Tag: Politcs

Weekend Links

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”
― Oscar Wilde

Woof. I compile these posts throughout the week, updating it to make sure that news links are as current as they can be, and that notes of levity and enjoyment are liberally scattered throughout. I know things have gotten a bit heavy around here lately and I had every intention of a links post thick with Fashion Week highlights and apolitical links to lighten things up. I’ve got those too, but it’s also been a big week for news, which led me towards doing separate post on the big story.

Thus far I still haven’t put words together to speak intelligently about the presidential press conference–apt, since neither did the president in many ways. To date, he’s sowed the seeds to blame one branch of government if something terrible should happen (if committed by a Muslim of course, white people shooting up mosques seems to be fine), a second branch of government seems to be in some kind of grim Faustian pact to go along with him as long as he signs their legislation, and he’s on a tear of a campaign to delegitmize the fourth estate who scrutinizes his actions. So things are going great, guys!

To make up for the emotional roller coaster that is Western democracy at the moment, here is an extra large dose of links for you, kittens. Never say I don’t do anything for you!

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This piece by Andrew Sullivan for New York Magazine is important reading and discusses the unfortunate fact that we have a president who seems to throw out countless lies and mistruths weekly–usually in the face of empirical evidence–and thus far does not seem to have retracted or apologized for any of them. He is not being held accountable in any way. He also gave an interview to CNN that’s worth viewing. When, “No error is ever admitted. Any lie is usually doubled down by another lie — along with an ad hominem attack,” what is at stake for government and the citizenry? His position, somewhat daringly, is that the president is outright mentally unstable, which is the source of a decent amount of debate-including whether or not it’s even appropriate for people to speculate on the matter. This letter, for instance is a nice and effective rebuke. To the comments, kittens, and lend me your thoughts.

After all the hullabaloo about privacy and securing information on Secretary Clinton’s part, this is just ridiculous.

Well, now we’re totally safe… To be clear, there are plenty of images of past “football” carriers. But none that I’m aware of that have posed for pictures.

This is a pretty good breakdown of the legal quagmire that is the executive order on immigration as it stands at time of writing. (Things may change. As should be abundantly obvious by now.)

For heaven’s sake, we must avoid hurting his feelings!

This twitter feed is hilarious and heartbreaking. It envisions an alternate reality where Secretary Clinton won, the news is not wholly ridiculous, and First Gentleman Bill is sent on a lot of errands.

History and the rise (and fall?) of facts.

This woman makes my Money Month project look like amateur night at the roadhouse.

I loved this piece at The Everygirl about Beyonce and Adele at the Grammy’s last weekend, which speaks bluntly about black artists losing to white ones consistently and how what could have been a twitter war between the stans was prevented by the genuine positivity of women loving and supporting other women.

NPR has a deeper read into race and the Grammys that’s well worth a look in.

It took less than a month for a scandal to bring down a major player in the administration which, while in line with my predictions, does not bode well. All I will say is that given the layers to the Gen. Flynn story (most notably the fact that now-former Acting Attorney General Yates apparently alerted the White House to the potential threats and was fired only days later due to her stance on the immigration ban, and the fact that timelines being put forward by various staff simply isn’t matching at time of writing), I expect the press, government officials, and voting public to give at least as much scrutiny and attention to claims of foreign interference in our government as they did to Secretary Clinton’s emails.

Pantsuits on women was a major trend this NYFW. Cannot imagine why.

After all the shouting and bluster about security privacy and Secretary Clinton’s emails, to see national security policy play out as dinner theatre is completely beyond the pale.

How are our feelings about death, lately?

This is a thing?! My theory of dating (granted I’ve been out of the game for a decade) was that s/he who asks, pays. Full stop. Have the rules changed that much?

A piece from the New York Times about the rise and fall of celebrities at fashion week shows.

This interview with Kelly Cutrone on the state of the fashion industry is also a great read.

Gorgeous photos of a movement that I, for one, need to know more about.

NOPE. Also, if I’m a “host,” does that make any potential fetus a parasite? Careful what words you choose, people.

Into the Gloss tracked some of the best beauty looks from NYFW. I didn’t know I needed neon eye shadow, but suddenly I do. Intensely.

One of my “ones that got away” in terms of vintage or second hand buys is a leopard print coat that I to this day deeply regret not snatching up. Jenna Lyons is not helping my nostalgia.

All things considered this week, this news seems super not great.

The story of the assassination of North Korean dictator’s Kim Jong-un’s half brother gets more bizarre every day.

This post by the great and good Caroline Hirons is a nice catch up to some of the latest beauty launches, but her final paragraphs on blogging and having an opinion really caught my eye.

Here’s a nice, completely apolitical tale of humans being nice.

Album of the week: Life Will See You Now, by Jens Lekman

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