Category: COVID

Weekend Links – Expletives Abound

It’s been another rough week, kittens. Have some links to help make sense of the world and zoom out from the individual things that might be stressing you. Also, should you be so inclined, check your voter registration, request your ballot, and donate to a cause you care about. For me it was ActBlue’s “Get Mitch or Die Trying,” for what by now should be obvious reasons.

Cool archaeological news!

BLEEDING HELL

The Venn Diagram of those who think climate change is a hoax and those who oppose immigration is largely a circle. One of these perspectives is going to HAVE to give.

The problem of pandemic commerce doesn’t lie simply with low supply or high demand. Instead, the coronavirus has eaten away at the entire system by which things are bought and sold in America, and few signs of improvement are on the horizon.”

The president also expressed surprise that Washington could not demand payment from the companies in exchange for approving any agreement.” Because that’s called corruption, my dude.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s America’s–oh no!

Speaking of image control, Emily Ratajkowski penned an incredible essay this week. Major trigger warning.

Fascinating piece on consumer behaviors right now, and something that is probably extremely good for society and the planet whilst being extremely bad for the economy. Which is kind of the thing our political system is struggling with right now: the literal choice between lives and GDP.

This is both extremely interesting from a scientific and cultural perspective and very gratifying for someone who thinks that all the odd Nordic worship of some of the weirder portions of our society could use this little reality dose.

FUCK.

May her memory be a revolution.

No shit.

No shit again.

Understanding “flat earth,” how it rose and propagated, how it evolved, how algorithmic media fed it, and how it’s not actually about the shape of the earth is…really helpful in understanding a lot of other things in our media right now. From memeification, gameification, collective identity and media as community, the pervasiveness of apocalyptic thinking, and what happens when people have to justify the impossible and need a reason for why the world is the way it is. (Spoiler, it’s not just about flat eartherism.)

Weekend Links – My Dog Died

I’m having another week where trying to keep up with the cascade of bad feels like it takes too much. Britain COVID cases are trending up again, wildfires plus plague plus civil unrest in the US, really scary protests in Europe against authoritarianism, 9/11, malignant incompetence made worse by deliberate misinformation run rampant–and no one is being held accountable for any of it. I’m exhausted.

And then my family dog died this week. And for all of the above plus a heaping dose of sadness, this just ENDED my siblings and I when my mom told us. There were a lot of tears, lots of story swapping and commiserating across three continents. She was an animal with a lot of personality and character, and she was our dog for 16 years. Even Jeff really loved her and shared a ton of photos with us.

She was old and we knew she was going to go soon, but losing this little neurotic goofball bloody hurts extra hard.

She knows of which she speaks.

The legend of Mulan has evolved to fit the times. Doesn’t mean the movie is particularly good.

Radicalization is the same, whether ISIS or hypernationalist militias. There is. No. Difference.

END THIS RIDICULOUS FAKE “TRADITION.”

Philanthropy is no substitute for the collective civic investment that is…taxation. We badly need to rewrite the narrative on taxes. Taxation and the subsequent allocation of monies by a democratically elected body is not theft, it is not punitive, and it’s not something to find loopholes to get out of. It’s the literal costs of running a collectively beneficial society. Tax the rich, tax business, simplify the code and close loopholes. And for the love of god stop asking “but how will we pay for xyz” in bad faith.

Clearly, there’s a sinister side to memes that requires unpacking.”

So…a government function is going to be deployed for the defence of the President in his capacity as a private citizen

And look, more whistleblowers.

And look, more manipulated information.

We’ve known this was coming for years, and still the images are wrenching. And yeah, where will we go, indeed?

I really love Anne Helen Petersen’s writing, her personal work as much as her reporting, but her latest newsletter was rough again because I think she nailed the sensation of trying to comprehend and compartmentalize time and information in an overwhelming year. “The past year has been an exercise in mass compartmentalization: how can you take what’s happening around you, flatten it, then divide it into small enough sections that you can endure it? If you can just get through the summer, you’ll be okay. If you can just get through the week, you’ll be okay. If you can just get through the day, the afternoon, the hour.”

Oh dear, Posh is going to take more of my money again.

Fucking GOOD. Finally.

As per usual, Dr. Blyth sums up a lot of my frustrations.

How to help victims of the US wildfires.

Weekend Links – #BLM, Baby Yoda, or GTFO

I’m not sure what it is about shorter weeks that somehow twist the fabric of the spacetime continuum to feel twice as long, but this week was definitely one of those. I’m staying mostly logged off to preserve my own sanity after another bonkers roller coaster ride in 2020, but rather than just spew unfiltered rage, I’ve made a deliberate attempt to provide you an extra heaping dose of style and pop culture. We’ve got a lot on fashion and style because we need beautiful things to look at and think about, in between bouts of sharpening our pitchforks and ensuring we retain and use our rights to vote.

I thought I was alone! (Seriously, I hope I never meet our downstairs neighbors who I must regularly traumatize with my constant klutziness, especially my phone or water bottle, and usually out of reasonable hours. I cringe at just the thought of encountering them in the stairwell.

Well, this is just heartwarming.

Feel like everything you see on your social media feed is the same? You’re not crazy. And we all might be sick of it.

What a great and interesting project! It’s always fascinating to see icons or iconography made human.

Yes, I will watch the crap out of this film. Mary Anning doesn’t get nearly enough playtime.

Major world events trigger fashion changes, so what do we think is going to be the post-COVID style leap?

His artistic work is the loss, but TLo did a beautiful tribute to Chadwick Boseman’s beautiful personal style and retrospective of how he opened up fashion for men in a big way.

Damn, Refinery29 pulled out the stops on this one!

Every brand is a media brand in 2020.

Damn it. I think I need to learn how to sew

BAD. Bad for the whole international military and supportive communities. BAD.

No one:
Literally, no one:
Not a soul:
Donald Trump: I DIDN’T HAVE A STROKE!

Grim. Grim and horrible.

Cool. We’re doomed. I look forward to the entire political right pivoting to caring about debt again – depending on the outcome in November.

In slightly more uplifting new, a meme accomplished something good!

I fucking hate him. I really, really do. And I cannot understand the mental gymnastics required to continuously justify the stream of petty cruelty, selfishness, incompetence, UNFIT filth and enablement that flows from him without any consequence.

Who else but Lindsay Ellis could possibly delve into the world of bizarre fanfic erotica and the legal implications of the federal court case that ensues and keep the whole thing not just SFW, but an examination on the difference between genres, tropes, and copyright claims:

 

Oh thank god. I need this. WE need this.

And yea, if you were still wondering for some reason, BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Weekend Links – Wakanda Forever

So. This week. Major party convention machines took over or merged with federal operations with zero opposition. Wildfires AND hurricanes are raging. Civil unrest continued due to a fresh round of atrocities. Protests in Europe against authoritarian regimes, and what we can reasonable assume is the attempted murder of a major Russian dissident. COVID cases spiking again. Travel restrictions amping up in response. Schools trying to educate online, disrupting working families (especially women). Workers are being hustled back to work not because it’s safe but because the ripple effects of COVID are spreading and we’ve all collectively decided that the economy requires blood sacrifice.

It’s a lot.

This week’s link roundup is a bit heavy, but as always there are a few smatterings of humor to help leaven the sadness. Stay focused on the problems, stay committed to solutions. Take responsibility for the wellbeing and safety of your fellow humans – wash your hands, wear a mask, defend their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as much as you would defend your own.

The sheer cosmic luck and accident that allowed this to happen delights and impresses me.

Second verse, same as the first.

…Donald Trump’s party is the very definition of a cult of personality. It stands for no special ideal. It possesses no organizing principle. It represents no detailed vision for governing. Filling the vacuum is a lazy, identity-based populism…’Owning the libs and pissing off the media,’ shrugs Brendan Buck, a longtime senior congressional aide and imperturbable party veteran if ever there was one. ‘That’s what we believe in now. There’s really not much more to it.’

This is good. We need to reconsider how we write algorithms and what human biases have gone into the codes that came before.

Hoo boy.

For fucks sake, enough. How much more evidence do we need about systemic problems?! How many more protests is it going to take?! (How you can give to the family.)

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How you can give to help people affected by Hurricane Laura. (Minor positive note: nature is healing.)

Never underestimate the ability of one or two people to do amazing good, or outrageous harm.

I pile on Utah a lot, but this is unequivocally good and a standout perspective among institutionally conservative states. It advocates for mail-in voting and enables it.

We NEED to understand the insidious overlap of violent misogyny, violent racism, and violent nationalism. In huge numbers, the venn diagram is a circle.

Perennial topic of interest in Small Dog Nation.

Jeff is the NBA fan in our household, and a lifelong Utah Jazz devotee. He opened my understanding to the political clout and cultural influence of the NBA in a way I didn’t really get since my family is not at all sporty. Learning the difference between sports leagues and how they use their influence over the last few years has been interesting, and of course the tides are shifting all the time…but at the moment I’m pretty sure the NBA is doing more to provide safe voting in November and invest in Black communities than our actual Congress.

Baseball showed up. And ironically set us all up for some devastating news…

What a horrible loss! You only need a cursory glance at social media to see the impact he had in his career and how much his portrayals of Black icons meant to the community. To learn he did his widest reaching and most physically demanding work while battling cancer…no words. Rest in power. Wakanda forever. (On creating a character’s voice, why Black Panther matters, spreading joy.)

Speaking of Black icons, let’s remember the anniversary of the March on Washington.

And finally, let’s have a laugh.

Sunday Check In: Home Investments During COVID

Alright beloveds, confess: what have you acquired over the last six months that is definitely due to COVID and why? Was it through shopping, swapping, or borrowing? Have you picked up a hobby only to abandon it, or are you now a certified expert? Have you “nested” during this time or become a die hard minimalist? What have you picked up for yourself or your family?

More houseplants. Can’t get a pet yet, so I spent about £20 on additional plants and my urban jungle brings me joy. Jeff likes to mock my black thumb but thus far I’ve only killed ONE. We’re in lockdown but I’m growing a neat little urban jungle to compensate.

A Dyson cooling fan. Every single year without fail, there is one week in August where London becomes unbearable. The air is stifling and stagnant with heat, the wind dies, and it’s generally just miserable. Now, in normal years you might be on holiday, you may be working from an office (more likely to have an air conditioning or cooling system than the vast majority of British apartments), you may be able to go out to a park and lay out in the sun with as few clothes on as legally permissible. But this year, nope! We all just had to sit around and stew in our own sweat. So we splashed out for a fancy, expensive fan to try and just get some airflow in the midst of a pretty brutal heatwave. With September creeping up and the worst of summer’s heat hopefully past, I’m hopeful that we’ll be trading fans for jumpers soon.

Kitchen knives. We’re cooking and baking much more, and so we finally replaced some pairing knives that we lost years ago, and bought higher quality chopping knives as well.

A new Yoga mat with slip control. My exercise habit has been inconsistent but at it’s best, I definitely needed an option that didn’t send me careening across our living room when I tried to do a downward dog.

A Le Creuset dutch oven and I feel like a REAL, LIVE GROWNUP NOW. This has long been a wishlist item of mine but could never justify the price until quite suddenly one was on terrific discount online and we just bit the bullet and bought it. And then we immediately used it to make the most decadent ragu I’ve ever had to christen it. I’m already scheming to master french onion soup next.

Cute underwear. Let’s be honest, this is a year where even if you were perfectly happy and healthy, you’ve probably still had whole weeks go by where you’ve felt like utter trash. I find that on of the things that helps me feel better is to look nice on purpose, and that starts from the skin out. I’ve been slowly making over my underwear drawer over the past year and a couple of lockdown purchases have been pretty underthings from independent British sellers, locally made, sustainable/ethical by design, and cute as hell. Feel good, support small businesses in a time of crisis, shop ethically. Everyone wins.

Linen sheets. Cool, clean, comfy. End of story.

Obviously, all the privilege caveats apply here. Clearly this was spread out over many months and I feel obliged to confirm that, in line with our other projects, we are making huge progress with our financial goals. But some of these were expensive…and none of them I regret. I’ve enjoyed our focus on cooking and kitchen experimenting, and while inconsistent I’ve been able to focus on health in different ways.

I’m fortunate to have had a job during this time and while I have a reasonable expectation of staying employed, 2020 has been a bitch of a year and I take nothing for granted anymore. It’s why we’ve been throwing as much money as possible at our debt and squirreling away extra money into an emergency fund, writing transparently on financial goals and choices helps keeps me on track.

Weekend Links – LET’S GO!

This week we’ve had a heatwave, intense thunderstorms, political news, media watching, and a few smatterings of fun and whimsy. It must be the weekend links roundup, kittens! Check in with the coterie in the comments and let’s hang out.

WE’VE GOT A TICKET. I’m not counting any chickens before November, but I think the Biden/Harris team came out of the gate strong and cut straight through lot of the (expected) racist and misogynist reaction at the start. Let’s go!

Trump said, out loud and in a public interview that he got rid of the head of the FBI because of the Russia investigation. This week he said, out loud and in a public interview, that he’s trying to sabotage the US Postal Service to give himself an electoral advantage. And of course, there are no consequences because the right is complicit or willing to benefit and the left is functionally useless due to ceaseless infighting. Twitter is nuts with rage, but the only hope is Nancy Pelosi’s spine holding.

We are not ready for how ugly November is going to be.

In an era where the media does more amplification than fact checking – again, across the political spectrum – we may be in an uncomfortable place of having to use different institutions to question truth claims. Since we’ve rejected science (lefty anti-vaxxers as much as righty climate change deniers), education (lefty liberal arts and righty social sicences), and consensus (…Twitter) maybe the solution is legal rather than persuasive. Maybe.

Will be interesting to see what happens to TikTok over the coming months, and this latest twist would be intriguing. Given the differences between platforms and their various attempts to build a monopoly and respond to a changing media landscape, Twitter v. Facebook continues to be the top story. Facebook/Instagram have rolled out their TikTok competitor Reels in the last couple of weeks and the jury is still out. Meanwhile, also on Facebook…

It’s a cult.

This piece is three years old and I literally think about it about once a week.

I’m seeing a lot of this from my mormon friends and loved ones in particular and it makes me want to scream. Not least of all because the majority of the people sharing it have had precisely zero interest in activism until suddenly BLM gets up and running. My cynical brain cannot help but feel this is another extension of the (stupid) culture wars, where you assign your attention not so much to support one cause as to refuse to support another. Child victimization is an ugly blight on our society, and it IS a real threat…but it’s worth consider who is only raising their voices about it now, and why, and based off of what information. Because we live in the darkest timeline and you have to check yourself to ensure you aren’t accidentally feeding a cult.

What on earth is wrong with us as a society?!

The last thing we need is another huge environmental disaster this year…one to watch and plan ways to support cleanup efforts and accountability measurements.

Is London still “worth it?” More than a few people I know are debating this within their families right now and to me it’s another example of how long a tail COVID is going to have for population and demographic changes over the coming years.

Excuse me, how did I fail to follow this year’s Tiny Desk Contest?!

Ezra Klein is a very thoughtful and thorough interviewer, able to articulate his own positions and biases, and giving his guests space to articular their own. This recent episode had me gripped because yes, it supports my own opinion, but the fact of who is doing so and how is incredible.

SHE DESERVES.

Has anyone ever successfully stopped biting their nails? What do we think of this as an idea?

What a glorious labor of love this is: a massive compendium of cookbooks across the ages!

FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast is live and is designed to be informative as to how models work as much as report latest updates- since a lot of people didn’t get it four years ago. It’s instructive and transparent in how it works, what it measures, and predictive logic. Horserace commenced.

The only thing I will say about Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s gloriously filthy new single.

I saw a description of the combined line of attack towards Harris as “misogynoir” and yep, that about sums it up. It took less than a day for “birtherism” to rear it’s head again, evolving to suit the landscape. The claim that Obama might be illegitimate has become that (according to some) Harris SHOULD be illegitimate. Susan Hennessey of the Brookings Institute nails it:

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Weekend Links

Kittens, it’s been…it’s been a week. There are a lot of troubles in the world. I’ve tried to round up some important stories in our usual interest realms – media and information, politics, and cheese. I’ve tossed in goodness to help the grim go down better.

Love you all, stay safe in the heat!

Iconic.

All families have some kind of secret history.

NOT NOW, PLAGUE.

Racist dogwhistles (and outright racism) to own the libs. Damaging the environment in ways that will affect our entire species to own the libs. Practicing cruelty and exclusion of marginalized people to own the libs. Economic self harm to own the libs. It’s just a fundamentally bizarre way of thinking to me and I’ve given up trying to understand it. It’s a pointless game of one downsmanship.

It’s a cult.

If 2020 has a theme it’s that all the screen tropes are happening in real life.

You’d think I’d be unmoved by all the evidence confirming my worst feelings about his capability and fitness for the office he holds, but I still manage to find myself grimly shocked.

Oof

Monica speaks wisdom.

HOLY CRAP. If “everything Trump touches dies” holds true, I will not be sorry to see bogus culture wars be among his anti-Midas-touch victims. I for one have no sympathy for those who have enabled the worst fringes of their own team to the point that almost every norm is trampled and every institution is under suspicion.

Yes please, I want more African ballet across the board.

Save the cheese!

And why you should exercise caution about those “save the children” campaigns you’re suddenly seeing crop up everywhere. It’s not happening on accident. Be sure of your information and its sources.

Catching Up

Hi, how are you? How’s life? How’s the pandemic treating you?

Honestly, leveraging some creativity has been difficult more recently, but continuing to write, create, do, and live during an extremely weird time seems important. 2020 may exist in the dumbest of timewarps, but it’s not time wasted.

What’s been happening, you ask. Well, work continues and almost entirely satisfactorily. Travel to the States was cancelled (for what I trust are obvious reasons) and we’re going a bit stir crazy as a result. I’ve been reading absolutely everything under the sun, but especially a heaping batch of “trashy” romance novels – more on this in another post. After all my protestations to the contrary, I went straight back to baking on a weekly basis and not worrying too much about it. I had a depressive dip immediately follow an anxiety spike and fell off the health wagon for a bit, but am firmly back on it. I’ve had long phone dates with Hannah and Caitlin and my little sister in Japan. Jeff and I have been gaming and watching TV together. Therapy continues and continues to help me heal my brain in lots of important ways. We’re attending protests and switching up heavy news with reading amusing Twitter threads at one another. Every morning one of us makes coffee for both and brings it to the other with kisses. We celebrated our 11th anniversary in a year no one expected and neither of us could have predicted.

That’s us. I’m trying to write more, so figured an info dump was as good a place as any to reconnect.

Tell me how the hell you’re doing, kittens.

Weekend Links

Hi fam, how are we? We limber, rested, hydrated? Or we spiraling into existential dread? All are welcome in Small Dog Nation without guilt or shame.

This week’s links are not terribly light and fluffy, but are important. We’re emphasizing online culture, disinformation, and one or two nice things thrown in to surprise the palate. Let me know what you’re up to in the comments and keep safe!

Everyone who wants to understand current radicalization of all stripes NEEDS to understand the transition from meme/online culture to real life. Whether ISIS’ robust online PR operation to radical leftist anarchists on 4chan, the pathways are eerily similar.

as I was saying

again, still saying

Not unrelated: the attention economy politicians work, think, and measure success in a different way than actual politicians. Understanding this is important.

We’ve still focused on the police, don’t get it twisted. But we need to understand their culture in order to make change.

Also key: how the internet and online life is changing. Will the attention economy politicians keep up or will they be outstripped or outflanked by the meme cycle – including among their own ranks? I continue to believe that this cycle has dragged the right and left in their extremists directions more than leadership has – people are radicalizing themselves and institutions are scrambling to catch up or retain control. I also believe that the right has been more effective at allying around specific topics and staying on message than the left…but that this has in turn exacerbated the radicalization process and that they are at real risk of losing control of their wingnuts.

no shit, Sherlock.

Yep. Sure. The problem with the royal family is this pair and not…this mess. Sure.

Snowflakes.

Speaking of, “The Right Wing Myth of the Left Wing Mob,” is something that I sincerely want to send to a dozen specific people. But I’m not trying to convert anyone anymore (she reminded herself).

Meanwhile, on YouTube

Here is a nice list of book recommendations to consider!

(takes deep breath) BIRTH CONTROL IS HEALTHCARE. This week the US Supreme Court gave the double whammy of allowing employers to deny birth control coverage to workers on religious grounds, AND upheld religious organizations right to discriminatory hiring practices. I worked for an institution like this once. Never again. I had health insurance and Planned Parenthood was STILL a better option for my reproductive health.

10% of our entire population.

Weekend Links – Independence Day Edition

Hey piglets, another short and dirty links post for your reading pleasure. We’ve got pandemics, fake feminism, Russian bounties, and even some GOOD news stories. The pubs are opening this weekend in the UK and Jeff and I will be staying firmly indoors, thanks. People who are acting like the global crisis will half a million cases and hundreds of thousands of deaths is somehow over stress me out. It isn’t. Make good choices, kids.

We’re going to fry some chicken, watch some Hamilton on Disney+, and only go outside with masks. Happy Fourth, yanks!

It didn’t need to be this way.

My brother is currently deployed. I hate this man as I have never hated any politician in my life. (ETA update.)

Politically I’m gleeful. Professionally I acknowledge the conflict of how many jobs and support industries this is going to affect, including my own. What a weird time to be alive.

The current cultural pushback against girlbosses isn’t a desire to be done pursuing equality, or to stop trying to eliminate workplace disparities. This mode of empowerment was briefly successful exactly because people had become more aware of—and uncomfortable with—the way power functions in America.”

Yes, let’s try it! Let’s run the experiment!

We don’t deserve dogs.

Huh. Totally inconsequential, I’m sure.

If you are just learning about how many of the “confederate” monuments and symbols are nowhere near the actual historical southern states…catch up. It’s about white supremacy, peeps.

Powerful opinion piece.

I think if he weren’t such an appalling human being, he would make a great president…” What an extraordinary statement and fundamental disconnect between one and the other. I continue to despair at the myth that he was a successful business man – he wasn’t, HE JUST PLAYED ONE ON TV. And the tired line that good business people make good leaders needs to die. Business and government are not the same thing and should never be confused. We don’t need fewer “politicians” in politics, we need better politicians who are actually interested in governing.

Huh. Well, let’s see what happens now. The attention here in the UK is on Prince Andrew.

Hey, some good news!

I am horribly late to this, but Todrick CAME THROUGH for us all: