Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's for science!

I can't believe that I missed out on the chance to be part of the Kissing Experiment.

What is this weed?

And why is it in my yard?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Random Roundup

First world problems: Texas sucks because "in a true mark of backwater-ness, there was like 1 non-Starbucks coffeeshop with wireless, and no vegetarian food restaurants that were halfway decent."

Swedish couple won't disclose their child's sex ... even the kid doesn't know!

Monticello is pretty awesome.

"My own nightmares had two reoccurring themes, one concerned standing on the beach at Weston Super Mare, my home town, when the tide suddenly goes out very fast and returns as a huge tidal wave that is about to engulf me," Parker said. "The other dream includes a dinosaur roaming the streets at night and looking in at my window. I wondered if my experience was common amongst women."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fewer Seats for Fox News Watchers?

Is it a good thing for the Democrats if Republicans drum up an anti-census movement?

1. Let Republicans refuse to be counted in the census.
2. Reapportionment and redistricting using figures with depressed Republican populations shift congressional advantage (further) to Dems.
3. Profit!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Erfolgtraurigkeit Watch: Food Writing Edition

Someone gave Ezra Klein a Washington Post column on food. The inevitable effect of media concentration and blog cooptation by the MSM, good-old-boyism, or what? Ezra Klein has every right to his opinions about food, but he is not a terribly impressive food writer.

Traveling While Female

This woman's experiences as a single traveler ... do not really reflect my own. Or those of anyone in my generation, perhaps. The big challenge is learning to pack light? There are no countries that are better than others for single female travelers? Boggle.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vamps in the City

I've previously posted on my idiosyncratic reasons for disliking urban fantasy, but if you're into that, here are some reading recs.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The more you know

Word of the day: psephological (via The Economist)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

You can have the brisket if I make tofu.

I sometimes wonder if I am incrementally destroying the earth by corrupting a certain vegetarian of my acquaintance into meat-cheating. But since I've become much more likely to eat meatless meals of late, perhaps it all balances out, or even is a net gain.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Too Much Parenting?

I didn't have a set curfew, but the rules for teens referenced in this post hardly appear fascist. Letting someone know where you'll be ("I'm heading to X's house." "Hey, I decided to go over to Y's for dinner.") is just courteous. Although not allowing a teen girl in her own house alone on the ground that she might have her boyfriend over seems silly. Won't they just go parking?

Sibling Rhetoric

Memo to well-meaning pundits: Absent a shared parent, someone is not my brother or sister.

Unrelatedly: How to explain cheesiness to non-English speakers.

Vacation Musings

Anybody been to Crete?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Atlantic on marriage

Sandra Tsing Loh is getting divorced. She uses this as an excuse to argue against marriage in general.
I can work at a career and child care and joint homeownership and even platonic male-female friendship. However, in this cluttered forest of my 40s, what I cannot authentically reconjure is the ancient dream of brides, even with the Oprah fluffery of weekly “date nights,” when gauzy candlelight obscures the messy house, child talk is nixed and silky lingerie donned, so the two of you can look into each other’s eyes and feel that “spark” again. Do you see? Given my staggering working mother’s to-do list, I cannot take on yet another arduous home- and self-improvement project, that of rekindling our romance.
Apparently she had an affair and then realized she wanted to give up on the marriage. Her decision spurred a few of her friends to confess their own fantasies of divorcing their staid husbands. The DoubleX bloggers are dissecting the piece---and Tsing Loh.

Check out this previous STL article on women preferring food to sex with their husbands (foreshadowing her overweight friend who sneaks Dove bars at night and then grouses that her husband no longer finds her attractive?).

Quiz referenced by STL on personality types in romance. (I am a Director/Builder.)

Caitlin Flanagan's prescient rebuttal of STL on sex in marriage?
What they don't understand, and what women of an earlier era might have been able to tell them, is that when the little faucet turns off, it is time not to rat out your husband (is there anything more wounding to a man, and therefore more cruel and vicious, than a wife's public admission that he is not satisfying her in bed?) but rather to turn it back on. It is not complicated; it requires putting the children to bed at a decent hour and adopting a good attitude. The rare and enviable woman is not the one liberated enough to tell hurtful secrets about her marriage to her girlfriends or the reading public. Nor is she the one capable of attracting the sexual attentions of a variety of worthy suitors. The rare woman—the good wife, and the happy one—is the woman who maintains her husband's sexual interest and who returns it in full measure.
Another Atlantic piece on sex and marriage:
Sexuality is all about bridging distances—but to bridge distances, you must have distances. And for all our sentimental talk of seeking an “other half” (perhaps the only expression to loom as large in Plato’s Symposium as it does in the cursives of Hallmark), most of us do not, in fact, seek “a part of ourselves.” We do not long for our left leg. We do not desire our brother, nor usually even our best friend. Erotic love—for all of its attraction to what it recognizes and identifies with—is drawn at least as strongly to what it does not recognize. In truth, it is drawn toward the distant and dangerous more than it is to the sweet, the solicitous, the familiar.
An oldie from the Atlantic archives:
To be happily married requires a maturity that most of us do not have; marriage proves difficult, sooner or later, and particularly when entered upon immaturely. To be happily married two people must like each other, which means accepting each other as they are and knowing in what ways to leave each other alone. Most of the unhappy marriages which hang on and on, undermining the potential of two human beings, are based on weakness and fear, pity, obligation, sadism, guilt, all of which are things that beset both people in one way or another and make for distrust and dislike.
One happily married woman described love as "a sense of the other." It is this fascination with another person and an almost uncanny awareness that are the real material of love. The feeling that no matter what he does, I know why he does it, and I am interested. I may thoroughly disapprove, I may be exasperated with him for it, but I know why without even thinking about it or possibly being able to explain it. I am absorbed in all his reactions. All of his complexity, all of his contradictions simply fall into place for me, even if everyone else thinks he is mad. As Cathy said in Wuthering Heights, "Nelly, I am Heathcliff! Not always as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself; but he is always, always in my mind." This is love in the grand manner. It is beyond advice columns, beyond the dogged search for happiness. This is what it is all about.

But to have it, we have to know ourselves to begin with, and believe in it when we get it.

I don't find STL's anti-marriage proposals realistic or appealing. Thoughts?

Monday, June 15, 2009


How many times can I lose one of my favorite earrings?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Oh dear.

This is where I live.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Etsy Peddles Stuff, Sara Mosle

DoubleX concern trolls Etsy.

Most of the commenters to the article make the obvious point that Etsy, for a true capitalist, is one among many possible marketing channels. Etsy rules, although it's tough to find new stores sometimes. My Etsy custom tote bag that's being made right now was definitely more than the average item price of $14. I could have just replaced my cat-destroyed H&M bag with another, but I am patronizing a small business in upstate New York and getting something unique by using Etsy.

The real issue is not whether SAHMs are getting caught up in a fantasy; most acknowledge that crafting's not going to pay the mortgage. It's whether we support people with artistic urges by encouraging them to inject a little commerce into the mix. Say a seller barely breaks even, but gets to spend lots more time doing something creative she enjoys. That's not a bad scenario! She could be scrapbooking (which is a giant money pit and a time suck) or deadening her impulses with soap operas! Why bash a site that faciliates the production of art and trade that makes everyone better off? Bloggers monetize their hobby all the time and most blog commentary isn't worth a stitch marker. Lay off the random 30-somethings who enjoy making handbags and sell them for a little extra cash.

(Sometimes I wonder if we've come full circle, back to custom artisan goods, with the internet to enable cottage industry to reach a broad enough market to make it worthwhile. For things like clothes and accessories, has industrialization lost its advantages?)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Surprise Frenchies & Proto-Jewish Mothers

So I got the results back from my DNA test. it provides tests for risk for bunches of diseases (some of which are backed by lots of research, and others with limited support that can only elevate or suppress one's general paranoia). The ones that are very well-established for scary diseases are placed behind double walls.

BRCA Cancer Mutations (Selected)


"You clicked on BRCA mutations. Do you really want to know if you need a preventative mastectomy? DO YOU?"


"You're fine. Of course this is all about risk. You could still get sick even if you lack these mutations."


In other news, my mitochondrial DNA haplogroup is K2a*. Apparently some substantial fraction of Ashkenazi Jews are K2a2* or K2a2a, which are branches from the K2a* line. They also compare your DNA with sample individuals from different countries and I am smack in the middle of the overlapped French and German clusters and nowhere near the Irish grouping. Very interesting.

Anyway, if someone wants to share profiles you should message me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A common flower girl tries to be wise

It has come to my attention that I know exactly jack about philosophy! (Note: Never fulfill your philosophy requirement by taking a class on Ayn Rand at the engineering college on the ground that you already read the books in high school.) I am reading Bertrand Russell on my Kindle but am aware that a 65-year-old book may not be the best sole source for enlightenment. I am looking for other volumes that are available for the Kindle or from my local library. I vaguely recall Julian Sanchez talking up Reasons & Persons but have not yet succumbed to the necessity of ordering an actual book.

Relatedly, I wish there was a "Vampire Porn Y/N?" toggle for the fantasy section of Amazon. It's really its own subgenre by this point and swamps everything else.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Social climbing : Trying for a better job :: Passing : Demanding equal rights?

Speaking of careers, I was wondering when the pro-Roma backlash against the anti-banker Drag Me To Hell would start. (I found it a very entertaining movie, and somewhat interesting for the contrast between its multi-ethnic casting overall and the old-fashioned depiction of an evil Gypsy villain.) But the review I saw that highlighted this issue also chose to attack Christine, the main character, for her "social climbing." Do people of all classes really hate climbers? What is it to be a climber? Is it the obviousness of our mucky striving? The inability to know one's place? The forsaking of roots and beginnings? Was Christine's true offense her failure to embrace solidarity between urban little old ladies and poor rural farm girls?

Some of us just picked this up on our own

How to kiss someone taller than you.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Women seeking old boys for access to club?

Why can't guys mentor women? Perhaps it's best to find the best experience and personality match regardless of gender.

Friday, June 05, 2009


Who died and made William Saletan the king of "moderate" abortion discourse? I'm so sick of hearing from this guy about his pompous, baby-splitting (ha) solutions to a problem that will never directly affect him.

(This is part and parcel of my more general disgust with self-consciously moderate fence-sitter pundits. Too many people mistake mealy-mouthed faux-Solomonic bloviating for genuine, intelligent acknowledgment of valid points from both sides. Sometimes you have to take a position. Sometimes there is no compromise.)

Tightwads of the world, unite!

Check out the Cheapness Studies blog, where Phoebe, Rita, and Belle are hashing out a telos of thrift.

I am no longer eligible for tightwad status as I have too often succumbed to the lure of online shopping and decadent handbags. But I'll be reading to try to get back on the wagon.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

ISO Haircut Inspiration

Difficulty level: Straight, is currently just below the shoulders and mostly one length.

Monday, June 01, 2009

I was only slightly trolling.

Today's xkcd was just for me. (via tom and asg)

ETA: Sparkledammerung!