Friday, December 02, 2016

Weekend Reading: A Really Long Edition

So, here we are at Friday again. I finally got a decent rollerblade in. It was my first one since the election, and it did indeed help. The kids were off school the first week, my usual spot was closed for a special event the second week, and it was the day after Thanksgiving the third week. Today, I had to go out for my rollerblade early, because Pumpkin's best friend invited her to come over after school, and I needed to be home to welcome her when the friend's mom dropped her off. So my routine was a bit off, but the rollerblade itself was great. It was a beautiful day here: sunny and crisp. The bay was a beautiful blue and peaceful.

Unfortunately, I can't stay in my happy place, rollerblading by the bay forever. So, here are some links to read.

Ann Friedman answers one of my less urgent questions about the Trump presidency: what is it like to be an American abroad right now? I traveled quite a bit with George W. Bush was president, and spent a lot of time explaining that I didn't vote for him before I learned that just saying I was from California instead of saying I was from America accomplished the same thing. It sounds like the dynamic is different now, but that saying you're from California is still a shorthand way of indicating you didn't vote for the guy.

Some advice on how to navigate this time:

From Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, "America loves winners, but victory does not absolve. ... Now is the time to call things what they actually are, because language can illuminate truth as much as it can obfuscate it." If you read only one thing this week, make it this one.

From historian Timothy Snyder, steps to take to defend democracy.

Masha Gessen writes about slippery slopes and the impossibility of knowing what is the "right" thing to do.

Stephen Walt gives us 10 ways to tell if your president is a dictator.

Matt Yglesias argues (persuasively, I found) that we should fight Trump by fighting his policies.

Maybe American women can take some lessons from the role Italian women played in bringing down Berlusconi.

Jeet Heer argues we need something more than just fact-checking to deal with Trump's lies.

The coalition that won the North Carolina governor's race gives us some ideas about how to build better coalitions going forward.

I confess that sometimes I get really, really angry that we're in this situation. There are many people to be angry at, and I suspect we all apportion our anger (if we feel it) in different ways. It is surreal to watch the anguish as one group or another realizes they are being betrayed. From where I sat, it was always obvious that Trump only cared about Trump. I suspect everyone who supported him is going to be betrayed in some way, some more thoroughly than others. But I am trying not to make myself feel better by wallowing in to schadenfreude. I don't always succeed, and here is a tumblr for those times.

Here's a better way of coping: Cathrynne M. Valente wrote is a Fairyland story for these times.

Tressie McMillan Cottom writes beautifully about finding hope and why she always knew a President Trump was possible. If you only read two things, read this one after you read the one from Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche.

A critical look at the "hillbilly ethnography" that is getting so much attention right now.

We should have learned from GamerGate.

David Roberts' "WTF just happened" article is a really good summary of the election. The whole thing is good, but this quote is a succinct way of expressing one of my most painful realizations about my country:

"There is no floor. Partisanship has been revealed as the strongest force in US public life — stronger than any norms, independent of any facts."

How do we fix that? Can we fix that? I don't know.

I had intended to try to write about how this election felt as a woman who spends her professional life mostly surrounded by men, but maybe I'll just point people to what Eirene Donohue wrote instead. In among all my worries about my country's future, there is a crushing reminder that a lot of people just don't want women like me to exist, or if we exist, we need to stay within limits, and not aim too high. There is probably more for me to write about this, but for now, just read the link and you'll get a good idea of how I feel on the topic. Especially this quote:

"And here was the root of my pain. This wasn’t just about the disappointment that my candidate lost. Or the fear of what Trump will do to this country. It felt like my very soul hurt and I realized that it was because of what this election said to me as a woman. It said no.

No, woman, stay in your place. No, woman, you are not good enough. No, woman, no matter what you do, you will not win, you will not be the boss of me."

And this "no" doesn't just hurt because it is mean. It hurts because it limits my life. It limits how I provide for my family. It limits the options I have in how to live my life.

Ta-Nehisi Coates had a good tweet thread on this. Read in both directions. I picked this quote to embed because it is the core of the argument.

So, we need something happy to end on. How about an interview about the social media genius at Merriam-Webster.

Here is some self-promo, which maybe I should have put at the top: I posted the cover reveal for the next Annorlunda Books release... and I'm looking for advance readers! The book is called Caresaway, and it is a near future sci fi novelette about a scientist who develops a drug that cures depression, but that comes with a terrible cost.

And of course, there are bunnies!!!!


Have a good weekend, everyone.


  1. Anonymous7:40 AM

    Thank you, as always, for assembling such a great collection of links. (I look forward to reading them each weekend!). The article by Eirene Donohue so perfectly captured the dismay and grief I felt in response to Hilary's loss. I'd like to share a story that I hope brings a bit of light to other people's life, like it did to mine.
    I work in a very male dominated field - it's not unusual for there to be 20 white guys in a room, and me. Moreover, senior leadership in my field tends to lean very conservative. Hilary's loss hit me hard, at multiple levels, including thoughts of "why do I even bother working so hard? Clearly my efforts aren't wanted, will never be allowed to amount to anything." The day after the election, my boss (a fantastic human being) pulled me aside, saying "I think we could both use some good news shouldn't know this yet, but I found out the (big huge ) advancement I put you in for was approved. You absolutely deserve it." I came to find out that not only did my boss advocate for me, but my boss' boss reeeeally went to bat for me, and his boss approved it. I was ...overjoyed, and astounded. Just a small story, but I hope it cheers up some others as well - that even in this season where many of us women feel very unwanted, there are still people, sometimes unexpected advocates, who WILL value and support us, and let us have the space to lead. For me, this gave me a huge booster shot of energy to keep on keeping on...

    1. That is awesome news! Congratulations, and I'm glad your boss and boss' boss recognized your awesomeness.


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