Category: Pop Culture

Weekend Links

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” 
― Augustine of Hippo

We’re back from Prague and what a joy it was to have a break from the news…but what a week it was. Between threatening the NATO alliance, praising the NATO alliance, trashing the British Prime Minister in an exclusive interview to a tabloid, being unwilling to answer questions about that interview when he visited the PM’s house the next day and walking back his statements, and messing up protocol when visiting the Queen….President Trump…honestly, he met my expectations. All of this bullshit and nonsense is absolutely par for the course. Can you image Prime Minister May touching down in the US and criticizing the President’s trade war with China from a podium in the Rose Garden, while opining that Speaker Ryan (or for the sake of argument, Secretary Clinton) really would have been a preferable president? No, because that would be INSANE.

The curve this man is graded on continues to astound me. I take refuge in the protests to confirm that not everyone is letting him get away with it.

Meanwhile we have a Supreme Court nomination who cut his teeth in the Ken Starr investigations and has some interesting ideas about how presidents can or cannot be held legally accountable while in office, former FBI agent Peter Strzok gave the most full throated rebuttal of the Deep State conspiracy theorist trash of anyone actually in or formerly in the government (which is sad and which I think is part of the reason that the oversight committee has not, at least at time of writing, asked the other party in the Sexting Scandal Lisa Page to testify publicly), and the Mueller investigation just handed down more indictments and have now formally laid out specifically how the Russian government took action to attempt to affect the 2016 elections (the documents are worth reading). And finally, the president once again used racist and enthno-nationalist dog whistles throughout.

And England lost their World Cup match. UGH.

Happy weekend!

So, it’s going well, then?

Going super well!

Sometimes I ponder how much power Senator McConnell has wielded and to what ends, and I want to punch something. Then I donate to a cause a I care about and encourage people to register to vote and feel a tiny little bit better.

A bit of statistical analysis on the president’s statements over the past two years, given his recent running off at the mouth.

Sali Hughes and Caitlin Moran talk life, writing, beauty products, and the need for a wide range of girls’ story being told in fiction in Sali’s brilliant In the Bathroom series. Part 1. Part 2.

If you know anything about the relationship between American Evangelical and Mormon communities, this is incredibly funny.

Oh Henry Cavill, I want to root for you and then you shoot off at the mouth like this

Ooh, poisonous books?!

This unexpected benefit of Britain’s heat wave delights me!

Whatever you opinion on the actual subject, Brexit arrangements are a trainwreck in slow motion.

Later the same day, holy shit. This is a bloodbath as politicians scramble to not be holding the hot potato when it hits, to mix my metaphors.

As a military brat with three generations of military service in my family, this enrages me and should enrage more of us.

More diversity in romance novels, thanks!

I appreciate the gesture, but there are also a lot of much more recent killings of black men and women who deserve additional resources and attention. This murder was a landmark event in American society and is one of the sparks of the organized Civil Rights movement and deserves an ending…but so do many more ordinary men and women. Black Lives Matter turns five this week, by the way.

Oh Roger Stone…always saying the quiet parts loudly.

A nice archaeology story to break things up a bit.

Maddening. Maddening and bad.

Were we asking for this, friends? I’m unsure.

Yes, I definitely struggle with this concept more than I should or want to.

“The erosion of the division between public and private has been coming for a while now.” If you’ve been following the gross “Planebae” story and it’s aftermath, this piece is required reading about the scary new reality where everyone, everywhere is a public figure now, and what the consequences of that may be.

To say that I’m crushing on Alex Ohanian and Gareth Southgate of late would be colossal understatements. Positive masculinity role models for all!

And finally, 50,000 people were expected to protest Donald Trump’s visit to the UK. According to the Evening Standard, 250,000 showed up.

Let’s end with a good news story:

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Weekend Links

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” 
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

What another week of news, and once again I can’t keep up–but we’ll do our best to recap along the way. We are past the Fourth of July and therefore officially into summer. I have switched to my “summer” sunglasses (aviators), purchased a linen shirt (which I duly report back on in my next shopping update), and all my drinks are iced. Consider me ready for the season.

I’ve put together a list of (mostly) poppy and fun links for your reading pleasure and I’m going to try and get a few additional posts together because I am officially on holiday! Jeff and I are going off to explore a new city neither one of us have been too, and I am going to do my best to try and unplug from work. Historically, I am TERRIBLE at this. (It doesn’t help that there’s an awful lot going on, a new contract to move into, and annual budget season to contend with…and shut up, C., you’re not helping yourself!)

Filing this under things I didn’t realize weren’t already federal crimes.

Anyone got a few cool million to spare?

Crissle returns to Drunk History!

Our country is broken.

Broken.

I accept this to be true.

Oprah for queen. Oprah for everything.

Noted and worthy beauty blog Temptalia breaks down the recent launch of the latest “big” brand and one, for a change, I have no interest in at all.

Good riddance, it’s a miracle he lasted as long as he did with that much scandal and bad behavior just…out there.

Jog on, indeed!

No duh.

I love writing on writing.

Long live the battle queens of the internet.

This piece from Slate hit me so hard this week that it actually took a full day to process. This passage deserves a block quote:

I am sad, above all, because the damage being done now no longer feels like it can be stemmed—let alone reversed—with a single election. This will last decades. The downturns my generation has already weathered—the 2008 crisis that hinged on obscure derivatives traded by a privileged few, robbing wealth from millions—were only the beginning. Education is now a luxury. Pensions barely exist. Health care is under threat. Retirement is, to those my age, a cruel joke. We’ve been waiting. For recovery, for relief, for some semblance of an American dream we can access.

It is clear, now, that there was nothing to wait for. In the time we’ve been waiting, the rich have only gotten richer and angrier and whiter, but it will never be enough for them. The good-faith ideological battle some thought right and left were waging turned out to be no such thing: Modern conservativism was never about small government. Or personal liberty—for women and people of color, anyway. It wasn’t about fiscal responsibility: The GOP passed a tax plan that has blown up our national debt, which is projected to reach 78 percent of America’s GDP by the end of this year, the highest it’s been since 1950. And Republicans are still not happy. They will pretend that this crisis they created will require “sacrifices,” gutting services poor Americans desperately need, like health care. The poor and disadvantaged will die.

Meanwhile, those in power will celebrate how much they deserve their wealth and how little anyone else deserves.

Finally, there are still children separated from their parents. You can donate to RAICES, KIND, and the ACLU to help.

Weekend Links

“What fresh hell is this?”
– Dorothy Parker

I keep saying it, but the current pace of news is scary. We have not had week in this administration that hasn’t contained some kind of significant decision or change that will have lasting impact. This was no different.

Another Supreme Court seat is now in the mix and I assume that Senator McConnell will not seek to fill it as it’s an election year, right? I assume that if an election weren’t enough to warrant a delay in hearings, that investigations into whether or not the President and his election team were aided to power by a foreign adversary would, right? No, it was only about President Obama? K. Mitch McConnell is incredibly good at political power, but the cost of it is so, so high…

Seriously, this seat matters. Justice Kennedy was a conservative/libertarian in his position and as such was considered a swing vote in many cases–which is itself interesting. The court has shifted to the right in the past generation and that Justice Kennnedy is considered the occasional “moderate” voice is noteworthy. His vote has mattered in issues on LGBT and reproductive rights. It has also mattered to immigration cases, union cases, voter rights and access issues, presidential elections…the seats are probably the longest lasting appointments and offices in our government.

Elections matter. Too many people who are now angry about the direction of the country sat out of the last one and this week is the culmination of that choice.

In summary…

Lest we forget there are children who have been removed from their parents. Remember that? Here are multiple organisations you can donate to to help fight this.

If you are a liberal snowflake like me, here’s an avalanche you can join. November is closer than we’d like to admit and none of you get to sit this one out.

Judge Sotomayor’s dissenting opinion mirrors my own concerns with this decision. I fear we have overturned a bad legal precedent and just slotted in a new one in its place. It’s also one hell of a position that, “It’s legal if you set aside almost everything the actual president of the United States has said about this policy.” I wonder if and when some future court will be apologizing for this the way they are doing for Korematsu.

I’m never not interested in J. Crew news. It’s a brand that really lost me as a customer but I still perversely hope to root for.

Deeply relevant to my interests!

Netflix fires its communications officer for racist language.

What an amazing tribute in the face of tragedy.

New Lizzo alert! (PS, I’m three weeks late on this but Big Freedia ft. Lizzo alert too while we’re at it!)

Interestingly enough, there’s a whole swath of American people who think that your personal values should allow you to determine who you do business with (she typed sarcastically). That’s the problem with these kinds of positions. Sooner or later, they might turn against you.

To say that Brexit is going poorly would be an understatement. Regardless of whether or not individuals support it, it has now been two years since the vote and nearly nothing has been agreed or finalized in the negotiations to leave the EU with a deadline now less than a year away.

Honestly, and I recognize the irony of typing this, but this approach to masculinity is so damn sexy and attractive.

Big news from Saudia Arabia this week. Now let’s dump guardianship laws, k?

In Mormon news, the denomination’s hymnal is getting a long overdue update to better reflect the global membership. I’m also pretty pleased that national anthems are getting dropped, though I expect some Americans are going to be in their feelings about this.

Watching Glenn Beck help midwife much of our conspiracy theorist based media hellscape, try to rebrand himself as a Never Trumper, only to subsequently roll over legs waving in the air and be rewarded by a slow moving collapse of his media empire has been…weirdly enough, a little sad. But I’d be sadder if I didn’t feel he was one of the emotional architects of said media hellscape and a probably metaphor for what so many people are going to get out of this administration.

We all need more laughs. NPR is here to help.

Please don’t make me sound horrible.” Ma’am, you didn’t need anyone’s help for that.

Another well intentioned art vandal.

Some good news: shut up to me about how identity politics don’t matter. Also I am pleased to report that I totally own this lipstick. May it imbue me with badassery!

NOTHING TO SEE HERE, MOVE ALONG.

In more Mormon new, I enjoyed revisiting this then-viral piece about Mormon Mommy Blogs in the early 2000s and what’s happened to one of the OGs.

Such shock. Much surprise.

X sent me this link as it was “relevant to [my] interests.” As usual, she was RIGHT.

Immigration in the States is down. Immigration in Europe is down. And the President wants to make this the foundational plank of this election year because the facts don’t matter and he needs a fake enemy to bash, so people of color, the dispossessed, and the desperate will do. Shut up to me about the dangers of identity politics, the right plays it just as much as the left, they just couch it in different terms.

This doesn’t surprise me to read.

And nor does this, I’m heartsick to type…as I add this, it’s unclear what the motivations behind this shooting are (and fundamentally, it doesn’t matter because people are dead). But that the first place my brain went was to wonder if this was political speaks volumes. Just because it’s idiots calling for it doesn’t mean people aren’t listening.

ETA: More information is emerging about the shooter and his motivations.

On that note, also shut up to me about calls for civility from the right. You had a guy who was civil, who followed the rules and took the high road more times than I can count when confronted with racism and disrespect to his office. You declared obstructionist war against his administration. Don’t throw the mantra of the former First Lady in my face about going high when others go low, when the current First Lady is party to a government by internet trolling. The same people calling loudest for civility are supporting a leader who rose to prominence on a racist conspiracy theories and cyber bullying, warning against a militant left while arming themselves with more guns than there actual people to wield them in the country, detesting political correctness because they want to be able to use ugly language without consequences, and going to war over fiscal responsibility only to give up the fight when back in power. Fuck civility. You want it, you go first.

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Weekend Links

“Look at this mess! And where’s the mop?” 
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

It’s only Friday but I’m posting the links early because good grief…What a roller coaster of a week.

After backing down (kind of) on a wildly unpopular policy of his administration’s own making, the president is (of course) trying to spin the narrative of him heroically beating back wrong. I HOPE the conversation continues and now return to the debate about how long families are able to be detained (because please remember that that the administration is already challenging a legal ruling over limiting family detention) and our immigration policies overall. I HOPE TO HELL the furore continues over the fact that there is no commitment to reunite currently separated families. There is also an increasing numbers of verified reports of some of the conditions immigrants and immigrant children are being kept in that are shocking.

Finally, I HOPE this week is a reset in the media and public discourse. That after this ridiculous week, news outlets, politicians, and commentators will do better about bluntly and swiftly countering lies and mistruths–instead of endlessly debating whether or not the president “means it” when he says flagrantly false statements. This administration and the president has gotten away with unaccountability for far too long and it’s corrosive. We need to take him seriously and literally. He is the President of the United States, and we need to stop grading him on a god damn scale.

Basically, props for not paying too much attention to that silly “Space Force” announcement. More of that, please.

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It’s a complicated history, but it’s important to explore and unpack. I have a vivid of a university classmate of mine vigorously denying even the possibility of this relationship because, and I quote, “God would not let His government be organized by a man who did that.” Fourteen years on and I’m still thinking about that conversation…woof.

BEYONCE ALERT. Oh, and her husband too. Sure.

Seriously, who else could shut down the Louvre?

This opinion piece is beautiful and hits right in the feels: “I like to watch Rob and our boys and be reminded that there are some very good men out there… I can expect a great deal from them — and not be disappointed.” Thank god for good men, and yes to celebrating them.

Design flaw.

“[Neko] Case may be an acquired taste, but she’s an addictive, enveloping one. To love her is to fucking love her.” Can confirm that this line, part of this overall great profile, is accurate.

I think every urban generation goes through something like falling out of love with its city, and New York is no different. However there was a lot about this longform piece that really resonated with me as a sojourner in another iconic city during our current socio political moment. I’m surrounded by property I can’t afford, lots of the “old neighborhoods” have undergone a major demographic shift in the last generation, and businesses as well as people are often priced out. The poor are hidden and the rich are in hiding. I’m still prepared to hustle and grind as much as the next hungry and ambitious woman out there, but for what can feel like diminishing returns. Meanwhile, I wonder about how long an ecosystem like a great city will last if less and less of the labor it depends on can find a way to live in it.

I have so many questions about this

This article came out nearly two weeks ago, but I’m still thinking about it and the implications of bro culture as diplomacy. An op ed this week lays out what some of the consequences may be. “America has been dominant for so long that it takes for granted outcomes that support its policies and interests…”

Way to bury the lede…in the 19th paragraph… “According to four people close to Kelly, the former Marine general has largely yielded his role as the enforcer in the West Wing as his relationship with Trump has soured. While Kelly himself once believed he stood between Trump and chaos, he has told at least one person close to him that he may as well let the president do what he wants, even if it leads to impeachment — at least this chapter of American history would come to a close.”

God, my friends are amazing. My New York bestie and surrogate big sister did a killer podcast this week.

The role of women in the Trump White House is endlessly interesting to me. He relies on certain women in key ways and always has, while simultaneously projecting an intentional, old-school masculinity that is often disdainful of women or insists on traditional gender roles. The women in his orbit are adept at using the tropes of that system to both their and his advantage…which brings me to medieval history! (Everything comes back to medieval history on this blog.)

Finally, this quote sums up the screams-into-a-pillow rage I experience when pondering this whole presidency. “The elite! Why are they elite?” Trump wondered. “I have a much better apartment than they do. I’m smarter than they are. I’m richer than they are. I became president and they didn’t.” HIS IS THE ELITE. HE IS THE PRESIDENT AND HEAD OF THE EMPOWERED PARTY. HE IS RICH AND PRIVLEGED. IT IS A LIE TO SAY OTHERWISE.

Let’s review some of the political events of the last week:

Monday and Tuesday: Fuck your discomfort.

Tuesday: The clip that crashed ProPublica’s website.

Everything pure is going fast…RIP Koko.

As of Wednesday, there were stirrings that the White may back down. Which if course is good, if unexpected on my part, but ironically puts the president in similar situations to his predecessors. I actually accept that our immigration system is in desperate need of reform, in no small part to the messiness and responsibility limbo different aspects of government find themselves in. But until we acknowledge the underlying driving ethos in various drives for reform, this conversation will not move forward. And speaking off…

Lest we forget, we have allowed this administration and a series of untruths to hijack the conversation around immigration in the first place. While there are seasonal trends, the overall trend is that immigration numbers are falling. There has been no scientifically robust link between immigration and crime rate, or wage rates for that matter. We are not being invaded. The language around immigrants is age old, frequently ugly (see also: “infest”), and seldom rooted in fact. If you want to say that immigration is a national security issue: prove it. The problem is that certain people want to behave in ways that are underpinned by nativism, racism, and nationalism, but don’t want to have to admit to those motives. “‘Unable to say, “We want fewer foreign-born Americans, full stop,’ the Trump administration is instead constantly making arguments that don’t withstand much scrutiny.”

Thursday: we’re still unpicking the implications of the Executive Order as it is.

Also Thursday: we’re doing what now?!

Friday: the underlying truth is that our immigration system across the board is a mess, and I’m not just talking about enforcement. Our laws need review to meet the needs and realities of the 21st century. Our borders do need enforcement but they also need them in ways that match reality–a wall won’t work. Our legal systems need money and people to cope with the workload. Our people services need investment so that our national values are just as prioritized as our security. Our Congress is paralyzed by infighting. This whole ugly situation arose because our immigration system is fundamentally disordered (and the ruling powers are ethno-nativist in the extreme). Until that mess is fixed, personal animus will continue to hold more power than it should in the debate.

 

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Another Update: This Guy…

Stepped right in a perfectly crafted designed-to-outrage-without-uttering-a-word layup. Because of course it’s always all about him.

 

Insert comment about how they can’t coordinate their communications strategy, etc. etc. etc. Unless of course this is all intentional. Who knows, Melania isn’t talking.

Oh well. Back to the outrage about the chronic lying, discombobulated policy, and sacrificing women as spokespeople, thanks.

A Jacket Interlude

“Miss Rhode Island, please describe your idea of a perfect date.”
“That’s a tough one. I would have to say April 25th. Because it’s not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket.”
– Miss Congeniality, 2000

Deploying the First Lady is something the Trump administration does rarely but damn effectively. She really is an under utilized resource, and like many others I don’t know if this is down to personal preference or genuine strategic thinking to keep her PR value high.

So, with that in mind,  let’s fight about this jacket. I’m pretty well convinced this is intentional and strategic. Melania Trump, a former model and genuinely well dressed and shod woman, knows how to use fashion. See also, her pussy bow blouse during “Grab ’em by the pussy” week, her choice of stilettos when visiting a flood zone which may or may not have been practical but certainly got people talking, her excellent (and I mean that sincerely) handling of the French president’s state dinner including her style choices, and so on.

There is a reason we watch First Lady fashion and while it’s far from the most important thing to talk about right now, it’s not insignificant or incorrect to talk about it.

The jacket in question.

Is this a signal of disdain to immigrants? Is it a signal of disdain for her own husband and his policies? Is she supporting the administration? Is she trying to embarrass it from inside the house? Is she triggering the media? Is she pandering to the media? It’s aggressively ambiguous and open to interpretation. I’m almost perversely tempted to tip my hat to this EXPERT trolling/attempt to seize control of/disrupt the narrative, and I have no idea what her intentions are.

I wish we could all let go of the silly idea that she’s a beautiful-but-dumb woman trapped in her marriage. She’s long been willing to play second fiddle to her diva partner but she has never, ever struck me as unintelligent. She’s also not lived in Trump world this long without learning how to use its tricks and The Art of the Headfake is a classic Trump move. It’s wild to think that if her husband were half a subtle as she, he might be twice as effective. Dreadful thought.

Weekend Links

“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” 
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Happy weekend, kittens!

I spent yesterday walking 20 miles for charity and my body is hurting. Therefore we are diving straight into the links. Political news is almost moving too fast to keep up with but to summarize some major stories of the week: Manafort’s bail was revoked, Michael Cohen might be flirting with the prosecution, an the FBI released a report that may or may not affect your personal feelings on James Comey, but has nothing whatsoever to say about “exonerating” Mr. Trump in relation to the Russia investigation given that the report was on the handling of the FBI’s investigation into Ms. Clinton’s emails. No matter what the hell he tweets.

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A look into a world we don’t get too many glimpses of.

When it all went wrong, at least pop culturally speaking, and at least according to current curmudgeons.

There is so much shady money hiding in plain sight. Here’s some engrossing reporting from The Guardian on Russian money in the UK, but this is hardly the only combination out there. I appreciate the point made that in many cases of money moving through the world, it’s not happening necessarily with nefarious intent so much as it is a need for aggressive self-interest in preserving wealth through uncertain financial and political times. Conspiracy theories about “elites” sitting in darkened rooms smoking cigars and contemplating the best way to keep poorer people down and shake governments aren’t really true. Conspiracy theories about wealthy and powerful people meeting in daylight in comfortable office spaces and speaking practically about the best way to use completely legal means to protect their assets are.

Our entire society–media, politics, you name it–seems built on charlatans all scheming to get out just before the house of cards comes down at the moment. Some of them even manage to luck into success doing it.

Let’s be clear: broadly speaking, it’s still much harder and more negatively consequential for women to come forward about sexual assault and harassment then for me who assault and harass.

We were all rooting for this little guy this week.

This is horrific and unacceptable.

The White House is trying to shift ownership of this policy onto the opposing party, probably to try and force people to the negotiating table. It’s disgusting. Don’t cite holy writ, whatever your creed, to justify it. Either buck up and own your cruelty or be ashamed of it and stop weaponizing suffering.

God, we need Mr. Rogers more now than ever before...

Queer Eye is an active force for good in the world (with bonus Mormon content!)

Three cheers for healthy masculinity!

How the Netflix model works when it comes to programming and showrunning.

Here in Britain there is a bit of a celebrity gossip news this week that rather stuck in my craw in a way I couldn’t put my finger on. Then, Lainey put it better than I ever could.