Friday, March 2, 2018

Friday roundup

Poland is emboldened in bullshit because it's gotten away with it for too long.

An Afghan refugee plots about giving back.

How do you watch old movies and TV with freshly woke eyes? Or, the Donna Problem.

The Donna Problem is that it would be easy to excuse her interactions with Josh because he’s a lovable goof who doesn’t mean any harm. Their relationship is played as sweet. We’re supposed to root for him.

Except that excusing powerful men because they didn’t mean any harm is exactly how we got in this situation. Realizing that powerful men were getting away with things — getting our new glasses prescription, to use Lippman’s metaphor — is exactly why we have a Donna Problem.

Nothing in the Donna-Josh relationship is overtly bad. But it’s a little bad. We can no longer ignore that a lot of little-bad things together are what normalize a toxic culture.
Use coral-friendly sunscreen.
Screening sunscreen for environmental friendliness requires getting familiar with chemicals including oxybenzone, octinoxate and methyl paraben. Haereticus Environmental Lab publishes a list of chemicals to avoid. Mineral sunblocks including zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that are “non-nano” in size are considered safe. Formulations below 100 nanometers are considered nano and can be ingested by corals.
Watch Surya Bonaly's mind-blowing illegal backflip.

Read this phenomenal thread about The Book Lady, aka inimitable Dolly Parton.

Watch Wayne Brady's awesome interview.

Look at this Turkish classroom cat.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday roundup

What an AR-15 does.

Twitter has many examples of why arming teachers is a terrible idea. Here's a couple of threads.

This article perfectly and comprehensively sums up every angle of the 'perpetual foreigner' issue I talked about last week. Pair with this piece about who gets to be an immigrant. Model-minoritying isn't good, even if it's better than this:

See also: my thread.

I also made a thread about the myth of the endearing man-child.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Monday roundup

Poland isn't fooling anyone with its attempts at revisionist history.

The students who survived the Parkland school massacre are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore. They give me hope for the future of our country.

Aly Raisman takes back her body, leading to mass confusion among idiots.

The latest in the ruthenium mystery. Meanwhile, we have a new uranium mystery.

I'm not going to link to that horrid thinkpiece in the Times about yoga pants being bad for women, even though I agree with what the author was maybe trying to say: there's no need to spend on high-end workout clothes; go to the gym for you. But she ended up conveying the opposite message: yoga pants are unflattering, so don't wear them. So now our workout appearance is up for scrutiny? We are at the gym for other people's consumption? Here's a much better perspective on that whole issue, from a few weeks back when we were having the same debate over skin care. If it makes you feel better, do it; if it's a drag, don't.

Here are a few good pieces on meditation. What these two have in common is the idea that it's about practice, and it's about managing your emotional response (not quashing it). And that it's to fight our naturally-selected penchant for anxiety.

I love Adam Rippon.

Look at this little animal whisperer.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Saturday roundup

Mayanmar's regime is still awful.

What we say (and don't say) about human rights, matters.

Evo Morales brought many out of extreme poverty but shouldn't be president-for-life.

Can technology reduce deforestation?

Why are we horrified at the mistreatment of only some animals?
The law says that when an animal is in serious problems, you should help the animals, but in the factory farming there are about six million pigs dying every year without veterinarian support,” said Hans Baaij, the director of Dier en Recht, a small nongovernmental organization that aims to use the court system to get the government to precisely define what constitutes animal abuse.
On sexual harassment in agriculture.

Before you read the next few excerpts (or linked articles), read this whole thread.
What in the unholy hell is "unwanted conduct of a sexual nature"? This is an abomination. We can start talking about Me Too going too far (see below) when victims aren't the ones made to transfer schools and perpetrators aren't slapped on the wrist.

Laurie Penny on the Me-Too backlash.
Alright, ladies, you’ve had your fun, and you’ve given us all a fright — but that’s enough now. If we relegate this all-out revolt against male sexual entitlement to the kitchen shelf where it belongs, everyone would be a lot more comfortable — at least, the men in the room would be, and we all know that’s what really matters.
And Lili Loofbourow on the price of 'bad sex' and socializing women to be the nice girl.
Women are constantly and specifically trained out of noticing or responding to their bodily discomfort, particularly if they want to be sexually "viable." Have you looked at how women are "supposed" to present themselves as sexually attractive? High heels? Trainers? Spanx? These are things designed to wrench bodies. Men can be appealing in comfy clothes. They walk in shoes that don't shorten their Achilles tendons. They don't need to get the hair ripped off their genitals or take needles to the face to be perceived as "conventionally" attractive. They can — just as women can — opt out of all this, but the baseline expectations are simply different, and it's ludicrous to pretend they aren't.
The old implied social bargain between women and men (which Andrew Sullivan calls "natural") is that one side will endure a great deal of discomfort and pain for the other's pleasure and delight. And we've all agreed to act like that's normal, and just how the world works. 
Pair with Mona Eltahawy's piece on (instead) teaching girls to honor their rage.

And here we transition from phenomenal women slamming men who mansplain sexual assault, to phenomenal women slamming men who mansplain abortion.

See also Jia Tolentino's interview with someone who went through it.

This breaks my heart.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

In which I ramble about my day and other things

But first, some context.

I probably have an over-associative mind. Everything reminds me of something else. Every place reminds me of the last time I was there. Every time of year makes me think about what was going on a year before.

This time last year, I was dating a dude and preparing to transition to a temporary gig. I was on the cusp of knowing the relationship was doomed; there was still room for hope, but also some concerns. Enough that I wasn't willing to leave stuff at his place--which was right near my then-office and not too far from my new one--between offices.

So now I have a week to go before I transition back to my old office. I was too busy at work to think about it--and too busy to gradually move any stuff back--but to be honest I thought it about it the whole time I've been there. Every time I crossed an iconic building, above or underground, I thought about how fleeting it was to *work* there. Every time I was either mistaken for an intern or addressed with disproportionate deference, I thought about how fleeting it was to be in this bananas mixing bowl of power dynamics. 

But it was Friday night as I left work that it hit me that I was down to a week. A very busy week, and not without Even More Drama than usual. But as I walked the tunnels to the metro, it fully hit me that I was down to a week. And even though I'm 90 percent ready to go back, I'm really going to miss everyone. And a lot of things. The sense of opposite-of-nostalgia was overwhelming. It stayed with me throughout the evening, and I woke up with it.

Saturday roundup

When the Times does not suck, it does not suck; and this is a good take on Qatar.

If I may say so, this is, overall, a very good take on the nuclear posture review.

And this is a very good take on how there is no "limited strike" on North Korea. Key excerpt:
Unfortunately, the tactical advantages of American stealth and surprise don’t produce a crystal-clear situational awareness and understanding of American intent for our adversaries. Wartime surprise does what it’s supposed to do: confuses and overwhelms the adversary. That surprise is intended to so discombobulate an opponent that they can’t formulate an effective response until it’s all over. But if you’re trying to prevent further escalation, confusion is exactly what you’re trying to avoid on the other side.
There is severe poverty in the United States.
Conversion "therapy" is evil.

On the amazing Judge Aquilina and how needed she is in a nation that refuses to listen to women.

I'm glad people are getting more involved and even running for office, but given how bad presidents can get, we need politicians to be more, not less, professional.

This man thinks that the main lesson from Hillary's defeat is that women belong in the kitchen, but a better take is that her candidacy was transformative. As the article says, "Look at all the breakthroughs women have made in the last century, and you’ll notice how many of them involved just making their presence in some new place seem matter of fact."

Look at photos from last weekend's second-anniversary women's march. Have no qualms about the lack of endorsement from the very problematic Linda Sarsour.

Enjoy some fine-art level trolling from the Guggenheim.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday roundup

Stalinism isn't here yet, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't put our guard up.

Yes, migrants commit crimes, too (though less so than non-migrants). Yes, optics matter; yes, it is a tragedy for Mia and her family. Is retaliating against migrants as a group a proportionate response? Or could we focus on why the threats and stalking weren't taken seriously? And promote cultural assimilation, to include making toxic masculinity a no-no.

Bret Stephens is so wrong overall that I hate to link to him even when he's right--even a broken clock--but this time, he's really right.

The new Kazakh alphabet doesn't really work.

If there has to be a split and the Women's March isn't interested in elections, I'm team March On.

How'd I miss this post from the woman who made Batali's pizza rolls?
Good baking requires an attention to detail and care that is hard to muster when you just don’t give a shit or you are distracted by your own rage.
It's official: women aren't allowed to be angry.
A 2016 study found that it took longer for people to correctly identify the gender of female faces displaying an angry expression, as if the emotion had wandered out of its natural habitat by finding its way to their features. A 1990 study conducted by the psychologists Ulf Dimberg and L.O. Lundquist found that when female faces are recognized as angry, their expressions are rated as more hostile than comparable expressions on the faces of men — as if their violation of social expectations had already made their anger seem more extreme, increasing its volume beyond what could be tolerated.
In “What Happened,” her account of the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton describes the pressure not to come across as angry during the course of her entire political career — “a lot of people recoil from an angry woman,” she writes — as well as her own desire not to be consumed by anger after she lost the race, “so that the rest of my life wouldn’t be spent like Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’s ‘Great Expectations,’ rattling around my house obsessing over what might have been.” The specter of Dickens’s ranting spinster — spurned and embittered in her crumbling wedding dress, plotting her elaborate revenge — casts a long shadow over every woman who dares to get mad.
If an angry woman makes people uneasy, then her more palatable counterpart, the sad woman, summons sympathy more readily. She often looks beautiful in her suffering: ennobled, transfigured, elegant. Angry women are messier. Their pain threatens to cause more collateral damage. It’s as if the prospect of a woman’s anger harming other people threatens to rob her of the social capital she has gained by being wronged. We are most comfortable with female anger when it promises to regulate itself, to refrain from recklessness, to stay civilized.
There are many awful takes on Aziz Ansari out there. Here are some quite good ones.

I'm worn out, but remind me to write about "Lady Bird" sometime in the next week.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday ramble

I stumbled upon this article on how to handle unsolicited advice just as I was feeling guilty about being annoyed at my father's being himself. Most people dislike unsolicited advice most of the time (the author notes that there are exceptions), and--the author also notes--that even if the advisor is really just thinking out loud, it usually comes off as if (s)he thinks you're stupid. Did the people suggesting she get a passport (when she told them she was going to Europe) think she didn't know that? If they did, was it because they wouldn't have known that, or did they think that she, specifically, was clueless?

There are a lot of reasons that advice grates, one being that sometimes--most of the time--we just want people to listen. I tend to frame advice in the context of, 'this worked out well for me, don't know if this was already on your radar' or something similar. If anything, I tend to err on the side of assuming that people know things, where a suggestion might be helpful. But there is something super-galling about advice that presumes a greater-than-average level of ignorance.

And yet! Why should I care that, say, some random person on the street thinks I'm stupid? As the author said, if you want to change behavior, nodding or saying something generic won't get you there. I think with randos I do tend to smile and nod and whatever. But I digress. I was thinking about why my father's various antics so irked me. And, as with not appreciating it when someone presumes you're stupid, I don't appreciate it when my father implies that he's not impressed with how I'm living my life.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Saturday roundup (brought to you by my frozen car battery)

Ukraine is a gangster state.

In Nepal, a young girl died sleeping outside because she was menstruating.

A Maasai woman stood her ground and improved thousands of lives
Finally, after nearly four years of dialogue, the elders in her village changed hundreds of years of culture and abandoned cutting. She had persuaded the men, and with them the village, that everyone would be healthier and wealthier if girls stayed in school, married later and gave birth without the complications cutting can create. 
Ms. Leng’ete — whose neighbors wouldn’t speak to her because she wasn’t cut — became the first woman in history to address the elders at the mountain.
In 2014, they changed the centuries-old oral constitution that rules over 1.5 million Maasai in Kenya and in Tanzania, and formally abandoned female genital cutting. 
In pushing to overturn a cultural commandment, she found that her own cultural pride was her strongest argument.
Here are some wise words about Poland from my former professor.

Will Modi try to cover for his mistakes by fomenting ethnic tensions?

Without an American security guarantee, the freedom-loving people of the Baltic States — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — would almost certainly be gobbled up by the authoritarian Russians. These Eastern European countries were occupied by the Soviets until the end of the Cold War, and they’ve lived in fear of Russian invasions since Peter the Great. To guard against their annexation, they were invited to join NATO in 2004. 
In a chilling story that posted overnight, two former administration officials tell the Daily Beast that a senior National Security Council official proposed withdrawing some U.S. military forces from Eastern Europe as an overture to Vladimir Putin during the early days of the Trump presidency. “While the proposal was ultimately not adopted, it is the first known case of senior aides to [Trump] seeking to reposition U.S. military forces to please Putin — something that smelled, to a colleague, like a return on Russia’s election-time investment,” Spencer Ackerman reports.
Here are some things that actually improve border security.

Two of the best responses to failed Ann Coulter:

How international papers covered 'shithole.'

This thread!

Milbank on Animal Farm.

I'd watch a gorilla channel.

Nursing homes can be very shady.

The Oprah for president moment is OBE, but this is an important point.

I live near a McDonald's and have to pick up trash all the time.
In denser living, a trash dump or a park next door affects the value of your parcel.
The sexual revolution made a vast number of previously unavailable sexual choices available. But it took place in a society that struggles to agree on what freedom actually means. And without a consensus on what constitutes a free choice, sexuality is bound to remain a domain wherein the powerful are able to exploit the less powerful — and call that freedom — even in a putatively liberated world. 
Quoting Hobbes, then 
In other words, calamitous circumstances don’t diminish a person’s ability to choose freely ; they just change the available choices. In this mind-set, non-physical coercion may not be decent or seemly, but it doesn’t invalidate the freedom of the choice that follows. 
Moira Donegan speaks revolutionary basic truths.
The spreadsheet was intended to circumvent all of this. Anonymous, it would protect its users from retaliation: No one could be fired, harassed, or publicly smeared for telling her story when that story was not attached to her name. Open-sourced, it would theoretically be accessible to women who didn’t have the professional or social cachet required for admittance into whisper networks. The spreadsheet did not ask how women responded to men’s inappropriate behavior; it did not ask what you were wearing or whether you’d had anything to drink. Instead, the spreadsheet made a presumption that is still seen as radical: That it is men, not women, who are responsible for men’s sexual misconduct.
This Ask Polly is long and I wanted to excerpt but there's too much that's too good.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Saturday ramble

I've been watching the horrendous "Iron Fist" just to round out the Defenders universe (I have to wait until March for more Jessica Jones); I was horrified--but shouldn't have been surprised, given the show's consistently, stupidly horrendous handling of racial issues--by the show's discussion of meditation. Danny describes meditation as a route to turn off feelings; weapons don't have feelings, he adds. Fair enough about the last part, I guess, but the show is perpetuating a harmful myth about meditation. Meditation doesn't turn off your feelings; it trains you to manage them.

Watch the second half of Trevor Noah's interview with Dan Harris and read this article--not specifically about mediation--about working with, not against, your mind. I've been listening regularly to guided meditations on an app I got through work--the work program also included live sessions, though I could only attend a few--and between those, and sessions I've attended in the past, the overarching theme is that it's human to wander, and that you don't beat yourself up for being human. Mediation is hard enough for people to make time for, without people making it harder by spreading misinformation. Like that awful Times op-ed that I didn't link to here.

I've been much better about meditating, and the difference is noticeable. On Wednesday as we were stuck in crawling traffic on the way to the airport, I should have been a wreck. I didn't anticipate traffic (I specifically booked a flight late enough that we wouldn't be driving in rush hour) and didn't allow a ton of time. I had a meeting that afternoon that I really needed to be at (it was scheduled after I'd booked my ticket), and I'd brought a suit with me as superstition/insurance: if I had a suit with me in the unlikely event that we landed in time for me to make the meeting straight from the airport, I wouldn't need it; I'd arrive in plenty of time to get home, unpack, and head to work.

Quick Saturday roundup

Rest in peace, John Young.

It should be no secret or surprise that Woody Allen is creepy AF.

It's true that some people are more used to the cold, but DC gets hit hard so shut the f* up.

The Flash would do better to eat plants.

"Thou," "yea," and "nay" meant more than their present-day synonyms.

On Twitter, men even mansplain to men
And of course to women

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Tuesday ramble

I've rambled (here (with wisdom from others), here, and here) about realizing--while in or just out of a relationship in which I was happy--that being in a relationship is nonetheless not magic. When I've been in a relationship that's started to go downhill, or even on a date that's going nowhere, I've thought about how deceptive it is to walk down the street with someone and appear to the world as a functioning couple. I remind myself of that every time I get the sense, walking down the street, that everyone else seems to be in a seamless, functioning relationship. I wonder about the experts--bartenders, waitstaff, others--who must develop a sense of who's a happy couple, who's an unhappy couple, who's on a good date, and who's on a bad date. I think about how often people have assumed I was partnered with someone I was just traveling with, especially a gay someone. I did, after all, earn the moniker 'Mrs. Jason' in India. And a number of people, looking at my photos, asked whether Alex and I were a couple. In their defense, we do look awfully couple-like in many of those photos, but Alex is also very, very gay. At the highest level of wondering, I wonder whether people think 'I wonder if she knows that her boyfriend/husband is gay.'

Apparently, many women wonder whether their significant other is gay (according to Google), when they should be wondering (according to experts) whether their significant other is depressed, or an alcoholic. It does prick a hole in the 'everyone else is in a perfect relationship' bubble--it's not that I find satisfaction in the problems in other people's relationships; but there is something comforting about idyllic appearances being deceiving. Relationships are complicated; snapshots are misleading. It's comforting even to consider--this is the opposite of schadenfreude--that fraught relationships bring their joys or whatever. I guess what's comforting is escaping the perception that it's so easy for everyone else (and its corollary: what's wrong with me, then?).

Tuesday Roundup

Most of us don't know much about the Korean War.

Time's Up is a much-needed initiative whose time has come.

POTUS #44 has an inspiring tweetstorm for you on the people who made 2017 better.
Add: the woman who tracks down 'fire cats.'

My mother might have written this letter, but probably not because she wouldn't have had the self-awareness to even doubt that her negativity could be a problem (though it seems like the letter-writer, too, is merely seeking validation; good for Carolyn for reality-checking her). You should be able to be happy for other people and share in their happiness without immediately feeling the need to rain on it with 'what if's.' My mother, like the letter-writer, would fall back on 'but this is who I am and I'm sorry if you can't handle me.' Yeah, I am too, if those are the only choices.

See also:
The criticism of your parenting and the fixation on kids in danger both suggest your mother’s “negative force” has an anxiety component. And instead of managing this anxiety from within, she tries to calm herself through control of the environment — or attempts to, at least. It’s an ugly and wrongheaded way for her to manage it, yes, but it also means you can’t “broach” the problem away.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year

The Atlantic has the market cornered on smart Iran analysis.

People are bat-shit.

If you're like me and you don't like to watch videos, i.e., you prefer to read your news, you'll have to read about how the UK is drowning in plastic in Russian.

Here's what people shoved up their asses (and other places) last year. And other stuff that must have hurt.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sunday ramble

This is not the point of the article on how expensive and precarious it is to be poor, but this is actually terrible rather than fantastic advice.
I once read a book for people in poverty, written by someone in the middle class, containing real-life tips for saving pennies and such. It’s all fantastic advice: buy in bulk, buy a lot when there’s a sale on, hand-wash everything you can, make sure you keep up on vehicle and indoor filter maintenance.
My mother accumulated a decades' supply of food that went bad--cans that corroded, etc.--because she bought things that were on sale and/or in bulk. It's more cost effective to buy what you need (she says as much in the next paragraph).

More to her overall point: it's also terrible advice to hand-wash everything. It's more efficient, if you have an efficient washing machine, to machine-wash. But an efficient washing machine costs money, is out of reach to very poor people, who thus can't benefit from its efficiencies.

Like the author, I've spent a lot of money buying cheaper things I have to replace sooner. I'm not poor so it doesn't break me, but I can back up her point that it does cost more money. I've probably bought the cheaper toaster that just ends up breaking faster or some other appliance that doesn't meet my needs and has to be replaced. I just made the mistake of buying the wrong case for my iPad and had to order another one. I think in everyone's life there's that category of expenses for mistakes and not knowing then what you do now. But when you're poor, those mistakes can be existential threats.

My mother always advocated for buying the cheapest thing (if not many of the cheapest things). She could never see the benefit of spending a little more money upfront to get something that worked. When I was a child, she bought me numerous ill-fitting swimsuits instead of one decent one. As an adult just out of grad school, she berated me for buying a decent (but not expensive) new suit to interview in instead of the cheapest second-hand one I could find. She would continue to try to foist upon me thrift-store finds that just didn't fit; the idea was that I should try to make them work, because the price was right. It was an uphill battle to get my parents a functioning, mid-range vacuum cleaner that works very well in place of the dozen shitty ones littering the house.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Self-help tips from the NYT, followed by a ramble

Willpower is an uphill battle; try pride, gratitude, and compassion.
We too often think about self-improvement and the pursuit of our goals in bracing, self-flagellating terms: I will do better, I will muscle through, I will wake up earlier. But it doesn’t need to be that way, and it shouldn’t: Self-control isn’t about feeling miserable.
From the Times' piece on be happy by thinking like an old person, this stuck with me:
None went to a job he did not like, coveted stuff she could not afford, brooded over a slight on the subway or lost sleep over events in the distant future.
I thought about it again this morning, in response to a real dick move not on the subway but on an airplane. It was a full flight, and the woman boarding just ahead of me (but sitting at least a few rows behind me, it turned out) took up some premium bin space with a puffy coat. I asked her to take it out at least until I could get my bag in; she suggested that I try a bin a few rows back. I told her that bags take priority over coats in bins. The woman in the seat next to mine--already sitting down--told her that they've asked people not to put coats in bins. The offending woman took her coat and huffed ahead, who knows how far back into the plane. My seat-neighbor and I rolled our eyes in solidarity and mild indignation at the woman's entitled, dickish behavior. I started to take satisfaction in the indignation, and then I remembered the line from the Times story.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Friday ramble

I saw a preview, on YouTube, of the Tonya Harding movie, which I won't need to watch as I remember the whole episode from when it happened. Watching the preview, I thought, 'at least my mother was never that bad.' Which made me think--and for a second, feel guilty about thinking--how much less stressful the holidays are now that my mother doesn't say much at all. I have little to no anxiety about the upcoming visit, even more so because my dad and I had a breakthrough over mom issues earlier this year. I guess I forgot to tell you about that, so I'll do that in a minute.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

State of the Blogger (post-vacation staycation edition)

I'm awake. I'm yawning, but for first time in the near-week that I've been back, I haven't had that middle-of-the-night feeling during the day. That's a painful feeling, and it hasn't been awful this time around (for whatever reason--maybe because I'd adjusted more fully then and didn't have such a disorienting flight back--it was worse when I got back from Europe in June).

Normally, a full week off (my office closed this week) after more than two weeks off and before a few more days off might be too much for me, but I've really needed it. I did sign in to do some work today, and it actually felt good, and I've been periodically clearing out and dealing with work email. But I was such a mess before I left--the weekend before the trip, I...

-started Saturday morning with yoga, then
-swung by UPS to return half an order to Eddie Bauer, then
-swung by Ace to try to get a washer to fix my shower head, then
-participated in a parade, then
-dyed my hair, then
-delivered some pecans for the Smith club, then
-got my hair cut, then
-went to Home Depot, unsuccessfully, in further search of said washer, then
-got home and somehow tripped the fuse in my bedroom and adjacent room, which houses the internet router, and couldn't reset, and then spent the remainder of the evening trying to find an electrician who'd come out on a Sunday because I couldn't take more time off work before my trip.

-On Sunday, I ran a quick errand to stock up on cat food ahead to last my helpful cat-feeders throughout my trip, and asked the friend I'd be babysitting for whether she knew an electrician. She texted a friend whose husband was one, but he was swamped for weeks.
-Got home and cleaned, cleaned, cleaned.
-Friend dropped her daughter off around noon. I dropped off more pecans on the way to the playground.
-Friend picked up her daughter, and her friend offered her brother-in-law, who's also an electrician. He identified the issue (rogue lamp) and also fixed my outdoor outlet, and I didn't even care about the price because I was just happy to have power and internet again.
-Clean, clean, clean, clean, pack a bit. Crash.

The week, too, was a blur. I didn't pack each night as much as I should have, though I'd pre-packed (i.e., prepared stuff) a fair amount. I remember my dad asking me, maybe Tuesday night, whether I'd packed, and I remember saying, 'no but my kitchen is SPARKLING'). I got up early on Thursday and did laundry so I could leave the cat a clean bed, and then headed to the airport. I was on vacation.

Thursday roundup

Holy shit, Salma Hayek's Weinstein nightmare and the hell he put her through over Frida. The world is better for her having made it happen in spite of him.

Women are horrified but not surprised that men--especially male politicians--don't think sexual harassment is a real issue (via Melissa McEwan).
Abuse ranking is gross and "male politicians seeking higher office who have loathsome ideas about women, gender roles, and sexual violence is one of 'the real issues confronting the nation today.'"
Or, as Minnie Driver puts it,
“Men can rally and they can support, but I don’t think its appropriate, per se, for men to have an opinion about how women should be metabolising abuse. Ever.”

Rebecca Traister further nails it.
What makes women vulnerable is not their carnal violability, but rather the way that their worth has been understood as fundamentally erotic, ornamental; that they have not been taken seriously as equals.
Some journalists are really stupid about Russia.

FFS we're people like anybody else.

I've not yet read "Cat Person."

Don't just toss out that xmas tree. Not least because it's probably still in better shape than Rome's.

Where was Jesus really born?

This is a genius way to deal with phone scammers.

I did not know that high heels "were pioneered by horse owners in 15th-century Persia. Heels helped them stand up and stabilize in stirrups so they could shoot their bows with greater accuracy.

I find nothing (or at least not much) to mock in the Times' helpful list of life lessons.

Brighten your day with this thread, started and moderated by Merriam-Webster.

Kuala Lumpur

Leaving Borneo was bittersweet; we'd seen so much, and I wanted to see so much more but I was also ready to see KL. We got in pretty late--the airport is an hour from the city, and I think it took us as long to cross the airport terminal as it did to get into town. We'd planned to check out the night markets but we had some trail mix and crashed. As in Singapore, we opted out of the overpriced hotel breakfast (the other hotel breakfasts, apart from in Sandakan when we were on our own and bought some snacks from the supermarket, were included as part of the various tours). We picked up some samosas and fried banana balls from a street vendor on the way to our walking tour.

We started the tour in KL City Gallery, where the guide told us about how KL came to be and evolved over the decades. We learned that KL didn't get plumbing until 1962--until then, there were still people paid to collect waste in buckets from homes and businesses. We learned about how the press evolved and paved the way for Malay independence, which was negotiated rather than fought.

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