Friday, August 18, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Bad Week Edition

Wow, am I glad it is Friday. This post is late because of all the reasons that make me glad it is Friday, but primarily because I had to pick one kid up from camp, get her to a friend's house for a sleepover, and then be available to receive the other kid coming home from a day spent with a friend.

We pick Mr. Snarky up at the airport on Sunday, and I am looking forward to only driving to half of the things next week.  (Fun twist: we pick him up at LAX, not the San Diego airport, so I get one last burst of driving to round out the week! My conclusions from the week of being one with my car are that I need a larger playlist on my ipod and that I should buy a steering wheel cover because the steering wheel on the 10 year old Prius sort of flakes off on your hands after you've been driving for an hour.)

Anyhow, let's get to the links.

First some sort of self promotion: Water into Wine, a sci-fi novella by Joyce Chng and the next Annorlunda Books release will be out next month, and available for pre-order in a couple of weeks. I'm looking for advance readers. If you are interested, sign up on this form.

Also, next week I'm running a sale on The Lilies of Dawn, a fantasy novelette by Vanessa Fogg. The ebook will be just $0.99. The price is dropping on the ebook retailer sites this weekend. Click through to the book's home page to read more about the book and find direct links to your favorite ebook stores.

And now some friend promotion: A friend of ours has an awesome weather app for Android called Flowx. It lets you swipe through the day and see the cloud cover (or other weather stat) change on the map. Check it out!

On to the less awesome stuff. Warning, a lot of the link this week are really tough to read. It was a bad week.

Roxane Gay on the hate that doesn't hide, and regrets for not doing more to prevent this election outcome.

Charles M. Blow on the Republican complicity in the current situation, and how far back that complicity stretches. If you don't know what the Southern Strategy was, and have never read Nixon's own aides admissions about it, please read this piece.

Alexandra Petri on Trump's despicable words.

A Mother Jones reporter visits her small Southern home town and interviews the people of color who live there.

The president of Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville, on what that Saturday was like for him and his congregation.

Susan Bro, Heather Heyer's mother, gave a hell of a eulogy for a her daughter:

I marvel at her strength and am heartbroken that it is necessary.

Lest we think that this is only a Southern problem... San Diego removed a marker for the Jefferson Davis Highway from our downtown this week. And there's a debate underway in Denver about a neighborhood named for a former mayor who was also a member of the KKK. (h/t Bad Mom Good Mom for that last link.)

Dave Pell on how the character being tested now is not Trump's, it is ours.

David Frum on how we've let the 2nd amendment cancel the 1st amendment.

Read Noah Smith's list of things he'd do to improve our economy and think about an alternate outcome in which we are discussing ideas like these instead of how to defeat the emboldened Nazis marching in our streets.

Here's a nice politics story: the friendship between Norman Mineta and Alan Simpson.

This made me laugh. Click through to read the entire thread:

Mat Pearce asked people to share their favorite public statues and there are some great answers:

Here's an old post with one of my favorites.

Bunny in a hat!

That's all I have this week. I'm sure I missed some things I meant to share, but it is still a lot of grim reading. Sorry about that. I hope for a better week next week, but given who is in the White House and the number of White Supremacist rallies I've seen planned around the country... I think that may be an impossible hope.

But I want to end on something happy, so here is the song that has been stuck in my head all week because my kids like it and ask for it when we're driving around:

The fact that last week Mr. Snarky and I finally got around to watching the (excellent) documentary about the song probably has something to do with it being embedded in my brain, too.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Long Week

I am solo parenting this week. My husband is visiting his family in New Zealand for his father's birthday. Since our schedule is built assuming two adults shuttling children around, I knew this was going to be a tough week, and told my main client I'd be working fewer hours. Even so, this week has kicked my butt.

I can't deconvolute how much of the exhaustion I feel is from the increased parenting load and how much is from the general dumpster fire of American life right now. Honestly, I'm hoping it is mostly the former, since that at least has a defined end date.

I haven't been writing about the dumpster fire lately because I don't find that I have anything new or insightful to say. I agree with Josh Marshall on this: I watched Republicans build a bomb and present it to the American electorate, who lit the fuse. And now it has exploded, and well, what can I saw except "I told you so?" On my better days, I can say "I really wish you hadn't done that, but since you did, how about you help clean up the mess?" But not all days are my better days.

Here are some things I'm thinking that maybe I haven't said before:

(1) I think it is highly likely that Trump will destroy the Republican party as it currently exists. In fact, he may already have done so and we're just watching it stagger through a zombie phase. I don't know. The questions that remain open are whether he will destroy the credibility of the conservative movement in America, and whether he will indeed destroy America as we know it. I confess that I don't really care about the former, except in as much as I have friends who would not feel they had a political voice without a viable conservative party and as a general principle, I think it is better for people to feel that they have a political voice. I care a lot about that latter, though, and am completely serious that I think it is very much an open question right now. I see reasons for hope, and maybe sometime I should do a post with links to the things that give me hope. But then I see the polls and think it is a toss up.

(2)  Speaking of the polls, I saw one this week (and sorry, I'm too tired to go find it and link to it) that indicated that there is a core of Trump supporters who will be with him no matter what he does, and estimated that was about 25% of the country. That's more than I'd like, but easily defeatable... if the other 75% gets its act together and tries. I think the 2018 elections will be our first real read out on whether the 75% can get its act together. Will the Republicans horrified by Trump find it in themselves to vote for a Democrat for Congress so that we can impeach the man? Will the Democrats stop arguing over whether we should have "single payer" or "a public option" and all turn out to vote no matter what? I don't know. I've said before that the 2018 elections are the most important in my life. And I don't really know how to best help the 75% get its act together. I've been thinking about that a lot.

(3) Nazis and the KKK are bad. To be fair, I hadn't said that before because it seemed obvious, but the events of this week have demonstrated that maybe we all need to say it out loud every now and then.

There's much, much more to talk about with regards to the types of white supremacy that are less obvious than highly armed Nazis marching in the streets, but that will have to wait for another night. It is late, and I have to get up early tomorrow and shuttle the kids to where they need to be so that I can try to get some work done. For tonight, I'll just say that there is a slim chance that the end result of this dumpster fire is actually something better: An America that has faced up to the sins of its founding and its past, and started to talk about how to make amends and how to build a truly inclusive multi-racial society. I hold onto that slim chance as a reason not to just look away from the dumpster fire. The optimist in me says that maybe if enough of us refuse to look away, we can make some progress, and the best part of me says that whether it will work or not, we at least need to try. So I will try.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Staying Calm Edition

I don't even know what to say to preface my links anymore. I am struggling to find the right amount of engagement with the news so that I can know enough about what's going on to make decisions if I need to, but not so much that I just want to scream in rage every day.

I know that people are expending a lot of energy explaining Trump voters to people like me. I wonder if anyone is expending any energy explaining people like me to Trump voters. Has anyone tried to write something to explain why we are so angry with this situation? I haven't seen it, but I confess I haven't gone looking for it, for the reason stated above: I can't spend too much time engaged with the news or I waste too much energy on rage.

So anyhow, listening to the "Emergency North Korea update" portion of the latest episode of Pod Save the World made me feel less at risk here in San Diego. I am so angry for the people of Guam, but I guess they are unfortunately used to hostile message from North Korea. What is new is the feeling that our President is making things worse.

The fact that the South Koreans and Japanese aren't freaking out makes me think that someone in our government (not our President) is successfully communicating in a way that is helpful. The lack of clarity about what our policy actually is can't be helpful, though. I assume that at some point the rest of the world will adjust to the fact that the United States essentially has no fixed foreign policy and start stepping up and trying to solve problems without us. Long term, maybe that gets us to a more stable world than the pre-Trump situation. I don't know. But the transition to a new world order is sure scary.

Anyway, I feel better when I feel like I've done what I can to mitigate risks, so I've read the advice to get as many walls between you and the outside as possible in the event of an attack, and I've read about how if you're caught outside you should shower right away but not use conditioner.  And I read the CDC's info about potassium iodide and decide that it is cheap and Amazon has one of the FDA approved sources, so why not add it to our emergency kit? I'm old enough that I probably don't need it, but my kids aren't.

Yes, this mess has officially turned me into a prepper. Another thing I can't think about too long lest I descend into a blind rage.

So anyway. On to other things.

This Vox article about how the really rich are hoarding economic growth is upsetting. But I guess it explains why super rich people like the Mercers and the Kochs and Steve Wynn are willing to spend so much money to make sure things to change.

I could link to all sorts of things about that Google jerk, but I assume you've probably read all about it.  Here's some related things you might not have seen:

I like Joan Williams and Marina Multhaup's analysis of why engineering has such a problem with diversity.

Here is Sara Wattcher-Boettcher with some good thoughts on why this matters even if you don't work in tech.

And Zeynep Tfecki has a good thread on the topic that starts here:

This is a nice post about representation from the mother of a child who uses assistance communicating.

OMG, this sculpture. I want to see it next time I go to New Zealand.

Here's some cute bunnies.

And a rabbit joke!

I can't think of a better way to end. Happy weekend, everyone.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Trip Story: Arches and Moab

In the last installment of my posts about our 2017 road trip, we were in Monument Valley. We drove from Monument Valley to Moab, and stayed a couple nights there. The main attraction of Moab was Arches National Park. I had been to this park before, but Mr. Snarky hadn't, and neither had the kids. Now, late June is not the best time to see Arches. It is hot there in June, usually in the high 90s. And there really is very little shade in Arches. So I didn't plan for any big hikes.

As it happened, it was even hotter than average during our visit, with a high temperature just over 100. We did attempt one short hike, out to see Landscape Arch. The kids got to a patch of shade along the trail, not far from where Landscape Arch comes into view and basically refused to go any further. Since I'd seen Landscape Arch before, I stayed with them while Mr. Snarky went ahead to see the view.

Suffice to say, the kids were not all that impressed with Arches. But Pumpkin was glad to find a lot of license plates for her license plate games- including Alabama, which had so far stymied her attempts to play an alternate version of the game where you have to find the plates in alphabetical order (she is currently looking for Florida). Petunia thought that Balancing Rock was pretty cool:

Both kids enjoyed scrambling around at The Organ, in the shade provide by Courthouse Towers:

Mr. Snarky was so impressed with the scenery that he didn't complain about the heat. Perhaps I should print out photos so he won't whine when the temperature in our house gets to 80?

Perhaps because I'd seen Arches before, my favorite part of the time in Moab was the other stuff.

We stayed in a hotel called River Canyon Lodge. It had a nice pool, which we all enjoyed. We had dinner the second night at a place called Zax, which had a great upstairs patio. We enjoyed watching the colors change on the nearby rocks as the sunset while we ate.

And the final thing we did before leaving town was drive out along Kane Creek Blvd in search of some rock art.

Our inspiration for this was a blog post that I found while sitting on that upstairs deck at Zax. I should have read that post more carefully, because it clearly states that the first rock art panels are on the RIGHT side of the parking area at the Moonflower Canyon campground. We looked on the LEFT side and then set off on a pointless hike up past the campground, on which I gathered approximately eight mosquito bites. OOPS.

Not visible: Lots and lots of mosquitos.

But we found the Moonflower panels, and then continued on to the main draw: the rock with the rare "birthing panel." The drive was nice, although part of it was on a dirt road. The river and canyon are quite beautiful.

And we made it to the rock with the birthing panel, and yeah, it is awesome.

After seeing this, we drove out of town and headed towards Salt Lake City. I'll pick the story up another day.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Weekend Reading: The I Assume You Can Find the Political News on Your Own Edition

Hey, it is Friday again! This week went by fast. This entire summer is going by fast. I've only been to the beach once! Luckily, September is also really nice weather for the beach.

Anyhow, let's have some links. Mostly not about the big political news of the week, because you can probably find that stuff on your own, right?

Ta-Nehisi Coates' piece about the planned HBO show Confederate raises a lot of good points. I personally found the part comparing the aftermath of the Civil War and the aftermath of WWII in Germany very compelling.

Vox continues to have really stellar healthcare coverage. This article about the ACA in California made me feel a little bit better about my chances should I need to buy insurance on the market, even if Trump succeeds in undermining the law.

I think most Americans are too focused on our internal political nightmare to have noticed this, but it strikes me as potentially quite significant: The Vatican has allowed an article quite critical of conservative US Catholics to be published in one of its approved journals.

Blue Milk posted an excerpt of an interview with Zadie Smith that I quite liked. In a better world, I'd go read the whole interview... but have not made the time to do so yet.

This is a really thought-provoking essay about what being rich does to people.

I laughed because this is probably true:

I'd sign up for a Bun Alert service!

Bun alert!

Happy weekend, everyone!


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