Amateur Vagrant Weekly Link Roundup Sep 30, 2016

I’ve started a bullet journal! While I loved the excuse, any excuse, to buy a new notebook and some colorful pens, I am not sure how this is different from any other notebook. But I’ll give it a sincere try through the end of the year, and continue in 2017 if it’s helping me be more productive.

I found this bullet-journaling blog called Tiny Ray of Sunshine, and it quickly became a new time suck for me.

This week, I read Beloved by Toni Morrison and This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The two books couldn’t be more different, and reading them back to back like that is an excellent way to make obvious the stark difference between the lives of poor, black people and rich, white people in late-nineteenth/early-twentieth century America. I intentionally started This Side of Paradise after I finished Beloved because I needed a chance to recover emotionally. But black people in the United States don’t get to recover before the next murder by cop, do they?

We had two days off this week for Typhoon Megi. Last week, we had a four-day weekend for Moon Festival that was mostly rained out because of two other typhoons, Meranti and Malakas.  We usually don’t get hit very hard when there’s a typhoon, but high winds can still make it dangerous to go outside.

The thing is, for most of us, most of the time, typhoons are just really bad weather that might result in us getting a day off. So we make jokes about stocking up with ramen and vodka, and we laugh at this determined lady eating her pork bun even as she’s losing her umbrella to the wind. But some people die in nearly every typhoon, so we can’t joke too much.

Here’s another thing that’s not funny at all: restrictive abortion laws that make it practically impossible to get an abortion. Imagine working retail, feeling lucky to even have that job, then having to request three days off from your manager (and having to lie about it, because you don’t need to tell everyone you’re trying to have an abortion), having to figure out a way to get across state (even gas is expensive), finding someone else to take care of your kids while you’re gone, finding the money for a hotel for two nights since you have to wait 72 hours from the time of your first exam until you can actually have an abortion–and imagine these “small” hurdles being so impossible that you end up having another kid. That’s fucked up, man. Well, Lady Parts Justice League came up with this spoof of Beyonce’s  Formation to spread information about the bullshit that is Louisiana’s abortion laws and regulations. Please note the stodgy, white, rich, old, male lawmakers making laws that have nothing to do with them (but I bet if they knocked up a mistress, they’d find a way past their own laws real fast). Ew.

Prep yourself to handle the next troglodyte that wants you to answer for “black-on-black” crime every time they hear about an innocent black person being executed without a jury during a routine traffic stop with this informative post. It’s mostly tweets, so yes, you do have time to read it.

This has been a problem since Emancipation — a broad interest in policing black communities sitting next to an entrenched indifference in actually protecting them. “Poor black neighborhoods see too little of the kinds of policing that do the most good, and too much of the kinds that do the most harm,” Eric Monkkonen, the late UCLA professor, once wrote.

And look, here’s a whole syllabus for a Black Lives Matter course. Let’s get informed, one book, one story, one article, one video, one movie, one day at a time. I love a good syllabus.

At the moment, I am finishing up a Yale series on Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner. If you’re as ignorant as I was  a year ago, read the books, listen to the lectures, and watch Midnight in Paris. Or don’t, because I’ve been heartsick in love with the Roaring Twenties and the Lost Generation and the Jazz Age since then, like I was in love with NKOTB when I was in fourth grade.

And oh yeah, of course, there were some debates or something this week. The brilliant Alexandra Petri called them The Mainsplaining Olympics and I’m with her. Honestly, Clinton couldn’t have made Trump look any dumber: the man got up there and bragged about not paying any taxes. But nothing he says will deter his supporters from voting for him, and there’s just too many of them. I don’t want him to win, but maybe if he does, we’ll all have to recognize America for what it is: backwards, racist, misogynistic, pharisaical, prude, and hypocritical. I’m a teacher and if I had to write comments on the report card, they would be “America is not living up to her potential.”

But between global warming (it’s worse now than scientists realized or predicted) and Plato’s observation like 2500 years ago that democracies give birth to tyrannies, does any of this even matter?

Ah, but being so cynical is naive, too.

Winner of the “No shit!” Award is this little piece from The Washington Post on the effect class size has on student learning. Apparently some people, probably not teachers, think that class size doesn’t matter.  IT MATTERS. Especially as a language teacher–the more kids in the class, the less opportunity I have to interact with your kid. Give me eighteen students, one or two with legit behavioral problems, and my goal goes down to each kid speaking once per hour class.

Fun stuff:

  • Taiwan was voted the friendliest country for newcomers* (apparently they didn’t take the terrifying driving conditions into account here)
  • Did you know that Taiwan is the Butterfly Kingdom? I love butterflies! I now have like ten more places on my must-visit list
  • Bad Bitches in the Canon: What if Anaïs Nin and Flannery O’Connor had been friends?

    O’Connor had something Nin did not, besides success as a fiction writer. What Nin needed more than any night of boning Henry Miller was to hang out with a person who could laugh at her and with her, who wasn’t trying to sleep with her, who wasn’t using her for her husband’s money, who read her writing for what it was instead of what it wasn’t. What her writing is, for the record, is fucking brilliant.

*does not apply to people from Southeast Asia hired as laborers or domestic help here in Taiwan

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