Friday, September 30, 2016

Weekend Reading: The Getting Ready for A Birthday Edition

Petunia turns 7 (7!!!) on Sunday, and party preparation and the like has eaten into my online time this week. This is also why I didn't answer the email I got from the reader who couldn't comment on my last post. I didn't get a chance to log in to that email account to answer. I read it, though, and thank you!

Despite my temporary but fairly consuming obsession with birthday party planning and birthday gift procurement and wrapping, I have some links for you, so let's get to them.

First, if you missed Michiko Kakutani's amazing review of a new biography of Hitler, rectify that.

If that book review made your blood run cold, warm your heart with this story of a letter Hillary Clinton sent to a little girl.

The guy who created Pepe the Frog isn't a white nationalist. And he's voting for Hillary.

Graphing opiate deaths in the US vs. time, broken down by region and then state. I stared at those graphs for a long time. Trying to understand the differences between seemingly similar states (e.g., Vermont and New Hampshire) would probably help us come up with better strategies to deal with this problem. And West Virginia's line just breaks my heart.

Michael Chabon's article about taking his son to the Paris Fashion Week was all over my timeline this week, and I finally read it and figured out why. It is really very good.

I came across two really good discussions about writing characters from other cultures and backgrounds. Kaitlyn Greenidge at the NY Times and Mollie Copley Eisenberg at her own blog both explore the idea that you can write outside your own experience, but you have to be able to do it well. You have to have something believable and true to tell the reader. It comes back to the idea that I've seen advance by others (maybe Daniel José Older? I can't find the post I'm thinking about) that a failure to portray diversity well is a failure in the craft of writing.

Rose Eveleth's essay about the damaging myth of effortless is very good.

Some promo news: Academaze was excerpted at Chronicle Vitae this week. They published an essay about colalborations on the tenure track.

And the happy thing at the end: Bhangra dance in the Maritime Provinces. Here's the full video that went viral:

Happy Weekend, everyone! We can't all be turning 7 this weekend, but hopefully we can all have a good weekend, anyway.

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Political Wish

I couldn't watch the debate tonight. It was in the middle of dinner time and the bedtime routine. And really, I just couldn't face it. I am finding the coverage of this election really gets under my skin and brings up all sorts of things I prefer to keep stored under lock and key in my imaginary trunk of sexist crap that has happened to me.

So, anyway. I didn't watch. I gather from my Twitter feed that Hillary did great, Trump was Trump, and no one knows what this will mean for this election.

I am finding it funny to watch a bunch of men be amazed by Hillary's calm, collected response to Trump spewing hateful nonsense. Do they not realize that the Republicans have literally spent more than 20 years giving her opportunity after opportunity to practice the ability to control her reactions to being on the receiving end of hateful nonsense? Practice makes perfect.

I have one other election-related thing I want to get off my chest, too.

As long time readers know, I follow several Republican pundit-types on Twitter, because I like to know what people with different political viewpoints than my own are thinking. Mostly, I'm glad I've done this. Even during this election season, it has on the whole been more informative than infuriating. All of the Republicans I follow are anti-Trump. It just turned out that way: I added these people to my Twitter feed after the last election. I picked people whose views were different than mine but who wouldn't make me want to punch my computer, well before Trump was a candidate.

However, I've noticed a certain lack of self-awareness. To be fair, we all have a lack of self-awareness in some area or another, so this is hardly surprising. But I've watched one after another of these guys do things like tweet about how much Hillary does or does not smile. Sometimes it is serious, sometimes it is a joke, and usually they are surprised and/or dismissive when people are displeased by what they've said. I think that is because they "know" that they aren't sexist or racist or whatever, and so of course the rest of us must be misunderstanding them or not "getting" the point they are making.

I think they genuinely mean well, at least most of the time. In fact, having followed them for quite awhile now, I tend to think they are not more racist or sexist in their own personal beliefs than their peers on the other side of the political divide. But they live inside a distortion field of sorts. No one ever tells them to smile. No one ever holds their purse tighter when they approach. They have never wondered how to handle the weirdly sexist thing their colleague just said to them. No one has ever called them an affirmative action hire. And so on and so on. They probably read about these things happening, and they may even believe what they read. They don't see it and they certainly don't experience it, though, so it is easy to forget about and dismiss.

This makes it is all too easy to decide that it is OK to overlook the racist crap some Senator is spewing, because he agrees with them on taxes. And they can convince themselves that it is OK to ignore the misogynistic policies a candidate proposes, because he's got trade policy ideas they like.

The problem is that ignoring that racism and sexism, and in fact agreeing to be a fellow traveler with that racism and sexism, has allowed this cancer in our body politic to grow and spread, until it threatens our democratic norms. Anyone who thinks they can control this cancer is mistaken. If we let it remain, it will continue to weaken us, and we will always be at risk from another outbreak of Trumpism or some other equally disturbing disease.

If we make it through this year without electing a racist, misogynistic fascist to the White House, it is my fervent wish that these nice, reasonable Republican guys stop and really think about the extent to which their own willingness to be fellow travelers with people who embrace racism and sexism and other forms of bigotry helped enable Trump's rise.

Really, we all need to stop and assess this, because like I said: this is a cancer. It makes us weaker. I suspect most of us can find a way to do more to help excise it. But in particular, I hope the "never Trump" Republicans think about it. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept, etc., etc. They might hold themselves to a higher standard, but they walked alongside the standard Trump has embodied for a long, long time. Is it really so surprising that so many people think it is acceptable?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Something Happy

I meant to write a post today, but I took a nap in my hammock instead. I regret nothing.

I also did some chores. One of my tasks was catching up on sorting through photos. I don't want to get 6 months behind again.

I came across some great photos. Here's one of my favorites, which happens to meet the "no faces" rule I have here.

That's Pumpkin, doing some gymnastics on the beach. It was taken on Labor Day. We were in Imperial Beach, visiting some relatives of mine who had rented a condo on the beach. The kids had so much fun. So did we.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Weekend Reading: The Let's Get Right To It Edition

Well here we are at Friday again. And here are some things you might want to read this weekend:

Zack Beauchamp wrote in Vox about racial resentment and the rise of politicians like Donald Trump.

While we've been distracted by the Trump nightmare over here in the US, Britain is having political turmoil of its own, and this short article about the difference between Tony Blair and Jeremy Corbyn might be worth pondering as we think about our own political choices.

A last bit of politics, in the form of a tweet of a Facebook post (I miss the age of blogs....)

Oops, one more political thing: the California ballot initiatives in haiku.

I wish the world wasn't so harsh on kids who don't fit our gender expectations, but I'm glad this family found acceptance at Justice. Also, I love the phrase "gender creative."

I want to visit Canadian World, but I think I should go to the real Prince Edward Island first.

We stumbled across this bit of New Zealand history recently, and I defy you to watch it without smiling:

It was a huge hit in NZ.

They've made a documentary about it:

That seems as good a way to head into the weekend as any. Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trivial Loose Ends

I feel like taking a break from the worry and bad things on my Twitter timeline right now and so I will update you on some trivial things.


I figured out why I wasn't super-satisfied with my Nordstrom personal stylist experience. It was because I felt like the stylist was trying to dress me like a magazine page instead of like myself. I like having quirky things that are distinctly "me" even if they aren't completely in fashion, and she was steering me more towards a vanilla "in style" look.

I wonder if an independent stylist would do differently?

No matter, it is done now, and I like the things I bought. I eschewed the fashionable ballet flats and weird but fashionable sandle/boot mashup things the stylist showed me, and came home and ordered some Taos black mary janes to be my shoes. So I guess that will be the bit of "me" in those outfits! I love mary janes. When I was browsing for shoes I might like, I just kept pinning mary janes.

Well, and these cool retro-ish wingtips.

I wonder why I like mary janes so much?


In other clothing news, someone from Leota apparently noticed my recent post saying I liked the look of their dresses, and emailed me to offer me a free one to try. So that's cool. I'll let you know how it goes.


In non-clothing news, I think I was a bit too cavalier about some perishables during our fridge saga last week. (It failed, we pulled everything into coolers or the beer fridge in the garage, we got the fan replaced, we put everything back in the fridge, only to discover that the new fan wasn't working correctly. It is all fixed now.) Something I ate either Sunday or Monday didn't agree with me AT ALL by Monday afternoon. I never got really sick, but I was clearly not really well, either. That screwed up my plans for Monday and Tuesday, and now I'm behind on work. SIGH.


In news that I can't remember if I told you the first part of: Pumpkin really liked The Lilies of Dawn. She wanted to try it, and while it isn't specifically pitched for middle grade or YA, there is nothing in it that I'd be worried about her reading, so I let her try. She loved it and wanted more things like it this weekend. But then, of course, didn't want to read anything I suggested.

She is finally letting me read her Anne of Green Gables, though, and that is ever so much fun.

Did I forget anything that needs updating?


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