Category: Pop Culture

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!

Weekend Links

“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.”
― Audrey Hepburn

Happy weekend, my poppets. It’s been another wild week of news with a lot of hard stories, but once again I’ve lovingly curated a bunch of links to take you through several of the big stories and even more of the small gems you might have missed. This week we have nature, crime, humor, in memoriam, Black Excellence, and a gem of a short film to wrap it all up. Go forth and read!

Shut up and take my money.

Shut up and take more of my money.

Tiny, jeweled, winged warriors!

Is anyone shocked at this point? Anyone?

In related news, Roger Stone is an idiot. (*shakes head)

Good. More. (And more similar organizations, because it’s abuse it not a monopoly of any one group.)

What strikes me now as irrational about our response isn’t our ordinary parental instinct to protect our kids from scary stuff. It was our denial.”

There’s this idea that getting help is somehow cheating…” The communal and familial nature of building wealth is interesting to me, especially given current cultural examinations of wealth and power. There have been a lot of mini pop culture scandals and stories of late wherein individuals are lauded as self-made when they are most definitely not, or some variation thereof. Both Jeff and I had parents who paid for our educations–though we both still earned scholarships, worked jobs (two at one point in my case), and went to a ridiculously inexpensive university for our undergraduate degrees. But privilege is privilege and we have it. Here in the UK, it’s extremely common for parents to help adult children with the down payments that put them on the property ladder for the first time. There are political and policy aspects to wealth building that cannot and should not be ignored. In other words, it is a rare, rare (wo)man who is a financial island and we should probably ditch the myth of the self-made man as it’s inaccurate, unhelpful, and not a little soul-crushing.

Your headline of the week, ladies and gentlemen.

Not holding my breath

I want this biopic and I want it NOW.

I have not spawned but I know exactly what FOMOG is.

Phryne Fischer, ladies and gentlemen!

RIP to a true fashion maestro who has defined a generation of several fashion houses. I’m curious to see how his successor will pick up the reigns at Chanel and what that will mean for the house, Lagerfeld seems so tied to it in my head that I have a hard time imaging it without him! Adieu, good sir.

Black History Month is not over, and Mr. Obama has some reading recommendations if you are inclined for some self-education. My repertoire of African and black American authors is truly shameful and I’ve been working to correct over recent years.

Oh yes, this is the queer content I want for a weekend reading.

When the history of this current administration is written, I honestly think people will be baffled at how much it got away with due to sheer brazenness. And not in a good way. (Side note, Matthew Whitaker is also an idiot.)

The only Oscars prep I am doing.

I really feel like the recent science reporting on insect biomass collapse has not gotten nearly enough airtime…

What the actual fuck is going on here?!

In better news, put Girl Scouts in charge of everything, thanks.

Let’s end on a sweet note, shall we? Reader, I wept.

Weekend Links

“History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.” 
― Thomas Jefferson

Happy weekend, darlings! The Amazon/New York deal is off, a national emergency has been declared over something that will not substantially affect the very thing that the US government is declaring is the root of the emergency in the first place. What a hideous mess. We are in the upside down.

Never fear, I’ve put together a list of weekend reading for you that is light on the politics and heavy on the pop culture and obscure scientific weirdness. Truly the sweet spot of the Small Dog Nation!

This weekend Jeff and I are doing a belated Valentine’s day date after basically only catching glimpses of one another for a solid week and general life admin. Very sexy and the stuff of true love. Let me know what you’re up to in the comments.

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My hypothetical children are doomed.

Spoilers if you have not yet seen Russian Doll on Netflix, but this write up from Vulture is so good. Relatedly, if you have not yet watched Russian Doll, stop what you are doing and binge it immediately.

*Files away as she continues to try and learn how to do her hair, despite being in her 30s.

I had to study up on population distribution in the British Isles for my immigration test, and once again was reminded that for all London may feel like the center of the world, the nation is the size of Idaho with a very unevenly spread populace. A fact driven home by this short bit of pre-Brexit reporting.

This is accurate, do not @ me fellow 90s girls.

Racism and its ugly history is everywhere, and academia is just enjoying/enduring a moment in the spotlight as part of a much larger and overdue examination. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I actually did some hard looking at and grappling with the communities I was raised in and lived in–including my almost notoriously mostly-caucasian university, flagship education program of a religious institution which didn’t start ordaining black men to its priesthood until 1978. Correlation? I think so.

We haven’t had a great archaeology story in a while, enjoy!

After a deservedly-viral piece last month, Anne Helen Peterson is back at it with another piece, this time on the realities of student debt and what some of the long term ramifications of this debt will be. There are racial issues, gendered issues, policy issues, psychological issues all to be considered and Peterson does a great job of parsing through them.

Science is brilliant.

This Medium post on the differences, but more importantly similarities, one woman is experiencing at a 20 year distance was a thoughtful read.

My time in certain industries bears witness to this. What a sobering read…

A healthy society should constantly reassess what it finds offensive, but it is fascinating to consider what used to bar people from public life back in the day vs. what they are able to get away with now.

Farrow dropped his latest. It’s his usual brand of jaw dropping.

What could possibly

Black Panther, is that you?!

I do want better examinations of boys and men and masculinity…but this article seems like a bad misstep. The internet agreed.

This is such a specific problem that I never, ever thought about until I read this piece.

What an idiot

Good boy, rover.

NEW LIZZO ALERT. Happy Valentines Day!

Holy crap.

And finally, what a mess. I ask because I genuinely want to know and I genuinely need more some expert to tell me: are we at constitutional crisis yet? The whole thing is farcical…and a bit frightening. And once again I have not the smallest faith that the party who has spent the vast majority of my adult life screaming about constitutionality, balanced budgets, limited government, and so forth will do a damn thing to check him. Meanwhile, this action is almost certain to run into legal and procedural roadblocks, all for an outcome that in the “best case” scenario will net the administration less money than congress was willing to give it a year ago if it had…you know…negotiated.

 

Weekend Links

“Were it left to me to decide if we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
– Thomas Jefferson

Kittens, another weekend is upon us! And as usual, I have sourced a plethora of good reading to get you through the weekend, whether you are hunkered down in the cold or casually flirting with the idea of breaking our your spring clothing. (Don’t do that, crazy person!).

This week in news, we have the whole of the state of Virginia showing its ass, blackmail attempts, more government mess…look, it’s been a rough week. I’ve rounded up the best of serious and trivial reading for you to get you through the weekend without screaming.

What a shambles

This is a headline!

How is this for sartorial goals?!

It has been really cold the past few weeks….

What a tale!

A YouTuber talks transparently about how they make money, what gendered issues some are up against, and what actually makes a business-successful influencer. I’m fascinated by “independent” media creators and think a lot (probably too much) about how bloggers and vloggers have changed the media landscape.

Virginia…are you okay?

This story is not at all surprising, but is still heartbreaking.

This seems like something we should be worrying about and working to prepare for now.

What the actual fuck is going on with Italian fashion houses right now? D&G, Prada and now Gucci have all done horrifically racist–or if you want to be extremely generous in a way I find mind bending to attempt, extremely tasteless and culturally ignorant–crap recently.

Honestly, The Financial Diet’s YouTube channel has been killing it lately.

MY HEART.

CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos has written a Medium post detailing his account of attempts by American Media Inc (AMI) to extort a decision from Mr. Bezos to end an investigation into how they got hold of negative information on his private life. This is of course the same company that has been revealed to use aggressive “catch and kill” tactics in other salacious media stories (most prominently with President Trump’s alleged mistresses). The Daily Beast and other journalists have weighed in to say they have experienced similar intimidation attempts from AMI in the past. In other words, it could be argued that extortion and blackmail are part of their business model. It could also be argued that trying to blackmail the richest man in the world was a hilarious undertaking and how on earth they thought they could coerce him to bend to their will is beyond me. Mr. Bezos accuses AMI’s actions of being politically motivated because of The Washington Post’s aggressive reporting into Mr. Trump’s businesses in particular. Which makes this story all the more weird! AMI is cooperating with law enforcement elsewhere in the Michael Cohen case, so how was this sort of action considered wise if you’re trying to cozy up to investigators?! (ETA: idiots.) Anyway, I applaud Mr. Bezos for detailing this publicly–even as I acknowledge how strange it is to be “on the side” of a billionaire who has cheated on his wife…

A fascinating reveal into Twitter’s actual numbers (and therefore outsized influence?).

Fahrenthold dropped his latest. It’s a doozy.

Everybody needs a Fuck Off Fund. Everybody.

I am very excited about this.

GIRL GANG GOOD NEWS, HANNAH’S BOOK REVIEWS:

NPR review.

Vox review.

Weekend Links

“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.” 
― Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

London is freezing, guys. I cancelled gym classes and stayed bundled in at least three layers of clothing for most of yesterday, feeling precisely no shame about any of my life choices. It was not a day to go outside!

January was a rough month, and that was before the polar vortex hit. I’m not sorry it’s behind us! After another doozy of a week, I’m spending the weekend preparing for a work trip and buying a hoover to finish cleaning up from the repair works to our apartment. This project ended up being much more of an ordeal than I could have ever anticipated when the whole mess started back in August. It’s put me off home ownership for a long while to come–never have I been as delighted to not have enough net worth for this amount of property damage to be my permanent problem! Living on the floor of our living room for weeks while the repairs have gone on has been awkward and and stressful and I’m not sorry to have the (literal) mess behind us.

A question I have long pondered!

Here is a 100% delightful profile and feed to brighten your day.

God…no wonder we’re tired

In case you missed the horrible and horribly important story in The Atlantic about the accusations against Ryan Singer…well, it’s hard to read, but important in the midst of the many (long overdue) conversations we are having as a society.

Relevant to my random, weird interests!

What did the President know and when did he know it, etc. etc. At this point, the “best” explanation for Mr. Trump regarding all his many minions having contact with inappropriate foreign agents, is that he’s such a bad boss and poor manager that he was totally ignorant of large amount of illegality within his personal and political organizations. And of course, this is not actually a very good legal defense at all!

GOOD.

This thread went viral and it is worth every single second of your scroll time.

What a fascinating piece on a topic that is probably beyond the majority of western society.

This Kickstarter project has a backstory!

Ugh, do not want.

Overwhelmed by stuff? Overwhelmed by the Konmari decluttering of stuff? Some help!

DID not want and here we are.

Oh this is a deeply necessary read in our household. I shed like a sheepdog!

In unsurprising news, a disinformation attempt.

Give this person all the awards.

Has anyone else seen The Favourite? I watched it last week and loved it, the performances are absolutely brilliant. Anyway, a relevant piece on Queen Anne and the fact of a royal body, a royal woman’s body, and the body of a woman deemed to be unattractive or unacceptable.

This piece on the importance of self-compassion has really resonated with me. I’ve become increasingly aware over the last couple of years of how brutal I often am to myself. If anyone talked to one of my friends the way I talk to and think about my own person, I’d light them on fire and dance on the ashes–and yet I really struggle with the notion of being kind or gentle to my own body or brain.