There are endless articles about this week's executive order limiting refugee entry into the United States, and you should read as many of them as you can stomach, and then keep reading. Trust credible sources, understand the legal and social issues, keep your eyes open despite your exhaustion and grief.
Donald Trump has taken or promised many scary, ugly actions in his first week in office, but this is the first with immediate and brutal human impact. Here's just one story: Kirk W. Johnson, founder of The List Project, on racing to unite a young Iraqi couple in the last hours before the refugee ban took effect.
I didn’t want to believe that our government would claw back a one-week-old visa from a Yazidi wife of an interpreter. For one thing, that would require a ruthless efficiency. Why would an Iraqi officer checking in passengers in Erbil care about what Trump had signed ten hours earlier? Why would the airlines care, so long as the ticket was paid for and the visa valid?
Khalas waited patiently for my answer. I asked what they wanted to do.
“We escaped ISIS at Sinjar!” he exclaimed. “How much harder can this be?”
I think we can all sympathize with Chuck Wendig, who was asked by one blog reader to go back to giving writing advice and for Pete's sake stop talking about Trump:
I’d rather talk about literally anything else. Otters! Bees! Cool new sex moves! Books I’ve read, movies I’ve watched, ancient beasts that I have hunted through eldritch wood! I would much rather talk about writing, or cursing, or arting harder, or poop jokes, or pee jokes (though at least there, our current president allows me to pull double-duty). But I wake up every day and I just peek at the news with one half-lidded eye through gently lifted Internet blinds and boom, it’s like that scene in Terminator 2 where the nuclear blast annihilates everything.
Space law! Did anyone's heart not just leap up a little bit? Friday marked the 50th anniversary of the 'Outer Space Treaty,' a practical and also gloriously idealistic document that's guided international relations in space (in space) for the past half-century. Loren Grush has a quick review of the primary articles of space law and their application (and limits) as space travel becomes more common and commercial.
Right away, the Outer Space Treaty establishes that all nations should have free access to space, and that exploration of the cosmos should be a peaceful enterprise. Such exploration should also be done “for the benefit and in the interests of all countries,” quickly setting up the importance for international cooperation in the realm of space travel.
But immediately after creating this “fair use” of space, the treaty makes one important caveat: space and celestial bodies cannot be appropriated by a nation. That means a country can’t claim the Moon as its own ...
Most of us know which Peanuts character we are — and maybe, painfully, which character others consider us to be. But few have traced the history of a single character with as much persistance and understanding as Kevin Wong, who empathizes deeply with Marcie's insecurity, self-doubt, and struggle to navigate relationships with the strong and iconic personalities around her.
It took time, and a gradual building of confidence, to know that my acquaintances would respect me more, not less, for asserting myself. Marcie’s storylines were often built around this discovery. Through her longer arcs she learned the value of asserting her self-worth and identity, whether by sticking up for someone else, sticking up for herself, or just by vocalizing her opinions.
Reassuring somehow to know that the Central Intelligence Agency has sufficient respect for correct (or at least consistent) usage to nurture a style guide all its own. Geoffrey Pullman explores the CIA's stance on the Oxford comma, the apostrophe, and other questions critical to our national grammatical security. (via Language Hat)
Naturally I checked to see whether the CIA bans the passive voice. Given how often agency business require reference to events without revealing the identity of the participants, it seemed unlikely. The entry for “passive voice” turned out to be inscrutable: “See active voice.”