Video: "Finding Vivian Maier" looks fascinating!

 The Guardian: Over 3,000 US prisoners serving life without parole for non-violent crimes "ACLU report chronicles thousands of lives ruined by life sentences for crimes such as shoplifting or possession of a crack pipe."

Welcome to Dinovember! One month of awesome imagination and parenting.

Over the long weekend I found myself absorbed in Meg Wolitzer's novel, The Ten Year Nap. It was very readable, Wolitzer is clearly smart and observant, and I appreciated the interwoven story lines and characters, and the attention paid to different women's experiences of career, family, etc. I think the main problem was that the different women weren't different enough, and eventually it was just too insular and bland. With the exception of one minor character, all of the women involved are white, straight, married, upper middle class women. It's not that Wolitzer ignores this reality - the characters make a fair number of self consciously liberal references to race and class (especially $$$) - but in the end it was just boring. Plenty of women of varying sexual orientations and socio economic placements have lots to say about these same issues, and even if their exclusion from the small world of this novel certainly didn't rise to the level of racist or classist, or render the book without merit, it nonetheless missed an opportunity to make the book more interesting and relatable. (In Wolitzer's later book, The Interestings, she seems to consciously do a better job with issues of race, sexual orientation, and money, but she still has a long way to go. Her mentions of money and class in both books seem so self conscious and intentional to me (sort of an "I guess I should explain how these people afford to live in NYC!" afterthought), and there's one pat resolution of a money situation in The Interestings that had me seriously eye rolling.) Apart from these issues, the hardest part of this book for me was just what a SAD portrait of modern women this was. None of the characters in this book seem remotely happy with themselves, their careers, their role as mothers or as wives. I am desperate to believe that while some of this may be true, there MUST be women out there who have found some fulfillment....Despite the flaws of both, I liked The Ten Year Nap, as I liked The Interestings, for the wonderful writing and wry observations. I just wish Wolitzer could expand her world a little bit.

"Oxfam aid teams are on the ground in the Philippines and reporting urgent needs of food, clean water, medicine and shelter. Communication lines between some provinces are cut and many areas are experiencing total black outs. Thousands are feared dead, and local emergency food stocks are dwindling. Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Yolanda, is the strongest storm in the world this year and quite possibly the most powerful to ever hit land. Oxfam teams are assessing the extent of the damage now and are ready to deploy water and sanitation materials to those affected. We urgently need your help to scale up our response. Please donate to the Typhoon Haiyan Relief and Recovery Fund to rush emergency aid to the region."

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