Tag: News

Weekend Links

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

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

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

as I was saying

again, still saying

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

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

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

no shit, Sherlock.

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

Snowflakes.

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

Meanwhile, on YouTube

Here is a nice list of book recommendations to consider!

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

10% of our entire population.

Sunday Check In – Recognizing Racism and Doing Better

God, I hope I get this right because this is a difficult subject and while I want to write from my perspective, I want to also state clearly and up front that this is not about me. It’s peak white woman to try and make someone else’s struggle your own, but that’s not what I’m trying to do here, I’m trying to write about the only personal existence I’m an expert on and that happens to be my own. If I’m clunky about it, help me do better and make my actions and word better reflect my intentions. 

I was raised in a religion that denied ordination to the priesthood for men of color until only a few years before I was born. More than that, the doctrine of Mormonism requires participation in certain sacred ordinances – which in turn require those (male) participants to have been ordained. These rituals are necessary to salvation. In other words, I belonged to a faith that for a century taught that people of color couldn’t be “saved” in the same way as white folks. By the time I was growing up in the church, this was no longer true, but generational racism didn’t vanish from that community and it was a long time before I really confronted the history and teachings that had reinforced it for so long – and which have never been fully repudiated. The last time my husband and I voluntarily attended church services was the week that the church published an essay on its past racism and a white man who was teaching the lesson stood up in front of our predominantly black congregation and lectured people of color about how he had been taught “certain things” about race growing up and how the essay didn’t make sense to him. Of all the people in that room, we had the least right to anger, but we still felt it and it was still a transformative moment in our decision to leave the faith.

I spent large portions of my life as a racial majority and didn’t really think about how that impacted me. This included two stints in Virginia and one in Texas – not exactly places with an ambiguous history when it comes to America’s racial history. Luckily I also spent some important years on a Micronesian island where white folks were the minority which was instructive in ways I didn’t fully appreciate at the time but do as an adult. Everyone should experience being a minority. I was outrageously privileged given my family’s circumstances, but it was the first step in more self awareness that my experiences were not the norm.

This isn’t to big myself up, quite the reverse. I can look back on my life and cringe at comments I’ve made which I didn’t realize until much later were racially charged. I’ve never used racial slurs and would have reacted with outrage if anyone accused me of being racist, but I can see in retrospect that while I might have been innocent of malice, I was still ignorant.

One of my grandmother’s once told me that she and my grandfather would “have a big problem if [I] married a black man.”

University professors lectured me on how poverty was a self-inflicted wound.

Family members opined on how various communities could only experience tragedy or difficulty due to a lack of “virtue.”

Church leaders taught me that God had to wait for white people to be “ready” to accept black folks – as if other people’s salvation were dependent on my personal level comfort and that was a perfectly okay thing to believe.

I grew up swimming in racism, I just didn’t recognize it for a long time. 

You learn better, and you do better. I still screw up despite good intentions, I’m still unlearning assumptions and patterns that I didn’t realize I’d ever been taught, and I’m still unpacking where I may be part of the problem. Sometimes this means speaking up, sometimes it means shutting up, and other times it means using whatever voice I have to amplify other voices instead of my own. Because it’s not about me. 

Becoming anti-racist requires you check your assumptions, your privilege, and your power at the door and deliberately work to empower others – even and perhaps especially at the expense of your comfort.

Here are some resources to learn better.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Weekend Links – May Day, May Day!

Well, we made it, kittens. April is behind us and good riddance. Short and sweet today as we’re powering through the last few hours before the weekend…even though it won’t look massively different from our weekdays.

Nonetheless, this weekend I intend to enjoy the sunshine, cuddle effusively with my husband, and cook. Let me know your plans in the comments, and I promise to cheer them on whatever they are.

We elected our dumbest and worst person to be president. You cannot convince me otherwise at this point.

New single from The 1975, one of my favorite bands.

Culture matters in good times, but it matters desperately in rough ones. Take advantage of the artistic generosity swelling forth, but also donate if you can now and commit to funding it when you can later.

2020 is so wild that this barely broke into my awareness this week.

Shall we volunteer, Small Dog Nation?

As I spend more time cooking, I am thinking more about cookbooks (as opposed to family recipes, or what I find on pinterest or online). But I have read few as BOOKS, and plan to rectify this.

Andrew Yang was an unusual candidate in that he seemed fully focused on future problems and did not sugar coat the risks he saw. While he was never my preference, I’m pleased he advocated for certain issues and found this interview with him to be worth a read given the state of the world.

This may be the only time a mediocre book review compels me to read the book in question, because it so perfectly encapsulate a current moment that it might feel remiss not to. “As I read The End of October, I found myself resenting it. It was such a silly potboiler of a novel, with such unbelievable characters, such leaden sentences, such infuriatingly clumsy dialogue. How dare the world in which I am actually living so closely resemble a fucking airport thriller?

Yes, I have read “the nanny piece.” No, I have no further comments beyond “Eat the rich.”

The coming war between venues of all kinds, artists, distributors, and agents is going to be nuts. I don’t think movie theatres or theatrical venues are ever going to go away (if the last five thousand years of human history are anything to go by). But that doesn’t mean they won’t, or shouldn’t change. Concerts won’t stop, but I also hope artists will continue to stream straight to their fans when all this is over. I hope gyms will continue to provide online classes. I hope the ways in which we consume and enjoy all manner of things stays accessible and doesn’t just serve to make a few people rich.

Longtime readers will know that Small Dog Nation stans Yoga with Adrienne, so seeing her process and success detailed was both pleasurable and genuinely interesting. She’s a great exercise resource, especially right now.

Celebrating good spuds and good people.

Either we take sexual assault claims seriously or we don’t. Biden needs to provide answers to these accusations, the public needs to grapple with them and come to a consensus and partisanship won’t cut it. His statement today and call for transparency is the right first step, investigation must follow.

Death to FOMO.

Weekend Links: Quarantine Week Two

Hi there, kittens. Here’s you weekly batch of goodness, take some time to rest today if you can. Let’s all meet back here tomorrow for a proper catch up, eh? Love you all, truly.

Respect the bean!

How NOT to be an ass in the time of COVID-19.

Beware wildlife #fakenews.

Surely these people have assistants who will take their phones away!

Here’s a way to “go outside” even if you’re not able to at the moment – responsible social distancing, people!

At a loss of what to cook? Bon Appetit is here to help.

OH LOOK, MORE PROOF THAT WE CAN HAVE AN EFFECT IF WE PUT OUR MINDS TO IT. I’ll be the first to admit that the petri dish is not exactly ideal, but as a forced experiment it is telling.

For me, the idea that my role in this situation largely consists of staying home as much as possible seems on its face to be egregiously fortunate…And more than simply being a luxury, it’s more than that: It’s a duty.”

In case you’re in need of a disco-y bop, Childish Gambino has got you.

SOLIDARITY.

More solidarity. This is going to get worse before it gets better.

As for the rest of you, stop doing brand adjustments and start paying people living wages with sick benefits.

The left gets accused (sometimes rightly) of virtue signalling, but we need to have a real investigation into the defiance signalling of the right. Whether it’s guns, anti-science or any other thing, the fact that we have allowed one of these things (an over abundance of caution or self righteousness to the point of ridiculousness) to be seen as equivalent evil to its counterpart (an overabundance of contempt to the point of public endangerment) is ludicrous. One of these things is annoying. The other is dangerous.

We stan a maximalist queen.

Never have we all been so obsessed with hand sanitizer, and Vanity Fair knows what #content we want right now.

How do we just lose stuff like this, part five million of a continuing series… (ETA: part five million and one)

Ah yes, Leyendecker and his impossibly beautiful men. We heteros aren’t immune.

I would very much like to be a part of this trend.

Meanwhile, in Britain

Friday Talk: How Are You Socializing?

We’re all having to get creative here, and I’m honestly looking for ideas because – while I’m used to my best friends and family being scattered across continents, and the truth is that Jeff and I already tended to be homebodies at the weekend – I’m feeling the emotional pinch of our flat’s four walls. I enjoy my interactions with my coworkers, who are all lovely and interesting people, and I have a habit of striking up conversations with random people throughout my day. In a queue, at the shop, asking to pet people’s dogs in parks… While this is not terribly British, it is terribly American and I find the accent breaks down cultural barriers, especially when attempting to be friendly.

So, if you’re like me and happen to like people…how are your socializing? Facetime? Instagram? Skype calls? Have you set up any new ways to connect with your nearest and dearest? Got any good ideas?

Small Gratitudes

In retrospect, thank goodness.

Thank goodness I prioritized addressing some of my persistent health issues – not least of all mental.

Thank goodness I spent the last couple of years fixated on money and budgeting, deliberating practicing self-denial and flexing my emotional discipline muscles.

Thank goodness that we can say that we have anything we could reasonably need to make a house comfortable and liveable, without practical wants.

Thank goodness I already started goals that got us spending more time in the kitchen and making an effort to cook.

Thank god I started therapy.

There’s a huge amount in privilege in all of this that I am not blind to in anyway – I know exactly how lucky I am. But staring down the barrel of uncertainty and more question marks than anything, I’m very glad that I’ve had the ability to make these choices and practice these emotional skills and habits.

Share: what’s something in the recent past that’s helping you right now, in this moment? It doesn’t matter how profound or trivial.

A ramble.

Tomorrow is payday.

Never in my life have I felt more grateful for a paycheck…and never more convinced than ever that basic protections for individuals, workers, and families should be rights not luxuries.

We are seeing in real time what CAN be done by states, cities, companies and governments. Now, we need to confront that fact that the reason this hasn’t happened before is because those in charge chose not to. And of course they would! We’ve stopped referring to people as citizens and prefer to message in terms of “taxpayers,” as though the benefits of collective belonging are something you buy for yourself, rather than a public trust we all invest in.

What if the only measuring stick for success wasn’t just a bottom line or ledger? What if we stopped treating poverty like “lack of character” rather than a “lack of cash,” as historian Rutger Bregman put it? What if we respected the dignity of work of all types with a living wage rather than a constant negotiation and squeezing that leaves workers resentful of their bosses and bosses contemptuous of their workers? What if we treated public health as a public right…we might have fewer MLMs, people drinking bleach to cure disease, or be able to stop using GoFundMe as a kind of twisted healthcare to start!

Society should not be pay to play.

Perhaps I’m just unduly maudlin this evening but I have to believe that something is going change out of this mess. That something significant will change to materially improve a system so that the Dow isn’t the only thing people think should be lifted up. The alternative just feels…a bit bleak…

 

 

Weekend Links: Quarantine Edition

Wow. Whew. Okay.

How are we all, darlings? I don’t know about you but this weird sense of financial and political vertigo are just now starting to feel like the new normal. I’ve barely left my house in three days. My company is made up of the economic frontline of this situation and people have been working round the clock to try and understand announcements and circumstances as soon as they are made, and communicate to hundreds and thousands of colleagues who desperately want some stability. Everyone has been working at least 14 hours days. I am horribly aware that I’m just one of the lucky ones at the moment. Millions have been glued to the news trying to figure out What On Earth Is Going On, and the the vita question, What On Earth Are We Going To Do? I’ve been heartened and pleasantly surprised by the swiftness of the British government response – even though a lot of practical details clearly still need to be worked out. I’m keeping a wary eye on the US.

More than ever I’m grateful to live in a country where healthcare is a right. And in spite of the stress and anxiety, I’m bizarrely hopeful that what may eventually come out of this are systems that work better for PEOPLE than corporations. I hope the shock to the system makes people across the board less likely to cling to dogma and get more comfortable with experimentation and collective problem solving instead of the “Fuck You, Got Mine” attitude that we’ve all been either reacting to or wallowing in. I’m just heartsick that it takes something so drastic and with such high human costs for people to even consider it.

Stay safe, stay home, wash your hands, check in with loved ones. Drop me your updates in the comments and share (if you’re comfortable) any public social media where we can connect with one another. I will send hugs over the internet!

 

Unfiltered capitalism, ya’ll. Greed is not good.

An archaeological scandal, which we all know are the BEST scandals.

I didn’t know I needed this oral history, but I did and you do as well.

The billionaires want to become oligarchs and the politicians want to become billionaires. …In case you were wondering how we got here. (An old link but a relevant one given the state of…everything.)

This little guy just wanted to be left the **** alone, and honestly who could blame him!

I suspect we are all going to be needing some documentary recommendations in the coming weeks, and this one looks downright soothing.

So many people are being fundamentally decent right now. Some are doing it in big ways, others are doing it on a smaller scale. Way too many are also being arses, but my goodness, the initial outpouring of camaraderie and civic-mindedness is so humbling and heartening.

If you need something to do at home, may I suggest a museum virtual tour?

A plethora of subpar options is the foundation of modern shopping.” Another Amanda Mull knockout on the phenomenum of Premiocre.

Color me shocked, but YES! Universal Basic Income experiment now, thanks! (Insert snarky comment here about how it’s not unacceptable to Republicans when they’re in power, apparently, but whatever. Let’s try it. Let’s see what happens and measure the effects.)

It’s the corruption, stupid.

And if you are wondering why things like UBI are now suddenly popular (those of us who’ve wanted this for a while should shut up and warmly welcome them into the fold with love and solidarity) and hate stuff like the aforelinked corruption, THIS.

Why yes, I did need a story about wallabies being cared for right now.

Festival plans ruined? We’ve got an idea for you

ESPN is also rising to the occasion.

SDS fave McKay Coppins wrote a VERY timely and VERY Mormon article for The Atlantic.

This is brilliant.

Nice to be reminded that in crisis, most people aren’t assholes.

For comparison: good vs. bad.

Did someone open the damn Arc of the Covenant, or what?!

This is going to get a lot grimmer before it gets better.

But! Let’s end on a silly and fun note, shall we?

Weekend Links: 2020 Begins Edition

Beloveds, 2020 is upon us! And my god, we’re only three days in. I’ve honestly been trying to muster up some positivity for the new year, as I normally enjoy fresh slates and clean starts, but I’m struggling. 2019 was hard on a personal level and scary on a macro one, and 2020 is…ah…seeming to start as it means to go on.

However, on a long and delightful call with X the other day we discussed the wonderful motivating power of SPITE. So join me, poppets, in declaring at the outset, that we are not going to give in to despair or undue cynicism–for no other reason than that our collective antagonists are hoping for just that. Get hydrated, caffeine up, register to vote, pick a small handful of causes that you care about deeply to devote your energies to, decide whose good opinion and love is actually important to you and prioritize your life according, and hug a dog. We’re going to get through this year and we’re going to do it with aplomb.

Here is a nice batch of weekend reading to look back fondly on the good, catch up on some things you may have missed, and ground yourself for what we’re likely going to deal with in 2020.

The year in memes.

The year in fashion.

The year in podcasts.

I bet you didn’t know you needed a deep dive into the world of lingerie, but you do.

I’m glad that the news media seems final able to confront some of their failings, particularly the areas that fall in talking head and “opini-tainment” as Jon Stewart once called it. I also think that for it to have taken this long denotes something more disappointing if not sinister.

Anatomy of a radicalization.

At this point, reporting that does not do the connecting work of white nationalism and other political views is doing an active disservice to us. I’m grateful to see this changing.

I’m also grateful to see the discourse on climate change improving, but it’s horrifically late.

Let’s hear it for the girls.

This is a fantastic round up of culture “moments” of the past year, and a good list of things to try and catch up on if you’ve thus far missed out.

Behold a goddamned headline!

People who are anti-immigration in my country can’t do math.

I could read a whole book on how “fan culture” has taken over everything from politics to pop culture, and what this means for us as a society. I spend an inordinate time thinking about it. In the meanwhile, this article is a great starting point.

Romance is a genre I used to morally eschew, then read in shameful secret, and now revel in openly. There is some seriously good writing to be found in its pages, too often dismissed because the target audience is women and the main topic is feelings. That’s a rant for another day…what you need to know is that some major DRAMA went down in the Romance world this week. I watched it unfold in real time on Twitter, but for those who need a primer, Lois Beckett from The Guardian is here to help!

Relatedly to all of the above mess, let’s all diversify our reading this year, shall we?

Oh. So that’s why witnesses are being blocked. Shock, surprise.

Oh. So that’s why the secrecy. More shock, surprise.

We had a fascinating debate in my office about this! It spiraled into the differences between religious and “philosophical” belief systems, and how we chose to allocate protections.

Still developing as I finish up this post but…this feels horribly huge. The consequences are already starting. Mar-al-ago guests and Russian diplomats knew about the attack before the appropriate members of congress did. I remember this all too well from 20 years ago. The performative hawkishness and patriotism, the propaganda to circle the wagons around the government, the othering of whole nations and cultures with a long tail of hideous racism that we are still dealing with. 20 years later, thousands of Americans and allies dead, hundreds of thousands of civilians dead, no clear gains, no increased stability, recent revelations that there was no fucking plan in the first place…NO. NOT AGAIN. Not to appease ideologues, not to distract from domestic scrutiny, not for anything.

Weekend Links: Yuletide Edition

It’s Christmas week, kittens! We were woefully unprepared for the holidays this year and much of our preparations have been of the last minute variety. I snagged the last slot available for Tesco grocery delivery, the last tickets for our local theatre’s “The Rise of Skywalker” (didn’t like it at all, I’m sorry to say), and the second to last delivery option for our Christmas tree. We got my sister’s present in the mail to Japan on the last possible day. We are one missed time slot away from disaster, here!

However, this year we are attempting some holiday baking which is not something we’ve really done in our time in London. Every year that goes by and we “settle” we seem to have a more functional kitchen, so we are leaning into that this season. That being said I burned the last thing I put in the oven to charcoal crisps so…watch this space.

Other than that, we are indulging in food and drink this week and doing precious little else. There are a few more posts coming your way before the end of the year, but in the meantime, I hope your Christmas preparations are going better than mine–if you celebrate–and that you are enjoying the winter season with friends and family.

We’re all going to have to move.

I’ve made a complete break mentally with the world I used to live in.”

Some leading conservative commentators, campaign veterans and media personalities have launched a PAC aimed at defeating President Trump in 2020…or more specifically Trumpism. Their argument, with which I agree, is that Trump does not represent the ideological conservatism that they revere and wish to restore. However, the rise of Trumpism has made me question how much of this ideology was genuine in the first place, and how much of it was simply a wish for ingroups to maintain their own power (financial, racial, perceived control over life circumstances, and so on). Trumpism s

It’s always a joyous week when Anne Thériault drops her latest in the Queens of Infamy series!

Add this to the list of films I want to see. Preferably with Hannah whilst sipping wine.

This piece is over a year old but it’s new to me and how pleasing it is!

I am glad we are asking the question seriously, “What are we going to do with/for/about men?” and making art that tackles that topic. Men may need to puzzle this out on their own, and there’s a question of what role women should take in this debate. (Contrapoints, a prominent left-wing YouTuber, recently made a video arguing this point of view as well–content warning re drug references, sex and sexuality frank talk, and some pretty bold/provocative visuals. I love her and her hyperbolic and performative aesthetic, but she’s definitely not going to be all my reader’s cup of tea!)

Longtime readers know how much I love murder mysteries–a “cozy” murder read or show is quite probably my favorite way to relax. …I’m not saying I’m healthy, I’m saying I’m self aware. And one of the purely aesthetic aspects my film and TV murder favorites all share is that they are stylish as hell. (And in Small Dog Nation, we stan Madeline Khan forever!)

Well, it’s happening.

In religion news this week, this editorial is blistering and it’s still sobering to think of how little effect it will have on the intended community. (ETA, The National Review got in on the act. I predict the same results.)

The Good Place is on hiatus until January, but here is a lovely piece on it and its approach to hopeful humanism and the limits of philosophy. I truly believe TGP is an active force for good in the world.

More Small Dog Nation catnip!

Woof. This is something I’m thinking a lot about recently, both in and out of therapy.