Friday, June 22, 2018

Podcast Roundup Week #25

This week I listened to 44 episodes.  Here are some noteables.

In the Dark is a podcast published by American Public Media. Its first season covered the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling, a boy from Minnesota who went missing in 1989.  The podcast was wrapping up production as, coincidentally, the case was solved 27 years after Wetterling went missing and, it turned out, was murdered. The first season was a scathing indictment of the mishandling of the case from the very beginning. It was an excellent listen and I highly recommend it.

But the second season is currently being released once a week and it is amazing.  It tells the story of the murder of four people in a furniture store in Winona, Mississippi and the man who has been found guilty of the murder and the district attorney who wants that man to be put to death. There's police misconduct, evidence mishandling, racism, prosecutorial misconduct, jail informants, witness tampering, and a crazy amount of talk about juries.  It's so good.  I mean, you might have a stroke as you listen to it (did that guy just say that in 2018?!), but it's a reminder that although the 1960s were a long time ago, it's longer ago in some places than others.

I know that not too long ago, I told you to listen to all the episodes of Order 9066 (incidentally another American Public Media project, along with the Smithsonian's National Museum of Ameircan History) and I really think you should, but I think you should definitely listen to the episode called "Resistance" if you're on the fence. In 1943, the US government sent out a "loyalty questionnaire" to the population of the concentration camps. Basically, the government wanted to start recruiting some of the men for the Army and they wanted to know who would do so. And many didn't want to because they'd been held prisoner by this government - why would they want to fight?

I'd never heard of this questionnaire and I certainly was not privy to information about how the questionnaire divided the camps into people who were loyal and those who were not. It divided families, generations, and created a long-lasting impression on those who fought their draft.  I'm consistently dumbfounded by how glossed over history is. I'd heard of "internment camps," but this podcast is careful to call them "work camps" or "concentration camps" and the way the US government treated people was horrific. It's even more horrific to know that Korematsu v. US (1944) is still the law of the land. What recourse do we have if the federal government wants to round up Muslims (or Jews or blacks or college professors or dentists?) and throw them into a camp?  It's scary times.
I find it hard to believe that I have yet to preach about Code Switch, NPR's race and identity podcast, but I mostly just write sidenotes to myself about how I want to use episodes in my race and politics classes.  I don't always love this podcast or agree with what the hosts say, but I do think it's generally interesting and forces me to think and articulate my thoughts on race and identity.  The recent episode called "What We Inherit" looks at intergenerational trauma.  Say a generation of your family suffers a trauma (like war or slavery or all kids are sent to boarding schools against their will or integration of schools), but somehow the family survives. There's an impact from that trauma on the next generation. Maybe the parents are scared of all white people and pass that down (slavery). Maybe the parents have lost their religious and cultural ties and feel a lack of identity and become addicts to deal with it and their kids must raise themselves (boarding schools).  What is the impact of this intergenerational trauma and how can we fix it or prevent it?

I feel like a lot of my students (mostly white middle- to low-income) just don't understand why people "don't get over it" when it comes to issues of race, religion, and sexuality and discrimination. Maybe this episode could begin to show them that it doesn't really end when the particular trauma does.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Snape: A Definitive Reading by Lorrie Kim (spoilers for Harry Potter abound)

I actually purchased Snape: A Definitive Reading by Lorrie Kim on my Kindle. Most books I write about here I get from the public library because I'm that kind of person, but I actually couldn't find this one through the public or university library systems and it was only $4.99, so I ponied up the money.

In this book, Kim goes through each of the seven Harry Potter novels through the lens of Snape. She makes the claim that if you follow Snape through the novels, the real story is there.  Even when Snape doesn't appear on the actual pages (he's absent for a large part of the last novel, for example), what he's doing off the pages is just as important was what's happening on the pages. As someone who still is a bit on the fence about Snape and his role in the novels and is more than a little creeped out by his strange stalkerish fixation on a long-dead woman who rejected him when he was a teenager, I read this hoping to develop a bit more empathy for the man Snape became.

I think this book actually delivered on that hope.  Snape, particularly in the later novels of the series, was in an unwinnable position. He didn't dare to use his full strength to help students and members of the Order of the Phoenix for fear Voldemort would find out, particularly give Voldemort's skill at Legilimancy.  He was a double agent and I hadn't actually given much thought about what that would do to his mental status until it was repeatedly pointed on this book.

But the chapter that really swayed me the most on my reading of Snape's character came from Kim's evaluation of Snape in the Half-Blood Prince.

     "It's as if he's gone back in time. Slughorn is back. A young man
     takes the Dark Mark and will never be able to remove it. Potter
     wins at Quidditch and dates a redheaded girl. Snape's old Potions
     books resurfaces, and along with it, the Dark Magic spells he
     invented in his teens." (51% on my Kindle)

These parallels really spoke to me. If I had to go back and relive the worst years of  my life and what I see as the worst mistakes of my life, I might be a bit shirty like Snape is throughout most of the HP&THBP.  I would not be able to be the better person I hope I've become since high school. I would slip back into my old ways of defensiveness and a cloak of cynicism and sarcasm. If I were a double agent at the same time, who knows what would be happening in my brain and how that would manifest itself outwardly?

So, I think this book is a great read for a mega-HP fan. I don't think there's anything super new here if you're a thoughtful reader (and re-re-rereader), but it's interesting to see it all in one place.

Now, if only someone would write a defense of Dumbledore and his atrocious teaching methods. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

2018 CSA Week #2

Last week went pretty much according to plan. We used everything except for some of the pea shoots and a few of the green garlic stems.  (Of course, I did not even attempt oregano, despite some helpful suggestions about it.)

I made a Caesar salad for lunch a couple of days (pea shoots, lettuce, Parmesean cheese, chicken, and dressing) and that used a lot of lettuce. The raspberry rhubarb crisp I made (using gluten-free flour) was a success at book club. I'll happily take rhubarb in our basket again!

This week brings us:
Green garlic
Kohlrabi (one, TINY little bulb)\

I think our plan is pretty similar to last week.
1) I'll saute the spinach (and the kale and turnip greens) with some balsamic, sprinkle some Parm on it, and call it part of lunch on a couple of days when I'm home for lunch.  I'll also use a bit of the green garlic here.
2) I'll eat the turnips and kohlrabi with lunch or as snacks when driving to and from.
3) We'll do a frittata with the kale and use some of the green garlic with it, as well.
4) I made one salad with the lettuce and we'll use some of it on tacos we're going to have this week, too. I'll use some of the green garlic in the taco meat, too.  If there's leftover lettuce, I guess I'll have another salad.
5) The lovage and basil are wild cards. I have repeatedly put in my feedback to our CSA farmers that I don't like it when we get herbs because we never use them, but here we - still getting herbs.  Oh, well, maybe inspiration will strike me or maybe I'll end up putting them in the compost with the oregano.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Podcast Roundup Week #24

This week I listened to 40 episodes.
99% Invisible had an excellent episode called "Curb Cuts" that is just amazing. It talks about the Disability Rights Movement in the United States, focusing on one of the leaders, a wheelchair-bound fellow named Ed Roberts. I feel like I have a working knowledge of the black civil rights movement, the American Indian civil rights movement, and a post-Stonewall history of the LBGT+ civil rights movement, but this was the first time I'd really delved into this movement.  If you, like me, don't remember life before the ADA or curb cuts, this might be an interesting listen for you.
The Moth has reliably good storytelling.  The story that Jason Falchook told called "Empathetic Subway Screaming" is well done, although I question its veracity.  Regardless of the truthfulness of the story or not, it's well told and made me laugh as this man interacted with his fellow New Yorkers on a crowded subway car.

And that's all I'm going to leave you with this week. Hopefully next week I'll be back with something more interesting than podcasts that are reliably in top ten lists.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch is the second in The Gentlemen Bastards series (after The Lies of Locke Lamora), a currently three book series that looks like the author has plans to make a seven book series, but since Lies came out in 2006 and we're still waiting on the fourth book, I'll believe that when I see it.

I thought the first book was great fun and truly enjoyed hanging out with Locke and his band of thieves with their convoluted plans and strange sense of morality. I thought this second book was fun, too.  We spend some time with a casino heist, hanging out with a fabulous lady pirate at sea, and managing all of Locke's various identities and characters.  I also think Lynch has a way with words and I think each sentence is a joy to read, the dialogue is sparkling, and the setting is brilliantly actualized.  In short, I liked it a bunch.

The relationship between Locke and Jean, his boon companion and fellow Gentleman Bastard, grows and changes in this novel. I think the depiction of a complicated male friendship, complicated particularly when one of those men develops a new, close female relationship, was really well done. I read a fair amount about the complications of  friendships among women and girls (consider all the Ferrante novels), but this an eye-opener for me. There are women characters in this book, which was a nice change from Lies, and I thought this book was really strong with all of its character development.

Apparently, I am in the minority. There seems to be a sizeable population out there who thinks that this book didn't allow for the true cunning of the characters to come out and that the time of the characters spent at sea was not plot driven, in that all the time spent at sea didn't really change their positions in their schemes back on shore. But the time at sea was not about plot. It was about character and it was about relationships and it was about how sometimes in life you make decisions that don't actually propel you forward in life.

Anyway, I'm pro-Scott Lynch, but I wish he weren't in the long list of authors who take forever to finish a series (Rothfuss and Martin, I'm aiming this right at you).

Monday, June 11, 2018

2018 CSA Week #1

It's officially CSA season!  If you've never heard of CSA, here's a post I wrote about the basics.   The first box of the season brought us lots of green goodies.

Rainbow chard
Pea shoots
Green garlic

1) The oregano is a lost cause. I can't think of  a single time I've used oregano, fresh or dry, in the last year, so it's not worth it to me to dry it.
2) The lettuce will make someone* a nice salad or two for lunch this week.  The pea shoots will also go in these salads. 
3) We'll make a risotto with that delicious looking asparagus for dinner.
4) Spinach. Spinach is super hard to clean. E. coli sticks to the grooves in the leaves and makes it hard to get 100% clean.  We have, in the last year or so, taken to just throwing out spinach, but it seems so wasteful. I think, in light of that, I'm going to saute the spinach down to nothing and then throw in some of the green garlic, balsamic, and some Parm (feta is better, but we don't have any) and have it for lunch on one or two days. Apparently if you cook it, it can kill the E. coli. 
5) We have rhubarb growing in our backyard, but I've never picked it or cooked with it. I feel like my mom had an aversion to rhubarb for some reason, although whenever I've had any someone else has made, I've thought it was perfectly acceptable. Anyway, I think I'm going to try a rhubarb/raspberry crisp and bring it to book club.
6) The chard and some of the green garlic will inevitably be used in a frittata. 

And that's it. I think I have it under control, but it's only week one, so who knows what's coming?

*I don't really care for lettuce, but it will probably be me who eats these salads anyway since Dr. BB gets really upset at how few calories are in salads. He clearly does not understand the beauty of ranch dressing the way I do.  Anyway, maybe I'll cook up a chicken breast and use lots of Parm cheese and call it a Caesar salad.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Podcast Roundup Week #23

This was a big week for me. I drove to my sister's house and back and just listened to podcasts the entire time. Not to mention that my second job has me driving all over southeastern Wisconsin now that I'm back home, so the number of podcast episodes I listened to this week is an astonishing 59.

I just discovered the podcast Order 9066 and I'm absolutely riveted by it. In 1942 FDR signed executive order 9066, forcing the incarceration of over 100,000 people of Japanese descent after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  Most of the people incarcerated were American citizens.  This podcast tells firsthand accounts of life in camp and the consequences of the war and imprisonment. It's truly chilling to listen to in 2018.  I'd like to point out to a particular episode, but they're all so memorable (you can skip the ones with the music).  I highly recommend this if you're into oral histories or just American history in general.

Another new podcast I've stumbled upon is Swindled. In this podcast, an anonymous host who goes by "A Concerned Citizen," walks us through white-collar crimes in the history of the United States. I'm not actually sure how seriously to take this guy because he's very into his "Concerned Citizen" status, but I think the storytelling is really good.  The second episode is called "The Horse Queen" and it talks about how a city manager stole millions of dollars from a town called Dixon, Illinois.  I was so excited because Dixon is our rest area when we're driving to Dr. BB's dad's house. It's a landmark for us and it was really interesting to learn more about it.  I like this podcast, but I do find the narrator's anonymous schtick a tiny bit annoying.

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