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review 2017-11-29 23:52
Hope in the Dark
Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild... Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities - Rebecca Solnit

I read this for the Social Justice Book Club I joined and that was featured in this Book Riot article: Level Up with the Social Justice Book Club. I enjoyed reading it but it didn't completely shatter my world and I didn't absolutely love it. It's a good book for when you feel like you need to be talked out of the feeling that everything is already lost and there is nothing that can be done about it.
There were some places in the books that genuinely inspired me but it did so by putting together in better language than I can articulate, or adequately reference, things that I knew already. The trajectory of hope only seems lost when we feel that we are in a major down-spiral of all things that we have fought for and that may be true for many, but I am personally surrounded by constant change in the non-political arena that are for the better and that are feminist in nature. They may not have direct social justice implications, but they make an impact on progress as well and being a part of that end of things made most of the points here not so much a surprise or new but directed at a different audience.

Honestly, I know how many feel about Trump and I'm not advocating for or against him here. His presence is not an automatic reversal of everything that every one has worked hard for. Some things will likely revert back but I highly doubt that those of use enjoying new freedoms are about to let them be taken away so quickly. His impending inauguration has even spawned some activism on a scale that would have seemed unnecessary with a Clinton presidency and I am interested in seeing what happens next.

As Solnit points out about the environmental lobby against the ranchers, sometimes the people we perceive as our opponents can be our biggest help in achieving the final goal. I'll be interested in seeing who the new bedmates end up being as everyone strives for what they believe in for the next four or eight years. The point is that hope should not be lost on account of a single election.

The new foreword and afterword were added, but not much of the meat seemed to have been changed as it mostly attacked Bush. I am also not here to go on about the pros or cons of the Bush administration. This is about the book, right?

Regardless, a Bush administration didn't destroy the country like many, including Solnit, seemed to think it would and an Obama administration didn't either, like many conservatives that I know thought it would. And again, our level of progress only seems bleak when we only go back one or two administrations. I remember growing up in the 80's and 90's in a country that was going to be swallowed by smog while dying of AIDS that were only in this country because of people still being decried as the dregs of society. I remember movements about rampant Styrofoam usage by corporations that have since abandoned the material and movements about saving the trees. People worked hard on getting awareness of what causes these things out to the masses and others worked hard on solutions or alternatives.

The trees aren't completely safe and the LGBT community is still fighting for rights, but these issues have come a long way with successive small victories. Homosexuals couldn't serve at all in the military when I was born, Don't Ask Don't Tell came along when I was in high school and I remember the day that it was completely repealed. By the way, women couldn't serve in combat roles at all back then either, and now we're integrating into every portion of the military with no combat exclusion whatsoever. There has been a lot of progress in the most unlikely of places.

We have a lot of reasons to maintain hope that not all progress will stagnate and not all progress will be driven backwards. It won't be easy, but the progress machine keeps turning and people keep learning and listening. Yeah, it would have been really symbolically cool to have a woman as president during the centennial of women attaining the vote in this country. There's still a possibility that instead it will be the year we first vote a woman into that office later that year.

 

I had gotten a free copy of the book on the day after the election when Haymarket was giving it away but if you missed that boat, click on the cover to go to BookLikes for purchase options.

Note: I do disagree with Solnit's stance on the story of the Fall being a "central" story to the Judeo-Christian cultural outlook. While it is a story that we tell as Christians (I don't want to speak for Jewish people, so I'll just rebut for Christians), it's far from central. It's part of the setup, like a first chapter or prologue. I agree with Solnit's assertion that many conservatives spend more time looking back than forward (I mean, "Make America Great Again" is a clear example), but not that it's a Christian idea of the past being more perfect than the future. To me, the story of the Fall actually illustrates the idea that Solnit makes further into the same chapter, that humans are unlikely to be happy with any form of Utopia. I feel that story is meant to show that we disobey. that we inherently do what we feel is best rather than what we are told is best, and we strive for more than we have and that it sets up a story where this continues to be the case until God sets up a new expectation, or covenant. I haven't read through the whole Bible and I am not a theologian, but I have been reading through it for a while now and am past that story. I'm about a third through, and have covered some other big highlights of Christianity from the Old Testament and just feel really strongly that "central" is not the appropriate term for where the story of the Fall sits no matter how you slice it. At best, I think it sits in parallel to the main story of Jesus and the redemption his death brings as the original thing that we need redemption from. At best. Feel free to disagree and we can talk about it in the comments.

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review 2017-11-29 23:38
Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears Vol. 2: Civ... Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears Vol. 2: Civil War II - Dennis Hopeless,Javier Rodriguez

Spider-Woman's involvement in the Civil War II conflict is the primary focus of this volume, but the outer two issues aren't a part of the war. The first one is actually about Spider-Woman getting back out there, fighting bad guys and riding her motorcycle. It's a fun issue, but not particularly compelling.

Then it starts. She resists at first, not wanting to get in the middle of something at that level, not wanting to pick sides between those two, but the conflict proves unavoidable. Rather, Captain Marvel has a request for her that is out of the way, but important to the cause. She does the background investigations, figuring out whether or not the visions are accurate even when they're small while Captain Marvel goes around putting bad guys away before they have a chance to carry out their evil plans.

Things start to look like they're going one way until the big problem from Civil War II happens. That time "when one of the biggest heroes of all falls," and "the resulting trial of the century stokes the fire". That doesn't turn out to help Jessica and her little part of all this. It makes things that much more complicated.

I appreciate her struggles both before and after the big event. She has issues with taking sides in this, with whose side to take, with the surrounding events of the big hero who falls and with what it all means for everyone involved. I felt like her part of the story really brought home the struggle of the war because of her relationships with everyone involved. There was no side that she wasn't going to get mad at it, that didn't have people she'd mourn, that wouldn't end with hurt for her.

But then the war is over and we get one more issue. I really loved this one because she's trying to take a much deserved and needed day off. We all need to sometimes, especially when everything seems like it just exploded around you, it's important to walk away from all that stuff and take a minute to appreciate what you do have. Like your new adorable baby and a friend or two that didn't ask you to be a part of things that you didn't want anything to do with. A friend who is there for you. The last issue was mostly adorable and regenerative for the character, and I have to admit that it was those things for me too.

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review 2017-11-29 23:15
Silk Vol 2
Silk Vol. 2: The Negative (Silk (2015-))... Silk Vol. 2: The Negative (Silk (2015-)) - Robbie Thompson,Stacey Lee,Tana Ford,Helen Chen

This volume is kind of a coming home for Silk. I don't want to give anything away, but I feel like the issues cover a lot of ground in a really short period. They really expand her world.
I love Silk but she was totally eclipsed for part of this volume by the amazing cast of people that surround her. For this issue, I don't consider this a bad thing. In the last volume, we were mostly caught up with Silk and the Black Cat and being undercover for SHIELD but this time Silk's world is opening up a little. We already know her two friends from work, who I just adore, but a few more characters are introduced that I hope are here to stay.

The volume answers a lot of questions, but then poses new questions as well, as any good continuation should. I hope to see her really get on her own two feet in the future.

Some fun little things that I loved:

the friends totally geeking out when they had stumbled upon the opportunity
the introduction of Spectro
the whole Negative Zone everything
SHIELD holding up it's end of a bargain
JJJ. I know, he's such a jerk to Peter and Spider-Man but he adores Silk and Cindy Moon.
JJJ's nickname for her.
It's definitely a volume that has some crucial information for anyone keeping up with her storyline, not filler at all. I look forward to continuing the series!

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review 2017-11-29 23:12
Princeless Vol 2
Princeless: Book Two: Get Over Yourself ... Princeless: Book Two: Get Over Yourself (Princeless Vol. 2) - Jeremy Whitley,Emily Martin

I fell in love with this series back in December when I read Volume 1, Save Yourself, and had been looking forward to this volume ever since. It did not disappoint. I loved the title for this one and the way it plays into the plot.
First of all, I totally love the theme of the series in general. We have a WOC protagonist who has decided that she has had enough with the status quo and the waiting around and takes matters into her own hands. She even uses the dragon that guarded her castle in place of a mighty stead. I mean, how could I not love it?

So here we catch up with Adrienne and Bedelia, who is her personal blacksmith and sidekick. They are going to save Angelica! Or are they? Is Adrienne the only one to take matters into her own hands? Does Angelica even want saving? Adrienne has many sisters and while it should be easy to expect that they all be different from each other and nuanced and have different points of view, I also know that expectations like that usually end in disappointment.

Not this time. Whitley has created this amazing world for us and gives us sisters who neither think the same nor act the same. The outlooks that Angelica and Adrienne have on their like situations are not at all the same and serve to manifest very different outcomes for themselves and those who come to find them.

Personally, I loved Angelica. I loved getting another view on the subject of being so admired. I loved that the writers decided to just jump right into the alternative point of view and that none of it went in the direction that I expected. I also loved the rest of the family situation and the foreshadowing of the mysterious Black Knight that I have my suspicions about.

As before, the art is wonderful. The way that Angelica is obviously a little older and is more beautiful and even a little sexy without being overdone or exposing anything was impressive. The rest of the art is fun and colorful and keep it obvious that it's an all ages comic. If you haven't jumped in on this series, I suggest you do. I've already started the third volume and plan to post it soon!

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review 2017-11-29 23:08
The Telomere Effect
The Telomere Effect: The New Science of ... The Telomere Effect: The New Science of Living Younger - Dr Elizabeth Blackburn,Dr Elissa Epel

Most of the guidance on living better wasn't new, but the science behind it was new for me and incredibly interesting. It made so much more sense of the standard lifestyle and health advice that I have felt a little bombarded by at times.
Let's be honest, we've all heard things like eating better and spending more time outside are so good for us to the point where it's almost annoying to hear again. At the same time, what makes this book stand out from all the random advice we're given from almost every form of media is that it provides concrete biological evidence as to why these effect us the way they do. Blackburn and Epel don't just say things like, eating sugar is bad because they have calories and calories makes us fat, but they breakdown the way sugars effect us in the short and long term and why some sugary foods are worse than others. They cite research and they specify what was accounted for within it. I don't often see things like what the control was asked to do or what factors were controlled for, like whether or not the researchers had accounted for whether a person smokes. These finer details really make the book stand out among those aiming to inspire people to live better. Their evidence is way more concrete than the random correlations that I've seen others talk about.

I enjoyed the "Renewal Labs" and the "Telomere Tips" at the end of each chapter where several ideas to help with each change were given and the way the authors stress that small changes are better to make in the beginning or just focusing on one thing to change rather than trying to make a radical lifestyle change. Add something or expand the change when it has become a new normal in life. That makes sense and we all know to do it, but the writing style really gives the reader permission to take things really slowly, as opposed to some other health books I've read before. They actively encouraged that the reader make the smaller changes rather than bigger ones that have been proven to not last in what seemed like countless cited studies. I also appreciated the way they had information on how long the effects of a short change lasted on the body and whether the longer term effect was good or bad.
 
Telomeres are interesting little things that give me some hope. I come from a family t hat is generally told we look younger than we are, so I didn't come into the book concerned for my healthspan. Honestly, it was one of the books I had chosen because Dr. Blackburn is a Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine for the very discovery of telomeres and telomerase (along with Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak). I had no idea how all those things that lifestyle and health people tell you are actually connected to health and looking young but it makes sense now. Especially the looking young part.
 
After having read a few self-help and diet books on this sort of thing, it was helpful to get to this one. Honestly, I wish I could have just started here. It helps me wrap my head around what I need to do to make changes to know the how behind it all and not just get what seems to me like random associations. Shortening telomeres are more quantifiable than whether or not I feel better when I do something. It also made a whole lot more sense out of how and why you can have too much of a good thing that should make you healthier but really only makes you sicker.

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