The Year-Ender in books

I was poking around the web earlier today and noticed that Amanda Palmer had tweeted out a link to a post she’d written on her blog. A year-ender sort of post on…books. Books she’d read or re-read in 2014. She mentioned at the end to share our own lists… So I will.

My list of books read in 2014 is laughingly short, I know. I don’t read much. I’m trying to get better at it again, and frankly, it’s a great escape from the reality that is the News Biz, and it’s an alternative to binge-watching something on Netflix.

Probably THE most important book that I read this year was Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. 2014 for me has been a year where I’ve been doing a lot of searching of my own. Janet’s book came out right at a very down point in the year and it was one of the big reasons that I was able to, using Janet’s words from her appearance on The Colbert Report “get it the fuck together” and make 2014 a year of progress. Here is my initial review of Redefining Realness.

The second most important thing I read in 2014, was ironically enough, Amanda’s book The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help. Even though I have had a somewhat complicated relationship with her this year, it is a very fascinating book to me. Asking is something I am very bad at, and allowing myself to be helped is something I’m not much better at. Some of it comes from being an introvert, some comes from being on the Autism spectrum. Or it’s because I’m just plain bad at it. Anyway, it was a book that was highly recommended to me and I’ll recommend it to anyone.
Here is my blog post immediately following reading the book.

The third thing on my list is a book that has a personal connection for me. One of my good friends, Katie, published her first book, Independent Flight, in 2014. It’s a book set in the future, in space, and in a space ship. Oh and the main character is TOTALLY bad ass too. Her follow-up, full-length novel in the series is (hopefully) due in 2015.
Here is my blog post on Independent Flight

The final book in my list is Imogen Binne’s Nevada. I unfortunately don’t have much to say in this post about it. It was a good, quick read. I enjoyed it. And it struck on some VERY emotional chords for me.
Here is my blog post on Nevada.

I’m not sure what 2015 will bring in the reading department. This time, last year I was eagerly awaiting the release of Redefining Realness. So far this year, there’s really not anything like that. I know that Laverne Cox is working on a book, I think it might be out in 2015. I know Susan Jane Bigelow has a new book out, as well. Plus, I’m hoping that Katie gets her “un-named novel” out soon too. I can’t wait to read it.

But as always, suggestions welcome.

TDOR 2013

I originally posted this onto my Tumblr.  I figured that it was worth posting here as well.

image

It’s been a while since I blogged about the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Probably TOO long since I have. Pretty much everything that I said back then still holds true today.

”These 160+ souls should never have had their lives cut short. They were people with the potential to go on and do great things. Who knows what they could have been or become. The only thing that’s known is that they did not choose to be who they were, or to die at the hands of hate. I encourage everyone to please stop the hate in this world.”

That is from the 2009 blog. I’m not going to re-hash what I said there, save to say that we are still being rattled with fear and hate and people are still dying because of it. Since 2009, though, a lot of good has happened. There is visible transgender presence in the media landscape1, there are projects like #girlslikeus and trans* people have not stayed silent when it mattered most.

But sadly, there is still a need for a day like TDOR. Sadly, people are still being killed, or driven to suicide, because of hatred and ignorance. The list of those who were died for being themselves can be accessed here. While it is a far cry from the 160 people who died when I first blogged on the subject2, the fact remains there are still too many names on that list.

I’m going to close this post with a quote from Anne Frank. Because, if people took the time to realize this, maybe so many of our trans* sisters and brothers won’t have to die at the hands of hate.

“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”
– Anne Frank

Footnotes

1. The biggest presence of a trans* person in media right now is Laverne Cox who plays Sophia on Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black.” But she is not alone. Since blogging in 2009 there have been musicians like Laura Jane Grace & Mina Caputo, journalist-turned-author Janet Mock, and child-star-turned-activist Chaz Bono who have all made important contributions to trans* people’s visibility.

2. We are once again getting conflicting numbers being reported on the number of people who died this year. The list I linked to above only had roughly 70 names on it when I looked. This morning, I came across a link on BuzzFeed which puts the number at 238, which would make it MORE than the number reported when I blogged in 2009. However, as you can see in that post, there were conflicting reports then as well.

Stay Classy Internet (#RipTweetDeck)

Today, Twitter announced that they were going to kill off a bunch of non-supported, like 3 year old versions of TweetDeck. Now, they are not killing off TweetDeck. But OH MY GOD, if you believed the internet today, you’d think that it was the end of the world, and that they’d killed ALL versions of TweetDeck.

I saw the #RipTweetDeck hashtag start popping up in my feed and naturally, as a TweetDeck user, was like “OMG! NO!” But… Rather than jump into the fray, cooler heads prevailed and I did the 3 seconds of internet research that these people probably didn’t take the time to do. After seeing nothing in Google Reader (I’m subscribed to a number of tech press) I fired up AllThingsD’s site. I saw that they had a post talking about it. A quick scan, and link click to the Twitter blog, I confirmed what I figured. The web, Chrome, and PC/Mac clients are staying. Everything else is going. And yes, they’re getting rid of Facebook integration, but honestly, it was the only client that still had it. (and there are other ways of posting to Facebook from Twitter.)

Now, this is where things got interesting. Apparently, people on Twitter, don’t like when you point out their fallacies in their hashtag. Oh did people have a fit when I pointed it out. Apparently, all these people who are kvetching are pre-Twitter ownership TweetDeck users.

So. Let me get this straight. You all are using a 3 year old version of TweetDeck and are getting mad at me for pointing out that they’re not killing off TweetDeck but merely making you upgrade to the current versions? Seriously? I think some of these people need to climb out from their rocks and join 2013.

You know, I wonder if these people are hanging onto Internet Explorer 6 too.

Welcome to the Real World (or My Second Ever Viewpoint)

Dear Marquette Tribune Kids,

I graduated from Marquette 9 years ago. In those 9 years, I’ve gone from working a stable, full-time job, with benefits in TV News, to working a part-time job, albeit in a major television market, with unstable hours and no benefits. Why does this matter? Because everyone has had to make cutbacks. That’s the way the world is working these days. Blame it on whatever you’d like, it’s reality.

I spoke with a number of people over the last few days who had knowledge of the “#LongLiveTheTrib” Twitter campaign, as well as the online petition. Especially, after having to put a call out onto the hashtag to figure out what they were actually protesting.

The current students I heard from are saying things like: “it’s not fair”, “we spend $30k in tuition so we deserve to have a full MU Trib”, and that the Trib “helps us get jobs.” Guess what? You don’t “deserve” anything. Rule number one of life: Don’t act like you’re entitled to anything. Hate to burst your bubble, you’re not. Besides, I have it on good authority that the overall costs of printing the additional pages is only a small portion of the money budgeted to you. That the majority of it goes to pay student reporters. Hmm… Maybe that is a spot to start looking at reductions? The TV and Radio kids have always historically done the grunt work for the experience of putting on a live, local newscast, and moving up the chain to one of the more lucrative staff positions, which I hear are actually paid these days (they were not back in my day.)

And while I know you’ve published and re-tweeted a number of alumni who are supportive of the Tribune, I have chatted those who stand on the other side of the argument. The side of the argument that you have conveniently left out of your online articles, might I add.

I am not alone in thinking that you are coming off sounding like a bunch of stuck-up, spoiled brats. I have had a few fellow alumni, not just other BREC majors, who have said “thank you” to me for calling you out on this. While it’s a small percentage of the overall alumni population who have even responded to what is going on, you have to remember, you never know who is out there watching, reading and formulating opinions of your actions as journalists.

Many of you keep repeating that writing for the Marquette Tribune leads to jobs in the industry, but I want you to stop and think for a minute: “What if an alumni of power disagreed with me, how would the affect me?” Remember, the internet is forever. Now, I’m not implying anything about myself personally. But you never know who I might know. Or who might stumble on my blog.

Ok. Back one moment to the hashtag. I am no expert at online messaging, I don’t even try to play one on TV. But if I click on a hashtag on Twitter, and can’t tell you what people are upset about, then we have a big problem.

Sincerely,

Adam Chernow

Ask questions. Blame not.

I’ve intentionally stayed away from the national news, Sunday morning talk shows, and quite a bit of social media today.  However, while I was away, it’s come out that the shooter’s mother was a gun collector, and she is now being made out to be a bad person for collecting the guns.

The way I look at it is this:  The mother being a gun collector, and the kids knowing how to use them are not an issues in itself.  Hell, I’ve shot a gun at a target.  The likely issue is this kid probably had mental health issues and wasn’t getting help for them because, well, our healthcare system sucks. It’s easier to buy a gun than it is to see a Psychologist in the US.  Look at the stats.  The majority of similar incidents were done by persons with untreated mental health issues. 

The vilifying of the mother is the wrong thing to be doing. We should instead be asking: if this kid had problems, why was he not able to see the specialists needed, AND HOW DO WE FIX THAT? A lot of people will frame this as just a debate on gun control.  While that is an important discussion to have, I think part of that needs to focus on the two questions I just asked.

Already, there is one mother who is working on opening this part of the discussion.  She penned a very heartbreaking and thought provoking piece called “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” in which she talks about the issues that she has with her own 13-year-old son, and how she was basically told that the only way to get him help is to have him charged with a crime so that he is sent to jail.

I highly suggest you take a few minutes and read what she wrote.

Why is Palatine not on your map Mother Jones?

The is an expansion of a post that I made on Facebook this morning after reading this article over at Mother Jones.  This is meant in no way to overshadow the tragedy in Newton, CT.  This is merely my response to Mother Jones, and making a case for why I think the worst thing to happen in my hometown ought to be included on their map of mass shootings.

It doesn’t fit Mother Jones’ criteria to be included on their map, as it was a robbery, but here’s another example of gun violence: the January 8, 1993 Brown’s Chicken Massacre in my hometown of Palatine, IL.

Seven people were killed, execution style, in the cooler of the restaurant, including the uncle of one of my friends at the time. I think that Mother Jones might want to include some of these kinds of incidents on their map. Palatine fits every one of their criteria, except the fact it was connected to a robbery.

And I’m not gonna lie… I can pretty much still picture the scene. We drove past it on the way to go sledding as it was a January morning, and well, it was all over TV, as well as the horrendously botched investigation that went along with it.

This map, below, is context to illustrate how close the Brown’s Chicken was to my mother’s house.

Map

Here’s a link to it on WikiPedia if you want more information:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown%27s_Chicken_massacre

Whirlwind of Emotions

As I sit here at 12:30am, having to be up in 2 hours, I’m listening to the howling wind. Yesterday was Thanksgiving. Normally I’m not one who really celebrates much on these holidays.

The last few weeks have been emotionally hard. First, we lost Jeannie. Then, I almost lost my roommate. (He, for the record, will point out that he did actually die on the table…twice.). And finally, this week, Aunt Barb. (Not one of my particularly close family members…. I think I was only in a room with her a handful of times at most.)

Now… Time to curl back up in bed with the cat. News starts way too early in the morning. To quote Ed Murrow (or alternatively, Keith Olbermann) “Good Night, and Good Luck.”

In reply to “Stop Calling My Generation Dumb”

My response to this blog post.

I could care less about what my friends Facebook statuses are. I’ll look at them next time I head over to Facebook, but usually only the top 3 because that’s what shows up on the front page. Facebook, for me, has been an incredible tool to keep up with my friends from back home. I’m living approximately 150 miles from where I grew up and if it wasn’t for sites like Facebook, or ::shudders:: MySpace, there are people I’d probably not talk to anymore. Is that good? Maybe. But, let’s also not forget, I work in an industry that relies more on who-you-know and not what-you-know, so having a large network on the social sites is important.

The lack of knowledge, or in some respects, caring of people in the 15-24 age range (and I’m just outside that, by the way, at 26) about history, politics, and current events does trouble me. My girlfriend is one of those who probably could not tell you who the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Nancy Pelosi) is, or for that matter our Representative (Tammy Baldwin) but could tell you who won American Idol this past season (David Cook, but I direct a newscast that follows American Idol, so I saw the ending.) In fact, there’s been a number of times she’s told me that she would not watch the news if she were not dating me. And I’ve gathered, from talking to people, that most people younger than like 35 don’t regularly watch a local newscast, or any newscast, at all. And even fewer pick up a newspaper. Most people in this age range get their news from Jon Stewart, which while is an entertaining show, is not the best source of news.

And speaking of reading… I read books on occasion, but haven’t lately because I’m currently doing the jobs of 6 people at work. By the time I get home at night, I’m so worn out that the last thing I want to do is sit and read a book. In the past year, I’ve finished the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and if you’ve not read it, that’s 800+ pages. It took me the better part of a month to read, but I did read it. Now, I do like reading a physical book, but I’ve been exploring the option of “books on tape” (ok, Audible, but it’s the same concept) to keep up with some of the books out there. The fact is, though, that the more and more we get overworked, the less and less time that people of our generation will have to sit down and read.

The web is a great resource to use for networking. I’ve got myself on all of the major social sites, and I’ve linked to them from my website. I know that even as recent as last year, I was afraid to link to any of my social sites because of the thought that I didn’t want a perspective employer to know about them. But then I realized that one, they’ll find me anyway, and two, it’s not like I have pictures of me drinking and partying on there, so who cares if they see them. Now, with Facebook, we didn’t have it when I was in college. When we did group assignments, or needed to ask a question of another classmate, we either did it in person or through e-mail. Sadly, though, I’ve seen my fair share of gossip on Facebook and MySpace. (I actually have found out work related items there, before finding out from my boss.) Now, I don’t know if you’ve seen this or not, but I have friends on MySpace and Facebook, who I’ve never actually met in person. But we’ve “freinded” each other due to mutual interests, for example, such as both having been Broadcast Communication students.

Is it really that hard to find a professor during office hours? Granted, I graduated 4 years ago, but when our professors had posted office hours they were generally in their office or other place where they designated they’d be for their office hours. I had one professor who liked to hold office hours, one day a week, in the Brew Bayou, which is the coffee shop on campus. In fact, too, most of the professors I had would be happy to schedule an appointment outside of office hours, too, if you couldn’t make it to their office during the time they’d normally be there. Actually, it’s one of the things I loved about Marquette, was how accessible professors were.

Oh and none of them gave me a handout. None ever did. I’ve worked my ass off to be where I’m at, and I’m currently working my ass off to try and advance up in the TV world, though I’ve explored a few leads outside of it, too.

Now, I will agree with the originaly author, however, on the fact that people are more disconnected than ever these days. See my comments above. I work in television, the eyeballs on our newscast have shrunk dramatically over the last several years. People have more choices than ever with how to spend what little free time they have theses days, and it’s not watching the evening news, reading a newspaper, or even going to places like CNN.com. It’s spent with video games, friends, on social sites like Facebook, etc. Is this a problem? Probably, because we’re now going to have a generation of people who have no clue what’s going on in the world. Honestly, I think that if the 18-25 year olds out there would have looked at a newspaper, or TV news broadcast in 2004, we’d not have had 4 more year of Bush.

And my opinion on Shakespeare? Bleh. I had to take British literature in high school. That, and the philosophy classes I was required to take in college, were the most boring classes I ever took. Especially, since we were reading such dry, boring material. Give me a book by Cory Doctorow, Douglas Adams, Fred Schepartz, or even Barak Obama. They’re more interesting than Shakespeare (or Plato, Aristotle, etc.) And know, that does not make me less “intellectual” because I’d rather read something that’s less that 500 years old.

Honestly, the biggest problem, is that we’re over worked, over stressed and have too many choices for media today. We’re becoming a fragmented and disconnected society and it might come back to bite us in the ass. But it doesn’t make us dumb. Not at all. Unless you’re a right-wing Republican, that is.