Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday roundup

Don't blame your genes; manage them. And don't fall for the misconception that overweight is healthier. Also, don't be afraid to eat fruit out of wariness of fructose.

Quote of the day (from my New Yorker cartoon calendar): "Ask your child what he wants for dinner only if he's buying."--Fran Lebowitz

Please don't abuse science as a legitimate policy basis by labeling everyone who disagrees with you--say, who has concerns about GMOs--as anti-science. Speaking of the limits of GMOs: they're not the answer to the soybean aphid.

I can't tell whether this invocation of science is awesome, sad, or both.

There's a downside to having huge balls. It's still okay (and preferred) to have large proverbial balls, as long as you use them for good.

David Roberts apologizes for his crass tweet.

Excellent analysis of the difference between "nice" and polite/good. The ignorant comments she shares (on the original NYT piece) remind me of some of the responses I got from my own friends and family when I set boundaries against RM (the roommate from hell). Note also the ingrained behaviors women adopt--I talked about this the other day in relation to the profiling issue--to not get hassled by men on an everyday basis.

I love, love Reza Aslan's phrasing in response to a question about his faith:
I’m a person of faith, and the language that I use to define my faith, the symbols and metaphors that I rely upon to express my faith, are those provided by Islam because they make the most sense to me. The Buddha once said, “If you want to draw water, you don’t dig six 1-ft. wells, you dig one 6-ft. well.” Islam is my 6-ft. well. But I recognize that I am drawing the same water that everyone around me is.
Feast your eyes on the cutest thing ever, this week.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday roundup

Women are so entitled. Some of them refuse to be blamed for being sexually assaulted and others think it's perfectly okay to go out in public while pregnant, even though it's awfully unbecoming. Who do they think they are--actual people??

On that note, science confirms that I have not been deceiving you when writing that men will f* anything:
As the researcher points out, men lower their standards when it comes to one-night stands, so the presumed flattery is a fantasy or close to it. "Often [women] said things like, 'I felt so flattered, so happy that he found me attractive. It was so nice to be wanted,'" said researcher Anne Campbell, a psychologist at Durham University in England. "What women don't seem to see is that men drop their standards massively for a one-night stand." She added, "No woman should be flattered because a man wants to have sex with her once."

Who does Reza Aslan think he is? A religious scholar??

Quit giving yourself a bladder infection from the meat you eat.

China's environmental-agricultural disaster is a cautionary tale. But you don't have to look that far: look how much of our wetlands we've lost to cropland. More on China's agricultural clusterf* here.

Get your children out of that stroller for their own sake, and, while you're at it, hold off on getting them smart phones. Oh, and... never mind, I've got nothing as far as this one is concerned, except, wow. (Well, "wow" and could the author of the original article or her editor get her apostrophes straight?)

I don't think alternative registries are any tackier than traditional ones, and I'd personally rather give people something they need. The taboo behind registries is setting an expectation of a gift, and then there's the horror of calling people out for being original if they don't buy off the registry.

Amazing! I've had dinner conversations about art, history, literature, and politics right in this country!

Feast on vegan cronuts, which, apparently... exist.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday roundup

Syria's ancient streets are threatened.

Be wary of the low-carbon claims about fracked natural gas.

Whose job is it to moderate the national discourse about race?

Why is this article about whistleblowers in the Post's Style section?

Fox News does Reza Aslan a huge favor.

Why does this guy think it's fun to annoy his girlfriend on purpose?

Virginia doesn't care if your 11-year old can read as long as he gets bible study. There are apparently some babies with more advanced communication skills than some of Virginia's home-schooled kids.

Omg I love Lidl, bring it! Unfortunately, the Old Town Trader Joe's doesn't live up to the quick checkout reputation, but where else am I going to go for my tofu? I haven't found any that matches its quality.

UK woman gets harassed and threatened for suggesting Jane Austen's image on currency.

Some people are really upset that Michael Pollan questioned the GMO'd oranges article.

This picture from space is amazing.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday roundup

Italian politics are classy.

Has the Justice Department considered looking closer to home for unprofessionalism in police departments, say, in the District?

Oranges are inherently genetically modified. There's a nexus here with the hippie vegan article: the issue is not genetic engineering but bullying corporate practices.

Everyone who's everyone, in New York, has a personal trainer.

Jezebel sums up the aging thing:
I've said this before and I will say it again: If you are doing shit you care about, shit you feel good about, shit that is even in the tiniest way a step toward doing a thing that matters to you, that makes the world better, you better, someone else better, life better, your headspace better, you will not obsess about being older.
 Which is not to say that you won't think about it at all, but obsessing is different.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday morning roundup

Peter Buffett calls out the hypocrisy of philanthropy and makes the case for social justice.
Short people have a lower risk of cancer.


Some dudes think that women should be the first to text after a date.

There's a new musical borne of romantic frustrations, but if you're in DC, go see Avenue Q!

It's that time of week (yardwork time!)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday morning roundup

Another opposition leader is assassinated in Tunisia.

The prison population is declining.

Ta-Nehisi Coates makes some excellent points, to which I'll add mine: the stunning lack of self-awareness with which (some) white men justify fear of black men by way of statistics. You guys do realize that by that logic--and it's an even stronger logic--women have every reason to just be afraid of all men. Those guys who chased after the UVA student in the parking lot with no inkling that being chased by random dudes would scare a woman are lucky they didn't get shot.

Shaming people about their weight is officially not helpful.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thursday evening roundup

The moon f*s with your sleep; good thing we only have one, but you really should check out these amazing pictures of Saturn's.

More pictures, not sure whether depressing and uplifting or both, this time of Detroit.

Bike shares are working on the helmet issue.

Dudes, for the umpteenth time, nobody wants to see your $hit. I'm sorry that you got the short end of the stick (no pun intended) among the animal kingdom in that it's women's bodies that are the 'ornamental' ones, but such is life, and god knows we have enough crap to deal with for it, such as your blaming your bad behavior on our irresistibility. We're sorry that our bodies turn you on (for the most part; for each of us, there's one of you at a given time that we're not sorry to turn on), and I guess we're sorry that your packages don't turn us on, but they just don't, so deal with it. 

So I thought about this Carolyn column--about a woman whose husband won't get his @$$ of the couch--in light of an earlier column of hers about a woman whose husband won't draw boundaries to his ever-present buddies. Starting with the latest one--then I'll move on to what struck me about both--I don't see the bait-and-switch that the LR is accused of; it's understandable that something (for example, watching sports together) is fine when two people start dating but not enough to keep a relationship alive as it progresses. The common thread in both columns is that neither woman is asking too much--and Carolyn comments in the earlier one that the idea of the woman as the nag and the guy as just wanting to hang out with his guy friends is misguided and unhelpful--so why are these ladies pulling teeth to make their relationships work? This is part of why, in the same posts in which I unironically discourage one from taking relationship advice from single people, advise women to let guys take the lead early on. It's not (just) about traditional roles or turn-offs; it's about making sure the guy is able and willing to do (some of) the work of being in a relationship.

Trader Joe's' shoppers don't want antibiotics in their meat.

This woman's take on GMOs is exactly my take.

This sort-of take-down of whole grains is disingenuous and simplistic. That you'd have to eat nine servings of brown rice to get your daily allowance of fiber may be true, but did anyone ever say that you had to get all your fiber from brown rice? Maybe people are also eating vegetables, fruit, pulses, and other grains? Again, true that brown rice may be overhyped, but that doesn't invalidate the value of grains in general. As for the spurious claims on cereal boxes, it surprises people that food companies lie? That they inflate health claims? That if you actually care about nutrition, you probably know better than to rely on cereal box health claims? I mean, it's good that the article distinguishes between real whole grains and processed whole grains (and yet... I have whole wheat pasta, and it has plenty of fiber and nutrients), but the issue in question is false advertising, not genuine nutritional advice.

By the way, that Vaclav Smil excerpt I posted last week talks about how much, percentage-wise, is stripped off of wheat and rice, respectively. It also talks about the incontrovertible environmental impact of meat.

Speaking of spurious nutritional advice, how did the brilliant Linus Pauling fall prey to the vitamin myth, and take a bunch of the country down with him?

Chickens are smarter than your toddler. Just think about that when you make your decisions about dinner.

I ate my home- (well, garden-) grown cucumber today. It was awesome.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Grab your soul, leave your ego

I was thinking about that Facebook (and Instagram) study that I posted last night, in the context of relative privation, or its first-world corollary--Keeping up with the Joneses. The gist of the study is that Facebook makes people miserable to the extent that it feeds their insecurities about everyone else having more fun, or having more anything, for that matter. This is consistent with the universe of "happiness" research, which generally shows that focusing on what you don't have makes you miserable, while counting your blessings makes you happy. The research also shows that you have a choice in how you process information about what other people have, and your choice pretty much determines your level of happiness.

I recently read an interview with Gabby Reece--must have been in the Express but I really don't remember--in which she talks about coming to terms with aging. She talks about the freedom of not comparing herself to other (younger) women--of realizing that she's not in competition with them, and so, they're not a threat to her ego (or happiness). She goes on to say, if I remember correctly, that there will always be someone younger, prettier, thinner, etc., and you're just setting yourself up for misery if you see those people as a threat.

The same goes for everything else. There will always be someone with a newer phone or other gadget (if you care about that kind of thing, and I don't (IYCTKOTID)), or hotter car (IYCTKOTID), or bigger ring (IYCTKOTID) or a cuter or more accomplished kid (IYCTKOTID), or more money, etc., etc. It is not the responsibility of those people to pretend otherwise. They're having is (usually) not an impediment to your having. You're setting yourself up for a lot of negativity if you see other people's possessions or even achievements as a personal insult. You don't have to deny that you want them, if that's your thing (I wouldn't mind Sofia Vergara's salary, although I could give a $hit about her Birkin bags), but there's no point in resenting someone else for having. If I see photos of a fabulous vacation, I redirect my thoughts from "those bastards" to "awesome, I'd like to go there too, someday."

I am not on Facebook, not because other people's updates threaten me but because they bore me. But the entire medium seems to be a mechanism for superficial one-upping, which is such a waste of everyone's time. Here's another secret to happiness: focus on your soul, not your ego. If you're doing the things that are making you happy, who cares about one-upping anyone else?

Wednesday morning roundup

Much-needed journalistic fact-checkers establish themselves in South Africa (and some other African countries, to a lesser extent). 

The latest Friedman on Egypt.

The damage that energy companies have wrought in New Orleans.

Mark Bittman on whole grains. My friend Kate has used his "glib answer" with regard to vegetables, where I don't think it applies (how do you cook them? you put them in a pot and cook them "until they're done") but with grains that's pretty much it. It's usually double the amount of water as grain, and some salt.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More on BRF, or shut the f* up

Now that Bitchy Resting Face is officially a thing, I've been milking it for all it's worth. I showed up to rehearsal last night, barely on time and frazzled. The assistant stage-manager asked me a few times whether I was pissed off about something, and I finally just told him that I have BRF. And that BRF expresses itself in particular when I'm frazzled. Besides, even if I were pissed, it wouldn't matter; I wouldn't make my mood anyone else's problem. I then leveraged that whole episode to confront another friend who did piss me off a few months ago when we went out for drinks, by repeatedly stating that I looked pissed, even as I repeatedly told her that I was fine.

I appreciate that people are paying attention to signals and/or concerned about my state of mind or heart, but you have to take my word for it the first time that I'm fine. It does no one any good to keep asking. To illustrate this point, I'll take us back a year to Nina's wedding party (the restaurant bash the day after the actual ceremony). My BRF was apparently out in full force, because one of her friends kept commenting on it, and I just really wanted him to back off. At that point, the exhaustion of traveling and stressing about logistics had caught up with me, and I was showing the wear. Whatever. I was at a party, and I was enjoying the party in my own way. If that came off as sulking to someone else, that's not really my problem and I shouldn't have to defend my facial expression to people I don't even know. And what exactly was this guy hoping to achieve by pointing out that I looked sad or pissed? It certainly wasn't cheering me up. I really should have just told him to f* off, as I nearly did the checkout guy at Trader Joe's who recently told me to smile. Even if you're trying to be concerned/helpful, you're just making the situation worse. Shut the f* up and let someone sport a frown or a scowl if that's what they're doing. You're not responsible for their state of mind.

My coworker's wife has achieved what I could not: she got him to understand that just because a vegan can eat somewhere, doesn't mean a vegan would want to eat there. Apparently, he picked up another DC Veg guide, for her. She--who is not even a vegetarian--flipped through it and said it was ridiculous, that most of those places offer a pre-frozen veggie burger at best. Excellent point.

Tuesday evening roundup

Yemeni girl says "no" to child marriage in a video. 

Local woman brilliantly escapes from sinking car. Here are some tips for doing so.

I guess some of this explains why mosquitoes love me.

What baffles me about McDonald's response to the horse,
“The sight & smell of this caused obvious distress and upset to customers trying to eat, as well as staff members,” the Whitefield division of the Greater Manchester Police noted in a Facebook post.
is that they think anything is more distressing or upsetting than the sight and smell of their own food. The horse poop is probably healthier and safer.

If you're gonna put mayo in your ass, do consider veganaise. 

WTF? Why are these women praising the DOC for having a boy? Oh, and Ms. Petri, I appreciate a nice dig at Gwyneth Paltrow as much as anyone, but you should know that gluten is a protein, so your phrasing is redundant; suggest you change to "other protein." And since we're on the topic of digs at GP (and other famous moms), let's roll our eyes at that afore-linked article. If DOC is as brilliant as Tina Brown says, she's not going to be reading or paying attention to mommy blogsThat (Time) article reminds me of the people who complain about Facebook for being Facebook. Sure, Facebook is ridiculous and detrimental to one's mental health, if you're competitive about it, but if you're not, who the f* cares? The reason people slam famous moms for mouthing off is that they're mouthing off. This idea that all moms are constantly judged by all for every decision is absurd (I only judge moms--and/or dads--when their kids are being my problem and they're not doing anything about it). Sure, it's circular with celebrities: they mouth off about parenting because they're asked, because they're celebrities, and then people pounce on what they say, supposedly. But those people don't care what the blogosphere has to say about their parenting decisions, anyway; they didn't ask for anyone's opinion, and I wouldn't either.

Speaking of delusions of self-importance, oh, honey, get over yourself. I have a newsflash for you: no one really understands what anybody else does, unless the profession in question is well-known. I've heard philosophy majors complain that no one understands what philosophy is about, and my mom is not the first or only person to not understand what the f* I was doing majoring in psychology. Nobody really understands what I do, and god knows you STEM people are the first to dismiss the social sciences and humanities. So I don't want to hear you complain about how physicists are so put upon. Oh, and about guys being intimidated by your brains, here's another newsflash: guys have very fragile egos and are very easily intimidated by just about anything. A friend and I were just talking about this (and she's married). I've seen guys shrink when I've talked about travels, in response to their questions. Much of the dating-advice community has responded to this phenomenon by suggesting that women dumb themselves down and only speak vaguely about their positions and accomplishments (example that I am not making up: "if you're a partner in a law firm, just say you work in the legal profession"). Or maybe the same dating-advice community could just advise the dudes to man-up; that would fix a whole lot. But I digress. I'm not disagreeing with your overall point, which is that you could be more specific in describing what you do and what it means, but I am taking issue with your perceived STEM exceptionalism.

I'm not sure how I feel about kale on a stick.

Quick Tuesday morning roundup

You might want to keep the exhaust (and other) fumes of your kitchen under control.

(Repeatedly) pooping on someone's lawn is really gross.

Chipotle's hilarious Twitter misadventures.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday morning roundup

Education may be Afghanistan's success story, but it's not there yet.

Time is time, from a cognitive perspective. Seems like time is time physically, too.

The internet introduces doubts among some Mormons.

Men are better people when there are women in their lives.

The Times is surprised that St. Petersburg is seeing rising property prices.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saturday morning roundup

It's hard to get anything right with regard to Egypt, but there are some less bad ways ahead.

Australia's asylum conundrum.

What the hell is wrong with people?

You're an idiot if you go to Russia expecting a better life.
Will the G20 act on reforming global tax loopholes?

I wholeheartedly appreciate the racial perspective on the Zimmerman-Martin case, as well as open discussion of it as a society--the "but" ahead is not to detract from that, but to add to it--but it bears introducing another perspective: that of honoring one's fears and instincts. This "but" is entirely unrelated to the case at hand--if you're afraid, you don't follow someone in your car--but to the larger discussion of crossing streets and clutching purses. I acknowledge that African-American men are sent the message that they're distrusted, but I will add that women are sent the message that it's not cool to convey distrust (regardless of race), and this puts a lot of women in a lot of bad situations. Read "The Gift of Fear." And to honor the "regardless of race" aspect of this, I would encourage women to be equal-opportunity skeptics: if someone makes you feel uncomfortable, by all means, cross the street. Don't let fear of offending someone--whether it's because you're afraid of coming off as racist or just mistrustful--compromise your safety. Do what you need to do to protect yourself.

I have not yet read this excerpted chapter on whether humans should eat meat. Nor have I read this article about shaking up the social sciences.

On forensic linguistics.

That is an adorable, otherworldly frog.

Maybe instead of looking for a weedwacker I should sharpen my scythe. With that, I leave you to get started on my yardwork.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday morning roundup

Dayton is over; Bosnia must move on.

New England is seeing a heroin problem.

Oh, Mr. Gilligan! I have to go to work, but you've put me in my reluctant role of educator. I'll have you know that tofu is not pressed into a "meat-like shape" and given artificial flavoring. I mean, it can be, but so can meat. Do we have to go over this again? What is a "meat-like shape"? Why does meat have a monopoly on patties and nuggets? why is pressing anything else into those shapes unnatural, I ask you? As for artificial flavoring, my tofu scramble, for example, is a gazillion times more natural than the vast majority of meat out there. What's unnatural? Turmeric or other spices? Vinegar? Don't have an answer for that? Then shut the f* up.

By the way, all of Wednesday night's Daily Show is quite good, but the extended interview with Reza Aslan is fascinating.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thursday evening roundup

Taliban commander unclear on the concept of irony; mainstream Pakistani opinion apparently not far off.  

Write your congresspeople about antibiotics in livestock.

Voice of America is not propaganda.
Wash your greens because the dinosaurs couldn't.

Could you people just figure this dark matter thing out and then fill me in?

Oh, here's how gold probably formed. And those collisions can make platinum, too.

Don't fake it 'til you make it. And don't be an dick of an atheist.

This giraffe family is the cutest thing ever, this week. Although this budding vegetarian is pretty cute, too.

Barbie sales are down.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday morning roundup

This represents a giant leap for Mexico but peace and public safety remain  huge challenge.

I don't know what Maureen Dowd's problem is; French niceness is only disorienting if you're blinded by your own stereotypes.

Meet the man who gave us ctrl-alt-del.

Meet the Midwestern Taliban; you might want to get your burqa ready.

Dude goes out of his way to not read anything by women.

Have you ever washed your hair in space?

People have trouble learning, no matter whether it's art or poetry or science, when they expect everything to snap into place. On that note: what artists and scientists have in common.

This is what a friend once referred to as "the people you run into when you drop off your dry cleaning," and it's really true.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tuesday roundup

An amazing woman with otherworldly grit meaningfully changed the system in China.

Environmental activists in Russia risk beatings.

As someone once "foisted upon the American people" and now taking one of your jobs, I have a message for the haters: go f* yourselves.
The Onion on the Zimmerman verdict.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday evening roundup

Pollution--including pollution from coal--kills.

Venezuela: paradise for all.

Al Jazeera overplayed its hand with Egypt, but Qatar is learning from its missteps.

Erick Erickson thinks it's hilarious when women get desperate enough to mutilate themselves. But if you want to feel reassured by checking out the despicable antics of foreign pundits and politicians, Roberto Calderoli is your man. He kind of looks like a mole-rat (except that's not fair to mole-rats).

Watch out for engineers:
To account for this disparity in occupation among Islamic terrorists in the Muslim world, Gambetta and Hertog sketch out a particular engineering "mindset" in which the profession is "more attractive to individuals seeking cognitive 'closure' and clear-cut answers as opposed to more open-ended sciences -- a disposition which has been empirically linked to conservative political attitudes."
Writing is usually healing.

Why is Jenny McCarthy worth listening to in any way?

OMG, this is f*ed up.

Monday morning roundup

F*ing hell, Bangladesh's textile industry's disregard for the environment and the people who live near its factories is unconscionable.

Can China and/or India undertake the reforms needed to keep growing?

Obnoxious reactions to the Zimmerman verdict.

Does Nordstrom realize it's getting a skewed sample because not everyone has wireless or turns it on? More intriguing is why Russian merchants are trying to measure mood, or how, when everyone there looks angry. We invented bitchy resting face.

Why would you want to kill anything this cute?

Women often carry upon themselves the responsibility for the happiness of others.

I left the party on Saturday night (Sunday morning?) just before those that stayed put on Sharknado (which is not only a thing, but, in case you were concerned, not actually possible). When they were talking about it earlier (at the party), I kept hearing "Shark-NATO," and I was not the only one. Which, someone remarked, was a DC thing.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday roundup and quick ramble

China's urbanization has been problematic.

People thought to save art amid conflict.

The Enlightenment rages on.

Solar flares can really f* with our power grid.

The spectacular fall of Virginia's governor.

Joyce Carol Oates learns that Twitter is not for complex, nuanced discussions.

Don't starve yourself before your wedding. And don't let any guy reduce you to the role of nag.

Mom and dad got in fine, even early. The entire, door-to-door process, in spite of mom's consistent fretting beforehand, went very smoothly. Earlier this evening, she said she was feeling a little better.

Not that this is about me, but it was really good for me to get out, both last night and most of today. It was good to go to a party--to talk to people and to get my head out of mom's predicament. I feel for her, of course, but my moping about it isn't going to make her feel better. I hope dad manages to get out a bit, too.

I came to appreciate dad more than ever over the last week. I've always appreciated him, especially more so over the last year as he's had to deal with mom's declining health and moods, but I'm continually amazed at what an amazing person he is.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Old mom was in full force today

Dad warned me even before mom's fall that she gets 'bad' every few days, i.e., becomes mean. Then it passes. Yesterday she was more ridiculous than mean ("of course Gracie's fat--she's a product of her environment; I was looking around the emergency room, and so many people are enormous.") Oh, and she started lecturing dad (again, apparently) about how he had the 'wrong' abs (and she had the 'right' abs).

Mom's normal contains a fair amount of ridiculous made, which made it harder for both dad and me to realize that something was up. She always forgot things, repeated herself, asked questions for the sake of asking questions. It had to get really obviously ridiculous for either of us to realize--well, for him to realize first, and for me to agree--that something was wrong.

Anyway, mom's decent mood--even after the fall--gave way to 'old mom.' She went on (and on and on) about how it was my fault she fell because I should have given them my bedroom. They always give guests their bedroom (not true--I've never seen them do that). When dad said that he approved the guest room they'd ended up in--I'd asked him, he said it was fine--she said (over and over and over) that they should have consulted her; she has bad feet. (Unclear what the bed has to do with her feet. Or with the fall for that matter; my bedroom is across the hall from the guestroom, and the bathroom is in the middle. If she was going to miss it, she was going to miss it). I think--and I know it hurts, but what can you do when someone else is in pain, except give them drugs--she was just sick of being in pain and needed to blame others for her predicament. What I really want to say to her, but it sounds obnoxious when you say it to someone else, even though it's the best thing to say to yourself when you're in pain, is, "this too shall pass." At least her degenerative illness is not one of chronic pain. At least in two weeks, she'll feel much better. I know that doesn't help her now, but since I can't help her now anyway, I wish she'd take the long view.

I guess I could feel guilty about having brought them here, even though she could have fallen anywhere. There would have been a point--and this was it--where we would have understood definitively that she's not to be left alone. There were good reasons for them to come here, and it started out as a really good visit. Ironically, I thought beforehand how nice it was that the house was in good shape, because whenever they'd come in the past, dad felt the need to spend all his time working on stuff. Both mom and dad feel better working on stuff. So I gave him a project (hanging up the mini-vacuum) and thought we'd spend the rest of our time going for walks and hitting some museums. But, especially once we were essentially grounded, dad kept on finding additional projects. I'd forgotten that the downstairs bathroom didn't have a working lock; dad changed it out. I'd forgotten that the shed was a mess and that I had hooks in there so I could hang things up and organize it; dad found the hooks, and we cleaned out the shed. Amid all these projects, dad got sick of picking through my assortment of spare nails and screws, so I organized my nails and screws, and then the rest of the utility cabinet. I guess I should be happy that the house looks good, and I am, but it wasn't exactly the trip I'd intended for them.

They're at the airport. I'm on my way to a party. I'm still coming to terms with what happened--both with mom's injury and pain, and with the state of her mind. I guess interpersonally it was a very decent trip, even in spite of the round of blame. She's just hurting, so she's cranky. I have to remind myself, too, that she'll be okay.

Saturday roundup

Can Kosovo's prime minister make the transition from warlord?

Why our power grid is atrocious. NB: there's one paragraph in particular in there that could really use some editing, in more than one place.

I love "Ruth Bourdain"! I started following Ruth Reichl when I first joined Twitter--I love her books, which are anything but pretentious--but I couldn't take the Twitter feed. Social media just brings out the ridiculous in everyone.

If you think there's fraud in food stamps, check out some farm programs.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Some signs of the 'old' mom

I tweeted the other day, before the fall, that we were "still in bizarro world;" Mom had said, "this is a great house. For its size, it's very smartly configured--everything has its place." This almost worried me; finding fault is what mom does. It actually makes me feel better that even amid extreme pain, she finds the inspiration to ask me, every few hours, whether my hair is typically "in that style." (Because she doesn't care for it).

Mom's kind of doing better. She's still in a lot of pain and will be for weeks, but she's resorting to the mom antics we know and love. Take this conversation, during dinner.

Mom: What's wrong with this soup? I don't like this soup.
A.: You don't have to eat it.
Mom: That's not the point. Didn't I give you mushrooms? You could have made a perfectly good soup with those mushrooms.
A.: This soup isn't about the mushrooms.
Mom: But you could have made a different soup, with my mushrooms.
A.: Dad and I talked about soup options while you were resting. We agreed on miso soup. This is what miso soup tastes like. Miso soup takes shitake mushrooms.
Mom: I don't understand it.
A.: Don't eat it.
Mom: I won't. But I still don't understand it. I don't understand why you had to make this soup.
A.: I didn't realize you didn't like miso soup.
Mom: I guess it's okay in restaurants.
A.: That's because a lot of restaurants use powdered miso that doesn't really taste like anything.
Mom: Mushroom soup is better.
Dad: We decided not to make mushroom soup.
Mom: I just don't understand why anyone would make this soup.
A.: I don't understand why we're still having this conversation. The soup is made. Don't eat it if you don't like it.
Mom: I won't.

Friday evening roundup

I'm all about 'age is just a number' but I roll my eyes at superfoods; just eat food, some of which happens to be superfood. On that note, this analysis of why quinoa's not grown in the U.S. is interesting, but, again, I don't understand why it's such a big deal. And on that note--not addressing people with actual wheat issues here, just saying that they're very few--you're probably not intolerant to gluten.

I agree, I can't really take issue with this "offensive" ad. Nor with Sofia Vergara's [gratuitous and ostentatious] spending

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Blog formally known as the mom blog?

I don't have a catchy, new title. I'm just tired. This hasn't really been a mom blog in a while, and mom broke her rib last night falling down the stairs (she decided to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night but forgot that there was one upstairs, and also didn't bother to turn the lights on). Nothing like hours in the emergency room to put one out of the mood for having a mom blog. Which is not to say that I won't continue to call her out, in passing, as needed... but let's just say we've all moved on.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wednesday evening roundup

Mark Bittman reminds you that factory farms breed bacteria.

You have a source memory and a destination memory.

Behold the (various species of) man-child.

This is an excellent analysis of life in general (with preferred gender pronouns as an example):
But there is something self-defeating about expecting the world to essentially read and sign a disclaimer before engaging with you, especially when the situation is impersonal. Well-meaning people accidentally disrespect one another all the time. Ideally, those unintended slights are gently corrected, and everyone moves on. And though the PGP model is meant to help that process along, it has the potential to transform into a more-progressive-than-thou whip—the crack of which helps no one’s cause.
And if we go to the post that sparked it all, who the f* cares if yoga is a cultural appropriation? Why is cultural appropriation bad? Cultures borrow all the time. I am more interested in the commercialization of yoga, which she only touches on briefly. But if yoga is the "New It Thing," "new" is decades old. I guess I don't understand why it's so bad to take something that's rooted in a given faith but of general value outside that faith, and just go with it. People do it all the time. What if I want to practice yoga without giving a second thought to its Hindu roots? Who the f* cares? Can I have Xmas dinner all while knowing that Jesus, whom, by the way, I do not accept as my savior, was not born on that day? And that that day was chosen to mesh with existing pagan traditions throughout the Holy Roman Empire? Am I allowed to be forgiving, even though it's a lot more New Testament than Old? Who is to be the arbiter of what doesn't belong (exclusively) to a given religion, or any religion? It's actually quite difficult to build a wall between religious and secular in society and in one's daily life (government is a different story). Am I appropriating Buddhism (and/or many other religious traditions) when meditating, and if so, who the f* cares? This may be the stupidest f*ing thing I've ever read (this week):
If I wouldn’t dream of taking Communion at a Catholic Church if I was attending as a guest, why would I practice yoga? Aren’t there lots of explicitly fitness-oriented options for me to choose from that don’t require me to appropriate religious practices from former colonies?
Um, because yoga is a unique thing that's awesome, that happens to be rooted in Hinduism. You can read all you want into it, but you're not seriously suggesting that I forgo my sun salutations because they originally came from a practice rooted in Hinduism?

This, and "Clybourne Park" and "Rabbit Hole," is the $hit for which they're giving out Pulitzers?

Evolution hasn't yet perfected human balls.

Tuesday-Wednesday mom blog with interspersed rambles

Gardening calms mom down; it's probably her favorite thing to do. Even in the midst of that conflict-filled weekend four years ago, mom and I got along for the hours we were digging around in the dirt and planting gladioli. Which continue to do very well.

Before mom and dad got in--before it was time to get them at the airport but just after the HVAC guy wrapped up his inspection--I went to get some plants for us to work with, including an eggplant and two red pepper plants. On the way back, I stopped at Whole Foods--dad had requested bread and 'something to go with tea'--and in the bakery section espied a chocolate brownie cream pie that looked absolutely unappetizing to me, but that might appeal to the parents. Although with them, you never know. I took the risk and figured I'd foist it on my friends if my parents didn't go for it. Just after I got home and got everything into the fridge (I'd also made a hummus/olives/baba run, during which I got myself 'something to go with tea,' i.e., halva), dad called to say that they'd landed. I got to them just as they got to me--or, rather, dad called to let me know they were out there just as I got 'out there'--and I pulled up when I saw them and hung up. I was ten feet in front of them, but they were looking around and trying to call me back. Finally, I got out of the car.

Very quick Wednesday morning roundup

The latest on Egypt.

A man who saved many, many lives and was punished for it in life is honored posthumously.

Prague's political scandals (really, nobody there cares about the associated sex scandals).

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday roundup

The tireless Jane Goodall scores another victory for chimps and continues to inspire girls to want to be her.

Detroit's not a good place to need an ambulance.

I feel like there's so much more to be said about secularity than Dave Brooks manages to get across, but he misses in pertinence as well as quantity.

The food industry tries to get in on changing (more adventurous) palates.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday roundup and ramble

We all agree that "it must stop," but there's no need to judge or pile it on when a baby dies in a hot car.

Bill Keller parses the immigration bill (and some misguided reactions to it) so you don't have to.

Will diesels surpass electric cars as the sustainable vehicles of choice?

All joking aside--and I do love "Idiocracy"--I very much frown upon making statements about who should and shouldn't reproduce. Until people who can't put two sentences together in a comment  make those kinds of statements. An example: "in vitro isnot ok with me, because these women r uncapable for a reason.. maybe its not just the fertilization process, but in fact, tjeir body blocked them for reprodution because they got someting else.. sorry ahahaha." Yeah, let's make her the arbiter of what's okay.

Two mysteries, the more complicated of which is resolved (while the more mundane remains). I, too, have wondered about the lack of hotel toothpaste (and about floating astronauts, of course).

"Happy" started out strong but could have been better. It got lost in anecdotal evidence--and those stories were very inspiring (a South Asian rickshaw driver who lives in a shack is as happy as the average American) or depressing (there's a Japanese word for people who died from work), but after half an hour, I didn't feel like I was watching a coherent movie. Which is too bad, because the movie makes some excellent points: happiness is internally driven (strong relationships (family, friends, etc.), personal growth (learning, getting better at our skills, etc.) and giving back make us happy; chasing status and superficiality (appearance, money--after a certain threshold) does not). The film also talks about the importance of how we react to adversity: it hits all of us, to varying degrees, and it's how we handle it that determines how happy we are.

I can buy into all of that, or almost all of it, but I have to address one thing: they should have made the same nuance they made about money--some matters--about appearance. I know people who are miserable because of the way they look. Now, the film was making the point that buying more makeup to get the perfect painted face is a lost cause (at least I think it was, based on the images on the screen when they talked about it), but I would have appreciated a more thorough discussion.

I feel the need to get into this because beauty, like fat, is a feminist issue. And women who self-identify as feminists often feel bad feeling bad about weight (and appearance in general), which is even more self-defeating than merely feeling bad about the weight or appearance. So I'm going to come out and admit, again, that I feel better--I am happier--thin. Not because I think it makes me more attractive to men (we've discussed that, too: men are attracted to all kinds of body types) but because it feels right for me. If all the dudes in the world all of the sudden decided that size 10 was the new hotness, I would still feel better as a size 0, because that's what feels right for me. I'm not saying anyone else will (or should) feel the same way; if you are happy at whatever size, more power to you. Really. I probably think you look awesome at your size. I just don't think I look awesome above size 0-2. I. am. happier. thin. F* you if you think that makes me a bad feminist. I don't care what you think. (Especially) if you're a guy, I don't care if you would have found me more attractive when I was a 4-6. It didn't feel right to me, it didn't feel right for me. I tried to get used to it and I just couldn't. Of course, I'm happier at a size 0 largely because I can eat whatever I want and stay a size 0; if I had to, say, eat paleo, I'd be miserable (I'd rather be a size anything than eat paleo). But I get to eat pasta and chocolate and oatmeal and tofu and fruit, and drink wine, so I am happy. Come to think of it, it was when I became vegan--and ate whatever I wanted within the confines of vegan--that I felt happier. And it was then that the pounds started sloughing off.

All this to say, appearance can make you happy or unhappy. I mean, I'm sure obsessing over appearance will make you unhappy. But what it probably comes down to is looking yourself--and myself, in my head, has (have?) always been 0-2 rather than 4-6 (and that's a 20-pound difference, the upper limits of which still isn't overweight). It's what looks and feels right to me, and I'm not going to feel bad about feeling good about it.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday roundup

Friedman on Egypt, Kagan on Egypt... and more on Egypt.

Really, Chile? This is more f*ed up than the El Salvador case.

Saudi women inch into the workforce.

PETA's under fire for euthanizing shelter animals.

Thoughts for a less intrusive Patriot Act.

There were cranes all over Berlin when I was there, too, nearly 16 years ago.

Yeah, I'd run away from/not worry about grazing any dudes who tried to follow me in a parking lot, too.

Local couple gets screwed by their now-ex son-in-law.

What does Caucasian mean anymore?

Metro is not fixing escalators because it's spending its money on tearing out flowers.

Guys, you can add baby talk to that list.