ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Monthly Archive: December 2018

Sunday

16

December 2018

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COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – 16 December 2018

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Horrific Actions by US Customs and Border Patrol

“The Border Patrol’s inhumane treatment of migrants predates the family separation policy, as well. In January, it was reported that Border Patrol agents routinely destroy food and water that humanitarian groups leave for migrants. “The practice of destruction of and interference with aid is not the deviant behavior of a few rogue border patrol agents,” the report read, “it is a systemic feature of enforcement practices in the borderlands.” Caal isn’t the first child to die after being held in DHS custody.” A 7-Year-Old Died in Border Patrol Custody, and No One Is Taking Responsibility (by Ryan Bort for Rolling Stone)

Racism

“Sterling was allegedly racially abused during City’s 2-0 defeat at Chelsea. “It is evident that he is often singled out and treated more harshly than his colleagues,” said a union statement. “As such, these stories are fuelling racism within the game, as reports of racist abuse continue to rise.” Raheem Sterling negative press coverage ’emboldens racist rhetoric’ – PFA (BBC)

Supporting Mothers

“Players coming back from childbirth, or injury, will now be able to use their previous ranking to enter 12 tournaments over a three-year period. But Serena Williams’ wish for returning mothers to be seeded in line with that ranking has not been granted. The WTA has instead decided to guarantee they will not face a seeded player in a tournament’s opening round.” WTA gives increased protection for returning mothers on tour for 2019 (by Russell Fuller for BBC)

Military-Industrial Complex

“The US Senate has voted to withdraw US military aid for Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen and to blame the kingdom’s crown prince for the murder of a journalist. The historic vote is the first time any chamber of US Congress has agreed to pull US forces from a military conflict under the 1973 War Powers Act. Some of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans defied him to pass the measure with Democrats by 56-41.” Senators vote to end US backing for Saudi war on Yemen (BBC)

Religious Bigotry

“According to McAvoy, she was dressed in black slacks, a black shirt and a black hijab when President Joyce Meadows removed her from classes and sent her home with a notice the 21-year-old would need to provide a note confirming her hijab was being worn for religious reasons. McAvoy has refused to turn over confirmation and questions why she would be ejected from her classes for practicing her faith.” Muslim College Student Says She Was Expelled For Wearing A Hijab To Class (by Alexa Lisitza for Blavity)

Sunday

9

December 2018

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COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – December 9, 2018

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Reproductive Rights

“If successful, the women in the lawsuit will each be entitled to millions of dollars of reparations from the Saskatchewan and Canadian governments and their health systems. While these women may only represent a fraction of the people negatively affected by forced sterilization in Canada, their lawsuit is recognition of the ubiquity of the practice—and its consequences.” Sterilized Without Consent: Indigenous Women in Canada File Class Action Lawsuit   (by Anna Kusmer for Rewire)

Sexism

“There are calls for several Icelandic MPs to resign after they were recorded using crude language to describe female colleagues and a disabled activist. Icelanders were especially shocked that the MPs’ targets included ex-MP Freyja Haraldsdottir, a disabled woman and well-known disability rights activist. Iceland has long been seen as a beacon for women’s rights and has a female prime minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir.” Iceland scandal over MPs’ crude and sexist bar talk (by Laurence Peter for BBC)

Customs, Immigration, and Border Control Bad Acts

“MPs said it showed the government had learned nothing from the scandal. The Windrush scandal was uncovered earlier this year, after many people from Commonwealth countries who had legally lived in Britain for decades were wrongly classed as illegal immigrants and deported.They had been encouraged by the UK government to settle in Britain from the late 1940s until 1973. However, although they had been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK, some immigrants did not have formal paperwork confirming their residency status.” Windrush: Home Office criticised after deportees not contacted (BBC)

Women in Sport

Six Sheffield United women players will miss Wednesday’s cup tie at Manchester City because they cannot leave work in time for the 19:00 GMT kick-off. The Blades, who play in the Women’s Championship, are a part-time set-up – and some of their players cannot make it to Manchester in time. The Continental Cup kick-off time was agreed at the start of the season. United’s attempts to delay it were turned down by City because they had sold tickets and booked stadium staff. Blades players to miss Man City cup tie because kick-off clashes with work (by Alistair Magowan for BBC)

Sexual Assault

“By contrast, under these new proposed rules, Michigan State University would have had no responsibility to stop Larry Nassar from sexually abusing girls and young women, just because his victims told their coaches and athletic trainers instead of the Title IX coordinator. The proposed rules would allow the majority of school employees to ignore students who report sexual abuse because these employees lack “the authority to institute corrective measures.” So, if an 8-year-old child tells a playground supervisor that his teacher is inappropriately touching him, the playground supervisor wouldn’t be obligated to do anything. If a college student tells her professor that she has been sexually assaulted, the professor wouldn’t have to help her at all. Students may not know where they could turn for help.” The Proposed Title IX Rules Make No Practical, Moral, or Legal Sense (by Shiwali Patel for Rewire)

The Screwed-Up US Insurance System

“Over the summer months, the women raised $12,500 and sent it to the debt-forgiveness charity, which then purchased a portfolio of $1.5 million of medical debts on their behalf, for about half a penny on the dollar. Ms. Jones, 80, a retired chemist, and Ms. Kenyon, 70, a psychoanalyst, are members of the Finger Lakes chapter of the Campaign for New York Health, which supports universal health coverage through passage of the New York Health Act.” 2 New Yorkers Erased $1.5 Million in Medical Debt for Hundreds of Strangers (by Sharon Otterman for the New York Times)

“That’s a message public health leaders aim to spread far and wide. “BE PREPARED. GET NALOXONE. SAVE A LIFE,” summarized an advisory from the U.S. surgeon general in April. But life insurers consider the use of prescription drugs when reviewing policy applicants. And it can be difficult to tell the difference between someone who carries naloxone to save others and someone who carries naloxone because they are at risk for an overdose.” Why You May Be Denied Life Insurance For Carrying Naloxone (by Martha Bebinger for WBUR)

Saturday

8

December 2018

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COMMENTS

Work Like a Woman by Mary Portas

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3 Stars

Best for: People looking for a bit of a memoir mixed in with some genuinely good ideas about improving our workplace.

In a nutshell: Author Mary Portas details her career struggles rising through the ranks of department store marketing and shares her thoughts for ways to improve the workplace so it works better for all of us — men and women.

Worth quoting: “But the irony is that the whole thing is deeply emotional: wanting to smash the competition and be top dog isn’t exactly unfeeling, is it?”

Why I chose it: I’ve been working from home since moving to the UK for my partner’s job, but just started a new office gig this week. I figured I could both use a refresher on how offices work and thought this one on how they could be improved would be a good place to start. I wasn’t totally wrong, but I wasn’t right, either.

Review:
Once again, I feel as though I’ve just read a book that could have been great with the right editor. Or a better outline. The book is part memoir, part instruction manual, part argument for policy changes. In the beginning, it seemed as though each chapter would start with a bit of Ms. Portas’s life, following it with what can be learned from this vignette. But life isn’t neat and tidy, so about halfway through she seems to drop this layout, and the book suffers for it, I think.

The main premise is that the the Lean In concept is kind of bullshit — that instead of changing ourselves to fit into office culture, office culture needs to change to meet the skills and needs of women. Ms. Portas is clear in saying that she doesn’t believe all women act in certain ways though; instead, she points out that both men and women can benefit if our offices are less focused on things like competition and the bottom line and more on collaboration and balance.

There is a lot of good in this book – the chapter where she shares her company’s culture statement could be useful, and in the end she offers tips for women in each decade of life (which isn’t necessarily super helpful in some cases, because it assumes a bit of a linear career progression). But I found it a bit frustrating that so very much of the book focused on accommodating childcare. I’d say maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of the book was really focused on this, as though this is the only issue that women face challenges with. And it obviously is a huge issue, but there wasn’t any recognition that one might need work balance for reasons other than caring for children or elderly parents. It seems to be a common world view, and I find it frustrating, as though other life pursuits or challenges don’t matter as much.

I was hoping this would be one of those books that I’d be recommending everyone read, but alas, it is not. Wasn’t a waste of time, but it’s definitely getting donated to the little library at my tube station next time I head out.

 

Sunday

2

December 2018

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COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – December 2, 2018

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Abuses by Border and Immigration Officials

“At Monday’s press conference, advocates revealed previously unknown details surrounding Hernández’s death. “According to an independent autopsy report, Ms. Hernandez endured physical assault and abuse while in custody,” according to the wrongful death tort claim. “Specifically, forensic evidence indicates she was handcuffed so tightly as to cause deep tissue bruising and struck repeatedly on the back and rib cage by an asp or similar instrument while her hands were restrained behind her back.” Lynly Egyes, TLC’s director of litigation, said in a statement that the autopsy report by an independent board-certified forensic pathologist suggests Hernández was “shackled for a long time and very tightly, enough to cause deep bruising on her wrists.”” Legal Advocates Seeking #JusticeForRoxsana Announce Lawsuit (by Tina Vasquez for Rewire)

“The group, among thousands of migrants heading towards the US, was rounded up after trying to cross the border “violently” and “illegally” on Sunday, said the interior ministry. Video footage shows dozens of people running towards the border fence near the city of Tijuana. US border officers used tear gas to repel them and said some threw rocks.” Migrant caravan: Mexico deports group that stormed US border (BBC)

“The migrants’ presence has drawn demonstrators — for and against them — and threats from President Donald Trump to close the US-Mexico border. Meanwhile, Tijuana’s mayor has called on the Mexican government and the international community for help. The melee closed one of the world’s busiest international crossings, San Ysidro Port of Entry, to vehicle and pedestrian traffic for several hours. By Sunday afternoon, CBP reopened crossing lanes in both directions to pedestrians and vehicles.” US authorities fire tear gas to disperse migrants at border (by Emanuella Grinberg and Mariano Castillo for CNN)

“Oh, is it bad to compare the GOP to Nazis? Well, if members of the GOP do not like being compared to Nazis, they should consider not behaving exactly like Nazis. Hispanic U.S. citizens, some of whom were in the U.S. military, are not being allowed to renew their passports. This is reportedly happening to “hundreds, even thousands” of Latinos, according to a report in the Washington Post. They’re getting letters from the State Department saying it does not believe they are citizens. The government claims their citizenships are fraudulent. “I’ve had probably 20 people who have been sent to the detention center—U.S. citizens,” Jaime Diez, an attorney in Brownsville, told The Washington Post.” Why Stripping U.S. Citizens of Their Passports Is a Precursor to Genocide (by Jennifer Wright for Bazaar)

“Scores of people in Britain’s only women’s removal centre have launched a hunger strike to protest against their indefinite detention, describing living in the centre as a form of “hell”. Forty-three women are said to be taking part in the protest in Yarl’s Wood, which began on Sunday. They are boycotting the dining room and refusing to eat ahead of an impending charter flight to Nigeria and Ghana, which is set to remove at least 10 residents from the UK.” ‘It’s like hell’: Yarl’s Wood women launch hunger strike against their indefinite detention and imminent charter flight (by May Bulman for the Independent)

Sexism in Sport

“A gala to celebrate FC Basel’s 125th anniversary has caused controversy after the women’s team was not invited – but asked to work at the event instead. The Swiss football club’s female side were selling tombola tickets to more than a thousand guests while the men’s team had a three-course meal. After finishing their work, the women were given sandwiches to eat in a different room, CNN reported.” Women’s FC Basel team not invited to club anniversary gala (by Sarah Jenkins for BBC)

Sexual Assault

“A female fan claims she was sexually assaulted at a German Bundesliga game and told by a steward to “go home and watch on TV” if she did not like it. The woman says she was repeatedly groped by a man who also tried to open her bra during Schalke’s match against Nuremberg at Veltins Arena on Saturday.” Schalke and police investigating alleged sex attack at Bundesliga game (by Jonathan Jurejko for BBC)

Gun Violence

“The middle schooler addressed listeners across the state and said, “All you hear about is somebody dying and somebody getting shot. People do not just think about whose father or son or granddaughter or grandson was just killed.” Parks’ mother and sister were present when she was hit with the bullet that took her life. “She just walked into the room and said, ‘Mama, I’m shot,’” her sister Tatiana Ingram said. “She was only hit one time, in her chest. The bullet wasn’t even for her.”” 13-Year-Old Who Wrote Award-Winning Anti-Gun Violence Essay Killed In Her Home By Stray Bullet (by Sean Collins for Blavity)

#MeToo

“Why did I choose to participate in this docuseries? One main reason: because I could. Throughout history, women have been traduced and silenced. Now, it’s our time to tell our own stories in our own words. Muriel Rukeyser famously wrote: “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” Blair Foster, the Emmy-winning director of the series, is testing that idea in myriad ways. She pointed out to me during one of the tapings that almost all the books written about the Clinton impeachment were written by men. History literally being written by men. In contrast, the docuseries not only includes more women’s voices, but embodies a woman’s gaze: two of the three main editors and four of the five executive producers are women.” “Who Gets to Live in Victimville? Why I Participated in the New Docuseries The Clinton Affair” (by Monica Lewinsky for Vanity Fair)

Reproductive Health

“HB 565, which was introduced in March, would allow criminal charges against both doctors and pregnant women seeking abortions. It would characterize an “unborn human” as a person under Ohio’s criminal code, meaning abortions could be punishable by life in prison or even the death penalty. There are no exceptions even in cases of rape, incest, or danger to a woman’s life. Jaime Miracle with NARAL Pro Choice Ohio says the bill would punish both women and doctors. NARAL and Planned Parenthood are spending money on advertisements opposing the bill.” Ohio Legislature Considers Total Abortion Ban (by Jo Ingles for WOSU)

Financial Crimes

“Earlier this month, CNBC tracked down one of the first people to qualify for student debt cancellation under the public service loan forgiveness program, which allows certain not-for-profit and government employees to have their federal student loans scrubbed after 10 years of on-time payments. “I feel pretty lucky,” Kevin Maier, a tenured professor at the University of Alaska Southeast, had said. He really should. The Education Department just released data on how many loans it has forgiven under the program. The results are grim. Just 96 people across the country have been released from their debt, thanks to public service loan forgiveness. Last year was the first year of eligiblity, since the program was signed into law in 2007 and it requires at least 10 years of payments to qualify. Nearly 30,000 borrowers have applied for the forgiveness, according to the Education Department’s data. That means less than 1 percent of people who’ve applied for public service loan forgiveness actually got it.” Just 96 of 30,000 people who applied for public service loan forgiveness actually got it (by Annie Nova for CNBC)

Saturday

1

December 2018

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COMMENTS

Forced Career Examination

Written by , Posted in Adventures

“So, London it is?”

“London it is.”

Austin and I were sitting in the guest room of our Seattle home at 5:30 AM, debating between job offers he’d received from companies in Copenhagen and London. We had to let London know by end of business that day; with the time difference, that meant by 8 AM we had to have a decision, and we’d only just received the offer from Copenhagen 30 minutes prior.

We were tired, but we were talking about moving to a new city together! It was a fun conversation.

Much more fun than the one that led to it, which started with a phone call from my husband on a Tuesday six months earlier.

“So, I got laid off. They’re calling us into a conference room so I’ll know more in a bit.”

We knew it was a possibility, but hearing the words was jarring. I had a good job, and we’d been careful when we bought our house 18 months prior to make sure we could afford it on one person’s salary, at least for a bit. So we weren’t in financial trouble, but still. Getting laid off isn’t usually on one’s bucket list.

For a couple of weeks, Austin spent some time just thinking about what he wanted to do. He probably wanted to stay in his field of video game programming, but was open to other opportunities. He began applying to companies in our area, but soon asked if I had any issues with him looking at jobs in other countries.

When we first started dating, Austin told me about his desire to live abroad at some point. I get the appeal; it’s fun to live somewhere new (especially when that somewhere has functional public transportation). I also wasn’t happy in my job. I adored my boss and my colleagues, and I was good at what I was doing. But I hated the added stress that came from being in the field of emergency management.

Some people thrive on that call in the middle of the night; I was finding my heart rate rising every time I heard multiple emergency vehicles speed by (which was often, since we lived off of a busy arterial). And that wasn’t irrational stress — for the past seven years one of my areas of responsibility was mass fatality response. When there is a mass shooting daily, it’s just a matter of time before it happens in one’s own town.

And yet even with that stress, I had spent a dozen years of my life becoming good at my job. Really, really good at it. I made a tiny bit of a name for myself in a very specialized component of the work, and leaving that felt weird. I would possibly be giving up my career with no fall-back, no plan, no safety net. For a few months at least, I would be a grown woman with no children and no job, being supported by her husband. I didn’t get married until I was almost in my mid-30s; I’ve been independent most of my adult life. So now, being reliant on a partner for money? I didn’t like the feeling.

Accepting that we’d be moving and I’d be leaving my job also became a stark reminder of how much of one’s identity is tied up in work. I haven’t ever defined myself by my work (I’d say I worked in emergency management, not that I was an emergency manager), but I still could say I was doing something. Once we moved, my answer would be ‘helping us get set up in a new country,’ which was true, but that only works for so long.

After three months in London, my old boss said she had some work for me. We’d talked about that possibility when I moved; she made it a reality. Thanks to her and my new boss, I was able to work 20-30 hours each week, remotely, doing the planning work I enjoyed, but without the stress of response. It was nice, but I still looked for work. I quickly learned that continuing in my field would be nearly impossible, because I didn’t have experience working in the parameters set by UK parliament. Which was frustrating at times, but also forced me to look at options. I was right – I had no fall-back. I would have to switch fields.

I started applying for jobs in March; I received an offer in early November. All told, I applied for 27 jobs. In 19 cases, I received an email telling me I hadn’t moved on to the interview stage. I heard nothing from seven organizations. Two requested more information, one requested an in-person interview. Lucky for me, I got that job. Which I start on Monday.

I’ve been wanting to leave emergency management for awhile, and now it seems like a real possibility. My new job is fairly entry-level, in higher education. I’ve wanted to work in higher ed for a long time; when I was in graduate school the first time I contemplated focusing heavily on higher education administration but the courses weren’t available when I needed them. But now is my second chance, and it probably wouldn’t have happened, or at least not this way, if Austin hadn’t been laid off last year.

It’s funny how things work out.