First, it sucks to be looking for a job right now. If it's possible to avoid that elephant in the room, I want to bring up a different reason that it sucks to graduate college.
It seems like a lot of people just...fall off a cliff, emotionally, when they graduate? I somewhat did. It wasn't that I wanted more undergrad (and I did have significant structure in my life, having gone straight to graduate school) but just that bigger insecurities swam into focus and I lost my bearings.
A student recently vented about how anxious they were about beginning their senior year, and knowing graduation was rolling up, and some of it is employment related, obviously. But I was struck by my impulse to say "That's well-justified anxiety...your mid-twenties might be rough."
This might be just anecdotal nonsense. I heard recently that the number of women with post-partum depression is the same percent as are depressed in the general population, although presumably the stricken individuals get shuffled. So maybe graduation from college is just an opportunity to shuffle the deck, and as a population it's not actually a cliff we send graduates shuffling off of.
Posner on Scalia
Discusses an instance of the exception proving the rule!
But the most cogent reason for the court's result was that the legislature had passed a statute forbidding cockfighting on Sundays, which implied that it was permissible the rest of the week, and had later repealed the statute, implying that cockfighting was again permissible on any day of the week—and in fact cockfighting was an open and notorious sport in Kansas (to the surprise and disgust of the judges).
Liars and the media
Just now I logged into my Yahoo account. The top Yahoo news story of the day today - ie the only headline that appears in large font on the login page - is "Ryan takes factual shortcuts in speech". I'm amazed that such a mainstream news outlet is calling him out so prominently.
Someday, maybe never
Tales of procrastination. I think this one is the worst:
My husband and I still haven't put our house in Holland on the market, or told anyone that we want to sell. We lived there for 20 years and moved back to a rental in the UK when our children came to university here. To the neighbours' bafflement, the house has been standing unused, unemptied and untended for over two years and we've hardly been back. But none of us mentions it, except that my son would like his drum kit at uni. Worries about break-ins, burglary or squatting occupy my thoughts, as well as dwindling value as it ages. Why are we so paralyzed? Vivian Thonger, Bude, Cornwall
It's far too easy for me to understand how that might happen. I get viscerally stressed out just reading that.
Via Chris Y
Obama on Reddit.
A diamond in the rough, powerful, bigger family of diamonds.
The NYT writes insipid profile pieces of young effervescent personalities like Maude Apatow, 14 year old daughter of Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann. Here's some nice snark on it.
My biggest annoyance with the piece is how relationships are portrayed as totally organic. Like oh how cute Hello Giggles wanted her to write, as if Sophia Rossi (co-founder of HG) didn't know Leslie and Judd beforehand (or at the very least, know of them). Or how Lena Dunham just wants to hang with Maude - yes, of course you would take your very powerful boss's daughter to a concert. (Judd Apatow produces Girls.) Not to say these relationships aren't genuine, but they are not plucked out of nowhere, either. Every relationship is part of a larger, complex social circle, so I don't know why the Times is treating these as adorable little Twitter friendships.
Sent in by hydrobatidae
Kale no, we won't go (vegetarian).
This article is causing a stir in the more conspiracy-theory-oriented corners of my FB feed:
By the year 2050, you may be forced to become a vegetarian. That is, if Sweden's water scientists are to be believed.
According to the Stockholm International Water Institute, "There will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations."
Humans now derive about 20 percent of their daily protein intake from animal-based products, reports London's Guardian. But a new report published by the institute says the world's population will have to cut that figure to 5 percent by 2050 to accommodate the planet's "considerable regional water deficits."
Why not just produce more food?
"Nine hundred million people already go hungry and 2 billion people are malnourished in spite of the fact that per capita food production continues to increase," the report said. "With 70% of all available water being in agriculture, growing more food to feed an additional 2 billion people by 2050 will place greater pressure on available water and land."
So vegetarianism, the scientists say, is one option to combat the water shortage.
"A move towards vegetarian diets could help free up large portions of arable land to human food production," Orion Jones wrote on BigThink.com. "A third of current farmland is used to grow crops that feed animals. Additionally 'animal protein-rich food consumes five to 10 times more water than a vegetarian diet.'"
You see, what's really going on here is a secret plot by so-called "scientists" to take away your steak-related freedom and hand it over to the UN. (See also: Climate Change and SUVs.)
A generation or two ago, it seems like it was common in the collective memory for parents to openly favor one child over another. Not that it was ideal, but that it happened frequently and sometimes explicitly.
That is certainly heavily stigmatized these days. Which is healthy! Good. Nevertheless, I wonder if people still sometimes hold a deep-seated preference for one of their kids, which they would never admit, even to themselves. I mean, can everybody really love their kids the same amount? Even people whose kids have unusually mal-distributed good traits? What if one kid deeply reminds you of a parent you loathe, and the other of a parent you love more? You can prefer one parent over the other, but are incapable of preferring one kid?
(Parents often complain that one child is more work, or more difficult than another. That is often fine. The taboo is that you don't love that child less than your charismatic, clever child.)
Guest Post - Helpy-chalk
Campus Security at Last Chance Community College offers the following tip for "Staying Safe on Campus"
Dress in attire that you can easily move in. Tight clothing and high heel shoes or clogs may make movement difficult.
Practical advice or subtle slut-shaming?
Heebie's take: At first take, I thought "the paternalistic side of practical", but the more I think about it, the stupider and shamier it becomes. How about asking students to be athletic and not klutzy so that they don't trip when running away from their attacker? What if you're going to the symphony, and wearing formal wear? Is that sufficiently dignified as to be assault-proof? What if you're wearing daisy dukes, a skimpy tank top, and flip flops? You could sprint in that. Shouldn't you be wearing a sports bra, in case you're large-breasted?
What they ought to do is ask all the attackers to please wear tight clothing and clogs, so as to give the victims a more level playing field. But in the meantime, all women should be ready to sprint at all times. I personally advocate for starting blocks to be located around campus, so that women could find a nearby one and get a quick burst of speed.
You CAN Have Your Cake And Eat It Too, Though.
I can't remember whether I first understood the aphorism in the title (in its ordinary, negative form) late in the 90s, in grad school, or last year. I think the latter, honestly. As I have mentioned before, I am famous for a curious form of word-blindness, in which I do not get puns (I get yours, Stanster) and will all on a sudden go "OMG! 'Sweettarts' the candy are like 'sweethearts' the lovey dovey people who are in love!" And people near me will say, "dude, you're 25. What is wrong with you?"
But here is the thing about having your cake and eating it too. I make cakes. Great big old Southern cakes. Even small cakes, an angel food cake, say. (They're plenty big to look at but you can eat a whole bunch of one.) Not so much right now because I've been sick for [insert boring infinity amount of time], but I have made many a cake in my day. Cheesecake. Lane cake. Pound cake. Coconut layer cake. Pineapple upside down cake. Pavlovas. Those little chocolate cakes that are melty inside. Here's the thing. What if it were 4:30 and I were tired from cooking but everything were already arranged except to make biscuits at the last. What if I wanted a cup of coffee and a slice of four-layer coconut cake with seven-minute frosting. And it was not a birthday.
Then I would just have a damn piece of cake with some coffee is what! Mmmm, caaaake. But you know what? I would still have cake! A LOT OF CAKE. A four layer cake is big. When I brought the cut glass cake stand out I would turn it so the slice wound faced me and all would appear well. Even if I had 2 slices, that would be a mistake, because I would lose my appetite for the delicious dinner I was making, and probably get a stomachache, but still, afterward, I WOULD HAVE CAKE. So what the hell is this about? Is it the premise that I am a bulimic person who always eats entire cakes? Or that I am a starving poor person in 16th century Scotland who has only one feeble oaten cake the size of a coaster to sustain me all the live long day? Or what? Because that shit don't make no sense.
Grows by the inch, dies by the foot
J, Robot sends along: Look But Don't Touch. Basically, how environmental education and nature outreach programs for kids tend to be deadly boring and neurotic harpies about not touching anything.
I'm somewhat sympathetic, by which I'll get to via a wandering anecdote: last week I held a mandatory meeting for all students in the program I run. I had three guest speakers, two from campus and one from the community, all with opportunities for students which were mutually beneficial to the speakers - they need participants, my students need to be involved. Great.
I asked all three speakers to keep it to 10-15 minutes. They all ran way, way over and were deathly boring, and the students were polite but hiding their yawns, changing position in their seats, and the meeting stretched to nearly two hours.
All this is to say that well-intentioned people are boooor-ring. I suspect that's part of the problem with Environmental Ed programs.
Second, they're in an awkward position concerning "take only photos, leave only footprints" - if you're trying to expose big numbers of kids to nature, they're going to destroy it. A few kids can play in a forest with no problem. But as soon as you try to systematically introduce lots of kids, well, they're destructive little jerks.
Apparently, "everybody" in our town requests the "good" teacher for each grade, at the local elementary school. Out of four kindergarten classes, there ends up being one ESL, two regular, and one class full of kids of professional class parents. (In this situation, ESL is populated by the least SES students, as opposed to being a progressive learn Spanish situation.) Unsurprisingly, the kids of professional parents ends up having tons of parent volunteers and resources, as well as the "good" teacher and the kids with the fewest problems.
I am unbelievably irritated to find that this is the situation. We have two years to figure out whether we want to play dirty or not.
Les blanches exotiques
Via E. Messily:
I love how beautiful and simple the exotic white dialect is. Because it has less words and lacks any logical grammar, it just sounds so peaceful, calming, and real. You can just feel the emotion when you listen to them speak. It varies from tribe to tribe, but throughout the white motherland is basically the same. I took a two-week service trip to build a McDonalds with authentic white food and lived with an authentic white family, so I know. It's so sad that they've started using civilized words from modern languages, "cash" and "pajama." It must be because there's no concept of cash in white culture. Did you know they have twenty different words for "coffee" but no word for "self-aware?"
For the most part, the blog is coasting on the same note as the SWPL site, but I find this incarnation less grating. SWPL takes all kinds of cheap shots - mocking people for recycling! - and blurs class, region, and race all over the place. This site pretty much sticks to valid race criticisms. (I mean, it's still a one-note blog, though. I'm not sure how long you could sustain it.)
There's a party in the USA.
J, Robot sends along Boys on the Side - hook-up culture on college campuses in the USA. This article is definitely not as pearl-clutching as Caitlin Flanagan or something. (I'm pretty sure they're overstating things, though. Everyone is socially comfortable chasing tail? Even if you don't drink? But what do I know.)
Anyway, let's have a thought experiment. Let's take 500 adults between 40 and 60 and make them live in dorms for four years. Crucially, let's pretend they have no spouses or dependents and some incentive not to settle down for the next four years. They're going to screw like bunnies. It's just not something special to young people; it's just that young people go to college.
In my head I call those who are upset Team Hurt Feelings. I think aside from any festering religiosity, they remember youth as a time of rejection and hurt feelings, and they imagine that all this sex raises the intensity of the hurt feelings. But they're being idiots. You get hurt feelings because you have a big crush on someone and they have a crush on someone else. You can lead someone on in the 1950s via coy looks and conversation and holding hands, and then break their hearts, as well as you can now with coy looks and a well-bleached asshole. It's just science.