Friday, June 22, 2018

"Troll Nation" by Amanda Marcotte

Troll

1.To fish for by trolling
2.a: to antagonize (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content
b: to act as a troll

-- Merriam-Webster.com, 2017
(from the Introduction)

*** *** ***

I have been reading Amanda Marcotte's work on Salon.and other (mostly online) publications for several years now, and following her on social media. Raised in Texas, she has made a name for herself writing about feminism, environmentalism, and the ongoing culture war politics of the United States.

As you can imagine with a provocative subtitle like "How The Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself ," Marcotte's latest book, "Troll Nation," will likely NOT appeal to anyone who voted for the current occupant of the White House. ;)

For those of us with a more liberal bent to our politics, though ;)  Marcotte's book is a good look at how our political discourse (and not just in the U.S.) has been hijacked by trolls, mostly coming from the right wing of the political spectrum. 

"...trolling liberals is no longer considered just a fun sport, but the ultimate purpose of conservative politics," Marcotte writes. "The idea of making a positive argument in favor of conservative values has atrophied, leaving only the desire to troll in its place."  (p. xvi) 

Marcotte looks at how this "desire to troll" has played out in the areas of political correctness, women, the environment, health care, guns, race, conspiracy theories and the media. She also profiles "case studies" of some recognizable right-wing public figures who have contributed to the current environment. 

(Personally, I find it hard to believe that the desire to annoy liberals is the ONLY thing going on with the right today... but it does explain a lot...!) 

My one major reservation/complaint about this book is that Marcotte offers little in the way of ideas as to what can be done to restore a more reasoned/factual/respectful/civil tone to public life. "We can't fix troll nation," she concludes. (p. 184)  But she finds a glimmer of hope in the fact that Hillary Clinton received more votes than Donald Trump in the 2016 election. "And the blunt fact of the matter is that it was only so close because so few Americans vote... we've had the power this whole time. We just need to channel it."  (pp. 184-185)  In other words, get out & VOTE, people!

Overall, I thought this was an engaging and (mostly) well-written read. (As a couple of reviewers noted on Amazon.com, Marcotte's writing does tend to hyperbole at times... and there were a few typos that detracted from my overall enjoyment of the book -- it's the editor in me...!)  I rated it four stars on Goodreads -- I would have voted 3.5 if I could figure out how to assign a half star. ;)  It's not long, a slim volume and a quick read, under 200 well-spaced pages in a generous type size.

If this sounds interesting to you, and you'd like to sample the book before buying or borrowing to read further, the introduction is available on Salon, here.

This was book #12 that I've read so far in 2018, bringing me to 50% of my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I am (for the monent, anyway...!) one book AHEAD of schedule to meet my goal!  :)  

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Small pleasures

  • Having our condo windows washed for the first time since we moved here, more than two years ago!! They've been putting it off (again & again & again...) because of all the construction work going on around us, constantly kicking up dust & dirt, but happily, the townhouse developer agreed to pay for it. (They didn't do the balcony doors, since the balconies get in the way of moving their platform up & down -- we'll need to do that ourselves. But it all helps...!) 
  • The stunning sunsets we can see almost every night from our condo balcony/living room. (For whatever reason, they are more visible and more beautiful in the summer.)  Dh thinks I'm boring people because I'm constantly taking photos of them & posting them on my social media feeds, but I don't care. ;)  (See below!) 
  • Being able to open the balcony doors again & let the fresh air in, after a couple of days of stifling hot, humid weather. 
  • Indulging in cheap summer T-shirts (even cheaper on sale!) from Old Navy. 
  • Seeing Oldest Nephew post a photo on Instagram of his new vinyl purchases (and what purchases -- Seals & Croft!  Santana!!  Marvin Gaye!!!), sitting on top of the stereo I gave to him. The stereo is 36 years old, and he had to buy new speakers for it (much smaller than the gargantuan boxes that came with it, lol), but I am so happy he is using & loving it. 
  • Extremely cheap but still extremely delicious leftover Easter chocolate, heavily discounted at the Lindt outlet store. :)  
  • The first local strawberries of the season. :) 
  • An empty laundry basket (for now, anyway...!), after doing load after load of laundry. 
Last night's sunset, from my (newly washed!) bedroom window. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Father's Day weekend odds & ends

  • Yesterday was Father's Day, and as usual, I told dh the day's agenda was his to determine. We decided to go see "The Incredibles 2" (we both enjoyed the original movie enormously) -- even though it was opening weekend, which we normally try to avoid. But although we arrived in plenty of time, the local multiplex was swarming with parents & kids, and when I went to purchase tickets, I learned that (even though we just wanted to see the plain vanilla version -- no 3D, no AVX, no IMAX, no D-Box, etc.) there was assigned seating -- and all that was left was the very front row. :p  We said thanks but no thanks, bought some popcorn to munch on en route home, and left. Will try again in another week or two, when the crowds have (hopefully) thinned out... 
    • We went home, and dh promptly fell asleep on the couch. When he woke up, he proclaimed he'd had a great day. (?!!) Whatever makes him happy, I guess...!  ;)     
    • We went to visit FIL on Saturday with BIL, SIL, the nephews & their wives (boy, it feels weird typing that...!).  He was not as good as he was when we saw him last week. Still recognizes dh & BIL, recognized SIL (asked her how her own aging father was), but I'm not sure he knew me, and he didn't seem to recognize his grandsons, let alone the girls. :(  
  • SIL found out late last week that she will be losing her job as of Sept. 1st. I won't go into all the details, since her story is not really mine to share -- but she is 53 & has been with her company 28 years;  I lost my job when *I* was 53 & just one month shy of 28 years of service. Eerie, huh?  :(  
    • The nephews were highly indignant on their mom's behalf. Oldest Nephew said his mom should forget about finding another job and just retire. SIL told him bluntly she couldn't afford to just yet. I suppose Oldest Nephew was thinking of dh & me, retiring after losing our jobs in our mid-50s. But of course, unlike his parents, we didn't raise two children and just finish paying for (part of) two big weddings...!  
  • After a couple of months of prolific blogging (15 posts in March, 17 in April, 18 in May...), I seem to be in a bit of a slump again. But that's OK. I've been blogging long enough to know the muse comes and goes. 
  • One of these days, I will write a #MM post that's not made up of bullet points, lol. (But today isn't it...!)  
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

"Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness" by Lesley Pyne

While the childless-not-by-choice (CNBC) segment of the adoption/loss/infertility (ALI) blogging community may (still) be on the small side, we're definitely growing -- and we count some pretty awesome women among our members. We also like to support each other where & when we can. :)

So when Lesley Pyne asked a couple of us if we'd like an advance e-copy of her new book (due June 18th) to read & review, I jumped at the opportunity. :)  (Lesley featured me & my story on her blog back in 2014.)

Lesley -- a survivor of six rounds of IVF -- will be the first to tell you that she never thought she would be using "joy" and "childlessness" in the same sentence -- but these days she is happier than she's ever been, or ever thought possible. "I absolutely love my life and the adventures I'm having, and I'm excited about what will happen next," she says. Her new book --
Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness: Inspiring Stories to Guide You to a Fulfilling Life -- is all about helping you discover that same joy for yourself.

Lesley believes in the importance of story -- that the stories we tell ourselves become our reality. ("If you tell yourself that your life has no meaning and will be miserable, then it will be.  However, if you tell yourself -- like the women you'll meet here -- that there are gifts in the childless life, and you're prepared to do what it takes to receive them, that's what will happen.")  Beyond Lesley's own story, you'll hear from 19 other women who have found themselves living without children, not by choice, and yet gone on to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives. (There are some very familiar names among them -- including Jody Day, who wrote the book's foreword, Lisa Manterfield, Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos, Linda Rooney, Tracey Cleantis, Jessica Hepburn and Karen Malone Wright.)  I really liked how Lesley groups their stories (or facets of their stories) together, analyzes and then draws common lessons & meaning from them.

Lesley also believes in the importance of grief work -- of facing your grief over not having children and working through it. "Time is a healer to some extent, and healing happens much quicker if you do your grief work," she says.

"The main thing I have learned is that running from grief doesn't work. It will eventually catch you, maybe when you least expect it, so it's better to face it in your own time and your own way."

She offers a number of strategies for working through your grief, including rituals for letting go of the dream of children, reconnecting with your body (she is a big fan of yin yoga), self-acceptance and self-care, developing a writing practice (each chapter comes with journalling prompts to get you thinking and working through the process), telling your story, finding your tribe/support group, practicing gratitude, and reclaiming happiness and joy in your life.

Finally, Lesley shows us how to create new meaning in our lives -- to recognize how we've changed and what we want our lives to look like in the future.

I would have LOVED to have a book like this to lean on when I was first coming to terms with my own permanent childlessness. Even today, some 17 years (!) down this road less travelled, I learned a few new things from Lesley and her storytellers. I am sure you will too, wherever you are in your own journey. I rated this book a solid four stars on Goodreads.

Want to find out more about Lesley & her book?
This was book #11 that I've read so far in 2018, bringing me to 46% of my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I am (for the monent, anyway...!) one book AHEAD of schedule to meet my goal!  :)  

Monday, June 11, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: While I'm alive...

(Mel recently asked us what we want to do before we die/while we're alive. I thought my answer might make a good microblog post. ;)  Slightly edited -- and bullet-pointed, of course. ;)   )
  • I want to travel more, with England/Scotland/Ireland, Scandinavia, Italy and other parts of Europe at the top of my list, as well as PEI & Newfoundland, in my own country. 
  • I want to take dh to New York City (and I REALLY want him to like it, so he’ll go back with me, again & again ;) ). 
  • I want him to take me on a surprise trip, ANYWHERE, even just for the weekend. (I’ve always loved the commercial where the wife is dropping her husband off at the airport -- & he holds up two airplane tickets. ;) ) 
  • I want to put together my family tree research into some semblance of a book & publish it for my relatives -- and I want at least a few of them to care and be excited about it. 
  • I want to meet more of my blogging & other online friends in real life. 
  • I want to see a woman president of the United States (frankly, I thought I’d see one before I ever saw a black man elected to the post…!) and another female prime minister of Canada (who gets to stay in office longer than three months). 
  • I (REALLY) want to see the Donald Trumps & Doug Fords of the world get their just desserts :p and for some semblance of sanity and decency to be restored to public life. 
I could ramble on, but I guess that’s as good a place as any to end. Am I asking for too much??

What would be on your list?

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Monday, June 4, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: A few annoying things...

  • Looking forward to a relaxing browse at the bookstore this afternoon, only to find it was overrun with families/kids when we got there (was there a school holiday or something we didn't know about??). 
    • (Also having to dodge a local author who was aggressively hawking his new book near the front of the store -- and blocking access to the new books section while he was at it. Grrrr....) 
  • People who don't even pause or glance to see if there are cars coming as they amble across the road (whatever happened to looking both ways & making sure you made eye contact with the driver before proceeding??). 
  • The no-good-choices dilemma facing us for our provincial election this Thursday (including a Trump clone who stands a very real chance of becoming premier). :p  
  • White House press conferences (watching one right now -- and wondering why I bother sometimes...!). 
  • Seasonal allergies. :p  They haven't been as bad for me as they sometimes are, but I've been waking up with goopy, gritty eyes lately, and I've been sneezing on & off today. Bring on the Claritin!  
  • Not being able to come up with a different topic for today's #MM post. :p  ;)  

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.  

Friday, June 1, 2018

Right now

Right now... (an occasional meme, alternating from time to time with "The Current")

Reading: A new book by fellow CNBCer, Lesley PyneFinding Joy Beyond Childlessness. (In fact, it's so new it's not even listed on Goodreads yet...!) It's not officially out until June 18th, but Lesley was kind enough to send me a PDF. (Review to come when I'm done.) Year-to-date, I've finished 10 books (out of my Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge goal of 24 books).

Recent purchases:
Watching: The Handmaid's Tale," which continues to be gripping, extremely well done television.

I watched a wonderful new adaptation of "Little Women" from PBS recently, with Maya Hawke, daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, as Jo, and a charming young guy with amazing dimples named Jonah Hauer-King as Laurie. I've seen several different movie & TV adaptations of the novel (I got an abridged version for my 7th birthday, and I sometimes wonder if Jo March was my original inspiration for wanting to be a writer...) -- and I think I still like the 1994 movie with Winona Ryder as Jo and Christian Bale as Laurie best -- but this was very good -- beautifully filmed and acted.

Haven't been to a big-screen movie since "Infinity Wars" on Voldemort Day... hoping to remedy that soon...

(Not) Listening: Every Sunday afternoon, since around the same time I came to Toronto, the local classic rock FM station had a program called "Psychedelic Sunday." featuring music from the era 1965-75 -- album cuts as well as hits. We would often listen in the car as we drove to & from the movies, the bookstore, visiting people... I say "had" and "would," because this past Sunday was the last show. The host -- described as having "a voice that sounds like God's cooler brother" -- had been let go, but he was allowed to host one final show and say goodbye to his loyal listeners. He is, of course, in his early 60s, and the station has been showing the door to a lot of its longer-serving DJs lately, in a quest to appeal to a younger audience. Ageism strikes again!!

(Not) Following: The Stanley Cup (hockey) playoffs no longer interest me, now that my beloved Winnipeg Jets have been eliminated. :( (Besides, I've always thought it was ridiculous to still be playing/watching hockey in June)(which didn't happen when I was younger & the league was smaller).

Drinking/Eating:  Drinking a lot more iced tea lately. ;)

Wearing: Capris, shorts, tank tops, T-shirts and sandals. FINALLY!! :)

Buying (besides books, lol):  I recently bought a couple of new purses. I am very picky about my purses -- they have to be big (but not TOO big, because otherwise I will overload it), preferably with lots of pockets and compartments -- and when I find one(s) that I like, I will scoop it/them up (sometimes buying the same one in different colours), even if I don't think I'll use it right away. I found one purse, deeply discounted, at a Nine West store, which is closing, and couldn't resist the bargain. ;)  I also bought two purses by Jessica Simpson at a discount shoe warehouse store, one in off-white (for summer) and one in brown (for fall). My current purse is a Jessica Simpson and I had another one of hers that I liked (before it fell apart...!). I've never thought much of her singing or TV shows, but I do like her purses. ;)

Wanting:  To visit the gelato shop (sooner vs later, lol).

Loving: The milder weather, the longer days, and the beautiful sunsets in the evening (which seem to happen more frequently in the summer than in the winter -- or maybe we just notice them more...!).

Celebrating: A good dental checkup (albeit still expensive...!).

Recuperating:  Housecleaning on Wednesday; dentist appointment Thursday;  lunch with some online (non-ALI/scrapbooking) friends in the city today. Had a wonderful time, but between the heat & humidity (and the nonstop talking, lol) I am tuckered right out. ;) 

Feeling:  Sad that our summer vacation plans are so up in the air... and then guilty, because of WHY they are up in the air (FIL's illness).  :(