Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday roundup

The evolving role of Egyptian TV.

A balanced take on Snowden and Greenwald.

Charles Blow on Maya Angelou.

Yes, scientists do know their stuff better, but scientists don't know everything.

Are you going to be in Manhattan for Manhattanhenge?

Balance in a relationship is good, but respect no matter what is even better.

This week in French songs in my head: "Sympathique" (it was "L'anamor" for a while). I don't know what it is about French songs that make them stick, but in this case, "je ne veux pas travailler" was what brought it to mind. As I pointed out on Twitter, the song's not entirely applicable because I always veux dejeuner, and I certainly don't fume. But I love, love, "C'est magnifique ĂȘtre sympatique
Mais je n'le connais jamais."

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wednesday roundup

I don't even know where to send you for the best obituary of the great Maya Angelou.

Astroenthusiasts got really excited last night, but the gamma ray burst was not to be.

Humans are a very distinct animal.

The animal-rights aware take on animal testing (and the case against cosmetic testing).

There's quite a selection of manosphere/misogyny articles out there, including the Ann Hornaday debates and Phil Plait's excellent take and less excellent comments. More links here, including this Daily Beast must-read:
We are not the lovable nerdy protagonist who’s lovable because he’s the protagonist. We’re not guaranteed to get laid by the hot chick of our dreams as long as we work hard enough at it. There isn’t a team of writers or a studio audience pulling for us to triumph by “getting the girl” in the end. And when our clever ruses and schemes to “get girls” fail, it’s not because the girls are too stupid or too bitchy or too shallow to play by those unwritten rules we’ve absorbed.
It’s because other people’s bodies and other people’s love are not something that can be taken nor even something that can be earned—they can be given freely, by choice, or not.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday roundup

No, let's not use migrants as cheap prison labor. BTW I almost felt bad for this couple an then the DUI thing was casually mentioned. If it were up to me, I'd start deporting U.S. citizen drunk-drivers, regardless of their marital status.

By now, you've read about the shooting and the #yesallwomen hashtag. And about the dudes who think it's about them. Or worse: this one's about why men think women are crazy, and why women should care. Or the trolls, but I'm not linking to them. Then, there are others who just don't see the connection. That klansman who shot up the Jewish nursing homes a month ago ended up killing people who weren't Jews; that doesn't mean anti-Semitism didn't drive him to do it.

Bias needn't be fervent; it's passive preferences can be detrimental.
It's not that "normal" to live with roommates in your 30s, but does it matter?

As with nutrition research, ignore the "newest" research on exercise. Just exercise.

This is an articulate statement about what I was trying to say the other day about "dieting": different things work for different people. And it's harmful to treat self-care as a crazy discipline thing. I feel better when I eat well and exercise (and occasionally don't eat so well). I went on a long, perfect bike ride this morning because I felt like it--there's nothing in the world I'd have rather done. I had tofu scramble with brocolli for brunch because it was delicious. Then, I met friends for drinks and had a margarita (with an entire serving of chips and salsa), and, guess what, I'm still a size-00. If you tell people that health is about deprivation, they're not going to be healthy.

It's true: I know things about shows I don't watch, because they're discussed on Twitter, etc. But when was that cultural literacy?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thursday roundup

Drone-inspired poetry.

Who knew that Eurovision would be a proxy for geopolitical squabbles.

This explains Russians' embrace of superstition (this being, people embrace it when times are tough).

God forbid women feel any real, complicated feelings about raising children.

Oh, this so reminds me of mom:
And so he fixes on anything new to him, and complains about it to shift the blame for his unease somewhere else.
If it helps, think of the people you’d expect to complain about too-yellow eggs and desserts that aren’t bland and predictable enough: little kids. They’re unnerved by a world that feels too big for them to manage, and want both the comfort of the familiar and the relief of making their fear someone else’s problem.
A very cool, comprehensive explanation of the science of baking soda (and powder).

I'm not a fan of the Katy Waldman; I still click on her stuff sometimes, and almost always find it silly. Case in point: this piece about dieting. She's just wrong. I don't feel the need to post pictures of myself eating food, but I like to talk about food because, and I feel the need to talk about food--and what I eat--because at the least annoying people ask me where I get my protein and at the most annoying imply or say that I don't eat, don't need to eat, etc. So here it is: I inhaled half a vegan pizza on Monday, and I still have a thigh gap. Telling people that they have to restrict their eating to stay healthy is not just wrong, but also harmful.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Before and after

Compare to the garden around this time a year ago:
And the same hosta, planted last July:
Here it is now:
And here's the half of the garden in the first picture:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tuesday roundup

Can coal be less deadly or dirty?

An excellent take on trigger warnings.

With all respect to everyone else involved in "Fed Up," Gary Taubes is full of $hit.

As we know by now, the GMO debate isn't really about GMOs.

Once again, I'm grateful that none (or almost none) of the parents I know are this douchy or condescending.

I'm in love with my hosta, among other things

As I was bringing my bike in, my neighbor told me how amazing my garden looked. So I thought I'd show you guys how amazing my garden looks.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday roundup

It may be like eating Bambi, but hunting invasive or overpopulated species is a less fucked up way of getting your meat.

Getting creative about food waste.

I get the value of trigger warnings, but part of recovering from trauma means being able to operate among triggers.

You've got to really feel bad for these very threatened dudes; how pathetic do you have to be to so desperately want to shut women up?

I am truly blessed because the parents I know are not this stupid, sanctimonious, or obnoxious.

I still don't understand why tea leaves move to the middle of the cup.

On scientific arrogance.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tuesday roundup

No, Twitter activism isn't magically going to fix everything--and yes, the kidnapping is part of a larger crisis, but isn't solidarity better than apathy?

Doctors are at a loss with regard to Alzheimer's.

Opioids don't work for chronic pain.

What in the hell? A man discovers after five decades that he's not a citizen; another, who is a citizen, is deported.

Women in science are regulars, not guest stars in one episode.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if there's one thing my parents did right, it was to say, "this is what's for dinner; don't like it? That just means you're not hungry." That said, they accommodated the vegetarianism; they just had no time for fussiness.

It's always good to listen before you talk, but I hope to get a ramble in about mansplaining later this week (it's not too different from the case in the linked post--a couple of dudes were (perhaps unintentionally, and very cluelessly) lecturing me about something I work on). When I say 'unintentionally,' I wonder whether it's the opposite or converse of when women sound doubtful, unintentionally--whether it's a verbal trait that conveys uncertainty when none is intended, where the guy version conveys arrogance where none is intended.
Sorry, I'm still with Mark Bittman on this one. He's not taking down organics; he's saying that there's much more that's immediately achievable for the food movement. Nor is he embracing GMOs; just saying that the food movement has more pressing issues. Also, if you're concerned about toxic chemicals, keep them out of your lawn (most of the time--as the article says, sometimes you've gotta bring out the toxic stuff--and in my case, that was for poison ivy). But otherwise, I've been newspaper mulching and I swear by it.

Nutritionist conference, brought to you by McDonalds. No wonder there's rampant confusion about nutrition (though nutrition isn't the only science that's misrepresented in reporting).

Some of these state fair foods aren't bad. I'd eat the salsa and scorpions (what? I'm a sustainability vegan).

Today is not a day to be proud of Smith College. Maybe Ruth Simmons can belatedly educate the graduating ladies about economics.

I can't believe this letter-writer is for real. Some people!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wednesday roundup

Things are really, really bad in Royhingha-heavy regions of Burma.

There is much at stake in the Ukraine, but U.S. credibility isn't part of it.

F*ing hell, we knew the system was broken, but the system is really f*ing broken.

Another system that's broken: protecting workers from longterm health-risks.

Staten Island gets hit by heroine.

Extremist libertarians terrorize Keane.

Stanford divests from coal.

There is a lot that's hurting our oceans and its marine life (or, as some call it, seafood). Radiation is not it.

Have we mentioned the compelling reasons for not eating meat?

Bittman nails GMOs, among other things:
Let’s encourage people to eat real food, which for most people will mean eating better. This is affordable for nearly everyone in the United States. (I tackled this issue a couple of years ago, in detail.) For most people, eating better is mostly about will and skill. Those are not small items, but they’re much more easily dealt with than changing industrial agriculture. Yes, there are people who are too poor to afford real food; but that’s an issue of justice, the right to food and fair wages — not of whether the food is organic.
Eating organic food is unquestionably a better option than eating nonorganic food; at this point, however, it’s a privilege. But that doesn’t make it a deal-breaking matter. Reducing the overload of synthetic chemicals and drugs in agriculture and the environment is a huge issue, as is eating better, but neither necessitates “going organic.”

Then there are G.M.O.'s: OMG (the palindrome is irresistible). Someone recently said to me, “The important issues are food policy, sustainability and G.M.O.'s.” That’s like saying, “The important issues are poverty, war and dynamite.” G.M.O.'s are cogs in industrial agriculture, the way dynamite is in war; take either away, and you have solved virtually nothing.
By themselves and in their current primitive form, G.M.O.s are probably harmless; the technology itself is not even a little bit nervous making. (Neither we nor plants would be possible without “foreign DNA” in our cells.) But to date G.M.O.'s have been used by companies like Monsanto to maximize profits and further removing the accumulated expertise of generations of farmers from agriculture; in those goals, they’ve succeeded brilliantly. They have not been successful in moving sustainable agriculture forward (which is relevant because that was their claim), nor has their deployment been harmless: It’s helped accelerate industrial agriculture and its problems and strengthened the positions of unprincipled companies
But the technology itself has not been found to be harmful, and we should recognize the possibility that the underlying science could well be useful (as dynamite can be useful for good), particularly with greater public investment and oversight.

Let’s be clear: Biotech in agriculture has been overrated both in its benefits and in its dangers. And by overrating its dangers, the otherwise generally rational “food movement” allows itself to be framed as “anti-science.”
If anti-G.M.O. activists were successful in banning G.M.O.'s, we’d still have industrial agriculture, along with its wholesale environmental degradation and pollution, labor abuse and overproduction of ingredients for the junk food diet.
The Little Prince, interpreted.

Improved military cooperation is a two-way street.

I agree with everything in this open letter to Privileged Princeton Kid, but--I won't say I don't blame him for missing the point--this kind of articulate, reasoned explanation is what he's needed all along. It is helpful, whereas "check your privilege" as a catchphrase is not. It reminds me of something Jon Stewart said last week: we're very good at recognizing that racism is bad, but we're less good at recognizing what racism is. Which I guess goes back to Eric Holder's lightning-rod statement about how we're cowards about race. It would just be more useful, instead of resorting to "that's racist" quips, explaining why something is racist and why that's harmful--why it reinforces unjust, oppressive, and often dangerous systems that actively disadvantage not just "groups" of people, but individuals within those groups. Similarly--who was that now-rehired tech dude who went on about how it's not misogyny to like breasts? We need to keep coming back to the underlying issue--in that case, that objectification is systematically harmful to women.

Everyone can get hit by feelings of envy from time to time; manage them by keeping perspective.

I guess #blessed is a humble-bragging hashtag.

According to a new book on female breadwinners, dudes are big babies.

I love this--although I have no idea what kind of idiots are asking her about olives and burritos--but the tamale issues is the Mexican answer to the "blini" and "pierogi" scourge I've complained about (and the panino issue that you may have heard Italians complain about). I will differ with her views on authenticity, but that's largely because Russians are culinary improvisors, so there's really no such thing as authentic (incidentally, I once got lectured by an upperclass redneck--they really do exist--about how my family's way of making matzo-ball soup was inauthentic). What does that tell you about the concept of authenticity?

Also--I got asked about Russian restaurants over the weekend--I know of very few immigrants who seek out or care much about restaurants serving the food the supposedly grew up with, even if it is "as good," because it's just something you tend to make yourself.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thursday ramble

I--I'm nothing if not transparent--barely passed Christian Science Monitor's scientific literacy test, which briefly made me feel like an inadequate human being, until I shrugged it off. Not because I didn't want to know more, but because my value as a human does not rest upon knowing the difference between watts or joules and symbols and constants. The irony was, I performed the worst on biology, which is what I once knew the most about. But if you don't keep on that stuff, you forget it. And that's pretty much okay as long as you get enough of it to make sense of things. And there's a difference between getting things and remembering names of things.

Humor me as I spin this into an analogy, the connecting premise being one of multiple things going on: the deficiency itself; how I feel about it; how it makes me feel about me; and whether I care what other people think. To repeat: I don't know a lot about science; I'd like to know more about science; but I'm not a bad person for not knowing what I don't; and I generally don't care whether others think less of me for what I don't know, and I'm pretty sure no one cares. And whatever demons I have in that regard can only be quelled by me alone; anyone else's reassurance isn't going to do it.

Thursday roundup

I'm having a hard time reading about the kidnapped Nigerian girls because it's just too f*ed up.

Two articles about corruption in Afghanistan.

It is up to every single one of us not to perpetuate bull$hit. I'm going to add to this, or emphasize, that if you're not in a position to assess the accuracy of the information or check with someone who is, don't spread it. I came across, but did not retweet, an article yesterday about five horrible things about the meat industry because I was not in a position to BS-check it. There's enough that's f*ed up about the meat industry that you don't need to exaggerate, much less make things up.

On that note: why Taco Bell's disclosure should make you less, not more, confident about its product.

The hardest thing about being vegetarian isn't the food; it's the people:
Because no matter how I frame it, people get really, really defensive, and tend to respond with long explanations about why they DO eat meat. I’d love to partake in an honest conversation about meat, animals, ethics, and diet choices, but there’s almost always an edge to their replies that makes me really uncomfortable. Their tones imply that they feel personally attacked and must aggressively defend their own diets and/or poke holes in the logic that led me to choose mine. It’s awkward enough that I try to avoid the topic almost as much as I try to avoid eating meat. And after a year, I’ve found that avoiding meat is infinitely easier than avoiding judgment, lectures, and awkward confrontations with people I barely know.
Is the "not all men..." argument, progress?

What better locale for a ten-year old's birthday party than a Cold War museum.

What's in a drop of seawater?

Here's something (someone, actually--specifically, Col. Barry Johnson) to restore your faith in humanity.