Friday, April 20, 2018

Weekend Reading; The Almost Through the Crunch Edition

My big seminar was this week. I think it went well. As always, I enjoyed giving it. But boy, am I glad to be done with it. I still have to get through the backlog of other things that piled up while I was focused on getting ready for the seminar, but I am hoping to spend less time at my desk this weekend and more time in my hammock or playing "birdie" (hitting a badminton shuttlecock back and forth) with Petunia.

Anyway, here are some links:

First some friend promo: Tragic Sandwich is trying to help get books and supplies for a drastically underfunded school library. I sent one of the classics from their wish list and a copy of Full Cicada Moon, by Marilyn Hilton, a book that I recently read to Pumpkin and really liked.

I didn't save any politics posts this week. I'm not ignoring things- I have a list of 10 addresses in Texas to send some postcards to this weekend! But I guess I didn't come across any articles I found particularly edifying this week.

Luckily, I have some other interesting things for you to read:

Don't drive your car at people. Seems like an obvious rule, but read the post and you'll probably realize you see people drive their cars at people every day.

New Zealand avocado crime stories are a favorite genre of mine.

You might want to read this post about an attempted scam if you have a gmail account- and especially if you also have a Netflix account (although the general form of the scam could work on many services). Just this week, I got an email from telling me to click here to activate my account. But I hadn't tried to create an account, and when I looked, the email address used was missing one of the dots that is in the form of my gmail address that I use. This was probably someone making an innocent mistake...but having read this post, I found myself trying to come up with why someone would want to scam me into creating an Indeed account that they would then control.

This story about a plastic-degrading enzyme isolated from bacteria found in a Japanese dump is encouraging.

I'm glad to learn that my growing annoyance with the noise level in restaurants isn't just me getting old.

In recommended listening, I have two episodes of Ezra Klein's podcast to recommend this week:

First, his interview with historian Carol Anderson about white rage and the politics of race in America is excellent. If you listen, listen all the way to the end, when Anderson describes the vision of the future I'm fighting for (that point starts at about 4.5 minutes before the end). I wish I could find a transcript for you, but it ends with: "If what we do is we move forward... Then we can get there. We can get there to what I think is something that has not been seen before, which is how do you create a vibrant, multi-racial democracy that truly works... If we fall back into our traditional patterns, then buckle up we're in for a bumpy ride. It's going to be bad."

His next interview is with Johann Hari, and is title "Is modern society making us depressed?" and I found it a really interesting, thought-provoking discussion about ways in which the way our society is organized may be exacerbating depression and anxiety. Neither Klein nor Hari argues against anti-depressant medicines, but Hari, who has himself dealt with depression and anxiety, takes the view that they are not a complete answer to the problem.

I love this tweet:

And this poem:

Cold bunny!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Yet Another Short Post Edition

Ugh. I'm still behind on things. I'm caught up enough that I can now tell that it will come out OK, but not caught up enough that I get to take the weekend off. Bah.

I wish I could tell you these links are late posting tonight because I went out for a rollerblade, but no, I was in my office, practicing for my upcoming seminar.

Then I thought I'd post the links while the kids played after dinner, but instead I scrolled through Twitter, pointlessly reading everyone's posts about the airstrikes in Syria. I don't know if airstrikes will help the situation in Syria or not, but I do know that I don't trust this administration to have made the decision to launch a strike based on any noble or even intelligent motives. So I have nothing much to say about the airstrikes, other than that I hope all the civilians in Syria stay safe tonight.

Also, we should let more refugees in. Our current policy on refugees fills me with shame.

Anyway, here are the links I'd gathered up to share this week. I don't have that many, perhaps because one side effect of being really busy trying to catch up on this is not a lot of time to read things:

The Republican Governor of Arizona has decided to give Arizona teachers a raise. I haven't been following closely enough to know if this move will avert a walkout or other action there. I can say that I've seen a lot of Facebook profile pictures of friends in AZ turn red in support of the teachers, and it seems like there was a lot of support for them.

Click through and read this story:

And this story:

In recommended listening: 

The episode of The Weeds about Sinclair media is a great primer on local TV regulation and history and if you're not sure why people find the Sinclair media stuff more disturbing than Fox News, this episode will explain it.

The latest episode of the Josh Marshall Podcast was a good discussion about why people are so unhappy with John Bolton becoming  National Security Advisor and a reminder of the ancient history of the George W. Bush administration.

This is so pretty:



Have a good weekend, everyone.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Just the Links, Ma'am, Edition

I am going to keep the chit chat at the top of this post short. I could pretend that is because I am busy catching up on things, but the truth is that the weather is nice and I am finally not sick and I wanted to go for a rollerblade.

Anyway, here are some links, drawn from the last couple of weeks.

I've been thinking a lot about retirement savings lately. This is part of what I want to write about when I write my post about reading Being Mortal. I have never worked at a job that had a defined benefit pension, and so all of my retirement needs beyond what Social Security provides will need to be funded from my savings. I'm on track according to the various retirement calculators, but is that really sufficient for what I want? I'll save more musing for the post I want to write. For now, I'll just share this article from HBR about how few Americans are saving enough for retirement, what that might mean, and what we might do about it.

Dishwashing is apparently the chore that causes the most resentment for women if it is not shared. Suddenly, our strict every other day rotation for washing dishes is seeming brilliant... (Also, soon, very soon, children will join the rotation!)

This Vox story about teachers working second and third jobs to make ends meet is sad. I don't want my kids' teachers exhausted due to a second job. I'd rather pay higher taxes and pay them a living wage.

Staying on the teachers strikes: Here is some analysis from Talking Points Memo about what the political implications of those strikes might be.

TPM also had a thoughtful examination of the larger issues related to the shooting at YouTube headquarters this week.

Staying on issues in tech: Will Oremus had a good piece in Slate about the problem with Silicon Valley's rapid growth approach to business.

This Ryan Cooper piece about the conservative reaction to the Parkland teens is a couple of weeks old now, but it rang true to me.

Molly Ringwald's piece reflecting on John Hughes' films is more recent, and it is all over my timeline because it is really thoughtful and interesting.

This may be the only time I share a National Review article... David French on police shootings is really worth your time. It is my pick for the "if you only have time to read one link" read this week.



Happy weekend!

Thursday, April 05, 2018

I'm Still Here

You maybe guessed from the lack of weekend reading links last week that I was over in Arizona for my grandmother's memorial. Or maybe you didn't notice my absence at all!

But if you did notice and were wondering where I was... now you know.

We drove back to San Diego on Sunday, and I haven't really regained my footing. I had originally planned for a spring break in which the kids were over with my parents and I had extra time in the evening to catch up on some projects. That did not happen, for obvious reasons, but the projects were still here, with deadlines approaching.

I managed to get past the first deadline: I'd said Here's the Deal would go on pre-order yesterday, and it did. (I'll be sending out the advance review copies soon: if you're interested, there's still time to get a copy.)

My next deadline is a seminar I agreed to do last year, before I knew I'd be going back to full time employment. It is a slightly different take on a couple of topics I've done seminars on in the past: strategic planning and project management. So I need to pull up the slides and hands-on activities I have, see what I can reuse, and write new slides and activities as needed. I still have time to get it done, but wish I were a little further into the process. I'm feeling a little stressed by it, but not yet panicked. If I haven't made progress by next week, though, I'll be panicked!

And there are other things, too- like some book marketing research I paid to get done that I would now like to act on.

I also have lots of things swirling around in my head that I'd like to write about. I finally read Atul Gawande's Being Mortal, and I'd like to write about my thoughts. (I recommend the book highly.) I'd still like to write about why I don't try to take shortcuts to some goals. I have a post about staying focused when a shiny new idea comes along, which I'd like to write for my professional site. And I suspect if I got my writing notebook out, I'd find more ideas that I've jotted down and not had time to come back to.

But this week, I've been spending most of my evenings planning a Harry Potter birthday party for Pumpkin, who is now 11. She is so big! More than that, she's so not a little kid anymore. I don't know how many more times she'll be this enthusiastically into planning a party, and so I'm trying to join in the enthusiasm. We bought a skirt, cardigan, and tie to allow her to dress up as a Hogwarts student (she's Ravenclaw). We've pasted labels that say "Floo Powder" on packets of Fun Dip. We've ordered quidditch broom pens for the goody cauldrons. We've found or made items to represent all the horcruxes for a horcrux hunt. We still need to draw Voldemort for the "pin the nose on Voldemort" game she wants to have.

It is all delightful, but a bit overwhelming sometimes. I thought I'd carved out some time last night to write a real post, but then the allergy-induced cough Pumpkin got in AZ flared up here, too. It always takes awhile for the irritation to calm down when she gets a cough like this. And of course, she won't take anything useful. No medicated cough drops or numbing throat spray. But she couldn't sleep, and so last night, instead of writing a blog post, I made her a hot water with sugar and sat with her while she drank it, and then sat in her room reading on my phone while she settled back in to sleep.

Tonight, I'm too frazzled feeling to write anything real, but I wanted to write something... and so you get this rambling post.

Here, have a nerdy joke to make up for it:

I hope to be really back sometime soon. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Short on Time Edition

I've got a lot to get done this evening, so I'll keep the intro to the links short. Thank you all for the kind words about my Grandma.

In self-promo links: Annorlunda Books is open for submissions right now. Spread the word!

In other links:

My pick for the one link to read if you read only one link this week is unfortunately only available to TPM Prime subscribers. But, I'll link to Josh Marshall's take that the crisis is upon us, anyway, and pull out this one quote:

"The future of the country now rests on the results of the 2018 midterms. That sounds dramatic and hyperbolic. But look at the forces moving into alignment. It’s not. It’s an apt description of what is before us."

I'll also put up this thread, which I found interesting and also a little disturbing:

It does feel like we're at an inflection point for our country. I hope we do well, but I am very worried about it. 

One of the reasons I'm worried is that it seems like the forces that oppose democracy are getting more open about what they're doing.

For instance, Scott Walker (the governor of Wisconsin) lost a court case and was told he needs to hold the special elections he has been avoiding, ostensibly because of cost, but actually because Republicans have been losing them. And so now, the Wisconsin Republicans are trying to change the law. Here's a summary of the events.

And of course, there are the scattered incidents of actual voter fraud, which have mostly turned out to be nothing at all like what Kris Kobach says voter fraud looks like in this country.

Joshua Keating argues that the return of John Bolton and the nomination of Gina Haspel are consequences of our failure to really confront the failures of the George W. Bush years. I think that a lot of our current problems probably trace back to our country's failure to really confront and try to heal from the bad things we've done... going all the way back to slavery and our treatment of Native Americans. But that's more to discuss than I have time for today.

I won't try to link to all the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica reports. You've probably seen them, anyway. But Matt Yglesias' take arguing that Facebook is just bad is maybe something you didn't see. You can also check out John Aravosis' look at the data Facebook had on him

I don't use Facebook heavily, and when I do, it is almost exclusively for posting or viewing photos of children (or pets) and vacations. I like it as a nice way to keep up with friends all over the world. I dislike it for a lot of reasons, and have tried to tune my feed to exclude what I dislike the most, which is links to political news.

In non-political links:

The JUMPSUIT project is really interesting. 

(Also, a reminder: if you like those sorts of link, I share one every weekday on my Annorlunda Books facebook page and Twitter account.)

This is a sort of technical blog post about a gene sequencing error, but it is an interesting story. Also, I never knew that rapamycin was named after Rapa Nui (Easter Island).

I quite like Kacey Musgraves' new song and may get her new album:

This brought back so many memories of my college days in Chicago:



That's all for this week. Have a good weekend everyone!


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