Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday evening roundup

DC's police chief shows more signs of denial.

Sexism fatigue has kicked in. Also, I want to marry this guy for his overall point, even though he fails to read the triggering statement as facetious (which I believe it was).

Fish dumping is unconscionable. Pesticides are harmful to birds. Processed food is gross.

Before "bootylicious," there was "callipygous."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday evening roundup

For the record, I had not harbored any delusions about Europe's supposed foodie superiority. For one thing, their agricultural subsidies are an abomination.

It's that time of year! Panda f*-watch 2013.

Gnocchi is naturally vegan.

Embrace national pistachio day!


Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday evening roundup

Bitter much, Jennifer Rubin?

First of all, check out how this URL cuts off because that in and of itself is awesome. Second, read it for the substance and consider why I use a similar standard for dating: these things are indicative of bigger issues.

What a great time to be a vegetarian. There's that, and there's also this.

Work-life balance is for everyone, not just parents. And the Slaughter-Sandberg debate is not a cat fight.

Monday morning roundup

What can help Congo?

Turkish Airlines is up for a change of uniform.

Women don't actually talk more.

Note the second letter. This is what I'm talking about, people. Illiterate male entitlement.

I love the concept of love stories (and other stories) driven by internal obstacles rather than circumstances. We could all stand to get over ourselves. But I don't think that's the only thing behind the decline of the RomCom.

I'd agree that obsessing over any body part, even in the name of empowerment, would be detrimental to one's sanity. Comparing it to others can't help, either. That's why I resist the temptation to look at DESY's quadrupole magnets, lest I succumb to an urge to bedazzle myself out of admiration and peer pressure.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday morning roundup

Russia's untenable, dysfunctional political system.


In politics as elsewhere, bullying tendencies are detrimental to compromise.

"The Convert" (see yesterday's posts) is particularly relevant in light of Africa's growing importance for the Catholic Church.

If you thought pink slime was bad, meet black liquor. And write to your representatives about it because it is bull$hit. Speaking of bull$hit, I don't even want to talk about Virginia's transportation plan.

Without rate setting, health care is expensive. In other health care news: see who's eating crow.


I've always intuitively felt that Russians are meant to eat wheat. I know this study uses a sample of a very specific, Russian population, but I'm just sayin': my people are good with the wheat.


A Post reader accuses the paper of dismissing anti-gay voices and running too many happy-healthy-gay-family stories.

Here's another corollary to what I rambled about yesterday, i.e., pigeonholing and demonizing does neither side any favors. Pitting stay-at-home moms against working moms doesn't serve either group, doesn't address their challenges. Pitting women of varying body shapes against each other doesn't address issues of objectification and externally imposed standards. And the supermom/incompetent dad meme really serves no one.

Okay, I know it was just yesterday that I dismissively blogged about men who give women permission not to wear makeup, but ladies, I'm going to encourage you not to wear makeup, because you have better things to do with your time and money.

On a related note... I put on some mascara the other night because a friend gave me mascara that she got as a sample and didn't need. She wanted to see it on me, so I put it on. It hurt my eyes all night and the next morning. As everyone with a brain has said, makeup is a personal choice: if you like it, enjoy it, feel better with it, etc., more power to you. It's the person without a brain who made it sound like makeup is something everyone who has self-worth, does (I take three minutes because I'm worth it). I don't take three minutes, and I'm still worth it. I don't like the way that crap feels on my face, and I don't particularly like the way it makes me look. That look is not me. I don't care if it's "better" or "more even." It doesn't feel right (neither the way it looks or feels, feels right) and I'm not going to do it.

Is it scary that this "Reply All" comic--about a woman walking her dog--reminded me of my dating life?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday evening rambles and roundup

"The Convert" was good, but, like "Motherfucker with the Hat," shearing off half an hour would have made it stronger. It's powerful, important, resonant... in fact, it made me think of "Purge," particularly one aspect of "Purge": what happens when the ideology/religion/system one has plunged into with full faith in all its answers, fails to deliver under trying circumstances. Or is it that the trying circumstances expose the very issue, whether it be communism or colonialism? Anyway, the play was compelling and phenomenally acted (as was "Purge"). It was a great play to wrap up my theatergoing spree before I take a break of several weeks.

While we're on the topic of theater, Nathan Heller has some interesting thoughts on the medium. I'd excerpa lot if the article were copy-and-pastable. I don't have a lot of admiration for Annie Baker--I had no interest in seeing "Aliens," and a friend who did see it positively hated it--but she's not a bad basis for an interesting article about theater and writing in general.

***
If only misguided college students had a monopoly on blaming feminism for f*ing up relationships! It's quite the thing. I'm the first to agree that changing gender roles make things difficult, but that does not translate into "feminism is the problem." And, yes, dude would benefit from a writing class; he's not really representing his fellow English majors well.

***
Not only are "thin women" part of "the conversation," but it does not serve women as a whole to demonize thin women. Assigning normative value to any one body type--for example, giving larger women a monopoly on being "real women"--does not address the issue. I'll go back to Kate Fridkis' mommy-wars analogy and raise it into a metaphor: just as it doesn't serve full-time moms to demonize working mothers, and vice versa, women of varying body types are not the enemy. The enemy is the idea that anyone set an arbitrary standard of what is desirable. The enemy are guys who think they're giving us permission to weigh a bit more, just like the guys who think they're giving us permission to go outside without makeup. And the guys who think yoga pants are about them (see this morning's roundup).

And absolutely, I think that Rex Reed only paints himself as an ass when he makes rude comments about Melissa McCarthy. Just like that jackass who accused Jennifer Ringer of having a sugar plum too many. I agree with her: as a ballerina, her body is part of her art form, and it's out there for critique. In fact, there's a ballerina at the Washington Ballet who I wish would manage her maniacal smile. It gives her crazy eyes, and she has it on the whole time she's dancing. But I digress.

That digression had a purpose: there are some situations where it's reasonable to analyze other people's physical characteristics, and those situations usually concern professions where looks are part of the art and/or craft. Even then, however, those analyses needn't be crass and dismissive, especially coming from middle-aged men.

It's also true, as Ms. Fridkis goes on to write, that you just don't know how any woman feels about her body. For a million reasons, women are generally unwilling to call themselves attractive. We're still constantly bombarded with reasons to feel inadequate about our faces and bodies. I'll end with an excerpt:
I know, it’s not exactly revolutionary, but I really believe that until we can acknowledge the ways that beauty standards and expectations affect all of us, we can’t get a clear picture of what’s really going on in our culture. Until we can stop trying to tell other people’s stories for them, as in “she looks fine to me, I don’t know what she’s whining about,” or “she looks bad to me, I don’t know why she feels good about herself,” and until we can stop trying to claim body image issues exclusively and start admitting that they’re something too many of us already share, we can’t take the steps we need to give girls and women permission to feel good about how they look, right now, in their current bodies. And guess what? Those bodies look a lot of different ways. That’s the deal with bodies.

Saturday morning roundup and rambles

China wages passport warfare on its dissidents.

South Africa's police corruption problem.

Have we talked about how Russians can be paranoid and superstitious?

Also: take CSM's Russia quiz. It's pretty good.

This is one creative resume idea.

More from the "I don't get physics but I love the pictures" department.

Yes, yes, sometimes even the most skillfully parented kids will behave like rats (and some adults will, too). But I have to keep reiterating that so many parents don't even try. I do have to say that I was horrified that a couple brought their (admittedly very cute) newborn to a play-reading last night, but the baby was actually better behaved than the couple sitting behind me, who were (1) playing with their phones; (2) taking ages to unwrap candy; and (3) making noises with their programs. And the baby was removed when he or she started making sounds.

The bigger question is, why did I go to that reading? Why am I going to "The Convert" today? A full two days and two performances after I realized, at the ballet on Thursday night, that I'd reached my saturation point with the arts?? Why can't I stop?? I think I have nothing artistic going on for the next couple of weeks, apart from helping out with a play (but not watching it). But I'm probably going to end up going to see "Streetcar" because I know someone in it.

***

More on dating out of one's league, as inspired by that Girls episode (that I have not seen). I've always felt that the concept of leagues is a relatively useless one: as long as each person brings something to the relationship that the other values, who cares about pre-set categories? Since so many men out there are declaring that they want to date tall, blond, thin women who "take care of themselves" and brew their own beer, or something to that effect, I've decided to be more secure in my own demands. I've decided that I need to date someone who's brilliant. Note: this is not equivalent to believing I'm entitled to someone who's brilliant. Nor do I for a second purport to match this hypothetical partner's brilliance. I'm just saying, if the tubby, balding men of this world feel free to declare a preference for human Barbies, I'm going to declare a preference for Nobel laureates and Pulitzer winners.

And I claim my right because I feel no need to be a Good Girl, like the one RM kept pushing me to be: be good and disregard the fact that I'm brazenly flouting your boundaries. Here's an excerpt:
The curse of the Good Girl is a standard of behaviour that is only applied to women.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for empathy, generosity and kindness. But being a Good Girl isn’t about basic human decency.
It’s about inauthenticity and inequality. It’s about forcing girls and women into a mold of sweetness and light where they must repress their needs and bite their tongues in order to be perpetually ‘nice’.
You know who else is encouraging us to eschew the Good Girl trap? Sheryl Sandberg. So quit focusing on whether she's too wealthy and successful for her lessons to apply to you and just focus on how her lessons may apply to you.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Wednesday-Friday roundup and ramble

Sorry, guys! I've been essentially out of the house, except to sleep, for the last few days.

Kenya is a tinderbox. If you click, brace yourself for a disturbing image (the one on the front of the print edition is even more graphic; let's see if the Times gets complaint letters about it).

Norwegians really care about fireplaces on TV.


Just because Sheryl Sandberg speaks from a position of privilege, doesn't mean her points aren't valid. I was just thinking about this in the context of Nora Ephron's take: of course you can have it all. What else are you going to do?

Guys, please understand that you are not foremost in women's minds when we dress ourselves. Even to the extent that we dress to look good (in addition to dressing for warmth, comfort, functionality, etc.), that's still not all about you. We like to look good for us. Amelia McDonell-Parry says it very well:
Not everything women do is done with men in mind. Just because you find someone sexy, doesn’t mean she’s being sexy for you. Just because someone is wearing something you find sexy, doesn’t mean she is wearing that something for you. Your argument that women must be wearing yoga pants in part to appeal to man’s reptilian brains is based on one thing: “Sweats are comfortable too.” So a woman who chooses yoga pants over sweats is choosing the option that happens to be more appealing to men, so that must be her M.O. But maybe they’re more appealing to her because they fit better. Yoga pants are certainly more flattering, but women like to look good for themselves too, you know.
 and
 ...I must admit I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what clothing choices men would approve of... I mean, if I’m going out on a date, I may dress in a way I think he’ll “get” (i.e. no, like, harem pants). And yeah, if I’m going to see a guy I like, I’ll dress and do my makeup in a way that makes me feel good because then I project confidence that I think any man in their right mind would find sexy.
Otherwise, I wake up and get dressed in a way that pleases me every day. I also dress for other women because I admire the style of so many regular women I know or see on the street and, to a certain degree, I feel good knowing another woman on the train, or a coworker, or a friend, might be looking at my outfit and thinking it’s fierce too.
Click to read more, it's a good column.

The Onion on fish mislabeling.

The Daily Show on Russia's dashcams.

And now for my ramble (it is a quick one). I've been taking buses this week. I discovered that there's a bus stop a mere two blocks from my house. I guess I've seen it before and never noticed it, because DC buses aren't the most reliable modes of transportation. When I last had to rely on them--in the District, my second year of grad school--they were chronically late and slow. You could generally walk more quickly than a bus would move. But they're a bit better outside the city--they don't have to stop at every block, corresponding to a traffic light at each stop, which makes for more stopping time than moving time. And this bus was going pretty much exactly where I needed to be, so my choices were (1) walk to the metro (8 minutes) + ride to CC (also 8 minutes?) + walk 15 minutes to the conference; (2) walk to the bus stop (1 minute) + ride to nearest stop (12 minutes) + walk to conference (1 minute); and (3) walk the whole way (45 minutes). I ended up taking option three the first night, because I'd just missed a bus and the next one was late (thank heavens for apps!), and indeed, I managed to beat the bus home. And even when they're on time, these buses don't run frequently (every 30 minutes during rush hour is less frequent than Metro's least frequent non-rush hour schedule, which is every 20 minute). To accommodate this schedule, I basically made my day that much longer--my choices were (1) get to the conference an hour ahead of time or (2) risk getting there late, in case the almost-just-in-time bus was late. So even though I have to admit that the buses served their purpose when they actually showed up at a reasonable frequency, I'm not prepared to eat crow and wholeheartedly endorse the system.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday morning roundup


A very accomplished woman challenges the ANC.

Data isn't everything.


A long time ago, an asteroid hit Iowa.

Look, if you're gonna write misogynistic $hit on the internet, own the consequences

Alexandria celebrates Washington's birthday in style. So did Jay and I.



Sunday, February 17, 2013

Thin talk isn't always better than fat talk

I blew through fourteen cups of corn flakes in less than a week: the eighteen in the box minus four for a doubled chickenless nuggets recipe. I like the term "chickenless," rather than fake, because it's not like chicken meat has a monopoly on nuggets (just like other animal meat has no monopoly on burgers). Veggie burgers are not fake burgers; they're just burgers made out of vegetable products.  Anyway, these chickenless nuggets turned out very well and they were super-easy to make. A week ago, I wasn't sure what on earth I might do with the rest of the corn flakes, but I started having them, with soy milk, for second dinner, after a serving or two of pasta for first dinner.

I'm telling you this because I had to explain it to a friend who asked whether I was eating. I assured her that I was, and relayed the tale of the two dinners (not to mention however many breakfasts, lunches, and snacks).  She then asked whether I had tapeworm, and in all serious suggested that I see a doctor.

I wasn't offended, just a bit nonplussed. I'm not that thin. When I get close to that thin, I go on a vegan cookie binge and build myself back up.

I was offended last week, at a friend's party, when a host's friend whom I'd met before greeted me and inartfully stated, in front of two people whom I was talking to, that I'd lost a ton of weight. It probably wasn't polite on their account--one had gained a lot of weight after back surgery, and the other was struggling with stress eating--and I wasn't thrilled to have my weight changes discussed in front of people who might have been strangers. It was awkward for everyone involved.

This gets back to there being wrong and right ways to talk to people about weight (and body issues in general). The award for least objectionable--I'll go as far as "most welcome"--weight-related comment goes to Jay, who last night, as effective co-host on his way to take something out of the kitchen and onto the table, politely told me to move my perfectly toned arms so he could get by.


Sunday roundup


What did Mali's Islamists have in mind?

There's no reason to be shocked that there's horsemeat in... meat. Thankfully, there are rescue operations.

There is a future in manufacturing, here.

Doctors often don't speak out when they should.

Here's how you're probably not going to die.

Here's lots of good information about meteors, meteorites, and asteroids.

I don't know how I feel about fusion in the garage, but I love the concept of being energized by failure.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day roundup and ramble

This is your fish on drugs.

This advice for viral videos is great for any communication: make it about the message, not about you.

I've always been a fan of the less-is-more workout routine.


The takeaway is that flabby 47-year old men are not the catch they think they are. I partly bring this up because of the double-standard: flabby women of any age should apparently know that they're not universally attractive. Look, I've only seen one episode of "Girls" and didn't get the fuss; a friend and I were just talking about how those vapid, self-absorbed 20-somethings annoy the $hit out of us. But what annoys me even more is when people--including another friend--go on about how the last episode would never have happened in real life. Whatever.

Check out these epic cooking fails, and then, these Metro-appropriate valentines.

That's one mating option.

This response to police, upon being pulled over, is not one they hear a lot.

***
I've succeeded, unintentionally, in becoming indifferent toward Valentine's Day. I even like it. Today, two people whom I don't hear from a lot got in touch with me to wish me a happy anti-Valentine's Day. Also, it's a great time to have a party: I did some shopping today and the supermarkets were empty. Empty. Last year on Valentine's Day (when I was in a relationship), I took my cat to the vet; the vet's office was empty. No wait! A few months later, I took my cat to the vet again, and there was a huge wait, and a dog peed on the kitty carrier. On a side note, as I went through a variety of miniature crises in the weeks after that relationship ended, I noted that I felt no less alone than I did when I went through similar crises as part of a couple. Anyway, apparently, almost everyone hates Valentine's Day. I'm a natural candidate for hating Valentine's Day, for many reasons. But I'm over it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday evening roundup and rambles

Peter Marks echoes my take on "Good People": excellent play, horrendous Boston accents.

Yes, shifting gender roles complicate dating these days:
"Men are almost afraid of being in the role of pursuing because they don't want to be perceived as creepy," Battista said. "And successful, independent women still want men to step up. As a result, it's almost like a standoff."
Yup, it is almost like a standoff. And yes, I still want men to step up. If they don't, I can only conclude that they're not interested. I'm not going to run after them; even if there is relationship potential, that would set a bad precedent for the rest of that relationship.

British Airways designs an in-flight tea.

***
My roof is done; it looks good. The roofers also kindly took the fence segments that had fallen in one of the recent windstorms away for disposal, so my backyard looks less like a trailer park--just in time for AVD, too! As for my bank account, let's not talk about how that looks.

***
I like art and I like science; and so it follows (as surely as night follows day) that I love science-art. It may sound crazy to those of you who know how inept I am in the physical sciences (and visual arts), but I really do appreciate the aesthetics of a well-photographed collider. There, I said it: colliders are cool-looking. I got to see one in person a few years ago for work (actually, that was an accelerator and I don’t think all accelerators are colliders). Anyway, having developed an appreciation for the artistically-photographed collider, I couldn’t resist checking out the Global Particle Physics Photowalk finalists. Those are some hot colliders (no pun intended)!

They were so appealing that I went on to check out some of the finalists from previous years and came to these quadrupole magnets at DESY. They are certainly beautiful. It's as if they were designed by Georgia O’Keefe, if you see what I’m getting at. The "global jury" certainly didn’t:
The global jury noted the photo's sense of humor, and the DESY jury’s association with this image was “monstrous force.”
Hmm... humor and monstrous force. Is there something the global jury is missing here? Is there something these guys—and you know they have to be guys—apparently don’t see a lot of? Just sayin'.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday evening roundup

Dr. Tiller's old clinic reopens to continue to serve women.

Is it irrational for carnivores to take issue with horse meat?

Ironically but understandably, there's little love for Valentine's Day.

The blogosphere--and some magazines--are shocked (!) that a woman with Lena Dunham's body could attract a "perfect" man. It must be opposites' day, because it turns no heads when not traditionally attractive men somehow manage to get really hot women on TV and in film.

By the way, "the feedback" I've gotten doesn't always inspire confidence, which brings me back to the fact that we need to stop listening to "feedback." I mean, take my parents--both of them. My mom is more vocal, but, as with politics, my dad agrees, just doesn't want to belabor it. They both think I'm too "solid" for my own good. I don't conform to their standard of beauty or femininity. Indeed, if you walk down the streets of St. Petersburg or Moscow, you'll see women with Barbie limbs. Why on this earth would a woman need, much less want, muscle? So my parents think I'm too buff; "helpful" friends have implied or even said that I really should wear makeup and/or get highlights so as not to sport such dark hair; and don't even get me started on my prominent eyebrows. These people are never going to stop talking, so I urge everyone to follow my lead and stop listening. On that note, I'm going to listen to Sweet Honey in the Rock's "No Mirrors." Here are some lyrics:
There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house...
I never knew that my skin was too black.
I never knew that my nose was too flat...
cause the beauty in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun);
***
The Onion on the dress code at the Grammys.

Okay, being Russian, I still think enemas are gross but I'm not shocked by them. Except for coffee enemas.

Another example of a hilarious ethnic joke on "The Mindy Project": “You know the Latin Department doesn't have that much sway in Hollywood. I think you're thinking of the Hebrew Department."

Monday morning roundup

Aquaculture is not the answer.

We live in a society; that means we pay for other people's lifestyle choices, regardless of whether they're abhorrent to us. I stay out of your plate, you stay out of my bedroom.

Are things getting better for LGBTs in Africa?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday roundup

Brazil's foray into hydro-power is fraught.

Whose idea was it to try to pass Russia of as a country where smiling people live? There had to be a positive quality to showcase that was less of a stretch.

Even though many thinking people are not ones for Valentine's Day, it's thinking that can salvage it.

J.G. Ballard has written some wonderful books.

Way to read too much into the newest Monopoly token.

I guess there's a TED talk on the way we eat. Someone let me know if they say anything we don't already know. Oh, a farmer's fight with Monsanto.

Avoiding an HOA and all its potential drama was the best decision I ever made.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday morning roundup and review

Child sexual abuse is rampant in India. Meanwhile, with all the attention India is getting, South Africa makes sure it remains competitive for most violent sexual assault, not to mention high incidence.

With textbooks like these, any semblance of peace is gonna be elusive.

Meat: now with an extra helping of antibiotics.

More on Beyonce's half-time show, along the same lines: owning one's sexuality is the opposite, not the equivalent, of objectification. The resurgence of this age-old debate reminds me of "Park Cinema," a great short story by Elena Poniatowska, "Mexico's grande dame of letters." It takes the form of a fan letter to an actress, in which the writer essentially expresses his disappointment that the actress is, in not so many words, owning her sexuality.

Howard Kurtz makes an excellent point: The Post is part of the problem by granting coverage to every idiot that has something to say about FLOTUS's appearance.

I have to admit, I'm merely a dietary vegan; I don't aspire to all-vegan clothing, though I think it's a great idea.

Go CNN for taking this generally informative and interesting article and slapping a sensationalistic headline on it. On a lighter and more visual space note, check out these amazing photos from space.

For those of you not eschewing gluten, Mark Bittman has some whole-wheat bread baking tips.

***
I saw "Good People" last night and haven't stopped thinking about it. It had to grow on me--the otherwise skilled cast really botched their Boston accents, and that was a distraction throughout the show. But it was everything that makes for a great play: funny, poignant, full of irony and surprises. If you're in the area, go see it (through March 10th), even though Arena Stage is a bi&ch to either park at or metro from at night unless you already live on the green line, and even then (15-minute wait to go one stop!).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wednesday evening roundup

Somalia, why are you trying to compete with India for most f*ed up treatment of rape victims?

Tunisia, why are you trying to compete with Egypt for violence against dissidents??

What? There's corruption in Russia? Related to the Olympics??

What's in your olive oil?

Woohoo! Someone refused to smack an extra plural marker onto "pierogi"!


Wednesday morning roundup

Fake drugs are a public menace.

Are people being cheated out of their farmland and so, their food security?

Okay, just because agriculture is more cruel to animals, doesn't mean we shouldn't be horrified by animal testing.

"My kingdom for a hot pocket!" Ha!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tuesday evening roundup

What Richard III's bones say.

Mr. Granderson essentially verbalizes The Daily Show's Seussization (below)


Wait, what?? DC women always wear hose? I skip hose the second it hits 40 degrees out. Have these people been to DC? It is not the land of ugly people (and who is the arbiter of that?). I mean I've never lived in NYC or LA, but people from SF and Boston have commented on how 'fancier' DC is style-wise. We are not dowdy. These outsiders need to realize that "Washington," the political capital, and all its trappings, is not DC, the city/metro area we all work and/or live in. I do get this:

This is a little trick of faux self-deprecation in which people, especially men, make a claim to being smart. But these people don't build rockets or calculate the probability of Earthlike planets in another galaxy. Yet a single woman is required to be very impressed by a male suitor's knowledge of political trivia and to pretend that this signifies a great intellect.

But that's just men; it's just the type of trivia that varies.

Seriously, could we quit reading too much into Superbowl ads? The space babies thing was a joke. It was funny. Since when do we draw parenting advice from superbowl ads?

Tuesday morning roundup

A singular focus does not necessarily make a good writer.

Data can help us see past our biases. But catch Mr. Brooks in an error: he conflates egotism with confidence, and they are not the same. Tie this in with last night's post--or at least the Guardian piece linked to--that can't seem to distinguish Beyonce's confidence from narcissism. 

If you think Michelle O is overweight--much less feel the need to rant about it--you are insane.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday evening roundup

Supreme Court justices are checking the dictionary more often. Does it actually make legal language more precise?

The EU says "no" to animal testing for cosmetics.

I generally love Jezebel and really hate calling it out for being stupid but they leave me no choice. First of all, the extent to which one consumes vegetables is independent of whether one is a vegetarian; second and third, with regard to "...if the government wants us to do meatless mondays and beef (heh) up on salads, first it's got to do a better job of guaranteeing us our spinach isn't covered in crap," (2) the government has nothing to do with meatless mondays and why do you need the government telling you to eat in a way that's less likely to kill you and the planet, and (3) I agree that the government has a role in food safety, so are you volunteering to take on Big Food to make that happen?

On that note, it's meat-free week in D.C.!

Check out these really cool photos from around the world.

I never thought I'd care enough, but I've been immersed in this sciency stuff for work so it's now cool to me, including this personality-based periodic table.

I really disagree with the Post's picks for best and worst Superbowl ads, particularly since it left out the pistachio ad. How wonderful (no pun intended) that we live in a world where pistachios can hold their own against wings and Doritos! But, as for the "worst," do you think the Post is fishing for things to find offensive? I mean, I'm not a fan of Doritos, but I think maybe they're reading too much into that ad. I do agree with Feministing's take-down of Hadley Freeman's confused column about Beyonce, starting with the conflation of confidence and empowerment with narcissism, all the way to the conflation of sexiness with exploitation:
Sesali: Yeah, the slut shaming in the article is so real... at what point do we acknowledge sex appeal as something that we can embrace?
Maya: Seriously, has it really never occurred to Freeman that sometimes women like being seen as sexy? And that is not an inherently awful thing? Or that sometimes posing in your underwear is empowering? Or that just because there’s pressure for female pop stars to take off their clothes doesn’t mean that there aren’t also opportunities for claiming control of your own image? Can we please have some recognition of nuance and context here?
Sesali: Nope. It feels like we can’t fucking win for losing with these people. In the same way the patriarchy sucks for telling me I need to be more sexy, you suck for telling me I’m too sexy. 
Maya: Yah, weird how you sound so much like the patriarchy, Hadley Freeman. We may never be able to win, but we should at least be able to expect that other feminists not play the role of sexy-police.

Moving on... do you know what I find offensive? That people don't get "The Princess Bride" references. Also: HuffPo's implying that there's a special way to dress to deflect from a "modest" chest.

The Onion on China's recent hacking spree.

Create love in your life.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sunday roundup and ramble


Can Russia's newfound volunteerism survive the government's crackdown on civil society?

Britain's system of gun control.

The issue of a government's legitimacy is not binary.

Frank Bruni's poignant ode to his initially-illegal immigrant grandfather. More on immigration, from the standpoint of the Founding Fathers, LGBT rights, and this line business. Can we at least agree to let in Afghan interpreters?

Look: if you're trying to go vegetarian/vegan, don't sweat the occasional lapse. Also: chickens aren't plants. I understand strong cravings: I'm experiencing an intense hankering for an apple, even as we speak. But I'm out and I'm not going to go and get one before I finish this roundup.

The irony of Carlos Lozada's rambling conversation about national conversations is that it could get to the point a lot more succinctly. But it's a good point.

Here are some Virginia laws you should break as often as humanly possible.

I agree with the gist of this column about revenge porn, but I'm going to go ahead and say what the writer says it's easy to say:
It's easy to say, "Well if you don't want naked pictures on the internet, don't send men naked pictures."
God bless the groundhog!


Ernessa, congratulations!

***
And now for my ramble.

I'm now less quick to judge the driver that knocked out the utility pole two weeks ago, leaving my whole neighborhood out of power. I lost control of my car last night over some black ice, but thankfully--I was going pretty slowly--managed to get it back before hitting anything.

***
Over dinner, my friends and I--two of whom are parents--discussed the oversharing-on-social-media thing. One said that the prevalence of opportunities to overshare makes her value the privacy and intimacy of family moments even more. Which is a fair position, but I was thinking more about the sharing of gratuitous, unnecessary information (for example, the size of your kid's turds). The equivalent isn't sharing pictures or descriptions of one's food; the equivalent could be, for example, my posting a photo of the genuinely impressive amount of hair I plunged out of my shower drain. Fear not: no such photo was taken, not even ironically.

***
We also talked about the end of "30 Rock." There was a tweet about the horror of saying goodbye to Hillary Rodham Clinton and Liz Lemon in the same week. Thank goodness for "The Mindy Project."

***
"Get out the Map" (Indigo Girls) is on Pandora; it's one of my favorite travel songs, along with "Southern Cross," "Under the Milky Way," "Miles from Our Home," "Moving Right Along," "World Falls"... I could go on. I like a lot of travel songs. Anyway, there's this line that always particularly resonates:
Why do we hurtle ourselves/ through every inch of time and space?
I manage to do that even when I'm not traveling.

Pandora is onto Jem's "It's Amazing," which also has amazing, resonating lines. Part of my crazy, time-space hurtling day yesterday was taking a rock-climbing class at a climbing gym. This was not my first rock-climbing experience, nor the hardest, but it's been years and years and I'm still pretty scared of heights. This was one of those things where I bought the groupon and it was expiring, so I had to get my ass over there (just after trying on costumes for the Washington's Birthday Parade; I'll be wearing either blue or burgundy, depending on the weather). Anyway, I got half-way up the wall and--this is no departure from my prior climbing experiences--did not want to keep going. Like, really didn't want to keep going. But I knew I wouldn't be able to live it down if I didn't, so I did. And it was fine--even better than fine. To think I even thought about trading that in for an easy way out! And to think--having written grant proposals about this kind of thing--I'm not sure what lessons I'm supposed to draw from this with regard to my life in general.

Speaking of "Under the Milky Way," I'm hoping for decent stargazing weather.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Saturday morning roundup

Stalin makes it back into Russian place-nomenclature, if only for six days a year.

Yeah, I always forget to carry my epipen, too, so maybe this thing will serve me better. Now that I think of it, I think my epipens are expired.

Here's a very abridged history of the observable universe.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday evening roundup

Mali is not Afghanistan or anystan.

Miss Manners smacks down an entitled mother and a man confused about e-mail etiquette.

Your kids don't want you to overshare about them, either. But they do want to listen to Lewis Black reading "Goodnight Moon."

If Chris P. Bacon doesn't inspire you to spare his kind, what will? Maybe this?

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