ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Monthly Archive: July 2019



July 2019



What I’m Reading – 21 July 2019

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


“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)


“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)


“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)



July 2019



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)


“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)



July 2019



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.

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