Friday, June 28, 2019

One Year Later

It has been one year since the Capital Gazette shooting. Social media creates memories for you which can cheer and of course in some cases cut. Because nothing is different. We haven't made it safer to be a journalist, we haven't made it safer to be a student, a movie goer, or a church goer. I, in fact, spent Thursday at a church event where there was extra security so we could discuss the murder of man over fifty years ago who had participated in a protest in part spurred by a police shooting. The "White Lies" podcast looked at the systems protecting such things and I think therein lies the problem. While the person who shot the woman I worked with is going to trial, the systems in place, the things that have us treating each episode of gun violence as an aberration remain. I have not forgotten Wendi. I have not forgotten the others lost to gun violence. And I will keep working. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Three Interesting Things

1. A  Canadian child did science and determined that several hand dryers are louder than toys are allowed to be, and typically louder at child height, which most manufacturers do not measure for. 
2. This delightful piece about Megan Rapinoe also contains the best description of teamwork I think I have ever read.  
3. An article about modern YA and Twitter that captured things quite well. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Revisiting an Old Fave - ER

Hulu has had the complete series of "ER" for a while. I turned it back on and realized a few things. Anytime you revisit the start of a series its a reset. You the viewer now know tons of things about the characters that you didn't at the beginning. But in this case, I suspect the biggest change might be me. See, at the time "ER" started I was closer in age to Dr. Carter, our new med student who actually doesn't even show up until about halfway through the episode. He seemed kind and well willing to learn and so my sympathies went to him. My vague recollection is that I thought of Dr. Benton as arrogant, but eventually revealed to be a marshmallow. In fact Dr. Benton - while yes, not lacking in confidence - is quite reasonable to Carter. When Carter reveals minimal skills, he puts him on some easier stuff and even guides him through the first one. Benton's not super kind when Carter gets a little nauseous, but ultimately let's it go. 
So it was nice to revisit but wow, I was not expecting some life stage evaluation along with it. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Three Interesting Things

1. Marjorie M. Liu's story about how Keanu Reeves is blasting through some stereotypes was fascinating. (Also, was one of the first things I watched with my Netflix trial "Always Be My Maybe"?  Yes, yes, it was.) Note: the headline contains an ableist word that is not repeated in the text.  
2. I've been catching up on "Grownish" and so got to the episode about sober consent and paused it because yeah, it already seemed problematic.  "Grownish" does some great stuff, and I like it.  But whew, as this article points out, first they used a non-assault as the jumping off point, which come on, US college campuses have plenty of real assaults. "Grownish" and it's predecessor "Blackish" often get to a good place by the end of the episode, but wow, sometimes the haha why be sober parts go on a little too long before you get there. 
3. Parenting advice columns are not a place I frequent, but this one has two incredibly thoughtful answers, one about bedtimes and one about being trying to raise your white kids to treat the brown kid in class thoughtfully. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Widening the Frame - Samoan Citizenship

The "Americanish" episode of "Radiolab" was very well researched, and covered many of the basic issues concerning the current state of citizenship for Samoans, as you might expect of Radiolab. And yet. While I highly recommend the episode, the crux is this. Folks born in Samoa are in the unique position of being considered born on US soil, and yet are not US citizens, they are considered US nationals, but not citizens.  There is a case making it's way through the courts to change this.  And people in Samoa are conflicted.  After talking to a lot of people about why, including those who pointed to Hawaii as an example of places where the land is now in many cases not owned by Hawaiians anymore, and how being under the aegis of the US Constitution would mean that they would likely be unable to restrict land being sold or inherited by folks not of Samoan descent, the reporter still seemed really confused as to why people would be concerned. They ended the piece with the lawyer representing the person suing for citizenship, who said well it really comes down to do you trust your government.  And I finished the episode thinking well, yes, that's exactly it.  
Because of course when it comes to the people who were already here, the people indigenous to this land, be they members of the hundreds on nations in the continental US, be it Alaskan native, Hawaiian, Puerto Ricans, the folks in what is now Texas, the record of the United States is not just a little flawed.  Time and time again, the United States violated treaties, overthrew governments, made and broke deals, and overall has proven itself incredibly untrustworthy.  The reporter also kept saying things like, but what if the land could be preserved, and look, I am not a lawyer or a real estate expert, but the only thing I could think of that would allow Samoans to maintain a land can only be owned based on heritage rule is if something like what we did with reservations was set up.  And off the top of my head, we have taken back reservations when they turned out to be located in places that were advantageous to us, despite tribe members having the Supreme Court on their side, we have made particular efforts to steal their children and raise them outside of community traditions, we have decided that because tribes don't get US mail, then tribal citizens may not be able to vote, oh right, and apparently one store chain tried to argue that it wasn't illegal for white people to sexually abuse people on tribal land.  You may think those examples are from hundreds of years ago, but they aren't.  
I obviously don't have the answer for what choice Samoa should make.  As someone who lives in another special exception in the US, I have been fighting for enfranchisement, but in the case of DC, our pro/con list is a little different.  Our citizens are already subject to the US Constitution, we just can't vote for the people who can change the Constitution, and Congress continually tries to interfere in our local governance. So in the end I wasn't surprised to find some Samoans don't think full citizenship will provide as much as it will take away. 

Friday, June 14, 2019

Let's Go Steal a Podcast - "The Studio Job"

I was back on "Let's Go Steal a Podcast" to talkie about "The Studio Job" aka "Leverage"s foray into country music. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

When the Reading Pickypants Takes a Break

There's sort of a surreal thing that happens when you read something that contains things you have snarled on lesser books for and yet you still like it. On the one hand it seems petty to quibble, if you liked something then you liked something. On the other hand I feel like people who know me, who have perhaps heard me rant about the lack of the bridge in "Braveheart" or my always ready discussion of the geography problems in "True Lies" are aware that there are some things I cannot get over. When I say all of this stuff is either wrong or unexplained but I liked it, I don't mean I found myself unable to enjoy it, I mean I enjoyed it and these things are still true. 
So here I am to talk about two different royal books. Rachel Hawkins Prince Charming - which takes place in a fake version of Scotland for reasons the text never fully explains. And Casey Mcquiston's Red, White, and Royal Blue which takes place primarily in DC and involves a Prince of England (just England, no apparent mention of the rest of the UK).
Now both books use single POV, so we are primarily in the head of the American so you could argue the lack of knowledge about the state of things is because Americans generally don't understand that England and the UK are not interchangeable terms. And yes, Hawkins says she did a ton of behind the scenes worldbuilding as to why in her book the Scotland royalty is separate and I have not yet read the sequel and maybe that info is there, but it is not in the first book. 
Also Red, White, and Royal Blue has the president's kids going for a jog around the Reflecting Pool which I found hilarious (I have no idea how the Secret Service handles jogging needs, but feel certain touristy areas are frowned upon) and also, I am not a person who jogs, but the Reflecting Pool is not that big and would seem to be incredibly tedious. 
So all of that is to say I enjoyed these books, I had fun, I laughed, and I basically treated both of them the same in my head, as if they took place in highly fictionalized versions of the places they claimed to take place in because yeah. 
Both involve fake relationships to cover things that would not be allowed, and both involve people dealing with family and public lives and how to find some semblance of who you want to be within  and outside of the public image. And while most of us are never going to be royalty or presidential children, those are pretty universal themes even if my life choices seem less likely to show up in a gossip magazine. 

Friday, June 07, 2019

Update on "Fosse/Verdon"

CW: Suicidal Ideation. 
Here's the thing. I finished "Fosse/Verdon". It's not a happy story. They are playing around with time in ways I can't decide if it ends up being more interesting than distracting. The Michelle Williams performance is captivating. Even when it's her washing dishes with a phone to her ear. Is it still a tale of a misunderstood genius who probably betrayed everyone in his life at least once and the folks married to him like billions of times? Oh hell yeah. 
I should mention I have a fondness for a number of the Fosse musicals. But "Pippin" was one my parents loved, had the cast album, rented a video taped version, there is no part of that show I can't sing today. (Okay, like two parts.)
Well, "Pippin" is a show about a dude who is sure he is destined for greatness, feels his life is too ordinary, and tries to fix it. Love doesn't work. War doesn't work. Suicide is suggested and right before the end Pippin realizes nope, love was all I needed and bails out. Using the themes, the songs, the razzmatazz, of all that as bits throughout the action was incredibly powerful. And yet, other episodes they have held back, done teases, but not all the way. I think some of this is he was having a breakdown so they could go all in, but in the end, I think this will be the episode that stood out, because they went all in thematically. And because watching Fosse's daughter sing a haunting "I Guess I'll Miss the Man" is kind of what this whole show is - a study of man who was quite awful and yet better than others. 

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Three Interesting Things

1. Most people.  I wrote a thesis in college on a thing that I now chat with people occasionally at parties about. This woman, I dethroned a long running "Jeopardy" champion after studying clues for years, including for my capstone. 
2. This reflection on miscarriage is a reminder that abortion is not a set procedure it is a set of health care protocols and procedures that are used by many. 
3. I enjoyed this piece on how Liv Tyler deserves justice from space

Monday, June 03, 2019

The Sweater is not a Metaphor, Probably

I cast on last week for a sweater using a type of yarn I'd used before. The prior seater went super fast. It helped that it is aran yarn, although made of light materials, had a lot of stockinette, but just enough lace to keep me from being bored. And the progress on the body went so fast that I zoomed through the sleeves. 
So I went into this one with high expectations for myself. It started with lace shoulder panels, those went fast, as things knit on 9's that are only 16 stitches wide tend to. I picked up the edges, did some short rows, got everything added and joined to start working in the round. And then, I started to wonder. Was it too big? It's an oversized sweater, so it's a question without a clear answer. I kept trying it on, but the yarn is so sloppy that it invariably fell off the needles when I tried. I was theoretically making progress, working quickly through the yarn balls and yet, it seemed wide. I reassured myself that things often come together once you're farther along and can better see the shape. That if it had taken Just over a week to get this far, if I had to rip back, it wouldn't take too long. And yet every time I picked it up, continuing to knit felt futile. Like denial. And I tried to figure out was it really the sweater bugging me or was it bigger stuff. Other things that felt stuck, going through the motions in the same pattern magically hoping for a last no ore reveal? And I have to tell you, I don't really have the answer to that yet. But I did cast on a new shawl.