Sunday, March 17, 2013

This and That

LB's behavior as of late has been "challenging." I guess it's just a mix of toddler, March in New England, sick and fussy, and time change.  Sometimes B and I have responded with grace and good humor, and sometimes not.  My coping strategies have been several-fold.  Stuffing my craw with discount Easter candy, sampling the excellent beers that B selects (Lagunitas Brown Sugga' Substitute, check it out!), some IKEA retail therapy in search of mealtime and organizational solutions, and distractions of the watching, reading and listening variety.

If you've been thinking about DOMA and SCOTUS, the American Bar Association has helpfully provided links to all of the amicus briefs.  I've been slowly making my way through some of them, and it's interesting to see the varied perspectives that go beyond a simple liberal/conservative divide (including the Westboro Baptist Church's brief in support of neither party).

My FIL passed along a purported North Korean propaganda video about life in the US.  Here the Huff Post explains that the video is real, but the voiceover is fake.  B and I recently watched the documentary Camp 14: Total Control Zone, about the life of one of the only people born in a North Korean prison who is known to have escaped.  It's an interesting film that combines classic documentary elements with graphic-novel style reenactments I just finished reading Escape from Camp 14, a book about the same man by journalist Blaine Harden.  The book answered some of the questions I had after watching the film.  Both the book and the film were engrossing, but I was left with questions about the degree to which this one man's experience was representative of a whole population of prisoners.  I don't doubt the accuracy of the claims about the oppression and violence faced by prisoners, but I wondered if his descriptions of family life, and the lack of familial affection, were widespread or the experience of a dysfunctional family within a totalitarian environment.

This photo series of children with their most prized possession are poignant, hopeful and depressing.

I really enjoyed the article "About a Boy," in this week's New Yorker (which you may not be able to access for a while unless you have a NY subscription).  The article discusses the increasing options for trans youth and the ethical and practical challenges that come with those options. As the article points outs, it can be physically easier for young people who transition at an earlier age, however, early transitions may force young people to establish a gender identity before they are ready to do so.  The author makes the interesting point that perhaps adults are more comfortable with early transitions because if fits with our cultural desire for a strong gender binary.  I've recently gotten back in touch with someone I went to summer camp with back in the day who is a transwoman and a trans activist.  I'm curious to here her critique of the article.  As a thoroughly ciswoman, many of the authors concerns about early transitions made perfect sense to me, but for people who aren't trans I think it is really hard to understand on an empathic and elemental level.

And, so as not to give the young people all the attention, RI NPR has been running a series on aging in RI (I think we have the most aged population in the US) including this piece on gay elders in RI.

Finally, I read Hilary Mantel's novels  Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies a few months ago and loved them.  B has started reading Wolf Hall, and talking with her about the book is just reminding me how amazing it is.  The book switches perspectives and moves through time with few markers, but somehow Mantel manages those shifts without making the book seem overly technique driven.  The novels have the backbone of a really interesting story, even if you know how it will turn out in the end, enriched by the interior life of Thomas Cromwell.  I've also recently read Mantel's memoir Giving Up the Ghost.  I must of read part of it before, because it seems awfully familiar.  In any case, I thought it was a good book, but not quite what I wanted.  I don't know if I'm just over the memoir, maybe I get my confessional fix from blogs now, or maybe all I want from Mantel is more Wolf Hall.

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