Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday evening roundup-rant

Celebrate freedom: follow the Kansas teen tweeter.

Embrace the immigrants in your midst.

I am *so* sick of people going on about how homemade food is elitist I might physically swing at this woman if she were in my presence. Look, if you want to feed your kids processed, chemical-laden crap, do it without trying to justify it to the world and painting the rest of us as extremists who, for example, grind our own flour.

Actually, I think the champagne solution is an excellent one: parents get to travel with their kids, and they have an incentive to encourage good behavior.

Check out the belly project.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday evening roundup

This has me fuming. Since when do medical professionals demand a choice with regard to whom they'll treat?

What is it with Safeway and Spartan policies against children? At least the parent didn't lose custody this time around. I sort of have mixed feelings--I think the guard should have said something to the parent, asked him to pay for the apricots--but I don't think the parent is completely off the hook. I know you can't watch your child every second, and things happen, but it is your responsibility to keep your kid out of trouble in public. I've been on the business end of wayward children in supermarkets, and there's definitely some room for more parenting there. Again, I know things happen and you can't catch everything, and the guard definitely overreacted, but I'm just sayin': the world is not your kids' sandbox.

I don't think this is offensive; I think factory farming is offensive.

Have you ever read something and thought, "this was so written by a man who has no business writing women"? Exhibit A.

WTF phone call

Mom: So, what did you have for Thanksgiving?
A.: So, I went to two different celebrations. At the first one, my friend served Tofurkey...
Mom: Huh?
A.: Tofurkey.
Mom: What's that?
A.: It's a "turkey" made of tofu.
Mom: Ha ha ha ha ha! Whoever would have thought!
A.: You laugh, but it's quite the thing. The Post front-paged its Thanksgiving food section with a fake turkey taste test. (Pause.) How was your Thanksgiving?
Mom: It was great. We went to Tanya's. You know, she called me the next day and said to me, "I tell you this because I love you: you need a haircut. Your hairstyle is aging you. I know of a great Italian place where you can go to get it cut." It meant a lot to me that she said that--you could tell it made her uncomfortable.
A.: That's because she doesn't know you.
Mom: Anyway, can't wait to see you. Maria, too.
A.: Mom, we talked about this.
Mom: So?
A.: Have you at least told her?
Mom: Maybe. I don't remember.
A.: I think it's only fair that you tell her.
Mom: Why? What's the big deal? Maybe it won't work out.
A.: Thanks, mom.
Mom: I'm just sayin'.
A.: Yes, you are.
Mom: These guys are educated, they're hard-working...
A.: This conversation is over, mom.
Mom: Who is this guy, anyway? Where does he live?
A.: Here.
Mom: What, Virginia?
A.: Yeah.
Mom: Where does he work?
A.: Also here.
Mom: Huh.
A.: Are we done?
Mom: What denomination is he?
A.: He's not really anything, but his parents are Protestant.
Mom: Oh! Protestants are awful. That is awful.
A.: I don't see how it's relevant.
Mom: Besides, I just don't see how it can work: one of you speaks Russian, the other doesn't? How does that even work?
A.: Bye, mom. Dad, talk to her, please. Dad?
Mom: Dad?
A.: I guess he's asleep.
Dad: No, I'm here. I took the phone away from my ear because I couldn't stand to listen to this horsecrap.
A.: [laughs]
Mom: Please! Like you don't think it's important!
A.: Bye, mom. Bye, dad.
Dad: Bye. Have a good night.
Mom: Keep your options open. Goodnight.

Monday morning roundup

Alabama is reaping what it sowed.

It's a fraught time to be Santa.

May the best memes win.

Gotta hand it to Newt Gingrich, dude's got a sense of humor.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday roundup

Do you think this is the Israel that my generation of American Jews is going to lobby for?

A new book on the women of the French resistance and their time in Birkenau.

Subtle(r) ways to flaunt wealth.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday roundup

Manchester (NH) is having trouble absorbing refugees.

A man makes the most of his schizophrenia.

United Russia is losing support.

Gail Collins on Ron Paul.

On the new domesticity

What to make of "the new domesticity"? Ms. Matchar sums up my take on the whole situation here:
“Sometimes a can of jam is just a can of jam,” as Freud (never) said. Our tech-saturated generation craves creative hands-on activities, and nostalgic hobbies such as canning, knitting and baking fit the bill. We’ve realized that just because something was historically devalued as “women’s work,” that doesn’t mean we have to shun it to be taken seriously in the world. Plenty of young men are embracing their domestic sides, too.
She loses me here:
But lately, many women (and a few men) are diving into domesticity with a sense of moral purpose. The homemade jar of jam becomes a symbol of resistance to industrial food and its environment-defiling ways.
I'm all about resistance to industrial food, but it's not homemade canning that's going to make the difference. In any case, just like I don't see why food preparation is a gender issue (I did want to smack someone who called me a housewife because I made dinner for a group of people when we were renting a cabin at the beach a year ago), I don't see "the new domesticity" as a backlash to feminism. But then she writes this:
Many champions of the DIY movement explicitly say that domestic work shouldn’t be about gender. But I’ve also noticed a resurgence of old-fashioned gender essentialism from some surprising sources. I’ve lately been hearing things like “There’s just something natural about women taking on the nurturing role in the home” coming out of the mouths of women’s studies grads and Ivy League PhDs.
I don't know about that. There's something to be said for basic domestic skills... my dad always says that everyone should be able to sew on a button, and even I can do that.

It may be that a young stay-at-home mom in Pennsylvania recently told the writer, “The only way to know what’s in your food is to make it yourself.” But I could have told her that too. I've told you that, and I mean it.

I'm dating someone who knows as much about cooking as Gracie does, and is about as handy with kitchen gadgets. Would I judge this level of cluelessness more harshly if he were a woman? Probably not. I don't judge it; it just baffles me. I didn't learn to cook because I thought I should, as a woman; I learned to cook because I like to eat good food, and, my upbringing was not far from what Gary Shteyngart wrote in "Sixty-Nine Cents":
My parents believed that going to restaurants and buying clothes not sold by weight on Orchard Street were things done only by the very wealthy or the very profligate, maybe those extravagant “welfare queens” we kept hearing about on television.
Not long ago--perhaps the last time I was in Boston--my father--not my mother, who couldn't believe I would pay for a professional haircut, but my father--talked about how he couldn't believe the way his coworkers treated themselves to restaurant food willy-nilly. For us, restaurants were always a special treat. And even now that my parents can afford the occasional restaurant dinner, they don't particularly like it, and this is partly because they're both decent cooks. Yes, my father, too, is a decent cook. He recently told me that he started making vegetables "my way." As for me, especially being vegan (not to mention, mortgaged), restaurant food is rarely worth it. I can make decent food at home and know what's in it.

The guy I'm dating is a vegetarian. This shocked the hell out of one of my friends--the same one who came to my AVD party last year having eaten ahead of time because she didn't think she'd be able to eat anything vegan. Anyway, this friend urged me to play down my own veganism, not mention it to guys, because no one wanted to date a vegetarian, much less a vegan. Guys like to eat, she said. But I digress. So, this vegetarian I'm dating, who didn't own a salt shaker until a couple of weeks ago (after I sent him home with some leftovers and suggested he maybe add salt), didn't think that individuals could make decent vegetarian food. That it had to be ordered at restaurants. We're working on that.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday evening roundup

The Economist charts women in the workforce.

Best relationship advice ever.

Friday morning roundup

The African Union has surprised with its military successes, but it's struggling to win the peace.

"But what did she expect would happen" is never the right response to sexual assault.

I can't believe, in this day and age, that access to birth control is even an issue.

What do you (last-)name your kids?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving roundup

I've never cared for referring to Thanksgiving as "Turkey Day," only partly because it's not exactly a great holiday for the turkeys. It's even more that it's about so much more than excessive food. Food, great. Excessive food, not so much. I posted two links about gratitude yesterday, and here's one about hope. That's what the holiday is about, and it's not unimportant.

On a more humorous note, Gail Collins counts her blessings.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday evening roundup

Eggs can apparently be very bad for you.

Mothers and mothers-to-be, the future of the country is in your hands. Please don't let us down.

Apples without pesticides. Oh, did I mention it was the New Yorker food issue? More on apples here.

I don't understand why Amy takes such offense here; apparently, neither do these people (two separate links there). I once met a guy for dinner and he was wearing a sweatshirt. It was ridiculous.

Wednesday morning roundup

Gratitude is the answer. Here's some tips for raising grateful children.

I talked to my mother the other day. She said she and dad looked at a beautiful house with a beautiful view, where they like to walk, but she couldn't make an offer because the house didn't have a basement and what would she do with all the stuff currently in her basement.

Tara Parker-Pope shares some vegan recipes from Candle 79. That ravioli looks amazing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday morning roundup

Yes, the whole 'Facebook friend' aspect mars the study, but within those parameters, the 4.74 degrees of separation finding is interesting.

Way to dramatize what's happening in Bahrain.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday evening roundup

I never really thought about Twilight bashing as a gender issue. I haven't seen the films (nor read the books) or followed the debates, so it wouldn't be right to weigh in, but I guess she makes a reasonable point (i.e. why don't we make fun of cheezy guy shit with the same rancor?).

Really, HuffPo? You couldn't find a Russian speaker to translate 30 seconds of video? I can tell you what she said, but I still can't tell you why she flipped off the POTUS.

Yes, good humor is based on truth. On that note, let's all give thanks to Eric Idle for a Shouts and Murmurs that is actually funny.

You can flip through the entire slide show but I particularly loved this photo and this one.

Monday morning roundup

The key takeaway from a long profile of Elizabeth Warren and her campaign:
But many of the people looking to Warren, as they did to Obama before her, are expecting material things — like readable credit-card pitches or safe bridges or jobs or a vote on a bill to create jobs — that are, at the moment, figments as imaginative as dragons and their slayers. And that’s dangerous, because when the person we decided was going to fix it all isn’t able to change much, it’s not just that we get blue but also that we give up. We mistake the errors of our own overblown estimations for broken promises. And instead of learning, reasonably, that one person can’t do everything, we persuade ourselves that no person can do anything.

The key is not just emotional investment in election-year saviors but also an engagement with policy. A commitment to organized expressions of political desire — like those that have been harnessed so effectively in recent years on the right — have been absent for far too long in Democratic politics. Now, with labor protests, campaigns to block voter suppression and personhood measures and the occupations of cities around the nation, there seem to be some small signs that liberals are remembering that politics requires more of them, that they need movements, not just messiahs. But their engagement must deepen, broaden and persist beyond last week’s elections and well beyond next year’s elections if there is any chance for politicians like Warren to succeed.

Because while she might provide her supporters and her constituents a voice that, if properly tuned, will rattle doors that are now gummed shut, what Elizabeth Warren cannot do is fix this mess herself.
Meanwhile, for the one percent of the one percent: first class is getting ridiculous.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Phone call

Dad: Hello?
A.: Where are you guys?
Dad: [Sigh] Shopping. Mom decided we needed to go shopping. She just picked up some piece of crap and said, "look, this is $5!"
A.: [Laughs.]
Dad: Here, talk to her.
A.: Hello?
Mom: So, when are you coming to visit?
A.: In late December. We talked about this.
Mom: Well, good. I'm very much looking forward to your visit, and so is Maria.
A.: Did you tell her I was spoken for?
Mom: Yeah. So?
A.: So?
Mom: You never know. Besides, nothing wrong with a little competition. Oooh, those shoes are great!
A.: [Sigh.]

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday morning roundup

Tokyo takes on the Tepco Goliath.

Why should the well-connected lobbyists deny the rest of us clean air?

How do we know Robin Givhan has left the Post? We start seeing this bullshit.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday morning roundup

I, for one, have not forgiven the president for turning his back on the smog standard.

Greg Sargent writes that Tom Friedman is confused.

By now, I'm sure you've heard that pizza is a vegetable.

Moving in with one's parents is bad for the economy. Parents, you're doing your nation a disservice by not being so overbearing that your kids can't stand to live with you.

Sex education is making a comeback.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday evening roundup

Here's an update on the sport Russia most excels at these days: beating the shit out of journalists.

For a journalist in Kyrgyzstan, Twitter to the rescue.

Sigh. Apparently I've been eating the wrong kind of wild rice.

I always hate wasting the rest of hotel soaps. Good for Hilton.

Men are delusional about their being funnier than women, but I still maintain that that study is flawed and not generalizable to the conclusions that the press is reporting.

The Onion on Berlusconi.

Ran out of my usual pasta and had to made do with back-up pasta, and let me tell you, Trader Joe's whole wheat pasta doesn't hold a candle to Whole Foods' whole wheat pasta.

Tuesday morning roundup

Salman Rushdie's Facebook-induced identity crisis has been resolved.

I find "Bladerunner"-themed metaphors amusing, especially when applied to places like Qatar.

Foreign policy is apparently confounding to some presidential candidates. Wouldn't you have loved to be a fly on the wall where Herman Cain had his conversation with Henry Kissinger? Anyway, here's more, from other candidates:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2012 - Saturday Right Fever
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday morning roundup

In Europe, the prospect of austerity clashes with culture and expectations.

I wasn't sure SNL could add value to a moment that spoke for itself, but they managed:

In political coverage, journalists can't escape accusations of bias.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday morning roundup

The system is broken, with tragic consequences:
The priorities did not apply for Neida Lavayen, 46, an American citizen in Elizabeth, N.J. After a three-year courtship, she had planned on Sept. 23 to marry Rubén Quinteros, an illegal immigrant from Uruguay. Mr. Quinteros, 43, had come legally to the United States, then stayed past his time limit. But once he and Ms. Lavayen married, he would be eligible for a permanent resident’s green card as the spouse of a citizen.

Eight days before the wedding, Mr. Quinteros was arrested by immigration agents. His lawyer, Heather Benno, argued that he should benefit from prosecutorial discretion, since he was days away from resolving his immigration status. He had no criminal record, had paid taxes and had provided vital support for his fiancée, who suffered domestic abuse in her first marriage.

Ms. Benno’s motions were denied. Ms. Lavayen found a pastor to marry the couple in the detention center, but immigration agents declined to release Mr. Quinteros for a few hours so he could go with Ms. Lavayen to get the marriage license, since registrars would not issue one without him. They were not able to marry, and Mr. Quinteros was deported Oct. 27.

“I never thought I would fall in love again and have dreams again and live such a beautiful romance,” Ms. Lavayen said in a telephone conversation, pausing often to cry. “How did my country take away my happiness?”
A closer look at Bain Capital.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday morning roundup

War is really hell, World War II was hell, and Max Hastings has a new, apparently must-read book about it.

Jerusalem is even more complicated than we think.

Peter Marks has a lot to answer for (example: convincing me to spend not a little money on a ticket to "Oklahoma!"--although Hilton Als is complicit in that, as well). I'm disappointed in his review of The Golden Dragon, which--I saw it on a subscription--is a drag of a play, even though, as Marks says, something comes together at the end. The ambiguity of his review is a disservice to audiences, because I doubt most people would get anything out of that show. Studio is an amazing place, and I'd hate to see new patrons turned off because that was the first play they saw there. But I'm telling you this because Mr. Marks redeems himself with a few sentences:
But the most disappointing aspect of denying spectator status to others in the field may be that it sends an unfortunate message of exclusivity to the constituency that cares about this issue most of all: the emerging generation of playwrights and theater-company managers who desperately need to feel the encouragement of those in higher places. The 1 percent in that room are required with opportunities such as this one to fling open the doors to the other 99.
True lovers of the performing arts know that, as much as it’s consoling to feel the powerful resonances of old works, the true measure of a nation’s artistic vitality is what the art-makers are creating right now.

Gail Collins puts the next debate in humorous perspective.

I get slow living but is there such a thing as too slow?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday morning roundup

This is David Brooks at his most self-amused and least witty. It could be straight out of "Bobos in Paradise" (not a bad book, but also not quite accurate), adapted for the 21st century. But Mr. Brooks, do you realize that you are the one putting opera and Ibsen above Lady Gaga? They are not inherently so. Where do I fit into all this? I'd rather see Lady Gaga than go to most operas, but I'd rather see Ibsen. Or Second City. So I understand that you're trying to make some kind of point, but could you consider for a second that that point may exist more in your mind than in society at large?

Dennis Ross will resign.

"Feminists have by and large dismissed written off her choice as ignorant and backwards, merely because it does not fit the box they have created for what makes a feminist"? Really? Who's "they"? What I've written Michelle Duggar off as is really f*ing environmentally irresponsible.

Yes, yes, Wall Street did bring on the financial crisis. End of conversation.

Gov. Perry was not the only clueless one on Thursday night.

Mark Bittman makes my day.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday morning roundup

Remember what I said yesterday about the "I'm not a feminist, but..." ladies? Well, here's your proof that we live in a post-feminist era. At this point, being publicly humiliated by Rush Limbaugh could be a badge of honor if it weren't so... humiliating.

Ernie Pyle mattered, but I'm not going to drive hours out of my way to learn about him. Keep the museum, though.

Kristof on a Vietnamese girl who values education.

Gail Collins might just have written, "sigh."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wednesday evening roundup

War sucks and the people on the ground fighting it have to make very difficult decisions, often between bad and worse. But they're not the only ones; war is not the only domain of ethical dilemmas. That's one reason that the self-righteousness of that column irks me.

If you're shocked--shocked!--that not everyone loves Netanyahu, wait until you find out there's gambling that goes on in casinos.

Not that I support meat production of any sort, but if it's gonna be there, why support the worst kind?

By the way, watch out for the anal gland juice in your processed food.

Does anyone have a sense of denial deja-vu?

Consumer environmental activism isn't enough.

Mom's three for three this week

I *just* walked in when my phone rang.

A.: Hello?
Mom: Hello.
A.: What's going on.
Mom: You know, I'm tired. I've been busy, trying to get organized. So much stuff to sort through. And the gladioli! I planted them late, and you know how they reproduce...
A.: Yes.
Mom: Anyway, I wanted to tell you--I had a feeling, a sense, that you were seeing someone.
A.: That is really interesting.
Mom: I don't know what it was, but I just knew. And then you confirmed my suspicion by not picking up the phone when I called pretty late.
A.: I wouldn't have picked up the phone anyway. I was probably at the theater or ballet.
Mom: One time it was during the week.
A.: I go out during the week, too.
Mom: Anyway, I just knew.
A.: Fascinating.

Mom said she was happy for me and asked me some questions about this person. Kidding! This is what mom said:

Mom: Well, do what you want, but just know that I prefer you go out with Maria's son.
A.: That's good to know, mom, but since this is my life, it's not really up to you.
Mom: They immigrated before their parents, they--both sons--treat her very well, and that is very important. And they managed to achieve great success.
A.: That's nice, mom.
Mom: Just keep your options open.
A.: I'm not in an options-open place right now, mom.
Mom: Well, I've said what I had to say.
A.: Okay, bye.

I can't begin to describe what a great guy this person is, and the bizarre ways that we're compatible, that I didn't even think were out there. Things I didn't realize were important to me until now. I could go on, and on, and on about all these things, but I'm going to focus on two or three of the most recent. And lest you think that they're not that special, I'm going to contrast them through examples.

(1) Dealing with heritage Now, I have a complex relationship with my heritage; I spent my early years disavowing it, as you're prone to do when your country of origin is your adopted country's Cold War enemy. Besides, your people are different, and you just want to fit in. To this day, I still marvel that I can pass for "all-American," whatever that means; that few people on the street would guess that I wasn't born here, that I grew up speaking another language, that neither of my grandfathers lived to die of natural causes, that the stuff of totalitarian nightmares and no-shit deprivation is the history of my family. No one wants to wear any of that on her sleeve; at least I don't. But I honor it. I may have dodged both the accent bullet and the obviously-ethnic name bullet, but the rest of the heritage bullet pierced right through me.

The men I've dated--as a microcosm of people in general--tend to dismiss my heritage (oh, please; you're American) or exotify it or tell me what it should mean to me, what it says about me. Maybe they even want a medal for being willing to date me (I $hit you not). I very rarely meet someone who's just cool with it, who takes it for what it is, who respects my heritage but doesn't feel the need to magnify it or extrapolate from it. And yet, I have.

Consider that inimitable Dar Williams line--"I don't know what you saw, I want somebody who sees me." I didn't realize how f*ing sick I was of being misunderstood, of having other people's templates projected onto me, until I met someone who didn't do it. Someone who just gets me.

(2) Feminism I may be dating myself here, but I'm a no-shit, no-disclaimers feminist. None of this "I'm not a feminist, but..." bullshit. I don't feel the need to be the nice girl, to avoid the appearance of "bitch," whatever that means. You'll recall that the label of "bitch" was leveled at me over the way I handled my roommate situation. Well, if preserving my sanity by acknowledging my own needs entails being a bitch, I pick bitch. And if you ask me, it would behoove the "I'm not a feminist, but..." ladies to refuse to rest on other people's laurels and fight for what's theirs.

All that said, I've developed a mistrust over the years for men who feel the need to announce, proclaim, attest to their feminism. In my experience, there's this deep-seated misogyny there; they still, often, feel the need to tell women who and how they should be--it just happens to be a different who and how.

None of that in this case. Just a guy who has my back but doesn't undermine my own strength. A guy who gets it.

(3) Substance over Style Y'all remember RM? He would trip over himself to appear useful to me, to surprise me, to coerce my appreciation. This person doesn't do any of that; he just makes himself useful. He doesn't live here, so he doesn't even have to. But he does. Ironically, that he's so willing to help means so much more than anything that actually gets done. And yet, at the same time, he's less interested (I think) in getting credit for being my savior and more interested in actually helping. How awesome is that?

Like I said, I could go on. I'm tempted to. But I think I've made my point. Mom may not be interested in any of that, but I know better than to throw it away.

Wednesday morning roundup

Roger Cohen's meandering but poignant case for Israel.

Red states might wanna be careful what they, in their anti-government fervor, wish for.

Mississippi voters choose sanity.

Who wins this round of hard science vs. the humanities?

Really, National Geographic Traveler? Really? Readers, which of these things is not like the others? My vote is this one.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mom's on a roll

A.: Hello?
Mom: You don't want to see us on Thanksgiving, right?
A.: I didn't say that. I said I had some things going on that weekend...
Mom: Okay, we won't come, then.
A.: I didn't say you couldn't come. I said I wouldn't be coming up to Boston.
Mom: So we should buy the tickets?
A.: Yeah! Go for it.
Mom: Okay.
A.: I'm going to a play that Saturday but I can get you tickets as well, if you're interested. Oh, and I'm getting a haircut that morning.
Mom: A haircut?
A.: Yeah.
Mom: Who's cutting your hair?
A.: What do you mean, who's cutting my hair?
Mom: I mean, who's cutting your hair?
A.: Does it matter who's cutting my hair?
Mom: What are you, going to a salon?
A.: Yeah?
Mom: Wow, she's going to a salon.
A.: And?
Mom: Well, ti distvityelno zazhralas.

[This translates literally to, "you've really stuffed your face;" it means, "you've really let yourself go," but in the sense of "you're really dipping your proverbial balls in gold."]

A.: What?
Mom: A salon? [To dad] Do you know how much it costs to get your hair cut in a salon?
A.: How else am I supposed to get my hair cut?
Mom: I don't know. Dad and I manage without going to salons.

[Dad doesn't have much hair. Mom no longer works outside the home.]

A.: Well, I need to go get my hair cut.
Mom: You need to. You need to.
A.: Yup.
Mom: How much are you paying for this haircut?
A.: That's immaterial.
Mom: It does too matter!
A.: This conversation is over, mom.
Mom: Wow. A haircut.
A.: So, are you coming for Thanksgiving?
Mom: I don't know. Let me look at this website again.
A.: Okay.

A few things to keep in mind:

(1) I have a lot of f*ing hair, and it is out of control. It's not for the weak or unskilled. Some people who will remain unmentioned have described it as "Hagrid hair." It's not something I can trim on my own in a few minutes.

(2) I do not, for example, spend hundreds of dollars every two weeks on highlights. I spend around $50, every six months or so, on a professional haircut.

(3) Why am I even defending myself?

Monday morning roundup

Sexual harassment in middle school is pervasive.

Thailand's flooding shows its increasing role in tech supply chains.

A Chinese writer pushes boundaries and runs up against censors.

Are mothers turning to sleep meds, or did the Times create another trend story out of a handful of cases?

Cities have got to democratize their green initiatives.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My mother

Mom called late last night; I was out, and by the time I got her message, it was too late to call back. And this morning, I started running around and doing other things. So she called again. I still couldn't talk, but she insisted I call her later when I had more time. So I did.

Mom: So, how's the weather.
A.: Great--
Mom: It's great here too. So nice out. Nice out where you are?
A.: Yeah...
Mom: So, what do you have going on?
A.: Not much.
Mom: I mean, anything going on?
A.: What do you mean by going on?
Mom: You know--"going on."
A.: Not really.
Mom: When are you heading up here?
A.: Just before Christmas.
Mom: Not before?
A.: No.
Mom: Really? Not Thanksgiving?
A.: No... it's just not going to happen. Too much going on here.
Mom: Okay, because there's this event on the 20th...
A.: Yeah, I definitely can't be there.
Mom: So, you know, Maria's always wanted to introduce you to her son--
A.: Not interested.
Mom: But wait!
A.: Mom, if that's what you mean, I do have something going on.
Mom: You know, I kind of thought so.
A.: Why?
Mom: I don't know. But I had a feeling. So you have something going on. So?
A.: What do you mean,"so"?
Mom: He's a great guy. He has multiple degrees. He's a lawyer...
A.: Mom, did you hear me? I'm seeing someone.
Mom: That doesn't mean you should close off other options. Always keep an eye out.
A.: Mom, I'm not interested.
Mom: You know what I can tell you about Russians--they make great partners. They're very smart...
A.: This conversation is over.
Mom: ...and most importantly, they worship their mothers. And that's very important.
A.: Mom.
Mom: He has an apartment on--[Dad], what's the most expensive street in Boston?
A.: I don't care, mom.
Mom: You should.
A.: Well, I don't.
Mom: So when are you going to meet him?
A.: I'm not.
Mom: You won't even meet him?
A.: I'm. Seeing. Someone.
Mom: So?
A.: Bye, mom.
Mom: So, you'll at least meet him?
A.: Bye, mom.
Mom: [Sigh.] Bye.

This woman's son is the new Google. Not only will mom not back off about something I'm not interested in, she's so focused on it that she's oblivious and indifferent to what's actually happening: then, I was applying to jobs I actually wanted, and when I got one, she was completely blindsided; now, I'm dating this amazing guy. Like, I almost don't believe he's real, but I know he's not imaginary because my yard looks good for the first time since I moved here three years ago, because he helped me with yardwork. Who does that? But I digress. You'd think mom might be interested in the life I have, and in the people in my life, but apparently she'd rather point me in the direction of Newbury Street.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday roundup

In China, wealth and power buy fresh air.

I know there are million things about al-Shabab that are not funny, but this headline and blurb are not among them.

What fish to avoid (hint: Atlantic salmon is one).

I'm not sure what this dude is getting at. I mean, don't get me wrong--if dating has taught me anything, it's that there's a shortage of real men out there--but it sounds like the issue is maturity rather than masculinity, i.e. men are not growing up as consistently as their female counterparts of the same generation. Don't even get me started on the more controversial and out-there stuff in that column.

Egan on the presidential candidate field.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thursday evening vegetarian roundup

Whoa! Get a hold of the righteously-indignant carnivores in the comments! You'd think Tara Parker-Poke came around to their houses and took away their turkeys. They can't seem to handle her suggestion that Thanksgiving need not be turkey-centric.

On another veggie-related note, see Ariel Levy's hilarious-yet-astute column on the six types of vegetarians. I think I fit somewhat into a number of those.

On another someone-has-issues note, guess what someone called Elizabeth Warren.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday evening roundup

Are "southern manners" going the way of the dodo?

Remember how I've always reassured you about your sweet corn? That may be about to change.

I've mixed feelings about locavorism, but if anyone makes a compelling argument, it's Mark Bittman.

Fictional occupier responds to Rick Perry. Capehart takes Cain to task for being ignorant. Dave Brooks tries to blame the victim, but thank heavens we have Gail Collins to articulately set him straight.

Now, you guys know I don't care to sully these pages with any mentions of that ridiculous attention-whoring family, but humor is humor, so I have to do what I have to do. First, there was this compendium of valuable lessons. Then, this hilarious Rothkopf piece that offers some valuable perspective. Then, this example of poor journalism from the Post. Can you figure out what's going on from that post? I had to google to get to the bottom of it, and here's what I found.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tuesday evening roundup

I agree that the police overreacted, but not with this clueless, entitled, sanctimonious blog post. Pulling the pregnancy card--particularly the "you can't understand if you've never been pregnant" card is just repugnant. I know I'm not a parent, but dare I suggest that you either make arrangements to feed yourself and your child before you go shopping--say, carry a paid-for granola bar or pack of nuts--or suck it up while the child whines? My mother never would have dreamed of opening something at a supermarket before paying for it just because I was hungry.

Dr. Oz, who identified as a republican the last time I checked, advocates for health care reform.

I apologize to those of you who were hoping I'd bring you back some whale meat from my next trip.

Cognitive understanding attenuates one's emotional response.