#5SmartReads - January 10, 2022
Hitha on romance novels, fascism, and what the VAERS database is - and isn't
A gentle reminder that you can join the conversation of the day’s reads by clicking the title above and add your thoughts in the comments! My goal for #5SmartReads has always been to start conversations and share our thoughts and perspectives. I hope to see you there!
Reading more romance has been the best gift I’ve given myself in the past few years.
Jasmine Guillory was my gateway (and The Wedding Date continues to be one of my security blanket reads - I recently re-read it and it was like catching up with old friends). Talia Hibbert’s Brown Sisters trilogy is one of my favorites in the past few years. And I could easily write a dissertation on Alyssa Cole’s body of work (the Civil War! AI! African royalty!) and how it’s shaped my worldview.
What was formally billed as diverse romance is quickly becoming the norm, in both books and screen adaptations of them. Shondaland reimagined Bridgerton with a Black queen (rumored to be getting her own spinoff - YES!), novels written by White authors have more characters of color that aren’t reduced to tokens, and the genre itself is publishing more underestimated authors, bringing us more racial, LGBTQ, and age representation.
The world would be a better place if everyone read modern romance novels.
“Did you see that people died from getting the COVID vaccine?”
“No! Where did you see that?”
“The VAERS database!”
Aaah. VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System), run by the CDC, is the database designed for people to report significant side effects following a vaccine, for public safety.
Anyone can submit to it. Which means people can - and have - submitted false adverse events to the database.
Unlike a clinical trial - where subjects are monitored over a specific period of time and answer frequent questionnaires on side effects and give many samples - VAERS’ self-reported information cannot and should not be viewed as a verified source of vaccine safety.
Please just talk to your doctor first, when you have any questions like these. Please.
What do you know about the Electoral Count Act?
I know that it was passed largely in part of Rutherford B Hayes (who was a smoke show in his youth) came into office despite losing the popular vote, and it has issues.
That there is some level of bipartisan support to reform the act (and I’m of the belief that it should be done in parallel with comprehensive voting rights reform passed in the House and Senate - a both/and scenario) is a tiny spark in a dark moment of our history.
I highly encourage every American (and supporter of democracy) to read this and get a better understanding of this law, what can get done with reforming it, and what more we need to do to safeguard every citizen’s right to vote.
What I Got Wrong About Fascism (The G-File on The Dispatch)
I can’t help but get ragey when I see things like this on social media:
A lot of people with significant followings have been comparing public health guidance in a pandemic to fascism. Given that we can’t get people agree to common sense guidance and that the Democrats’ priority to secure every citizen’s right to vote is the exact opposite of fascism…
Well. I said what I said. I want to clarify that conservatism as a philosophy does not condone fascism. But the increasingly powerful Trump wing of the Republican Party?
Well. Jonah Goldberg - who wrote a book on fascism - had some words on that topic.
“Like so much that defined the Trump years, January 6 represented the abandonment of the dogma that I believe immunized conservatism from the fascist temptation and rendered glib accusations of fascism at small-government conservatives so idiotic and slanderous. I believed that conservatism was too committed to the Constitution, to classical liberalism, to the rule of law, to tolerate the use of extralegal violence and mob intimidation. I still believe that those dogmas are a bulwark against fascism, or a tyranny that goes by any other name. What I no longer have faith in is the right’s commitment to those dogmas.”
I read The Dispatch (and The National Review, WSJ Opinion section, and FoxNews.com) to help broaden my worldview. If you’re looking to widen your news consumption and escape your echo chamber (we all have them), I highly recommend adding one of these publications to your news diet.
Articles about Dry January, Miranda in And Just Like That, and new sobriety movements have been a dime a dozen this month.
And almost all of them center on White women.
This isn’t meant to be a criticism, but a simple stating of a fact. Which made this piece - beautifully vulnerable and eye opening - all the more important to read.
I certainly relied on my nightly glass or two of wine during the first year of the pandemic. Dry January last year showed me that I could live happily without alcohol…but when things began to open up, I relied on the comfort of a drink to manage my increased social anxiety. Only this time, I was finally aware of what I was doing.
Now? I’m doing Dry January again and it’s going more smoothly than it did last year. I have 2 more dry months planned this year to create more structure and time for me to find my confidence without a glass of wine or cocktail.
As we enter the junior year of the pandemic which has tested all of us, I wonder if you have abandoned old habits or established new ones to help you get through it all (and the next day, and the next day). Please leave your experiences in the comments of this post - I would love to learn from you.