Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday roundup

Sorry for the silence. I've been having intermittent internet issues again. Here's your roundup.

George Bernard Shaw, intellectual giant and quasi-reluctant Stalin fanboy.

I wish Russia would come to terms with its history.

There's no need to remember Robert E. Lee as anything but a monster.
A reasoned perspective on the free speech/hate speech issue.

Chelsea Manning is not a hero.

Rest in peace, Edie Windsor.

Do NOT ever give to the Red Cross, which did not *show up* in Miami.

Don't proverbially bludgeon our daughters into niceness.

There's no need to give people obvious advice, eg., to tell aspiring parents they should adopt or vegetarians that they could always get a salad. This is a great way to deal with nosy people:
"I have one friend who would look the other person right in the eye and say, in an extremely kind tone of voice, “You never know when you’re going to cause someone tremendous pain by asking that.”"

Yes, most zoos are bad, but these tiger cubs are f*ing adorable.

This video from former Mexican president Vicente Fox.

Twitter meta-joke:

Saturday, September 9, 2017

August photo essay

Big Saturday roundup

Sorry guys, I've been traveling.

Heart-wrenching photos from Yemen.

One of many memorable sentiments from Coates' Trump Is the First White President:
And so the most powerful country in the world has handed over all its affairs—the prosperity of its entire economy; the security of its 300  million citizens; the purity of its water, the viability of its air, the safety of its food; the future of its vast system of education; the soundness of its national highways, airways, and railways; the apocalyptic potential of its nuclear arsenal—to a carnival barker who introduced the phrase grab ’em by the pussy into the national lexicon.
This is a really good thread about protest and violence.
And here's another.

I wonder if Houston has taught us anything about the merits of regulation and the dangers of under-regulation.
 “There could have been ways to have more green space and more green infrastructure over the years, and it just didn’t work that way, because it was fast and furious,” said Phil Bedient, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Rice University. Many developments were not built with enough open land or enough detention areas to take in floodwaters, Dr. Bedient said. “It’s been known for years how to do it,” he said, “it just costs the developers more money to do it that way.”
As Mr. Rogers would say, look for the helpers.

And FFS, do NOT give to the Red Cross. I gave to Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston, Baker Ripley, and Houston PetSet. If none of those appeal to you, here's a longer list.

Ag-gag is rampant and egregious.

Why I'm not here for Chelsea Manning, whose commitment to human rights is limited to her own.
According to The New Yorker, when the United States tried to locate “hundreds” of Afghans named in the documents and move them to safety, “many could not be found, or were in environments too dangerous to reach.” When pressed by a journalist about the possibility of redacting the names of Afghans who cooperated with the United States military, Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, reportedly replied: “Well, they’re informants. So, if they get killed, they’ve got it coming to them. They deserve it.” 
Meantime, Mr. Assange gave a Russian Holocaust denier 90,000 of the cables. That man, who goes by the pen name Israel Shamir, delivered a trove to the Belarussian dictatorship, which then utilized the material to detain opposition activists. In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe used a leaked cable detailing a United States Embassy meeting with opposition figures as pretext for an investigation into “treasonous collusion.”
Celebrating Chelsea Manning just a few years after gay and transgender people were permitted to serve openly in the military discredits the L.G.B.T. cause. Throughout most of the 20th century, homosexuality was associated with treason and used as a basis for purging gay people from government jobs, denying them security clearances and restricting their service in the armed forces. The decision by Ms. Manning’s defense team to argue that untreated gender dysphoria was a factor in her decision to leak classified information unwittingly aids those who say that L.G.B.T. people cannot be trusted in sensitive government jobs. And it dishonors the L.G.B.T. people who have served in the military throughout history without betraying their country.
I hope I could be as forgiving as the people of this mosque.

Who knew that movies could jump-start arms control?
After signing a 1987 nuclear treaty with the Soviet Union’s Mikhael Gorbachev, Reagan sent a telegram to Meyer, saying, “Don’t think your movie didn’t have any part of this, because it did.”
It's not easy to negotiate with North Koreans.

Words matter; don't be carried away by mistranslations.

What China's bike-share crisis reveals about people:
Some say abuse of the bicycles reflects an every-man-for-himself mentality in China that has its roots in the extreme poverty of the last century. Others are bothered by what they see as a lack of concern for strangers and public resources. The transgressions have been chronicled in the local news media with a tone of disbelief, in part because Chinese generally see themselves as a law-abiding society and crime rates are relatively low.
The immigration debate has shifted.

Do your best not to torture your fellow passengers by way of your imp-children.

Read every line of Lindy West's take-down of the Princess Royal's non-feminism

Are you facing professional disrespect as a woman? Invent a male coworker.

Awww, someone didn't make it onto a best-dressed list.
Yep, the "liberals are snowflakes and crybabies" crowd spent the better part of today whining about how the first lady was omitted from a fashion list in a magazine. Weird.
Conspicuous consumption has been out of favor for a while (just no one told Louise Linton, who, to be fair, did apologize well).

Women are getting mixed messages about whether breasts are in.
This couple of the poop-in-window are my heroes; I hope they stay together.

These mock Prince-op-ed headlines are priceless. As are these Tumblr comments. Together, they are almost as good as Megan Amram's take on Jared Kushner's Harvard admissions essay.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday roundup

Words matter; translation matters.

On slave-owning Founding Fathers.

Women needn't apologize for taking up space.
At its root, the very notion of politeness is so gendered in our unequal society that it can simply translate into an overwhelming pressure for women to self-censor or self-flagellate. Often what we euphemistically describe as “politeness” ends up sounding like an apology for taking up space, for asking anything of others, for even existing at all.
I complain about Metro (and rightly so), but it's not the only system that sucks (in photos).

I know the aging-parents'-stuff issue well. And the Soviet-parents'-relationship-with-stuff issue.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Quick Wednesday Roundup

Good for the New York Times for this headline, this lede. See also The Cipher Brief.

There is such a thing as the extreme left, but it's tiny and there's no moral equivalency with the far-right.

Not every woman is in a position to do what Taylor Swift did, but people are paying attention.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saturday roundup

Here are some good reads on North Korea, or rather, strategic stabilitymissile defense, and what they actually haveThere's a lot of disagreement about this one (about the missiles themselves), but you might want to give it a skim to get a sense of the parameters in question.

This thread on what's happening in Charlottesville.

Regardless of what we think of Taylor Swift, she's spot-on in refusing to let her assailant change the subject.

I've critiqued Gopnik's language in the past but I appreciate his turn-of-phrase here:

We may or may not be able to Americanize our Buddhism, but we can certainly ecumenicize our analgesics.
Another excellent response to the infamous Google-bro memo.

A beautiful story about Barbara Cook's passing.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wednesday roundup

Read this interview with a journalist who just returned from assignment in Venezuela, and who said the experience taught her that things can just keep on getting worse.

In all the hysteria around North Korea, listen to Sig Hecker.

Dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico because people eat meat.

Brittney Cooper takes the Sanders left to task. On a related note: don't fall for policy ideas that end up hurting the people they purport to help. See also this thread:

The extreme right and new-age left have moved away from the idea of an objective reality.

Each of us is on a spectrum somewhere between the poles of rational and irrational. We all have hunches we can’t prove and superstitions that make no sense. Some of my best friends are very religious, and others believe in dubious conspiracy theories. What’s problematic is going overboard—letting the subjective entirely override the objective; thinking and acting as if opinions and feelings are just as true as facts.
I'm not a defender of the wedding industrial complex, but I see the point that the bridezilla smear only perpetuates it.
Just as a competent, civil presidential candidate was called a “nasty woman” and little girls who show leadership skills are scolded for being “bossy,” “bridezilla” is specifically designed to condemn a woman who puts any energy and authority toward trying to achieve entirely reasonable goals. It’s efficient shorthand to remind her, “Hey, the world actually likes you a lot better without opinions.” You might ask: But how is she supposed to communicate, let alone meet ever-loftier wedding day expectations, without expressing those opinions? It’s impossible.
I've not planned a wedding but I've planned trips, and I've managed projects. And as I've told you before, bitches do get stuff done.

Pregnant women are not entitled to other people's dinner reservations.

This piece on roommate relationships applies to all relationships: communication is key, feedback is essential (and all parties need to make it safe), and it's good to be open about how you respond to stress so (among other things) people don't take your response personally.

I used to say--in response to getting hit on by myriad men who'd never exercised in their lives--that I wished straight men would take up a smidge of the body conscientiousness that preoccupies many gay men. I wasn't baselessly stereotyping. 
Going to a gay beach is crazy intimidating,” he continued. “It’s always in my face. One of the best things in the world for a gay man is to go to a straight beach. I would much rather stay at a gay beach, because I like what I am looking at, but to be at a nongay beach, I feel like the hottest dude on the planet.”

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday ramble with pictures

Last night I saw a show, and tonight a movie, about Berlin. In between, I saw a piece the Berlin wall.

"Cabaret" was interesting, because it was good in spite of being technically mediocre--maybe even good, but not that good. By which I mean, the music was pretty good but nothing special; same with the dialogue and the dancing. The structure was imperfect; you wouldn't have seen the tight plotting and symmetry of Stephen Sondheim, nor the twists. The plot was somewhat predictable. But it was a powerful, enjoyable show (the music, choreography, and dancing were good enough; the mediocre dialogue nonetheless got the predictable plot across). The power of the story carried the show. The symbolism amplified the story.

That was Berlin in 1929. Earlier tonight I saw 1989 Berlin in "Atomic Blonde," which I very much enjoyed. It was perfectly choreographed (I do love my 80s music, but still) and beautifully staged. It is not profound or symbolic (it may pretend to be, but its nod to history and substance is thin, transparent), but it's fun to watch. As fun as any James Bond movie, but don't dismiss it as a 'female' Bond flick.

In between shows, I went on a tour of the Capitol, which was awesome. And evidently by my own example, something very easy to not do even as you've been in DC for 15 years. And as you traverse the main hall just above the crypt, you'll pass a bust of Ronald Reagan, and between the bust and the pedestal it's on, there's a layer of concrete from the Berlin Wall.

Here are some pictures from the tour.

Bullet hole on the statue of Calhoun
There's meaning in the pattern
There are only six or so statues of foreigners in the Capitol; Havel is one.

The lid of the box with the Magna Carts

Anyone remember the name of these doors?

Justice has no blindfold here; she has to be able to read the Constitution

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