4 Best Things Online This Week

In this next edition of “What thrilled, engrossed, and overwhelmed Sarah during her web-browsing this week?” there is a distinct mixture of the frothy and the bitter. We don’t live in a world of pure confection, but at the same time sweetness remains for us to enjoy despite the cruelty. So, here goes:

Library 2.jpg

  1. Operation Mason Dixon has only just begun and already it deserves a bookmark for you to track Elise’s experiences as she pummels through her final year of Ph.D. studies as a Developmental Scientist. Being a Developmental Psychologist myself, I was thrilled to come across this blossoming blog via Christina & Kamille’s Twitter account. Being a suburban white woman charged with teaching courses that deal with risk, resilience, and intervention, I find myself in a constant struggle to provide my students with a whole and authentic perspective on these issues (including Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Ethnicity) given the fact that I am a privileged White woman. I am lucky to encounter students from diverse backgrounds and to have the opportunity to learn from them every day that I am in the classroom–teachers are indeed meant to be taught–but Elise’s most recent post observing how academia is at odds with the racial turmoil in our country and that our field of Developmental Science is failing people of color zeros in on the discomfort I regularly feel in my own classroom: our field is not doing justice to the scientific pursuit of eradicating injustice. And so teachers like myself are left to teach our students how to make the world better with fistfuls of studies offering caveats like “all upper middle class sample” or “only 20% of participants were African American, or Latino/a, or Asian” and only a few pieces of research that begin to approach a real representation of the developmental experiences of American infants, children, adolescents, and adults. When the teacher is privileged and White, like myself (for me to look at the trajectory of my life and say otherwise is to ignore the imbalance along racial and socioeconomic lines in our country), the inadequacy in addressing this injustice is only multiplied. I look forward to reading more of Elise’s work and about her path to earning her doctorate, which is a journey that I hope proves expeditious: Our field needs her.

NPR 100 Things

2. Sweet goodness, have you seen NPR’s 100 Things You Might Also Like? The media experts at our National Public Radio have offered their own recommendation flow charts to help you locate your next novel, film, or TV show based on media you’ve already determined you love.  It’s a rabbit hole worth your time–dive in!

Bellwether Friends

3. My love for librarians offering their views on popular media only continues to grow. Two Bossy Dames is like a gateway drug to an entire Twitterverse of fabulous, professionally trained connoisseurs of literature, film, and everything in between. Enter Bellwether Friends. Their weekly podcast offers four libraries from across the country discussing topics from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries to classic films, X-men, and book covers of yore. It is a veritable smorgasbord of pointed critical commentary, genuine fandom, and recommendations to add to your To-Be-Read and To-Be-Watched piles.  Follow them on Twitter to keep up with it all.

by Barry Deutsch c/o Jon Greenberg

4.  Speaking of Two Bossy Dames, thank you for their link to Jon Greenberg’s blog and his Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism–from Ferguson to Charleston.  Referring back to the first item in this post, myself and other (White) academics in the social sciences need to actively educate ourselves about the issues our country, and as a result our students, face. Greenberg offers a compendium of sources informing and energizing White Americans to take responsibility for the prejudices roiling under and above the surface of our country’s daily existence and, even more importantly, to become involved in putting an end to them. Many of us educators have time off in the summer–what better time to activate our own learning than now? #BeforeFallSemester






My Life In 4 Songs


Jasper, waiting for his walk. Or a belly rub. Or both.

This Friday, while walking my huge and lovable dog, Jasper, I listened (as I do each week) to Pop Culture Happy Hour, the NPR podcast hosted by Linda Holmes. I adore this podcast and find their topics and recommendations impeccable (for example, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and  Hamilton came to me by way of PCHH. The author Sarah Waters came to me by way of Barrie Hardymon, a frequent PCHH guest.  I know, I know–they are demi-gods of cultural wisdom).  So, when this week they featured a segment devoted to songs that changed their lives, it led me to think about songs that changed my life in similarly intangible yet undeniable ways.

Here’s my list:

  1. Tori Amos: Silent All These Years

Twenty years later after first hearing this song when I was in my early teens, I can still recite every single lyric.  I was a little late to the Tori Amos band-wagon as a mid-nineties teenager and didn’t discover her first album until she’d already put out two other albums, but in the end that didn’t matter.  I loved them all, but this song off of her debut was everything to me. She sings about finding her voice, about the bitterness of sacrificing yourself for another only to be discarded, and the maelstrom of thoughts that comes with growing into an adult.

This song made me feel normal in the craziness of my teenage years. I am so grateful that I could tuck it close to my heart as I tried to figure out who I wanted to be.

2. Smashing Pumpkins: Today

My one claim to coolness is that the first CD I ever bought for myself was Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream. Now, granted this was partnered with a Mariah Carey CD, but we don’t need to talk about that. Part of the reason Today was such a pivotal song in my life is the music video that accompanied it (which, back in the day, was only accessible on MTV). It shows different vignettes of young couples in love, illuminated by the forgiving haze of a sunset.

This song made me think about what it would mean to be loved and the comfort that could bring with it. I’d spent so much time in my life up to that point worried that my body, my face, my entire self was unlovable and undesirable, but this song and the images Smashing Pumpkins chose to represent it gave me confidence that one day I would have access to that same tender affection.

3. Bette Midler: Oh Industry

As a child, our family took many trips in the van out West.  Hours and hours were spent in the car, with my two brothers and my parents’ limited soundtrack of three cassettes.  They included: an Elvis Presley compilation tape, the Amadeus film soundtrack, and the Beaches film soundtrack.  I have no clue what my parents were doing with such random musical pairings, but this trio remains a stark fact of my childhood.  When a tape was finished, one of the other two were popped in, creating a constant fluency of sound. Much like Tori Amos, I can recall the line-up on each of these albums from memory.

Oddly enough, my favorite song out of these was Oh Industry, sung by Bette Midler on the Beaches soundtrack. I don’t think I had a clue as to what she was singing about or how it fit into the film itself, but the opening lines of “I am the captain” haunt me still.  I wanted to be the  captain of my life back then, and to this day that sentiment remains.  As many of us know, Bette Midler can do many things–empowerment being just one of them.

4. Owl City: Fireflies

My husband loves Owl City. He particularly likes to listen to it when folding our family’s never-ending pile of laundry. I chose this song because it represents the contented space I live in now, and that I captain my ship with a fantastic partner and three delightfully goofy first mates (otherwise known as our three children).  It feels good to be in a place in life where happy music does what it’s intended to do–it makes me happy.