Category: Links

Weekend Links

“A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.” 
― Arthur Miller

What. A. Week. I feel like I’ve been saying this every week for nearly three years, but so much is happening all the time that it’s head-spinning to try and keep up with it all. Between Beyoncé, cultural heritage disasters, the shenanigans of Trumpworld, and the long awaited release of the (albeit redacted) Mueller report.

It’s a long weekend with unusually good weather. I’m kicking up my heels in the sunshine and doing a bunch of reading (yes, including the report in full), and planning some quality time with friends and family. Share your plans, reading and otherwise, in the comments.

Notre Dame cathedral caught fire this week (Holy Week…). All credit to a human chain of people who worked together to save the artwork and relics of the cathedral’s treasury, and the fire brigade who helped to fight the blaze. At time of writing, while the damage is severe, there are reasons to be joyful about what has survived as well as mourn what’s been lost. An iconic and sacred place, holy to faith and beauty and transcendental light; there aren’t really words, but a few Parisians managed anyway:

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While we’re discussing places of worship…donations to three smaller churches deliberately burned by a racist arsonist welcome here. Notre Dame already has the support of the world, to the tunes of millions of Euros, but kindness is needed most on smaller scales.

Conspiracy theorists are trash.

It is christened!

Seems like a, pardon me, huge fucking deal.

Women across the country say: duh.

I recognize the challenges, but I think that a society-wide commitment to literacy and building it into the infrastructure of neighborhoods is a great idea.

This interview piece made the rounds last week, I think because as a self-own, it feels well-deserved.

If there is one thing we can’t stop following at Small Dog Headquarters, it’s the Saga of J. Crew. I’ve been personally invested for over a decade.

A deep dive into the mysterious case of Fan Bing Bing.

Now that Game of Thrones is back and singing its swansong, Vulture ask, “Have we reached the end of communal TV watching?” I wonder if this is more of an American problem than anything else? Britain, for example, has a core set of national channels that pretty reliably turns out shows that it feels like the whole country gathers to watch. Great British Bake Off, Broadchurch, Love Island…you can bet on at least one of these a year.

Speaking of, Game of Thrones being back means Gay of Thrones is back!

I have never once regretted my humanities degree. Not once. I will champion humanities and related education until the day I die.

This guy just barely got confirmed.

GOOD. I’m genuinely glad to see a Republican stepping in to compete with President Trump and wish him luck in promoting a more coherent set of priorities than sound bites, grievance, racism and isolationism. Someone needs to make this case.

I’m really pleased to see positive results so far from this experiment in a school serving parents as well as children. We need programmes like this explicitly designed to lift whole communities.

That…that is a big question….

More woes for Facebook (and this report not only that personal data was being made available not just for sale but as per the personal direction of the CEO based on his friendships is…oligarchy at work?).

There are a million hot takes on the Mueller report, but for my money, the only good initial takes are from legal professionals and not talking heads. The Lawfare one is long, but well worth the read. I for one am still working my way through the document and, surprise, my mind has not been changed: what is already in the public domain about this man and his entourage should have disqualified him from office long ago and the “best” defenses of his various malicious actions have been ignorance, incompetence, and that we shouldn’t worry because people didn’t end up following his crazy orders anyway. This has always been a matter for Congress–NOT the Attorney General. I fear Congress will do nothing.

On the other side of the spectrum, this is the kind of quality content I come to the internet for.

The world is not 100% trash this week, kittens! Beyonce dropped a concert album and a concert film/documentary, and though we are undeserving, we are grateful! It’s on Netflix, go partake of the Queen’s greatness.

Lizzo’s album also dropped. We are not worthy.

Weekend Links

“Words were so puzzling. Present should mean a present just as attack should mean to stick tacks in people.” 
― Beverly Cleary, Ramona the Pest

Poppets, I’m back! Jeff and I spent last weekend with friends in Portugal and had a delightful time away. Once I get my act together and all my photos downloaded you’ll get a proper update on Porto with highlights and recommendations. It will not surprise a single one of you to hear that a bookstore features heavily.

In the meantime, the world spun on with much to enjoy and much to horrify. As per usual, I’ve collected a cracking bunch of weekend reading to help sort through it all. It’s extra long this week to make up for my neglect of you.

This weekend the plan is to do some more immigration paperwork and final square away the final steps, enjoy the additional hours of sunlight and buckle up for the last season of Game of Thrones to start. Share your own links to your favorite stories or weekend plans in the comments.

 

This could not be more relevant to my interests if it tried!

The Scandinavians have solved all our linguistic problems.

Cry me all your tears, prudes and patriarchs!

Rise up! (It works.)

Sometimes, when I read a story about AI, I’m reminded that it took all of a day for some program or other to “learn” from Twitter and turn horrifically racist. AI isn’t going to save us, it’s based on code written by humans and we are phenomenally messy.

The dream!

I can’t tell if I’m interested in this or not. As per the current cultural moment and the [waves hand generally at the state of the world], I’m currently fundamentally uninterested in narrative arcs of men who, in response to trauma, inflict trauma on a whole bunch of other people but with whom I’m still supposed to empathize as the designated protagonist. Perversely, I have a lot more space for women pulling that exact stunt, I acknowledge the hypocrisy.

I have zero sympathy for former-Secretary Nielsen and am even less moved to read that apparently one reason she took so long to resign was that she worried about her post-administration reputation. Well…yeah? Her legacy is separated families and children in cages and repeatedly lying about the policies regarding it.

The carnage didn’t stop there, of course. My utter lack of sympathetic feelings aside, it is Actively Bad that the American government is currently stocked with “acting” post holders.

Meanwhile, the context to the reasons as to why President Trump wanted former-Secretary Nielsen gone is also Actively Bad. According to multiple press reports, she and her allies are seeking a PR rehabilitation and I am NOT interested. Several articles point to the fact that she was fired for refusing to break the law and should be applauded for that, to which: no. That is the bare minimum we require of our enforcement officers.

A fascinating conversation on who gets to claim music genres: do old categories even matter any more?

More on Fleabag in the upcoming Favorites post, I promise, but I really enjoyed this piece from the Financial Times’ arts desk on the art of artists walking away at the right time. British TV in particular gets this right much more than American, in my opinion.

Oh man, first a villains based makeup launch and now this icon gets some love! *Struts away singing, “Why don’t you do righhhhhhhht…”*

Important reporting on the difference between the online world and real world. This profiles the left, but I’d be curious to see a similar piece on the right, to be honest, as this isn’t a one sided phenomenon. As the barriers between internet culture and the tangible world become more complicated, it behooves anyone who spends time in any bubble to be aware of their own echo chambers. But it’s also worth remembering that those barriers are blurring and we ignore the online space at our peril…as we’ve seen all to often at our collective cost lately when it comes to radicalism.

Speaking of…Alexa, show me irony.

This story is WILD.

President Trump goes to Mount Vernon and his comments are that he could have “built it better and for less money.” I’m actually speechless…

We finally see the legendary event horizon. The universe is great, even if it sometimes looks like a Tolkien villain.

Julian Assange was arrested in London this week. Let’s recap.

How the heck did I miss this? Quick, to Greenwich!

A thoughtful take from Man Repeller that’s giving me cause for reflection: in an age of peak outrage, it’s not necessary to have a take or even an opinion on everything that crosses are collective desks and feeds.

Another really good profile from The Atlantic about the population of Trumplandia, this time about its de facto Second Lady, Ivanka. What she has left in order to transition from New York society to Washington D.C., whether it has been worth it, and whether that society will welcome her back again. Probably? Society, as the piece points out, is just about as hypocritical as politics.

Beverly Cleary is 103 today and is due all the adulation on her birthday. Ramona Quimby is the first character I remember reading as a child and identifying with. Ms. Cleary’s books were vital to my childhood and so many other’s and even written decades ago, they still feel deeply personal and current. Such is childhood and adolescence, I guess.

Guessing time, will this really be the last installment? Place your bets!

Thank god for good news and blessings! The Queen knew we would need this this week.

Weekend Links

“In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.” 
― Leo Tolstoy

Happy Friday, ducklings! The clocks moved forward this morning so I’m putting the last minute touches on this post sitting in the cool spring sun. It’s been another hectic and bonkers week in the world, and I’ve been travelling for work a lot. This post is therefore not as long as it usually is, but there are some excellent reads in it, though I say so myself! Tell me what you’ve been up to lately in the comments.

I have my definite favorites amongst the Democratic candidates, but I’m nowhere near ready to go all in on a single preferred candidate (though the girls and I are already spooling up our 2020 discussions on our marathon phone calls). However I can confirm that Chasten Buttegieg is absolutely leading my picks for First Spouse. Super cute, cheerful, good at Twitter. Please more of this before the inevitable hellscape of the election takes us all over.

Queens of Infamy returns with an OG!

My voting state covers itself with glory again… For those interested, as with so many things in Utah/mormon history, there’s a bit of a polygamy angle here, but I direct you to the intense and intensely valuable public history project Year of Polygamy to educate yourself on this. It’s a complicated, 200 year history.

This is a good clarification…but I’m baffled as to why this information couldn’t have been provided in the first instance. It gives credence to accusations of bad faith, whether warranted or not.

I agree with Congressman Schiff: what we already know in the public domain is not okay!

Meanwhile, in Britain… What a shit show this is… While cartoons might seem like a glib way to explain the mess, these two videos from CGP Grey do a pretty good job of boiling down the Brexit problem, the impasse, and the political double (triple?) bind everyone is in because the government asked a yes/no question over what is not a simple yes/no issue. (Something something, definition of insanity, something…)

The Alphachat podcast episode on Brexit is really, really informative and looks at the subject from an economic perspective.

Also a relevant long read.

Let’s pivot shall we? THIS is a scandal worth talking about!

Yeah. Fangirls could have told you that.

Enjoy the headline image as immensely as I did, but then also enjoy the full piece on why Rick Steves says travel, to paraphrase Mark Twain, is fatal to prejudice.

There is a possible royal scandal brewing over here in the UK. Have an intensely salacious, gossip Twitter thread to explain more, and then decide how much you want to speculate on the veracity thereof.

The scientific descriptions in this piece are downright poetic and the inner six year old in me ate it up. It’s incredibly humbling to be reminded, in our swirling talks of scientific catastrophes and the age of man that the world has “ended” several times before us. She’s a resilient planet, we’re the fragile creatures.

Weekend Links

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Happy weekend, my ducklings! It’s been another wild and busy week, and I’m afraid I’m working this weekend to prepare for a couple of bigger projects coming up. Ergo the intro is short and sweet but the links are excellent, though I say so myself.

The case for moderation in a nutshell: our algorithms are written to drive engagement and sharing,. By its nature, that runs on outrage more than thoughtfulness.

The kids are alright.

This review of the Glossier Play line echoes a lot of my thoughts: fun, not as “off brand” as lots of people are saying, still kind of disappointing. And where is the damn candle?!

John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight routinely does excellent dives into complex topics, but his latest episode tackling the idea and social uses of public shaming and featuring a thoughtful (and funny!) interview with Monica Lewinsky is well, well worth the view.

100% here for all things Lizzo.

SPEAKING OF LIZZO, with a heaping side helping of the legend that is Missy Elliot!

How pop music has changed because of streaming.

Sali Hughes has done another roundup of quality beauty products, all under £15. Bless her for this work! And of course, queen mother of beauty that she is, she did the same for skincare.

Uh oh for Trumpland?

Spring/Summer TV and streaming content is lining up its drops; I’m excited for Stranger Things and Game of Thrones, plus this based-on-a-true-story biopic, and

An absolute and necessary classic.

Cathy and her creator, many years on.

What a fun makeup collection! Obviously I’m jonesing for the Malificent themed highlighter entitled Mistress of All Evil, because duh.

Everything is a lie!

Mr. Mueller has submitted his report to the Attorney General and at time of writing, the internet is filled with hot takes based on absolutely zero public information. I’m reading almost none of it in until more is known about what will be made public. In normal times, what is already in the public domain should have ended the political career of any other group of people years ago and yet it’s 2019 and we live in a Trump-adjusted world, to our cost. Lest we forget, there are multiple investigations into the world of this man still ongoing elsewhere. For all the breathless coverage, his legal troubles are much bigger than just (and isn’t this amazing to type) the question of whether he or his orbit sought office with the help of a foreign power. I’m still standing by my two-year prediction at this point: either Mr. Trump does not make it to the end of his first term, OR he likely takes a second one. And for what it’s worth, both of these options represent huge failings in our political system to my eyes.

Weekend Links:

“What actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart of human beings, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the sufferings of the injured.” 
― The Qur’an

I really wanted to continue the trend of mostly funny and uplifting picks for weekend reading I’ve been on lately, but this has been a heavy week, my kittens. The news feels all bad and waking up to the updates from the unbelievably horrific terrorist attack in New Zealand was just the last hammer blow. I’ve still tried to put together a bit of a grab bag that also has some bits of light and joy in it, but truthfully I think it’s okay to be in a fairly somber mood about the state of humanity.

Take a moment to practice kindness this weekend. God knows we need more of it.

My friend Hannah (author of the wickedly good and recently released The Dead Queen’s Club) has been educating me a lot lately on the intricacies of modern publishing and some of the cultural conversations currently going on in that space. One one of our recent marathon phone calls, we were talking about sensitivity readers and the role they play–it was fascinating and I learned a lot. If you’re interested in the topic and attendant complexities, here’s an interesting piece.

MUSH!

“After Neverland,” R. Kelly’s CBS meltdown, and the insidious patterns we refuse to see.

Cheers!

Calvin Klein is closing its luxury line.

Americans who want to travel in Europe in the future, take note.

Alexa, show me a self own.

Ooooohhhhhh. So the campaign promises about Medicare for all were lies. Jokes aside, this budget is fundamentally cruel and calls bullshit on all the waffling Republicans have been doing for years about whether or not they actually want to cut social programs (editor’s note: of course they do).

Thank god people aren’t letting this story go.

Another big investigation news story dropped this week. But do tell me more about how we are an unproblematic meritocracy as a society… If one good thing is coming out of this horrible era in politics and public life, it’s that a lot of unpleasant truths about privilege are being exposed and other falsehoods exploded.

Excuse me, every last one of you traitors who didn’t tell me that this glorious thing existed! How DARE you!

Brexit is a mess. A horrible, shambolic mess. Here’s one Brexiteer’s honest and thoughtful take (and to be fair, he is one of the more balanced voices in the debate even though I disagree with the position). As the old saying goes, “A litany of complaints is not a plan.”

Brave, scary new world we’re living in.

Facebook and its satellites Whatsapp and Instagram went down for a day this week. …is that a BAD thing?

Beto.

Veto.

Rosario?

I am NOT sharing links to the manifesto of the shooter in New Zealand and I’m sure as HELL not sharing the horrific video. It was hideous news to wake up to, and how it reinforces the idea that we are living in a fundamentally new age where our media platforms and our acts are increasingly symbiotic. Even and perhaps especially our violence. Our massacres are now macabre performances. We all need to do a lot of looking in the dark mirror and start making some hard decisions about platforms. Salaam to the worldwide Muslim community. You can give to the families of the victims here.

A horrible, but timeline and important read. Racism, [insert religion here]-phobia, nationalism, and extremism are all cousins, all intertwined, and all fed from similar diets of conspiracy thinking and grievance. And we all much do better about looking our nations’ demons in the eyes so we can expel them.

Lest any of us think this is new

Let’s end on a more hopeful note, if that’s possible. The kids are alright.

Weekend Links

“As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.”
– Virginia Woolf

Happy Friday and happy International Women’s Day, ducklings! In an effort to break my band work life habits (and to use my remaining holiday time before I lose it when my company’s holiday year turns over next month), I have taken today off of work and given myself a holiday. Ergo, your intro this week is short and sweet but the links list is extra long to get us both through [my] long weekend. Enjoy and tell me your plans in the comments!

An IWD list of actions to consider.

Ah yes, toxic groups mobilizing to shit on women or insufficient “purity” to their favorite brands. Toxic “nerd” culture is such a strange phenomenon to me as for a long time, they were a marginalized social group: people with niche interests and deep enthusiasm. On its face, this is a great combination! However, now that “nerd” culture is ascendant it’s amazing to me to see it wield the powers of pop culture against other groups (unsurprisingly women, minorities, or creators who reinterpret cultural products). “Nerd” culture seems to have evolved to loving certain things passionately, to punishing anyone who does not love what you love in precisely the same way you do.

Horrible. As noted journalist Clare Malone put it:

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(That’s a reported rate of 10%. In our Senate.)

I have not watched either of the Fyre Fest documentaries to date, and I regret nothing. But I’m still following the story more broadly and liked this take on not just on the coverage of the scam, but the philosophy of “experiential snobbery” that’s gotten us to this point in the first place.

J. Crew news. What do we think of this move, for those of you who have been tracking the story of this brand as religiously as I have?

This good news story was brought to my attention by the lovely Friend of the Blog, Grace.

This story is really bonkers and I’m pretty sure this is how social media rankings will kill us all. It’s literally a Black Mirror plot. (NPR has great reporting on this, if you care to dive in more, particularly from their Planet Money team.)

I’m just going to tease this great piece for you with the following sentence: “French publications named this phenomenon “teaism,” a medical diagnosis that had already been established in the 19th century, and ascribed it, somewhat bizarrely, both to an innate lack of self-control in all (uneducated) Tunisians, and to them preparing the “wrong” kind of tea in the “wrong” way.

Anyone else? Bueller?

Count me among the many who looked askance and tilted her head at the last Celine runway show, the first under Hedi Slimane. It didn’t look like Celine, it looked like Saint Laurent, his previously house. This Paris Fashion Week, Celine was both recognizable again and still looked new. Either he’s a genius who courted controversy out of the gate to keep eyes on him, or he listened to the backlash…or he’s genuinely found a way to marry his creative direction with the history of the house.

Good news! Now, how do we prevent this and other life-saving research and treatments from becoming the prerogative of the rich?

I am pivoting hard to dresses lately and I think some of the reasons for it are perfectly encapsulated by Dolly Alderton in the Sunday Times writing on her love for dresses and the current uptick towards them in trends: “Perhaps the return of the uber-dress is indicative of the acceptance that archetypal womanhood is not weak, nor silly, nor a punchline to a joke.”

This interview by Crooked Media of presidential candidate Pete Buttegieg is…really good.

I have been riveted by this story. That’s my alma mater. I know some of these people.

In slightly more upbeat news, I have never once regretted my liberal arts degree.

This author is making a case: we’ve been telling the infamous Jack the Ripper story all wrong from the start, and maybe completely incorrect about his victims.

Family values.

The New Yorker dropped another intense piece early this week that is worth the time it takes to read it. It asks a question that I think American truly needs to grapple with: at what point do we need to determine that Fox News isn’t functioning as news so much as a propaganda machine? It acts as a feedback loop for government talking points, and in many cases generates false claims that are then repeated by the American President. Its pundits and personalities are being given official government appointments and acting as unofficial advisers–or literally dating members of the President’s family. Those are just facts in the public domain, the article’s new allegations of impropriety get much worse “[Fox acts as a force multiplier for Trump, solidifying his hold over the Republican Party and intensifying his support. “Fox is not just taking the temperature of the base—it’s raising the temperature…”

OOOOOHHHHH. Do we think this Friday news bomb was related to the above?

[ETA: In the interest of “fair and balance,” a former Fox editor referenced in The New Yorker piece responded.]

I can’t imagine there are a lot of calm people in the Trump Organization these days.

Somewhere, General Mattis is screaming into a cushion

Oh no, Alex!

Not only is American Gods coming back soon, but we have this new series to look forward to. We are living in such great times for fun TV.

Good lord, you could not pay me to have married into this family

I have a horrible work life balance and make work too much of my identity–so much that it’s a matter of public comment among my coworkers. I’m convinced my American-ness is a fundamental part of this.

And finally, not only is this just crass but it’s also lacking self-awareness to an almost ludicrous degree.

Weekend Links

“Solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine.” 
― Honoré de Balzac

Darlings, it’s been a shit week on the personal front–one of those sorts of weeks where it doesn’t seem to matter how you try and approach a problem, there is no way to proceed without some kind of negative consequence, regardless of desire or intention. Meanwhile, it’s Accountancy Widow Season and Jeff has to work horrible hours to get his assignments over the line and we go days without only a few hours of overlap at times. Blech.

And so, to cope I have put together a great batch of weekend reading for you all–with absolutely no current political affairs for once! Let’s delve into the worlds of science, beauty, music, women and money, and Twitter threads that won’t make you want to burn something to the ground.

This weekend I’m catching up on the things that provide some balance and delight–books, podcasts, chats with friends–and tend to fall behind when work takes over. It’s not going to be a wildly productive weekend, but hopefully it will be restful one. Let me know your plans in the comments.

 

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I should have included this last week, but the truth is there is more mystery than news in this brand launch tease. Any guesses? What can you stateside minions report back?

No kidding.

NO KIDDING.

The only political story I am posting this week because I am too angry about too many things to list and choose to focus solely on foreign policy. What we are doing now is going to have ripple effects lasting generations, and we should care if people are unprepared or incompetent for the job.

We must stop looking to leaders of all kinds and swallowing their PR wholesale (especially when it comes to claims of moral authority of any kind). What people claim they value and promote is meaningless; what people actual value and promote is everything. As our suffragette foremothers said, “Deeds, not words.”

And on that note, why the world being built around men (even and perhaps especially as a default rather than any intended malice) is dangerous for women.

After years of ignoring or avoiding some hard accusations, we are going to have to grapple with another great artist who has caused horrible harm.

A really excellent episode of The High Low recently tackled the issue of great artists who are terrible people: what excuses are made for them, whether we should “cancel” their art, and why we need to think more about the many prospective artists who have never created because of the harm done to them which cut careers and ambitions short. Well worth the listen!

WHEW, this excellent interview with Aminatou Sow about money and work is a piece for lots of people I know, including myself, to either pin or tap to a mirror as a reminder. “There’s this idea that you’re supposed to be modest and put your head down — that work is your “family” and you’re lucky to be there. But work is not your family. The only way work shows how much they care about you is by how much they pay you.”

What a strange story.

Ugh, yeah, I’ve been saying this for a hot minute. #Lizzo4President

On the one hand, I don’t like the increasingly blurred lines between many spaces that social media is creating. But taken a face value and only by intent, I think this is lovely.

Truly, content for our times.

Cosmological Whack-a-Mole” is such a great phrase, but the whole article on the great unknowns in physics is worth a read.

Solange knew we would need good music this week and blessed us with this album drop.

Speaking of music and queens thereof, this interview with Stevie Nicks is a joy. She has a shawl vault. She revels in cashmere. She is fearless in her devotion to her art and muse. She is literal goals.

The Museum of English Rural Life, lately of museum/duck twitter thread fame, has done it again with a heartwarming story I have been following all week. Long live Merlin.

Headline of the week.

Shameless self promotional plug, but if you haven’t checked out this year’s Oscars Red Carpet Run Down, do!