Category: Humor

From Russia, With Love

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.

Weekend Links

“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!

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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.

I have…questions

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.

A holy holiday, indeed!

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.

Miss Ru got married?! Mazel Tov!

A victory in our time.

Album of the week: Sarah Vaughn, At Mister Kelly‘s

Bistrotheque, East London

“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, The Fellowship of the Ring

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Incendiary Monday: Nationalistic Purity is a (bad) Myth

“Nationalism is an infantile thing. It is the measles of mankind.”
― Albert Einstein

This tweet and whole story enraged me. When we are speaking of the human race, there is no such thing as “someone else’s babies.” This is shameful, racist nonsense.

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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.

Weekend Links

“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, Rising Tides

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!

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Let’s start off with something cute and purely delightful, shall we?

An ode to the fake fur coat.

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.

No amount of deleting can un-tweet your tweets, Mr. Stone.

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.

Samurai Jack is coming back!

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 

International Women’s Day: The Ironic Wisdom of Learning to Keep My Mouth Shut

“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.

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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.

An Old Friend at a New Find

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”
― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

Living in a city is exciting because there is always something new to see, eat, or do. The less discussed dark side of this equation is that often to make room for the shiny new stuff, existing shops, shows, restaurants, and venues have to go. Once you’ve lived in an urban center for a few years, you’ve likely lost a few of your standbys due to this cycle. We sure have. In the years that we’ve lived here, we’ve said goodbye to several favorites including The Lockhart, El Nivel, and Kopapa.

Some of these were bittersweet. El Nivel’s closing night was also the last night we stayed in our old apartment and attending it felt like the end of an era, our first three years in London finished. That apartment saw some heartaches, some triumphs, and was the place where a lot of hard won victories came to fruition and El Nivel was where we celebrated a lot of those triumphs and got through a lot of disappointments. We made friends with the owners and staff there who made it a point to know and interact with their regulars; through them we were invited to food festivals and introduced to new areas of the city. It felt like saying goodbye to a pal when that place shut up shop–to say nothing of the fact that we had to begin our hunt for good fusion/Mexican food anew. Suggestions welcome, see me in the comments!

Kopapa was a place where we celebrated New Years as well as our fourth anniversary (we’re now coming up on our eighth). It was conveniently placed in the heart of the West End so if we ever needed to entertain guests, it was a trusted stop in Theatreland. It was one of the first brunch places we indulged in as newly minted urbanites, and brunch has become (admittedly stereotypically) an important part of our family routine.

Whilst being nostalgic for our old favorites recently, I went on a bit of a google spree to find some new joints to try out and discovered that Peter Gordon, the chef behind Kopapa also has a restaurant on Marylebone High Street, The Providores. Actually, it predates Kopapa which a more experienced foodie would have pinged to much sooner than me, but let’s set that aside. Joy of joys, their brunch menu contained the same dish I fell for at Kopapa and have never found a substitute for since: Turkish Eggs. Poached eggs sitting on warm, whipped yogurt, with chili oil sauce on top. If it sounds too weird for you, do me a solid and trust me to try it just once–it’s a savory delight.

While it’s fun and important to always give the new a shot, it’s also occasionally nice to rediscover an old friend.

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