ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Yearly Archive: 2018

Thursday

30

August 2018

0

COMMENTS

Between the Bridge and the River by Craig Ferguson

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Two Stars

Best for: Others seem to like this, and I don’t want to insult them or their taste, so I’ll just say — I’m not sure who it’s best for, but it sure as shit isn’t me.

In a nutshell: The lives of loathsome men and superfluous women intertwine in a weak, ridiculous, and boring novel.

Worth quoting:
Nothing. Nothing is worth quoting, unless it’s in an effort to point out how sexist and / or racist Mr. Ferguson’s writing comes across to me.

Why I chose it:
You all. You did this to me. I was not going to participate in the November book club, but I’m attempting to do a blackout BINGO, so I had to read it. I’m not pleased. I’ve not disliked fiction this much since those free Cinderella revisited books we got to review a few years ago.

Review:
No wonder I had trouble finding this book in Mr. Ferguson’s home country. They’re really doing him a favor by pretending this book doesn’t exist. I ended up buying it via Audible, and listened to it on long runs so I could experience it in chunks. I took some notes on my phone as I ran, hoping that perhaps I’d be able to write that it started slow but ultimately won me over.

Nopety nope nope.

The plot itself is, I suppose, interesting. Maybe? I don’t know. I rarely read fiction, and I think the last fiction I chose with a male main character was The Martian three years ago, which I enjoyed. Generally speaking, though, I got enough exploration of the male experience in high school English. And this book certainly didn’t make me any more interested in seeking out male protagonists or anti-heroes.

There are few women in this book, and they all exist to serve the men. Even the most fully-formed woman, Claudette, is basically just there to help George figure some shit out. It’s frustrating and sexist. Mr. Ferguson is not good at writing women, and that is pissing me off again as I write this review, so I’ll just leave it there.

I also struggle with authors who make their characters so repugnant that they use slurs and are all universally bigots. Can it really be considered a thoughtful character choice when all of your characters are shitty bigots? I started to wonder if Mr. Ferguson just wanted an excuse to use racial slurs / crappy accents / racist descriptions of people. That seems unfair to Mr. Ferguson, but also, perhaps it’s something he should think about?

Finally, the thing that I think bothered me the most is that the simple act of “being fat” is apparently the most awful, disgusting, and evil thing Mr. Ferguson can think of. Saul is fat, other people are fat, and Saul is described as disgusting. This ventures over to ableist near the end, when Saul seeks healing (he’s now also in a wheelchair), and is told he can’t be healed because “that’s who he is.” Now, perhaps Mr. Ferguson meant something else, but I heard it as suggesting that if you’re fat and in a wheelchair, you’re a bad person. And I’m super not okay with that. I’m not okay with any of this lazy writing, but this got me so pissed I almost gave up on the book, but I only had a little bit left.

I’m flummoxed that this is the book that the CBR folks thought we all should read and discuss this fall. There are a bunch of different little side stories that theoretically could be considered interesting, but overall I was super bored, and when I wasn’t bored, I was pissed. Clearly I’m not the target audience, but I am having such a hard time figuring out what is appealing about it.

Wednesday

29

August 2018

0

COMMENTS

Not Working by Lisa Owens

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for: Anyone looking for a quick read that is linear but written in a slightly different style.

In a nutshell: Claire has quit her job without another lined up, in an effort to find something she wants to do.

Worth quoting:
“When I had a job, I used to fantasize about what I’d do if I didn’t have to work anymore. Go to the gym every day, get really fit, train for a marathon perhaps. Finish Ulysses, and read Moby Dick and one of the big Russian guys. Get to grips with the economy, also modern art.”
“You know, not everyone can be a hero, or live the dream — we just need to contribute what we can. Pull our weight, earn a living. There’s no shame in that.”

Why I chose it: The paperback cover (in the UK at least) is striking and made me pick it up. Then I read the back and knew I had to read it.

Review:
Have you ever read the first chapter or so of a book and seriously wonder if it’s your own memoir? That is to say, have you ever related so hard to the circumstances in a novel that you’re slightly bummed because now you can’t turn your own story into a novel because you’ll be sued for copywrite? That’s kind of how I feel about this book.

Claire has quit her job. She doesn’t enjoy her work, and wants to take time to actually sort out what she wants to do. She has savings, and has a mortgage on a flat with her boyfriend (a doctor trainee), so she’s obviously in a position to do this. But she doesn’t know where to start. She doesn’t have an obvious passion, or any real sense of what she wants to be doing with her life. She has some skeptical friends (most of them seem unsupportive – something I couldn’t relate to), and a mother who isn’t speaking to her.

The story is presented across a few chapters, but nearly every few paragraphs has a little sub-heading. It’s an interesting device making the book read more like a diary. It’s a convention that I think is challenging to do well, but Ms. Owens pulls it off well.

I enjoyed Claire’s comments and attitude and flaws because I could see myself in much of her. I, too, quit my job earlier this year. It was a necessity — we moved across the world — but I wanted to do it because it isn’t a field I wanted to be in. And I’m still sort-of working in that field (less than full-time), and still haven’t been able to sort out what I’m going to do long-term. I’m lucky enough that we can afford me not working full-time at my previous salary, and it does feel a bit indulgent to be able to go to the gym at 10 AM on a Monday because I don’t have to have my butt in an office chair at 8 AM. So reading someone who is in a somewhat similar position to me was almost cathartic.

But even if I couldn’t relate so hard, I still think I would have highly enjoyed it. If you’re looking for a fairly quick read that still has some heft in terms of the relationships explored within, I think you’ll enjoy this one.

Tuesday

28

August 2018

0

COMMENTS

When They Call You A Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

(Joint review with Austin as part of the Cannonball Read 10 BINGO)

Best for: Those who enjoy deeply personal memoirs.

In a nutshell: Black Lives Matter founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors shares the story of her life so far, including her work as an activist, artist, and founder of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Worth quoting:
“For us, law enforcement had nothing to do with protecting and serving, but controlling and containing the movement of children.”
“My father attended schools that did little more than train him to serve another man’s dreams, ensure another man’s wealth, produce another man’s vision.”
“What is the impact of not being valued?”
“No isolated acts of decency could wholly change an organization that became an institution that was created not to protect but to catch, control and kill us.”

Why I chose it: I enjoy memoirs, and I feel like I don’t know enough about the woman who started the Black Lives Matter movement.

Why Austin chose it: I picked this book because Black Lives Matter is a huge cultural touchstone in our nation’s history and I wanted to learn more about one of the founders of the movement.

My Review:
At times over the past five years, it can seem that Black Lives Matter spontaneously erupted out of the anger at police violence against Black men, women and children. But BLM didn’t just appear from the ether; it was created by three Black women: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, and Opal Tometi. These women have stories that deserve to be shared, and this book provides insight into the lives of one of these women.

The subheading “A Black Lives Matter Memoir” might suggest that there will be a heavy emphasis on the time in 2013 when the movement began. And that definitely gets coverage, but this book is more about Ms. Khan-Cullors’s life and how that leads to the movement. She shares so much of herself — her pain, her joy, her love, her anger. Some memoirs scratch the surface and present something that feels a bit false. Not here. Ms. Khan-Cullors is vulnerable, and poetic, and unapologetic. She describes experiences that no one should have to go through, making it clear that these experiences are not unique to her.

This book contains so much more than its 250 pages suggest. The writing is fantastic, in a style I am not used to. I’d almost call it flowery, but that implies the words are superfluous. It’s not that. It’s almost lyrical, poetic and times. Ms. Khan-Cullors (with co-author bandele) covers interactions with the police (her own interactions, and interactions her families and friends have), what it is like to have a parent in prison, what it is like to have a sibling with mental illness who is tortured by the prison system. What it is like to not be heard, and what it is like to find a way to fight back.

Austin’s Review:
What struck me most about this book was how open she was about her entire life. She talked about her sexuality, her difficulties with her family, and the ongoing issues with police. Khan-Cullors has had a more difficult life than most, yet she was able to come together with friends to build the most recognizable social justice movement in decades.

Reading this book made me re-evaluate my own life and choices in a deep and serious way. What are my values and how much am I willing to dedicate my life to them? I thank Ms Khan-Cullors for what she’s done and what she’s been willing to share with everyone about the way it’s all come about. I highly recommend this book if you’re at all interested in social justice movements.

Sunday

26

August 2018

0

COMMENTS

Faces in the Water by Janet Frame

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for: People who enjoy her style of writing, I’m guessing.

In a nutshell: Istina is mentally ill and being ‘treated’ at an in-patient facility. For nine years.

Worth quoting:
“Later, the same nurses will become impatient with their charges; but at first they are full of sympathy.”
“Few of the people who roamed the dayroom would have qualified as acceptable heroines, in popular taste; few were charmingly uninhibited eccentrics.”

Why I chose it: I’ve been having a hell of a time finding a book for the “Birthday” BINGO square. I kind of wish I’d kept looking.

Review:
I’d not heard of Ms. Frame prior to picking up this novel, but she is a much-celebrated author from New Zealand. If this book is representative of her work, then I can definitely not count myself as a fan. The book follows Istina from one in-patient facility to another and back again, seeing it through her eyes as she deals with hallucinations, being moved to different wards without understanding why, being given ECT, and being scheduled for a lobotomy.

There are moment in this book that are so frustrating, such as when Istina describes the nurses ‘caring’ for patients who are in an especially challenging situation, as instigating fights just to see what the patients will do. Treating them as zoo animals or, perhaps more aptly, fighting dogs. It’s also so sad, but unsurprising, to read of the doctors who make only the occasional appearance in the lives of the patients. No one is really getting therapy or treatment — they are just housed like cattle, kept away from the rest of society without getting much beyond food and shelter.

This is a novel, but it is likely pulled from Ms. Frame’s own life, as she entered in-patient treatment multiple times over nearly a decade, even publishing her first book while a patient. So I cannot speak to whether this is an amazing example of writing about what it is like as a patient with mental illness, but I can say that it was challenging to read. Ms. Frame (or perhaps Istina?) seems to abhor the comma, so sentences at times wander. Again, I couldn’t tell if this was an affect of the main character or if this is just how Ms. Frame writes. If it’s the former, I’m sure it serves a literary function; if it’s the later, it just seems pretentious.

Obviously Ms. Frame was a celebrated author, so I can’t say that this is a BAD book. It is just not one I enjoyed, nor is it one I would recommend.

Sunday

26

August 2018

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – August 26, 2018

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Xenophobia

“The smartphone contained photographs of Ms Lazoja “in a state of undress”, as well as private messages from her lawyer. “Ms Lazoja is a Muslim woman and wears a hijab (a headscarf) in accordance with her religious beliefs. Pursuant to her sincerely held beliefs, Ms Lazoja cannot be seen in a state of undress by men who are not family members,” the documents state.” Woman sues US border agents over seized iPhone (BBC)

Misogynoir

“And look, I’m not here to argue about whether a scientifically-designed power suit that covers ALL THE BITS UP is somehow less respectful than the typical tiny tennis skirt. I’d just like the point out that Williams wasn’t just wearing it to be different, or because it made her feel like a “warrior princess kinda queen from Wakanda.” She was wearing it for her blood clot issues, which came to a head after the traumatic birth of her child (she ended up having to have multiple surgeries to remove clots in the days following her C-section). Wearing pants helps with circulation. She’s literally wearing this catsuit for her health.” French Open Changes Dress Code Because HOW DARE SHE (by Tori Preston for Pajiba)

Misogyny

“Before the first game of the season, an unofficial flyer was handed round saying the stand was a “sacred place” where women were not allowed. But Lazio blamed “a few fans”. “We are against any discrimination,” it said.” Serie A: Lazio hardcore fans call for women ban in some seats (BBC)

“The school found a video of Mason’s work as a pole dance instructor on her private Facebook account. Mason believes the video may have been pointed out to her district superiors by some “malicious” person. “I’ve worked so hard to try and make sure I can provide for my daughters and our livelihood to have it jeopardized just for doing something that I’m passionate about,” said the single mother of two. Along with her pole dancing instruction credentials, Mason has a master’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s in English and a phlebotomy certificate.” A North Carolina Teacher, Who Is Also A Part-Time Pole Instructor, Was Suspended After Her Pole-Dancing Videos Were Seen On Facebook (by Tonja ReneeStidhum for Blavity)

“Human Rights Watch said they recently went on trial at a terrorism tribunal on charges including “participating in protests” in the restive Qatif region. It has been the scene of demonstrations by the minority Shia Muslim community. Ms Ghomgham is believed to be the first Saudi woman to possibly face the death penalty for rights-related work. HRW warned that it set “a dangerous precedent for other women activists currently behind bars” in the Gulf kingdom.” Saudi Arabia ‘seeks death penalty for woman activist’ (BBC)

Reprehensible Government Officials

“That tableau of terror is Jeremy Hunt, who in his prior role served as Britain’s Health Secretary and who helped spearhead the continued plunder and destruction of this country’s National Health Service so as to advance the neoliberal political class’ decades-long mission of finally privatising this nationally beloved monument to the idea that a person’s access to healthcare should not be dependent on the size of their wallet. That’s him there having tea and smiling along with Henry Kissinger, war criminal and cold-blooded avatar of American exceptionalism, who claimed his place in the history books and signed his name there with the blood of hundreds of thousands. I Don’t Think a Single Tweet Has Ever Made Me Feel This Sick (by Petr Knava for Pajiba)

Fighting Back

“The statue, erected in 1913, has a long racist history tied to the oppression of black people in the nation and the surviving veterans of the Confederacy at that time. When it was built, tobacco industrialist and Confederate veteran Julian Carr praised the Southern rebels as the saviors “of the Anglo Saxon race in the South” and reminisced about “horse-whipp[ing] a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds.”” Confederate Statue On College Campus Makes Like Humpty Dumpty After Fed-Up Students Take Matters Into Their Own Hands (by Rickey Riley for Blavity)

Tuesday

21

August 2018

0

COMMENTS

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Five Stars

Best for: Anyone looking for both a philosophical and a reality-based discussion about the decision to consume meat.

In a nutshell: When he realizes he is going to be a father, Mr. Foer decides to examine the food he eats and the morality of it.

Worth quoting:
I underlined and starred so many lines that I could put here, but I think this one sums the entire question up for me:

“Whether we’re talking about fish species, pigs, or some other eaten animal, is such suffering the most important thing in the world? Obviously not. But that’s not the question. Is it more important than sushi, bacon, or chicken nuggets? That’s the question.”

Why I chose it:
I’ve been vegetarian (and even vegan) at a few points in my life. I pretty much never cook meat at home. Lately I’ve been wondering if I can justify my decision to even intermittently eat meat, so when I saw this book at Shakespeare and Co in Paris, I decided it was time to jump in again.

Review:
What does it mean to choose to consume meat in the US (or UK) these days? What has it meant for the last 50 years? Realistically, unless you are raising your own meat or purchasing it from one of an infinitesimally small number of family farmers, your meat is coming from a factory farm. And even if you do purchase it from a ‘humane’ farmer, that animal is still being killed in an unimaginably cruel slaughterhouse. We know this, and yet we (unless the person reading this is vegetarian or vegan) still consume meat. And eggs. And dairy.

Why? This book explores the reasons we give, in beautifully written prose. Seriously, I’ve read many a book in my day about vegetarianism and veganism, but none have affected me in this way. They all have some variation on the same statistics, the same horror stories. The same glimpses into slaughterhouses, the same reminder that the workers in these facilities are often paid poorly and treated horribly. They tell us how pigs are much more like dogs than we’d probably feel comfortable knowing as we bite into our BLTs. How fish are much more intelligent than we’d probably imagined, and how both farmed and wild-caught seafood are just utterly horrible for the environment. How ALL of this factory farming — on land and sea — is destroy our world.

The book doesn’t provide an easy out, and I love that. Mr. Foer opens and closes his book with anecdotes about family meals. He describes the best (and only) meal his grandmother — a holocaust survivor — makes: chicken with carrots. He recognizes, and explores deeply, how food matters to us all culturally. How so many of our memories involve meals. And he asks if that is enough to justify consuming meat? What about if we are 100% certain that the meat was raised humanely (which is nearly impossibly to do)?

I’ve gone back and forth on this. I’ve read many an article about how pushing a vegetarian — or vegan — life on everyone can be culturally and economically insensitive. When vegetarians and vegans point out how poorly factory farm (e.g. all farm) animals are treated, they’re often responded to with the fact that people who pick our fruits and vegetables are treated poorly, so why don’t we care about them. Which is a completely insincere comment, given the shit labor standards that cover slaughterhouse workers.

Here’s where I’ve landed, once again, and after reading this book: I cannot justify consuming meat. Me. A woman with no medical issues, who has access to sufficient money and time to prepare an all-vegetarian diet. I do care about the welfare of animals. And I do care about their rights. I care about the environment. I care about public health (side note: Mr. Foer’s section on antibiotics and flu pandemics is one area that other similar books don’t cover nearly enough). And by choosing to not eat meat, I can be closer to living my values. I just had become complacent, and this book helped push me back on the right path.

As I write this review, my cat Tigger keeps jumping in my lap. My partner and I adopted him and his brother Jameson 6 1/2 years ago. They’re our buddies, our friends. We love them dearly, and even brought them with us when we moved to London. I can’t imagine life without them, and I certainly can’t imagine eating them. So how can I justify eating their animal friends? And why do I keep trying to? Because burgers are tasty? Sure. But, as Mr. Foer asks, is that taste more important than the life of another animal? Of course, this raises the question of how to feed them humanely. Cats are obligate carnivores, so chances are that the meat I need to feed them was procured in an inhumane fashion. I don’t know how to square that circle, but I’m going to try.

Sunday

19

August 2018

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – August 19, 2018

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Apparently I didn’t read a lot of news this week (though I am in the midst of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, which is wonderful).

Health

“After following the group for an average of 25 years, researchers found that those who got 50-55% of their energy from carbohydrates (the moderate carb group and in line with UK dietary guidelines) had a slightly lower risk of death compared with the low and high-carb groups.” Low-carb diets could shorten life, study suggests (by Alex Therrien for BBC)

Reproductive Rights

“Missouri Democrats on Saturday voted to affirm reproductive rights as part of the state party platform and to remove language adopted in June welcoming anti-choice Democratic candidates. Stephen Webber, chair of the Missouri Democratic Party, called the meeting to address the issue of reproductive rights, Jalen Anderson told Rewire.News. Anderson, a state committee member and chair of the platform committee, said he didn’t think the language endorsed this summer reflected the values of the majority of party members or of the state Democratic Party.” Missouri Democrats Just Voted to Remove Anti-Choice Language From State Platform (by Erin Heger for Rewire)

Labor

“More than a dozen workers eventually complained they had not received payment for their work, while the construction companies in charge of the project blamed one another for the lack of payments. Nearly a year later, many of those workers say they still have not been paid. Experts have known since at least Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that wage theft – as these unpaid wages are often known – increases dramatically after natural disasters. Employers looking to profit off rebuilding take on transient and vulnerable workers they can easily exploit.” Unpaid: Inside the ‘lawless jungle’ of worker exploitation after Hurricane Harvey (by James Barragán for Reveal)

Wednesday

15

August 2018

1

COMMENTS

In My Life

Written by , Posted in Adventures

I’m 17, and, I think I want to be a record producer. Oddly, though, I’m not really into music. At least, not the way one would think if one were seriously considering a career in the music industry. I mean, I love No Doubt, and own the obligatory Smashing Pumpkin CDs (ah, Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness). But its my love of The Beatles that puts this idea in my head.

I’m in elementary school. My parents only listen to KFRC, which plays music from the 50s and 60s. They also have some tapes (Ricky Nelson’s greatest hits, the Dirty Dancing soundtrack), and a handful of records, including Rubber Soul. All ‘oldies,’ all the time.

I’m in middle school, and we are visiting Lake Tahoe. My family goes to one of those Beatles impersonation acts (Rain, maybe?) and something clicks. This music is amazing. I want to hear every song, own every album, see every movie. But I don’t have money to buy Beatles tapes. Instead I wait for the songs to come on the radio and then record them onto my own tapes.

No streaming, no Spotify. No CDs.

Just blank tapes.

I sit on my bed with a tape in my portable stereo, tuned to 99.7, and wait for Beatles songs to come on. Wednesdays are the best for this — that is when Beatles songs are guaranteed to be played at least a couple of times per hour. I record about 30 tapes this way.

I listen to my parents’ Beatles records, cover my walls with Beatles posters. I watch A Hard Day’s Night and HELP! over and over. “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” is my favorite song at the time.

I’m in eighth grad. John Lennon is my favorite. I read biographies about him, buy his solo albums. When I move to NYC for graduate school, one of the first places I go on my own is Strawberry Fields.

I’m 35, and my husband and I buy a town home. As a surprise, my husband gets a fancy record player and the entire Beatles collection for the house.

I’m 38, and I live in London. My sister and her partner Gavin (musician and Beatles fan) are in town, so we go to Abbey Road studios. We can’t go in, but we can see the famous crosswalk and take a picture of the front of the studio from behind the fence. My sister writes our names on the wall, which will be painted over in the next year. At the gift shop I notice an advertisement for a lecture inside the studio in August. After going back-and-forth over the price, I click purchase. I’m going to Abbey Road Studios.

I listen to The Beatles on my tube ride over, but it doesn’t really hit me until I walk through the gate.

Through it.

This is Abbey Road Studios. Where all the music I associate with growing up — even 20 years after its release — is made.

Staff exchange my ticket for a lanyard and direct me to the building. I walk up the stairs and my stomach drops I cannot stop grinning.We aren’t allowed to take pictures in the corridors, just in the studios themselves. And I can understand why — there are some amazing photographs on display, of everyone from The Beatles to Amy Winehouse. Posters from movies whose scores were recorded here, like Lord of the Rings.

The lecture is held in Studio 2, the one most associated with the Beatles.It is so big inside. I don’t know quite what I expected (I mean, I’ve seen pictures), but it isn’t this. It almost feels dated — like they figure out the best sound in the 60s and 70s and decide not to screw with it. It makes sense, but I picture something slick and high-tech; this feels more like my junior high school gym.

They have a bunch of cool equipment and original instruments out for us to look at, and even let us into the control room.

The lecture follows the studio history from 1931 to today, with a chunk of time spent on The Beatles. We listen to a clip of “Twist and Shout” in the room where it was recorded nearly 60 years ago. Tears form in my eyes.

Musicians have recently recorded just the string arrangement George Martin composed for “Yesterday,” and the lecturers play it for us. It is gorgeous and moving. A couple of tears leak out.

But the moment I immediately know I’ll remember forever comes when they ask for four volunteers and direct them to each play a chord on a couple of the pianos in the room. On the count of four, they play the chords and hold them as long as they can.

It is the final chord from “A Day in the Life,” played on the original instruments.

I don’t know if rooms or places absorb the energy of the people around them — that seems a bit woo woo for me. But at the same time, it is impossible to deny the feelings I have while in that room, knowing what took place there. All the joy that has been created. The art. Songs that millions of people listen to over and over again. Songs that are the background of our days.

I’m 14. I’m sitting on my bed, replaying The Beatles’ 20 Greatest Hits, staring at my John Lennon poster. Someday, I’ll be in the room where it all happened. And it will be better than I can imagine.

Sunday

12

August 2018

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – 12 August 2018

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Disability Rights

“Paper straws were of no use, especially for hot liquids—the paper would just disintegrate. Metal straws were not an option either, because they could lead to potentially serious burns in my already fragile mouth, face, and body from their hot content, not to mention that the metal could damage fresh surgical sites. But also, if I did not have the fine motor functions to eat or drink by myself at the time, having to clean and disinfect reusable metal straws was certainly out of the question. I tried every type of straw there was during that time period to find that only the bendy disposable plastic variety were of any use to me. This is likely the case with people suffering from ALS, dementia, stroke, seizures, or other kinds of disabilities and health issues that would require the regular use of them.” Strawgate: The Ableism Behind Exclusionary Activism (by Saigon Flower for The Establishment)

Reproductive Rights

“On Saturday, June 30, the Missouri Democratic Party approved a new platform, which included an amendment that would allow anti-choice members into the party. The amendment states: “We respect the conscience of each Missourian and recognize that members of our party have deeply held and sometimes differing positions on issues of personal conscience, such as abortion. We recognize the diversity of views as a source of strength, and welcome into our ranks all Missourians who may hold differing positions on this issue.” The language was directly pulled from the website of anti-choice group Democrats For Life.” Missouri Democrats’ New Platform Caves on Abortion Rights (by Alison Dreith for Rewire)

“Judge Carol Bagley Amon of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn denied the request for preliminary injunction, saying she did not find the center’s security camera videos and testimony to be “credible.” Women’s rights activists found the decision disappointing and told Rewire.News they fear Judge Amon had her own bias in this case. Nominated by President George H.W. Bush, Amon has freed a married couple who conspired to help a man who gunned down an abortion care provider in 1998.” Federal Judge Sides With New York Anti-Choice Protesters, Dismissing Clinic Workers’ Testimony as ‘Unreliable’ (by Auditi Guha for Rewire)

“A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed a district court’s ruling that the law constitutes an “undue burden,” and dealt the latest legal blow to Indiana Republicans’ legislative efforts to restrict access to abortion care. Judge Ilana Rovner wrote in the ruling that while it is a legitimate goal for the state to attempt to dissuade pregnant people from having an abortion, the law seeks to accomplish that goal by creating a barrier to abortion “without any evidence that it serves the intended goal of persuading women to carry a pregnancy to term.” Pence-Era Indiana Anti-Choice Law Dealt Major Legal Blow (by Teddy Wilson for Rewire)

Xenophobia

“In February of this year, the Michigan House passed a bill to make English the official state language. The bill is expected to pass the state Senate, though it would need Governor Rick Snyder’s signature to become law. If it succeeds, Michigan will become the 32nd state to make English its official language and clear a victory for the “Official English” political movement.” Inside The Racist Push To Make English The United States’ Official Language (by Samantha Yenger Cremean for The Establishment)

Criminal Punishment System

“In the vicinity of the shooting, protesters began to gather and clash with authorities. Protests went well into the night. Reporter Nader Issa captured video of police attacking a protester with batons, using what could be perceived as excessive force.” Protests Erupt After Chicago Police Shoot, Kills Local Black Man Believed To Be A Barber (by Rickey Riley for Blavity)

Fighting Bigotry

“Leen Schaap was appointed to stamp out what late Mayor Eberhard van der Laan described as a “closed culture in which racism, discrimination and bullying take place”. But Mr Schaap angered serving and retired firefighters when he spoke publicly about the problems he faced in recruiting more women and immigrants.” Amsterdam fire chief Leen Schaap ‘had death threats from staff’ (BBC)

Biomedical Ethics

“An inquiry into the ethical issues surrounding genetically altering a human embryo has found there is “no absolute reason not to pursue it”. But appropriate measures must be put in place before it becomes UK law, said the report – which calls for further research both medically and socially.” Editing human embryos ‘morally permissible’ (BBC)

“It will now be easier to withdraw food and liquid to allow such patients to die across the UK. When families and doctors are in agreement, medical staff will be able to remove feeding tubes without applying to the Court of Protection. Lady Black ruled there was no violation under the Human Rights Convention.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45003947

Health

“In November of 2017, the Farmers Market Coalition’s contract came up for renewal, and the USDA awarded the $1.3 million contract to a new company, Financial Transaction Management of Reston, Virginia. The company, which has one employee, was formed just before the contract became available. Their address, 1900 Campus Commons Dr., is a virtual office. The company does not have technology up and running to process SNAP benefits at Farmer’s Markets. It planned to start taking applications for replacement equipment on July 14, but there has been no news since then. SNAP Recipients Might Be Shut Out Of Farmers Markets Soon (by Andres O’Hara for Gothamist)

Gun Violence

“MGM Resorts International filed complaints in Nevada and California, arguing it could not be held liable for any deaths, injuries or damages caused during the attack. “Plaintiffs have no liability of any kind to defendants,” the complaints argue. It says the security company it hired was certified by the Department of Homeland Security and was therefore protected from liability under a 2002 federal act. MGM argues that this protection extends to the hotel giant, as it hired the security firm.” Las Vegas shooting: Mandalay Bay hotel owner sues 1,000 victims (BBC)

Labor Rights

“With the help of SEIU Local 105, PPRM workers won their election for a union in December 2017, but in the months leading up to the union election, PPRM management attempted to dissuade workers from supporting the union, Martin said, by distributing anti-union flyers and holding mandatory meetings meant to discourage workers from supporting the union. While PPRM is the most recent example of a Planned Parenthood affiliate pushing back against workers, it is not the only time the health-care organization has taken an oppositional stance to its workers organizing.” Planned Parenthood Has a History of Trying To Beat Back Labor Unions (by Erin Heger for Rewire)

“In a 63-57 vote, legislators approved the measure granting 10 days of extra leave a year, separate from annual holiday or sick leave. Green Party MP Jan Logie, who proposed the bill, said it would help victims “stop the violence and get help without worrying about losing their jobs”. New Zealand is the second country after the Philippines to pass such a measure. The Philippines passed a law granting 10 days of paid leave for domestic violence victims in 2004.” New Zealand grants domestic violence victims paid leave (BBC)

“A pair of former hourly Walmart workers allege in a court filing that the corporation fired them for seeking treatment in a hospital for extreme nausea, vomiting, severe cramps, and fears of miscarriage. Although the women told their supervisors they would miss work and later furnished doctors’ notes, the retail giant considered the absences unauthorized under its “absence control” policy, the women allege.” Walmart Accused of Unlawfully Punishing Pregnant Hourly Workers (by Nicole Knight for Rewire)

“Ms Williamson said she was sacked after writing tweets critical of the state government. CA said only that it would not tolerate “offensive comments”. The recent closure of Tasmania’s only abortion clinic has been controversial. Its closure, due to lack of demand, has forced Ms Williamson and other women to travel to mainland Australia to seek an abortion. Ms Williamson has launched legal action against CA over her dismissal.” Cricket Australia accused of sacking woman over abortion tweets (BBC)

Transphobia

“Hilde Hall said she filed an administrative complaint Thursday with the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy because she was discriminated against for being transgender, according to a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In a redacted complaint provided to Rewire.News, Hall described trying to fill prescriptions for estradiol, spironolactone, and finasteride in April, but said the CVS pharmacist refused to fill her prescription for the hormone finasteride.” Complaint: CVS Pharmacist Refused to Fill Prescription for Transgender Woman (by Nicole Night for Rewire)

“But the case isn’t simple. It’s a way for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)—which the Southern Poverty Law Center has called a hate group because the firm spreads ludicrous conspiracy theories about a vast “homosexual agenda”—to turn its anti-LGBTQ fantasies into a reality. ADF’s lawyers have turned the weaponization of religion into a cottage industry. Their goal is to strip LGBTQ people of their civil rights by prioritizing religion over their humanity.” Christian Law Firm Asks Supreme Court to Allow Workplace Discrimination Against Transgender People (by Imani Gandy for Rewire)

“Judge Joseph W. Kirby of the Warren County Common Pleas Court has engaged in a “pattern and practice” of treating transgender minors differently than other minors by denying transgender minors’ requests for name changes “without a rational basis,” states the complaint filed by three families against the judge.” Ohio Judge Accused of Denying Transgender Teens Legal Name Changes (by Jessica Mason Pielko for Rewire)

 

Friday

10

August 2018

0

COMMENTS

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for: Young adults who want a love story that isn’t as absurd as Romeo and Juliet but that doesn’t discount their feelings.

In a nutshell: Eleanor comes from a fucked-up home. Park does not. Both are a bit outcast-y. Events transpire.

Worth quoting: “When Eleanor was around girls like that — like Park’s mom, like Tina, like most of the girls in the neighborhood — she wondered where they put their organs. Like, how could you have a stomach and intestines and kidneys, and still wear such tiny jeans?”

Why I chose it: I didn’t realize how many of the most popular CBR books I’d already read. I was sort of avoiding this one as it wasn’t appealing to me, but ultimately I’m glad I read it.

Review: This is a very quick read. I got it from the library on Wednesday and finished it Thursday night. Given its popularity, I think there probably isn’t that much more for me to say. But I’ll try…

The writing is good, but even though this is such a thoroughly character-driven book, I felt that the characters weren’t that well developed. Am I alone on this? Probably. We seemed to get some more interesting information about these two people prior to them meeting, but it mostly came in the last 10% of the book. I suppose the author was going for just a slice of life, but still, I wanted to know more about Eleanor especially, beyond just not liking how she looks.

I also appreciate that Ms. Rowell treated young relationships with such care — she doesn’t condescend, she doesn’t doubt their feelings. She explores them. And that’s pretty awesome.

I also like the very, very end. I know it is controversial for some people, but I like it. My copy has an author note where Ms. Rowell addresses this controversy, and I totally got her reasoning. I thought it was pretty cool.