ASK Musings

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Sunday

21

July 2019

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COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – 21 July 2019

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Happy Birthday to my dad, who is definitely not reading this.

Sports

“Le Batard, the son of Cuban immigrants, noted that civil rights activists have long used sports to address race, gender and other social problems in the country, pointing to former athletes Jim Brown, Bill Russell and Colin Kaepernick. But Le Batard said that now, ESPN personalities don’t talk about race in America “unless there is some sort of weak, cowardly sports angle that we can run it through,” like a tweet from an athlete.” On ESPN, Dan Le Batard calls his own network ‘cowardly’ for not addressing racism (by Jazmin Goodwin for CNN)

Science

“At the same time, undeniably racist and paranoid views surfaced at UC Berkeley and home at UH Mānoa where a tenured physics faculty claimed rhetorically “…in no way should we go back a few centuries to a stone age culture, with a few (illegitimate) Kahunas telling everyone else how to behave.” The same individual told me to my face that “all Hawaiians should support TMT” and that Hawaiians were being “emotional.” I began to question whether I wanted to continue to be part of the sciences at UH Mānoa. I no longer had the heart to recruit students to STEM fields. This was incredibly difficult because over the previous decade I had formed my identity around being a champion for STEM. I had spent countless hours of volunteer and paid work judging science fairs, doing outreach, recruiting and mentoring students, organizing symposia, even soliciting the TMT corporation and other local companies for support to send Hawaiʻi teachers to an MIT summer program.” Maunakea: Redirecting the lens onto the culture of mainstream science (by Aurora Kagawa-Viviani via Medium)

Misogyny

“But when twin investigations (one commissioned by the university, the other by the state) revealed that the university’s law enforcement and housing offices had disregarded McCluskey’s and her friends’ reports about Rowland, officials didn’t admit fault. They doubled down. “There is no way to know for certain whether this tragic murder could have been prevented,” Utah president Ruth Watkins said in December. Lauren’s parents disagree. They learned about their daughter’s multiple phone calls to the campus police, her frantic reports of extortion, the fact that her friends told housing administrators that Rowland had cut Lauren off from her friends for weeks, was obsessed with her whereabouts and said he would buy her a gun to protect her from other men.” Prejudicial Police Department? (by Jeremy Bauer-Wolf for Inside Higher Ed)

Racism in Politics

“In May, with the Supreme Court’s decision pending, attorneys at Common Cause were going through Hofeller’s files when they found evidence that seemed to confirm what many had suspected: that adding a citizenship question to the census was a way to drive down immigrant participation—thus weakening their representation when subsequent congressional districts were drawn—and had nothing to do with enforcing the Voting Rights Act. Some of the language and reasoning in the Justice Department’s letter appeared to come directly from Hofeller, who, they discovered, had conducted a study, in 2015, on the effects of drawing congressional districts not according to a state’s total population but according to the number of voting-age citizens. Doing so, he concluded, “would be advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” A Father, A Daughter, and the Attempt to Change the Census (by Charles Bethea for The New Yorker)

Sunday

14

July 2019

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COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – 14 July 2019

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It’s my half birthday! I know that isn’t really a thing, but whatever. I’m finding cake.

Women in Sport

“Fresh of their fourth World Cup victory, the U.S. women’s national soccer team has already accepted invitations to the Capitol by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Female senators are hoping to meet with them at a time when 28 members of the team are suing the U.S. Soccer Federation claiming “institutionalized gender discrimination,” a violation of the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act.” All Female Senators Ask U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team To Meet (by Jennifer Bendery for Huffington Post)

“When your team wins a championship, it is pure, unadulterated joy: Millions of people dream of winning a World Cup, but only these women get to do it. If the members of the USWNT had done nothing but drink shitty flavored vitamin water and monotonously do ad reads for Equifax, it would still have been a monumental, jaw-dropping achievement. But that is, of course, not what they did. Two months before the tournament, the entire team filed a gender-discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, citing a “duty to be the role models that we’ve set out to be and fight to what we know we legally deserve.” Star player Megan Rapinoe, who was the first white athlete to kneel during the national anthem in support of Colin Kaepernick, said she wouldn’t be “going to the fucking White House” if the team won — a statement her team backed up entirely, from star to scrub — which led the president to predictably lash out at her on Twitter. (She also rightly hammered FIFA for scheduling two men’s cup championships on the same day as the Women’s World Cup final, which is like the NFL playing another game on Super Bowl Sunday.)” A National Team for the Trump Era (by Will Leitch for New York Magazine)

“Shortly after the final whistle solidified that the US women had clenched their fourth FIFA World Cup victory, the packed, exuberant crowd inside France’s Stade de Lyon went from cheering to chanting “equal pay!” — a powerful reminder that the record-setting team is still in the crux of another battle for fair treatment.” The World Cup Crowd Started Chanting “Equal Pay” Right After The US Women Won (by Brianna Sacks for BuzzFeed News)

“In large part, we got them through policy, in particular the Education Amendments Act of 1972. Shepherded into law by Congresswoman Patsy Mink of Hawaii, the title IX provision of the act was a response to feminists’ push to close a loophole in the Civil Rights Act of 964 that allowed federally funded schools, colleges and universities to discriminate by sex. Title IX was intended to prohibit this kind of discrimination, and it applied to all educational programs and all aspects of a school’s operation – including sports.” USA’s formidable women’s soccer team is no accident. It’s a product of public policy (by Moira Donegan for The Guardian)

“My proposal: women’s soccer should walk away from FIFA, the governing body of international soccer, and its confederations and associations ― and build a better system, separate from the men’s game. FIFA has had to be pushed, kicking and screaming the entire way, by the players and their fans into caring about and supporting women’s football, and it’s a stretch even now to say that it does either. Two of FIFA’s confederations scheduled men’s tournament finals on Sunday, the same day as the Women’s World Cup final, even though the women’s game was set first. They’ve said it was a mistake. They whoopsed into twice forgetting about the biggest women’s sporting event in the world.” It’s Time For Women’s Soccer To Break Away From FIFA (by Jessica Luther for Huffington Post)

UK Policies

“As those in power ignored our calls for the rules to be enforced, we turned to our union, the IWGB, to start fighting for the rights we were being denied. The union allowed us to score two major legal victories against Uber, but the fight continues. What I never expected was that we would then have to turn our fight against the Mayor so many of us put our hopes on. This week, the IWGB will be taking Khan and TfL to court to fight against the introduction on 8 April of a £11.50 congestion charge on minicabs. The union will argue that this charge discriminates against and breaches the human rights of Bame drivers and women drivers.” Like Sadiq Khan, I’m the son of a Pakistani immigrant – I never expected he’d fail Bame Uber drivers like me (by Yassar Akhtar for the Independent)

US Customs and Border Patrol

“But legal experts and human rights advocates say the government has kept the use of databases at the border largely secret, subverting potential challenges to the reliability of the information in them. An attorney in Texas recently discovered that her Salvadoran client had been falsely accused of being in the MS-13 gang based on intelligence from the center. The man was jailed in a maximum-security facility for violent criminals for six months, and his two children were taken away.” Immigration Officials Use Secretive Gang Databases to Deny Migrant Asylum Claims (by Melissa del Bosque for ProPublica)

“Another member shared the viral photo of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, who drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande in June. “I HAVE NEVER SEEN FLOATERS LIKE THIS,” they wrote, suggesting that the photograph had somehow been altered. (As ProPublica notes, there is no indication that it has been.) Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has compared migrant detention centers to concentration camps, is a frequent subject of disgusting memes and comments. Multiple illustrations have been edited to show the freshman congresswoman performing oral sex — in one, on Donald Trump, and in another, at an immigrant detention center with the caption, “Lucky Illegal Immigrant Glory Hole Special Starring AOC.”” This Secret Facebook Group for Border Patrol Officials Is Absolutely Horrifying (by Madeleine Aggeler for the Cut)

Homelessness

“And yet, despite the urgency of the need and the expert consensus on solutions, individual efforts to increase density, improve transit or alleviate homelessness can spend years bogged down by local opposition. In March, neighborhood activists in Los Angeles threatened to sue the city over the installation of a 0.8-mile bike lane. Residents of Seattle’s wealthiest neighborhood demanded reserved seats on city buses and exemptions from road tolls in exchange for permitting a light-rail station. A crowd of more than 1,000 people booed a homeless man who got up to speak in support of a new shelter in Salt Lake City.” Progressive Boomers Are Making It Impossible For Cities To Fix The Housing Crisis (by Michael Hobbes for Huffington Post)

Anti-Fat Policy

“As a mental health campaigner, I believe the omnipresent fat-is-a-choice-and-it’s-bad rhetoric which has been absorbed and regurgitated by much of the population does monumental amounts of damage. Not only does it add more gravitas to a burgeoning multi-billion pound diet industry with a 95 per cent failure rate, it fuels eating disorders and encourages the public to consider themselves ‘visual doctors’, firing casual micro-aggressions in the direction of fat people under the guise of ‘concern’ for their ‘health’. Numerous studies, including a 2017 paper from East Tennessee State University, show feeling ashamed of our bodies decreases the chance we will exercise and make healthy food choices, so these billboards designed to shame obese people into compliance are demonstrably counter-productive.” Cancer Research’s obesity campaign isn’t just misguided – it’s dangerous (by Natasha Devon for Metro UK)

Thursday

11

July 2019

0

COMMENTS

The Way Home: Tales from a life without technology by Mark Boyle

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Four Stars

Best for:
People interested in what it looks like to truly, deeply, live one’s values.

In a nutshell:
Mark Boyle once lived without money for three years. Now he’s gone further – he’s given up everything we would consider to be modern technology. (But how is there a book, you ask? We’ll get there.)

Worth quoting:
‘What are we prepared to lose, and what do we want to gain, as we fumble our way through our short, precious lives.’

Why I chose it:
For the past couple of years I’m been very interested in life that is closer to nature, especially as it relates to environmental impact. Plus, this is a hefty and gorgeous book.

Review:
Spoilers for the TV Show The Good Place throughout.

For my CBR review post I chose a Chidi quote from The Good Place: ‘Principles aren’t principles when you pick and choose when you’re gonna follow them.’ In fact, throughout my read of this book I kept thinking of that show; specifically the twists in the third season, where we discover that no one has gotten into the Good Place for 500 years because it’s just too damn hard to make the right decisions.

I think even having strong, well-thought-out principles is rare. Religion may give it to some people, but even then, what does it really mean to, for example, love your neighbor as yourself? Or do no harm? How far are you willing — and able — to go in living your values? I’ve seen the phrase ‘there’s no ethical consumption in capitalism’ shared on social media often. I mean, I’m typing this on a computer that is slowly dying; if I want to buy another one, what company do I support? The one that gives no money to charity and built a giant new headquarters without considering including childcare facilities (Apple), or the one that supplies computers to the US agency currently keeping immigrant children in cages (Dell)?

Not great choices, eh? If we want to truly live a low-harm life, can we life the lives so many of us in industrialized nations are living? And if not, what does our life look like?

Author Mark Boyle wants to live by his principles, at least, as far as I can tell. He doesn’t elaborate on what those principles are in a list or any specific way, but he seems to generally want to live what he considers a real life – one that is closer to nature and a way to experience true connection to the earth. Which is amazing, but I think it is narrow-minded to suggest that this is the true way to live a good life. I don’t get the sense from Boyle that he believes everyone must live as he lives, but I do get the sense that he believes he is more connected to the idea of what it means to be human than, say, someone using a computer. I find that mildly amusing.

There are many eye-roll moments, but honestly not as many as there could be. And the storytelling itself is interesting. Boyle breaks down his first year of no tech (hand-tools only, no car, no electricity, no running water, no screens) by season, sharing the work he has to do to keep his sharehold land and cabin functioning. He grows his own food, catches his own meat (which he does grapple with as a former vegan). He doesn’t make his own clothes yet, and he does things like hitchhike if he needs to travel far. He doesn’t use a phone, which means he’s only reachable by letters.

And I think that’s where I do get a little annoyed with Boyle. Not because he’s choosing to live this life, but because he’s pushed it onto others secondarily. And that’s totally fine — other people aren’t required to approve of or participate in how I live my life — but when the only way a parent can reach their child with serious news is via letter, I think that’s kind of uncool. Yes, I realize that this is how it used to be before any phones were available, but it’s not how it has to be now.

I don’t agree that living without technology necessarily makes one closer to understanding what it means to be human, and I don’t think living with technology means one is necessarily disconnected. There are extremes in both ways of viewing the world. I don’t believe that camping is objectively better or worse than sleeping in a bed. But at the same time, I do understand that while the ends might be fine (being able to talk to my parents who are currently 6,000 miles away), the means can be problematic (how did the materials needed to make my phone get there). I mean, I gave up eating meat because I couldn’t come up with a way, given my currently life circumstances, to rationalize it, but I do see why Boyle does choose meet.

There’s a lot to think about with this book. How can we be closer to who we want to be? What does it mean to live this life? Are we living it deeply? And, obviously, who gets the luxury right now of moving to a bit of land in rural Ireland and living completely off the grid? We didn’t all spring forth with endless options around us when born – we may have intergenerational debt or trauma or cultural expectations or family relationships that can’t just be ignored or even processed by vowing to give up email.

I’ll be thinking about this book for awhile.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it

Sunday

30

June 2019

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COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – June 20, 2019

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Women’s World Cup

“Yet, if the US women were entitled to the same World Cup bonuses as the US men’s national team, their rewards would already be six times larger. The women would’ve already earned around $550,000 each, even with nearly half of the Women’s World Cup left to play. That’s because the men earn more across the board in World Cup bonuses from US Soccer and, on top of that, they are also entitled to a set of bonuses the women don’t get, such as $4.5m to be shared among the players if the men advance to the knockout round of the World Cup.” Revealed: the $730,000 gender pay gap in US World Cup bonuses (Caitlin Murray and Sam Morris for The Guardian)

“The MCRP common room might not be France, but it’s a vast improvement over solitary confinement, where Brian has watched Megan play in the previous two World Cups. He sat on a couch in his red USA jersey, watching on a 60-inch flat-screen, and felt “f—ing great.” He had accomplished a major goal for himself: to get out of prison in time to watch his kid sister play in her third World Cup. Every time the U.S. scored, the room full of men cheered loudly. Nobody there thought the U.S.’s 13 goals against Thailand and exuberant celebrations after each were done in poor taste. “This is what soccer should always be like,” one man said.” Megan Rapinoe’s greatest heartbreak, and hope (by Gwendolyn Oxenham for ESPN)

“As recently described in a Washington Post op-ed, Rapinoe is “a defiant woman refusing to play by the antiquated be-cute-and-courteous rules that make many men feel better about female athletes.” And, whether her exuberance on the field and her politics get under your skin or inspire you, Rapinoe, the op-ed argues, is simply “too good to be ignored.”” I’m Prepared to Fight for Megan Rapinoe (by Amanda Arnold for The Cut)

Anti-Homeless Bullshit

“Those tiny spikes on roofs keeping pigeons from hunkering down and pooping on everyone? They’re in the family, but they’re for birds, so who really cares? But the pegs on handrails or the corners of cement benches that keep skateboarders from grinding away? Absolutely hostile. And those obscenely sloped bus benches that allow people to only kind of lean against but not sit or, God forbid, lie down? Definitely.” Photos of the Most Egregious ‘Anti-Homeless’ Architecture (by Rick Paulas for Vice)

Misogyny

“Marshae Jones, a 27-year-old Birmingham woman, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury on a manslaughter charge. She was taken into custody on Wednesday. Though Jones didn’t fire the shots that killed her unborn baby girl, authorities say she initiated the dispute that led to the gunfire. Police initially charged 23-year-old Ebony Jemison with manslaughter, but the charge against Jemison was dismissed after the grand jury failed to indict her.” Alabama woman loses unborn child after being shot, gets arrested; shooter goes free (by Carol Robinson for AL.com)

Tr*mp Is The Worst

“Carroll explains in the excerpt that she didn’t come forward sooner out of fear that she’d be attacked, threatened, and smeared by Trump and his supporters. Trump has denied the accounts of all of the other women. A White House official told New York that the accusation is “completely false.” The accusations include rape, a threat of rape, unwanted groping, being kissed without consent, and being walked in on naked. Here are the accusations made by women who have come forward publicly under their own names.” E. Jean Carroll joins at least 21 other women in publicly accusing Trump of sexual assault or misconduct (by Libby Nelson and Laura McGann for Vox)

Bi-Visibility

“Granted, maybe the bone-deep disappointment I felt when some character rolled their eyes at bisexuality should have tipped me off. But I also believe that I would have been far more open to the idea of being bisexual if I had witnessed it depicted as an intrinsic part of life rather than an attention-seeking choice or “layover on the way to Gaytown.” Even in real life, I didn’t have to look further than the way media treated Angelina Jolie or Alan Cumming to know how I might be received.” How TV Failed Me on Bisexuality — And Then Got Its Act Together (Column) (by Caroline Framke for Variety)

Something Good

“I won’t list all the work she’s done between then and now (in addition to several subsequent albums, you may remember her as God in the 1999 Kevin Smith movie Dogma, or as the woman who confirmed Carrie Bradshaw’s heterosexuality on Sex and the City, or for her work on Weeds), other than to say she has maintained a level of production consistent with studio stars in the era of Louis B. Mayer’s MGM. For Alanis, a lot of it stems from being a workhorse from such a young age. “I always remember working my ass off 24 hours a day and looking out and seeing the kids playing in the backyard and thinking, Well, I can’t do that right now,” she said.” Alanis Morissette on Pregnancy at 45, Childbirth, Postpartum Depression, and #MeToo (by Nicole Cliffe for Self)

Sunday

23

June 2019

0

COMMENTS

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for:
People who enjoy coming of age stories that are (or try to be?) a bit edgier.

In a nutshell:
Marianne and Connell are classmates in a small town in London. His mother cleans her house. They do not run in the same social circles. Things transpire, and they grow up.

Worth quoting:
“Committee members of college clubs, who are dressed up in black tie very frequently, and who inexplicably believe the internal workings of student societies are interesting to normal people.”
“In school the boys had tried to break her with cruelty and disregard, and I in college men had tried to do it with sex and popularity, all with the same aim of subjugating some force in her personality. It depressed her to think people were so predictable.”

Why I chose it:
It’s being promoted in all the bookshops. The bookseller at the shop close to my work (where I tend to wander on lunch breaks at least once a month) claimed it was even better than her last book. I disagree.

Review:
Connell and Marianne are from different walks of life – his mom is a single mother who, among other things, cleans the mansion of Marianne’s family. Marianne’s father is dead, her brother is cruel, and her mother is uninvolved (and also possibly cruel? Unclear). They are both smart, and they become friends via hooking up. Then they part ways but reconnect in college. Each chapter is a skip in time (sometimes three weeks, sometimes three months, sometimes five minutes) and usually — maybe always? I don’t have the book anymore — alternates between the two characters. The bookseller described it as a ‘will they / won’t they,’ but it’s really a ‘they did, and probably will again, and is that a good thing?’

I get what the author was going for here, but I don’t think it worked for me. I’m not sure how one can successfully do coming of age across five or six years (instead of, say, over the course of one year of high school or college), but I don’t think this is it. By the end of the book I still saw the characters as teenagers playing at being adult, even though they did have very real issues and concerns. And even though the entirety of the book focuses on these two individuals, I don’t get a sense of who they are, really. Connell is meant to be deeply written, but I don’t leave feeling I know much about him. Marianne I felt gets a bit more development, but the way her story is handled seems almost salacious for the sake of being salacious. Which, I guess makes sense? I mean, I don’t know how else the author could have written those components, but they still didn’t work for me. Overall I’m disappointed.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Donate it (to the vacation rental home I was in when I finished it)

Sunday

23

June 2019

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – June 23, 2019

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Concentration Camps in the US

“And then we started to pull the children who had been there the longest to find out just how long children are being kept there. Children described to us that they’ve been there for three weeks or longer. And so, immediately from that population that we were trying to triage, they were filthy dirty, there was mucus on their shirts, the shirts were dirty. We saw breast milk on the shirts. There was food on the shirts, and the pants as well. They told us that they were hungry. They told us that some of them had not showered or had not showered until the day or two days before we arrived. Many of them described that they only brushed their teeth once. This facility knew last week that we were coming. The government knew three weeks ago that we were coming.” Inside a Texas Building Where the Government is Holding Immigrant Children (by Isaac Chotiner for the New Yorker)

“Parents and other adults in detention aren’t faring any better. In one processing center in El Paso, a cell designed for 12 people was crammed with 76, causing migrants to stand on the toilets for breathing space. Up to 900 migrants were held at another facility designed for 125. In another case, a teenage mother holding a sick and dirty premature baby spent 9 days detained without access to medical care for her newborn. They “wouldn’t give her any water to wash [the baby].” DOING NOTHING IN THE FACE OF THESE ATROCITIES IS NOT AN OPTION.” What Can You Do To Help Immigrants Whose Rights Are Under Attack? (Lawyer for Good Government)

“The baby, barely a month old, was wrapped in a dirty towel, wore a soiled onesie and looked listless, said one of the lawyers, Hope Frye. The mother was in a wheelchair due to complications from her emergency C-section and had barely slept ― the pain made it too uncomfortable for her to lie down and she was afraid of dropping her baby, the immigration and human rights attorney said. “I looked at that baby and said ‘Who does this to babies?’” Frye said. “They were being sadistically ignored.”” Teen Mom And Prematurely Born Baby Neglected At Border Patrol Facility For 7 Days (by Angelina Chapman for Huffington Post)

Reproductive Health

“Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Director Dr. Randall Williams told reporters Friday that the agency would issue an emergency rule to relieve Planned Parenthood of the requirement. “In looking at what they are doing and the fact that they think that causes a burden for patients to do (the pelvic exam) twice…as a clinician who practiced for 30 years, I’m sensitive to that,” Williams said. Williams said the rule would allow physicians to conduct pelvic exams the same day of a surgical abortion.” Missouri backs off on rule requiring women get pelvic exam three days before abortion (by Crystal Thomas for Kansas City Star)

“It was excruciating. I wanted children, but I wasn’t ready, nor was I fully recovered. I was so grateful that Janak had survived, but I could not tempt fate again. It had to be my choice, because in the end, I would be the one to carry the fetus in my body, I would be the one to potentially face another emergency cesarean section, and I would be the one whose baby could suffer the serious, sometimes fatal consequences of extreme prematurity. I could not simply hope for the best — I had to make a decision based on the tremendous risks that had been clearly laid out for me. I decided I could not responsibly have the baby. It was a heartbreaking decision, but it was the only one I was capable of making.” Rep. Pramila Jayapal: The Story of My Abortion (by Rep. Pramila Jayapal for the New York Times)

Corporations

“The spread of Pride marches throughout the country galvanized the LGBTQ movement. As the fight for LGBTQ rights became more mainstream, corporations have latched onto Pride Month as a way of courting the LGBTQ community, an important source of customers and skilled employees. But do these corporations really support the LGBTQ movement? Popular Information has identified nine rainbow flag-waving corporations that gave $1 million or more to anti-gay politicians in the last election cycle.” These rainbow flag-waving corporations donated millions to anti-gay members of Congress (Popular Information)

“These beliefs about Uber’s corporate value were created entirely out of thin air. This is not a case of a company with a reasonably sound operating business that has managed to inflate stock market expectations a bit. This is a case of a massive valuation that has no relationship to any economic fundamentals. Uber has no competitive efficiency advantages, operates in an industry with few barriers to entry, and has lost more than $14 billion in the previous four years. But its narratives convinced most people in the media, invest­ment, and tech worlds that it is the most valuable transportation company on the planet and the second most valuable start-up IPO in U.S. history (after Facebook).” Uber’s Path of Destruction (by Hubert Horan for American Affairs)

Misogyny

“But why would anyone do something so absurd? In my mind, I thought that an all-male photograph might not be the best optics for a bunch of rich tech entrepreneurs, especially during a time when women and minorities are underrepresented in the industry. But why would someone doctor a photograph for such a low-stakes item for Instagram and a lifestyle magazine? Was the photo truly manipulated to appear more diverse? Or was this simply a case of “Please photoshop my friend into this family picture. They took it.”” This Picture Featuring 15 Tech Men And 2 Women Looked Doctored. The Women Were Photoshopped In. (by Ryan Mac for Buzz Feed)

“The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips. I am so shocked I shove him back and start laughing again. He seizes both my arms and pushes me up against the wall a second time, and, as I become aware of how large he is, he holds me against the wall with his shoulder and jams his hand under my coat dress and pulls down my tights.” Hideous Men Donald Trump assaulted me in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room 23 years ago. But he’s not alone on the list of awful men in my life. (by E. Jean Carroll for New York)

“Of course, Biden’s intended audience isn’t the girls he’s supposedly addressing, but any boy, man, or potential authority figure within earshot of those girls. It’s a verbal elbow nudge signaling to the girl’s father, grandfather, mother, or brother that they’d better keep their daughter/granddaughter/sister on lockdown, or reap the heavily implied consequences. Meanwhile, at no point do the girls and young women Biden addresses have the agency to say whether they feel like they need protecting. It also unnecessarily suggests to them that their appearance, which they cannot control, will inevitably put them in danger.” Joe Biden Can’t Stop Using the Toxic “Lock Up Your Daughters” Joke (by Emma Roller for Slate)

Women’s World Cup

“Instead of Team USA being celebrated for what its players achieved, the victory became an opportunity to lecture these women on how to behave. That lecture is all the more galling given that, in March, the team filed a gender-discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. The women are fighting, in the courts, for equal pay and respect—and, on the field, for the right to pummel their opponents and express themselves in a way that men often do. “Either way, people are going to say something,” the former women’s national-team forward Sydney Leroux Dwyer told me in a text message. Dwyer won the World Cup with Team USA in 2015. “You celebrate, you’re rubbing it in their faces,” she wrote. “You don’t, and you’re entitled or cocky.”” They Gave America 13 Goals—And Got a Lecture in Return (by Jemele Hill for the Atlantic)

“5. You should not celebrate the goals too much. Celebrate the first goal with all the joy you would show at the birth of a first child, then the second goal with somewhat less joy, then the third goal with a kind of annoyance. Upon the fourth goal, you should make a face like, “Is this happening? Bank error in my favor, I guess!” Attribute the fifth goal to God, or a higher power of your choice. After the sixth goal, take the whole team out and try to figure out what you are doing wrong. The seventh goal should be a mistake. The eighth goal should cause you to become enraged at the referee for allowing such a travesty to take place. After the ninth goal, grab the ball and shout at it. The 10th goal, if possible, should be in your own goal. There should be no 11th or 12th goal, let alone a 13th.” 13 goals for women who want to celebrate World Cup wins (by Alexandra Petri for Washington Post)

“I could not agree more with the gentlemen who dare to ask these questions – and not just so that I can buy time while I frantically locate the exit. Indeed, as part of this column’s tireless commitment to celebrating the underdogs, this week let’s redress the dangerous cosmic imbalance caused by the Women’s World Cup. Here follows a celebration of all the different guys who currently need to explain to you – at length – why they aren’t watching it. As always, you don’t have to be a woman to have met some of these men over the past week. But it certainly helps!” Pity the poor man who’s had the Women’s World Cup shoved down his throat (by Marina Hyde for the Guardian)

Thursday

13

June 2019

0

COMMENTS

Nearly a Year of Football

Written by , Posted in Adventures

You know I love football (the kind I grew up calling soccer, not the kind where only like two people on the field touch the ball with their feet). I’m a Reign supporter (and have written in the past about how media fails to support women in football), a US Women’s National Team Supporter, and have just returned from the first of four trips I’ll be taking to France over the course of a month to watch six Women’s World Cup matches. And, as I shared in September, I’ve found a club to play with here in London. This post is a reflection on the last ten months.

Over the season (if my count is correct) I’ve played in about 20 matches. For a few weeks I was lucky enough to play on Saturdays and Sundays, which meant there were some weekends that were all football, all the time. Other than travel or being sick/injured, I’m at training every week, which this winter meant training in rain and snow. (I prefer snow, though it feels more dangerous). I also read a book on goal keeping, because it quickly became clear that even though I’ve been playing in goal since I was a kid, I didn’t have much of a strategy other than ‘stop the ball.’

The book helped me visualize a couple of things, and offered some good off-season strength exercises, but that’s not where the learning has happened. Those weeks of training drills and those 20 matches? That’s where I’ve been figuring things out and improving. I’ve grown in confidence and I feel more comfortable with my decision-making. I’ve got so much more to learn (including how to do a fucking goal kick that doesn’t end up at the chest of the opposition), but that’s what makes this so fun: there’s always more to learn.

Obviously I’ve been putting the work in, but I can also credit support I’ve gotten from our back line, the other keepers on the team, and the coach. One keeper is the team captain, and while she is good in goal, I think she’d prefer to be out on the pitch, somewhere mid-field. She knows about body positioning, and going to ground, and letting the defense know where she is. She warmed me up before matches, and shouted back to me after a goal or before a goal kick, telling me to just relax and keep going. I can’t begin to explain how helpful that has been.

The other new keeper on the team has been an awesome support as well, texting good wished before matches and sharing in frustration when a training has gone by where we haven’t had much time in goal. And the coach has helped me figure out how to fit in with the style of play the club promotes, was extremely patient when it was taking me forever to feel comfortable with going to ground when one-on-one against a striker, and is helping me figure out those damned goal kicks.

Last month the team held its end of year awards banquet. It was delightful to be in a room with so many amazing, talented, fun women. I don’t know all of them well, and in some ways I do still feel like the new girl … but on the other hand there were like 20 new girls this year, so I always felt like I had a place somewhere. I also was voted Most Improved, which, in my opinion, is one of the kindest bits of recognition out there. I worked hard this last year, and was surrounded by supportive teammates who had patience, who didn’t let any frustration they felt towards my performance impact our interactions, and who understood that I was always out there trying my best and working at getting better.

 

I’m excited for next year. I’m excited to get even more comfortable with my decision-making and my voice. I’m excited to get fitter (cross-training with football definitely helped my half-marathon time; in the off-season I’m going to spend more time on weights to increase my strength). I’m excited to welcome new members to the team and see what we can all do together. It’s fantastic to play with — and against — talented, tough, interesting women playing the sport they love.

 

 

Monday

10

June 2019

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COMMENTS

How to Be a Footballer by Peter Crouch

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Four Stars

Best for:
People who enjoying playing or watching football, especially the men’s game, especially the English Premier League.

In a nutshell:
Professional football (soccer) player Peter Crouch offers a glimpse into the lives of professional players, including what goes on in the changing rooms, what it’s like to be traded (sold) to another team, and why so many seem to buy such … interesting cars.

Worth quoting:
“You should probably be able to absorb the pain of an opposition goal without needing to wave two finders in the scorer’s face…We all like goals. And if it’s a goal you personally do not like, you can be certain that someone with the same primary leisure interest as you will be absolutely loving it.”

Why I chose it:
I like a good football (soccer) biography, and this one had the potential to be especially entertaining.

Review:
What a lovely surprise this book was! I love football (or, as I grew up calling it, soccer). I’ve played since I was a kid, and last year joined a women’s league here in London, so I train every Tuesday (and one Friday a month), and play in matches on Sundays (and some Saturdays) from September through April. It’s a lovely camaraderie as well as a way to stay fit and keep my brain going as I try to improve. I’m also going to the Women’s World Cup (tomorrow!), where I’ll watch the US Women’s National Team play each of their group stage matches, and then return for the semi-finals and finals.

I have read and reviewed a couple autobiographies from players for the US Women’s National Team, but they were fairly straightforward sports bios, whereas this one is more a collection of humorous observational essays. And, because I didn’t grow up watching the England men’s premier league (or much men’s international football at all), there are a lot of references that I don’t get. However, that didn’t take a way from the book. Sure, there are a lot of players and moments (say, an amazing goal) that are mentioned, but there is enough context within each chapter to get the general gist.

Crouch played for a few teams in the English men’s premier league, as well as for England’s men’s national team. You might recognize him as the extraordinarily tall, very lean, striker. Seriously, the guy is 6’7”. Damn. He currently plays for Burnley, and has played for Aston Villa, QPR and Liverpool in the past. But this book isn’t so much about that. I mean, it is – he talks about his experiences working under different managers, and traveling with different teams. But each chapter is about a different aspect of a footballer’s life, and it doesn’t follow any traditional trajectory. Any given chapter might refer to his time in the youth league, or at a World Cup. He doesn’t talk much about his wife or kids — this is a book about football.

And it’s funny! I don’t know how better to put it than that. Yes, I think you need to have a passing interest in the sport, but Crouch is a genuinely endearing, funny guy who can make an already entertaining story even better. He’s just the right amount of self-deprecating, and he’s also willing to point out when he thinks something is just silly.

I mean, come on:

The only bummer for me is that at no point are any of his examples of amazing plays or players women. Yes, obviously he’s played only with men, and only in men’s leagues. But he doesn’t limit his anecdotes to just things he’s directly experienced or people he has played with; he references loads of players and moments that took place before he was playing. Is there really no goal a professional woman footballer has scored that is worth a mention? Not Carli Lloyd’s hat trick at the World Cup Final in 2015? Not Abby Wambach’s headers? It’s just disappointing.

Still, I recommend this book if you like football and you like to laugh.

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Pass to a friend

Sunday

9

June 2019

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What I’m Reading – June 9, 2019

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

2020 Election

“Though Biden isn’t the only Democratic candidate haunted by an account of inappropriate touching, he is the only one who seems to think he can laugh his problems away. And so far, his strategy seems to be working: He currently has a significant lead over his competitors, although that may change as voters interact with him more often.” What’s So Funny, Joe? (by Sarah Jones for The Cut)

Dangerous Shit Tr*mp Did

“Scientists condemned the administration’s decision in the strongest possible terms. “We believe this decision to be politically motivated, shortsighted and not based on sound science,” read a prepared statement by UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood. UCSF is using fetal tissue to find a cure for HIV. “Today’s action ends a 30-year partnership with the NIH,” Hawgood continued, adding the ban will “undermine scientific discovery and the ability to find effective treatments for serious and life-threatening disease.” Trump Administration Bans Government Scientists From Using Fetal Tissue (by Sony Salzman for Rewire.News)

“Although the pride flag can and is being flown elsewhere on embassy grounds, including inside embassies and on exterior walls, the decision not to allow it on the official flagpole stands in contrast to President Donald Trump’s claim to be a leader in supporting LGBTQ rights overseas. Trump’s administration has announced a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality overseas and this month issued a tweet and formal statement to “celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made.” The denials to U.S. embassies have come from the office of the State Department’s undersecretary for management, Brian Bulatao, a longtime associate of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who also worked for him at the CIA. Under State Department policy, embassies that want to fly the flag on their flagpoles are expected to obtain permission from Washington.” Trump admin tells U.S. embassies they can’t fly pride flag on flagpoles (by Josh Lederman for NBC News)

Labor

“Claire Stapleton, a longtime marketing manager at Google and its subsidiary YouTube, said she decided to leave the company after 12 years when it became clear that her trajectory at the company was “effectively over”. “I made the choice after the heads of my department branded me with a kind of scarlet letter that makes it difficult to do my job or find another one,” she wrote in an email to co-workers announcing her departure on 31 May. “If I stayed, I didn’t just worry that there’d be more public flogging, shunning, and stress, I expected it.” “The message that was sent [to others] was: ‘You’re going to compromise your career if you make the same choices that Claire made,” she told the Guardian by phone. “It was designed to have a chilling effect on employees who raise issues or speak out.”” ‘I’ve paid a huge personal cost:’ Google walkout organizer resigns over alleged retaliation (by Julie Carrie Wong for The Guardian)

Reproductive Health

“This is just the latest case in the news, but if there was any doubt before, what we are seeing in Missouri and across the country is a public health crisis. We are in a state of emergency for reproductive health in America, and it requires a true emergency response. Over the past few months, we’ve seen just how vulnerable access to safe, legal abortion is across the country. Anti-abortion politicians in states across the country have enacted extreme, dangerous, and unconstitutional abortion bans that will endanger lives. Alabama’s ban would outlaw abortion at any point in pregnancy, others in Georgia and Ohio’s before many even know they are pregnant. Some, like Alabama, Louisiana, and Missouri, don’t include exceptions for rape or incest. And some would put doctors in jail for years—Alabama even has a maximum sentence of 99 years in prison—for doing their jobs. These laws don’t just affect doctors; they would even open the door for miscarriages to be investigated.” Dr. Leana Wen: A State of Emergency in Missouri and Across the Country (by Dr. Leana Wen for Rewire.News)

Something Good

Austin wrote this magazine’s opening article, about games worker unionization. Download it here.

Sunday

2

June 2019

0

COMMENTS

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

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Four Stars

Best for:
Anyone whose life doesn’t fit the script. And anyone whose does, but insists that other’s lives fit as well.

In a nutshell:
Keiko is 36, single, and has been working in the same convenience store since she was 18. Family and friends want her to get another job, find a husband, and maybe have a child.

Worth quoting:
“When something was strange, everyone thought they had the right to come stomping in all over your life to figure out why. I found that arrogant and infuriating, not to mention a pain in the neck.”
“The normal world has no room for exceptions and always quietly eliminates foreign objects. Anyone who is lacking is disposed of.”
“People who are considered normal enjoy putting those who aren’t on trial, you know.”

Why I chose it:
It’s been on display everywhere I go lately, so I finally picked it up. Glad I did!

Review:
Keiko doesn’t fit into what society expects of women. She works part-time in a job that others look down upon, she doesn’t date, and she doesn’t have many friends or interests outside of work. She makes people uncomfortable because she doesn’t have the same life goals as others – she has no interest in sex, she doesn’t want another job. She studies others so she can fit in better, but overall she’d just be happy if people let her be. But of course, people don’t, including a misogynistic jackass who starts – and quickly leaves – work at the same convenience store.

This is a short book, but it packs a lot into it. Author Murata uses an interesting and different character – one who it might be hard to initially relate to – to make a bigger point about life and what we expect from it for not just ourselves, but others. I get a taste of it at times because I am not having children; some people with children often seem to not entirely know what to do with me once they realize that I’m not going to change my mind. And on a more serious level, I see this playing out in my home town of Seattle, where people who aren’t fulfilling what others view as their duty (namely, to somehow miraculously figure out how to find a home with money they don’t have) are viewed as a drain on society. There’s a life script, and people who follow it (usually people who, I would argue, are unhappy they had to follow it) can be utterly cruel to those who either can’t, won’t, or don’t want to.

Obviously this is complicated by the fact that the thing that seems to make Keiko happy is working in what so many people think of as a soul-crushing job. I saw one review that considered this a horror book. And perhaps part of it is. Or perhaps the author picked something that it would be hard for so many of us to see as a positive to challenge us further. Either way, I’m into it.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it