ASK Musings

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Monthly Archive: August 2017



August 2017



As You Wish by Cary Elwes

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Four Stars

Best for: Readers who like to learn about the behind-the-scenes world of film-making but aren’t looking for salacious gossip.

In a nutshell: Sweet actor writes sweet book about sweet film.

Line that sticks with me: “But there was no hiding for Andre. When you are that big, there is no possible disguise; no way to shrink into the background.”

Why I chose it: I recall it getting good reviews in the cannonball read previously, and it happened to be on sale. Win win!

Review: Long before my husband and I got engaged, we were out drinking with two of our friends. The husband in that couple joked that he’d be happy to officiate our eventual wedding, and that he’d just model it after the ceremony in The Princess Bride. Two years later, he stood before us and 80 of our friends and families and bellowed “Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today. And wove, twue wove,” followed by “oooh, sorry, wrong ceremony.” Pretty much everyone except my mother and a couple relatives in their 70s were laughing out loud. Given that the age range was 3-70+, I’d say it shows just how deeply this film has made it into our culture.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, as I haven’t seen the film in awhile. I wasn’t sure if I’d be missing out on nuances or not be able to place the actors Mr. Elwes discusses. Ha. Yeah right. It’s all perfectly clear in my mind even without the adorable pictures that he includes. The stories he shares are just lovely, and paint everyone in a very good light. I’d question whether he is providing an overly rose-colored view of things, but I found it all convincing. I think it was a group of kind, funny people who made a terrific movie.

I chose a quote about Andre the Giant as the line that sticks with me because I found the stories about him to be the most enjoyable. He led a life that others might find challenging, but he seemed to make the decision that he was going to figure out how to live a life as a literal giant. He seemed to suck the marrow out of life (I hate that imagery but it fits so well) and also gave to so many others.

The only real issues I had with the book are that the quotes from interviews with other actors on set are interspersed in little text boxes that aren’t at an easy stopping point in the main text. So I’d sometimes get lost in a story and then have to go back and find that the text box actually related to that story. And sometimes not so much.

This was a quick read, and it made me want to go rewatch the film. (As of this writing, it seems to be available for rent on Amazon streaming, so off I go!)



August 2017



Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe

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Four Stars

Best for: People looking for fun, quick explanations of common machines (like helicopters or washer/dryers) and nature (like the night sky).

In a nutshell: Creator of xkcd brings his cute drawings and research skills to a large-format book.

Line that sticks with me: None really, but I did chuckle a bunch.

Why I chose it: I thoroughly enjoyed his book “What If”  – it was one of my top books last year. So it seemed natural to pick up his next one.

Review: This is a mostly great book that takes on a some of the things that many of us probably have questions about in the physical realm. Like, do you know all the parts of your dish washer and how they work? Okay, what about a submarine? Or a nuclear power plant?

Mr. Munroe takes on these – and 40 other machines and bits of our natural world. He provides detailed schematics and describes what each bit does, using plain language. In fact, I believe he tried to use only 1,000 different words to describe really complicated processes.

And this where the book loses one star from me. I appreciate what he is going for, but especially for machines and components of the natural world that I have some knowledge of (like, for example, cells), I found it more confusing that he never used the correct terms. Like the International Space Station becomes the Shared Space House. Of a nuclear power plant becomes the Heavy Metal Power Building. I found that to be confusing and not helpful in me taking what I learn here and being able to recall it when I heard these things discussed using the proper terms.

My favorite bit was the break-down of the U.S. Constitution; I think it’s possibly the best section-by-section synopsis of that document I’ve ever read. Seriously, I think civics teachers should hand this out before they talk about that time in U.S. history.

If you are going to read this, I strongly recommend you get the hardcover version. These drawings should be seen at full size, and there’s a pull-out poster of a skyscraper in the back!



August 2017



What I’m Reading – August 27, 2017

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Today I’m mostly focused on the response to Hurricane Harvey. If you are so moved, Huffington Post has a round-up of donation options. As always, do your own research. And with natural disasters, the need is LONG TERM. So if you can’t give right now, please consider giving in a couple of months, or next year even. These folks will need our help for years.

Horrific Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary Action

“But professor Martin Redish argues in the New York Times that this particular pardon ought to be deemed constitutionally invalid. He contends that it offends the Due Process Clause because the only effective redress for those whose rights were violated by then–Sheriff Arpaio when he defied the court’s injunction is a contempt sanction, and voiding that sanction with a pardon both neuters the judicial power to enforce constitutional rights and deprives Arpaio’s victims of relief.” Trump’s Pardon of Joe Arpaio Is an Impeachable Offense (by Frank Bowman for Slate)

“Overseeing the process was Judge Linda R. Reade, the chief judge of the Northern District of Iowa. She defended the decision to turn a fairground into a courthouse, saying the proceedings were fair and unhurried. The incident sparked allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct and led to congressional hearings. Erik Camayd-Freixas, an interpreter who had worked at the Waterloo proceedings, testified that most of the Spanish-speaking defendants had been pressured to plead guilty. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said the unconventional process seemed “like a cattle auction, not a criminal prosecution in the United States of America.”” A Federal Judge Put Hundreds of Immigrants Behind Bars While Her Husband Invested in Private Prisons (by Samantha Michaels for Mother Jones)


“In an interview on Sunday morning, Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center, said: “Everything that we had hoped wouldn’t happen but was forecasted is happening. We have a catastrophic, life-threatening flood event taking place over southeastern Texas, including the Houston metropolitan area. It’s bad now and it’s getting worse.”” Harvey Brings Catastrophic Floods to Houston; at Least Five Reported Dead (New  York Times)

““The Right to be Rescued” is a short documentary that tells the stories of people with disabilities affected by Hurricane Katrina. Released days before the 10th anniversary of the storm, our goal is to make emergency planners aware of the specific needs of people with disabilities and push them to alter their disaster plans to make sure those needs are met. You can help! We will provide links or DVDs to anyone who would like to screen this film for emergency planners and others in their community.” The Right to be Rescued (by Rooted in Rights)

Reproductive Health

“Richardson’s case has also attracted national attention from advocates who note that it bears some resemblance to that of Purvi Patel’s, the Indiana woman who was arrested after prosecutors said she delivered a live fetus following taking abortion-inducing drugs obtained from the internet. Patel was ordered to serve 20 years in prison for feticide and felony neglect of a dependent in 2016. After an appeal, the feticide charge was overturned and the neglect charge was reduced last year.” Trial Date Set for Ohio Woman Accused of Killing Baby After Reporting Stillbirth (by Sonia Chopra for Rewire)


““I shouted out begging for their help,” Kendall said, “telling them, ‘The man who hit me, he’s walking away right now, I can see him, please help me. I need your help …. I would say two of the officers had the courage to meet my gaze. Most of them averted their eyes. All of them did nothing. None of them said a word.”” In Charlottesville, ‘Police Did Nothing’ (by Jackson Landers for Rewire)



August 2017



The Anxiety Toolkit by Alice Boyes

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3 Stars

Best for: People with certain types of anxiety (but probably not everyone with anxiety).

In a nutshell: Researcher Boyes shares actionable tips for individuals with anxiety.

Line that sticks with me: “When you’re avoiding something, try identifying the next action you need to take to move forward. Do that action.”

Why I chose it: It looked readable and possible helpful.

Review: Hmm. This book is a very easy read, and it definitely has some useful tips for addressing some of the common challenges that people with anxiety face. As someone with mild anxiety, I was hoping I would find items in here that are helpful to me, but I didn’t find a whole lot.

The way the information is presented is, I think, useful. At the start of each section, the reader takes a quiz to get some better awareness about how the reader handles certain situations. This doesn’t end up changing the advice that Dr. Boyes gives; it more just serves as a way for the reader to assess how much of what is to follow is going to be relevant to their particular challenges.

Dr. Boyes focuses on five areas that she says her research suggests are the biggest hurdles for people with anxiety: hesitancy; rumination; paralyzing perfectionism; fear of feedback and criticism; and avoidance. I found the suggestions related to the fourth item to be helpful, but the other issues aren’t how my anxiety manifests itself, so while the information shared seems like it would be good for folks, it’s just not relevant for me.



August 2017



Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott

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Three Stars

Best for: People who like etiquette books and who are looking for a quick read.

In a nutshell: Author continues to stretch the semester she spent in Paris into a lifestyle brand.

Line that sticks with me: “Also think (and pause) before you speak.” Seriously, I need to be reminded this daily.

Why I chose it: I’ve been picking up a lot of fairly heavy books lately. Even though I didn’t like her previous book, I felt like giving it another chance.

Books like this can be challenging to review. On the one hand, there are some great tips in here that I will be working to incorporate into my actions to improve my life. On the other, I find the writing stilted, and some of the tips needlessly conservative if not a bit classist (and, in a couple of cases, casually and likely unintentionally racist). I’m also still fascinated by the fact that these tips come from a six-month period the author spent in Paris a good decade ago at least.

The tips that will be useful, to me, are reminders around things like posture and how I interact with other people. I think the way she chooses to share those tips is thoughtful and applicable to life. And she has taken care this go round to point out that one can still carry oneself well regardless of body shape or size, or of access to funds. I appreciate that.

However. Her idea of what denotes poise wavers on the edge of being overwhelmingly white. Her examples of laudable and poise-filled films are overwhelmingly white, as is her list of celebrities to admire (save Denzel Washington). She also makes an ignorant comment about twerking. It seems as though she didn’t submit the book for sensitivity reading.

She also has, in my opinion, a misplaced distaste for cursing. I refuse to sign onto the idea that people should remove the words ‘fuck,’ ‘ass,’ and ‘shit’ from their vocabulary if they don’t want to, and I don’t believe they have any less poise than someone who says “gosh darn it.”

I think my reviews of her books are likely overly harsh because this is a genre I’ve spent so much time reading. I think that many people will find this book entertaining and useful, and there’s nothing wrong with that.



August 2017



What I’m Reading – August 20, 2017

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Horrific Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Action

“Yet even if all 1,500 Confederate symbols across the country were removed overnight by some sudden supernatural force, the pernicious crusade to roll back voting rights would continue apace, with voters of color suffering its effects disproportionately. Pushing back hard against those who would purge voter rolls, demand forms of voter ID that many Americans don’t possess, and limit times and venues for voting — this should be a paramount cause for the Trump era.” Voter suppression is the civil rights issue of this era (by the Editorial Board of the Washington Post)

“Desperate, Arias hired an attorney to help him pursue the injury benefits that Florida law says all employees, including unauthorized immigrants, are entitled to receive. Then one morning after he dropped off two of his boys at school, Arias was pulled over and arrested, while his toddler watched from his car seat. Arias was charged with using a false Social Security number to get a job and to file for workers’ comp. The state insurance fraud unit had been tipped off by a private investigator hired by his employer’s insurance company.” They Got Hurt At Work — Then They Got Deported (by Michael Grabell for NPR)

““What we have is a sweeping request for every single file we have” in relation to, said Chris Ghazarian, general counsel for DreamHost, which hosts the site. “The search warrant is not only dealing with everything in relation to the website but also tons of data about people who visited it.” The request also covers emails between the site’s organizers and people interested in attending the protests, any deleted messages and files, as well as subscriber information — such as names and addresses — and unpublished photos and blog posts that are stored in the site’s database, according to the warrant and Ghazarian.” Tech firm is fighting a federal demand for data on visitors to an anti-Trump website (by Ellen Nakashima for Washington Post)

“But not everyone agrees with that statement. State lawmakers in at least six GOP-controlled states have pushed for laws this year that would shield drivers who hit protesters. The bills are part of a wave of anti-protest proposals introduced since the rise of the Black Lives Matter and anti-Trump resistance movements.” Republicans in 6 states are trying to protect drivers who hit protesters (by Kira Lerner for Think Progress)

White Supremacy

“But turnout on the white supremacist side was incredibly small. They were outnumbered, by the thousands, by counter-protestors, who flooded Boston Common and the surrounding streets to rally against neo-Nazis, the KKK, and racist violence.” White supremacist rally fizzles, overtaken by massive anti-racism march (by Jessica M. Goldstein for Think Progress)

“Over time, I noticed that her opinions and politics began to skew right. Or at least, her rhetoric sounded as such. She often questioned my rage at injustices in society. Not so much the instances that annoyed me, but my belief that America, as an institution, was at fault. She preferred to believe that there were just bad apples out there making bad choices. My issues were isolated, not systemic. No matter how I presented my case, she always found a way to insinuate that maybe it wasn’t as bad as I was making it out to be and that everything wasn’t about race. These conversations always frustrated me because I couldn’t understand how anybody who watched the news, and then heard her own flesh and blood speak passionately about his own experiences, could doubt with so much conviction.” How Trump Ruined My Relationship With My White Mother (by Panama Jackson for The Root)

“The ACLU’s Virginia branch defended the right of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other groups under the banner “Unite the Right” to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville park. “The events of Charlottesville require any judge, any police chief and any legal group to look at the facts of any white-supremacy protests with a much finer comb,” said Mr. Romero. The revised policy marries the 97-year-old civil-rights group’s First Amendment work with the organization’s stance on firearms, which aligns with many municipalities and states that bar protesters from carrying weapons.” ACLU Will No Longer Defend Hate Groups Protesting With Firearms (by Joe Palazzolo for the Wall Street Journal)

“But while the president may have muddied the waters for those who were not present on those Virginia streets last weekend, the protesters, reporters, and clergy present understand the true character of the chaos: violence on Friday night, with police asleep at the switch, led to an uneasy atmosphere Saturday morning. Police again played the bystander’s role the next morning, fanning a tense morning into a bloody afternoon of pitched battles in the public street.” The police failed Charlottesville (via Alan Pike for Think Progress)

“Online, white nationalists may use pseudonyms, VPNs, and other techniques to try to mask their identity out of fear of doxxing, or having their personal, sensitive information leaked online. But at Charlottesville, those who attended had no reasonable expectation of privacy, according to the organizers themselves.” Doxxing White Supremacists Is Making Them Terrified (by Steven Blum for Broadly)

“The torch bearers who descended upon Charlottesville this past weekend to protest the removal of a statue honoring Lee appear young enough to have attended grade school after the separation, but it’s clear they received the same message. In Lee, they see a hero. Not only do they see a hero, they see themselves. The chant that animated their march was, “You will not replace us.” More than 150 years after the end of Civil War, they choose to identify with those who took up arms in order to maintain holding people in bondage. I wish I found this more surprising.” Historical Amnesia About Slavery Is a Tool of White Supremacy (by Mychal Denzel Smith for The Nation)

“But these right-wing extremists are the same group that helped put Donald Trump into office, aligning with his discriminatory, socially regressive agenda. According to The New York Times, David Duke, a former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, told reporters on Saturday that the protesters were “going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump” to “take our country back.” So it’s no wonder why we’ve seen Donald Trump focus his agenda almost entirely on countering Islamist extremism while skirting around white supremacist extremism.” Right Wing Terrorism in America (by Hannah Rose for Bust)

““Me and about five of my friends were out protesting. We thought [the racists] left, but at one point they came back. Everyone was exchanging words with the group, but then the KKK and white supremacists just rushed us,” Harris told The Root in an interview. “They were beating me with poles. I have eight staples in my head, a broken wrist and a chipped tooth,” Harris said.” Interview: 20-Year-Old Deandre Harris Speaks Out About Being Assaulted by White Supremacists in Charlottesville, Va. (by Yesha Callahan for The Root)

“The road that James Alex Fields Jr. sped down was paved with countless editorials in major newspapers and magazines that positioned student movements or black women on Twitter as existential threats to “free speech.” It was paved by those who said they were less afraid of Richard Spencer than the man who punched him. It was paved by countless people saying, “they’re just words” or “it’s just the internet, it’s not real life” in defence of extremists’ vitriol, never realizing that such statements are not mere words on the wind: they are promises.” When ‘Free Speech’ Kills (by Katherine Cross for The Establishment)

Fight Back

“”Find what’s wrong, don’t ignore it, don’t look the other way,” Bro said. “Say to yourself, ‘What can I do to make a difference?’ And that’s how you’re going to make my child’s death worthwhile.” “I want this to spread. I don’t want this to die. This is just the beginning of Heather’s legacy,” she continued.” The mother of Heather Heyer, Charlottesville victim, just gave a must-watch speech. (by Parker Molloy for Upworthy)

“Our country’s entire social, political, and economic system is built off of the promise that poor and working class whites would always get more than everyone else — that they deserved more than everyone else. When the profits of white supremacy prove to be meager, because capitalism will always send the spoils to the top few, the anger of being cheated out of their just rewards is easily funneled into racist hate.” So You Want To Fight White Supremacy (by Ijeoma Oluo for The Establishment)

“Dozens of NYPD officers joined Raymond in wearing black shirts with the logo “#ImWithKap.” City Council member Jumaane Williams opted for a red Kaepernick jersey. Near the end of the rally, all involved raised their fists and took a synchronized knee in support of the one-time San Francisco starter.” Frank Serpico, NYPD cops raise their fists, take a knee for team-less Colin Kaepernick at Brooklyn rally (by Dale W. Eisinger and Larry McShane for NY Daily News)

“In his defense of terrorist extremist factions, the president also lumped in the anti-fascist (or “antifa”) movement. While many are familiar with the various segments of white supremacy, few people have taken the time to explain the origins and motivations of the antifa movement that recently stepped into the spotlight, so we thought we’d offer this explainer.” Yes, Anti-Fascists Are Violent … and Necessary (by Michael Harriot for The Root)

Something Good

“Farooq Aftab, the event organiser and the deputy head of AMYA, told The Independent the location was important because it showed Muslims were engaged in public life across the UK, despite the area itself not being particularly diverse. “We recognise Islam as a religion of peace and integration which promotes unity and this is what this event will show. We want to make sure that we bring people together and that we show unity and humanity,” he said, adding the event will help to fight “misconceptions about Islam”. The event’s motto “every act of goodness is charity” is a message of the Prophet Muhammad who according to Muslims encouraged charitable actions towards others.” Muslim youth group combating Islamophobia by raising £500,000 for charity with single event (by Chloe Farand for The Independent)



August 2017



On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

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Four Stars

Best for: People who see what is happening in the U.S. and want some quick tips on how to fight back.

In a nutshell: The subtitle says it all. Twenty lessons the guide our fight against the encroaching tyranny.

Line that sticks with me: “When exactly was the ‘again’ in the president’s slogan ‘Make America great again’? Hint: It is the same ‘again’ that we find in ‘Never again.’” (p 123)

Why I chose it: I was in a bookstore on Tuesday and saw this on a table. It looked like a book I could read quickly, and I was (and still am) really struggling with the best way for me personally to address what is happening in the U.S.

Review: Author Timothy Snyder is an expert on tyranny. His field of study is Eastern Europe history. And, according to Wikipedia, he and I went to the same school (LSE shout out!).

What I’m saying is, he seems to know what he’s talking about. And he uses his knowledge to share twenty quick tips (backed up by 1-4 pages of support) of what to look for, what to do, and how to handle ourselves as we face this administration and the current state of the nation.

A sampling of the tips: “Do not obey in advance.” “Believe in truth.” “Investigate.” “Establish a private life.” “Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.” Some of them are obvious to me ( “Be wary of paramilitaries.”); others were not as much (”Make eye contact and small talk.”). There were only a couple of times that I found myself raising my eyebrows – one when the tip seems to suggest that people who aren’t in the streets aren’t doing real work, and one that suggests that patriots agree to fight in wars. I think he believes the former; the latter may just have been the result of poor language choices.

This book doesn’t have all the answers, but it provides a good reference point for when I find myself reacting, but not sure if I want to react that way.



August 2017



White Rage by Carol Anderson

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Five Stars

Best for: All white people in the U.S. right now.

In a nutshell: Dr. Anderson shares a concise history of all the shit black people have gone through because of the anger white people feel when black people start to make even a little bit of progress.

Line that sticks with me: All of them. Seriously, I underlined, circled, or commented on all but maybe three pages in this book.

Okay, fine, here’s one: “Somehow many have convinced themselves that the man who pulled the Unites States back into some semblance of financial health, reduced unemployment to its lowest level in decades, secured health insurance for millions of citizens, ended one of our recent, all-too-intractable wars in the Middle East, reduced the staggering deficit he inherited from George W. Bush, and masterminded the takedown of Osama bin Laden actually hates America.” (p 157)

Why I chose it: Because after the tiki-torch white supremacist violent rally and the subsequent murder of a counter-protester and beating of a black man by these racist assholes, I needed to read something. So I went to my happy place, our local independent bookstore, and wandered around until I found this.

Review: This book is phenomenal. It is poetic and yet extremely straightforward. Dr. Anderson exercises an economy of language that I envy, as she is able to tell a compelling and undeniable history of racism against black people in the U.S. in just over 160 pages. But I thought it was much longer when I bought it, because Dr. Anderson includes OVER 60 PAGES of notes at the end. She isn’t just telling a story, she’s backing up each statement with a source.

Dr. Anderson divides the book into just five elegant chapters, plus a brief prologue and epilogue. Each chapter takes on a section of U.S. history: reconstruction, great migration, education segregation, backlash to civil rights, and the continued destruction of voting rights. The premise is that white people have such an inability to handle black people making any strides forward that they react with new and creative ways to work the system to try to push them back down.

The detail in each chapter is phenomenal. Dr. Anderson shows how horribly white people have treated black people in the this country every time there is a hint that they may be making some progress away from the discriminatory systems put in place by those same white people. How southern states passed laws to not just punish black people laboring within their state, but to prevent them from ever leaving to pursue better work elsewhere. How one school district closed its doors to all students for FIVE YEARS rather than integrate. How fuckers like Scott Walker (I originally wrote Wallace instead, probably since he seems to be the spiritual son of George Wallace) did everything they could to disenfranchise thousands of people in his state.

In the epilogue, Dr. Anderson mentions Republican candidate Donald Trump’s promise to “take our country back.” I hope that there is a paperback update in the works, and that she is able to add a section of what has happened in these past few years. I did, however, hear her on a podcast this week discussing Charlottesville. You can hear her in the August 16, 2017 episode here:

Reading this book with the current events in the background caused my jaw to tighten and my pulse to race. I’m not naive. I know that the history of white people in the country is horrific. I know that that history didn’t end with the Civil War, or the Civil Rights movement. I was not surprised by what happened in Charlottesville, nor was I surprised by the President* coming down firmly on the side of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. But this book brings some of that history home. It gives me something to point to if I encounter a white person who is ignorant of how what is going on today is not that different from what white people have been doing to black people since the Emancipation Proclamation, but has a genuine desire to learn more. It gives me specific examples to point to when the asshole white people I encounter act like this shit hasn’t been going on forever.

As I said up top, I think all white people in the U.S. need to read this book. Share it with people and keep it in mind as you take to the streets to stand up against white supremacists. But also keep it in mind when you’re at work and someone starts to complain about affirmative action, or you’re out with friends and someone tries to suggest that there’s no problem with voter ID laws, or your state legislature thinks its fine to continue using neighborhood property taxes to disparately fund schools. Because while we should all obviously be letting the Nazi cosplayers know their hate isn’t acceptable, we also need to know that not all racism comes in the form of a white hood or white polo shirt and khakis. It’s systemic and will take all of us working to change it.



August 2017



What I’m Reading – August 13, 2017

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White Supremacist Violence

“The city of Charlottesville was engulfed by violence on Saturday as white nationalists and counterprotesters clashed in one of the bloodiest fights to date over the removal of Confederate monuments across the South. White nationalists had long planned a demonstration over the city’s decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. But the rally quickly exploded into racial taunting, shoving and outright brawling, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency and the National Guard to join the police in clearing the area.” Man Charged After White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville Ends in Deadly Violence (by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Brian M. Rosenthal for New York Times)

“Standing nearby, an assortment of Virginia State Police troopers and Charlottesville police wearing protective gear watched silently from behind an array of metal barricades — and did nothing. It was a scene that played out over and over in Charlottesville as law enforcement confronted the largest public gathering of white supremacists in decades. We walked the streets beginning in the early morning hours and repeatedly witnessed instances in which authorities took a largely laissez faire approach, allowing white supremacists and counter-protesters to physically battle.” Police Stood By As Mayhem Mounted in Charlottesville (by A.C. Thompson and Robert Faturechi for ProPublica)

“The US President has refused to condemn the actions of the neo-Nazis, skinheads, and members of the Ku Klux Klan who descended on the Virginia city on Saturday yelling racial abuse, brandishing flaming torches, carrying assault rifles and wearing paramilitary clothing. Speaking from a stage in a golf clubhouse, President Trump decried “violence on all sides” rather than explicitly taking aim at far-right extremists.” Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists applaud Donald Trump’s response to deadly violence in Virginia (by Maya Oppenheim for The Independent)

“Heather Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, told HuffPost that her daughter attended Saturday’s rally because she “was about bringing an end to injustice.” “Heather was not about hate, Heather was about stopping hatred,” Bro said through tears. “Heather was about bringing an end to injustice. I don’t want her death to be a focus for more hatred, I want her death to be a rallying cry for justice and equality and fairness and compassion.”” Heather Heyer ‘Murdered While Protesting Against Hate’ In Charlottesville, Friends Say (by Dominique Mosbergen , Andy Campbell for Huffpost)

Horrific Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Actions

“The Indiana chapter of the NAACP is suing state election officials to block a new law that would shutter hundreds of polling locations in a county with a large number of African American and Hispanic voters. The lawsuit, filed in federal court Wednesday, alleges that the law specifically targets a particular region of the state with a large minority, poor, and elderly population, impeding the ability of those voters to cast a ballot.” Indiana Is Making It Harder for Minorities to Vote, Lawsuit Alleges (by Pema Levy for Mother Jones)


“The manifesto expresses thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that are common to its author, Lépine, Rodger, and the domestic abusers Bancroft describes. It is written from a place of entitlement: like Lépine and Rodger but unlike some of the domestic abusers, the entitlement is not to just one specific woman’s attention and service, but rather, to special privileges as white men and to submission and deference from all women, and all people of color, and everybody else occupying a lower position in the social hierarchy. Like Lépine, he’s concerned that they’re taking our jobs.” Refusing to Empathize with Elliot Rodger: Taking Male Entitlement Seriously (by Tim Chevalier)


“Through it all Colin Kaepernick has remained silent. In his silence he has raised yet another mirror to reveal another ugly truth about another American institution. What’s left reflected is that Colin Kaepernick isn’t being blackballed because he knelt for the national anthem, he’s being blackballed because the NFL has (for decades) persuaded its patrons that what he is doesn’t exist: a three-dimensional, wholly human Black athlete.” Colin Kaepernick Isn’t Being Blackballed Because He Knelt for the Anthem (by André Carlisle)

“For many years, athletes have constantly been given additional chances because they are athletes. What does this say about rape culture? That athletes can do no wrong, that they can get away with anything because of how they perform on the field or in the gym?” the petition says. “Does he deserve a second chance? Yes, he does, and he is receiving that second chance by furthering his education on YSU’s campus. Does he deserve the privilege of playing on a football team and representing a university? Absolutely not. Education is a right, whereas playing on a sports team is not.” Athlete With a Past (by Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed)

Criminal Punishment System

“Remote video calls will also be possible. Like phone calls from the jail, the visitors will be charged for video calls. Correctional officials said the fees have yet to be determined. The house of corrections is the first in the state to opt for video over in-person visits.” Massachusetts jail ending in-person visits, to only allow video calls (by Michelle Williams for Mass Live)


“A quick look through PDC filings revealed that the biggest funders of Respect Washington, the group behind the repeal petition, is US Inc., an organization founded by John Tanton. Tanton—dubbed the “racist architect of the modern anti-immigration movement” by the Southern Poverty Law Center—and his organizations have been funding anti-immigrant activism and publishing white nationalist and white supremacist literature for decades.” Meet the Michigan-Based Anti-Immigrant Group Backing Burien’s Sanctuary City Repeal (by Sydney Brownstone for The Stranger)

Sexual Predators

“The fact remains that Allen is still a celebrated artist. His films appear at major festivals and are showered with awards, so if you’re an actor who wants those accolades, you’ll jump at the chance to work for him. You will even find an easy way to explain your reason for doing so.” Why Do Young Stars Like Selena Gomez Work With Woody Allen? (by Ira Madison III for The Daily Beast)


“But it quickly became clear that “clean eating” was more than a diet; it was a belief system, which propagated the idea that the way most people eat is not simply fattening, but impure. Seemingly out of nowhere, a whole universe of coconut oil, dubious promises and spiralised courgettes has emerged. Back in the distant mists of 2009, James Duigan, owner of The Bodyism gym in London and sometime personal trainer to the model Elle MacPherson, published his first Clean and Lean book. As an early adopter of #eatclean, Duigan notes that he “battled” with his publisher “to include ingredients like kale and quinoa, because no one had ever heard of them”. Now quinoa is in every supermarket and kale has become as normal as lettuce. “I long for the days when clean eating meant not getting too much down your front,” the novelist Susie Boyt joked recently.” Why we fell for clean eating (by Bee Wilson for The Guardian)



August 2017



Surpassing Certainty by Janet Mock

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for: Fans of Ms. Mock’s writing and those interested in learning more about her life; people interested in a tight memoir focused on just a few years of early adulthood.

In a nutshell: Author Janet Mock shares part of the story she chose not to include in her first memoir “Redefining Realness.”

Line that sticks with me: “I did not have the luxury to sulk, though. I could not wallow. I could not let my bitterness affect the quality of my work. Doing so would only make it harder for those coming after me.”

Why I chose it: I enjoyed Ms. Mock’s first memoir and wanted to read more.

Review: It took me awhile to get really into this book. I’m not sure if it was because of the week I was having, but it took me about a week to read the first half and just an afternoon to finish it. I’m glad I pushed through, because it’s a great read.

Ms. Mock shared her journey as a trans woman in her first memoir. However, she left out her first romantic relationship and marriage, which she delves into in this book. She explores her work as an exotic dancer, her time in college in Rhode Island and Hawaii, her marriage to a man in the Navy, and her pursuit of a journalism career in New York City.

She is candid about the challenges in her relationship, and about the challenges she had in undergraduate and graduate school, and as a woman of color in publishing. Her moments of revelation around colorism and around her confidence being perceived negatively are especially poignant.

Ms. Mock writes in language that is a bit flowery for my preference, but she tells a great story. This is not to say that I think she do anything different; sometimes I find her writing feels more like a novel than creative non-fiction. And perhaps that is a good thing; I just can find it a bit challenging to navigate. But clearly that’s not a barrier for me, as I still picked this up having read her first book.