July Recommended Reading

Despite traveling for most of July, I still ended up reading interesting things. So, as usual, at the end of each month I compile links to articles I found thought-provoking over that month, categorized with pull-quotes for your perusal and edification. Each of these is a story that made me stop and think, and hopefully one or two of them will do the same for you.

LGBTQ+ Rights:

Two Working Class Trans Women Politicians Make History in Congressional Primary Wins – Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

“In Utah, Snow, 30, will challenge incumbent Tea Party Republican Senator Mike Lee, having beat out her Democratic primary opponent Jonathan Swinton at 59.5 percent to his 40 percent. The first trans woman to ever run for Congress, she entered the race at the last minute and edged out Swinton “largely by criticizing Swinton for advocating for limits to abortion rights,” reports the Salt Lake Tribune. She also ran a generally more progressive Democratic platform as opposed to Swinton’s conservative one, advocating for paid family leave, free or reduced college tuition, a higher minimum wage and the legalization of weed.

In Colorado, Misty Plowright won the Dem primary for House Representative in the conservative 5th district, and will now face incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn. Plowright, 33, is a self-described “IT nerd” and “policy wonk” who also ran on a more progressive platform, emphasizing income inequality, education and police reform, the reinstatement of voting rights, climate change and foreign diplomacy. She also advocates for expanding and modernizing broadband access and thereby creating jobs in the tech sector.”


The Marines just took ‘man’ out of 19 job titles, and people are losing their minds – Thomas Gibbons-Neff

“The Marine Corps is set to rename 19 of its job titles following a directive by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to make occupational specialties more gender neutral after once-closed combat jobs were opened to women at the start of the year.The list of jobs removes the word “man” from 15 of the titles and replaces it with Marine. In other changes, “antitank missileman” has been renamed “antitank gunner,” and “field artillery operations man” is now “field artillery operations chief.” The other three title changes pertain to positions associated with reconnaissance Marine (formerly reconnaissance man) occupational specialties”

Nottinghamshire Police to record misogyny and harassment against women as hate crimes – Gabriel Samuels

“Police officers in the UK are to classify misogyny and incidents of harassment against women as hate crimes for the first time, under new measures. Nottinghamshire Police announced crimes ranging from harassment on the street to aggressive physical approaches will be recorded as hate crimes, becoming the first force in the country to change its definition.

The force now defines misogynistic hate crime as “incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman, and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman.” ”

What My Divorce Taught Me About Latent Sexism In The Financial System – Dena Landon

“I bought the car myself by trading in a car I’d owned outright from before the marriage. But somehow his name had ended up first on the title.

In fact, his name had ended up first on everything. This may not sound like a big deal until you realize that in order to remove his name from all my accounts—the water bill, the gas bill, the phone bill, the trash—companies insist on speaking with the primary account holder. It didn’t matter that I was the person who’d set them all up when we’d originally moved into the house. It didn’t matter that some of them pre-dated the marriage and I’d added him afterwards.

When I called to remove him each and every company insisted on speaking with the ‘primary account holder.’ The man. As much as I try to not lose my temper with customer service representatives, by the fifth phone call I’ll admit to losing it. ‘Why was he put first on the account? It was my account!’ And, time after time, I heard, ‘The husband is just put first automatically.’ ”


I just saw this picture and I’m so disturbed. Because it’s me – Feminewbie

“They were aggressive as soon as they approached him. I couldn’t hear their words, but I could see their body language. How would you like to chill in a park for two hours and suddenly have two strangers who clearly don’t like you, in uniforms with guns, suddenly all up in your face?

Well, the African man didn’t like it either. I watched how his body language changed too. He slouched back on the bench. I could see his eyes rolling. I could see him slowly pull out his ID. I could see the white officers, hands on hips, demanding more of him. I could see the African man scoff. Shake his head. I could see the police switch their weight back and forth between feet, agitated, and feeding off the agitation of the African man’s. The gestures grew bigger on both sides. I was worried.

I watched the police take the man’s bag and go through it. And when I say I watched, I mean we all did. Everyone in that park who had also been chillin the whole time. All I could think is: We’ve all seen this guy do nothing except chill like the rest of us. Why are they humiliating him? Why are we letting them?”


After Attacks on Muslims, Many Ask: Where Is the Outpouring? – Anne Barnard

“Jihadists killed 41 people at Istanbul’s bustling, shiny airport; 22 at a cafe in Bangladesh; and at least 250 celebrating the final days of Ramadan in Baghdad. Then the Islamic State attacked, again, with bombings in three cities in Saudi Arabia.

By Tuesday, Michel Kilo, a Syrian dissident, was leaning wearily over his coffee at a Left Bank cafe, wondering: Where was the global outrage? Where was the outpouring that came after the same terrorist groups unleashed horror in Brussels and here in Paris? In a supposedly globalized world, do nonwhites, non-Christians and non-Westerners count as fully human?

This is not the first time that the West seems to have shrugged off massacres in predominantly Muslim countries. But the relative indifference after so many deaths caused by the very groups that have plagued the West is more than a matter of hurt feelings. One of the primary goals of the Islamic State and other radical Islamist groups is to drive a wedge between Sunni Muslims and the wider world, to fuel alienation as a recruiting tool. And when that world appears to show less empathy for the victims of attacks in Muslim nations, who have borne the brunt of the Islamic State’s massacres and predatory rule, it seems to prove their point.

‘Why isn’t #PrayForIraq trending?’ Razan Hasan of Baghdad posted on Twitter. ‘Oh yeah no one cares about us.’ ”

An Open Letter on Identity Politics, to and from the Left – Alice Driver, et al.

“Oppression consists, not only of brute force and resource inequality, but of the hierarchy of speech: The ability of those in power to decide whose voices are heard, whose experiences matter, whose concerns or goals are “serious” and “political” and whose are merely “personal” and should be ignored. To overturn this hierarchy, it is essential that marginalized people speak to their own concerns, define the agenda, lead movements, and continually complicate the white, male picture of the world with their own perspectives. You cannot “purify” us out of the Left by re-imposing the old hierarchies of speech. You cannot get a “better” or “truer” left by eliminating the truths we bring you. You cannot simplify us out of the Left, because when you do so, you stop being the Left: You become the status quo, upholding and celebrating the exact hierarchy you say you exist to oppose.”


Democrats Will Learn All the Wrong Lessons From Brush With Bernie – Matt Taibbi

“Democratic voters tried to express these frustrations through the Sanders campaign, but the party leaders have been and probably will continue to be too dense to listen. Instead, they’ll convince themselves that, as Hohmann’s Post article put it, Hillary’s latest victories mean any “pressure” they might have felt to change has now been “ameliorated.”

The maddening thing about the Democrats is that they refuse to see how easy they could have it. If the party threw its weight behind a truly populist platform, if it stood behind unions and prosecuted Wall Street criminals and stopped taking giant gobs of cash from every crooked transnational bank and job-exporting manufacturer in the world, they would win every election season in a landslide.”

Everything I Learned About Women at the Republican National Convention – Stassa Edwards

“Women’s power—specifically, conservative women’s power—is still deeply rooted in domesticity; they wield what they have as wives and mothers. During a She Should Run panel on Thursday, Blackburn appealed to “kitchen table economics,” women’s common sense on fiscal policy as learned at home. She also alluded to her role as a mother as evidence of her authority, suggesting that Republican women could create party unity. When asked about Ted Cruz’s refusal to endorse Trump, Blackburn responded that she “would tell [Cruz] the same thing I would tell my kids, ‘get over yourself.’”

The dance with gender and identity at the RNC was, at best, awkward. “The women problem,” the co-chair of Women Vote Trump said, “is from the liberal news media and propaganda.” That groups like Women Vote Trump or panels filled with young female Republicans exist is not necessarily proof that women might need a space of their own to create political action, according to Blackburn, it’s merely proof that liberals and the media don’t allow the dissonant voices of women who support Trump to be heard. “Men and liberal women discount conservative women’s point of view,” Blackburn said.

They suspect it’s because they’re not acting as women should, not voting for Clinton as prescribed by the news media, and in turn, it reaffirms their suspicions that they are outsiders. And the eye-rolling statements from members of their own party are numerous enough that they’re not worth a history.”

Changing Minds:

How to flunk out of the University of Google – Jennifer Raff

“This is one instance where flunking is a good thing. A graduate of the University of Google chooses to accept only information that supports his or her position, and ignores or dismisses information in conflict with it. A graduate of the University of Google will not be able to answer the question “What kind of evidence would change your mind on this subject?” It’s insidious, because once their opinions are formed in this way, they tend to identify with other people who share those opinions, and any new information that comes their way will either be accepted or rejected on the basis of which position they’ve already taken (the cultural cognition effect).

None of us want to be that kind of person. Flunking out requires a decent amount of work, and the willingness to accept that you might be wrong about a subject from time to time. You’ll need to become more aware of your own cognitive biases, and have some strategies for overcoming them.”

Climate Change:

What’s One of the Biggest Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Emissions? – Josh Goldman

“Our cars, trucks, buses, and planes are now responsible for emitting more carbon pollution than all of the U.S. power plants that burn fossil fuels around the clock to keep our phones charged to play Pokémon Go. And, when looking at what segment of the vehicles on the road is responsible for the most emissions; it’s not airplanes or buses. Instead, it’s the light-duty passenger cars and pick-up trucks that we drive every day.”


Bird wings trapped in amber are a fossil first from the age of dinosaurs – Rachel Becker

“The amber even preserved claw marks, signs that before it died, one of the birds had struggled against the sticky resin that had engulfed its wing. The feathers retained their original colouring from pale dots and undersides to darker browns elsewhere, and on both wing fragments, the structures and arrangements of the feathers were similar to those seen in modern birds. The bones were smaller than a hummingbird’s and incompletely developed. This suggests that the wings belonged to hatchlings, probably of enantiornithine birds — a primitive group that had teeth and clawed wings, and that went extinct at the same time as the dinosaurs, 66 million years ago.”

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