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.


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'

Friday, September 15, 2017

Afternoon Tea (9/15/17)

This Patrick J. Adams profile is really interesting. Come for what he says about Meghan Markle, stay for the ruminations on Suits in the age of Trump!

Dream Daddy, the game of the summer, was an ode to evolving queer narratives

A Lexicographer’s Memoir of Merriam-Webster in the Internet Age

This is fun: The Worst Shows Critics Ever Reviewed — IndieWire Survey

A Case for Studying the Humanities in a Time of Neo-Fascism

Patreon Spotlight: Interviews and Guest Posts!

One of the reasons I have a Patreon is to help me publish different kinds of content here, not just more. So I wanted to tell you about my next goal! Because that's very focused in that area.

When my patronage level reaches $100 per month, I'm going to start getting you at least one interesting interview or guest post a month here. I really like the idea of hosting some different voices. For one thing, it just gives you a change from listening to my opinions about everything all the time. And, more importantly, I'm hoping to pull in some perspectives you might not otherwise get the chance to hear.

Wondering what this actually means? Well, how about a few examples? For the first few months once we reach this level: actress/writer Kate Hackett and author Susan Adrian will both stop by. (More on the latter in a second.) I've got an awesome young queer sex educator who will come recommend some non-terrible sex ed resources for the kids and teens in your life. I haven't actually talked to her about it yet, but I'm planning to drag my mom in to talk about health care policy from a pediatrician's point of view. (Hi Mom!) And remember Vampire Legal Issues? Our favorite vampires are no longer on TV, but plenty of other fictional characters are making terrible estate planning decisions, and Lawyer Christine will come back to yell at them.

And... it also means that when we reach the goal I'll put up a notice about how YOU and anyone else interested can pitch me guest posts. I'll even pay you for them.

So. As of this writing, we're at $53. $47 to go. Even $1 a month helps a lot (and gets you an exclusive monthly update on my work!). Any more than that gets you extra content: more links, playlists, recipes, all sorts of stuff. And I said I'd get back to Susan... the thing I have planned with her is really awesome and... really Christmas-related. I'd love to publish it in November to help get us all in the mood (and... maybe help you with your Christmas shopping?!?!). That gives us about two months to reach this goal. Let's do this.

Morning Coffee (9/15/17)

As usual, we're going to put current events mostly on hold and find some happy links to celebrate Friday!

Me elsewhere: Holly and I recorded an episode of The Fourth Wall about Fall TV and the Emmys. Come listen to us have opinions on TV we haven't seen!

Oooh, here's the National Book Award Nonfiction longlist. Some interesting stuff on there I want to read!

This was a complete delight and I don't even particularly care about Harrison Ford: Harrison Ford on Star Wars, Blade Runner, and Punching Ryan Gosling in the Face

LOOK AT PBTEEN'S NEW HARRY POTTER COLLECTION. I guess I don't ACTUALLY want a themed bedroom, but it's tempting.

Oh, I love this list every year! Top 5 Baby Names By State For Births In 2016

Amazing: Danielle Steel’s Desk Is Unlike Anything You’ve Ever Seen

Cool! Uno is finally getting a colorblind-friendly edition

Here’s the World’s Best Honey Cake, According to Science

Beauty and the Beast Le Creuset is totally the kind of thing I would buy if I had lots of extra money lying around.

!! 16 Gifts Every Cheese Lover Will Obsess Over

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Afternoon Tea (9/14/17)

I don't usually read comics but I'm going to try this one: Rainbow Rowell on her love of Runaways and the joys of comic collaboration

Ha: The Twelve Tiers of Fall Television!

The convoluted world of best-seller lists, explained

How the Unflappable Fred Astaire Survived the Fifties

Everything Serena Ever Wore on “Gossip Girl”

Weekly Rec: Tinyletters I like!

Two of my dear friends recently started book-related Tinyletters, so I was going to recommend them to you, and then decided I should go back and tell you about some less new ones I like as well. So consider this a Tinyletter recommendation roundup to live in the Weekly Recs archives!

But first: what's a Tinyletter, you ask? It's basically just a free email newsletter. You subscribe and get it in your inbox every time the person writes a new one (or, for most, you can check the online archive if you don't want emails). They're often but not always themed. It's longer form than Twitter or Instagram, more like how blogging tended to be in the mid-2000s. The idea of email newsletters isn't new, of course, but Tinyletters have become something of a trend in the last year or so, partially because with all the (many) issue related to new media and its financial instability, this is a painless way for writers to reach their audience directly. And since there's no direct way to monetize it, I think it often feels intimate in a "this is what I really want to tell you even though I can't necessarily sell it" way. (You can monetize indirectly, via Patreon or affiliate links - for example, I use Amazon referral links when I recommend books, so I wind up with a couple bucks a month of Amazon credit.)

(I suppose I would be remiss not to mention my own Tinyletter, Kate Reads. It's about - brace yourself - what I'm reading. I would like you to subscribe because I have had the exact same number of subscribers for a while now and it's a little demoralizing. MUCH AS I LOVE ALL MY CURRENT SUBSCRIBERS.)

So! The new ones:

My friend Bailey has started Read It Again, about her adventures in rereading books she's already read. And my friend Molly has Forgeterature 101: book reports on books she once read but doesn't exactly remember.

Other favorites (in alphabetical order):

The Check-In: The writing life with YA author Amy Spalding (@theames).

The Crime Lady: Sarah Weinman (@sarahw) discusses crime fiction and true crime.

Episodes: Todd VanDerWerff (@tvoti), culture editor of Vox, talks TV and other things. Todd is one of those writers whose thoughts I will happily read on anything, regardless of whether I think I care about the topic.

Lipstick and other stories: Author Jasmine Guillory (@thebestjasmine) talks books and writing, food, makeup, and more.

The Rec Center: Gavia Baker-Whitelaw (@Hello_Tailor) and Elizabeth Minkel (@elizabethminkel) recommend fanfic and other fandom-related delights.

The Shatner Chatner: Mallory Ortberg (@evilmallelis), late of The Toast and now Dear Prudence, talks about whatever and it's hilarious. (This one is closed to new subscribers - there's a limit imposed by Tinyletter - but you can read them online!)

Two Bossy Dames: Smart, hilarious recommendations and cultural commentary from Margaret Willison (@MrsFridayNext) and Sophie Brookover (@sophiebiblio).

(Weekly Rec posts are made possible by Patreon. Join in!)

Morning Coffee (9/14/17)

I'm so glad this awful man is in jail: Martin Shkreli Is Jailed for Seeking a Hair From Hillary Clinton

How disgusting: Attorneys Suspect Motel 6 Calling ICE on Undocumented Guests

Exclusive: Rice told House investigators why she unmasked senior Trump officials

This is a legitimately big and important story on its own but it ALSO makes me want a The Americans/Halt and Catch Fire crossover: U.S. moves to ban Kaspersky software in federal agencies amid concerns of Russian espionage

Why Mueller is drilling into Trump’s role in drafting Don Jr.’s false Russia statement

Honestly, this is the one thing I thought he'd be on top of: Federal offices are still waiting to hang Trump’s picture

Good for her: Amber Tamblyn Pens Open Letter to James Woods

Related: She Was a Rising Star at a Major University. Then a Lecherous Professor Made Her Life Hell.

I... this is weird! Americans don't need to take over everything! Man Booker Shortlist Is Half American (Also, I've read one of those American books, and I can EASILY think of a Canadian novel I thought deserved this more than that one.)

Bloodstained ice axe used to kill Trotsky emerges after decades in the shadows

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Afternoon Tea (9/13/17)

I loved this interview with Celeste Ng - I just got her new book Little Fires Everywhere from Book of the Month and I'm so excited. (If you click that link you can use my referral to get books for $9.99 AND a free tote bag and it's totally worth it.)

This was a DELIGHT: How the Jeopardy! Writers Room Comes Up With All of Those Questions

Innnnteresting: 2017 is the worst fall TV season in recent memory

Inside Higher Ed is sneakily the most hilarious: Homeschooled Student's Transcript Might Be for a Cat

How guest Hans Christian Andersen destroyed his friendship with Dickens

Morning Coffee (9/13/17)

Edith Windsor, Whose Same-Sex Marriage Fight Led to Landmark Ruling, Dies at 88

I haven't had time to watch Ezra Klein's interview with Hillary Clinton yet, but from the description it sounds amazing: "Not only does she refuse to paint an inspiring vision of a political process rid of corruption, partisanship, and rancor, but she’s also actively dismissive of those promises and the politicians who make them."

Sigh: Scandal-plagued foreign leader gets surprise invite from Trump, checks into Trump’s hotel

The most shocking political assassination of the past decade remains an utter mystery

This list is GREAT: The National Book Awards Longlist: Young People’s Literature

Aaah! Star Trek: Discovery reveals its theme song

Pluto's Features Just Got Some Seriously Metal Names From Mythology

For Qatari Network beIN Sports, Political Feud Spills Into Stadiums

Honestly, Walton Goggins was born to play a snake-handling preacher, and Olivia Colman is in this too so I'm VERY excited. (I was on a press call with Goggins once and I'm pretty sure we would have all joined his church by the end of it. Just saying.)

Heh: Declutter Your Chrome Browser Tabs or This Tamagotchi Clone Will Die

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Afternoon Tea (9/12/17)

I LOVE this. The ordering is useful but it also gets at exactly why I love le Carré's work: The Best Way to Read John le Carré’s George Smiley Books

I'm a little behind on Outlander, but if you aren't, I guarantee you should be reading Nicole Cliffe's recaps: "Outlander is an EPIC ROMANCE about high-quality knitwear and incredible sex, it is not about Scottish history, and no one will convince me otherwise, including Diana Gabaldon."

Shades of Noir: My Hunt for an Eclipse Glasses Villain

Castle of the Sealand kings: Discovering ancient Iraq’s rebel rulers

What the Rich Won’t Tell You

To the CT Millennials Who Now Must Explain Furries to Their Parents

Oh, you guys. I'm so, so sorry we're going through this. As if 2017 wasn't bad enough! Now we have politicians losing their jobs because people find out they're furries, so then that is printed in the goddamn newspaper and now all of our parents and grandparents and aunts are going to call us up and ask what that means. That concern was obviously my first thought when I read this story, and sure enough, I've already gotten one email from a relative. Do you want to explain furries to your relatives? No. No you do not.

My first thought was "just tell them to Google it", but on second thought that's a terrible idea, partially because you probably don't want to do that to your family but also because it might prompt MORE QUESTIONS. But good news: Vox is on it, because of course they are. The always delightful Dylan Matthews has a furries explainer that is comprehensive and PG-rated, so you can just send that to anyone asking. (How did we ever understand anything before Vox? The only thing they haven't been able to explain to me is bitcoin.)

While we're here, though, let's talk about whether we actually care about this.

First of all: Do we care if our elected officials are furries? I am inclined to say no, we do not. Let people enjoy what they enjoy, to the extent that it is not hurting anyone. Especially right now! I have lost count of the number of Connecticut politicians in jail. The president is a barely literate lunatic rapist who might accidentally start a nuclear war. Does it matter if some guy on a town council is a furry? Nah. You do you, dude.

However! However. According to the reporting, there is something on this guy's profile that says he "tolerates" rape. (Sounds like users have to multiple-choice react to various preferences.) So that's a totally different story. I do not want elected officials who tolerate rape.* And that has nothing to do with his furry proclivities, for the record - lots of non-furries "tolerate" rape! Like the president! - but is in itself sufficient reason to ruin his career. So at the end of the day I'm not losing sleep over this one.

Just over having someone ask me about it at the next family gathering.

* I stopped and thought about this because the context wasn't entirely clear, and I have no problem with, say, rape appearing in fiction if it is portrayed in a thoughtful and sensitive (and, you know, negative) way. I hate the idea that we can't put whatever subject matter in books or TV because it's "bad". BUT I'm assuming in THIS context, it means rape as part of a positive fantasy or role-play or whatever, and that's a different story.

(Posts made possible by my Patreon patrons, though I feel I should maybe apologize to them for this one. Sorry guys! Want to join in on the fun and maybe get to assign me more ridiculous topics to write about? Right this way.)

Morning Coffee (9/12/17)

(ICYMI, $3+ patrons, come vote on scheduling for our September Skype hangout! I'd like to get that firmed up by the end of the week.)

This situation is horrifying: NH Police Refuse to Release Information in Case of 8-Year-Old Biracial Boy Who Was Nearly Lynched

Trump Voter Fraud Commission Poised To Double Down On Debunked NH Claims

What a shock: Despite Pledge, Trump’s Biz Is Working With Chinese Gov’t-Owned Company

The Merkel Effect

A stunning new study shows that Fox News is more powerful than we ever imagined

SIGH: Miami Airport Corrects WH Social Media Director’s Fake Post About Irma

Hurricanes Like Irma Also Create Destructive Chaos Underwater

Celebrities Don’t Have to Pay You for Movie Ideas You Tweet at Them, Judge Rules

Ooh: Target Is Lowering Grocery Prices

!! Genetic Analysis Offers First Strong Evidence of Female Viking Warriors

Monday, September 11, 2017

Afternoon Tea (9/11/17)

I LOVE this essay by Reese Witherspoon: We Have to Change the Idea That a Woman With Ambition Is Out Only for Herself

This was fascinating: Who Will Save These Dying Italian Towns?

I'm thinking of trying this: The essential Stephen King: a crash course in the best from America’s horror master

I'm so excited for this: How Gary Oldman Was Finally Convinced to Play Winston Churchill

Hee: Netflix: TV Shows Recommended Hyper-Specifically for You

Morning Coffee (9/11/17)

Me elsewhere: The week's TV news.

I hope any of you who might be affected by Irma are safe and holding up okay! As always, The Guardian has a great liveblog.

Brazil’s top politicians are getting busted with literal suitcases full of cash

Donald Trump, Jr., Attempts to Explain That Russia Meeting

Republicans Won’t Play Fair Unless Democrats Make Them

George Clooney slams 'failed f---ing screenwriter' Steve Bannon (Obviously all his political comments lately have made me think "Is he setting up a run for something?" because I guess that's how things work now.)

Of COURSE: Tiffany Trump's Rep Accidentally Emailed Harper's Magazine to Get Her Into a Harper's Bazaar Fashion Party

The truth about the gender wage gap

Ooh! Alton Brown’s ‘Return of the Eats’ Crashes Onto the Food Network in 2018

This is cool but also sort of alarming! University invites Game of Thrones fans to search George RR Martin archives for clues

Ruins of a Roman City Found Off the Coast of Tunisia

Friday, September 8, 2017

Afternoon Tea (9/8/17)

Happy weekend! Don't forget to check out my new Patreon rewards and join if you enjoy these posts!

This profile is very interesting and well done and POOR KID: Dylan O’Brien Is Ready to Talk About That Accident

This is great and JUST LIKE THEM, I promise: Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson chat about writing and murder

I'm still not 100% sure I believe this, honestly: The Story Of "My Immortal" Is More Wild And Heartbreaking Than You Imagined

How to Write While the World Burns

That's enough, clowns.

Morning Coffee (9/8/17)

It's Friday, so let's have some lighter links! Back to the miseries of the world tomorrow, I promise.

Prince George started school! SO CUTE.

The Man Who Invented Christmas, with Dan Stevens as Dickens and Christopher Plummer as Scrooge, looks more insane than I'd dreamed and now I'm pretty excited for it!

Ooh, trailer for the new Magic School Bus show! Yes, that's Lin-Manuel Miranda singing, because the man apparently doesn't need sleep.

Perhaps your Friday would be improved by ogling Matt Bomer's Todd Snyder ads. It's A LOT.

I want to go there: China’s Seaside Library Mimics the Rhythms of the Ocean

Whoa: World’s tallest sandcastle rises in Germany

Look at these amazing hotel bathrooms.

12 Cozy Blankets You'll Wanna Snuggle Under All Year Long

These Disney Villain Lip Smackers Will Make You Very Excited For Halloween

Awww: Sophie Turner Basically Just Adopted Her Own Direwolf

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Afternoon Tea (9/7/17)

What fresh hell is this: Book doulas: the new way to push your writing into the world

A fascinating piece about the first Asian-American TV lead: The Search for Madame Liu-Tsong

A View of Saturn’s Rings From the Inside, Courtesy of Cassini

IT IS 2017 and this is still a relevant advice column topic: ‘The Men in My Office Keep Having All-Male Outings!’

Experiments Show How Neanderthals Made the First Glue

Weekly Rec: Endeavour

Weekly Recommendation posts are made possible by my Patreon sponsors. Join us now for more content!

Many of the best mystery series - book or television - take place during periods of great social change and upheaval. Widespread cultural, social, and political shifts present all sorts of new opportunities and motivations for people to commit crimes, and the effects of abstract changes are portrayed in pointed, personal ways. It makes the whole context of the investigations much more interesting; a delicious tension is created between what's happening in the world and the need for detectives to put at least small parts of it back in order.

This is one of the reasons why the British show Endeavour works so well. It's a prequel to the long-running classic Inspector Morse mysteries, but you don't need to have seen Morse to enjoy Endeavour. (I haven't!) It's set at Oxford in the 1960s, where a young Endeavour Morse is starting out as a policeman. It has all the things you look for in a traditional British mystery show - dead dons, class maneuverings, gorgeous architecture, mostly decent police officers, tea - but it's the sixties and things are changing rapidly around Endeavour, as students protest, women enter the workforce, and conventions crumble. In a recent episode, "Canticle," he even gets involved with a mystery surrounding a Beatles-esque rock band and a woman protesting their supposed obscenity. It's one of the finest of the series so far.

The first three seasons of Endeavour are streaming on Amazon Prime: one, two, three. Season four is currently airing on PBS, so you can probably catch all of it on demand or on the PBS site; I'm sure will be headed to Prime eventually!

Morning Coffee (9/7/17)

ICYMI, I'm spotlighting some of my new Patreon rewards and goals, and yesterday's post was on new group hangouts! Join now and vote for when we should all hang out in September!

United Nations accuses Syrian government of April sarin attack

Indian journalist critical of Hindu extremists is shot dead in Bangalore

Some interesting timing here: Russian firm tied to pro-Kremlin propaganda advertised on Facebook during election

The looming fight over “tax reform,” explained

This is what Obamacare sabotage looks like

I give up: Trump voting commission allegedly uses personal email for government business

Go Peggy! Astronaut Peggy Whitson has returned to Earth, a couple more NASA records in hand

Aah! Harry Potter: A Journey Through a History of Magic release date announced

Eleanor Rigby's grave deeds to be auctioned with Beatles song score

Can we rely on NOTHING? Nintendo confirms that Mario is no longer a plumber

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Afternoon Tea (9/6/17)

This was funny and quite interesting! A U.S. Military Member Reviews Fall TV's New Military Shows

Bookish has a great Fall Preview of new books.

The Fight for Real Cheese

How a 17th-Century Naval Engineer Revolutionized Set Design

The former child labourer making millions baking cakes

Patreon Spotlight: Group hangouts!

I made some big changes in my Patreon this month, so I'll be spotlighting various rewards and goals as the month progresses!

One new reward I'm pretty excited about goes to all patrons at the $3 level and up: monthly group hangouts! I was a little hesitant to do this, because I kinda figured no one would want it, but I support a few Patreons that have similar things and they're actually really fun! How it works: We all jump on a Skype call or similar and just hang out and talk about whatever - stuff in the news or what we're reading or what's going on in our lives. Or you can ask me questions about what I'm working on or links I've posted or whatever. It's a fun way to build a bit of community around here. I hope you'll give it a try with me!

If you're already a $3+ patron, head right over here to vote on when we should have our September hangout!

And if you'd like to jump in for September, join now!

Morning Coffee (9/6/17)

Why ending DACA is so unprecedented

And here's Obama's statement.

Spotify Creates Playlist in Support of DACA

This seems like very normal language: Trump ‘is not my bride’: Putin wades into diplomatic row with U.S.

Red Sox Used Apple Watches to Help Steal Signs Against Yankees

The Vanity Fair Meghan Markle cover story is worth reading, and I think the Fug Girls are right on in their analysis of it.

!!! RFK Limited Series Starring Chris Pine In Works At Hulu

Hong Kong Broadcaster's Decision To Drop BBC Prompts Anger

Interesting: Conservative Publisher Stops Branding Its Writers As ‘NYT Best-Selling Authors’

Traces of 6,000-year-old wine discovered in Sicilian cave

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Afternoon Tea (9/5/17)

These are gorgeous: To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Voyager missions, NASA made these stunning, free posters

The Women Who Rode Miles on Horseback to Deliver Library Books

Don't worry; it's about a different one: When a New York Baron Became President

Solving the Mysterious Disappearance of Two 18th-Century French Frigates

The Two Best Dutch Anatomists of the 17th Century Hated Each Other

A Brief List of Elderly Strangers Who Are Never Allowed to Die

John le Carré's new novel is out today, and I've read a bunch of reviews of it, and a very common subtext - and in some cases text text - is just pure relief at the fact that le Carré, who turns 86 next month, is still alive and writing (coherently and well!). AND I AGREE. We cannot possibly be expected to deal with the world, especially in its present state, without knowing that he and his characters are out there. Stay well, Mr. Cornwell.

Also in this category for me:

Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer - Yes, I need both of them. The Sound of Music was very formative for me, okay?

Maggie Smith - Don't worry; I'm sure McGonagall will figure out immortality if she wants.

Beverly Cleary - She's 101. I know we should be grateful we've had her for so long. Still.

Derek Jacobi - I feel better just knowing Cadfael is in the world.

Jimmy Carter - I mean, seriously. I know he can't actually do anything official but I just feel like we need all the decent ex-presidents we can get for some kind of karmic balance.

Her Majesty the Queen - I don't even want to talk about it.

EDITED TO ADD: Ruth Bader Ginsberg - My friend Abby just reminded me and I CAN'T BELIEVE I FORGOT HER.

Morning Coffee (9/5/17)

Now that people are back from long weekends, I'm going to mention again: there are some changes around here and on my Patreon! As the month progresses I'll be highlighting some of the specific goals and rewards, but please check it out if you have a moment. Patreon really helps me devote the time necessary to put together link posts, and gives me some writing time too!

The questions that 800,000 people are waiting for Trump to answer about DACA

U.N. Group Accuses Burundi Leaders of Crimes Against Humanity

The N.F.L. Star Appealed for Donations. Then His Mom Got to Work.

Sad news: Poet John Ashbery has died.

And so has Walter Becker of Steely Dan.

Year of the woman: the Democrats inspired by Trump to run for office

A young girl pulled a sword from the lake where Arthur threw Excalibur!

Wow: A camera store shows off gear wrecked by the solar eclipse

Ruined ‘Apartments’ May Hold Clues to Native American History

Found: 381 New Amazon Species

Monday, September 4, 2017

Afternoon Tea (9/4/17)

This is fascinating: This 19th Century Lady Doctor Helped Usher Indian Women Into Medicine

A Neural Network Wrote the Next 'Game of Thrones' Book Because George R.R. Martin Hasn't

The Prehistoric Puzzle of How Plesiosaurs Swam Through the Oceans

Did Benedict Arnold’s fleet plunder an American settlement?

The True Story of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond—And Why the British Won’t Give It Back

Morning Coffee (9/4/17)

Me elsewhere: TV news for the week.

This is terrible: Trump has decided to end DACA, with 6-month delay

How to Get Away With Murder in Small-Town India

A taxonomy of American far-right hate groups

Good for him: Pepe the Frog Cartoonist Stops Distribution of Children’s Book

Beer-Brewing Monks Are Helping Rebuild Earthquake-Devastated Town In Italy

Okay, some happy news: new royal baby on the way!!

And more new Taylor Swift!

Huh, interesting: Dr. Phil Video Leads to Novel Copyright Decision Involving Woman Alleging False Imprisonment

Ancient Romans Were Using Lead Pipes Earlier Than We Thought

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Morning Coffee (9/2/17)

I made some changes around here yesterday! If you missed it, take a look at my post explaining everything. And please consider supporting my Patreon - if all my regular readers gave just a dollar or two per month, we'd easily fund the next goal, which includes PAYING PEOPLE (you??) to write guest posts!

Extremely useful: Six Charts To Help Americans Understand The Upcoming German Election

This seems, you know, important: Russian Election Hacking Efforts, Wider Than Previously Known, Draw Little Scrutiny

"The president, for his part, has marveled at the installation of management controls that would have been considered routine in any other White House."

The Onion in the age of Trump: ‘What we do becomes essential when its targets are this clownish’

I wish the need for this were surprising: These Women Entrepreneurs Created A Fake Male Cofounder To Dodge Startup Sexism

Todd VanDerWerff is a delight, as usual: Should you spend $20+ to see Marvel’s Inhumans in IMAX? Look, it’s your money.

A New Statue Remembers A Forgotten, Working Class Suffragette

Why African-American Soldiers Saw World War II as a Two-Front Battle

I was just wondering about this: Why Are We All Supposed to Be Excited to Eat Charcoal?

Inside One of Tinder’s Controversial Hamptons Parties

Friday, September 1, 2017

Things are happening!

Happy September! Again. I know I said that this morning, but I'm REALLY happy about it. So I figured September 1st was the perfect time to make some changes. As soon as the weather turns, I start waking up with energy and ideas and ambition. I love the back to school feeling, even though I'm not going back to school. So I figured I'd try to capture that feeling and that energy and channel them into making this blog and my Patreon into what I'd love them to be. (Plus, it gave me an excuse to use dorky school-themed names for the reward levels.)

I'm telling you about this here partially because the Patreon changes will mean a few changes you'll see on the blog as well, and partially to encourage blog readers to consider joining me on Patreon. I've never wanted readers to feel pressured about this, because I want these link posts, especially, to be available to everyone regardless of ability to pay, and because I really do enjoy putting them together - but it is a not insignificant time and energy commitment for me, and getting compensated for that time means I can continue prioritizing those posts and will be in less danger of burning out. The great thing about the Patreon model is that for most people, a $1 or $3 per month contribution wouldn't even be noticeable in their own finances, but they build together to make a small but steady stream of income I can depend on. And it's (I hope!) not all one-sided - patrons get all sorts of extra exclusive content at the various levels. So please head over and check it out!

Now, what's changing on the blog, you ask?

First of all, the links aren't going anywhere. Don't worry.

But! In addition to the links, you'll now get at least two non-link posts a week. One of these will be a recommendation of something I'm liking (book, movie, show, music, food, app, whatever!), and the other will be whatever grabbed my interest and made me want to write about it that week - something related to current events or pop culture or whatever else I'm thinking about.

Ads are gone. They went away today. Frankly, the TINY bit of money I got from them wasn't worth making you guys look at them every day.

New colors and layout! I like the blue but I'm still considering whether I like the new left sidebar. If you have strong opinions either way, let me know in the comments!

My next Patreon goal will mean a big change for the blog as well: When I get to $100 a month, I'll start publishing a guest post or interview each month. I really love the idea of getting some voices other than mine on here, and I have all sorts of ideas for who to get to talk to you. Look for a whole post about this next week, but for now let me say that I have an AWESOME holiday-related interview lined up... so let's try to get to $100 in time, okay??

I changed up the Patreon rewards today too. One big change is that ALL levels $3 and up will now have a monthly Skype hangout! I'm looking forward to that - sign up soon to get in on the poll for September's scheduling. The monthly recipe reward is now just $10, and there are some new higher levels: everything from exclusive playlists to peeks at my novel in progress to ASSIGNING ME HOMEWORK (blog posts) to getting my help editing YOUR writing. You can see them all in the right column here!

I'm going to be plugging all this a bit this month to get it off the ground; I'm apologizing in advance because I HATE marketing myself and I'm sure it's annoying to read. But you can absolutely help (and make me quiet down about it sooner) by sharing - sharing the Patreon and blog in general, sharing the link posts with your friends who might find them useful, sharing other posts that catch your eye.

As always, thank you for reading, and if you have any questions or suggestions, let me know!

Afternoon Tea (9/1/17)

100 Books Across America: Fiction and Nonfiction for Every State in the Union

This is cool: Inside Netflix and Marvel’s heroic efforts to keep track of all the injuries to their superheroes

This photoessay about similar Hilton rooms around the world is actually pretty soothing.

Mozart’s Visit to what became Buckingham Palace

Did German U-Boats Smuggle Alcohol Into the U.S. During Prohibition?

Morning Coffee (9/1/17)

Happy September! You may have noticed that things look a little different around here this morning! I thought it was time for a change. I've got a few other changes in the pipeline too, so check back this afternoon to read all about it!

But first some Friday happy links...

Isabel Allende is going to be on Jane the Virgin!

This made me want to do a rewatch immediately: When Gossip Girl Ruled the World

Aaaah, Sesame Street made "Despacito" except about Rubber Duckie!!

From the Fug Girls: Queen Elizabeth Plots Some Twists For the Next Season of the Royal Family, TV's Longest-Running Soap Opera

!! Inside the Massive New Bookshop That Could Be the World’s Biggest

Hahaha: Things I Have Googled Trying to Guesstimate Men’s Heights from Their Tinder Photos

Sue Grafton from A to Z

Ooh fun: 20 Back to School Romance Novels

LET'S GO: New York’s fanciest – the city's increasingly dazzling ice-creams

The Search for the World’s Most Enchanting Greenhouses