Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wednesday roundup and ramble

Charles Blow on the epidemic of police violence against unarmed black people.

Afghan leaders have trouble convincing people to stay, since their own people have left.

Your beef habit is seriously destroying the rainforests and pretty much, the planet.

This spoof on the "nice guy" reminds me of a recent interaction on social media. I'd posted something about offering your seat on the Metro to anyone who needs it more--pretty basic principle, right? And some dude replied, "typical feminist."

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday ramble

I ended my roundup with "Choose gratitude." Excerpts:
For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond deprivation and depression, there are many ordinary circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily.
Beyond rotten circumstances, some people are just naturally more grateful than others. 

Monday roundup

Uncertain Journeys: A photo essay on refugees. Pair with George Packer's spot-on piece.

You can't say this a lot, but yes, in this case, the Holocaust is a legitimate analogy.

You know when you completely lose respect for someone whose work you can't help but admire? Scott Adams has lost his $hit.

A Canadian university nixed yoga for people with disabilities because cultural appropriation and I can't even.

A must-read profile of a woman who left the Westboro Baptist Church. Too much good stuff to excerpt.

Alana Massey on nude selfies.

Choose gratitude.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Saturday roundup

Roxane Gay on safety:
The freedom of speech, however, does not guarantee freedom from consequence. You can speak your mind, but you can also be shunned. You can be criticized. You can be ignored or ridiculed. You can lose your job. The freedom of speech does not exist in a vacuum.
Many of the people who advocate for freedom of speech with the most bluster are willing to waste this powerful right on hate speech...
There are some extreme, ill-advised and simply absurd manifestations of the idea of safe space... And yet. I understand where safe space extremism comes from. When you are marginalized and always unsafe, your skin thins, leaving your blood and bone exposed...
Those who mock the idea of safe space are most likely the same people who are able to take safety for granted... We are also talking about privilege. As with everything else in life, there is no equality when it comes to safety.
Paul Krugman on fear.
The point is not to minimize the horror. It is, instead, to emphasize that the biggest danger terrorism poses to our society comes not from the direct harm inflicted, but from the wrong-headed responses it can inspire. 
On overcoming addiction:
Alyce would tell herself that she was quitting for her son or quitting for her mother. But any stop in her drug use was only temporary. “I had to come to understand I can’t do it for anyone but me,” Alyce said. “I have to want to live.”
 and, omg:
“My daughter said she wants to be president of the United States,” Alyce explained. “Therefore, I need to show her how you get there.”
Anne Frank's asylum request was denied.

Petula Dvorak nails the Starbucks cup controversy:
I’m willing to concede that there is a war on Christmas. The real Christmas.
If Christmas is about honoring the birth of an impoverished child to a homeless couple who must eventually flee a tyrant to keep their baby safe, then, yes, there is a war on Christmas.
If Christmas is about peace, joy, generosity, thankfulness and goodwill among people, then yes, there is a war on Christmas.

On the subtle sexism that adds up:
This flare-up is an example of the kind of thing that keeps happening whenever women try to point out microaggressions — all the little daily sexist slights that may not mean much individually but add up over a lifetime. Even well-meaning progressives sometimes freak out over discussions of "sexism," because they think they are being personally accused of being sexist. This makes people defensive, and it leads to the kind of bunker mentality that makes Weaver call Clinton's winking quip a "vicious attack."
Esquire's must-read books for men really are for men.

The impact of our food system on food workers.

Dairy: it's not good for you.

Why we care when people lie.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Big Monday ramble

I've written much, and linked to much, on this blog about beauty and about weight, and about both in relation to feminism. Just the other day:
This piece on beauty--specifically about being honest about it--leaves out the very important fact that [conventional] beauty may be power, but it is an uneven, unreliable, unwieldy form of it. 
Which I'll pair with this Ask Polly wisdom from a while ago:
The reason the beauty-industrial complex kicks up an acidic taste of contempt in so many of our mouths is that it can never quite capture the intoxicating magic of real-life intrigue and attraction and romance... Real-life beauty is a blur of motion, a flash of disbelief, an assured gesture, a long sigh that sings with intelligence and self-acceptance. We can't capture in two dimensions, or reduce to a series of numbers, the feelings that real human beings experience in the company of a woman with the confidence to own exactly who she is, to show where she's been, to listen closely and understand completely. A woman who loves her life, who can laugh at herself, but whose head isn't crowded and noisy. A woman who can focus and make room — real space — for you, and bathe you in her generosity and her compassion...
The guy who won't sleep with you because you're overweight is not a far cry from the guy who will only sleep with you because you've got a hot body. Either way, you feel like the main event, the REAL YOU, is a footnote... Everyone wants to be seen and loved for who they really are...
...You're looking for someone who is turned on by YOU — your charms and your flaws and all of the magic inside of you. Maybe there are only a few people out there who can really appreciate YOU.
I didn't discover the male gaze for myself until I was 35--that age where you're to stop wearing skirts above the knee--and I wasn't sure what to do with it. In my early 20s, I couldn't be bothered to manage my appearance in any way, until, in my late 20s, I observed how much more seriously people took people who looked put-together. I started dabbling in the put-together look and pulled it off until, around 30, I put on weight

I'd never thought I would care, but I hated being not-thin; I'd rolled my eyes years earlier when I'd heard Oprah say that losing weight was her most cherished achievement (or something to that effect). How could someone who accomplished so much, care about her weight? I came to understand the answer. Mom made my situation worse, but I was profoundly uncomfortable in my own body, in spite of "knowing better." I had it easy; I agonized, but I never hated my body. No one should hate her body.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saturday roundup

Hi, guys! I'm back, with a new laptop, so I should be able to blog more regularly.

I feel odd taking a cheery tone in light of the Paris attacks. I have nothing to say about those apart from what's already been said, except that, if you're wondering why those and not Beirut, etc.--all of that. All of the attacks are tragic and devastating, but it hits closer to home when it's a city you know and love.

That said, here's your roundup.

Read about the link between lead and crime and think even more about how the gasoline industry tried to buy/threaten scientists and hide the truth from the public in order to protect their profits.

The odd campaign to save Tim Hunt.

Maybe more on this in another post, but please check out this entire thread.
From the obituary of Rene Girard, renowned French social scientist:
Professor Girard’s central idea was that human motivation is based on desire. People are free, he believed, but seek things in life based on what other people want. Their imitation of those desires, which he termed mimesis, is imitated by others in turn, leading to escalating and often destructive competition.

His first work, published in French in 1961 and in English in 1965 as “Deceit, Desire, and the Novel,” introduced the idea of mimesis through readings of classic novels. Over time, the idea has been used to explain financial bubbles, where things of little intrinsic value are increasingly bid up in the hope of financial gain. It has also been cited to explain why people unsatisfied by high-status jobs pursue them anyway.
Look at the way people talk about, talk to, and refer to renowned economists who are women.

Look at the way people reduce renowned women (and the rest of us) to our reproductive status.
In the traditional worldview happiness is essentially private and selfish. Reasonable people pursue their self-interest, and when they do so successfully they are supposed to be happy. The very definition of what it means to be human is narrow, and altruism, idealism, and public life (except in the forms of fame, status, or material success) have little place on the shopping list. The idea that a life should seek meaning seldom emerges; not only are the standard activities assumed to be inherently meaningful, they are treated as the only meaningful options.
People lock onto motherhood as a key to feminine identity in part from the belief that children are the best way to fulfill your capacity to love, even though the list of monstrous, ice-hearted mothers is extensive. But there are so many things to love besides one’s own offspring, so many things that need love, so much other work love has to do in the world.
Love, love this:
And yet, when people ask me what I do, I’m sometimes tempted to answer “whatever I want.” This is not a boast — I have financial obligations like everyone else, and only myself to rely on for meeting them — so much as a statement of fact, and a reminder that I belong to the first generation of women for whom this can be a real truth. But it also feels like I’ve discovered some sort of secret — like, Oh my god, you guys, it’s so great over here and no one wants you to know about it.


Which is not to say it can’t also be really fucking hard to be alone, and sometimes deeply lonely in a soul-shaking sort of way. Inevitably there are the middle-of-the-nights when it is also terrifying. And sometimes it’s just plain exhausting. When you are the person free to do what you want, what you often end up doing is taking care of other people with less options. More than once in the past year I have crawled home to my empty apartment emotionally gutted and feeling like I’d been run over by a truck; thinking enviably it’d be worth it to be married just to have someone else who is obligated to deal with my family, and also cork the wine and load the dishwasher.

Fortunately, I’m old enough to know that people in marriages, and with children, feel all of these things (and how much worse is it to feel lonely in a relationship, which is something so few people talk about and so many experience) at one time or another. No matter how often we imagine marriage as the solution to women's problem, it is simply another way of living.
More--in continuity with last week's post--on women and sex.

I certainly identify with having done "so much holding," from this:
And why is it that the placeholders we choose — the dozen red roses, the fragrant white lilies, the long-stemmed French tulips — are so fleeting? Hold on to them for too long and you end up with a mess of petals, pollen and foul-smelling water...
This piece on beauty--specifically about being honest about it--leaves out the very important fact that beauty may be power, but it is an uneven, unreliable, unwieldy form of it.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween roundup

Laptop still acting up (maybe gone forever); blogging from the iPad.

By now, the regularity of toddler shootings is old news, as is this brilliant display of what's banned but not deadly .

On and from Svetlana Alexievich. also: love Marlon James.

When the default viewpoint is that male feelings take precedence over women's security.

On harassment in science.

If you really understand what I nonetheless appreciate to be a great explanation, more power to you.

I get not teaching kids gender roles but I'd tell this woman to chill the f* out.

How f*ed in the head do you have to be to ask cosmonauts how they'll manage without makeup.

An insightful set of perspectives about sex in the era of nobody cares.

I love, love this explanation of when it's controlling to make demands about your SO's appearance. Also love these two Ask Polly pieces (yes, I know I already linked to one) about being open about your needs and owning them (see also Modern Love). Actually, Tracey Stewart's profile speaks some to just saying no to people who don't accept you as-is, and to the ethics of eating animals.

The symbolism of Lisa's vegetarianism.

I never tweeted about my cat going down to the kebab shop; apparently I'm the only one.

Most vegetarians who eat meat aren't actually vegetarians.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday roundup

Walt on what makes a strategist.

Health research is often mischaracterized in the press, but the mischaracterization often starts with the press release.

Animals teach us unconditional love, and we start to expect the same from people.

So much truth in this Ask Polly column.

Are you setting up your kids for on-their-own success? Are you?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday morning roundup

The Central American refugee crisis is still raging, and our policy response is unconscionable,

Another pioneering scientist is outed as an abuser and harasser,

Jon Butterworth's very helpful explanation of neutrino oscillation, but I still have questions.

The weekend

I got a few more comments about my protruding belly last night, but there was mostly peace. There was, of course, complaining earlier in the day about the walk and about how we didn't spend enough time in her favorite store. This is because I had plans with friends during the day, and had told her throughout the morning that if we didn't leave "now," we wouldn't have much time for anything. But there was, nonetheless, a lot of changing clothes, etc. I tried to help her get dressed, but she kept yelling at me. I came down stairs and dad started lecturing me about how I had to be patient with her, but then he went upstairs to help her get dressed only to come downstairs and say, "ultimately, her greatest obstacle is that she's a стерва." I.e., bitch.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

You'll never guess what mom just said to me

Mom: Your belly has grown!
Mom: Yes, it has.

Earlier, over breakfast:

Mom: That hairstyle doesn't work for you.
A.: It's not a hairstyle; it's a mechanism for keeping my hair out of my face.
Mom: It doesn't work for you.
A.: [Shrug.]

Otherwise, much of the same: more dilly-dallying, more complaining about the walk, more ruing the lost treasures.


As usual, it took multiple attempts to get mom out of the house for a walk yesterday. Just when I thought she was ready, she came downstairs in a warm sweater. I asked if she had something underneath--the day before, which was not as warm, she'd shed a layer as soon as we started walking. I wanted to make sure that if she shed a layer, she had another one underneath. Also the other day, she kvetched the minute we got out of the car--about how she wanted to go on the walk at the dog park, and how I didn't know what I was talking about since I'd never been there. Then, she came around and started talking about how beautiful it was by the river.

Quick roundup and ramble

Why Svetlana Alexievich's Nobel Prize matters.

The affirmative consent concept is making strides but has a ways to go.

I'm not linking to the Times op-ed on meditation, which can be summed up by one of its own sentences: it's not snake oil but it's not a panacea. But I have to wonder--for example, as a vegan who is often surprised that people feel like I'm trying to "convert" them merely by talking about my own eating habits, mostly in response to their questions--whether people are really preaching to this guy or merely talking about what works for them. See also: people who interpret existing with breasts as showing off. Anyway, I think there's value in the column: not everything works for everyone and not everyone needs something that may really work for some people. I personally struggle with mindfulness, so I make an effort to meditate. If you don't struggle with mindfulness, more power to you.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday morning

Yesterday was relatively peaceful, by mom standards. I did have to leave the dinner table because she wouldn't stop political ranting and name-calling, but that's every day (even by phone). This morning, I woke up early--and fielded about 20 work emails between 6 and 10am--and tried to get my work out in before mom got up and tried to talk to me while I worked out. I need workout time to myself, so I can clear my head and better keep an unpained face while mom gossips about the neighbors for the 30th time. I got through about half the workout, which is something. Dad left for a medical appointment. Mom talked to me, and then wandered outside. I checked on her occasionally through the window. Just as I was wrapping up, she came back in and started yelling.

She had gone through the recycling bin and brought back all the paper--old circulars and junk mail, including a free calendar. She started screaming and pounding her fists about how dad throws out all her things without ever asking her, and about how everything that is good in the house, she brought or bought and dad never did anything. All he does is move things around and mess with her decor. I finished stretching, and--noticing visible dust--started vacuuming. In part to tune out mom.

I got my parents a new vacuum cleaner last time I was here, and almost instantly filled several canisters' worth. Dad promised that he'd keep vacuuming, but lately he said that it wasn't working as well. The house looked better than usual--the living room floor was not covered in a visible layer of dust, and dad said that he'd been on top of keeping that floor clean because since we cleaned it last time, he noticed the dirt that much more--but there was still dust everywhere. So I vacuumed the living room and the stairs, filling about three-quarters of a canister. Dad got home around that time and mom started screaming at him--holding up the calendar and asking why he tossed it, and saying 'good thing the good trash collectors noticed it and new it wasn't trash, and took it out.' She continued to yell as dad and I emptied the canister and shook out the filter. I took the vacuum cleaner upstairs and filled a full, heaping canister. It was disgusting. I don't understand how they can just breathe all of that in. I keep telling them both that they need to clean everything out and get to the places I couldn't get to because of all the clutter, but it's like talking to a brick wall.

As I was vacuuming upstairs, mom tried to offer me some blazer. I told her it was too big. She insisted that it wasn't. I asked her to let me finish vacuuming. Once I did finish vacuuming, I started dealing with the 14 work emails on my phone--and mom started asking me about the blazer again.

A.: I can tell it's too big.
Mom: I can tell it isn't. Just try it on.
A.: Can I finish with the work stuff?
Mom: Just try it on.

I tried it on. It was--surprise--much too big, but she started arguing with me and telling me it looked great. It is an 8/10, and I am a 00. I said no thank you and went back to work emails.

Mom: Well, you could show some appreciation instead of taking that tone as if I'm just trying to stick you with some piece of garbage.
A.: Thank you, mom. It's a nice blazer, it just doesn't fit.
Mom: Have I told you that your visits no longer bring me any joy?
A.: You have.
Mom: Okay, then.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Old is the new fat

Mom was in the middle of some political rant--probably the same one, about how everyone is getting shot because the President invited all the immigrants in so that they would vote for him--when she stopped and got that look on her face. That "what's wrong with your face" look.

Mom: You've aged.
A.: I wonder how that happened.
Mom: No, seriously: you've aged.
A.: Uh-huh.


Mom: You're looking old.
A.: It happens.
Mom: I don't know. Do I look like I've aged?
A.: Uh-huh.

My parents

On the coffee table next to me, there's a packet of hot sauce from 2003 and a package of sugar from god knows when. Over lunch, I asked what happened to all the decorative plates that were hanging in the (glass-doored) kitchen cabinets. Mom went on about how they were priceless and should never have been there--she even slammed her fists on the kitchen table, in anger, when I said they were always there. She said she would give them to me--she would give me everything--if I had a baby. I told her that was added incentive not to have a baby.

Clothes are piled over the guest bed. Some are torn, but she won't use them for rags or throw them out. Stuff is everywhere.

Oh, and the topic of discussion over lunch was how the President let in all the illegals so they would vote for him, and now they're shooting everyone.

My parents won't leave for the airport until I call them when I land, because they don't want to have to circle, which is fine. So I called them when I landed, and then called them once I was outside to let them know where I was. They said they were stuck in traffic; I told them to call me when they got to the Airport Roadway--it was chilly, so I'd go back in and then go out. So then they call me 20 minutes later to say they can't find me, and they have to circle. I don't care, but they hate circling, so if they just listened, they wouldn't be doing it. I get irritated because this is a microcosm of the bigger not-listening issue, but I guess I should just save the irritation for when it matters.

Thursday roundup

Hi guys! My laptop won't connect to the internet, so I couldn't post until now (I'm at my parents' house; post forthcoming).

Factory farming is a crisis in ethics, but "humane" farming has its own ethical issues.

I heart vegan athletes.
The women in MRA groups are just as f*ed up as the men. And--take it from a gynecologist--they're pretty f*ed up. Need more evidence (from a purely "factually misguided" standpoint)? Women aren't good for colliders, except we totally are.

Crass is not, in and of itself, funny.

I love this Ask Polly response about being your (complete, dark) self in a relationship.

Trevor Noah's "America's African President" is brilliant. As is the Nightly Show's "dick blow-off."

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Some advice and the best video ever

Carolyn pretty much took care of most of the absurdity in this letter, but I wanted to add something: there is nothing wrong with the director of a non-profit organization being paid well. Non-profits benefit from excellent management, and that management should be appropriately compensated. To think that people in these positions should sacrifice as a matter of principle--and they are already usually paid much less than they would be for equivalent work at a for-profit--is in line with the other logical fallacies in the letter.

Potlucks are fine as long as everyone agrees that they're potlucks.

I f*ing love Amber Rose's Funny or Die "walk of no shame."

Sunday roundup

It's scary how easy it is to perpetuate internet hoaxes.

This sexbots conspiracy logic is... amazing.

On a quasi-related note: dating is not quite a numbers-game.

Rebecca Traister is a national treasure.
I love the Muppets. I love Kermit. I do not need to imagine his felted member encased by hog flesh. That, after all, is what the non-ABC-affiliated internet is for. (Seriously: Don’t Google Muppet sex.)
Animal ag is bad for poor people and the environment, not to mention the animals (yes, even "human" meat). And for public health.

Take care in how you interpret nutritional news.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday roundup

I mean to link to this a while ago, but the Ecuadorian embassy has had enough of one Mr. Assange.
The report continues in quite a critical manner as to Assange’s intrinsic “nature”, independent of his stressful situation, stating that his “evident anger” and “feelings of superiority” could cause stress to those around him — “especially the personnel who work in the embassy, mainly women”. 
I appreciate Dr. Nerdlove's treatise on how not to be an asshole in its own right--and for the choice examples--
But my conundrum is that, the column made me think of how my mom would love to go to McDonald's just to spite me, even when there were better options available. She would insist, because she knew it was unacceptable to me. The conundrum is that I'm trying really, really hard to focus on mom's more endearing side. But I keep getting distracted by memories of her lesser behaviors.

On the topic of children: John Oliver comes through as well:

On the topic of forgiving your parents: "Fuck Feelings" says, 'whatever'.
Stop trying to forgive your bad parents, they advise. Jerks are capable of having as many kids as anyone else—at least until men’s rights conventions come equipped with free vasectomy booths. If you happen to be the child of a jerk, that's just another obstacle to overcome.
In fact, stop trying to free yourself of all anger and hate. In all likelihood you're doing a really awesome job, the Bennetts argue, despite all the shitty things that happen to you.

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