“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
― Anne Frank
Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
– Winston Churchill
So, to confirm, it was necessary for the FBI to break protocol in October of last year and publicly divulge information about an ongoing investigation into former rep. Anthony Weiner as it hypothetically might have related to Secretary Clinton (turns out, it didn’t). But it was not necessary for the FBI to publicly divulge that then-candidate Trump’s team or campaign was being investigated since July of last year for potential collusion with or ties to a government with an avowed strategy of disrupting US elections in his favor.
Got it. Clear as mud.
God, I’m angry at the state of US politics.
“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”
― Pablo Neruda
We made it to another weekend, kittens, and here in London at least it feels like spring really has arrived. It’s warming up, the daffodils are out in full force, and I think we are officially out of excuses for not being able to make it to the gym during daylight hours. Crud.
Here are your links, mostly politics free this week, to keep this springtime good mood going. Share your favorite stories from the week in the comments!
In case you missed the thread or story in question, this piece is worth a read.
This year’s NPR Music Tiny Desk Contest winners are a revelation and a delight!
Lipstick, oppression, empowerment, and the inner female life. Sign me up for whatever it takes to get this film released.
The CBO score on the healthcare reform, put forward by some Republicans and supported (at least initially) by the administration, came out this week. The estimates are 14 million losing insurance by 2018, 24 million by 2026. Read up and inform yourselves. In other political news, the courts temporarily blocked Travel Ban 2.0, a new budget proposal was put forward that amps military spending and cuts things like poverty support, big chunks of funding to whole agencies, and arts endowments (always a sign of great things to come ), and the president’s own party are refusing to back his thus-far-baseless claims of wiretapping. #winning?
I loved this supportive letter from Albert Einstein to Marie Curie.
Dear Saudi Arabia, you messed up…
And speaking of messing up, our own military (near and dear to my brat heart) isn’t exactly covering itself in glory on women’s issues lately.
So, minions, if we all pool our money…
A fascinating profile on Kellyanne Conway. Love her or loathe her, but this article makes a compelling case that she is, for all functional purposes, almost the acting First Lady in terms of profile, administrative involvement, and propinquity.
Album of the week: Sarah Vaughn, At Mister Kelly‘s
“And now leave me in peace for a bit! I don’t want to answer a string of questions while I am eating. I want to think!”
“Good Heavens!” said Pippin. “At breakfast?”
― J.R.R. Tolkien,
As so many of our old food haunts have left us lately, Jeff and I are on the prowl for new places to fall in love with. When a recent local joint stopped serving regular brunch (they tantalize us with promises that the chef may choose to surprise us with it from time to time, those teases), we decided to go on a wander in unfamiliar territory this weekend to explore somewhere new. East London beckoned and my research indicated that Bistrotheque would fit the bill nicely.
It’s very much the kind of place I like. Tucked away on an unexpected street in a Bethnal Green residential area, if you don’t know what to look for, you could easily pass the entrance. And even walking through the sign-less door and up the stairs, you might have a few qualms that you’re still not in the right place until you burst out into a bright and open industrial space.
We had to make a reservation to get in and it was fully almost the entire time we were there. Couples, families, and groups of friends all clustered together comfortably with the open kitchen in view, in keeping with the industrial aesthetic. It’s clearly a very family friendly place, in spite of the prodigiously stocked bar, and there were several children in attendance.
The menu is a great mix of typical brunch and lunch offerings, most of which with a welcome kind of twist. My avocado and eggs were severed on savory cornbread with crunchy spiced corn kernels and hot sauce. Jeff snagged something with chorizo (which will always call to him). I glimpsed some of the sweeter offerings like french toast at nearby tables and it looked decadent enough to warrant the second visit I’m already plotting.
We pushed the boat entirely out and grabbed some pudding after our main meals because they looked too good to not try. Jeff plumped for the creme brulee (usually my drug of choice) so that I could go for the blood orange panna cotta, smothered in pistachios.
The atmosphere is nicely urban, the food is flavorful, and though the prices aren’t exactly dirt cheap, the portion sizes are very filling. What more could you want?
Oh, a piano guy who plays medleys of Guns’N’Roses, Michael Jackson, and the Spice Girls while you munch? Yeah, they have that too!
“Nationalism is an infantile thing. It is the measles of mankind.”
― Albert Einstein
I fundamentally don’t understand the notion that some people seem to hold that there was once a time where every nation on earth (a concept in and of itself only a couple centuries old) had its own pure ethnic, nationalistic, and presumably racial identity. Nope. Lies in almost every case. We humans have been trading, travelling, mixing languages, creating and abolishing religions, warring, peacemaking, marrying, and swapping science globally for all of recorded history. The only things that have changed in the last thousand years is the rapidity with which we do it, the distances we are able to cross to do so, and the scale of our exchange.
But if I can point out evidence of Africans in Britain in the Roman period, the vast reach of the medieval Chinese navy and their explorations across the Pacific, Vikings in the Americas in the 10th century, a millennia of trade along the Silk Road, ancient African trade routes spanning the continent, and Pan-European Celtic road systems dating to before written language…you don’t get to be surprised that people of a different skin color or religion now live next door to you.
The last time we were a “pure” species was in coming out of Africa–and apparently we still eventually managed to hook up with Neanderthals at some point. Notions of national purity, always an Us And Them narrative, have only ever served to divide and–in modern history–usually to attempt to conquer.
“There was nothing like a Saturday – unless it was the Saturday leading up to the last week of school and into summer vacation. That of course was all the Saturdays of your life rolled into one big shiny ball.”
― Nora Roberts,
Hi kittens, we’ve made it to another weekend and instead of a rant, how about I just let you get straight to the goodness? There’s a lot of news and fun links this week, but as always, please share your favorite stories, memes, and links from the week in the comments!
Let’s start off with something cute and purely delightful, shall we?
So much for seeing the courts…in court. Travel Ban 2.0 was rolled out this week with, it must be said, what looks like some actual thought put into the process and application this time. It’s still garbage. If the ostensible goal is to protect Americans from “radical Islamic terrorists,” the administration has still failed utterly to prove that citizens and refugees from these countries posed a heightened significant entry in the first place. The terrorists or their sympathizers who have carried out violent actions in recent years seem to be made in America, as little as we apparently like to acknowledge that fact. Iraq, the birthplace of ISIS is off the restricted list seeing as they are, ya know, our ally. Meanwhile refugees are going to have to go through a more stringent process than ever before, even though those most needing assistance are the least likely to be able to pass background checks seeing as how (to take Syria as an example) their entire nation state and all its attendant bureaucracies, paperwork, legal histories, and documented evidence have been bombed to oblivion. Meanwhile, I believe there is plenty of evidence of animus towards muslims in statements from the president and his supporters to warrant challenges.
This sounds like a fascinating project and I wish I could see it.
My own representative, Congressman Chaffetz, continues to be the living embodiment of the word “craven,” and his latest gaffe was a right doozy. Let’s set aside this annoying and frankly damaging trope that (presumably) poor people are just irresponsible with money/services and therefore it’s a bad idea to provide them…his math is a joke. Does he live in a world where poor people, to say nothing of working and middle class citizens, buy phones every month? Nay, more than that! According to the National Conference of State Legislatures last year, the annual premium costs for an average family were $18,000. Meaning that you’d have to buy a new iPhone once a month for three years in a row for an equivalence. Meanwhile, I’d like everybody who has ever had a single prescription or procedure cost more than $500 to put their hands up.
Should the president’s statements/accusations/word vomit that the former president tapped his phones be taken at face value? According to the Press Secretary, and I quote, “Yes it should. Of course it should. No.”
This whole story is such a load of sexist garbage. And it’s disheartening.
Also, give this reporter a gold star for questioning why the president is calling for an investigation…if he already is in possession of conclusive evidence that this tapping happened? As I see it, either President Trump lobbed in a completely fabricated conspiracy theory (which in itself should be a scandal as it questions not just where he’s getting his information, but whether he can tell fact from fiction), or he revealed that he/his organization have been the subject of investigations (which is likely also going to be a scandal depending on what he/they were being investigated for). Either way, self inflicted wound.
Got my dose of beauty therapy from sighing lustfully over these statement earrings.
A great new piece of art landed on Wall Street just in time for IWD.
Album of the week: Everything is Forgotten, by Methyl Ethel
“Deeds not words.”
– Suffragette slogan
Becoming aware of how much criticism is heaped on women for their life choices is depressing. Becoming further aware of how much of this criticism stems from other women is downright devastating. For me personally, realizing how guilty I used to be (and occasionally still can be if I don’t watch myself) of this behavior was humbling.
I grew up in a culture that has highly defined gender roles and a lot of codified expectations for women and girls. I’ve written about the dress codes here, which also touches on the expectation that women “should stay home,” that they should be the primary caregivers to children, and uncomfortable echoes of rape culture. I’m no longer in this culture or ascribe to a lot of those values in the same way. But being out here in wider society as opposed to a small religious group isn’t necessarily easier when it comes to the pressures heaped on women.
Unmaking a lot of the lessons I’d been taught about gender and femaleness from a young age took and still takes a lot of work. In either constructing or reconstructing my own views on gender and the female experience, I’ve had to critically examine not just the views I was raised with, but also the knee-jerk reactionary views I sometimes developed in response to opinions that reminded me of my childhood culture. As fiercely committed as I am to supporting other women and claiming my feminism, I still have a lot of work to do.
Unmaking your own critical tendencies is a hard line to walk. I have just as many opinions about how to live as anybody, but what I have made a dedicated effort to do in the past few years, is simply decline to judge most women’s life choices. From sex to education, childbearing to careers, I’ve come to the conclusion that how other women choose to order their lives is almost entirely none of my business. Where another person’s choices do not affect me, or does not impact my ability to make my own choices or my legal rights, what I have learned and try awfully hard to practice is the age old wisdom of keeping my mouth shut.*
I’m not talking about politics or policy in this post, what I’m speaking of here is the personal criticisms or judgement we casually fling at women who chose to work full time, stay home with children, hire help, use professional childcare, ask family to babysit regularly, have multiple sex partners, practice celibacy, eat paleo, eat vegan, eschew social media, take selfies, wear short skirts, wear hijab, read Talmud, read romance novels, do bodybuilding, not exercise at all, go into military service, go into nursing, have an abortion, decline to practice birth control, grow their hair long, wear their hair super short, be atheist, pray at the Wailing Wall, have tattoos, cover their skin from neck to ankle…
The list is quite literally endless. It often feels like we can’t win for losing!
Instead of picking apart, examining, or even stressing about other women’s choices, what I’ve committed to is supporting their choices better. They may bear no resemblance to the choices I’d make for myself, my marriage, my family, or my career; I may even disagree outright with her positions. But where her choices work for her, break no laws, and cause no harm, the onus is on me to stand up for her decisions the way I’d hope others will stand up for mine. The world is still plenty hard on women. I’m convinced it will get a bit better if we are easier on one another.
And the only control I have over that goal is starting with my own behavior. I like to think I’ve gotten better, and I like to think I’ll get better still.
Amy Poehler popularly summed this up in her book Yes Please with the phrase, “That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.” This idea is full of generosity and, dare I say, grace.
*I separate this from political activism/engagement, it’s worth noting. I put my money and my time where my values are.