Weekend Links

“They have the guns, we have the poets. Therefore, we will win.” 
― Howard Zinn

Hi ducklings. It’s been another hard week for a lot of reasons. My country is struggling openly with the human cost of its original sin once again, and the price is devastating. I don’t really have much more to say than I continue to be disappointed with how many people have doubled down on their decisions to exploit the worst of human nature for personal and political gain. The vulgarity and cruelty of this was on display this week and the weight of it is exhausting.

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GOOD. For our next trick, let’s get the activists who campaigned for this out of jail and end guardianship laws.

Being a woman is absolutely exhausting. Yes, I recognize the privilege in this piece, but also the prison.

We must–MUST–be savvier about social media manipulation looking ahead to all future elections in the West.

If you have ever wondering about space imagery, have I got a vid for you!

We’re wonderfully innovative as a species. But we’re still [checks notes] running out of drinking water. From cities imposing water quotas to massive changes in climate and seasonal changes impacting our historic reservoirs…we are changing our planet and we are not doing the work as societies to adapt to that change quickly enough. We’re going to need to get really creative, really quickly.

There was something in the water (pun intended) this week.

We could just…pay them more?

I loved this piece in The Guardian about women’s fertility and the shifting realities that come from having and not having babies. Far from the usual rightwing spewings about gender roles and ethnic nationlism, it’s equally candid about the realities to leftwing ideals about nation states and welfare that result from falling birthrates. Finally, and just as important, it addresses the human and emotional issues that come for women who are more privileged than ever before when it comes to their biology, but in exchange have to grapple with new choices that our foremothers could never have envisioned. “The more motherhood comes to be seen as a choice, rather than an unavoidable fact of female existence or some kind of great romantic destiny, the greater the anxiety both about making the wrong choice and about living with the ghost of the life not chosen. Trying to counter all that by nagging young women to knuckle down to it in order to avoid a future global pensions deficit is destined for the failure such emotionally tin-eared tactics deserve.”

If there is one thing we at Small Dog Nation go in for, it’s buried or hidden treasure with a cultural heritage angle!

Female anger feeds me. We owe so much to our elders.

What are the conflicting obligations to speech and safety in a world where hate online is transitioning to violence in the real world? (ETA, this story moved fast!)

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A sermon.

Climate change is happening and it’s coming for your kitchen, especially you privileged people.

We live in the goddamned upside down.

I don’t think we learned anything from 2016

The cruelty aside, this era as encapsulated by this man is horrifying in its vulgarity.

What if we really, really studied this? Some academics are leading the way, of course, but I mean on an collaborative and international scale? I suspect that, like unto ISIS and other fringe groups who have managed to parlay their ideology into influence which should exceed their size, we’ll find a fairly small and interconnected community of dangerous individuals who we can monitor the way we monitor other threats

Gaming culture is the source of some really important social conversations right now. The latest episode of Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act on Netflix is worth a view to understand how the industry is driving important questions of labor rights. On the flipside, understanding game culture is also important to understand the uptick in radicalized white male violence.

Whew, time for a break. Have some wholesome bread content!

You need another pick me up, you say? Please enjoy this absolute banger of a gay anthem that I had no idea existed but am immeasurably blessed to have stumbled across.

Long live the weirdos.

What a bonkers tale

Archaeology!

This happened, and the conspiracy theories are gonna flow, especially now that several documents are unsealed. It needs to be thoroughly investigated, but I can’t imagine any outcome that isn’t horribly twisted into even more theorizing.

Rest in power, ma’am. (Worth a re-watch.)

 

Weekend Links

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.”
―Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

Welcome to the first links drop of August, my piglets! While I’m still somewhat in dread and awe as to how quickly this year is flying by, I’m never sad to have another weekend upon us wherein a lovingly box up the internet for you. There is an extra good drop this week, with less political outrage than usual…although our usual mix of feminism and Lizzo-stanning is very much in evidence.

Here’s your links, tell me your favorite finds in the comments, and let’s go into the weekend with the same energy as a mediocre white male politician, convinced that he’s [insert preferred in group here]’s salvation.

What a great podcast episode on modern gesture language!

Actively good news!

I legitimately think Lil Nas X should ride this train as long as he can with whatever remixes he wants. He is incredibly smart about picking options that keep him at the top of the charts, which seems to be the goal. The haters can stay mad and if this is the sum total of his career, fine. (Edited to add: I cackle with delight at everyone who’s mad about it!)

A piece in The New Yorker made the rounds this week, with new and devastating information about Mr. Dershowitz and his relationship with Mr. Epstein. It’s a hard, hard read, but it’s important.

REALLY enjoying the exchange rate this week…a non-stop string of good news

I’m pretty well convinced that economist Mark Blyth is right and there are some really clear lines between austerity policy and nationalistic rises, including the Brexit vote. Meanwhile, the nationalists are in power and the problems are not getting better. Boris was just given £10m to run what amounts to a No Deal propaganda campaign and meanwhile, poverty in the UK is crippling whole communities.

What a gem of an insight into a person and a time.

Space is great!

Because God and the Devil both know how susceptible we are

I am choosing to believe this op-ed piece contains wisdom. Because the President has clearly chosen the double down on batshit, shameful, racist, lying nonsense and thus far has paid no price for any of his speech or behavior at all. And I’m pretty pessimistic on my worst days.

This week I learned that the historic marker on the spot where Emmett Till’s broken body was pulled from a river is the subject of repeated vandalism. It’s being updated, thank god, but our original wounding sin as a nation is still festering.

Never a bad time for more Drunk History.

This is corruption, pure and simple.

Interesting idea for a nation state to try. I think we’re going to have to become much more experimental as a society overall so I’m curious to see what the long term outcome of this is. Someone please go for a universal basic income next!

No kidding! I’m very glad to see reporting that this is being treated seriously by the Pentagon, but there have been a lot of cultural issues unearthed in recent years and like so many institutions whose abuses are being exposed, system change is required and won’t be easy.

More women means organizations change, you say? Excellent.

Why yes, I am interested in fall fashion already. September will be upon us soon!

Oh, my youth.

A worthy long read to round out your understanding of human progress.

BLESS US, LIZZO, WE NEED YOUR MAGNIFICENT ENERGY.

Year of Discipline: July Accountability

“Summer has set in with its usual severity.” 
–  Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Hells bells, how on earth is it AUGUST already? Let’s not dwell on this too much as I may get dizzy. It’s time again to recap the successes and failures of the month against my yearly theme and this time I have a rather smug report to offer!

General Motivation

Kittens, I seem to have emerged from my funk…it only took half a year apparently! July was the month of Getting **** Done. From run of the mill adulting to bigger life planning, I felt more productive and simultaneously less overwhelmed by stupid stuff this month than I have in a long time. My anxiety seems to have mellowed a bit in the background and while still ever-present and humming, I’ve not been experiencing the spikes and flares that I was in the first six month of 2019. Here’s hoping the trend continues. Lots of small tasks and projects kept me on track this month and I was able to use the launch of my new 101/1001 list as a great jumpstarter for motivation overall.

Health

I’m still not exercising as much as I should, but I am exercising. I’ve been doing the occasional spin classes at the gym, yoga at home, and then supplementing this with basic activity like walking home from work and taking long walks at the weekend with Jeff rather than using public transport.

We’ve been eschewing takeaway food while at home, and I’ve been eschewing takeaway coffee in favor of homemade cold brew. Huzzah, summer! Cooking has been a huge priority this month as a result and I’ve been trying to eat much more diversely thanks to our continued grocery box delivery system, which I continue to heartily endorse.

Both in this category and financial below, I’m in the midst of a couple of 101/1001 projects that are helping me focus on both expenses and some basic life admin and not default to laziness when that would be the easy option. My normal grocery delivery service includes some recipe boxes for salads, which I used a few times to eat more veg in general and to try new recipes overall (a goal), and make meal prep (another goal) more easily accomplished. When we are at our least organized, food can become our biggest expense after rent so deciding to focus on this from both a health and money perspective–and as both a couple and individuals–has been an extremely positive choice this month. Which leads me to…

Financial

We did do some shopping this month. I purchased a top and work appropriate summer shoes to replace yet another pair of victims to London’s cobblestones (this city is extraordinarily hard on heels), both heavily discounted on sale. Less justifiably, I picked up another maxi dress and an unnecessary lipstick (because Lisa Eldridge released her second collection and I guess I wear pink now…) and some personal items that don’t fall in my restricted categories (underwear or socks and so forth). Jeff replaced athletic shoes that he had literally shredded.

However, those choices aside, this was a month for pretty successful discipline. Having changed up our budget and finances so significantly in June, and having reached the decision to move when our current lease is up…let’s just say that this was not a month that I was going to let my/our goals slide. This month we paid off the majority of our credit cards in full, paid for our immigration process, and tucked a sum into savings to begin building our emergency fund and also prep for the move. We want to accomplish as much of that as possible using cash! Once back from the wedding, the second half of August and early September are going to be dedicated to the move…and that’s going to come sooner than my brain can comfortably deal with!

Grooming

Ducklings, a revelation: I now understand why people pay to have professional blow drys. I had a work event this month that I wanted to look especially nice at and so splurged for a blow dry service and it was a game changer. My hair has never been as smooth in my life. Alas for poverty but if I were stupidly wealthy, I would absolutely pay for a glam squad to manage my hair for me and consider it money well spent. However, the experience was doubly useful because the pro gamely answered a ton of questions about product and technique for me and gave me a lot of pointers which I used throughout the rest of the month. See?! This is the kind of knowledge you lose when you only get your hair cut a couple of times a year and are too timid to ask questions!

A bit of a side note, my hair also offered a bit of a visual history of my general health and wellbeing travails over the first six months of the year. It turns out I had a hilarious ton of “regrowth” that was only a couple of months old but very evenly distributed all over my head, indicating when I previously had a lot of hair loss due to stress. Yikes. YIKES. At least it’s growing back.

Otherwise, I’m streamlining my style for summer (see the Other goals below), so am trying to put more emphasis on the “finishing touches” of accessories and presentation. This was a good month for that.

Other

Made a decision: we’re moving due to financial motivation. Therefore, did a LOT of property research, arranged viewings, found a great options and put in an offer for this fall. Fingers crossed that nothing falls through, we’d be really happy with this apartment even if it would be bittersweet to leave our current home.

I built my warm weather capsule wardrobe both to meet a challenge and to begin to prepare for a move. I used this challenge as an excuse to get a headstart on packing and begin boxing up other items, continuing to clean/cull/donate/sell as needed. Keep an eye out for the summary blog post on this project at the end of August

Upgraded lingerie drawer, and threw out old and worn items.

Finally, immigration paperwork submitted and residency successfully achieved! This was our big (and by far most expensive) task this month and I’m delighted to have it behind us.

 

Five Things I Loved in July

“If the first of July be rainy weather,
It will rain, more of less, for four weeks together.”
–  John Ray,  English Proverbs 

Well hello there, ducklings. Another month has passed and with another month in 2019 comes another list of things that made good things better and bad things a bit more bearable. Once again I’ve cobbled together a nice batch of things for you to read, listen to, do, and wear on your face–I do it out of love! Tell me your favorite things from the month in the comments, and please don’t stint on book recommendations!

 

Mint App

I’ve had a Mint account for years, with which I dabbled and used to half heartedly attempt a couple of budget ideas. But it’s only been in the last few months that I’ve really started using budgeting apps and tools to track our money in new ways. I’ve always been pretty good at tracking my spending in isolation, but getting a birds eye view of all of your financial instruments, credit/debit cards, and debt is something I’d recommend to anyone. This is not sponsored in any way (lol, can you imagine?) but Mint’s dashboard is incredibly intuitive and easy to navigate–I recommend it to anyone looking to track their financial movements in a regular way. It has its glitches and can sometimes take some time to show specific transactions, but it seems pretty secure overall and the privacy mechanisms seem sound.

 

How To Fail, With Elizabeth Day

This podcast first came on my radar thanks to a coworker and I’ve inhaled most of the back catalog in greedy gulps. The premise is simple, author and journalist Day interviews guests on the failures of their lives, how they coped with it, and what they learned from it. The “failures” detailed truly span the spectrum and include simple misunderstandings, unforced errors, poor choices, significant misjudgements, honest mistakes, or youthful ignorance. It’s a wonderfully personal and well conducted interview podcast with conversations with people that manage to be incredible self aware and insightful, without coming across as self-indulgent or egotistical. I’m very eager to read the host’s book of the same title now! If you’re looking for something new to listen to, 10 out of 10 C.s recommend!

 

Museums Mixed with Web Comics: The British Museum and Lore Olympus 

Possibly inspired by taking in the (brilliant) exhibition on manga at the British Museum, I’ve been dipping my toes into the wild world of graphic novels and longer serial cartoons of late. The wonderful things about well constructed educational and cultural heritage exhibitions is that you come away not just with new information but hopefully new skills. The best parts of that exhibit were the elements that taught a newbie like me how to read manga, how the narratives were constructed, and what the wide variety of coded gestures or expressions or ways of rendering characters was meant to convey. My sister (who lives in Japan) is aflutter with recommendations for me! In the meantime, if you’re thinking about trying out a more serialized form of animated story telling, I’ve been enjoying this web cartoon which is a re-imagining and deconstruction of the mythological Kidnapping of Persephone. Updated for the modern era in some ways, but paying hilarious homage to the source materials (especially Hesiod), there’s a lot of the storytelling style and visual cues that I understand better for having gone to that exhibit.

 

This month we dealt with a record-breaking heatwave, plus the normal fluctuations of the Great British Summer and my skin responded by Freaking. Out. Even typing this I’m still trying to clear up an outbreak of eczema on my face which is making me feel super attractive… The worst of this was that the skin around my mouth has been affected and rather than my normal lipsticks I’ve been reaching for balms and other soothing items to try and keep the irritation to a minimum. But once I got things back to normal, I still kept the lip products fairly light and my most worn item this month has been the Bite Beauty French Press lip gloss in the shade Dirty Chai. I’m not much of a gloss girl but this is the perfect “your lips but better” shade on me, and lends the perfect amount of tint and shine without becoming sticky and unmanageable. Bite continues to make my favorite lip products on the market, whilst also continuing to not ship to the UK. Probably a good thing for my wallet, but devastating for my heart. Thank goodness for friends like X. who are willing to act as my dealer!

 

John Mulaney Comedy Specials

I’m woefully behind on my reading this month, but I’ve been enjoying a lot of Netflix in general and comedy specials specifically. I watched John Mulaney’s two most recent specials, The Comeback Kid and Kid Gorgeous, back to back and laughed myself silly. Both he and Iliza Shlesinger have been comedians that have resonated lately, not least of all because we’re in the same age bracket. This worries me a bit. I’ve noticed that there are eras to comedy and once you identify with one you tend to get locked in for a while and those comedians are the “voice of your generation,” or whatever. This has led to some troubles of late–see also, the entirety of the Me Too movement. That being said, self-aware and self-deprecating millennials honestly do speak for me so I should probably just go with the flow. If you haven’t watched them yet, do take in Mulaney’s shows. He’s wry and charming, and if you cant enjoy a good laugh in the height of summer–especially when it comes to extended metaphors of hippos and horses, look it up–then I can’t help you.

Weekend Links

“Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” 
― Mark Twain

Hi kittens, I type this to you in the middle of both a literal and a metaphoric firestorm. Between a new Johnson premiership and the Mueller testimony, everything feels like it’s on fire. Meanwhile, Europe is consumed in a massive heatwave that is not prepared to cope with. People were sent home from work yesterday, and several of my coworkers were unable to travel safely as a result of breakdowns or delays caused by heat-induced malfunctions. Whatever you believe about changing weather patterns (spoiler, climate change is real), humans don’t really appreciate how much of our society and infrastructure is not built for any kind of permanent shift. Heat, cold, rain, drought, fire, tectonic plates…we are a resilient but stubborn species.

There’s a LOT to be mad about this week, so let’s recap. I’ve put together a nice batch of reading, and as always, there are lovely links interspersed with the political nonsense. To help keep your spirits up as we plan the revolution.

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Last week the horrible-ness of the news took over, but this is still worth sharing.

Premium cat content.

This profile on Missy Elliot is wonderful. What an icon!

Also an icon: RUFUS!

This piece is about what we carry, physically and metaphorically. It’s also about gender and gendered work, again physical and metaphorical, so it’s very much in the venn diagram of my interests.

Short answer: blackmail, probably.

What a great piece on the nostalgia of a ceramic pattern! Growing up my mother used and collected Blue Willow china and for me it’s synonymous with the concept of “home.” I have a set myself, sadly in storage due to a trans-Atlantic move, but fully intend to stock my kitchen with it someday.

Yay! Good news for us and the Star Trek Enterprise, who I assume played some kind of covert role.

OH MY GOD I TYPED THE ABOVE BEFORE THIS WAS RELEASED AND CHILDHOOD ME HAS LOT ANY VESTIGE OF CHILL.

Seriously.

We need to face up to the fact that Epstein is, in part, a product of a culture where wealthy men can do whatever they want. Consequences are for little people.”

A wonderful longform piece that’s about the rise and fall of French cuisine, and therefore ALSO about the changing nature of culture, prestige, and taste. Small Dog Nation catnip!

A solution to radicalization online: making the opposite case? Well, at least maybe…

This is a horrible story about a failure of a law enforcement vetting system with some shocking results.

I WEPT at the trailer alone. (If you want to read the article which inspired the screenplay, voila.)

This pleases me.

I am a woman caught between two governments, both headed by poorly be-coiffed showmen who have “failed upward” to prominence and now power via demonstrable lies, if not outright conspiracy theories. I think this piece in Politco on why direct comparisons between Trump and Johnson are not quite right, especially in terms of clout and especially with the European Union, is worth a read to get a sense of the international perspective. I’m exhausted by politics…

I’m exhausted, because it’s exhausting.

Here, have a bit of women’s history and art history delightfully combined.

If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention. This individual was (thankfully!) released, but how many more victims of this will there be? How many violations of citizenship or residency right are “acceptable collateral damage?”

…that is certainly one way to quit!

What if you invented something truly groundbreaking in terms of human communication…and it backfired? “It dawned on me that this was not some small subset of people acting aberrantly. This might be how people behave. And that scared me to death.”

What. A. Story.

Sign me up for ANY job where the descriptor “flair for darkness” is an asset!

We live in the upside down. (Update, the designer speaks!)

I was not really expecting the Mueller testimony to change anything: the battle lines are drawn and no one is shifting. But the nightmare scenario for me is now that bad actors (foreign and domestic) realize they can get away with meddling in our elections, they’re going to do it again. Mr. Mueller said their attempts are ongoing and Congress just failed to pass election protection legislation. Either it’s criminal ignorance or criminal bad faith.

So much to look forward to.

A Summer Capsule Wardrobe: The Visual

“Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.”
– Lauren Hutton

Hey team, a slightly unexpected post, but given that I’d already written about this project and that I’ve already started packing for a move that’s not happening for over a month (type A problems, amirite?), I figured why not? Here’s what my capsule wardrobe looks like.

Disregard the stuff on the left, those are options for the various aspects of my brother’s wedding and photographic evidence that I am still debating betwixt. Say rather dithering, I have NO idea what I’m going to wear.

Focus on the right side. That is 20 items, all inclusive of bottoms, tops, and toppers. As I’ve written, I’ve made it a month so far with naught but what you see here and so far…I don’t hate it? It’s been interesting to see how little I actually need versus what I actually own. Not pictured are the three cardboard wardrobe-style boxes I have already pre-packed up in advance of our move, currently taking up too much space in our living room. Yes yes, I’m ridiculous, we know.

I’m curious if this project and our move will make me change my mind about keeping any individual items but for the moment I’m fine locking up that up (literally) as a problem for another day and focusing on whether I can stick to what you see here for another month. I confess I didn’t necessarily plan for a crippling heatwave!