Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday roundup

Earlier I posted a link about the horrors of past regimes in Tunisia. It won't come as any surprise that it was worse for women.

Things being worse elsewhere doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about things being bad here, Katrin Higher articulates:
“Enough of Mattress Girl; what about the victims of Boko Haram?” Daum asks before we’ve even started the column’s first paragraph. OK. But why the victims of Boko Haram and not the women in Sudan, Syria, and literally every other part of the world that lives under patriarchy? What about them? Where do we stop and start, when have we had “enough”? Has Daum really had “enough” of a movement that has been instrumental in raising awareness for the very real, very troubling occurrence of sexual assault on college campuses across the United States?
and
Perhaps President Obama stop focusing on the problems faced by the United States – you know, petty things like unemployment and police brutality — and instead go to other worse-off countries to “help”? The “it’s worse over there!” fallacy is a tactic used by conservatives, misogynists and classists alike to take the focus off of what they believe to be trivial problems in our own backyard and divert it towards more sinister problems in “scary” foreign countries – often to their own benefit, either because they literally profit from such diversions or have a stake in those things they’d like us to ignore.
and
Someone will always say there are bigger fish to fry. If feminists stopped doing the local work around their communities and instead tried to save those in other countries, how do you suppose we would all fare? Newsflash: you can support “Mattress Girl” and anti-rape activism in the United States and you can care about the women and girls brutalized by Boko Haram – the two are not mutually exclusive.

George Packer on the courage of migrants.

The perspective of an African in Europe.

Dudes don't get a cookie for not being horrible.


Playboy's Reza Aslan interview. Please read it (and pair with Dana Milbank's piece on the Duggars). See also this and this.

Haaretz on anti-Zionism vs. anti-Semitism.


Regardless of the ethics of the chocolate hoax, the point was made: much nutrition "science" is bullshit. Also, much beauty "science." These tips for cutting through the crap are not that helpful, but they're something.

No need to romanticize the supposed food of our grandparents, but we do need to be mindful of how our food system impacts food workers and the environment.

The leather industry is hurting (not just cows).

Carolyn on healthy relationships:
It’s also important for you not to say, “Okay, go to the game and have fun,” just because that feels like the cool-girlfriend thing to do even though you’re harboring resentment. Hiding how you feel is how love dies. You think he backed the wrong horse here? Then say so. A grown-up won’t make you pay.
I just want to give this woman a hug.

I want take away these people's social media.

By the way, people can get away with selling your photos.

A medical school appreciates an education in the humanities.

What an incredible way to give back (and how little it takes to help people find their way out of poverty).
You don't have to find your purpose. Pair with "Avenue Q."

Wow, this correctly predicted my year of birth, even though I was born outside the country.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Monday roundup


Wow, Mary Karr's commencement speech:
Bad things are going to happen to y’all because they happen to us all, and worrying about them won’t stave them off. Look around at each other. This is a good looking crowd. I’m telling you, y’all look sharp today! But at certain times don’t make the mistake of comparing your twisted up insides to other people’s blow dried outsides. The most privileged person in this Dome suffers the torments of the damned just going about the business of being human.
People they adore have been shot through the heart, they’ve suffered agonizing infirmities and even the best families, loved ones, however inadvertently, fail to show up at the key moment or they show up serving grief and shame when tenderness is starved for.”
And, "being curious and compassionate will save your ass. Being curious and compassionate will take you out of your ego and edge your soul towards wonder..."

While I'm quoting words of wisdom, here's Mat Johnson:
The other thing I think is wrong with this moment of great offense is that you get a cookie for getting offended about something. People are like, “If I get offended about that, it means I’m righteous.” On Twitter, you get a cookie not only from more people approving of you but from more people following you. You raise your profile by being offended. So the natural consequence of that is that people get more and more offended. Because the thing is, there’s nothing to risk by being offended. Once you’re offended, you’re partly saying, “I’m more pure than this, and as such I reject this.” There’s just nothing at risk.
and
Everyone is talking about themselves: “This is me.” And also, “Well you talked, so now I get to talk about me and I’m going to pretend it’s me talking about you.” Everybody is coming in with their own baggage and pain when it comes to identity.
Here's a case study in the outsized impact of microaggressions. It's exhausting to even have to figure out if someone's being lighthearted, and it doesn't matter. Whether intended or not, the affect is that the target is reminded that he/she doesn't belong.

A blast from the not-so-distant past: a mother of a gay son points out that god gave us brains, so we should use them.

I've never been so sure I'd have to see a movie as I am with Mad Max: Fury Road.

There's so much to be said for treating women like people.

Nitpicking adds up, erodes affection. Especially when it's about micromanaging the way someone else shows affection. Now the theme here is, if someone means well/is doing you a favor, do you have any right to complain? The answer is, it depends... but nitpicking isn't the answer.

You cannot go ahead and do something that someone has specifically told you not to do and expect a positive reaction from that person, and you can't be surprised or offended at his/her reaction. [See: mom blog, RM blog on these pages.]

Not all science writers hate physics.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday roundup

Burundi is on the brink.

Has Bangladesh thought through the unintended consequences of encouraging people to urinate only on their own language?

You won't believe what the meninists have to say now (actually, you will, but you won't believe that the Post ran something very similar).

The most important thing in handling the Duggar revelations is to respect the victims, but we can do that while also pointing out the family's hypocrisy and the decrepitude of its values.

In Argentina, child molesters are actually prosecuted and there's outrage about light sentences.

Also: women's bodies are neither bicycles nor cups of spit (decrepitude of its values link as above), nor weapons:
Equating military conquest and romantic pursuits is nothing new—we’ve all heard that “all’s fair in love and war.” But this trope got considerably sexed up during the war between the Axis and the Allies. Pin-up girls pasted on the noses of WWII bombers (“nose art”) kept American soldiers company on long tours, and the sexy songstresses who entertained troops were dubbed “bombshells.” But an even weirder tone to the innuendoes crept into the lingo once nuclear weaponry appeared. Women’s bodies, more readily on display than ever before,  became dangerous and tempting in magazine advertizements, even weaponized in competitions like the 1957 Miss Atomic Bomb champion.


Some charts on the relationships between faith and views on science.

Some amazingly, hilariously bad maps.

On Ireland's referendum: this is beautiful.

Meat and dairy are the biggest contributors to California's water crisis.

Monsanto's propaganda camp for journalists.

This is true not just for heels vs. flats but all style choices: be who you are and own that.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Is-it-only-Wednesday roundup

The horrified journalists who cover Boko Haram and Syria.

It's hard to stomach the torture committed by the prior Tunisian regime.

Sometimes someone who lost everything, needs a drink.

Can you stand another no-to-nuclear-domino-theory piece? Because it's really important. While we're on the topic, check out this piece on the limits of a nuclear umbrella.

Amal Clooney, role model.

Women suffer professionally when they're limited by fear of innuendo.

Window-dressing rape scenes are sloppy story-telling.

Every writer has her own canon (or, specific books are hardly markers of literacy).

The universality of the hero's journey still holds in every way.

So proud of Alexandria's star boxer.

The farm-to-table concept has jumped the shark. I've said it before (always): there are good reasons to support local farming, but environmental locavorism is misguided--and a red herring. Whatever the provenance of that cow, it took a lot of water, among other things.

Speaking of sometime-red-herrings: oversimplifying GMOs in either direction doesn't serve the discourse.

I love Ana Marie Cox's (and Kevin Drum's) thoughts on cats:
On the internet, where everything is suspect, cats—while sneaky—are above suspicion. The internet is virtual. Cats are real. The internet is about debate. Cats are undebatable.
As Kevin himself pointed out back in 2004, the cats are the medium, not the message:
"I'd just blogged a whole bunch of stuff about what was wrong with the world," Mr. Drum said. "And I turned around and I looked out the window, and there was one of my cats, just plonked out, looking like nothing was wrong with the world at all."
It reminds me a bit of what the executive director of a homeless shelter said on Saturday at a volunteer reception. He read from Mr. Rogers Talks with Parents:
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.
Especially in light of the links at the beginning of this post, I think it's good for all of us to remember to look for the helpers.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tuesday roundup (brought to you by my flexible schedule)

The girls rescued from Boko Haram can heal, especially with the right social support structures in place.

Lais Souza misses running her hands through her hair.

You (really) won't believe how highly we subsidize fossil fuel companies.


I can't overstate this: just say no to the nuclear domino theory.

I was long in denial about my mother's condition because she had "normal memory problems" for as long as I could remember.

Leather will be environmentally nasty no matter the innovations in chemistry, because cows. After all,
"Animal farming ... is the single biggest environmental threat in the world today," given the enormous amounts of land and water needed.

The trigger-warning middle ground.

The focus on labor practices is key but I also think it's interesting that the prestige of expensive clothing is becoming a relic.

Would you sacrifice economic independence for great wealth and a wife bonus?

Here's an article about the Large Hadron Collider restart that won't make your head hurt.
 
As I said when (but not merely because) I did mediocrely on that scientific literacy quiz, the results really depend on the design of the questions (and poor design forces people into stupid answers). Jargon, also, compromises results (not only to scientists use words differently--and those words' non-scientific meaning is perfectly legitimate--but words can mean different things in different scientific disciplines). But, the take-away:
Do you want to make fun of people who are less educated than you and reinforce the stereotypes of the dumb layman and sneering scientist? Or do you want to try and learn something about the people you’re talking to and become a better science communicator?
It is true: talking about anything exclusionary makes you boring. Diapers are boring, but so are the specifics (or office politics) of any given job.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

On losing people

A number of people I knew have passed away in the last half-year or so. In the late fall, it was my first boss at my current workplace (I'd not worked with him directly for seven years, but it was always pleasant to run into him in the hallway). In January, it was the CFO at the place I worked in Boston. He was a very kind, friendly, hard-working man, and although I'd not seen him in years, I thought of him from time to time and was saddened by his passing. Later in January, I found out about the family friend (I think I told you about this one, because my parents didn't let me know in time for me to make arrangements to attend the memorial service). His passing hit me the hardest--even more so than when my own second uncle passed a way a month or so ago. And then, just the other day, a (young) colleague of mine--again, not someone I'd been close to recently--was taken from us by ALS. She was a wonderful person, and--not that it matters, but it is what you notice in your colleagues--smart and competent. I talked to her--I did all the talking, because she'd lost her ability to speak, but I saw her struggle to communicate with her eyes, and she conveyed warmth and spirit--when she was in the building for an award ceremony. I didn't really know how to talk to her, and I didn't want to make her uncomfortable, and it was both inspiring and heartbreaking to see her (I can only imagine what her family is going through). I can only imagine what all these people are going through. I mean, people die every day--in earthquakes, shipwrecks, train crashes, shootings--and it's equally horrible. But there's theoretically horrible and personally horrible. I guess all I can say is, my heart goes out to everyone who's grieving.

Saturday roundup

The Rohingya refugee crisis continues to grow more tragic.

Pakistan's former ambassador to the United States on Hersh.

Britain's version of threatening to move to Canada.

Not that anyone asked me, but I echo this reasoning for Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.

I don't know why any animal-welfare organization ever thought that serving dead animals at fundraisers was in line with its mission.

I wholeheartedly encourage the ethical vegan community to distance itself from the myth of natural. This is not to say that we can't prefer less processed foods if we so choose, but we have to realize when our distinctions themselves are artificial.

Wow. Jeet Heer defends Franzen's sex writing.

Science is process, not epiphany (when it is epiphany, there was a process that made that epiphany possible).

Smoked salt on Europa!

The stuff on "We Hunted the Mammoth" continues to leave me speechless. Contrast some of the logic there with this study on how children benefit from working mothers.

A friend of mine sent me this and said I wouldn't understand because I learned Russian the easy way. But I did largely understand because I've learned other languages--including one with a different alphabet--the hard way. So I identified with the first half, even as I thought, 'really? soft signs are a difficult concept?' I also enjoyed this--which reminded me of when Jay, very proud of having learned one Japanese alphabet (that used for writing English cognates), proudly sounded out "ra... ra... rat... rattay" as I said, "latte? it's written in English just below." I enjoyed her example: "Яхт-клуб. Ксерокс. Боди-шейминг" ("yacht-club, xerox, body shaming") and wondered if the latter is actually an acknowledged concept over there (not the thing, which I'm sure is, but the term).

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Indulge me another dating ramble?

I know I've been rambling and ranting non-stop about not wanting to date man-children. These ramble-rants were brought on in the immediate sense by some guy asking me out sloppily, and my thinking, if he's sloppy at this stage, I can only imagine what his stable state would bring. And although I told you, in one of those posts, that my deep-seated dread of the man-child is as much based on observing those around me, I realized in my last relationship that it could happen to me, too. But also that the man-child factor both was and was not the problem.

Thursday roundup

We've been hearing a lot about tragedy and desparation at sea, but the desert hosts its own humanitarian crisis. 

I don't agree with this--as much as I believe that animal cruelty is awful. I think we can say--and that it's important to say--animal cruelty is awful, and it doesn't have to be compared to genocide, slavery, etc., for us to decry it.

I've also read a take-down of Max Fisher an I don't disagree that his career has risen through clever maps and listicles, rather than actual journalism. But I'm with him with regard to Sy Hersch.

Law enforcement shouldn't be able to confiscate people's savings just because they feel like it.

This almost makes me want to shop at Costco, and although I wouldn't shop at Walmart for the converse reason, I appreciate that Allen West thought he got Sharia'd there.

Income is not always an indicator of social class, and it's not clear what is.

On sloppy talk of chemicals, from glyphosate to sarin.

On women and girls (in the military).

I've not (yet?) seen the "Avengers," but I've been enjoying the commentary. Here's a forgiving take and a scathing one, from which I'd like to excerpt generously:
Don’t let anyone tell you that silly popcorn movies don’t matter, or that they can’t be smart or beautiful or profound. A silly popcorn movie can change your life. All it has to do is create characters with identifiable, human problems, and let them work out those problems over the course of the story. Stories are about change, and about people, because ultimately, they are about you, the person sitting in a dark theater, working out your baggage by projecting it onto CGI cartoons of overly handsome actors.
Here’s another way to put it: The extent to which a movie invests in character-based, character-driven storytelling is the extent to which it recognizes, appreciates, and honors the humanity of its audience.
and
However, because Kaufman and Whedon are good writers, who understand why stories work, when they sit down to write a story, they feel the obligation to make all of the characters identifiably human, including the women. This is, sadly, so rare that their female characters are often more well-rounded and interesting than almost any other characters out there, including a lot of characters written by people with better sexual politics.
But when the character-based screenwriting breaks down, so does the feminism. Black Widow is just as ill-served as every other character in that story, but because she’s a woman, it’s politically offensive as well as aesthetically offensive.
and--we'll come back to this one,
If you want to deepen your female character past being a sexual object, in a movie that has no time or patience for anything resembling “depth,” what conflicts do you give her? Well, women have babies, right? Women want babies. Okay. She can’t have babies. She’s sad because she can’t have babies. There you go! Depth established!
and, finally,
I never thought I’d be the kind of person who believed that a crime against feminism was less important than a crime against storytelling, but in this case, they’re so interconnected that it’s hard to tell the difference. When you can’t write, you can’t write women.
But let's get back to the previous excerpt, because of the contrast with the other women-in-film issue sparking discussion across the internet: the rise of the woman-child.
Resolution comes from building a sense of self through a community of people rather than just one man. Look at Hannah’s trajectory on “Girls.” She navigates a series of (often dysfunctional) relationships in this path to discovering herself. Her on-again, off-again boyfriend Adam is just one part of that journey. “Hannah isn’t becoming complete through a single man,” Brougher said. “She’s encountering a series of men and it’s rounding out her education. It’s not about one man, it’s about a journey through womanhood becoming complete.”
Which brings us to the other double-standard (finally) sparking discussion: the dad bod. No, Jon Hamm does not have one (please).

Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday ramble: on man-children and dad bods

The Times ran a piece a few days ago about how educated women are choosing single motherhood, often because the have not met a suitable co-parent. The subtext was that these women opt not to settle--especially not for men who are just going to be another child for them to take care of. The article explicitly addressed the financial "burden" of subsidizing men who earned less, but the idea of "I would have to carry him, too" also applies to the logistical burden that some men impose.

Monday roundup

Another great story about why VE Day is still very real.

We need police reform with regard to police brutality; we also need police reform with regard to rape culture.

Accountability is good but you'll want to get your facts straight before you make things very difficult for someone through social media shaming.

Vegans are actually no more anti-vax than omnivores, but here's a good analysis of why we may get lumped with the anti-vaxxers (including, but beyond, the fact that some people just like to hate on vegans).
 
Spectacular More fail.

I'm not skinny enough to have to contend with all of these, but three certainly resonate: I can't give blood; people feel free to comment on my body type; and I have to reassure people that I eat (and that I don't have an eating disorder).

Some of the truest words ever said:
Women are not here to be your playthings, to make you feel clever or worthy or interesting or attractive.
How to hilariously misuse quotation marks.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

VE Day Roundup


A doctor with residual ebola in one eye.

Don't forget, on this day, the Soviet Union's role in defeating naziism (which does not justify what came after, or even during).

Everyone needs art, even/especially during conflict.

Here's another, less detailed "Iran is not North Korea" analysis.

When thinking about chemicals in beauty products, think also of salon workers.

It boggles the mind, the stupid $hit people say to people. Also, fat-shaming is never okay; the woman who wrote that deserves tremendous respect.

Speaking of stupid $hit people say, I don't know how David Futrelle immerses himself in so much MRA sludge and maintains his sanity.

And who are the horrible people who say some of the things recounted here?

Okay, last "stupid $hit people say" link before we move on.


It doesn't surprise me that reading "Harry Potter" can make you a better person.

I'm wary of celebrity health vegans, but maybe Beyonce will do more good than harm. Also, between the how-to-spot-a-feminist hashtag (you'll recall, I confessed to hairy armpits) and this article, it seems like armpits are a great focus for stereotyping. Which just comes back to this: Beyonce dancing around the word "vegan" because of the stigma associated with it is like Joss Whedon dancing around the word "feminist."

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thursday roundup

Unaccompanied children are among the most vulnerable African migrants, lured and stuck.

There's no such thing as cheap luxury except at someone else's expense, at least when it comes to manicures in New York.

Before you unleash a Twitter mob, make sure it's not a case of stolen identity.

It's encouraging that police reform appears to be inevitable in spite of the status quo.

Even Texas is distancing itself from the crazy of the Gellerfest.

Here's some MRA crazy.

Two reasonable takes on the Black Widow, regardless of what you think of Joss Whedon

In defense of the hashtag (just kidding), I do have hairy armpits.
 Actually, water-pricing by usage tier sounds very practical.

Russian cheese is having a moment (I hope, at least, the cows are happyish).

Here's a kid who really gets it (NSFW).

Go ahead, eat salt.

Who was Nellie Bly?

Monkeys love being free from circus-prison.

Kittens love having a mom.

Best cat video ever.

This was written for people like me.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mom wants to know why I didn't get her a hat

When I picked up the phone pushed the green answer button on the Skype app yesterday, I was sitting in a lawn chair in a garden hat.

Dad: Nice hat.
A.: Thank you. I brought it back from Cambodia.
Mom: I'd love a had like that. Why didn't you bring me a hat like that? Or anything, for that matter? You have parents, you know, and a mother among them. Is it too much to ask to bring us things when you travel? Would it have been so hard to bring back another hat?

Actually, it would have been hard to bring back another hat, but I would have attempted it had I known mom would want one. And I did bring my parents coffee from Cambodia. But the broader answer to why I didn't bring my parents much from the trip lies in the history of my bringing things back for my parents from trips.

Every time I did bring mom something, she complained about it. A lot, relentlessly, and for a long time. Years later, she would point out that thing I brought her from somewhere or other that she really can't stand but won't get rid of because I brought it. Even though she doesn't have room for it (but she does have room for the entire contents of the dollar store). She did at one point say that I have such terrible taste, I really should just stop bringing her things from my travels. I don't remember what brought that about. I do recall that she complained that the jade carving I brought her from New Zealand looked like a gravestone, but I don't think that was the source of  the 'just don't bring us anything comment.' I took her at her word. Except for the coffee, because I thought dad might like it.

This treatment isn't reserved for me; she berated Nina's dad (her best friend from childhood) about a wooden carving he'd brought her from Georgia; it was hideous, she said, and didn't match her decor. Dad and I loved it, hung it up anyway. She--even before she started losing her memory--forgot where it came from and included it in one of her rants about how everything nice in the house is because she acquired it.

And that is why I didn't bring mom any hats, or anything else, from Southeast Asia.

Sunday roundup

Libya's state of chaos has exacerbated the migrant crisis.

A powerful story about entitlement, the fight for vengeance, forgiveness, and cluelessness.

For more on the antics of jilted men, see Boston Magazine's Gamergate story and this unbelievable mess that David Futrelle compiled for us.


Pork: it's what breeds antibiotic-resistant MRSA. But you don't need that as motivation; instead, take a look at these piglets and tell me they don't deserve to live.

A fantastic article on science and Mauna Kea.

A fantastic article on Charlie Hebdo and interpreting another culture's cultural criticism.

Rest in peace, Maya Plisetskaya.

Our neighbors to the north have a point.

Normally I'm not a fan of gotcha fact-checking, i.e., checking facts in a way that misses the point, but in this case it really is true that we're ignorant about how little we actually spend on foreign aid.

Frank Bruni on the circuitous career path.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Addendum to Friday's post

It occurred to me shortly after I hit 'publish' on last night's post that I might have erred in centering it around veganism, because veganism is not the point. In the same way that parenting isn't always the point in STFU parents. These mommy- and daddy-jackers must have been just as tiresome before they became parents, but parenthood gave them a juicy focus for their self-centeredness.

In the same way, my thought experiment--would people say less stupid shit about food to me if I were a "militant" rather than a "reasonable" vegan--was a rhetorical one. And my eye-roll at the guy's inability to check the menu wasn't primarily a vegan issue; it was a dating issue. I did make this clear when I wrote that asking me to a vegan-hostile establishment would have been one thing if he didn't know I was vegan--if we hadn't had a whole conversation about it--but the issue was that he was aware enough of my dietary restrictions to reference them in the message, but couldn't be bothered to check the menu. The issue is, if he can't even be bothered to check the menu for a first date, what else can't he be bothered to do?

That question is always in the back of my mind in dating decisionmaking because the last stretch of my last relationship was characterized by my getting frustrated at F. for not being able to make a single arrangement--beyond the ones I later realized he was passive-aggressive about because he wasn't interested. I'd already given up on expecting (or asking) him to come up with plans on his own initiative--I just kept lowering my expectations, and he continued to fail to meet them. Even things that he wanted to do, he couldn't make happen: he couldn't make a reservation on time--even after I reminded him that the place filled up fast--to a restaurant he cared about more than I did. And yet, even he might have mustered that when we first started dating. Last week's guy can't even muster checking a menu before asking me out for the first time.

The last thing I want is not only another F., but another me in response to someone like F. At the time, I suppressed my frustration, told myself I wasn't entitled to it--that he was just being a guy, that I was asking too much. The behavior continued--it kept getting worse--and so did the frustration, and even as I tried to stifle it, it came out in subtler but nastier ways. If there's one thing I know I don't want in a partner, it's that kind of ineptitude, in part because I know that it would bring out the worst in me.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Friday ramble: the price of reasonableness

Not that it really matters, Anne and I still have a running joke going back almost seventeen years, from the time we arrived at her parents' beach cottage on L'Ile d'Oleron. We were settling in and dusting things off when she said--with a level of enthusiasm more understandable for getting dessert or seeing a movie--"A., tu sais ce qu'on va faire? On va nettoyer la salle de bain!" I called her on it--on speaking so excitedly about the prospect of cleaning the bathroom"--and we laughed, and continued to drop references to that moment in postcards and letters, and then emails. In fact, when I let her know that I'd be in her neck of the woods and asked if she'd be around, she naturally said, "on va nettoyer la salle de bain!"

I tell you this now because some dude (SD) just asked me out in an email that was a quadruple fail, the first fail of which was starting his email with, 'we worked together in painting the bathroom last weekend...' (in reference to National Rebuilding Day). I mean, I don't need much in the way of airs or flowery language, but... really? And that was actually the least discouraging part of his message.

Friday roundup

Excellent comparison of the Iran and North Korea frameworks.

Oh, the backlash when people of color won't put up with police brutality and a discriminatory justice system (and no, I don't think violence is the best way, but nobody asked me).

Oh, the backlash when women won't put up with harassment and intimidation.

This woman was very much ahead of her time. Hopefully, the Pope is not ahead of his.

Stay classy, anti-marriage protesters.

Stay classy, French fashion police.

This mini-documentary about renting foreigners in China for marketing is creepy as shit.

"Natural" doesn't mean anything.

Messenger ran out of fuel. crashed into mercury.

I love this story about remaining in love with the idea of someone.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday roundup

The refugees of the Vietnam War.

You must read Ta-Nehisi Coates on Baltimore. Here's an excerpt:
When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is "correct" or "wise," any more than a forest fire can be "correct" or "wise." Wisdom isn't the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the community.
This piece on the difference between tone policing and abuse and sanctimony is particularly timely in view of the Bruce Jenner interview. I was dismayed at how avidly my Twitter timeline filled up with pronoun policing--it was 'gotcha'ism at the expense of actual analysis.

On a related note, see @katie_speak on Meghan Murphy.

Changing gears... whither Britain.

Moderate your embrace of Snowden and Greenwald.

I don't know that I have enough schadenfreude in me to enjoy watching McDonalds fall on its face so spectacularly.

For what it's worth, IRSN is a technical support organization, not a watchdog, but nevertheless: this is a good read for those preaching the promise of absolute safety by way of Gen IV technology.

I had to look up some stuff about chemical nomenclature today, and loved this post for its great analogies to language learning (and speaking).

Speaking of great analogies, those of you who know about music will appreciate Jennifer Ouellette's essay about love and counterpoint even more than I do:

It’s the perfect metaphor for how two strong, independent and intelligent people can maintain their individuality and yet, together, form a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. In romance, as in music, it is no mean feat to achieve this, but Wimsey’s preference for a strong, equal partner — because of, rather than despite, the challenge — is what makes him a thinking woman’s heartthrob. He likes his music, and his women, polyphonic.
and
As the aseptic Oxford scholar, Miss DeVine cautions her, a marriage between equal intellects is inherently risky: “You can hurt one another so dreadfully.”
and
That, really, is the heart of the matter. Harriet tried to be the meek accompanist in her first, failed relationship, with disastrous results. She is equally uncomfortable in the role of autocratic virtuoso, having bored very quickly of an amorous younger suitor whose intellect and abilities were too far below her own.  
As always, I appreciate great pieces on boundaries. tl;dr=be firm but kind, and don't fall for gaslighting.

I like the response about how hatred is different when it's directed at a behavior vs. a person (i.e., a source of the behavior), but I would also add that the issue is not whether it's "okay to let kids hate." It's a matter of pointing out--cue the 'empty boat' fable--that hatred is a self-destructive emotion. See also this (true) story about a boy and a dog and a hen (and hope that maybe the kid will think twice about eating chicken, given his feelings about them).

This is amazing (definitely expand on the image):

Friday, April 24, 2015

A pretty wonky Friday roundup


A nuanced article about the challenges Europe faces in managing immigration while honoring humanitarian imperatives.

Don't justify the presence of minorities in terms of their contribution to society.

Poland, for all its wartime suffering, could stand to confront its own history.

The Middle East's long history of sectarian conflict is somewhat over-spun. So is the sectarian aspect of the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

I cannot overstate the quality and substance of this piece on proliferation potential (or lack thereof) in the Middle East.

How to interact with child (and other) beggars abroad--specifically, acknowledging their humanity without perpetuating the industry--is a really tough issue. I felt awful, most recently in Cambodia, not about not buying things from the child vendors (because you just shouldn't) but for reflexively turning away this one amputee who was making his rounds on this side street (in Siem Reap) full of outdoor cafes. 

I'm impressed with Playboy's response to Megan Murphy.

On a related note--one of not dictating how women own and otherwise manage their bodies and their sexuality--here's a lovely piece on the symbolism of Katy Perry's breasts. The takeaway: we needn't let our relationship with our bodies be limited or influenced by creepy dudes on the street (or elsewhere).
Guys may get all weird about your body. They’ll blame you for reactions they may have to it, act as if it exists for them, tell you to cover it up or show it off, adorn it or keep it plain. Just do what my daughter’s other pal, Taylor, says to do: Shake it off.

Honoring women's supposed superior emotional intelligence, can also be a trap.
The trouble is, there’s no real evidence that women are any more emotional than men. Women can be and often are more expressive of their emotions, but this is again largely due to cultural stereotypes. Men can be as emotional as women, if not more. Many women receive bombardments of violent threats online from men who are upset about her harmless opinions; this is not indicative of a gender that has greater control over their emotions.
What do men value in a partner? It's not always the same things they want for their daughters.

It's okay to have curly hair again! Unless you're on TV (that article, too, speaks to what characteristics "we" value in women). Speaking of hair... I've already written about its treatment in "Bad Jews," and now the Times is on it.


I'm the first to agree that (some) picky eating is unnecessary, but this seems to be a good context in which to point out that there are ethical reasons for not eating animals. On that note, I was re-referred to this piece by the author of a clickbaity piece in Slate that I won't even link to. I don't have the energy to point out flaws in the argument right now, but I will agree that eating one way or another shouldn't be a source of sanctimony. But it's silly to dismiss the environmental benefits of eating plants by comparing the caloric yield of beef versus broccoli. It's also absurd to dismiss those who think differently as dogmatic or anti-science. Besides, Jane Goodall wants you to eat plants.

Did I mention that you don't need dairy?

Yup, Eastern Europeans live with their parents.

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