Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday roundup

I hope he and the other refugees make it.

Will Peruvian industrial ag push out independent Bolivian quinoa farmers?

Like Julia Ioffe, I'm a legal immigrant by virtue of executive action.

Charles Blow on Ferguson.

It (policing) doesn't have to be this way.

Don't necessarily disengage from people whose views piss you off. Do challenge them.

Also/elsewhere in racism...

Gratitude snaps you out of it.

This is so Russia.

Why not, a vegan strip club?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wednesday roundup

All I can say is that I'm especailly grateful to not be spending TG at my parents' house, where Fox News blares, in the aftermath of the Ferguson non-indictment. I'm also very happy not to be on Facebook, where some parents are mommyjacking it.

The Economist actually gets it right.

How to talk to white kids about racism.

The Wrap's egregiously horrendous Cosby op-ed.

The military's egregious enabling of sexual assault.

The ACLU is on the wrong side of online death threats.

There's cruelty in your butterball. If you must have turkey, invest in a less f*ed up one. Or revel in the many excellent reasons to go vegan, like Cory Booker has. You have lots of options, one of which is very Seattle.

When students are wiser than the president of their college.

Michael Ignatieff on politics.

Some woman wakes up, realizes body image is a feminist issue, womansplains it to feminists at large.

Your journal may have a quality control problem when you accept this.

Gratitude is great for you.

Whiskey is pretty.

Parade floats are a waste of helium.

Bad restaurant reviews are fun.

Really, Michigan? What the f* is pretzel jello? And twinkie cake??

Why am I not surprised that Russian airline passengers have to push their own plane.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pictures from last week and beyond

 On our last day, we ended a bit early and I got a chance to drive around the Smokies.

 During the week:
Our fixer invited us to ladies' night at her gun club
The rental car didn't come with a scraper
Other pictures I've only just uploaded now (mostly on my walk to the metro months ago)

Saturday roundup

Two thoughts on Cosby. Actually, three and four.

This UVA assault and subsequent miscarriage of justice is so horrendous that I wish it were harder to believe.

Kudos to the U.K. for denying entry to a dangerous misogynist. By the way, I'm disgusted rather than flattered by disparaging comments about other women's bodies.
Another thought on the shirt.

Tracie McMillan's excellent piece on the Detroit Whole Foods makes the very key point that "shoppers wanting simple, affordable healthy food, rather than an aspirational product, have better options elsewhere." But... there's more to it than that, and that it shouldn't be up to or otherwise on the shoulders of shoppers: someone bears the cost of food that is "more affordable" to shoppers, and that someone includes grocery store workers, farm workers, and other food workers. Not to mention animals and the environment (and the people who live in that environment). I am not judging people who choose less expensive food, much less for whom it's not a choice; I'm judging the system that only makes food affordable to some at the expense of others.

In fact, I can afford more sustainable food in part because it's easier with plant-based food, but I often fail to make similar choices when it comes to clothes. I like clothes; I like buying clothes; and I like not spending a lot of money on them. Maybe if I thought for a minute that paying more for my clothes meant that the people making them would get paid more, I'd give the sourcing more thought... but more importantly, it shouldn't be my choice to make: I want the clothing available to me for purchase to come from decently paid workers in safe work environments. Of course given the option I'm going to opt to spend less.

Which brings us to the bigger issue: it's hard to "solve" one social justice issue without butting up against another. Tressie MC brought this up on Twitter this week with regard to Uber: Uber may be a shitty company, but it had provided a service to African Americans underserved by traditional taxis. Someone asked her,
to which she replied,
And went on to make the point that we need better solutions overall so we're not pitting these imperatives against each other.


Intensive agriculture changes the way the biosphere breathes.

Climate change costs taxpayers.

There are limits to what money can accomplish.
Be a pastafarian, since CFSM is "not “anti-religion” and is instead “anti- crazy nonsense done in the name of religion.”" Rather than an anti-theist, who is, in Reza Aslan's words, "rooted in a naive and, dare I say, unscientific understanding of religion – one thoroughly disconnected from the history of religious thought" and whose writings are characterized by
the same sense of utter certainty, the same claim to a monopoly on truth, the same close-mindedness that views one’s own position as unequivocally good and one’s opponent’s views as not just wrong but irrational and even stupid, the same intolerance for alternative explanations, the same rabid adherents (as anyone who has dared criticize Dawkins or Harris on social media can attest), and, most shockingly, the same proselytizing fervor that one sees in any fundamentalist community.
Milk (from other animals) does not do a body good.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday ramble

Two summers ago, at a party, someone asked me what car I drove. When I answered "Corolla," another guest snarkily added "um, she's a hippie vegan who drives a suburban." The original asker was expecting Prius, or something like it, but Priuses weren't around when I bought my car and it's generally more sustainable to hold onto what you have--especially in light of how little I drive. If or when I'm in the market for another car, I'd definitely consider a hybrid, but I'd also consider going bigger. 

It's not just that I can't fit much in my car; it's that I feel vulnerable in it in bad weather. This morning's drive to the airport in the torrential rain was just scary. I have friends who have a bigger car, with safety the primary consideration (they were in an awful, life-threatening car accident). When I went to pick up my car onsite, I wholeheartedly accepted the free upgrade to a small SUV. I was just ready to feel bigger, especially in an unfamiliar place.

There's a lovely outdoor pool at my hotel, but it's too cold out, even for me. This is my first work trip in ages (well, a year and a half) and it's mildly thought provoking in a first-world ruminations kind of way. Work travel is exhausting--you have to be on all the time, all day. I'm ready for it, though.

I went to brunch yesterday, in which the server--after she told me they didn't have the falafel, and I told her, well, that's your only vegan entree so I'm leaving, and she said no it's not--then proceeded to offer me a ham and cheese omelet. It was bad. Restaurants, you should either say "fuck you" to vegans openly and entirely, or be entirely welcoming to them. If you're going to go to the trouble of marking vegan items on your menu, maybe also train your servers in what the word means. But please don't bait and switch by having vegan items on your menu and then not having them (and no, side dishes like roasted veg do not a meal make; I'm a hungry girl). Just sayin'.

Monday roundup

Protecting the environment--in Congo as everywhere--isn't a matter of people vs. animals, etc. Extractive industries have a very poor track record of bringing anyone out of poverty.

Pakistani refugees are flowing into Afghanistan.

People are altruistic, skeptical, and vain.

More on shirtstorm, all worth a read. Note: there may have been some outliers, but everyone of the view that the shirt was inappropriate isn't to be held responsible for the crazies.
The same goes for vegans (unless you ask Elise Andrew, who hates vegans). Why do I care? It's not a matter of my own ego. I don't give a f* what anyone thinks. But I think perpetuating the stigma discourages people from a healthy, sustainable diet.

And here are some great comet photos.

I see both sides in the Illegal Pete's debate, and yes, some people have associations that others don't, but that's not to say that their associations should prevail.

I love this. Indeed, se hace camino al andar.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday roundup Part III

Have I mentioned that meat is bad for the planet?

Check out this ass hat and then this one or maybe good old Richard Dawkins.

It's funny--I mean, Dr. Rubidium's "12 days of trolling" is funny anyway--but a friend just asked me what mansplaining was. All I had to say was, "for example, when random dudes lecture me about nuclear energy."

Meanwhile: I started to feel bad about my reaction to "feminism and breasts/dresses are mutually exclusive" woman, but the two ass-hats above and also some of the comments on the Jezebel Coca Rocha piece reignited my fury. Thankfully, there were many thoughtful responses, particularly one alluding to how preferencing any one type of body and criticizing any body are part of the problem. I hate to go all "don't hate me because I'm beautiful" on you, but do (some) feminists really want to play into the misconception that there's one way to be (or look like) a feminist?

Yeah, I'm still on team "vapid, no-talent" but I'm not criticizing or slut-shaming. I don't care that KK's naked. More importantly, I don't care that she's there.

Saturday roundup Part II (gender issues edition)

Yes I do need to get back into workweek roundups but it's been rough. Maybe next year.

Let's accept Matt Taylor's heartfelt apology but keep on the issue, which is bigger than him.

Yes there is a f*ing gender gap in math and science. There is sexism in STEM.

In the spirit of not jumping down everyone's throat for innocuous statements--which doesn't mean deciding for other people what is or isn't offensive or harmful--I did jump down this writer's throat, because I think her premise is harmful (and the headline is shameless clickbait, but that's not her fault). Had she framed the question in terms of her own coming to terms with her new body and the societal implications, that would have been different, but framing her piece in terms of "I have breasts and wear dresses now... am I still a feminist?" helps no one. If you want to read about breasts as a feminist issue, Jessica Valenti does it better.

Back to Mark Zuckermann (is that the Facebook guy?)... yes, it's a privelege to get away with dressing down for work... but he wasn't implying what the woman above was implying, i.e., that investing in one's appearance was frivolous.

Roxane Gay takes on Time's "ban feminism" gimmick.

Detect any gender bias in the recent profiles of Valerie Jarret?
The one difference between Jarrett and others who have wielded the same kind of power in the West Wing is that she is a woman. Were she a man, her job would not be subject to endless “What does he really do?” questions. Were she a man, she wouldn’t be called “the night stalker” for walking with her longtime friend back to the private residence. Were she a man, her willingness to use her elbows to do what she thinks is right for the president would be applauded. Nancy Reagan, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton are just some of the women whose proximity to power and their willingness to use it has had critics reduce them to shrews (or other sexist descriptors) who should know their place.
Love TNR's review of "Not That Kind of Girl." Excerpts out of order:
If I prefer Kylie Minogue to Madonna and the knockabout farce of Comedy Central’s “Broad City” to the clackety solipsism and passive-aggressive caricaturization in “Girls,” it’s a matter of taste, and my taste isn’t the one being targeted and courted by Dunham, Inc.
Gender studies / cultural studies grads, who have set up camp on the pop-cult left, can be a prickly lot, ready to pounce on any doctrinal deviation, language-code violation, or reckless disregard of intersectionality. They like their artists and entertainers to be transgressive as long as the transgression swings in the properly prescribed direction. Otherwise: the slightest mistimed or misphrased tweet, ill-chosen remark during a red carpet interview or radio appearance, or comic ploy gone astray can incur the mighty puny wrath of social media’s mosquito squadrons, the hall monitors at Salon and Slate, and Web writers prone to crises of faith in their heroes.
“Everything is copy, everything is material” was the credo of Dunham’s friend, mentor, and creative godmother Nora Ephron, who is one of the book’s dedicatees, and it is a motto that Dunham could suitably sport as a tattoo, if her epidermis has sufficient ink-room. But converting first-person fodder into finished copy usually entails a longer cycle of maturation and memory storage than eat-barf-repeat. No overnight sensation, Ephron worked in newspaper and magazine journalism and personal column-writing for decades, squirreling away material and converting it into copy that had a deceptive conversational and confidential ease, often with a stinger attached in the last graf. Her prose didn’t strive for novelettish texture and sub-strata echoes of deeper implications but for a pitch-perfect dinner-party tone where the needle never jumped the groove. Her voice on the page and her voice in public carried the same urbane engraving backed by a worldly sigh.
Like it or not, Lena Dunham has graduated in record time from an indie darling into a Thought Leader, an honorific that was never hung on Nora Ephron. Lucky Nora, at least in that regard. She didn’t labor as the voice of her generation. She was nobody’s voice but her own. 
While we're on the topic of attention seekers, I guess I should say something about KK's butt, not least the race angle, which Luvvie covers here and Blue Telusma here. I know this isn't the point, but Grace Jones looked beautiful in her photo. She looked real. KK just looks plastic. And not in the plastic surgery/photoshopped sense; she just looks all fake. I mean, whatever. If it's art, let me paraphrase the TNR article above: it’s a matter of taste, and my taste isn’t the one being targeted.

Saturday roundup Part I

ISIS escapees tell their stories.

Whither Hungary?

Russia continues to struggle with coming to terms with its history:

Russia has problems with its memories. There isn’t a building that we walk past that wasn’t the scene of execution squads, betrayals, mass murders. The most gentle courtyards reveal the most awful secrets. Around the corner from Potapoffsky is an apartment block where every one of the families had someone arrested during Stalin’s terror. In the basement of what is now a brand new shopping mall was the courtroom where innocent after innocent was sentenced to labor camps, the courts working so fast they would get through two cases inside a minute. Whenever twenty-first-century Russian culture looks for a foundation it can build itself from, healthy and happy, it finds the floor gives way and buries it in soil and blood.

Lviv has mixed feelings about embracing the Masoch brand.

What kind of crazy star is this?

Katie Mack explains the science of "Interstellar." I learn that "spaghettification" is a thing.

Philae, sleeping now, is still a huge success.

Stop generously diagnosing people as narcissists.

On "Rosewater."

Household chemicals could be more safe and environmentally friendly.

There are two sides to publicly feeding the homeless, and optics matter, but still.

We need a food policy.

Food security is about access to food, not the overall supply of food.

The meat industry goes big. Big mayo sues Just Mayo. Chris Christie's political dilemma around pigs.

Factory pork has brain machines and other atrocities.

I'll say it again: plant-based eating helps the planet.

Matt Yglesias is really wrong about fast food wages.

Voter ignorance is the fuel of our democracy.

Baby gorillas in DRC.

Frank Bruni on getting older: "If you're lucky, you slough off some of your pettiness."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Big, annotated Thursday roundup

Erdogan's Putin move.

Britain's rape epidemic.

Doctors (i.e., not just hippies) are concerned about antibiotics in livestock.

Hog farms are making people sick (people who are disproportionately non-white).

Science is inherently human, and humans have to actively, deliberately check their biases. Methodology is important, and the Hollaback video was a science fail in that respect.

The science-worship community would rather slam Bill Nye than accept as legitimate his doubts about GMOs.

Virgin Galactic is arguably more about status and consumption than exploration.

Racism is (often) class-blind, and it's easy to dismiss data points as isolated incidents when you're not living it. That's not different from many dudes' reactions to harassment.

Scalzi on Ghomeshi. When will it end?

The workologist on how, no, harassment is not just part of "being a man." Just because street harassment is age-old, doesn't make it acceptable;* it makes it a power play:
It seems to me that some men will target whomever they think they can safely fuck with, and that women are always deemed fuck-with-able.
*I asterisked the Elon James White piece because it's a must-read.

I'm not even going to link to the sexism-in-science-is-dead op-ed, but I will link to the harassment story from Yale.

Cultural appropriation is a terrible thing to do, but Robin Givhan explains it brilliantly.

Re: Lena Dunham, read this and especially this. I think Roxane Gay addresses the issue in a very comprehensive, nuanced way. Note: I don't have a dog in the LD fight. I don't watch her show, I don't identify with her demographic, and I she's not my feminist icon. From that impartial perspective, taking the thinkpieces has been interesting.

Please don't do any of this, not least because the concept of the friend-zone is bullshit. Whoever hexjackal is, this is awesome:
Friendzoning is bullshit because girls are not machines that you put Kindness Coins into until sex falls out.
How to listen to your kids' first-world problems without dismissing or encouraging them.

This woman is married to my mom! If you can help it, stay away from people who try to invalidate your feelings. Here's how to address concerns without invalidating someone else's feelings.

Catholic and Jewish guilt are not any guiltier than any other guilt:
There’s no link between guilt feelings and particular religious backgrounds, Dr. Tangney says. Her years of study show Protestants, Muslims, atheists and everyone else feel, on average, just as guilty or shameful as Catholics and Jews.
Women report feeling more guilt and shame than men, she says. But women generally report feeling more emotions than men, both positive and negative, with the exception of anger.
“We don’t know if women actually feel more guilty than men, or are more attuned to their feelings, or are more comfortable acknowledging them,” Dr. Tangney says.

How many of us have been here:
Or, it could be that your birthday is just the messenger, alerting you to the fact that your boyfriend has essentially checked out of the relationship. Or, it could be that your boyfriend is a taker who temporarily stepped out of that mode to reel you in, and, having succeeded, is showing his true self.
See my earlier link re: the history of Halloween (particularly Victorian Halloween): not only are sexy Halloween costumes not anti-feminist; they're full-out feminist. 

OMG who are these people?

This woman's politics didn't ruin her parenting; it's apparently her confusion about what the basic concepts underlying her politics actually mean.

While I'm slamming people: this article is a train-wreck. I don't know where to start... only I do. First of all, ffs and for the fiftieth time, “radioactive” is not the key trait that makes an isotope (and yes, she should have used “isotope” instead of “element”) usable in a nuclear weapon. A lot of things are radioactive. Not a lot of things are fissile.

But it’s this inapt jump to the “In the 1970s…” paragraph—where she again, incidentally, misuses “radioactive”—and where she’s really all over the place. She jumps from surplus plutonium to nuclear waste in general, and procedes to conflate the two (not for the last time in a short article). She never seems to make clear—in her hasty jump, or perhaps her editor's poor judgment—how or why commercial nuclear power leads to plutonium accumulation. Also, there is more in nuclear waste than plutonium. Her “that means that today” doesn’t mean what she says it means, or just doesn’t follow.
It gets worse after the picture. First: it’s not true that no state or city wants to be known as the site of nuclear waste (Texas has been inviting it). Later, she randomly brings uranium into the picture, which has nothing to do with anything (except her confusion about materials meant for weapons versus those produced as waste). She talks about advanced reactors, and implies that somehow those with advanced safety features are going to “make a dent” in existing plutonium supplies.

Okay I'm done. Read some better science writing, about triton.

Then read about how to correct mistakes without making someone feel stupid (which is more important in the classroom than on the internet, so I don't take back my "train-wreck" comment).

Confusion is conducive to learning. Indiscriminate praise is not:
A lot of employers and coaches have said, “My employees cannot get through the day without accolades and validation.” Even professional coaches have said they cannot give feedback without these people feeling that they’ve crushed them. We’ve created several generations now of very fragile individuals because they’ve been praised and hyped. And feel that anything but praise is devastating.