Tag: Humor

Weekend Links

“She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
    “Winter is dead.” 
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

London is GLORIOUS this weekend so I’m keeping this intro short and sweet. I’m putting the finishing touches on this post sitting in my front room with all the doors and windows open, listening to the cheering for the London Marathon. The whole vibe today feels ridiculous positive and I’m living for it.

This weekend I’ve finally taken my summer purchases to the tailor for some tweaks, found some vintage designer scarves in a charity shop, done laundry, cleaned and aired out the house, and finally watched Westworld. It would take a lot to ruin my mood right now.

In case you really are that late, the Queen performed at Coachella. There are a million clips online, but here’s an excellent write up on why her performance is important.

 

I think this is an important article in The New Yorker about the likely scope and scale of the Trump Organization’s likely criminality and how it stacks up with other past crises of public information. You don’t have to dig hard to find the shady deals. I’ve spent several years now working in and around the property and development industries and to say that Trump is a joke in that world is an understatement. As Linda Holmes of NPR shrewdly pointed out, the idea of Mr. Trump as a successful businessman is a pop culture narrative fabricated by reality TV, and not by actual business success. However, I’m not convinced (I’m desperately sorry to say) that better reporting will lead to the unraveling of this narrative about him, or will result in the “end” or even the curtailment of his presidency. That’s the job of the legislative branch of the government and that is either currently retiring in droves and running away from the problem, or making themselves over as candidates in his image (on both sides of the aisle).

Oh no, Carl!

Londoners are cheeky bastards.

In almost any other time and place, the assessment of a former FBI director that a sitting president was acting like a “mob boss,” while also being the subject of at least two federal investigations, and news that a prominent supporter and pundit has been whipping up furore against those investigations while also being provided “free” legal services by the president’s personal lawyer who is himself under investigation for unethical behaviour…would have sent the world spinning right off its axis.

NPR’s Steven Inskeep asks the good questions…

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11 GOP lawmakers have called for criminal charges against a long list of people.

This in depth coverage on the practical, economic, and social effects of gender ratio imbalance is fascinating. And sad. And disturbing.

Fab, can we also have his tax returns?

Technology is amazing, but some developments scare me than others.

Oh no, what if there are more babies?! Can you imagine how horrifying?! (sarcasm, in case unclear)

Finally, what do we make of the Comey media blitz? My “hot take” is not terribly exciting and possibly a little disappointing for those who share my political persuasion. I agree with the FiveThirtyEight team that we haven’t really learned anything new in the release of his book. Mr. Comey strikes me as a fairly principled man overall, who is therefore caught in a strange place of defending choices he made because he believed them to be the right thing to do at the time, while not really confronting the idea that he may have chosen wrongly. He has been remarkably consistent in his interviews. However, the fact remains that he made a series of choices motivated (at least in part) by political assumptions that may have affected the outcome of an election. He doesn’t seem to able to say those words aloud, bluntly and without a lot of caveats. And I get it, because acknowledging that fact make his narrative sound a lot less heroic and a lot more like a man who should not have had a hand on the wheel at all trying to steer the ship of state.

Weekend Links

“We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late. ” 
― Edward R. Murrow

Guys, what a week.

In any other day or time, any one of the news cycles of this past week would have been an administration defining set of stories. But it’s 2018 and the backbreaking pace of news continues unabated. Let’s run through the political news in one fell swoop shall we?

Monday: FBI raids. Yeah, this guy is Mr. Trump’s lawyer…but he’s also the deputy Finance Chair of the Republican Party. Maybe formerly, it looks like the GOP website was updated

Tuesday: Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress this week and, um, it went surprisingly poorly for our elected leaders in the Senate who came off looking badly out of their depth with kids today and their technology. The House did much better in their questions the next day.

Wednesday: Paul Ryan announces his resignation. I’m not surprised, he got what he wanted for years: a major tax cut. Now he’s now ducking out to avoid the eventual questions that will come over having ballooned national debt, and without having to face the long term consequences of the policies he’s driven forward. I suspect he also feels that the current administration is doing damage to his party’s brand and he doesn’t see immediate solutions…or at least ones he’s willing to support. This is a man who has failed. He preached tax reform and smaller government; he’s leaving office with dramatically expanded government spending and a nationalist takeover that helped oust him. There’s pathos in that, I guess, but darned if I have much sympathy. Obviously I have a very ungenerous and petty take on this situation, PBS Frontline has more responsible journalism on the bigger picture. The interactive documentary they did is also very good.

Thursday: Syria crisis escalates, hearings for Mr. Pompeo as potential Secretary of State, and suddenly the president wants back in the TPP. And he might have a secret love child? What even is life now…

Friday and Saturday: Comey’s book launch begins, the RNC have crafted an entire campaign around discrediting Comey (the pop up when I visited this official website urged me to “Stand with President Trump!” which is an odd message from a party who heretofore has built their identity around loyalty to the constitution rather than individuals. The Democratic party has a much longer history of the cult of personality), the president pardons Scooter Libby in what may be signalling protection to those of his allies who may be facing legal consequences, and a coalition launches missiles at Syria. Let us remember a couple of things, first that the power of the presidency should be limited when it comes to military action and we should expect congress to determine when and if we pursue long term military force. Second, that the chemical attacks to which we are ostensible retaliating happened a week ago and the administration sure could use a wag the dog distraction right about now.

Good. Lord. On to other links!

That’s right, we’re being positive!

The lone wolves are actually a pack.” This is a couple of weeks old but I think is valuable reading in the discussion of domestic extremists in the US. These mostly white male actors are very seldom operating in a vacuum from one another, and we need to confront this radicalization as a society.

My spirit animal.

Our issue with data is bigger than just Facebook, guys. This has been a conversation a long time coming.

Seth Meyer’s and Alexi Ashe’s children have pretty intense arrival stories.

This piece on Man Repeller is about how performed disdain around pop culture is problematic, and usually gendered to boot.

I really want to see this exhibit at the V&A.

This is a pretty loaded “review” of Taylor Swift’s latest single…

Black mothers and babies are dying in America at an alarming high rate compared to other racial counterparts.

Would some good soul please get me this ring?!

Weekend Links

“… millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” 
― Susan Ertz

It’s springtime in London this week, meaning it’s a bit warmer while still very gray and rainy. However, the daffodils are out, and sunlight hangs around until after we typically leave work so all things considered, this is a solid improvement over late season snow storms!

It’s an extra short post for you this weekend, kittens, but an extra juicy bunch of links to make up for it. Come avoid the Sunday Scaries with me with some longform writing and pop culture conversation. The news has been wacky again this week, but I’m determined to stay chipper…if snarky.

Well this is…bloody heartbreaking

I wish I didn’t have expensive taste. But I do. And I love and covet this blazer.

I find Ann Coulter a deeply problematic person and agree with her on approximately zero issues. But this interview with the New York Times is interesting to consider as we are no about half a year away from mid-term elections, because I don’t think she’s necessarily wrong about Trump voters.

Ambassadors share their recommended reads before you visit their countries.

Objectively scary.

A great and hilarious read on the epitome of hashtag GOALS, Eleanor of Aquitaine.

This Bustle post on the modern working woman and motherhood choices doesn’t cover tons of new ground, but this passage struck me: “As women continue to ponder the question of whether or not to have kids, they know the clock is running out — and they also know that the system is not going to change before their childbearing window closes.” I don’t want to try for kids for a few years more yet, but I’ve written before of the financial pitfalls having a child in London set us up for. And I’m keenly aware that even in a country with a significantly more progressive stance on maternity leave than my own, my career is such that if I paused it for up to a year to give birth parent a baby, that is a year that I will not get back professionally speaking. It would be a lie to say I don’t think about this a lot.

What do the aid epidemic, the Mueller investigation, science fiction, and the problem of anxiety have in common? I’ve discovered this podcast and if you are interested in an amazingly intelligent conversation about The Way We Live Now, seen through the lens of culture and cultural pieces, check out the March 29th episode pronto.

And if you’re in a podcasting mood, this interview with Mark Zuckerburg at Vox is a timely one given our current cultural dialog about human attention as a product, what can or should be regulated in the information age, and what makes a business ethical. Editor Ezra Klein asks a lot of pointed and intelligent question, and whatever your opinion is of Facebook these days (I’m not too positive), it’s interesting to hear from the CEO directly rather than just via talking heads. There’s an interesting point towards the end at how Silicon Valley is essentially techno-optimist and Facebook frankly didn’t consider at the outset the dark side of the idea that “anything is possible.”

Relevant to this, is a piece over at WIRED detailing the long history of Mark Zuckerburg apologizing for the “mistakes” of his company and the author calls bullshit. “There are very few other contexts in which a person would be be allowed to make a series of decisions that have obviously enriched them while eroding the privacy and well-being of billions of people; to make basically the same apology for those decisions countless times over the space of just 14 years; and then to profess innocence, idealism, and complete independence from the obvious structural incentives that have shaped the whole process. ”

I feel a sudden, overwhelming need to own a small house donkey.

Well hey, we’ve now come full circle to Mexican rapists as threat device. This man does not have very many ideas to begin with and has exhausted them, all he has is conspiracy theories and stunts. It’s all he’s ever had.

And the Darwin award for the week goes to

This story is wild.

Well this list is certainly instructive!

Molly Ringwald wrote a very good piece for The New Yorker about questioning the media she helped to make (which was genuinely groundbreaking) and where cultural conversations about young people and young women need to go.

 

Weekend Links

“The Seder nights… tie me with the centuries before me.” 
– Ludwig Frank, Aufsätze, Reden und Briefe, ausgewählt und eingeleitet, 1924

Happy Easter and Passover Seder weekend, kittens! Whether to you these are holidays, holy days, or both, I hope they are good for you.

I’m smack between two well appreciated Bank Holidays for an extra long weekend, and putting the finishing touches on this post while making our typical weekend breakfast fry up and preparing to hit the town and do some exploring. Every winter we go into a bit of a self-imposed hibernation and between careers and cold weather, plenty of weekends go by where we barely leave the flat. But! Once the temperature begins to warm and daylight last past 4pm, I’m ready to return to old hobbies like picking a part of the city we’ve not really gotten to know and hitting the streets.

There was a lot of political nonsense this week, but I’m sparing you most of it (in the spirit of Holy Week, or whatever). Here are you links, share your favorite stories or moments in the comments!

This should be unacceptable.

There is an important conversation happening in British politics and media right now: confronting a rising tide of antisemitism and what this particularly hateful and insidious bigotry reveals about wider society.

Someone in DC has a wicked sense of humor.

You wouldn’t guess that a fast food chain would drop a diss track, but

Um, is body glitter back? Am I supposed to be excited about this 90s throwback? Am I supposed to be excited because RiRi is the one behind it? I’m so confused.

It’s just there.” Science discovers a new human organ.

“Just about exactly when women started to use the internet to organize in ways that kept patriarchy awake at night, it started to become a truism that the internet was a dangerous place for girls.” This long read is worth your time.

Do right by my childhood, Netflix!

Another major political shake up with the head of the Veterans Affairs getting the boot. Far be it from me to defend the majority of Trump appointees, but his parting Op Ed shot in the New York Times–leveling the charge that while the excuse for his termination has been his unethical use of funds, the real motivation is his opposition to privatizing medical care for veterans–is worth a read. If unethical conduct were such a priority for this administration, there are a lot of senior government officials (to say nothing of family members) who should be out of a job right now

The teacher protests are spreading. Good.

Ah fashion, you’re a fickle fiend. This brand has been the It label for all of a hot minute, but I think people’s taste for irony may have cooled lately.

New Lizzo single alert! In related news, I think it’s time to get back in the gym…

Five Things I Loved in March

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
― Jorge Luis Borges

It’s been another work filled month and I’ve not been able to do the kinds of writing and blogging that I wanted to, but it’s also been a very nice month. Jeff closed down busy season (also known as Accountancy Widow Season in our household) and is therefore back in the land of the living, the weather is inching its way towards spring, and things are generally in a good place at the moment. We do need a holiday, however!

Here’s a few of the nice things I discovered in March; share your monthly faves in the comments below!

Hamilton
I bought these tickets almost a calendar year ago and it was absolutely worth the wait to see this show live at the Victoria Palace Theatre. It’s been too long since we made theatre and music a priority and it was a joy to be back in the cheap seats of a packed London theatre enjoying the hell out of a good show!

 

The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert
My favorite book this month was a nonfiction read about the cycles of natural extinction over planetary history…and how an upstart ape species out of Africa has impacted those cycles. Some catastrophes bubble up from beneath the earth’s crust, some fall from the stars, both of those are down to geological and cosmic chance–but an increasing pace of extinction right now has one common theme: us.

 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette
An old favorite but a good one and I’m getting a lot of use out of it this month. It’s my my almost exclusive go to make up product in my ongoing effort to use up items I already own this year. This is an old shot because I’ve fully panned two eyeshadows now, am milimeters away from finishing a third, and am gunning for two more shades entirely. For those as obsessed with makeup pans as me, Reddit is here for you.

 

Queer Eye
I have thought a lot about this show this month and decided it is an active force for good and light in the world that needs it terribly. This Netflix reboot is a joy. Much like the original show, the idea is that a team of experts work to help individuals raise their style, confidence, and lifestyle game. Each episode features a totally different man with a different story trying to embrace a bit of a positive lifestyle change: some are dads needing some help organizing themselves, others are single men looking to date, others are businessmen who don’t know how to look professional. The twist this time, something acknowledged in the first episode, is that society has come a long way since the first Queer Eye series and gayness is far more open and less stigmatized now. In the words of Tan France, the first show was about “tolerance,” this take is about “acceptance.” That goes for the subjects of the episode who are encouraged to think about their lives and style in terms of what feels personally good, right and helpful, rather than what’s expected by society of men. The new Fab Five deliver everything from grooming advice to pep talks with an aura of confidence and positivity that’s just plain fun and nice to watch in a really uncomplicated way. Silliness, personal bravery, camaraderie, self acceptance, style, humor, vulnerability, and confidence all rolled into one. I gulped it down. More examples of this kind of (varied) masculinity in society, please!

Bookstores
I didn’t realize how long it had been since I’d been in an actual, physical bookstore until I headed to Daunt’s Cheapside location for an after work indulgence. No coffee shop, no hipster lighting, just tons and tons of books. I indulged in a Penguin Classic paperback of Oscar Wilde for the sheer pleasure of it, plus a gift for a friend.

Weekend Links: The Kids Are Alright Edition

“Every generation leaves behind a legacy. What that legacy will be is determined by the people of that generation. What legacy do you want to leave behind?” 
― John Lewis, Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America

Another week, another round of White House staff shakeups, another batch of violence to confront as a society, another round of nationwide protests…you know. The usual. I’m actually following the news with a lot of hope this week because in spite of a lot of really, really bad news, I believe that engagement and knowledge are the sunlight cures for cultural infection.

A bit over a year ago, the Women’s March happened, millions participated. Later that same year, courageous reporting and a refusal to allow our attention be turned from it exposed corrupt systems across industries that had enabled powerful men to prey on women. This year young people are marching against a culture of violence. What changes will we see this year as a result?

Here are your links, kittens, share your favorite posts and stories of the week in the comments!

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OF COURSE after I scheduled last week’s post, this incredible dump of reporting about Cambridge Analytica dropped across a number of platforms. The whistleblower speaks. How they did it. 50 million profiles harvested and weaponized. “If you want to fundamentally change society, you first have to break it.” On Sunday, further reporting on this in the UK was teased leaving both CA and Facebook scrambling. I’ll be updating this as the week goes on I’M SURE.

Channel 4 reports: here’s the full series.

But how significant is this story, really? This episode of On The Media delves into how useful this kind of data harvesting really is, and how this is not a new problem so much as an ongoing conversation with technology and the role of agency in the tech/human experience.

Lest you think this is just about a single social media platform

And while we’re ranting, Instagram! Get it together!

Reddit, you’re not getting off light either.

Okay, time for a palette cleanser with National Puppy Day.

Victoria Beckham is doing more cosmetics, and I just need to hand her my wallet now…

One of the best stories I found on the internet this week! May we all be blessed with such hype teams in our lives.

A gorgeous long read on the complexity of language through an unexpected object.

Damn it.

This week in Mormon news…a disheartening but (to me) unsurprising story of ecclesiastical abuse. There is complexity here because it seems the video in this story was leaked without the victim’s consent, and the LDS church thus far has responded with a piss poor manner from a PR point of view. I’m sorry to say that I’m personally positive there are plenty more stories like this to be told within the LDS community and a whole culture change is needed to address the circumstances that make this sort of abuse all too possible. Women did come forward about this man, it seems, and were simply not believed at the time. It’s been fascinating to see the knee jerk reaction towards trying to discredit this woman (at time of writing, she’s been accused of all kinds of a checkered past by believers who are quick to tribal defense as a group). Especially given that regardless of her personal convictions and life choices…the guy confessing to the crimes in question on camera. 

Utah, whenever I almost give up on you, you do something right.

I. Want. This. Jumper.

Well, this is interesting.

No shit.

I love everything about this woman and want to be her friend.

Another awful story of a POC losing their life to police. Meanwhile the latest in a long ling of white male domestic terrorists who became a serial bomber and blew himself up to avoid arrest this week is being described in some corners of the press as a “challenged young man. His victims were a rising young student and a devoted father. Another toxic male shooter was referred to as a “lovesick teen.”  His victim was taken off life support this week. Society is broken. Here’s a GoFundMe set up for Mr. Clark’s family if you are so inclined. I haven’t seen confirmed donation pages for Mr. Mason’s or  family but I will update the post when I do.

Brilliant.

Cannot wait to read this memoir.

Weekend Links

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” 
― H.L. Mencken, On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe

Okay. *cracks knuckles*

Rex Tillerson was fired by tweet, student walk outs nationwide show that the kids will lead us, Britain expels Russian diplomats in retaliation for what is almost universally believed to be an assassination of a former spy on British soil, Russia has expelled diplomats in response, the deputy head of the FBI was fired two days before his scheduled retirement, and a whole bunch of cabinet secretaries’ jobs and White House appointments are apparently on the chopping block. We can apparently lay to rest the idea that General Kelly is one of the “adults in the room,” after putting a couple of stories in the news this week, one that feels crass, cruel and unnecessary, and the other which seemingly underpins the narrative that he’s not at all in control of anything. Cruelty and pettiness are the defining characteristics of everything about this administration and everyone who touches it either becomes a victim or a perpetrator. As McKay Coppins at The Atlantic suggests, I feel correctly, Mr. Trump is scripting entertainment, not running a government and he likes this narrative about himself.

Woof. Here’s some other news and links to get you through the weekend.

A bit of Mormon news for those of your interested. Five years ago a blog post went sort of (in a Mormon sense) viral in which a couple “came out” about their mixed-orientation marriage that they were committed to making work. Recently, the couple announced they were separating. Both pieces of writing are well worth the read if you want to understand why marriage, sexual orientation, and family are fundamental and critical to the Mormon experience and how hard (I’d say impossible) it is for believers to operate in any kind of queer space. I have no doubt that some people make such relationships work but I have no idea where you have to fall on the Kinsey scale for it to be possible or probable. In any case, if you are interested in deeply thoughtful reads on love, life, loss, and sexuality, this one is pretty poignant.

The New Yorker deep dives into the identity of Christopher Steele.

Stupid, stupid idea.

Mr. de Givenchy has passed away.

As has Mr. Hawking.

Why do I want this overpriced thing so much?!

An update to an old but depressing story.

Girl gangs 4evah.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day and the great and good Marian Keyes is here to talk to you about kelly green!

People really underestimate how much Prohibition affected American public, political, and cultural life. All kinds of delightfully quirky stuff came out of it.