Things I’m Verbing: Lunch ladies, wonder pigs and existential bread

I’m a magazine gal at heart — daily news is not my preferred speed, addicted as I am to news Twitter. Almost as if proving my point, the links I had been saving since last week have become, well, not irrelevant but deep backstory by now, particularly in the thread starting from Michael Flynn discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador pre-inauguration, turmoil within the national security community and the so-called “spy revolt” that’s leading the intelligence community not to brief Donald Trump on certain issues because of their certainty he’s been compromised (which he does easily enough on his own anyway). That turned into the explosive revelation that former acting AG Sally Yates warned the administration that Flynn was vulnerable to Russian exploitation, and then seven hours after Kellyanne Conway said Flynn had the full confidence of the president, Flynn resigned.

That was yesterday. And today?

Oy. So that all happened. I’m going to share some more evergreen stories today, because honestly, if you want to keep up with current events, Twitter will have already moved on by the time you read it here.

  • The GOP is right on one thing — it is Valentine’s Day! Please read Laurie Penny’s “Maybe You Should Just Be Single” (“Happy Marxist Valentine’s Day!” she tweets), an actually quite good essay about women who drain themselves trying to find and please “lacklustre, unappreciative, boring child-men who were only ever looking for a magic girl to show off to their friends, a girl who would in private be both surrogate mother and sex partner.” Look, we know she’s not wrong. And to characterize this piece as one more bitter harpy with sharp words about the patriarchy does a profound disservice to Penny and you the reader.
  • You also need to read the Huffington Post Highline’s “Revenge of the Lunch Lady” by Jane Black. Several years ago, British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver brought his reality show to the Charleston, West Virginia, school system to overhaul their appalling school food program. Meet the woman who succeeded where he totally failed.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education shares a speech from English professor Kevin Birmingham which lays out the immorality of how adjuncts are treated, consumed and paid by universities. “The Great Shame of Our Profession” is essential reading; follow up with Longreads’A Shot in the Arm,” which also appeared this week, about a tenure-track professor forced by debt to donate plasma twice a week.
  • You can always rely on Aeon for interesting and well-written topical essays. Jay Griffiths argues that we’re looking to the wrong fascists in finding precedent for the alt-right. It’s Italy we need to study, not Germany. Meanwhile, as we try to diagnose the national ills that ail us, psychologists and psychiatrists are debating fiercely among themselves on the ethics of speculating on Trump’s mental health.
  • Want a feel-good story? I promise it doesn’t get much better than the Guardian’s “I accidentally bought a giant pig” (whose name, it turns out, is also Esther!). If you really want to just laugh at stupid things until you start wheezing at your desk, for whatever reason, “15 Hilarious Kitchen Fails That’ll Make Even the Worst Cook Feel Better” honestly made my day so much lighter.

It’s almost paczki season, friends. Stay brave.

Image Credit: Thomas Leuthard, 2011 (Flickr)

Things I’m Verbing: Vichy Democrats, Jewish allyship and some cute, smart dogs

Hey, some week! Right? Right?

Oof, ain’t that the truth.

You can track the votes of your representatives in Congress here, by the way. (I’m with Tom Tomorrow — we need to implement the phrase “Vichy Democrats.”) Gizmodo has published a guide to unearthing the embarrassing tweets of your enemies. You can also read sudden bestseller 1984 for free at Project Gutenberg, a superb resource all around. Something to think about as at least six journalists have been charged with felonies for reporting on Trump’s inauguration; the D.C. police chief won’t comment.

  • Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. It’s a day for reflection on current political climates both inside the Jewish community and, in a very big way, outside it. Benjamin Gladstone, writing for Tablet, exhorts Jews not to excuse away antisemitism from their political allies anymore — from the right and from the left. (For more on that, here’s the briefest possible explanation of why it’s antisemitic to bring up Israel/Palestine when discussing issues of Jewish safety — or the presence and existence of Jews at all.) Meanwhile, as Trump moves to close borders and institute immigration quotas based on religion, a bit of cruelty: Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser (because that’s not worrisome enough) is only alive because of chance. His grandmother survived the Holocaust, but couldn’t avoid it entirely, because borders had been closed to her and millions of other Jews who tried to flee Europe.
  • You’ve seen all those “rogue national park service accounts” on Twitter, right? They’re really amusing and encouraging. However, as Motherboard rightly argues, if these really are national park employees who need to be protected (and not a ploy to get federally employed scientists to leak to them and reveal themselves), these accounts should verify themselves somehow. It can be done without compromising their identities.
  • The podcast Reply All found some precedent for a master media manipulator like Trump who nearly rose to seize real power: Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, a man who literally became famous for inserting goat testicles into men with impotence starting in the late 1910s. This guy gave noted American fascist Father Coughlin his start on the radio, and at least for this instance, the story has a happy-for-us ending.
  • Many argue that the real evil we need to keep our eyes on is Mike Pence. Autostraddle has a terrifying piece by a former member of the extreme Christian rightist Quiverfull movement explaining that millions of evangelical conservatives have been waiting for a high government official just like him.
  • It’s all a lot, right? Yeah. You need “How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind.” Pair with “The Democratic Base Is Marching Right Past Its Leaders.”

For more on that (and current Captain America writer Nick Spencer‘s latest bit of high-minded grossness).

If you’re still here, I have a completely unrelated personal essay up at Screwball Heroine, for the interested. “You’ll Never Know” takes on how the language of art-making can become gatekeeping all too easily.

Stay brave, friends.