Friday, January 18, 2019

Podcasts I Like Lately

Oh my, for the past few weeks, things turned out far more hectic at the office than I originally anticipated! I was working on a large, urgent project, and the pace of it really took me by surprise. But the finished product turned out well, and I was glad to have the chance to play a sizable role in that. I always do enjoy legal research and writing, regardless of the topic or issue at hand. 

For today, here's a fairly low-key post while I ease back into writing here. There's so much that I want to discuss recently, but because I have so much to say about every little thing, it'll take a while to get all my thoughts down about any of the other ideas I have for new posts. Topics that have interested me lately include: (1) some utterly bizarre and unfair reactions to Marie Kondo, ostensibly from people who are really into books, but perhaps not enough to actually read her book and comprehend it; (2) a... situation... that arose in the minimalist-ish and slow fashion space, primarily on Instagram; and (3) that "millenial burnout" thing, and how it looks very different for different demographics. For that last thing, I certainly have my own take on it and how it plays out in my own life. And, of course, I always have a gigantic backlog of other post ideas, many of them months or even years old, that I've never gotten around to. 

Today, though, the focus is on something smaller, on a few podcasts that I've enjoyed recently. Maybe these are all very obvious recommendations that practically everyone in the world is already familiar with, but I myself am quite new to the world of listening to podcasts! Over the years, I'd listened to episodes from some of the most popular ones, mainly the first season of Serial and some of This American Life, but other than that, I'd never really been interested in anything else. It was only in the last few months that I decided I wanted to expand my podcast horizons a bit, to find some new ones to listen to while commuting. 

In no particular order, here are the podcasts I've listened to in the past few months and that I thought were particularly well done, and some thoughts on why I recommend each:

Dr. Death: Holy moly, this was a wild ride, and I couldn't stop listening! It's a shocking and absolutely horrifying story. (Be warned, there's quite a few descriptions of botched surgery, which I found rather graphic and, for lack of a better word, squicky). As the podcast tells it, a perfect storm of bad things (including some deficiencies in how the medical profession regulates itself) came together, and multiple patients paid a high price. Wondery does an excellent job telling this story, and it was engaging the whole way through. I've been trying to get into their other famous true crime podcast, Dirty John, but I don't find that one as compelling. 

Limetown Season One: And my recommendation only extends to the first season for this, unfortunately. This was my first experience listening to a fiction-based podcast, and it was really fun! They did a great job setting up the mystery and revealing just enough in each episode to keep me intrigued and eager to listen to the next one. Alas, as they revealed more and more, the story started sounding silly, and I couldn't keep listening after the first episode of the second season. Because of the cliffhanger on which they ended season one, there wasn't much momentum going into season two. It just felt like a very abrupt and clumsy transition. 

Believed: Out of all the terrible things we keep learning about these past few years, one of the things that struck me the most was the Larry Nassar case, and what it revealed about the culture of abuse in USA Gymnastics. I have such a hard time comprehending how so many adults can turn a blind eye for so long to harm that is being done to children under their care, to ignore allegations of serious abuses, and to fail to investigate or report. That breach of trust, that failure to protect people who are vulnerable and to whom one owes a duty of care, I just- My words fail me. Few other things make me so angry. 

I remember, in 2016, listening to an interview with McKayla Maroney on Gymcastic and feeling like there was something under the surface, there was something darker or heavier going on there, but that seemed to go unstated or unexplained. And to know now about what had happened, I'm just so horrified and sad, and so angry at all the adults who should have known better.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Little Thoughts from Q4 2018

A few things from the past few months that are probably too small or fleeting to ever possibly warrant their own post, even as part of a "link list": 

1. // I've started playing Pokemon Go again, after taking a nearly two-year hiatus since last time. As you can see, my best Pokemon now are much more interesting than my best Pokemon back then. I've even - gasp! - spent ~$30 of real world, actual money to buy fake, digital money (Poke Coins) to buy fake, digital products in-game (mainly item bag and Pokemon box expansions). 'Twas my very first in-app purchase ever. I was about to make one in Candy Crush a few years ago to get past a level I was stuck on for weeks, but forgot my iTunes password and never got back to it (or the game in general). I don't plan on spending money on Pokemon Go often, definitely far, far less often than once a month, but it could happen again, heh. 

2. // With regards to the health insurance and contraception co-pay situation I was fussing about earlier this year, things have settled down to my being charged $35/month in copays for the brand name. That's a monthly expense level at which I just swallow the cost with a grumble, even though the whole thing makes me extraordinarily grouchy. The generic is not covered at all (judging by GoodRx, the cash price could also be expected to be approximately $35/month, in at least some instances). It really makes me miss how I used to be able to get this exact same pill for ~$15/month over the counter back when I lived in Hong Kong! 

3. // Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was an absolutely delightful movie, I highly recommend it!

4. // I've been taking a bit of a hiatus from reading for fun since I finished Kathy Wang's Family Trust (affiliate link), which I greatly enjoyed, but also needed some time to process. It's darkly humorous and entertaining, but because some underlying aspects of the story are so personal to me, and about things I view as ultimately somewhat tragic, it put me through an emotional wringer a lot more than it would most other readers. 

One thing about the general lack of diversity and representation in media and books is that it's so rare to see a story that's so truly about people like me (this may be the first time ever that I've ever seen such large parts of my lived experience so deeply embedded in any work of fiction) that, even had the book been a much more cheerful one, I might still have needed all this time to process the great shock of finally seeing people so much like myself depicted! I never thought it was possible, much like I didn't fully believe the Crazy Rich Asians movie could be such a box office success here in the US until it actually happened. Here's hoping that there will be more and more room for Asian-American representation in American media and books in the future. 

5. // Another book I read late this year that really put me through a different kind of emotional wringer was Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy (affiliate link). It's a memoir about Stevenson's work of building the Equal Justice Initiative, the profound level of racial injustice in our criminal justice system, and some of the unjust cruelty that results when children are tried as adults and sentenced to extremely long terms of incarceration, sometimes for life. To me, it really drives home the point that the work of building a better world, particularly as an attorney with an eye towards public service, is never-ending and infinite. Even a person as extraordinary and tireless as Mr. Stevenson often finds himself realizing the devastating truth that he can't do everything, and won't always succeed in what he is able to do, but that doesn't stop him in his work.  

6. // The "White Walker" Johnny Walker product tie-in I glimpsed at a shop in JFK airport while on my way home from California is probably one of the stranger product tie-ins I've ever seen. The writing on the Game of Thrones show often displeases me (among many other things, I detest how they manufacture scenarios to show additional instances of violence against women, particularly sexual violence, that weren't originally in the book), but I'll probably still be watching the new season when it comes out. I just can't quit!

I hope that everyone is having a good start to 2019 so far. What were your favorite books or television shows in 2018? Things will be very hectic at the office for the next two or three weeks so things might be quiet around here, though I'm hoping I'll still get a chance to post once or twice in that time.