Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wednesday roundup and ramble

Charles Blow on the epidemic of police violence against unarmed black people.

Afghan leaders have trouble convincing people to stay, since their own people have left.

Your beef habit is seriously destroying the rainforests and pretty much, the planet.

This spoof on the "nice guy" reminds me of a recent interaction on social media. I'd posted something about offering your seat on the Metro to anyone who needs it more--pretty basic principle, right? And some dude replied, "typical feminist."

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday ramble

I ended my roundup with "Choose gratitude." Excerpts:
For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond deprivation and depression, there are many ordinary circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily.
Beyond rotten circumstances, some people are just naturally more grateful than others. 

Monday roundup

Uncertain Journeys: A photo essay on refugees. Pair with George Packer's spot-on piece.

You can't say this a lot, but yes, in this case, the Holocaust is a legitimate analogy.

You know when you completely lose respect for someone whose work you can't help but admire? Scott Adams has lost his $hit.

A Canadian university nixed yoga for people with disabilities because cultural appropriation and I can't even.

A must-read profile of a woman who left the Westboro Baptist Church. Too much good stuff to excerpt.

Alana Massey on nude selfies.

Choose gratitude.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Saturday roundup

Roxane Gay on safety:
The freedom of speech, however, does not guarantee freedom from consequence. You can speak your mind, but you can also be shunned. You can be criticized. You can be ignored or ridiculed. You can lose your job. The freedom of speech does not exist in a vacuum.
Many of the people who advocate for freedom of speech with the most bluster are willing to waste this powerful right on hate speech...
There are some extreme, ill-advised and simply absurd manifestations of the idea of safe space... And yet. I understand where safe space extremism comes from. When you are marginalized and always unsafe, your skin thins, leaving your blood and bone exposed...
Those who mock the idea of safe space are most likely the same people who are able to take safety for granted... We are also talking about privilege. As with everything else in life, there is no equality when it comes to safety.
Paul Krugman on fear.
The point is not to minimize the horror. It is, instead, to emphasize that the biggest danger terrorism poses to our society comes not from the direct harm inflicted, but from the wrong-headed responses it can inspire. 
On overcoming addiction:
Alyce would tell herself that she was quitting for her son or quitting for her mother. But any stop in her drug use was only temporary. “I had to come to understand I can’t do it for anyone but me,” Alyce said. “I have to want to live.”
 and, omg:
“My daughter said she wants to be president of the United States,” Alyce explained. “Therefore, I need to show her how you get there.”
Anne Frank's asylum request was denied.

Petula Dvorak nails the Starbucks cup controversy:
I’m willing to concede that there is a war on Christmas. The real Christmas.
If Christmas is about honoring the birth of an impoverished child to a homeless couple who must eventually flee a tyrant to keep their baby safe, then, yes, there is a war on Christmas.
If Christmas is about peace, joy, generosity, thankfulness and goodwill among people, then yes, there is a war on Christmas.

On the subtle sexism that adds up:
This flare-up is an example of the kind of thing that keeps happening whenever women try to point out microaggressions — all the little daily sexist slights that may not mean much individually but add up over a lifetime. Even well-meaning progressives sometimes freak out over discussions of "sexism," because they think they are being personally accused of being sexist. This makes people defensive, and it leads to the kind of bunker mentality that makes Weaver call Clinton's winking quip a "vicious attack."
Esquire's must-read books for men really are for men.

The impact of our food system on food workers.

Dairy: it's not good for you.

Why we care when people lie.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Big Monday ramble

I've written much, and linked to much, on this blog about beauty and about weight, and about both in relation to feminism. Just the other day:
This piece on beauty--specifically about being honest about it--leaves out the very important fact that [conventional] beauty may be power, but it is an uneven, unreliable, unwieldy form of it. 
Which I'll pair with this Ask Polly wisdom from a while ago:
The reason the beauty-industrial complex kicks up an acidic taste of contempt in so many of our mouths is that it can never quite capture the intoxicating magic of real-life intrigue and attraction and romance... Real-life beauty is a blur of motion, a flash of disbelief, an assured gesture, a long sigh that sings with intelligence and self-acceptance. We can't capture in two dimensions, or reduce to a series of numbers, the feelings that real human beings experience in the company of a woman with the confidence to own exactly who she is, to show where she's been, to listen closely and understand completely. A woman who loves her life, who can laugh at herself, but whose head isn't crowded and noisy. A woman who can focus and make room — real space — for you, and bathe you in her generosity and her compassion...
The guy who won't sleep with you because you're overweight is not a far cry from the guy who will only sleep with you because you've got a hot body. Either way, you feel like the main event, the REAL YOU, is a footnote... Everyone wants to be seen and loved for who they really are...
...You're looking for someone who is turned on by YOU — your charms and your flaws and all of the magic inside of you. Maybe there are only a few people out there who can really appreciate YOU.
I didn't discover the male gaze for myself until I was 35--that age where you're to stop wearing skirts above the knee--and I wasn't sure what to do with it. In my early 20s, I couldn't be bothered to manage my appearance in any way, until, in my late 20s, I observed how much more seriously people took people who looked put-together. I started dabbling in the put-together look and pulled it off until, around 30, I put on weight

I'd never thought I would care, but I hated being not-thin; I'd rolled my eyes years earlier when I'd heard Oprah say that losing weight was her most cherished achievement (or something to that effect). How could someone who accomplished so much, care about her weight? I came to understand the answer. Mom made my situation worse, but I was profoundly uncomfortable in my own body, in spite of "knowing better." I had it easy; I agonized, but I never hated my body. No one should hate her body.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saturday roundup

Hi, guys! I'm back, with a new laptop, so I should be able to blog more regularly.

I feel odd taking a cheery tone in light of the Paris attacks. I have nothing to say about those apart from what's already been said, except that, if you're wondering why those and not Beirut, etc.--all of that. All of the attacks are tragic and devastating, but it hits closer to home when it's a city you know and love.

That said, here's your roundup.

Read about the link between lead and crime and think even more about how the gasoline industry tried to buy/threaten scientists and hide the truth from the public in order to protect their profits.

The odd campaign to save Tim Hunt.

Maybe more on this in another post, but please check out this entire thread.
From the obituary of Rene Girard, renowned French social scientist:
Professor Girard’s central idea was that human motivation is based on desire. People are free, he believed, but seek things in life based on what other people want. Their imitation of those desires, which he termed mimesis, is imitated by others in turn, leading to escalating and often destructive competition.

His first work, published in French in 1961 and in English in 1965 as “Deceit, Desire, and the Novel,” introduced the idea of mimesis through readings of classic novels. Over time, the idea has been used to explain financial bubbles, where things of little intrinsic value are increasingly bid up in the hope of financial gain. It has also been cited to explain why people unsatisfied by high-status jobs pursue them anyway.
Look at the way people talk about, talk to, and refer to renowned economists who are women.

Look at the way people reduce renowned women (and the rest of us) to our reproductive status.
In the traditional worldview happiness is essentially private and selfish. Reasonable people pursue their self-interest, and when they do so successfully they are supposed to be happy. The very definition of what it means to be human is narrow, and altruism, idealism, and public life (except in the forms of fame, status, or material success) have little place on the shopping list. The idea that a life should seek meaning seldom emerges; not only are the standard activities assumed to be inherently meaningful, they are treated as the only meaningful options.
People lock onto motherhood as a key to feminine identity in part from the belief that children are the best way to fulfill your capacity to love, even though the list of monstrous, ice-hearted mothers is extensive. But there are so many things to love besides one’s own offspring, so many things that need love, so much other work love has to do in the world.
Love, love this:
And yet, when people ask me what I do, I’m sometimes tempted to answer “whatever I want.” This is not a boast — I have financial obligations like everyone else, and only myself to rely on for meeting them — so much as a statement of fact, and a reminder that I belong to the first generation of women for whom this can be a real truth. But it also feels like I’ve discovered some sort of secret — like, Oh my god, you guys, it’s so great over here and no one wants you to know about it.


Which is not to say it can’t also be really fucking hard to be alone, and sometimes deeply lonely in a soul-shaking sort of way. Inevitably there are the middle-of-the-nights when it is also terrifying. And sometimes it’s just plain exhausting. When you are the person free to do what you want, what you often end up doing is taking care of other people with less options. More than once in the past year I have crawled home to my empty apartment emotionally gutted and feeling like I’d been run over by a truck; thinking enviably it’d be worth it to be married just to have someone else who is obligated to deal with my family, and also cork the wine and load the dishwasher.

Fortunately, I’m old enough to know that people in marriages, and with children, feel all of these things (and how much worse is it to feel lonely in a relationship, which is something so few people talk about and so many experience) at one time or another. No matter how often we imagine marriage as the solution to women's problem, it is simply another way of living.
More--in continuity with last week's post--on women and sex.

I certainly identify with having done "so much holding," from this:
And why is it that the placeholders we choose — the dozen red roses, the fragrant white lilies, the long-stemmed French tulips — are so fleeting? Hold on to them for too long and you end up with a mess of petals, pollen and foul-smelling water...
This piece on beauty--specifically about being honest about it--leaves out the very important fact that beauty may be power, but it is an uneven, unreliable, unwieldy form of it.