Weekend Links

My role throughout the pandemic (at least at work and friend circle) has been to be the croaking Cassandra of doom…and frankly I’m all too often proved right. On Monday we’re supposed to get some sort of sign as to what our summer could look like if we continue to ease out of lockdown, but between variants and the still skyhigh infection rates across the world, I feel like too much hope will be a bad idea.

We’re in an arms race with Mother Nature and the virus’ biological goal is different than ours. It just wants to replicate and spread. But us, we want to LIVE.

One of my brother’s wedding reception is next month and we have no idea if we’re going to be able to go. Jeff hasn’t seen his family in nearly three years. My best friend is getting married this fall. And I feel like I’m losing the ability to visualize the future after a year on restrictions. It’s brain melting.

ANYWAY. Onto the links.

Convince me I’m wrong:

I look forward to the war!

This story is tragic but gripping.

Ditto.

I’M SO EXCITED:

More good Netflix news, thank goodness.

The previous Leader of the Free World…is now…a blogger. I feel like I should retire. (Charlie Warzel has an interesting take.)

The US census reports the lowest birthrates in nearly a century. This seems to have prompting handwringing amongst the elders, the conservatives (and their problematic adjacent ideologies), and demographers alike. Meanwhile, every thirty-something I know chorused in a huge mob, YA THINK? However it’s not as straightforward as it may seem and lots of the downward trends are due to things we should objectively cheer (fewer teen and unplanned pregnancies’ are objectively good). The moral panic won’t dwindle of course.

Seems relevant.

I put on an actual outfit the other day and it was the most surreal set of sensations!

On the flip side…everything is selling to us now and that’s A Bad Thing.

NOT NOW, CHERNOBYL.

Apropos of nothing, Rep. Gaetz has a lot of loud opinions about how anyone on government existence should have mandatory drug testing. Thinking maybe we need to start with our so-called public servants first. Who guards the guardians, and all that? (Seriously, how does this failson still have his job?)

This this, a thousand times this: there is no such thing as a “low skill job.”

I don’t feel at all qualified to inform on the Israeli/Palestinian situation, even though I have a lot of opinions. But I’ll leave the explaniners to Vox.

Does this mean we’ve officially moved from 90s to early 2000s nostalgia? The cicadas and portmanteaued celebrities have risen again. The circle of life.

A Long Overdue Links Roundup!

Darlings, I’ve been neglectful because life got busy and in the year 2021, we all only have so much energy. I return to you penitent and awash with reading this bank holiday Monday. And it’s off back to the kitchen and batch cooking for me!

Really informative write up in the FT on British and EU immigration trends, and what this means for individual nations as well as the bloc.

On the one hand we’re thirsting over Vaccine Daddy now? On the other hand…I get it.

Yes, the beauty industry is a major factor in racism and we need to do so much more to recognize this. We have no problem blaming beauty standards for body dysmorphia of all stripes, we have to expand that notion dramatically.

Seriously, everything Anne Helen Petersen writes seems like vital reading. Her latest piece for Vox in her ongoing series on the increasing inaccessibility of middle class living is important, and she used her newsletter to explain the reporting process and additional context to what that reporting uncovered. Read both as companion pieces.

I’m shocked. SHOCKED.

[This bill] would also compel state employees to immediately notify parents in writing if their child displays “gender nonconformity.” Cool cool cool, so actual dystopian nightmares.

I wish I could send this piece to almost every working woman my age that I know.

Vive la France?

This piece is fundamentally weird, but I couldn’t stop reading.

Ah, the Mommy Bloggers and the grim reality of never being able to measure up – now with bonus capitalism.

The hard hitting journalism I need right now!

For all my ranting last update about the generation wars, I truly do believe Gen Z might see the end of the current iteration of the bad faith culture struggles bullshit. Because the children are just So. Much. Better. at the internet than the elders and they are smarter than us too. The sooner the outrage machines guns are spike, the better we will all be.

We owe her a lot!

First she came for the boobs, but Abby had our (baby got) backs:

Thank god, but if I don’t get my Eloise and Sir Phillip season, I will be VEXED.

*Screams into a cushion*

POCKET EQUALITY:

While we’re in a YouTube spiral, let’s learn more about LGBTQ history and linguistics!

A Mormon news moment in three acts, with bonus reading material for the nerdy:
The kerfuffle
The aftermath
A really, really good RadioWest episode on the subject of mormonism’s relationship to mental health and sexuality
An interview with the therapist in question.

The scorn is deserved.

I love him.

The Fermi Paradox continues to terrify me.

The ever-evolving culture of the QAnon crowd fascinates and frightens me because it hasn’t gone anywhere, in spite of their messianic figure losing his social media bullhorn. Some are going to white supremacy groups, others are doubling down on other conspiracy theories. But they aren’t going away because the media ecosystems that connected and nurtured them haven’t gone away.

Lots of us have left religion, and it’s not always the people you think who are doing it.

Stephen Fry is a tonic.

The sheer amount of “low skill” workers that have proven to be vital to the economy or actual frontline workers in the last year is not inconsequential. It’s beyond time to retire the term.

To understand the world you must understand the internet, part seventy million of an infinite series.

Weekend Links – in 2021 the trash is taking itself out, and we’re not mad

Hey piglets! It’s Good Friday and therefore a bank holiday weekend here in the UK, and the sun is shining. This might be witchcraft or a trap of the highest order, but we’re still going to enjoy it.

Tale as old as time.

But the nature of the stunt is that he’s already anticipated this predictable moral panic and framed it in advance as the kind of response that proves his point about the need for queer people to reject hate and choose to love themselves.”

It’s such a grim worldview: I don’t care if I win so long as you guys lose. It’s government by spite, and it’s corrosive.

One of the smartest reads I’ve found on “cancel culture” so far.

Well well well, if it isn’t the consequences of their actions.

Ah, the generation wars.

The news is still breaking so we still have to call this a bunch of allegations and reported rumor, but honestly if half the stuff being reported about Rep. Matt Gaetz turns out to be true, I will not be in the least surprised. He’s been a boor and creep for along time, and he’s spent a lot of energy leaning into his bro-style messaging and behavior. He’s Trump-lite and made no effort to dissuade anyone otherwise. A horrible sex scandal with underage girls is the least surprising thing I could have imagined, awful as it is. But what I really want to know is WHICH OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS are trading nudes (including potential child porn given the ages we’re talking here?!) like baseball cards on the House floor? Out and prosecute every last one of them.

The correct take:

Klippenstein does some brilliant reporting (and Twittering, if that’s your jam), and his latest reported piece is an absolute dystopian doozy. The Atlantic picks up and add context to the tale.

In this house, we stan Dr. Fauci and Prof. Whitty.

Woof. I may need to retire from the links gig, because the great and good Anne Helen Petersen just dropped the motherload. And yes, ducklings, this one is required reading and there will be a test later.

Weekend Links

Kittens, another weekend is upon us! I’m just diving into the links because honestly, my only priority is getting outside in actual sunlight while we’ve got some. Dive in and let’s catch up in the comments.

Good.

Needing to rethink what carbon output actually means and looks like in the 21st century. Fast.

Here’s the thing: white supremacy, misogyny, racism, toxic masculinity, female fetishization, sexual purity obsession….all of these things overlap in specific structural ways. If you insist on a hierarchical culture, usually binary in nature – male v. female, white v. everyone else, virgin v. whore – this is what you get. The violence become inevitable because the structure is antagonistic by nature and design because it’s a contention for dominance and winner takes all.

Give this dad all the kudos.

Say yes to brooches.

FUCK this garbage ruling.

Everything about the aftermath of That Interview has been amazing to watch. The Royal children writing Mothers Day messages to “Granny Diana” when they have never invoked her before, Prince William giving a frankly bad interview saying that the Royal family isn’t racist (thereby repeating the negative talking point in a way that makes every PR person headdesk), to this…starting to suspect the Sussexes may have had several points, team!

Sooner or later the UK is going to have to wrestle with this: what the hell is the purpose or value of hereditary rank anymore? The Sussexs are viewed by detractors as disloyal to a system that, frankly, doesn’t really have a role or place for them. They’ve opted out of an actual feudal system, and I think eventually the rest of the UK will have to do the same…but no one wants to be the one who torches a thousand years of family and cultural tradition, much less remake the entirety of the state.

Gorgeous shots of what I presume is the starting notes of Ragnarok?

This is clearly about a single profession, but I feel like there’s something deeper here in this distinction between burnout and demoralization. I may have to rethink my categories.

Do you know where your towel is?

Policy damages require policy solutions. I don’t think this is anywhere near enough, but I don’t know how anything solves four centuries of systemic constraint and limitation.

Wow this seems like a terrible idea!

This is one hell of a defense…and also another insight into what this brand of charlatan and their ilk actually think of their audience.

Genuinely amazing: Baltimore is putting a pause on prosecuting certain crimes because the unintentional social experiment we’ve all be living through over the last year has produced some interesting data points we are going to have to consider. For some of us, that may mean flexible working works. For Baltimore, it’s that prosecuting these crimes doesn’t seem to make any difference to overall public safety. Hm. It’s almost as if our law enforcement and policing systems are incorrectly focused and resourced. Huh.

RIP to a icon of literally everyone I know’s childhood.

COVID, My Body, and Me

In an effort to write more, something that’s good for my brain and also provides a much needed creative outlet, I’m going to try and pop off a quick personal take without pulling my usual trick of thinking about it for weeks and/or months first. Unfortunately for us all, I’m in a narcissistic place and I’m spending way too much time fretting about the state of my body. I can’t stop it, even though I don’t think it’s good for me, or anyone.

A year inside hasn’t been an equal experience for everyone. On the one hand, my household has been incredibly fortunate to have the ability to shelter and work from home; on the other, the scaling down of life to a one bedroom apartment in a major COVID hotspot has been unequivocally bad for our health.

In the spirit of the Year of Intention, I have been using this time inside to continue to address some health issues. I’m currently being treated for longstanding hip and knee troubles, though confirmed that I’m likely to need surgery on my hips at some point due to malformation. Win some, lose some.

And yet, in spite of twice a week physio, I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been. I hate it and feel really uncomfortable in my body these days. The minimum two miles walking a day I used to do just moving around the city has been severely curtailed and my world has shrunk to a one bedroom apartment. I have no idea what my caloric intake is supposed to be under these circumstances, but nothing I try seems to work in managing weight – which for me definitely has a stress component.

And speaking of stress! I’ve noticed quite a few common symptoms of that as well, including hair loss, unusual breakouts, and eczema flair ups over the past year. Sexy…

It’s such a weird thing to try and unpack but staying inside and doing nothing for a year has been stressful! Humans aren’t built to live like we’ve been living for the last year and it’s definitely taking a mental and physical toll. It’s nowhere near being on the frontlines of healthcare or essential workers, and I don’t pretend it’s even close, but I stand by my statement that we humans have not evolved nor structured our society for the kind of lifestyle many of us have been forced into for the last twelve months.

And then there’s the mental load…it’s a lot.

Trying to follow the news in two countries, to track risks for our families or try and plan travel to see them (which we haven’t been able to do in years), to keep up with political situations which affect us as expats and citizens of one country while residents of another, all against the backdrop of daily bad news of death and sickness is grinding. It takes mental and emotional energy to document and process, to make decisions or plans and then have to remake them the next day or week.

Chatting with faithful commenter and friend of the blog CJ in the comments, we both mentioned having to take “days off” from the news, or emails, or social media or (I assume) just inputs of information. “The cognitive load is wild,” I typed, meaning every word. Trying to follow a planet-wide scale event while living mostly in the same spot in my living room for a solid year now is such a perspective whiplash every single day.

The overall result is a sense of permanent mental and physical discomfort or discontent which occasionally can tip over into something even more unhealthy.

I’m happy to report that the combo of drugs, therapy, and physio is still helping somewhat. I have a welcome if ridiculous looking shag of hair regrowth that’s a couple of inches long and sticks up awkwardly no matter what I do to try and tame it. I’m trying to both be kind to my body while trying to make it work the best I can under less than ideal circumstances. But a year into this I still haven’t found a balance or way to make things work in a way that produces some semblance of health that I can work with.

Weekend Links

Kittens, this has not been the best week. My depression and anxiety has been riding me hard and it all sort of came to a head in a migraine attack – something I’ve not had for months now. It’s been so long since I had one actually that I forgot what a grim, full body experience they are when they hit. I spent a day retching on a empty stomach every time there was a noise louder than birdsong or any change to the lighting…fun.

As it happens, I hadn’t taken a day off since Christmas and I have a great boss who scolded me for this and insisted I take my allotted holidays so I’ve got a few days off throughout the rest of the month here and there. I’m putting the finishing touches on this post in the afternoon, still a bit shaky and slow moving but trying valiantly to get some Vitamin D from the spring sun.

Hoping you’re safe and thriving as best you can, kittens. I sure appreciate this weird corner of the internet with you.

More men in boas, please and thank you.

Oh look. A bad faith law to solve a “problem” that doesn’t actually exist. Literally, when pressed to name individuals who had been affected by the “problem” the legislators were unable to, but still this bullshit passed.

Source: https://thenib.com/author/matt-lubchansky/

Because really, how scary could a bunch of angry white men actually be, right? /s

Starting to think Facebook might be a bit problematic, fam…

Let’s just try it already, huh?!

We’ve built a society that doesn’t allow us to manage all the expectations and demands it requires.

Let’s just TRY STUFF.

Pop Culture Pandemic Prophets on the last year and the look ahead.

In Small Dog Nation, we stan and love Yo-Yo Ma forever.

I’ve always loved these kinds of portraits and find them uniquely beautiful. Even though ancient, there are aspects of human depiction that get lost for centuries afterwards again.

If there is one thing I know, it’s that conservative religious institutions will not catch up to human rights and legal protections until they have exhausted every other option and burned a lot of the goodwill they rely on along the way. No institution will change until it’s faced with the prospect of its own irrelevance. But the human pain in the meantime…whew…

This guy is having a real Bugs Bunny getting lost by way of Albuquerque moment.

Christ, what an ugly, ugly crime with all the horrible trademarks: misogyny, racism, toxic masculinity. None of it is new, but all of it is hideous.

Asian Americans speaking on the racism they experience.

The only things weirder than what conspiracy theorists believe, is often what they reject.

Weekend Links: Female Rage, Activated

We have a LOT to unpack, kittens.

General mood.

Today I learned

The first giant beauty brand has fallen under the axe of COVID. Or is there more to the story?

Amazon disrupted paid books, and it’s now disrupting the lending medium.

Feminism is a fractured movement. After all, what does a single mother in a favela have in common with a Manhattan socialite? Yet the pandemic—or more accurately, the economic shutdowns imposed to contain it—has affected women and girls around the world in remarkably similar ways.”

Our longest war never had much of a consistent (or legal, to my mind) justification. I remember arguing this point my freshman year of uni in a freshman writing class and I have never wavered in my thoughts on the matter. But it’s beyond clear at this point that so many people are unable to quit it, and unfortunately for us a lot of those people work at the Pentagon.

Gripping mystery.

I found this piece indescribably comforting because my brain has felt so broken for months now. Long COVID, “brain fog,” and other descriptions don’t come close to explaining it, even though both are accurate. My ability to focus is shot to hell right now.

Ouch. Right in the feels!

Nope, but I’m willing to bet the Catholic church gets there before the Mormon one does.

Nicely done, Guam. ‘Bout time.

HOOOOO BOY. Let’s talk about that Oprah + Sussex interview. There is literally no one better at interviewing than Oprah, no one.

A comprehensive take on the wider context.

For two generations, women who marry into the Royal Family have been expected to be thin, fertile—and silent. Meghan embodies all the negative stereotypes Britons have about our distant cousins across the Atlantic: too loud, too brash, too much. It will be beautifully ironic if this American can, by speaking out, change the tone of royal coverage in Britain.”

Much like No 10, the Palace has an undoable PR and comms job most days…but still, it took two days to come up with this hilariously inadequate response?

Couple complain about perceived abuses of media, media figures displays the exact same behavior in question, media figure loses job. IT’S THE WOMAN’S FAULT, SURELY. Full disclosure, I hate Piers Morgan and his particular brand of offensive oppinutainment and provocation. I like to think this sort of approach is on the decline but there are holdouts.

Misogyny is flying fast and thick this week, between the Sussex vitriol, the horrible murder of a woman here in the UK sparking discourse on women’s safety, and Tucker Carlson getting his ass handed to him by the Pentagon after he decided to turn his provocateur gaze on women in the military…and separate to his sustained and targeted attacks on a female journalist. Like Morgan, I can’t wait for this noxious brand of personality media to die.

And finally, our political system is WHOLLY INADEQUATE for this, but far from soundbites, we need actual deep philosophical discussions and substantive challenges on a number of political and policies. For example, what do we actually want out of a justice system? Because whether your ambition is “deter crime” or “rehabilitation” or ” appropriately retribute…” our political and social status quos aren’t necessarily aligned with our stated aims. Anyway, Abby puts it a lot better and more creatively than me:

Weekend Links

Kittens, another weekend is upon us. I’ve bared logged off of work (it’s after 9pm locally) and I want to do ZERO work this weekend so I’m dropping this sucker early and hoping for the best. Love you lots!

We’re all self-soothing these days, anyone tried one of these?

A curry con man? I would watch that show!

Jesus, watching this “disbelieve the evidence of your own eyes” stuff in real time is exhausting and crazy making. And yes, that’s the point, but it’s still bonkers to try and track in an intelligent way. It makes combating the underpinning crimes and hate movements that much harder.

Small Dog Nation loves an archeology story!

Monica Lewinksy interviewed Roxanne Gay on writing about trauma, and it’s as good and relevant as it sounds. What a power pairing!

Grim.

Which brings us to the cold blob.” Indeed! Excellent and unintentionally funny transition line aside, this is a fabulous if sobering investigation and visualization of changes we can see happening in real time on our planet and helps put global context on local seasonal trends.

Because as we all know, if there is anything the Republican party will not tolerate, it’s mean Tweets!

Lol, just kidding they literally built a golden idol to Mean Twitter’s patron sinner.

First we had “alternative facts” and we’ve progressed straight to “freelance thinking.” Jesus.

It’s a cult. The most I can recall of Obama cottage industries were those famous blue and red posters – which were also quickly co-opted by the far left who were just as as critical of him as the far right. This bizarre cult of personality baffles me.

This is a full on documentary of the madness:

Year of Intention: February

A spacetime paradox: the shortest month of any year is, in the year of Our Lady Beyoncé 2021, the 13th month or 350-something’th day of March 2020. Trying to mark the passage of time feels like a futile effort these days, but I’m trying to really bring back the accountability and favorites posts as they sort of help fill that void for me.

Wins

Depression made life rough this month and took a toll on my physical health as much as my mental. But physiotherapy is helping to improve my bad knee and hip, this month in spite of myself. Shoutout to Six Physio, their team has been fantastic to work with at every single stage thus far.

Speaking of depression, it’s amazing how much it messes with your head and rationality. It’s been on my To Do list since the start of the year to build my credit history more in the UK as part of the buy-a-house-someday goal, and for no good reason whatsoever, I’ve been putting off things like a credit card application (I’ve used my international/US cards and mostly bank or shop in a cash-based way here in the UK ever since we moved here). Well this month I girded my metaphoric loins and started the process… And of course the inevitable conclusion is that it took me less than 15 minutes to do something that I’ve been failing to do for two months and I’m sure there is a great life lesson in that which I will refuse to learn.

Continued weekly meal prep this month, and layered on a mini goal to do more vegetarian meals. I mean, that just means I exchanged meat for cheese in absurd qualities, but sure, let’s call it healthier.

Continued reading massive amounts of books, including a few classics in and amongst the pure, satisfying trash. I had a very senior director in my company casually drop into conversation when we doing a project catch up that her weekend plans included Wandavision and a “stack of trashy novels” and I have honestly never felt more SEEN in my life.

This was month two of paying off credit cards in full and putting 1,000 into savings. Next month looking at opening some longer term savings or investment accounts.

Fails

It’s self-centered to write, but I’m continuing to struggle with my weight and my intentions in this space. There is a definite dearth of willpower and I don’t know how best to develop it.

Household upkeep generally was another willpower problem are this month. Mustering the energy to finish chores sometimes felt like too much work, which is probably another symptom of depression. But the practical upshot was that unfolded laundry languished on the sofa for days and dishes stayed in the dishwasher longer than they should have. Not ideal, but oh well. There’s a pandemic on. Be kind to yourself, kittens.

Weekend Links

We’re two months into the year, a full sixth. Sigh.

Why yes, let’s talk about Ken Burns’ hair, what a pleasant break from reality!

Goodness, whomever could have seen this coming? What a shock. /s

Someone turn this saga into a movie, right away. Part 1 and Part 2.

Climate change models have been predicting this for literal decades and speaking collectively, we have avoided doing anything meaningful to prevent it. It is now going to be catastrophically costly, but in terms money and human life and capital, to respond to.

At a time when the majority of Americans support gay rights, more than half a decade after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, it’s clear that a growing percentage of the U.S. population identifies as LGBT, Gallup’s researchers said. What’s less clear is why. Is it because of a real shift in sexual orientation and gender identity? Or is it because of a greater willingness among young people to identify as LGBT?Great piece from the WaPo about changing gender and sexual identity, a complicated topic.

What IS non-binary identity, you ask? Here you go.

And while we’re at it, your notions of non-heteronormative identity (specifically trans and non-binary) may have some toxic prejudices lurking in your psyche…which you may not even be aware of! That’s okay, most of us have implicit biases of which we’re not even aware, much less aware of how they got there. If you’re interested in how the most common assumptions about trans identities wended their way through pop culture and possibly into your brain…media critic Lindsey Ellis is here to blow your mind:

Seen some of these blighters in our rubbish bin area and they scare the life out of me.

No heroes, only (temporary) allies.

Excellent nerd lead here, but also a genuinely interesting piece on how the Kardashians have changed beauty and self-image. Whether you want to care or not, they’ve been hugely influential.

EXCUSE ME, they never “left.”

If you’re not watching Wandavision, what’s wrong with you?