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Belle Waring

How Do Low-Lying States Deal With Climate Change?

by Belle Waring on June 16, 2017

The NYT today has an article about how the Dutch, with their long experience of holding back the sea, plan to advise other nations about utilizing children’s pudgy fingers to avert devastating floods. At least, I assume that’s what it’s about; I didn’t RTWT yet. More interesting and pertinent to me was this article from some weeks ago about how Singapore is constructing new land, both to increase the city state’s area on general principles and to deal with rising sea levels. Singapore is in a difficult position as a low-lying polis with no higher ground or inetrior countryside to relocate to. In addition, it is forested with high-rise apartment blocks that can hardly be moved. Bukit Timah hill, which I can see from my window, is only about 400 ft above sea level and is the highest point on the island. Singapore imports tons of sand from neighboring countries and uses it to create new islands offshore or infill and extend the current island.

The area where the Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino is located is on infill. It’s the one that looks like a cruise ship plonked on top of three curving towers. Next to it are these fabulous tree-like structures filled with plants and a stylized lotus building, and the huge ferris wheel, currently the biggest in the world, is nearby. With this and the durian-shaped Esplanade theatre Singapore has methodically achieved its goal of having a recognizable skyline. It is just like the government to plan the whole thing out like in this way after, one assumes, envious comparisons to the spontaneous towers of Hong Kong, and build it up in a slow plodding way—but then have it actually work!

From what I have seen in staying here so long, after the sand is put in, the ground is usually firmed up by being planted with trees for a while, though apparently they also build concrete honeycombs to support it from beneath. Both Indonesia and Malaysia have become irritated by the expansion and have begun to withhold exports of sand, so that Singapore has to look further afield. Myanmar has no compunction about selling something that’s worthless to them. Singapore has created something I didn’t know about, namely a strategic sand reserve in Bedok. This is also the most Singapore thing ever. Looking ahead! 10-year plans for new public housing and new MRT lines to service them! It is a curious place. I recommend you do read the whole article though it is long. The stories of a man who has viewed all the changes from the water are very interesting for a different perspective than the one I see. It is a fascinating look at what a truly endangered nation will do when it takes the Anthropocene seriously.

What Songs Are You Listening To

by Belle Waring on June 14, 2017

This is an important update on something I know you have all been wondering about with unabated bated breath, and since I am worried some of you may be turning blue from hypoxia (this has happened to me and it was no fun, so I sympathize) I have generously decided to answer the question no one was interested brave enough to ask: what music are you listening to this week, important opinion-having blogger Belle Waring? Well, I’m so glad you asked! Because now I can bludgeon you all about the head and say the new Mountain Goats album is the greatest. It’s a) a concept album b) about goths c) in the style of Steely Dan. I mean, what’s not to love. Nothing. Nothing is what’s not to love.

It’s the next song on the album, “Paid in Cocaine” which is actually the Steely Dan-iest, both in theme and execution, and it is also genius. CLICK THROUGH.

Mother Mother has a new album out and I’m not crazy about it although the song “Drugs” is OK. This, however, is good song.

The Damned. Can one ever tire of them? Well, I sometimes don’t listen to them for a while but then I recover my senses.

Kendrick Lamar’s new album DAMN is amazing like everyone has been telling you; I’ve been listening to PRIDE but I cant link, so enjoy HUMBLE. (So explicit of lyrics, if you’re at work or a three-year old is standing there.) The lyric that cracks me up is “This that Grey Poupon that Evian that TED talk”. That’s cold but accurate about the empty status symbol nature of TED talks.

Umm, like a million other things, how about Bon Iver’s “666”. It’s good that he posts lyric videos since otherwise there would be literally no way of knowing what they were. This isn’t just me leaning into my crappy all-in-one record player as a kid trying to figure out what the hell The Clash were saying, this is straight incomprehensible with made-up words in there to confuse you.

Let’s wrap things up with The Rolling Stones’ “Worried About You”. This song is genius because at the start Mick says “I guess you know by now that you ain’t the only one” but near the end of the song belts out “when did I ever do you wrong?” with apparent wounded sincerity. Like, dude, three minutes ago, is when. The part of the solo starting at 3:18 kills me. I have listened to this song on repeat so many times. I remember waiting at the blazing heat at the bottom of my apartment block for Zoe’s pre-school bus, and riding in the past the big movie theater in Little India where they sell muruku instead of popcorn, and walking in the still-sweltering early morning to my local park in Bukit Batok, just hitting play again and again and again.

So, tell me in comments what you are listening to. I am genuinely curious! Edumacate me! I’m making this a series now unless even if you all hate it.

This. Is. The. Remix

by Belle Waring on June 10, 2017

Why would anyone remix Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, you might ask? Well, this is what NPR’s mellow-voiced Bob Boilen discusses with Giles Martin, son of the legendary Beatles producer George Martin, in this All Songs Considered podcast. I should note first that it seems misleading to call this a remix since it’s more like a remaster. Wait, I should note first that this sounds AMAZING and I am legit listening to this full-time now vs the original mix. It’s like a scrim has been lifted between you and the music: everything is crisper, fuller—there are drums, even! Martin explains something I didn’t know, which is that it was a technical concern for a while that the phonograph needle could get kicked out of the groove by too much drums. Ringo wuz robbed! Seriously, though, the bit where the drums come in in “A Day In The Life” (after “he blew his mind out in a car”) is fantastic now.

Back to its being a remaster, basically the band and Martin spent four times or more as long on the mono mix as on the stereo, lavishing way more care on the former. They expected everyone to listen to the mono, but then through widespread adoption of the stereo format, it turned out that exactly no one listened to the mono after a certain point. Certainly no one my age has ever heard it, and it’s noticeably different in many places. In addition to that, the four-tracking for the stereo mix, while innovative and cool-sounding, caused the sound to be degraded as it got repeatedly bounced to make the various tracks. What Giles Martin did was go back to the original tapes from which the stereo was mixed down, and to the mono mix, and then tried to create something that is in effect a stereo version of the mono mix. So, for example, the mono version of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” had something called artificial double tracking, which John loved. Another recording of his voice that’s slightly slower than the ‘top’ part (I don’t know what else to call this) is put in, creating a smeared effect that really suits the psychedelic sound. In the stereo version his voice sounds thinner by comparison. The whole podcast is worth a listen, because they put snippets from the various mixes and raw tapes next to one another so you can hear the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) differences. Or just listen to the remix of the album itself, it’s on Apple Music. Needless to say, you have to use the good headphones as the varying effects will be lost on your crappy computer speakers. For the record, Paul has listened to and apparently loves the mix. And speaking of records, they cut a vinyl version and I’m kind of coveting it. Maybe John will buy it for me as an anniversary gift. [insert winkmoji]

P.S. It is a humorous fact about my life that I never listened to The Beatles until I was 17, because my parents strongly inculcated in me the belief that you were either a lame hippie who liked The Beatles or a cool person who liked The Rolling Stones and then went on to like the Sex Pistols and The Clash, as if it were a Thunderdome-style match in which the two bands entered but only one band left. I don’t know what you also liked if you liked The Beatles; the soundtrack to Hair, maybe. This is related to my parents’ insistence that they were never hippies when I’m like we had a failed back to the land farm! I was there, dammit! Anyway, it was thanks to my horrified high school boyfriend Charles Andrews that I learned this Beatles/Stones absolutism was dumb and made zero sense (sorry Mom and Dad, and thanks Charles). It was “And Your Bird Can Sing” that sold me.

One of These Things Is Doing Its Own Thing

by Belle Waring on June 9, 2017

From the NYT:

That meant Labour-held seats were ripe for the picking, especially since northerners were not enamored of Mr. Corbyn, 68, a far-left urbanite. He seemed weak on defense and security, shaky on economic management, passionate about places like Venezuela and Nicaragua, had once had strong sympathies for the Irish Republican Army and liked to make jam.

Jam? Jam tho? Don’t northerners make loads of jam? Are they too tough because putting up fruit is for the weak? It’s actually a reasonable amount of trouble, even if very worth it.

Is The Living Easy Yet?

by Belle Waring on May 30, 2017

Summer is stipulated to begin on Memorial Day in the US. I’m pretty sure everyone else just starts it on June 1 like normal people. At any rate it’s almost summer in the northern hemisphere. Here in Singapore the days are lengthening by…seconds and headed for the solstice when the day will be 3 minutes longer than the night—which is totally imperceptible. Why not listen to Hot Hot Summer Day, an underappreciated but very awesome song from the Sugarhill Gang.

The more obvious classic is DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s Summertime, which has the advantage of having a great video.

Is it hot where y’all are? Are your kids about to get out of school and be on your hands the whole summer? Do you have screentime limits for them so people don’t just play video games and dork around on the loserweb all day? We are struggling to implement this. (Perhaps because this may be one of those ‘do as I say not as I do’ situations.) International school here ends on the 16th and John needs to be back in early August, so on the 20th we begin our dizzying yearly trek across all of fracking America, including stops in Arizona, D.C., West Virginia, and South Carolina, flying via Japan and Los Angeles. Kind of a drag but got to see that beloved family. Tell me of your plans Plain People of Crooked Timber (I am aware that they may be ‘work all summer you idiot; not everyone is an academic or has children to entertain’).

The Rapture of The Pretty Hip People, Actually

by Belle Waring on May 1, 2017

No spoilers because I’m just talking in generalities. Read away.

Walkaway is a book in which important issues about how we should live, and how we can live, are discussed and hashed out very thoroughly. Not anywhere near the level of Kim Stanley Robinson, when in the course of reading you are inclined to ask, “did I just read 160 pages of minutes from an anarcho-syndicalist collective meeting? Yes, yes I did. Huh. Why I am I finishing this trilogy? Oh right, I have a compulsive need to finish any book.” Nonetheless, the discussions are full and mostly quite satisfying even as they treat difficult issues. What do we owe one another in society? How should we distribute resources? (I will note in passing that there is a certain tension between the post-scarcity economy that seems to be available and the widespread poverty of the “default” world, but we can hardly expect a smooth transition from the one to the other; perhaps this is realism rather than inconsistency.)

However there is one topic which does not get as much of this treatment, in my opinion, even as it is a very live issue in the plot, namely, is a copy of you really you? If your consciousness could be uploaded to a computer and successfully simulated, would this represent a continuation of your actual self, or merely the creation of a copy of you, like an animated xerox? Would you “go on living” in some meaningful sense? What if these new copies of you were drafted as servants, to use the way we use machines now, but a thousand times more useful? [click to continue…]

What’s It Like In Lombok In The Morning?

by Belle Waring on April 11, 2017

I just got back so I can tell you. Lombok is the next island over from Bali in the chain and the straits between them form the Wallace Line, which separates Asian from Austronesian flora and fauna. People are coming back from fishing because they went out early, of course. The boats are narrow with two pontoons on either side that are attached to the boat by two struts per side, each an angle of two bits of wood; the effect is of brightly colored water striders. They are all painted in a riot of pink and green and blue and white.

Old ladies and men are sweeping the sidewalks and lanes and parking spaces and packed-earth yards with stiff brooms that are proper besoms of twigs, pushing each leaf and empty Happytos bag into the gutter. This seems a futile gesture towards cleanliness sometimes if the sidewalk is on a busy road and the neighboring empty bale has no one tending it but isn’t, really, and it produces what I consider the most distinctly Southeast Asian morning sound as the thinnest ends of the twigs chuff and scrape against the concrete. Some men are just sitting around in bales (those raised platforms of bamboo that are open on all four sides and have a thatched roof) smoking, because that’s a thing everywhere. Clove cigarettes, mostly, which smell wonderful and taste…also wonderful. I have never been a smoker but occasionally have a few when I am in Indonesia alone. I went with Violet this time so no dice. People are vaguely lining up to buy fried snacks from little carts.

Men with the white caps that indicate they have been on the hajj are strolling towards mosques. Lombok is very poor and I often wonder how they made their way all the way there, dignified in batik shirts and plastic slippers. Tours with their mosques, I guess; there was one in the airport with everyone dressed the same and nametags hanging down and three carts piled so high with matching black luggage it looked like tumbled black bricks. The towns and villages compete with their mosques so they are beautiful: green and gold domes, green-and-white diamond tiles, slender minarets.

There is no other feeling of pleasure and self-satisfied minor vice quite like listening to the first call to prayer before it is light and then promptly going back to sleep. Especially if it is raining. The calls to prayer are long and beautiful, reminding you that god is great five times a day. I wonder if people don’t sometimes think, “I literally just prayed!” Some people clearly do as Lombok has an awesome heretical “Three Prayer” sect in which, as you may guess, you only need to pray three times a day, and just, whenever you’re feeling it. Their Ramadan lasts only one day and I think they might even be able to drink too. I guess by the time the news got to Lombok things were a little muddled.

Lombok is home to Balinese people too (about ten percent, and they used to run the place, which local Sasak people seem still to resent.) There are yellow ribbons around big fig trees to tell you they are sacred, and narrow carved gates opening off the road at high places and descending into temples you cannot see. And so there are festivals almost every day and beautiful young women with baskets of fruit on their heads in the early morning, and gamelan music that has been playing the whole night. There are some Chinese people too, there have to be, running little stores, and so I passed by a Chinese graveyard with its distinctive horseshoe graves and a few people burning grave goods and sweeping the graves clean. (Folk songs always want someone to see that the singers grave is swept clean; I want to go to Bonaventure Cemetary next time I am in Savannah and sweep my grandmother’s grave, and Annie Washington’s.)

Of course, there is rice. Of all the things people grow in the world, rice seems like the most trouble. You do pass the odd field empty but for a feeble scarecrow of a plastic scrap tied to a piece of bamboo, but for the most part there is always someone working in the field, ceaseless toil under a straw conical hat. You would think it would all be growing in tandem but it’s not. I saw the neon green of new rice shoots in the wet paddies, and the golden haze over dry fields ready to harvest, and fields stubbled but for stacks of hay, and people doing the tedious task of pulling up every growing shoot of new rice, arranging them into bundles, and re-planting them in rows, all while ankle-deep in water, and women spreading out harvested rice on tarps laid at the edge of the roads to dry. I see why they do this—the heat on the black tarmac must make quick work of it, but I always worry it will blow away, or someone will drive into it, and I don’t imagine it’s the least polluted rice in the world, but clearly they know better than I.

Lombok has many people living on $2 a day, but has very little malnutrition because the volcanic soil is so rich and the sun and rain so abundant. So I also passed fields of corn and runner beans and tomatoes and rows of papaya plants. It’s funny sometimes to think of food traveling so far, all the way from the Americas. In the evenings people in Lombok drive their scooter up to scenic points along the coast, peaks falling away to perfect palm-fringed beaches on either side, and the sun setting right behind the three mountains of Bali, and they eat grilled corn with lime and chili.

This song has nothing to do with Lombok (or Perth for that matter) but I was listening to day before yesterday. It will help you imagine that you are in a black rental SUV with all these things gilding, pulled past the glass on an infinite string, now a little painted cart drawn by a thin-ribbed pony just near enough to touch, and now a green mountain far away over endless shining paddies.

Who’s Crying Now? I Mean, Other Than Paul Ryan

by Belle Waring on March 27, 2017

So I think we’re all breathing a little easier now that the truly astonishingly terrible AHCA (aka TRUMPCARE) has gone down in flames. Paul Ryan has made hundreds enemies and no friends, having managed to come up with a bill hated by both the I-might-get-voted-out-most and hating-poor-people-most wings of his party and then fail. Certainly Trump is upset insofar as it makes him look like a HUGE LOSER, and is lashing out at everyone and everything. He’s probably tweeting at this very moment about how the bill’s failure to pass can be laid at the feet of an elephant-shaped paperweight on his desk. When he threw it at a scarecrow Bannon hastily constructed for him out of pillows and inside-out Breitbart T-shirts that has “Freedom Cacus” scrawled on it in gold sharpie, the paperweight fell against the hearth and shattered, not in the fashion of the GENUINE COSTLY JADE McConnell assured him it was but like CHEAP SOAPSTONE. Some welcome and good luck present from the Republican Establishment that turned out to be. SAD! But is anyone else particularly broken up about it? Trump-organ Breitbart (not linking tho) itself has drawn the knives out for that spineless cuck Ryan (and Trump appears to be heading in this direction.) However I don’t see a lot of wailing or gnashing of teeth in any actual “our precious bill didn’t pass” way. John and I have made our sickly rounds of right-wing sites, and, as John noted even in his current feverish state, no one seems particularly upset about the failure (like, he has an actual fever; our reading of right-wing sites merely emblematizes a spiritual sickness). Some are saying “great; it wasn’t conservative enough.” No one seems to be coming out and saying “it broke all Trump’s campaign promises and would have made a bunch of the voters that pushed him to the presidency way worse off, and immediately, so they would notice by 2018, and we’d be screwed, so, dodged a bullet there,” although they have to be thinking it. What say ye, Plain People of Crooked Timber? Are there any conservatives who are rueful about the failure of their awesome bill, which was great on the merits?

Gods of This Fictional Universe

by Belle Waring on March 15, 2017

First let me say that I recommend Too Like The Lightning and Seven Surrenders to all of you quite fervently; they are the best sci-fi books I have read in ages. John says they are weirder than Miéville, though I’m not sure about that. Less weird than Clute’s Appleseed, anyway (what isn’t?). Second, I am going to talk about both books, though not indifferently, because they are more like the continuation of a single book than most originals and sequels. Third, I am about to reveal what I consider the antepenultimate spoiler for Seven Surrenders. That is, there are two, yet more shocking revelations/events that follow this one—and to be absolutely fair the main point I discuss was quite clearly stated in Too Like The Lightning, but in a way difficult to credit. There are many other spoilers too though, so, if you don’t like spoilers you will hate this and you should not read it.

SPOILERS FOLLOW GEE WHIZ THAT’S AN UNDERSTATEMENT, BELLE WARING.
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So This Is What The Volume Knob’s For

by Belle Waring on March 15, 2017

Do you want to look at a wobbly video of someone’s record player, someone who doesn’t know how to position the arm over the groove in between the songs before letting the needle fall to the LP? (Or barring that start the video later.) Yeah, well too bad suckers, because that’s the best video I could find for the best song ever this week month, The Mountain Goats’ “Dance Music.” (The song is more than ten years old; it’s just the best song ever to me this month.) You know, why am I harshing on the person who hooked me up with this video. Thanks random person, I owe you one. Also, new vinyl, woo! Most all of my records sound like someone is frying a pan of bacon on every track.

I find this whole album very relatable which is kind of a bummer in the larger sense because it’s sad. But this is real life that’s happening now, and right now this song makes me so happy I will run when I was exercising by walking before, and run with a smile on my face. No one looks happy when they run. Literally no one.

Joggers uniformly look like they are about to pass their last painful bowel movement before inevitable death by fire ants. Longtime joggers can be picked out easily because they also look shriveled-up, raisin-like, by the exigencies of their alleged fun hobby. I have run before BTDubs, ever, it’s just you hate it almost all the time. If you get to where you don’t hate it you run to where you’re miserable again. That’s how it works. I mean, you get some exulting in the power of your body moments at the beginning of a run when you’re young, but otherwise it’s steady misery. Right now I sprint and then walk. Way better. Except it’s hot as balls 100% humidity outside and the jungle is creepy. Winter in Arizona I’m like, 4 or 5 miles, cool. Singapore: 2.1 miles. Dying.

We joked that seeing a runner smiling might trigger the “if you see a suspicious person or article, notify the authorities” principle and some concerned Singaporean would call to say they had seen such a person. “This ang mo woman with blue hair was running and smiling. Very suspicious one.” “Maybe she is simply catching the bus?” “No, this one is jogging.” Police: “we’re coming now.”

The king of all happy sad songs is Neutral Milk Hotel’s Holland 1945, right?

He Took It All Too Far/But This is an Excellent Article

by Belle Waring on February 25, 2017

This is an amazing article at Medium (h/t Paul Campos) that obviates my unexpressed need to write about Gamergate or Milo Thingface. I wanted to write about the former at the time, and John said there was almost no upside (I wrote a post about dickweasels!) and infinity downside (I became the target of a random whirling roulette wheel of internet and even IRL destruction because I am a woman who wrote about dickweasels.) Compelling! Likewise he counsels me not to write about the crazy MRA bloggers with whom I have such an unfortunate obsession. I, like, have a problem. I know way too much stuff about the manosphere. I read reddit threads, you guys. But whatever, let’s just read this article about 4chan that explains everything! (And truly, if you don’t know about the rare Pepe memes, here’s your better than Vox explainer). Whenever you say something’s full of fail, you owe a debt to 4chan, you know. (Plain People of Crooked Timber: we never say that, Belle. Me: well…dang.) The author has the inside scoop.

As someone who has witnessed 4chan grow from a group of adolescent boys who could fit into a single room at my local anime convention to a worldwide coalition of right wing extremists (which is still somehow also a message board about anime), I feel I have some obligation to explain….

Again, here we can understand this group as people who have failed at the real world and have checked out of it and into the fantasy worlds of internet forums and video games. These are men without jobs, without prospects, and by extension (so they declaimed) without girlfriends. Their only recourse, the only place they feel effective, is the safe, perfectly cultivated worlds of the games they enter. By consequence of their defeat, the distant, abstract concept of women in the flesh makes them feel humiliated and rejected. Yet, in the one space they feel they can escape the realities of this, the world of the video game, here (to them, it seems) women want to assert their presence and power.

If this sounds hard to believe, take for example Milo Yiannopoulos, the “Technology Editor” at Breitbart News, whose scheduled lecture this month at Berkeley spawned massive riots and protests. Yiannopoulos rose to prominence via Gamergate. He is not a “technology” editor because he compares the chip architectures of competing graphics cards. [This is the sickest of burns—BW] Rather the “tech” here is code for the fact that his audience is the vast population of sad young men who have retreated to internet communities. Likewise the mainstream press sometimes describes him as troll as a way of capturing his vague association with 4chan. This term, too, is inaccurate. He is 4chan at its most earnest, after all these men have finally discovered their issue — the thing that unites them — their failure and powerlessness literally embodied (to them) by women….

Here Yiannopoulos has inverted what has actually happened to make his audience feel good. Men who have retreated to video games and internet porn can now characterize their helpless flight as an empowered conscious choice to reject women for something else. In other words, it justifies a lifestyle which in their hearts they previously regarded helplessly as a mark of shame.


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Hospitals Are Terrible

by Belle Waring on February 23, 2017

Being in a multi-bed room overnight, or being in the OR, or even sometimes when the chemotherapy room is crowded over-full and they are putting people in cheap plastic chairs before hooking them up to clear bags of poison—this is the worst. And the worst thing about being in the hospital overnight is that you can’t sleep. I understand intellectually that your doctors need to know what your blood pressure is. I mean, sort of. What if you don’t have any heart problems? Why always with the blood pressure? But between your IV bag running out and beeping and the irrational fear that air bubbles will get inside you and kill you, and the checking of the temperature and blood pressure every four hours, and the breakfast you actively don’t want being slammed down at 6:30, and the cleaning staff, well, you don’t sleep. No knitting up the raveled sleeve of care for you! And this is true even in a private room! This article in the NYT explores a very obvious point, namely that multi-bed wards are a terrible idea all the time. I felt vindicated to read that the decrease in hospital-borne infections outweighs the cost of constructing a hospital with individual rooms.

As a doctor, I’m struck daily by how much better hospitals could be designed. Hospitals are among the most expensive facilities to build, with complex infrastructures, technologies, regulations and safety codes. But evidence suggests we’ve been building them all wrong — and that the deficiencies aren’t simply unaesthetic or inconvenient. All those design flaws may be killing us.

It’s no secret that hospital-acquired infections are an enormous contributor to illness and death, affecting up to 30 percent of intensive care unit patients. But housing patients together very likely exacerbates the problem. Research suggests that private rooms can reduce the risk of both airborne infections and those transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces. One study reported that transitioning from shared to private rooms decreased bacterial infections by half and reduced how long patients were hospitalized by 10 percent. Other work suggests that the increased cost of single-occupancy rooms is more than offset by the money saved because of fewer infections. Installing easier-to-clean surfaces, well-positioned sinks and high-quality air filters can further reduce infection rates.

The whole thing is worth a read. Perhaps unsurprisingly, having a window out of which you can look at trees or nature has a huge impact on recovery time. I personally have always wanted to get the Magic Mountain treatment in which I am bundled in specially folded blankets and put out on a lounger to enjoy a view of the Alps.

The author doesn’t discuss bad fluorescents, though the commenters do. New compact bulbs can mimic the warmer light of incandesents reasonably well now, and that is another terrible hospital thing that could be fixed. I feel I should note two things here. One, the staff at hospitals is almost uniformly composed of kind helpful people who are working very hard. Nurses are great. The sub-nurses who are supposed to be just emptying bedpans or whatever are delightful. But let’s be honest: the actual doctors are the least friendly. Sorry actual doctors. I know you are busy. (But so are the ladies emptying the bedpans, probably?) Two, I am not in the hospital or accompanying anyone to same at the moment and this is just a general complaint so don’t worry about me; more importantly my migraine treatment worked. Since I made it to the first week (at which the Botox takes full effect) I have used my migraine meds only once. John was disappointed that I can have a headache at all but he doesn’t know that not having a real migraine every day after having had that happen for months oh God is a fairy wonderland (I don’t know why I’m not being more sparkly and cheerful all the time; I’m sorry, beloved family. I have terrible jet lag still). I asked my neurologist if there were any side effects and he said, “you’ll be running back here every twelve weeks begging me to do it again, but other than that, no.” OMG Dr. Fineman you are right. Thanks for the Tinkerbell-clapping, everyone! Now tell me of your experiences with flimsy curtains separating you from people with dementia shouting all night. The airing of grievances can be therapeutic; anyway it’s better than reading articles about politics amirite?

What Are We Doing to Stay Sane?

by Belle Waring on February 17, 2017

Plain People of Crooked Timber: we’re not, you great idiot. We do ordinary things for up to fifteen minutes at a time and then suddenly the reality of the political situation comes rushing back to us and our forehead prickles with cold sweat and our heart bangs like Charlie Watts is going at it in a particularly vigorous live version of “Bitch,” or something. OK, no, you’ve got us, Belle Waring, it’s drinking.
Me: that’s nice for you probably sometimes but I picked the wrong life to stop drinking (apparently). Solange makes a lot of good suggestions in the following song, but starts with the obvious: “I tried to drink it away…”

This song is so good it will keep you sane for over four minutes.
Plain People of Crooked Timber: we love you but you have terrible taste in music, Belle Waring. Oh wait, damn, that song is great. We reserve the right to hate future songs, however, and we still have questions about your judgment.
Me: I don’t know that that’s so nice. What am I doing to stay sane, you didn’t particularly ask? Listening to music, that’s good, and hiking in the desert, and beading, and making a needlepoint of the opening screen of Super Mario Bros for Violet, and playing Animal Crossing, and having migraines. Can’t care about the body politic when you’ve got the old Boethius hat on, can you? However, I do not recommend this terrifying mighty distractive tool to anyone not currently serving in the Trump administration. That dead-eyed D-List-Goebbels/Pee Wee Herman guy, frex; he could be trying to puke out a headache right now and I’d feel fine with that. I had a nice neurologist inject my head with deadly botulin toxin on Monday afternoon and you must all do a save-Tinkerbell clapping thing for me whereby you wish very hard that this start to work soon. It very well should might better! So, what are you, the Plain People of Crooked Timber, doing to stay sane slowly inch away from the precipice of panicked madness? It’s ok if you’re huffing paint; no hate.

UPDATE: other things, called to mind by ozma and the Solange song: playing with adorable children; going alternately in the insanely hot hot tub and then the cold pool; changing my hair, which has been pastel blue, and then lavender, with white in between (needed prep) about 6 times each.

Happy Valentine’s Day

by Belle Waring on February 14, 2017

Doilies! Glitter! Overpriced prix fixe menus! But there are songs too.

Is this the best soul song ever? Wait, no, the most beautiful? The way he makes his voice break on “please hear my cry” blows my mind every time.

I hope you all eat chocolate or enjoy the highest pleasure of souls entwined who, the modeling the other on Zeus, begin to grow wings because of their intense attraction to and vivid memory of the Forms, or whatever. But with less physical restraint? (The Phaedrus is not crystal clear on this point.) I’m going to finally see my honey at 10 pm on Monday!

For You, to Cheer You Up

by Belle Waring on January 17, 2017

Car Seat Headrest is a good band. Like, damn, so amazing. Maybe the acme of “anything could be a bandname” naming, but I don’t care. The album Teens of Denial is just crazy good, like a Pavement had sex with Guided by Voices album delivered from your dreams, but with Belle and Sebastian story songs?

Also the 2016 Bon Iver Album is great and I didn’t know (John and I haven’t lived in the same town since June or he would have told me, probably ;__; ).

So now you can go listen to good music, and let’s all celebrate MLK day by figuring out if we can get to the Women’s March nearest us on the 21st. I may be able to go to the one in DC, if my insurance company will agree to pay for a thing at the Mayo in time! Cross fingers for me. If not I can go here in Phoenix.

Also, watercolors of Finn Family Moomintroll!