Thursday, July 18, 2019

Three Interesting Things

1. This medium post by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein talks about the effects of seeing violent policing during protest on children, and asks that the astronomy community reconsider the planned placement of the TMT on Mauna Kea.  
2. This humor column imagines if people spoke about other professions the way they speak of writing
3. We used to get the Northwest Current delivered to our house growing up.  It was hyperlocal, in ways the Washington Post wasn't.  I still miss the days of hyperlocal blogs, the ones that remain have either broadened their focus, or slowed their posting. Journalism is changing rapidly and I don't have the answer, but the Current did a useful thing for a long time and will be missed. This look at it's history and it's downfall is fascinating. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

B&T - Books and Theater

So, because I am a person who likes connections, I am going to try to come up with a few books that I think share some thematic resonance with plays I see. Since last week I saw "Ann", we will start with that. 
Ellen Emerson White's The President's Daughter - thematic connection - female politician - This is a YA contemporary that I read as a teen.  It is from the perspective, as the title suggests of the daughter of the first female president, and the various changes and issues associated with that.  There is some smooching. 
Casey Mcquiston's Red White and Royal Blue - thematic connection - Texas female politician - I've talked about this book before, it's a college aged contemporary about a child of a female president, although this time the son, and there is much more than smooching with a certain prince. 
Aminah Mae Safi's Tell Me How You Really Feel - thematic connection - difficult woman - Also YA contemporary, it involves an enemies to lovers (although more, she mostly hates me but I can't help my terrible crush anyway, wait maybe not totally hate) with two high school seniors who, it seems by the dedication were inspired by Paris and Rory from the "Gilmore Girls".  

Monday, July 15, 2019

"Ann" at Arena Stage

Content warnings: Now dated language regarding certain ethnicities, erratic workplace depictions, discussions of sexual assault and child abuse, and a joke about Arkansas that I imagine Arkansans are quite tired of. 
I saw a preview night of "Ann". It is a one woman show about Ann Richards, one time governor of Texas that covers her ride to governor and some of the work she did after. 
It includes some of her relationship with her family, her coworkers, and Bill Clinton. There is some discussion of her stance on reproductive rights, sensible gun control, welfare reform, and even coverage of a stay of execution. 
I think whether you learn anything new about Ann Richards is a function of what you knew going in. I confess I don't know that I specifically knew she was what we often call a difficult boss, but to wasn't surprising. The show attempts to look at her nonstop pace as something that infiltrated all areas, and tries to also show that she was a great grandmother, and a caring but tough parent. Some of the issues get more time, her welfare reform is barely mentioned and she states going to school in California as a kid just made her racism float clean away. In fairness, I am pretty sure that's what Ann thought and so it is entirely true to the character. 
Overall, it was interesting and kudos to Jayne Atkinson, while there is an intermission, it's a long time on stage. 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Three Interesting Things

1.  With recognition that there are many things that may to me - child reader of Born Free and other such things seem like common knowledge, and not to others, here is how lion prides work.  Just to clarify, no one is saying "The Lion King" can't exist or be enjoyed, just that knowing it is not a reliable source on lions is helpful.  (I have also never encountered a singing bug.  Which I would be into.  Just saying.  Singing bugs are definitely better and non-singing bugs.) 
2. This discussion with George Takei looks at how Americans have always tried to change the language around the concentration camps we make here, to make them seem less terrible. 
3. Moira Donegan talked about how a generation after Title IX we are seeing the fruits of it with things like the dominant women's soccer team. My girls high school has an alumnae award for athletes and even those who have gone on to be doctors and other leaders have talked about the skills for teamwork towards a common goal that sports provided.  Winning athletes is a small part of the rewards we have seen.  Oh also, pay them.  Pay the women.   

Monday, July 08, 2019

Code Switch's The Original Welfare Queen

Code Switch's episode about The Original 'Welfare Queen' is fascinating for a number of reasons.  It's always fascinating to do a deep dive into the story behind someone who became an avatar for something, the echoes of which are still felt today.  As a white-passing multi-racial person who has thoughts about the way the census has traditionally allowed folks to identify themselves, the idea that Linda Taylor was listed at one point as white, and another as Hawaiian, that part of the story about her was that she was planning a vacation to Hawaii struck a chord.  When my grandmother in Hawaii died, I had to think about how to frame this for my co-workers.  I was of course going to take several days off of work to attend her funeral.  Obviously, I wasn't going to spend an entire day traveling across the country only to fly out one day later, I was going to take this sad excuse to reconnect with family that I rarely get to see.  But yeah, I knew that folks were going to be like, uh-huh, sure, your grandmother died and you're going on a Hawaiian vacation.  Because we forget that people live in these places that signal vacation to so many.  
None of this is to say that Linda Taylor was a great person, or that she deserves more sympathy.  As the episode makes clear, she was not a great person, and she was using a lot of people and did a lot of not great things.  She probably was not using her trip to connect with family for good reasons.  But again, this part of her story, along with the implication that she was a representative example of the poor people using welfare, were examples of how we make use of certain assumptions to mislead people.  Of course the easiest way to fix welfare would be to raise the minimum wage. Or change welfare to universal basic income.  But it's much more fun to otherize folks on welfare and convince people that only users need welfare.  
And of course, as the episode points out, even the good stories, are often smoothed out for public consumption.