Saturday, December 20, 2014

Quick Saturday roundup and ramble

Psychologists on the dark side.

Surprise! McDonald's treats its workers like $hit.

Misty Copeland on overcoming her struggle with body acceptance.

There are, unfortunately, many ways to be an annoying vegan (just like there are many ways to be an annoying omnivore), but disease-shaming people has got to be the worst.

I allowed myself to get into a Twitter pissing fight with a lesser variety of sanctivegan last night. I'd tweeted my love for Native Foods' vegan cheeseburger (in response to @vegan's tweet about research into a vegan cheeseburger). Which prompted someone to helpfully inform me that home-cooked "whole" food is healthier. OMG. ya think?! I was getting a (vegan) bacon cheeseburger thinking it was a superfood! She specifically called out the salt content--as more than is ever healthy. So I pointed her to summaries of the latest research on salt:

It's Time to End the War on Salt - Scientific American 
No Benefit Seen in Sharp Limits on Salt in Diet -
Is salt really so bad for you? - 

But emphasized that the more important point was that it's good to indulge sometimes. I crave healthy food most of the time, but once in a while, a vegan cheeseburger really hits the spot, and it would be a pain to make at home.

I had this conversation in a less contentious setting earlier in the week, at happy hour. A very health-conscious, omnivore friend was disappointed with Native Foods because she'd hoped it would be healthier. She acknowledged that they had healthy offerings, but thought you could get better vegan at "regular" restaurants. Yeah, you can do pretty well at some regular restaurants... but sometimes a vegan cheeseburger really hits the spot. I get that that's hard to understand for someone who can just get a nonvegan cheeseburger whereever. For her, she was looking to 'vegan' as a proxy for healthy; to me, it's a proxy for more sustainable and less cruel. That's why Native Foods is for people like me.

I also don't dismiss the importance of nutrition for vegans in general. If you don't mind your nutrition, you risk ending up one of those assholes who vocally determines that veganism is unhealthy and that you immediately felt better upon eating animals. But the opposite can also be true: if you artificially limit your vegan diet with junk science (i.e., if you also try to eliminate gluten even though you don't have celiacs; if you eliminate salt because you're convinced it's bad; etc.) you also risk becoming one of those assholes who vocally quites veganism because you find it too limiting.

So do whatever works for you, but spare me the vegansplaining.

Dad blog

It's not so easy to type with a cat on my lap, especially as she's kneading my forearm, but I'm going to try. This was a couple of nights ago; as always, it took me some time to realize how insane it was, because it's just what I know.

Dad: You use conditioner, right?
A.: For my hair? Yeah.
Dad: How do you use it?
A.: I put it in my hair and wash it out.
Dad: Like shampoo?
A.: Yeah, but after shampoo.
Dad: So you can use it on hair, and you use it like soap.
A.: Yes, but no... I mean, it doesn't clean your hair so don't use it for soap.
Dad: Oh, I'm not going to use it on my hair. You know how you and mom are always telling me to do something about my eyebrows? I'm going to condition my eyebrows.
A.: That's not going to help. You need to trim your eyebrows.
Dad: Oh, no--you can't trim eyebrows.
Mom: You really can't.
A.: Yes you can.
Dad: They'll just grow back.
A.: So what? Conditioning them isn't going to do anything.
Dad: It might help.
A.: Try trimming!
Dad: You can't trim eyebrows!
Mom: Your father is right on this one.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday roundup

Yoani Sanchez on Cuba.

Another woman tells her story.

MIT scientists go on Reddit to answer questions; get asked about their bra sizes and told to make sandwiches. That's being a woman on Reddit; here's being a woman on Twitter (see especially Twitter's mansplainy dismissal).

Slate's outrage essays are hit or miss, but it's telling that people keep jumping down Anna Holmes' throat. Also, why the acrimony toward the vegetarian, and can't she just pretend what for grandma's sake?

This white collar/blue collar dynamic is so different in many immigrant communities, because underemployment is rampant and--I'm not going to say no one's judgy, but nobody I grew up around was. You just kind of knew that people didn't have the kinds of jobs they had before they immigrated.

On that note: I was thinking about how I instantly disliked a friend's then-new bf because he said something shitty to a waitress--specifically, as she was trying to minimize the confusion about the bill as people were leaving our large party and she had to close it out because her shift was up, he said, "don't worry, you'll get your tip." What a dick. He probably didn't think he was being a dick; he probably didn't know any better. But even my classist dickhead ex-bf--who said shit like, "I hope I get my raise so I don't have to shop [at ReStore]," didn't take his classism out on people to their faces (well, except me, I suppose, since I did shop at ReStore). But my point is, that kind of shittiness thrives when one segment of the population sees another as a servant class, and not as people. I can't speak for all immigrant communities--in fact, I know of some where the disconnect is even worse--but in mine, people were people.

I don't give a f* either way about Mayim Bialik, but I couldn't agree more with Phil Plait:
Yes, Bialik has beliefs unsupported by science. But so does everyone. I imagine if we dig into the histories of the other four women shown in the picture we’ll find all sorts of things that go against the foundations of science, just as you would if you examined anybody’s thoughts. I have met my fair share of scientists who believe in one thing or another without evidence, or despite it. Heck, you can find Nobel scientists who fall into that category, ones who have supported clear crackpottery. 

Here's someone who disagreed, and didn't see a problem with putting Bialik in the same category as a serial rapist.

I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that I've never actually assaulted anyone over a screaming baby on a plane.

Mainstream self-tracking apps are confused by women.

Amazing compendium of corrections in the media.

Check out these ice formations.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday roundup

Tragedy in Pakistan.

China's coal overdose takes a toll on the health of its people.

Change in Cuba.

Methane on Mars.

China's slowdown will impact Latin America's extractive, commodities-based economies.

Science on rape and PTSD.

Don't read the comments and don't feed the douchebags.

The Economist: Those who enforce the law should also obey it.

Woman who was in a coma gets screwed by punitive welfare regulations, infrastructure.

Race and The New Republic.

Would it be more productive to talk about exclusion than about privilege? See also. I know this is specifically about race, but here's a good extrapolation beyond race: it's never good to invalidate someone else's experiences.

Blow on America.

Fisherman won't attribute the decline in fish to climate change, blame regulators instead. Even crazier climate denialism here and related bull$hit here.
What not to say to the vegans in your life.
Try without trying too hard. Appreciate material things without centering yourself around them.

Where I live.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Phone call

I don't feel strongly about not having children, but I feel pretty good about not having them. I'm at that liberating age where, if time is running out, it already has, and if it hasn't, it hasn't. I took my friend's toddler to dinner last night and thought I'd lose my mind if I had to eat every meal like that. It almost made me understand sanctimommies and mommyjackers. Anyway, a good time was had by all, but I was ready to give the kid back.

I yell you this because mom just called and berated me about how another friend had a grandchild, and she's jealous. I told her to be happy that she has Gracie. She asked, can you find no one to have a baby with? I don't think either she or dad understands how uninterested I am in finding a random partner with whom to mate. Last year, dad offered to set me up with the son of a friend of a friend, in another state, merely because he (the son) wanted children. No, thank you; I'll mate on my own terms or not al all.

Massive Saturday roundup

Holy $hit, the torture report. And the political responses.

Why better policy needs data:
As scholars Dara Kay Cohen and Amelia Hoover Green argued in the Journal of Peace Research in 2012, such figures persist in part because there are incentives for advocacy groups to base their campaigns on dramatic claims. Assuming that a global public is ever more inured to tales of horror, it becomes tempting to choose the most shocking number over the most accurate one. This is not to say that advocacy groups maliciously distort known data, but to warn that the periodic fixation on extreme cases necessarily means that responses are less consistent than they could be, and may fail to address the social and conflict dynamics that lie beneath shock figures.
The challenge for policy professionals is identifying when sexual violence is being orchestrated for the purpose terror, and when it is a spontaneous criminal act. On the one hand, they must deal with gaps in data and the considerable complexity of sexual violence across diverse settings, and on the other, they cannot allow ongoing debates over that complexity to stand in the way of concrete action.
This tension between knowledge and action can in part be resolved by seeing reliable research not as a distraction from, but as in fact integral to, effective policy. Organizations — whether governmental, non-governmental, or inter-governmental — need to invest in knowledge.
It's been a big week for blaming victims, with Bob Jones University coming in worst, followed closely by Princeton Mom. Sexual assault isn't something anyone "deserves" in spite of what you may find even in literature (oh, when writers we admire disappoint). So yeah we can train women to be prepared with language, or we can move toward a yes-means-yes paradigm because the onus is not on them, not on 'no.'

Lena Dunham speaks out on speaking out. Patton Oswald on Bill Cosby.

Also--in reference to some of these comments--it's not up to any of us to tell victims how they should feel.

Ironic that we're talking about what is about ethics in journalism; fact-checking isn't optional.

That's also, as we know, an issue in science, and press releases matter.

Toronto man is arrested for banking while black.

In appreciation of Michel Du Cille.

The cromnibus is bad for food. Organic farming really does deliver, but the certification system is broken. Wheat is very sustainable.

A teacher is fired for speaking out about dairy.

Very few chickens are humanely raised.

This is a more interesting discussion than I have time to address right now, but I've written on these pages about how I don't love the labels vegetarian/vegan not because, as suggested in the article, some vegans are jerks (guess what: some omnivores are jerks, too) but because I choose not to define myself by the way I eat. There's a fine line between "I don't eat animal products" and "I'm a vegan," and it's the line between "this is what I do" and "this is what I am."

Also on atheists and vegetarians.

I'm not advocating baking with animal products, but here's some interesting science-of-baking info.

We're coming up on the year of the pulses.

The prof took it too far, but we should hold restaurants and other establishments more accountable for posted prices.

There's even more plastic in the oceans than you thought.

Note that people who suffer from kids on planes complain about the parents, not the kids. Probably these parents (but not the last one, who is awesome).

What do you call the DC-area airport in Virginia that does not suck.

Penguins with iPads (because they improve their sex lives!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tuesday roundup

The better side of TNR, on Gaza.

We still believe Jackie, because.

Police killings of unarmed people of color are not isolated incidents and we need systemic reform.

Why do we excuse bad behavior (especially) among people who really don't benefit society?

Ladies, watch the ostentatious breastfeeding.

A former Burger King CEO crosses over from "the dark side of food."

People care about their food more but do those newer egg farms still ground up male chicks?

There are some things you can't just scale up.

Maggie Simpson got published, but I'm pretty sure she would have written a better paper.

Women diet but won't admit it but know it's not a cool-girl thing to do. So much to quote:
As with men announcing that they love the “natural” look while actually preferring women in make-up, what’s really going on here is men asserting their privilege both to have good-looking women to fuck and to be kept in the dark about all the bothersome work that goes into it.
It’s good to stop shaming people for being fat, but that doesn’t excuse shaming people who, for their own reasons, prefer to eat a certain way and exercise heavily to keep their weight lower.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday ramble: "where are you from?"

We were just talking about this--well, not exactly Durga Chew-Bose's perspective, but the "othering" power of "where are you from." We being, most recently, a Mexican-American and I, and a couple other people at the same party. It didn't start with that horrible question, but with the idea, in general, that it's legitimate to be curious about facial features, etc. as they relate to ethnicity. We agreed that the determining factor was the intention--is it to other, or to relate--but that can be tricky to convey (and often the asker is unaware of his intention). 

Here's what I mean, though my own experience is a bit different since I'm not clearly, obviously ethnic to the untrained eye. I'm from as far away as you can be without looking like I'm from far away, but sometimes people figure me out (and other times, they do the opposite; more on that in a minute). I've been approached on the street and asked where I'm from, by (other ethnic) people who could tell I was ethnic-looking. That's not offensive to me--when, for example, Pakistanis or Haitians approach me to ask where I'm from, there's a subtext of, "you're one of us; please tell us what specific variety of one of us." That's the opposite of, "I can tell you're not one of us and I'm going to bring attention to that." I also (usually) don't mind the pretty transparent "what ethnicity is your name?" for the same reason; it's a matter of intellectual curiosity, not othering. I dodged the bullet of an obviously Russian name, but there's still something apparently not quite American about it, because I get the odd inquiry.

I'd had this other conversation--about names--the other day with a Norwegian friend whose name is obviously foreign but not obviously Norwegian. Ironically, I had lunch yesterday with an old friend who was in town, who has a very obviously Norwegian name and would be more bemused than annoyed at having to constantly convince people to take his word for it that he really was just from New Hampshire. First Norwegian friend suggested "where did you grow up?" as an improvement on "where are you from?" I also can't overemphasize the importance of not pushing it; if the ethnic-looking or ethnically-named person says, "San Francisco/Chicago/New Hampshire" or what have you, do not--emphatically, do not--proceed to press. DO NOT follow up with, "no, really, where are you from?" This is part of what Ta-Nehisi Coates brilliantly refers to as being an asshole as defined by relating to people only on your terms: sometimes, a person doesn't want to lead with her ethnic identity; quit forcing her to do so. I read to just want to blend, and I often have that privilege. Nonetheless, I get resentful fast when people do try to coopt my ethnicity.

The opposite extreme is when people can't believe you are what you say you are, because you look "normal" to them, and what you're saying you are isn't normal. Or not normal. I once went on a date with a guy who knew I spoke Russian, but didn't know why, and it didn't cross his mind that I came by it naturally. Whoever I was, sitting across from him, couldn't possibly one of those people. He actually said to me that he liked the Russian language but hated the people and the culture. Us against them, those others. That falls flat when you've so othered them that it's inconceivable to you that you're talking to one of them without knowing it.

He was the most egregious case, but not the only one. People regularly don't believe I'm Russian (I don't go around announcing it, but it comes up). They often say things like, "but not both of your parents are Russian" or "you couldn't have been born there." I guess I couldn't have been, but I nonetheless was.

At the same party, in a spinoff of the same conversation, another party-goer (a friend of a friend, whom I'd met before) was horrified that I didn't (always or naturally) feel like he and I were of the same people, i.e., (American) Jews (of Eastern European origin).

Now, never mind that Jews--even American Jews of Eastern European origin--are not unlike feminists, which is mostly to say that although we're perceived by our respective haters as some kind of organized cabal, we're not only not monolithic, but we in-fight, question each other's credentials, and otherwise undermine each other. There are some political divides, of which Israel is a symptom, and this guy nailed it in describing it: the Holocaust features prominently in Jewish consciousness, but it manifests itself in at least two distinct ways. There are those of us who take away a sense of justice for all of humanity; this horrible injustice happened to us, and we mustn't let it happen to anyone. And then there are those who see it as Jews against the rest of the world.

And this guy and I were certainly on the same side of that; but I had a hard time explaining to him that I didn't necessarily identify with American Jews (see above re: infighting and othering). Especially those who immigrated generations ago and got to keep their Judaism, and sometimes hold it against those of us who didn't. [One-sentence history lesson: Stalinist policy was to separate Jews from their communities and any opportunity to practice religion; the policy, together with his more brutal anti-semitic policies, reinforced Jewishness as an identity in the former Soviet Union, but also essentially succeeded in secularizing a large proportion of the nation's Jews.] My parents may or may not remember to light candles some time this month, but they have no idea why.

So those "generations"--those people whose grandparents or great-grandparents immigrated--fought for us. They are why we were able to get out. But then we got out and (some of) them found us backwards and ungrateful. Hell, I find us backwards (but we're not ungrateful).

When I was in college, I interned at a progressive magazine. My mother was unemployed at the time--both my parents were, actually, and times were tough. The very progressive editor of the magazine said, "why doesn't your mother get a cleaning job? lots of immigrants do it." Which has what to do with anything? Now, there are a lot of underemployed well-educated immigrants all over this country. My former Egyptian roommate's engineer mother worked at McDonald's. Which sucks. But it takes some cluelessness to suggest that an engineer get a cleaning job because it's something immigrants do.

And--this hasn't happened to me directly--but it's been known to happen not only out of the mouth of WASPs but also from those earlier generations of immigrants. Condescension abounds. #NotAllEarlierGenerationsofImmigrants, I know.

So I was surprised that this guy was surprised that I didn't feel like one of them--even though I should be honored, I guess, since it's sort of the opposite of being othered. And it's nothing against him, but I'm surprised because to me it's so clear that I much more closely identify with other zeroth (or even first) generation immigrants, than with Eastern European Jews who'd Americanized long ago. My experiences, my personal history, much more closely match those of other 'new' immigrants from just about anywhere, than from established Americans who just happened to be Jews. Yes they did struggle once, and their ancestors had to assimilate once. And I appreciate that they used their hard-fought gains to get me the hell out of that clusterf* of a country. But I'm just not one of them.

Sunday roundup

Attorneys General shouldn't be colluding with energy companies.

India weakens its environmental regulations, which, mind you, were problematic (i.e., a source of bribery, etc.).

Most people (present company included, unless you're new here, in which case: welcome) have no idea of the environmental impact of meat and dairy.

If you consume dairy, be aware of the antibiotics.

If you eat chicken, be aware of the abuses there.

I'm willing to pay more for my produce so that the farm workers behind it are paid and treated fairly, but it honestly shouldn't be up to me.

Awesome Luvvie on the cycle of racial incidents, complete with racial incident bingo card. See also.

Regardless of Rolling Stone's egregiously bad journalism, campus sexual assault is a huge problem and now is not the time to doubt survivors. The frat's denial letter is bullshit.

"Wild" showcases every woman's least favorite game.

The anniversary of the Montreal Massacre makes showcases how far some will go to harm women who don't conform to the status quo. Which is party why this is so important:
It's almost astonishing that the same gender which relies on the 'UR UGLY' form of intellectual debate has managed to maintain control over society's most privileged institutions.
But the kind of feminism I practice seeks to liberate women from the constraints of a patriarchy which relies on our physical and symbolic oppression to maintain male power and privilege. The use of our aesthetic appearance as a means of perpetuating that control is one of the silliest and most asinine successes of male rule - yet until recently, it's always proven so effective, with countless women self censoring out of fear of the verbal abuse that might reign down upon them if they dare to challenge the status quo or the behaviour of particular men.
The very act of refusing to prop up male privilege and entitlement renders a woman obsolete in the eyes of those people who enthusiastically embrace and benefit from such disparity; to them, the only purpose women serve is as glorified fuck machines and vehicles to elevate their status among other men. It's little wonder that men who view women like this would imagine that denying us the compliment of their dicks is the best way to disempower and humiliate us - but it sure is funny that they think we would care.
Please don't mommyjack other people's lives (and if you feel strongly about reminding people that pets aren't children, maybe work on your own issues).
 The Red Cross is such a shady organization.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thursday roundup

The UN has run out of food money for Syrian refugees.

Superbugs are killing babies in India.

Burma's jade industry is fueling heroine addictions.

Falling oil prices have geopolitical implications.

Does the press have an institutional bias against Israel?

Charles Blow (twice) and Nicholas Kristof on race. Chris Rock on race and everything else (it's an amazing interview; suggest reading it in full).

How the Eric Garner case would be covered here if it had happened abroad.

Don't buy Dr. Watson's Nobel Prize.

Journalists are a little too happy to play 'gotcha' around the Rolling Stone story, given the context.

Free speech is not speech without consequences; it's speech without police interference. For more on Lautengate

Oh, she's a big fan of the Daughters of the American Revolution. That explains it.

Get your mushroom clouds right.

We've gotta eat less meat if we want to curb climate change.

I'd never cared enough to hate Anne Hathaway, but I have no time for ex-vegans who go down to eating nothing and then say that veganism is unsustainable. I can assure you that vegans have more choices than "rows of garbanzo beans."

Dulles is losing business (because it sucks).

I don't agree with everything in this column, but I do agree with the gist: tipping is a broken system, but don't take it out on people who depend on tips.

It's been a rough news week, but here's a story to restore your faith in humanity.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday roundup

I hope he and the other refugees make it.

Will Peruvian industrial ag push out independent Bolivian quinoa farmers?

Like Julia Ioffe, I'm a legal immigrant by virtue of executive action.

Charles Blow on Ferguson.

It (policing) doesn't have to be this way.

Don't necessarily disengage from people whose views piss you off. Do challenge them.

Also/elsewhere in racism...

Gratitude snaps you out of it.

This is so Russia.

Why not, a vegan strip club?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wednesday roundup

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

The Economist actually gets it right.

How to talk to white kids about racism.

The Wrap's egregiously horrendous Cosby op-ed.

The military's egregious enabling of sexual assault.

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

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

When students are wiser than the president of their college.

Michael Ignatieff on politics.

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

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

Gratitude is great for you.

Whiskey is pretty.

Parade floats are a waste of helium.

Bad restaurant reviews are fun.

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

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

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pictures from last week and beyond

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

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

Saturday roundup

Two thoughts on Cosby. Actually, three and four.

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

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

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

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

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


Intensive agriculture changes the way the biosphere breathes.

Climate change costs taxpayers.

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

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday ramble

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

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

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

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

Monday roundup

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

Pakistani refugees are flowing into Afghanistan.

People are altruistic, skeptical, and vain.

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

And here are some great comet photos.

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

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

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday roundup Part III

Have I mentioned that meat is bad for the planet?

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

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

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

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

Saturday roundup Part II (gender issues edition)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday roundup Part I

ISIS escapees tell their stories.

Whither Hungary?

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

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

Lviv has mixed feelings about embracing the Masoch brand.

What kind of crazy star is this?

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

Philae, sleeping now, is still a huge success.

Stop generously diagnosing people as narcissists.

On "Rosewater."

Household chemicals could be more safe and environmentally friendly.

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

We need a food policy.

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

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

Factory pork has brain machines and other atrocities.

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

Matt Yglesias is really wrong about fast food wages.

Voter ignorance is the fuel of our democracy.

Baby gorillas in DRC.

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

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Big, annotated Thursday roundup

Erdogan's Putin move.

Britain's rape epidemic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scalzi on Ghomeshi. When will it end?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OMG who are these people?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shorten Url