Friday, September 27, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Only a Few Links about Impeachment Edition

It was another wonderful rollerblading outing today. If it weren't for the fact that my allergies get off the charts terrible in September, I'd say that September is my favorite month in San Diego. Stupid allergies.

Anyway, let's have some links! I'm going to assume that you have all the impeachment-related reading you want and not share a bunch of that sort of link. However, I thought this profile of Nancy Pelosi and her impeachment thought process was really good.

I also agree with Josh Marshall's assessment that Trump's entire team is up to the eyeballs in this scandal. Sadly, I suspect a lot of them will weasel out of any consequences. We'll see.

In other politics news, this David Roberts piece about the clash between what must happen on climate and what can happen in our current political moment is really sobering, but I also like his point about how they way things are is quite brittle, and we might see things fracture unexpectedly.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a couple of articles and said they explain a lot about why I'm back to full time employee status. Here's another along those same lines, about how Amazon is up-prioritizing ads. I've seen this behind the scenes, too - other ways of promoting my books are slowly going away, and I feel like I'm being funneled to use Amazon ads. I am increasingly of the opinion that the only people who reliably make money in the platform economy are the platform owners. There are some scammy bad actors who have figured out how to game algorithms, and they make money for awhile, until the platform owners catch on and change the rules. And there are a few honest folk who get lucky and hit on something the algorithms like and so do well. Mostly, though, the money flows to the platform owners.

If you want a little bit of insight into the frustrations of the drug discovery and development industry, Derek Lowe has an excellent post about a drug candidate that just failed.

Some recommended listening: I listened to both Ezra Klein's interview with Daniel Markovits about the problems with meritocracy and Matt Yglesias' interview with Binyamin Applebaum about the limitations of economics as the primary driver for policy. Those two interviews really got me thinking! I think some of my thoughts about them might show up in this month's Management Monthly. I'm not holding out on you - the thoughts aren't fully coherent yet! We'll see if I can get them to cohere this weekend in time to go in the newsletter.

I love this:

Here's your weekly bunny:

Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

And Here We Go

So, we're going to get an impeachment inquiry with the full weight of the Democratic House leadership behind it. Good. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the whistleblower who set this chain of events in motion, but also to all of the people who worked hard to make sure we had a Democratic House right now, the activists who pushed for this outcome, and the House members in vulnerable seats who spoke up to help clear the way, among them seven freshmen members with national security and defense backgrounds whose op-ed seemed to be the final crack in the anti-impeachment wall.

We have so much further to go, and so much more work to do. Whatever happens with the impeachment inquiry, we need to keep working towards winning the 2020 Presidential election. And even before that, there are the 2019 elections, which include some important state contests, the outcome of which will determine how Congressional districts are drawn after next year's census.

There is a rot in our system. In a healthy system, a person as unfit to be president as Donald Trump would not have won the office, and having done so, would have faced much harsher Congressional oversight from the start. In a healthy system, policies favored by large majorities of the American people - background checks on all gun salespromoting clean energy, expanding access to public health insurance, for instance - would be able to at least come to a vote in the Senate. In a healthy system, people wouldn't die because they cannot afford their insulin and no one would have to declare bankruptcy due to medical bills. In a healthy system, my kids wouldn't have to do lock down drills. In a healthy system, we would be treating climate change as the emergency it is.

I believe this presidency is a symptom of the rot, and an accelerant of it, but not the ultimate cause. To be honest, I don't know what the ultimate cause is and suspect it may not be knowable in our time. We are too caught up in the system to see it clearly and any diagnoses we make will be filtered through our partisan lenses. But I do know that politicians from one party are standing in the way of the policies Americans want, and they are standing in the way of the progress on climate that the world needs. I don't need to know why that is the case to work to get those politicians out of power.

I am glad the impeachment inquiry will happen. It is a necessary step to check the ambitions of a president who refuses to be bound by the law. But I am going to try to follow it lightly and keep my focus on the work I think needs to be done to put our country, and our planet, on a better path for my children's generation.

In other words, I'll be writing postcards, finding campaigns and organizations who need my money, and keeping my eye out for other things I can do to try to fix this mess that we find ourselves in. I owe it to my kids.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Weekend Reading: Well, We're Definitely In a Crisis Now Edition

First, the good news. I had a terrific rollerblading outing today. It is a beautiful day, and there weren't a lot of people by the bay, and it was just wonderful.

Now, the other news. Holy cow, guys, this whistleblower story is something, eh? I am assuming you have read the story, but if you haven't, this is a decent summary of where we are. Or at least where we were this morning. Here's a short summary of what we learned today.

Back when the Mueller investigation was just getting started, I followed Susan Hennessey on Twitter, because she has the background to really understand the law and the context, and she was level-headed and not prone to exaggerating the conclusions that could be drawn from the available evidence.

Even when the whistleblower story first broke, she was cautious and warning people not to get out ahead of what we know.

Here's what she's saying today:

I have previously only called my representative and Speaker Pelosi to tell them I want a thorough investigation that is allowed to go where the facts lead, up to and including impeachment. This weekend, I will be contacting them to say we must have an impeachment inquiry now, and we must pursue it as aggressively as possible.

My rep has already come out in favor of impeachment, but I'm going to contact him, anyway. I don't know if an impeachment inquiry is good politics or not. At this point, I think we cannot care about that. It is clear that one side has no intention of allowing a free and fair election, and so we cannot worry about the next election and must just worry about protecting our system and our Constitution.

I don't care if the Senate won't convict. Make them go on record with a vote saying that they don't think this is wrong. If their constituents won't judge them harshly for their venality, history will.

I'll also be writing postcards this weekend, because as much as I'm disappointed in the Democratic leadership in DC right now, I'm 100 times more disappointed in the behavior of Republicans. Postcards4VA and Postcards to Voters both have active campaigns right now if you want to join me.

OK. So.

In other news, I feel bad that I didn't go out and join the climate strike. I'm short on days off at work, which is a bad excuse but there it is.

I do have a climate change related recommended listen, though: The Weeds podcast live in Seattle was about climate change, and it was a really good discussion. Listen to the end, because the final couple of questions provoke really interesting answers.

Also, this essay about living with climate change without becoming a nihilist is good. It made me think about one point Matt Yglesias makes in that Weeds podcast, that one interesting thing about trying to reduce your own carbon footprint is that it shows you where the barriers are, and where you might be able to help remove barriers with a little bit of local activism.

This is a good article about where all the plastic goes. I always pick up trash when I'm walking on the beach, and this article makes me glad I do that.

OK, we need some happy things.

OMG, this is awesome:

Someone tried to get Nicole Cliffe to answer a help letter that was pulled from the plot of Little Women, and the internet had fun coming up with other classics that could be advice columns. I liked this one a lot!

In other recommended listening, I found Krista Tippet's interview with Erik Vance about the placebo effect really interesting.

And here's your weekly bunny:

Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Weekend Reading: The I Don't Have a Title Edition

I got a rollerblade in today, but not in my preferred spot. That was closed off for something called the Hydrogames. I need to figure out how I can check for these closures ahead of time, because fighting my way through beach traffic to get there only to discover that I'll need to turn around and go back to my less-favored spot only adds to the aggravation.

But a rollerblade outing in my less-favored spot is better than no rollerblade outing so I'll try to be happy with it.

On to the links...

I wrote up the first half off our summer vacation.

I have two articles to share that sort of summarize why I'm working at a "regular" job these days instead of trying to build my own business.

First, this Slate article does a good job explaining a controversy that is raging in the publishing world about ebooks for libraries. Annorlunda is too small a publisher to have any direct control over my ebook deals with libraries. I make ebooks available via Overdrive and Baker & Taylor and any other system I can find a way to get into. I set my price to be just a little bit more than my "regular" ebook price, and I celebrate anytime I discover a library has bought one of my books.

But I think the forces that are driving publishers to try to things like the schemes described in the article are some of the same forces that have thrown the business model for my little publisher into disarray. I haven't written about it much publicly, but a little over a year ago, I realized that I'd gone from having a not-yet-profitable publishing business that I was investing in and growing along a path that seemed likely to lead to profitability soon to having a publishing business with no sustainable business model.

The metrics I was using to track how my strategy was doing all went from "doing well" to "uh oh we have a problem." I think there are many reasons for that, and won't bore you with all of them. I'm trying to fix the problem for my little company. I don't know if I'll be successful, but at least I won't starve if I'm not. The bigger publishers have their own problems and if they don't fix them, they'll go out of business. I don't think that limiting the number of ebooks libraries can buy is the right solution, but I understand why they're trying different things.

Next, this Vox article about changes at Etsy explains why I didn't just pivot to growing my Etsy shop, which has always been profitable (if not hugely so). I went ahead and made the changes to allow me to agree to support the new free shipping focus, but I'm not sure if running that shop will continue to be worth it long term.

OK, that was a lot of words for a weekend reading post, about topics most of you probably don't care about! Here are some other links:

I confess I have never considered the idea that malaria could be eradicated, not just managed. But this article argues we could eradicate it by 2050 if we focused.

Ann Friedman's essay about the sprawl of LA describes something that I also find charming about LA: There is no center and that's OK.

I'm not even a dog person and this collection of dogs sleeping in ridiculous positions made me smile.

The case for the four-day work week.

We are in no way prepared for the ethical dilemmas consumer genetic testing uncovers. The latest: A woman found her supposedly anonymous cord blood donor because of an AncestryDNA test. This story has a happy ending - both the woman and the donor are happy to have met. But there is no guarantee all donors would be happy with this outcome.

Recommended listening: Krista Tippet's conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates. Tippet and Coates talk a little bit about how white people keep asking him to give us hope. I think he has given us something much more profound and lasting, if we're willing to learn it from his writing: How to face reality even when it is bleak and work to make it better even when that work will take more than our lifetimes. If we're willing to learn it, we can learn how to find grace and meaning living our lives as best we can in a world that has never been fair.

I really enjoy Maggie Smith's daily affirmations. I particularly liked this one:

And this one:
This is a delightful story:


Here's your weekly rabbit:

Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, September 06, 2019

Weekend Reading: The I Made It Through The Week Edition

The back to school picnic was this evening, so we are now officially through with back to school events. Phew!

Now, I just need to get Petunia's Lego team started up again, which I'm working on. I think we're going to make the jump from First Lego League, Jr. to First Lego League - which will be more work for all of us. But hopefully, rewarding and fun, too.

So anyway. I made it through the week! I didn't get the post about my vacation written, but I do have a few links for you.

I've been following the vaping-related lung illness news with more interest than really makes sense - I don't vape and no one I know well vapes. Perhaps it is because I know that there is a huge difference in testing requirements between the only thing I inhale into my lungs - my asthma inhalers - and commercial products like vaping pens. I wonder how many of the people who are dealing with this illness now realize that their vape juices aren't testing for safety as stringently as my inhalers are?

Anyway, officials don't know what is causing the illness, but I found this article about the potential involvement of vitamin E acetate interesting.

And my stance remains that it is a bad idea to inhale anything other than an FDA-approved drug into your lungs if you can avoid it.

British Conservative MPs put country over party...

Greg Sargent's argument about how Mitch McConnell is enabling Trump's corruption is worth your time.

So is Brian Beutler's argument about the crossroads we may be at now, even if we don't recognize the full implications of our situation.

The story of the reason for the chaos at Newark Airport over Labor Day is really disturbing.

In recommended listening: Matt Yglesias' interview with foreign policy analyst Emma Ashford was really interesting, and if you (like me) don't spend a lot of time thinking about foreign policy and how it has and hasn't changed over the years, it may really make you stop and think about what you assume is "just how the world is."

This is awesome:


Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Whine and Poetry

I was feeling pretty good after the long weekend... rested, more on top of things.

And then this week happened. My calendar shows me leaving work a little early every day this week.

Tuesday was Petunia's regular art class. I have to leave work early to get her to that class. That's the usual schedule, but it isn't usually on my first work day of the week!

Last night was 7th grade back to school night. Just like last year, it was a bit chaotic and took roughly twice as long as advertised. Also, the fancy air conditioning system in the middle school building is programmed to run only until 4:30 p.m. The teachers could override that and turn on the air in their room, but everytime the door opened, it shut off.

I don't normally mind the heat, but it was 85 degrees in those rooms and there was no air movement. I was trapped with other parents who were trying to understand the schedule used on the one day each week that is a half day... and it was past my dinner time and I was hungry.

Let's just say that I was in no mood to do anything when I got home. I still don't understand the schedule they use on half days, but my 7th grader does and that's all that really matters.

Tonight was the 4th grade back to school night. It was shorter and the air conditioning worked, so I managed to make it through half of yesterday's to do list.

Tomorrow is the back to school picnic. I'll stop work early for that, but on the plus side, I don't have to feel too bad about that because I'll also start work extra early tomorrow - I have a 7 a.m. meeting to call into! Wheeeeee.

So anyway, my plans for the week turned out to be a bit over ambitious. I thought I'd be writing up a post about our vacation in Prince Edward Island tonight, but that is not going to happen. I am going to go to bed instead.

However, I do have a request for my readers: I want recommendations for poetry! I have started reading a poem or two or three before bed most nights, and I really like the habit. I've read three books so far:

Good Bones, by Maggie Smith
Why I Wake Early, by Mary Oliver
Counting Descent, by Clint Smith

I need another book! Tell me about your favorite poems and poets in the comments. I'm trying to prioritize living poets, but as you can see from the above list, that is not a firm rule, so all recommendations are welcome.