Boots and socioeconomic inequality, Canadian short stories, Facebook data, and A Wrinkle in Time
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Hermione in front of stuff

It's Such a Fine Line

America's junk epidemic ( — is this our lives? I live with someone with a shopping addiction, and have a mother who's a hoarder. (And so was my great-grandma, several of my great-aunts, etc.) There's a lot this article misses about the effects of poverty and junk, or the late great Terry Pratchett's theory of boots and socioeconomic inequality:

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

― Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms: The Play

While I am all for forcing American companies to produce better products, I worry about the consequences for people who can barely afford those 25 pairs of tube socks for $5. I have the luxury of buying underwear for $25 a pair — albeit slowly over time to replace cheaper ones — and the luxury that the first ones to fall apart starting doing so after five years of wear. But I have also been the person who couldn't buy new underwear except on those 5 for $10 sales.

We love to shame the poor in America. While our dirty secret is that minimum and unliveable wage jobs are hundreds of times more exhausting and harder than the vast majority of high earning ones. This is why I tip even when service isn't great. Or why I remind myself not to yell at a customer service person who probably isn't even any position to deliver my feedback to corporate "leaders" who can actually change policies.

Bookworm corner

I'm now two books behind in the reading challenge. I'm currently on my "book over 600 pages," and of the two 600+ page unread books in my house, I chose a short story anthology from the 90s called From Ink Lake, edited by one of my favorite authors Michael Ondaatje. It aims to curate the best of Canadian short stories, and like most short story collections, so far, has been a mixed bag. There's a lot of stories about lakes and mountains. My notes on a 3-pager about fishing: Fishing is boring. OFC a white man a story about life, sex, and death, using the lake and fish population as metaphors.

Things I wrote recently

On my blog:

What’s in a Lady?: Review for Rucka’s Alpha #52Challenge

I recount why Alpha just didn't work for me. A newsletter-only update: after consulting with several friends, I've decided not to read Bravo, the sequel. Thanks, friends.

On Patreon:

Reviews on my comics blog:

A Wrinkle In Time Review

I cried twice in this film, and I really loved it. I rated it 4.5/5 stars.

But I see a lot of people my age — mid-30s — complaining about how they didn't like it, even if they loved the books as kids. THIS MOVIE IS FOR KIDS. Like, I'm sorry, I don't know what to tell you when you aren't the target audience.

Let your inner child just enjoy the movie. It's not perfect, and the story's structural problems are the very same ones that plague the books you so loved when you didn't notice those issues because you were 10. #Notall10yearolds

It's okay if not all kid's movies have side or layered jokes for adults. This is okay. This will be better if I don't have to see a trailer again for the fucking gnomes sequel with abuser Johnny Depp.

Also, I now want a personal Oprah to build my self-esteem. Hell, I'd take an app or asking my home automation to tell me great things about myself in her voice.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

I have a *lot* of thoughts on this entire situation. Including my continued ill-will toward Facebook. (Do I get hipster cred for this?)

If you don't read any other articles, I request you read How My Cow Game Extracted Your Facebook Data. It explains how giving one app permission — for a cow collecting game — gave the man who created it extensive access to the information you'd put on Facebook. The article's simple and non-technical. It doesn't have an agenda to get you to remove Facebook either. But it will give you a better understanding of what Facebook actually does and was built to do.

Other Things

[FILM] So you never have to watch another Wes Anderson movie again.

[#MarchForOurLives] Attended the Seattle version yesterday with my neighborhood political group. Maybe some day I will share my own gun stories. But this march definitely felt different in being student led and support by adults, and high-profile enough Brandi Carlile and Dave Matthews played the Seattle March (brag). One thing I really liked — from an event organizing standpoint — was that the rally portion at the beginning was short and the march kicked off almost on time. Then there was more speaking and music where it ended. Also where the march ended (Seattle Center) has a bigger area for people to gather, better sound systems, and restrooms. Great work, kids!

[EARWORMED?] Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" performed in 1971. (See the internet isn't all bad, friends.)

See you next time,


Erica McGillivray

Copyright © 2018 Erica McGillivray, All rights reserved.

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