Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday evening roundup

This isn't the most revolutionary, full-of-content defense of the federal workforce, but it's direct and real.

What President Kennedy actually said about Church and State.

I'm not a fan of PDA, but I'll make an exception for this kiss.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday morning roundup

It's not that I'm reveling in the Virginia ultrasound controversy; it's that the excuses people are making are almost as infuriating as the legislation itself: "no one, not even the bill’s sponsors, according to the aide, understood at the time that it would entail such an invasive procedure." So you're going to push legislation without understanding what it entails? Because the women whose lives it would affect are a secondary detail?

This isn't your grandmother's career ladder.

Are your other cars two Cadillacs?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday evening roundup

Richard Cohen nails the VA anti-choice legislation on the head, and comes up with an excellent idea:
... that the governor and like-minded members of the legislature undergo a brain scan before voting on any legislation that affects the health and welfare of women.
So, this dude and I agree on one thing:
According to Chipotle’s Web site, the company uses only “happier” pigs. It doesn’t say how it measures a pig’s happiness, and I can’t help but picture porcine focus groups, response meters designed for the cloven of hoof. We can all agree that production methods should not cause needless suffering, but for all we know, pigs are “happier” in warm, dry buildings than they are outside. And either way, the end result is a plate.
But there's a huge but. Besides, when the hell did pork become "the world’s most essential good"? F'in really? That's about as true as most of the other assertions in the op-ed.

Finally, an article about kids in restaurants that doesn't frame it as parents against non-parents.

I have a friend who's convinced that--and regularly rants about how--women have been sold a bill of goods. That most relationship advice out there feeds them delusions to plump their egos and make it harder for them to find love. She subscribes to the Lori Gottlieb mentality. Now, you know how I feel about anyone who claims that feminism ruined her life. I wonder why--actually, I don't--it never occurred to Ms. Gottlieb that the issue wasn't feminism, but her own cluelessness and self-absorption. I'm a feminist, yet it never occurred to me to break up with someone because of his name, or for similarly petty reasons. But I digress.

I don't know that I agree that relationship advice is biased toward validation and delusion, but I agree it can be pretty f*ing bad, and the other thing I've noticed is that it's often (like some other "journalism") lacking in content. Those of you who saw the room-for-debate over the farm bill might have wondered why I didn't post it; because, nobody there said anything worth drawing attention to. It was just people opinionating, without anything to back it up. I don't turn to HuffPo for relationship advice, but I do turn to it for fluff and occasionally come upon relationship advice... and usually find it so vapid so as to make me angry. Anyway, today I came across something that made me wonder whether online relationship advice was also just designed under the assumption that people are idiots.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday evening roundup

Does it bother anyone else that Wired's Mad Men sex map fails to distinguish rape from consensual sex? There are at least two lines in there that don't fit the benign category of "consummated affairs."

Why the hell is birth control an election issue? In any case, keep making your voices heard, because it works. The governor of Virginia has relented, and so has the state Senate, apparently.

The Girls Scouts could stand to make a vegan cookie, but some of these accusations are a bit much.

There's been a lot of talk lately about how living in a democracy means sometimes you have to pay for stuff you don't believe in. Well, I don't particularly want to pay for potato chip marketing.

The Prince of Wales' book on sustainable food is apparently quite good.

Wednesday morning roundup

The conflict in Syria has taken two more journalists.

Most of Eastern Europe is now willing to revisit communist-era atrocities and other crimes.

Which candidate loves his nazi analogies.

The governor of Virginia blinks. Was it the "Really"?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday evening roundup and follow-up ramble

See the oceans of respect for the late Anthony Shadid.

You think our politics are f*ed up? Check out what this Dutch far-right party pulled. If that happens here, I'll definitely submit myself as an immigrant job-stealer.

Big dairy is afraid and pathetic.

Why and how the President might grow a pair.

You know the story but check out the tweet and the comments. You people do realize that a lot of users of birth control are married? In which case abstinence and "self-control" are even less relevant.

What is it with guys these days? Don't blame women for your hormones.

A college professor wishes her female students would broaden their horizons and write about something other than men. In related news, here's a dating advice book I would actually read. I agree that the 'blame feminism' nature of many dating books is abominable. In heart-warming dating news, a woman marries on her hundredth birthday.

This tomato thief was really confused.

I've updated my Tuesday ramble about gifts (and other actions) that were not only unsolicited but deliberately discouraged. Added to RM's sins the second and third gifts of chocolate, since I'd politely asked him to quit giving me chocolate (and he, of course, thought I was being coy).

Friday morning roundup

The world has lost a remarkable, irreplaceable journalist.

I don't know that we need to close-read Dana Milbank's chimichanga comment, but let's agree that describing or alluding to ethnic groups by way of stereotypical foods is generally offensive.

That said, name puns are merely tacky rather than offensive.

How culture informs but does not define.

Paul Krugman points out that the red states are awash in the "keep your government hands of my medicare" fallacy.

I wonder whether Target knows who I am or is confused because I've switched credit cards a few times.

I know it's still the week of Valentine's Day, but the oversaturation of "single in America" articles is (by definition) disproportionate. Why aren't we over it?

I don't have an opinion about swimsuit models, but I agree that calling Kate Upton fat only makes you sound like a douche bag.

I remember the handbag-as-an-investment trend and it was f*ing ridiculous.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday evening roundup

Well, that guy's quite the father of the year. He only minds that his ten-year old daughter was kidnapped because she was already promised to someone else.

This is why keurig cups have always horrified me. They're an environmental disaster.

Washington state holds a CAFO accountable for the destruction it has wrought on the land, water, and air.

I donhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif't say this to be cruel, but I don't think we should be rebuilding to accommodate increasingly obese kids.

This whole thing is making me very angry, and people who don't think birth control is expensive are on crack.

Where does this poor woman live that she gets so much crap for something so basic as not changing her name?

Apparently, palm oil isn't great, but making vegan butter is easier than you'd think.

Thursday morning roundup

London is a tough job market for youth.

Check out the Economist's nifty language diversity chart.

How much federal employees actually make.

The paparazzi won't leave Jeremy Lin's grandmother alone.

Gail Collins on Congress.

Some of these anti-Valentines are awesome, some are not.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday evening roundup

Some really interesting ideas come out of Arizona.

Some videos that illuminate how Fox News thinks of women:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Vagina Ideologues - Sean Hannity's Holy Sausage Fest
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

We discussed this yesterday: please stop lecturing vegans about health. And you should probably leave dairy out of your proposals.

Fine, don't boycott Chick-Fil-a for its politics; but keep in mind that your chicken probably isn't cruelty-free to people, either:

What war on religion?

Okay, that photo is just stupid and irrelevant. Does someone at the Post think ass-grabs are romantic?

Check out these awesome celebrity thank-you notes.

Wednesday morning roundup

It takes--not balls--but a belief in other people's stupidity, to try to rewrite history.

There are apparently benefits to my variety of ADD.

If you're feeling pain at the pump, advocate for better, expanded public transportation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Another great video

Tuesday evening ramble-rant

I believe I'm posting Miss Manners' column on empty-handed guests for the third time, because it keeps hitting close to home. It hit again this weekend, and I'm still upset about it. I'm less upset about the bringing and most upset that I'm upset. It's not unlike when the RM gave me a set of pearl earrings for my birthday, or a couple of boxes of chocolate after I'd told him that I was cutting back; I resented the gifts, but not as much as I resented the position he put me in of feeling like crap for spurning it. It shouldn't have happened in the first place. This weekend incident also reminded me of when my mother sewed sequins on my Ivy Day dress, after I had specifically asked her not to (she'd suggested it, I said no). Then she didn't understand why I was upset, because she'd put in so much effort. Doing something that I'd specifically asked her not to do. Oh, did I tell you about the time she begged me for the address of where I was meeting a potential roommate (in Boston) so she could tell the police where to look in case I didn't come home, and I relented on the condition that she wouldn't show up, only to see her pull up at the specified location at the specified time? She was livid, having driven in the heat, her arm in a cast, when I angrily told her to leave "now".

This weekend incident was not nearly as dramatic as those events (and the person in question is cool and didn't overreact), but I'm still uneasy about it. I'm also fascinated by it because of the multiple issues in question: culture, food, etiquette. So here's what happened: I had an anti-Valentine's Day party on Saturday. I noted on the evite that people needn't bring anything, and I specifically told a friend whom I saw the Tuesday (lets call her M) before not to bring anything. I emphatically said--and her friend in the car, also coming to the party, heard me say--please. do. not. bring. food.

I ask that people not bring food for all or most of the reasons discussed in Miss Manners' column. Not only do I not want people to bother, but I take care to put together a menu of appetizers that will fit well together. I make a lot of food, and I want people to eat that food. Now, in the course of planning, a friend who likes to cook did ask whether she could use this opportunity to try to make a vegan appetizer to bring, and I said sure. She asked, I said yes. I adjusted my menu accordingly. But I just can't have random people bringing food.

As you've probably gathered, M brought food. And insisted that I serve it. I said no once. She asked again. I was about to relent, out of politeness, but asked if it was vegan. She said no, it had cheese in it. Which brings us to a whole new level of issues. Why would you bring to a party a dish that the host doesn't eat, on ethical grounds? The bigger issue is, why would you bring a dish to a party when the host specifically asked you not to. But now there's an added issue.

I don't have parties to make a point about vegan food; I have a party to entertain. However, I do like to demonstrate that you can have a complete, interesting, tasty vegan spread. That you don't need animal products to have a good set of party appetizers. So why am I going to mess with that by putting out food with cheese in it? And then I'd have to find the other vegan and lactose intolerant guests and say, "by the way, that one dish does have cheese in it."

Another note: M's friend brought donuts (from Dunkin' Donuts). But she noticed that they were out of place and unneeded, and I saw her and her friends dispatch of them out of the corner of my eye. At no point did she demand that I make room for them on the table. It was a bad idea (again, see the column), but it didn't create awkwardness for me in the end.

The non-vegan nature of the food offering(s) riled me less than the offering itself, but it did confound me. It's partly that M doesn't quite get the vegan thing. She thinks--she asked me about it when she had to lose weight (for health reasons)--that it's more about health and less about ethics, whereas it's almost entirely about ethics and incidentally about health.

Look, I am not a proselytizing vegan. If I'm out to dinner at an Afghan restaurant, I tell my carnivorous friends that the lamb is supposed to be good. I can still discuss cheese on a theoretical level, talk about how much I love(d) Gruyere and how I would eat it if I could get perfectly 'happy' Gruyere. That said, I should be able to choose what food I serve at my own house, at my own party. Right? If you want to expose people to a particular dish, throw your own damn party.

All this aside, I'm still less annoyed by the unsolicited food offering (scratch that--the food offering that I specifically requested not be brought), and by the non-vegan nature of that offering, than by the fact that I'm the one who feels like $hit about the whole thing. Yes, I could have handled it better (should have accepted it as a gift, kept it for the guys to have for breakfast), but I was in no position at the time to optimize the politeness of my response (again, see the column, specifically the part about the frazzled hostess). Yes, M meant well. Her heart was in the right place. So was RM's when he gave me the earrings. But why do I have to feel guilty about rejecting a gift that I made clear--explicitly or implicitly--would not be welcome? Miss Manners hits the nail on the head: if you just have to bring something because you think you were raised right, that's about you. You are putting your needs above those of the host. When you give something for you, you are... giving something for you. Don't then get indignant or hurt if the recipient isn't thrilled, especially if she'd previously indicated that she didn't want what you would be giving. I'll leave you with the opening paragraphs of that column:
One might suppose that Miss Manners would be charmed by the generosity of the Gentle Reader who writes, “I hate it when someone says, ‘Don’t bring anything’ to a get-together. Is it better to honor their request, or to bring something small anyway? And if I should bring it anyway (never arrive empty-handed), do you have any suggestions?”

No, and she is not all that charmed, either. If she were not terminally polite, she would reply, “Do you apply that principle to all aspects of your social life — that No means Yes?”

Tuesday evening roundup

I know I *should* love Chipotle's ad that aired during the Grammys, but I have mixed feelings. I was almost with them, until the end, when the (animated) pig acts all happy. Yes, there are more humane and sustainable ways to produce meat, but a pig bound for slaughter is not exactly the winner here. Less-bad doesn't make good. Which is why I'm not rushing out with props for McDonald's.

The idea that vegetarians/vegans are generally malnourished is idiocy, but the media often perpectuate the myth.

There are plenty of reasons to hate Valentine's Day, but even I have to admit that the google-doodle was awesome. And I can be happy for this non-traditional couple.

People spend a ton on Valentine's Day. I'm in the minority... I spent more on my cat today (in veterinary services, not gifts).

Thank you, Caroline. How can anyone be unable to find anything to do in this city on her own?

A conservative republican state senator in Washington makes a beautiful, heartfelt speech. Try listening without tearing up.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday evening roundup and response to comment

About the spoon-feeding study: Sure there are confounding variables and other factors, but I see it. If the kid is self-feeding, he/she's not going to eat just because there's a spoon in his/her face.

The Times points out that the Post is having issues.

I've already commented on this silliness and I will continue to argue that online dating is not only no worse than meeting someone in a bar, but somewhat better.

This article is not bad, but I have to take issue with the way age 58 is considered "never," beyond the point of no return in terms of finding love.

Stephanie Coontz assures us that there is no longer a "success penalty" for educated women. And to the extent that it lingers among some men, she points out that you don't want to date those guys anyway.

Save your money, guys, and please don't follow these three steps. If I've just met you, I don't give a $hit about what you happen to be doing at whatever hour in the afternoon. Hell, I was just telling my GH that I don't give a $hit what he's doing at whatever hour (i.e., the contents of his status updates). See Sunday's Times for confirmation that nobody cares.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Anti-Valentine's Day roundup

I don't wield this assessment lightly--perhaps you think I do, but I don't--but in this case no other assessment can be had: what a douche bag. And there's more where that came from.

Who is Shylock?

The winners of the World Press Photo contest are worth checking out.

Spoon-feeding is literally bad for your kids.

Judith Warner weighs in on the bebe debate. I'd just like to point out that this vindicates my complaints about rowdy children. Let it be said that you can no longer dismiss people who have a problem with misbehaving children as being child-haters. Here's the actual excerpt in the Journal. I've totally experienced this, where a French friend will tell her kids to be patient and amuse themselves while she's on the phone.

I couldn't help but read Warner's column without thinking of the New Yorker piece on Tyler Clementi and his tormentor. I wondered, as I read it, whether the latter's parents emphasized achievement at the expense of raising their kid to be a decent human being. His parents are going through enough right now, but I did wonder. I'm just sayin'. But on the topic of e-gay-bashing, see Charles Blow's column.

The First Lady is super stylish.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday evening roundup

No one should have to be afraid to report abuse.

George Will calls out candidates of his own leaning on defense rhetoric.

How many of these (all male) detractors do you think have ever taken, much less paid for, birth control pills?

I've spent some time in France and come across a fair share of obnoxious French kids, but I think the advice on overpraising--the one thing the writer took issue with--is spot on. There's also, as the Onion points out, spanking.

Thank you, Grist! I was just thinking about this issue. It doesn't matter how locally-sourced your cabbage is, if it's merely a bed for (especially farmed) salmon. Yes, I'm talking to you, Founding Farmers, but not just you. If you don't offer decent, substantive vegetarian options, you have no claim to sustainability. Don't forget to check out the comments, some of which are ignorant as hell. The comparison is not feedlot meat vs. organic veggies; even (most) conventional plant foods are more sustainable than (most types of) meat. Grass-fed cows need more water and emit more methane than a field of conventional chickpeas. While we're on this topic, why does this other Grist columnist list veganism in the same category as showering only weekly and other such crunchiness?

Thank you, Miss Manners, for reiterating that "help" is only helpful when it's welcome.

Thursday morning roundup

The Catholic Church appears to have dubbed most women in America common street whores. Good thing that institution has its moral authority intact.

Check out the new transportation bill and let your elected representatives know what you think of it.

Our kids probably don't know what a channel is.

Someone's really dumb, and someone else is really gross.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wednesday evening roundup

Just when I was complaining to myself about the volume of paperwork I had to deal with at work today, the Times came through with an Afghan refugee tragedy to keep things real.

This argument about the limits of energy efficiency. How many people do you know who say, "I have an efficient hot water heater, so I'm going to fly somewhere for vacation"? Wouldn't those same people fly somewhere for vacation anyway?

Don't raise your kid to be entitled.

Planned Parenthood funding aside, the pink KFC buckets should have raised eyebrows. On the topic of Planned Parenthood: The Onion claims another victory.

This argument for no-government-benefits-in-stripclubs mostly makes sense, but what about the strippers and other employees?

I don't hate Gisele for being tall, skinny, or wealthy and especially not for being married to Tom Brady. He's always struck me as too pretty, and during the Super Bowl it hit me that he reminded me of Derek Zoolander in the middle of a look.

These Washington valentines are awesome.

In other news: Corner Bakery wrote back and vindicated itself; the tomato-basil soup is vegetarian (vegan without the croutons), which is great, because it's a really tasty soup. They even sent me a nice spreadsheet showing which of its offerings are vegan.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Use your coffee addiction for good

You can be proud to support Starbucks. And J.C. Penney. I'll stop short of Cover Girl. I don't entirely understand how defender-of-animals Ellen DeGeneres is a spokeswoman for a P&G company.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday evening roundup

Wow. There are people who thought that this ad was okay, even great.

Suburbs are building downtowns into their malls.

Celebrate healthy heart month: eat up those nuts, berries, whole soy products, and whole grains!

I find this appraisal of e-dating inane. There are very few ways to meet people without those same obstacles; people may be one-dimensional online, but they're also one-dimensional in person at first glance. How is seeing someone at a bar more illuminating than seeing him or her online? And yes, some of the things we think matter, don't, but that's also an issue beyond the internet. Those algorithms are actually pretty good.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Something-for-everyone Saturday morning roundup

The cold is inescapable for some in Afghanistan and Maine.

For many people angry about their taxes, it's about fairness rather than the concept of helping to support public goods. Meanwhile, tea partiers are doing real damage to communities. Also: Romney would do anything but "repair" the safety net.

One thing we've learned from all this is that the younger generations do care about reproductive rights. I love the concept of taking back pink. Feminist pink. I also love the concept of going beyond soundbites and ribbons and getting to know the realities of a cause. And you know I'm a longtime fan of Gail Collins' turns of phrase, so let's appreciate--in this era of divisiveness--her pointing out how breasts are America's favorite body part. And (mostly) not in the way it is for this guy.

How cool is smart paint that warns you about crumbling infrastructure?

You might want to rethink buying produce at Walmart. Oh, and your blogger is very angry because it turns out that she may have been mislead into consuming chicken broth. You see, Corner Bakery labels its roasted tomato soup as vegetarian (online and in stores), but the recipe it provided, which I only looked for later, contains chicken broth. That's just wrong. I've already complained to Corner Bakery, but I also need to figure out which veg groups to publicize this to.

On a more positive note, here's a humane egg glossary.

Red line passengers are just $hit-out-of-luck.

Back on the topic of taking online reviews with a grain of salt: one reviewer slammed a restaurant for *being closed.* Yelp actively tries to tamp down on fake reviews.

Articles about federal employee pay sure bring out the trolls, almost as much as articles about single women do, and there will be plenty of trolling opportunities with the Match study on single America. Now, let me take issue with the tenuous connection between the questions asked in the study and the way headlines are reporting it. When you ask very pigeon-holing questions--do people "never" want to get married--you lose a lot of nuance. I can't help but be annoyed by the language in that last one. USA Today had to go out and find a happy, unmarried 50-year-old woman because she was such a curiosity? Why is that so hard to imagine that it's news? The best way to handle this kind of thing is to defer to Jezebel for some sanity:
In general, Madison found that men are people, think of women as people, and appreciate being treated like people — with consideration, honesty, and a little confidence. None of this will be shocking to most men, who have long known that they are actually human beings. But when a big chunk of the dating-advice industry is devoted to convincing women that men are in fact giant penises, any evidence that they might have thoughts and feelings is pretty groundbreaking.
So true. Expect a lot more relationship articles, both substantive and ridiculous, in the run-up to Valentine's Day.

These critics are nuts; I f*ing love the Ferris Bueller CRV ad.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thursday evening roundup

Read more about Komen Foundation backlash here and here. I take issue with Alexandra Petri's criticism of people pulling their support from Komen; people can direct their donations to other organizations that do similar work, without the politics. It truly is heartening to see the response, the refusal to be bullied. Check out the case of awesome Virginia state senator Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax):
Howell proposed a “his” version of the [ultrasound] bill, with some requirements for Viagra prescriptions:

“Prior to prescribing medication for erectile dysfunction, a physician shall perform a digital rectal examination and a cardiac stress test,” Howell said, reading the amendment aloud. “Informed consent for these procedures shall be given at least 24 hours before the procedures are performed.
I love it!

Is there any such thing as sustainable seafood? Even though I've walked away, I hope the answer is 'yes.'

Don't buy into the protein propaganda.

What pesticides do to agricultural workers.

How bad is Paula Deen's food in comparison to other not-great-for-you food? Pretty f*in' bad.

You have to be even more insanely wealthy to be among the one percent in the DC area. You have to be pretty glib to make glib Occupy shirts in Martha's Vineyards.

Oh, Phil, I know you're just the messenger, but I'm ready for spring.

Does the princess culture encourage girls to conflate self-absorption with self-confidence?

I have long, long been a fan of Ms. Karen Salmansohn--two of her self-help books adorn my bookshelf--and I appreciate this recent article of hers, as it dovetails with the conversation we've been having about singlehood and couplehood. Ms. Salmansohn articulates exactly how having a personality and a life only enhances any relationship you're in, doesn't detract from it (or the other way around).

Thursday morning roundup

Alzheimer's spreads by contagion.

The current generation of teenagers is doing relatively well.

Is the Komen Foundation actually surprised by the backlash?

Jamie Stiehm draws our attention to former Senator Margaret Chase Smith's brilliant 1950 speech.

Gail Collins deconstructs the 'not concerned' Romney interview.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wednesday evening roundup

The politics behind the Komen travesty.

Promoting breastfeeding is about supporting mothers (and penalizing those who get in their way).

No one should have to justify their reproductive choices, unless they have a gazillion kids.

Wolf babies are cute.

Wednesday morning roundup

The lottery revives a Spanish village.

Tom Friedman on dignity.

There's that other book--it was on the cover of Time last week--about not "diagnosing" kids who are introverted as if they had a disorder. Now, the author of "American Nerd" writes that we need to wield Asperger diagnoses more carefully.

Also, don't demonize atheists.