Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tuesday roundup

Kids are bad for the climate and climate change is bad for kids.

I woke up to headphones trending on Twitter:



This is the best response to the provoking article.
By step 4 I’ve learnt that you can’t understand a basic body language brush-off and are therefore a direct threat to my personal safety. My brain is in fight or flight, checking for escape routes, it’s trying to figure out just how aggressively you’re going to react to any further action I take to extract myself from a situation entirely not of my own making and it is praying they use a flattering photo of me on the news, not that one when my front-facing camera went off accidentally that time.
That's largely in response to what can be summed up by this:
Women love to test guys to see how confident they really are and a favorite test of women is to ignore a guy’s attempts to converse with her and see what he will do next. Will he walk away in shame, or will he remain calm and continue talking to her in a confident, easy-going manner?
Um, no. Fuck no.

***
On the topic of yesterday's post, in which I excerpted a response to the "women drink because the patriarchy" article, which noted the fact that it's hard to separate what's ours from what's socially imprinted: the author noted, as an example, that she prefers her legs hairless. Is that because of the patriarchy? Who knows.

I have spent a lot of money lasering my legs to the point of hairlessness, and I'm fairly confident that it's not because of the patriarchy (though--I take her point--who knows). So today I was pinged by this dude on OKC, and what I love about OKC is that there are questions--questions that allow you to instantly disqualify troglodytes or others who are full-out unacceptable. So this dude had asserted in his answer to a question that, yes, women do have "an obligation" to keep their legs shaved. Bye. Bye and fuck you. My preference for hairless legs does not make your notion that women are obligated to do anything regarding their appearance, less revolting. You can have a preference; you may prefer women with hairless legs. That does not translate to an obligation. Bye and fuck you.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday roundup

Has Saudi Arabia really wrought all that it is accused of having wrought?

Is China censoring Canadian citizens/residents? Wait, Canada can’t/won't protect its citizens from harassment by agents of a foreign government??

So someone sent me the original trending article, and my response was very similar to this:
Perhaps it’s because I’ve never had a drug or alcohol problem, but for me, drinking with other women isn’t just coping or complacency. 
But I also appreciated this:
Like most women who call themselves feminists, I know that living in a sexist world shapes my life and choices. It’s probably why I feel “cleaner” with shaved legs and like to wear bright lipstick. In one specific instance, I’m pretty sure it’s why I was denied a promotion. In most cases, though, when it comes to decisions I make, it’s difficult to separate what is and isn’t related to the patriarchy. Do I feel more powerful with short hair because of the patriarchy? Do I pick my cuticles when I get nervous because of the patriarchy? Do I have a distant relationship with my mom because of the patriarchy? Did I get drunk last night because of the patriarchy? Who knows.
As I've previously stated, I don't have long hair because of the patriarchy; I have long hair because it's the only way my hair works. It's less work when it's long. But this also evokes the strong-is-the-new-skinny debate. I'm the first to argue that even skinny isn't about the patriarchy; women prefer skinny for themselves and not for men. Oh, first, an aside:
Every woman should feel free to hit the beach. I have mixed feelings about the speedo ban (satirical or otherwise) because at heart, body-shaming is always wrong. But the double-standard is palpable: if men feel free to hit the beach in their doughy states, so should women.
I found the backlash to the idiot who hated on the gymnastics team's abs refreshing but also fascinating. He has every right to not find the gymnasts' abs attractive--we all have things we find attractive or not--but his sin was presuming that those abs were their for his consumption. If you consider the reactions to the original picture, they're along the lines of "goals" and "wow" (and wow indeed); they're not about impressing dudes, as this woman astutely points out:
And that is the key point: these are our abs; bless you if you find them attractive, but they sure as hell aren't about you either way.

And that's how I feel about strength/muscle tone: you can like it or not, but it's not for you. So--even if we accepted the premise that skinny was a thing of the patriarchy, and I don't--strong is even less so. Strong is for us, and if dudes want to admire it that's their call. But it's not about them--and it sends a message that it's not about them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Nerdy Wednesday roundup

Very insightful analysis of the various dynamics in Syria and a pretty good takedown of wishful backward thinking.

We're not moving nuclear weapons to Romania.

There's no scandal about meeting with Mohammed Younus, etc.

How badly do certain things hurt?

Don't negotiate a big decision and then fall back on your part of the commitment.

South Africa: mundane thoughts and light anthropology

The other guide mentioned Trevor Noah, I don't remember in what context. I asked him (the guide) what his (Mr. Noah's) accent was. He said 'white South African' of the Johannesburg variety. I would have liked to ask him what South Africans thought of him overall (I'm a fan) and what their reaction was to his getting the show, but we were on our way to the airport at the time.

There were many accents, some of which you could tell were class-based. South Africa has 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, and 9 "black" languages. I was surprised to hear that the indigenous people (e.g., Khoisan) spoke Afrikans as a native language. In Cape Town, there was also a population of ethnic Malays and Indonesians--descendants of the slaves imported by the Dutch. Everything was in English--the airline didn't bother to announce things in Afrikaans--and that English was pretty poetic and polite. And interesting. "Thank you" was often followed by "may you be blessed with many children," which to me sounds like a contradiction in terms.

I've been to developing countries on every continent, and South Africa was the first where you could be completely isolated from the fact that you were in a developing country. Everywhere else--throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, India, Russia--even in the rich areas, you always knew you were in a poor country. In South Africa--the most unequal country in the world--you didn't, unless you were driving past the shantytowns. Stellenbosch the town could have been Palo Alto or Wellesley; it was visibly affluent and full of white people being rich. Cape Town boasts the highest standard of living in the country and also the starkest divide between rich and poor. 

We were in the most touristed areas of the country and didn't even pretend at the authentic experience. In Cape Town, we had Thai every night (and it was perfect). We did wash it down with high-quality South African wine. Like I said, I wasn't about to have bitlong.

One of the guides asked who among the group was taking malaria pills, and--when a handful of people raised their hands--more or less laughed at them. In winter, in the most developed parts of the country, malaria was not really an issue. I've also heard (from trusted sources) that, unless you're living in the malaria-prone place, it's a better bet to skip the pills and, should you contract the disease, seek medical help upon returning home. The pills are pretty awful in and of themselves.

It's odd to be back; things feel different. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

South Africa

When you see the Southern Cross for the first time
You understand now why you came this way
 --Crosby, Stills & Nash
This wasn't my first Southern Cross, but it hadn't lost its magic and never will. I couldn't get a picture of it, but I guess that's the other poignant thing about stars--you have to revel in them in the moment. This moment was perfect--perfect weather; the last time I saw mind-blowing stars was from the freezing-cold, glacier-level campsite on the Inca Trail. Just as stunning, much less comfortable. Much less suitable to presence, in the zen sense; it's hard to stay in the now when you're worried about losing your toes. But Saturday night was mild and perfect. We'd just past a family of elephants, including a couple of babies and a teenager or two, who were playing.

And then, a couple of hippos, who dunked their heads back under water. We stopped by the water and enjoyed some amarula.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday roundup

For this election, chickens came home to roost.

Baltimore's police competed with DC's for mistreatment of sexual assault survivors.

It is (still) unconscionable to abandon Afghan translators by slowrolling their visas.

Second-Amendment people aren't crazy.
Many gun owners I know, especially those who are most passionate about defending the Second Amendment, take pride in reminding others that they are law-abiding. They are responsible for their conduct and for the safe handling and storage of a firearm; they try not to lose their tempers, and to argue their ideas with facts and civility. Trump, in this sense, is harming them; by suggesting that, to use his phrase, “Second Amendment people” would turn to violence because their favored candidate loses an election is an insult to gun owners everywhere. By feeding a caricature, Trump is effectively advancing the case of those who would seek to curtail access to guns. Truly protecting the Second Amendment means identifying those who are misusing it for their own political purposes.

Please talk about women in the Olympics as full human beings rather than in terms of their bodies and relationships with men.

Don't get excited about your free-range meat; it's still polluting as f*.

There's lots of physics to pole dancing, which may be why I struggled with it.

All about neutron stars.

The only hair tips for DC.


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Saturday roundup

Meet Tegla Loroupe, of Team Refugee. Also, meet this refugee jeweler.

"Harry Potter" readers know a dangerous demagogue when they see one. Although you have to admit that this is awesome:
Trump once even expressed a wish during the Reagan years to lead the negotiations with the Soviets to reduce strategic nuclear weapons. At a reception in New York City around 1990, he ran into the U.S. START negotiator, Ambassador Richard Burt. According to Burt, Trump expressed envy of Burt’s position and proceeded to offer advice on how best to cut a “terrific” deal with the Soviets. Trump told Burt to arrive late to the next negotiating session, walk into the room where his fuming counterpart sits waiting impatiently, remain standing and looking down at him, stick his finger into his chest and say “Fuck you!”
Even as the overall reality is not. So here's what to do:
To inspire democracy abroad, we must of course practice it better at home. But we should reject the moral relativism that says because our own union is not perfect, we are no different from the despots.
That was Amb. McFaul. This is Sarah Vowell:
 ...[Hillary Clinton] isn’t contributing to the climate crisis by spewing the sort of unconstitutional nonsense about Muslims that keeps the religion scholar Reza Aslan driving from one TV station after another to re-explain that about a fourth of the world’s population might not be comprised entirely of murderers.
Pig shit: it's what's in your water. Meat is killing you; even the protein.

Ed Yong on microbes.




The real finding about flossing is that people don't know how to interpret studies.


Philosophy majors actually do pretty well.

Even parents bristle at parental entitlement and parental smugness.

Oh, these quotes about heartbreak.

As someone who has had little trouble learning languages, most of Lauren Collins' piece did not resonate with me. But this part did:
In addition to being French and American, Olivier and I were translating, to varying degrees, across a host of Steiner’s categories: scientist/artist, atheist/believer, man/woman. It seemed sometimes as if generation was one of the few gaps across which we weren’t attempting to stretch ourselves. I had been conditioned to believe in the importance of directness and sincerity, but Olivier valued a more disciplined self-presentation. If, to me, the definition of intimacy was letting it all hang out, to him that constituted a form of thoughtlessness. In the same way that Olivier liked it when I wore lipstick, or perfume—American men, in my experience, often claimed to prefer a more “natural” look—he trusted in a sort of emotional maquillage, in which one took a few minutes to compose one’s thoughts instead of walking around, undone, in the affective equivalent of pajamas.
and this was interesting:
Schnapsidee—the way a German would describe a plan he’d hatched under the influence of alcohol. Pilkunnussija—Finnish for “comma fucker,” a grammar pedant. In Mundari, ribuy-tibuy refers to the sight, sound, and motion of a fat person’s buttocks. Jayus, in Indonesian, denotes a joke told so poorly that people can’t help but laugh. Knullrufs is Swedish for “post-sex hair.” Gümüş servi means “moonlight shining on the water” in Turkish. Culaccino is the Italian word for the mark left on a table by a cold glass.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Saturday roundup

Khizr Khan's powerful speech and Trump's unconscionable response.

In a mostly decent op-ed, this is an unbelievably meaningless statement:
“The West, meanwhile, should use its alliance with Saudi Arabia and the new opening with Iran to caution against measures that threaten regional security.”
I should go work at a think tank and get paid for platitudes. 

There will always be trade-offs between security and civil liberties and they'll always need to be debated.

Brazil's water is worst than anyone imagined. But be inspired about this Syrian refugee, who will be competing.

People are in denial (or willful ignorance) about the environmental cost of meat.

For skeptics of the idea that the government could ever help, look no further than the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, doing its job and protecting people from predators.

Nobody should be celebrating the DNC hack, but no one should be surprised.

Joyce Beatty wore the dress Melania did, better.

It's official: there is no level of success a woman can achieve and not be told to smile.

I'm old enough to remember the WalMart t-shirt controversy and to know how far we've come.

This poem about rising from the ashes is everything. So is this column on preparing to end a relationship. And so is Ask Polly's column on bravado:
Did we assume that men are the ones who fly around and bloviate, and women are the ones who silently get shit done behind the scenes, hidden from view?  Sometimes I think that if I could stand in the doorway between my office and the office of a very fast typist who was paid to listen to me trying hard to remember things, I would be much more successful or world-renowned or at least a little bit more comfortable with my own arrogance. I would proceed with direction and purpose, guided by the certainty that this world is mine as much as anyone else's. 
See also: Polly on first-world problems (excerpt not continuous):
...I’d like to tackle the first-world problem of first-world people criticizing other first-world people for trying to solve their first-world problems... I want to defend the people who write to me, to defend their right to consider and solve their problems using all the resources available to them… We live in a world where we are constantly, actively seduced by things we don’t have and can’t afford, while we’re simultaneously chided for wanting more than what we have, either more material wealth or more happiness or more love or more job satisfaction. This cultural paradox leads to all kinds of dimwitted confusion, including privileged people calling other privileged people privileged for merely acknowledging their own troubles.
So let’s reexamine this widely held sentiment that if you're basically warm and fed and reasonably healthy, any problems you have are automatically trivial... The presumption here is that longing for more when you have a lot is somehow a crime.
I agree about a truce between users and non-users of makeup (actually, I believe in minding one's own f*ing business and staying out of other people's choices). I've been asked (by my mother) "what's that thing on your forehead?" and by WMF "what's that thing on your cheek?" and neither time--though I'm sure the latter was to make a point about makeup--was I inspired to wear it.

I'm a confessed cruciverbalist.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

On dating

I didn't include Jess Zimmerman's piece on "high-maintenance" women in my roundup because I figured dating issues deserved their own post. It meshes with other articles I've linked to and discussed--on the Cool Girl, the Chill Girl, etc. An excerpt:
For a woman who has learned to make herself physically and emotionally small, to live literally and figuratively on scraps, admitting that you have an appetite is a source of cavernous fear. Women are often on a diet of the body, but we are always on a diet of the heart.The low-maintenance woman, the ideal woman, has no appetite. This is not to say that she refuses food, sex, romance, emotional effort; to refuse is petulant, which is ironically more demanding.
Pair with this insightful Ask Polly response:

So stop asking for water and then pretending it’s wine. Ask for wine. And if your wine tastes like water, send that shit back! Don’t pretend that you didn’t want wine in the first place. DON’T FUCK THE DUDE WITH THE WATER AND THEN TELL HIM ALL YOUR SECRETS.

Ask for wine. Don’t be embarrassed that you want wine. Just say “I am someone who drinks wine now. Nothing else will do. It’s okay if you can’t give it to me. I will find someone who will, or I will make it myself. I am good and strong and I can do lots of things. I am beautiful and broken and I deserve this.”

Sunday roundup

Common arguments against gun control are misguided.

Who are these people? Seriously, how warped does one's mind have to be to come up with this:
Melania is "elegant, and after what’s been in the White House now it would be a nice change,” said Karen of North Carolina, who would give only her first name. “Michelle Obama is not elegant, no. She’s too outspoken. And she doesn’t like America. She and her husband don’t like America.”
Michelle Obama came up constantly and unprompted, this poorly dressed, inelegant, aggressive presence who would be neutralized by Melania’s “grace” and “poise” and “intelligence” on Pennsylvania Avenue.
I know that facts don't matter to some people, but seriously? Are they living in an alternate universe?

Also, who deems herself the arbiter of what bodies are worthy of existing?

What if vegans are on to something? And why does the word itself carry so much baggage? I've never been a fan of the label, not because I fear the connotations but because I prefer not to identify myself by way of food. "I am vegan" is a statement of identity; "I don't eat animal products" is not.

An interesting approach to keeping an eye on potential red flags without creating them where they don't exist. If anything, I've ignored too many red flags and put up with far too much bad behavior from men. I'm ready to err--if I have to err--on the side of cutting no slack.

You'd be surprised at how many flights--specifically (or not specifically), "an inordinate amount"--are delayed because of coffee makers.

It is inevitable that for every thinkpiece, there will be a counterthinkpiece about how the target is a class issue. In response to the Times' profile of Marie Kondo and her cult of decluttering, we have an op-ed about how decluttering is a privilege.  And my response to each of these thinkpieces is yes and no. Yes, you have to have the financial security to have the luxury of buying something again if you need it. But like many things that are a privilege,  it's not just the privileged that would benefit from them. I think of my mother's compulsive buying of things that were inexpensive, because they were inexpensive; things she didn't need, but thought she might some day, so she had to buy them when the price was right. So she spent more money, on things that would only take up space. I would argue that not amassing stuff is a sound financial move. 

People process things differently, bring different emotional responses. So reminds us Martha Nussbaum in this fascinating profile.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Thursday roundup

Neil DeGrasse Tyson on sciencing while black.

It's very technically true that more white people are killed by police, but that doesn't take into consideration population and other complicating factors.

The We Are the Left letter is everything. And Sanders holdouts didn't get it then and don't get it now.

OMG this cover:
How much power do the Chinese people have?

How will the Iran agreement be verified?

You can be well or poorly nourished whether you're a vegan or omnivore.

Food waste is unconscionable.

Drown out the haters this weekend: go see Ghostbusters.

I've thankfully never experienced "coercive control" in a romantic relationship (I have experienced textbook passive agressiveness), but mom was always a master of coercive control.

I have experienced breadcrumbing. Unintentional, irl breadcrumbing.

Carolyn Hax on matism and again on choosing happiness.

Have you experienced any of these feelings for which you didn't know the words?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunday roundup

Rest in peace, Elie Wiesel.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson's latest foray into scientism backfired.

It's no accident that tech support sucks

Juicing is pointless and incredibly wasteful.

LA's museum of broken relationships

For all my mother's parental shortcomings, she never did anything like this. Twitter responded with #ifmyvaginawereasandwich.

That was world's worst mom; here's world's worst boss.

Dr. Nerdlove on pursuing without being a creep.

Exercise is so much about learning "how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable."


Monday, July 4, 2016

On whether intentions matter

In my last post I talked about coming to terms with mom's overbearingness and having to prioritize my own sanity over her feelings. I've become a huge proponent in prioritizing one's own needs--safety, sanity, etc.--over the feelings of others, and nowhere is this more of an issue than in interacting with dudes. In the roundup, I linked to a Carolyn column about abuse/control creep--about confronting controlling behaviors immediately (also known as setting boundaries). Abusive or controlling people will often audition borderline behaviors to test your response. Borderline behaviors offer them plausible deniability: if called out, they can fall back on how they had no idea they were being inappropriate. If not called out, they keep going. Sometimes they really do have no idea they're being inappropriate, which brings us back to the issue of whether intentions matter. When your safety and sanity are at stake, they don't.

Mom: a status update

I washed my hair in the rain today. I can only do that when it's raining hard and when I'm sufficiently motivated--i.e., I have to wash out henna and I don't want it staining my pristine bathtub or clogging my drain. My mother once washed her hair--or at least showered--in a thunderstorm. Thinking about that made me think of the time before I resented my mother.

My mother was institutionalized this weekend. It was about time--it should have happened sooner but because it takes drastic events to motivate my father, it didn't happen until she wandered off (again). He'd been staying home to keep her from wandering off, but he couldn't stay in the same room all the time and that's when it happened. She's at the point where she thinks that she owns the surrounding houses and that other people are occupying them--and she's happy to confront them over it. She can't be left alone for a second, and my dad couldn't watch her that closely if he wanted to. So the inevitable happened: she wandered off, found police, and was taken to the hospital. Everyone agreed that it was time for her to be under constant care.

Monday roundup

Meat is destroying the planet.

How much radiation from Fukushima is in the oceans?

Bits of Borno is a beautiful way to spotlight the humanity in terrorized Nigeria.

This is an interesting take on thinkpieces (and people) that somewhat cluelessly promote experiences over stuff. I'm a fan of experiences over stuff--and I'm the first to say that home-ownership isn't for everyone, and I didn't think it was for me until it was--but I'm also the first to understand that not everyone has the same choices. Unlike the douchebro in the referenced thinkpiece, I don't believe that burning money enhances one's experience. "Experience" isn't the same as luxury or conspicuous consumption. See also Carolyn's response on how to answer a kid's question about why her house is smaller.

See also Carolyn's take on what may or may not be a sign of abuse/control. The scenario reminded me of my mother (translation: I vote yes, it is an unhealthy/controlling behavior). It sounds to me like the guy is staying angry for the sake of staying angry. I'm a bit believer in trying to understand why someone is upset by something that you might find innocuous and validating their reaction... but it sounds like the woman did that and the guy is still being a dick.

I don't subscribe to the idea that any borrowing from another culture is appropriation--and I don't generally believe that western yoga practice is appropriation, thought that piece makes some good points--but I am disappointed in Jo Rowling.

Wow, the Jane Hirschfield poem embedded in this piece ("For What Binds Us").

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tuesday rant

I noted in my last post that my creepy date of a couple of weeks ago reminded me a lot of RM. He didn't creep me out because I associated him with RM; he creeped me out because he behaved like RM. Creepy is as creepy does. And creepy people audition ambiguous behaviors to see what they can get away with, so if you do call them out on it, they (like RM) fall back on "oh, I'm just clueless and bumbling, I had no idea that would make you uncomfortable."

That said, once you've identified a borderline/ambiguous behavior as part of a more nefarious pattern, you're instantly wary. This is analagous to an important concept in diversity circles: your intentions may be good or neutral, but what you don't know understand is, through the other person's lens, what you're doing is old. Street harassment, or telling a woman to smile (the two are not mutually exclusive), hits a nerve. Asking an Asian or Latina where she's "really" from hits a nerve. Infringing on boundaries not only hits a nerve but sets off a red flag. I've seen this kind of thing before; I know where it's going and I don't like it.

Quick Tuesday roundup

Environmental racism: pollution from factory farms disproportionately affects poor and minority communities.

Crosswords need to do better.

On addiction (and heartbreak).

Parents brawl to get the money shot of their kids' graduating from kindergarten.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday roundup

Meet the women on the all-refugee Olympic team.

In politics, it pays to talk like a ten-year old. Although invoking the rhetoric of these two is an insult ot ten-year olds. Please read that horrible 'make America white again' screed--it's an amazing train wreck.

I can't get enough of these Scottish responses to Trump and these responses to Brexit. Check out this Chrome extension while you're at it.

I thought about subscribing to the Times but mom hair.

Mexican women protest harassment and American men don't take well to #nowomanever.

I used to cut dudes slack for awkwardness but I've learned that it's usually creepiness in disguise (or an excuse for creepiness). That dude I went out with a couple of weeks ago reminded me a lot of RM, and I'm now sure that a lot of RM's cluelessness was feigned so that he could fall back on an 'I'm such a nice guy, I was just confused' excuse (which he did several times).


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Thought experiment

Here's a twist on my thought experiment from last week: when is it worth putting up with someone's logistical shortcomings that are no fault of his own? The practical consequences of the shortcomings remain--you're still stuck putting in extra work and cleaning up the mess--but there's, say, a medical excuse. Thus far this question has been an academic one for me; logistical issues were hardly the only thing keeping me from the men I've dated who suffered from them. But would logistical issues be enough to sink an otherwise worthwhile relationship? And does it matter if those issues are not the person's fault?

An aside: I came downstairs the other morning to have to clean up a bunch of cat poop and cat vomit. The former pissed me off more, because it was deliberate and gratuitous, even though it was very easy to clean up. I thought 'this has got to stop.' I want the vomit to stop, too--that's a huge pain to clean up--and Gracie's on prescription boring food for now. I'd never consider abandoning an animal because she's sick, but for a split-second, the poop made me angry enough to wonder whether it was worth keeping her around. But this isn't about Gracie, whom I'm definitely going to keep, as much as she angers me sometimes. This is about an incredibly weird date I went on the other night.

I went out with this dude the other night who is (allegedly) dyslexic. He was so strange and his dyslexia was so exaggerated that I wondered whether he was making it up to hide something. He implied that he was a native English speaker in spite of his accent-- he told me he'd gotten his accent from the teachers in the international schools all over the world--but I know how accents work; I have studied linguistics and foreign language acquisition academically, and that is not how accents work. So I had to wonder whether the dyslexia, which he mentioned repeatedly, was a deception measure to explain away any indications of his not being a native English speaker.

I'll spare you most of the details and share only the weirdest ones. I'd already regretted agreeing to meet this man the day before our date, but thought how bad could it be. He sent me this super-douchey text, and at the time it didn't register quite how douchey it was (I was walking). He'd asked what I was doing later, and I said I was looking forward to getting back to my book.

Dude: What book? 
Me: 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami). Do you know it? 
Dude: I am; but have not read it yet 
Dude (5 minutes later): I do study Quantum theoretical physics and Chaos/string critical mass and events. It's fun once you learn how to roll with it :)

WTF? At the time, I thought, that's not what the book is about at all (maybe I wasn't far enough in, but now I am, and his comment is neither here nor there). More importantly, that doesn't impress me. I'm Russian; assholes who are good at math are a dime a dozen in my world. But that text--douchiness/condescension apart--doesn't even make sense. "Chaos/string critical mass and events" is not a thing. Even if you try to parse it, none of it makes sense. I'm pretty sure that string theory is very widely discredited at this point, and if he "studied" it, he would know that.  

He texted me the day we were to meet up to ask if I'd like to have dinner as well as going for a walk. I emphatically did not. First of all, I hate dinner dates (early on). You could be sitting across from someone for a very long time with nothing to talk about. It's so much less awkward to be doing something (like walking). I didn't tell him that, though; I told him something else that was true: my week was full of restaurant get-togethers, and I didn't want to add another one. I was getting restauranted-out. I added that, if he wanted to, we could meet later so he'd have time to eat first. But he showed up even earlier than we'd agreed.

Things were already weird--I already wanted to escape--by the time this next thing happened.

Dude: You said you liked Vietnamese food. Are there any Vietnamese restaurants around here?
A.: There's one just up the street.
Dude: You don't say! What would you say if we went there?
A.: Um... I mean, I won't be eating, but if you're very hungry you could get some takeout.
Dude: Okay, then. Lead the way. I didn't really understand what you said about being restauranted out.
[I reiterated what I'd said about being restauranted out.]
Dude: Oh. So what do you do when you're restauranted out like that?
A.: I make my own food [like a normal person. What the fuck do you think I do?]

This really reminded me of RM.

So we go to the restaurant, and instead of ordering takeout, he sits down. In retrospect, I should have said "if this is what we're doing, I'm leaving." But I didn't.

He asks me if there's anything vegetarian on the menu. I point out that there is.

Dude: But it says 'chicken.'
A.: That's fake chicken.

Eventually, his food comes.

Dude: This looks like real chicken.
A.: It is real chicken.
Dude: You said it was fake chicken.
A.: No, [asshole,] I said there was fake chicken on the menu.

Dude: This is so much food. I didn't realize it would come with noodles.

It was under the 'vermicelli' category of the menu.

This conversation was infuriating, but how much shit could I give him for it if he was legitimately dyslexic? I don't know. But I do know that it didn't mitigate the annoyingness of the situation. I knew that even if I'd wanted to, I couldn't date a man who didn't pay attention to details--even if he had dyslexia to blame for it.

Luckily, I was so livid and creeped out by the whole situation that the cause of his other issue was moot; finding myself in a restaurant with him even though that's exactly where I didn't want to be, after I'd made that clear, was a 'Gift of Fear' scenario. He finished eating, we walked back to where he was parked, and I got the f* away from him.

Quick Saturday roundup

I could have told you this, but science and Carolyn say it better: it's not helpful to hound one's child about weight.

Science:
A parent’s comments on a daughter’s weight can have repercussions for years afterward, contributing to a young woman’s chronic dissatisfaction with her body – even if she is not overweight.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Brian Wansink, a professor and the director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, characterized the parents’ critical comments as having a “scarring influence.”

Carolyn:
No child — no being — deserves such cruelty.
The adult thing for you to do now is to recognize once and for all that your mother is too . . . something — cruel, blind, stunted, angry? — to be trusted with your emotional health and that you have to protect it, nurture it, care for it yourself.
***
I don't want to pile on with regard to a very unhelpful response to the alligator snatching, but I want to make a point I meant to make (and maybe did) when the Harambe incident happened. And I want to make this point outside the context of race and double standards--which I know was the context (together with the issue of 'compassion fatique')--of the original tweet. My point is to be made from the perspective of someone who is constantly complaining about toddlers and their parents--toddler misbehavior, parental entitlement, unwillingness to set limits, indifference to the damage the kids can do. For example, I was at the library last Saturday and there was a kid riding around in a small tricycle. I was very close to telling him and his dad that if he were to roll over my foot, I wouldn't be the only one in tears. So you know where I stand on parents needing to watch their fucking kids.

But neither of these cases--Harambe or the alligator--was an issue of parental negligence. One was an issue of kids will wander off and you can't keep an eye on them ever single second, and the other was an issue of shit happens. Let's not blame the parents for either of these. Let's save parental blame for the parents who, for example, in some way place firearms where their kids can access them. That's parental negligence.

Also, no one is defending the offending tweet--in context or out of context. It was a super shitty thing to say. And the fact that people tweet worst things--death threats, personal attacks, images of gas chambers--isn't really the point for someone whose tweets don't fit in that category (though that point is directed toward the people who called it the worst tweet ever with no sense of perspective, since they don't get the hatred that women, POC, etc. regularly do). The lesson is that Twitter is a public forum and not the best place for stream-of-consciousness, when that stream can go horribly wrong. You can't have it both ways--i.e., Justine Sacco deserves eternal scorn and this woman doesn't--when both have apologized and seen the error of their tweets. Let's all take less pleasure in other people's downfall.

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