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Things I've Been Reading [1/6]

... and think you might enjoy, too

(1) Elegy for a Hero of Religious Freedom [Garrett Epps, The Atlantic]

The issue in Smith was whether the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause protected participants in peyote religious ceremonies from the disapproving arm of the state.

The Court held that it does not. The backlash caused by that opinion led to the enactment of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was the subject of last term’s Hobby Lobby decision. The Smith opinion evoked widespread disgust, and led Congress to enact not one but two statutes to repudiate it. All told, it was a struggle that changed history. And the case came down as it did because Al Smith refused to accede to what he considered injustice.

(2) John and Sherlock: loneliness vs caring environment [Tumblr]

The show introduced us with two characters, John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, who both seem to have difficulties making friends. When they find each other, they “click” and save each other’s heart, becoming the most important person in the other’s life.

But there is a huge difference beween Sherlock’s loneliness and John’s.

(3) Last Christmas [mistyzeo, Gen fic in the Doyle!verse]

The snow had been coming down all afternoon; by sunset it blanketed the pavement and was turning to slush in the streets underneath the wheels and hooves of the cabs that passed Scotland Yard. But two storeys up, where my office looked out upon Whitehall Place with just a sliver of the river visible beyond, the snow sparkled on the windowsill and glittered in the air as it fell.

I realise, of course, that the image is a sentimental one, but I was in a sentimental mood. It was less than a week until Christmas, and I had a notion that we would not be called out again tonight on any particular matter. It might have been sheer optimism: downstairs, thanks to the efforts of a few of the younger police constables and under the watchful eye of Inspector Hopkins, they were setting up for a little party.

Why Hopkins had volunteered for the post had initially eluded me, but he seemed very keen to see the soiree go off smoothly. When I asked him about it, in an undertone, he got a wistful look in his eye and blushed a bit.

"Well, it's to be our last Christmas here," said he, twining his fingers together and releasing them again. "I just thought it ought to be a special one."

(4) Oh [Scriggly, Mycroft/Sherlock slash]

[I tried to find a family-friendly passage to showcase, and failed utterly. I'll just say it's top-shelf Holmescest with some really beautiful characterization of Mycroft, if you read that pairing. -MB]

(5) Why Poor People Stay Poor

It’s amazing what things that are absolute crises for me are simple annoyances for people with money. Anything can make you lose your apartment, because any unexpected problem that pops up, like they do, can set off that Rube Goldberg device.

One time I lost an apartment because my roommate got a horrible flu that we suspected was maybe something worse because it stayed forever--she missed work, and I couldn’t cover her rent. Once it was because my car broke down and I missed work. Once it was because I got a week’s unpaid leave when the company wanted to cut payroll for the rest of the month. Once my fridge broke and I couldn’t get the landlord to fix it, so I just left. Same goes for the time that the gas bill wasn’t paid in a utilities-included apartment for a week, resulting in frigid showers and no stove. That’s why we move so much. Stuff like that happens.

Because our lives seem so unstable, poor people are often seen as being basically incompetent at managing their lives. That is, it’s assumed that we’re not unstable because we’re poor, we’re poor because we’re unstable. So let’s just talk about how impossible it is to keep your life from spiraling out of control when you have no financial cushion whatsoever. And let’s also talk about the ways in which money advice is geared only toward people who actually have money in the first place.

Until next time...


Jan. 7th, 2015 11:09 pm (UTC)
having lived on both sides of poverty, I agree with a great deal of what you said. I have too many friends who live from paycheck to paycheck and if the least little thing goes wrong, it can bury them. These people aren't poor by choice, they're poor by circumstance, yet they get covered by the same cloak.

As for money advice, I agree that a great deal of it structured for those who have some discretionary income, but one thing I found that really worked for me when I was on food stamps and skating by was the weekly savings chart. Have you heard of that?

Week One you save $1.
Week Two you save $2
week 3, $3, week 4 $4, etc. At the end of a year, you've saved $1334 (plus interest if you've put it into the bank) and in no week did you have to save more than $52. It's a pretty cool way to save and to see how quickly money can mount up.

How is your apartment hunting or roommate hunting coming along? You've been popping into my thoughts lately so I've been concentrating on having this resolved soon and well for you :-)

- Erulisse (one L)



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