6 min read

Aloo Posto and Resources

Digest 10.20.23 - Stone Soup
Aloo Posto and Resources
Photo by Kerem Karaarslan / Unsplash

Welcome to the Stone Soup Weekly Digest! This is where I share what I'm up to and some of my favorite things from around the internet. Subscribe to Stone Soup to get this in your inbox every week.

I read a webcomic today that perfectly summarizes the feeling of this moment: nothing we can do feels like enough, but we can participate in the interconnected web of action that is formed by every small thing we do to try to make the world better. 

Months ago I got to do a book event with Cory Doctorow, who never fails to give me a new perspective on something or other. He talked about ants—how they can’t look up, and so, in order to seek higher ground, they simply move toward whichever leg is currently sitting on the highest elevation. They do this over and over again, and each step they take toward slightly higher elevation gives them a new perspective, both on the world and on their position in it. In this way, they can climb higher and higher, little by little. Hope is a tool—it allows you to decide to make one thing just a little better. Change happens when you stack one of those little improvements onto another, and another, and another, until finally you are in a completely different place than where you started. Even if you can’t see where higher ground is—even if you can’t even look up—you can still find your way to a better situation, a better self, a better world. 

Last week I shared this list of resources. Here it is again this week, with a couple of additions. Do everything you can. It might feel like you’re taking impossibly tiny steps, but that’s okay. Tiny steps add up. 

Resources for others 

  • Donate to the Red Cross. As a dear friend told me when I expressed a feeling of helplessness, this is almost always a good move when you’re not sure how to help.
  • Donate to Doctors Without Borders, who are working to facilitate the movement of medical supplies and staff.
  • Get involved with PCRF, an organization that provides quality medical care to children throughout the Middle East regardless of nationality, religious or political affiliation.
  • Connect with Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization committed to the liberation of all people. They’re organizing phone banks that will allow you to turn your rage and grief into meaningful, strategic action.
  • Check out and share these resources, curated by Room Magazine, including ways to call on governments to demand a ceasefire, how you can donate and support the relief efforts, ways to fight disinformation, and a reading list to educate yourself. 
  • Use Resistbot to message all of your representatives at one time, demanding a ceasefire, immediate humanitarian aid, and an end to occupation.

Resources for you

  • I wasn’t joking last week when I said you need to learn to engage with horrifying material if you’re going to help those who are suffering. Taking the time to attend to this isn’t self-centering or weak—it’s a matter of making yourself more useful, and it’s a skill that will serve you in the long term. Here’s that link again.
  • Strengthen your media literacy. If you are consuming a huge amount of new, emotionally intense information, you need skills to parse that information into understanding. This isn’t a matter of simply being smart—it takes active critical engagement. Click here to download a pdf of some media literacy basics, dive into some deeper questions here, and continue learning fundamental skills of media literacy here.
  • Attend to your nervous system. You’re not meant to be able to handle situations like this one well. That’s the whole point of war. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others. Here’s an old Stone Soup post that rounds up some tips for taking care of yourself when your nervous system is screaming at you. This is a starting point, not the finish line—self-care is the foundation you build on.

Half Price Books Union Update

The Half Price Books Union is still on strike! Negotiations have not yet proceeded (at least as of the time I’m writing this) and the union needs your support. Contact the Half Price Books CEO and tell her that her employees deserve a living wage!

SAG-AFTRA Strike Update

Some big-name Hollywood actors just voted to remove the cap on their union dues so they can help end the stalemate. They’re also proposing a “bottom-up residual structure” which would help close the gap between actors salaries and compensation. 

You can read all about it here.

Personal Canons Cookbook Highlight: Ayida Shonibar

Ayida Shonibar (she/they) grew up as an Indian-Bengali immigrant to Europe and currently works in North America. Their writing has been selected for the We Need Diverse Books and Desi KidLit mentorship programmes, and is published in Nature Futures, Wilted Pages (Shortwave Publishing), Luminescent Machinations (Neon Hemlock), Asian Ghost Short Stories (Flame Tree Publishing), Transmogrify! (Harper Teen), and Night of the Living Queers (Wednesday Books), among others.

They share an essay about living a life with and without subtitles, along with an anticolonial recipe for Aloo Posto, a lightly fried vegetable dish seasoned with white poppy seeds and mustard oil. 

Read In Search of Subtitles: an Anticolonial Recipe.

New Comics Reviews from Scott Redmond

Friend of the newsletter Scott Redmond is a phenomenal comics reviewer, providing an in-depth look at current comics over at ComicCon.com. Check out his latest reviews:

Sam Becker loves―or, okay, likes―his job. Sure, managing a bed and bath retailer isn't exactly glamorous, but it's good work and he gets on well with the band of misfits who keep the store running. He could see himself being content here for the long haul. Too bad, then, that the owner is an infuriating git.

Jonathan Forest should never have hired Sam. It was a sentimental decision, and Jonathan didn't get where he is by following his heart. Determined to set things right, Jonathan orders Sam down to London for a difficult talk… only for a panicking Sam to trip, bump his head, and maybe accidentally imply he doesn't remember anything?

Faking amnesia seemed like a good idea when Sam was afraid he was getting sacked, but now he has to deal with the reality of Jonathan's guilt―as well as the unsettling fact that his surly boss might have a softer side to him. There's an unexpected freedom in getting a second shot at a first impression… but as Sam and Jonathan grow closer, can Sam really bring himself to tell the truth, or will their future be built entirely on one impulsive lie?

Barnes & Noble | Bad River Website | Local Library | Find an Indie Bookstore

I’m Reading: Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang

Our narrator produces a sound from the piano no one else at the Conservatory can. She employs a technique she learned from her parents—also talented musicians—who fled China in the wake of the Cultural Revolution. But when an accident leaves her parents debilitated, she abandons her future for a job at a high-end beauty and wellness store in New York City.

Holistik is known for its remarkable products and procedures—from remoras that suck out cheap Botox to eyelash extensions made of spider silk—and her new job affords her entry into a world of privilege and gives her a long-awaited sense of belonging. She becomes transfixed by Helen, the niece of Holistik’s charismatic owner, and the two strike up a friendship that hazily veers into more. All the while, our narrator is plied with products that slim her thighs, smooth her skin, and lighten her hair. But beneath these creams and tinctures lies something sinister.

Barnes & Noble | Bad River Website | Local Library | Find an Indie Bookstore

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And come by the Stone Soup Supper Club for our weekly chat! I can’t wait to find out how you’re doing.