Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wednesday roundup

All I can say is that I'm especailly grateful to not be spending TG at my parents' house, where Fox News blares, in the aftermath of the Ferguson non-indictment. I'm also very happy not to be on Facebook, where some parents are mommyjacking it.

The Economist actually gets it right.

How to talk to white kids about racism.

The Wrap's egregiously horrendous Cosby op-ed.

The military's egregious enabling of sexual assault.

The ACLU is on the wrong side of online death threats.

There's cruelty in your butterball. If you must have turkey, invest in a less f*ed up one. Or revel in the many excellent reasons to go vegan, like Cory Booker has. You have lots of options, one of which is very Seattle.

When students are wiser than the president of their college.

Michael Ignatieff on politics.

Some woman wakes up, realizes body image is a feminist issue, womansplains it to feminists at large.

Your journal may have a quality control problem when you accept this.

Gratitude is great for you.

Whiskey is pretty.

Parade floats are a waste of helium.

Bad restaurant reviews are fun.

Really, Michigan? What the f* is pretzel jello? And twinkie cake??

Why am I not surprised that Russian airline passengers have to push their own plane.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pictures from last week and beyond

 On our last day, we ended a bit early and I got a chance to drive around the Smokies.

 During the week:
Our fixer invited us to ladies' night at her gun club
The rental car didn't come with a scraper
Other pictures I've only just uploaded now (mostly on my walk to the metro months ago)

Saturday roundup

Two thoughts on Cosby. Actually, three and four.

This UVA assault and subsequent miscarriage of justice is so horrendous that I wish it were harder to believe.

Kudos to the U.K. for denying entry to a dangerous misogynist. By the way, I'm disgusted rather than flattered by disparaging comments about other women's bodies.
Another thought on the shirt.

Tracie McMillan's excellent piece on the Detroit Whole Foods makes the very key point that "shoppers wanting simple, affordable healthy food, rather than an aspirational product, have better options elsewhere." But... there's more to it than that, and that it shouldn't be up to or otherwise on the shoulders of shoppers: someone bears the cost of food that is "more affordable" to shoppers, and that someone includes grocery store workers, farm workers, and other food workers. Not to mention animals and the environment (and the people who live in that environment). I am not judging people who choose less expensive food, much less for whom it's not a choice; I'm judging the system that only makes food affordable to some at the expense of others.

In fact, I can afford more sustainable food in part because it's easier with plant-based food, but I often fail to make similar choices when it comes to clothes. I like clothes; I like buying clothes; and I like not spending a lot of money on them. Maybe if I thought for a minute that paying more for my clothes meant that the people making them would get paid more, I'd give the sourcing more thought... but more importantly, it shouldn't be my choice to make: I want the clothing available to me for purchase to come from decently paid workers in safe work environments. Of course given the option I'm going to opt to spend less.

Which brings us to the bigger issue: it's hard to "solve" one social justice issue without butting up against another. Tressie MC brought this up on Twitter this week with regard to Uber: Uber may be a shitty company, but it had provided a service to African Americans underserved by traditional taxis. Someone asked her,
to which she replied,
And went on to make the point that we need better solutions overall so we're not pitting these imperatives against each other.


Intensive agriculture changes the way the biosphere breathes.

Climate change costs taxpayers.

There are limits to what money can accomplish.
Be a pastafarian, since CFSM is "not “anti-religion” and is instead “anti- crazy nonsense done in the name of religion.”" Rather than an anti-theist, who is, in Reza Aslan's words, "rooted in a naive and, dare I say, unscientific understanding of religion – one thoroughly disconnected from the history of religious thought" and whose writings are characterized by
the same sense of utter certainty, the same claim to a monopoly on truth, the same close-mindedness that views one’s own position as unequivocally good and one’s opponent’s views as not just wrong but irrational and even stupid, the same intolerance for alternative explanations, the same rabid adherents (as anyone who has dared criticize Dawkins or Harris on social media can attest), and, most shockingly, the same proselytizing fervor that one sees in any fundamentalist community.
Milk (from other animals) does not do a body good.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday ramble

Two summers ago, at a party, someone asked me what car I drove. When I answered "Corolla," another guest snarkily added "um, she's a hippie vegan who drives a suburban." The original asker was expecting Prius, or something like it, but Priuses weren't around when I bought my car and it's generally more sustainable to hold onto what you have--especially in light of how little I drive. If or when I'm in the market for another car, I'd definitely consider a hybrid, but I'd also consider going bigger. 

It's not just that I can't fit much in my car; it's that I feel vulnerable in it in bad weather. This morning's drive to the airport in the torrential rain was just scary. I have friends who have a bigger car, with safety the primary consideration (they were in an awful, life-threatening car accident). When I went to pick up my car onsite, I wholeheartedly accepted the free upgrade to a small SUV. I was just ready to feel bigger, especially in an unfamiliar place.

There's a lovely outdoor pool at my hotel, but it's too cold out, even for me. This is my first work trip in ages (well, a year and a half) and it's mildly thought provoking in a first-world ruminations kind of way. Work travel is exhausting--you have to be on all the time, all day. I'm ready for it, though.

I went to brunch yesterday, in which the server--after she told me they didn't have the falafel, and I told her, well, that's your only vegan entree so I'm leaving, and she said no it's not--then proceeded to offer me a ham and cheese omelet. It was bad. Restaurants, you should either say "fuck you" to vegans openly and entirely, or be entirely welcoming to them. If you're going to go to the trouble of marking vegan items on your menu, maybe also train your servers in what the word means. But please don't bait and switch by having vegan items on your menu and then not having them (and no, side dishes like roasted veg do not a meal make; I'm a hungry girl). Just sayin'.

Monday roundup

Protecting the environment--in Congo as everywhere--isn't a matter of people vs. animals, etc. Extractive industries have a very poor track record of bringing anyone out of poverty.

Pakistani refugees are flowing into Afghanistan.

People are altruistic, skeptical, and vain.

More on shirtstorm, all worth a read. Note: there may have been some outliers, but everyone of the view that the shirt was inappropriate isn't to be held responsible for the crazies.
The same goes for vegans (unless you ask Elise Andrew, who hates vegans). Why do I care? It's not a matter of my own ego. I don't give a f* what anyone thinks. But I think perpetuating the stigma discourages people from a healthy, sustainable diet.

And here are some great comet photos.

I see both sides in the Illegal Pete's debate, and yes, some people have associations that others don't, but that's not to say that their associations should prevail.

I love this. Indeed, se hace camino al andar.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday roundup Part III

Have I mentioned that meat is bad for the planet?

Check out this ass hat and then this one or maybe good old Richard Dawkins.

It's funny--I mean, Dr. Rubidium's "12 days of trolling" is funny anyway--but a friend just asked me what mansplaining was. All I had to say was, "for example, when random dudes lecture me about nuclear energy."

Meanwhile: I started to feel bad about my reaction to "feminism and breasts/dresses are mutually exclusive" woman, but the two ass-hats above and also some of the comments on the Jezebel Coca Rocha piece reignited my fury. Thankfully, there were many thoughtful responses, particularly one alluding to how preferencing any one type of body and criticizing any body are part of the problem. I hate to go all "don't hate me because I'm beautiful" on you, but do (some) feminists really want to play into the misconception that there's one way to be (or look like) a feminist?

Yeah, I'm still on team "vapid, no-talent" but I'm not criticizing or slut-shaming. I don't care that KK's naked. More importantly, I don't care that she's there.

Saturday roundup Part II (gender issues edition)

Yes I do need to get back into workweek roundups but it's been rough. Maybe next year.

Let's accept Matt Taylor's heartfelt apology but keep on the issue, which is bigger than him.

Yes there is a f*ing gender gap in math and science. There is sexism in STEM.

In the spirit of not jumping down everyone's throat for innocuous statements--which doesn't mean deciding for other people what is or isn't offensive or harmful--I did jump down this writer's throat, because I think her premise is harmful (and the headline is shameless clickbait, but that's not her fault). Had she framed the question in terms of her own coming to terms with her new body and the societal implications, that would have been different, but framing her piece in terms of "I have breasts and wear dresses now... am I still a feminist?" helps no one. If you want to read about breasts as a feminist issue, Jessica Valenti does it better.

Back to Mark Zuckermann (is that the Facebook guy?)... yes, it's a privelege to get away with dressing down for work... but he wasn't implying what the woman above was implying, i.e., that investing in one's appearance was frivolous.

Roxane Gay takes on Time's "ban feminism" gimmick.

Detect any gender bias in the recent profiles of Valerie Jarret?
The one difference between Jarrett and others who have wielded the same kind of power in the West Wing is that she is a woman. Were she a man, her job would not be subject to endless “What does he really do?” questions. Were she a man, she wouldn’t be called “the night stalker” for walking with her longtime friend back to the private residence. Were she a man, her willingness to use her elbows to do what she thinks is right for the president would be applauded. Nancy Reagan, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton are just some of the women whose proximity to power and their willingness to use it has had critics reduce them to shrews (or other sexist descriptors) who should know their place.
Love TNR's review of "Not That Kind of Girl." Excerpts out of order:
If I prefer Kylie Minogue to Madonna and the knockabout farce of Comedy Central’s “Broad City” to the clackety solipsism and passive-aggressive caricaturization in “Girls,” it’s a matter of taste, and my taste isn’t the one being targeted and courted by Dunham, Inc.
Gender studies / cultural studies grads, who have set up camp on the pop-cult left, can be a prickly lot, ready to pounce on any doctrinal deviation, language-code violation, or reckless disregard of intersectionality. They like their artists and entertainers to be transgressive as long as the transgression swings in the properly prescribed direction. Otherwise: the slightest mistimed or misphrased tweet, ill-chosen remark during a red carpet interview or radio appearance, or comic ploy gone astray can incur the mighty puny wrath of social media’s mosquito squadrons, the hall monitors at Salon and Slate, and Web writers prone to crises of faith in their heroes.
“Everything is copy, everything is material” was the credo of Dunham’s friend, mentor, and creative godmother Nora Ephron, who is one of the book’s dedicatees, and it is a motto that Dunham could suitably sport as a tattoo, if her epidermis has sufficient ink-room. But converting first-person fodder into finished copy usually entails a longer cycle of maturation and memory storage than eat-barf-repeat. No overnight sensation, Ephron worked in newspaper and magazine journalism and personal column-writing for decades, squirreling away material and converting it into copy that had a deceptive conversational and confidential ease, often with a stinger attached in the last graf. Her prose didn’t strive for novelettish texture and sub-strata echoes of deeper implications but for a pitch-perfect dinner-party tone where the needle never jumped the groove. Her voice on the page and her voice in public carried the same urbane engraving backed by a worldly sigh.
Like it or not, Lena Dunham has graduated in record time from an indie darling into a Thought Leader, an honorific that was never hung on Nora Ephron. Lucky Nora, at least in that regard. She didn’t labor as the voice of her generation. She was nobody’s voice but her own. 
While we're on the topic of attention seekers, I guess I should say something about KK's butt, not least the race angle, which Luvvie covers here and Blue Telusma here. I know this isn't the point, but Grace Jones looked beautiful in her photo. She looked real. KK just looks plastic. And not in the plastic surgery/photoshopped sense; she just looks all fake. I mean, whatever. If it's art, let me paraphrase the TNR article above: it’s a matter of taste, and my taste isn’t the one being targeted.

Saturday roundup Part I

ISIS escapees tell their stories.

Whither Hungary?

Russia continues to struggle with coming to terms with its history:

Russia has problems with its memories. There isn’t a building that we walk past that wasn’t the scene of execution squads, betrayals, mass murders. The most gentle courtyards reveal the most awful secrets. Around the corner from Potapoffsky is an apartment block where every one of the families had someone arrested during Stalin’s terror. In the basement of what is now a brand new shopping mall was the courtroom where innocent after innocent was sentenced to labor camps, the courts working so fast they would get through two cases inside a minute. Whenever twenty-first-century Russian culture looks for a foundation it can build itself from, healthy and happy, it finds the floor gives way and buries it in soil and blood.

Lviv has mixed feelings about embracing the Masoch brand.

What kind of crazy star is this?

Katie Mack explains the science of "Interstellar." I learn that "spaghettification" is a thing.

Philae, sleeping now, is still a huge success.

Stop generously diagnosing people as narcissists.

On "Rosewater."

Household chemicals could be more safe and environmentally friendly.

There are two sides to publicly feeding the homeless, and optics matter, but still.

We need a food policy.

Food security is about access to food, not the overall supply of food.

The meat industry goes big. Big mayo sues Just Mayo. Chris Christie's political dilemma around pigs.

Factory pork has brain machines and other atrocities.

I'll say it again: plant-based eating helps the planet.

Matt Yglesias is really wrong about fast food wages.

Voter ignorance is the fuel of our democracy.

Baby gorillas in DRC.

Frank Bruni on getting older: "If you're lucky, you slough off some of your pettiness."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Big, annotated Thursday roundup

Erdogan's Putin move.

Britain's rape epidemic.

Doctors (i.e., not just hippies) are concerned about antibiotics in livestock.

Hog farms are making people sick (people who are disproportionately non-white).

Science is inherently human, and humans have to actively, deliberately check their biases. Methodology is important, and the Hollaback video was a science fail in that respect.

The science-worship community would rather slam Bill Nye than accept as legitimate his doubts about GMOs.

Virgin Galactic is arguably more about status and consumption than exploration.

Racism is (often) class-blind, and it's easy to dismiss data points as isolated incidents when you're not living it. That's not different from many dudes' reactions to harassment.

Scalzi on Ghomeshi. When will it end?

The workologist on how, no, harassment is not just part of "being a man." Just because street harassment is age-old, doesn't make it acceptable;* it makes it a power play:
It seems to me that some men will target whomever they think they can safely fuck with, and that women are always deemed fuck-with-able.
*I asterisked the Elon James White piece because it's a must-read.

I'm not even going to link to the sexism-in-science-is-dead op-ed, but I will link to the harassment story from Yale.

Cultural appropriation is a terrible thing to do, but Robin Givhan explains it brilliantly.

Re: Lena Dunham, read this and especially this. I think Roxane Gay addresses the issue in a very comprehensive, nuanced way. Note: I don't have a dog in the LD fight. I don't watch her show, I don't identify with her demographic, and I she's not my feminist icon. From that impartial perspective, taking the thinkpieces has been interesting.

Please don't do any of this, not least because the concept of the friend-zone is bullshit. Whoever hexjackal is, this is awesome:
Friendzoning is bullshit because girls are not machines that you put Kindness Coins into until sex falls out.
How to listen to your kids' first-world problems without dismissing or encouraging them.

This woman is married to my mom! If you can help it, stay away from people who try to invalidate your feelings. Here's how to address concerns without invalidating someone else's feelings.

Catholic and Jewish guilt are not any guiltier than any other guilt:
There’s no link between guilt feelings and particular religious backgrounds, Dr. Tangney says. Her years of study show Protestants, Muslims, atheists and everyone else feel, on average, just as guilty or shameful as Catholics and Jews.
Women report feeling more guilt and shame than men, she says. But women generally report feeling more emotions than men, both positive and negative, with the exception of anger.
“We don’t know if women actually feel more guilty than men, or are more attuned to their feelings, or are more comfortable acknowledging them,” Dr. Tangney says.

How many of us have been here:
Or, it could be that your birthday is just the messenger, alerting you to the fact that your boyfriend has essentially checked out of the relationship. Or, it could be that your boyfriend is a taker who temporarily stepped out of that mode to reel you in, and, having succeeded, is showing his true self.
See my earlier link re: the history of Halloween (particularly Victorian Halloween): not only are sexy Halloween costumes not anti-feminist; they're full-out feminist. 

OMG who are these people?

This woman's politics didn't ruin her parenting; it's apparently her confusion about what the basic concepts underlying her politics actually mean.

While I'm slamming people: this article is a train-wreck. I don't know where to start... only I do. First of all, ffs and for the fiftieth time, “radioactive” is not the key trait that makes an isotope (and yes, she should have used “isotope” instead of “element”) usable in a nuclear weapon. A lot of things are radioactive. Not a lot of things are fissile.

But it’s this inapt jump to the “In the 1970s…” paragraph—where she again, incidentally, misuses “radioactive”—and where she’s really all over the place. She jumps from surplus plutonium to nuclear waste in general, and procedes to conflate the two (not for the last time in a short article). She never seems to make clear—in her hasty jump, or perhaps her editor's poor judgment—how or why commercial nuclear power leads to plutonium accumulation. Also, there is more in nuclear waste than plutonium. Her “that means that today” doesn’t mean what she says it means, or just doesn’t follow.
It gets worse after the picture. First: it’s not true that no state or city wants to be known as the site of nuclear waste (Texas has been inviting it). Later, she randomly brings uranium into the picture, which has nothing to do with anything (except her confusion about materials meant for weapons versus those produced as waste). She talks about advanced reactors, and implies that somehow those with advanced safety features are going to “make a dent” in existing plutonium supplies.

Okay I'm done. Read some better science writing, about triton.

Then read about how to correct mistakes without making someone feel stupid (which is more important in the classroom than on the internet, so I don't take back my "train-wreck" comment).

Confusion is conducive to learning. Indiscriminate praise is not:
A lot of employers and coaches have said, “My employees cannot get through the day without accolades and validation.” Even professional coaches have said they cannot give feedback without these people feeling that they’ve crushed them. We’ve created several generations now of very fragile individuals because they’ve been praised and hyped. And feel that anything but praise is devastating.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween roundup

Read this,
However well-intentioned the presentation was with regards to women taking precaution for their demeanor, it does not address the core issue, which is that it really has nothing to do with what the victim is doing, but everything to do with perceived male entitlement by some to females’ bodies...

“My thought the whole time was maybe women shouldn’t practice how long they’re blinking, men should just not rape people,” added Molina.
The use of victim-blaming in teaching sexual assault prevention places the burden of prevention on the targets of sexual assault and creates a culture in which survivors are shamed, perpetrators are excused and society is given no responsibility to end the pandemic...
The National Research Council reports that as many as 80 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police. Victim-blaming not only deprives survivors of justice, but also allows perpetrators to potentially never see punishment for their actions.
in the context of (trigger warning) this and this.

Then read this for hope that times are changing. 

Consider the street harassment video, as important as it is, in the context of the racially-selective editing.

On reactionary rage and maintaining legitimate criticism without falling into the gutter:
I personally plead guilty to jumping on that bandwagon without thinking fully about what I was doing. And for not thinking about how the legitimate criticisms of problematic treatment of race and class in Girls, criticisms of the storytelling and comedic tone of the show, etc. were being actively used as a shield by the much larger wave of Internet scum demanding the freedom to call Lena Dunham a fat, ugly, spoiled bitch for daring to show up on their TV screen without their approval. I didn’t think how “legitimate criticisms”—like the legitimate criticisms of the materialism in the “disco lifestyle,” like legitimate criticisms of the cliquishness of the tiny indie video game scene—get used as fuel by reactionary hate mobs.
And note that sometimes--exactly sometimes--the personal is not political.
Tim Cook comes out and it's beautiful.
New Yorker profilee is confused about vegetarians:
Fernald also characterizes vegetarianism as a phase for new foodies in their early 20s. This isn’t just patronizing — if someone’s concerned about industrial meat and can’t afford silk wrap dresses, vegetarianism is a much better solution than saving up for a $12 burger.
The Wall Street Journal is confused about Americans (and their relationship to food).

Kids don't need special "kid" food.

These pumpkins are amazing; these are not. But baby Ruth Bader Ginsburg is most amazing of all.

This fashion writer is no Robin Givhan, but she has a point: style doesn't conflict with substance; style can even enhance substance.

I love this discussion with Anna Holmes and Zoe Heller about relationships and books.
I suspect I am not the only woman to become involved with men who profess to value her for her ability to be emotionally present, curious and passionate only to reveal, down the road, an expectation that this sort of generosity of time and energy be restricted solely to interests and activities that include them. I hate the idea that there is a type of person whose impulse when witnessing a partner’s clearly rewarding, other-directed engagement is to react with contempt, not celebration; to expect the prioritizing of one’s own needs far above hers. In my experience, daring to honor my interior life — not to mention my professional commitments — has proved, in the context of coupling, to be a controversial, radical act.
Insisting that your loved one’s literary judgments be in harmony with your own suggests to me a rather dull and narcissistic notion of what constitutes intimacy. Do you really want to be one of those dreary couples who are always delivering their identical cultural opinions in the first person plural?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday roundup (crazy, right?!)

You really can fit all the planets in the solar system between the earth and the moon.

I half-sympathize with the letter-writer who wishes her husband would just take the reins once in a while, though I do disagree with the beta-male/"be a man"/girly characterization. I sympathize because I've dated the "omega" male, who never takes any initiative, but her husband seems to helpful overall to be that guy.

Women have been rebelling through sexy Halloween costumes since Victorian times.

I had mentioned this in my last roundup but forgot to link to it: two columns about men trying to reassure their wives/girlfriends that they look good at their respective weights. The guys are well-meaning, and the advice columnists do a good job explaining that it's not really about what they think.

Do you get jealous when your friends befriend each other?

This is what I was rambling about before: restaurants who welcome vegans, also welcome others. Smart restaurants don't want to turn away groups of people with vegans among them.

This pretty much explains Gracie.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday roundup

Helene Cooper's beautiful reflection on Liberia.

China's war on corruption is messy.

Factory farms are even worst than you thought, and so are antibiotics in meat. Worry about that, among other things, instead of ebola. And be angry that nobody's doing anything about it.

I love that Roxane Gay declined to write about Gaza because she didn't know a lot about it. It's not surprising that people kept asking her to. The most beautiful words in the English language may be "I don't know enough about this topic to have an informed opinion." You can (and should) still be horrified by violence and carnage, but leave the analysis to those who actually know enough for the analysis to be valuable.

What is settled science?

The Farm Bureau gets all pissy about living wages for farmers.

Speaking of douchebags... they're getting a lot of press these days. Not just the ones renting out apartments in the Halsteads of this world (like my ex-bf), but even more so the ones who feel entitled to women's time (like my ex-RM). And the ones who not only don't understand the difference between being friendly to women and cornering them, but don't seem to understand that the world that women inhabit doesn't lend itself to friendliness. Just like I wished (initially) that I could be nice to RM--but I couldn't, because he'd immediately take that as an opening for conversation that he made it very difficult to close, so I had no choice but to be cold--I wish we lived in a world where women could let their guard down in public. And it's adorable that (some) guys think that we do. Do read Lindy West's piece and see if it reminds you of RM at all:
I was sitting there thinking about how women’s time is treated like a public commodity (yes, I am available for wedding toasts and bar mitzvahs) when, coincidentally, another young blonde woman came and sat down in the same chair. And then a completely different annoying old dude plunked himself down and launched into – I am not joking – a 30-minute, condescending lecture about the history of sampling in popular music. It happened all over again. He wanted her attention, so he took it. Because there’s no law against talking to a pretty woman. And, again, she sat through it.
Why is it that interrupting someone in a quiet moment, wilfully oblivious to their verbal and physical cues, is considered friendly, but rebuffing such an interruption is considered rude? Interrupting is objectively worse than not wanting to be interrupted. We only get one life. Wasting someone’s time is the subtlest form of murder. So why do we let this bizarre inversion dictate so many of our interactions?

We were all wrong about Gamergate.

Growing up is about being foolish and getting drunk and making mistakes. Why are young women held to different standards?

Annie Lennox is confused about a lot of things.

Bonoir and Hax on body issues.

I'm so grateful that very few of my friends--maybe one or two--would ever be in an STFU-parents situation (especially this one). I went to the ballet with a friend who's a new parent the other night, and she hasn't changed a bit. She talked a little about her baby (of course, I asked her) but she was still fully capable of and interested in talking about other things.

Great, balanced advice about cooking oils (contrast to all-or-nothing nutrition advice).

Don't inadvertently give your kid a stripper name.

Did anybody celebrate Mole Day?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday roundup

Being poor is expensive.

Remember ISIS's most well-known victims for their lives, not their deaths.

The earth, since you were born.

Still confused about why blue LEDs are complicated?

Still confused about Gamergate?

It took Twitter to get Seattle police to care about a sex offender.

Free-range chicken is even less sustainable (so just quit chicken).

Is Big Food necessarily a bad thing?
If Steve Pearlstein can get screwed over by health insurance fine print, he at least has leverage to advocate for himself.

OMG run away from this controlling dude.

FFS people: other. people's. lifestyle. choices. are. none. of. your. business. You don't get a vote; you don't get a voice. No one owes you an excuse.

Oh, yes, I know this 'sucked at everything' thing well.
I've been meaning to ramble about how I'm done as ever with Evan Marc Katz, and Carolyn's column about not settling is a great reminder. I mean, I've been passively done for ages, but the Clooney wedding officially discredits his entire business model. So does the fall of the 'cool girl' myth, which EMK regularly encourages. Let's hope everyone is over it.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Another Saturday roundup

Can Liberia's military redeem itself?

Europe's new or exacerbated human trafficking crisis.

Wait, some countries still use leaded gasoline??

China's rapid urbanization and agricultural decline.

Hunger is not about food production. As evidenced by, among other things, the magnitude of food waste.

I have to say, this kind of thing makes my head explode. We opt out of nature in many ways: we use indoor plumbing; we prevent and cure, or at least try to alleviate disease. As I keep saying, if you're going to eat meat, eat meat; you don't need to justify your choices (and neither do I). But if you do choose to broadcast your lame justification, I can't help but call you out on it.

Historically, covert intervention has only made things worse.

There are systemic causes for the CDC's stumbles, but still.

Providing tips to help protect oneself from crime is not the same as victim-blaming or putting the onus on women to limit themselves. But cyberbullying sure is:
Right now, a tiny fraction of video game criticism is oriented toward feminist critique – less than 1%, by one researcher’s calculation - but, as ever, women are perceived as dominating the conversation just by participating in it... And when someone tries to tell you that a woman has brought #GamerGate attention on herself by being out of her element in gaming, by having a sexuality, by opening her mouth in the first place, you tell them to stick their Playstation where the sun don’t shine.
How we enable a culture of abuse

An apt perspective on perspective:
Generally speaking, we should all be more grateful. Probably everyone on earth at this moment could be more grateful than they are, if for no other reason then that we exist, and are not dead. And yet we complain, and I'd venture: we have to. Life is not conducive to nonstop smell-the-child-roses gratitude. Life can be terribly exciting and wonder-filled and full of gratitude; it can also be incredibly mundane and tedious. Both things can be true simultaneously, and often are. It's a balance we find for ourselves.
This also feeds into why the "women there have it worse" argument is misguided. See also:
Also: Reza Aslan on Bill Maher (and others).

To be clear (and to repeat): privilege is an existing, powerful, relevant thing. Which is why it behooves us to keep it from becoming a joke or a nonsensical accusation or shortcut for dismissing an opinion. 

Speaking of privilege, I'm probably about to fail to check mine (specifically, the cis variety). I really don't see why women's colleges should tolerate the encroachment of patriarchy from anyone, even if it's trans students. And yes, advocating for using male-centric words like "brotherhood" as a catch-all for humanity is the f*ing encroachment of patriarchy. At women's colleges. If you f*ing want to be part of a brotherhood, please turn to a coed institution for your education.

It's not up to anyone else to decide how you should feel about pregnancy weight, and it's not up to dudes (or anyone) to determine which body types are acceptable or attractive. Finally, it's not cool to try to invalidate anyone else's personal experience.

Helicopter parenting: not just for Americans.

If you're going to grammar-police, make sure you're at least right.

You know I'm always receptive to the countermessage that it's not the responsibility of women to abide or correct men-children.

Another beautiful way of saying, being single doesn't mean there is something wrong with you.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday ramble

Let's talk about two articles in the September issue of Elle. Rather, let me take on some of the statements in these articles. I don't disagree with either article or statement--after all, you can't disagree with another person's personal experience--but I'd nonetheless like to emphatically state that that was not my experience. Let me also emphatically encourage you to read the RBG profile in the earlier issue.

Starting with Virginia Vitzthum's The Virginity Rut, regarding one of the women she profiles:
In high school, she and her friends shared a mind-body duality that wasn’t religious but was self-protectively snobbish. Her gang was “very nerdy, didn’t drink, worked on the school newspaper. We looked down on people who had sex, thought they were slutty and not as smart. We focused on going to a good college and getting out of Pittsburgh.” She saw the same split at Smith: “girls who’d picked being smart over being attractive.”
Yeah, she may have seen that split, but maybe it was in her head? Because, just, no.

Moving on to Alissa Nutting's The Deep End, which is not online yet. It's about deciding to lose weight in a very unhealthy way and with unhealthy consequences. I want to make clear, again, that I'm not judging her experience. I do feel the need to discuss how mine was different.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Huge, massive roundup (with excerpts!)

The horrendous Central American human trafficking problem.

Historical horrors unearthed in Poland.

Unfathomable Soviet nostalgia in the Ukraine.

There's a correlation between pesticides and farmer suicides.

GMOs do not reduce soil loss.

Just don't even eat pork. Just don't.

Alzheimer's treatments?

Just imagine the nightmare adults that these coddled cubs will grow into.

The Nobel Prize in LEDs, explained.

Wow, I didn't realize things were so bad at AAAS.

I also had no idea that mapmakers used to willfully insert misinformation in order to catch plagiarizers.

Sigh; I feel like the Citizen Radio folks make the same mistake here of which they accuse MTV: underestimating their audience. No, I don't agree with them on everything; yes, I'm still reading. I'm not only willing but insistent upon considering disparate viewpoints. What they say about veganism and the liberal rejection of it, however, is spot on. For example, where is this you care more about animals than people coming from? Is caring about either, mutually exclusive?
Kilstein: "But what if you were on a desert island - " I'm not. I'm not. I'm never gonna be on a desert island. The bottom line is, when you look at why I'm vegan, it's climate change, it is the terrible labor practices of factory farms. It was the UN, not PETA or a Mercy For Animals zine, that talked about how factory farming is a bigger contributor to climate change than every mode of transportation put together. At the very least if you are a liberal and not vegan, you should be saying to your friends "Yeah, I know I should be" - and then go and eat your bacon burger or whatever. But we don't want to talk about it because it's a sacrifice.
On a quasi-related note: Roxane Gay's most recent book--which I haven't read but would like to--appears to be about doing what you can even if you can't do everything. She had a really good essay recently, on celebrity feminism... here it is. Key takeaway: "The idea of women moving through the world as freely as men should sell itself."

On another quasi-related note: social justice warrior fails as a slur, wins otherwise.

Fareed Zakaria on why Bill Maher and Sam Harris are wrong.

This does resonate: in retrospect, I'd have gone further in math had I not gotten so caught up in understanding everything.

Giraffes are more amazing than we thought.

I'm about a week behind on Carolyn but I love this:
One of the most important things to know about someone, if not the most, before you make a home together is how she handles people who get on her bad side. It’s just a clear, concise, extremely reliable measure of character.
Does she turn on people lightly or arbitrarily, or only on matters of substance and only when they present her with no other choice?
Does she stoop to silent treatments, duplicity, gossip, revenge and other emotional war crimes, or is she forthright and civil in choosing to keep her distance?
Does she close herself off permanently once crossed, or is she open to forgiveness based on the relative severity of the harm done to her and/or on the sincerity of efforts to make amends?
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. Or they should want that, even if they can't want it, deep down inside, because they don't love themselves enough to believe that they are enough. There's nothing like being loved for exactly who you are. This is not outside of your reach, or anybody's reach. Not to state the obvious, but men who like you for YOU roll with whatever you're serving up. Men like to be turned on (hello, understatement), and if they dig the cut of your jib, they are going to find something hot about you to focus on. They are not sitting at their desks with a copy of Photoshop, zooming in on problem areas. 
So don't go on a crash diet just to find love. Don’t tell yourself that you'll only deserve love once you starve yourself for a while. Even if you're wildly successful at losing weight and then wildly successful at finding a man, you'll still be at risk of wasting a decade dating men who have no interest in the real magic of you, beneath your rocking-hot ass.
Here's one practical thing I do want you to do: You need to exercise every day. That's my recommendation to you and every other person reading this, no matter what size they happen to be. Because people — especially very smart people — require exercise to stay sane. They do. Exercise will help you feel vibrant and relaxed and gorgeous in your own skin. Exercise will improve your chemistry and that will improve your view of yourself. You also need to remind yourself that you're up for a challenge, that you can do something hard, even when you're swamped with big projects and you feel like shit and you just don't want to. You need to give yourself that gift every day...
It's okay. Some people won't like you. Some people will reject you. That's fine. That happens to everyone. The goal is to adapt, to learn not to take it personally. You know in your heart that you're not looking for just anyone. 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. That's okay. You don't need to appeal to everyone, or even 90 percent of the guys out there. You're hunting a rare species. Most of us are. Recognize that and don't read into every rejection.
And while I'm excerpting: this is from a (LARB) review of Lena Dunham's book:
The hyphenated word “self-involved” describes any story that involves the self. Yet the term is wielded mostly against women with an interest in expressing their experiences in a direct manner, without filtering their reflections through layers of metaphor, or packing them into a serious historical context, or lacing them with literary references, or intellectualizing so relentlessly that every shred of emotion is ground to a fine dust. Women writers can’t tell a few simple stories — “Here’s what happened to me and here’s how it felt” — the way Chuck Klosterman or David Sedaris might, without inspiring the herd to pull out their poison pens and scrawl those same words: SELF-INVOLVED.
In one chapter, for instance, she explains that she somewhat recklessly assumed that she was smart enough, and practical enough, to endure the company of a guy who treated her badly. She figured she could maintain “a strong sense of self-respect” even while putting up with an overbearing, detached boyfriend. The resulting insights are deceptively simple, but they resonate, thanks to Dunham’s straightforward conversational style: 
When someone shows you how little you mean to them and you keep coming back for more, before you know it you start to mean less to yourself. You are not made up of compartments! You are one whole person! What gets said to you gets said to all of you, ditto what gets done.
I'm somewhere in the middle of the abstainer-moderator. I've become more of a moderator since I've stopped caring. Sometimes just a little bit of something is perfect.
OMG the womansplainer!

Chicago dude has a message for the ladies (of course, it includes "smile more").

Some people just don't know to handle women without husbands.

"Gone Girl" has launched many a conversation about the manipulative female prototype. I, too, wish I could watch things without bringing the entire sociopolitical context with me, but I can't.

The "cool girl" exists only in fiction.

I was reading the Times when I got an ad for this article:

Mullets: Are they so bad, they’re good?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Saturday roundup

Israel's external enemies are the least of its concerns if it's going to cannibalize itself.

Painkillers can do more harm than good. But do people really grow out of addiction?

Personality and alzheimers.

Another great refugee farmer story.

Couple has to contend with racial injustice now that they are (inadvertently) raising a mixed-race child.

Meet an inadvertent ISIL Twitter star.

How is it okay to charge people for unknowingly out-of-network emergency services?

Are we getting to the point where we'll expect girls to wear burqas to school? Because women should be ashamed for having bodies, or, as the writer aptly said, "for being female and having the gall to put on clothing that suggested they were female."

Reddit does hit a new low, but at least the guy is transparent: sexual assault is about putting people (usually women) in their place.

As degrading as Eric Bolling's comment was from a military perspective, it was just plain awful from any perspective. Could we quit reducing women to any given body part?

Many seemingly progressive movements have a misogyny problem.

"I don't see what the problem is/you're too sensitive" is the wrong response (particularly when crassly put).

Women would do well to embrace our inner honey badger and not give a shit.

I can't believe Carolyn even has to say this, but I'm glad she does: The right response is often, "that is not remotely your business."

Just ewwww.

Fertilizer runoff is killing turtles, but let's keep pretending organics don't matter. Also, don't drink the "Monsanto is harmless" kool-aid. Farmers have to fight it off to save themselves. So, no, GMO labeling won't fix the food system, but it will give people more input in it.

What would really help: less meat, because that is one horrific industry, and it's killing the planet.

Ag-gag, implemented.

Scientists love to hate on Malcolm Gladwell and Dr. Oz (and they kind-of have a point, but, again, as the comments in the second article reveal, there's more to the GMO debate).

Not all scientists, know everything. Best quote from that article:
Being a smart physicist can just give you more elaborate ways to delude yourself and others, along with the arrogance to think you can do so without taking the time to really understand the subject you are discussing.
I didn't read in full so I won't take an overall position, but I agree that it's okay not to be a science, i.e., science isn't the only way to truth out there.

While I'm partially agreeing: sure, children may get too much parental devotion these days at their own expense and that of others, but I've never understood the concept of loving someone more.

Just say no to changing diapers where people are eating.
 Salt is eating our buildings.
Rarely do I take the side of the fashion industry over that of Susan Faludi, but I just disagree with her, and I love that Kate Moss persevered.

I've never cared much for the concept of authenticity in the realm of food. I just had some horrendous authentic Thai food earlier this week. Quality is much more important.

Parents who couldn't handle talking to their kids about sex, instead insisted on separating happily-in-love donkeys.

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