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#5SmartReads - May 11, 2023
Hitha on extremism's surprising digital home, what gender-affirming pediatric care really is, and Single Girl Suppers
I find myself in the most random conversations with strangers at an airport bar. I spent my 3 hour delay at the Vino Volo in Denver’s airport on Monday talking about carbon capture and sequestration, the NBA playoffs, and cyber warfare with a truly lovely person.
It’s rare to meet people on your level of random nerdery. But I digress.
This person pointed out how Russia’s focus on cyberwarfare over investing in their military might be their downfall in their invasion of Ukraine but the winner of a much scarier, global war. And that war might very well be brewing on Russian social media sites.
OK.RU and VK are Russian social media platforms that look like Facebook and Twitter and Reddit - people gather on these sites to talk about a myriad of topics, but with no content moderation and little regulation, there’s a lot more far-right content that has become a digital gathering place for extremists and even terrorist groups, like ISIS.
“Johnson and a team of researchers at GWU last year found a clear and growing link between Russian propaganda and online far-right extremism globally.
Their 2022 study found that Russian media takes narratives about immigration and race that are typically associated with hate crimes and promotes them globally to extreme online communities.”
All Hail The "Single Girl Supper" (Bustle)
Over 10 years ago, my very smart friend Jessica launched a blog called Single Girl Dinner that captured the solo meals she and other women ate when they were on their own. A cheese plate and a glass of wine have always been mine during those weeks when my husband would be traveling, and Hannah brought me right back to those days - but with a different perspective on this small meal.
For her, it’s the perfect first date meal.
“Wine and cheese feel less intimidating than a cocktail or entree, and they’re usually cheaper. Sharing an appetizer makes splitting the check easier, too. “It’s not one of those weird things like, ‘Well, you ordered a more expensive dish than I did,’” Emilee explains.
When you order one item to share, you’re coming together to make a joint decision — a good sign of compatibility, or at least, the ability to make a polite compromise. Both bode well for your chances as a couple. (Or maybe that’s just my wishful thinking.) And there’s something intimate about eating from the same plate; maybe your fingers will brush as you both reach for a wedge of brie.”
This essay is making me wistful for those solo evenings - arranging the crackers, cutting and arranging a few cheeses, popping grapes in the open spots, and pouring a glass of wine after a quick taste. I might have to treat myself to a nice cheese plate and a Ghia spritz the next time my husband is traveling for work.
Pediatric gender affirming care is the subject of many bills making their way through state legislatures and a rallying cry for activists.
But what is it, exactly?
““Gender-affirming care, at its most basic level, is about validating and supporting children and loving them for who they are as they explore their gender identity,” says Dr. Chang, who specializes in adolescent medicine.”
At the beginning, it’s a lot of conversations and emotional support and mental health services. It’s advocacy on behalf of the patient and their family with their school. It’s answering a lot of questions and working together with the patient and family to find the right answer.
And many of the interventions - chest binding, puberty suppression (only prescribed when a patient has begun puberty) - are reversible. Hormone therapy isn’t introduced until the patient is about 16 years old, and even then it’s a very personalized approach.
The reality is that gender affirming care for youth is the kind of healthcare we all need - to be heard and seen for who we are, the space to ask questions, and a personalized plan. It’s the furthest thing from dangerous, and frankly it’s the direction our healthcare should be moving in.
I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS FOR SO LONG!
Monsoon Wedding is one of my all-time favorite films, and its musical adaptation is finally here. The journey to said musical is a long, winding one that is worth reading about. It’s only increased my excitement for this show, because it’s truly unlike anything we’ve seen on stage, especially after it’s spent years being workshopped on stages all over the world.
“I always thought of the film as an accordion," said Nair. "Something that expands your heart and then squeezes it. It's only because one can laugh, that one can cry ... and that is really what I wanted to sustain after the Berkeley play. That's what I wanted to aspire [to] — that depth and that layering.”
A show that one of the performers describes as “unabashedly and unapologetically South Asian”? Take my money, please.
Let me preface what I’m about to say with a disclaimer that what is happening in Pakistan has significant implications for the citizens of the country AND geopolitical implications on the world, and should be taken seriously.
And Vanderpump Rules has nothing on Pakistan when it comes to drama.
Former prime minister Imran Khan was arrested earlier this week on corruption charges as he prepares his re-election campaign. While Khan was the only prime minister in the country’s history to be removed from office via a “no confidence” vote and later accused of using country funds to illegally purchase land, he also has a vocal, steadfast base that’s showing up to protest his arrest and refuse to believe the corruption charges.
This piece is an excellent primer on the whole situation, both from understanding how we got here to outlining the global impact of this arrest. It’s worth your time.