Tag: Humor

Weekend Links

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

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

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

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

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My hypothetical children are doomed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Science is brilliant.

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

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

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

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

What could possibly

Black Panther, is that you?!

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

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

What an idiot

Good boy, rover.

NEW LIZZO ALERT. Happy Valentines Day!

Holy crap.

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

 

Weekend Links

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

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

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

A question I have long pondered!

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

God…no wonder we’re tired

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

Relevant to my random, weird interests!

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

GOOD.

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

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

This Kickstarter project has a backstory!

Ugh, do not want.

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

DID not want and here we are.

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

In unsurprising news, a disinformation attempt.

Give this person all the awards.

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

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

 

Five Things I Loved in January

“Lots of people go mad in January. Not as many as in May, of course. Nor June. But January is your third most common month for madness.” 
― Karen Joy Fowler, Sarah Canary

What an absurd month January has been. Once again, I feel as though the sheer amount of news it has contained (most of it bad) has been enough for six months in normal times, and we are the dead of winter which means it’s hard to feel particularly motivated or enthusiastic about anything. This coming from a woman who actually likes winter. And yet! There are good things out there which deserve to be shouted from the rooftops!

Here is a short list of things that made me happy this month. Share your favorite things with me in the comments and let’s beat the cold weather together.

Kate Spade Quincy Bag

This was my Christmas present from Jeff and I love it. It was a pricier purchase and gift, but I had been researching black leather bags for several months and had a very specific set of requirements. It needed to be big enough to carry all the stuff I schlep around with me on a daily basis, but still not overly large or a tote. It needed to be nice enough for work and running around the city, but “plain” enough for every day. It had to be made of nice materials but of a design and style that would wear well and I could use for literal years. I hunted for months and dismissed several subpar candidates until I found this one and even then I didn’t buy it because I was being responsible. However, as Jeff himself put it, “You’ve been talking about needing a basic black bag for months,” so we agreed it was an acceptable Christmas present. We don’t tend to buy birthday presents or anniversary gifts so Christmas is the one holiday we are okay getting nice presents for one another (he got a fancy fitness tracker). We picked it up in the States where the currency exchange is in our favor and I’m justifying it by using it every day that I’ve owned it so I am definitely already getting some good Cost Per Wear numbers.

 

Library cards

On the OTHER side of the spending spectrum, I renewed my British library card this month. I have a library card for the county in the States where I’m registered to vote and pay taxes and I use if constantly for ebooks and audio books. At any given point I have at least three books going in various formats and have usually maxed my borrowing limit. But one of my Year of Discipline goals was to catch up on some very basic life admin, which included updating the British account that I had let slide, which was registered under the wrong address, and to which I owed a late fee of £3. A very nice librarian helped me reactivate my account and kindly waved the fee, after which I immediately checked out four actual books. I’ve been consuming my digital book content for so long that I’d genuinely forgotten the pleasure of physical library books. They smell great, feel great in my hands, and the process of remembering how gosh darn nice it is wandering through shelves looking for interesting finds has been lovely. I may not have a bedside table (due to camping in our front room), but by golly my book stack is back!

 

Baths

Also free, or very nearly: baths. I made the mistake of remarking how mild a winter we have been having and Mother Nature immediately cackled and sent us several weeks of freezing weather this month to show me who was in charge. It’s been the kind of London-y, Dickensian cold that seeps into your bones and makes you feel like you will never be warm again. Enter hot water and accoutrements! Because we’ve been exercising so much more, we’ve stocked up on large bags of epsom salts to soak in. I’ve also taken advantage of various deals at Boots to buy 2 For 1 bath oils or gels. Expensive stuff may look great on your tub rim but at the end of the evening, when all you want to be is cozy when you finally slide into bed, cheap bubbles are just as nice as anything you could possibly fork money out on. Beat the winter! Wear layers, break out the nice cashmere for nights in, take baths!

 

Sunday Riley Good Genes

I used up yet another both of this extremely expensive and (alas for me) extremely effective skincare product. Good Genes is a bit of a cult product, and for good reason. It doesn’t work for everyone but those who see results from it tend to swear by it. I am a devotee. The excesses of the holiday season, plus travel, plus biting cold and winter air generally have all conspired to do an absolute number on my face. This lactic acid treatment helps exfoliate and break down gunk and debris, which helps my skin absorb other ingredients better and makes makeup look better on. However, due to EU regulations, the UK version of the product is made up of different materials in very different quantities and I’m loathe to slather something on my face that I’m not familiar with–especially at this price point! Ergo, I shall not be replacing this product for a long while (probably until I’m back in the States again on our next visit, and goodness knows when that will be) and am instead making due with similar products at much lower pricepoints in the meantime. But I must salute a product that has done good service in the wars!

 

The Dead Queens Club, by Hannah Capin

You’ve heard a lot about this lately, but one of my two best friends in all the world published her debut novel this month and I’m so damned proud of her I could cry. Not only that, but the origin story of the idea dates to one of our many long correspondence and phone gossip sessions on the subject of Tudor history. I have probably never had a prouder friend moment in my life. And while I’m obviously biased…this book is GOOD, guys. A hilarious, sly, girl-power-y retelling of Henry VIII and more importantly the women who surrounded him–and without whom he would be nothing but a failed late medieval monarch. If you love YA, or just brilliant debuts, pick it up. I promise you will not be disappointed. And I promise you that what she’s going to do next will blow your socks off. Get it here, or even better at your local bookstore!

Weekend Links

“In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.” 
― Carl Sagan

I’m probably going to type this phrase at least thirty more times this year, but it has been a hell of a week, pumpkins…

I’m steering clear of shutdowns and witness tampering in public on the opposite side of the Atlantic, and not touching Brexit. The world is a mess, the media is cutting good journalists and other workers from the very institutions we need most right now, and Ebola cases are rising. There’s a lot to take in and I’m afraid I’m going into the weekend feeling a little moody and grumpy over all.

Cheer me up! Let me know what you’re getting up to in the comments and share a GOOD news story that delighted you this week.

Some shit is going down in Zimbabwe and we need to be following it.

This series of short essays at The Atlantic actually dropped last week but is still worth a review.

This longform piece on human history, DNA, and the complexities of trying to solve the deepest questions of our existence is well worth the time. Our better technology is not exactly uncomplicating the matter.

Quite literally a problem I had never thought of before!

I wrote a piece last week about the confusion I feel over people who align themselves with political movements, the end point of which seem to require their eventual removal from power. It seems dangerously short sighted.  I am equally confused about the point that this piece from the Huffington Post raises: one day Mr. Trump will no longer be president, however and whenever that may be. The Republican party has rebranded itself in his image in record time. What on earth is the plan for when he’s no longer in the Oval Office? He has reduced his political focus to the circa 35% of people who fanboy for him, specifically aggrieved white men, and leaned blatantly into racism and misogyny. While this may be heart-rendingly powerful in the short term, in the long term it is not a winning coalition–the demographics are against you.

This should not be.

And on the back of the previous link, this opinion piece: “Populism of all stripes may be anathema to the billionaire class, but they helped create it.

Tax. The. Rich.

Oh dear

I’ve been craving a longform or profile piece on Senator McConnell lately, to better understand his motivations or endgame. The New York Times came through. It’s a fascinating read, not least of all because of how many connections the Senator is able to call on to speak on his behalf. I dislike much of what he has done, but he is damned effective at his job.

The saga of J. Crew continues.

Oh you KNOW I was going to share this piece. I either want to beg, borrow or steal the MERL’s social media team for my own nefarious work devices.

“I am quite literally from another age,” Attenborough told an audience of business leaders, politicians and other delegates.

This is a concept I will fully and unabashedly stan.

I have been following the #CovingtonCatholic story all week and it’s a mess. The initial images went viral for a reason, the clash of two competing moral positions each staked out with handy props. On one side, while and male America with his MAGA hat, and on the other a champion of identity and narrative politics. Both sides believe they are defending themselves, and they have armies of Twitter eggs on their mutual sides. First the tale was of on the side of the indigenous Elder, then the wronged Good Catholic Boys, and then who even knows. As the story has continued to spin out as it’s been revealed that the children are represented by a PR firm who was aggressively pushing narratives on their behalf (and booking them news slots), further clips of further bad behavior of the sexist and racist variety have surfaced undermining the GCB narrative, and the timeline of events has clarified. In other words, yeah…the kids were behaving in demonstrably racist ways and the initial images probably portrayed the emotional truth. But by this time, the real story is the overcorrections by the media first to cover the story, then to cover the counter stories, and then to mop up the timeline long after the damage was done. The event is a Rorschach test for your political views and we’re long past the point where the facts matter.

I’ll just end by saying that Trayvon Martin didn’t have a PR team. Tamir Rice didn’t have the backing of one of the world’s most powerful religious institutions. Thousands of children have been separate from their parents, made orphans or actually LOST. Meanwhile these Good Catholic Boys are being defended from within the Oval Office and still being positioned as victims of oppression. Spare me. This whole exercise reaffirms the underlying conflict in the initial images that caused this media incident: who is power, and who isn’t? Who is protected and who isn’t? The victimhood narrative does not work when you control all of the levers of power.

Senator Bennett sort of drops the mic

Let’s end on a fun note and an aesthetic I can get behind!

 

ETA: JUST KIDDING. I should never publish Weekend Links early on a Friday in 2019, I truly should know better by now. Excuse the language, but holy shit…lying to Congress is not a “minor charge,” whatever his lawyer may say.

The Upside of a Ceiling Collapse

“Any fool can write a book and most of them are doing it; but it takes brains to build a house.”
– Charles Fletcher Lummis

As some of you may recall, we dealt with a series of leaks in our building over the summer which, since we are on the ground floor, our apartment took the brunt of. A steady stream of water flowed through our walls and ceilings until finally about a quarter of our bedroom ceiling came down on us (literally) and our master bathroom was damaged so badly that we had to turn the majority of the electricity off in the room to safely access the area. It’s been really frustrating to deal with several months of insurance people, repair work plans which couldn’t start until the new year, and just generally feeling like our living space was compromised and could get worse at any minute.

Thankfully the repairs have started, though it’s not all rosy. We’re sleeping in our living room (again), while our master bedroom is effectively gutted and rebuilt. We’re using our second bathroom (and thanking our lucky stars that we have one), but the showerhead in it just broke for the second time. There is some kind of water damage in every single room of the house so we are having to do repairs in a rotation so that we retain some kind of functional living space. I’m eyeing some of the repairs in the ceiling already because I’m worried the drip has started up again and my paranoia is in full swing. Basically everything is just harder than it needs to be right now.

But a few good things are coming out of this process!

We’ve built a relationship with our landlord instead of relying on the management firm to handle issues. We’ve also tried to demonstrate that we are conscientious tenants who are able to help manage a less than ideal scenario. We will have to decide whether to renew our lease this year or move again, and having a good relationship with our landlord is a definite reason to consider staying put–which would also be a much less stressful proposition!

We negotiated. Because we have lost the ability to live in whole rooms of our apartment for weeks at a time over the past few months, we were able to negotiate on temporary rent reduction, which has enabled us to make larger payments towards debt.

It’s compelled a few good habits and shake ups. There is nothing like the reality of impending building works which will compress your living space to make you seriously evaluate your wants and needs! Jeff went through his closet and got rid of damaged and stained items that he had already replaced with better pieces. We both also identified a bag of items to donate to a trusted charity, and prioritized a few items that needed dry cleaning or a tailor. The journey towards less but better continues!

We also became a lot better at forgoing big weekend cleaning sessions (impossible due to the amount of dust in the air and closed of rooms) in favor of smaller and more regular tidy ups.

We’re styling. Our apartment was painted three mismatched colors in different rooms, none of which correspond with one another, before we moved in. We’re talking lavender, gray, and seafoam green walls. While the height of privilege problems, because we didn’t have exact paint reference to repaint damaged walls in the same hues, I got the landlord’s permission to do a nice neutral gray throughout the whole apartment. Well, except the second bedroom/storage closet. That’s staying seafoam green. Alas.

We evaluated. Going back the issue of whether or not we will have to move, we’ve had a chance to review our budgets and consider what our life would really be like if we chose to live in a smaller space or in a different location. Could we find the same square footage and amenities for a better price? What is our physical set up really worth to us? We love our neighborhood, but do we want to live here another three years? We don’t have all the answers to these questions, but it’s valuable to be thinking of this now rather than when we’re up against the wire. The last time we moved it was with very little warning and it’s an experience I’d strongly prefer not to repeat!

We’re still in the middle of this work and there is still plenty of time for stuff to go wrong. Meanwhile, we’re stressed and cramped and trying to recapture the romance of childhood when camping in the living room was a treat and not a project. But if we get some of these upsides in exchange, that will make it worthwhile.

January Accountability: Oops

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” 
― Epictetus

It all started when I had to purchase some items for a work trip. It was a legitimate need as a very specific style of dress was required and I did not own any of the items, nor could I find cheap or easy ways to rent them. I spent a couple of hours researching sales, warehouse sites, and even eBay to find the most reasonable and cost-effective options and got what I needed at heavily discounted prices that I am happy with.

But…the thing about shopping is that once you put your card or cash down, it becomes frighteningly easy to do it again, and the algorithms are unnervingly adept.

I have this ambitious goal of seeing if I can strictly limit the items I buy this year. I have a short list of stuff I have wanted or identified as a longstanding need or reasonable desire. For example, I wore my past pair of black ankle boots to absolute shreds, such that even a cobbler suggested that between the cracked leather, ripped sole and missing heel…I should just maybe replace them… Because I wear this kind of shoe more than any other, I felt that replacing it was a reasonable exception to my No Buy, and bought a nice pair on significant sale (post holiday sales in London tend to be good places to find bargains).

Then, because I had been searching on eBay for those work items, the internet sent some other “suggestions” my way–all items which legitimately happened to be on my shopping list. A cashmere or wool sweater dress and a summer dress. Scary. The internet knows. Because my mental pump had already been primed, my weak will kicked in and I put in bids…and won! Both were about £15 each, which is a bargain for the brands (The White Company and Ralph Lauren), but facts are facts and the truth is I think this means I’d well and truly broken my No Buy challenge for the month.

And then! Because I’d already “failed,” I allowed myself to buy a chunky knit from & Other Stories. Once again, this was legitimately on my shopping list for the year, and I found a lovely piece that’s thick, very warm, modern looking, and on trend while being something I will be happy to wear for several years to come.

I am not counting the items required for work individually, but in the spirit of honesty I’ve decided to count the whole order of work gear as one of my approved 2019 purchases, and I’ve also added the two dresses and jumper to the list. Which means we’re three weeks into the year, and I’m already down five spaces on my limited shopping list. That’s a bit sobering. My consolations are that all of these were items I had actually projected to spend money on this year and considered for several months, none of what I bought is expensive, and only one item is full price…but that’s not really the point.

Spending is, and is designed to be, a slippery slope. If I had not had to buy those work items originally, would I have ended up purchasing other items? I’m not entirely sure, but probably not.

I’ve been very disciplined in other areas this month, especially around food and exercise which both ended up saving me money as I bought significantly less food on the go and saved on travel costs by walking more. All in all, I think this month balances out so far, but in February I think my priority will be to not even open the door on spending. If an event or function requires kit that I don’t own, I will turn it down rather than incur unanticipated costs and will find cheap or free ways to socialize rather than default to eating out.

What goals did you have for this month? Have you met them? Where are you putting your focus next? 

 

Weekend Links: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

“Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
– Winston Churchill

Gillette released an ad about target masculinity and every single Mens Rights Activist on the internet lost their god damned mines over it. “Hamberders” happened. Theresa May squeaked by a vote of No Confidence in her government but Brexit is still no less shambolic. American elected leaders are in a game of oneupmanship in cancelling one another’s public duties. Approximately one million Democrats are running in 2020. New news about the investigation into the President caused him to frantically tweet that new caravans of asylum seekers are coming to impose shariah law or something…

It’s telling that we are three weeks into the new year and there is already THIS MUCH to recap. I actually forgot that the news about the FBI opening an investigation into a sitting president is less than seven days old…

But never fear, kittens! I have lovingly curated enough good and interesting things from around the internet today to help you in processing the fact that the world is on fire.

I want to live in Jeremy Irons’ house..

Were we living in normal times, this would be administration-ending in its own right. Not the outcomes, whatever they were or may yet be, but just that the FBI felt the need to even look into this.

Less than 24 hours later, this reporting also dropped. Even if the sheer amount of inappropriate contact with known-hostile actors and resources could be explained by dumb coincidence and bad luck (which is one hell of a reach at this point, but let’s allow it), at this point the amount of piss poor judgement shown should invoke some kind of major censure from Congress and others with co-equal authority under Constitutional law.

Why can’t we just say he’s not a good manager? Incidentally, this whole presidency is a great case study for those who claim they want people to run the government like a business. I have never understood this, they are in no way analogous. A business exists to make profit, a government exists to administer services, enforce laws, manage public spaces, fund agreed projects and programs that serve the good of the populace, and maintain infrastructure. These are not the same thing as maximizing profit!

K, so I’m switching careers to become a cheeseplate influencer. Thank you for coming to this important announcement.

Media bias is real, but it seldom cuts along the lines that the people complaining about it most loudly claim it is.

I really liked this short Vlogbrothers video on different types of burnout, which follows the viral Buzzfeed article on the same topic I shared last week.

I now long for a sight of Benny!

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, rebranded as AOC, has been making waves in the media–mostly thanks to how much attention is being flung at her by white, male, conservative media. It’s included a horrific attempt to pass off nude photos as hers, patronizing language, and attacking her comments while ignoring whole swaths of the rest of the cohort of freshman congressmen and women. Why the vitriol? This writer argues it’s more than run-of-the-mill misogyny (of which there is plenty), it’s deeper than that. (In related writing, this Op Ed about how women are changing the face of power, not least of all by refusing to play into the historical white, male narratives of what power looks like and how it should be practiced.)

This is important investigative reporting on who can access what data about you and how.

What a great piece on whether we may have had that whole slather-on-suncreen-100%-of-the-time thing wrong

In the interest of even-handedness, Lawfare lays out a compelling case that the FBI has overstepped in troubling ways far too many times in recent years and why that’s a bad thing.

DAMN, girl!

I am delighted to report that, much like unto Logan Paul, I had no idea who this internet person was until this story happened.

This piece from The New Yorker on the interpretations of heaven and hell is an excellent read.

Making space for discomfort.

I’ve learned the value of being read to (audiobooks) as an adult.

Late on Thursday, this piece of news dropped. A bit more granular detail which is also pretty damning. The word “bombshell” is genuinely overused these days, but this qualifies. There needs to be rigorous and impeccable investigation on this point because it does cross into potential impeachment proceedings territory if true.

ETA: The special counsel issued an extremely rare statement in response to this reporting and the news media is still dissecting it.

Of course he didn’t!