2017 Best of Five Star Blog Roundup

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Here is this year's 12 best of the weekly Five Star Blog Roundup!

Thanks to you, there were hundreds of great blog posts nominated over 2017, and so it took days to narrow them all down to this Best Of list. After much deliberation over a lot of coffee, this week's list is brought to you by a quest for sustainable activism, Harvey Weinstein, a transition full of love, the beauty of going home, the profound work of motherhood, the reflexive and summary dismissal of women, CanLit's burning, remaining vigilant, a deeper and truer understanding of poverty, surveillance capitalism, the problem with easy, and the difficulty of writing.

Happy reading!

"Build a Better Monster" by Maciej Cegłowski at Idle Words:

We built the commercial internet by mastering techniques of persuasion and surveillance that we’ve extended to billions of people, including essentially the entire population of the Western democracies. But admitting that this tool of social control might be conducive to authoritarianism is not something we’re ready to face. After all, we're good people. We like freedom. How could we have built tools that subvert it?

"My Mother Wasn't Trash" by Joshua Wilkey at This Appalachia Life:

When my mother died, she had fifty-six cents in her bank account. Had someone told her they really needed that fifty-six cents, she would have given it to them without a second thought. She lived in a world that led her to understand the importance — no, the necessity — of helping others. If there's any hope at all for fixing the brokenness in Appalachia, it lies with those who have a servant's heart.

"My Mother's Makeup" by Dominique Matti at Medium's Athena Talks:

I sit at my mother’s vanity under the weight of all that I’m not anymore. I see her face in my face. I see her hands in my hands’ subtle gestures with her many blush brushes. We are so much alike that we punish each other for it. We’re so different we often can’t communicate across the divide.

"Hope and Happiness After Transition? You Bet." by Amanda Jetté Knox at The Maven of Mayhem:

We’ve been together for 24 years. For the first 22, I had no idea she was a woman. When Zoe finally worked up the courage to tell me, she was prepared to lose everything, including me. “This is your free pass,” she said in all sincerity. “I’ll understand if you don’t want to stay.”

I had my walking papers. I could head out the door without questions or animosity. But I didn’t want to.

"Sometimes You Can Go Home Again" by Jenny Lawson at The Bloggess:

Coming back to the home I grew up in is a luxury most people don’t get.  My parents are still alive.  The land and house has changed over the years but the people in it are still the same.  And at night when I stand on their porch and look up at the stars I feel a deep, physical healing.  I suspect it’s like other people feel when they go to a spa or take a vacation, but the raw feeling of being there is like having my heart wrapped up in new, tight bandages…pulling back together the parts that have started to fall away.

"Kin Aesthetics // Excommunicate Me from the Church of Social Justice" by Frances S. Lee at Catalyst Wedding Co.:

There is a particularly aggressive strand of social justice activism weaving in and out of my Seattle community that has troubled me, silenced my loved ones, and turned away potential allies. I believe in justice. I believe in liberation. I believe it is our duty to obliterate white supremacy, anti-blackness, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, and imperialism. And I also believe there should be openness around the tactics we use and ways our commitments are manifested. …as someone who has spent the last decade recovering from a forced conversion to evangelical Christianity, I’m seeing a disturbing parallel between religion and activism in the presence of dogma…

"On Minimization as a Patriarchal Reflex" by Matthew Remski at Matthew Remski:

My minimizing reflex is mobilized in an instant. The speed is a clue. My partner gives me feedback. Whatever the content is I instantly reframe it so I can feel like it’s either personal attack on me, or — and this is harder to see – as a problem that I am now responsible for, on behalf of someone who I instantly tell myself is overreacting. Both reframes are designed to render the incoming data dismissible. That data could be about real blindspots I have and real harm I’m causing, but I’m skilled at lumping it in with things I claim are insignificant, or flipping it into a character judgment on my partner. I’ve also done this with women I’m working with.

It all happens automatically.

"Notes on Indiginegativity: An Addendum by Joshua Whitehead" by Joshua Whitehead at The Insurgent Architects' House for Creative Writing:

I ask myself what are the politics of reading and writing? You may want to tell me that good literature is apolitical, that theory and identity impede and intercept a good story. I want to tell you that all literature is political, that being apolitical is a type of politic, that any lack of the political is a politics of comfort. You are comfortable because you are blanketed by your ideologies and that literature on your bookshelf is your guarantor. I am here to unsettle you, a good story is a wave that ripples, unshackles earth from cement foundations, cracks open rocks, splits the ego.

"Next-Level Rage Stroke: Harvey Fucking Weinstein" by Katie Anthony at KatyKatiKate:

Everyone's so certain that this kind of behavior is unacceptable! Appalling! Nauseating! I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Thesaurus.com went dark in the hours after the Weinstein story broke, when all the publicists rushed to their laptops to find other words that mean "ew."

Everyone has DAUGHTERS! And SISTERS! And MOMS! And WIVES! Is that what it takes for a man to find sexual assault scary and disgusting? Having a daughter/sister/mom/wife? Sweet Lord, I would hate to see what those fucking Bradys were up to before they met that lovely lady we've heard so much about.

"The Candy Diet" by Seth Godin at Seth's Blog:

The bestselling novel of 1961 was Allen Drury's Advise and Consent. Millions of people read this 690-page political novel. In 2016, the big sellers were coloring books.

Fifteen years ago, cable channels like TLC (the "L" stood for Learning), Bravo and the History Channel (the "History" stood for History) promised to add texture and information to the blighted TV landscape. Now these networks run shows about marrying people based on how well they kiss.

"Enhancing Life" by Kate Bowles at Music for Deckchairs:

…the craft and practice of writing is more than an effort to try to get a hold of this, to nail it. It’s also a practice of grieving: the search for likeness, a feeling out and a pencilling in, it’s trying to represent and learn from the face of the thing that confronts you what it is that you have lost. Writing is the first attempt at getting it down on paper in a sketch, a snapshot, a sentence, because we’re all looking for someone who has died, some past self, who might not have existed, who might again.

"Diversity Isn't the Goal; We Must Do Better" by Shay Stewart-Bouley at Black Girl In Maine:

I typically steer clear of discussing my children in this space but today I am going to break my rule because what we are facing is larger than being Black in Maine. It’s what life is like in any racially homogeneous space that is dominated by whiteness. It’s how we can lose our sense of self if we are not vigilant.

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