Friday ReadsPosted: October 14, 2016
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 Ladyannounced 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 supporter – urged 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 older 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?