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DC was perfect. Mallory forgot to do the open thread and I forgot to do any of the social sharing on Friday so it was a REAL LAIDBACK DAY. But, most importantly, I met Nikki IRL.

There are so many incredible pieces of writing about Muhammad Ali and responses to his death, and I will just share one here (the fabulous Gillian B. White on how he helped her understand her father and her grandfather in very different ways), please share the ones you like best in the comments:

For my grandfather, the realities of this country and its potential for brutality were clearer and more deeply entrenched than they were for his son, who was just reaching adolescence. His memory of what this country could do to a young, brash black men was longer and sharper than my dad’s. He could also readily remember the brutality that had happened not-so long ago: Emmett Till, the young black boy murdered when his own black boy was just a toddler.

Grandad’s distaste for Ali was part an old-school rejection of a young man who talked too much, but it was also the fear that the result of Ali’s braggadocio could be a squashing of the progress blacks had made thus far. In Indianapolis my grandfather could earn a respectable living, he could buy a home and a car, and take care of his family. He could provide a modicum of safety and security for his family, and surround them with other black people who were doing well too. But he knew that safety could be fleeting and precarious in this country, and feared what a black man invoking the ire of white society could mean. The result was a complex generational rift. Ali and his persona were one of the few things my dad and grandfather fought about.

It wasn’t just Ali’s pride, it was his pride about who he was—black, Muslim—at a time when society didn’t encourage men like him to have any pride or voice at all, that really struck a chord with my father. Whether or not he agreed with his views on Vietnam or refusal to fight did not matter. At a time when black men were supposed to apologize and accommodate, to simply keep their heads down and do as they were told, Ali’s push to stand up for himself and his beliefs was invigorating. While my father’s childhood included vivid memories of segregation, of racial violence, of the fight for basic rights, they also included the hope that one day this country would be a more equitable and welcoming place for people like him. Ali’s radicalism could help make that hope, reality, he thought.

You may not feel comfortable reading the victim impact statement made by the young woman in the Stanford rape trial, but if you do, it’s shattering and hugely brave:

On January 17th, 2015, it was a quiet Saturday night at home. My dad made some dinner and I sat at the table with my younger sister who was visiting for the weekend. I was working full time and it was approaching my bed time. I planned to stay at home by myself, watch some TV and read, while she went to a party with her friends. Then, I decided it was my only night with her, I had nothing better to do, so why not, there’s a dumb party ten minutes from my house, I would go, dance like a fool, and embarrass my younger sister. On the way there, I joked that undergrad guys would have braces. My sister teased me for wearing a beige cardigan to a frat party like a librarian. I called myself “big mama”, because I knew I’d be the oldest one there. I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college.

Jared is loosely based on his mom:
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Tegan and Sara on their ten favourite (Tegan and Sara) songs:

“Nineteen,” The Con (2007)
At that point, Sara had written “Walking With a Ghost,” and that had done really well for us. But this was probably the first song that I wrote that had a connection with the audience, which I hadn’t yet had a song accomplish. It was sort of obvious right from the beginning that it was gonna be everybody’s sad, weepy breakup song. Even when I wrote it, I remember calling Sara and her girlfriend in the middle of the night in Montreal and telling them to wake up and go listen, and I was like, “I think I wrote something really sad, accidentally.” It was very cathartic, which throughout the early part of our career, I had rejected that word — like when people would be like, “Do you find writing cathartic? It’s like reading out of our diary” — because I thought it was really sexist. But that was the moment where I was like, no, no, this really is cathartic to sing this, to scream on stage every night, and watch everyone else scream along. When I say exactly how I feel, it really seems to connect. It still feels the same performing it now, though obviously, we’ve updated it. Our musical director suggested doing it on piano, and it really transports me back to the first few times we played it live. It feels very emotional — lots of tears in the front row. I have to kind of not look because it makes me very sensitive.

This is so incredibly important:

Most American schools take a 10- to 11-week break during the summer. The assumption that underlies summer vacation — that there is one parent waiting at home for the kids — is true for just over a quarter of American families. For the rest of us, the children are off, the parents are not. We can indulge our annual illusion of children filling joyful hours with sprinkler romps and robotics camp or we can admit the reality: Summer’s supposed freedom is expensive.

In 2014, parents reported planning to spend an average of $958 per child on summer expenses. Those who can’t afford camps or summer learning programs cobble together care from family members or friends, or are forced to leave children home alone. Self-care for 6- to 12-year-olds increases during the summer months, with 11 percent of children spending an average of 10 hours a week on their own. In July 2014, a South Carolina woman was arrested when she left her 9-year-old in a park while she worked. Parents afraid of being at the center of a similar incident may be more likely to park their kids in front of the TV.

I am such a This Is Spinal Tap stan:

The critics liked us very much. The public that found us, either by fluke or in response to the “trickledown” theory of promotion, found us funny. But we were a modestly budgeted satirical film with a very specific voice; we gave the bigger spring releases no serious nightmares. It did play in one theatre in Boston for something like a year, and the fans we encountered were smart and funny and flattering. This Is Spinal Tap made a lot of Best of the Year lists; it just didn’t crack 1984’s top 10 box office. But it was the movie we had wanted to make, and we were very happy with it.

well, this ticks all my interest boxes:

While the Kent/Berberova edition of Anna Karenina contains thousands of revisions, it essentially remains Garnett’s translation. “That she made errors and that her heritage dictated pruderies which occasionally mute some of Tolstoy is certain,” Kent and Berberova write, “but that her language and syntax almost always faithfully reproduce both the letter and the tone of the original is no less true; indeed, we remain as unconvinced as many others that her translation has ever been superseded.” Kent and Berberova deftly change “he eschewed farinaceous and sweet dishes” to “he avoided starchy foods and desserts.” They correct a truly serious error in the passage where Vronsky first lays eyes on Anna at the train station. Garnett writes that he “felt he must glance at her once more; not that she was very beautiful…,” which seems odd, since Anna’s exceptional beauty is one of the novel’s givens. In the corrected version “not that” becomes “not because,” and all falls into place.

However, there are revisions that subvert, you could almost say Pevearise, the Garnett translation. In book five, chapter 3, Tolstoy writes with delicious malice of the ridiculous young man Vassenka Vesselovsky’s realization that his fancy new hunting outfit is wrong while the tatters Stiva wears are the height of chic. In the original Garnett version Stiva is dressed “in rough leggings and spats, in torn trousers and a short coat. On his head there was a wreck of a hat.” Kent and Berberova properly remove “spats” but substitute some mystifying “linen bands wrapped around his feet.” What are these bands? In their version, the Maudes solve the mystery for the reader: “Oblonsky was wearing raw hide shoes, bands of linen wound round his feet instead of socks, a pair of tattered trousers….” There are no socks in the Tolstoy original. The Maudes just decided to help out the reader. Whether you think they were right or wrong to do so says something about where you stand in the current controversy about the translation of Russian fiction.

Edgar Allan Poe’s hair:

In Poe’s case, his hair was even given as a gift during his lifetime. In 1846, a fan requested the writer’s autograph, but he decided to offer her some of his hair instead. “I guess I do want a lock of Mr. Poe’s hair!” she replied, “but I also want a line of his writing.” (There’s no record how Poe’s hair was clipped, but scissors were the likely implement of removal. In The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Poe wrote of the “great force necessary in tearing thus from the head even twenty or thirty hairs together.”)

The enthusiasm for Poe’s hair has hardly abated among collectors and Poe obsessives. In fact, celebrity hair—despite a considerable ick factor—still seems to be sought after. “Clippings from long-dead celebrities’ hair have emerged widely at auctions in recent years,” observed the New York Times. Indeed, it wasn’t so long ago that Susan Jaffe Tane, owner of the world’s greatest private Poe collection, purchased a lock of the author’s hair—as well as his fiancée’s engagement ring, photographic portraits, and other paraphernalia—for a reported $96,000. Poe’s tresses have also been sold on eBay.

El Chapo:

And so, for a long time, it was the Mexican government’s position that El Chapo ought to die in one of its prisons. When asked in 2015 whether he would extradite his prize captive to the US to stand trial, Jesus Murillo Karam, then the Mexican Attorney General, said, “El Chapo has to stay here and do his time, then I’ll extradite him…[in] 300, 400 years.” That was before the tunnel underneath Altiplano, before the failed attempt to storm his mountain hideout in the remote “golden triangle” on the border of Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua, before the shoot-out in Los Mochis. Murillo Karam is no longer Attorney General. (He stepped down as a result of the ongoing scandal over the mass kidnapping of forty-three college students in Iguala, Guerrero; then he landed comfortably in a new cabinet role as the Minister for Agrarian and Urban Development.) His boss, President Enrique Peña Nieto, has had enough of El Chapo. Putting him on trial in Mexico and holding him in its prisons just isn’t worth the cost, apparently. In January, shortly after El Chapo was recaptured, Peña Nieto announced that he was instructing government officials to “achieve the extradition of this highly dangerous delinquent as soon as possible.”


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