Issues/Addresses 4.20.2018

Every week seems busy, but this week has been busier than most. Here are the current issues/addresses write-ups. As always, a few reminders—

• I write these up using the addresses of my California legislators. If you’re from another state, you can find contact information for your Senators here and contact information for your Representatives here.

• When I suggest writing to people as members of committees, I’ve given the committee address, rather than their personal office addresses.

• The list is long, so skim and look for the topics that speak to you most loudly.

• Use/share/distribute as you see fit.

• If you do use these, leave me a note in the comments section–it gives my spirits a boost.

Issues:Addresses 4.20.2018

 

A Few Thoughts on the Issues I Choose

Trying to assemble an issues/addresses list as I do presents some challenges. So much is happening so quickly in this country that I can easily find twenty or thirty new topics in a single day—far more than I can write up. Below are five of the guidelines I use when choosing what to write up.

• If pretty much no one is talking about an issue and it matters, that bumps the issue to the top of my list. The daily/weekly/monthly resistance updates have a fair bit of overlap, so I try to keep an eye out for issues that aren’t yet in wide circulation.

• I avoid the egregiously stupid or offensive behaviors we’re seeing so much of these days. This kind of behavior matters, but too often it becomes a distraction from the legislative agenda. It’s almost as if some people choose to say unpleasant things because, as long as you’re focused on what they’re saying, you’re less able to focus on what they’re doing.

• I include thank-you card possibilities. Yes, we need to keep challenging the current administration, but taking a moment to focus on a person or group that’s done something decent can uplift us so we can keep challenging the unpleasantness.

• I have my own preferences. As a lesbian, I was devastated by the Bowers v. Hardwick ruling in 1986, but the wheels of justice kept grinding, and in 2003, that ruling was overturned. Then there’s Obergefell v. Hodges, which allowed my wife and I to get married. When we became engaged, we absolutely meant it, but we also thought of our engagement as a symbolic act. We didn’t expect same-sex marriage to become a reality in our lifetimes, but we were determined that we were holding out for the “real” thing, not just a commitment ceremony or domestic partnership. The courts matter—and court rulings are not subject to the whims of the next administration the way legislation is. Also—federal judges get lifetime appointments. Once they’re in office, we’re stuck with them. At least we have the hope of a different president once we make it through four years of Trump. (And I know “make it through four years of Trump” is a simplification, but that’s a sermon for another time.)

• I love me some First Amendment. I want to get the First Amendment tattooed on my right forearm, so every time I reach out to shake hands with someone, that’s what they see. Freedom of the press, freedom of association, freedom of religion, the right to petition our government when we have grievances—we haven’t perfected those, but we have them in the Constitution, and we can keep working to live up to their promise.

Escapism (Because Sometimes It Helps)

The Spirit Photographer, by Jon Michael Varese, The Overlook Press, 320 pages, release date 17 April, 2018.

If, in the midst of the craziness that is our nation at the moment, you need an escape, one that won’t cost a fortune, one that will be completely immersive—try Jon Michael Varese’s The Spirit Photographer. Set shortly after the end of the Civil War, the novel follows a varied cast of characters caught up in what may, or may not, be a series of cons. A photographer claims the ability to take photographic portraits that show not only the sitter, but also the spirit of someone the sitter has loved who has “crossed over.” As you read, you won’t just be entertained by the book’s action. You’ll also have a chance to see how that era was experienced by different classes of individuals, including recently freed slaves and women. Depending on your reading speed, you can count on The Spirit Photographer for a good five hours (plus or minus) of escape from our own historical moment.

New Issues/Addresses 4.14.2018

Yesterday was Friday, which means taking time to write up issues and addresses for postcarding. There is a ton going on right now.

Below you’ll find a link to the newest material (all written after the April list went up). If you aren’t in my Senate/House district, you can find addresses for your Senators here and addresses for you Representative here.

The list is long, so I suggest skimming it and using what speaks to you. As always

• use/share/distribute as you see fit

• drop me a note in comments and tell me when you use this–it keeps my spirits up.

Link: 2018.04.13 Issues:Addresses

April Issues/Addresses

Tomorrow my postcarding group meets, so I’ve finalized the full April postcarding list. I also have a smaller list that just covers material from the past week for those of you who stop by more often.

Full list: 2018.April.Final.Formatted

Last week’s list: Issues:Addresses 2018.04.06

My group is in Santa Cruz, CA. If you have different Congresspeople, you can look up addresses for all Senators here. You can look up addresses for all Representatives here.

As always:

• Both lists are long, so I suggest skimming first and choosing what speaks to you.

• Feel free to use/share/distribute as you see fit.

• Please leave me a note in the comments section if you use these. It does my heart good to know people are making use of them.

Resistance! Persistence! Go the Distance!

The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind

The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind, a Memoir of Madness and Recovery, Barbara K. Lipska, release date 3 April, 2018, 208 pages, Penguin

The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind, a Memoir of Madness and Recovery is one of those quick, interesting reads that you’ll want to talk over with a friend. For most of her adult life, Barbara K. Lipska has worked at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Her main responsibility is maintaining the NIMH’s brain bank, which is exactly what it sounds like: a substantial collection of brains, preserved in ways that leave them useful for research purposes and representing the widest possible spectrum of both age and medical condition. Lipska is also a Schizophrenia researcher, trying to determine whether the disease can be identified by specific brain features and to find ways to treat it. If she were writing about her everyday work world, what she would have to say would be compelling—but she’s writing about something even more fascinating.

Lipska recounts her experience with an aggressive form of malignant melanoma situated in her brain. As the melanoma spreads and as she undergoes different types of treatment, her personality and perceptions undergo immense changes. Neither she nor her family understands at the time what is happening. Then, as her treatment progresses and she returns to her usual self, she and her family begin to realize how aberrant her symptoms were. In fact, although these symptoms had a very different cause, they were much like the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Listening to Lipska as she relates this story—and as she reflects on it and what she can learn about the way schizophrenics experience their world—makes this book remarkable. This is a story of an outstanding woman scientist, of cutting-edge cancer treatments, of the way the family of a cancer patient experience her disease, and of the intensity with which one’s perceptions of the world and those around her can be transformed by forces beyond her control. She is left wondering, as are her readers, about the many components that comprise our identities.

Key to the star ratings:

Five Stars—it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, stop it and get to your nearest independent bookstore stat, so you can get a copy of this title.

Four Stars—this book will carry you through satisfying hours of reading and may keep you up past your bedtime.

Three Stars— you could do worse than reading this book, and you’ll probably enjoy yourself a fair bit of the time.

Two Stars—if it’s a choice between this book and the latest bit of inexplicably popular tripe, you’ll find yourself feeling somewhat less ill-used if you go with this one.

One Star—if you’re stranded on a desert island and it’s the only book you have, it will be worth reading once; after that, focus on alerting potential rescuers.

 

Star Rating (out of five): ****

If You Want a Bit of Horror that’s Not Based in Washington, D.C.

House of Spines, Michael J. Malone, release date 1 April, 2018, 276 pages, Orenda Books

House of Spines is an absolute delight: a horror cum bibliophilia tale that is (honest!) nearly impossible to put down. Ran has inherited his great-uncle’s book-filled mansion. That mansion, however, is filled with more than books—there’s a haunted lift, not-quite-identical pieces of his own writing that he clearly didn’t write, an unusual staff of two who live on the grounds, and relatives who thought they’d be inheriting the house and have development plans for the property.

I’m not a big reader of horror fiction. That’s partly because I’m ambivalent about being frightened (especially right before bedtime when I do my reading) and because the genre so often emphasizes gore over real plot and character development. If you’re like me, do take a chance on House of Spines; I can assure you that you’ll find it a satisfying read with plenty of plot and interesting, unpredictable characters. If you already like horror fiction, let me just say that you are going to love this title. Twists. Turns. Ghosts. Murders. A sprawling mansion that seems to have endless unexplored rooms.

Star Rating (out of five): ****

 

Key to the star ratings:

Five Stars—it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, stop it and get to your nearest independent bookstore stat, so you can get a copy of this title.

Four Stars—this book will carry you through satisfying hours of reading and may keep you up past your bedtime.

Three Stars— you could do worse than reading this book, and you’ll probably enjoy yourself a fair bit of the time.

Two Stars—if it’s a choice between this book and the latest bit of inexplicably popular tripe, you’ll find yourself feeling somewhat less ill-used if you go with this one.

One Star—if you’re stranded on a desert island and it’s the only book you have, it will be worth reading once; after that, focus on alerting potential rescuers.

Issues/Addresses for 3/30/2018

Here’s this week’s set of issues and addresses for those of you who are postcard writers. Please use/share/distribute however you/d like.

As always, this list is long, so I suggest skimming first and finding what speaks to you.

If you want to sub in your Senators or Representative for the California ones listed, go here for Senators, here for Representatives.

2018.03.30 Issues and Addresses

Let me know if you use these—it keeps my spirits up.

Fun Reads (Because We All Need an Occasional Break from Saving Democracy)

In one of its iterations, this was a book blog, and while I’ve primarily dedicated it to current U.S. politics and resisting, I’m still reading books, and find them worth sharing. Here are two titles that came out earlier this month, both of which offer a something-more-than-the-usual mystery.

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy, Nova Jacobs, released 6 March, 2018, 352 pages, Simon & Schuster

What do you do when you’re a not-mathematically-inclined bookseller who has discovered after the death of your famous mathematician grandfather that he’s counting on you to rescue his last equation, one which could have dire consequences for the entire world? That’s the question The Last Equation of Isaac Severy answers. At least the protagonist’s adopted grandfather has the courtesy to hide his clues in one of her favorite novels.

Last Equation is a fast-paced read with a plot and characters that grow more complex by the page. It’s the kind of book you want to start in the morning, so you’re sure to have time to finish it before you go to bed. The intersection of the literary and the mathematical results in an interesting kind of culture clash, though Jacobs writes in a way that makes both cultures accessible to her readers, regardless of their backgrounds.

Star Rating (out of five): ****

Holmes Entangled, Gordon McAlpine, released 6 March, 2018, 191 pages, Seventh Street Press

I first encountered Gordon McAlpine through his novel, Woman with a Blue Pencil, an epistolary novel that has a plot which expands like a fractal and is set amidst the internment of California’s Japanese-Americans during World War II and features a first-time Japanese-American novelist and the editor he’s been assigned by his publisher. As that one-sentence description makes clear, Woman with a Blue Pencil had a plot that progressed in a switchback-like manner, with sudden, sharp turns as the reader moves from chapter to chapter.

While I found that Holmes Entangled was not quite the additive read that the earlier book was, I nonetheless enjoyed it and recommend it for readers who like mysteries with an unusual twist—especially those who enjoy a new twist on the Holmes literary canon. Holmes, retired and now living in the guise of a physics professor at Cambridge, is unnerved to meet Arthur Conan Doyle—who for some reason knows Holmes’ real identity and who wants help unraveling the mystery behind recent attempts on his life. From here, physics and spiritualism—along with Holmes, Doyle, and Dr. Watson’s widow—keep the plot moving in unexpected ways. There’s also the plot line involving the work of Edgar Allan Poe.

Star Rating (out of five): ****

Key to the star ratings:

Five Stars—it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, stop it and get to your nearest independent bookstore stat, so you can get a copy of this title.

Four Stars—this book will carry you through satisfying hours of reading and may keep you up past your bedtime.

Three Stars— you could do worse than reading this book, and you’ll probably enjoy yourself a fair bit of the time.

Two Stars—if it’s a choice between this book and the latest bit of inexplicably popular tripe, you’ll find yourself feeling somewhat less ill-used if you go with this one.

One Star—if you’re stranded on a desert island and it’s the only book you have, it will be worth reading once; after that, focus on alerting potential rescuers.