Things I’m Verbing: Rebel librarians, CEO presidents and lost boys who need to wander back

We have stripes. I don’t know why I’m amazed by this fact, but human people have stripes! Bless, Mental Floss, this really brightened my day.

  • Other things that brighten my day: confirmation bias. And I don’t just mean backup for my apprehension about gyms. Laurie Penny, who has been writing about Milo Yiannopoulos long and deeply enough to text with him for comment, has a smashing longread at Pacific Standard. “On the Milo Bus With the Lost Boys of America’s New Right” takes an inside look at what happens when a movement of gamers recognizes they’re not players, but pawns (their subhed, not mine). As good as everyone’s been saying on Twitter. Read it.
  • Libraries are great. Librarians are great. Protect them at all costs.
  • Former colleague and current BuzzFeed ace Sara Yasin has written one of those essays you wish some so-called deplorables would really absorb and understand: “Muslims Shouldn’t Have to Be ‘Good’ to Be Granted Human Rights.”
  • George W. Bush’s administration was supposedly characterized as that of a long-awaited “CEO president,” which was, until recently, historically unpopular. Trump is also a CEO — is this a common thread? Actually, not at all. Writing for the Conversation, business professor Burt Spector explains the huge cultural differences and investor expectations of heads of family-owned corporations.
  • Pour one out for the failing New York Times; this Modern Love column on working in a dog shelter totally made me tear up.

Stay brave, friends.

Image credit: San José (California) Library, 2010 (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.

Things I’m Verbing: Barack’n’Roll

I dug up some artifacts from Nov. 4, 2008, the day Barack Obama won the highest office in the land. I was in Chicago, 24 and a bit, an uninsured temp worker editing brochures for the American Medical Association about the nearly 50 million Americans who didn’t have health insurance then. First, I wrote this:

Cynicism is easy. It’s safe. It keeps you insulated from disappointment and makes allowances for you to feel protected in all possible outcomes.

To ask this electorate, which had its heart so thoroughly broken in 2000 and 2004, to hope as it has done this year, is incredible.

What we’ve seen, what people have done for each other, the stories they’ve shared, is incredible.

Always remember this.

Cynicism is easy.

Hope takes elbow grease and pulling yourself up by the bootstraps.

Later that evening, before I left to go to Grant Park to await the results, I posted this:

I want to say something, for all of you who can’t be here right now.

There’s something magical happening in Chicago. The weather has taken this freakishly beautiful turn, and it’s been low 70s when we should be battling gray skies and blustery wet winds. Everywhere you go, people are wearing Obama buttons. I can’t describe what it’s like, seeing all those little flashes people are wearing. It’s just something you catch in passing, but it’s true: I’ve never seen people get like this. There are five or ten Obama buttons or t-shirts in eyeshot at any given moment you walk down a street, and that’s just without looking closely.

It’s everybody, too. It’s old men and construction workers and students and marketing managers and people behind counters and executives and just. It’s everybody. It’s everybody. Obama. This skinny guy with big ears and a funny name. Obama.

On my lunch break, a coworker and I went to the Freedom Museum at the Trib Tower. It’s an entire museum, free of charge, dedicated to the struggle for equality and free expression. A group of kids was there, running around and watching the short films and rigging the electoral map consoles and lining up eagerly to toss their tokens in the Obama box, to “vote” at the end of the tour. I passed all the displays about women’s suffrage and Native American rights and banned books and censorship and hate speech and eminent domain and marriage equality and it was all I could do to not cry.

On the bus home, an older gentleman in full Uncle Sam gear declared in an English or Australian accent that he’d lived in this country for 56 years and this was the first time he’d ever felt anything about an election. He then led the bus in a song of his own composition. I wish I’d taken down the lyrics.

Then, miraculously, after the thunderous scream shook hundreds of thousands of onlookers when CNN called Ohio, my home state, for Obama, after the crew called a soundtrack for the president-elect of the United States, I recorded this phone message:

I say this so you won’t forget that it can go the other way, that your hard work and screams for truth and justice won’t always go unheeded, mocked and crushed. Remember the other inauguration, that in January 2009, like me, you maybe heard this piece and wept:

Dignity is still real. Meanwhile:

Stay brave, friends. Take care of yourselves; we’re going to need you soon.

Things I’m Verbing: Strange fruit, great wars and phrases to maybe not reclaim

Here we are! Here… we are…!

…oh.

  • A secret GOP vote to demolish an independent ethics committee with congressional oversight doesn’t sound fishy and self-serving, right?
  • Look, I know there’s a lot of Judean People’s Front vs. People’s Front of Judea infighting going around on the left, but let’s maybe take this opportunity to advise people to unite and speak out without trying to reclaim the phrase “good German”?
  • I don’t know who Rebecca Ferguson is, really, but I appreciate that she’ll sing at Trump’s inauguration on the condition that she sing Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit.”
  • Do you understand bullet journals? Every time someone tries to explain them to me, my brain turns into an animated cartoon scribble and collapses with a crashing sound effect. PopSci gave it a pretty good try, though.
  • I’ve got a Netflix rec, of all things. I’ve become very interested in World War I, and I just discovered David Reynolds, a Cambridge historian who’s written many books and hosted many BBC documentaries about the 20th century. One is Long Shadowa three-part series not only hashing out how much more nuanced and complicated the players of the Great War were, but detailing how the decisions of a century ago are still driving politics and national identities today. It rhymes so much with Brexit and Trump themes, which isn’t too comforting, but most of all, it uses incredibly vivid period footage that I’ve never seen before, and which is incredibly affecting. I highly recommend the documentary, and I’m looking forward to reading his book as well. April 6 marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. joining the fight, so I hope we’ll all be talking about this a lot more.

Well, there it is, friends. Stay brave.