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“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” -Ida B. Wells

Thoughts after yesterday’s assault on the Capitol:

  • The entire Supreme Court needs extra security. I wouldn’t put it past some of the MAGA caliphate to try and assassinate Justices to prevent from swearing in Biden and Harris.
  • Pelosi and Schumer need to announce a full investigation into the failed response by Capitol Police.
  • The Oversight Committee needs to hold hearings on why the Pentagon and White House balked at sending National Guard.
  • The FBI needs to track down as many of the participants as they can. They need to hold press conferences regularly to publicize arrests and charges.
  • Adam Schiff needs to call a hearing to find out where the intelligence failure was and why the FBI didn’t anticipate this or, if they did anticipate this, why they didn’t act on it.
  • Merrick Garland needs to be prepared to put all the puzzle pieces together and prosecute conspiracies to commit insurrection. If the White House, the Pentagon, and the intelligence community knew a violent action was likely but did not act on it, they are complicit. Moreover, Trump is complicit for telling the mob to march on the Capitol yesterday.
  • Every journalist needs to explain to the whole world that this wasn’t a protest. Breaking into a building that holds the top three individuals in the line of presidential succession isn’t a First Amendment issue. It’s a national security threat.
  • Anyone suggesting that Democrats attempt to work across the aisle needs to be flicked on the nose like a naughty kitten. We do not negotiate with terrorists or their enablers. Period.

Book Review: “If I Had Your Face” by Frances Cha

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“If I Had Your Face” by Frances Cha is captivating. Simply captivating.

I don’t know much about South Korea or Korean culture so this story was an education for me. The women in this book are all trying to navigate a world where there is no set path for success. They’re limited by the old-world family status rules that still loom over society. Being poor, being an orphan, being the child of servants is a nearly insurmountable obstacle for them. Education, beauty, and talent don’t exempt them from social rules meant to maintain the privilege of the elite classes.

The four women in the story connect as childhood friends, roommates, and neighbors. They all have different careers – a hairstylist, a sex worker, an office worker, an artist. Their pasts range from tragic to sordid and their futures are unknowable. They must work unimaginably hard to get by. But all of them find moments of joy and friendship with one another.

I loved all these characters and felt deeply invested in their success. The world they live in isn’t fair. The ending of the book didn’t feel like the end of their stories and I can almost imagine them out there, still living outside the pages.

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Book Review: The “Caraval” trilogy by Stephanie Garber

The “Caraval” trilogy by Stephanie Garber began as a delight. The first book was like if Jay Gatsby staged “The Westing Game” with the cast of Cirque du Soleil. It was all color and wonder and spectacle. In it, a young woman named Scartlett joins a magical scavenger hunt to find her sister. No one is who they seem to be and no one can be trusted. She has to rely on wit and instinct to navigate the illusions and win the game.

The second story, “Legendary,” brings the sisters back together and takes on the viewpoint of Tella, the one who was missing in the first book. She goes on her own magical journey in this one, where she discovers secrets about her past as well as the identity of the mysterious founder of the game. It was a bit more contrived than the first but still enjoyable

Then in the third book, “Finale,” both girls muck about trying to figure out who to fall in love with and marry. I made it about 75 pages in before I decided I could’t spend any more time reading about teenagers in love.

I can wholeheartedly recommend the first book in this series but the follow-ups aren’t as much fun. #bookreview #bookstagram #bookish #bookworm

Book Review: “The Social Graces” by Renée Rosen

Many thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy of “The Social Graces” by Renée Rosen. I was given this book in exchange for my honest review.

I love historical fiction that really delves into the time period. This book was a good look into the world of the super-rich of the Gilded Age. The Astors and Vanderbilts existed in a realm where there were no limits on what they could do, only what they allowed themselves to do.

Alva Vanderbilt and Caroline Astor are a study in contrasts: a rule-follower and a rule-breaker trying to find common ground. They circled around each other for decades, each trying to be the most powerful woman in New York Society. What’s fascinating is how little they ever interacted. They were never friends or even co-conspirators. They were women who existed parallel to each other, though they could never escape the other’s influence.

Rosen doe san excellent job conveying the tedium of the social merry-go-round of the era. There were times when I, like the characters, was exhausted by the idea of another ball, another mansion, another unfulfilling marriage. Didn’t they ever want more? Or less? As it turns out they did. How they finally found peace is the best part of the story.

All in all, this is an enjoyable read.

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Book Review: “The Postscript Murders” by Elly Griffiths

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I adore the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths so I was delighted to learn that she is writing a series surrounding Harbinder Kaur. I enjoyed “The Stranger Diaries,” and particularly liked DS Kaur’s Indian-British family. Revisiting her world was a treat for me as a reader.

Like “The Stranger Diaries,” this was a book about murder based on books about murder. Writers and fans of crime fiction die at an alarming rate in this book. Kaur is there for the professional investigation but there is also a quirky band of misfits who live the not-so-secret dream every fan of crime fiction has: to solve the crime themselves. Natalka, Benedict, and Edwin are a delightful trio and I hope they come back in future books.

This story was a fun peek behind the curtain of the publishing industry. When an author dies, editors, publicists, and other authors are all suspects. I enjoyed all the explanations of what it takes to make a book a bestseller.

If this book has a weakness, it’s that Kaur tells us about the solutions to the mysteries after she has figured them out. I would have preferred that Griffiths show us the crime-solving with more detail instead of just giving us a look into Kaur’s thought process. But perhaps that was the whole point: where crime fiction makes everything exciting, it all really happens inside an author’s head.

All in all, this is a mystery that’s a touch beyond cozy but not too grim or gory. It’s fun and smart with characters you’ll miss when it’s over.

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Everything I Have Ever Wanted To Say To An Anti-Vaxxer (With F-Bombs)

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You can’t make me get a vaccine!

You’re right. I can’t. But you need to know that you are a potential transmitter of vaccine-preventable illnesses and behave accordingly.

Keep your fucking germs to yourself. Avoid babies, immune-compromised people, the elderly, and me because I’m an asshole who will tell you exactly what I think. You won’t enjoy that.

Stop trying to make me feel guilty about not getting vaccines!

I can’t make you feel any kinda way. In my experience, guilty feelings mean you know you did something wrong. They don’t show up if you’re in the right.

If you accused me of killing puppies, I wouldn’t feel any guilt because I know I never killed a puppy. If you accused me of shoplifting a Wet’n’Wild eyeliner sometime in the 1980s, I would feel guilty as hell. Because I totally did that.

If you feel guilty about not getting vaccinated, maybe it’s because you know you’re perpetuating a public health problem. How does that make your feel, Typhoid Mary?

I don’t want to put chemicals in my child’s body!

Oh, just fucking stop. The FDA is the agency that approves vaccines. It also approves the ingredients in your kid’s breakfast cereal that they put in their body every damn day. If you trust Lucky Charms or Cheerios, trust vaccines as well.

You know what’s not approved by any agency? Dietary supplements. All those vitamins you bought from your friend working for a pyramid scheme are way less regulated than vaccines or breakfast cereal. Hell, even dog food gets more review than dietary supplements but you suck those down without a second thought.

Be smarter.

Its not my responsibility to protect other people’s health!

Yes, it fucking is. You already do it every day. You cook food to a safe temperature so you don’t give everyone intestinal worms from an undercooked pork roast. You wash your hands after your poop so you don’t wipe bacteria from feces all over creation. You sneeze into your elbow so you don’t give your co-workers your cold.

We all look out for each other but most of us are good people who don’t resent doing it.

Vaccines cause autism/sterility/microchips/other nonsense!

OMFG, are you really that dense? Tell me if you are so I can avoid you forever.

These RNA covid vaccines will change our DNA!

You have been watching way too many X-Files reruns. Seriously, that doesn’t make any sense. Why would drug makers change our DNA on purpose? And if they wanted to do that, why do it with a vaccine that has to go through a rigorous approval? Why not do it with those stupid fucking dietary supplements that don’t go through any review process?

Vaccines to change DNA is like something Dr. Doofenschmirtz would come up with and he always gets stopped by a fucking platypus.

The mRNA vaccines don’t change DNA. End of fucking story.

This is my personal choice!

Yep. It’s a choice. Choices have consequences. The consequences of vaccine refusal are susceptibility to deadly diseases and the overt scorn of your fellow humans.

Live with your choice.

Even with a covid vaccine, people can still transmit the virus!

That might be true. We don’t know yet. But scientists are working their asses off to figure that out. Scientists love figuring that shit out. It’s why they became scientists.

The vaccine might not send enough antibodies to the inside of your nose so if you snort some covid, it will hang out there for a while and multiply. You might be able to sneeze it at people during that time. Once it gets further into your body, the antibodies will get it so you won’t get sick from it.

The good news is that a vaccinated person can walk through a cloud of airborne covid and not end up on a ventilator. Unlike an unvaccinated person. Those folks are totally unprotected.

But don’t worry. Once the rest of us get vaccinated, the ICU will have a lot more free beds for your dumb anti-vax ass.

Get the Vaccine or Stay Home

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A gazillion years ago, I worked for the American Cancer Society. A few times each year, we hosted events for volunteers, many of whom were cancer survivors.

Now, cancer treatment is no walk in the park and one of the unpleasant realities of it is that your natural immune system can be blasted to hell by chemo or radiation. This was a concern for some volunteers who would come to our events. We always had to be cognizant of that and minimize their risks of getting sick while they were at our events. See, a viral illness that was no threat to a healthy person could be a catastrophe for someone with a compromised immune system. A cold could become pneumonia which could become life threatening.

One of the things I recall about doing these events was accommodating people who didn’t feel safe eating a meal served from a buffet. Between the shared serving utensils and people breathing (or potentially coughing and sneezing) around the food, it was too big a risk.

Anyway, the moral of the story was that we would arrange for plated meals for people who needed to avoid buffets. It was no big deal and everyone was happy.

I used to get really fired up thinking about would happen if these folks were exposed to vaccine-preventable illnesses. Cancer treatment can mess with vaccine-acquired immunity so they were at risk of catching something like measles or rubella. Those illnesses can kill otherwise healthy people. I don’t want to imagine a person with a chemo-ravaged immune system trying to fight off measles.

Or covid-19.

People get real weird about vaccines. I don’t want to get into the weeds of vaccine arguments. I’ll simply say that unless you have a known medical condition that precludes you from getting vaccines, refusing to get vaccines is a bullshit move based on bullshit information circulated by people who are chock full of bullshit. Vaccines exist to stop the rampant spread of deadly diseases. Refusing vaccines means you choose to be part of increasing contagion of vaccine-preventable illness.

People who refuse vaccines are the ones who get diseases like measles and spread their pestilence around and risk the lives of MOTHERFUCKING CANCER SURVIVORS.

We’re about a week from access to a vaccine that has great results in protecting people from covid-19. I’m totally gonna get it when it’s my turn. I can’t wait. Not only will it reduce my own risk of covid-19, it will reduce my risk of giving it to someone who is immune-compromised and can’t be vaccinated.

Some people aren’t going to get the vaccine and I have a message for them: STAY THE FUCK HOME YOU COVID TRANSMITTING GERM BOMB.

Oh, what’s that? You don’t want a brand new vaccine? You saw some YouTube video that says vaccines cause sterility? Or read a post from a white lady with an associates degree in communications who sells essential oils on Facebook and she says the RNA in the vaccine will change your chromosomes and your future children will have gills?

Yeah, STFU with that. I don’t care.

If you’re not immune, you’re a risk. You could be incubating covid at any moment. You could have an asymptomatic case. You’re the disease vector. You’re the Typhoid Mary of the covid. You are the serving spoon on the buffet that is too germy for a cancer survivor to touch.

This virus is sneaky and dangerous. That long incubation phase and the asymptomatic carriers are the reason we’re all on lockdown: anyone can be contagious and not know it.

If you don’t get the vaccine, that will still be true for you. Your risk of getting or spreading covid-19 won’t change.

Unvaccinated people will need to continue acting like potential spreaders for the indefinite future. You need to keep the masks and the travel restrictions and the 6-foot distance from people.

Don’t shake hands. Don’t hug. Don’t go to a concert. Don’t sing in church.

And for the love of all things holy, PLEASE don’t kiss your newborn niece. You could have covid! Babies can’t be vaccinated! Are you trying to kill her?

Life will return to normal as more and more people get vaccinated1. But unvaccinated people should decline to participate in normal life because you are still potentially contagious. The pandemic is not going to end for you the way it will end for people who have gotten a vaccine. You can still get sick and you can still make other people – vulnerable people – sick as well.

I can’t make you believe science. I can’t force you to get a vaccine.

But if you don’t get the vaccine? Stay home and save lives.

1Yes, I know the science is still pending on whether the first generation of vaccines reduce transmission risk. But you know what? Even when we get a vaccine that absolutely, positively does prevent transmission? Anti-vax people still won’t get it. So my message stands.

Book Review: “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V. E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, what a joy this story turned out to be. A book about a woman who traded immortality for memorability, I expected a long walk through history. Instead, it was a tale of languid personal discovery. Addie LaRue only wanted to escape a terrible marriage so she offered her soul to an old god. He expected to collect his payment in short order but she played the player at his own game.

What would you do with 300 years to experience the world? And what would you sacrifice when you finally fall in love after centuries of life? Addie had to make those choices in a story that will I’ll not forget.

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Book Review: “The Once and Future Witches” by Alix Harrow

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I want the words and the ways for myself. It’s 2020 so most women have the will.

This is an alternate history where witchcraft rises again after Salem. Women (and a few men) tired of the abuses of powerful men, factory foremen, abusing fathers and husbands, religious zealot, and white men in general, begin to reclaim their powers. Witchcraft envelopes the social movements of the 1890s: suffrage, workers rights, civil rights, religious freedom.

The action rises and falls more times than you think it should but the power of the story doesn’t burn out. You want to mount a broom and follow the witches wherever they go, just to see women gain the upper hand for once.

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Book Review: “Only Ever Yours” by Louise O’Neill and “The Catherine House” by Elisabeth Thomas

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

I have a insatiable draw to dystopian stories. I also have an insatiable draw toward stories set at strange boarding schools with dark secrets. I reach the pinnacle of those genres when I read “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro. I’ve been chasing the breathtaking high of that book ever since.

Both “The Catherine House” by Elisabeth Thomas and “Only Ever Yours” by Louise O’Neill took me close to the place that Ishiguro arrived at with his stunning dystopia. All three of the books deal with themes of science, survival, and progress. Each of the protagonists is a woman drafted into the role of experimental subject through no fault of her own. And without her consent.

“In Only Ever Yours”, we follow a girl in a post-climate-apolypse world, where women aren’t born; they’re designed in a lab to be perfect specimens for the pleasure of men. They are trained only to be beautiful and willing. They can’t read, they can’t do math, but they are ornamental and undemanding. They may be called upon to bear sons for the good of the world. Or they could be sent “Underground” to an undescribed fate.

On the flip side, “The Catherine House” is a set at a mysterious college where a specially selected group of student are granted the gift of knowledge and the promise of worldly success. In exchange they are cloistered for three years in the college that is studying “new materials” that could revolutionize everything. But the price of attendance is participation in the grand experiment.

In the end, neither the knowledge nor the ignorance is a saving grace for these women. Being what society wants isn’t enough to prevent society from turning on you. In each of these books, I saw a plausible outcome for what happens when your world rejects you. Both endings will keep me up at night.

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