Thursday, November 30, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/30/17)

This was RIVETING. Trust me. How the Sandwich Consumed Britain

I always like reading about the co-writing process AND the research behind historical fiction, so this was great: Interview with Stephanie Dray, co-author of American’s First Daughter

Some interesting history here: Meghan Markle’s “Ms” is her most important title

The Peculiar Story of the Witch of Wall Street

The Rapid Rise and Spectacular Fall of London’s Greatest Bonesetter

Weekly Rec: Lady Bird

You probably don't need me to tell you that Lady Bird is a great movie. It's getting lots of raves and beating Rotten Tomatoes records and whatnot, but apparently I liked it enough that I feel the need to say: It really is that good! (I'm always skeptical of things with lots of hype. Maybe you are too. But then I guess I'm adding to the hype rather than reassuring you. Oops.)

Lady Bird, written and directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Saoirse Ronan, is a coming-of-age story of a high school senior in Sacramento in the 2002-03 school year. She's determinedly weird and artistic and chafes against what she sees as the limitations imposed by her Catholic school and working class family. She falls in love. She tries out for the school play. She applies to colleges. She fights with her mother and her best friend. That sounds boring, but it's exquisite and authentic. I'm a few years older than the protagonist, close enough that almost all the references felt directly taken from my late high school and college years: The too-cool boy reading Howard Zinn. The Sondheim. The cloves. The Dave Matthews song.

And yet, beyond all those specifics, Lady Bird manages to feel true on a universal level. Even if the details are different, the incredible and agonizing process of growing up and figuring out who you are and how you relate to your family and friends and the world resonates with a lot of people. And even if you're not particularly interested in those themes, it's just a well-made film: The writing and acting and production design and everything are precise and excellent. (I went with my dad. He has never been a teen girl, but he loved it too.)

Lady Bird is currently in wide release. Go see it!

(Weekly recommendations made possible by my wonderful Patreon supporters!)

Morning Coffee (11/30/17)

223 Women Working in National Security Sign Open Letter on Sexual Harassment

Congratulations to Afghanistan's All-Girls Robotics Team, Which Trump Wouldn't Let Into the US

Uh... Autopsy Doctor Quits, Alleges Sheriff Interfered in Death Probes

The Trump Administration and Hoover-Era Paranoia

Ha: The Theme for the White House Christmas Decorations Is Fear!

More Than 180 Women Have Reported Sexual Assaults at Massage Envy

As Walmart Buys Online Retailers, Their Health Benefits Suffer

Meanwhile in Canada: Justin Trudeau apologizes for Canada's program targeting LGBTQ civil servants

This is hilarious: Trader Joe’s Wants You to Know Its Jingle Jangle Is, in Fact, Not the Drug From Riverdale

!! “Lost” 17th-Century Portrait by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo Found in a Welsh Castle

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/29/17)

Ooh, SPACE LAW: If No One Owns the Moon, Can Anyone Make Money Up There?

This interview is great and I'm excited to read her books: Alyssa Cole On the Magic of Writing Romance (Quote: "The Confederacy lost. They fucking lost. They didn’t lose by accident.")

An Unbiased Algorithm Could Help Put an End to Partisan Gerrymandering

Meet the Media Mogul of Maine

‘A woman actually voted!’: Lily Maxwell and the Manchester by-election of November 1867

Morning Coffee (11/29/17)

Whoa, this just broke as I was writing this: NBC Fires Matt Lauer Over Misconduct Allegations

And this broke as I was waking up: Praljak trial: Bosnian Croat war criminal 'takes poison' in court

New NSA leak exposes Red Disk, the Army's failed intelligence system

The Damage to Children's Health Insurance Is Already Being Done

Of course: Trump Paid $1 Million–Plus Settlement to Undocumented Immigrant Workers on Trump Tower Project

How Bots Broke the FCC's Public Comment System

Okay, back to good news for a moment: Prince Harry to marry Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle in May

Aaah, the Love, Simon trailer looks so good!

Also excited about Cassie Clare's book announcement.

Whoa! 100 Stolen John Lennon Items Found in Berlin

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/28/17)

This is heartbreaking and important: Every Parent Wants to Protect Their Child. I Never Got the Chance.

Interesting: Cocktails Only a Local Could Love

Inside The Brothels Of Final Fantasy XIV

The Original Hermione

Don’t lose a finger: The 200-year evolution of the can opener

Morning Coffee (11/28/17)

James O'Keefe and his buddies tried to con the Washington Post and it, uh, did not work because they are in fact Real News: A woman approached The Post with dramatic — and false — tale about Roy Moore. She appears to be part of undercover sting operation.

Of course: Trump Mocks Warren as ‘Pocahontas’ at Navajo Veterans’ Event (And in front of a portrait of Andrew Jackson!)

CBO: the Senate Republican tax bill takes billions from the poor

Uh... 2 Bosses Show Up to Lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Here we go: Could Pence Clobber Cruz? A Bettor’s Guide to the 2020 Republican Primary

After Tumultuous Week, Germany’s Politics Look to the Familiar

The Fug Girls have you covered with Harry and Meghan's engagement photos and interview. Oh my gosh they are ADORABLE.

Enjoying Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s romance doesn’t make you a bad American

Lev Grossman is writing a long Arthurian novel and it sounds so interesting!

Whoo! Lady Bird Just Broke a Rotten Tomatoes Record Previously Held by Toy Story 2

Monday, November 27, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/27/17)

Two Stars Slammed Into Each Other And Solved Half Of Astronomy’s Problems. What Comes Next?

This piece is FAR MORE DELIGHTFUL than it sounds: The Man Who Invented Christmas is a deeply silly (but surprisingly enjoyable) Dickens riff

The Archaeologists Saving Miami's History from the Sea

The Disappearing Cuisine of an Ancient Religion

The Long Ethical Arc of Displaying Human Remains

Morning Coffee (11/27/17)

Me elsewhere: TV news for the week.

YAY SOME HAPPY NEWS: His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales and Ms. Meghan Markle are engaged to be married

Russian hacking: FBI failed to tell US officials their email was targeted

Why Trump Stands by Roy Moore, Even as It Fractures His Party

The Koch brothers are about to own a piece of Time Inc. Why?

Inspiring: How Julian Assange overcame the odds and ended up sucking more than anyone ever thought he could

Why It's So Hard to Make Revenge Porn Laws Effective

'Lady Chatterley' lawyer Jeremy Hutchinson, who helped change laws and attitudes on sex, dies at 102

I actually think this is a GREAT idea: Santa Will See You Now, But You'll Need A Reservation First

This interview with the Darkest Hour production designer is interesting in general and the bit about the Dunkirk boats is great!

Archaeologist uncovers rich history at Bradford's lost football ground

Friday, November 24, 2017

Weekly Rec: In for a Penny by Rose Lerner

Regency romances were among the first romance novels I read, because my mother read them, but I'd sort of drifted away from them in recent years for no particular reason. And then a few weeks ago, Rose Lerner rereleased her first book, In for a Penny, and a whole bunch of people I follow on Twitter whose tastes I trust recommended it. I bought the Kindle version, read it on vacation last week, and enjoyed it so much that I started wondering why I'd stopped reading Regencies in the first place. Really, I'm not sure there's higher praise than "made me want to read a bunch more of its genre."

Quick background for those unfamiliar: the "Regency" in Regency romance technically refers to Great Britain between 1811 and 1820, when the future George IV ruled as Prince Regent for his father King George III, who had been deemed unfit to rule. In a cultural sense, the term is often used more broadly, encompassing from the late 1790s until the beginning of the Victorian era in 1837. When it comes to romance novels, this is one of the most popular settings, and it means books set roughly in the world of Jane Austen. They've often taken the standard form of lords and ladies falling in love in ballrooms, but some writers are doing some new and interesting things in the genre. (You could say that about any genre, really. They all have good and bad and mediocre.)

In this one, the hero is an immature aristocratic rake who needs to reform after the sudden death of his father (and the discovery of his father's debts), and the heroine is an extremely practical and competent new money heiress. He proposes to her because he needs to marry a fortune to keep his family's estate intact, but it turns out that she's also very good at math and making lists and he's SO INTO IT. Together they set out to turn his estate profitable again, and they end up encountering the social change that results from the changing agricultural methods of the time.

This book incorporates a lot of tropes - most prominently the marriage of convenience in which both parties secretly fall in love with their spouse - but that's one of my favorites when it's well-deployed, which it is here. There's a fair amount of melodrama, but the fresh and interesting characters balance it well. And I LOVE when romances deal frankly with the class system and other historical issues and make their landed gentry actually deal with their positions, rather than just go to parties all the time. This was a total delight to read and would make a great introduction to the genre.

Morning Coffee (11/24/17)

It's Friday! I keep forgetting that because it feels like, I don't know, Sunday. But it's time for happy Friday links!

The Times has posted its 100 Notable Books of 2017, and I've read... four so far, which is actually better than I often do.

This Jessica Chastain profile is delightfully feminist. (And has an amazing feminist quote from Aaron Sorkin!)

An Unabashed Appreciation of Smitten Kitchen, the Ur-Food Blog

What makes Murder on the Orient Express’s iconic ending work so well

One of my favorites: Escape the News with the British Podcast “In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg”

5 YA Books For When You Can’t Get Enough Hallmark Christmas Movies

I'm not sure I've tried this but this made me want to: Starbucks Snickerdoodle Hot Chocolate Is the Reason for the Season

YES PLEASE: This Sprawling Bookstore in a Former Church Will Have You Planning a Trip to Scotland

Hottest Heads of State made dioramas for their history candles and it's amazing.

Aww, Josh Malina.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Morning Coffee (11/23/17)

Happy Thanksgiving! I've got all Thanksgiving-themed links for you today, and then we're going to a weekend link schedule today/tomorrow - morning links only. (But check back tomorrow afternoon too because I'll recommend, uh, something. Suspense!)

This is basically my ideal Thanksgiving read: Hard Times at Plimoth Plantation

USEFUL ADVICE: How to Cook in Someone Else's Kitchen

I look forward to this post of Alyssa's every Thanksgiving because I, too, love tradition.

The Times has a great set of Thanksgiving essays by a variety of accomplished writers: My Thanksgiving

Here's the deal with all those turkeys terrorizing the suburbs

Americans are desperately seeking ham shops and other Thanksgiving Google-search revelations

9 Pop Culture Picks to Get You Through Thanksgiving

Tofurky: A Brief, Semi-Accidental History of Thanksgiving’s Fake Meat

Filling a Turkey With Molten Aluminum Is a Terrible Way to Cook Thanksgiving Dinner

How Pumpkin Pie Sparked a 19th-Century Culture War

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/22/17)

I regret to inform you that I have another great Armie Hammer profile you need to read.

How Fruit Fly Brains Could Improve Our Search Engines

Huh! Winston Churchill’s Historic “Fight Them on the Beaches” Speech Wasn’t Heard by the Public Until After WWII

A Chinese Novelist Is Found in Translation

Before Avocado Toast, There Was Snowflake Toast

How to Host (or Be) a Vegetarian at a Holiday Meal

So you're having a vegetarian over for Thanksgiving or Christmas or some other festive meal! Or you're a vegetarian going to someone else's house! This does not have to be difficult or stressful for either side. I promise. A few tips:

Be considerate. Really, this is the most important holiday/life tip for ANYONE. But just keeping other people's feelings and needs in mind will go a long way. Hosts: You don't have to learn new ways of cooking or anything, but just make sure a few dishes have no meat. Guests: Don't make a fuss or recoil in horror from the turkey or anything. I count it as a success when no one has really noticed what I was or wasn't eating.

Remember that it's just one meal. Hosts: Don't go crazy trying to provide a giant balanced meal. Just make sure that there are a few things your vegetarian can eat. If you have mashed potatoes and/or bread and don't put meat in all your vegetable sides, you're probably there already. And guests: You will live without a protein or whatever. It's one meal. You can eat salad or veggie sides and bread and dessert and you'll probably be fine for a few hours until you can go home and eat whatever you want. (Obviously, if you're hosting a vegetarian houseguest for a few days, it's worth having a bigger conversation!)

Okay, let's talk about communication for a moment. A few related tips:
  1. Hosts: If you're planning to thoughtfully make something for the vegetarian(s) that you don't think others will eat, check with them first as to whether they want that particular thing. For example: I don't much care for eggplant. I'd rather eat salad and bread for a meal than make myself choke down an eggplant dish to be polite while feeling guilty that someone went to the trouble to make it for me.
  2. Vegetarians: If you want something specific, offer to make and bring it. Vegetarian stuffing and gravy is a good example here.
  3. Remember that there are various levels of vegetarianism, and ask if you're not sure what someone will eat. For example: My vegetarianism ends at marshmallows.
  4. Vegetarians: It's okay to ask what's in things if you need to, but try not to be annoying about it or bother the host when they're trying to do a million things. At holiday events, I usually have my mom try things for me if possible and let me know if they seem safe, and only ask if I really need to, and try to let it go rather than grill people about whether there might be a little chicken stock in something. (In restaurants, I ask all the time because I'm paying them to feed me.)
  5. Hosts: Try to see such inquiries as a simple request for information rather than a complaint or value judgment.
  6. Everyone: If you're bringing a dish to a potluck or anywhere where you don't know some of the people you're eating with, consider just labeling it with the ingredients so no one has to hunt down who made what to ask. Vegetarians, people with food allergies, and picky eaters will all thank you.
  7. DON'T LIE. Seriously. Lying to someone about what is in their food is a bad idea for all sorts of reasons.

Don't take it too personally. Hosts: Vegetarians are not declining to eat meat in order to offend you. Guests: People are not serving meat in order to offend you, and MOST of the time when people don't provide anything you can eat it's an error of thoughtlessness or ignorance rather than deliberate exclusion. Everyone: What other people eat isn't about you. Try not to take it as a personal attack.

Don't proselytize or harangue or tease, either of you. Vegetarians: No one enjoying their Thanksgiving dinner wants to be told your reasons for not eating meat (unless they ask, I guess). And seriously, don't try to shame people. You're ruining it for the rest of us. Meat eaters: No vegetarian has ever been convinced to eat meat by being teased or yelled at in front of a group of people. I promise. If you must, treat it like any other slightly weird personality trait that does not actually affect you in the slightest.

And remember: It doesn't have to be about the food. At least in theory, holidays are about spending time with people you love! If you keep that in mind, it's easier not to get stressed out about what anyone's eating or not eating. Have fun!

Morning Coffee (11/22/17)

Ratko Mladic Is Convicted in 1990s Slaughter of Bosnian Muslims

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has just resigned

I just... Trump pardons Drumstick the Turkey: “I feel so good about myself doing this”

Of course: Trump May Tap Pro-Gerrymandering Professor To Run The 2020 Census

This is long but definitely worth reading: The Nationalist's Delusion

Some good news! Judge Blocks Trump Administration From Punishing 'Sanctuary Cities'

Another random bit of good news I personally care about: book sales are up!

Aaah, new Wrinkle in Time trailer!

This is a very 2017 headline: Report: Herpes Researcher Funded by Peter Thiel First Performed Sketchy Trials at Holiday Inn

They're going to great lengths not to say "werewolf" here: Found: Archaeological Evidence of Bronze Age Lupine Initiation Rituals

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/21/17)

The Savvy Marketing That Put Marshmallows on Your Sweet Potato Casserole

My grandfather had polio and has Post-Polio Syndrome, so I found this extremely interesting: The Last of the Iron Lungs

How Tessa Thompson Is Taking Control of Her Career

The Conqueror Who Longed for Melons

Let's ogle some super fancy historical wedding gowns.

Morning Coffee (11/21/17)

Back from vacation! If you missed any posts because I wasn't able to link them on Facebook, just click on my name at the top to go to the home page and scroll down.

Me elsewhere: TV news for the week.

I've been working on this anthology for months and I'm so excited for you all to read it: Rosie O'Donnell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and others contribute to new anthology How I Resist

I mean... true: North Korea’s latest tirade: Trump is a ‘mean trickster and human reject’

Of course: F.C.C. Is Said to Plan Repeal of Net Neutrality Rules

This is impressive work by Laura McGann - to tell her own story and do good reporting simultaneously: Exclusive: NYT White House correspondent Glenn Thrush’s history of bad judgment around young women journalists

Good for them for coordinating and coming forward on this. This guy sounds TERRIBLE: ‘One Tree Hill’ Cast, Crew Detail Assault, Harassment Claims Against Mark Schwahn

Rare genetic mutation found in Amish community could combat ageing

Ooh: BritBox to Offer Near-Simulcasts, "BritMas" Content for Holiday Season

YouTube drama is so much fun: YouTube Personality Zoella Draws Heat for Overpriced Advent Calendar (?)

Why Wounds Heal Faster During the Day Than at Night

Monday, November 20, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/20/17)

I'm traveling and compiled and scheduled this post in advance, so WHO KNOWS what's actually going on in the world by now. Back on Tuesday!

I'm often skeptical of celebrity authors but I'm excited to read this book: Krysten Ritter Spins Her Own Mystery in Her Debut Novel, ‘Bonfire’

It's almost Advent calendar time and Smart Bitches has a roundup of some great ones.

These are DELIGHTFUL: Celebrities at the Airport in the 1970s: The Photos

The Complicated Political Lives of Medieval Manuscripts

This Week I Wanna Dress Like: Maude From ‘Harold and Maude’ (I mean, who doesn't?)

Morning Coffee (11/20/17)

I'm traveling and compiled and scheduled this post in advance, so WHO KNOWS what's actually going on in the world by now. Back on Tuesday!

Eric Holder's Battle Against Gerrymandering

Canada Moves Closer to Gender Equity for Indigenous Women

Why Is Allergan Partnering with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe?

This is very good advice heading into the holidays: Don't Win Arguments, Win Elections

Also useful going into the holidays: 8 Weekender Bags to Make You Look More Put Together

SCANDAL: Spelling Trouble: Did a Scrabble Champion Cheat?

From Owls IPA to Huddersfield’s Hat Trick: football clubs join the craft beer revolution

Ha: The “phantom reference:” How a made-up article got almost 400 citations

Conservationists Give New Life to 350-Year-Old Map of Australia

YEP: From 'Will & Grace' to 'NCIS,' Comfort TV Reigns Supreme

Friday, November 17, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/17/17)

I'm traveling and compiled and scheduled this post in advance, so WHO KNOWS what's actually going on in the world by now. Back on Tuesday!

Trust me, you want to read this follow-up to the profile I posted yesterday: 15 Things You Learn While Hanging Out With Armie Hammer

I'm PRETTY EXCITED that Patty Jenkins and Chris Pine are making a 1960s noir show together and this interview with their DP is interesting.

The Forgotten Lifestyle Star Who Taught Women of the 1930s How to 'Live Alone and Like It'

A Remote Shetland Island Could Become a Spaceport

What We Can Learn From Multiple Translations of the Same Poem

Morning Coffee (11/17/17)

This week's Happy Friday links have a lot of Go Fug Yourself but I'm not actually sorry, unless any of you already read their site faithfully and thus have fewer new things to read here.

This is wonderful: Barbie Debuts a Hijab, Thanks to Ibtihaj Muhammad

Chelsea Clinton announces international companion to She Persisted children's book

This is both funny and thoughtful, even if you don't care about Blake Shelton: Blake Shelton Is People’s Sexiest Man Alive? (Real talk: Blake Shelton is not even the sexiest man alive ON HIS OWN TV SHOW, though his reaction quoted in that piece made me like him a little better than I had.)

!!!! 280-Character Tweets Make Tetris Possible on Twitter

Titanic to return to theaters for 20th anniversary (This briefly sent me spiraling because my friend and I went to see it for an anniversary release ALREADY and that CANNOT have been ten years ago, but no, it was FIVE years ago. Are they going to re-release it every five years? This is not necessarily a complaint.)

This happened at the end of LAST week but I wanted to make sure you saw because it's important: Tom Hiddleston Is Literally Walking Around London Cradling a Puppy

Let's go to Italy's new food theme park.

USEFUL and also funny: How to Pluralize Your Last Name on Holiday Cards

Three Gorgeous Cakes for the Holidays

SPARKLY SHOES. (I just got sparkly shoes on clearance for $13 and I'm obsessed and need you all to invite me to holiday parties so I can wear them.)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/16/17)

I'm pretty hit or miss with celebrity profiles but this one about Armie Hammer and Call Me By Your Name is QUITE SOMETHING: A Complicated Affair

Chinese Village Keeps Alive a Tradition of Indigo Dyeing

The Secret Feminist History of Brown Paper Bags

Joseph Conrad's Journey

The Lucrative Business of Prescribing Booze During Prohibition

Morning Coffee (11/16/17)

Whoa: Green Beret Discovered SEALs’ Illicit Cash. Then He Was Killed.

A War of Words Puts Facebook at the Center of Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis

WHAT A SHOCK: British Researchers Say Russia May Have Tried To Influence Brexit Vote

I hate the actual game but this is good: Cards Against Humanity is doing ________ to stop Trump’s border wall

This is an important read: The Tech Industry's Gender-Discrimination Problem

California will be the first state to use LGBT-inclusive history textbooks in schools

Radhika Jones, Vanity Fair’s Surprise Choice, Is Ready to Go

Oh good, The X-Files is coming back to us very soon.

Ooh, this should be good: CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin to write investigation of Trump scandals

Uh. Sure? ‘Get Out’ Entered As A Comedy For Golden Globes Consideration

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/15/17)

This is SO COOL: Ancient data, modern math and the hunt for 11 lost cities of the Bronze Age

The Rise Of Halal Cuisine In An Age Of Islamophobia

Digging Up Christopher Marlowe

In India, Fashion Has Become a Nationalist Cause

The Power and Politics of Hoaxes

Weekly Rec: Trader Joe's Cornbread Crisps

The world is terrible so we're just going to talk about snack food today, okay? Specifically: Trader Joe's Cornbread Crisps. They are astonishingly good, somewhere between chips and crackers. My friends raved about them so much that I bought two bags, and then I went back and bought three more (but two of those are for Thanksgiving, I swear).

They SEEM to be what would happen if you cut up dense cornbread into tiny slices and added some salt and maybe butter and toasted them, except I'm 100% sure that if I actually tried to do that myself I'd just wind up with a mess of cornbread crumbs. So it's worth risking your life in the Trader Joe's parking lot to obtain these, I promise.

NOTE: From my friends' descriptions, I'd expected them to be in a box, shelved with crackers. THEY ARE NOT. They are in a bag in the chip section.

You can eat them alone. With cheese. In soup! With chili. I'm bringing some to Thanksgiving and I think they will make a great seasonally-appropriate chip substitute for before the meal.

Also note: Trader Joe's did not, alas, pay me to endorse their product. I just feel strongly about spreading the gospel of Cornbread Crisps. But YOU can help pay me for writing future ridiculous posts like this by joining me on Patreon!

Morning Coffee (11/15/17)

FIRST SOME GOOD NEWS: Australians decisively support same-sex marriage

Yesterday I'd bookmarked a piece for you about how what is happening in Zimbabwe isn't actually a coup, but, uh, I woke up to a bunch of news alerts and maybe it is a coup now? Unclear. Here's the Guardian's liveblog.

This is why everyone is making Bernie Bernstein jokes: He said he was a Washington Post reporter offering a reward for dirt on Roy Moore. It wasn’t true.

The Secret Correspondence Between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks

This is horrible: Post Office Fails to Deliver on Time, and DACA Applications Get Rejected

This unqualified nominee is just the beginning of Trump’s efforts to remake the courts

One Group That Thinks Grown Men “Courting” Teen Girls Is Natural? Fundamentalist Home-Schoolers.


Awwww: Olympic hockey legends, former rivals welcome baby

The Times did a thing where they made Thanksgiving in 8 hours on one stove/oven at one temperature and I'm fully in support of everyone posting their schedules all the time so I'm into it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/14/17)

This is fascinating and this book immediately went onto my Christmas list: The First Woman to Translate the ‘Odyssey’ Into English

Aww, my friend Tim! Shopping for a Life He Didn’t Yet Have

The Secret History of Cricket Magazine, the ‘New Yorker for Children’

I wish to read a romance novel series about these brothers immediately: When He Needs Advice, a Philadelphia Flyer Turns to His Brother the Dancer

The Ancient Roman Cult That Continues to Vex Scholars (The Precession of the Equinox takes down another copyeditor, I see.)

In defense of just letting yourself like things sometimes

Taylor Swift has a new album out. You may have heard.

More to the point, you may have seen the million Hot Takes by Very Cool People about how Swift is evil for wanting to make money from her work and her image. How carefully constructing the product that she's selling - by which I mean both her album and her public persona - makes her, somehow, a bad person. How with everything else going on in the world, apparently what we should be worrying about is appropriately punishing a woman who dares to write song lyrics about a man who wrote song lyrics about her.

I don't think Taylor Swift is A PERFECT PERSON or anything - tip: life gets much easier when you stop expecting anyone to be perfect - but I'm a fan. I enjoy both her music and her determination to control her own narrative. And I have all the counterarguments and refutations ready to go, about how male and female lyricists are held to crazily different standards (because men NEVER write songs about their love lives, right????), about how it's wrong to support a system in general and castigate one person for operating profitably within it, about how I like her because she's calculating. But honestly? I just don't want to.

In another world, I can absolutely see myself writing a defense of Swift much longer than any of you would actually want to read, and finding that pretty satisfying. In this world, we are pretty busy defending statements like "Nazis are bad" and "30-year-olds shouldn't date high schoolers" and "People who have never been members of a political party shouldn't be given control of it", so I just don't have the energy. And so I'm giving myself the gift of not reading any of the Hot Takes this time, of scrolling past all the tweets from my friends about how Taylor is evil and her fans are stupid. Sure. Fine. Whatever.

I'm giving myself the gift of just listening to Reputation over and over in my car, letting myself be amused and comforted and inspired by the lyrics, singing along because it's fun and God knows we need some fun right now. And it's okay. The world will not end because I decide to sit out the argument this time. Take some time to just like something that makes you happy. It will be good for you.

(For more content, join me on Patreon!)

Morning Coffee (11/14/17)

Finally!! Apple Fixes Text A[?]nput A[?]ssue

Dear Lord: Sessions Considering Special Counsel to Probe Hillary Clinton

Locals Were Troubled by Roy Moore's Interactions with Teen Girls at the Gadsden Mall

The Roy Moore allegations and the media’s crisis of trust

OF COURSE: Former Eli Lilly Executive Is Trump’s Choice for Health Secretary (Though this guy actually seems more qualified than a lot of Trump picks.)

German Newspaper Catalogs 33,293 Who Died Trying to Enter Europe

The mysterious sudden resignation of Lebanon’s prime minister, explained

SHOCKER: Hate Crimes Up In 2016, FBI Statistics Show

End of an era: Liz Smith, Premier Gossip Columnist, Dies at 94

Today's Theory About Amelia Earhart's Death Involves Giant Crabs

Monday, November 13, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/13/17)

This is quite the story: Teen Girl Posed For 8 Years As Married Man To Write About Baseball And Harass Women

The Forgotten Women Scientists Who Fled the Holocaust for the United States

Ooh: Candid Photos of Julia Child at Work

The Secret Life of the Mall Kiosk Worker

How Picasso Bled the Women in His Life for Art

Morning Coffee (11/13/17)

Me elsewhere: TV news for the week.

Well, this seems... not good. 60,000 people march in massive Nazi rally in Poland

Security Breach and Spilled Secrets Have Shaken the N.S.A. to Its Core

Ex-intelligence chiefs: Trump is being played by Putin and US is in 'peril'

Obamacare Is Off Life Support — for Now

Flynn Kidnapping Plot Is Like Teapot Dome With a Dash of Treason

When a President's Speech Is Dangerous

How the Myth of the Artistic Genius Excuses the Abuse of Women

On the other hand, some of what Mary Beard is saying here has been bothering me as well: Guilty until proven innocent

One of the Oldest and Most Distant Objects in the Universe Has Been Discovered

A Grecian Artifact Evokes Tales From the ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey’

Friday, November 10, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/10/17)

Margaret Trudeau’s Long, Strange, Canadian Trip

Romance Novelist Beverly Jenkins Talks Normalizing Diversity in Her Genre

This is a delightful interview: Michelle Kwan Hates Tights

Important service journalism: Mission: Make an Extremely Large Cinnamon Roll

Everything You Need to Turn Your Apartment Into a Cozy Sanctuary

Weekly Rec: MoviePass

MoviePass has been getting a lot of press lately, since they dropped their prices, so this isn't exactly a recommendation of something unknown, but I've seen a lot of "Is this a scam? Does it work? What's the catch?" going around, so I figured I'd tell you about my experience with it:

It is not a scam! It works! I have not been able to find a catch!

The deal: Membership is $9.95 a month. (Month by month. You can cancel whenever.) With that you can see up to one standard 2D movie a day at pretty much any movie theater that takes debit cards. (AMC has made noises about blocking them, but has not been successful - I used it there last week.) They send you what looks like a debit card, and you also have to install an app. When you arrive at the theater, you select the movie you want to see from the app, and then you go buy your ticket normally, just "paying" with the MoviePass card instead of a regular card. It's like magic.

So yes, there are a few limitations - it's only one movie per day, no 3D or IMAX or other special stuff, and you have to buy your ticket that day at the theater, so you can't buy it online in advance or whatever. But even with those caveats: membership pays for itself if you see at least one movie a month, and it's a good deal if you see as few as two. If you're someone who goes to a lot of movies, it's a GREAT deal.

(One note as to their business model, since people have been asking: They are owned by a data company. They are doing this to get your viewing data. That's how they can make it so cheap. So you can decide that's worth it to you or not, obviously. Personally, I don't really care. But I guess that's the "catch," if you see it that way.)

What I'm really loving about this (other than, you know, saving money) is the sense of FREEDOM it gives me about seeing movies. I no longer have to debate with myself whether any given movie will be worth the price of admission. I can just go see everything! Or, more truthfully, it becomes just a question of debating which movies are worth the TIME investment, but still. Guilt-free movie-going whenever I feel like it is AMAZING.

In related news, I saw The Snowman and it was just as terrible as you've heard and I had a GREAT time.

Morning Coffee (11/10/17)

PHEW, we have survived another week. Time for some happy Friday links.

!!! Hillary Clinton Guest Edits Teen Vogue Volume IV

Make sure you click through for the pictures: Little girl's stolen puppy returned by thieves

In other important dog news: Stunned farmer finds flock of sheep in her home thanks to overzealous sheepdog puppy

Ooh: Bath And Body Works Dropped Two New Holiday Scents, Giving Us Even More Festive Cheer

Aw: Lin-Manuel Miranda brought his son to see Hamilton and his review is adorable

Romance Novels to Get You Through Tough Times

Okay, Advent and the Twelve Days of Christmas are TOTALLY DIFFERENT but I may need to buy one of these: Harry Potter, Star Wars and Disney Sock Advent Calendars Are Now Available at Target

Now I also want some plaid shoes.

I'll definitely be making this for some holiday event: A Cranberry and Scotch Cocktail Perfect for a Holiday Crowd

William Sonoma has Hogwarts house aprons and spatulas!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/9/17)

Smuggled, Beaten and Drugged: The Illicit Global Ape Trade

Drug Hunters: Meet the Scientists Building a Library of Designer Drugs

The Rise of the Millennial Mortician

How Artificial Intelligence Could Revolutionize Archival Museum Research

None of this is surprising at this point but it's interesting because it's about a relatively early show when no one involved quite knew what they were doing: I Was A Contestant On The Worst Reality Show Ever

Morning Coffee (11/9/17)

Ritz-Carlton Has Become a Gilded Cage for Saudi Royals

Of course: Trump Tells Senate Democrats He Had to Give the Rich Something

The Limits of Trumpism

The Republican tax plan’s original sin

America’s pathetic autocrat

The logistics of this seem BANANAS on several levels: Shocker: Kevin Spacey Dropped From ‘All The Money In The World;’ J Paul Getty Role Recast With Christopher Plummer

How to Kill a Union

Central Park Is Finally Getting Its First Statues of Real-life Women

Okay, I will ABSOLUTELY try this: Harry Potter AR game is coming from the makers of 'Pokémon Go'

Yay! 'Little Drummer Girl' Set as Latest John le Carre Adaptation for AMC

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/8/17)

Look, it's SCIENCE: Why Canceling Plans Is So Satisfying

I haven't seen the movie yet, but this was interesting: 'Thor' Composer Knew Marvel Scores Sounded Similar, So He Decided to Change That

Watch an Oil Painting Instantly Lose 200 Years of Grimy Varnish

The Hollywood Darling Who Tanked His Career to Combat Anti-Semitism

In France, a Cognac Tasting Tour at the Source

Morning Coffee (11/8/17)

Well! Last night was a nice change. Here's a bunch of analysis from Vox if you'd like to catch up.

And another good thing that happened yesterday: Disney Ends Ban on Los Angeles Times Amid Fierce Backlash

Alyssa's original post on the topic is worth a read: Why I won’t be reviewing ‘The Last Jedi,’ or any other Disney movie, in advance

Not so good: Syria Joins Paris Climate Accord, Leaving Only U.S. Opposed

It's been a year. This is interesting, if you can stomach it: Inside Donald Trump's Election Night War Room

Paul Manafort is charged with violating a law enacted to fight Nazi propaganda

This is an interesting read about Syria: War of All Against All

Shocker: Male Mammoths Died in ‘Silly Ways’ More Often Than Females, Study Finds

The first novel from Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner is perplexingly bad

Songbook From the 16th-Century Spells Out Samurai Customs, Tactics and Baby Names

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/7/17)

Pakistan's Martha Stewart

Chopin’s Heart, Pickled in a Jar, Offers Clues to His Death

I don't like the show, but this is interesting: The Good Doctor, the fall TV season’s biggest hit, explained

The History of Five Uniquely American Sandwiches

The Secret to Getting People to Actually Come to Your Party

Please go vote.

Oh hey, happy Election Day!

...yeah. I know. That phrase is bringing up a lot of REALLY UNPLEASANT ASSOCIATIONS for a lot of us right now. It's easier to just not think about it. Sometimes that's NECESSARY if we want to keep functioning. I get that. It's important to take care of yourself, to take a step back when you need to.

Just not today.

Today, staying home is just selfish. "But it's an odd number year!" you say. "Nothing important is on the ballot!" No. That's a lie people have been telling you. Many many places have local elections today, and I know it can be harder to figure out the candidates and issues for these, but in some ways they're the most important elections in which you get to vote.


1. Local elections have huge effects on your life and the people around you. Sure, state and national ones do too, but the more I pay attention to local politics, the more important I realize they are. These elections are the ones that will determine your school system policies and local housing regulations and whether your community spends money on schools or paving the roads or cultural events or nothing at all. If you have ballot questions today, they give you a direct up/down vote on actual policies, without even going through a representative. And the people you elect today are the ones who will vote on the contracts for your kids' teachers and your police and firefighters. They will control things like public works and the parks and rec department. They will be the ones running your next elections, those ones in 2018 and 2020 that have such big stakes.

2. Local politics are how most aspiring national politicians - good or bad - get their start. In many ways, this is a feeder system. Getting elected to local office lets politicians start to build a base that will give them time and attention and money as they then run for higher office. It also provides on-the-job training for the actual work of being an elected representative. Even if you think you don't really care about local issues, I bet you care about having a say in which candidates get the experience and platform they need to be successful in state and national politics.

If you're someone who often feels like the candidates running for Senate or President on the major party tickets don't represent your interests and beliefs, then the absolute most important thing you can do to change that is to help get people you agree with elected in local races. And if you want to stop people you disagree with - like actual Nazis, say - from being in positions of power over the whole country: come out and vote against them when they're trying to take over the school board. It's like being a time traveler going back to prevent terrible things from happening, but easier.

I know you don't want to relive anything that reminds you of last year, or maybe you're frustrated with the whole system and just want to sit this out, but this is too important to let our own personal emotional needs and comfort to outweigh the greater good. Please. Grin and bear it and go vote.

(Post made possible by my Patreon supporters.)

Morning Coffee (11/7/17)

Seeing it laid out like this is terrifying: America is facing an epistemic crisis

The link between domestic violence and mass shootings, explained by a gun policy expert

Trump coal backer wins big under Perry's power plan

Congressional Republicans are helping Trump with a big cover-up

This is terrible: Suspect in Japan Serial-Killer Case Sought Out Suicidal People

Zara Shoppers Find Notes From Unpaid Factory Workers Sewn Into Clothes

A Quick Jaunt Through the Many Sexual Misconduct Allegations Swarming State Legislatures

Celebrating the End of the Cabaret Law (Where Else?) on the Dance Floor

I'm so glad we got an update on this: Not so sheepish now: Google Street View adds the Faroe Islands

Archaeologists Date Pre-Hispanic Puerto Rican Rock Art for the First Time

Monday, November 6, 2017

Afternoon Tea (11/6/17)

Fascinating: Greetings From Palau, The Micronesian Archipelago That Baseball Built

The Evolution of Sarah Polley

I missed this a few months ago but it's been in the news because Disney is retaliating by not letting LA Times critics into screenings of their movies for review, and it's worth a read: Is Disney paying its share in Anaheim?

The $10,000 Whisky Dram That Turned Out to Be Worthless

Heh: Put Your Hands Together For Jezebel's Acceptable Things!!!!

Morning Coffee (11/6/17)

Me elsewhere: TV news for the week.

Well: Mueller Has Enough Evidence to Bring Charges in Flynn Investigation

What a shock: Commerce Secretary’s Offshore Ties to Putin ‘Cronies’

Kremlin Cash Behind Billionaire’s Twitter and Facebook Investments

Sounds like someone's consolidating power! Saudi Arabia Arrests 11 Princes, Including Billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal

OF COURSE: Women Are Even Farther From Equality Than We Were Last Year

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Trump-Endorsed Media Outlet Reports That Hitler Is Alive

The Murderer Who Started a Movement

Useful: Five Books to Make You Less Stupid About the Civil War

I guess this makes sense: Oprah will be Alexa’s first celebrity-voiced shopping assistant

Whoa: Storm Ophelia Unearthed an Ancient Skeleton in Ireland