Saturday, July 30, 2016

Saturday roundup

Khizr Khan's powerful speech and Trump's unconscionable response.

In a mostly decent op-ed, this is an unbelievably meaningless statement:
“The West, meanwhile, should use its alliance with Saudi Arabia and the new opening with Iran to caution against measures that threaten regional security.”
I should go work at a think tank and get paid for platitudes. 

There will always be trade-offs between security and civil liberties and they'll always need to be debated.

Brazil's water is worst than anyone imagined. But be inspired about this Syrian refugee, who will be competing.

People are in denial (or willful ignorance) about the environmental cost of meat.

For skeptics of the idea that the government could ever help, look no further than the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, doing its job and protecting people from predators.

Nobody should be celebrating the DNC hack, but no one should be surprised.

Joyce Beatty wore the dress Melania did, better.

It's official: there is no level of success a woman can achieve and not be told to smile.

I'm old enough to remember the WalMart t-shirt controversy and to know how far we've come.

This poem about rising from the ashes is everything. So is this column on preparing to end a relationship. And so is Ask Polly's column on bravado:
Did we assume that men are the ones who fly around and bloviate, and women are the ones who silently get shit done behind the scenes, hidden from view?  Sometimes I think that if I could stand in the doorway between my office and the office of a very fast typist who was paid to listen to me trying hard to remember things, I would be much more successful or world-renowned or at least a little bit more comfortable with my own arrogance. I would proceed with direction and purpose, guided by the certainty that this world is mine as much as anyone else's. 
See also: Polly on first-world problems (excerpt not continuous):
...I’d like to tackle the first-world problem of first-world people criticizing other first-world people for trying to solve their first-world problems... I want to defend the people who write to me, to defend their right to consider and solve their problems using all the resources available to them… We live in a world where we are constantly, actively seduced by things we don’t have and can’t afford, while we’re simultaneously chided for wanting more than what we have, either more material wealth or more happiness or more love or more job satisfaction. This cultural paradox leads to all kinds of dimwitted confusion, including privileged people calling other privileged people privileged for merely acknowledging their own troubles.
So let’s reexamine this widely held sentiment that if you're basically warm and fed and reasonably healthy, any problems you have are automatically trivial... The presumption here is that longing for more when you have a lot is somehow a crime.
I agree about a truce between users and non-users of makeup (actually, I believe in minding one's own f*ing business and staying out of other people's choices). I've been asked (by my mother) "what's that thing on your forehead?" and by WMF "what's that thing on your cheek?" and neither time--though I'm sure the latter was to make a point about makeup--was I inspired to wear it.

I'm a confessed cruciverbalist.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

On dating

I didn't include Jess Zimmerman's piece on "high-maintenance" women in my roundup because I figured dating issues deserved their own post. It meshes with other articles I've linked to and discussed--on the Cool Girl, the Chill Girl, etc. An excerpt:
For a woman who has learned to make herself physically and emotionally small, to live literally and figuratively on scraps, admitting that you have an appetite is a source of cavernous fear. Women are often on a diet of the body, but we are always on a diet of the heart.The low-maintenance woman, the ideal woman, has no appetite. This is not to say that she refuses food, sex, romance, emotional effort; to refuse is petulant, which is ironically more demanding.
Pair with this insightful Ask Polly response:

So stop asking for water and then pretending it’s wine. Ask for wine. And if your wine tastes like water, send that shit back! Don’t pretend that you didn’t want wine in the first place. DON’T FUCK THE DUDE WITH THE WATER AND THEN TELL HIM ALL YOUR SECRETS.

Ask for wine. Don’t be embarrassed that you want wine. Just say “I am someone who drinks wine now. Nothing else will do. It’s okay if you can’t give it to me. I will find someone who will, or I will make it myself. I am good and strong and I can do lots of things. I am beautiful and broken and I deserve this.”

Sunday roundup

Common arguments against gun control are misguided.

Who are these people? Seriously, how warped does one's mind have to be to come up with this:
Melania is "elegant, and after what’s been in the White House now it would be a nice change,” said Karen of North Carolina, who would give only her first name. “Michelle Obama is not elegant, no. She’s too outspoken. And she doesn’t like America. She and her husband don’t like America.”
Michelle Obama came up constantly and unprompted, this poorly dressed, inelegant, aggressive presence who would be neutralized by Melania’s “grace” and “poise” and “intelligence” on Pennsylvania Avenue.
I know that facts don't matter to some people, but seriously? Are they living in an alternate universe?

Also, who deems herself the arbiter of what bodies are worthy of existing?

What if vegans are on to something? And why does the word itself carry so much baggage? I've never been a fan of the label, not because I fear the connotations but because I prefer not to identify myself by way of food. "I am vegan" is a statement of identity; "I don't eat animal products" is not.

An interesting approach to keeping an eye on potential red flags without creating them where they don't exist. If anything, I've ignored too many red flags and put up with far too much bad behavior from men. I'm ready to err--if I have to err--on the side of cutting no slack.

You'd be surprised at how many flights--specifically (or not specifically), "an inordinate amount"--are delayed because of coffee makers.

It is inevitable that for every thinkpiece, there will be a counterthinkpiece about how the target is a class issue. In response to the Times' profile of Marie Kondo and her cult of decluttering, we have an op-ed about how decluttering is a privilege.  And my response to each of these thinkpieces is yes and no. Yes, you have to have the financial security to have the luxury of buying something again if you need it. But like many things that are a privilege,  it's not just the privileged that would benefit from them. I think of my mother's compulsive buying of things that were inexpensive, because they were inexpensive; things she didn't need, but thought she might some day, so she had to buy them when the price was right. So she spent more money, on things that would only take up space. I would argue that not amassing stuff is a sound financial move. 

People process things differently, bring different emotional responses. So reminds us Martha Nussbaum in this fascinating profile.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Thursday roundup

Neil DeGrasse Tyson on sciencing while black.

It's very technically true that more white people are killed by police, but that doesn't take into consideration population and other complicating factors.

The We Are the Left letter is everything. And Sanders holdouts didn't get it then and don't get it now.

OMG this cover:
How much power do the Chinese people have?

How will the Iran agreement be verified?

You can be well or poorly nourished whether you're a vegan or omnivore.

Food waste is unconscionable.

Drown out the haters this weekend: go see Ghostbusters.

I've thankfully never experienced "coercive control" in a romantic relationship (I have experienced textbook passive agressiveness), but mom was always a master of coercive control.

I have experienced breadcrumbing. Unintentional, irl breadcrumbing.

Carolyn Hax on matism and again on choosing happiness.

Have you experienced any of these feelings for which you didn't know the words?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunday roundup

Rest in peace, Elie Wiesel.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson's latest foray into scientism backfired.

It's no accident that tech support sucks

Juicing is pointless and incredibly wasteful.

LA's museum of broken relationships

For all my mother's parental shortcomings, she never did anything like this. Twitter responded with #ifmyvaginawereasandwich.

That was world's worst mom; here's world's worst boss.

Dr. Nerdlove on pursuing without being a creep.

Exercise is so much about learning "how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable."

Monday, July 4, 2016

On whether intentions matter

In my last post I talked about coming to terms with mom's overbearingness and having to prioritize my own sanity over her feelings. I've become a huge proponent in prioritizing one's own needs--safety, sanity, etc.--over the feelings of others, and nowhere is this more of an issue than in interacting with dudes. In the roundup, I linked to a Carolyn column about abuse/control creep--about confronting controlling behaviors immediately (also known as setting boundaries). Abusive or controlling people will often audition borderline behaviors to test your response. Borderline behaviors offer them plausible deniability: if called out, they can fall back on how they had no idea they were being inappropriate. If not called out, they keep going. Sometimes they really do have no idea they're being inappropriate, which brings us back to the issue of whether intentions matter. When your safety and sanity are at stake, they don't.

Mom: a status update

I washed my hair in the rain today. I can only do that when it's raining hard and when I'm sufficiently motivated--i.e., I have to wash out henna and I don't want it staining my pristine bathtub or clogging my drain. My mother once washed her hair--or at least showered--in a thunderstorm. Thinking about that made me think of the time before I resented my mother.

My mother was institutionalized this weekend. It was about time--it should have happened sooner but because it takes drastic events to motivate my father, it didn't happen until she wandered off (again). He'd been staying home to keep her from wandering off, but he couldn't stay in the same room all the time and that's when it happened. She's at the point where she thinks that she owns the surrounding houses and that other people are occupying them--and she's happy to confront them over it. She can't be left alone for a second, and my dad couldn't watch her that closely if he wanted to. So the inevitable happened: she wandered off, found police, and was taken to the hospital. Everyone agreed that it was time for her to be under constant care.

Monday roundup

Meat is destroying the planet.

How much radiation from Fukushima is in the oceans?

Bits of Borno is a beautiful way to spotlight the humanity in terrorized Nigeria.

This is an interesting take on thinkpieces (and people) that somewhat cluelessly promote experiences over stuff. I'm a fan of experiences over stuff--and I'm the first to say that home-ownership isn't for everyone, and I didn't think it was for me until it was--but I'm also the first to understand that not everyone has the same choices. Unlike the douchebro in the referenced thinkpiece, I don't believe that burning money enhances one's experience. "Experience" isn't the same as luxury or conspicuous consumption. See also Carolyn's response on how to answer a kid's question about why her house is smaller.

See also Carolyn's take on what may or may not be a sign of abuse/control. The scenario reminded me of my mother (translation: I vote yes, it is an unhealthy/controlling behavior). It sounds to me like the guy is staying angry for the sake of staying angry. I'm a bit believer in trying to understand why someone is upset by something that you might find innocuous and validating their reaction... but it sounds like the woman did that and the guy is still being a dick.

I don't subscribe to the idea that any borrowing from another culture is appropriation--and I don't generally believe that western yoga practice is appropriation, thought that piece makes some good points--but I am disappointed in Jo Rowling.

Wow, the Jane Hirschfield poem embedded in this piece ("For What Binds Us").