linked list monday: midlife crises, the end of Covid, USA soccer

It has again been quite a while, but the links roll on!

The Apollo Murders review

The Apollo MurdersThe Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(more like 3.5 stars)

Overall this book had a serious “For All Mankind” feel – if you liked this, you should check out that show! The characters were…all right, I guess, and definitely some of the twists were telegraphed well in advance. And the book almost felt more like a vehicle for Hadfield (who is, of course, an accomplished astronaut) to explain cool space-y things.

But, what can I say, I’m a sucker for alternate space history stories apparently! And some of the more outlandish details, I thought, turned out to have actually happened.

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State of Terror review

State of TerrorState of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a big fan of Louise Penny, so I preordered this and was excited to read it. And after the first 10 pages, I was worried; the main character is a women Secretary of State who’s coming in after the previous President made a big mess of things, and I wondered whether the whole book was a sort of wish-fulfillment exercise. But the book gets going quickly, and while there were a few eye-rolling moments it’s well-written and compelling. (and in the acknowledgements Clinton says that the main character was based on someone else; my bad!)

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Our Time is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America review

Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair AmericaOur Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America by Stacey Abrams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For me, this book was an odd mix of pessimism (looking at the past) and optimism. (looking at what might happen in the future!) It’s a sober look at what happened when Abrams ran for Georgia governor in 2018 and barely lost (voter suppression in a lot of different ways), but also at the history of voter suppression starting after the Civil War.

Odds and ends:
– Abrams points out that a lot of the voter suppression of the past was pretty obvious, like poll taxes and literacy tests. But these days they’re more subtle and make the voter feel like they’re at fault, for example not being able to wait for hours in line or being purged off the voter roll because they haven’t voted recently enough.
– I didn’t realize that Abrams started the New Georgia Project to help Georgia residents learn about the Affordable Care Act. Neat!
– Abrams talks about the “exact match” policy that Brian Kemp (her Republican opponent in 2018, and also the Georgia Secretary of State, which meant he was in charge of running the election, which…yeah) enacted which means to register to vote your data had to exactly match either the Social Security database or the Georgia Department of Driver Services database. But neither of those databases is designed for that purpose. And while this sounds like it will affect all people equally, in practice the risk of a mismatch is higher for women and people of color.
– The GAO did a study and found that voter ID requirements reduced turnout by around 2%. (by comparing elections in Kansas and Tennessee, which have voter ID requirements, versus ones in other states that do not) Which is a lot!
– Abrams points out that not only can voter suppression block people from voting, but it also convinces others to not even try.
– In Georgia, by law election officials are supposed to notify voters that have problems with their absentee ballot so they can “cure” it. (i.e. fix it) But different counties do this in different ways, and rural counties tended to not do signature matches and just call up the voter if there was a problem, while the state’s most racially diverse county (Gwinnett) had the highest rejection rate in the state.
– I had read about this before, but in 1981 the Republican National Committee funded the National Ballot Security Task Force which deployed teams to minority voting precincts for the New Jersey election. The people carried radios and guns, put up signs warning people they were being monitored , and challenged people in line. The plan worked and the Republican candidate for governor won, but the DNC sued the GOP and won a consent decree saying they couldn’t do that anymore…until 2017.
– On the topic of long voting lines, Abrams reasonably points out that there should be federal rules that more resources be put places that have a history of having long lines. (instead of rules that require a minimum number of machines or poll workers)
– Abrams says if you want to make a difference and volunteer for a campaign or organization, ask to be assigned to the voters who the campaign thinks is least likely to show up, because then you’re making the biggest difference.

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