ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Monthly Archive: December 2017

Sunday

10

December 2017

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COMMENTS

Living and Working in Britain by David Hampshire

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Four Stars

Best for: People who are moving to the UK

In a nutshell: Twenty chapters of tips broken down by broad area of interest, like finance, accommodation, transportation, and health.

Line that sticks with me: N/A

Why I chose it: My partner and I (and our two cats) are moving to London in just under a month, and I’m still looking into things.

Review: I found this book to be more helpful than the other book I picked up on the topic. Part of that may be because it is focused on moving to the UK in general (not London specifically), and so half the book was not taken up with a focus on just a few London boroughs. However, I’d still like to find a book that focuses just on tips and information in different neighborhoods. I just ordered the Not for Tourists 2018 edition for London, which should meet that need.

But back to this book. I enjoyed some of the sections a great deal, especially the part about health care. I have had so much dental work done that I’m a bit nervous about leaving my dentist, so it was good to learn a bit more about what that will look like.

A couple of parts that were frustrating – one unavoidable, one less so. The section on moving pets was not fully accurate, as we now have to pay VAT when bringing in animals. But that changed in April, so I understand that it wouldn’t make it into the book. The other part was the sport section. The bit on football (the sport I’m most familiar with, so the other sections may also have had this problem) made no mention of the women’s league. Granted, in the US I’m used to the women’s national team being VASTLY superior to the men’s national team, so I expect the women’s league to be mentioned. But come on – are we really still pretending that women aren’t professional athletes?

Sunday

10

December 2017

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COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – December 10, 2017

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Sexual Harassment and Assault

“I live in Seattle. Right now I’m surrounded by good liberal men who are lining up to say how much they believe women. Who are clamoring to express their outrage at the horrific stories they are reading as so many women say #metoo. But some of these men — a lot of them — are abusers themselves. A lot of them have taken advantage, forced kisses on unsuspecting women, groped women, exposed themselves to women, tried to manipulate women into having sex with them. While they are expressing their outrage, they are secretly hoping that their name won’t show up in a woman’s story. They have an opportunity right now to start to make things right. To come clean, take responsibility, and begin the work of growth and redemption. But they opt for just playing the role of a hero instead. They collect praise for saying all of the right things while kicking aside their victims.” Dear Al Franken: I’ll Miss You, But You Can’t Matter Anymore (by Ijeoma Oluo for the Establishment)

“I have long maintained that when I was 7 years old, Woody Allen led me into an attic, away from the babysitters who had been instructed never to leave me alone with him. He then sexually assaulted me. I told the truth to the authorities then, and I have been telling it, unaltered, for more than 20 years. Why is it that Harvey Weinstein and other accused celebrities have been cast out by Hollywood, while Allen recently secured a multimillion-dollar distribution deal with Amazon, greenlit by former Amazon Studios executive Roy Price before he was suspended over sexual misconduct allegations? Allen’s latest feature, “Wonder Wheel,” was released theatrically on Dec. 1.” Dylan Farrow: Why has the #MeToo revolution spared Woody Allen? (by Dylan Farrow for the LA Times)

Media

“And of course, it would be unfair for me to make a sweeping generalization about how all media treats women based on the actions of one player. Or maybe a couple of important figures. Or maybe at least six other high level, powerful men who have been shown to have patterns of abusing the women around them, and excusing the behavior of other powerful men. Or maybe, oh shit, it’s almost like those in charge of the news are also in charge of the narrative, and they get to decide who’s a bitch or not. Even when the women being labeled bitches are actually only seen as bitches because our sexist society demands that women always behave cheerfully and friendly even in the face of our own abuse. Yay!” Hey, The Media? Hillary’s Still Waiting On That Apology You Most Definitely Owe Her (by Emily Chambers for Pajiba)

Something Good

“On Tuesday night, in the 99th episode of Fox cop comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the notoriously tight-lipped, emotionally guarded, and altogether badass detective played by Stephanie Beatriz revealed something significant to the ever-inquisitive Charles (Joe Lo Truglio). After he asked her why he heard a woman’s voice on the phone refer to Rosa as “babe,” she tried to throw him off the scent before finally sharing that she is dating a woman and that she is indeed bisexual. She also quickly brushed him off when he tried to be enthusiastic and supportive, only to later apologize, explaining she didn’t think it was anybody’s business and that she didn’t want anything to change. And while it felt therapeutic for the woman who has only let slip little shards of insight into her life — she owns an ax, she studied ballet before being kicked out of school for “beating the crap out of ballerinas,” her idea of a perfect date is “cheap dinner, watch basketball, bone down” — to share this part of herself, she wanted them to return to not talking about this ever again. (Request denied by Charles.)” Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Stephanie Beatriz on Rosa’s revelation, what’s next (by Dan Snierson for Entertainment Weekly)

Thursday

7

December 2017

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COMMENTS

Living Abroad London by Karen White

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Three Stars

Best for: People moving to London.

In a nutshell: Tips for moving to London.

Line that sticks with me: None that aren’t just good tips for me to know.

Why I chose it: BECAUSE I’M MOVING TO LONDON!

Review: I bought this book a few weeks ago, and finished it at least a week ago. But we were waiting to announce this beyond some close friends until our visas came through, so this review has been embargoed until now.

We’re moving as part of my partner getting a new job, so a few of the items in here aren’t our problem (they’re handling the visa, for example). But the tips on rentals, taxes, phone companies, and transportation are all fantastic. I lived in London for a year previously, but it was for graduate school, so a few things were handled: I had housing all lined up, and had a student loan to cover most of my expenses. I even somehow convinced someone at the mobile phone company to give me a monthly account instead of requiring I do pay-as-you-go.

Because the one thing that will be the most challenging is that we have no credit history in London. Landlords will need to trust that the letter from my partner’s new employer means we are trustworthy with a lease (and also, they’ll need to accept our two cats). We may have to do pay-as-you-go. It could take a long time to get a proper bank account.

I think the biggest bummer for me with this book is that they only focus on a handful of boroughs when providing living advice, none of which are ones we are planning to live in. So fully half of the book isn’t so applicable.

Tuesday

5

December 2017

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COMMENTS

Londonopolis by Martin Latham

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Three Stars

Best for: Those who enjoy trivia about cities, or like learning more about London.

In a nutshell: Historian provides a hodge podge of fun facts and bios of important people, organizations, and shops in London history, from literally hundreds of thousands of years ago through the 20th century.

Line that sticks with me: “Turning carpentry into philosophy, he had made his own coffin, which he knelt in nightly to pray.” p114

Why I chose it: I lived in London a few years ago, and love the city. This little book caught my eye.

Review: This is a fun little book. It’s clearly well-researched, with some randomness thrown in. It is organized by era, but it sometimes jumps around outside of the time frame if the topic connects across, say, medieval and Tudor times.

It’s only about 200 pages long, and a pretty quick read. I found the section on the East India Company a bit questionable – Mr. Latham addresses the issues of colonialism and racism, but suggests they really started after the EIC shut down. I’m not that familiar with that time period, but that seems … suspect.

The earlier parts of the book didn’t draw me in quickly, although there were definitely fun nuggets in there. But the later parts, where perhaps there was more information available to choose from, kept me interested.

My favorite part is the section on bookshops of London. I mean, I love a good bookshop, and this section was like a dream. I’m excited to get back to London to check out the stores that are still in business.

There was one thing I thought was kind of odd. I realize the subheading is “A Curious History of London,” so perhaps Mr. Latham wanted to stay away from common knowledge, but there was nothing about the great fire of 1666. That seems like a pretty big part of the history of the city to not be able to find a curious fact about.

Sunday

3

December 2017

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – December 3, 2017

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Horrific Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary Action

“Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who is a former chairwoman of the intelligence committee, said in an interview this week that Mr. Trump’s requests were “inappropriate” and represented a breach of the separation of powers. “It is pressure that should never be brought to bear by an official when the legislative branch is in the process of an investigation,” Ms. Feinstein said. Trump Pressed Top Republicans to End Senate Russia Inquiry (by Jonathan Martin, Maggie Haberman, and Alexander Burns for the New York Times)

“But what’s happening in the Senate right now really does deserve Trumpian superlatives. The bill Republican leaders are trying to ram through this week without hearings, without time for even a basic analysis of its likely economic impact, is the biggest tax scam in history. It’s such a big scam that it’s not even clear who’s being scammed — middle-class taxpayers, people who care about budget deficits, or both. One thing is clear, however: One way or another, the bill would hurt most Americans. The only big winners would be the wealthy — especially those who mainly collect income from their assets rather than working for a living — plus tax lawyers and accountants who would have a field day exploiting the many loopholes the legislation creates.” The Biggest Tax Scam in History (by Paul Krugman for the New York Times)

Sexual Harassment and Assault

“But now, with only a small handful of high-profile men finally facing some repercussions after years of abuse, there is already an effort to slow down. Is this becoming a witch hunt? Is this becoming a sex panic? Are innocent men at risk of being wrongly accused? Today’s headlines seem to be either dominated by the men who’ve been flaunting their abuse of women for years, even decades, with explicit details of all of the horrors they were allowed to inflict upon women — or about the men who might be at risk for being “unfairly” accused. The men who are now “scared to even talk to women” lest they be accused of sexual harassment. And the women…the women are forgotten completely.” Due Process Is Needed For Sexual Harassment Accusations — But For Whom? (by Ijeoma Oluo for The Establishment)

“Nassar — a longtime team physician for USA Gymnastics who had a successful and highly-touted medical practice at Michigan State — has been accused of sexually abusing more than 140 women and girls under the guise of providing medical treatment. Last week’s plea, which came just a day after Gabby Douglas became the third member of the 2012 London Olympics gold-medal winning “Fierce Five” gymnastics team to say she was abused by Nassar, is only the beginning of the consequences in store for the disgraced doctor.” Michigan State hasn’t faced consequences for enabling the biggest sex abuse scandal in U.S. sports (by Lindsay Gibbs for Think Progress)

“Two of those women had tried to warn the spa about Deiter before Ingram had, court records show. Three months before Ingram’s assault, one woman told the spa that Deiter had touched her genitals. One month before Ingram’s assault, another woman reported he had touched her breasts. The spa decided their allegations weren’t credible, in part because, like Ingram, both women had made them over the phone and wouldn’t return to the spa to discuss the events in person. Lawyers would later ask the spa owner and another clinic manager why they would judge an alleged sexual assault victim on her willingness to return to the scene of the crime.” Hands Off (by Katie J.M. Baker for Buzzfeed)

“In 2015 we wrote an article for ProPublica and the Marshall Project about Marie, an 18-year-old who reported being raped in Lynnwood, Wash., by a man who broke into her apartment. (Marie is her middle name.) Police detectives treated small inconsistencies in her account — common among trauma victims — as major discrepancies. Instead of interviewing her as a victim, they interrogated her as a suspect. Under pressure, Marie eventually recanted — and was charged with false reporting, punishable by up to a year in jail. The court ordered her to pay $500 in court costs, get mental health counseling for her lying and go on supervised probation for one year. More than two years later, the police in Colorado arrested a serial rapist — and discovered a photograph proving he had raped Marie.” When Sexual Assault Victims Are Charged With Lying (by Ken Armstrong and T. Christian Miller for  the New York Times)

Disaster Response

“”The fact that you’re displaced, not just relaxing here, it kind of makes you feel like you don’t fit in the environment,” said Hernandez, 44, who had been renting a house in southeast Houston’s Wayside neighborhood. Living in hotels and motels for extended periods is not just hard on families; it’s costly for taxpayers. The Federal Emergency Management Agency had spent more than $186 million on its Texas hotel program as of mid-November – about $2.8 million a day. It’s taking too long to move displaced families into more permanent arrangements, and there’s blame to share, said Tom McCasland, housing director for the city of Houston.” Tens of thousands displaced by Harvey still yearn for home (by Rebecca Elliott for Houston Chronicle)

Good Intentions

“Now don’t get me wrong. Donating to charity is a good thing, particularly during the holidays, when many charities budget for yuletide donations. But, the simple rules of economics are begging you: Give money to food banks, rather than food.Canned goods have a particularly low rate of charitable return. They’re heavy, they’re awkward and they can be extremely difficult to fit into a family’s meal plan. Worst of all, the average consumer is buying their canned goods at four to five times the rock-bottom bulk price that can be obtained by the food bank itself.” I’m begging you: Stop donating canned goods to food banks (by Tristin Hopper for the National Post)

Worldwide Violence

“Two eyewitnesses and a security source told Reuters that the suspected militants targeted supporters of the security forces attending prayers. Citing official sources, the state-run MENA news agency reported that the mosque is largely attended by Sufi Muslims — a form of Islam considered heretical by some conservatives and extremists like the Islamic State group.” Egypt mosque attack leaves at least 305 dead in Sinai Peninsula (by Charlene Gubash and F. Brinley Bruton for NBC)

Fight Back

“Internet users outraged by Verizon-lawyer-turned-FCC-Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to gut net neutrality are planning to protest at Verizon retail stores across the country on Thursday, December 7th, one week before an expected vote at the FCC. In some cities, protesters will march from Verizon stores to lawmakers’ offices.” Net neutrality protests to hit Verizon stores across the U.S. during busy holiday shopping season

Reproductive Rights

Childfree Is A Legitimate Choice

Saturday

2

December 2017

0

COMMENTS

Bitch Doctrine by Laurie Penny

Written by , Posted in Reviews

3 Stars

Best for: I don’t know. Maybe new feminists looking for some decent writing?

In a nutshell: Journalist Laurie Penny collects some of her greatest hits into one essay collection.

Line that sticks with me: “It’s easy to criticize call-out culture, especially if the people calling you out are mean and less than merciful. It’s far harder to look into your own heart and ask if you can and should do better.”

Why I chose it: I don’t know. I probably shouldn’t have, as there are so many other writers out there taking on these topics.

Review: Only after I brought the book home did I realize that one of the blurbs was from Caitlin Moran. That should have been enough to make me second-guess my choice, as I think Ms. Moran views the middle-class white woman experience as some sort of universal stand-in that represents all that feminism should address. I also should have second guessed this purchase when I remembered that Ms. Penny wrote “I’m With the Banned,” a (I believe) well-meaning attempt to profile the rise of the new white supremacists in our culture, especially in light of the New York Times piece that recently painted Nazis in a sympathetic light.

With all of that as preamble, I do think that many of the essays in this collection are insightful. I believe all are pulled from previous writing, but only one was familiar to me. It’s a good one called “On Nerd Entitlement” and is a response to an article from a white tech guy who denies that he has benefited from male privilege. She handles the issue with sensitivity and acknowledgment that privilege doesn’t prevent you from experiencing pain.

I don’t generally find myself disagreeing with any of her analysis, and I appreciate the subject areas that she chooses to cover from her perspective – love, culture, gender, agency, backlash, violence, and the future. I could see many of the essays generating good conversation among women, and possible being something to share with men in your life who maybe get it but don’t fully get it.

One thing I noticed was that many essays ended awkwardly. The last paragraph or two often includes a sentence that suggests a connection or argument that wasn’t made in the essay, or a bat turn of phrase that reads a bit like how I wrap up my own writing when I don’t have the time to put in. Which is odd for a fully edited and printed book.