amw (amw) wrote,

some reading suggestions

Although i have been slowly working my way out of this latest funk, i have only managed to drag myself out of the house twice in the past week, and only to fetch groceries. My life has completely reverted to lockdown state, which feels apropos, given the recent spike in corona cases.

It's important to have some perspective, though, as the local news keeps reminding us. This article - 5 British Columbians dying every day from overdose, coroner reports - includes an important graph. More people in BC have died from overdose this year than from corona. In this region, fentanyl is a more deadly Chinese export than COVID-19.

Of course, that's no reason to let our guards down. If we relax, we're likely going to see the deaths jump up to levels seen in other provinces, the US or Europe.

I guess i'm fortunate that my current lifestyle means i don't have to socialize with anyone, ever.

Spending a lot of time at home means spending a lot of time reading. And i have been digging back into political stuff because of the "trans rights" crusaders that decided to take a dump in the middle of one of my more leisurely entertainment reads.

I don't often share the sites i read here, because i don't like to cross the streams. I think the last time i did it extensively was during the Iraq War.

Side bar: i'm not shy to acknowledge that i was mildly supportive of the war at the time. Obviously i now recognize it to be a catastrophic blunder that caused over a hundred thousand civilian deaths and did little to liberate others in the region, but i'm not going to pretend to be a peacenik. It's unfashionable to admit it these days, but i followed Project for the New American Century and didn't hate everything that came out of there. I still think free, democratic states have a moral obligation to actively oppose dictatorships and theocracies and other authoritarian states. I still think the idea that America is fascist - even just a little bit - is kind of ridiculous when countries like China are Right Fucking There, cheerfully fascisting all over the place. So, yeah, i'm not as leftishly left as i might appear when i am off ranting about the evils of cops or cars or property owners.

I still read Andrew Sullivan. I find him infuriating because he gets - for want of a better term - hysterical over some of the most inane bullshit, but i can never quite bring myself to unsubscribe. I enjoy his writing and appreciate his dedication to attempting to keep an open mind. He has a Substack now:

Bill Bishop also has a Substack, which compiles China news into a handy daily read: I'm not sure i can afford to keep my subscription going now that i don't live in China any more, but it's a really interesting insight into the political dialog over there.

I also started reading a free Substack blog by an indigenous guy from Montana, Chris La Tray:

You all know i read The Guardian. It's my primary news source. It's biased, but it's biased in a consistent enough way that i can read through it to find the essential facts. I also read CBC for Canadian and indigenous news.

Recently i started listening to podcasts. For a long time i never really understood the point of podcasts because they're extremely inefficient. You can pack all the information from an hourlong podcast into an article that can be digested in a couple of minutes. Even less than that if you have a good headline and opening paragraph. Podcasts are a massive fucking waste of time.

Except, i realized that i can put one on while i am cooking, and it doesn't really matter if i miss some of it, because 95% of what they're saying is just waffle anyway. I have been listening to the FiveThirtyEight politics podcasts, which are a fairly tedious rehash of their feature articles. I also recently discovered Blocked and Reported, which is a light-hearted look at the sillier end of cancel culture. It's nice to find people on the left who aren't constantly butthurt over everything.

I have now also gone down the rabbit hole of public figures who got themselves canceled, and the dwindling number of folks who reject the idea of ostracization as a form of social justice. These also tend to be people who are resistant to identity politics.

This recent article - Being-in-the-Room Privilege - by Olúfémi O. Táíwò is brilliant, and it speaks so much to my experiences as a trans woman in an industry that has come to put trans women on an often undeserved pedestal. It essentially talks about how, in an elite environment, ceding the floor to your black or female or gay or whatever "oppressed minority" colleagues isn't really doing as much for that minority as you might think. Personally i tend to find that sort of thing more condescending than empowering.

I also discovered the Twitter of Ayishat Akanbi, which is full of the sort of pithy quotes that Twitter should be, if it wasn't instead overrun by unreadable "threads" and raging hordes with sharpened pitchforks and no attention span. She also pointed me to a blues musician i somehow have never heard before, but who is awesome.

Ali Farka Touré - Ai Du

Related to this, i recently bought a book by harmonica teacher and historian Adam Gussow - Whose Blues? Facing Up to Race and the Future of the Music.

As a third culture kid, i am fascinated by this topic of cultural appropriation. Hot take: i think almost all instances of it are bullshit. Part of what makes humanity interesting is cultural cross-pollination and our constant social evolution. Centuries from now, millenia from now, nobody will care about our present-day religions or ethnicities or nationalities. And that's a good thing.

At the same time, i am still mindful of not being a complete jackass when it comes to traditions of real cultural significance to people alive today. It's complicated.

I like writers who acknowledge that it's complicated. John McWhorter is one, a linguist and critic of contemporary anti-racist thought. He's perhaps most famous for writing a response to Ta-Nehisi Coates, another thoughtful writer on race in America.

Of course sometimes i also like to roll in the muck of anonymous green anarchists who fantasize about overthrowing the man, reverting to some hunter/gatherer utopia, or whatever. George Monbiot is - for better or worse - the mainstream media's high-brow representative of that scene.

All these years later, SCOTUSblog still exists, and it's still good. Did you know everyone's favorite justices just granted churches the right to ignore coronavirus restrictions a little longer because something something religious freedom? Now you do. God bless.

If i ever make it out of the house again, perhaps i will have something less navel-gazing to write about. It's not Thanksgiving today in Canada, but - Very Serious Prepper that i am - i do have a single apple Lärabar sitting around for emergencies. That feels kind of festive, so perhaps i will eat it tonight as a special treat alongside my usual bean and bok choy burrito. Take care, everyone.
Tags: my boring life, news, politics

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