; I can’t imagine sharing it with millions of people in a book.

But I’m so glad Ms. Fisher did. I enjoyed this book as much as her other non-fiction works, and I think it was better edited than the rest. The story flowed, the chapters felt connected, there was something of a storyline as opposed to essays that didn’t seem to have a connection other than the storyteller. And while I am so sad that Ms. Fisher died when she did, this seems to be a perfect final bit for her to leave us with.



April 2017



What I’m Reading – April 2, 2017

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Horrifying Executive Orders and Legislation

  • “Anyone who still believes there was “no difference” between the two candidates is being willfully ignorant. That narrative was always mendacious, dangerous trash—and nothing makes that more plain than what is about to happen on climate change.” Trump to Sign Devastating EO on Climate Change (by Melissa McEwan for Shakesville)

Gender Disparity

  • “Beyond the obvious point that the quota would give fewer positions to men, quotas can have strategic effects on political selection. Mediocre leaders have a strong incentive to surround themselves with mediocre followers, so as to bolster their chances of remaining in power. A less acknowledged role of quotas is to create a threat to such cozy arrangements. It is this idea that our research on Sweden has investigated. Our main finding is that gender quotas increase the competence of the political class in general, and among men in particular. Moreover, quotas are indeed bad news for mediocre male leaders who tend to be forced out.” Gender quotas and the crisis of the mediocre man (by Tim Besley, Olle Folke, Torsten Persson and Johanna Rickne for LSE)
  • “Yet, just like with basically everything else about parenting, thinking about it beforehand couldn’t possibly prepare me for some of this stuff. As my son and I have entered the world of kid clothes together, I’m continually surprised by how heavily gendered it all is, and the weird ways that manifests.” 5 Unexpected Gender Differences in Children’s Clothing (by Katherine DM Clover for
  • “Ultimately, the reaction of my former coworkers is more illustrative than anything I could have originally written, in terms of shining a light on the volatile, masturbatory, and remarkably hypocritical world of establishment politics as I experienced it. It was this reaction, and its insane lack of perspective, that freed me from any lingering doubt that I was doing the right thing by speaking out.” My former office in the US Senate found out I was writing an essay about workplace sexism. Here’s what happened next. (by Carolyn Seuthe for Athena)


  • “Historically, these demonstrations of excessive force have been used to repress and attack efforts to reclaim black land, build assets through ownership, and promote self-determination. This behavior will not be accepted. We, the Seattle Black community, have a right to exist and thrive in black space. Those who claim to care about Black Lives and solutions in Seattle cannot allow this to continue.” Capitol Hill Community Post | Battle at 23rd & Union — ‘Displacement Stops Here’ (by Cliff Cawthon for CHS)

Mmm Hmm

  • “State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a longtime Congressional Democrat who took over the investigation in January, said in a statement that the state “will not tolerate the criminal recording of conversations.” Prosecutors say Daleiden, of Davis, Calif., and Merritt, of San Jose, filmed 14 people without permission between October 2013 and July 2015 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Dorado counties. One felony count was filed for each person. The 15th was for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy.” Activists who secretly filmed Planned Parenthood face 15 felony charges (by Andrew Dalton for Chicago Tribune)

Election 2016

  • “”Unwitting” is doing a lot of work there. Yes, in the sense that the faction of Bernie supporters who eagerly disseminated this disinformation weren’t aware it was the Russians who were feeding them the info, they were indeed “unwitting agents.” But they still believed and disseminated vile garbage about Hillary Clinton that was demonstrably untrue, because they liked the feeling of destroying her. And the women who supported her.” Sanders Supporters Were “Unwitting Agents” of Russians (by Melissa McEwan for Shakesville)

Good Stuff

  • “Enter Babydoll Beauty Couture salon. A salon by plus size people, for plus size people. The stylists themselves can recall “being turned away from a nail salon because of fears she would break their chair, the awkward maneuvering to fit her thighs into a standard salon chair and many furtive glances from others.” They also discuss having been discriminated against by employers who, it seems, were more interested in the stereotype of beauty than skills and experience.” Finally a Fat Positive Salon (by Ragen Chastain for Dances with Fat)