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Saturday

21

July 2018

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COMMENTS

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for: Anyone who likes fairly humorous personal memoirs, especially of the healthcare variety. Probably not best for those currently pregnant, unless they want to read a bunch of vignettes about the various things that might go wrong during labor and delivery (though to be fair, only one such vignette ends poorly, and that’s near the end of the book).

In a nutshell: Former junior doctor Adam Kay unearthed his diaries from the few years he was a doctor working in the NHS.

Worth quoting:
“It’s a surreal feeling being this tired — almost like being in a computer game. You’re there but you’re not there. I suspect my reaction times are currently the same as when I’m about three pints deep. And yet if I turned up at work pissed they’d probably be unimpressed — it’s clearly important my senses are only dulled through exhaustion.”
“ ‘It’s funny — you don’t think of doctors getting ill.’ It’ true, and I think it’s part of something bigger: patients don’t actually think of doctors as being human. It’s why they’re so quick to complain if we make a mistake or if we get cross.”

Why I chose it:
Much like “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine,” there are only so many times I can see a book that looks mildly interesting prominently displayed before I say “FINE. I’LL READ IT. BACK OFF.” Plus, it’s a memoir (check), it’s funny (check), and it involves health (check).

Review:
Adam Kay used to be a doctor. Now he’s a TV writer (UK shows primarily, as far as I can tell) and a talented author, given his debut. This book followed Kay from his first post-medical-school posting through to the day he decides to leave his career. The “Heartbreaking” pull quote on the front cover seems mostly to refer to the incident that leads Kay to quit; the rest of the book is frankly pretty hilarious.

For those not living in the UK, some of the terms can be a bit challenging to get used to, but Kay explains them quickly and easily. As someone who has spent all but a year and a half of her life in the US, I was always confused by the term “junior doctor.” And I think that kept me away from this book for a bit (did I really want to read a bunch of stories about Meredith first year on Grey’s Anatomy? Watching it on TV is one thing, but first years seem to make loads of mistakes, so it seems like it’ll be kind of dark…), but apparently literally everyone except “consultants” are called junior doctors here (UK natives, please correct me if I’m wrong). Consultants are simply the ones who have been around longest and worked their way up the ladder. So a junior doctor could be someone who has been a doctor for many years.

Kay and his editors do a great job of presenting the information. While there are some running themes — namely that free healthcare is amazing and the NHS is fantastic but damn it it needs more support for the providers — and a glimpse or two into Kay’s personal life — his friend Ray, his partner H, and another friend for whom he provides literally life-saving phone calls — the book is split into chapters based on his postings and jobs. It’s chronological, with each section starting with a little overview of things to come, and then a bunch of diary entries that range from a paragraph to a couple pages.

Kay includes footnotes often, which took a few pages to get used to but which I ultimately appreciated greatly. As someone who watches a lot of medical TV (yes, I do still watch Grey’s Anatomy and yes, I still enjoy it), and who has many friends who have given birth, there are terms I’ve heard and kind of understood but didn’t totally get, and many of those are explained here. Kay also has a wicked sense of humor, which caused many a out loud chuckle from me.

The only areas where I took some issue with the writing were his negative comments about Jehovah’s Witnesses (I know, the ‘no blood’ thing must both doctors a great deal, but maybe dial it down a notch) and his seeming annoyance at making accommodations for obese people. Both of those things only came up once, and I didn’t get he sense that they came from places of hate, but they did take me out of the story for a bit.

Wednesday

18

July 2018

0

COMMENTS

Not That Bad by Roxane Gay

Written by , Posted in Feminism, Reviews

Four Stars

Content Note: This book’s subtitle is literally “Dispatches from Rape Culture.”

Best for: Those looking for some reassurance and reminders that yes, it really is that bad.

In a nutshell: Editor Roxane Gay brings together essays from 30 people (mostly women), all of which address some part of rape culture.

Worth quoting:
“The part I wanted them to understand is that these equations can implode, constricting your whole life, until one day you’re sitting in a locked steel box breathing through an airhole with a straw and wondering, Now? Now am I safe?”
“I wonder if, when it finally stops for good, if it will be too late to relax, if the muscle memory of the harassment will keep me tense on the sidewalk forever.”
“Then they will revise backward. They will take every opinion they’ve ever heard from you, every personality train, every action, and recast them in light of what you told them. This will be particularly true of your sexual behavior and your appearance.”

Why I chose it:
Roxane Gay.

Review:
I am a writer. I mean, I don’t get paid to write, but I do write. A lot. And I have this essay, still sitting in the ‘ready to pitch’ folder in Scrivener, simply called “Arm Grab,” about the time a random dude grabbed and squeezed my arm and then ran off, and what multiple encounters like that do a person over time. And before reading this book, I probably would have left it in the folder forever because it is just one in a long line of small incidents that I would have described as “not that bad.”

This is a book that can be hard to read. It isn’t 30 essays about rape, though — it’s 30 essays about the various ways that rape culture affects women and men. About street harassment, and child abuse, and date rape. Individual stories that are connected by the ways we don’t believe women, or treat them as broken, or at fault, or as liars. The ways we’re taught to be grateful that our experiences don’t matter, don’t affect the ways we navigate this world.

The essay that resonated the most with me was “Getting Home,” where author Nicole Boyce talks about how an experience led to her not feeling comfortable walking alone after dark. Like ever. And so much of what she wrote lives in my head. The fear of the sound behind me when I leave the tube station. The keys sticking out through our fingers. My confusion and then sadness when my husband and I go for a walk late in the evening and I don’t want to walk through the park because I wouldn’t do it alone, and I remember that he navigates the world without really having to make those calculations.

I’d recommend this to everyone who feels that they’re in a place where they could read it. It’s not light reading, but it wasn’t nearly as challenging a read as I thought it would be.

 

Sunday

15

July 2018

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – 15 July 2018

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Trump Administration’s Horrible Treatment of Immigrants

“In a press release Sunday, state Senate Assistant Minority Leader Steve Farley stated that he and several other state and local officials plan to hold a press conference Monday in front of the building leased by MVM. Farley said the officials will call for closure of the “illegally-operating migrant detention facility” as well as “the implementation of more humane and just immigration policies from the Trump and Ducey Administrations.”” After Reveal investigation, officials call for closure of Phoenix child detention facility (by Aura Bogado and Ziva Branstetter for Reveal)

Ridiculous Workplace Rules

But when she was taking part in a swimming test that was part of the exam, an examiner saw the tattoo on her foot and told her she could not continue because it could be visible when worn with a skirt. Ms Martín understood that the rules no longer obliged women to wear skirts and, given that that the tattoo was not visible when she wore trousers, she argued that it was within the regulations. However, she says the examiner insisted that she could be ordered to wear a skirt and refused to change his mind. “I felt terrible, at first I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “The reasons he was giving me seemed so absurd. I left utterly distraught, I was crying.”” Tattoo taboo: Spanish woman fights rejection by army (by Guy Hedgecoe for BBC)

Reproductive Rights

“Some of these articles have relied on Kavanaugh’s statements that he will “respect precedent” as an assurance that he wouldn’t, at the first opportunity, vote to upend Roe v. Wade. But Kavanaugh doesn’t respect Roe as a precedent. All we have to do is take him at his word. As law professor David Cohen pointed out, as recently as September Kavanaugh was publicly praising former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s dissenting opinion in Roe. And he didn’t just do so a little. He praised the dissent a lot.” There Is No Liberal Case for Brett Kavanaugh (by Jessica Mason Pieklo for Rewire)

Racism

“Because we can’t — we cannot — we’re constantly being told — I’m told every day I’m on air that I’m racist because I call out racism. That is maddening to me. And I’m crying about it because it’s crazy. And I wish that somebody who is a colleague of mine like Alice could at least acknowledge that fact. That is so frustrating. We’re supposed to be talking about a 12-year-old boy who was just trying to deliver newspapers, and the police are called him in Ohio where Tamir Rice was killed in the same age. I want to be acknowledged and see that this is not OK for our children. This is not OK for the future direction of this country. So, I want to say, I commend you for saying what you said. It means the world to me.” Angela Rye Breaks Down During CNN Panel: ‘I’m Told Every Day I’m On Air That I’m Racist’ (by Ashleigh Atwell for Blavity)

“Allison Scott, chief of research at the Kapor Center, told USA Today that diversity efforts in silicon valley are never truly intersectional. “Women of color, who simultaneously experience two marginalized identities within the tech ecosystem, face unique barriers and obstacles that are not well understood or acknowledged,” Scott said. “Without a specific focus on strategies to recruit, hire and retain women of color, progress will remain stalled.”” Facebook Still Isn’t Hiring Enough Black People, Changes To How They Evaluate Talent May Be The Answer (by Ricky Riley for Blavity)

Sports

“Palmer, a retired basketball referee, broke the NBA’s gender barrier in 1997 when she and Dee Kanter were hired. Palmer was the first woman to officiate an NBA game ― on Oct. 31, 1997, between the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks. She was also the first woman to ref an NBA playoff game ― between the Indiana Pacers and the New Jersey Nets on April 25, 2006.” Two Women Refereed An NBA Game Together For The First Time Ever (by Alanna Vagianos for Huff Post)

Mental Health

“But Andy’s research shows that while gaming does cause emotional changes in players, these are all short-lived – a spike in happiness if you win or rage quitting (that’s stopping playing a game in anger, in case you didn’t know). The industry often defends itself against accusations it’s harmful by pointing to player testimonies that games helped them through difficult periods, or allowed them to build strong communities of friends. But “the evidence for long-term benefits is just as sketchy as the evidence which says there are problems,” Andy says. The World Health Organisation has classified “gaming disorder” as a mental health condition where an individual prioritises games over “other life activities” for more than 12 months with negative consequences.” Video games and mental health: ‘Nobody’s properly talking’ (by Alysia Judge for BBC)

Something Good

“Most importantly, the Wild Boars themselves were instrumental to their own rescue. Every boy was brave in the face of mind-boggling adversity, in conditions that strike fear in professional divers. According to the New York Times, one boy, an undocumented immigrant from Myanmar, spoke English (and four other languages) and served as the crucial interpreter with the international diver team; the young coach, who had been raised as an orphan in a monastery, taught the children meditation to help relieve stress and get them through their hunger. The local doctor in charge of their recovery reported that their mental health was remarkably stable, crediting the coach’s management of the situation–teaching them skills to cope–and the way they took care of one another as likely factors.” What I Learned About Resilience From the Thai Soccer Team (by Meredith Li-Vollmer for Public Health Insider)

Saturday

14

July 2018

0

COMMENTS

“Bring the Noise”

Written by , Posted in Adventures, Politics

Since moving to London in January I’ve felt a bit disconnected from the US political nightmare that is President* Trump. I do listen to podcasts of the three MSNBC evening shows (Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell) daily to at least stay informed, but especially since I’ve left Facebook and Twitter, it hasn’t been as in my face as it was during the first year of his presidency*. Plus, I’m living in a country that has its own absurd nightmare unfolding (*cough* BREXIT *cough*), so sometimes its too much to process all of it and I end up watching reruns of Game of Thrones just to experience some lighter fare.

It’s also been a bit challenging to get acclimated to our new community. I want to support folks fighting against oppression, but I also just got here six months ago and so am not entirely sure of all the different issues, nor do I know who the trustworthy players are. I’m working at learning, but it’s definitely taking time.

That said, a few months ago (while still a member of Facebook), I started following the Women’s March London. When it was announced that President* Trump would be visiting the UK sometime in July, they scheduled a “Bring the Noise” protest. Once the date was finalized, I responded to a call for volunteers and ultimately agreed to serve as a march steward.

At a little after 10 on 13 July, we gathered near the BBC headquarters near Oxford Circus and received instructions, along with some gorgeous high-visibility vests and wristbands identifying us as part of this march. That ultimately proved handy as many, many individuals had high-visibility vests and shirts on that day. Myself and a handful of other women volunteered to serve at the back of the march, basically ensuring the group stayed together and allowing for the street sweeper (as well as an ambulance and a police vehicle) to follow behind.

In anticipation of crowds not being sure where to go, we were dispatched to tube station exits nearby. We did a lot of shouting at folks with placards to direct them to our meeting point. However, there was a second march scheduled for around 2 PM the same day (and following a similar route), so we did get some confused folks.

In fact, the sole negative interaction I had came from someone who was looking for the steward meeting point for that parade. He asked where the stewards were meeting, and I asked “for which march?” I think that must have deeply offended him, as his next statement was “the main one.” I sort of tilted my head at him because I was genuinely confused. Again, I’m no longer really on any social media, so while I knew there was another march, I had no real idea who was involved (other than the Socialist party, as they had signs already out at 9 AM), and I certainly didn’t know if that one was meant to be the larger, or if the Women’s March was. “Which is the main one?” He got quite huffy and said “No disrespect, but you know what I mean.” Unfortunately for both of us, I really didn’t, so I said so, to which he responded “I’m just trying to do a good thing. God!” And then stormed off.

People can be so odd.

The start of the march itself was lovely. There were opera singers who sang a couple of songs and then led the crowd in “We Are Family” before the march stepped off. The back of the march finally crossed the start line about 20 minutes later, and ultimately spent about 90 minutes marching through central London to Parliament Square. It was loud. It was fun (at times). It was depressing to think about how this was so necessary. There were some fantastic signs, some great costumes and make-up, and a lot of people with children. It was inspiring, and also at times frustrating.

Because of the other march, some folks saw us marching and thought they’d missed it, so they jumped in with us. Which, the more the merrier! But we always made sure to let them know what this march was, and where the other was starting just in case it wasn’t where they wanted to be.

It was also a warm (though not oppressively hot) day, and some folks were a bit slow, so we’d have to encourage them to speed it up a little because there were rather large cars following quite close behind us and they were encouraging us to keep the gaps as small as possible. There were community liaison officers from the police department there as well, and they were nice and helpful, but I’ve got some feelings about policing in general, so I wasn’t entirely sure how to interact with the men. It is a bit of a different dynamic here as they don’t carry guns so there isn’t the immediate fear that a wrong word will lead to a POC getting shot, but still.

Once we passed Trafalgar Square it got a bit harder to contain folks as the streets there are wide and the road was closed the entire way. By the time we reached Parliament Square (and the Trump Baby Balloon – which you can sort of see in this blurred shot), I was completely drained.

I didn’t stay for the rally, but walked across the bridge to catch a bus home and finally eat something other than grapes (my planning was poor – though I did have plenty of water!).

I feel that what I did was necessary and helped make the march experience a better one for people, but I’m not sure it’s something I’d have the energy to do on a regular basis. At the same time, I know these protests are important, and while there are folks taking the lead to organize them, they also need volunteers to do some of the grunt. I think a good ratio might be 1:3 or 1:4 — for every three or four similar events I go to, I need to volunteer to help with one. If we all did that, we certainly would have plenty of folks helping out.

In the end, these protests were meant to show President* Trump that he is not welcome in the UK, and that people here do not support him. I doubt he got that message. He’s not very intelligent, and he’s willfully ignorant on many topics. I can’t imagine his aids allowing him to see coverage of the protests, and I doubt Fox News framed them as anything other than gatherings of wounded snowflake liberals.

That’s not okay, but it’s reality these days, so instead I think we should focus on the fact that we all took some time on a Friday to show each other and the rest of the world that we do not support President* Trump — not his policies, not his racism, not his misogyny.

And that’s something.

Some coverage of the event:

Women lead day of angry London protests against Donald Trump

Thousands of women storm London in #BringTheNoise march against Donald Trump

*Always an asterisk, because he didn’t actually win the popular vote, and at least some of the votes he did earn were likely influence by a foreign government

 

 

Sunday

8

July 2018

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – 8 July, 2018

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

England is in the semi-finals of the Men’s World Cup. In honor of that, today’s first article is one highlighting the kindness of their manager.

“Southgate’s saved penalty gave Germany the chance to go through to the final if they scored their next penalty, which they did. The England manager at the time, Terry Venables, hugged a devastated Southgate. Now, images of Southgate being consoled 22 years ago and being the consoler after Tuesday’s game have emerged online, prompting praise for Southgate’s compassion towards Colombia’s Mateus Uribe, who missed his spot-kick.” World Cup 2018: Gareth Southgate’s compassion praised (by Andree Massiah for BBC)

Trump’s Monstrous Immigration Policies

“The ruling involves the same agency that has been responsible for housing thousands of children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent weeks. But this case centers on a different form of family separation, one that predates the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy for border crossers: one in which children already living in the United States are taken from their families and placed in federal custody. This practice had been rare until last year.” Judge orders end to requiring director’s approval to release migrant kids (by Patrick Michels for Reveal)

“US Health Secretary Alex Azar said the tests were needed to meet a court deadline to reunite families, as the agency’s usual methods were too slow. Mr Azar, whose agency oversees migrant detention centres, said about 100 of the children were aged under five. Activists fear the DNA data can be used by the government for other purposes. Critics also say that the children are too young to consent to a DNA test.” DNA tests ordered to reunite separated migrant families (BBC)

“Videos shot by an alarmed neighbor show children dressed in sweatsuits being led – one so young she was carried – into the 3,200-square-foot building in early June. The building is not licensed by Arizona to hold children, and the contractor, MVM Inc., has claimed publicly that it does not operate “shelters or any other type of housing” for children.” Defense contractor detained migrant kids in vacant Phoenix office building (by Aura Bogado, Ziva Branstetter, and Vanessa Swales for Reveal)

Reproductive Rights

“As health-care providers, present and future, our ethical duty to cause no harm, protect our patients’ safety, and save lives is paramount. That’s why we feel compelled to speak out against the Trump administration’s unjust and dangerous policy—one it is moving to bring stateside— which censors health-care providers and restricts the services we can make available. In this way, Trump’s global gag rule rips away the core tenet of our provider-patient relationship.” The Effects of the Global Gag Rule Are Being Felt Everywhere (by Melvine Ouyo and Alexa Henderson for Rewire)

“The laws in both states had taken aim at religiously affiliated facilities and crisis pregnancy centers, and provoked controversy—pitting health-care providers, who contend that fake clinics peddle anti-choice misinformation, against religious groups that argue the facilities are an exercise of their faith. Passed in 2016, the Illinois law requires health care providers with religious objections to abortion to refer patients to providers where they may get the service, if the patient requests that information. The ADF filed suits in state and federal court to block the law, Theriot said. The Hawaii law requires “limited service pregnancy centers,” a category that includes fake clinics, to provide information about state programs offering free and low-cost family planning services and to follow state and federal patient privacy laws.” The Supreme Court Sided With Fake Clinics in California. The Fallout Could Spread Nationwide. (by Nicole Night for Rewire)

Anti-Trans Bigotry

“The rule ran into resistance from religious leaders and parents opposed to an alleged “trans ideology.” The board of the Indian River School District voted unanimously to send a letter to the governor and board of education protesting the proposed regulation. The regulation received 11,000 comments in its public comment period, most in opposition, at which point Delaware Secretary of Education Susan Bunting rewrote the rule. “It got on the radar on the professional anti-LGBT and trans people organizations and it has turned into a proposal that would actually make it worse for a lot of trans students,” National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) Executive Director Mara Keisling said in an interview with Rewire.News. “It’s our position that we’d better off without it. Delaware is such a positive state and has been a real beacon for [trans-friendly] public policy and this just isn’t.”” Delaware Democrats Bow to Right-Wing Pressure on Rules for Transgender Students (by Katelyn Burns for Rewire)

“The group carried signs with anti-trans slogans, such as “transactivists erase lesbians”, while they distributed leaflets opposing trans-friendly reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, and calling for trans women to be banned from women’s spaces. The campaigners briefly lay on the ground to physically block the march from continuing, but after negotiations with Pride staff were permitted to get up and march the entire route.” Anti-trans group allowed to lead Pride in London march after hijack (by Hazel Southwell for Pink News)

Death

“He says the taboo around death means that families usually avoid discussing until it is too late. Most people do not know how their relatives want to be treated if the worst happens. “So we need to start preparing young people and getting them to have tough conversations with their loved ones,” he says. “Death lessons” could include the legal aspects of what mental and physical capacity means, how to draw up a will and an advanced care plan, and the biological processes of dying and death.” Putting death on the school timetable (by Matt Pickles for BBC)

Ridiculousness of Brexit

“According to Vote Leave’s dossier, the commission finds the campaign group:

  • made an inaccurate return of campaign expenditure
  • is missing invoices and receipts
  • failed to comply with a statutory notice
  • exceeded its spending limit

Crucially, the draft report is said to claim there was coordination between Vote Leave and a smaller campaign, BeLeave, which received a donation of more than £600,000 in the closing weeks of the referendum, after advice from the Vote Leave director Dominic Cummings.” Vote Leave broke electoral law, Electoral Commission expected to say (by Laura Kuenssberg for BBC)

Sunday

1

July 2018

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – July 1, 2018

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

We’ve made it through half of the year. Things in the US seem to keep getting worse, but there is reason to hope, thanks to some amazing activism taking place across the country.

Atrocious Treatment of Immigrants and Others by the President* Trump’s Administration

“Because the Tohono O’odham Nation’s village of Topawa is on the U.S- Mexican border, agents have reportedly been harassing the people living on the Mexican side. Remes recorded the video Thursday to prove a point. There has been a history of injustice against his people who may be split up due to President Donald Trump’s policies.” Heart-Wrenching Video Shows Border Patrol Agent Running Over Native American Man (by Ricky Riley for Blavity)

“The supervisor told me I was going to get a medication injection to calm me down,” the girl said. “Two staff grabbed me, and the doctor gave me the injection despite my objection and left me there on the bed.”Another child recounted being made to take pills in the morning, at noon and night. The child said “the staff told me that some of the pills are vitamins because they think I need to gain weight. The vitamins changed about two times, and each time I feel different.” Immigrant children forcibly injected with drugs, lawsuit claims (by Matt Smith and Aura Bogado for Reveal)

“Vulgarity and incivility are indeed coarse and uncomfortable, but like any weapon there are moments when they must be employed in self-defense. This is just such a time. If we cannot be vulgar about a cabinet secretary lying to the nation and saying “we do not have a policy of separating families at the border” when her own department has produced statistics and photos evidencing just such a policy, then what is vulgarity for? The milk of human kindness, strained as it is, should be spared for those children and their shattered families — and, indeed, for their homelands who have oft suffered from American foreign policy stretching back decades.” The Atrocities On Our Border Prove Trump’s Base Isn’t Worth Talking To (by Katherine Cross for The Establishment)

Racism

“Major European news outlets claimed Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal made history for scoring in eight consecutive major tournaments when he scored a hat-trick against Spain Friday. In actuality, a Ghanian player, Asamoah Gyan, holds the record. Gyan accomplished the feat three years ago. In a tweet, he called out the “disregard” of his achievements. “People disregard my achievements in the World Cup history,” he tweeted Friday.” African Soccer Player Calls Out Colonizers Who Refuse To Acknowledge His Place In World Cup History (by Rickey Riley for Blavity)

“It turns out the young girl was raising money for a trip to Disneyland. The girl and her mother, Instagram user Ladyesowavy, received a flood of support after the video went viral from those tired of white people calling the cops on black people for during mundane things. Musician Jonathon Brannon was one of those people and he reached out to the mother and daughter. He reportedly bought four tickets to Disneyland for the young girl.” 8-Year-Old At Center Of #PermitPatty Controversy Receives Surprise From Generous Man (by Rickey Riley for Blavity)

Police Violence

“Activists are staging eight days of protest after another black man died following an interaction with the Sacramento Police Department. The action began on Tuesday during a city council meeting, according to The Sacramento Bee. The coalition chose eight days to symbolize the number of times Stephon Clark was shot in March. The group hopes the eight day protest will result in accountability for the deaths of Clark and Brandon Smith, who died on June 6 while being transported in a police vehicle.” Sacramento Activists Announce Eight Days Of Protests After Another Black Man Dies Following Encounter With Sacramento Police (by Ashleigh Atwell for Blavity)

Diversity

“But a collaboration between Reveal and the Center for Employment Equity at the University of Massachusetts Amherst offers the most detailed picture ever of the entire field and allows those that are public to be compared with all their peers. The equity center, after a confidentiality review by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, provided Reveal with anonymized statistics for 177 companies. Reveal and the equity center then independently analyzed the data. When it comes to diversity, companies often want to shift responsibility to others, according to Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, a sociology professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Center for Employment Equity.“This is not something they do for any other part of the production process,” he said.” Here’s the clearest picture of Silicon Valley’s diversity yet: It’s bad. But some companies are doing less bad (by Sinduja Rangarajan for Reveal)

Reproductive Health

“The new language requires a Catholic institution that affiliates with another health-care entity to “ensure that neither its administrators nor its employees will manage, carry out, assist in carrying out, make its facilities available for, make referrals for, or benefit from the revenue generated by immoral procedures.” “In any kind of collaboration, whatever comes under the control of the Catholic institution—whether by acquisition, governance, or management—must be operated in full accord with the moral teaching of the Catholic Church, including these Directives,” the document states.” Catholic Hospitals Offer a Preview of Life Without Roe. And Bishops Just Tightened the Rules. (by Amy Littlefield for Rewire)

““The state has a legitimate interest in informing women about abortion, but the means used under the statute enacted does not meaningfully serve that objective,” Cady wrote. “Because our constitution requires more, we reverse the decision of the district court.” The forced 72-hour waiting period is part of a law banning most abortions in the state after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The 20-week ban is in effect and isn’t part of the legal challenge.“We are pleased that the Iowa Supreme Court saw this law for what it was — a ploy to make safe, legal abortion less accessible,” said Planned Parenthood Federation of America Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens in a statement following the opinion.” Iowa Supreme Court Blocks GOP’s Forced 72-Hour Abortion Waiting Period (by Jessica Mason Pieklo for Rewire)

Fight Back

“The truth is that for all of the recent handwringing about civility, the methods now being employed against the administration’s core supporters are actually quite civil. The manner in which Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave was actually the portrait of civility; it was a communal decision taken by staff, she was informed of the decision in private and politely asked to leave, and was not charged for any orders that had already been delivered. So what happened, exactly? Well, she was shunned. A social consequence was applied to her actions as Press Secretary that served as a powerful reminder: What she does is not normal, and should not be taken lightly.Shunning Sarah Huckabee Sanders Is The Definition Of Civility (by Katherine Cross for The Establishment)

““My father is an illegal immigrant, so today is very important,” said Brittany Velazquez Peters, a West Virginia resident, at the protest in the nation’s capital. She held a sign that red in Spanish “Are you serious?”Others in DC donned foil sheets, similar to those that migrant children in detention have been photographed sleeping in, emblazoned with the words, “We care. Y don’t u?” — a jab at the jacket worn by First Lady Melania Trump when she went to visit migrant children. Also in the nation’s capital, Lin-Manuel Miranda sang “Dear Theodosia,” a lullaby from his musical Hamilton, a song he said he chose because “there are parents right now who can’t sing lullabies to their kids.” There Were Huge Protests Across The Country Against Trump’s Immigration Policies (by Amber Jamieson for Buzzfeed News)

Something Good

These buddies turn 7 today. We’ve been caring for them for 6 1/2 years, and they have brought us more joy that we could have imagined.

The Day They Came To Us

Keeping the house safe from birds

Tigger in a box

Jameson in the sun

 

Monday

25

June 2018

0

COMMENTS

Consequences by E. M. Delafield

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for: Those looking for a Victorian-set novel about England that isn’t happy and (spoiler alert) doesn’t end in a happy romance.

In a nutshell: Alex Chase is miserable and cannot find a way to be happy.

Worth quoting:
“The despair that invades an undeveloped being is the blackest in the world, because of its utter want of perspective.”
“What do girls want to write to one another for? They can’t have anything to say.”
“One suffered until one could bear no more, and then it was all numbness and inertia.”

Why I chose it:
There is an amazing bookshop in London called Persephone Books. They are not just a shop; they publish works as well, focusing primarily on forgotten female authors. I visited earlier this year and snapped up three books; this is the first I’ve gotten around to reading.

Review:
This book is not for those going through a rough patch. It does not end on a high note, and there isn’t much along the way to make the reader feel hopeful. But at the same time, it feels honest, as not all people experience a life that is full of happiness, or redemption, or joy.

Alex is the eldest of three girls and two boys, and is being raised in a Victorian home that is clearly well-off (her father is, in fact, a sir). We meet Alex when she is just 12 years old, and she is clearly emotionally distraught. She craves attention and seems only to think to find it by misbehaving. Not intentionally so much; she just doesn’t think about the consequences (see what I did there) of her actions. When her lack of thought leads to her sister being seriously injured, she is sent to a convent for education.

At the convent she receives an education but does not make friends, and receives negative attention (if she receives any at all). She is painfully awkward, and unable to make the connections she craves. She is infatuated with a fellow classmate who barely acknowledges her existence until she realizes that Alex might be a good social connection.

That friendship never pans out, and when Alex is of age to come out to society, she doesn’t find much success. Her mother seems to care, as does her father, although her father throughout the book says some very heartless things. No one seems to care much that Alex is clearly distraught and depressed; Alex herself is often unable to articulate her own wants and fears. Part of that stems from the Victorian era, and part of that I think stems from piss-poor parenting.

She clings to anyone who might give her attention, eventually leading her to join a convent but unfortunately things do not improve for her. The last hundred pages or so are rough to read, not because they are poorly written, but because Alex continues to experience such an inability to navigate the world she lives in.

As I said, it is not a happy book, but I think it is good enough that I can recommend it to those who might find the premise interesting.

 

Monday

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June 2018

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Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier

Written by , Posted in Reviews

3 Stars

Best for: People looking for a push to consider leaving social media.

In a nutshell: Silicon Valley veteran (seriously, he worked on internet stuffs in the early 80s) attempts to make the case that social media — in its current form — is harming us and society, and tried to get us to quit. Mixed results follow.

Worth quoting:
“Yes, being able to quit is a privilege; many genuinely can’t. But if you have the latitude to quit and don’t, you are not supporting the less fortunate; you are only reinforcing the system in which many people are trapped.”
“The core of the BUMMER machine is not a technology, exactly, but a style of business plan that spews out perverse incentives and corrupts people.”
“You know the adage that you should choose a partner on the basis of who you become when you’re around the person? That’s a good way to choose technologies, too.”
“When we’re all seeing different, private worlds, then our cues to one another become meaningless… Can you imagine if Wikipedia showed different versions of entries to each person on the basis of a secret data profile of that person?”

Why I chose it:
I’ve been spending time this year focusing on how I spend my time – I read “How to Break Up with Your Phone” and “Silence” in quick succession. I’ve also been more and more frustrated with how much time I find myself checking Facebook and Twitter, so I thought I’d see if this book helped push me one way or the other.

Review:
Author Lanier’s premise is that the internet is not bad, but our current social media options (most, at least), are. He uses the abbreviation BUMMER throughout as shorthand for what he calls “Behaviors of Users Modified, and Made into an Empire for Rent.” He makes some good arguments, but his writing leaves a lot to be desired. Part of my issue is seeing the word BUMMER multiple times a page (it feels like I’m being shouted at) and part of my issue is that the editing of this book is not great. There are a lot of ideas slotted into a lot of subcategories that makes it difficult to follow at times.

Lanier makes some great points. He discusses how our empathy for others has eroded because it is based on knowing a bit about what they experience, but the algorithms mean we all are seeing different things. It’s hard to respond to someone talking about something you’ve never been exposed to, or that is the complete opposite of what you’ve been exposed to. He also — and I think this is his strongest point — suggests we look at the type of person we are when we’re on different social media platforms.

As I said above, he’s not saying that it’s *the internet* that is to blame, but instead the business model that sells the consumer as the product. It’s not so much about malice (although the people behind the bots that helped sway the US election were certainly full of malice from my perspective), but about subtle adjustments to what we see so that we then do what makes the advertisers the most money. It’s obnoxious and is hurting our society.

Lanier has issues with some of the big companies — mainly Facebook, Google, and Twitter. And the companies owned by them, including WhatsApp and Instagram. I have to admit I’m confused by his disdain for WhatsApp, because they don’t do ads and the content of the messages is encrypted.

So where does that leave us? Yesterday I deleted my Facebook account … sort of. I’m trying to make a career out of writing, so I kept my blog’s Facebook page, which needs to have an administrator, so I created a new Facebook account that has no friends. I also deleted all the tweets from my personal account, and am now only posting things I write to @AKelmoreWrites on Twitter. I’d love to delete it all, but I also would love to figure out how to have a writing career, and the two things seem diametrically opposed.

Sunday

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June 2018

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The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale

Written by , Posted in Reviews

4 Stars

Best for: People who know that there’s a deeper problem with the police than most of our society will acknowledge, but don’t have all the evidence at their fingertips.

In a nutshell: Sociology professor Vitale offers a logical and thorough examination of the many different areas where police are seen as necessary but are, in reality, making things worse. And, more importantly, offers alternatives to police involvement in those areas.

Worth quoting:
“At root, they fail to appreciate that the basic nature of the law and the police, since its earliest origins, is to be a tool for managing inequality and maintaining the status quo.”
“A kinder, gentler, and more diverse war on the poor is still a war on the poor.”
“We must break completely with the idea of using police in schools. They have no positive role to play that couldn’t be better handled by nonpolice personnel.”
“We must move beyond the false choice of living with widespread disorder or relying on the police to be the enforcers of civility.”
“They need stability, positive guidance, and real pathways out of poverty. This requires a long-term commitment to their wellbeing, not a telephone referral and home visits by the same people who arrest and harass them and their friends on the streets.”

Why I chose it:
I know that the police (in general) in the US are not helping. But even suggesting that perhaps their power needs to be tamped down is often greeted with disbelief and the suggestion that they are necessary. I wanted a book that would provide me with the facts I needed to counter the disbelief.

Review:
This is a well-researched, well-sourced, well-written discussion of the state of policing in the US. Author Vitale starts with a history of policing to redirect readers from the idea that the police were created to protect people. He then breaks down policing into eight areas where they are often seen as ‘necessary:’ police in schools, police as responders to people in mental health crisis, police sweeping up those experiencing homelessness, police “saving” sex workers, the war on drugs, police in gang areas, police at the border, and police silencing political opponents.

My favorite part of this book is that Vitale offers not just descriptions of the problems, but also attempted reforms (and why they aren’t sufficient), and then offers ALTERNATIVES. That is what, I feel, is missing in so many books that take on this topic. They share important information and outline the problems, but then sort of throw up their hands in a ‘yup, it sucks’ manner. Vitale instead points out what will actually work, and it’s often much better (and cheaper) for the community.

The best examples of this are in the sections on police in schools, police and homelessness, police and those with mental illness, police at the border, and police as political silencers. The solutions offered in the police and sex work and police and the war on drugs sections require a bit more on society’s part, but are definitely do-able. The solutions offered on gang violence, however, admittedly require a much larger shift in how we provide support to our communities than many people accept.

The section on the border patrol was especially poignant given what is going on in the United States right now; I know many of us would like to see ICE abolished, and this book certainly helps make that case.

The only thing that was missing, and that I would have liked to see, would be a discussion of the need (or not) for police to investigate crimes. Does Vitale think that in situations where murders have taken place, we could have a small police squad? Or does he think the community could manage that as well? I’m unsure what that could look like, but would enjoy reading his thoughts on that.

Sunday

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June 2018

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