Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday roundup

Syrian refugees are marrying young, with consequences.

The justice system is stacked against survivors.

Canada warns its citizens about seizures by U.S. police.

You've heard by now about the "prostitute" detained by the LAPD.

Yes, hiring veterans isn't always a win-win (but no hiring is).

Wither Germany's big bet on renewables?

There's a term to describe when regulators are overly deferential to the industry they regulate: regulatory capture. It rarely ends well.

Mark Sanford is classy as ever.

Texas is all over academic integrity.

Vegans needn't let carnivores define us or put us on the defensive.

Have we already talked about the science of auroras?

It's about time women reclaim our mammary glands.

When a random man has an opinion about how you should carry your face.

When it takes having daughters to convince men to treat women as humans.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Saturday roundup

Alaska's rampant, epidemic sexual assualt.

Why dudes needn't get a legal say in abortion.

Our waterways are so much healthier with fewer pesticides. But never mind, self-regulation works so well.

Don't take yoga with crazy people.

Someone actually wrote this:
Don't demand that whichever fast food company you work for pay out of pocket simply because you refuse to do more than work a single job. Corporate executives earned their money, and are by no means morally or financially obligated to give it to their employees.
and this:
The protests over fast food wages are not isolated incidents either, but symbolic of a larger problem in this country: the lack of accountability for one's own position in life.
Maybe the fact that you are relying on a job to make a living intended for high school and college students is not a product of the oppressive capitalistic economy of the United States—maybe it's a result of your own poor work ethic. The only person you have to blame for your own stagnancy is yourself; believe it or not, you can move up in this world, and expensive education is not the only way of doing so.
But wait! Another dude wrote this guide to "graciously" dealing with cat-callers. Who are just well-meaning, brave men who dared to approach women, only to be cruelly and callously shot down.

All that said, we only get to the good stuff when we see what some parents are writing.

In the vein of "don't blame veganism for your not being vegan": don't blame cooking for your choosing not to cook.

Buzzfeed once again takes on some of the crap vegetarians hear.

Why do we need videos to rile us to a cause?

Is blanket slamming of politicians harmful?

Steve Jobs limited his kids' access to technical products.

Ewww, placenta encapsulation is a thing.

Okay, I'll obsess.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Don't tell me I keep to my own people

Fridge magnet at my friend's party on Saturday.

Thursday roundup

Perhaps you're following the #whyIstayed/#whyIleft hashtags; here's one illustrative story.

Frozen pizza learns its hashtag-crashing lesson, but a brick-and-mortar pizza place in Baltimore does it better. Also: is anyone surprised at the douchebaggery at Fox and Friends?

First of all, literary snobs are missing out; the "Harry Potter" books are excellent; they aren't in the same category as plastic butterfly clips (and yes, I write that with irony, since the reference to the books is merely an example of the writer's self-aware, misplaced judgmentalism). That aside, there's some interesting stuff in A.O. Scott's rambling thoughts on the decline of adulthood and/or patriarchy, to include thoughts on the "disaffected man-child":
As before, the rebellious animus of the disaffected man-child was directed not just against male authority but also against women. In Sandler’s early, funny movies, and in many others released under Apatow’s imprimatur, women are confined to narrowly archetypal roles. Nice mommies and patient wives are idealized; it’s a relief to get away from them and a comfort to know that they’ll take care of you when you return. Mean mommies and controlling wives are ridiculed and humiliated. Sexually assertive women are in need of being shamed and tamed. True contentment is only found with your friends, who are into porn and “Star Wars” and weed and video games and all the stuff that girls and parents just don’t understand.

A megachurch pastor on homeless penises.

All separatist eyes on Scotland.

Think twice before moving that capital.

Good ozone news.

Sleep and anxiety meds are even worse for you than previously known.

No, no, no! The biggest salad mistake is not adding fat to your salad; it's thinking that a salad without fat will sate you.

Massachusetts tackles food waste.

Fewer people are buying cereal.

This is all true but beside the point; it's not about hipsters and it's not about fear of technology. It's about corporate control of the food system. See: this awesome video on food security (if I can get the link to work).

How Big Food works in Australia.

There's a place for settled science and dismissing crackpots as such, but draw that line so that you're not just quashing legitimate differences.

Feeling stupid only means you're doing science right.

Science funding has to be sustained, i.e., not erratic.

Dean Burnett's warning labels for science journalism.

Things you don't need to worry about.

Arlington truly is soulless.

It's okay not to enjoy parenting.

Your kids may not be the geniuses you think they are.

On mindfulness.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday roundup

I shrugged at the Times piece on foreign funding of think tanks. It's not entirely a non-issue, but the Norway climate change example was absurd. We should be concerned about self-censorship in deference to funders, but that's a problem everywhere.

There's only so much anyone can do to fix the world, and Do No Harm isn't a bad place to start.

The humanities matter.

Sulfur-burning volcanoes are pretty.

Amanda Marcotte's piece on Twitter trolls evokes my interactions with mom:
Why did the reaction bother me so much this time? The long weekend, spent with my boyfriend and good friends, was a reminder that my life, which is busy and social and has a lot of love in it, couldn’t be any more different than that of the lonely, bitter hag that the harassers declare I must be day in and day out. The contrast between my actual reality and what I am being told about myself all day long, every day, on Twitter stunned me. I realized it’s not enough to keep reminding myself that the harassers are speaking more about what they wish to be true than what is true. Constantly reminding yourself that you do, in fact, have it good drains the energy you have to enjoy having it so good.
Using accusations of tone policing to shut down discourse has jumped the shark.

My favorite quote ever may be John Oliver's take on the space sex geckos: “...we sent those geckos to have sex in space — not because they were easy, but because he was hard.”

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Big Saturday roundup

Ebola's economic toll.

The epidemic of sexual violence.

There has been a shift in the discourse, in spite of some really confused stragglers (let's just all look forward to the day when potential employers google him and see,
We turn our noses up at smokers and just made our campus tobacco-free. Yet, nothing is done about sexual assault, short of blaming the "attacker," a guy who was likely as drunk as his "victim." We do everything we can to mitigate the small risk of lung cancer, but nothing at all to mitigate the much greater risk of sexual assault.
Speaking of the risk of sexual assault, a lot of us identify with this adventurer's story of the times she was not assaulted, even though she was--you know--out, living. The secondary effect of victim-blaming is an attempt to put women in "their" place. Leaving aside the obvious flaws in logic--not having a life is not going to keep you safe--we can't let anyone try to bully us into constraining our lives through the threat of violence.
Along those lines: here's exactly what you can do to guarantee your intimate photos won't be stolen. Another sign of more enlightened times: charities aren't taking money from the thieves.

Apparently, also shifting is the political discourse on birth control.

Especially in light of my ramble on poverty: see this obituary of Michael Katz, who changed the way (some) people thought about poverty.

In light of the same ramble, which touched on anti-science shaming of anyone who doesn't wholeheartedly embrace GMOs as the answer to food insecurity, see Raj Patel's take.

On anti-science shaming anyway, see this:
The diversity of public issues around science encompasses everything from global warming to GM crop to nuclear fusion. What hope do we have of providing citizens with an all-encompassing ‘toolkit’ that let’s them understand any scientific topic thrown at them? It’s not as if being a word-leading researcher studying the genetic basis of some chronic disease will make you fully understand the implication of geoengineering. This is why today it is public engagement, rather than some vague notion of scientific literacy, that is seen as our best hope to increase the public understanding of science issues.  
Or just remember the tale of Linus Pauling.

Elise Andrew (of IFLS) has an attribution problem.

The Times should be ashamed of itself for its sloppy reporting on the carb/fat study, even though they slightly corrected course later. See a much clearer description of the study here.

This star is crazy.

Wow, NYC really f*ed up post-Sandy reconstruction.

Brilliant, heartfelt, compassionate advice to women: no, there's nothing wrong with you... but by trying too hard to be the agreeable, low-maintenance one, dudes who aren't that interested can keep you around without incurring any consequences on themselves. So many of them will. This is what I mean about letting dudes do some of the work.

In the category of comments-more-worth-reading-than-the-post, I bring you:
 Yesterday 2:31pm

Legitimate question (I think): if I think women are more attractive without makeup, does that make me sexist?

Two must-see Daily Show videos (after the jump, so they don't automatically start):

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thursday ramble

There have been studies--or at least a study--recently about how social media serve to exert peer pressure on us in terms of our views. We don't dare disagree with what our social media communities are saying.

Thursday roundup

We have to be able to discuss poverty without ideological or political baggage. See my upcoming ramble for more.

Journalists and doctors on the front lines.

I've only skimmed this long-form piece on the age of Alzheimer's.

Universities and magazines draw their own boundaries for acceptable speech.

When her husband went to go find his wife at the Midtown South Precinct, officers became suspicious of him because he had a last name different than his wife's. "In America wives take the names of their husbands,” an officer allegedly told Huq.
In spite of amazingly blatant evidence, some people still don't get what the feminist fuss is about. Why cat-calling isn't flattering. Why the photo theft is a sex crime.

Nobody asked me, but I think Gisele's Under Armour ad is awesome--both for the strength projected and the "f* the haters" attitude.

Just ignore the latest "definitive" study on carbs and weight loss.

Carolyn's only words for a woman (to convey to her husband) are, "grow the eff up."

Guess what: if your kid's being a $hit, other people can call him or her on it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

On photos

This would be a good time to tell you about how my own photos were misused. I've alluded to it, but I haven't addressed it directly until now.

Tuesday roundup

A "culture of institutionalized sexism" enabled the systemic sexual assault of girls in Britain. The girls blamed themselves; one family left the country, after going to the police and being turned away because--you guessed it--it was the girl's own fault.
The hacking you've heard more about isn't hacking; it's sexual predation. For the gazillionth time, no one is entitled to women's bodies. Ever. 

Revisionist history is a good thing when there's truth in revision.

You have every right to take pictures of yourself. For added protection, follow these steps.

Marion Nestle on the New Yorker Vandana Shiva piece.

Technology is not the answer to food security. The answer is, eat less meat and waste less food.

Employers are biased against parents.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday roundup

A perfect letter to women-hating gamers (and an article about them). On a quasi-related note, oh some of the subtweets here... speechless,

One woman's Alzheimer's story (from the perspective of a caregiver).

It looks like one of Sarah Palin's crowning achievements may be undone (by common sense).

Fox News has some impressive commenters.

I miss Wales. I remember when I could take all those castles for granted.

Vanilla has terroir.


Yes: compromising and accepting your SO's faults are just the price of admission for the relationship; the key is whether what you're getting is worth the price.

Wow, women pull this $hit, too.

Just because you've paid for something, doesn't mean you can use it at other people's expense.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ramble (updated) and MA pictures

I did better at pole-dancing this week. I wish I could continue with the "straighter" stuff, i.e., that which doesn't involve twisting around the pole, which gives me motion sickness. Swings give me motion sickness. Oddly enough, moving vehicles do not, but I digress. In today's class, the teacher noted my "wicked upper-body strength," which was very exciting. She said later that everyone excels and struggles with different aspects of the activity at first: dancers often struggle with pulling themselves up on the pole; rock-climbers and lifters typically excel at that but struggle with remembering the routines.

Saturday roundup

Experts agree that calm and trust, not panic and quarantine, will end the ebola outbreak.

If you thought poachers weren't doing enough damage: their poisoning vultures is killing animals even more efficiently.

This week we lost three amazing people--Mervin Susser, Helen Bamber, and Ahmed Seif--who gave so much to the world.

If the President cares about the planet, he'd best reconsider steak night.

This tweet basically sums up the issue with "anti-rape nail polish,"
But you can find additional angles here and here, and if you're still skeptical that this pesky broader concept of rape culture exists, see here and here.

Sigh. There's nothing hypocritical about aspiring to a higher standard than you are able to achieve at any given moment (i.e., smoking even as you're trying to quit), much less wishing better on someone you love (i.e., discouraging your children from smoking, even though you're struggling to quit). See also the second letter re: apt responses to rudeness.

Speaking of rudeness: even if it's legitimate for you to be concerned about an unusual situation (and an interracial family isn't one), this is not the way to handle it.

Tuvalu profits from the growing popularity of .tv.

Is Americans' newfound willingness to rent things (anything from tools to designer bags) an indicator of decreased individualism or of conspicuous consumption made affordable?
Science cats! This is a good time to think about how we can pose Gracie for next year's contest. I'll entertain any ideas that don't involve Schrodinger's Cat, which is the most unoriginal, cliched science-cat combination ever. I can get Gracie close to anything (eg., a telescope, microscope, etc.) if I smear cat food on it. So get thinking.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday roundup

Where did Libya's wealth go?

Go ahead, tell me more about how producing more food by way of improved technology is the answer to food insecurity, when so much is thrown away already.

Grain accumulates in North Dakota while oil monopolizes the railways.

Here's a doctor's perspective on animal testing for ALS research.

Alzheimer's eventually takes away one's ability to eat naturally, which also takes away a source of joy, comfort, and self.

This trashy, contrived PMS study does social science no favors.

Where people live, by profession.

Wealth, also mapped:

“No one beats up America better than Americans,” he wrote. “They openly debate their inequality, conduct rigorous studies about it, argue about economics vs. culture as causes…. And the debate is so fierce that the rest of the world looks on, and joins in lamenting America’s problems. A shame: we’d do better to get a little angrier at our own.”
A Brit wrote that, fittingly; Brits can be notoriously inept at criticism.

Restaurants (apart from their restrooms) are no place for pooping.

The vegan police help no one.

OMG! Playboy gets it right on catcalling.

Look at these amazing pictures taken from/by Voyager.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday night

Mom: A. really gets on my nerves, but it makes me sad to think that she's leaving tomorrow.
Dad: Who doesn't get on your nerves?
Mom: Nobody else does, really. You don't.
Dad: Ha!
Mom: I get along perfectly with everyone else.
Dad: Just keep telling yourself that.

This followed an epic fight over my having vacuumed. When I did yoga this morning, I observed the filthiness of the floor in all its glorious detail, but didn't have time to do anything about it. But when I got back from my friend's house and looked for something near the floor, I saw all the dirt again and had to vacuum. So I did. Mom rolled with it until I rolled over a small piece of packing foam.

Mom: You're going to break the vacuum!
A.: No, I'm not. 
Mom: That's it! Turn on the TV!
A.: No, let me finish.

I vacuumed the living room and the stairs, and upstairs hallway. And collected an impressive amount of dust.

Mom: Turn on the TV!
A.: I'm busy!
Mom: You're not achieving anything!

Everything looked cleaner already.

Mom, watching me empty the filter: That's all from when I vacuumed the other day.
A.: Okay.

I didn't tell her that I'd emptied the filter before starting. All that dust was new dust.

There aren't enough lotus flowers in the world

What I've learned from my four full days here is that all I can take is four full days here, under the best circumstances; three are better.

The best circumstances: it's nice out, so it's easy to get outside; I saw three different friends (one, twice) and spent a good chunk of three of the four days away from my parents. And they're still driving me up the wall. Yes, they.

We got out for that walk just in time (mom got over herself about when I finished the last post). Mom had a fit because she didn't like where dad parked, so she had to yell at him about it in the street for at least five minutes, but then we went for a nice leisurely walk. I wasn't quite nervous as we were getting back to the car, but I was annoyed by mom's dilly-dallying.

Dad: She'll just do it on purpose if she senses that you're in a hurry. You know she loves to dilly-dally at other people's expense.
A.: Yes, yes I do.

I know that dad deals with a lot of crap and I need to keep cutting him slack, but I'm just continually frustrated with his inability to deal with things. Like dust. Can he really not get a real vacuum, and vacuum? This lack of domestic skill manifests itself in particular with food. You've heard me complain about how he doesn't refrigerate things as needed and how he makes bread stale faster. But it's only partly about food; it's more about not listening.

We got back exactly fifteen minutes before a friend was going to pick me up, so I took the opportunity to start cooking chard for dinner (I'd just turn it off and leave it covered when I left) and set tofu to drain. When I got back, the tofu was back in its water, but whatever; dad couldn't know the purpose of bricking tofu. I set the chard aside into a bowl so I could use the pan for the tofu.

Dad: I'm going to try the chard.
A.: Okay, but it's not very good as it is. I'm going to mix it with the tofu when it's done.

Dad tries the chard.

Dad: It doesn't taste like much.
A.: Okay, mom.
Dad: It needs more seasoning.
A.: Right?
Dad: I'm just telling you my opinion.
A.: And I'm telling you that I just told you that it wasn't going to taste like much yet, so why are you telling me that it doesn't taste like much?

Yesterday, the same thing happened with corn tortillas.

Dad: These aren't very good.
A.: [Eye roll] I told you to wrap something in them. Corn tortillas are only good plain when they're fresh.
Dad: They're just really bland.
A.: What did I just say (for the second time)?

The phone rang. Dad told mom not to answer it, but she did. With the TV at full volume. Who does that? That was a rhetorical question; they do it to me all the time (or even call me when it's on) and I have to tell them to turn off the sound.

As we speak, my parents are fighting over what to do over a repeat phone call from what may or may not be Capital One credit cards (the other possibility is that it's a phishing scam). I had to interject at one point with, "OK EVERYONE BE QUIET, NOW!" because I couldn't take it.

Mom: They're just around the corner; we can go talk to them in person.
A.: The bank is not affiliated (or very loosely affiliated) with the credit card company. The branch will be of no help to you. Here's what you're going to do...
Mom: But they're just over there.
A.: What did I just say? Anyway, when I get fraud-inquiry calls, they leave a message, and these guys haven't been leaving messages so I'm skeptical. But if there is fraud on your card...
Mom: Let's just go over there.
A.: I give up.

She's been going on and on and on--she's said "let's just go over there" ten times since I first typed up the conversation.

Mom: Why call? That just complicates things. Why not just go over there.

In between, she also got a rant in there about how dad moved the cans from the basement to the pantry.

Who cares that I'm not wearing pants?

I try to appreciate the moments when mom is not being full-out nasty, even if she's still being inappropriate or not helpful. I think I've mentioned before that her gossiping makes me very uncomfortable. I didn't want to hear about the pregnant neighbor's drama with the baby's father the first time around. I don't want to hear about other people's relationships, much less mom's theories about why their lives are the way they are. I just want to scream, "that's none of your business!" But I don't.

The recurring theme this morning was mom's trying to talk to me--about these things, among others--as I was trying to do things. Which would have been fine, except for the constant "are you listening??" and the requisite annoyance when I snap the fourth time I answer that question. It culminated when I was dying my hair. Mom started on about a friend's daughter ("she used to sing terribly...") as I was mixing the henna and continued as I had to leave the room to get the gloves, etc.

Mom: Are you listening??
A.: Yes, I'm listening. I can hear you from the next room.

It reached a level of absurdity when I was washing the henna out of my hair, which I did with the garden hose (trust me, it's much more efficient than using a shower nozzle, and you don't get henna all over the shower). And I have the whole henna process down to where I do it in normal clothes without worrying about getting it on them.

So, I'm standing there, spraying water onto my head.

Dad: The water falling into the bucket is green.
A.: Right.
Mom: I never liked that guy. You should hear the way he talks to her!
A.: Why is the flow so weak??
Dad: Oh, it's adjustable. I can adjust it.
A.: Please do.

So now there's a stronger spray of water hitting my head.

Mom: Do you hear those dogs? They're really cute, but they're not the dogs I would get. I prefer full-sized dogs. We can go for a walk to look at those dogs. Do you want to see the dogs.
A.: Later, mom.
Dad: You still have some henna-mud on this side.
A.: Thanks.
Mom: I don't mind small dogs; I just don't want one for myself. Do you want to go see them.
A.: Maybe later.

Mom kept going on about the neighbors. Dad and I went to the store, came back. I noted that if we were going to go for a walk, we needed to go now because I had early-afternoon plans. Dad said to tell mom.

A.: Mom... why aren't you wearing any pants?
Mom: It's hot out.
A.: Shorts?
Mom: Whom am I bothering? Who cares? That's why I asked you to fix this (long) shirt.
A.: Fine. Anyway, if we want to go for a walk, we need to go now...
Mom: We'll go when I'm done.
A.: Then you and dad can go on your own.

Twenty minutes later

Mom: I don't enjoy conversation with you. It's nothing but rudeness. Feel free not to visit again.


Mom: I don't find conversation with you enjoyable.

At least she's calmly muttering her insults today

Mom: I feel no joy when you visit. Any feelings I ever had toward you are dead. Only coldness emanates from you: the coldness of a know-it-all.

Dad and I thought today was shaping up to be peaceful day. At least she's saying these things, rather than screaming them.

I was doing yoga when mom came downstairs, but luckily, she went outside rather than talking to me (not before throwing a shirt at me so that I'd sew on a button, but still). I told her I'd get to it as soon as I was done. But then she started talking to me from the garden, through the window.

Mom: Come look at these flowers!
A.: Not now, mom. I'm busy. I'll look at them later.
Mom: Suit yourself.

Mom kept talking to me (i.e., to herself). She came in just as I was finishing up.

Mom: Have you finished?
A.: Finished what?
Mom: Sewing the button.
A.: I'm just about to start.
Mom: Get on it, because look at what I have to wear in the meantime.

Dad and I have had conversations with her about not going outside, even to the garden, in various states of undress, but she doesn't react well to these conversations at all.

I started looking for needles. Mom started rambling.

Mom: Yeah, dad just keeps moving everything around and I can't find anything anymore. I don't even try. Are you listening to me?
A.: Yes, I'm listening.
Mom: I need one of those brooms that inverts onto itself, so you don't have to... are you listening??
A.: Yes, yes I'm listening.

I find a needle and some thread, and get to threading it.

Mom: What side does the window need to be cleaned from? Look at it. Look at it!
A.: Mom! Do you want me to look at the window or do you want me to sew your button?
Mom: I can sew the button myself! Having to ask you to do it obviously costs me much more! You are so cold. The coldness of a know-it-all emanates from you, but I've told you that. I don't need for you to visit anymore.
A.: Here, your button is on.
Mom: Thank you.

Saturday morning roundup

Rest in peace, Simin Behbahani.

I have very mixed feelings about the stunt itself (especially given its success) and supporting medical animal testing (I have no issue with stem-cell research). I'd need to do more research on how unnecessary and ineffective it is, both scientifically and in general:
But if you really want to support medical research, get on the phone to your member of Congress and demand a stop to cutting the National Institutes of Health budget, experts say.

Finally, get comfortable with the fact that people will joke about your diet, talk about your diet in excess, criticize your diet and ask you questions about your diet. Remember that what you choose to eat is your business, and you don't owe anyone an explanation.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Still violently ranting

Mom is at it again. She's ranting about how dad has ruined everything, moved everything around. She arranged everything, and he moved it behind her back. Why are those papers there, why are things there. What did he do with the pantry? She's screaming her head off and just knocked a bunch of things, including my phone, off of a table. Dad left and went for a walk because he couldn't take it. I spent most of the day out of the house, and I don't blame him for needing to get out.  I keep telling her that everything is where it always has been, but she accuses me of lying. She's ranting about how he moved her papers, took cans out of the basement where it's cool. She's threatening to take everything and pile it up in dad's office.

Mom: Everything that's good in this house, I brought here. He only knows how to ruin things! I did everything good!
A.: Very good, mom.
Mom: Who asked you?
A.: Whom are you screaming at?
Mom: What else am I to do?
A.: Not scream?

She's still screaming.

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