Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday roundup

Being poor is expensive.

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

The earth, since you were born.

Still confused about why blue LEDs are complicated?

Still confused about Gamergate?

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

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

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

OMG run away from this controlling dude.

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

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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Another Saturday roundup

Can Liberia's military redeem itself?

Europe's new or exacerbated human trafficking crisis.

Wait, some countries still use leaded gasoline??

China's rapid urbanization and agricultural decline.

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

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

Historically, covert intervention has only made things worse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helicopter parenting: not just for Americans.

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

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

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

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday ramble

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

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

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

Friday, October 10, 2014

Huge, massive roundup (with excerpts!)

The horrendous Central American human trafficking problem.

Historical horrors unearthed in Poland.

Unfathomable Soviet nostalgia in the Ukraine.

There's a correlation between pesticides and farmer suicides.

GMOs do not reduce soil loss.

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

Alzheimer's treatments?

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

The Nobel Prize in LEDs, explained.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giraffes are more amazing than we thought.

I'm about a week behind on Carolyn but I love this:
One of the most important things to know about someone, if not the most, before you make a home together is how she handles people who get on her bad side. It’s just a clear, concise, extremely reliable measure of character.
Does she turn on people lightly or arbitrarily, or only on matters of substance and only when they present her with no other choice?
Does she stoop to silent treatments, duplicity, gossip, revenge and other emotional war crimes, or is she forthright and civil in choosing to keep her distance?
Does she close herself off permanently once crossed, or is she open to forgiveness based on the relative severity of the harm done to her and/or on the sincerity of efforts to make amends?
The reason the beauty-industrial complex kicks up an acidic taste of contempt in so many of our mouths is that it can never quite capture the intoxicating magic of real-life intrigue and attraction and romance... Real-life beauty is a blur of motion, a flash of disbelief, an assured gesture, a long sigh that sings with intelligence and self-acceptance. We can't capture in two dimensions, or reduce to a series of numbers, the feelings that real human beings experience in the company of a woman with the confidence to own exactly who she is, to show where she's been, to listen closely and understand completely. A woman who loves her life, who can laugh at herself, but whose head isn't crowded and noisy. A woman who can focus and make room — real space — for you, and bathe you in her generosity and her compassion...
The guy who won't sleep with you because you're overweight is not a far cry from the guy who will only sleep with you because you've got a hot body. Either way, you feel like the main event, the REAL YOU, is a footnote... Everyone wants to be seen and loved for who they really are. Or they should want that, even if they can't want it, deep down inside, because they don't love themselves enough to believe that they are enough. There's nothing like being loved for exactly who you are. This is not outside of your reach, or anybody's reach. Not to state the obvious, but men who like you for YOU roll with whatever you're serving up. Men like to be turned on (hello, understatement), and if they dig the cut of your jib, they are going to find something hot about you to focus on. They are not sitting at their desks with a copy of Photoshop, zooming in on problem areas. 
So don't go on a crash diet just to find love. Don’t tell yourself that you'll only deserve love once you starve yourself for a while. Even if you're wildly successful at losing weight and then wildly successful at finding a man, you'll still be at risk of wasting a decade dating men who have no interest in the real magic of you, beneath your rocking-hot ass.
Here's one practical thing I do want you to do: You need to exercise every day. That's my recommendation to you and every other person reading this, no matter what size they happen to be. Because people — especially very smart people — require exercise to stay sane. They do. Exercise will help you feel vibrant and relaxed and gorgeous in your own skin. Exercise will improve your chemistry and that will improve your view of yourself. You also need to remind yourself that you're up for a challenge, that you can do something hard, even when you're swamped with big projects and you feel like shit and you just don't want to. You need to give yourself that gift every day...
It's okay. Some people won't like you. Some people will reject you. That's fine. That happens to everyone. The goal is to adapt, to learn not to take it personally. You know in your heart that you're not looking for just anyone. You're looking for someone who is turned on by YOU — your charms and your flaws and all of the magic inside of you. Maybe there are only a few people out there who can really appreciate YOU. That's okay. You don't need to appeal to everyone, or even 90 percent of the guys out there. You're hunting a rare species. Most of us are. Recognize that and don't read into every rejection.
And while I'm excerpting: this is from a (LARB) review of Lena Dunham's book:
The hyphenated word “self-involved” describes any story that involves the self. Yet the term is wielded mostly against women with an interest in expressing their experiences in a direct manner, without filtering their reflections through layers of metaphor, or packing them into a serious historical context, or lacing them with literary references, or intellectualizing so relentlessly that every shred of emotion is ground to a fine dust. Women writers can’t tell a few simple stories — “Here’s what happened to me and here’s how it felt” — the way Chuck Klosterman or David Sedaris might, without inspiring the herd to pull out their poison pens and scrawl those same words: SELF-INVOLVED.
In one chapter, for instance, she explains that she somewhat recklessly assumed that she was smart enough, and practical enough, to endure the company of a guy who treated her badly. She figured she could maintain “a strong sense of self-respect” even while putting up with an overbearing, detached boyfriend. The resulting insights are deceptively simple, but they resonate, thanks to Dunham’s straightforward conversational style: 
When someone shows you how little you mean to them and you keep coming back for more, before you know it you start to mean less to yourself. You are not made up of compartments! You are one whole person! What gets said to you gets said to all of you, ditto what gets done.
I'm somewhere in the middle of the abstainer-moderator. I've become more of a moderator since I've stopped caring. Sometimes just a little bit of something is perfect.
OMG the womansplainer!

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

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

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

The "cool girl" exists only in fiction.

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

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

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Saturday roundup

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

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

Personality and alzheimers.

Another great refugee farmer story.

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

Meet an inadvertent ISIL Twitter star.

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

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

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

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

Many seemingly progressive movements have a misogyny problem.

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

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

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

Just ewwww.

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

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

Ag-gag, implemented.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Throw vegans some love and we'll love you back

Native Foods is opening two cafes in DC, and I went to the pre-opening of the Dupont location on Thursday. I brought some (omnivore) friends, who liked the food as much as I did. One friend has celiac's and a number of specific food allergies, and the staff were uber-patient in answering her questions about what she could and couldn't eat. Which goes a long way. This friend loved the "peanut-butter cup" dessert, which actually looks like a parfait and apparently tastes like cheesecake.

I represent an untapped market, not just in terms of vegans, but in terms of people who will only go out for food when it's worth it (and being vegan makes more restaurants, less worth it). I opt for restaurants that have vegan options and make it easy to figure out what they are, and where the food is better than what I can make at home and more complicated than what I can easily make at home. Also, I tend to go out to eat socially, and people tend to defer to me (and any other people with dietary restrictions), so big note to restaurants: when you're giving vegans the finger, you are also losing the business of our friends. I have not only brought but introduced countless people to Busboys and Poets and Teaism (and now Native Foods)--people who wouldn't have heard of these places before, but who now go back with me and on their own--because these places are super vegan-friendly.

And if you're going to start with the "why do you have to make fake meat?" my only response is going to be, what makes it fake? Why are burgers more real when they're made from dead animals? The "fake" meat at Native Foods is probably a lot less processed than "real" meat.

So, welcome to DC, Native Foods. I'll be coming back often. And please consider opening a store in Alexandria, where vegans are way underserved.

Saturday roundup

European anti-semitism is getting real.

We should be able to have safe, reasoned debates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and so should synagogues in the U.S.

Eldercare in this country is a nightmare. What that woman's family went through is unconscionable.

Also unconscionable: that a mother is in jail for helping her daughter get an abortion.

Ferguson's police department rebroadcasts its need for adult supervision.

Poor students need more than scholarships.

A Syrian ambulance driver thinks of the cats.

California's rental market prices out the middle class, too.

Colorado bids at out-stupiding Texas in silly education initiatives.

Does inequality encourage conspicuous consumption?

Only clueless white people think cycling is for white people.

Natural gas is not the answer.

The abusive-behavior wheel is not an instruction manual.
Laci Green's open letter.

I probably can't muster *sympathy* for Kim K but the point is, her body is hers and images of her body are hers to release or not. 
I was not wowed by Emma Watson's speech (although I didn't read the whole thing), but I can't decide how I feel with this critique. I can't agree with the idea that it's wrong to appeal to allies on the basis that society is better off as a whole when any given group is empowered. And here's a more compelling way to explain intersectionality.

Love is complicated and so are children. But Scandal (which I still haven't seen) can help. (By the way, the Times still doesn't really get it (it being its Shonda Rhimes profile)).

Emotion doesn't cloud reason.

Chivalry needn't be confusing.

Paris Fashion Week isn't sure about breasts, and either is the Wonder Woman movie. The film industry, generally, has a gender problem.

If you're about to mommyjack, stfu.

Chinese tourists are unimpressed with Paris.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday rambles--updated

Jezebel ran a piece on regretting motherhood, and New York Magazine ran one on happily childless women. Nearly all of their thoughts resonate with me (ironically, Condi Rice's thought resonates most and Ashley Judd's resonates least) in some way or another. Unlike Condi, I am not a very religious person, but I nonetheless "at some very deep level believe that things are going to work out as they're supposed to. The key is to be open to that and to appreciate the life that you've been given." [Update: see also the New York piece about not being sure.]

Saturday roundup

A Sicilian town is growing accustomed to the tragedy of dead migrants.

Encroachment is pushing Brazil's indigenous people into favelas.

This will surprise no one who's been to India:
“These floods have turned Kashmir back 40 years,” said Abdul Samad, 65, as he sat on a bridge atop of a rice sack as if it were a prize, his family on either side. Below, the floodwaters still churned with debris and the carcass of a cow.
“We’re hungry. We have nothing to eat,” said Samad, still sweating from the exertion. “That’s why I’m fighting for a sack of rice at my age.”
Instead of moving in to help keep order among the starving crowd, Indian army soldiers watched from a parapet next door, laughing and filming the scene on their smartphones.
Keep you prescription drugs away from your kids.

Would the world be a better place had Gary Hart kept his $!@& in his pants?

As I've been saying: broadly dismissing people as "anti-science" is (usually) a cheap shot. I think it's appropriate only for settled science, which opens a new debate as to what is settled science. The safety of vaccines is settled science; anthropogenic climate change is settled science. Heliocentrism is settled science. The safety of GMOs may be, but the need/benefits are not.

On a related note, when is proton beam therapy necessary or at least worth it?

I agree with the overall theme of this piece on Richard Dawkins, i.e., that he's not edgy, but I've never cared much for the atheist movement, not only because of its misogyny and racism problems. I guess I just don't see atheism as a movement as preferable to any religion as a movement. This view was reinforced when I read about this guy, who got hit in the face with a dirty bomb:
During the next five-and-a-half months, McCluskey's deep Baptist faith sustained him as doctors laboriously extracted tiny bits of glass and razor-sharp pieces of metal embedded in his skin.
You want to tell this guy that his faith is misguided? Just let it go.

Dr. Higgs is not a believer in the multiverse.

I'd be very efficient at chin energy.

An e-bullying survivor speaks.

I couldn't read this whole TNR debate about the future of feminism, but there's some controversy for all. I haven't seen much backlash yet (then again, I haven't read the comments, or maybe the Beyonce wars have flamed out). I feel about Beyonce the way I feel about Kate Moss: I could care less about their product, but I respect their success and economic power, which belies the allegation that either is "exploiting" herself.

Slouching weighs on your soul.

These parody reviews do capture the ridiculousness of many Yelp reviews (eg., "why does this Mexican restaurant serve Mexican food? I was hoping for pasta.).

A fulsome list of everything you're doing wrong.

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.

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