Friday Reads

Good Morning!

I usually enjoy this time of year.  I also usually enjoy the political season even though there are candidates here and there that make me very mad.  Usually, one weird state or another in the great outback sends a Senator or a Congressman to Washington that should be in Bizarro World instead.  I’ve lived in states most of my life that send complete morons and the occasional shining star to DC. I’m used to that.  This isn’t the usual at all.   The President and First Lady pointed that out eloquently yesterday.

They should know.
They’ve been under attack since they won their race. Michelle Obama knows what it’s like to be under attack for physical features you cannot change and others use to define you in unkind ways.  Her speech yesterday as well as her speech at the DNC will be the defining moments of US politics for some time when history gets around to sorting us out.  The lows have been very low and she went high.  She defined what we should be as a society and a country.  Some time during her tenure as FLOTUS, she found a powerful political voice and we are better off for it. She’s had every racist and sexist attack thrown at her for 8 years. She can preach it from a place of knowing.  This is from VOX.

Obama’s speech was emotional, and that makes sense. She knows firsthand that Trump’s infamous remarks, and the underlying views of women they reflect, are all too common.

When she talks about “vulgar words” and “shameful comments” that equate women’s value with their physical appearances, she could just as easily be referring to things that have been said about her, often with a dose of racism mixed in to increase the insults. Just a few examples:

  • In 2010, discussing the first lady’s promotion of breastfeeding, radio host Rush Limbaugh said he wasn’t surprised to see her “encouraging people to get on that teat.”
  • In 2012, a California comedian joked that “Playboy is offering Ann Romney $250,000 to pose in the magazine, and the White House is upset about it because National Geographic only offered Michelle Obama $50 to pose for them.”
  • In 2013, a Richmond, Virginia, school board member’s email captioned a photo of traditionally dressed African women with bare breasts “Michelle Obama’s high school reunion.”
  • In July 2015, Patrick Rushing, the mayor of Airway Heights, Washington, referred to her as “monkey man” and “gorilla face” in a Facebook post.
  • Just in July, a loan officer lost her job after calling the first lady an “ugly black bitch” on Twitter, I bet a real professional from https://nation21loans.com/ wouldn’t have done that!

Obama didn’t speak out in response to any of these attacks, but it’s not hard to read her speech as partly catharsis about the pain she’s endured and what it says about how women — and black women in particular — are demeaned in this country.

Michelle Obama–like her husband–has grown in office. Her passion is children.  She is the mother of daughters. She wants a bright and happy future for all children.  She has this in common with many women and with Hillary Clinton.  This passion is the root and soul of her heartfelt speeches.

Her legacy at the White House will include this beautiful kitchen garden.

First Lady Michelle Obama announced on Wednesday a $2.5 million donation on behalf of the Burpee Foundation towards her beloved White House kitchen garden long after she leaves the grounds.

At the event that kicked off her final fall harvest, Mrs. Obama spoke emotionally and nostalgically as she recounted the effort and passion of those who helped the White House kitchen garden blossom into what it is today –a “refuge,” “symbol” of healthy living, and a “labor of love” to many.

“This garden has taught us that if we have the courage to plant a seed–to be brave enough to plant it, then take care of it, water it, tend to it, invite friends to help us take care of it, weather the storms that inevitably come… if we have the courage to do that, then we never know what might grow,” she said at a dedication ceremony. “Now, that’s what this garden has taught me, to be fearless in those efforts, to try new things, to not be afraid to mess up–things we tell our kids all the time.”

The White House kitchen garden and the “Let’s Move” initiative, Mrs Obama added, created a cultural movement, inspiring future generations from all industries to transform the American way of life

“After an era of everything being supersized, who would have thought that major companies would be racing to market smaller, lower calorie versions of their snacks and beverages, from half sized candy bars to little mini soda cans? We see it everywhere we go,” she said. “Who would have thought that chain restaurants focused solely on salad would be the hottest new trend, or that those fitness bracelets would become so common that we wouldn’t even notice them any longer?”

I have a few other reads to suggest today. I’m making this short because my struggle continues here.  My car is acting up terribly. My computer is being completely unreliable.  It has the same problem that BB’s Computer has. We’ve both had it since we bought these.  I finally got my third phone to replace the first one that quit charging itself.  It’s working at the moment.  My youngest gets married next Saturday.  I am the proverbial basket case.  I’m tossing down Valerian root like candy and meditating frequently.  I’ve found poverty in old age to be the most challenging thing I’ve ever faced.

There’s an interview with the author–Robert P. Jones–on a new book on the end of White American Christian hegemony. You can watch it at The Atlantic.

The United States is no longer a majority white, Christian country, and that is already beginning to have profound social and political implications. At 45 percent of the population, white Christians are a shrinking demographic—and the backlash from many members of the group against the increasing diversification of America has been swift and bitter. “People fight like that when they are losing a sense of place, a sense of belonging, and a sense of the country that they understand and love,” says Robert P. Jones, the author of The End of White Christian America, in this animated interview. “How do they reengage in public life when they can’t be the majority?”

Many American Lawmakers from major US Cities are joining Elizabeth Warren’s fight against AirBnB.  This is a good feature article from The Guardian.

Airbnb is facing renewed calls for a federal investigation from more than a dozen US cities, boosting senator Elizabeth Warren’s efforts to force the popular home-sharing startup to release data on its affordable housing impact.

A coalition of American lawmakers, including leaders from New York, San Francisco, Seattle, St Louis and Portland, urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Thursday to “help cities to protect consumers” and “study the extent to which the [short-term rental] industry is facilitating commercial operations”.

The joint letter, first reported by the Guardian, marks an escalation of a growing national campaign to force Airbnb to eliminate illegal hotels and large-scale commercial businesses that city leaders say are contributing to affordable housing shortages and urban displacement.

The push comes months after Warren – the progressive senator from Massachusetts and a high-profile Hillary Clinton supporterurged the FTC to examine Airbnb, an unprecedented step in US lawmakers’ scrutiny of the booming “sharing economy”.

The San Francisco-based startup is currently engaged in contentious legal battleswith city governments across the country, and has become one of the most high-profile California tech companies to dramatically disrupt a longstanding industry, raising complex challenges for regulators.

Opponents have increasingly pushed for tighter restrictions on the $30bncompany, which allows hosts to rent their homes to strangers. Although the firm markets itself as a third-party “sharing” platform for “short-term” rentals, reports have suggested that many are using the site for hotel-like businesses and long-term leases – taking much-needed affordable housing off the market

BBC News has a beautiful video up  showing prehistoric Chauvet Cave .  This actually an wp-1476475917497.jpgolder story from April 2015 but I really feel like we all could use some beauty.  (It’s also why I have used pictures of the White House Kitchen Garden with happy kids.)

It’s locked away behind a thick metal door, hidden halfway up a towering limestone cliff-face.

Few people have ever been allowed inside, but BBC Newsnight has been granted rare access by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.

We slide through a metal passageway on our backsides, and then tentatively descend a ladder.

It takes a few moments to adjust to the darkness, but our head torches soon reveal that we’ve entered into a vast cave system of geological beauty.

We weave along the narrow metal walkways; stalactites and stalagmites glimmer in the light, sparkling curtains of calcite hang down from above and the floor is awash with the bones of long-dead animals.

Until recently, the last people to set eyes on this place were our Palaeolithic ancestors, before a rock fall cut it off from the outside world.

This exquisitely preserved time-capsule was sealed shut for more than 20,000 years, until it was discovered by three cavers – Eliette Brunel-Deschamps, Christian Hillaire and Jean-Marie Chauvet, after whom it is now named – on the 18th December 1994.

At first they thought they had uncovered a network of spectacular caverns.

But as they ventured deeper inside, they realised this was the discovery of a lifetime – the cave held some of the oldest art ever found.

It’s breathtaking when we get our first glimpse of it.

The walls are adorned with hundreds of paintings.

Most of them are animals – woolly rhinos, mammoths, lions and bears intermingle with horses, aurochs and ibex.

Some are isolated images: we wander past a small rhino, a single, lonely creature daubed on the rock. But there are also huge, complex compositions, a menagerie of beasts jostling for space on great swathes of the cavern wall.

Take care every one!  Guard what can go into your mind!  Things on TV are very toxic these days. Try to surround yourself with beauty and the love of family and friends.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


35 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. Valhalla says:

    I have never been a particular fan of Michelle Obama’s, but her speech yesterday, and the one at the convention, were tremendous. She really grounded what’s at stake in this election and our future. Also, it got pretty wide coverage. Who would have thought 8 years ago that we’d be here now, with Clinton running (and looking very likely to win) the presidency with a full court press of support by both Obamas?

    • dakinikat says:

      Yes. I think she never was really fond of politics and a political life but found out it was necessary to survive the White House. She’s become an outstanding voice and advocate for our children. She visits us here a lot in the ninth ward. Kids love her. That’s the best character reference I know. I think she’s a better retail politician than Bill now.

      • Valhalla says:

        Well Michelle has a lot less baggage than Bill in terms of the retail politics. I do admire the way she has been able to stay above the fray in terms of all the nastiness and racism aimed at both of the Obamas. But she hasn’t gone much outside the First Lady lane. She doesn’t get into policy. I’m not sure she’d really be all that interested in a political career, but it would sure be interesting to see if she were. She could bring a lot to the table.

      • Enheduanna says:

        I agree wholeheartedly Michelle is doing a much better job of advocacy than Bill.

        I’m so proud of her for confronting this behaviour head on. That took real courage.

    • gregoryp says:

      I am definitely a fan and I will admit that I wasn’t super enthralled with President Obama at the start I told everyone that I thought he would turn out to be a very good President. At this point I absolutely adore both President and Michelle Obama. Don’t agree with all of their politics especially the drone thing but I cannot look away from all of the great things that they have accomplished.

  2. Thank you. Your thoughts today resonate with me. Keep fighting the Good fight.

    • dakinikat says:

      Michelle Obama’s speech yesterday will go down in history with the great ones. She clarified everything without even mentioning that man’s name. It was both personal and inspirational. I’m glad she’s found and uses her voice. The struggle continues. I’m glad she’s helping to lead our fight for respect for all Americans.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    I am trying to stay with the positive but it is daunting. However, both Obama’s yesterday made me realize how much I am going to miss them. They will be officially gone in 100 days.

    Classy, smart, funny they have made me appreciate what “grace under fire” looks like. An amazing couple overall they will leave the WH with their dignity intact.

    Bless them!

  4. Fannie says:

    Hang in there Dak! Understand your feelings of anxiety in preparing for wedding, and your phone, and computer isn’t up to par. My neighbors have a young daughter getting married tomorrow. I took over the front of her home, and have been doing Halloween decorations, and pulling stuff together, it’s looking real nice. To top it off, we have rain. They have 3 tents coming in now, and well it’s October, and I just hope the winds don’t pick up.

    You know I love gardening, and of all the women in this world, she was the one to get it going, and they want to take it away from the kids, and make kids in schools eat potatoes for lunch. These white Christians refuse to share even a loaf of bread. And yes, even the poorest of the poor think that Trump will deliver. He won’t, it’s not in him, it’s not who he is.

  5. littleisis says:

    I got into gardening myself for the first time the summer before last. More than half my plants lived to be full grown, so I was pretty pleased with myself. That’s not bad for a first timer! Er… right? 😳
    Dak, if you ever need advice on how to tech and be poor, message me. I may or may not be able to help. I’m only just coming out of destitution and an floating along comfortably in regular old poverty thanks to having several roommates and real health insurance. Go me!!
    PS: Michelle has grown on me a lot over the years.

  6. purplefinn says:

    Michelle spoke so well and outlined the issue perfectly. I wonder what roles she will play in our future. She seems as “on fire” as Hillary was 8 years ago. They make a great team! I never would have predicted it.

    • NW Luna says:

      Neither would I. Michelle Obama is the woman who wasn’t sure she could vote for Hillary if Barack didn’t get the nomination. And now look!

      Once Barack was in office, it must have become more and more obvious who the real enemies are.

  7. Enheduanna says:

    I’m sure this is old news, but for any fellow TV addicts, there’s a delightful new show on NBC called “The Good Place”, and I highly recommend it for a nice escape from politics. Kristen Bell is wonderful and Ted Danson as goofy as ever. The whole cast is so good. Very very funny and original. Thursdays at 8:30. Try to catch it from the beginning if you haven’t already!

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Wonderful post! I love the photos of Michelle in the garden. She is a strong, intelligent, beautiful woman. I always liked her even when I hadn’t warmed up to her husband yet. I’ve always loved the way she dresses–she looks gorgeous in bright colors. Her speech yesterday was so inspiring and even comforting. I actually teared up when I was reading her dedication of the garden.

    I’m also thrilled to learn that Elizabeth Warren is trying to deal with Air BnB!

  9. jackyt says:

    I HAVE VOTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    And, yes, I’m shouting it from the rooftops. My last address in the US was in Georgia’s 5th district. So! Not only did I vote for the very best qualified candidate ever, the first woman to win a major party nomination, and soon to be the first woman elected to be president of the US, a person I admire beyond all others…. but I also got to vote for John Lewis!! I feel so honored!!!
    And yes, mine is the vote that will turn GA blue. I feel high as a kite and happy as a clam.

  10. Concerned lurker says:

    Dakinikat, I hope this isn’t presumptuous. I’m just very worried about you. I went from being middle class almost all of my adult life, due to my technical/professional background, to extreme poverty in the three years before I could take early retirement. I’m okay now, but those three years were beyond brutal.

    Like you, the cause was simply my last employer deciding they wanted someone else for the job (in my case, almost half my age, male and supremely unqualified). Finding another professional position after age 55 proved to be impossible. I quickly discovered that all of the agencies set up to help people in extreme poverty were quite hostile to formerly middle class women. During the last two decades, the federal government has outsourced almost all its poverty relief programs to Christian (including Catholic) and private charities and they carry the prejudices of their religions and of their mostly low wage or volunteer staff. Most of these were set up to help men primarily; those set up to help women were almost exclusively for women and children escaping violent men on whom they were economically dependent. One county employee whose denial of food assistance left me without anything for a month and a half told me: “I’ve always had a husband to look after me. Working is your own choice”. (Appeals of this up to the state level did nothing at all, but I did lose another twenty pounds from having nothing to eat). The Christians who ran the local food banks, with federal dollars, were beyond sexist and moralistic: they seemed to be in it to lord it over (pun intended) desperate people.

    Especially in the South, women are not allowed to work the higher wage (and far healthier) limited skill jobs such as construction, road work or warehousing, even if you are as or more fit than most of the male employees. Employers looking to fill “women’s jobs” want younger and presumably more docile women, so even if you are willing to work almost any job, they can be impossible to find.

    All of which is not scare you or make you feel worse, but to urge you to please please please look into finding any kind of position, no matter how temporary, or silly, or beneath your skill level, to tide you over until you qualify for Social Security.

    I wanted also to list a couple of places I’ve seen temporary economics or general faculty positions listed fairly regularly. (I *know* these are probably useless, like my brother telling me about tech jobs in Georgia (Republic of), but I have to list them anyway). One is Historiann’s place, the other is femecon-l, a feminist women’s economics mailing list from back in the 90’s and still going. It’s now a google group:
    https://groups.google.com/a/bucknell.edu/forum/?hl=en#!forum/femecon-l

    Now that I’ve got all that off my chest, I’ll go back to lurking 🙂 Great post, BTW, truly inspiring in the midst of all the current insanity.

    • dakinikat says:

      Thanks on all accounts. One of the pensions kicked in this year but was much smaller than I anticipated. It’s reallya challenge to your self esteem to suddenly be treated like surplus damaged goods. The support and encouragement is just really appreciated. My family thinks I’m either doing something wrong or not trying hard enough.

  11. ANonOMouse says:

    Dak……We know your story well. I spent the last years of my working life working out of my field because I was too old to get a job in the field I spent my entire career. My spouse lost her job in 2008 due to the Great recession and she was unable to find a job in her field. She’s younger than I and she went back to school and re-skilled. She will be retiring this coming Spring but in the meantime what retirement savings we didn’t lose in 2000 & 2008 crashes, we spent trying just keeping our heads above water and trying to get her back to work.

    I don’t know how your skills translate to other possibilities outside of where you’ve spent your career, but with your talent I’m sure you will be able to find something. I met a woman who had spent years teaching economics who lost her job and was working at H-R Block. I don’t know how much she made but apparently it was helping her to pay the bills and she seemed to like the work. Once you hit late 50’s, early 60’s it’s not easy to find employment, but I know you will find a way to work it out. I always keep you in my good thoughts. Peace

    • dakinikat says:

      There’s really limited opportunity down here. Jindal really messed things up for us. I’m try to escape to Seattle still but can’t find the path. I think I could get more temp jobs there in accounting or analysis at least.

      • NW Luna says:

        Your family is in denial. So sorry to hear about all this.

        Your story is something which can happen/has happened to any of us — and shows the appalling lack of worth society feels towards older people, especially women.

        Hillary in office will be a brilliant example of the talent and experience of older women (as well as how high the odds are stacked against us).

  12. quixote says:

    For me, the hardest part about looking for work after having been kicked to hell and back, was being unable to apply by saying, “Give me the goddamn stupid job already. I’m way overqualified. ” You have to put on this bright, pleased persona, at least for the interview. A lot of the time, that’s impossible without drugs.

    I obviously don’t have any non-depressing things to say. Hang in there as best you can, Dak.