Tag: Internet

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!

How do we feel about social media these days?

“Distracted from distraction by distraction” 
― T.S. Eliot

A genuine question, kittens. I ask because Katarina and I had a delightful hour and a half long conversation on the topic the other day and I have not been able to get the conversation out of my head. I joked about it when I mused what I’d like to give up in 2018 because I didn’t quite mean it…but didn’t quite not mean it either.

Last year I started logging out of Facebook for extended periods of time. I don’t really enjoy it as a platform and haven’t for years, but I’ve kept it because it’s an easy way for people all over the world to keep in touch with me. A military brat and an expat, my friends and acquaintances are scattered across the globe and I justify keeping my Facebook account to make it easy to connect with them…but maybe I need to be more honest about the fact that most of the friends I keep in touch with regularly, I keep in touch with through other means. My best friends and I talk, text and email weekly. I have a lively correspondent base and Facebook isn’t how I keep in touch with them. I’m holding on to it for a purpose that I don’t actually use in real life. My logic is flawed.

Less personally, I don’t really like Facebook anymore. My feed is a constant stream of advertisements and wannabe viral videos and memes. For a long while I watched and uptick in people sharing content I didn’t like or agree with (this was a few years ago) so I started culling my list of “friends” until it actually represented friends. From 2014-2106 the content turned political and the tone turn downright vicious so I went through another culling period and started muting people whose views troubled or angered me.

In other words, I became part of the problem so routinely ascribed to Facebook these days: that it shows us content we already agree or align with, reinforcing our views.

I’m now trying actively to correct this by widening how I consume media, and Facebook is not the way I do that. I’ve subscribed to newspapers that I previously enjoyed mostly for free (got to support journalism now more than ever), and I make a deliberate effort to read commentators and platforms or publications that represent different views than me. I might not share them as much because, hey: my blog, my rules, but I do read them.

Instagram is a platform I still enjoy, even though it’s owned by Facebook and I haven’t liked a lot of the changes that have been made to it as a platform (a non-chronological feed for one thing). But it’s a place where I find beautiful images and interesting people and so it’s still a fun thing for me. I follow friends, a lot of beauty and style editors and writers, vintage sellers, some bloggers who I either know or have interacted with in some way over the years, and a few theme feeds that give me a much needed daily dose of pretty.

Twitter I’m torn over. I didn’t really use Twitter all that regularly until the 2016 campaign and now I feel a bit like a junkie who needs it to keep up with what’s going on in the world. I subscribe mostly to journalists, editors, writers, bloggers, and podcasters whose content I enjoy, and politicians whose views are relevant to mine or to my life. But let’s be honest, as a whole, Twitter is a hilariously overly-dramatic place. If you acknowledge it and don’t believe everything you read, you can enjoy the ride. But if, like me, you’re a person who tends to take a lot of things very (or too) seriously, it will convince you that the world is on the brink of self-destruction or that people are mostly garbage if you give it too much of your time. It’s not a platform that encourages good mental health or stress management.

As for all the other social media platforms, I’m either barely or not at all active on them. Bad blogger!

I’m not sure what this thinking will coalesce into but it’s an idea I can’t really get out of my head. Katarina and I had a lively discussion about whether social media will stay as relevant or how it may change in coming years. I don’t think you can write it off entirely, especially given the current political landscape of the world, but it’s been interesting to watch how it’s been leveraged or monetized past the point of authenticity for so many people. We also chatted about blogging and how that medium has changed over the past decade, but that’s another rambling post altogether!

I think I’m going to keep off of Facebook for as long as I can avoid logging in. Other platforms I’m still up in the air about. How about you guys, how do you use social media and how has your use changed over recent year? Is it weird I’m thinking about this so much, or do you guys ponder this stuff to? Lend me your thoughts!

Thoughts on Echo Chambers

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”
― Oscar Wilde

A few years ago, in the midst of a faith breakdown–by far the most personally painful experience of my life–I had a moment of realization. To take you through it I have to explain a few things.

First of all, you need to know that there is a vibrant online community focused on Mormonism and Mormon issues. It’s slang nickname is the Bloggernacle, a play on “tabernacle” which in the biblical stories was a portable worship place that was used by Israelites in the wilderness until a temple could be built. It’s significant to Mormons because there is also a building called the Tabernacle at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah where the church is headquartered, that functioned for well over 100 years as the faith’s most important meeting place. The Bloggernacle’s function was similar in that for decades now it has served as a sort of cyber meeting place for people across a wide spectrum of faith to debate and discuss and even privately disclose deeply personal matters of belief or the lack thereof.

Secondly you need to understand how diverse this group of platforms is. There are sites and messages boards on Reddit, standalone blogs and discussion forums, social media accounts, and more. Some of these are academic focused, some give tips on apocalyptic prep. Some are feminist platforms, some focus on Sunday School lessons. It’s vast and depending on your interests you will quickly be able to find a community of like-minded individuals who share your interests, potentially even your cosmic perspectives.

This was powerful stuff and truthfully, when I came across these platforms, I was so so happy to have found other people–lots of them–who had the same issues and concerns as me within our shared faith community. Gradually my wide ranging readership and participation in the Bloggernacle narrowed. I found the platforms that focused on the issues I cared about most and read them regularly. Topics or writers who didn’t interest me faded away or were purposefully set aside. It didn’t happen overnight, it took a couple of years and I barely noticed the shift.

It was a moment of energy in the Mormon Feminist community in particular and the women I had connected with (many of whom I knew in person by this point) were organizing events of solidarity or assembly. For a long time I was fed and sustained by the connections I found. But at some point, things started to change. Our mutual stories fed and activated one another in times of pain, but in hindsight I also see how reading and hearing the pain of other people often compounded my own in unhealthy ways. Empathy is vital, but in some ways I became masochistic, constantly seeking out news, the topics of which enraged me, but also seeking the relief of having my anger and confusion validated. This is also powerful stuff. Every time the church or the cultural community did something I badly disagreed with, I read about it over and over again, often to the exclusion of other news or events. Most of my friends were either involved in these groups or deeply sympathetic to them and our conversations were dominated by the problems of faith, lack thereof, feelings of disenfranchisement, questions of conscious, and often anger. I had created a cocoon space that existed of a very few (very draining) emotional feedback loops.

The realization that eventually hit was that living in and among only people who agreed with me and validated all my feelings (especially negative ones) was not making me happy.

When I woke to the fact that I was living within an echo chamber, I made a decision. I unsubscribed from all the platforms, stopped seeking out stories of actions and policies that made me angry. I stopped courting upset and validation. I tried to stop talking as much and actively tried to start listening more. I broadened my news outlets, reactivated interests that I had let slide, and pointedly stopped focusing on mormonism, for good and bad. I took a break. Shock surprise, a more complex and gratifying life and social circle immediately followed. My head cleared. I was able to make big decisions about my spiritual life from a a steadier and healthier place.

Why the long and rambling story? Because this week we have new and abundant evidence that the echo chambers that make up our society are everywhere and far more powerful than we might have thought. I managed to find a relatively small one in an even relatively smaller and obscure religion that took over my life. My YouTube and Amazon.com suggestions come from algorithms built on my past preferences. My social media feeds, far from being impartial are equally curated spaces, the extent of which I probably don’t even properly comprehend.

It’s increasingly clear that this election was not just about political parties, it was about two separate realities. Complete with different news feeds, priorities, fears, and worldviews. I count myself among the many who didn’t realize how deep the divide truly was, partially because of the echo chambers I myself still move in. Once again I need to stop seeking out platforms and people who validate me and my opinions and do better about finding not just opinions but facts that challenge my thinking, broaden my view, and complicate my world.

I don’t think our echo chambers are making us happier as a nation. Most of what I see  in our discourse is bitterness along the lines of, “Why can’t the poor deluded other side just get its head out of the sand and see the light?!” We have work to do in overcoming opinion and prejudice to find common cause. The alternative is continuing our poisonous gridlock, or worse.

The sobering part is just how hard separating facts and opinions has become. And just how many people and businesses are invested in blurring them.

To end on another quote:

“It is not enough to win a war; it is more important to organize the peace.”
― Aristotle

Sleep On It

“There is a certain proper and luxurious way of lying in bed. Confucius, that great artist of life, “never lay straight” in bed, “like a corpse”, but always curled up on one side. I believe one of the greatest pleasures of life is to curl up one’s legs in bed. The posture of the arms is also very important, in order to reach the greatest degree of aesthetic pleasure and mental power. I believe the best posture is not lying flat on the bed, but being upholstered with big soft pillows at an angle of thirty degrees with either one arm or both arms placed behind the back of one’s head.”
― Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living

Serious question: how many online mattress companies are there?

I am a podcast and public radio listening millennial who wants to support small businesses, and buys into the idea of buying more or less straight from a manufacturer or designer. This sort of model is right up my stereotypical street. However, the sheer amount of options being lobbed at me as we look at trying to fit out a new place are ludicrous. Caspar, Eve, Simba, Leesa, Yogabed, Tuft & Needle, Loon & Leaf, Keetsa, and goodness knows what others I’m missing–I’m sure the comment section will educate me.

More curiously, what was the impetus for every start up and their ping-pong-court-and-smoothie-bar-holding campus to decide that mattresses was the next great frontier to be conquered? What caused this convergence? Have we reached peak, direct to consumer mattress yet? And did they all use the same two branding agencies or something? So many mysteries…

Friday Linkstorm

“I’m not at all fully granola.  But I am a bit crunchy, politically speaking.”
– C.

Women’s Politics edition, with food!

I occasionally tease you with politics, ducklings, but I’ve recently been a bit gobsmacked by the politics of gender and sexuality.  Here’s the ever fabulous Caitlin Kelly’s take on Rush Limbaugh’s latest verbal spewing and how misplaced the latest conflagrations on women’s reproduction rights (largely orchestrated, chaired, and debated by men) are compared to some of the other things our country is dealing with.  Limbaugh gives me heartburn, I long for the day he’s taken off the air.

From birth control to motherhood, here’s a piece, “Losing the (Term) Baby Weight.”  No plans on spawning in the foreseeable future, but I’m still digging the sentiment that a new body, changed by huge experience and personal change is “substantial and meaningful” and not something to be hated or worked against.

And straight through to childhood.  Ah, my youth!  Dressing up in cute little uniforms, camping, selling cookies… participating in back-street abortions, promoting alternative sexual lifestyles.  Man, second grade was awesome!  Puh-leaseThis is a week old story, and the gentleman in question has since said he regrets his letter, but I’m still hopping mad about it.  For your consideration: here’s a picture of me, destroying Western Civilization, aged six:

Pictured: subversion.

Did you know that this is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week?  I have two friends who either have or are recovering from eating disorders.  It can be a complicated to understand and to be supportive, but the best place to begin is by educating yourself.  Here’s a good post to start, for some information about awareness and personal insight into the complexity.

A long lost short story by Charlotte Brontë has been discovered.  With nary a Byronic hero in sight!

Grilled cheese sandwiches have always been my favorite and I love experimenting with different cheeses, breads, and spreads.  If you’re an addict like me, here’s a couple of types to try if you’re brave enough.

Janssen’s homemade ranch dressing recipe contribute to my goal to buy and eat less processed food.  Thanks, as always, m’dear!

And talking of food, would you use this?

And that, as they say, is that!  What are you up to this weekend, kittens?  Margot and Wrench are checking out wedding venues (she’s already bought a dress and it kills me that I can’t show you guys pictures!), I’m taking on some shopping assignments for J. (a sacrifice, my dears, but the things we do for love), and I’ve got a godfamily dinner on Sunday.  Apart from the weather, which turned snowy and cold very suddenly, I’m happy as a clam.

Mature and Dignified Follow Up

“She is popping that thing like a prep pops his collar…”
– Margot

It’s officially infamous.  I knew there was something off about that leg the first time I saw it, and now we know why:

See? Two of those and she should be squatting behind the plate yelling, "Hey batta' swing!"

But now everyone (at least on the internet) is doing the Angie’s Right Leg!  Second to the Bayeux Tapestry, this may be my favorite meme in a long time.

Fops are doing it.
Aliens are doing it.
The Almighty is doing it!
Da Vinci is doing it!
But best of all, you know the Dowager Countess is doing it!

Mature, quality, thought provoking (*snort) posting will return shortly, minions, but in the meantime this is just far too funny.

Stalling

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”
– Nathaniel Hawthorne

Kittens, don’t you hate it when you’ve got this semi-serious topic kicking around in your head and you want to write about it, but you also want to deliver it slathered in the usual amount of humor and hyperbole and the little gray cells just don’t seem to deliver?  It’s been one of those weeks.  After some mocking and some adulation, I wanted to sit down with you, pour you a cup of tea and ruminate, but the words won’t come.  Writers block: the bane of my Friday.

Anyway, here’s a end of work week linkstorm for you while I collect my thoughts:

Former slave’s letter to his former master – oh snap!  Also, here’s some information  on what became of the emancipated family.

A very cool (if you’re a nerd like me, which let’s face it, many of you are.  It’s why we are friends) video on Shakespearean productions done with the original pronunciation.  English is such a fascinating language to me: it sounds totally different from century to century!  Also, does anyone else find the deeper, more guttural pronunciations surprisingly sexier?  Just me?  Let’s move along…

Although, here’s a link to demonstrate what all those centuries of tinkering may have done to the language…

In political outraged news, seriously?  Seriously? Surely there was something else more deserving of your attention!

Let’s commemorate Facebook’s new IPO status with some humor shall we?

Lastly, words (even millenia of changes in pronunciation)  cannot express the deep desire I have to possess this quilt.