Category: Links

Five Things I Loved in April

What a strange month April was. We left the house once a day, if that, and the most exciting decisions we had to make were around what to eat. And yet, given the uncertainty of work, health, industry, and…everything else, it was still difficult in its own way. We’re very fortunate to be safe and healthy thus far, including our extended families, but continue to be aware that this is largely a matter of privilege and luck. Who knows what May is going to bring but in the meantime, here’s what helped the past month feel a little less locked down.

Share your faves and finds in the comments, ducklings. Sharing is caring.

 

Tiger King

Ok, let’s be clear: this show was a wacky, wild trip and has more than a few flaws as a documentary. It is not an objectively good show in many ways, there are no heroes and more than a little fanciful positioning of characters. False equivalents abound and conjecture is presented as if not fact, then likely. And yet, it’s compelling in the worst way: it’s great television.

Its editors in particular nailed their task of keeping audience sensibilities and allegiances shifting, while also holding them in the uncomfortable space of confronting the fact that none of the characters (in every sense of the word) are likeable or even decent. And yet, it gripped the pop cultural landscape because people watched it and couldn’t look away, myself included. It’s a master class in upping the ante with every episode and genre shift. Just when you think you’re watching a perfectly normal wildlife rescue documentary, BOOM. There’s a cult. Then there’s a murder – or is there? Then there’s polyamory. Then there’s an election campaign. Then a hit man. And it’s a true testament that I have given NOTHING away with any of those statements

I inhaled it, I talked about it with friends, I’m still not done thinking about it.

 

Psycle London (specifically their Instagram TV feed!)

This was a later find in the month, but my goodness what a treasure it has been! Psycle is a very trendy gym brand in London and I’ve wanted to try some of their classes in the past, but the locations stopped being handy when our schedules changed and I never could muster the timing or cash to go for it. Well, like many other brands, they’ve started producing content online and via social media. Apart from being absolutely what’s needed for many right now, it’s brilliant marketing. Several instructors hold their usual 45-minute classes multiple times a day on Instagram Live and, at least once a week, a selection of those videos are then added to their Instagram TV channel. I’ve done a class daily since discovering it and finally getting to try barre workouts – reminiscent of dance days and a killer class. These are all free, though there is pleasingly a way to donate any amount to help them meet costs right now. Once all this is behind us, I will definitely make it to their in-person classes, but I hope they continue an online program in some way – I will definitely keep participating and paying!

 

My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell

This is definitely going to be Not For Everybody, but this book absolutely gripped and gutted me. It needs all the trigger warnings as the subject matter includes sexual abuse and its long aftermath.  Straight from my Goodreads review: “What a difficult, complicated book. I’m not sure anyone has successfully tackled the layers of complexity of harms, desires, manipulations, and even bizarre affections that can be part of an abusive relationship, but this book gets the nearest I’ve ever come across. “A haze of unspeakable things,” as the narrator puts it when trying to articulate all the questions she has about her relationship with a person who took advantage of his position and power over her. If anything I think this book gives a visceral account of how our own identities can become interwoven with other people’s and the stories we tell (and tell ourselves) about our relationships to others. Even evil people are the heroes of their own tales. Uncomfortable and confronting.

“The second half of the book isn’t as crisply constructed to me and I think could have been edited down, but that’s a minor technical quibble and I’m still impressed that this is a debut novel.”

 

Glossier, FutureDew

I’ve shared this favorite before but I’ve finished my first bottle in record time for any face/makeup product and am already on my second. While I’m certainly not putting on a face every single day, I’d be lying if I said my vanity and desire to look good on video conference calls didn’t mean that I threw some slap on in April. This oil/serum hybrid provided a lovely glowy base for “bare” days and a decent canvas for when I had to look a little more presentable – at least from the waist up. I foresee this being a daily beauty product throughout summer, quarantine or no.

 

Cooking

Nothing like a little lockdown to help you focus on your plans to cook more. I’m determined to expand the family cooking repertoire and really master both classic recipes (boeuf bourguignon, I’m coming for you) and as many different cultural styles as I can try. I’m slowly pushing the boat out on vegetarian options as well, both for health and money reasons. Jeff would like it publicly noted that he disagrees strongly with this, but even he had to admit my first dhal was pretty damn tasty. In the spirit of charity, here are a few of things we’ve made this month:

A beautiful savory dhal dish – my first proper attempt at a lentil-based meal

My go-to baking vice – for something with a bit of chewiness and heft

The BEST breakfast or brunch meal on the planet, do not @ me

Easiest banana bread 

Weekend Links

Happy Friday, ducklings. It’s been a hell of a week. Work continues to be rewarding but tiring, the news continues to be bad (PLEASE don’t inject yourself with bleach, team…)

Ouch. This one landed right in the feels.

Pop culture critic and unabashed musical lover Lindsay Ellis took on CATS. And she is 100% correct.

Some really good ideas and tips in this vlog about taking some time whilst we’re all at home to maintain your wardrobe items.

How are cities going to change in the future? It’s not original to say they are expensive and stressful to live in (even those of us who love them), but how might COVID-19 force societal shifts, even if they were already in the making?

Good for them. No one is required to be complicit in their own abuse, especially after having taken the decisions they have to reduce their public obligations.

Another potential positive outcome to this whole mess: a correct recalibration on the importance of science over anecdote. I’m on record as finding the Anti Vaxx movement dangerous and, in my opinion, a by product of other pernicious elevations of opinion over reason and bizarre tribalism. I’d be delighted to see their platforms and influence vanish.

Bleeding hell. There’s been some stabilising since but it’s an example of exactly how bad things can get – and how the economy is NOT the stock market.

Yes, Stanley, I think we all need that drink right about now.

Big Data for union busting. Yay…

If you’re looking for some quarantine exercise routines, Instagram is here to help! My newest find is Psycle London’s live feed and subsequently posted classes. Send me your recs in the comments.

Reminder – this is classic and academically documented troll behavior, and there is a history of tactic coordination that appears local but isn’t. Apply healthy scepticism accordingly.

Active force for good in the world.

Active force for depression, but worth reading.

Me reading this story:

Weekend Links

Sharp and sweet this week, my ducklings. It’s been another frantic one and I’m out of energy to do anything but read and veg. Check in and let me know how you’re doing!

 

No kidding

On the one hand, it’s nice to know my wacky dreaming is not just my brain short circuiting. On the other, share your most bizarre ones in the comments!

I’ve been screaming for a more creative society where we experiment with solutions far more than we do now, and here was a refreshing attempt. What would you experiment with? Tell me in the comments again, I’m highly interested in hot takes!

The legend of Mary Magdalene, a thoughtful read following Easter Week on the individual, the history of christendom, and evolution of religious belief.

Well, this is grim

What an ugly, small, vainglorious awful man.

He’s going to get people killed. More of them, I mean.

Not great, team.

No, I’m still not over Tiger King. This is just gravy at this point.

I am among the many Animal Crossing widows.

PROTECT CAPTAIN TOM AT ALL COSTS.

The economist who has made me think and rethink my opinions on more financial issues in my lifetime is Mark Blyth, based out of the Watson School for International and Public Affairs at Brown University. He’s given many informative (and entertaining) talks over the years, about macro and micro economic histories with an emphasis on how fiscal policy affects political and cultural trends. Two virtual podcasts/seminars to shout out this week from him, one serious and the other more fun. “Facts are behind paywalls, rumors are free of charge.” 

A question we badly need to answer and soon.

I delight in museum Twitter battles!

Their strategy has always been to drown out inconvenient facts with a noisy barrage of distortions—to “flood the zone with shit,” as Steve Bannon once put it. But in recent weeks, the president and his allies have been waging a dystopian campaign of revisionist history more brazen than anything they’ve attempted before.”

Weekend Links

It’s the double Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and we are celebrating, by staying inside. The weekend links are dropping early. It’s been a very long week, even though it’s been short and I suspect many of us are in need of a little recharge. Check in from your various socially distant patches, my loves.

This is objectively Not Great. (ETA: this is objectively Worse.)

All of this will pass eventually, but I wonder whether we will lower ourselves back into our previous lives and carry on exactly as before. For all the horror and grief around us now, there is already something melancholic about the thought of abandoning this strange, slow-motion version of life. I’m obviously not singing the praises of illness, fear or loss of freedom, and I look forward hugely to the fortnight-long bacchanal that will doubtless follow the lifting of all these restrictions — drunken orgies in the streets, I should think, and quite right too. But when that moment has also passed, I think we’ll be left with a better sense of what does and doesn’t matter, what is or is not important, what does or doesn’t constitute a good use of time. We’ve lived for a long time like huge spoilt babies. Maybe we’ll grow up.”

NOT NOW, CHERNOBYL.

Is…is this headline a metaphor or…? (PS – National Geographic is doing other sterling work in these troubled times.)

Remember how Theresa May created a “minister for loneliness” job and everyone laughed at her?

Um, this may not be the best time to break a deal with a deity.

Of course these troglodytes think this. Of COURSE they do.

Remember how the last Secretary of the Navy resigned because the President pardoned a war criminal? I do. (ETA: he resigned. Good.)

It’s the corruption, stupid!

Fuck

Let’s end on an aggressively positive note, shall we? We need it.

Weekend Links

Beloveds, we’re another week in and looking at our first full month of lockdown. Let’s share some weekend reading or links in the comments and enjoy one another’s company a bit, eh? The weather in London is (annoyingly) beautiful, so we’ll be throwing a picnic in our living room and tidying our house with the windows open. Keep well, kittens.

As more than one Twitter commentator has noted, for all of the Mad Max (aka hyper masculine) versions of catastrophe, it turns out that the skills we need are more in the (traditionally female) realm of food organization, emotional management, and providing care. The “apocalypse” is not what people expected. Good. May we learn some lessons from this.

This is both a fabulous illustrated travel essay and insightful. The line that got me, however: “Our situation is shit, but this is the fertilizer of the future.”

Water water, everywhere…but not enough for all of us to drink.

Bill Gates revisits his highly prescient TED Talk in a longform interview.

His single saving grace may be his breathtaking ability to just say the quiet parts out loud for us.

They CAN edit or deplatform bad actors, but they largely choose not to. When all this is over, we’ll see if those policies or practices stand.

I suspect there are a lot of empty hotel rooms right now. Meaning that this isn’t responsible, it’s despicable.

On the side of the goats.

But disasters and emergencies do not just throw light on the world as it is. They also rip open the fabric of normality. Through the hole that opens up, we glimpse possibilities of other worlds. Some thinkers who study disasters focus more on all that might go wrong. Others are more optimistic, framing crises not just in terms of what is lost but also what might be gained. Every disaster is different, of course, and it’s never just one or the other: loss and gain always coexist. Only in hindsight will the contours of the new world we’re entering become clear.”

Basic math.

Amazon is not the only option. Support independent book businesses.

…yeah…sounds right

Count me among the many victims of this quiz. And hot damn, I’ll take this result!

Weekend Links: Quarantine Week Two

Hi there, kittens. Here’s you weekly batch of goodness, take some time to rest today if you can. Let’s all meet back here tomorrow for a proper catch up, eh? Love you all, truly.

Respect the bean!

How NOT to be an ass in the time of COVID-19.

Beware wildlife #fakenews.

Surely these people have assistants who will take their phones away!

Here’s a way to “go outside” even if you’re not able to at the moment – responsible social distancing, people!

At a loss of what to cook? Bon Appetit is here to help.

OH LOOK, MORE PROOF THAT WE CAN HAVE AN EFFECT IF WE PUT OUR MINDS TO IT. I’ll be the first to admit that the petri dish is not exactly ideal, but as a forced experiment it is telling.

For me, the idea that my role in this situation largely consists of staying home as much as possible seems on its face to be egregiously fortunate…And more than simply being a luxury, it’s more than that: It’s a duty.”

In case you’re in need of a disco-y bop, Childish Gambino has got you.

SOLIDARITY.

More solidarity. This is going to get worse before it gets better.

As for the rest of you, stop doing brand adjustments and start paying people living wages with sick benefits.

The left gets accused (sometimes rightly) of virtue signalling, but we need to have a real investigation into the defiance signalling of the right. Whether it’s guns, anti-science or any other thing, the fact that we have allowed one of these things (an over abundance of caution or self righteousness to the point of ridiculousness) to be seen as equivalent evil to its counterpart (an overabundance of contempt to the point of public endangerment) is ludicrous. One of these things is annoying. The other is dangerous.

We stan a maximalist queen.

Never have we all been so obsessed with hand sanitizer, and Vanity Fair knows what #content we want right now.

How do we just lose stuff like this, part five million of a continuing series… (ETA: part five million and one)

Ah yes, Leyendecker and his impossibly beautiful men. We heteros aren’t immune.

I would very much like to be a part of this trend.

Meanwhile, in Britain

Weekend Links: Quarantine Edition

Wow. Whew. Okay.

How are we all, darlings? I don’t know about you but this weird sense of financial and political vertigo are just now starting to feel like the new normal. I’ve barely left my house in three days. My company is made up of the economic frontline of this situation and people have been working round the clock to try and understand announcements and circumstances as soon as they are made, and communicate to hundreds and thousands of colleagues who desperately want some stability. Everyone has been working at least 14 hours days. I am horribly aware that I’m just one of the lucky ones at the moment. Millions have been glued to the news trying to figure out What On Earth Is Going On, and the the vita question, What On Earth Are We Going To Do? I’ve been heartened and pleasantly surprised by the swiftness of the British government response – even though a lot of practical details clearly still need to be worked out. I’m keeping a wary eye on the US.

More than ever I’m grateful to live in a country where healthcare is a right. And in spite of the stress and anxiety, I’m bizarrely hopeful that what may eventually come out of this are systems that work better for PEOPLE than corporations. I hope the shock to the system makes people across the board less likely to cling to dogma and get more comfortable with experimentation and collective problem solving instead of the “Fuck You, Got Mine” attitude that we’ve all been either reacting to or wallowing in. I’m just heartsick that it takes something so drastic and with such high human costs for people to even consider it.

Stay safe, stay home, wash your hands, check in with loved ones. Drop me your updates in the comments and share (if you’re comfortable) any public social media where we can connect with one another. I will send hugs over the internet!

 

Unfiltered capitalism, ya’ll. Greed is not good.

An archaeological scandal, which we all know are the BEST scandals.

I didn’t know I needed this oral history, but I did and you do as well.

The billionaires want to become oligarchs and the politicians want to become billionaires. …In case you were wondering how we got here. (An old link but a relevant one given the state of…everything.)

This little guy just wanted to be left the **** alone, and honestly who could blame him!

I suspect we are all going to be needing some documentary recommendations in the coming weeks, and this one looks downright soothing.

So many people are being fundamentally decent right now. Some are doing it in big ways, others are doing it on a smaller scale. Way too many are also being arses, but my goodness, the initial outpouring of camaraderie and civic-mindedness is so humbling and heartening.

If you need something to do at home, may I suggest a museum virtual tour?

A plethora of subpar options is the foundation of modern shopping.” Another Amanda Mull knockout on the phenomenum of Premiocre.

Color me shocked, but YES! Universal Basic Income experiment now, thanks! (Insert snarky comment here about how it’s not unacceptable to Republicans when they’re in power, apparently, but whatever. Let’s try it. Let’s see what happens and measure the effects.)

It’s the corruption, stupid.

And if you are wondering why things like UBI are now suddenly popular (those of us who’ve wanted this for a while should shut up and warmly welcome them into the fold with love and solidarity) and hate stuff like the aforelinked corruption, THIS.

Why yes, I did need a story about wallabies being cared for right now.

Festival plans ruined? We’ve got an idea for you

ESPN is also rising to the occasion.

SDS fave McKay Coppins wrote a VERY timely and VERY Mormon article for The Atlantic.

This is brilliant.

Nice to be reminded that in crisis, most people aren’t assholes.

For comparison: good vs. bad.

Did someone open the damn Arc of the Covenant, or what?!

This is going to get a lot grimmer before it gets better.

But! Let’s end on a silly and fun note, shall we?

The Year in Albums So Far

Inspired by a chat with longtime Friend of the Blog Grace, I’m sharing what I’ve been listening to so far this year as part of my goal of listening to a new-to-me album each week of 2020. By far my best discovery is Snoh Aalegra, who also featured in my February Favorites post.

While I tend to prefer spoken word – podcasts, audiobooks, and so on – I know that music is helping a lot of my nearest and dearest right now. Check out my finds so far and then share your favorite artists and albums or newest discoveries in the comments with the rest of the coterie.

Ugh, those feels again, by Snoh Aalegra

Black Messiah, by D’Angelo

Music to Be Murdered By, by Eminem

Feels, by Snoh Aalegra

Hotspot, by Pet Shop Boys

Sanctuary, by Genghar

New Hope Club, by New Hope Club

Don’t Explain, by Snoh Aalegra

Lucky Ago, by Color Theory

La Vita Nuova, by Christine and the Queens

Foreigner, by Jordan McKampa

 

 

Things Are Rough. Have Some Nice Stuff to Make it Better.

Because the world is a mess, have ANOTHER batch of good things for your weekend, my ducklings. SELF. CARE.

 

Stream some opera.

Chill for 6 hours.

Read something!

Listen to Yo-Yo Ma.

Resist the brands and companies that are working overtime to sell you stuff you don’t need.

DO shop smart and DON’T contribute to artificial shortages. We’ve got enough problems, people!

Donate blood, money, or goods if you can do so.

Also consider vulnerable communities who may be experiencing additional deprivations, on TOP of preexisting hardships.

Do a wardrobe edit (and find a reputable organization to donate them to).

Cook!

Take a bath.

Make cocktails with your significant other or your co-self-isolaters of all stripes – no bars!

Get more sleep.

 

Weekend Links

What. A. Week.

I’m dropping the links early because I’m sort of on holiday (though in practice still doing quite a bit of work as my business and its clients are, like so many, having to track and take decisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic in real time). And I’m honestly afraid what else is going to land before the end of the day.

If anything good comes out of a pandemic (and isn’t that a grim thing to think), it may be that it finally forces us to interrogate our society. Is healthcare a right? Should internet access be a utility in the digital age, and not a commodity? How feasible is remote working really, and what is actually preventing it from being more common? Why are we okay with some people getting “bailouts” but not others? What do we perpetuate which we could actually stop if we chose? What do we accept as “normal” mostly because changing it will take work? In the words of The Good Place:

 

As usual, she’s not wrong.

This is a short film, not a commercial.

It’s not just about the immediate people who get sick and die, as awful as that isl; it’s about the ripple effects that keep spreading outward in expanding rings. That’s why we have broader societal organization and governments, and kind of dismantling or disempowering we have inflicted on our institutions (or, in the case of healthcare, failed to build) is dangerous.

Also, science! Really not great all this troll and scammer uplift that has made so many distrust it. From drinking bleach or taking supplements to cure coronavirus to flat earther to anti vaxxers…we badly need this “alternative facts” culture to unravel fast.

Hope for a cure.

I am living for the Duchess of Sussex in jewel tones (that GREEN!), managing her exit like a champ. The hint of matching lining for her husband’s coat, the perfect smile to the camera. I hope the tabloid press is boiling with vexation at themselves.

Irony is dead, part 1,000,000 of an infinite series.

This article might have been baked up in a lab for me and me alone.

Be a dame, wear vintage.

GOOD.

A lot of people need to hear this, including me: do not mistake being educated and informed with DOING politics.

The Atlantic has dropped its paywall for coronavirus coverage, and the solid, accessible journalism they are doing is a good place to start if you are feeling overwhelmed or confused about the situation.

I just…I can’t…2020 needs to stop!