Yes yes yes yes yes. Read it, don't wait months like I did. Lindy slays internet trolls and stands up to shitty male comedians staunchly defending theYes yes yes yes yes. Read it, don't wait months like I did. Lindy slays internet trolls and stands up to shitty male comedians staunchly defending their shitty rape jokes, and writes lovely and complex things about her parents and her partner. She's an incredible model for what people can do when they stop accepting godawful and abusive societal narratives about who they should be and just own who they actually are, a supreme and daily act of bravery. I used to regularly read the Stranger blog when Lindy was a writer there, and I was reading when she stood up to Dan Savage about his fat-shaming bullshit. It was fascinating to read her take on what it felt like to be inside that exchange when I remember being the public audience to it. I laughed (yes, out loud), I cried (just a little), I cheered her on (again out loud). Her voice is vital to our current conversations. She's making the world better by existing. Read her damn book already. ...more
This was a well-paced, thoughtful, neither too-hope-filled nor too-depressing story of a white guy's journey between the "islands" of settlement in eaThis was a well-paced, thoughtful, neither too-hope-filled nor too-depressing story of a white guy's journey between the "islands" of settlement in eastern and southeastern DRC. ...more
I really wish Michela Wrong would write some more books. Her narrative is the right level of fact-density for me, and I appreciate her ability the balI really wish Michela Wrong would write some more books. Her narrative is the right level of fact-density for me, and I appreciate her ability the balance the big picture with the fascinating details.
Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga - "The warrior who knows no defeat because of his endurance and inflexible will and is all powerful, leaving fire in his wake as he goes from conquest to conquest".
Belgians 1870s-1920s, Congo Free State characterized by brutality of Force Publique and resource exploitation, esp. rubber. Belgian gov't takes over from King Leopold II in 1908, runs as colony until 1960 when Lumumba elected 1st PM. Secessionist movements threaten to split up country, Lumumba ousted by president Kasavubu, they argue, head of army Mobutu takes over in a coup in 1960, changes DRC to Zaire. He creates cult of personality and kleptocracy (Article 15). Gecamines, MIBA siphoning off millions of dollars for Mobutu to give away to ensure allegiance, also builds Gbadolite and maintains residences in Europe, flies Concorde, pink champagne constantly, etc. State of Low Batt, Mama Yemo Hospital, nuclear station, paraplegics bringing things between Kinshasa and Brazzaville finding economic niches, La Sape chic movement b/c people focusing on internal worlds rather than deal with politically smothered society with no path forward, massive IMF, World Bank, and foreign government fund investments despite obvious siphoning.
In 1996 Hutu Interahamwe fleeing Rwanda hang out in East Zaire and start killing Tutsis there, that prompts Rwandan and Ugandan armies to come in and they combine with rebel forces of Laurent Kabila to form AFDL, which marches into Kinshasa. UNITA from Angola is also part of this party. Civil wars continue with participation from neighboring nations on various sides of conflict. Kabila assassinated in 2001 and replaced by his son Joseph, peace accord signed, multi-party elections in 2006 led to further conflict. Kabila won election in late 2006 but conflict still ongoing in Kivu region in the east. Somewhat stable for the moment, but elections scheduled in 2016 that Kabila is barred from....more
Overall I really loved this book and was so glad I ended up borrowing it to read on a four-hour bus ride. Davis' prose is very dense and academic, atOverall I really loved this book and was so glad I ended up borrowing it to read on a four-hour bus ride. Davis' prose is very dense and academic, at times almost too dense to wade through. I can see that being a turn-off for many readers, and it's unfortunate, because I think there's a lot of really fabulous and useful points in here. My only other criticism is that it seemed to me Davis was sometimes contorting to get the meaning out of a song that fit her argument. I generally gave her the benefit of the doubt, because so much of the meaning she was wringing from these songs came from the elements of their performance, which is obviously hard to glean from lyrics alone. Beyond those two things, there is really nothing but awesome about this book. Davis makes numerous insightful points about the role of blues women in creating space and consciousness for black feminism. Their songs expressed the new-found sexual agency of black individuals after slavery, frankly acknowledging and celebrating women's sexual agency. They expressed the black individual experience as separate from the community experience focused on in the music of slavery, but sang them to a wide audience and addressed them in ways that called for recognition of collective experience. The songs also baldly, and without judgment, discussed topics taboo in middle-class society such as domestic violence, homosexuality, multiple relationships, prison, and poverty. ...more
Enjoyable and digestible pop-sci about kiddos. Lots of folks had recommended it to me, and it was definitely worthwhile. The authors' research turns aEnjoyable and digestible pop-sci about kiddos. Lots of folks had recommended it to me, and it was definitely worthwhile. The authors' research turns a lot of our assumptions about child development on their heads. They address subjects from how we praise kids, how we address lying, and how we attempt to measure their intelligence, to how we address sibling rivalry, and how we try to encourage babies to speak. The book is thick with notes and references and relies primarily on social science research throughout the US and a good number of international studies. There were a few statements I found weren't backed up enough, but overall the info is accessible without going as far as being fluffy, and reports on some fascinating advances in what we know about brains and development. ...more
This is the best kind of story: idiosyncratic hyper-energetic doctor leads a group of scrappy doctors and health workers to fight a global pandemic, wThis is the best kind of story: idiosyncratic hyper-energetic doctor leads a group of scrappy doctors and health workers to fight a global pandemic, which requires forging intimate connections with poverty-stricken patients suffering from the disease and haranguing the global health bureaucracy to step out of their comfort zone and consider that alternatives to what they know may be the best approach. Tracy Kidder tells this story so artfully, and his pace is just right. ...more
Who knew the 1892 World's Fair was the first appearance of so many of the things we take for granted these days? This book follows two main threads, tWho knew the 1892 World's Fair was the first appearance of so many of the things we take for granted these days? This book follows two main threads, the first being that of the head architect of the Fair, and the other being that of a serial killer operating in Chicago during the fair. The serial killer plot is fine, but I found it notably less interesting than the story of all the red tape and bureaucracy and politics involved in an undertaking of this size. There were also very small threads woven through the narrative about the effects of the Fair on the unstable economic situation of the time and vice versa, as well as the positive impact on the volatile labor situation during the Fair and the not-so-positive afternmath. Well worth the read. ...more
This is a really good primer on the state of foster care in general, mostly focusing on the NYC system. Beam does a solid job of exploring the historyThis is a really good primer on the state of foster care in general, mostly focusing on the NYC system. Beam does a solid job of exploring the history of the legislation and the pendulum swings in policy, and she interviews a bunch of actors in the system over a period of years, including foster kids and parents in a handful of different situations, as well as caseworkers at several levels, and folks who have studied various corners of the problem. She's also a former foster kid and foster parent, so has personal knowledge to add, though she keeps it to a minimum, instead focusing on the stories of her interviewees.
She doesn't come to any earth-shattering conclusions, and even says in her summation that her goal was to be descriptive rather than prescriptive. She acknowledges the vast complexity of the foster care system and how it is affected by pretty much every other social problem, thus avoiding simple solutions or even complex ones that fail to account for all the moving parts. I've read a bunch of books by now that attempt to provide an overview of the system, and this is the best yet. It's very readable, and very informative on the history and agency pieces. It also lays out the financial incentives, and explores the human side in-depth with plenty of empathy for all the folks involved and how the system seems to wring them dry. Well worth the read even if you're not fascinated by the foster system, as I appear to be....more