Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday evening roundup

This personhood thing should scare the $hit out of everybody.

Russian activists continue to inspire, at their own risk.

The role of luck. My favorite part, about people who successfully leverage luck:
They use difficulty as a catalyst to deepen purpose, recommit to values, increase discipline, respond with creativity and heighten productive paranoia — translating fear into extensive preparation and calm, clearheaded action. Resilience, not luck, is the signature of greatness.

Halloween morning roundup

India's middle class discovers political engagement.

Is it okay that I don't have mixed feelings about genetically-engineered mosquitoes?

From Elif Batuman's "Natural Histories":
The body of the Egyptian vulture is brown and off-white, but its face is bright yellow. "They get that color from eating shit, which is full of yellow carotenoid pigments," Çağan [Şekercioğlu] explained. In males, teh bright-yellow face is an indicator of fitness and virility, signalling a capacity to eat enormous quantities of shit without getting sick.
That, my friends, is a turn of phrase.

Still haven't read yesterday's Post. I'll catch up this evening and let you know what I find.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday morning roundup

Interesting article about Chipotle's philosophy and business model. Keep in mind that the verdict's still out on no-till, though less so when it's organic anyway.

Greek Parliamentarians get some absurd perks. On an unrelated note, I love that there's a Greek city called "Drama."

A very analytical look at the act of not liking Coldplay.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mom repeats a classic

You know what you should think about? Maybe take up dancing. It would help with everything. I've just noticed that the way you walk... it's very man-like. It's just... goal-oriented. Dancing would help that. No, that's very important. Really, it helps in every way.

Thursday evening roundup

I suspect there's a real need for immigration reform.

Be wary of the pinkwashing and other brand-name causes.

I, too, don't care who wrote Shakespeare.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday evening roundup with rant

India's loving the fast food. Happy Diwali, by the way. Whoa--"Diwali" raised no spell-check eyebrows. That's awesome.

This kind of thing--let me be specific--this very liberal interpretation of a study f*ing infuriates me. Of course obese people forced to subsist on 550 calories a day are going to be hungry and gain it back. Are you people insane? How dare you pretend journalistic integrity while trying to extrapolate that to a general inability of people to keep weight off?

But if that f*ing infuriates me, just wait, because here's something that really f*ing infuriates me. I don't even know where to start. Maybe it's the straw man/extreme contrast gimmick: Mark Bittman talks about real, homemade food, and Josh Ozersky equates that with overpriced ingredients only available at farmers' markets or Whole Foods. And I don't think Mr. Bittman said that all home-cooking, all the time, is the best solution for everyone. But wait, here's the kicker: "other foods, like, say, fish, won’t exist at all if they are not farmed and most likely will require more high-tech monitoring and government oversight in the future." What? What? What the f* is this douchebag smoking? If fish won't exist if they're not farmed, it's because of how fish are being farmed now. Okay. I need to breathe. Breathe. Okay, let's do it this way: you tell me what's wrong with this sentence: "If the barons of agriculture hadn’t engineered the monstrous phalanxes of corn that everyone is so aghast at, food would be more expensive, and a lot of poor people would be dying from starvation instead of courting diabetes." What about this paragraph:
The U.S. industrial-food machine, Mark Bittman’s disapproval notwithstanding, is a one of the most powerful, responsive, and imaginative entities in history. Its goals may be amoral, in the sense it is driven wholly by profit, with a predictably destructive effect, but it and it alone has the power to feed the future of America in a better, or at least less resource-intensive way. Because whatever the future holds, it isn’t going to be 300 million Americans feeding themselves with handmade tagliatelle from pristine Vermont CSAs, no matter how much one might wish otherwise.
This just hits all of it at the same time. I'm pretty sure Mark Bittman--the Minimalist--uses dry pasta. Actually, I've seen him do it. Also, for the f*ing gazillionth time, not only industrial agriculture can feed millions. It's just not f*ing true.

There was something similar to this in "Bossypants." Tina Fey talks about how when she was at Second City, she proposed a skit, and the director barked that no one wanted to see two women on stage, talking. Years later, she dedicated her and Amy Poehler's Sarah Palin/Hillary Clinton sketch to that foresighted genius. Well, I couldn't help but smile when I read this article about Jill Abramson. Here's an excerpt:
When Eileen Shanahan, who went on to become a well-respected economics reporter, arrived for an interview with Clifton Daniel, the assistant managing editor, in 1962, she hid her desire to become an editor. “All I ever want is to be a reporter on the best newspaper in the world,” she told him.

“That’s good,” Daniel responded, as Shanahan told the story, “because I can assure you no woman will ever be an editor at the New York Times.”
I love it.

Wednesday morning roundup

Holy $hit:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2012 - The Great Right Hope - The 180 Club
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

The nation's top earners doubled their share of the nation's income in the last three decades.

The fight for rural Britain's future.

The jury rules in favor of the dog.

Oh, Smith, sometimes you remind me what a good fit we were.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday afternoon roundup

A broad look at human rights prosecutions shows that justice makes a difference.

I know you're sick of OWS/tea party compare and contrasts, but this isn't really one and it makes a good point.

Repairing the Cathedral has brought some interesting historical information, for those who care about that kind of thing.

Americans have mixed feelings about immigration.

Was Gertrude Stein a fraud?

Tom Sietsema dines in Boston.

Sunday morning roundup

Are celebrities sympathetic to OWS doing more harm than good?

I have principles, but I don't feel the need to have them tattooed on my ass. Seriously, though, those are some very good ideas.

Okay, whatever.

Careful with those emoticons. The results can be hilarious:
“In the text function of my BlackBerry there is a sidebar menu of emoticons (how ridiculous is that?) that shows the yellow smiley faces, except they are also crying and raging, and winking and blowing kisses, etc.,” Dr. Bates wrote. “I sent a fairly new acquaintance a ‘big hug’ emoticon — which, for the record, was ironic. But anyway, on his iPhone it came up with the symbols, not the smiley face, which don’t look anything like a big hug. From his perspective they look like a view of, er, splayed lady parts: ({}).“He then ran around his lab showing colleagues excitedly what I had just sent him. Half (mostly men) concurred with his interpretation, and the others (mostly women) didn’t and probably thought he was kind of a desperate perv.”
Also, I really like this analogy:
“To me, it’s like bad moviemaking, where as soon as Dad grabs the puppy, the shot immediately goes to Junior’s teary face — like the director does not trust the audience to have an appropriately developed emotion by itself,” Ms. Farinet wrote in an e-mail. “That’s what emoticons do. PLEASE don’t ‘show’ me that I should be happy-faced or sad-faced or that you are sad-faced or happy-faced.
“Can you imagine,” wrote Ms. Farinet, “reading the end of ‘The Great Gatsby’ like that?: So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past :-(”
Thank you, Sasha Frere-Jones. I also don't like Coldplay, and sometimes I've wondered whether that means there's something wrong with me. Thank you for letting me know I'm not alone.

Haven't looked at the Post yet; I'll be back this afternoon.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday evening roundup

Ignoring the need for regulation: a cautionary tale. Read it. Then watch this:
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Indecision 2012 - Job-Killing EPA
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Things get interesting when type A parents have mellow kids. See also this insightful take on the article I posted earlier, about parenting for today.

My support for the President dipped today when I was robocalled by his campaign (or something), but this is redeeming information.

Use your f*ing heads, people. How generalizable is a study that bases humor potential solely on captioning New Yorker cartoons? I've thought about, but never managed, captioning New Yorker cartoons, but I've written $hit that makes people laugh.

Be angry

Be very angry. And vote accordingly.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday evening roundup and response to comment

To follow up on this morning's ecumenical post: Mitt Romney's right answer.

I'm not sure why I'm even posting this, because these vegan recipes are not terribly original or impressive, but she gets props for caring. And for saying that the less she uses dairy, the less she misses it.

California olive oils are catching up in cachet with Mediterranean ones. I highly recommend Olave, which, being Chilean, may be less local than Californian oils, but it's organic, sustainable, and very tasty.

Very good points. I hadn't thought about that, but you're absolutely right: dudes do get less attractive. Even the George Clooneys of this world do.

Ecumenical Wednesday morning

I do not like Mitt Romney. I don't want him to be president--although he's the lessest (i.e. least) of his party's evils. I think his behavior as bishop was despicable, as are other acts described in that article. But I can't sanction tarring all Mormons with the most ridiculous BS of their coreligionists. Every religion has it's crazy. We can't go point to that crazy and say, "this means that every believer is crazy." Maybe I'm brainwashed--I know a fair amount of Mormons, and they're awesome people. Maybe I'm sympathetic, because I don't want to be held responsible for the level of crazy, current or historical, of either Jews or Russians. And I doubt all Buddhists want to be associated with Sri Lanka's genocidal Buddhists. We could go on with every denomination out there, and examples of associated crazy people and crazy acts. But let's hold Mitt Romney accountable for his bullshit, not for his religion.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday evening roundup and ramble

Call it OWS or OWES, but it's not the Tea Party of the left.

I am not an ideologue. There are conservatives whom I respect tremendously, and Anne Applebaum is one. Which is why I'm very disappointed with her column on OWS. The whole argument that OWS is remotely anti-democratic or detrimental to democracy, specifically because the protests occur in nations equipped with democratic institutions to address grievances, misses the point: people feel that those institutions are not working for them, that they've been coopted by special interests. They want their democratic institutions to work for them.

Believe me when I say that domestic violence is never funny. But this is not domestic violence, so I have no problem finding it f*ing hilarious.

Yes, it is ostentation in matters of food that infuriates people.

I am blessed to have health insurance, an awesome doctor, and health center within my office building. I leveraged all three today, and though the rest of this ramble concerns solely the third, I just wanted to count my blessings.

I was at the health center, filling out paperwork, when the center coordinator complimented my shoes. I thanked her, told her they were from a thrift shop; she said I could do that because I have small feet; I said, hardly. One thing led to another, and I started telling her that I was now in the market for synthetic shoes, and that I was struggling terribly, because they were so ugly and so expensive. At the same time. We talked a bit more about shoes, and I went in to get my shot.

When I came out, she asked me if I were, perchance, vegan. One of the nurses joined the conversation, said she had recently become a vegetarian but couldn't imagine giving up dairy. I told her I was the same way for a while, but I started feeling much better almost immediately after making the change, and wouldn't want to go back. So they asked me questions, asked me for recipes. I told them about how I recently spent the weekend with eight other people, and no one noticed, much less complained, about the three vegan dinners in a row. If it's done right, you don't notice what's missing. Anyway, I promised to send them recipes, and I hope they find what works for them. I'm glad people are interested, curious.

Quick Tuesday morning roundup

Jennifer Rubin has a point. I don't agree with the spin of her point--the mainstream media (or at least Jon Stewart) has covered some anti-Semitic aspects of OWES. But, as she herself acknowledges, the hateful fringes don't undermine the overall message.

Look, I like to know what's in my food, and to some extent, where it came from, but this is ridiculous.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday morning roundup and response to comment

More awesome OWES signs.

Herman Cain thinks you're stupid.

This, my friends, is why (some) conservatives piss me off. The federal government is imposing marriage? Imposing marriage on whom? How is someone else's marriage an imposition?

Muscular women are sexy, too.

In all fairness, I don't pretend to have known better than the people who bought at the height of the market; I, too, just didn't have the money to buy earlier. The only thing I did right was not buy in spite of not having the money. I had people tell me that it didn't matter how much a house cost, because it would keep going up in value. I chose to disregard those people. I had (smarter) people tell me that no market goes up indefinitely and to wait until I found something I could afford. And I had the sense not to buy for the sake of buying; I bought only when I found the house that worked for me. So I don't stand in judgment of people who bought at a less opportune time; I just don't see why they should get their mortgages forgiven, when I won't.

The truth is, you can follow all the best advice and best conventional wisdom and still get burned. That's what the OWES protests, at their essence, are largely about. Just like I was "lucky" that I wasn't in the market for a house when prices were uber-inflated, I was lucky to get out of college, and then grad school, in a better economy. But there's a generation of people who followed the rules, and got screwed. They were told that student debt was good debt, that it was an investment in their future. And it probably is. But for now, they're in debt because they followed the rules, and the bankers who broke the rules and f*ed everything up for everyone got bailed out.

I don't know whether you read the entire Atlantic article and/or some of the comments, but the comments are truly revealing. A ton of them are from guys who say "ha! women are getting burned for thinking they can ignore their biological predetermination! What did they think was going to happen?" It's that old line about how men get more desirable with age (because they get wealthier) and women get less so (because they become less good looking, theoretically, and less fertile). Let's take the first half of that equation first: these guys are failing to realize that as women become more financially independent, men's financial situation is less important. So that leaves the second half, to which I say, less fertile, sure, less attractive, bullshit. Leaving aside the reality that women of all ages partner up and get married, and that a lot of people who marry younger get divorce or stay stuck in unhappy marriages, it's just absolute bullshit that older women are inherently less desirable. I just *don't* buy it. And I personally hope that there are children in my future--particularly biological children--but, like the author, I refuse to let my biology dictate my future. In other words, I refuse to devalue myself as a partner just because I'm no longer 25. If anything, I think I'll make a much better partner and mother in my 30s than I ever would have in my 20s. Some people will disagree, but I'm sure I disagree with their value as partners and parents, too.

Monday morning roundup

This is so incredibly poignant.

Kenya has invaded Somalia.

No no no food stamps for fast food.

What to make of the baby down-boom?

Wall Street might wanna quit whining.

Bill Keller's not sure that our political system can be favorably compared to Slovakia's:
“We are similar to Americans,” a Slovak official told me. “We have fragmented domestic politics, but at the end of the day we get things done.”

I told him I was flattered to have my country compared to Slovakia, and he was right about the political fragmentation, but I wasn’t so sure about the getting things done.
McDonald's in Italy goes gourmet.

Shakespeare really did write Shakespeare.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday roundup

The reset-with-Russia's human rights component.

The president's letters remind him of his community organizer days.

I thank Ms. Mangu-Ward for tackling the healthy-food-is-expensive myth, but I don't appreciate her attitude toward transparency and information. It's not that simple: it can be pretty hard to find out what's in your food, and I know that--for example, when I'm traveling--I really appreciate knowing. And you shouldn't need a keen eye for detail to decipher the ingredients in your food. You shouldn't have to know that casein is a milk protein to know that Trader Joe's rice cheese isn't dairy-free.

When should the Post draw the line at colorful language?

Tom Toles.

In which I snapped at my mother

Mom: Hello?
A.: [Hack, hack] Hello.
Mom: Your cough has gotten that bad!
A.: Yes, it has. I actually feel fine but don't have much of a voice.
Mom: No temperature?
A.: Doubtful. Just a sore throat. Anyway, you called?
Mom: Yeah... I had a question... what was it? What was it? Did I ask any questions in the message I left last night?
A.: No, you just said to call when I was available, and added, "I hope you know that this is your mother."
Mom: Oh. What did I want to ask you?
A.: I don't know.

Mom consults dad and a family friend who's visiting.

Mom: Oh! That stone we bought in China--what was it?
A.: I have no idea.

Why is my mother asking me about stones? I don't know anything about stones.

Mom: No, what was it--the green one?
A.: Turquoise? Jade?
Mom: No, neither of those.
A.: Then I don't know.
Mom: That stone we got in China--
Mom: Could you answer in an any more agitated voice?
A.: My throat hurts and you keep asking me the same question over and over again.
Mom: Fine. Feel better.
A.: Thanks, bye.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday morning roundup

Radioactive hotspots are popping up around Japan.

The border does not need alligators.

Everyone's talking about "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," which I saw last spring. First of all, I have to agree with Steve Jobs in terms of "it's complicated." It's not like Apple can single-handedly improve wages and labor conditions in China. It reminds me of the ever-backfiring anti-sweatshop campaigns of the late eighties/early nineties, where the sweatshops shut down, driving the people--including kids--who still needed work, into even grimmer work, such as prostitution. I couldn't agree more with Mr. Daisey when he says, “It's absurd to live in a world where you don't know where things come from,” but I wonder whether he's ever thought about where his food comes from, and what working conditions are associated with that.

I don't look at frumpy married women or moms and think, I won't get married or become a mom because it's the road the frumpdom, but I do look at them and think, when I get married/become a mom, I'm sure as hell not going to let myself go like that, and I don't care what anyone says about how it's inevitable, because I've seen plenty of moms maintain a sense of style. But Petula Dvorak's greater point is, parenting is expensive.

Fantastic Modern Love column about the sociobiology of hard-to-get.

I bring you some hard-core shoe porn.

Whole Foods shows its true full-of-$hit colors.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday morning roundup

Uganda is hurting.

China's slowing economy creates an environment for loan sharks to thrive. They have a market in India, too.

Michelle O rocks Doo-Ri Chung's ultraviolet dress.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday evening roundup

Is the mainstream media going all Glenn Beck on us?

Speaking of media-propagated bulls*, here are some myths about the EPA.

I strongly disagree with more than one of these Occupy Wall Street signs, but some of them are right-on.

Okay, I was ahead of the times: I found consumerism in the name of the environment was ridiculous, before it was trendy.

If a book only appeals to expert readers, it's not a great book.

Really, Dr. Pepper?

Make-up matters.

Thursday morning roundup

Strangers in the supermarket need to just shut up and mind their own business, but I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing for kids to think about what makes identity. Still, this is like the third article I've read where darker-skinned parents get mistaken for nannies. If you don't have something intelligent to say, shut the f* up.

Looks like our theme for this morning is, rethinking old ideas about family. Why should this veteran get lesser benefits?

You know what, I'm saddled with a huge amount of mortgage debt, too, but no one's arguing that mine should be forgiven, because I didn't buy at the height of the market. Does salvaging the economy really mean rewarding idiotic choices? I'm sorry, I didn't mean that--I know people couldn't have known. It was the mortgage bill talking.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday evening roundup and ramble

Europe moves toward a saner farm policy.

Remember how Steve Jobs talked about not being limited by other people's paradigms? Behold this awesome, unstoppable 12-year-old girl.

Speaking of Steve Jobs, I recall one article describing his widow as a "militant vegan." I'm not sure what that means--perhaps that's idiot shorthand for vegans in general?

So much to say to this refreshingly anti-Gottlieb take on singlehood. Ironically, it was sent to me by a friend who shares LG's perspective, and I was concerned when I found the above-linked article starting on the same, feminism-ruined-my-life note. But that's not what she's saying.

May I share an observation about some of my married (or engaged) friends? They insist on convincing me, as well as other single people, that they know what our problem is. Our problem is necessarily what their problem was. I noticed this almost a year ago, when another single friend and I had dinner with a married friend. We talked about men and dating. The married friend could barely let either of us finish a sentence--and she was comically confused about our respective dating stories because she wasn't listening to what we were actually saying; she was scan-listening to see where she could jump in to make a point about how she had to get over herself to meet her husband, and the two of us clearly needed to get over ourselves in the same way.

Another friend, who does have some genuine wisdom to impart, seems to me obsessed with pointing out that women don't get it. We don't get that the odds are against us, whether we like it or not. All I have to say is that I could write a book about what men don't get.

Wednesday morning roundup

Myanmar makes some not insignificant progress on human rights.

Domestic violence is now legal in Topeka.

You can't undermine protesters by being the asshole you wish they would be.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday evening ramble

I just cancelled a free subscription to Lucky. I never wanted it--it was a free gift that came with my flat iron (yes, I went over to the dark side and got a flat iron; it only works a day or two after I've washed my hair, but I digress). Actually, a subscription to Allure came with my flat iron, and I didn't particularly want that, but I didn't mind it. Lucky, I just had no use for, but it was free, so I opted to leave it. Until my third issue, which just came. With Kim Kardashian on the cover. Which takes Lucky from an already net negative (waste of time to even flip through; little-to-no useful content) that I thought might redeem itself, to something that has no chance of ever redeeming itself. I hereby declare that I'll cancel any magazine that graces my doorstep with a non-satirical image of any Kardashian, because such an image indicates that the magazine has nothing useful to add to public discourse.

It took me over an hour to get home today, which is less time than it took people on the orange and blue lines. I opted not to bike, because I was going to a book launch event. Then, I went to the book launch event. And left, because there was no indication that said event would actually ever start. Take note, event organizers: save the mingling time for after the presentation, so people have the book to talk about. Anyway, this put me back where I would have started my commute, only more than an hour later. I just missed a yellow line train, and then waited while at least four green line trains went by, before another one came. But I can't complain; I can only ask event planners to stop wasting my time.

What could I tell you about this weekend? The better question is, what should I tell you? I learned that there's a growing contingency for the anti-Gopnik fan club. You know how I've been writing about reading the New Yorker, and a column or so into certain articles, thinking, "this is horribly written" or "that has got to be the most tortured metaphor written outside of a fourth-grade classroom," and then looking up to see that the offending article was almost invariably conjured by Adam Gopnik? I was telling a friend about this over a month ago, and she said she felt the same way about his brother, who's an art critic for the Post. So I was recounting all of this to a couple of people over the weekend, and someone who was-kind of listening muttered, "yeah, I f*ing hate the Gopniks." Just letting you know that I'm not alone.

What else? Oh, you'll never guess what we watched over the weekend. Just kidding! But you won't guess the medium. That's right: we watched a VHS tape. We had to rewind it.

Any guesses on the content of the tape? See if you can figure it out. It started when the most intrepid among us went out to hear a mandolin player, leaving the less intrepid among us to lounge. As we were lounging, I thought it was kind of pathetic that we were just lounging and suggested that we do something. We didn't have a quorum for board games, so we talked about watching a movie from the cabin's collection. We all decided we didn't want to watch anything serious or involved, which reduced our options to a handful of movies we'd all already seen, numerous times. Of these, we settled on Zoolander (surprise!); actually, what's surprising is that we genuinely debated and it took us a while to decide on Zoolander. It was a good choice. You learn something new every time.

Anything else you should know about? Oh, well, y'all know that I'm a consummate fruit fly. In fact, my gay mistress (not to be confused with my gay husband) just wrote that I definitely know my way to a gay man's heart. But I have to come clean with you: we don't see eye-to-eye on everything. This came through over the weekend when we found ourselves in a passionate argument over packages. It went something like this:

A.: Women don't care. We don't care. It's like, the most revolting thing [coming from someone we don't know]. Our gut reaction is, "put that $hit away."

GM: Well, it matters somewhat. It has to matter a little bit.

A.: Not when you don't know someone!

GM: Below a certain length, things become physically impossible.

A.: Perhaps, but what I'm trying to say is that it's not among the first things a woman considers. Remember Weinergate?

GM: The reason he got out of that okay is that he was adequate. Had he been smaller, it would have been really embarrassing.

A.: That had nothing to do with it! At least not for women. They did a study about this, with electrodes and $hit. Women's attraction signs don't light up when they see pictures of male anatomy; they light up when they see pictures of men taking out the recycling.

I guess it's different for gay men; I guess they actually do care.

One reason I think it's interesting is that women often need it pointed out to them that what attracts them to men is different from what attracts men to them. Women don't understand why, say, success isn't more attractive to men. Well, it goes both ways: men don't understand why anatomy isn't more attractive to women. I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday evening video roundup

I don't own a single Apple product, but I truly love this speech: I recommend that you watch it in its entirety, but I'm going to excerpt the (especially now) oft-quoted, priceless lines:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Here's a much lighter video. Before you get offended, know that Gov. Christie himself thought it was funny:

Thursday morning roundup

A more nuanced analysis of the future of Russian politics.

I'm posting to this review mostly because it's a very well-written review, but it makes some good points (and also misses some points). "Don’t send texts in a theater because the light disturbs your neighbors;" may be commonsensical, but I see the opposite enough that it can't be that commonsensical. The bottom line is, go with classic Carnegie and Post, not their families' pathetic attempts at keeping the empire alive. Better yet, in the latter case, go with Miss Manners.

I'm avoiding any easy broken penis jokes--you have the comments for that--but I can't resist linking to the post.

Gail Collins muses (and amuses).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday evening roundup

Thinking of making a Hitler comparison? Alexandra Petri's created a handy flow-chart just for that situation.

Ruth Marcus points out that Gov. Christie would unlikely have gotten as far as he has were he a woman of a similar girth.

How many times in one column can Dana Milbank make you cringe over his puns?

When altruism goes too far, it's actually just selfish.

I was able to avoid linking that article to RM's behavior, but I'm going to invoke him anyway because of this one. It's about spouses, but the same thing goes: give people their f*ing space.

Tuesday morning roundup

Gradual change is kind of what's working in Tunisia.

What's to be made of the super-people phenomenon? Read together with Lori Gottlieb's latest missive (hat tip to Wendy).

Is Yelp hurting chain restaurants?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Big, varied Monday evening roundup

Citizen volunteers keep an eye on domestic violence judges.

It's not compassion fatigue but that other thing they explain at the end of this article that differentiates my giving behavior from my mother's: I'm more likely to give to homeless shelters and other homelessness organizations, but I'll walk right by most people on the street; she'll do the opposite.

Why the Solyndra debacle won't cost the government as much as you think and shouldn't spell the end of investments in sustainable energy.

Yeah, there's a limit to what can legitimately be itemized out of a base airfare. I've redeemed three round-trip frequent flier tickets (from American Airlines), and all those taxes and fees were included all three times (I did pay $30-$50 in other fees, but that's less than a tenth of what BA is charging outside the base fare).

Organic strawberries aren't (sigh) always organic.

I love that the New York Times has written about three DC shows, but I wish they'd cast a wider net to include one or two more really good ones (like "The Habit of Art"). I don't disagree with the article's substance: I enjoyed "The Liar;" didn't go to "Imagining Madoff" precisely because I figured it would be meandering; and I didn't go to "Macbeth," because, as much as I believe in innovation, I hardly see the point of Shakespeare without the language. Not saying people shouldn't try it; just saying it's not my thing.

Check out BBC's photos of the day; the smiling kid in the floodwaters is especially compelling.

I found Atul Gawande's piece on coaching fascinating, especially from the perspective of writing. I don't know how many writers have coaches, but the very process of writing usually entails a lot of the coaching elements he talks about, where editors play the role of coach. They don't work their magic in real time, which makes sense: unlike surgery or singing or sports, someone can go in after the fact and make suggestions. It's not quite the same because it's about improving the product, not the technique, but it's about providing that second set of eyes.

I love the MacArthur Foundation's guidelines for genius: “originality, self-direction and capacity to contribute importantly to society.”

Y'all know I've always loved Miss Manners, but this column gives me a new appreciation for her work. I really identify with those hosts, and it's just such an awkward situation because people are trying to be polite. They operate in a different paradigm, partly brought about by the fact that people don't host the same way anymore. I was trying to explain this to a friend who said that if I didn't feel like hosting an AVD party that year, I should make it a potluck. I don't have a problem with potlucks, but they're a whole different thing and they're not what I conceive as a party where one has guests. I know it's old-fashioned, but I feel that when I invite people to an event, I agree to be the host. That means they don't have to worry about anything. Some gifts may be appreciated but not necessary (flowers or wine), others are flat-out unwelcome. As Miss Manners makes very clear, it's quite rude to bring substantive gifts because you're messing with what the host has put together. It's unfortunate that people don't see it that way, but it's true. One person I know brought brownies to a baby shower some friends and I were hosting; it was kind of annoying because we had plenty of dessert--I just can't imagine why someone would do that without checking with the hosts.

Now some of you may be thinking, "but you're a mess, and you're always scrambling before the party starts." That's true, but bringing extraneous things doesn't help (unless we've arranged that beforehand). I also appreciate it when people call and ask if there's anything specific they can pick up. But that's different from bringing a dish that has nothing to do with what the host is doing. And I've also learned not to rely on it (more than once, the people who have offered to bring something substantive have ended up not being able to make it; that's fine, but where does that leave you if you figure them into your menu plan?). All this to say, it's nice to ask, but it's also nice to take the host at his or her word when the word is, "please don't bring anything."

Inspirational cheeze in lieu of your roundup

Okay, I hated "I Am Legend," but I love this interview segment:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday roundup

Japan flirts with solar power.

The Russian government does something right.

The Farm Bureau hates the Chesapeake Bay.

Frank Bruni points out that, not only is Gov. Christie's weight none of our business, but, specifically, it's a poor indicator of his ability to govern.

Michele Singletary tells us to find the job we love, not far on the page from where a writer talks about living on $20,000 a year.

Cordelia is adorable. I hope you'll think twice before frying up her family.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Saturday morning roundup

I rarely link to things I haven't read myself, but in this case, I just don't want to hear it, and I want emphatically state that I don't want to hear it.

Surprise! Food and ag conglomerates are joining forces to better deceive you.

We can't afford to keep losing our forests.

Let's lay off of Gov. Christie's waistline.

The Post's ombudsman acknowledges that the paper blew muffingate out of proportion but other media outlets did it too, and few are correcting or retracting.

Have y'all met Frank and Louie? He's a little furry miracle.