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Author Archive



November 2017



Manners by Kate Spade

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Three Stars

Best for: Someone looking for a book of miscellaneous etiquette tips and lovely little watercolor illustrations.

In a nutshell: Iconic fashion designer Kate Spade offers some tips for being gracious in your daily interactions

Line that sticks with me: “But might doesn’t equal right, so to all ad hoc experts and lecturers please don’t pontificate on the paint. Lecture halls have seats; museums and galleries don’t.”

Why I chose it: I bought this at least two years ago. I reviewed the second in this little serious of books, ‘Style,’ during one of the Cannonball Reads. Plus, it’s an etiquette book.

Review: You all know I love etiquette books, right? I find manners fascinating. I know that some things we view as good manners are just classist ways of being, but I also think that manners are also a way to be respectful of others. I think this line from Blast From the Past sums it up perfectly:

Troy: “He said, good manners are just a way of showing other people we have respect for them. See, I didn’t know that, I thought it was just a way of acting all superior.”

I have three bookshelves full of etiquette and style books. One of them is from the 1920s. I find them fascinating. To the point that now I have my own etiquette website. This book is a bit of a hodgepodge, with only the loosest idea of organization or theme. But that’s okay. It’s fun to look at, and for the most part the tips were spot on.

However, throughout, Ms. Spade includes some quotes from herself and from her husband. And one (from her husband Andy) I found to be extremely distasteful:

“Have you ever seen an 80-year-old woman look great with a tattoo?”

First off, why limit this to women? As written, Mr. Spade seems to be suggesting that perhaps there are men who look great with tattoos, but not women. That’s sexist, and certainly not a sign of good manners.

But also … I have. Check these folks out. (There are a lot of pictures of dudes here, but also of women, and they are awesome.) It’s just a graceless comment, and is particularly out of place in a book on manners.



November 2017



Trainwreck by Sady Doyle

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Four Stars

Best for: People who maybe enjoy the schadenfreud of the seeming downfall of famous women but who are also interested in maybe stopping that.

In a nutshell: Author Sady Doyle examines all the ways we push women and judge them for their imperfections.

Line that sticks with me: “We spend so much time pathologizing “overemotional” women that we scarcely ever ask what those women are emotional about.”

Why I chose it: I’m on a bit of a roll, reading about women who fight the system, who get taken down and fight back. This seemed to fit in nicely.

Review: I’ve laughed at Lindsay Lohan (and not just when she’s being weirdly supportive of Harvey Weinstein – when she’s getting pulled over and drugs are found on her). I’ve scoffed at Britney Spears before her very public meltdown, then did a 180 and for some reason only really saw her humanity when she was being put into conservatorship. I’ve prefaced statements of support for Hillary Clinton with “I know she isn’t perfect, but,” as though there is some politician who is.

I’m also a feminist, and I get real angry when women are dismissed as overly emotional, or irrational, or crazy. And while I sort of know how these two seemingly diametrically opposed philosophies can coexist in my mind, this book brought it to light.

Ms. Doyle provides a look not just at how we seemingly root for women to fail (but then laud them after they’ve died), but the history of how this has been going on for literally centuries. This isn’t an examination of Britney Spears (although her story features prominently in some chapters); it’s an examination of western society and how we treat women. Mostly, how we treat famous women, but Ms. Doyle uses that to point out that this translates to how we treat women in general. How we silence them, how we judge them, how we don’t allow them to be whole, complex people.

Parts are rough to read (although the writing itself is great), but nothing made me madder than the afterward that Ms. Doyle chose to include, discussing in about 20 pages the 2016 election outcome. She has a chapter where she discusses both Hillary Clinton and Monica Lewinski, but this afterward looks specifically at Secretary Clinton in light of what we gave up, how we as a country decided we’d rather have an admitted sexual assaulting liar with no government experience than an extraordinarily qualified person who also is a woman. It hurts (and it’s why “What Happened” has been on my nightstand since it was released but I haven’t been able to open it), and it’s hard to find a lot of hope in it. But we’ll see, right?



November 2017



What I’m Reading – November 12, 2017

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Abuse and Harassment

“But as a society, we don’t want to take responsibility for the abuse we create, enable, and strengthen. Because most of that responsibility lies with men and so many of them are very invested in keeping things the way they are — especially because they haven’t quite reached their life’s goal to be successful enough to be able to violate the consent of the most beautiful of the trophies we also know as women without consequence. Yes, everyone contributes to the patriarchy in some way — even women—but about half of us have had no say in the rules of the game, have never had a chance at winning, and have been given just as little say in whether or not we will play.” When You Can’t Throw All Men Into The Ocean And Start Over, What CAN You Do? (by Ijeoma Oluo for The Establishment)

“Here’s a theory: Some people have chosen to ignore Kelly’s alleged behavior because the victims of it have been black girls. As Jim DeRogatis, the Chicago-based reporter behind the BuzzFeed piece who has tirelessly covered the singer’s off-stage behavior for almost two decades, told the Voice in 2013, “The saddest fact I’ve learned is nobody matters less to our society than young black women.”” The latest R Kelly allegations are more evidence that black women’s words are never enough (by Jamilah Lemieux for Mic)

“The explicit goal of the investigations, laid out in one contract with Black Cube, signed in July, was to stop the publication of the abuse allegations against Weinstein that eventually emerged in the New York Times and The New Yorker. Over the course of a year, Weinstein had the agencies “target,” or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focussed on their personal or sexual histories. Weinstein monitored the progress of the investigations personally. He also enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some sources who received them, felt intimidating.” Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies (by Ronan Farrow for The New Yorker)

“Solo was speaking to Portuguese magazine Expresso about sexual harassment in women’s sports and its prevalence. She then revealed that Sepp Blatter, then the president of world soccer’s governing body, groped her in 2013 as they were about to present the women’s player of the year award at the Ballon d’Or gala. “I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass,” she said.” Hope Solo Said The Head Of FIFA Groped Her At An Awards Show (by Claudia Koerner for BuzzFeed)

“Two of Corfman’s childhood friends say she told them at the time that she was seeing an older man, and one says Corfman identified the man as Moore. Wells says her daughter told her about the encounter more than a decade later, as Moore was becoming more prominent as a local judge. Aside from Corfman, three other women interviewed by The Washington Post in recent weeks say Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s, episodes they say they found flattering at the time, but troubling as they got older. None of the three women say that Moore forced them into any sort of relationship or sexual contact.” Woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32 (by Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites for The Washington Post)

“Thurman is seething, like we have all been seething, in our various states of breaking open or, as Thurman chooses, waiting. We are seething at how long we have been ignored, seething for the ones who were long ago punished for telling the truth, seething for being told all of our lives that we have no right to seethe. Thurman’s rage is palpable yet contained, conveying not just the tempestuous depths of #MeToo but a profound understanding of the ways that female anger is received and weaponized against women.” Brave Enough to Be Angry (by Lindy West for the New York Times)


“Giles Coren writes a column for Esquire about fatherhood. His most recent piece is titled: “I Don’t Care What My Son Becomes… As Long As He Isn’t Overweight.” I thought I couldn’t be shocked by fatphobia anymore but I was wrong.” Giles Coren: Garbage Human, Fatphobe and, Horrifyingly, Father (by Ragen Chastain for Dances with Fat)

Possible Genocide

“Countries must fully fund the UN appeal and close the funding gap that is leaving traumatized children without basic food, water, and shelter. Finally, member states of the United Nations must assess what diplomatic efforts can enable them to fulfill their responsibility to protect the Rohingya. We must not be bystanders to this genocide. We cannot allow people to be slaughtered and burnt out of their homes, while the world watches.” The Rohingya are facing genocide. We cannot be bystanders (by Salman Rushdie, Kiran Desai, Madhur Jaffrey, Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling, Riz Ahmed, Freida Pinto for The Guardian)

Life Choices

“Needless to say, some women in the United States and other countries have always refused both roles. Nonetheless, the idea that a woman is incomplete if she does not have at least one child has long been part of the social contract, with many a shaking head greeting those who make clear that they have other plans for their lives. “You’ll regret it later,” they hear. “Who will care for you when you grow old?”” Here’s a Fact: Some Women Do Regret Becoming Mothers (by Eleanor J. Bader for Rewire)




November 2017



Reset by Ellen Pao

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Five Stars

Best for: Men who don’t seem to get how hard it is for women and people of color at the highest levels of their field; women who need a little inspiration and some bad ass women to look up to.

In a nutshell: Woman of color venture capitalist is sabotaged by the old boys club in infuriating ways, fights back all the way to court, loses, but still comes out WAY ahead of those assholes.

Line that sticks with me: “I was appalled by their refusal to admit, despite their near-total homogeneity, that they had any problems with diversity.”

Why I chose it: My husband, who works in tech and is especially interested in inclusion, purchased this and recommended it to me after he finished it.

Review: I’m exhausted. Ladies, are you exhausted? Every day I open twitter and cringe as I scroll through my feed, wondering who the latest man is who did something ranging from depraved and disgusting (say, multiple allegations of sexual assault of a minor – sup Kevin Spacey) to depraved and disturbing (say, pulling out one’s penis and masturbating in front of non-consenting adults – sup Louis C.K.). In just the last 24 hours, I’ve spent time with three sets of friends, and every time at least part — if not most — of our discussion involved how we’re all feeling during this time. What this is bringing back up for people who’ve been harassed (e.g., all women). What this means for men trying to figure out how to have these conversations with their female friends. What the difference is between being a sexual assaulter, being a sexual harasser, and just being a misogynistic, racist asshole.

I say this as a preface to my review because while this book focuses primarily on that last category of mistreatment women face in the workplace, I couldn’t help but think about all of the different ways in which men use their power – whether implicitly or explicitly, to hold women down. There are moments of sexual harassment (a colleague lied to Ms. Pao and said he and his wife had separated, then retaliated against her when she found out about his lie and stopped dating him), but the real injustice comes from the millions of ways that the higher levels of industry — in this case, the tech world — perpetuate the idea that men do the work and women should be thought of primarily as assistants.

Ms. Pao’s resume is absurd. She has a bachelor’s in engineering from Princeton. She graduated from Harvard Law School and worked as an attorney. She then returned to Harvard Business School to earn her MBA. And she worked her way across Silicon Valley at start-ups until she was pursued by a venture capital (VC) firm called Kleiner Perkins. While serving as John Doerr’s technical chief of staff, she witnessed and experienced distressing episode after distressing episode. Junior men who produced less were promoted above more qualified women who had produced more. Men automatically assumed the women would take notes or fetch coffee. Men held all-dude retreats, keeping women out of the rooms where the important deals were being made.

So much in this book makes me want to throw things. It’s maddening and disgusting and disheartening. But the reality is, Ms. Pao was never in danger of being, say, left homeless or without an income. So it doesn’t have the urgency of, say, a book about the mistreatment of undocumented farm workers who may very well lose everything if they report abuse.

But at the same time, even though her lawsuit was a long shot, she chose to take it on because she knew she could afford to lose, and wanted to speak out for women who didn’t have the same option. There are a lot of fights we need to engage in, and one of them is making sure that people of color and women not only have a seat at the table, but are listened to and supported in a way that allows them to contribute meaningfully in all realms.

I know that there are some who read about books like this and think that even if people like Ms. Pao are successful, they’re really still only helping more rich people get rich, and not addressing the wealth disparities that allow VC folks to earn millions and millions of dollars while other people make the actual products and perform the labor. And I get that. But I also think about all of the creative work, all the careers, and the ways in which our society is losing out because women and people of color are kept from the rooms where the decisions are made. What amazing tech, what beautiful art, what insightful books have not been created because some straight rich white dudes kept people who don’t look like them down? It’s deeply sad, and our society is the poorer for it.



November 2017



Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

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Three Stars

Best for: People who really enjoy short stories that have more sex than your average book.

In a nutshell: Collection of short stories about many different interesting women.

Line that sticks with me: “In the complex calculus between men and women, Milly understands that fat is always ugly and that ugly and skinny makes a woman eminently more desirable than fat and any combination such as beautiful, charming, intelligent, or kind.” (p 163)

Why I chose it: I really enjoyed Roxane Gay’s nonfiction work and wanted to try her fiction.

Review: I ran very hot and cold with this collection. I suppose that might be the case with most short story collections. Some of the stories were intriguing and kept me reading regardless of the fact that I was walking in the rain at night (seriously – the middle 20 pages are all warped now). And some I just sort of skimmed to get he idea of because I just couldn’t get into them.

There are a LOT of stories. Some are just a couple of pages long; others are much more involved. I would imagine that you could find a few that you enjoy. But it’s just not my favorite, overall.



November 2017



Don’t Take the Last Donut by Judith Bowman

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Two Stars

Best for: People looking for a time capsule that explains lots of what’s wrong with business.

In a nutshell: Protocol expert offers some … traditional ideas about what is proper etiquette in the business world.

Line that sticks with me: “There is merit to the thought the more professional the woman, the longer her hemline.” The fuck?!

Why I chose it: Someone gave it to my husband (I think) and as someone who runs her own small etiquette blog (, I love reading up on what other people have to say.

Review: Do any of you read Ask a Manager? It’s a great website full of advice on workplace challenges. Just last week, there was a letter that discussed someone being fired for wearing a costume at work on Halloween, and then trick or treating in a meeting of high-level executives and clients. Pretty much all of the commenters on the site agreed that the trick-or-treating showed extremely poor judgment, but I was surprised at how many thought that just DRESSING UP ON HALLOWEEN showed extremely poor judgment. I get that I don’t work in finance, but my goodness I wish more people in business would pull the stick out of their ass.

That said, this book would probably be a perfect read for those who think that it’s a breach of professionalism for a woman to wear a suit in a color other than navy blue, black, or charcoal gray. But that’s not just it. It’s that every component of what Ms. Bowman considers appropriate protocol is focused on this weird manipulation and power game. I haven’t worked in the private sector in a dozen years (I’m a government gal), but holy shit. Picking a seat based on which has the most power? Offering my hand first for a handshake to show I’m dominant? Are we cavemen? The hell?

This is a two-star for me because there are some tips in there that can be helpful. But so much of it falls somewhere between eye-roll and throwing the book across the room. She judges a woman as unprofessional for not wearing make-up. She thinks the most important thing when introducing people is to make everyone’s status clear to everyone else. She repeatedly talks about control and power positions. In the sample statements she offers, she sounds like a robot.

Part of the book also suffers from being technologically dated. She seems to dismiss websites as fine to have but not necessary; she thinks what will matter most is the quality of paper stock promotional papers are printed on. She also has a whole chapter on gender but focuses on what women should be doing to fit in. It feels like it was written in 1981.

I love etiquette. I think it matters that we treat other people respectfully. But this book isn’t about any version of respect that I buy into – it’s about manipulating situations to get power and about conforming to very narrow ideas of what ‘professional’ means. Not cool.



November 2017



We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

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Four Stars

Best for: Those interested in reading a range of stories about an interesting, talented woman.

In a nutshell: Actress Gabrielle Union shares stories from her life.

Line that sticks with me: “There’s an epidemic now of people “being real” when they’re being anything but. It’s the person who loves being “Someone” who notices every little thing wrong with what you say, do, wear, or think, and has to point it out.” (p 178)

Why I chose it: I’ve been meaning to read it, and needed something to get another item from Amazon delivered same day.

Review: This was a read-it-all-at-once kind of book, and I enjoyed it a lot. Ms. Union covers so many topics in her life, from growing up in a predominantly white community and school, to some of her on-set experiences, to her rape at a Payless Shoe store when she was 19. Some chapters are light, and some, obviously, are quite serious.

Memoirs are one of my favorite genres, and I’ve read a bunch over the years. Some hover at the surface. Some only tell quirky or fun stories because that fits their image (or, possibly, because their life has only ever been fun and quirky). But in this one, Ms. Union dives deep, and is able to move from story to story seamlessly. She reveals not just the things you might expect to read about (Hollywood parties), but things that you might not, like what it’s like to be hounded about whether or not you’re pregnant when you’ve experience eight unsuccessful IVF cycles.

Ms. Union talks about what it’s like to raise black boys in a society that kills them for just existing. About what it’s like to be one of the only black girls at a wealthy white high school. And she talks about the importance of friends and of taking care of yourself. It’s a book that I’ll be thinking about for awhile.



November 2017



What I’m Reading – November 5, 2017

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Horrific Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Action

“As White House chief of staff, Kelly recently got into a public fight with Frederica Wilson, a black congresswoman from Florida, who criticized Trump for the phone call he made to Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed earlier this month in Niger. Kelly called Wilson an “empty barrel” and falsely accused her of publicly grandstanding at the dedication of a new FBI headquarters in 2015. On Monday, he said he would never apologize for his comments.” America is being run by racists (by Michael A. Cohen for The Boston Globe)

“Both Manafort and Rick Gates, a former Manafort business associate and Trump campaign aide who was also indicted on Monday, didn’t have to see images of themselves in handcuffs plastered all over the media; rather, the two were able to portray themselves as calm, cool and collected. This is a privilege awarded to white collar criminals who allegedly commit serious crimes, yet are spared from the embarrassment other criminals face. The former Trump campaign officials were likely given that treatment by special counsel Robert Mueller, who issued the indictments against both Manafort and Gates.” Paul Manafort and the privilege of being a white collar defendant (by Rebekah Entralgo for Think Progress)

“The Trump administration’s proposed budget is also a reversal of America’s decades-long commitment to women’s rights as a key component of foreign policy—and a quiet threat to the international health and safety of girls. Unlike the reinstatement of the “global gag rule,” a partisan move that prevents overseas organizations that discuss abortion from receiving American aid, Trump’s budget guts women’s empowerment and health programs that have received acclaim from both sides of the aisle. Oxfam America found that “programs with an exclusive focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment are cut by 61 percent in the Trump Budget—much higher than the overall 32 percent cut to international affairs.”” Trump’s Global Assault on Women, Peace, and Global Prosperity (by Hilary Matfess for Bitch)


“Forced intimacy is a cornerstone of how ableism functions in an able bodied supremacist world. Disabled people are expected to “strip down” and “show all our cards” metaphorically in order to get the basic access we need in order to survive.
We are the ones who must be vulnerable — whether we want to or not — about ourselves, our body-minds and our abilities. Forced intimacy was one of the many ways I learned that consent does not exist for my disabled Asian girl body-mind.” This Is Why Consent Doesn’t Exist For Disabled Folks (by Mia Mingus for The Establishment)

“Firstly, calling someone “differently abled” is euphemistic. It is borderline cutesy and it diminishes the actual experiences of disabled people. It suggests that the term disability should be uncomfortable and therefore should be avoided. What this does is further increase stigma against disabled people by discouraging discussion about disability and what it means to be disabled.” How “Differently Abled” Marginalizes Disabled People (by Lydia X.Z. Brown)

Emergency Response

“Those directors say they are unclear on how to classify hurricane-related deaths and whether they should send bodies to the central institute certifying official hurricane deaths, called the Institute of Forensic Sciences. The result is likely suppressing the official death count, which has become a major indicator of how the federal government’s relief efforts are going because President Trump himself made it one.” Puerto Rico Is Burning Its Dead, And We May Never Know How Many People The Hurricane Really Killed (by Nidhi Prakash for Buzzfeed)

Sexual Harassment and Assault in Entertainment

“Do you mind if I ask you what the hell is going on? I’m sure you’re busy, but this won’t take long. It’s just, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandals, I saw something alarming, to put it mildly. Did you really condemn serial abuser Harvey Weinstein while on a press tour for a movie you made with a known child molester? Not a cute look for you.” An Open Letter To Kate Winslet (by Franki Gambino for Bust)

“One of Masterson’s accusers filed a police report in 2004 saying that she was raped in 2003, but the case didn’t move forward after the Church of Scientology intervened and submitted over 50 affidavits from Scientologists who denied the woman’s account. According to a report filed with the Los Angeles Police Department, the woman said Masterson raped her while she was “passed out,” and when she awoke and realized he was raping her, she struggled with him until he choked her and she passed out again.” Despite ‘Overwhelming’ Evidence Against Actor Danny Masterson, Rape Case Has Stalled (by Yashar Ali for Huffpost)

“The former production assistant, whose account has never previously been disclosed, told CNN that Spacey sexually assaulted him during one of the show’s early seasons. All eight people, each of whom spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity for fear of professional repercussions for speaking out, described Spacey’s behavior as “predatory,” saying it included nonconsensual touching and crude comments and targeted production staffers who were typically young and male.” ‘House of Cards’ employees allege sexual harassment, assault by Kevin Spacey (by Chloe Melas for CNN)

“Since that incident in the early 1990s, Henstridge has found success as an actress — starring in the films “Species” and “The Whole Nine Yards.” But she said she has carried the memory of the run-in with her, and watched from afar as Ratner became one of Hollywood’s most powerful players — directing, producing or financing dozens of today’s biggest box-office hits, including “Rush Hour,” “X-Men: The Last Stand,” “The Revenant” and “Horrible Bosses.”” Six women accuse filmmaker Brett Ratner of sexual harassment or misconduct (by Amy Kaufman and Daniel Miller for LA Times)

“All told, more than fifty women have now levelled accusations against Weinstein, in accounts published by the New York Times, The New Yorker, and other outlets. But many other victims have continued to be reluctant to talk to me about their experiences, declining interview requests or initially agreeing to talk and then wavering. As more women have come forward, the costs of doing so have certainly shifted. But many still say that they face overwhelming pressures to stay silent, ranging from the spectre of career damage to fears about the life-altering consequences of being marked as sexual-assault victims.” Weighing the Costs of Speaking Out About Harvey Weinstein (by Ronan Farrow for The New Yorker)

“The night would begin, according to Jones, a two-year relationship with Kelly rife with alleged physical abuse, sexual coercion, emotional manipulation and a slew of draconian rules that dictated nearly every aspect of her life. Those rules, including what and when to eat, how to dress, when to go to the bathroom and how to perform for the singer sexually, were first described in writer Jim DeRogatis’ bombshell BuzzFeed feature on Kelly last July.” Surviving R. Kelly (by Jason Newman for Rolling Stone)

“But allegations against Richardson go back many years. In 2014, model Emma Appleton confirmed to BuzzFeed News that tweets she had sent alleging that Richardson asked for sex in exchange for work were genuine. A Richardson spokesperson at the time dismissed Appleton’s allegations as not accurate. Later that year, a profile of the photographer was published by New York magazine called “The Perverse Case of Terry Richardson”, which was seen as a response to allegations stretching nearly a decade that he’d coerced models into performing sexual acts on photoshoots.” Celebrity Photographer Terry Richardson Has Been Banned From Top Magazines After Years Of Allegations From Models (by Mark Di Stefano for Buzzfeed)

Reproductive Health

“The legislation would create 50-meter bubbles outside abortion clinics and prohibit protesters from targeting clinic workers or their homes. The Legislative Assembly of Ontario passed the bill with a near unanimous vote, with only one lawmaker voting against the measure. It became law the same day. Following the bill’s passage, Minister of the Status of Women Indira Naidoo-Harris said in a statement, “Women in Ontario will finally have safe and equal access to abortion services, free from harassment, bullying or violence. This act demonstrates our government’s commitment to the security, equality and empowerment of women in Ontario.”” Canada swiftly passes bill to protect abortion seekers, eager to set itself apart from the U.S. (by Elham Khatami for Think Progress)

““Justice prevailed today for Jane Doe. But make no mistake about it, the Administration’s efforts to interfere in women’s decisions won’t stop with Jane,” said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “With this case we have seen the astounding lengths this administration will go to block women from abortion care. We will not stop fighting until we have justice for every woman like Jane.”” After a Month of Obstruction by the Trump Administration, Jane Doe Gets Her Abortion (ACLU)


“Ideally, the investigations will not only uncover violations in industries where workers may be too afraid to report them but will also deter companies from violating the law in the first place, OLS Director Dylan Orr said in a statement today. “Our goal is to bridge the gap in industries and workplaces where there is a disproportionate number of vulnerable low-wage workers, where workers are least likely to complain, and where we are most likely to have a systemic impact,” Orr said.” Seattle Will Begin Proactively Investigating Industries that May Be Ripping Off Workers (by Heidi Groover for The Stranger)


“Fowler has a Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO through his job, but he said he doesn’t know how much he will have to pay out of his own pocket for the care he is receiving. In an era of higher deductibles and limited choice of in-network doctors, however, he knows he could face significant medical bills. His insurance card says his individual deductible is $5,000 and his coinsurance 20%. He said he didn’t know how much his health plan would cover for out-of-state care.” Las Vegas shooting victims struggle to afford mounting medical costs (by Anna Gorman for CNN)

“Last week, state Sen. Donald White (R) attached an amendment to the CHIP renewal legislation that would prohibit the program from covering the costs of any services related to a gender transition. The language of the amendment is vague enough that it could impact a broad swath of services that are medically necessary for the well-being of a transgender child.” Pennsylvania lawmaker doesn’t think transgender kids deserve health care (by Zack Ford for Think Progress)

Sports and Racism

“The Houston Texans owner and billionaire Trump bundler remarked that catering to the concerns of players about racism in the criminal-justice system was like “letting inmates run the prison.” Yes, he really said that. On an issue that in NFL circles was about as sensitive as defusing a bomb with tweezers, McNair brought an axe, and the situation immediately detonated.” The Houston Texans Showed the Power and Dignity of Black Labor (by Dave Zirin for The Nation)

Cats Are Awesome

“The African subspecies of wildcat (named Felis silvestris lybica) found its niche in the region now known as Turkey during the dawn of agriculture. As humans started storing grain some 10,000 years ago, rodents decided to move in with us. That attracted wildcats, and then some smart person said to herself: “Hmm, these things are pretty good at killing rats, maybe we should keep them around.” DNA from Egyptian mummies and Viking graves reveals how cats conquered the world (by Sarah Fecht for Popular Science)



November 2017



Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

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Five Stars

Best for: Someone interested in reading about the people fighting injustice, and those they are fighting for (both the innocent and the not so innocent).

In a nutshell: Attorney Bryan Stevenson tells stories of his life fighting against a system set up to ignore the humanity in those who have been accused of – and sometimes committed – crimes.

Line that sticks with me: (It’s a long one)
“We emphasized the incongruity of not allowing children to smoke, drink, vote, drive without restrictions, give blood, buy guns, and a range of other behaviors because of their well-recognized lack of maturity and judgment while simultaneously treating some of the most at-risk, neglected, and impaired children exactly the same as full-grown adults in the criminal justice system.”

Why I chose it: My boss chose it as part of our equity and social justice book club.

Review: This is a fantastic book. It is easy to read despite the challenging content, and opened my eyes up to some of the bigger issues in criminal justice that I haven’t been focused on. Yes, there is a heavy emphasis on the injustice of capital punishment (a punishment I’ve been opposed to my whole life), but there’s also a focus on the injustice of shitty counsel, of trying and sentencing children as adults.

And it’s important to read stories that aren’t just about innocent men like Walter McMillian (whose story is followed throughout), but stories about people who have done things that they shouldn’t have, but who do not deserve to be thrown away or forgotten. Our justice system is deeply flawed. It’s flawed in many ways that are more by design than by accident.

This book will make you angry. It will make you sad. It will upset you, and at times maybe make you feel like the problems with the U.S. justice system are insurmountable. But then it will bring you back around, and realize that there are more Bryan Stevensons out there, fighting the good fights.



October 2017



What I’m Reading – October 22, 2017

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Horrific Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Actions

“Unfortunately, Gov. Brown seems to not see it that way. Instead of looking at Title IX—and the right to an education free of violence—as an issue about civil rights and equity, he frames the issue as a struggle between warring factions. Instead of rapists vs. survivors, the true struggle is a matter of right (properly addressing campus violence to protect students’ civil rights) vs. wrong.” Echoing DeVos rhetoric, CA Gov. Brown vetoes turning campus sexual violence guidelines into law (by Wagatwe Wanjuki for Daily Kos)

“The law prohibits public workers — including doctors, teachers and daycare employees — as well as those receiving a service from the government from covering their faces. It was extended to municipal services, including public transit, in an amendment made in August.” ‘I should see your face, and you should see mine,’ Quebec premier says of new religious ‘neutrality’ law (by Benjamin Shingler for CBC)

“Advocates for students with disabilities were still reviewing the changes to determine their impact. Lindsay E. Jones, the chief policy and advocacy officer for the National Center for Learning Disabilities, said she was particularly concerned to see guidance documents outlining how schools could use federal money for special education removed.“All of these are meant to be very useful … in helping schools and parents understand and fill in with concrete examples the way the law is meant to work when it’s being implemented in various situations,” said Jones.” DeVos rescinds 72 guidance documents outlining rights for disabled students (by Moriah Ballingit for Washinton Post)

“A state lawmaker in Georgia who is married to former U.S. health and human services secretary Tom Price has drawn criticism for suggesting that people with HIV be quarantined to stop the spread of the virus, recalling language used in an earlier era when AIDS was little understood. “What are we legally able to do? I don’t want to say the quarantine word, but I guess I just said it,” State Rep. Betty Price (R) asked Pascale Wortley, the head of the Georgia Department of Public Health’s HIV Epidemiology Section, at a study committee meeting Tuesday on barriers to adequate health care, as seen in a video of the meeting.” Georgia lawmaker, wife of ex-HHS secretary Tom Price, asks about quarantining HIV patients (by Mary Hui for Washington Post)

Sexual Assault and Harassment

“It’s clear because the cultural malfunction that allows Allen to feel comfortable issuing that statement is the same malfunction that gave us Allen and Weinstein in the first place: the smothering, delusional, galactic entitlement of powerful men. When Allen and other men warn of “a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere” what they mean is an atmosphere in which they’re expected to comport themselves with the care, consideration and fear of consequences that the rest of us call basic professionalism and respect for shared humanity. On some level, to some men — and you can call me a hysteric but I am done mincing words on this — there is no injustice quite so unnaturally, viscerally grotesque as a white man being fired.” Yes, This Is a Witch Hunt. I’m a Witch and I’m Hunting You. (by Lindy West for New York Times)

“This has to stop. Instead of saying, “You cannot smoke in here,” we are telling every woman, “there is going to be smoke in the restaurant, so encase yourself entirely in protective sheeting.” Instead of saying, “Do not go around lighting people on fire,” we are telling women, “Don’t be flammable.” But you can’t be human and not be flammable. This is not like walking down a dark alley and getting mugged, because for that to be true you have to have the option of not walking down the dark alley.” Men of the world: You are not the weather (by Alexandra Petri for Washington Post)

“Given such a valiant declaration about this being the end of an era and all, it may come as a surprise to review who is in the academy. Members still in good standing include Roman Polanski, who has admitted to raping then-13-year-old Samantha Gailey in 1977 and has since been accused by three other women of rape; Casey Affleck, who was sued by two female colleagues for sexual harassment in 2010; and Bill Cosby, who has been accused by nearly 60 women of sexual misconduct and, this coming spring, will be retried on criminal charges that he drugged and sexually assaulted Andrea Constand in 2005. (The first trial, in June, ended with a hung jury.)” Why are Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, and Casey Affleck still in the academy? (by Jessica M. Goldstein for Think Progress)

“While my own Harvey story may be different, I have had plenty of Harveys of my own over the years, enough to feel a sickening shock of recognition. When I was thirteen, a fifty-year-old crew member told me that he would teach me to dance, and then proceeded to push against me with an erection. When I was fourteen, a married film director stuck his tongue in my mouth on set. At a time when I was trying to figure out what it meant to become a sexually viable young woman, at every turn some older guy tried to help speed up the process. And all this went on despite my having very protective parents who did their best to shield me. I shudder to think of what would have happened had I not had them.” All the Other Harvey Weinsteins (by Molly Ringwald for the New Yorker)

“What is even more naive is pretending that looking gawky will protect you from being vulnerable. Any girl who gets curves a little too young and has clothes that make her feel comfortable is automatically shamed for it. But being a waif, you get made fun off for not having breasts. Both are at risk because at the end of the day it isn’t about beauty. It’s about power—power over people: beautiful, ugly, fat, or thin, adults or children. If you’re aware of that, the you should never feel the need to bring women’s looks or clothing into the conversation.” Mayim Bialik’s Tone-Deaf Op-Ed Is a Reminder That Calling Yourself a Feminist Isn’t Enough (by Princess Weeks for the Mary Sue)

Corporate Malfeasance

“Soon after he started working on the assembly line at Tesla, Jorge Ferro said he was taunted for being gay and threatened with violence. “Watch your back,” a supervisor warned after mocking his clothes for being “gay tight”, Ferro said. The harassment didn’t stop after he reported it to a manager, and days after he made a second complaint, Ferro was punished, according to his account. An HR representative took away Ferro’s badge, claiming that he had an “injury” that prevented him from working and saying there’s “no place for handicapped people at Tesla”, he alleged.” Tesla workers claim anti-LGBT threats, taunts, and racial abuse in lawsuits (by Sam Levin for The Guardian)

“A rigorous recent study from the Economic Policy Institute evaluated the impact of “right to work” by controlling for the effects of worker characteristics and state labor market conditions on wages. In “right to work” states, the median full-time worker (whether or not they are in a union) earns $1,500 a year less than their counterparts in states that allows unions to collect fees from every worker they represent.4 Workers in “right to work” states are also significantly less likely to have employer-sponsored health insurance or a pension through their job.” How So-Called ‘Right-to-Work’ Laws Aim to Silence Working People (by Amy Traub for Demos)

White Supremacists

“The confrontation unfolded at around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, when the occupants of a silver Jeep stopped to argue with a group of protesters assembled near a bus stop, Gainesville police said. The men in the car displayed Nazi salutes and shouted chants about Hitler, and one of them, identified as Tyler Tenbrink, 28, pulled out a gun. The other two assailants, brothers William Fears, 30, and Colton Fears, 28, encouraged Tenbrink to shoot at the protesters. Tenbrink fired one shot, which hit a nearby building. Then the Jeep sped off, police said.” White Nationalist Richard Spencer’s Supporters Charged in Post-Speech Shooting (by Jon Schuppe for NBC)

White FeminismTM

“Of course, this was expected. White women historically and embarrassingly continue to drop the intersectional ball. But even with that being the case, there are some other reasons that the fact that white feminism is rearing its basic-ass head this time around shouldn’t be all that surprising.” #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, Part 2: On Rose McGowan and the Continued Failure of White Feminism (by Clarkisha Kent for The Root)

Fighting Back

“The meeting came after weeks of pearl clutching by conservatives, including Donald Trump who spent more time tweeting about NFL players than he did about the devastation in Puerto Rico or the ongoing wildfires in California. Three weeks ago, Trump escalated his war of words by calling on NFL owners to fire or otherwise punish players who don’t stand for the anthem, but on Tuesday, the owners ignored Trump and chose to allow players to continue to kneel if they so choose. The league also agreed to support some of the causes for which the protesting players have been advocating, including reformation of the criminal justice system, according to the New York Times.” NFL owners rebuke Trump, elect not to punish players who protest during the anthem (by Adam Peck for Think Progress)

“So, if our children are already seeing colour, and it’s natural for them to do so, how do we stop this recognition of difference from turning into racial prejudice? It turns out, one of the most effective ways to fight implicit racial bias in young children is to not only allow them to see colour, but to also deliberately show them more of it.” No, kids are not “colourblind” (For Ijeoma Oluo for Today’s Parent)

Disaster Response

“There is help available for the 18-year-old — right offshore. A floating state-of-the-art hospital, the USNS Comfort, could provide critical care, his doctor says. But nobody knows how to get him there. And Sammy is not alone. Clinics that are overwhelmed with patients and staff say they don’t even know how to begin sending cases to the ship. Doctors say there’s a rumor that patients have to be admitted to a central hospital before they can be transferred to the Comfort. Only 33 of the 250 beds on the Comfort — 13% — are being used, nearly two weeks after the ship arrived.” There’s a hospital ship waiting for sick Puerto Ricans — but no one knows how to get on it (by Leyla Santiago and Mallory Simon for CNN)

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