Monday, April 30, 2012

Coretta Scott King

As part of Women's History Month I read a biography of Coretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. She was really an amazing woman, and I was sad to learn that she only died in 2006 but I didn't know anything about her at the time. She fought for human rights in all areas—not just civil rights, but women's rights and gay and lesbian rights—she fought for the poor and was anti-war and anti-violence.

She was also the first woman to preach a statutory service at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. I tried to find a better photo online but couldn't, so this is the one I snapped with my phone while I was reading, because I just think that is really cool.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Happy Times

It just sort of happened that the other day I came across some old blog posts that made me really happy. I was happy when I posted them, and I was happy when I read them again, so I wanted to share them.

And especially this post, which is about a period of a couple months in which I watched a lot of old movies, read biographies about Lucille Ball, Katharine Hepburn, and Cary Grant, and spent a lot of time wrapped up in blankets because it was winter in Utah. Those things all make me really happy, but the comments especially are the best part, and make me miss the people involved.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Things to Look at This Weekend:

This is a great article about how dads don't babysit—they parent.

This is a Chuck Norris meme.

Something I was saving up, so I have to post it even though I'm avoiding political things: If it's sexist when conservatives say it, it's sexist when liberals say it. We don't need hypocrisy here. "It’s time for some equal-opportunity accountability. Without it, the fight against media misogyny will continue to be perceived as a proxy war for the Democratic Party, not a fight for fair treatment of women in the public square."

An article I came across, and this is something I've been thinking about—should you tell people when you have a miscarriage? I think that miscarriages are much more common than most people know, and sometimes I think that women could be more supportive of each other if it were something we could talk about. The article discusses it pretty well.

Some random thoughts:
  • I don't think I've ever seen a film depiction of a marching band that didn't make me roll my eyes at its ridiculousness. They're always in places they shouldn't be (like, say, marching around the campus at random on the first day of school), or wearing their uniforms to practice (like every sports team ever in a movie ever), or doing dances they physically couldn't do if they were actually playing those giant instruments they're holding, or playing concert instruments instead of marching ones (French horns and bassoons in particular).
  • It depresses me that there was a time when I pluralized things with a "z"... Like anywayz or cool beanz (and let's be honest, both of those phrases are depressing for reasons other than the "z", too. I was really on a roll at fifteen). 
  • Lana's been into Snow White and Sleeping Beauty lately, which has led me to notice the use of the phrase "love's first kiss"... and wonder why it has to be love's first kiss. Some kind of virginity thing? Totally random choice of words because the phrase sounds prettier than "true love's kiss"? But it is "true love's kiss" in The Little Mermaid, isn't it? (Or is it? because I really can't remember now.) Anyway, just something I noticed.

Cause I have other things to fill my time
You take what is yours and I'll take mine
Now let me at the truth
Which will refresh my broken mind

Finally, of course, there's this, which you've already seen if you have been on Facebook at all in the last two weeks, but which you should see if you haven't. Ashley Judd and her puffy face FTW.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Marrowbone Marble Company, by Glenn Taylor—8/10

This book was a huge surprise. I am learning to take my friend Meredith's word for things when she lends me books, because she was responsible for The Story of Edgar Sawtelle too; that was another that I probably wouldn't have ever wanted to read on my own, but ended up loving. The Marrowbone Marble Company looks fairly boring based on the title and the cover (which I have to admit seems like a dropped ball on someone's part in the publishing process, but whatever).

The book is about Loyal Ledford, a young man who works in a glass factory, falls in love with his boss's daughter, and enlists pretty much the instant he hears about Pearl Harbor on the radio. It's about the civil rights movement, about people who fought for what they believed was right even when it put their lives in danger. It's about a group of people who choose to live together in a community where they all work and worship and raise their children together, and I have to admit... that part sounded divine to me. One of my dreams in the last few years is to be able to move everyone I love, all my family and friends and loved ones, out to some beautiful piece of land, not controlled by governments that don't act in our best interests, where we can all live near each other and create the kind of community we can't find in our separate parts of the real world. And there's a glimpse of that in this novel. It's pretty amazing.

It's also a gritty story, and there's some fairly intense violence of war, mob, and other varieties. The plot is both interesting and meaningful, and it's historical, which I obviously love. The writing is plain but lyrical, easy to read but still lovely. A beautiful book all around.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Hero Handbook, by Nate Green—9/10

You should all read this, like, today. It's short and you could probably do it in one afternoon if you had a couple hours at once to devote to it; I've read it twice now. It's basically everything my mom has tried to tell me about life, but using words the average lame guy could appreciate—stuff like learning to do meaningful things instead of wasting days at a time doing nothing, having a healthy body (not just a skinny/muscley one), getting rid of excess junk in your life, being financially stable (or, as Nate puts it, "don't be an idiot with money"), and so on. If you remember the brain dump feature I started here a while ago, this is where it came from; it's one of the things you're supposed to do a couple hours before bed so you can get your brain to shut up when you're finally ready to sleep. 

The ideas are all simple and practical, and they sound like your friend from college wrote them in an email. It's available for free online, and if you have a smartphone you can download it and read it there (which is what I did this last time; that's a really easy way to do it). 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Burned Out

Ironically enough, considering how recently I explained the importance of activism to me, I am feeling burned out on it right now. This internet hiatus has been about avoiding the things that stress me out so much, and as I've been trying to break myself back in slowly, I'm finding that even a small amount of exposure might just be too much for me right now.

Sometimes discussing politics can make you feel like an insane person, like when something seems so clear to you, and then someone you love comes along and sees it a completely different way and you just cannot wrap your brain around it or understand how someone so dear to you can believe something that seems, to you, completely delusional.

Like this. I see:

  • the PATRIOT Act, which defies amendments one, four, and six of the Constitution in order to facilitate the [utterly unwinnable] "war on terror"
  • the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the indefinite detention of American citizens who have had no charges brought against them (something that is, of course, specifically prohibited in the Constitution)
  • a recent Supreme Court ruling that says police can strip search—including full body and cavity search—people arrested for absolutely anything (like traffic violations or eating on the subway), even if officials have no reason to suspect the person of carrying a weapon or narcotics
  • a Supreme Court ruling that says police don't actually have a constitutional duty to protect American citizens (even if a person has a restraining order that is being violated)
  • the things I wrote about in this book review

and that, to me, is as close to "the Constitution hanging by a thread" as I can imagine. But then I talk to family members and friends who support the people passing this legislation and think that the trouble with the Constitution comes from people who don't fit into Christianity's model trying to get married the same way straight people do. 

And I see all of these things happening:

and they're all being done by Republicans, but then I hear women calling it the "fake war on women" and claiming that Democrats are calling people anti-woman just because they don't support abortion and state-mandated birth control, and my mind is just blown. 

So I think I'm going to take a break—not from the internet, but from caring about things. (Which is obviously not something I can do, so what I really mean is that I'm going to avoid reading the things I usually care about.) Emotionally I'm struggling enough without trying to handle the kind of almost manic frustration that comes with feeling totally helpless about things that are a really big deal to you. So I guess I'm going to stop. 

Pinterest, Goodreads, book blogs, Go Fug Yourself, and whatever it was I used to do online before I got into politics four years ago—if I can remember what that was—that's what I'll be doing when I do get online now. Activist blogs, the news, and even Facebook... those are things I'm going to cut out, completely in the first two cases, and as much as possible in the last. 

Sometimes it's just too hard to care about things you can't really change. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Reading with the Stars, by Leonard Kniffel—7/10

This was, once I got into it, really quick and very fun. It's a collection of interviews with celebrities who have run campaigns or made a special effort to help libraries in America, and it made me feel very fond of themsome I'd already loved, like Julie Andrews; some I'd never even thought about, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; and some I knew of vaguely, but not in any in-depth way, like Laura Bush, Ralph Nader, and Jamie Lee Curtis. And it made me feel guilty, I have to admit, for my snobbery regarding Oprah's book club. Few people have done as much for libraries and literacy as she has, and I don't know, I just feel like maybe I need to give those little stickers a chance. Anyway, if you like librarying or reading or celebrities, read this. It's fun.

I think people don't realize how important libraries are, especially now, when people seem to think they're becoming obsolete. They are definitely not—all they need is updated technology. But since no one cares about libraries, and no one understands how essential they are in the development of communities and individuals, they don't have the money they need to make those transitions. If you don't think of libraries as essential, I promise that these celebrities will change your mind.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Wild Girls, by Pat Murphy—8/10

I liked this book so much. The wild girls, Newt and Fox (Joan and Sarah), are so lovable, and their story is lovely to read. It deals with serious issues but is neither too heavy nor too lighthearted in its treatment of them—just right, I think, for the age group. The characters are fun, especially the Berkeley crowd (which makes me which I could go there), but surprisingly kind and wise as well. The girls are taking a summer writing course and they meet stilt-walkers, face-painters, and a young free-thinking teacher who helps them understand others in their lives through their writing. Really just a great book all around. 

An interesting addition is that I read the entire thing without knowing, until today when I looked it up to write this review, that it takes place in the seventies. Not sure if there just didn't happen to be anything especially particular to the time period, or if I'm extraordinarily unobservant.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Link Dump

I've been saving up news stories and memes that I've come across in the last few weeks, and I finally realized that I need to do some kind of weekly catalogue or I'll never be able to share them all. Probably they won't be as interesting to you as they are to me and I'm sorry for the lameness of the formatting because just a list of links/headlines isn't going to be very exciting to read. Oh well. I'm not ready to come fully back yet from my internet break so this is the best I can do.

Twelve Stressful Things to Stop Tolerating. Several of these are things we've all told ourselves before, but sometimes it's time to actually do. We can all use less stress in our lives.

I Hereby Resign: This guy's experience is an excellent argument for why employers need to stay off their employees' Facebook pages. In addition to being—I believe—sneaky and totally unjustifiably controlling, it actually screws over the company and makes them completely vulnerable to lawsuits, which is good for no one. 

Boutique Academia is a geeky jewelry store, and that is awesome. Some of the pieces are so pretty I want them even though I'm not sciencey or mathy enough for it to make sense (see the microscope and Fibonacci sequence necklaces).



Bully has come out, but still only in New York and LA. (There's a contest on the site where you can vote for your city, and the top ten will be getting it next. Go vote for yours, as long as you don't knock Dallas out of the running! Because I want to see it.) I think this is a really important thing.

A month ago the Arizona senate passed a bill allowing doctors to choose to not inform women of prenatal issues, if the doctor thinks that having the knowledge might lead the woman to choose an abortion—even if said prenatal issues could kill the woman. (The last I heard, Kansas was considering a similar law.) I don't know if anything else has happened with it since then, but I hope so, because I find it sickening that legislators appear to believe this is ethical.

And finally, for your flashbacking pleasure, here is something I read in my high school journal recently that made me laugh:
April 24, 2000
"___ is the Mia Maid president. She's a little prissy suck-up. Excuse my language, but she is!"

Not very charitable of me... But on the other hand, I thought the phrase "prissy suck-up" was  "language", so I guess I wasn't too far down the road to hell.  (And, in my further defense, that girl was pretty prissy, and sometimes not very nice. I distinctly remember her making derogatory comments about me, to me, at a Youth Conference dance after I told her about an argument I'd had with a guy I liked. I felt really crappy and then had to sit next to her on the 45-minute drive home, so that sucked.)

The end! For now. More to come soonish.