ASK Musings

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Yearly Archive: 2018



October 2018



L’art de la Simplicite by Dominique Loreau

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Two Stars

Best for: People interested in some fun home and beauty tips (but only if you skip the section related to health and food, because it is awful). If you’re really interested in a fun minimalism book, just get the Marie Kondo one.

In a nutshell: French author has ideas on how to live a minimalistic life, mostly borrowed from her view of Japanese culture.

Worth quoting:
“Life is far more enjoyable when we cultivate the habit of losing ourselves in our own thoughts: this is a precious gift that brings great happiness.”

Why I chose it:
I love shit like this (usually). I like organizational tips.

This book is equal parts useful and dangerous. On the one hand, Loreau offers some great points about being present in the moment, about minimizing our possessions, and about the need to focus on one thing at a time. Given the fact that I’m currently writing this review while listening to a podcast and eating breakfast, I can obviously use some help on the latter at least. If that were the entirety of the book, then this would probably be a three-star book for me.

But it’s not. Loreau also jumps into the discussion of physical and mental health, and hoo boy, does she get it super wrong. I mean yes, of course, less sugar is probably a good thing (for most, but not all, people), but her obsession with getting the reader to want to be slim (skinny) is just bizarre. There’s a whole section of affirmations focused on this idea, as though one cannot be fat and happy or “overweight” and healthy. It’s insulting. And if someone had a history of body image issues or disordered eating, it could be triggering.

And then there’s her flippant ideas about mental health and human relationships. She literally says that we should “swap our therapy sessions for a case of champagne.” The fuck? She also thinks we should never be critical of others or complain. Her solution is we should write a lot (good!) but never share our writing. Yes, I’ve seen and understand the thinking of, if you’re upset with someone, writing them a letter to get it all out and then burning the letter. But this feels different. I think that if Loreau were in charge of the world, there would be no negative or critical analysis of anything.

So, this book failed as a Brain Candy read because it wasn’t just fun and fluffy. But I chose it for that, so I’m stuck with it.



October 2018



Wicked by Gregory Macguire

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Two Stars

Best for: People who like fantasy. So, apparently, not me.

In a nutshell: It’s billed as the back story of the wicked witch of the west. Instead it’s a convoluted mess of a book that I could not follow.

Worth quoting:
“Galinda didn’t often stop to consider whether she believed in what she said or not; the whole point of conversation was flow.”
“I don’t dress for your approval, boys.”

Why I chose it: I initially tried to read the Audrey Hepburn book Alabama Pink reviewed, but after about 80 pages it still felt like homework. I thought this would be a fun read.

(Narrator: It was not.)

I think this solidifies my thought that Alabama Pink and I would not have belonged to the same book club. I absolutely hated the Cannon Book Club pick by Craig Ferguson (seriously, it’s so bad), and of the remaining dozen books to review for this square, none really caught my eye. I tried the Audrey Hepburn biography and it was as dry as a desert and just as monotonous. I realized that Wicked was an option, and given how popular the musical is, I assumed this would be a fun, interesting read.

Sadly, I assumed incorrectly.

I think part of this is because I just don’t enjoy fantasy that much. I don’t like having to learn a new vocabulary, or new worlds. Having to memorize the geopolitical landscape of a fictional world just isn’t generally my favorite thing to do. So clearly this isn’t the book for me.

I also think that it isn’t particularly strongly written. I mean, I’m sure my opinion is wrong, and someone out there could explain to me how it is factually a masterful book, but clearly I missed something. In fact, when I finished, I went back to read the Wikipedia entry about the book, and holy shit. Plotlines were discussed that I didn’t even recognize.

Books shouldn’t feel like chores. At least, I don’t think they should. And I don’t mean they shouldn’t be challenging, or tough, or interesting. I’ve read many books that are slow reads, that I need to concentrate on deeply, and that have many layers to explore. But those books don’t feel like things I’m trying to get through so I can get to something better. Sadly, this one did.



October 2018



What I’m Reading – October 14, 2018

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I’m visiting California, where it is way too warm for mid-October.


“In her dissent, Ginsburg pointed out that the risk of voter confusion is severe, and that the Court’s order runs counter to something called the Purcell principle—taken from the 2006 case Purcell v. Gonzalez—which says that courts should not issue orders changing voting rules in the period close to an election. “The risk of voter confusion appears severe here because the injunction against requiring residential-address identification was in force during the primary election and because the Secretary of State’s website announced for months the ID requirements as they existed under that injunction,” Ginsburg wrote. “Reasonable voters may well assume that the IDs allowing them to vote in the primary election would remain valid in the general election.”” The Supreme Court Just Ensured That Thousands of Native Americans Won’t Be Able to Vote in November (by Imani Gandi for Rewire)

““As he has done for years, Brian Kemp is maliciously wielding the power of his office to suppress the vote for political gain and silence the voices of thousands of eligible voters ― the majority of them people of color,” Abrams spokeswoman Abigail Collazo told CNN in a statement. Collazo added Kemp should step down immediately “so that Georgia voters can have confidence that their Secretary of State competently and impartially oversee this election.”” Stacey Abrams Calls For Opponent To Step Down Amid Claims He’s Attempting To Suppress Tens Of Thousands Of Black Votes (by Rickey Riley for Blavity)

Sexual Assault

“The first accusations against Ronaldo were made in London in 2005 after his first few seasons with Manchester United. He was arrested, but the woman involved decided not to press charges. In 2009, another woman, Kathryn Mayorga, went to the police with a harrowing story of being raped by a powerful man in a Las Vegas hotel. Mayorga agreed to drop criminal charges against Ronaldo after they settled on a $375,000 payment. The story remained outside the public eye until 2017, when the German publication Der Spiegel gained access to documents related to the case.” Sports Media Is Finally Covering One of the Biggest Stories of the Year. Why Did It Take So Long? (by Shireen Ahmed and Brenda Elsey for Rewire)


“Political participation of the poor is overall lower because of poverty, bad health and many other factors, but millions of impoverished Americans across the country also die prematurely. For instance, in 2015, research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Social Security Administration revealed that, since 1990, among the bottom quarter of Americans with the least education, life expectancy has either stagnated or decreased. That’s for well over 40 million people. Add to this negative trend the fact that mortality among the poor increases during middle age — which is when citizens generally get more involved in politics. The premature disappearance of the poor, then, occurs precisely at the moment when they would be expected to reach their “participatory peak” in society. But they don’t live long enough to achieve that milestone.” Seniors Are More Conservative Because the Poor Don’t Survive to Become Seniors (by Ed Kilgore for Intelligencer)



October 2018



What I’m Reading – October 7, 2018

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I ran a half marathon this morning! I’m tired.

Horrific Action by the Trump Administration

“The memo states: “As of 1 October 2018, same-sex domestic partners accompanying or seeking to join newly arrived United Nations officials must provide proof of marriage to be eligible for a G-4 visa or to seek a change into such status.” G-4 visas are granted to employees of international organisations and their immediate families.” US ends diplomatic visas for UN same-sex partners (BBC)

“In a policy memorandum, the agency explained that under the new guidance USCIS will give “adequate notice” to individuals denied the immigration benefits for which they are applying, such as a green card, and upon denial, if the individual is no longer authorized to remain in the United States, or never had authorization, USCIS will issue a Notice to Appear (NTA). The NTA will instruct them to appear before an immigration judge, an indication that removal proceedings are underway.” Federal Policy Change Part of Coordinated Effort to ‘Limit Immigration’ (by Tina Vasquez for Rewire)

“To deal with the surging shelter populations, which have hovered near 90 percent of capacity since May, a mass reshuffling is underway and shows no signs of slowing. Hundreds of children are being shipped from shelters to West Texas each week, totaling more than 1,600 so far. The camp in Tornillo operates like a small, pop-up city, about 35 miles southeast of El Paso on the Mexico border, complete with portable toilets. Air-conditioned tents that vary in size are used for housing, recreation and medical care. Originally opened in June for 30 days with a capacity of 400, it expanded in September to be able to house 3,800, and is now expected to remain open at least through the end of the year.” Migrant Children Moved Under Cover of Darkness to a Texas Tent City (by Caitlin Dickerson for New York Times)


“In her speech Saturday in the Senate gallery, Collins perfectly mimicked the worst of Trump and the GOP: She gleefully rubbed our faces in her decision to vote “yes,” all the while trying to justify it with a litany of lies and self-serving revisions of Brett Kavanaugh’s record. She told us we don’t matter. And she was as calculated, cruel, and indifferent as any male senator had been this past month.” A ‘Titanic Fraud’: Susan Collins, the ‘Moderate’ Who Never Was (by Jodi Jacobson for Rewire)

“Women across the world have watched, shaking with recognition, as men find ways to disbelieve Ford’s testimony. For me, watching her life picked apart by the allies of a man who allegedly assaulted her has felt like being trapped in some awful snow-globe that a thoughtless child keeps rattling, just when I’d thought the last flakes had finally settled. They told me I was malicious, that I was seeking feminist celebrity, that I was deceived by my own false memory. I knew I was not. In the end, a government inquiry agreed with me.” What to Expect When a Woman Accuses a Man in Power (by Kate Maltby for The New York Review of Books)

“Notably, even if one of Ford’s friends witnessed an assault, conservatives would discount that too. Ford’s friend might be lying to protect her, after all. What conservatives reportedly want is a dispassionate, neutral third party, one with no political or personal motivation, who can step forward and say, “I saw Brett Kavanaugh assault Christine Blasey Ford.” Without that clarity, conservatives maintain this is a smear job—and they’re using that argument as an excuse to deny the mounting reasons that Brett Kavanaugh should not be on the U.S. Supreme Court bench.” Yes, There Is Plenty of Corroborating Evidence for Christine Blasey Ford’s Allegations (by Imani Gandy for Rewire)

“This statistic, while deeply troubling, is by no means a surprising turn of events. A majority of white women voters went Republican for the better part of three decades. Last year, 63 percent of white women voters in Alabama pulled the lever for Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who was accused of sexually violating girls as young as 14. In 2016, 53 percent of white women voters went for Donald Trump, who himself had been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by at least 20 women.” Why So Many White Women Don’t Believe Christine Blasey Ford (by Julia Sharpe-Levine for Rewire)

Women in Science

“And a major study published in 2012 in the US scientific journal PNAS showed that science faculty members rated identical job applications more highly when presented to them with a male name rather than a female name. Scientists reacted to Prof Strumia’s presentation on social media, complaining about discrimination they had suffered in the course of their work.” Cern scientist Alessandro Strumia suspended after comments (BBC)

“Donna Strickland, from Canada, is only the third woman winner of the award, along with Marie Curie, who won in 1903, and Maria Goeppert-Mayer, who was awarded the prize in 1963. Dr Strickland shares this year’s prize with Arthur Ashkin, from the US, and Gerard Mourou, from France. It recognises their discoveries in the field of laser physics.” First woman Physics Nobel winner in 55 years (by Paul Rincon for BBC)

Freedom Of and From Religion

“As Project Blitz strategists saw it, they could gain political advantage by getting opponents on the record, so their votes and statements could be used against them. But in this instance, they tried to bully the wrong pol. In a subsequent appearance on Fox, Marty defended the integrity of his faith and his stance against the In God We Trust amendment. He insisted that posting of In God We Trust in the public schools is “offensive” to both religious believers and the non-religious. And, speaking as a Christian, he said that the “government sanctioned motto does not strengthen our religion, but it demeans, devalues and cheapens our religion.” Apparently, rather than continue to give Marty a platform, the smears stopped.” Christian Pol, Attacked for Opposing ‘In God We Trust’ in School, Talks Church and State (by Frederick Clarkson for Rewire)

Fight Back

“Open to all, the March for Black Women grew to be something even bigger when it converged with the March for Racial Justice. Although the two marches started their actions at different times, they met up before heading to the U.S. Department of Justice headquarters and the National Mall.” ‘March For Black Women’ Brings Out Hundreds Of Activists To Remind The World That Black Women Matter (by Melinda Janay for Blavity)

“Brixton McDonald’s worker Justine said she was inspired by the support. “The reason I am on strike,” she said, “is that workers deserve better wages. “I think we can all agree that it’s pretty crap right now. “What is particularly inspiring about this campaign is that we were previously regarded as workers who could not be organised – people who were just in and out of work.”” Low paid workers picket Brixton McDonald’s (by Alan Slingsby for Brixton Blog)

“The public service loan forgiveness program, created by Congress in 2007, was supposed to ease the financial burdens of those who chose to work in a wide range of jobs, including military service, law enforcement and public museums. But when the teachers’ union investigated why more of its members weren’t using the program, it found that many were being misled or blocked by Navient, said Randi Weingarten, the union’s president.” Teachers Sue Navient, Claiming Student Loan Forgiveness Failures (by Stacy Cowley for The New York Times)

Something Good

““The Good Place” tries, improbably, to fulfill both functions at once. It wants to sit at both ends of the control knob simultaneously. Like any good modern comedy, the show is a direct IV of laughs, but the trick is that all of those laughs are explicitly about morality.” The Ultimate Sitcom (by Sam Anderson for the New York Times)



October 2018



Fear by Bob Woodward

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Three Stars

Best for: I’m not sure. I guess, anyone from the US who wants a little bit more of the story?

In a nutshell: A bunch of people who have worked in (and possibly still do work in) the White House tell their tales of a completely inept President and some horrifying policies.

Worth quoting:
“In the car, Trump described his advisers, ‘They don’t know anything about business.’”
“Trump gave some private advice to a friend who had acknowledged some bad behavior toward women. Real power is fear. It’s all about strength. Never show weakness. You’ve always got to be strong. Don’t be bullied. There is no choice.”

Why I chose it: This seemed like a sad, appropriate choice for the BINGO category, and also something I should probably read.

Meh. I don’t think this book was that interesting. I mean, from a historical perspective, it’s an important book. And the fact that the journalist was able to gather such detailed insight into this presidency and administration is amazing and necessary.

But it’s not a good read.

It’s basically like reading a diary. There’s no real through line at all. I guess maybe that’s what happens when you write the story while it’s still unfurling itself? The main point is that Trump is just woefully inadequate and obviously completely unqualified to do much of anything, let alone run the government of a nation of 350 million people. Also, he’s a racist. And very, very lazy. And a great example of why you don’t want a business leader running the government.

There! You don’t have to read this.

A couple of complaints I have, and why I chose the title to this post that I did. Obviously Bannon was a source, as was Porter. You know, the white supremacist and the wife beater. And I get that they had insider information that Woodward wanted to tell the story; there were just moment throughout the book where I almost forgot what horrible people they are. And while some people might think that’s a good thing, to get the full story, I think that’s a bad thing. Because I think we need to recognize that everything Bannon does is colored by his white nationalist views. His motivation is clear, but other than his introduction and a couple of sections on ‘globalization,’ it could be easy to forget what a horrible person he is. And I’m not okay with that.

Additionally, the last chapter focuses primarily on Mueller, and seems to be arguing that Mueller has nothing (at least, that’s how I read it). It obviously comes directly from Trump’s attorney Dowd, who is trying to portray himself positively. Whatever, it’s not surprising that someone might have some selfish reasons for communicating with Mr. Woodward. But what frustrated me was his repeated claim that Trump “doesn’t have time” to participate in the Mueller investigation. A claim that isn’t refuted, but is clearly wrong. Trump DOESN’T DO ANYTHING. I mean, he does a ton of horrible things *cough* Kavanaugh *cough*. But it doesn’t take him any time at all. He doesn’t even start his day until 11 AM. He’s golfed something like 200 days that he’s been in office. He has plenty of time.

As I said, the book is likely very important, but you’ve probably gotten as much out of it as I have if you listened to the evening MSNBC shows the week it came out.



September 2018



What I’m Reading – September 30, 2018

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CN: sexual assault, because of course.

US Supreme Court Nominee is an Attempted Rapist

“As a teacher now , I truly believe in the power of the growth mindset. Rather than telling a student “you are smart” or “you are good,” you should praise the effort a student invests. My education at Prep had a different tenor however. Teachers offered intermittent, lukewarm constructive feedback on our behavior, but the general message of the school was that we were already fully actualized as “Men for Others.” Largely by virtue of our parents’ being able to pay the admission ticket, we were Prep students. We were the best. We hated our rival schools and looked down on everyone else.” I Went To Kavanaugh’s Alma Mater, Georgetown Prep, And It Was A Case Study In Misogyny (by Will Menarndt for The Establishment)

“At the same time, though, it’s important to keep in mind that whatever any inquiry finds about that one incident won’t change the basic reality: Disqualifying information about the Supreme Court nominee is already hiding in plain sight. In such plain sight, in fact, that it takes a willful blindness not to notice it, a calculated effort to look the other way from blatantly deceptive statements dating back more than a decade and continuing through Thursday.” The lies that senators must tell themselves to support Brett Kavanaugh (Boston Globe Editorial)

“There was, in this performance, not even a hint of the sagacity one expects from a potential Supreme Court Justice. More than presenting a convincing rebuttal to Ford’s extremely credible account, Kavanaugh—and Hatch, and Lindsey Graham—seemed to be exterminating, live, for an American audience, the faint notion that a massively successful white man could have his birthright questioned or his character held to the most basic type of scrutiny. In the course of Kavanaugh’s hearing, Mitchell basically disappeared. Republican senators apologized to the judge, incessantly, for what he had suffered. There was talk of his reputation being torpedoed and his life being destroyed. This is the nature of the conspiracy against white male power—the forces threatening it will always somehow be thwarted at the last minute.” The Ford – Kavanaugh Hearing Will Be Remembered as a Grotesque Display of Patriarchal Resentment (by Doreen St. Félix for The New Yorker)

“In both these accounts, Kavanaugh is laughing as he does something to a woman that disturbs or traumatizes her. Ford wrote in her letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, “Kavanaugh was on top of me while laughing with [Mark] Judge, who periodically jumped onto Kavanaugh. They both laughed as Kavanaugh tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state. With Kavanaugh’s hand over my mouth, I feared he may inadvertently kill me.” “Brett was laughing,” Ramirez says in her account to the New Yorker. “I can still see his face, and his hips coming forward, like when you pull up your pants.” She recalled another male student shouting about the incident. “Somebody yelled down the hall, ‘Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie’s face,’ ” she said.” Brett Kavanaugh and the Cruelty of Male Bonding (by Lili Loofbourow for Slate)

Women in Sport

“This announcement gives our home-based players an opportunity to train more, but also to rest more,” head coach Kerr told BBC Scotland. “Some of them have to juggle full-time or part-time employment, or full-time education, as well as training with their clubs four or five times a week, on top of a strength and conditioning program as well. “It is a big ask for those players who are not in a professional environment, and we need to make sure we support them as best we can. It is a huge weight off my shoulders and I know it is the same for the players.” Scotland Women: All players to be full-time up to World Cup with Government funding (for BBC)

Sexual Assault and Harassment

“The bulk of Der Spiegel’s latest story—in which they interview Mayorga, her family, her friend who accompanied Mayorga up to Ronaldo’s Palms Place Hotel penthouse that night, and her lawyer—involves Mayorga explaining in her own words what happened on the night she says Ronaldo raped her, and how that incident has affected her life since. Mayorga’s attorney also mentions some potentially damning documents in his possession, which purport to show Ronaldo himself admitting that Mayorga did indeed vocally and repeatedly deny her consent during the sexual act.” Woman Who Accused Cristiano Ronaldo Of Rape Tells Her Full Story, Seeks To Void Settlement (by Billy Haisley for Deadspin)

“One thornier aspect of #MeToo consciousness-raising involves convincing not just men but other women that they might not know everything about a man they know well—that nearness does not guarantee transparency, that a man who is evil during the day might be patient when he returns home at night, that the powerful can apply a vile and discriminating calculus to who will suffer abuse and who will not. (This is what is so useless about the statement signed by sixty-five female acquaintances of the embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, calling him a “good person.”)” Julie Chen-Moonves and the Meaning of a Wife’s Loyalty (by Doreen St. Félix for The New Yorker)

Criminal Punishment System

“Judges in Seattle have decided to quash convictions for marijuana possession for anyone prosecuted in the city between 1996 and 2010. City Attorney Pete Homes asked the court to take the step “to right the injustices of a drug war that has primarily targeted people of colour.” Possession of marijuana became legal in the state of Washington in 2012. Officials estimate that more than 542 people could have their convictions dismissed by mid-November.” Seattle judges throw out 15 years of marijuana convictions (for BBC)

Disability Erasure

“Noting the attention the vote to remove Keller and others from the curriculum received, Lawrence Carter-Long, director of communications at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, tweeted: “ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: #HelenKeller is now trending. Maybe people will be compelled to do a little research and discover *why* she was on the FBI’s watch list and what a pioneering pit bull lovin’ whisky drinkin’ Socialist bad ass she actually was.”” Now Is an Especially Terrible Time for Texas to Stop Teaching Kids About Helen Keller (by Robyn Powell for Rewire)

Native Women

“The Associated Press reported earlier this month that in 2017 the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database contained 633 cases of missing Native women. Women’s advocates and tribal leaders, however, maintain that the number of missing as well as murdered Native women are undercounted due to confusing issues over which jurisdiction—state, federal, or tribal—has authority in the investigations. Tribal law enforcement has limited access to NCIC data, compounding the inaccuracy of information.” Advocates Urge Better Reporting on Violence Against Native Women as Federal Fixes Stall (by Mary Annette Pember for Rewire)

Pop Culture

“It is not lazy writing, it is wholeheartedly evidence of how deeply ingrained racism and sexism is in our society. So pervasive is it in our everyday that having a writer or team that is not representative of those you are telling a story about will never work. It will not be truly representative until you allow writers of colour and female writers tell their stories, paint the picture of the layers that create the person they are, the experience of living their lives.” Bodyguard shows drama cannot be truly subversive unless those creating it are (by Tashmia Owen for Media Diversified)

Games Industry

“If you’ve never experienced burnout, it’s hard to convey just how soul sucking it is. Nothing I did made me happy. I was exhausted and irritable all the time. I wanted to sleep all day every day, but even when I did that, it didn’t get better. This is what I felt like for a year. An entire year of going into work and browsing the web because I couldn’t focus. I had been programming for 10 years at that point and loved it to bits, but I couldn’t find the energy to do it. It just wouldn’t come to me. The worst part was, this wasn’t even my first experience with burnout in the games industry – I had been taught to do this.” The Games Industry is Toxic (by Austin Kelmore)



September 2018



What I’m Reading – September 23, 2018

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Fall has arrived, which means warm drinks, wet weather, and the hope that the leak in our apartment doesn’t open up again.


“One young woman aged between 11 and 16, said: “One thing that would improve girls’ lives would be to make it safe for girls to walk down the street alone.” Another, aged 17 to 21, said: “Girls’ lives would be better if things like harassment and stalking were taken seriously and punished properly.” The survey also found that an increasing number of girls have experienced unkind, threatening and negative behaviour online compared to five years ago.” ‘Sexist, unsafe’ world experienced by young girls (by Hannah Richardson for BBC)

“Specifically, the complaint refers to three women in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois who were not shown advertisements for what have traditionally been considered male-dominated professions. The complaint highlights 10 different employers who posted job adverts on Facebook – for roles such as mechanic, roofer and security engineer – but used the social network’s targeting system to control who saw the ad. In one example, that targeting meant one job was promoted to “men” who were “ages 25 to 35”, and lived “or were recently near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania”.” Facebook accused of job ad gender discrimination (BBC)

Sexual Assault

“In the last three days, Christine Blasey has had to move out of her house, and she’s had to hire security because of the number of death threats she’s received, and given the particular gun-culture climate we live in, there’s no doubt that she should take those death threats seriously. Dr. Blasey also wrote a letter suggesting that she did not feel comfortable testifying on Monday until and unless the FBI does a thorough investigation of Brett Kavanaugh and the allegations.” ‘I Just Want to Say To the Men of This Country: Shut Up and Step Up’ (by Dustin Rowles for Pajiba)

““We believe Dr. Blasey Ford and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story. It demands a thorough and independent investigation,” said the letter. “Dr. Blasey Ford’s experience is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.” “Holton’s motto teaches students to ‘find a way or make one.’ We dream of making a world where women are free from harassment, assault, and sexual violence.”” Christine Blasey Ford’s Classmates Deliver Letter of Support to Congress (by Katelyn Burns for Rewire)

“Republican state Rep. Jim Knoblach abruptly ended his re-election campaign Friday as MPR News prepared to publish detailed accusations from his daughter of inappropriate behavior toward her since childhood. The announcement came hours after an attorney for Knoblach denied the allegations in an interview. Knoblach, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, declined to be interviewed after being approached more than a week ago.” MN Rep. Jim Knoblach ends campaign ahead of MPR abuse allegations story (by Nina Moini and Briana Bierschbach for MPR)

“I believe Ford, as there is no credible reason to doubt her. But while I agree that her testimony before the Senate is necessary, this will be less a hearing than a debate between a woman who claims that she was assaulted, and a man who claims not only that he didn’t do it, but that he can’t recall even being where the alleged event happened. Neither can his friend, Mark Judge, who Republicans have not yet called to testify. That is curious, given his essential role in the story Ford recounts — his alleged piling onto Kavanaugh during the assault, Ford says, allowed her to escape. Many Republicans, even White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, have said that Ford should be heard. What they aren’t saying, outside of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and a few others, is that they are interested in the truth. That makes sense, given that the Monday hearing is being expedited to save the candidacy of yet another Supreme Court nominee with an earned reputation for lying under oath.” Jamil Smith: How Can We Trust Brett Kavanaugh? (by Jamil Smith for Rolling Stone)


“But the Trump administration’s immigration policies have done absolutely nothing to streamline the immigration system, abroad or at the United States’ borders. At every turn, it has made immigration processes more convoluted and austere—and simultaneously more costly to U.S. taxpayers. From child separation, to increasing the length of time people are held in the immigration detention system, to more stringent vetting procedures for refugees, the Trump administration has added complexity and bulk to its immigration system while putting those who must go through it at higher risk for unnecessary harm. So while Secretary Pompeo may say that refusing more refugees will somehow reduce the immigration system’s operational burden, this is simply an excuse for more immigration policies that could drastically harm or even end immigrant lives.” White House Sends the Wrong Message With Refugee Cap (by Hannah Harris Green for Rewire)


“Which brings us to one of the largest gaps between science and practice in our own time. Years from now, we will look back in horror at the counterproductive ways we addressed the obesity epidemic and the barbaric ways we treated fat people—long after we knew there was a better path.” Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong (by Micheal Hobbes for Huff Post)

Criminal Punishment System

“The sheriff said he believed the deputies drove around barricades on the flooded road. He said they are trying to determine why. Deputy Sheriff Tom Fox was on scene. He said the victims were mental health patients being taken from Loris Hospital and Waccamaw Center for Mental Health to McLeod Health. Fox said the van was headed west on 76 into Marion County when it was overcome with flood waters.” Sheriff says deputies drove around barricades before van flooded killing two patients (by Summer Dashe for ABC)


“Vernon Unsworth helped with the rescue of 12 Thai teenagers from a flooded cave in July. Mr Musk has made several accusations against Mr Unsworth without evidence, including that he was a “child rapist”. The lawsuit seeks $75,000 (£57,000) in compensation and an injunction against Mr Musk to stop further allegations. The filing also says Mr Unsworth is seeking “punitive damages” as well as the compensation, “to punish him for his wrongdoing and deter him from repeating such heinous conduct”.” Elon Musk sued for libel by British Thai cave rescuer (BBC)



September 2018



To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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Four Stars

Best for: Young adults.

In a nutshell: Lara Jean writes letters to boys as a way to get over them. Somehow, they get sent. Yikes

Worth quoting: “It’s funny how much of childhood is abut proximity. Like, who your best friend is is directly correlated to how close your houses are; who you sit next to in music is all about how close your names are in the alphabet. Such a game of chance.”

Why I chose it: The Netflix version of the book has been getting great reviews, so I figured I’d check out the book. After accidentally ordering the German-language one, I finally got my hands on it in English this week.

*Minor spoilers*

A few months ago, my mother and I were talking on the phone and she shared that while she was cleaning up in my old room, she ran across a letter I’d hidden in a book. It was apparently something I’d written in middle school, and was to a boy who I don’t know anymore, but who I definitely remember having a crush on. She said she didn’t read it, but who knows. Regardless, when she told me about it, laughing, I told her to shred it. I was MORTIFIED.

Guys, I’m 38. That letter was written at least 24 years ago. Even typing it out now, I’ve got slight butterflies in my stomach, because it would have been humiliating had it ever gotten to its intended recipient.

Which is all to say – holy shit, does Lara Jean handle herself amazingly well when the letters she’s written get out. Luckily, none of the guys she sends them to are total assholes, which I guess helps. But still, I think the biggest take-away from this for me is that she doesn’t just immediately disappear into herself; she takes back what control she can to try to fix the situation. I think that sends a good message to readers.

As far as the film is concerned, I think the changes they made make sense, but it’s odd to see Josh with so little screen time and Peter with so much. Also, I did not picture John Corbett as the dad, but he does a great job. The ending is a bit more Hollywood than the book, but again, I get it. They had 100 minutes; they made it work. If you had to pick one or the other, I’d say it’s about even for me, but I think the book every so slightly wins out.



September 2018



Three Months Off

Written by , Posted in Random

At the beginning of the summer, I reviewed a book about deleting social media. After a lot of thought, I deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts, and pared down my Twitter. I didn’t have a page for my etiquette blog anymore, and I didn’t tweet anything except new essays and book reviews.

Monday, I created new Facebook and Instagram accounts, and I’m not entirely happy about it.

When I left Seattle after college, social media wasn’t really a thing. My Space existed, but I don’t remember using it as much as we all seem to use Facebook and Twitter now. Even texting wasn’t huge, so my friends and I stayed in touch with emails and phone calls.

I know. Phone calls. Without video!

When I closed down my Facebook account about five months after moving to London, I figured it’d be the same as before. Occasional long emails, perhaps a Skype or WhatsApp video call. But it wasn’t. At least not entirely. A few friends did stay in touch that way, responding to my emails, or writing their own. And a couple downloaded WhatsApp (it’s used by pretty much everyone over here, but seems to not have caught on in the US) so I can text with them almost daily.

But from the rest of my friends, I didn’t hear much about what was going on. It made me sad, and I felt cut off, even forgotten.

That’s more than a bit self-centered, I know. But it’s what I was feeling,

And for some friends, it probably rings a bit true. If I’m not in front of them, and I’m not following them online, and they’ve got a lot of other more important shit to deal with, are they really going to settle down to send me a long email when they could be playing with their kids (or the new Spider-Man video game)?

But for others, I’d imagine (and, let’s be real, I’d hope) that it was less a statement about or friendship and more about just not having the energy or time to repeat themselves. As we’ve all gotten so used to sharing so much of our lives with our friends via this one method of social media, it’s pretty easy to forget that there are a couple people out there who haven’t seen the pregnancy announcement or career change update.

Given that, I’ve come to recognize that since Facebook and Instagram are so common, asking for another, separate update from some folks was a bit presumptuous of me. I mean, yes, writing an email doesn’t take that long, but if a person has already told their story on an outlet that I can easily access, is it fair for me to expect they do it all again, just for me?

I still don’t like Facebook – as they say, if you don’t have to pay for a service, it’s probably because you’re the product that’s being sold, and I don’t like being sold. I also don’t have any interest in getting sucked into fights on there again, or in connecting any of my other online life through it. I’m also not going to bring back my etiquette blog page at this point, because a main benefit of that would be using Facebook to advertise it, and I don’t want to give Facebook any of my money.

I do, however, want to know what’s going on with people, and share what’s going on with me. So that means that, at least until there’s an alternative, or everyone leaves at once and starts sending emails again…



September 2018



What I’m Reading – September 16, 2018

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

The Tr*mp Administration Horrors

“This is a scandal,” Merkley said in a statement to the Washington Post. “At the start of hurricane season—when American citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still suffering from FEMA’s inadequate recovery efforts—the administration transferred millions of dollars away from FEMA. And for what? To implement their profoundly misguided ‘zero-tolerance’ policy. It wasn’t enough to rip thousands of children out of the arms of their parents—the administration chose to partly pay for this horrific program by taking away from the ability to respond to damage from this year’s upcoming and potentially devastating hurricane season.” Trump Moves $10 Million in Disaster Relief to ICE ‘Family Internment Camps’ (by Tina Vasquez for Rewire)

“In the letter, the woman alleged that, during an encounter at a party, Kavanaugh held her down, and that he attempted to force himself on her,” reads the New Yorker report. “She claimed in the letter that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his, both of whom had been drinking, turned up music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests, and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand. She was able to free herself.” Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Allegations Detailed in New Report (by Katelyn Burns for Rewire)

“An investigation by Quartz, Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism, and the Associated Press has identified 487 victims of Maria. It is the most extensive record yet of who died and why. Many families say that the real cause of death was government inaction.” Hurricane Maria was a manmade disaster. Hundreds of families told us what really happened (by Ana Campoy and Omaya Sosa Pascual for Quartz)


“In their new ad campaign, we believe Nike executives are promoting an attitude of division and disrespect toward America,” College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis said in a statement. “If Nike is ashamed of America, we are ashamed of them. We also believe that those who know what sacrifice is all about are more likely to be wearing a military uniform than an athletic uniform.” Two Colleges And A Whole City Have Banned Nike Over Its Partnership With Colin Kaepernick (by Ashleigh Atwell for Blavity)

Anti-Trans Bigotry

“Language on the U.S. State Department webpage regarding gender marker changes, the process of changing one’s gender on U.S. passports, was surreptitiously changed for the first time since 2010 this week, alarming LGBTQ rights advocates. Archived versions of the agency’s site show the page titled “Gender Designation Change” as recently as this Tuesday now bears the title “Sex Designation Change.” Though the actual policy and requirements for changing passport gender markers appears to be mostly unchanged—meaning transgender people can still change their passports without surgery—several of the page’s “frequently asked questions” were also changed.” State Department Changes Passport Website Language for Transgender People (Updated) (by Katelyn Burns for Rewire)


“I promptly explained to him that I didn’t need his advice because I’m not interested in “improving” my body, I liked my body, and I was just there for anxiety. Upon this response he looked at me with surprise and slight pity even. He was trying to angle his blatant body shaming as trying to “help” me. Fascinating isn’t it? In 2018, someone felt they not only had the right, but the duty if you will, to tell me I wasn’t good enough as I was. A total stranger, minding her own business, not asking anyone what they thought about her or her body. Wild.” A Message To Those Who Body-Shame People At The Gym: Shame On You (by Jameela Jamil for Huff Post)

“The essay could be considered part of a genre that’s recently emerged, in which men who have been exposed by the #MeToo movement attempt to return to the spotlight by throwing themselves pity parties in the country’s most prestigious publications. On Wednesday, John Hockenberry, another disgraced radio host, published a similar piece in Harper’s titled “Exile.” Hockenberry denies the sexual allegations that were brought against him late last year, and describes the grand injustices that he feels the #MeToo movement has wrought. The question of how “exiled” either of these men really are, considering national magazines are granting them space to tell their story, is certainly worth considering.” What I Know About Jian Ghomeshi (by Ruth Spencer for New York Magazine)

Police Surveillance

“Tom Arabia, a co-founder of Combat, said: “No one can deny the Massachusetts state police are surveilling leftwing organizations.” He added that the image on the state police tweet “was both unsurprising and also a bit scary, because of how intimate it is in a sense to see your own organization listed in a police browser’s bookmarks”.” Massachusetts police tweet lets slip scale of leftwing surveillance (by Sarah Betancourt for The Guardian)