Saturday, October 31, 2020

Weekend Reading: The Final Weekend Edition

 Well, this time next week we'll either know the outcome of the election or be hunkering down for a long fight. I just made what I think is my final round of donations - but I've said that before, so who knows if I'll decide to do another round out of anxiety later this weekend? Probably not. I'm going to try to get offline and think about other things for a bit.  Anyway, I picked a handful of down ballot races to donate to, under the theory that they can boost turnout in their districts and also maybe flip some useful seats. 

Today is Halloween, and it is a weird one. We don't expect that trick-or-treating will really happen in our neighborhood. From what I'm hearing from more community-involved friends, most people are planning something different for their kids. So we planned something different, too. Or somethings different. Pumpkin has an outdoor, distanced party to go to and another outdoor, distanced party to help a friend set up for her brother and his friends. We're having one of Petunia's friends over for an outdoor Hallowegg hunt. Then we are planning to go to that friend's neighborhood to see a house with particularly impressive decorations. Pumpkin is OK with how Halloween is changed this year, but Petunia is sad about it. I asked her what in particular she thought she'd miss about the regular Halloween and she said it was being out after dark with her friend and being silly. Maybe the visit to the decorated house will somewhat substitute. I don't know.

I wouldn't have thought Halloween would be the thing that bummed me out, but it has. I am sad that I won't get to see all of the cute little kids in their costumes and give them treats. I am sad that my kids won't get to go trick-or-treating with their friends. We're coming to the end of the trick-or-treating years, and I am wondering if it might turn out that last year was Pumpkin's last year. I am sad that instead of making an easy plan about trick-or-treating, I spent a bunch of time figuring out alternative plans. I am sad that I had to take a special trip to the grocery store to get a pumpkin to carve and now no one particularly wants to carve it. I am just sad about how screwed up everything is, I guess.

But, on the bright side, I finally found a bag of the good candy corn and a bag of the almost-too-sweet candy pumpkins I like so much. It isn't quite right (I usually buy a bag with a mix of candy corn, harvest corn, and the almost-too-sweet pumpkins), but it is better than the waxy off-brand candy corn I'd found earlier.

So, here are some links for this weird, unsettled weekend.

First, some semi-self-promotional news: The next Annorlunda release, Lagoonfire, by Francesca Forrest, is now available for pre-order! This story features the same protagonist as The Inconvenient God, her earlier novelette. I love the protagonist and find the world Forrest has created so interesting. I can't wait for everyone to get to read this book! I am also looking for some advance readers

In other Annorlunda news, I decided to make The Four-Fifteen Express, a classic ghost story by Amelia B. Edwards, available on the Annorlunda website for Halloween. It is a good story - check it out!

On to other links. First, political news:

There are so many stories of people going to extreme lengths to vote this year. Here's one I bookmarked.

This story about the people who took advantage of all-night voting in Harris County, Texas, is really worth your time. I still think the option of making mail-in/dropbox voting easy is better than all-night voting, but I am impressed with the County Judge in Harris County who made the most of the authority she had.

Also, note that the voter in the lede of that story was motivated by anger at the restrictions on dropbox locations. Given that so few people in Texas can qualify for mail-in ballots, I wonder if that decision to limit dropbox locations may turn out to be an own-goal, like the North Carolina Republicans' attempted shenanigans with their state Supreme Court a couple years back. Time will tell.

Speaking of the Harris County Judge... she won her election in 2018 by a narrow margin. Local elections matter!

Prepare for election night by reading up on what to expect based on various swing states' rules.

This tweet may help explain why so many Trump supporters have spent the last four years so angry. Even back in 2016, I noticed that they were "sore winners" - still aggressively yelling "f*** your feelings" at people who didn't support Trump. I didn't really understand why. But maybe some people really thought that voting him into office could stop the cultural change underway in this country, and are angry that it hasn't.

In coronavirus news...

This is a really good visualization/explanation of the risks in a few different inside settings.

Derek Lowe has a good round up of the latest news from antibody trials. I am frankly puzzled as to why there aren't more trials testing the efficacy of early or even prophylactic treatment with the various anti-COVID drugs we have, particularly in vulnerable populations like people in nursing homes. 

There is some good news, though: Death rates are down. This is one reason why we flattened the curve early on - to give doctors a chance to figure out how best to treat this disease. I have always said that I do not want to catch COVID-19, but if I have to catch it I want to catch is late as I can. The only caveat to that is that I would not want to catch it during a surge that overwhelms hospitals, like what we're seeing in so many states right now. 

I bookmarked so many other things to read, but it just wasn't happening this week. I hope to have more varied links to share again soon!

And now for things that made me smile this week:

This story about a gym in DC and the elderly woman who enjoys watching them from her window is wonderful.

This thread is fun:

I don't know why, but this tweet really tickled me:

Not sure what I'd do if I walked out to my car and saw this:

These are gorgeous photos:

Here's your bunny for the week:

Happy Halloween and happy weekend!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Weekend Reading: A Little Late and a Little Short Edition

This post is late today because I woke up earlier than I wanted to, decided I'd lie down in our guest room/music room for a bit... and woke up and hour and a half later! It felt good to get a little more sleep, but why couldn't I have just stayed asleep to begin with?

This is the first weekend in a long while that I haven't had "write postcards/letters" on my weekend to-do list. It feels a bit weird. I'll pick some races for donations but I am coming to the end of that, too. 

I am thinking about what to do next. I need to stay involved because there is a lot more work to do on climate action, small-d democracy initiatives, and other things I care about. But I am not sure how best to stay involved, and how to balance that with other things I care about - like Annorlunda Books, which I haven't been able to invest as much time in as I'd like to lately. (However, this time next week I'll be posting a link to the page for our next release, Lagoonfire, by Francesca Forrest!)

I am hoping to take a walk or two this weekend, and maybe spend some time in my hammock and think things over. 

Anyway, here are the links I have for you this week:

I'll start very local. San Diego Unified has released some details about the plans for "Phase II" reopening. I am cautiously optimistic about this, but we don't have dates yet. The district says it wants to see what our case load is like at the next calculation for our state rating. We've been teetering on the edge of dropping to the most restrictive tier - only staying in our current tier because of our high testing rate - and so that dampens my optimism for our chances of having our kids back to school in person soon. Pumpkin (8th grade) is reasonably happy with remote learning, but Petunia (5th grade) really wants to get back into class. 

However, there is pressure to move ahead because Phase I, in which the kids who are academically struggling or have an IEP, were invited back for short periods of small group in person instruction has had problems.

Zooming out to the national level... this Washington Post pictorial story on the early voting lines really moved me. People are so determined to vote, and that is inspiring. But it is also a little sad, because it doesn't have to be as hard as some places make it! I filled out my mail in ballot last Saturday, sealed and signed the envelope, and then walked it to my local library branch to drop it in the drop box. There were two volunteers there who could have answered any questions and gave me my "I voted" sticker. There was no line. I signed up for text alerts, and on Wednesday I received a text confirming my vote had been received and would be counted. It could be this easy everywhere.

Ezra Klein's piece on the fight for democracy is really good. It is my "if you read only one thing" pick this week. Klein says he uses his podcast to work out ideas for pieces sometimes, and I've listened to a lot of the podcasts that I suspect went into this piece. I think I have previously linked to his interview with political scientist Suzanne Mettler on the threats to American democracy right now, but I'll link to it again because it was really good!

As the case load in the upper midwest continues to grow, I keep thinking about this article about some of the people who went to Sturgis this year and how it didn't have to be this way.

We really enjoyed our time in Nova Scotia last summer, so I tend to notice Nova Scotia stories now. There is trouble there over lobster fishing. As an American, I have absolutely no high ground from which to judge these sorts of stories, but my personal opinion on any dispute over the rights assigned in a treaty between colonizers and the Native population whose land was colonized is that treaty rights are the law and should be honored. If that creates hardship for any group of non-Native people it is on the rest of us to figure out how to alleviate that, not the Native group exercising their rights.

This is an interesting interview about QAnon, why it is so appealing to so many people right now, and what the rest of us might do about it.

Here are some things that made me smile this week:

A truly 2020 pumpkin:

This artwork:

Here's your bunnies for the week - first painted

And then real:

Have a good weekend!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Weekend Reading: The Home Stretch Edition

Today, I will go to the post office and mail the 180 letters I wrote for Vote Forward. I think I will have time to write more postcards before we're out of time to have them arrive before election day - but I'll wrap that up this week, too. 

This weekend, I will also fill out my ballot and take it to the official drop box at the library in my neighborhood. I finished making my decisions on the various propositions and down ballot races Thursday night. 

I will also pick some races to get my final round of donations.

Soon, this election will be over for me - except for the waiting. 

Last night, as Mr. Snarky and I enjoyed our Friday night beers, we checked in on the NZ election. So we went to bed knowing that Labour was definitely going to win, but not yet sure whether they'd be able to form a government on their own. This morning, the results are in, and the answer is yes, Labour can form a government on their own. There is some question as to whether they will invite the Greens to join them, though.  The Greens also had a good night, including winning in the Central Auckland district in what is apparently a giant upset.

Checking in on the NZ elections Twitter hashtag last night was funny - a mix of very local commentary (as to be expected) and Brits (and a few Aussies) watching jealously as a country resoundingly chose competent, empathetic leadership. 

This American was watching jealously, too. But hey - we have a chance to make a similar choice for competent, empathetic leadership soon, so let's take it in equally large numbers! I don't care what the polls say. Vote.

One of the small silver linings of this difficult period has been watching average Americans fight for our democracy. We're writing postcards and letters, taking on phone and text bank shifts, making record amounts of small donations, volunteering to be poll workers, and most importantly, voting early, even when doing so requires waiting in long lines. 

We can't tell much from early voting turnout, really, but I still find what is happening in Texas right now to be inspiring.

Did the Republicans perhaps overplay their hand with their "you can only have one dropbox per county" stunt? Who knows - but maybe.

One possible outcome of this moment is that the Republicans have overplayed their hand in general. Even moderate Democrats are talking about expanding the court, and I rarely hear anyone express any hope for bipartisanship anymore. I don't celebrate this. I think we're in a sad and dangerous spot as a country and it is no means certain we'll come through it well. But it does us no good to pretend the Republican party is something it is not.

Brian Beutler argues this case well - the Republican party is not acting in good faith and have not been acting in good faith for awhile, and we need to stop pretending they are. I wish this were not the case. I wish we could have good faith arguments about policy ideas and all agree to abide by the outcome of those arguments, but wishing something doesn't make it true and if can't all face the reality of the moment we're in, we are sunk.

I found this podcast discussion between Vox's chief legal correspondent Ian Milhiser and political scientist Norm Ornstein about the structural impediments to true small-d democracy in America right now and the possible outcomes if we don't take steps to fix it to be very clarifying. 

There was news this week about a patient in Nevada who was reinfected with SARS-CoV-2. Derek Lowe has a good summary of what we know about reinfection and why, for now, he isn't terribly worried about it. 

Here are some things that made me happy this week:

Listening to this podcast in which Chris Hayes interviews Zach Carter about his new biography of John Maynard Keynes. No, really! Keynes led an interesting life and I may read the biography if I ever catch up on my "to read" stack enough to buy a new book.

This beautiful crochet/lace:

Beautiful ballet:

Here's your weekly bunny:

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Weekend Reading: Short and Late Edition

This post is going up later than usual because we actually had plans this morning. The plan was to meet some friends at the zoo, and spend the morning looking at animals and catching up. When we pulled into the zoo parking lot 5 minutes after opening time, though, it was clear this would not be a good plan. The parking lot was packed, with more cars pouring in constantly. We weren't sure if we'd be able to get into the zoo without a long wait - they have reduced capacity. 

So we called our friends and changed our plan to a stroll around Balboa Park, instead. That turned out to be a nice change - the weather was good, and since we were so early, the playground (newly reopened!) was not crowded and Petunia and her friend got a chance to play. We're nearing the end of the playground years, but the swings and a few other things are still popular. We walked around, saw some new things, and then had lunch from a hot dog vendor before heading home. It was a very nice morning.

Almost everyone we saw was wearing a mask, even though we spent the entire morning outdoors. It was nice to see that.

All and all, it was a nice morning. I needed a nice morning out with friends! We're going to try to do this sort of thing more often. 

So that's why the post is late. I also realized that I don't have many links for you this week. I am trying to doomscroll less, and so I see fewer things. 

Here are the links I have:

This is a good, short piece on how the decisions we make now will determine the future of the planet's climate.

This piece on how voters won't believe that Republicans actually hold some of their more extreme policy stances is mind-blowing and infuriating and really worth the time to read and think about what it means for those of us who are trying to avoid those extreme policies.

Susan Hennessey and Quinta Jurecic make the skeptic's case for Democrats to expand the court if the Barrett nomination goes through. Like them, I would rather that the Republicans in the Senate decide instead to step back from the brink. But that seems unlikely, unless the ongoing COVID outbreak associated with the announcement of her nomination forces their hand.

I found Ezra Klein's conversation with political scientist Susan Mettler to be helpful for thinking about the threats to our democracy right now but also the potential of the moment to unstick some of our deadlock.

These jobs numbers are both horrifying and utterly predictable given how hard it is to be a working mother right now - even for me, with my kids old enough to mostly handle online school on their own and a job that can be done from home with a great deal of flexiblity:

OK, time for some happy things:

This made me laugh:

And this thread made me smile:

This cat has it figured out:

This is a cool quilt:

And so is this one:

Here are you weekly bunnies:

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Saturday, October 03, 2020

It Just Gets More and More Unsettled

I don't have a weekend reading post in me this week. The news is coming in too fast to try to write anything coherent about it. I think things are just going to get more and more unsettled and we all need to try to hold on to the fact that we don't know how this will all turn out. On one hand, that makes it easy to worry about the worst outcomes we can imagine... but on the other hand, there are other, better outcomes possible, too. I am trying to remember that, and when there is an action to take, take the action that aims for the better outcome. That's all I can do. 

Yesterday was Petunia's birthday. I took the day off work and we went to the beach after she finished with school. It was very nice. If you can get away from computers and TVs and out remembering that the world has a lot of beauty in it, I recommend that highly.

I will give you one link, a podcast I listened to this week that I really liked: Ana Marie Cox's interview with Eva Hagberg about her book How to Be Loved: A Memoir of Lifesaving Friendship.

And of course, you rabbits for the week:

Try to have a good weekend, everyone!