Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thursday roundup

Darfur is still a violent humanitarian disaster.

In Algeria--a country that apparently runs on protests--anti-fracking protests actually yield results.

Guys! Sarah Palin is selling "I Stand with Bibi" t-shirts for $35.

Women say very intelligent things (not dissimilar from what some men have said), get attacked/dismissed.

Holy f*, can you believe these people? Parents on Facebook are having quite the douche-off. Never mind the thing about childless people not entitled to use drive-thrus or elevators; check out the woman who things that women with children should have similar accommodations to the disabled. Then check out this asshole (i.e., Brenda). No, these assholes.

Now, restore your faith in the world by checking out these frozen waves.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday roundup: race in America edition

Tonight's roundup is brought to you by my photo books. I'm on the laptop because I need to work on the other two photobooks. Thematically, today's roundup is brought to you by race in America because holy $hit.

Previously, I've rolled my eyes at white women and/or white feminists who refer to White Women or White Feminists in the third person, but after this week's bull$hit, I'm pretty much there. But it's not just women; fellow white people: when you make white people jokes, check whether you're not incidentally punching down and rubbing in your privilege. Which is why we can let Justine Sacco move on, but we shouldn't buy into the idea that her joke was harmless. And we shouldn't make her the poster child for Twitter outrage gone wrong.

As you may have noticed, Patricia Arquette grabbed that role away earlier this week. There's been a lot written about her official and backstage comments, and I've lost track of it. What she said was important, and some of her detractors proved her point. Other detractors proved the point she should have 

Speaking of unintentional offenses, this "get off my foot" analogy is perfect. I have something to add to it: don't tell me you're sorry I'm angry that you're on my foot. This literally happened to me on my way home last month: on the last hour of my 30+ hour trip home from Vietnam, I was seated next to a space-invading, annoying, nervous dude who'd missed an earlier flight for "a stupid reason" and was very anxious not to miss his connecting flight. Meanwhile, I'd been traveling for 30+ hours and didn't give a f*. When we landed in DC, but before the aisle had cleared, he stood up and practically stepped on me, so I pointed out to him that stepping on me wasn't going to get him off the plane any faster. He told me he hadn't realized he'd stepped on me and was sorry that I was angry. I wasn't angry; I was angry that he was stepping on me. If he was sorry, he should have been sorry that he'd stepped on me. So that was a literal example but the analogy holds: don't apologize to someone that they're offended or angry; if you're going to apologize, apologize for whatever you did to cause the offense or anger. Giuliana Rancic did that perfectly after her idiotic comments about Zendaya's beautiful hair.

Islamophobia is a problem.

Stupid racist people who don't understand the concept of Latin, the language.

Back to the topic of space invaders: dudes, you can't be all touchy around women.
Pouched rats help detect landmines without setting them off.
Mrs. Jeb Bush loves her luxury shopping, but at least she pays for it herself, unlike some former first ladies of certain states. 

Emulsifiers may be f*ing with our gut bacteria.

Men like cats, too.
Yeah I guess I could be more patient with babies in public places but parents should still make an effort to make them minimally annoying. And it's not parents vs. nonparents, as noted in the article. Last night, I had dinner with a friend, who happened to be a mom to an infant. She was more annoyed than I was that a woman had blocked off an entire section of booths in a pretty crowded eatery so that she could have nursing privacy. I'm all for people being able to nurse whereever, but not if it means excessively coopting public space. If you're going to nurse, nurse without giving a f* or get a cover-up. Don't take over two or three booths at a restaurant for it.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday roundup

Russian conscripts dread being deployed to the Ukraine.

Andrew Weiss on the new Kremlinology.

Please don't thank veterans for their service.

Please don't donate to the Komen Foundation or perpetuate the cult of the pink ribbon.

Please do eat tofu.

Wow, this climate change denialist "scientist"...
Though often described on conservative news programs as a “Harvard astrophysicist,” Dr. Soon is not an astrophysicist and has never been employed by Harvard. He is a part-time employee of the Smithsonian Institution with a doctoral degree in aerospace engineering. He has received little federal research money over the past decade and is thus responsible for bringing in his own funds, including his salary.
Though he has little formal training in climatology, Dr. Soon has for years published papers trying to show that variations in the sun’s energy can explain most recent global warming. His thesis is that human activity has played a relatively small role in causing climate change.
Many experts in the field say that Dr. Soon uses out-of-date data, publishes spurious correlations between solar output and climate indicators, and does not take account of the evidence implicating emissions from human behavior in climate change.
Gavin A. Schmidt, head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan, a NASA division that studies climate change, said that the sun had probably accounted for no more than 10 percent of recent global warming and that greenhouse gases produced by human activity explained most of it.
“The science that Willie Soon does is almost pointless,” Dr. Schmidt said.
The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, whose scientists focus largely on understanding distant stars and galaxies, routinely distances itself from Dr. Soon’s findings. The Smithsonian has also published a statement accepting the scientific consensus on climate change.
What she said (about STEM majors and a liberal arts background).
Please don't write thinkpieces based on what you think other people are feeling.

It's been a rough winter in Boston.

This assessment of how well Washington-based shows reflect reality almost make me want to get cable, now that I have a TV (except cable is expensive, and a year and a half of it would cost about as much as a vacation).

Oil in water in Siberia.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday roundup

North Korea outsources slavery. (You can also support slavery by purchasing shrimp from Thailand).

Justice reform is so common-sense that it's bipartisan even in this climate.

Ta-Nehisi Coates' powerful tribute to David Carr.

Heer Jeet on Giuliani and D'Souza, by way of the history of the National Review.

Embedding this so you have access to it:
It baffles me that food politics is portrayed as elitist; the consequences of our destructive food system disproportionately damage the poor (here and elsewhere).

Here's the coherent, less ad-hominem response to Monica Potts that actually addresses Potts' valid point about how women's colleges must continue to center (all) women:
One of Potts’ main concerns is the push on women’s campuses to eradicate words like “sisterhood” from use. But this isn’t an example of trans activism, as Potts puts it, being “indistinguishable from old-school misogyny”; that’s just old-school misogyny disguised as trans activism. Trans activism fights to make a world that is better for trans people, and while trans men are an important part of that, the fight to make a place for themselves at women’s colleges has nothing to do with them being trans and everything to do with them being entitled men.
Few professional women are taken seriously in China.
Misogyny is driving women off the internet.

And it's hard to draw the line between well-meaning and aggressive online behavior, so these tips for well-meaning guys are mostly good, but I find some are over the top. Social media is social media, not an echo chamber; someone can respond, interact, etc. without being a dick. 

Part of me can only feel bad for these dudes who think anyone cares what they think about cellulite.

Passive aggression isn't always inappropriate; it's prevalent for a reason.

The orgies of the one percent.

I really should just give credit to Martha Rose Shulman for trying to accommodate vegans, but I guess my ethnic/linguistic identity is overpowering my eating habits: "kasha" is not buckwheat. Kasha refers to any kind of porridge, and it can be synonymous with buckwheat porridge but it could also be oatmeal, cream of wheat, etc. When you're talking about buckwheat beyond porridge, please don't call it "kasha."

Two notes: (1) for example, my dad would warn me to not overcook pasta (or something) so that it wouldn't turn into kasha. (2) I was buying raw protein powder at WF when a vendor asked me what I did with it; I told her that I put it in my oatmeal. At which point she started trying to sell me meal replacements--"if you like any kind of -meal, try..."--and I told her that I wasn't looking for meal replacements but I don't think she understood the concept of oatmeal.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tuesday roundup (brought to you by... snow)

When internet harassment forces women out of their homes, it's terrorism.

Inequality is still unhealthily high, but the recession didn't exacerbate it.

As satisfying as it is to slam anti-vaxxers (and I'm occasionally guilty), it's not quite right.

A fascinating look at being vegan in the military.

It's hard to know what's in your food. The less processed, the less opportunity for fraud.

The rejection of (teaching) history and the BS concept of American exceptionalism.

Take it from someone who's been on the receiving end: it is incredibly unhelpful to have one's weight critiqued by one's parent.

The Twitter reaction against Monica Potts' article on women's colleges' and trans inclusion was swift and damning, and I couldn't immediately suss out what the acrimony was about. A lot of it focused on TVM and who needs it anyway. Parker Molloy does point out the holes in Potts' argument, but she doesn't address the main question: how can women's colleges include all women without de-centering women. That means not dropping women-centric language. That is a key part of women's colleges: providing a place that centers women. Women-centric language doesn't exclude trans women, right?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday roundup

There's probably enough here for several theme-based posts... but let's stick with one for now.

Pakistan's water crisis has some roots in bad policy (doesn't every country's?).

Ukraine's impromptu aid workers risk their lives to save lives.

Two books about Russia today.

The First Crusade did, indeed, hit Jews hard. As that column says, religious violence rarely sticks to its intended victims; it likes to maximize its harm.

Nazi Nobelists and Einstein's Jewish science.
I can't even type this without getting angry: women scientists of color get mistaken for janitors.
Trying to hard to annoint the deserving poor and exclude the "undeserving" leads to screwing over the most vulnerable. Keep in mind that "welfare" is in the eye of the beholder.

People do change their minds (maybe just not right away). Also, even scientists are prone to tribalism when it comes to deciding what to believe.

Could everyone reveling in righteous indignation over the public health risks from antivaxxers please also find some rage for the threats--such as MRSA--from antibiotic resistance in pigs? It's an international threat.
Nasdaq is warning investors about the end of meat.

There've been many moving tributes to David Carr; Jelani Cobb's is beautiful. Heer Jeet's is informative.

Plant-based eating helps obese kids. Also: here are some polite responses to stupid vegan questions.

There can be value in unrequited love. And science.

Saccogate, the sequel, may deserve its own post but I don't want to deal with it. Adria Richards has come out accusing Jon Ronson of factual errors regarding her part of the story, and there's the larger overall issue of recentering. Ronson has an important case to make--and you do feel bad for one or two of his case studies, particularly the sign selfie girls--but by spinning the stories, he detracts focus from all that. That being, in this digital age, there's disproportionate punishment for what could be incidental transgressions. There's a mob mentality that relishes the takedown, and next thing you know, the instigator could be the next target. But spinning the offenses to make them seem like innocent mistakes--or just neglecting to explore the damage they inflict or the social context they stem from--takes away from that argument. He could say, "Sacco tweeted something stupid and offensive, here's why it's so offensive even if she didn't realize it" instead of "poor Sacco was misinterpreted." And the point has been made that's it's not the Internet that fired her, or any of those people; the internet merely amplified the transgressions. I maintain that we should forgive people for stupid tweets, statements, etc... but that only works when there's an honest apology.
Charles Blow points out that we're already having a conversation about race, and that we don't have to agree about everything to keep having it.

This Jezebel piece is so bad I almost don't want to link to it (read this instead). The irony is that the first piece rants about how uninteresting science is (while noting its importance), but the second, more sciency piece is much better written, more interesting, more compelling. In terms of content: remember when someone accused me of being on the payroll of big food (because I noted that science did not support the assertion that salt was unhealthy)?

Louisiana is getting back in touch with its French side.

This was painful to read. More sex don'ts here and here.

This isn't new, and Jennifer Weiner doesn't add much value to the conversation, but let's take this opportunity to note that we don't need products to fix us.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesday roundup

This unusual mid-week roundup is brought to you by Michelle's couch: I had to turn on my laptop to post the freecycle notice for my own couch, so here we are.

If you aren't horrified and saddened by Chapel Hill hate-crime murders, regardless of your politics or religious affiliation or lack thereof, let me know when and how you lost your humanity.

"The Hezbollah Connection" is not short or light, but it's fascinating and it's a must-read. Pair with this piece on Argentina's "suicides."

Our graphic reminder that the Ukraine war is a real war with real suffering.

The (not-quite) latest in gratuitous police violence and the prison industrial complex.

You also have to read this piece (I'm embedding my tweet because that's the only link by which you can access it:

Nerdy misogyny is no better than any other kind.

This is old news by now, but if you haven't already, check out these crazy tweets from the guy now-fired from Jeb Bush's campaign.
Surprise! Obamacare plaintiffs aren't affected by the law.  

I was going to call out Grist for neglecting to mention meat consumption as a food security issue, but they ultimately did include it (in the last paragraphs, as an afterthought).

Well, this cactus thing is certainly new and intriguing.

I'm shocked that Russians aren't higher-up in the fat-consumption stats. My people love us some fat.

A fascinating oral history of Chipotle. My favorite part:
They [McDonald’s] invited Steve to go to their chicken farm in Arkansas. He came back and said it was absolutely the most disgusting thing he’d ever seen in his life.
Better science fiction respects science (makes me think of how bad "Lucy" was).

Yes, purveyors of dating advice are prone to confirmation bias, among other things.

I bet #advicetoyoungjournalists didn't include insights like the one shared in this article on gluten sensitivity:
The groups also differed on such measures as “satisfaction with stool consistency,” a phrase that I honestly never thought I would write. 
On the flip side, you also get to do stuff like graph cursing.

Um, if you're gonna start a hashtag, make sure it's not stupid. If you're gonna invite people to something, don't attach your unflattering assessments of them.

Best valentines ever?

More beautiful wave stills.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Monday roundup

Let's not detain today's refugees the way we did Holocaust survivors.

In Greece's economic crisis, a rash of fake nurses for hire.

Religions have been bloody, but not intrinsically so.

As good food finds its way to the dumpster, food brands are scamming the poor.

Dietary tribalism serves no one.

In matters of love, women dream and men regret.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Big Saturday roundup

Boko Haram is horrendously violent.
People in Ukraine are really hurting. Even people who are hurting, need art.

Somalia can't afford a loss of remittances.

Genital cutting is a horrible thing.

Livestock is sucking the west dry. Agriculture's impact on the climate.

Food security isn't just about growing more.

Measles kills, and it's heartbreaking.

Guatemala's child brides.

There is no perfect victim, but Cathy Young sure goes out of her way to discredit women.

Everyone heals in her own way.

Self-declared feminist man preys on women (and men). That story is horrible, and I'm not equating my own (non-violent) experience with it, but it does remind me of the vocally self-declared feminist man I dated years ago. He was manipulative and gas-lighting, and he was either uncomfortable with women on their own terms or thoroughly confused about what feminism meant.

Meet the face of the Men's Rights movement.

Who else betrays some very unflattering views about women? I could go on.

This village in India got its first fridge.

Your tax dollars at work: diagnosing Putin from a distance.

Rich people don't understand why Picasso's granddaughter has to go lowering the value of their collections to make money for charity.

The problem with McDonald's pay-with-love campaign (link to the cited Nation article here):
But at The Nation, Bryce Covert argues that the campaign’s problems go beyond its potential awkwardness. She calls the mandate that McDonald’s employees request “lovin’” from customers “a pretty blatant example of emotional labor: the requirement that a low-wage employee not just show up to work and adequately perform her duties, but that she put on a veneer of happiness and cheer for the customer to elicit an emotional response in him.” Emotional labor, she writes, “requires poorly paid people to slather a smile onto their face and cover up the real conditions under which they labor.”
And, she adds:
“McDonald’s has been one of the fast-food companies hit by massive, repeated waves of labor unrest by striking workers demanding better pay, the ability to form a union and an end to retaliation for their actions. Workers have been vocal about the fact that they and their families can’t survive on the money they make. But the company instead wants its customers to see employees who are genuinely delighted that a mother hugged her son in front of them.”
For Ms. Bachelder, the “lovin’” campaign embarrasses customers and maybe McDonald’s itself. In Ms. Covert’s formulation, it may do something worse: force McDonald’s workers to do more work for their already-low wages, and to pretend that they like it.

Whither general relativity?

Thought experiment: would you rather your kid grew up to be this man who walks walked miles to work, or Conrad Hilton III

You don't need more protein.

What kind of entitled jerk doesn't understand that kids aren't welcome at all weddings?

Which languages are hardest for native English speakers to learn?

The quotative like has gone mainstream.

Cats, and the Times is on it.

Taking sides

The other day, I found myself thinking about how it was easy for me to "side" against Jonathan Chait because I wasn't at all invested in him as a writer, not even as much as his arch-nemesis debater Ta-Nehisi Coates, who not long ago tweeted that when Chait was good, he was really good. I mean, I genuinely disagreed with his article, so the siding wasn't primarily driven by my lack of investment. But my lack of investment made it even easier. (Counterexample: you'll recall that when Ani DiFranco stepped in it, I was disappointed but also mildly defensive--not of her error but of her overall legacy). Just like it's easier for me to dismiss Jenny McCarthy for her antivaxxerism but I was disappointed with Alicia Silverstone for the same (not because I admire her as an actress, but because she's so effective at vegan outreach). Long before the current measles outbreak, I had to break up with her website and her work (but I still appreciate what she does for animals).

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sunday roundup

The increase in coal mining in Donetsk is more black lung than silver lining but okay. India, too, is doubling down on the dirtiest fuel.

Journalists have caught on to kidnappers' tactics, are avoiding Syria.

Netanyahu had two jobs.

Roald Dahl's passionate plea for vaccination.

Reproductibility is at the core of scientific research. It's also an iterative process.

Insights from a previous bout of resistance to settled science: ozone-layer depletion.

GMOs in and of themselves may not be a problem, but superweeds are.

The world can't keep eating so much meat.

Restaurant staff accuses black man of begging (from his wife).

Shocker: Nazis are not the master race they think they are.

Ladies: to paraphrase Machiavelli, it's better to get $hit done than to be liked.

Personal experience aside, I refuse to believe,
“There are plenty of single men out there,” Dr. Fisher added. “I know that men suffer just as much as women do from loneliness. Moreover, men fall in love faster than women, they fall in love more often, and when men find a sweetheart, they want to introduce her to friends and family sooner.”
She added, “It does suggest that men are just as dependent on stable relationships and good family communication as women are — indeed, I suspect a bit more so.”

that most guys are men-children.

Some people thought Katy Perry would do wonders for one Missy Elliot (not unlike Kanye West would do for Sir Paul McCartney).

Surely Carlos Lozada could have found worse sentences than these (even in good books).