Friday, November 09, 2018

In Lieu of Weekend Reading - Short Midterm Thoughts

This week has been a bit of a perfect storm of super busy at work and super busy in my home/personal life... so I don't have a real weekend reading post for you. Sorry. I have one thing to recommend you read: Rebecca Traister on the midterms.

I will say one something about the midterms, though. I know people are disappointed Democrats lost a couple of key Senate seats, and that Beto didn't win. On election night, people were disappointed with the outcomes in Florida and Georgia, too... but now it is looking like those outcomes aren't really settled yet, so I don't think people should decide whether or not to be disappointed by those yet.

I was pleased with the outcome of the midterms. Would I have liked more wins? Sure. But we flipped the house, which was my main goal. It is looking like we flipped it by a truly big margin, too. We also won some key governor's races - Wisconsin, Michigan, and Kansas will all have Democrats as governors, which is great. There were other down-ballot successes that are important. There were huge voting rights wins in several states - Michigan and Florida stand out to me. The North Carolina GOP's attempt to pack their Supreme Court backfired on them and now that court is 5-2 Democrats. Texas saw some really big down-ballot changes. Maybe in a future weekend reading post I'll find something to summarize all of these gains.

For the people disappointed that Beto lost, I say take you cue from Texas Democrats, who all seem really energized and happy. Of course, it would have been better if he won, but he built something truly remarkable, and I think Texas politics will never be the same. I've seen reports that many people involved in Beto's campaign are now turning their attention to making it easier to register and vote in Texas. Change is coming there, I think.

One of the House races that I think is most important to note is that Lucy McBath won in Georgia. This was the seat Jon Ossoff tried and failed to take in a special election. I think McBath is the better candidate - she has a very compelling story - but I also think that the huge amount of money and effort that poured into that district when Ossoff was running laid the groundwork for McBath's win. It was also what launched Postcards to Voters, which I think (hope?) helped make a difference in a lot of close races in this election.

So in short, I say: be happy with the gains we made. Winning the House was crucial, and we did it. Also be happy with the building that is underway. This was never going to be an easy fight, and it was never going to be over in one election. In this election, we won the right to keep fighting. So let's keep fighting.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Weekend Reading: A Mixed Bag Edition

Today is Dia de los Muertos. Since my kids go to a Spanish language immersion school at which most of the teachers are from Mexico and many of the kids have Mexican heritage, the school does a Dia de los Muertos festival and other related activities. The festival won't be until next Wednesday, but both of my kids had the opportunity to take in a picture for a Dia de los Muertos altar today. This is the first year that they've taken a picture of someone they knew - they both took pictures of their great-grandparents, who both died this year. Previous years, they've taken pictures of other relatives who they had never met. I told them about the people in the pictures: my grandparents on my mother's side and my great-grandmother, but that was just me telling stories. This year, my kids have their own stories to tell about the pictures they took to school.

I always find the act of finding a picture for the altar and putting it into a picture frame a comforting ritual. This year, there was a little extra poignancy to it.

Anyhow, if you don't know much about Dia de los Muertos, go read about it. It is really a beautiful holiday.

On to the links.

First, in hobby-ing links: I posted another Where in the World quiz on Adjusted Latitudes. I am enjoying the process of finding a good photo to use and then coming up with wrong answers for the quiz!

Also, I ran a short sale on Here's the Deal, Micah Edwards' humorous retelling of the Book of Exodus. Through tomorrow, you can get the ebook for just $0.99.

In other links:

This article by Tim Murphy about Democrats' outreach to the increasingly diverse group of voters in Fort Bend County, Texas, is really, really interesting.

Anne Helen Peterson and Graham Lee Brewer have an article up about the difficulties Navajo voters are facing in Southern Utah, and it is worth your time.

I had never read this column by Eugene Patterson, written after the Birmingham bombing. It was circulating after the attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh and if you've never read it, you should.

This story starts by talking about a ghost tour... but really it is just an interesting story about a Black woman named Mary Ellen Pleasant, who lived in San Francisco around the turn of the last century.

In recommended listening: Anytime I see that someone has interviewed Zeynep Tufekci, I listen. Isaac Chotiner's interview of Tufekci on I Have to Ask is a particularly good one - I highly recommend it. (Another person who I'll always listen to get interviewed: Rebecca Traister. I always learn something!)

Kids are awesome:

So are cats, I guess:

This is pretty amazing in a weird way:


Have a good weekend!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Just Keep Writing Edition

The news just keeps getting more distressing. I don't know what to do other than keep writing postcards, so that's what I'm doing.

I have a couple of self-promo things to share:

The Inconvenient God is now available on Scribd. I'm still waiting for it to show up in Overdrive, but its appearance in Scribd shows it is making its way through the distribution systems. It is doing well and getting good reviews and that makes me happy!

Another thing that makes happy: I added the multiple choice quiz to the first "Where in the World" post on Adjusted Latitudes. I'd like to add another post this weekend, but I'm not sure I'll have time. I am proofreading the paperback version of The Dodo Knight, one of the books I'll be releasing next year, and I want to get that done this weekend so that I can order the proofs as soon as I get the final cover from my cover designer. I need copies to submit to the "big" review sites (Publisher's Weekly, etc) and they require copies to be submitted 4 months before publication.

I am also supposed to write my next Management Monthly newsletter. I didn't get anything new written to share there this month, which is a bummer. I should perhaps let that newsletter go... but it is my newsletter with the most subscribers, so it feels a bit backwards to close it down and keep the others. But maybe I will if I keep not writing new posts over at my real name site.

And it is also our school's jogathon weekend. Mr. Snarky will take the kids without me, but Petunia wants me to come... and maybe I will.

So we'll see if I get to a new Adjusted Latitudes post or not!

In actual links... I don't have a lot this week. Here's what I have:

I like Ezra Klein's suggestion of organizing around a push to strengthen democracy.

This is a long but good read about something I think about a lot: The amount of risk we in America have decided should be carried by individuals instead of buffered by society.

Here's something that is a different type of scary than the usual things I link to: Ed Yong on accute flaccid myelitis, a rare but potentially very serious disease.

The Vatican has created a Pokemon Go-like game where you collect saints and I think this is awesome (even though I do not believe in saints and will not get the game...)

If you like Kacey Musgraves, you should check this out.

In recommended listening: I found the recent The Weeds episode about climate change helpful for thinking about what we still might be able to do and how to approach the issue given our current political reality.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Books to Read Aloud

I've recently finished two really good books with the kids - one with each of them. It is hard to find good read aloud bedtime stories. My kids don't like things that are too scary as bedtime stories. They say it makes it hard to settle and go to sleep. I can see their point: my book club is reading Slade House, by David Mitchell, this month and I doubt I'll finish it because I've discovered I can't read it right before bed or I'll have weird, creepy dreams. It is a beautifully written book, but it has a way of worming its way into my subconscious that just doesn't work for bedtime reading.

Anyway, I'm always on the lookout for good bedtime books for the kids, and these two are good enough I want to share!

The kids and I went to see Greg Van Eekhout, the author of The Voyage of the Dogs, give a reading  at our local bookstore. It is set in a future in which humans and dogs can understand each other, and there are dog astronauts - barkonauts. The story is about what happens when a crew of barkonauts awakens from stasis to find the human crew on their ship gone. I was really intrigued by the premise of the book, so I was glad when Petunia decided we should read it together at bedtime. The author told us at the reading that all the dogs survive, so Petunia didn't mind the tense bits. (And knowing this in no way detracts from the book, so if you have a kid who would worry about that, too, go ahead and tell them.) The characters are wonderfully drawn. The dogs are dogs, not humans in dogs form, if you know what I mean. And I loved their problem-solving. This is such a fun book - I recommend it highly, even if you don't have a kid to read it to.

Finding bedtime stories for Pumpkin is getting harder and harder. She reads Harry Potter and other high-tension books to herself, but wants gentler stories for bedtime. The Anne of Green Gables books were perfect, although she asked to stop Rilla of Ingleside because the build up to WWI was too much for her. On a whim, I picked up a book my in-laws gave me years ago, that has been sitting on my "to read" pile. The 10 p.m. Question, by Kate Di Goldi, is a wonderful story of a 12 year old boy finding his way in the world. His family is a little odd, and what exactly is going on with his family is part of what you discover while you read. Frankie, the main character, has a lot of anxiety, and I really liked how the author made that just one of the things about a really interesting and likeable boy. I think this is a fine story for an 11 year old, and maybe even a little younger, but be aware that there are some adult themes. Nothing really detailed, but I did have to tell Pumpkin what a prostitute is or one small section of the story wouldn't have made as much sense. But I think I could have just breezed past that part and it wouldn't have mattered: It isn't central to the story.

In writing about these two books, it occurs to me that one of the reasons I liked them so much is they both have really great endings. The authors both do a great job of bringing their stories to a close while also leaving enough of an opening for you to think about what might come next for the characters. I really like it when a book does that!

Do you have any good bedtime story suggestions? Put them in the comments!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Weekend Reading: Another Short Edition

This post is going to be short: I have one of my best friends visiting from out of town, and spent the evening catching up with her.

Also, earlier today, my grandfather died. He was 99, and had been missing my grandmother, who died in March. They had been married 75 years and I think he didn't really want to be here without her. He was ready to go, but we will miss him dearly. I think we are all still processing the fact that he is gone. He had been getting more frail, but we had no advance warning that he was leaving so soon. Adjö, Grandpa. We miss you already.

So, I don't have much to say about my links today, but I do have some links.

I found this interview with two researchers about the Dutch biking culture really interesting.

The Texas Tribune did a deep dive on a town near the border with Mexico, and it is really worth your time.

Searches for voter registration info are at presidential election year levels. We don't know what the electorate will be like this year. So I am ignoring the polls and continuing to support as many races as I can with money and/or postcards.

I have a new podcast for recommended listening this week! Why Is This Happening, with Chris L. Hayes. I listened to the episode about social infrastructure, with Eric Klinenberg, and it really made me think.

Can we crowdsource to make this happen?

I liked this:



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