Tag: COVID

Weekend Links

Hi darlings, your internet aunty is deep in the throws of a depression spiral over here, so this note won’t be as perky or as snappy as usual. Like everyone else, I seem to have hit some kind of horrible wall recently. Must be the upcoming one year anniversary of our LATEST bout of existential threat or something. Seasonal depression, meets pandemic depression, meets normal depression.

In between multiple bouts of crying every day, I’ve slapped together a surprisingly good bunch of links for your reading pleasure. Seriously, there is a lot of great and fun stuff for you this week, just in case like me you are completely unable to summon any serotonin.

The Senate of the United States, having a normal one over here…

Our building has seemed suspiciously quiet for a while now

My long term thirst for Henry Cavill over most of the competition was and remains solid evident of my good taste. And is there any more petty but thrilling pleasure than when your aesthetic preference is also acknowledged to have been The Correct Choice? It’ so satisfying. The Man From UNCLE is still a great and underappreciated movie, though.

REDWALLLLLLL!

Oh good, only a year and change too late.

Friend of the Blog Caitlin Kelly strikes again, on how Bridgerton’s influence is only beginning, and how it’s giving whole communities of experts and enthusiasts their due.

Speaking of costuming, let me recommend a couple of channels and creators to truly send you down a rabbit hole this weekend:
Abby Cox, a dress historian specializing in the 18th century and not afraid to Go There when it comes to stuff you really want to know about boobs, periods, corsetry, and more. She’s also hilarious, historically rigorous, and just an overall feminist delight. Bernadette Banner, an Edwardian expert and former Broadway costumer who uses her personal experience with scoliosis to delve into dismantling myths about shapewear, highlights traditional craftsman and houses, and roasts fast fashion using medieval tailoring. She’s a babe. I particularly recommend her latest vid about the effects of Bridgerton on athleticwear. Yes, really.

Overdue but still very welcome for Black History Month. We would not have almost any genre of American music, much less global dittos, without the unique heritage of Black culture and pioneers.

Well well well, if it isn’t the consequences of our actions

What a badass.

Likewise, what a gent–even when no longer with us.

As per usual, Ronan Farrow (speaking to Amanour and Company) breaks down the differences in the insurrectionist mob of January 6th, what separates them, and what unites them in thoughtful and accessible ways. Worth a watch:

My honest to goodness reaction at seeing this story was, “OMG look at the itty bitty dinosaur!”

Anti-Asian racism and racist incidents are on the rise, including for Pacific Islanders and many ethnic and racial groups that come under that broad category. Don’t forget that we can and must advocate for several communities individually as well as under broad umbrellas such as “immigration” and “people of color.” If your privilege protects you against certain bigotries, stand up for individual communities as well as broad groups. These are not mutually exclusive.

Ignoring the headline, which I expect will put some people off, this is an excellent discussion on the role of conservatism can play in preserving democracy or breaking it. Ardent and die-hard leftist that I am, I actually agree with the thesis that it’s the behaviors of the right that really determine the path of governments because they are often the institutional guardians of what we retain and why, while the left’s role is (broadly speaking) to push for change. Both of the institutional tensions need to exist in healthy ways for democracy to work.

Good. Because I have no faith that the Senate will impose any consequences. Literally none.

This week I learned a fascinating piece of history for the first time, and one that showcases the complexities of racial privilege in America. Mixed race families, slavery and sexual consent, “passing,” and class differences all rolled into one, and a Second Lady you have never heard of.

I AM NOT A CAT. The 2021 battlecry of everyone who has utterly lost the Zoom plot.

Weekend Links

Guys, I just

I mean…

The thing is…

I can’t. Have some links. Let’s catch up in the comments.

See, the American right needs its viewers and product consumers absolutely livid with rage and grievance…but not enough to actual riot over it. That’s a tricky balance, and I’m not surprised they lost control over it. That’s always the end result of rabble-rousing. I wrote about this back in 2016 and the last four years have only reinforced my thinking on the matter.

Hells yeah, and I’m one of ’em. Shout out to my doctor who explicitly said she didn’t want to take me off my meds in winter in a normal year and she definitely wasn’t going to do it in 2020. Bless her.

A story about emeralds, the best gem:

Indeed, there are things from 2020 we need to retain, and righteous anger is one of them. And activism, which is not at all what the storming of the Capitol was.

This story is bizarrely engrossing.

America under Trump became less free, less equal, more divided, more alone, deeper in debt, swampier, dirtier, meaner, sicker, and deader. It also became more delusional.” Yeah…but he owned the libs, so…

I know we shouldn’t be surprised by anything this may does anymore, but still – HOLY SHIT.

A grim assessment.

Locking the barn doors after the horses have stormed the Capitol….

Who cleans up after the coup?

When you feel betrayed by your messiah figure, what happens to belief? Well, you despair, you hold out hope, or you wait for a sign. MAGAland is bang on target. But I feel obliged to repeat, this is also bang on target for fascist movements which will stay enraged and look to the next guy to lead them to victory. Apart from his personal failings, which are legion, the long term risk of Trump was that he would pave the way for someone much better at the authoritarian dictator gig than he was.

Starting to think misinformation is bad and dangerous, fam…

Understanding the new mutations of the coronavirus.

Future Imperfect

One of the much-remarked on psychological phenomena of this year has been the flattening of time. The lack of traditional breaks or transitions, whether holiday breaks or normal celebrations, has made it harder to mark the passage of time in the ways that make it feel as though we’re moving through it intentionally. Instead many people, occasionally including myself, feel like we’re not living so much as existing.

I recognize that this is a privileged position to be in and that we’ve been spared the personal tragedies (thus far) that have demarcated this year for so many, but thinking about how I’ve spent the vast majority of a year in a single desk chair is staggering tome. I try to remember what happened this year (Australian wildfires, anyone? Holy hell, Tiger King was THIS year?) and stuff sort of blurs together into a messy collage rather than a timeline.

2020, the year that wasn’t. But also, horribly was. We have the collective casualties to show for it.

Trying to look ahead is also difficult. We seem so desperate for change that we look to future deadlines as though they are going to be some kind of magical reset button. January 1, 2021–as though a global pandemic and all its satellite disruptions is going to magically vanish. Brexit on the same day, as though it’s going to reset British and European politics to something more healthy and serviceable. A new US presidential administration as though the climate and policy impact of the last four years will simply vanish into smoke instead of requiring years of lived impact. A vaccine delivery–as though we haven’t been told time and again that the roll out will take months.

I’ve been trying to visualize the new year in some sort of intentional way, and it keeps slipping through my grasp. Setting goals for it is hard – professional and financial risks abound, most of them utterly beyond my control. Preparing for possible dangers is hard – on the one hand what could top this year, and on the other, let’s be real a LOT of bad shit could. Trying to identify motivations is hard – most of the things that incentivize me like travel are still frustratingly dangerous and out of reach, and more humble motivations for day to day life and health feel burdensome and sloggish. Partially due to a bout of depression which seems to land this time of year like clockwork, but mostly due to the General State of Things.

Trying to come to terms with a year steeped in tragedy, even if most of it is experienced at a distance, is rough. At work I’ve been responsible for helping to draft and distribute the words that tell people their jobs are at risk–horribly grateful to not be among them yet, and deeply conscious of the fact that I may be soon. We had to cancel a trip to see Jeff’s family, meaning he hasn’t seen them in person in two years, something that I know weighs on him differently than it does me. Reading the updates every day for two countries about death tolls, lockdowns, economic impact…just like time, my brain struggles with the sheer scale of it all.

This isn’t the part where I wrap up with some sappy insight into myself or the wider culture, and it certainly isn’t where I get some breakthrough or personal clarity, the wisdom of which I’m able to distil. I’m struggling. I’m a person who thrives on change and forward momentum, trying to process a year of being stuck in a time loop like a twisted Groundhog Day and failing. And I can’t imagine I’m the only one.

Never have I been so delighted to have my cynicism go unfulfilled

Spiking the postal service, sowing distrust, decades of gerrymandering, lawsuits to close and reducing polling locations, AND a global pandemic and this election broke participation records.

This doesn’t unmake damage, and it’s no substitute for the systemic work that needs to happen to live up to the promise of our national mythos. I’m still afraid of possible anger or disappointment turning to violence, I’m still not hopeful that the gridlock strategy won’t rear it’s horrible head again, I’m still convinced that the conservative pivot to “the debt ceiling” or whatever is going to give us all whiplash, and I’m certain that the incumbent administration can do a lot of damage on their way out. Hell, I’m not sure Don Jr. won’t announce his candidacy next week or something moronic.

I’m most afraid that a lot of (white, comfortable, middle class) people are going to think “Job done,” dust their hands, and go back to being complacent. Women’s marches, BLM marches, indigenous peoples marches, the active role in promoting not just petty fandoms but the democratic process…that needs to keep happening. We need people of all stripes to push for the world we want.

The thing about democracy is that you have to keep doing it.

But just for this weekend, in this incredibly exhausting and bonkers year, I’m just going to enjoy the many reminders that activism and civic engagement work.

Weekend Links – My Dog Died

I’m having another week where trying to keep up with the cascade of bad feels like it takes too much. Britain COVID cases are trending up again, wildfires plus plague plus civil unrest in the US, really scary protests in Europe against authoritarianism, 9/11, malignant incompetence made worse by deliberate misinformation run rampant–and no one is being held accountable for any of it. I’m exhausted.

And then my family dog died this week. And for all of the above plus a heaping dose of sadness, this just ENDED my siblings and I when my mom told us. There were a lot of tears, lots of story swapping and commiserating across three continents. She was an animal with a lot of personality and character, and she was our dog for 16 years. Even Jeff really loved her and shared a ton of photos with us.

She was old and we knew she was going to go soon, but losing this little neurotic goofball bloody hurts extra hard.

She knows of which she speaks.

The legend of Mulan has evolved to fit the times. Doesn’t mean the movie is particularly good.

Radicalization is the same, whether ISIS or hypernationalist militias. There is. No. Difference.

END THIS RIDICULOUS FAKE “TRADITION.”

Philanthropy is no substitute for the collective civic investment that is…taxation. We badly need to rewrite the narrative on taxes. Taxation and the subsequent allocation of monies by a democratically elected body is not theft, it is not punitive, and it’s not something to find loopholes to get out of. It’s the literal costs of running a collectively beneficial society. Tax the rich, tax business, simplify the code and close loopholes. And for the love of god stop asking “but how will we pay for xyz” in bad faith.

Clearly, there’s a sinister side to memes that requires unpacking.”

So…a government function is going to be deployed for the defence of the President in his capacity as a private citizen

And look, more whistleblowers.

And look, more manipulated information.

We’ve known this was coming for years, and still the images are wrenching. And yeah, where will we go, indeed?

I really love Anne Helen Petersen’s writing, her personal work as much as her reporting, but her latest newsletter was rough again because I think she nailed the sensation of trying to comprehend and compartmentalize time and information in an overwhelming year. “The past year has been an exercise in mass compartmentalization: how can you take what’s happening around you, flatten it, then divide it into small enough sections that you can endure it? If you can just get through the summer, you’ll be okay. If you can just get through the week, you’ll be okay. If you can just get through the day, the afternoon, the hour.”

Oh dear, Posh is going to take more of my money again.

Fucking GOOD. Finally.

As per usual, Dr. Blyth sums up a lot of my frustrations.

How to help victims of the US wildfires.

Weekend Links – #BLM, Baby Yoda, or GTFO

I’m not sure what it is about shorter weeks that somehow twist the fabric of the spacetime continuum to feel twice as long, but this week was definitely one of those. I’m staying mostly logged off to preserve my own sanity after another bonkers roller coaster ride in 2020, but rather than just spew unfiltered rage, I’ve made a deliberate attempt to provide you an extra heaping dose of style and pop culture. We’ve got a lot on fashion and style because we need beautiful things to look at and think about, in between bouts of sharpening our pitchforks and ensuring we retain and use our rights to vote.

I thought I was alone! (Seriously, I hope I never meet our downstairs neighbors who I must regularly traumatize with my constant klutziness, especially my phone or water bottle, and usually out of reasonable hours. I cringe at just the thought of encountering them in the stairwell.

Well, this is just heartwarming.

Feel like everything you see on your social media feed is the same? You’re not crazy. And we all might be sick of it.

What a great and interesting project! It’s always fascinating to see icons or iconography made human.

Yes, I will watch the crap out of this film. Mary Anning doesn’t get nearly enough playtime.

Major world events trigger fashion changes, so what do we think is going to be the post-COVID style leap?

His artistic work is the loss, but TLo did a beautiful tribute to Chadwick Boseman’s beautiful personal style and retrospective of how he opened up fashion for men in a big way.

Damn, Refinery29 pulled out the stops on this one!

Every brand is a media brand in 2020.

Damn it. I think I need to learn how to sew

BAD. Bad for the whole international military and supportive communities. BAD.

No one:
Literally, no one:
Not a soul:
Donald Trump: I DIDN’T HAVE A STROKE!

Grim. Grim and horrible.

Cool. We’re doomed. I look forward to the entire political right pivoting to caring about debt again – depending on the outcome in November.

In slightly more uplifting new, a meme accomplished something good!

I fucking hate him. I really, really do. And I cannot understand the mental gymnastics required to continuously justify the stream of petty cruelty, selfishness, incompetence, UNFIT filth and enablement that flows from him without any consequence.

Who else but Lindsay Ellis could possibly delve into the world of bizarre fanfic erotica and the legal implications of the federal court case that ensues and keep the whole thing not just SFW, but an examination on the difference between genres, tropes, and copyright claims:

 

Oh thank god. I need this. WE need this.

And yea, if you were still wondering for some reason, BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Weekend Links – Wakanda Forever

So. This week. Major party convention machines took over or merged with federal operations with zero opposition. Wildfires AND hurricanes are raging. Civil unrest continued due to a fresh round of atrocities. Protests in Europe against authoritarian regimes, and what we can reasonable assume is the attempted murder of a major Russian dissident. COVID cases spiking again. Travel restrictions amping up in response. Schools trying to educate online, disrupting working families (especially women). Workers are being hustled back to work not because it’s safe but because the ripple effects of COVID are spreading and we’ve all collectively decided that the economy requires blood sacrifice.

It’s a lot.

This week’s link roundup is a bit heavy, but as always there are a few smatterings of humor to help leaven the sadness. Stay focused on the problems, stay committed to solutions. Take responsibility for the wellbeing and safety of your fellow humans – wash your hands, wear a mask, defend their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as much as you would defend your own.

The sheer cosmic luck and accident that allowed this to happen delights and impresses me.

Second verse, same as the first.

…Donald Trump’s party is the very definition of a cult of personality. It stands for no special ideal. It possesses no organizing principle. It represents no detailed vision for governing. Filling the vacuum is a lazy, identity-based populism…’Owning the libs and pissing off the media,’ shrugs Brendan Buck, a longtime senior congressional aide and imperturbable party veteran if ever there was one. ‘That’s what we believe in now. There’s really not much more to it.’

This is good. We need to reconsider how we write algorithms and what human biases have gone into the codes that came before.

Hoo boy.

For fucks sake, enough. How much more evidence do we need about systemic problems?! How many more protests is it going to take?! (How you can give to the family.)

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How you can give to help people affected by Hurricane Laura. (Minor positive note: nature is healing.)

Never underestimate the ability of one or two people to do amazing good, or outrageous harm.

I pile on Utah a lot, but this is unequivocally good and a standout perspective among institutionally conservative states. It advocates for mail-in voting and enables it.

We NEED to understand the insidious overlap of violent misogyny, violent racism, and violent nationalism. In huge numbers, the venn diagram is a circle.

Perennial topic of interest in Small Dog Nation.

Jeff is the NBA fan in our household, and a lifelong Utah Jazz devotee. He opened my understanding to the political clout and cultural influence of the NBA in a way I didn’t really get since my family is not at all sporty. Learning the difference between sports leagues and how they use their influence over the last few years has been interesting, and of course the tides are shifting all the time…but at the moment I’m pretty sure the NBA is doing more to provide safe voting in November and invest in Black communities than our actual Congress.

Baseball showed up. And ironically set us all up for some devastating news…

What a horrible loss! You only need a cursory glance at social media to see the impact he had in his career and how much his portrayals of Black icons meant to the community. To learn he did his widest reaching and most physically demanding work while battling cancer…no words. Rest in power. Wakanda forever. (On creating a character’s voice, why Black Panther matters, spreading joy.)

Speaking of Black icons, let’s remember the anniversary of the March on Washington.

And finally, let’s have a laugh.

Weekend Links – LET’S GO!

This week we’ve had a heatwave, intense thunderstorms, political news, media watching, and a few smatterings of fun and whimsy. It must be the weekend links roundup, kittens! Check in with the coterie in the comments and let’s hang out.

WE’VE GOT A TICKET. I’m not counting any chickens before November, but I think the Biden/Harris team came out of the gate strong and cut straight through lot of the (expected) racist and misogynist reaction at the start. Let’s go!

Trump said, out loud and in a public interview that he got rid of the head of the FBI because of the Russia investigation. This week he said, out loud and in a public interview, that he’s trying to sabotage the US Postal Service to give himself an electoral advantage. And of course, there are no consequences because the right is complicit or willing to benefit and the left is functionally useless due to ceaseless infighting. Twitter is nuts with rage, but the only hope is Nancy Pelosi’s spine holding.

We are not ready for how ugly November is going to be.

In an era where the media does more amplification than fact checking – again, across the political spectrum – we may be in an uncomfortable place of having to use different institutions to question truth claims. Since we’ve rejected science (lefty anti-vaxxers as much as righty climate change deniers), education (lefty liberal arts and righty social sicences), and consensus (…Twitter) maybe the solution is legal rather than persuasive. Maybe.

Will be interesting to see what happens to TikTok over the coming months, and this latest twist would be intriguing. Given the differences between platforms and their various attempts to build a monopoly and respond to a changing media landscape, Twitter v. Facebook continues to be the top story. Facebook/Instagram have rolled out their TikTok competitor Reels in the last couple of weeks and the jury is still out. Meanwhile, also on Facebook…

It’s a cult.

This piece is three years old and I literally think about it about once a week.

I’m seeing a lot of this from my mormon friends and loved ones in particular and it makes me want to scream. Not least of all because the majority of the people sharing it have had precisely zero interest in activism until suddenly BLM gets up and running. My cynical brain cannot help but feel this is another extension of the (stupid) culture wars, where you assign your attention not so much to support one cause as to refuse to support another. Child victimization is an ugly blight on our society, and it IS a real threat…but it’s worth consider who is only raising their voices about it now, and why, and based off of what information. Because we live in the darkest timeline and you have to check yourself to ensure you aren’t accidentally feeding a cult.

What on earth is wrong with us as a society?!

The last thing we need is another huge environmental disaster this year…one to watch and plan ways to support cleanup efforts and accountability measurements.

Is London still “worth it?” More than a few people I know are debating this within their families right now and to me it’s another example of how long a tail COVID is going to have for population and demographic changes over the coming years.

Excuse me, how did I fail to follow this year’s Tiny Desk Contest?!

Ezra Klein is a very thoughtful and thorough interviewer, able to articulate his own positions and biases, and giving his guests space to articular their own. This recent episode had me gripped because yes, it supports my own opinion, but the fact of who is doing so and how is incredible.

SHE DESERVES.

Has anyone ever successfully stopped biting their nails? What do we think of this as an idea?

What a glorious labor of love this is: a massive compendium of cookbooks across the ages!

FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast is live and is designed to be informative as to how models work as much as report latest updates- since a lot of people didn’t get it four years ago. It’s instructive and transparent in how it works, what it measures, and predictive logic. Horserace commenced.

The only thing I will say about Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s gloriously filthy new single.

I saw a description of the combined line of attack towards Harris as “misogynoir” and yep, that about sums it up. It took less than a day for “birtherism” to rear it’s head again, evolving to suit the landscape. The claim that Obama might be illegitimate has become that (according to some) Harris SHOULD be illegitimate. Susan Hennessey of the Brookings Institute nails it:

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Weekend Links

Kittens, it’s been…it’s been a week. There are a lot of troubles in the world. I’ve tried to round up some important stories in our usual interest realms – media and information, politics, and cheese. I’ve tossed in goodness to help the grim go down better.

Love you all, stay safe in the heat!

Iconic.

All families have some kind of secret history.

NOT NOW, PLAGUE.

Racist dogwhistles (and outright racism) to own the libs. Damaging the environment in ways that will affect our entire species to own the libs. Practicing cruelty and exclusion of marginalized people to own the libs. Economic self harm to own the libs. It’s just a fundamentally bizarre way of thinking to me and I’ve given up trying to understand it. It’s a pointless game of one downsmanship.

It’s a cult.

If 2020 has a theme it’s that all the screen tropes are happening in real life.

You’d think I’d be unmoved by all the evidence confirming my worst feelings about his capability and fitness for the office he holds, but I still manage to find myself grimly shocked.

Oof

Monica speaks wisdom.

HOLY CRAP. If “everything Trump touches dies” holds true, I will not be sorry to see bogus culture wars be among his anti-Midas-touch victims. I for one have no sympathy for those who have enabled the worst fringes of their own team to the point that almost every norm is trampled and every institution is under suspicion.

Yes please, I want more African ballet across the board.

Save the cheese!

And why you should exercise caution about those “save the children” campaigns you’re suddenly seeing crop up everywhere. It’s not happening on accident. Be sure of your information and its sources.

Weekend Links

Hi fam, how are we? We limber, rested, hydrated? Or we spiraling into existential dread? All are welcome in Small Dog Nation without guilt or shame.

This week’s links are not terribly light and fluffy, but are important. We’re emphasizing online culture, disinformation, and one or two nice things thrown in to surprise the palate. Let me know what you’re up to in the comments and keep safe!

Everyone who wants to understand current radicalization of all stripes NEEDS to understand the transition from meme/online culture to real life. Whether ISIS’ robust online PR operation to radical leftist anarchists on 4chan, the pathways are eerily similar.

as I was saying

again, still saying

Not unrelated: the attention economy politicians work, think, and measure success in a different way than actual politicians. Understanding this is important.

We’ve still focused on the police, don’t get it twisted. But we need to understand their culture in order to make change.

Also key: how the internet and online life is changing. Will the attention economy politicians keep up or will they be outstripped or outflanked by the meme cycle – including among their own ranks? I continue to believe that this cycle has dragged the right and left in their extremists directions more than leadership has – people are radicalizing themselves and institutions are scrambling to catch up or retain control. I also believe that the right has been more effective at allying around specific topics and staying on message than the left…but that this has in turn exacerbated the radicalization process and that they are at real risk of losing control of their wingnuts.

no shit, Sherlock.

Yep. Sure. The problem with the royal family is this pair and not…this mess. Sure.

Snowflakes.

Speaking of, “The Right Wing Myth of the Left Wing Mob,” is something that I sincerely want to send to a dozen specific people. But I’m not trying to convert anyone anymore (she reminded herself).

Meanwhile, on YouTube

Here is a nice list of book recommendations to consider!

(takes deep breath) BIRTH CONTROL IS HEALTHCARE. This week the US Supreme Court gave the double whammy of allowing employers to deny birth control coverage to workers on religious grounds, AND upheld religious organizations right to discriminatory hiring practices. I worked for an institution like this once. Never again. I had health insurance and Planned Parenthood was STILL a better option for my reproductive health.

10% of our entire population.