Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday roundup

Could Christians please quit trying to coopt Judaism? And no, don't ask me why I, Pastafarian Jew, get to pick and choose my rituals. Fine, do: it's because as a former Soviet Jew, my traditions were taken from my family through a policy of deliberate cultural dilution. Yes, that means we get to cling to rituals even if we don't believe in the theology behind them.

Oh, here's another artifact of being Soviet: you don't believe in socialism.

Don't be shitty. Do make art when people send you pictures of their junk.

Empowerment isn't about buying things; it's about not giving a fuck and being yourself:
“When you look at me on the telly, and say she should be on ‘The Undateables,’” she explained, in retelling, to the crowd, “you are looking at a 59-year-old woman. That is what 59-year-old women who have not had work done look like. Get it?” (In fact, Ms. Beard was 57 at the time, but the point stands.)

This, said Tina Brown, the founder of the Women in the World conference (in which The New York Times is an investor), amounted to a “battle cry,” a vindication of one of the rights of woman: to look, even in her 50s, like her unvarnished self.

These Audobon photography winners!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Saturday roundup and ramble

Georgetown sold slaves.

Alzheimer's is awful.

I don't agree with everything in either of these but I appreciate the nuance and appreciation for complexity in policy.

Russian immigrants understandably want nothing to do with socialism, but I have more trouble understanding how Trump could appeal to them.

People are still in denial about meat and climate change.

On fracking.

Introverts aren't less social; we just can't handle small talk and other bullshit.

The office isn't the only place where women are expected to supply free labor.

I sort of agree with this:
Because men too lazy to make the first move don’t buy flowers. They don’t plan picnics. They don’t remember anniversaries.
Then again, I'm single (and then again again, I'm not stuck with a lazy dude).

Friday, April 8, 2016

Friday evening roundup (brought to you by food poisoning and spring cleanup)

Don't let the meat industry convince you that you need meat.

Good for the U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic for being out and proud and inspirational.

God forbid women have ambition, exist, or act on what's attractive to them:
Making abortion inaccessible only tortures women.

An excellent explanation of why veganism is consistent with choice:
That organic compound within the womb takes a long time to develop consciousness – and thus to hold sentience. But the woman, whose womb it is, is conscious the whole time. If she is suffering, or being tortured by carrying a baby she doesn’t want – or worse still, doesn’t want the pain or suffering of child birth – then that is something we should take seriously. And given that we have the medical knowledge to help get those cells out of her, we err greatly by denying her the right to do so. There’s no difference between a foetus in the earlier stages and semen, in rational terms. Cells are cells. So we should be pro-choice in abortion for the same reasons we are pro-choice about whether men want to carry ejaculated semen around in their pocket all day.

Dr. Nerdlove on boundaries and how toxic people abuse the social contract to erode them. So much RM in there.

Bilingual toddlers are smarter.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Saturday ramble Part II

Twitter and the internets as a whole have been abuzz about women and makeup. Grace Spelman had a thing about men who profess their preference for women without makeup but don't understand makeup. I have long been amused by dudes who think that anything women do is about them, so I absolutely believe that women who do make up do it for themselves, but it's just not my drug. I prefer not dealing with makeup, and especially not paying/splurging for it. But to each her own.

Every aesthetic decision I make is driven primarily by convenience and efficiency, but some may be mistaken for a fashion statement. I really, truly prefer dresses because they're quick, comfortable, and easy, but I've had to answer questions (like "why are you wearing pants?").

Laurie Penny had a whole thing (you can find it linked on these pages) about how she wears her hair short for convenience and not giving a fuck, but I wear my hear long for the same reasons. In fact, I went to get a haircut yesterday and told the stylist that I liked the cut I'd been sporting for the last few years but I was sick of it, and what if we cut it short. He talked me out of it--warned me that with the texture and quantity of hair that I have, anything above shoulder-length would be a hassle (or a disaster). I need the weight of long hair to make it manageable. I'm not making this up--the stylist said it.

I think this brings us back to this: dudes, nobody cares what you think.

Saturday ramble Part I

I rambled last week about trying to talk to one of my friends about the amicable, appropriate demise of a short relationship. That ramble was about Not Listening, but I have a related ramble about indicator issues--which is what sparked the conversation that I came to regret.

Specifically, what sparked the conversation was coffee grinds--even more specifically, the coffee grinds the dude I was then-dating had splattered all over the counter. The splattering in and of itself did not faze or annoy me, but it made me wonder at the time whether in the long run, this kind of thing would make me crazy. This was not the first splattering-like incident with that dude, and I was starting to wonder--among the other things that were not working--whether his level of practical unhelpfulness, which I could overlook on an incidental basis, would be corrosive in the long run. As I tried to explain to my friend who kept interrupting, I would have been more likely to overlook it entirely had everything else been going right. In fact, I only brought it up because we were talking about how couples manage tension--whether by bickering, avoiding, etc.

You can (and should, under the right circumstances) overlook those things, but you have to admit that they won't go away and they'll only get more frustrating with time. What's a non-incident when you're enjoying a leisurely morning becomes a major headache when you're trying, for example, to get kids out the door.

In the dude's case, the coffee grinds were just coffee grinds, but sometimes that kind of thing is an indicator of a deeper issue. I thought about how I was rarely annoyed with RM on a practical level; I was infuriated by his inability to listen. I mean, I didn't love taking his food-mess trash out of the uncovered bin in the kitchen and moving it to the covered one in the utility room, but what I really fucking resented was that I'd asked him to throw anything with traces of food out into that other bin many times and he never listened. Similarly, I didn't resent him for not taking out the trash the one time I asked him to; I resented his posturing--his "just let me what I can do to help" followed by radio silence and a stare when I said, "I'm running late, could you take out the trash."

But back to not listening, because if there is one thing IRFR (I really fucking resent) it's not listening. As Marshall Goldstein puts it--I'm paraphrasing, since I can't find my copy of his book--it's a form of disrespect. In addition to any practical consequences, it makes the other person feel disrespected, if not gaslit. I still remember this guy who tried to date me in grad school--and I have no other reason to remember this guy. He pursued me intensively and simultaneously alienated me by demonstrating a persistent unwillingness to listen. At one point during finals, he'd asked me if I was interested in going with him to a book fair somewhere in Rockville. I said I needed to get out, but I also needed to do something outdoorsy--a short hike--to clear my head. So we'd agreed, or so I thought, to a quick trip to a book fair, followed by a hike. Except the book fair took forever to get to and then he wouldn't leave--and he knew this was not part of the deal because he kept apologizing profusely. We stayed until I threatened to leave him there and make him bus or cab home with all the books he'd bought. At that point, it was too late for a walk and my afternoon was shot. And I was bitter. Even more so when he tried to make up for it by offering me favors I didn't need ("let me help me carry your groceries"/"fuck you"). It was such a blatant display of disrespect and selfishness.

Shortly after that--i.e., after finals, when I went up to Boston for the holidays--my mother accused me of unbridled selfishness. As you may know, mom absolutely loves to delegate (not so much ask for) favors, and they have to be done her way, in her time frame, etc. This one favor was doable--she wanted me to take back with me a pair of boots to give to a friend of hers in the DC area who was making a trip to Russia. Except I forgot to put the boots in my luggage. There was just so much crap in the guestroom even then that they blended in. I felt mildly bad, but this was not the end of the world. Mom could mail them. But she had a meltdown, complained about how now she'd have to go to the post office (which was not far, and she was not working), and how this wasn't about the boots; it was about how I was self-absorbed and never thought of anyone but myself. I tell you this to say, sometimes the thing really is just about the thing.

Saturday roundup

The trade deficit is not really the issue and demand for quinoa is helping, not impoverishing, the areas where it's grown. Stephen Walt is naturally taking issue with the idea of Trump as a realist.

Tribalism in science is not helpful (shorter: being a physicist doesn't make you an expert in everything. Yes, that means you, Neil DeGrasse Tyson).

The Big Bang happened everywhere.

Dammit no plant-based foods won't give you cancer but they will save the planet.