Friday, January 27, 2017

Weekend Reading: The One Week Down Edition

Well, we made it through the first week. I haven't had time yet to read and fully process all of the executive orders that have come out this week. My first impression is that there is nothing surprising in them. This is what he said he would do. The ACLU and other groups will sue where they can. A plethora of groups will try to mitigate the damage. Many of us will hang our heads in shame that our country is doing these things. Others will celebrate. Still more will just not notice because it doesn't directly effect them.

So anyway, some links.

This essay from Adam Gopnik about Trump and Orwell's "1984" is searing to read. Whatever it is that the various people who voted for Trump and who are now enabling him want from him, they risk giving up something far more precious. The rest of us will try to defend our democracy. The terrible irony is that if we succeed (and I hope we do!) the people who have enabled this crisis will just shrug and tell us that there was no risk in the first place, and will feel justified in the bargain they made. But I guess I'll just have to learn to accept that.

Of course there is the chance that I am wrong, and that there is less risk than I think in the current situation. However, some of the issues that worry me most, such as increasing voter suppression, are not new and have been building for awhile. What is new is the lack of someone with power in the Federal government to try to keep them in check.

Speaking of voter suppression laws, Jason Kander had a good op-ed on the issue in the Washington Post.

Here is a nice summary of some remarks from Rachel Maddow about the state of politics and American government right now.

Adam Jentelson, a former aide to Harry Reid, also had an op-ed in the Washington Post. His was about the power the Democrats in the Senate have. I'm not sure what I want the Democrats in the Senate and House to do. I don't think the country is served by ever-escalated rounds of obstruction and partisanship. If this goes on, I think our system of government will eventually fall, and I suspect that will involve violence. I would very much rather we not go down that road. But I also don't think the country is served by Democrats allowing Republicans to obstruct with no consequences. That is also anti-democratic, and I think also sets us on a path to a confrontation.

So what should happen? I guess I think Democrats should obstruct on some key issues and just make angry speeches about others. Which issues are which? I don't know. We all have different priorities. I suspect it will come down to which ones voters yell at their representatives the most about. I don't know if Republicans really appreciate just how angry a lot of Democrats are right now. The anger is widespread, across many different demographics of Democratic voters. I hear it from fellow well-off middle-aged white ladies and from the college kids who staff my kids' after care. I hear it from people who are clearly not avid followers of politics (as evidenced by the number of things I've had to explain to them about how the system works). There is a lot of anger out there.

The anger also cuts across a lot of issues. People are mad about how Barack Obama was treated as president, and we're furious about the racist slurs on Michelle Obama we heard when it became clear that Melania Trump would be the next first lady. This is not just from people who are typically tuned in to racism. A lot of my fellow white working mothers really respect and look up to Michelle Obama. I am still angry about how they treated Merrick Garland, and I am far from alone in that. If Trump picks an extremely partisan judge to fill the open seat that should have been Garland's, there will be an uproar. Here's an article from a left-leaning court-watcher about three judges whose names have been floated as potential nominees, and which one he think should (and likely would) spark a big fight. Will Trump (or his advisers) have the sense to avoid that fight? Who knows.

One of the things Trump decided to do was issue an executive order halting the arrival of refugees. He did this on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was particularly galling. So while my Twitter feed was full of tweets for Remembrance Day, it was also full of reactions to his order. Here is a tweet from an account that is tweeting out the name of every passenger on the St. Louis, a ship of Jewish refugees we turned back in 1939, dooming them to death.

I am ashamed that we have once again let our fear of people who are different from us get the worst of us.

If you need some hope, this might do the trick (h/t @revanche):

Or, go find photos of the Women's Marches to remind yourself of how many people are opposed to Trump. I retweeted a bunch the day of the march, but here is one that I find particularly inspiring:

And I complained about getting rained on for a few minutes....

If you're new to paying attention to legislation, you might want to read this post about how to tell whether or not a horrible-sounding bill is something it is worth your time to worry about.

"Scientific curiosity" might be the key to dealing with partisan bubbles.

And there is a new group working to get scientists to run for office, and helping them if they decide to run.

I've been wondering what Evan McMullin would do next, beyond criticize Trump on Twitter. He has now launched a group to fight Trump from a center-right position. If you're opposed to Trump but not comfortable with the left-leaning groups, check it out.

How about some non-political stuff:

Diabetes might be an overlooked reason some Americans are dying younger.

Here's something to tide you over until I get around to writing my post about the FDA: Derek Lowe on why clinical trials fail (it is not regulations).

An 11 year old named Jordan Reeves invented a sparkle-shooting prosthetic arm for herself... and she's moving on to invent more things.

Calee Lee, who runs Xist Publishing (which published my two children's book and my first short ebook) has a new book out about reading the classics. Xist has started putting out nice editions of classic books. Yes, you can usually get the books for free, but as I can tell you from my experiences putting together the Annorlunda Books Taster Flights, the free editions are often poorly formatted and occasionally have scanning errors. I think it is worth paying a little to avoid that. In fact, I recently bought the Xist edition of the Anne of Green Gables series for Pumpkin's Kindle.

Speaking of books: this looks like a nice list of chapter books for kids.

Here is an interesting short documentary about Harris tweed.

And a bunny to end on:

Happy weekend, everyone.

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