Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday evening roundup

Decades later, our policy toward Salvadorean refugees is still tragically f*ed up.

What you should know if you want to boycott BP.

Area man vehement about the Constitution he's heard all about.

That is truly some seriousy bad writing. Seriously, people: if you're trying to create a sense of romance, a thirsty gerbil should not make it onto the page.

These look so good, I may have to get a grill. And these look so good, I may have to rethink my aversion to cupcakes.

Wednesday morning roundup

FP on Japan's unfinished business with American POWs.

Iraq opts to omit from its classrooms and textbooks some key ingredients.

The (partial) decline of ethnic politics.

The Gulf doesn't know what to do with volunteers.

Gerson on ugly political rhetoric; Marcus warns about scary, unhinged rhetoric; and a profile of Ray LaHood adds to that:
"Ray showed that you could be civil and still be principled," says Bill Gavin, a former Michel speechwriter. "Civility is like oil in a car's engine. It doesn't run on oil, but without it, it overheats and breaks down. Ray understands civility."
Metro's culture of competence shines again.

The Times recommends some travel gadgets.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday morning roundup

India's Right to Information law has brought about bureaucratic responsiveness, if not yet accountability. By the way, HP did not honor my request to inform me in writing of why the defect in my laptop did not fall under warranty.

China's rapid development largely benefited state industries. Also: China discovers a taste for tree nuts, especially when prepared with donkey hide glue.

Robert Kagan on last month's foreign policy success stories.

Why, in services for the homeless, do cities find extreme heat to be less of a threat than hypothermia?

The FDA "urges" farmers to go easy on the antibiotics.

Monday, June 28, 2010

And now for my ramble

I have a sense of when cell phones went mainstream in the U.S., because when I left for Wales, they were still rare, and when I returned, six months later, they were everywhere. It took me another six months to get one, and only then I did it because it would cost less than getting a home phone, which my roommate at the time didn't want to share. It didn't take me long, once I stepped over to the other side, to love having a cell phone--it made things so much easier. Nonetheless, something bothered me--still does--about walker-and-talkers, as well as some non-walker-but-talkers, and it's the usurpation of public space.

Monday evening roundup

Speaking of kitty balls: You have to laugh, because if you don't, all that's left is tragedy/

***
The only word that I can use to introduce this book review is um???

Next week, Colbert dares you to take farmerworkers's jobs.

These are priceless words:
West’s comments provide a dramatic real-life example of why actually knowing something, as opposed to theoretically being able to Google it, is so important. Indeed, West indicated that she had just Googled the Arizona law and that the first thing to come up had been a picture of the governor meeting with Barack Obama “in May of 2010,” an image on which she based the rest of her remarks.

And this seems to be the way more and more of us are thinking. Opinion first, information later. But actually knowing things matters for reasons other than not embarrassing yourself in front of YouTube -- it gives you a basis for your opinions and allows you to have debates that consist of more than meaningless shouting.

Gracie's monologue

That's right, mommy: check out my kitty balls! Yes, I did poop on the carpet, and yes, I do have the audacity to be all up in your face, instead of hiding and acting all meek like I usually do after I've done my magic. That's right: I don't need wet food tonight, or maybe even dinner, because I know that's what happens when I leave you turd bombs, but I had to do it anyway. No, it's not enough that you have to lint roll the carpets weekly to get my fur off--I need to leave you a smellier reminder that Im here. It's just the way it is, and that's the point I'm trying to make: you can't stop me. I mean, you could, if you listened to some of my uncles and applied a cork and duct tape to the problem, but I know you wouldn't do that, so I'm just going to keep pooping. Don't tell me I don't have kitty balls.

Monday morning roundup and ramble preview

Supreme Court confirmation hearings are actually valuable.

Perhaps, like me, you'll find this op-ed piece called "The Triumphant Decline of the Wasp" that much more interesting if you've been watching "Mad Men."

So this is what they were doing on that pole on the Mall yesterday. The article actually makes it sound more exciting than it was.

July is National Ice Cream month. I love ice cream, but, to be honest, the description in the article turns me off.

I actually meant to post Robin Givhan's article on style bullies last week. Here is an especially striking excerpt:
To understand how style can be deployed to deliver such bloodless wounds, it's important to remember that style encompasses far more than good looks. In fact, it trumps beauty because it's rooted in deep cultural knowledge and self-confidence. Style is an expression of choices -- a declaration of individuality. And thus, the lack of it is not a matter of poor genetic luck. It is, a particularly judgmental soul could argue, your fault.

Style rises above trends and the fashion industry's abundance of cliches. A woman who dresses with both self-awareness and panache has, in essence, the ability to construct a public persona that speaks with power and precision...

Style at Chanel's level turns heads; it swaggers. But even at more modest degrees, it can make others feel terribly old-fashioned and parochial by comparison. Having conquered wardrobe insecurities -- that sense of uneasiness that perhaps you're not appropriately attired or simply not quite pulled together -- suggests that a woman knows something that others do not. Even if her audience doesn't favor her aesthetic sensibility, it still recognizes her certainty. What is her secret?


I've been meaning to ramble about a lot of things: the sanctity of public spaces (and, conversely, private spaces--which would bring about a post-RM ramble, which, in turn, would lead us to the issue of social paradigms and the myth of "nice")... but I haven't had time. I'll see if I can get to it tonight. I'll also ramble about a conversation I had over dinner with friends last night, over eco-sanctimommies, who make me more sick than regular sanctimommies. For now, here's a snippet of yesterday's dinner conversation:

Beth: I can't believe she called me on a Sunday. I don't work on Sundays.
Danielle: How old is she?
Beth: Don't know, but she's right out of grad school. Could do my job, though.
A.: [Sigh]. The summer interns have arrived to our office. They make me feel old.
Beth: Well... we are getting kind of old.

What? She's not supposed to say that! Age is just a number. If you ask me, we're still as young as when we all met almost eight years ago.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday morning roundup

Is Mr. Karzai all too willing to sell out the non-Pashtun half of the Afghan population? Let's not forget how despicable the Taliban really are. Frank Rich neatly contextualizes last week's happenings.

Free elections come to Guinea.

For all its other foolishness, Arizona's employee protection laws are commendable.

Camille Paglia is still full of $hit, which is too bad because it would be nice if someone wrote a more insightful analysis on the topics of American sexuality and why female Viagra isn't the answer.

I found, joking aside, the New Yorker's summer fiction issue overwhelmingly underwhelming, which is significant, because the magazine's weekly fiction tends to be amazing.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday morning roundup

Meet Reykjavik's new mayor.

How would you feel about genetically-engineered salmon? Can it be worse than farmed salmon?

Collins on Speaker Pelosi.

Brace yourself: some of the entries to the Post's Style Invitational are puntastic.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday evening roundup

Oh, the biannual plug for an independent Somaliland.

Oh, Post--this article on why people divorce could have been so much more interesting.

Shep Smith dissents.

Friday morning roundup

Brooks' take on the Rolling Stone profile, interesting, if one-sided. By the way, I wouldn't link to Gerson or Krauthammer from this page, and generally opt against making my head explode by reading a single word of theirs, but this morning I couldn't help myself, and you have to understand that when they praise the President's decision, something's really up.

Contrast the above, in a way, with someone who challenged a bad idea gone 'holy writ,' and won.

Marcus on activist judging.

Make sure to throw your reusable bags in the wash every now and then.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday evening roundup

There's so much to say about socialist movements in Latin America that I wish Oliver Stone would bother to say it with objectivity.

Japan hopes robotic babies will inspire people to have real babies.

Gotta love one of our most humorless food lobbies.

The obesity crisis hits Russia, or at least Moscow.

Efforts to fight obesity at home are met with some interesting protests:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Chubby Chasers
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Wednesday morning roundup

Summer in Iraq is made more brutal by intermittent access to water and electricity.

The double standard for white militia groups.

You needn't worry about Ambassador Holbrooke.

Toles cracks me up.

DC street food diversifies.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday morning roundup

Crisis is opportunity; Israel has got to be smarter about its peace process.

The last thing Zimbabwe needs right now is diamonds.

An inferior rum brings about jockeying among Puerto Rican and Virgin Islands constituencies.

Haters are also morons, Exhibit A:
Individually, none of the changes is especially dramatic. But taken together, they significantly alter the way gays and lesbians are viewed under federal law.

The administration's effort, made largely under the radar -- and outside the reach of Congress -- has alarmed opponents of gay rights, who accuse the president of undermining traditional marriage even as he speaks about respecting it.

"He's been a supporter of married mothers and fathers in name only," said Jenny Tyree, a marriage analyst for CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family. "He speaks very passionately and touchingly about how he grew up without a father. And yet there is this huge disconnect in how he's undermining that same opportunity for other children."
How? How does that undermine opportunities for other children? Explain to me the logic of that. Or, like the Anosognosics in the article I linked to yesterday, if Focus on the Family way to stupid to realize how stupid it is?

Robinson on the now-silenced pro-apology consensus; Applebaum on national reactions to the vuvuzuela as foreign policy analogies.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer solstice roundup

Reading this lament of the conflation of in-your-face sexuality with feminism made me wish someone had written it better, until I remembered that Ariel Levy had done just that.

Speaking of feminism, Lori Gottlieb says it ruined her life. It's ironic that Sixth and I is hosting her--though I love Express Night Out's take:
Her book, "Marry Him," tells women that if they want to get married, they should settle for someone who's not perfect — balding, overweight, too old, too boring — while they're still young and desirable in order to ensure that they don't wind up alone.

You should go her talk at 6th and I, if only to ask Gottlieb why ending up single is so much worse than ending up in an unhappy marriage and see her dodge the question.
--but it's ironic because Sixth and I recently hosted the anti-Gottlieb: Michelle Cove, filmmaker behind "Seeking Happily Ever After." There's a written and video description at the last link, and the trailer is here.

***
Some friends and I were just talking about the phenomenon Stanley Fish calls anosognosia: why is it that people who are horrendous at something tend to also be horrendous at self-awareness, such that they have no idea they're horrendous? Some choice excerpts:
Dunning and Kruger argued in their paper, “When people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it. Instead, like Mr. Wheeler, they are left with the erroneous impression they are doing just fine.”

It became known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect — our incompetence masks our ability to recognize our incompetence.
and
One could argue that evolution suggests we’re not idiots, but I would say, “Well, no. Evolution just makes sure we’re not blithering idiots. But, we could be idiots in a lot of different ways and still make it through the day.”
We can take this one step further in applying it to BP execs--it goes all the more for the rich and let-them-eat-cake clueless, who have no idea how out of touch they are.

By the way, here are some apt apologies to BP.

***
For not the first time--although I can't find the other one--I want to say "congratulations" to these parents whose child refuses to eat meat. But I also roll my eyes at the question, "how on earth can one get adequate nutrients without meat?" Hint: it's easier to do that than get adequate nutrients with meat.

Monday morning roundup

Texting as an amplifier of dating violence brings up another issue: why can't you block certain numbers or report abuse like you can with e-mail spam?

This kind of thing just makes me want to smack people; if you're so intimidated by the ubiquity of Spanish, learn Spanish.

Nothing Gail Collins hasn't already said with more humor, but a primer on some of this year's elections as comedy fodder.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

wow

I had no idea:
I am convinced that women do not understand the physics, the dynamics or the technologies related to automobile operations and all the things that can go wrong to a vehicle while driving.

Sunday morning roundup

How does the income of politicians impact corruption? Is there a generational gap or at least difference in a sense of political powerlessness? When is trading in ideal for good enough pragmatic rather than defeatist?

Frank Rich on speeches and such.

Poignant and highly recommended columns from Nicholas Kristof and Richard Snow, on fathers.

Friedman on Turkey.

I don't disagree that women have a right to some selfishness (or, as I call it, self-preservation), but this piece on female mid-life crises rankles me. It's almost like the women quoted are after the wrong kind of selfishness, although I can't say one way or the other whether the writer is promoting that selfishness--one that really is selfish rather than healthy, one that I can't respect--or just explaining it away.

The real cost of seemingly disposable high-tech gadgets.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Overcoming stereotypes

Alex and I had our @$$es handed to us at Trivia the other night. This was only partly because we were a team of two--due to a miscommunication, our two would-be teammates didn't realize that they needed to pre-register individually, that I didn't do so for them when I registered myself. They were missed, and I initially felt guilty--I could have been more clear--but they also could have actually clicked on the link and/or asked, as Alex did. I learned many years ago that if I waited around for people to get back to me, I'd never go to anything, and my MO ever since has been to buy myself a ticket, tell people who might be interested when I'm going, and, if applicable, where I'm sitting, and hope they can make it. Most of the time it works out, and when it doesn't, I go by myself, which is fine, because I'm not one of those jackasses that talks during plays, movies, or concerts anyway. But I digress.

So, trivia. There was a question about what baseball player had the most consecutive runs, or something.

A.: We have to put down something.
Alex: Well, let's see. Can we name a baseball player?

In our defense, there were questions we got right. I told him that if we were wrong about the one about which continent boasts the most countries with UN membership, we may as well return our masters' degrees. But I continue to digress.

I had, at poolside trivia--it was a beautiful night--two glasses of champagne. I was buzzed after one and a half. And I was *hungover* the following morning. I talked about this to a friend--she experienced the same thing a few weeks ago: when you don't drink a lot, it doesn't take much to give you a hangover. It's not just me.

I bring this up not because I think you care about my drinking habits, hangovers, and lack of basic sports literacy. I'm guessing you read this blog because you're at least somewhat intrigued by issues of ethnic identity. And, since my mother has recently harped on how Russian I'm not, I'm here to remind you that not being able to hold my liquor is just one of the many ways in which I'm an embarrassment to my people. Let's review the other things at which I suck, but at which one expects Russians to excel:

-chess
-dancing
-music
-engineering
-did I mention drinking?

This may be why I have a hard time being attracted to Russian men. It's like, 'oh, you're good at all that stuff? how uncreative--could you be any more of a stereotype?' It takes personality to deviate from the masses.

Saturday morning roundup

DPRK actually opts for the lives of its people over ideology.

Oh, Japanese right--banning "the Cove" isn't going to draw less attention to the facts. At least people are lining up where it is showing.

Nick Anderson on who really owes BP an apology.

Today's college grads are apparently less choosy about jobs, hoping career jobs may come later.

Another day, another "are you f*ing kidding me, Farm Bureau?" Although I can see how kids helping out on the farm doesn't always translate into child labor.

In memory of Jose Saramago. I've not read his books, but you've highly recommended them, and they're on my list.

Beer is the breakfast of champions, er, spectators, in DC this month.

Plus-sized women spend money, too.

Gail Collins on wishful thinking, Charles Blow on unrealistic expectations and promises.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday evening roundup

Does this mean I hafta stop eating at McDonald's? Ouch--that's going to hurt.

Do not get me started about the logical inconsistencies of this letter (for example, since when is ignorance synonymous with innocence?). I don't understand why some people make devoutness inconsistent with truth, why they insist on classifying the realities of biology as dirty little secrets. Which brings us to this bull$hit:
Luciano recalled how a mother who was in the nearby play area walked up to her and said, "My 4-year-old son came up to me and asked 'why is that woman showing her booby?' and I don't know what to say."

Luciano recalled her reply was to tell him that she "is feeding her baby the way moms have fed their babies for millions of years."
It reminds me of when some mom said the same thing about her son seeing Daniel Radcliffe on TV in a clip from Equus. He was confused. Well, tell him that actors act.

Sure, there are some things your kids aren't ready to hear yet, maybe. It's your call, I guess. But this is hardly traumatizing material, people: tell your kids the truth.

Was it because I said unkind things about Carly Fiorina?

Do you want to hear something hilarious? The repair that my laptop needs is (a) not under warranty; and (b) would cost $479.

I don't understand the exact logic of why it's not covered under warranty--HP didn't accuse me of having created the crack in the LCD, but they say it is not a "manufacturing defect." I asked them to send me a letter or e-mail explaining the reasoning, so I can have the correct explanation when I write to Wired and other outlets about how a laptop that I purchased new just over six months ago--one that never left the house, never fell, etc.--became defective within that timeframe, with a defect not covered under warranty. The only thing I did with that screen was open it; if opening it caused a crack whose repair would cost more than half the price of the laptop, it's not a very good product, now is it?

So my "new" laptop should be back in a few business days, but I won't be able to use it until I get an external monitor (hopefully that will do it).

Friday morning roundup

China's infrastructure binge may not pay for itself.

Iraqis are still hurting, still being targeted. As are migrants passing through Mexico. You'll understand why I have a soft spot for migrants.

In Kyrgyzstan, a destroyed bazaar and how the people who loved it move to rebuild it, is quite symbolic.

Soundbites aside, what have we learned from shakedowngate? I promise you no pun intended, but can we be concerned about how much oil and politics mix? While we're asking not-so-tough questions: can we be really, really concerned about how much corn and politics mix?

Petula Dvorak on today's dads.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Service Advisory and Thursday afternoon roundup

You may have noticed spotty blogging over the last week; this is because my new, "reliable" laptop woke up with a nasty leakage in its monitor and had to be shipped out for repair. This leaves me with this laptop, which I replaced this past fall because it is selective in when it chooses to power up, wake up, or even stay awake. And it's opted to sleep in over the last couple of mornings.

***
Nigeria is perpetually suffering from oil spills.

I have no comments that do justice to some of the political discourse surrounding the oil spill.

Gail Collins, however, always has insightful comments.

***
I have to run now, but I hope the computer will work tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hummus reimaged

This article makes me sad. Good, "plain" hummus is amazing. Most supermarket hummus is nasty (exception: Trader Joe's three-layer hummus--but it's not the same). And does the Times check its facts? Hummus is not low-fat (nor that high-protein).

Phone call

Mom: So, how was your get-together?
A.: Oh, we just met up for tea this morning.
Mom: You mean you didn't go to work?
A.: I stepped out for an hour.

A family friend--whom I've never spoken to outside of family get-togethers--was in town for a day and called last night to see whether we could meet up before she left for Europe this afternoon. She--or, more likely, her mother--got my number from my mother. For the record, it's this family friend.

In any case, it was actually really nice to talk to her. I don't think I've ever talked to her for more than five minutes. We had a lot to talk about. I'm glad she called.

As we sat there, talking about a lot, I wondered how 'ethnic' either of us looked. Later this afternoon, when we were briefing our clients, one of whom I recognized visually as Russian; I wondered whether he recognized me as the same. Lately, for various reasons, more than one person has asked me where I'm from, expecting a Latin American country for an answer. I have an interesting situation--one that many people marry into, but I've achieved otherwise--in that my last name may or may not hint at foreign, but with no specificity. People are left wondering. I'm fine with that, prefer it.

But I've not gone on about this just to ramble. It brings us to the rest of tonight's conversation with my mother.

Mom: Oh, so Lydia wanted to know whether I could share your contact information with this kid who's interested in a career in international relations. He's Russian--I mean, not really--he's even less Russian than you...

A.: I'm not sure how much help I'd be, but you can give him my e-mail.
Mom: Your e-mail? What about your phone number.
A.: E-mail's easier, mom.
Mom: What would he write to you?
A.: How should I know?
Mom: He'd want to ask you about jobs in international affairs.
A.: First of all, I repeat: I don't know how much help I'd be. I can't get myself a job in international affairs. [Okay, so that's not quite true, for the moment, but that's too complicated for a conversation with my mother, and for this blog]. Second, I'm not home a lot, and it would be easier to dish out the career advice I don't have, over e-mail.
Mom: I don't know.
A.: Fine. Whatever. Give him my phone number.
Mom: I mean...
A.: I said, fine.
Mom: Okay. Bye.
A.: Bye, mom.

Wednesday evening roundup

Lots of people may be wondering on paper, 'what the f* is up with Turkey??' but it means that much more when Tom Friedman writes it.

This Bloomsday, don't dismiss the importance of the humanities.

Sargent slams Gerson and Dowd over their commentary on Obama's oil spill response.

This description of DC roads and traffic is priceless:
At one of the least-loved intersections in the District, you must go right if you'd like to turn left, you have to go right and left if you want to go straight and there are two ways to turn left that weren't allowed before Monday...

Traffic control officers on the scene helped, but the intersection is one of the more despicable outcomes from 18th-century urban designer Pierre L'Enfant's notion to overlay angled roads on the checkerboard street grid common to most cities.

Thus, New York and Florida is a cacophony of odd angles that marries five streets, requires more lights than a Christmas tree and routinely backs traffic up almost to the dark side of the moon.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday evening roundup

Rep. Weiner bleeds for the cause.

Just the other day I left Target sans TP because they didn't have any recycled and otherwise green toilet paper. This is one case, however, where I may draw the line at cloth.

Monday morning roundup

Whatever else you think of the China-Tibet dynamic, it doesn't take much to distrust China with fresh water.

The wacamole of going after the supply side of narcotics has chased the production to Peru.

A letter to the editor points out what freedom of speech is not. Howard Kurtz has more:
Former CNN correspondent Jamie McIntyre wrote last week that "there's a big difference between asking tough questions and getting answers to tough questions. Anyone can ASK tough questions. But figuring out how to hold government officials accountable, by posing questions in such a way that they can't avoid answering them, is a much harder, and far more valuable journalistic exercise than just venting from a padded front seat in the White House briefing room. Helen Thomas' questions were not designed to probe weaknesses in the president's policies. They were just meant to provoke him."

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum said on his blog that "calling on Helen Thomas was a notorious method for a hard-pressed White House press secretary to EVADE tough questions from the rest of the press corps. A zany, out-of-left-field protest from Thomas would disrupt a flow of unwelcome queries, maybe spark a tension-breaking laugh, maybe change the subject altogether."

David Nesenoff, the Long Island rabbi who triggered Thomas's resignation by asking for her thoughts on Israel, says he has received death threats and more than 25,000 e-mails, many of them obscene and hate-filled. One called him a "dirty Jew," saying: "Hittler [sic] was right! Time for you to go back in the oven!"
and
Since Thomas was a columnist, she had every right to her opinions -- even if her view was that Jews should be banished from Israel. But she didn't have a perpetual right to a newspaper column or a White House pressroom seat. Hearst bears some responsibility for keeping Thomas on as her behavior grew more disturbing. It's not that a pro-Israel press corps drove her out; it's that Thomas could not defend her remarks, and indeed apologized for them.
I prepared to balk at Ross Douthat's column--on how Palin/Fiorina reflect the successes of feminism--but his points are neither remarkable nor objectionable. What I would object to is putting Nikki Haley in the same category as the other two, because she actually has substance. And let me venture a perhaps unfair guess: Palin and Fiorina would have been the first to mock her and her brothers at school.

Another letter to Carolyn on judging people for their (lowbrow) choices of entertainment.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday evening ramble

So much to ramble about! I'm long overdue for a ramble, and the topics have been piling up. I've forgotten about some of them, and others have been overcome by events. For example, a few weeks ago I was going to ramble about how strollers are Public Enemy #1--it's one thing to block entire passageways with them (and this happened again today), but some aggressive moms just love to charge at you. Of course, yesterday I shopped with someone who was using a stroller, and she did her best--certainly didn't charge at anyone--but sometimes you just can't get out of the way. So strollers are still the enemy, but sometimes, what can you do?

There's also been an ongoing roommate shell-shock ramble in the back of my head. As the summer progresses, my memory is jogged by milestones that last year were marked by his creepiness. And as I go through crazy weeks and weekends, an increasingly smaller part of me fears that someone will aggressive-talk to me just as I settle down to unwind (the concern is dually unfounded--prior to last night, it had been months since I'd had a moment to unwind). In any case, I think I'm recovering from RM trauma, since I'm less and less inclined to talk about it. Over the past few weeks, I've caught up with a few friends I hadn't talked to in a while. I relayed the entire saga over dinner on Tuesday, and then it came up again at lunch today and I just didn't feel like getting into it. My friend continued to ask, and I changed the subject.

Oh, and I meant to tell you guys about the event D. and I went to Wednesday--"Not Your Bubbe's Sisterhood." It was about Jewish women in comedy, and whether playing stereotypes for laughs is constructive or deleterious. D. and I discussed how the stereotypes played on in the youtube clips they showed just didn't apply to us--and a lot of the women there agreed. And yet we don't ask, 'who are these entitled, clueless Jewish women?' because we've all met them. And yet--we don't have an ethnic monopoly on them. That's the funniest thing about most ethnic humor: fill in the blank for your big fat ____ wedding, and most ethnic groups will identify. But many of the women in the room balked at the prevalence of the princess stereotype. They invoked their, our grandmothers: tough, strong women who made things work and whose strength helped their families survive. Both my grandmothers were strong women, and for all the crap I give my
mom about other stuff, she, too, is very strong. Entitledness was never an issue.

Michelle Cove, the moderator of the event, is directing a documentary on the new Happily Ever After. It's timely, given all the discussion about the future of monogamy. As Frank Rich discussed in his column this morning, what's up with all the shock about the Gores' split? They're human. The split has prompted a lot of chatter in print as well as online, none of it insightful. Meanwhile, I'm halfway through the New Yorker summer fiction issue (linked to it last night)--love how much I manage to read on the metro--and all the pieces so far are about relationships. Fraught ones. Are we going through a collective, national relationship crisis?

I'm in no position to answer that, so I'll leave it for you to discuss.

Sunday morning roundup

Iraq is hurting for clean fresh water.

Pop culture in India makes room for deities.

Frank Rich wonders whenlaw will catch up to society.

The Times' ombudsman reflects as he steps down.

There's so much truth in this column from Carolyn. Excellent points about not projecting onto other people. Will discuss later, perhaps.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday morning roundup

Capetown hides its poor.

Pearlstein on the debate over economic priorities we should be having.

How the media willfully ignores nuance and polarizes the electorate.

A reminder that the President has no superpowers. And a reminder that a number of treaties aren't going to ratify themselves, i.e. without his political capital.

Does increased gadgetry really benefit education? Steven Pinker argues that technology does keep us smart. There are comments to be made about that last column--there's a point it's missing about how technology, gadgetry, etc. train us socially--they don't have to make us cognitively dumber to make us generally dumber. Tufte's right, PowerPoint does make us dumb (but not through deleterious effects on brain cells). On that note-hat tip to Wendy for this--what if Lincoln had delivered the Gettysburg Address in powerpoint?

I'm not really one to talk, having Hagrid Hair myself, but I have to admit that I see nothing wrong with aSen. Boxer's hair. On a more substantive note, Ruth Marcus mourns the paradigm shift column she was going to write, about how women are winning in a new way. But while we're on the topic of the woman who destroyed HP, you can read about why boardroom skills don't always translate to governing ability.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday morning roundup

You may have thought, a year or two or ten ago, that like in North Korea couldn't possibly suck more. But it really, really does.

China just says no to accountability and yes to competing for a record in political prisoners.

A Chalcolithic shoe is discovered in Armenia.

BP opts to draw attention to its parody.

After months of mockery, South Carolina moves toward redeeming itself.

A smart, nuanced column on Israel

Is this why my people are doomed to be hairy?

A DC institution goes up for sale.

Meanwhile, District activists consider statehood.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wednesday morning roundup

With regard to its North Korea policy, China grows a pair.

Sec. Clinton on income inequality in Latin America.

A sense of relative privation hits Thailand's emerging middle class.

Perhaps it would be best to just stop reading this $hit.

Let's fight the above with deliberative democracy.

Californians, please listen up. I would say what I'm about to say regardless of political leanings: do not--please do not--make Carly Fiorina a senator.

Pearlstein on tech and the all-you-can-eat model. I kind of like the original example, though, in its own right, beyond its basis for an analogy: the concept of all-you-can-eat is kind of sick.

If it's advertised on TV, don't eat it. Unless it's eggs.

Ancient Egyptians were pioneers in camping.

Don't let anyone teach your children Mandarin. Also, Jon Stewart says, "Thank you, South Carolina":
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Thank You, South Carolina - The Race to Replace Disgrace
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tuesday morning roundup

Foreign fighters are exacerbating to Somalia's havoc.

China's senior barbarian handler speaks out.

The African National Congress sends the leader of its youth wing to anger management classes.

On Helen Thomas's exit: Columns from Milbank and Cohen; brief statements from Vanden Heuvel and Armao.

David Brooks' rambling but spot-on endorsement of the humanities.

I've mulberry trees growing in both yards, but I keep fighting the ones that keep trying to take over my rose bushes. Russians, too, are a foraging people (I have a freezer-full of mushrooms to show for it).

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday evening roundup

I'm going to ignore the more controversial "logic" Rand Paul espoused the other day and focus on a small section of what he said:
For example, I am opposed to the government telling restaurant owners that they cannot allow smoking in their establishments. I believe we as consumers can choose whether to patronize a smoke-filled restaurant or do business with a smoke-free option.

Think about it - this overreach is now extending to mandates about fat and calorie counts in menus. Do we really need the government managing all of these decisions for us?
I'm even going to refrain from commenting on the first paragraph, in that what I'd say has been said hundreds of times: what about the restaurant staff? Can they choose to do business with a smoke-free option?

But let's talk about the second paragraph, because it's completely non-sensical. It's not like the government is mandating how many calories we should choose to consume; the government is mandating making health-related information available to consumers. Isn't capitalism all about making self-interested decisions based on information? So wouldn't you encourage the availability of that information?

Here's another thing I'm not really going to delve into, but I will comment on it in passing: I've come to see discourse over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the same way as that over nutrition: the vast majority of the people who run their mouths freely have no f*ing idea what they're talking about.

Monday morning roundup

China's changing demographics and the end of cheap labor (there). The government, too, has changed.

There's a parody BP twitter feed.

Gadgets are the anti-Zen.

Fred Hiatt advocates cutting off our agricultural welfare queens and supporting development in Liberia.

In appreciation of Andrei Voznesensky.

Robert Samuelson urges us not to let success breed carelessness and complacency.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday morning roundup and response to comment

Obesity imperils childbearing.

Interfaith marriage can get ugly.

As unlikely as some events may seem, it behooves us to plan for the worst.

I stand corrected: Rand Paul is not named for Ayn Rand. Just a coincidence. I have to agree that things like allowances may "foster dependence.

Frank Rich's advice to the President is refreshingly out of sync with the "get mad!" chorus.

For your kids' sake, don't have ugly children. I LOVE the phrase, "“general unattractiveness rendered moot their sartorial choices.”" This reminds me of a Latin American short story but I can't remember what it's called. I'll look it up and get back to you.

Michael Chabon on Jews. For the record, I never grew up thinking we were disproportionately intelligent. That said, it's an interesting essay. See also Daniel Kurtzer's piece on the Israeli narrative.

These Race for the Cure message t-shirts are awesome.

Re: the Style Invitational, I meant cringe like you do at a bad pun that's still kind of funny--or that's funny because it's so bad.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Response to comment: salmon

In terms of sustainability, any wild salmon will do. Don't be fooled by "organic" Atlantic salmon; it is still unsustainable, although perhaps slightly less filthy. Atlantic, i.e. Norwegian and Scottish salmon are farmed. Alaskan (Coho, King, Sockeye, etc.) is wild. In terms of taste, Coho and King have a richer flavor, but for salmon burgers and everyday use, Sockeye is great and slightly less expensive. Even Target has stopped selling farmed salmon.

Mark Bittman votes for King and links to an article which in turn links to an expose film with disturbing images: This is one of four. See the others below.

Saturday morning roundup--Part II

The Post's op-ed page calls out Turkish PM, although I think the Turkish Pres's demagoguery is at least as pathetic. On that note, oh, Helen Thomas.

I've said this before on these pages: Robin Givhan is a style writer. She covers fashion and style, including the social aspects and implications of what people wear. She's a style writer for the Washington Post, meaning she covers the styles, and implications of those styles, of Washington's powerful. In response to the haters, first of all, stop writing to the Post complaining that such things get coverage at all: they get Style section coverage, not front page coverage, and it is the Post's role to print such coverage. I will also say this: you are entitled to your opinions (so, shush, letter writer who says those people should stop reading the columns and stop writing letters--people have a right to voice their displeasure with what's in a newspaper). You have a right to think that style choices should not be scrutinized, or that women's style choices shouldn't be scrutinized disproportionately. But as Ms. Givhan said in the column in question on Ms. Kagan's wardrobe, what women wear matters, and it will be scrutinized. And as a style writer, it's her job to cover it.

Speaking of the Post's Style section, this week's Invitational will make you cringe.

On a related topic--funny but sometimes cringe-inducing--Second City was HILARIOUS. They do their now-famous predecessors proud.

Saturday morning roundup-Part I

Rahul Gandhi's expected to collect his political inheritance.

I echo one of the comments here: Stay classy, South Carolina. Gail Collins has more.

Finally, food companies are going to have to keep it real. But consumers still need to read ingredient labels and use their heads.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday morning roundup

Another political murder, another case of a broken justice system in Russia.

The Potomac seems to disproportionately lure in and swallow recent immigrants.

How Xinhua unapologetically manipulates the news.

Don't forget Egypt.

Late-life divorce is not really that surprising.

It's never too early to get your kids excited about language.

Alexandrians will lose access to Jones Point Park for two years.

How to get away with going topless at Rehoboth Beach

Dilbert on finding product names and outdated office technology.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jon Stewart's flotilla coverage

Starting at minute 3 or so:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Clusterf#&k to the War House - Korean Peninsula & Middle East
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Thursday evening roundup

Another reason to tell those people who tell you to smile to suck it.

The food/class debate rages on. See a coherent response here and scroll to the end of the actual study to check out the graphs.

An interesting debate over whether Spiritual-but-not-religions is a cop-out. I disagree with one of the perspectives cited there; after all, you can be self-centered and removed from the community in organized religion, too.

SP's statements get more and more logical.

Thursday morning roundup

In a column that echoes Dave Brooks in the Conversation I posted yesterday, the question is, how does Israel keep falling into PR traps?

Collins on how South Carolina leads the nation in political sex scandals.

Lobbyist money will flow freely this election year.

Speaking of untouchable lobbies, where are the Tea Partiers and deficit hawks over the national embarrassment of exorbitant farm subsidies?

Carolyn fields a question from a wife determined to let her insecurities destroy her marriage. Those of you who saw "Reasons to Be Pretty" will especially appreciate this.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wednesday evening roundup

Brooks on the flotilla debacle.

Attention, proud-of-yourself hippies who cook your pets' food: that's actually worse for the environment.

Apparently, there's something to be said for one of Mom's arguing tactics, i.e. invoking the obviously irrelevant.

Really? Someone has nothing better to do than analyze HIMYM? I love that show as much as anyone, but full-page essays? Really?

Okay, I've saved for last something that is making my head explode. I am so. f*ing. sick. of the unsubstantiated argument that poor people can't cook, not to mention the argument that cooking from scratch takes that much longer than combining pre-packaged ingredients. Mr. Yglesias's post especially infuriates me because it's full of unsubstantiated BS that doesn't even make sense, and it boggles my mind that someone can just make stuff up and sound authoritative about it. I give him credit for attacking the myth that fresh food costs more, but what about this horse manure:
It’s not that healthier ingredients are absent or too expensive — even lower-priced supermarkets have plenty of fresh produce available — it’s that preparing those meals requires more time and energy than is available to most lower-income people. Cooking takes time, and after a long day of hard work in low-wage employment, parents want to relax, and the incredible ease of fast and processed food is a powerful lure.
I know plenty of people who want to relax after a long day of hard work in decent-wage employment, myself included. I know people who make a lot more than I do for whom the ease of fast and processed food is a powerful lure.

For a more intelligent commentary on income and food choice, see Tom Philpott's commentary on Michael Pollan's essay.

Wednesday morning roundup

Amos Oz on the limits of the use of force. Harold Meyerson on the limits of political manipulation, among other things. Check out the Beinart piece if you haven't already (I linked to it last week).

Courtland Milloy on the national reaction to the President's Gulf disaster response. More from Toles.

Emotions as we age.

Backyard-raised eggs don't always taste better.

I can tell you from personal experience that organic pumpkin tastes distinctly better than its conventional counterpart. Whichever your preference, though, brace yourself for another possible pumpkin shortage.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday evening roundup

Afghanistan before the wars: a vibrant photo essay.

The ascendency of "so".

Carolyn's debate on PDA rages for a second day straight. I don't understand people who seek validation through PDA or continue to insist on an artificial signal of affection from someone who is clearly uncomfortable with it.

Tuesday morning roundup

Criminality, not poverty, begets crime.

I don't get Slapp. Businesses think they can get away for being horrible, but people can't complain about them?

What? Tea Party candidates backtrack sometimes when people weigh their initiatives against reality?

Corporations ponder how best to influence anonymously.

The auto bailout can actually boast "Mission Accomplished."

Is hiring a ghost-writer for e-dating misrepresentation?

Oh, were U.S. political bickering as witty as that of the Brits.

Gene Weingarten's Googleyups column is hilarious.

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