11/14 Daily What: Moana Songs, Ranked

If you’re reading this and you’ve interacted with my 3-year-old lately, you may know that she has a slight obsession at the present moment with the movie Moana. The other day, she was ready to destroy herself because we were making her leave a friend’s house where she had been playing with a Moana barbie. She had no voice for the rest of the day after that battle. Then, at another friend’s house, she actually introduced herself as Moana. When was the last time you decided to change your name because you loved a fictional character so much?

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11/13 Daily What: FX's "Atlanta" doesn't care whether I like it, and that's why I love it

I have only seen the first three episodes of Atlanta, created by and starring Donald Glover. The show has already told me what I need to know about it, in no uncertain terms. First of all, this show was not made with me in mind. It doesn’t need me to feel included. It isn’t trying to teach me anything. It is invested in its own physical environment, and in the very specific circumstances (specific but, to a lot of people, highly relatable) of being a young black man in Atlanta trying to make a career for himself in the rap scene. It has nothing to do with me, and it doesn’t care. I’m in.

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11/12 Daily What: have you optimized your life enough today?

Given how much of my focus and attention this particular area of my life commands, it’s continually surprising to me how roundly I reject, and even fear, advice and tips on food optimization. Kinja has a site called lifehacker.com, filled with tips and tricks by and for my fellow kitchen- and home-optimizers. Slate recently introduced a weekly feature on home cooking, whose snappy patter combined with serious advice I appreciate, on an aesthetic level. I can’t actually bring myself to read it, though, most of the time. It’s like as soon as I see that there’s a better way to organize my fridge or my cabinets or my shopping list, I just go numb and close the browser.

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11/9 Daily What: Art and Creeps and HBO’s The Deuce

Watching The Deuce means watching James Franco - actually, it means watching two of him, since he plays twin brothers on the show. I did not watch a single episode of The Deuce season 2 without thinking of the fact that James Franco is a dirtbag. I talked to more than one person who, like me, loved David Simon and yet could not bring themselves to watch this show because of James Franco. Fair! I felt very ambivalent starting the season, but I started it because I did not want to ignore or negate the work of countless talented people to avoid looking at one asshole. The acting, the writing, and the production of this show are transcendent. It looks beautiful and even in moments when it’s slightly less compelling or convincing, it always works on a macro scale. In season 1, I came for David Simon and I stayed for everyone else. In season 2, I came for everyone else, and because of Franco, I wasn’t sure I’d stay, but then I did.

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11/8 Daily What: The misleading No/Yes of Massachusetts Ballot Question 3

The hypocrisy of limiting protections for transgender people (a group that needs protection perhaps more than any other adult population) because of the criminal actions of cisgender men is not subtle. And furthermore, think for a moment about the way Question 3 was phrased in Massachusetts: “Do you approve of a law summarized below, which was approved [edit: overwhelmingly] by the House of Representatives and the Senate on July 7, 2016?” (emphasis mine). The ballot then provided a summary of the law’s provisions and stated that “A YES VOTE would keep in place the current law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in places of public accommodation. A NO VOTE would repeal this provision of the public accommodation law”. In other words, in order to take action to repeal the law, to do something, people had to vote “no”, whereas to do nothing, i.e. maintain the status quo, people had to vote “yes.” The two other ballot initiatives in Massachusetts, along with most ballot initiatives, are worded in the opposite way, i.e. asking voters to vote to change something (yes) or do nothing (no). As WBUR put it, this potential for confusion is, of course, consequential: “it’s how voters mark their ballots that ultimately counts. If they meant to support the law but voted 'no' because they thought that would be a vote against repeal, it still counts as a 'no' vote.”

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