Category: News

Friday Talk: How Are You Socializing?

We’re all having to get creative here, and I’m honestly looking for ideas because – while I’m used to my best friends and family being scattered across continents, and the truth is that Jeff and I already tended to be homebodies at the weekend – I’m feeling the emotional pinch of our flat’s four walls. I enjoy my interactions with my coworkers, who are all lovely and interesting people, and I have a habit of striking up conversations with random people throughout my day. In a queue, at the shop, asking to pet people’s dogs in parks… While this is not terribly British, it is terribly American and I find the accent breaks down cultural barriers, especially when attempting to be friendly.

So, if you’re like me and happen to like people…how are your socializing? Facetime? Instagram? Skype calls? Have you set up any new ways to connect with your nearest and dearest? Got any good ideas?

A ramble.

Tomorrow is payday.

Never in my life have I felt more grateful for a paycheck…and never more convinced than ever that basic protections for individuals, workers, and families should be rights not luxuries.

We are seeing in real time what CAN be done by states, cities, companies and governments. Now, we need to confront that fact that the reason this hasn’t happened before is because those in charge chose not to. And of course they would! We’ve stopped referring to people as citizens and prefer to message in terms of “taxpayers,” as though the benefits of collective belonging are something you buy for yourself, rather than a public trust we all invest in.

What if the only measuring stick for success wasn’t just a bottom line or ledger? What if we stopped treating poverty like “lack of character” rather than a “lack of cash,” as historian Rutger Bregman put it? What if we respected the dignity of work of all types with a living wage rather than a constant negotiation and squeezing that leaves workers resentful of their bosses and bosses contemptuous of their workers? What if we treated public health as a public right…we might have fewer MLMs, people drinking bleach to cure disease, or be able to stop using GoFundMe as a kind of twisted healthcare to start!

Society should not be pay to play.

Perhaps I’m just unduly maudlin this evening but I have to believe that something is going change out of this mess. That something significant will change to materially improve a system so that the Dow isn’t the only thing people think should be lifted up. The alternative just feels…a bit bleak…

 

 

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?

Friday Talk: What Are You Reading Right Now?

I don’t know whether it’s in response to the wider world situation or just a fortuitous circumstance, but one of my libraries recently upped its digital check out and hold request limits. Thank god. I posted this on Instastories, but next to prescription drugs and therapy, books are the best thing for my mental health and a great boon when my anxiety spikes – which it absolutely the **** has this week.

Books take you out of your head and away from your own inner monologue, putting you in the shoes of a character or making you a welcome witness to an expert or storyteller of some kind. It parks your ego. It offers an alternative world or timeline in which to wander for a bit. It disciplines your attention – difficult in the age of the soundbite and 240 character limit. It entertains or enlightens you.

So, even if it’s a single page or if your preferred delivery method is audio, read. It will help a bit. I promise.

Since we’re all a bit more physically distant at the moment, let’s trade some Goodreads accounts and swap some recommendations in the comments. I’m currently enjoying at least one Agatha Christie novel, some progressive and hopeful sociology, and some less cheerful investigative nonfiction on climate change. What are you reading right now?

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!

Weekend Links: 2020 Begins Edition

Beloveds, 2020 is upon us! And my god, we’re only three days in. I’ve honestly been trying to muster up some positivity for the new year, as I normally enjoy fresh slates and clean starts, but I’m struggling. 2019 was hard on a personal level and scary on a macro one, and 2020 is…ah…seeming to start as it means to go on.

However, on a long and delightful call with X the other day we discussed the wonderful motivating power of SPITE. So join me, poppets, in declaring at the outset, that we are not going to give in to despair or undue cynicism–for no other reason than that our collective antagonists are hoping for just that. Get hydrated, caffeine up, register to vote, pick a small handful of causes that you care about deeply to devote your energies to, decide whose good opinion and love is actually important to you and prioritize your life according, and hug a dog. We’re going to get through this year and we’re going to do it with aplomb.

Here is a nice batch of weekend reading to look back fondly on the good, catch up on some things you may have missed, and ground yourself for what we’re likely going to deal with in 2020.

The year in memes.

The year in fashion.

The year in podcasts.

I bet you didn’t know you needed a deep dive into the world of lingerie, but you do.

I’m glad that the news media seems final able to confront some of their failings, particularly the areas that fall in talking head and “opini-tainment” as Jon Stewart once called it. I also think that for it to have taken this long denotes something more disappointing if not sinister.

Anatomy of a radicalization.

At this point, reporting that does not do the connecting work of white nationalism and other political views is doing an active disservice to us. I’m grateful to see this changing.

I’m also grateful to see the discourse on climate change improving, but it’s horrifically late.

Let’s hear it for the girls.

This is a fantastic round up of culture “moments” of the past year, and a good list of things to try and catch up on if you’ve thus far missed out.

Behold a goddamned headline!

People who are anti-immigration in my country can’t do math.

I could read a whole book on how “fan culture” has taken over everything from politics to pop culture, and what this means for us as a society. I spend an inordinate time thinking about it. In the meanwhile, this article is a great starting point.

Romance is a genre I used to morally eschew, then read in shameful secret, and now revel in openly. There is some seriously good writing to be found in its pages, too often dismissed because the target audience is women and the main topic is feelings. That’s a rant for another day…what you need to know is that some major DRAMA went down in the Romance world this week. I watched it unfold in real time on Twitter, but for those who need a primer, Lois Beckett from The Guardian is here to help!

Relatedly to all of the above mess, let’s all diversify our reading this year, shall we?

Oh. So that’s why witnesses are being blocked. Shock, surprise.

Oh. So that’s why the secrecy. More shock, surprise.

We had a fascinating debate in my office about this! It spiraled into the differences between religious and “philosophical” belief systems, and how we chose to allocate protections.

Still developing as I finish up this post but…this feels horribly huge. The consequences are already starting. Mar-al-ago guests and Russian diplomats knew about the attack before the appropriate members of congress did. I remember this all too well from 20 years ago. The performative hawkishness and patriotism, the propaganda to circle the wagons around the government, the othering of whole nations and cultures with a long tail of hideous racism that we are still dealing with. 20 years later, thousands of Americans and allies dead, hundreds of thousands of civilians dead, no clear gains, no increased stability, recent revelations that there was no fucking plan in the first place…NO. NOT AGAIN. Not to appease ideologues, not to distract from domestic scrutiny, not for anything.

Weekend Links: Yuletide Edition

It’s Christmas week, kittens! We were woefully unprepared for the holidays this year and much of our preparations have been of the last minute variety. I snagged the last slot available for Tesco grocery delivery, the last tickets for our local theatre’s “The Rise of Skywalker” (didn’t like it at all, I’m sorry to say), and the second to last delivery option for our Christmas tree. We got my sister’s present in the mail to Japan on the last possible day. We are one missed time slot away from disaster, here!

However, this year we are attempting some holiday baking which is not something we’ve really done in our time in London. Every year that goes by and we “settle” we seem to have a more functional kitchen, so we are leaning into that this season. That being said I burned the last thing I put in the oven to charcoal crisps so…watch this space.

Other than that, we are indulging in food and drink this week and doing precious little else. There are a few more posts coming your way before the end of the year, but in the meantime, I hope your Christmas preparations are going better than mine–if you celebrate–and that you are enjoying the winter season with friends and family.

We’re all going to have to move.

I’ve made a complete break mentally with the world I used to live in.”

Some leading conservative commentators, campaign veterans and media personalities have launched a PAC aimed at defeating President Trump in 2020…or more specifically Trumpism. Their argument, with which I agree, is that Trump does not represent the ideological conservatism that they revere and wish to restore. However, the rise of Trumpism has made me question how much of this ideology was genuine in the first place, and how much of it was simply a wish for ingroups to maintain their own power (financial, racial, perceived control over life circumstances, and so on). Trumpism s

It’s always a joyous week when Anne Thériault drops her latest in the Queens of Infamy series!

Add this to the list of films I want to see. Preferably with Hannah whilst sipping wine.

This piece is over a year old but it’s new to me and how pleasing it is!

I am glad we are asking the question seriously, “What are we going to do with/for/about men?” and making art that tackles that topic. Men may need to puzzle this out on their own, and there’s a question of what role women should take in this debate. (Contrapoints, a prominent left-wing YouTuber, recently made a video arguing this point of view as well–content warning re drug references, sex and sexuality frank talk, and some pretty bold/provocative visuals. I love her and her hyperbolic and performative aesthetic, but she’s definitely not going to be all my reader’s cup of tea!)

Longtime readers know how much I love murder mysteries–a “cozy” murder read or show is quite probably my favorite way to relax. …I’m not saying I’m healthy, I’m saying I’m self aware. And one of the purely aesthetic aspects my film and TV murder favorites all share is that they are stylish as hell. (And in Small Dog Nation, we stan Madeline Khan forever!)

Well, it’s happening.

In religion news this week, this editorial is blistering and it’s still sobering to think of how little effect it will have on the intended community. (ETA, The National Review got in on the act. I predict the same results.)

The Good Place is on hiatus until January, but here is a lovely piece on it and its approach to hopeful humanism and the limits of philosophy. I truly believe TGP is an active force for good in the world.

More Small Dog Nation catnip!

Woof. This is something I’m thinking a lot about recently, both in and out of therapy.

Weekend Links

Your weekend reading is here! And once again, mostly as an act of self care, it’s almost entirely politics free–ENJOY.

We talk a lot about the President’s use of Twitter, but this deep dive into the online world in which his Twitter feed operates and feeds itself is the first examination of that particular ecosystem that I’ve seen. And I think it’s long overdue.

Answers to one of the most consuming and awkward questions of my childhood!

What a harrowing story

Something is definitely in the water (and by “water” I mean capitalism and social media).

So, media is changing all around us. What does this mean for one of the biggest names in magazine publishing, you ask? This is an engrossing read for anyone who is at all interested in the media landscape.

Also from The Intelligencer, this…opening line: “White nationalism has a branding problem.” It’s actually a good review of the state of several of those “influencer Nazis” that everyone gave platforms to because they dressed well and managed to be well-spoken. How’d that turn out for us all? Snark aside, this piece actually has some good points to make about respectability politics for horrible people.

This op ed is infuriating.

Meanwhile, this saga is charming. Let them look at the art!

Crissle West (one half of the EXCELLENT and popular podcast The Read), deserves every ounce of her success.

Genuinely interesting election news–because it’s about process not personalities. Like unto other social experiments, I want to see a decent ranked voting case study in action. It strikes me as much more likely than first-past-the-post to engender a consensus agreement on the results of an election rather than the partisan bitterness we see so much of now.

The revolution will be sloganized.

If there’s one thing we at Small Dog Nation can’t get enough of, it’s a good archeology or excavation story!

Here for the clap back!

The THIRST.

Notorious PWB.

Obviously I have a deep appreciation for the role of “Mormon mommy bloggers” and the role they played in internet culture. Whilst not a mum, Mormon blogging has been a big part of my writing background and personal story, so I still feel weirdly protective about some of the OG characters of the genre.

Weirdly fascinating!

 

Weekend Links: WAGatha Christie and Wagging the Dog

“The glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance. …  How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again!”
– Mark Twain

This week has been NUTS. We’ve got footballers wives doing a better job that national security apparatuses, the Ukraine scandal spiraling into new depths, and ursine QUEENS. This is an extra hefty dose of links to help you process the *waves hands at general state of things.*

It’s going to be a very normal and calm week, I see…

Super normal.

What BULLSHIT. This is what toxic gender roles mean for everyone: loneliness and disdain for all involved, unless we all participate in a system which requires a hierarchy with winners and losers. Imagine the world we could build if we dedicating one tenth of the energy we put towards reinforcing unequal systems to building better ones that rewarded different many different kinds of success instead of a designated few.

We’ve been playing the “horrible goose” game for a week, this might be next.

I’ve fled that country

Words cannot express how much I love Caitlin Moran and her writing. Her last column in the Sunday Times is short but nails the appeal of chaos to so many right now–particularly those who should, theoretically, be most opposed to it.

LOL to the entire idea that Perry is the criminal mastermind. Also, the internal logic continues to impress me. This “perfect” phone call that is entirely above board was also totally this guy’s fault. Let me be clear, I completely am onboard with the idea that Rick Perry is involved in this mess (and so do other people, given he’s been subpoenaed), but you will have a hard time convincing me that the Oops Guy is responsible for it all.

I need to print out this list and post it. It’s nominally about writing, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the advice is multi faceted.

A rather interesting case progressed this week, wherein the President tried to keep his personal financial records hidden via a rather extraordinary set of circumstances and claims that his office grants him immunity from any kind of criminal prosecution–which would have been a deeply problematic ruling to enshrine in precedent.

This shift in policy is not just bad and last minute on it’s face, it puts one of our most stalwart allies in the fight against ISIS in direct harm’s way, thereby breaking promises and diminishing the likelihood that we are seen as a trusted partner to our own friends the world over. (ETA, two days later…)

TikTok makes me feel very old.

Ooh, someone running the social experiment I want follow!

Ronan Farrow’s latest book exposes a lot more about the shadowy world of private protection and security that the wealthy move in to safeguard them against reputational damage. He’s released excerpts with The New Yorker and they are not fucking around! Part I, Part II, Part III.

Related to the previous, what happens after, you ask?

who’s in for the next pony party?

I don’t like this weird dystopia.

Meanwhile, Holly is a goddamn icon as far as I’m concerned!

SOMEBODY BUY THIS CAPE RIGHT NOW.

We’ve had to go through a lot of pain to realize that this should have been the take from the jump as a society, but I stan a sassy delivery of truth any day of the week.

Also, Elizabeth Warren is extremely good at this.

What a mess this is going to be…on Tuesday the White House sent a rather sloppy legal letter advising the House that they aren’t going to participate in the investigation into their behavior. This is either ridiculous gaslighting or they don’t understand how an investigation works. Likely both. Now is when we are going to see if our constitutional checks and balances actually work: will the House be able to serve and enforce subpoenas, or is the president above the law? Regardless of your politics, this has huge implications for American politics.

On Wednesday, the prominent legal scholar Noah Feldman summed up the impasse are barreling towards.

Also, greater insight into how a fairly small outfit (all things considered) is destabilizing nations and events around the world.

Something I honestly think about a lot: will Jeff and I ever really be able to retire?

A tragic and difficult read, about individual pain and community trauma.

I love fall!

The kerfuffle with the NBA and China, explained.

How did you survive the WAG War of 2019? Anything that gets the term “Wagatha Christie” trending will absolutely command my attention.

How handy! A new list of things to read, all of which tickle my fancy!

Another week, another great Amanda Mull piece.

It’s leather jacket season!

Thursday. Welp. (A tiny reminder of how deeply incestuous all of this world is, and a quick summary. Another tiny nugget/reminder that their companies are called Fraud Guarantee and Mafia Rave. Seriously.)

“…the best people…”

Reminder: to understand the Ukraine shenanigans, you have to understand the world of conspiracy theories. It’s also increasingly likely that some of the most powerful men (and they are mostly men) in the world, actually DO believe these.

On the flip side, here’s a succinct timeline of the Ukrainian situation as it actually happened. In other words, Mr. Guiliani was not “looking for dirt”

All the AOC haircut “scandal” has made clear to me is that most men don’t realize how expensive it is to be a woman.

Hey, that Webtoon I shared on a previous monthly favorites post has some great news!

Friday. The role of the Supreme Court really is the Chekov’s Gun in the Trump presidency.

Also Friday.

Also also Friday. (Her statement is not messing about.)

And did sweet f a about it, apparently.

Fuck.

Extremely relevant to my interests and past professional life. This change will affect how money flows across this entire planet!

SHAMELESS PLUG OF THE WEEK. I’m so bloody proud of her I could burst! Enjoy this pleasing tease of the British version of her upcoming book and sharpen your knives in anticipation.

Welp, this baby made me cry.