Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Afternoon Tea (9/20/17)

Romance Novelist Julia Quinn on What Makes a Character Sexy My favorite part: "In some ways, portraying a healthy relationship in literature is the most revolutionary thing you can do."

The Secret History of America's Oldest Tofu Shop

This is about the American Revolution, though it doesn't sound like it from the title: The French Bread Connection

The Making and Unmaking of Iggy Azalea

Aww: Two Pastors in Love, and Only God Knows

100 Things in Hillary's Book That Made Me Like Her Even More, Part 3

Part 1. Part 2.

(This... may end up at more than 100 before I get to the end of the book. SORRY.)

41. "I wish so badly we were a country where a candidate who said, 'My story is the story of a life shaped by and devoted to the movement for women's liberation' would be cheered, not jeered."

42. "This has to be said: sexism and misogyny played a role in the 2016 presidential election."

43. On what she expected when she kept her maiden name: "Maybe people would even respect what it said about our marriage: that I wanted to preserve my pre-Bill identity, that I was proud of my parents and wanted to honor them, that Bill supported my choices."

44. "Think about it: we know of only a handful of speeches by women before the latter half of the twentieth century, and those tend to be by women in extreme and desperate situations. Joan of Arc said a lot of interesting things before they burned her at the stake."

45. Aww: "I'll bet you know more about my private life than you do about some of your closest friends."

46. "People say I'm guarded, and they have a point. I think before I speak. I don't just blurt out whatever comes to mind." Hint hint!

47. "It will, no doubt, merit a line in my obituary someday: 'Her eyes once watered on camera.'"

48. She absolutely takes Bernie and the like to task for deciding that some issues are sacrosanct but not women's health.

49. "Mansplaining. The second I heart it, I thought, 'Yes! We needed a word for that!'" [I explained that one to my mom and a few of her Mount Holyoke friends and they reacted the same way.]

50. "It happens at work, too. I make sure everyone has eaten, that my staff is wearing sunscreen if we're at an event in the baking sun."

51. "Something I wish every man across America understood is how much fear accompanies women throughout our lives."

52. She makes sure to point out that Princess Leia has gotten a promotional to General.

53. "We helped bring into the mainstream the idea of a woman leader for our country. That's a big deal, and everyone who played a role in making that happen should feel deeply proud. That was worth it. I will never think otherwise. This fight was worth it."

54. "If you're ever looking for me at a party, you're likely to find me wherever the kids are."

55. "Finally, I sat down and tried my best to make eye contact with this squirming infant. 'Chelsea,' I said firmly, 'this is new for both of us. I've never been a mother before. You've never been a baby. We're just going to have to help each other do the best we can.'"

56. No woman at her law firm had ever gone back to work after having a baby, so she wrote her own maternity leave policy while pregnant.

57. She takes time for a little message to any new mothers who might be reading: "You're doing great. It'll get easier, so just hang in there. And maybe ask your partner or mom or friend to take over for a few hours so you can have that shower and get some sleep."

58. On the idea that she and Bill must "have an arrangement": "We do, it's called a marriage."

59. "All I know is that a lot of people have grabbed my hand and told me their worries and dreams, and that's been a unique privilege."

60. "People like me when I'm in a supporting role."

Morning Coffee (9/20/17)

Hillary Clinton Is Finally Expressing Some Righteous Anger. Why Does That Make Everyone Else So Mad?

Fear itself: Donald Trump's real immigration policy

Was Charlottesville the Exception or the Rule?

‘Friends of the Court’ Have Hidden Ties to Big Investors

Turkey's new school year: Jihad in, evolution out

Maurice Bluestein, Who Modernized the Wind Chill Index, Dies at 76

Whoa: Record-sized data centre planned inside Arctic Circle

I know I say this every time archaeologists find thing in Egypt, but it blows my mind that they're STILL making big finds in Egypt: Ancient Egyptian treasures uncovered in tomb near Valley of the Kings

THIS IS HORRIFYING: Icelandair introduces introverts' worst nightmare: Inescapable interactive theater

This piece is very interesting and thoughtful, and also, pay your writers! I'm a Black Writer Suing Ebony for Unpaid Work. It Doesn't Feel Good.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Afternoon Tea (9/19/17)

From Prison to Ph.D.: The Redemption and Rejection of Michelle Jones

“I’ve Always Been Political”: Celeste Ng and Nicole Chung in Conversation

How a Design Agency Helped Make Portland, Maine, the Hippest Foodie Town in New England

“Skip intro”: Netflix could’ve saved TV title sequences, but now it’s killing them

10 Years After Her Horrible 2007, Britney Spears’s Tabloid Saga Shows How Much Has Changed

American Assassin: Men are too emotional to be trusted with nukes.

(MOVIE SPOILERS AHEAD.)

I went to see American Assassin on opening night not because I have a huge enthusiasm for this kind of action movie - I prefer my espionage stories to be of the "people inscrutably reading files" type - but because I enjoy Dylan O'Brien's face and wish to support his career, especially now that he's gone through a difficult recovery from a terrible on-set accident. I also enjoy Taylor Kitsch's face, and I have vaguely warm feelings toward Michael Keaton as I do everyone who was in Spotlight, the greatest movie of our time. Honestly, this whole introductory paragraph is just to give your brains a second to react to the spoiler alert above and stop reading if you so choose.

So, I saw this movie, and it was a reasonably enjoyable mindless action movie, but! It turns out that the lesson of American Assassin, like basically everything else in 2017, is that men are way too emotional to be put in charge of nuclear weapons. The premise of the movie is literally "This guy has too many feelings, so let's train him to kill people really effectively!" Specifically, he ends up going after a previous guy with too many feelings trained by the same people, whose feelings about the fact that assassins are not supposed to have feelings have led him to construct a nuclear weapon more or less for funsies. Their trainer, who also has a surprising number of feelings for someone who claims to have none, is basically just setting their deadly emotions to ping-pong off each other and hoping it ends up okay. Far be it from me to question the wisdom of CIA Director Hercule Poirot, but I have some doubts about this entire endeavor.

There are only two female characters in this movie, because we do not count women who exist solely to die tragically and inspire men as characters. So far as the audience knows, these two have had at least as many if not more terrible things happen to them than have any of the men, and they do a much better job of keeping a handle on themselves and doing their jobs. (One of them does one questionable thing because of her feelings, but their overall track record is much better.) Their experiences have clearly shaped them and helped refine their priorities, but they do not make everything about their own pain. One of these women has the unlucky task of supervising the assassin training nonsense described above, and it is entirely due to her calm competence that this movie does not end in literal nuclear holocaust.

In summary: Hillary should have won, and this movie is silly but Dylan O'Brien does this thing with a window that's worth the price of admission.

(Posts made possible by my Patreon supporters! Join in!)

100 Things in Hillary's Book That Made Me Like Her Even More, Part 2

Part 1.

21. To cheer Obama up after his first debate with Romney, Hillary sent him a Photoshopped picture of Big Bird strapped to the top of Mitt's car.

22. She hired the first chief diversity officer to make sure she had the most diverse presidential campaign ever.

23. "My advisers had to deal with a candidate - me - who often wanted something new to say, as opposed to just repeating the same stump speech over and over." Not that that sounds like anyone we know.

24. "I'm something of a Roosevelt buff. First on the list will always be Eleanor." And one of the reasons she mentions is one of my favorite Eleanor quotes, too: "If I feel depressed, I go to work."

25. "There was a minor Washington tempest back in the 1990s when a newspaper claimed I was having seances in the White House to commune directly with Eleanor's spirit. (I wasn't, though it would have been nice to talk to her now and then.)"

26. On why she likes Teddy Roosevelt: "He was also a shrewd politician who managed to fend off the demands of angry populists on his left, who wanted to go even further toward Socialism, and conservatives on his right, who would have let the robber barons amass even more wealth and power." AHEM.

27. "I'm convinced that the answer for Democrats going forward is not to abandon data but to obtain better data."

28. "My approach came down to two words: routine and joy."

29. She and Bill have kept careful track of every book they've read for years, and I would pay actual money for access to those logs.

30. On her great hair and makeup people: "But I've never gotten used to how much effort it takes just to be a woman in the public eye."

31. She started wearing pantsuits after being photographed up her skirt as First Lady - taking her inspiration from Nancy Drew, and she quotes an actual book (and describes the plot point!) in which Nancy says "I'm glad I wore pants!"

32. The only part of having Secret Service protection that annoys her at this point is causing other people traffic problems with the motorcade.

33. She loves Goldfish crackers, and during the campaign her favorite flight attendant got Flavor Blasted Goldfish for the staff to try. "We passed around the bag and discussed whether it was better than the original. Some of my staff thought yes, which was incorrect."

34. After the Iowa State Fair: "I want you to know that I did not eat that pork chop on a stick because it is politically necessary. I ate that pork chop on a stick because it was delicious."

35. "We take birthdays and holidays seriously on the road."

36. On meeting women in their eighties and nineties excited to vote for a woman: "I imagined myself in thirty years, putting on nice clothes and going to hear my candidate speak." Aww.

37. She's a matchmaker who always wanted the gossip on who in the press corps was dating each other.

38. She calls herself a "lifelong fan of school supplies."

39. "In the end, thanks to our practice sessions, I felt that deep sense of confidence that comes with rigorous preparation."

40. On why she hired Robby Mook: he was "highly disciplined and levelheaded, with a passion for data and a talent for organizing."

Morning Coffee (9/19/17)

The world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis is taking place in Myanmar. Here’s why.

There's a... lot in here: With a Picked Lock and a Threatened Indictment, Mueller’s Inquiry Sets a Tone

The 4 steps for Republicans to repeal Obamacare in the next 2 weeks

Well. Request denied: States try to block access to public records

What The World Thinks Of Trump

Wow, make sure you see the New Yorker cover they would have run if Hillary had won.

‘It Was a Frat House’: Inside the Sex Scandal That Toppled SoFi’s C.E.O.

This is a good, important read: Colin Kaepernick Has a Job

The brilliant, infuriating, boring, hypnotic Ken Burns documentary The Vietnam War

The Race to Build a Computer Powerful Enough to Predict the Future

Monday, September 18, 2017

Afternoon Tea (9/18/17)

Make sure you read to the end, and don't read ahead: The Week My Husband Left And My House Was Burgled I Secured A Grant To Begin The Project That Became BRCA1

Some amazing stuff in here: Peter Hall: A Life in Pictures

TRUE: Opinion: You Should Probably Go To More Movies By Yourself

The Silent Film Returns — on Social Media

Ladies Be Tuckin'

100 Things in Hillary's Book That Made Me Like Her Even More, Part 1

I know this is ridiculous. I'm not sorry.

1. "I realized I was inventing a new pastime: imagining the pain of past electoral losses." She goes on to discuss John Adams, McGovern, Taft, and more. This is totally the kind of pastime I would invent.

2. "But I couldn't - and wouldn't - compete to stoke people's rage and resentment. I think that's dangerous. It helps leaders who want to take advantage of that rage to hurt people rather than help them."

3. She casually refers to Jason Chaffetz as a "wannabe Javert."

4. She refuses to give absolution to people who tell her they didn't vote and want HER to make them feel better about it. "We all have to live with the consequences of our decisions."

5. About making it through her concession speech: "In some ways, it felt like I had been training for this latest feat of self-control for decades." And right after it: "I asked my senior team to go back to our headquarters in Brooklyn and make sure everyone was okay."

6. When Bill lost his gubernatorial reelection in 1980, he was so upset that Hillary had to speak to supporters on behalf. Note: he did not need to do that for her when SHE lost. (Too bad women are so emotional, huh?)

7. After the campaign, she paid everyone through November 22nd and provided health insurance through the end of the year.

8. "It wasn't all yoga and breathing: I also drank my share of chardonnay."

9. She and Bill put up a painting of the balloon drop at the DNC because they loved it so much.

10. She is the pushy friend who makes you take bits of her clothes and accessories you've admired.

11. We like the same type of mysteries. Let's start a book club, Hillary!

12. She's always identified with the older brother in the prodigal son parable. (SAME.)

13. "I ran for President because I thought I'd be good at the job."

14. On the Clinton Global Initiative: "No one could just show up and talk; you had to actually do something." AHEM.

15. She has a completely rational explanation for her "secret" Wall Street speeches, and yet takes complete blame for not realizing they would look bad.

16. Why she finally decided to run: "It was a chance to do the most good I would ever be able to do."

17. "For me, political campaigns have always been something to get through in order to be able to govern, which is the real prize."

18. On all the research and list-making she did to construct her policies and positions: "It was honestly a lot of fun."

19. On long campaign road trips, she googled every NPR station on the way so she'd be prepared for the drive.

20. On Trump's approach to campaigning: "He had no ideological core apart from his towering self-regard, which blotted out all hope of learning or growing. As a result, he had no need to listen to anyone but himself."

Morning Coffee (9/18/17)

Me elsewhere: TV news for the week.

Stop talking about sensitive things in restaurants, you idiots: Trump Lawyers Clash Over How Much to Cooperate With Russia Inquiry

What on earth: Cuba mystery grows: New details on what befell US diplomats

There’s now a real congressional push to block the transgender military ban

Facebook and Twitter may have to testify before Congress about Russian interference in the 2016 election

Why I Will Never Stop Being Glad That Hillary Clinton Refuses to “Go Away”

Ugh: Shailene Woodley drops the single most tone-deaf quote of the Emmys

UGH: Stephen Colbert welcoming Sean Spicer to the Emmys stage was a disappointment and a failure

Good for her: Amber Tamblyn: I’m Done With Not Being Believed

Sigh: Study: Female Characters Achieve Parity on TV—on Shows Created by Women

!! Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen rock to 'I Saw Her Standing There'