Tag: Humor

Weekend Links

“A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.” 
― Arthur Miller

What. A. Week. I feel like I’ve been saying this every week for nearly three years, but so much is happening all the time that it’s head-spinning to try and keep up with it all. Between Beyoncé, cultural heritage disasters, the shenanigans of Trumpworld, and the long awaited release of the (albeit redacted) Mueller report.

It’s a long weekend with unusually good weather. I’m kicking up my heels in the sunshine and doing a bunch of reading (yes, including the report in full), and planning some quality time with friends and family. Share your plans, reading and otherwise, in the comments.

Notre Dame cathedral caught fire this week (Holy Week…). All credit to a human chain of people who worked together to save the artwork and relics of the cathedral’s treasury, and the fire brigade who helped to fight the blaze. At time of writing, while the damage is severe, there are reasons to be joyful about what has survived as well as mourn what’s been lost. An iconic and sacred place, holy to faith and beauty and transcendental light; there aren’t really words, but a few Parisians managed anyway:

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While we’re discussing places of worship…donations to three smaller churches deliberately burned by a racist arsonist welcome here. Notre Dame already has the support of the world, to the tunes of millions of Euros, but kindness is needed most on smaller scales.

Conspiracy theorists are trash.

It is christened!

Seems like a, pardon me, huge fucking deal.

Women across the country say: duh.

I recognize the challenges, but I think that a society-wide commitment to literacy and building it into the infrastructure of neighborhoods is a great idea.

This interview piece made the rounds last week, I think because as a self-own, it feels well-deserved.

If there is one thing we can’t stop following at Small Dog Headquarters, it’s the Saga of J. Crew. I’ve been personally invested for over a decade.

A deep dive into the mysterious case of Fan Bing Bing.

Now that Game of Thrones is back and singing its swansong, Vulture ask, “Have we reached the end of communal TV watching?” I wonder if this is more of an American problem than anything else? Britain, for example, has a core set of national channels that pretty reliably turns out shows that it feels like the whole country gathers to watch. Great British Bake Off, Broadchurch, Love Island…you can bet on at least one of these a year.

Speaking of, Game of Thrones being back means Gay of Thrones is back!

I have never once regretted my humanities degree. Not once. I will champion humanities and related education until the day I die.

This guy just barely got confirmed.

GOOD. I’m genuinely glad to see a Republican stepping in to compete with President Trump and wish him luck in promoting a more coherent set of priorities than sound bites, grievance, racism and isolationism. Someone needs to make this case.

I’m really pleased to see positive results so far from this experiment in a school serving parents as well as children. We need programmes like this explicitly designed to lift whole communities.

That…that is a big question….

More woes for Facebook (and this report not only that personal data was being made available not just for sale but as per the personal direction of the CEO based on his friendships is…oligarchy at work?).

There are a million hot takes on the Mueller report, but for my money, the only good initial takes are from legal professionals and not talking heads. The Lawfare one is long, but well worth the read. I for one am still working my way through the document and, surprise, my mind has not been changed: what is already in the public domain about this man and his entourage should have disqualified him from office long ago and the “best” defenses of his various malicious actions have been ignorance, incompetence, and that we shouldn’t worry because people didn’t end up following his crazy orders anyway. This has always been a matter for Congress–NOT the Attorney General. I fear Congress will do nothing.

On the other side of the spectrum, this is the kind of quality content I come to the internet for.

The world is not 100% trash this week, kittens! Beyonce dropped a concert album and a concert film/documentary, and though we are undeserving, we are grateful! It’s on Netflix, go partake of the Queen’s greatness.

Lizzo’s album also dropped. We are not worthy.

Weekend Links

“In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.” 
― Leo Tolstoy

Happy Friday, ducklings! The clocks moved forward this morning so I’m putting the last minute touches on this post sitting in the cool spring sun. It’s been another hectic and bonkers week in the world, and I’ve been travelling for work a lot. This post is therefore not as long as it usually is, but there are some excellent reads in it, though I say so myself! Tell me what you’ve been up to lately in the comments.

I have my definite favorites amongst the Democratic candidates, but I’m nowhere near ready to go all in on a single preferred candidate (though the girls and I are already spooling up our 2020 discussions on our marathon phone calls). However I can confirm that Chasten Buttegieg is absolutely leading my picks for First Spouse. Super cute, cheerful, good at Twitter. Please more of this before the inevitable hellscape of the election takes us all over.

Queens of Infamy returns with an OG!

My voting state covers itself with glory again… For those interested, as with so many things in Utah/mormon history, there’s a bit of a polygamy angle here, but I direct you to the intense and intensely valuable public history project Year of Polygamy to educate yourself on this. It’s a complicated, 200 year history.

This is a good clarification…but I’m baffled as to why this information couldn’t have been provided in the first instance. It gives credence to accusations of bad faith, whether warranted or not.

I agree with Congressman Schiff: what we already know in the public domain is not okay!

Meanwhile, in Britain… What a shit show this is… While cartoons might seem like a glib way to explain the mess, these two videos from CGP Grey do a pretty good job of boiling down the Brexit problem, the impasse, and the political double (triple?) bind everyone is in because the government asked a yes/no question over what is not a simple yes/no issue. (Something something, definition of insanity, something…)

The Alphachat podcast episode on Brexit is really, really informative and looks at the subject from an economic perspective.

Also a relevant long read.

Let’s pivot shall we? THIS is a scandal worth talking about!

Yeah. Fangirls could have told you that.

Enjoy the headline image as immensely as I did, but then also enjoy the full piece on why Rick Steves says travel, to paraphrase Mark Twain, is fatal to prejudice.

There is a possible royal scandal brewing over here in the UK. Have an intensely salacious, gossip Twitter thread to explain more, and then decide how much you want to speculate on the veracity thereof.

The scientific descriptions in this piece are downright poetic and the inner six year old in me ate it up. It’s incredibly humbling to be reminded, in our swirling talks of scientific catastrophes and the age of man that the world has “ended” several times before us. She’s a resilient planet, we’re the fragile creatures.

Weekend Links

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Happy weekend, my ducklings! It’s been another wild and busy week, and I’m afraid I’m working this weekend to prepare for a couple of bigger projects coming up. Ergo the intro is short and sweet but the links are excellent, though I say so myself.

The case for moderation in a nutshell: our algorithms are written to drive engagement and sharing,. By its nature, that runs on outrage more than thoughtfulness.

The kids are alright.

This review of the Glossier Play line echoes a lot of my thoughts: fun, not as “off brand” as lots of people are saying, still kind of disappointing. And where is the damn candle?!

John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight routinely does excellent dives into complex topics, but his latest episode tackling the idea and social uses of public shaming and featuring a thoughtful (and funny!) interview with Monica Lewinsky is well, well worth the view.

100% here for all things Lizzo.

SPEAKING OF LIZZO, with a heaping side helping of the legend that is Missy Elliot!

How pop music has changed because of streaming.

Sali Hughes has done another roundup of quality beauty products, all under £15. Bless her for this work! And of course, queen mother of beauty that she is, she did the same for skincare.

Uh oh for Trumpland?

Spring/Summer TV and streaming content is lining up its drops; I’m excited for Stranger Things and Game of Thrones, plus this based-on-a-true-story biopic, and

An absolute and necessary classic.

Cathy and her creator, many years on.

What a fun makeup collection! Obviously I’m jonesing for the Malificent themed highlighter entitled Mistress of All Evil, because duh.

Everything is a lie!

Mr. Mueller has submitted his report to the Attorney General and at time of writing, the internet is filled with hot takes based on absolutely zero public information. I’m reading almost none of it in until more is known about what will be made public. In normal times, what is already in the public domain should have ended the political career of any other group of people years ago and yet it’s 2019 and we live in a Trump-adjusted world, to our cost. Lest we forget, there are multiple investigations into the world of this man still ongoing elsewhere. For all the breathless coverage, his legal troubles are much bigger than just (and isn’t this amazing to type) the question of whether he or his orbit sought office with the help of a foreign power. I’m still standing by my two-year prediction at this point: either Mr. Trump does not make it to the end of his first term, OR he likely takes a second one. And for what it’s worth, both of these options represent huge failings in our political system to my eyes.

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.

Five Things I Loved in February

Today is the first of February, snowy, brilliant, but dripping with the sound of spring wherever the sun lies warm, and calling with the heart of spring yonder where the crows are assembling. There is spring in the talk of the chickadees outside my window, and in the cheerful bluster of a red squirrel in the hickory.
– Dallas Lore Sharp, The Atlantic Monthly, February 1908

This has been another packed month with lots of ups and downs, more so than you would think possible for the shortest month of the year! Here is a list of the things that made the highs lovely and the lows a bit more bearable, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Share your monthly favorites in the comments and help put more good things on my radar for March.

Russian Doll, Netflix

This month I have been boring/frightening anyone within earshot who will listen with my evangelization for this show. Something between Groundhog Day and Sliding Doors, this perfectly formed standalone series follows a woman who gets stuck in a loop, repeating the same day for reasons unknown. Each reboot we learn more and more about her past, her dark and twisty mind, and why this delightfully difficult and selfish person is the way that she is. And then, quite suddenly, it turns out she might not be the only one experiencing this phenomenon. The series rests of the strength of each character, even the peripheral ones (who are all blissfully weird), and how they interplay with one another. Add to this the fact that this show is so well-crafted with dark humor and plot beats that are almost suspiciously perfect in their delivery–chef’s kiss.. It’s difficult to talk about the show without giving too much away so all I can say is that if you haven’t watched it yet, you truly are missing out.

Venom lipstick, by Pat McGrath

Having finally finished my previous red lipstick (and there is nothing more self-satisfying that the holding aloft a lipstick, worn down to the very bottom of the bullet), I immediately picked up a fresh shade to work on this month. It was part of a limited edition set purchased a couple of years ago and I wanted to use it up before it goes off, but I’ve fallen in love with it in its own right. I lean towards bright, orange-ish reds by preference, but this shade by Pat McGrath is a cool-toned one that’s normally a bit out of my wheelhouse. However, I may have to rethink my position on true reds or blue-toned ones, because I feel absolutely fabulous wearing it and have been enjoying a steady stream of compliments every time I do. The formula is intensely pigmented and feels lovely on the lips. Pat McGrath is definitely a luxury brand and I have never been able to justify purchasing anything else from her line due to the shocking pricepoint, but I fully intend to use this elegant product to the very last swipe,

 

Fascism: A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

Former Secretary of State and Woman Who Knows What the Hell She’s Talking About Madeleine Albright’s book gripped me last month and I read it in two sittings. First and foremost, this book is a history lesson about the 20th century and the movements that led its most horrible conflicts. Looking back on my own high school experience, I know I learned more about certain wars or tensions from this than I can remember from any class or module–but I think that is in part due to the fact that we are two decades into the 21st century now and hindsight is a lot more clear. Age and experience make Secretary Albright a formidable narrator as she has the benefit of an almost unique personal and professional vantage point. For anyone looking to draw exact parallels to the current state of Western politics, she has a few lessons from history as to how hyperbole and moral panic are unhelpful. And for those who dismiss any parallels between now and the past, she also has the titular warning: fascism is endlessly adaptable and always a threat. It make wear new clothing from time to time, but its intentions and destinations do not change and anyone who says, “This time will be different,” is a fool or a liar.

 

 

Art

We have so many prints and art pieces and all of them have been lovingly hoarded for far too long. Well no more! This month I picked up our first custom framed piece, a limited print by Charlotte Gerrard, and am already plotting which piece will get treatment next. At some point I’ll write a whole post about the shop I’m using because it’s a London gem in its own right. In the meantime, I’m absurdly pleased with my cow!

 

Style

My accountability post is short and sweet this month because this shirt was my only desire-based purchase. I have no regrets, I love it. A very bold print made wearable due to the muted tones that go with every neutral under the sun: a perfect way to marry loud and exuberant dressing with practical and sedate functionality. My sweet spot! I was happy to add this item to my rolling list of purchased items for the year.

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!

Year of Discipline: February

“Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage.” 
― Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War

This month I decided to make a list of chores that I keep putting off and get them done. Somewhat motivated by a lot of thinking about burnout and “errand paralysis” last month, I decided that the only way over some of my backlog of tasks was through.

Work travel this month really threw me off some of my exercise, eating, and budgetary habits, but once back home and settled I was able to get back on the path of virtue.

General motivation. I had work travel this month, and Jeff is in the middle of “busy season” for his profession, so it was a chore to make maintaining the house a priority, but we did it. We also finally upgraded our vacuum cleaner after five years using an incredibly cheap (and increasingly unreliable) one picked up from Argos when we first moved to London. The difference has been night and day. We’ve also been really good about our “fewer lazy days,” goals by making sure we get out of the house and do something fun or together every single weekend so far this year. In February this has meant going to see a movie with serious Oscars buzz, wandering in central London, date nights, or just walks along the river.

Grooming. I hate doing my hair. I hate it. It’s so boring, it never ends up doing what I want, and I always feel ridiculous whenever I try to do anything remotely stylish with my mane. But since I want to get better at doing my hair this year, I made it a point to be sure I was prioritizing “doing” my hair this month instead of just throwing it into my signature pony tale and going. This meant digging out the mysterious hair products hiding in my bathroom drawer depths that I don’t use enough and, surprise, they helped. I also bought little travel sized items for my gym bag for post morning exercise grooming. While that week of travel was not my sartorial best, the rest of the month was easier to prioritize–not least because the workmen are finally out of our apartment!

Financial. Since changing around some bank account options, I have restarted my monthly savings goal of putting at least an extra £100 straight into a savings account that I cannot touch no matter how much I want to. While our primary motivation is still debt payment, I want to bolster our emergency fund. I also kept my credit cards more or less on ice this month and stuck to a cash only system. We’re staring down the barrel of a large bunch of fees for immigration purposes which is incredibly stressful to think about, so every single pound allocated to that is a deposit towards mental health at the moment. Speaking of…

Health. It was difficult to stick to my good habits while travelling, but once back at home I was right back to meal planning and prepping on the weekend and making healthy food decisions. I strained the knee and hip joints of my dodgy leg which also had an impact and a week of exercise went down the tubes due to it. While not thrilled with this, the only solution is to try and do better next month!

Other stuff: 

Continued the art framing project, as part of my overall ambition to protect our pieces and actually begin using them to decorate.

Passed my immigration test!

Life admin. I made it a project to unsubscribe from almost every single marketing email list I can find so that the only things coming through my inbox are newsletters I have signed up for and enjoy, practical things like banking and order tracking, and correspondence with actual human beings that I know and like. Delightful!

Repotted growing plants. Gotta keep my chlorophyll children alive!