Archive for the ‘potpourri’ Category

I’ll take ‘Potpourri’ for $1800, Alex

July 8, 2010

This is long overdue, and I’ve been compiling it for a few days, but better late than never.

1. WTFood: McNuggets have a little too much in common with Silly Putty, via Grist

What do McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets and Silly Putty have in common? One of their ingredients, of course! Mmm:

As it turns out, these two amorphous items share the yummy-sounding chemical ingredient, dimethylpolysiloxane, which acts as an “anti-foaming agent.”

Why does your chicken need an anti-foaming agent? To keep all that delicious deep-frying oil from getting too frothy, of course!

Keep that in mind before you order that 10-piece.

2. Is it cheaper to just let the planet heat?, via The Washington Post

Ezra Klein makes the point that, whatever the state of affairs on the planet in 100 years, ignoring environmental problems and global warming now is a bad choice because it will only become more difficult to reverse as the years go on. And despite the fact that we won’t likely be around after the 100-year scope we have, our children will. But many just hope technology will have solved the problem by then:

If you bet on technology and you’re wrong, it’s not like we’ve got another of these planets waiting in the back somewhere.

This isn’t the first place I’ve read this sentiment, which is critical of relying on technology that hasn’t even been developed to solve our problems, both current and future. If technology develops properly, especially in the realm of energy efficiency, then yes, technological breakthroughs will be a savior for the environment — but we can’t ignore problems in hopes, fingers crossed, that eventually someone else will think of an idea to fix everything.

3. Obama: Our first female president, via The Washington Post

If you haven’t read this piece from Pulitzer-prize winning (uh …) writer Kathleen Parker yet, well, read it, and then read this analysis from Rose at Feministing. Can’t stress enough that you need to read both, as Rose describes how Parker’s comparison of Obama to a woman “is more of a slight against women in leadership than it is of the President.”

And Kathleen Parker, in response to your reference that Obama’s response to the oil spill is indicative of his female nature because it wasn’t “immediate” and “commanding” enough, I will just say that I don’t know of anyone who called President Bush lady-like because of his lackluster response to Hurricane Katrina. You can just say someone didn’t show great leadership without associating bad leadership with women.

4. Mel Gibson: Bonafide Abusive Asshole, via Feministing

Samhita from Feministing says it all — boycott Mel Gibson, don’t give him a dime of your money, because he is a violent and disgusting person. The link provides you with his two most recent quotes, both of which will make your blood boil. I love What Women Want, but I’m never watching it again.

And, in case you’re curious, Maureen at Gawker has compiled a list of all the racist, sexist, violent, anti-Semitic things Mel Gibson has said (on record) over the years. Warning: they are offensive.

5. Is the EPA Afraid to Piss off King Coal?, via The Huffington Post

Rainforest Alliance Network Executive Director Rebecca Tarbotton writes about the EPA approving a mountaintop removal mining permit (without publicly announcing it), which is a big deal because (1) the permit would allow for three miles of clean streams and more than 700 acres of forest to be destroyed, and (2) the permit process has been slowed down and more highly scrutinized by the EPA in the last months. Tarbotton makes a lot of great points, and I highly suggest reading it:

Essentially, everyone from federal regulators to Appalachian residents (everyone except King Coal and some very loud coal state representatives, that is) has acknowledged the devastating impact that this mining practice is having on mountains, drinking water and communities. At issue is not whether mountaintop mining is bad for the environment or human health, because we know it is and the EPA has said it is. At issue is whether President Obama’s EPA will take the gloves off and do something about it.

The science is there. The EPA has agreed with the science. As Tarbotton explains, “A paper released in January 2009 by a dozen leading scientists in the journal Science concluded that mountaintop coal mining is so destructive that the government should stop giving out new permits all together.” Tarbotton says we, the public, are just as much a force to reckon with as the coal industry that the EPA is afraid to anger.

I’ll take ‘Potpourri’ for $600, Alex

June 30, 2010

My brain is fried, but there are plenty of other people’s brains that are not fried — specifically when it comes to gun control and domestic abusers, Yucca mountain, and reel lawn mowers.

1. Gun Proponents Take Aim at Domestic Violence Survivors, via Feministe

This is a great post by Jill, who puts into words better than I could why convicted domestic abusers shouldn’t have guns:

We know that domestic abusers tend to be repeatedly violent — beating up your partner is rarely a one-time thing. We know that domestic abusers tend to get increasingly violent. We know that women are killed by their abusers at horrifying rates, and are often killed by guns.

Yeah, not sure why people deserve to have guns when they have a propensity for violence toward other people.

2. Administration Cannot Drop Bid for Nuclear Waste Dump in Nevada, via The New York Times

The Obama administration did a great thing when it stopped pursuing Yucca mountain in Nevada as a dumping site for nuclear waste — except now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is saying the government can’t withdraw its petition for Yucca.

This means millions of dollars to continue with the application, which (1) the government never expected to have to pay and (2) the government really doesn’t have to pay considering an expanding federal deficit and a lot of criticism for excessive spending.

The decision can still be reversed, which I hope will happen — I’m sure the government is hoping that, too.

3. An ode to my new push reel lawn mower, via Grist

Shout out to zero energy alternatives to fossil-fuel-guzzling equipment/vehicles — if I had a yard, I would totally go for a reel lawn mower. You push the mower, the grass is cut, no gasoline needed. One of the best parts of Lisa Hymas’s review of the reel lawn mower was how it enhanced the lawn-mowing experience:

I loved it right from the start.  Easy to push.  No fuss, no muss, no fumes.  It’s so deliciously quiet that I can listen to chirping birds and chatty neighbors while mowing — or my iPod.

You can actually be outside and enjoy the outdoors.

I’ll take Potpourri for $200, Alex

June 22, 2010

1. This Device Provides Clean Water for Pennies a Day, via TreeHugger

This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen — it’s a triangular dome that utilizes salt water and sunlight to cause evaporation, which creates clean, portable drinking water:

There’s a video at the link — very cool.

2. Examiner‘s Solution to Bad Sexual Assault Reporting: Victim-Blame!, via The Sexist at Washington City Paper

This is why older people shouldn’t be allowed near social networking devices — some don’t quite have a grasp on how to efficiently utilize that 140 character space on Twitter without being somewhat offensive. The Washington Examiner‘s associate editor of commentary, in response to Miss DC 2009 thinking the story about her slamming a sexual assailant against the wall mischaracterized the situation, tweeted that Miss DC’s way of dealing was not the ideal way. He says you should “get away” as fast as possible.

Not bad advice, except that she was in a bar and shouldn’t have to leave the bar because some guys think they have the right to slap her and spank her. Why don’t these guys get kicked out? Why is this editor even getting defensive and trying to say she set a bad example or did the wrong thing by confronting the guy in a public place about his public sexual assault?

3.  Gulf oil spill biggest victims are smallest creatures, via Christian Science Monitor

Pelicans and birds and turtles get a lot of attention from people concerned about the oil spill because they are cute, highly recognizable animals. Plankton does not — although it’s the basis of the food chain for a large number of animals, and oil destroying it would have devastating effects throughout the food chain:

“If you affect those communities in any way, you affect the entire food chain. If the phytoplankton and zooplankton are killed, it’s curtains,” Caruso told LiveScience.

Not exactly as glamorous as dolphins, but vitally important to marine life and other ecosystems that rely on marine life as a food source:

I’ll take ‘Potpourri’ for $1600, Alex

June 3, 2010

1. 10 ways cities and towns can kick the offshore-oil habit, per Grist

Anything that involves transportation and infrastructure improvement is amazing, and Jonathan Hiskes hits the nail on the head when he discusses 10 things cities can do to become less oil dependent and more energy efficient. Some of his suggestions include making streets accessible to all people (not just drivers), building near public transit, demanding more density, and cutting parking.

2. Documents Show Early Warnings About Safety of Rig, per The New York Times

Hindsight is 20/20, and the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon is no different. Now, documents are showing that the oil rig that exploded showed several serious safety problems, all of which serve as clues to its eventual explosion:

On Tuesday Congress released a memorandum with preliminary findings from BP’s internal investigation, which indicated that there were warning signs immediately before the explosion on April 20, including equipment readings suggesting that gas was bubbling into the well, a potential sign of an impending blowout.

The warning signs started almost a year ago and continued up until the oil rig exploded. There seems to be a pattern of well-documented safety concerns in these environmental disasters, which either don’t get resolved because of pressure from the company or because federal regulators are too lax with their rules. Both sides are too concerned with the cost in terms of money and time than in terms of human and other forms of life.

3. Sex and the City 2‘s stunning Muslim clichés, per Salon

I haven’t seen the new Sex and the City, but reading this (spoilers, beware) made me concerned:

After discovering they will visit the Middle East, the ladies whip out hall-of-fame Ali Baba clichés: References to “magic carpet” (a double entendre, naturally), Scheherazade and Jasmine from “Aladdin” come in rapid succession.

I was eager to see the movie, but now I’m not sure I’ll watch it. It was already being panned as a terrible movie, and it sounds like the way they depict Middle Eastern culture is problematic and borderline racist.

4. Science Proves That “Helicopter Parents” Ruin Kids, per Jezebel

A study has shown that overprotective and obsessive parents — aka “Helicopter Parents” (you know, because they hover of the children and everything they do) — often breed neurotic, anxious, dependent children who don’t take as many risks:

Some protection from parents is natural, but too much (like, say, forbidding travel) can convince kids that they’re not equipped to deal with the risks of the world.

I would always prefer that my mom just deal with doctors’ offices, customer service, mechanics, and the like, but I think it’s healthy that she doesn’t give in to my whining and makes me deal with that kind of thing myself. Unless my being young is getting in the way of someone helping me or treating me properly.

I’ll take ‘Potpourri’ for $1200, Alex

May 13, 2010

I’ve been collecting some links during the past few days, concerning sexual assault and drinking, the oil spill in the Gulf, an anti-abortion group greenwashing their anti-birth-control agenda, and the douche who made fun of Roger Ebert’s cancer and his half-assed weird apology.

1. The Morning After: Horny Dude IM Edition, per The Sexist at Washington City Paper

Some people like to argue that if young women just didn’t drink so much and go to parties, then they wouldn’t get sexually assaulted and raped in the first place. So why the double standard? Maybe guys should follow the same logic:

If we are so concerned though about young men getting drunk at a party, sleeping with another drunk woman, and later being falsely accused of rape (through misunderstanding, I suppose), then why do we direct all of our “advice” only at women? Why not recommend young men take the same advice that we give young women? Don’t get drunk, don’t go to parties/clubs, don’t engage in any sexual behavior at parties, and whatever you do, don’t go home with a girl or invite her to your room.

2. Louisiana Fisherman Say Media, Not Oil, Killing Their Business, per Grist

I’ve heard about 7,336,288 stories about how the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is ruining the lives of fisherman in the area because it’s killing marine life and making it impossible for fisherman to do their jobs. Although it is having an impact, some fisherman are saying the media is blowing the entire thing way out of proportion, which is hurting business:

But Dave Ballay, Wilson’s friend and Venice Marina’s former owner, does not blame the mammoth and growing oil slick in the nearby Gulf of Mexico.  Instead, people here blame the media, which day after day, for over two weeks, has detailed the doom and gloom facing the coast and its beleaguered residents.

“Ninety-five percent of the state of Louisiana’s waters are still fishable,” Ballay said with a bemused but angered tone.

3. BP releases video of oil leaking from underwater rig

It’s only 30 seconds, put you can see the oil and steam pouring out from the oil rig. Times this by 43,200, and that’s the damage the leak does on a daily basis — constantly spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico. There is also another leak, but this is the larger of the two.

4. I Don’t Like Roger Ebert, per Mediaite

Last week, Caleb Howe decided to mock Roger Ebert via Twitter because they disagreed about whether some students should have been sent home because they were wearing American flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo. As any mature person would do when political views differ, Howe decided to make fun of Ebert’s cancer, the fact he is missing his lower jaw because of the cancer, and talk about how his death is fast approaching.

Four days later, Howe “apologized” for saying those things, although the apology is difficult to follow and really doesn’t admit he did anything wrong until the last sentence. He spends most of it excusing himself for his behavior, blaming his Twitter addiction, booze, and mostly that he wanted the attention. But at the end, he realizes that Twitter is virtual but the people using it are real, so he is “suddenly very sorry” for everything.

It’s nice that he apologized, but the fact he premeditated an attack on someone leaves a bad taste in my mouth. So does his excuse, “vodka cometh,” as if being drunk doesn’t mean he is responsible for his actions. Note to Caleb Howe: even while intoxicated, you are still responsible for your actions — being drunk is not an excuse or a get-out-of-personal-responsiblity-free card.

5. Birth Control Opponents Greenwash Their Message, per Grist

Anti-abortion group American Life League is trying to ride the coattails of the green movement in order to get people to stop using birth control. This new greenwashing approach involves birth control pills getting into the waterways after we urinate, then going into the water system, and then the chemicals being ingested by fish and causing health problems.

This is true. But of course skewed:

But what the “Pill Kills” [campaign] site doesn’t make immediately clear is that the American Life League opposes all contraception of any kind (other than the good ol’ rhythm method). If the group gave a rat’s ass about the environment, it would acknowledge that unplanned pregnancies and resultant unplanned births ultimately lead to umpteen times more environmental degradation than the Pill.

I’ll take ‘Hodge Podge’ for $1200, Alex

May 7, 2010

Some of today’s news: drug busts on the Deadliest Catch, a typo and the stock market drop, journalism and anonymous sources, adopted children who are rejected, Sarah Jessica Parker’s hands, and someone who wants to argue that feminism and family are mutually exclusive.

1. Deadliest Catch Employee Trapped in Giant Drug Sting, per Gawker

A production manager on the Discovery channel show The Deadliest Catch who was arrested in part of a larger drug bust concerning a fishing center in Alaska. So tragic — I thought they just wanted to get some Alaskan king crab but apparently smuggling marijuana, cocaine, Oxycontin, and methamphetemines is another lucrative trade in which they partake.

The production manager is implying that the show parties hard:

Schneider is accused of selling $300 worth of cocaine to an undercover cop but was recorded saying that his boss on the Discovery show imports staggering quantities of blow for Deadliest Catch parties up north.

2.  How a Typo Crashed the Market, per The Daily Beast

Everyone is blaming Greece’s fragile economy on the record plummet of the Dow yesterday, but another possibility — that someone accidentally hit the wrong computer key — is growing more likely as the reason for the fall:

No, that responsibility falls on the fat finger, or more likely, a series of fat fingers, including one trader—believed to be from Citigroup—who apparently tried to sell $15 billion worth of stock futures, rather than $15 million.

This blip caused a domino effect which, to be honest, I don’t understand because I don’t know a lot about the stock market, but as a copy editor and someone who knows simple math I can tell you that there is a big difference between million and billion.

3. U.S. Subpoenas Times Reporter Over Book on C.I.A., per The New York Times

This happened last week, but the journalist in me has to bring it up. James Risen, a Times reporter, has been subpeonaed to give up his sources about a chapter about the C.I.A. and Iran from his book about the C.I.A. during the Bush administration. Of course, if he doesn’t tell, then he goes to jail, which is Judith Miller all over again and brings up the issue again of reporters not naming anonymous sources.

4. Who Adopts a Rejected Kid?, per The Daily Beast

In response to the U.S. woman who shipped her Russian-born adopted child back to Russia because he was too much to handle, this article details what happens when people can’t handle their adopted children. More importantly, it addresses the romantic notion of adoption versus the reality:

Sterkel’s manner is blunt, which allows her to really help the families that reach out to her. She says, for example, that one problem leading to disrupted adoptions is that “many times, parents have stars in their eyes. They believe that love will heal and overcome all. We believe when we adopt a child that love heals. But you cannot love away a child’s genetic foundation, his pre-verbal memories or his intrauterine exposure to alcohol. These are facts. You have to stop being silly about this. You can’t love that stuff away.”

5. Photoshop of Horrors: Sarah Jessica Parker’s New Hands, per Jezebel

Sarah Jessica Parker, like Madonna, is known for having some old, wrinkly hands. On the cover of Marie Claire, her hands are photoshopped to the youth and smoothness of, as the original author put it, a “babydoll.” It takes photoshop to the extreme:


Image from Jezebel: Magazine cover, plus a side-by-side of the photoshopped hand with her actual hand.

6. The Worst Article on Feminism, Ever?, from Feministing

Jessica Valenti points out an article that, in essence, claims that feminist concerns (abortion, equal pay, sexual assault) have been replaced with family concerns such as nutrition, birthing, and school systems. Valenti not only addresses the author’s assumption that you either have abortions or have children, but also that the entire article frames feminism in the scope of issues that really only affect affluent white women:

You know, if you want to write an article about the cult of celebrity mommyhood in the press, fine, go for it. But write that article. Don’t make stuff up and pretend that you know shit about feminism so that you can pat yourself on the back for writing a ridiculous “trend” piece – especially when it’s something that only serves to hurt, not help, women.

I’ll take ‘Hodge Podge’ for $800, Alex

March 30, 2010

Another male college columnist thinks it’s cool and edgy to blame women for getting raped; the EPA takes a stand on a terrible mountaintop removal mine; and why bribes don’t work with children, but praise and attention do.

1. ‘”Date’ Rape is an Incoherent Concept”: Blaming the Victim, American U. Edition, from Jezebel

I don’t exactly know when male college columnists will stop writing about date rape, but another columnist thinks he is really being edgy by saying there is only rape and not-rape (um, so I would think date rape = rape), and he calls for someone to draw a nice, solid line between the two:

“Date rape” is an incoherent concept. There’s rape and there’s not-rape, and we need a line of demarcation. It’s not clear enough to merely speak of consent, because the lines of consent in sex — especially anonymous sex — can become very blurry. If that bothers you, then stick with Pat Robertson and his brigade of anti-sex cavemen! Don’t jump into the sexual arena if you can’t handle the volatility of its practice!

Of course, this wise man doesn’t seem to realize that (1) yes, the lines of consent are blurry, which is precisely why you can’t merely make judgment calls about what is and isn’t rape based on your personal interpretation of someone’s non-verbal consent. And (2) being anti-rape isn’t about being anti-sex — saying not to have sex if you can’t handle the possibility of rape is like saying don’t drive a car if you can’t handle the possibility of getting hit by a drunk driver.

I like that Jezebel writer Anna points out that this type of college column is not uncommon, which is really problematic. Victim-blaming continues, and lots of these male college columnists think they’re being inciteful and original by saying that all this “date-rape” is nonsense. Expect a blog soon about house party atmosphere and how this plays into the victim-blaming.

2. U.S. Proposes to Veto Mountaintop-Removal Coal Mine, from Grist

Now we’re talking! The EPA has proposed to veto to restrict or stop mining at a major MTR site in West Virginia. Why? Because:

In explaining its decision, the EPA said Friday that the Arch Coal Inc. mine would pollute surrounding water, fill over seven miles of stream, cause “unacceptable” harm to wildlife, and “directly impact” some 2,278 acres of forest. 

Even though mountaintop-removing mines in general all pollute waterways, fill streams with toxic sludge, hurt ecosystems, and destroy trees, it’s nice to see the EPA taking a firm stance on this one. Yes, everyone wants cheap coal, but we’ve got to stop and realize if coal is worth filling all the waterways of the Midwest with black coal slurry and toxic chemicals.

3. Why Bribing Your Child Doesn’t Work, from Slate

I don’t know why I’m drawn to articles about parenting and punishment, but I am. Here’s a good analysis of common myths regarding rewards vs. bribes. A lot of parents — my mom included — think that rewarding behavior that should be expected is a bad way to parent. The authors point out that common, consistent rewards are key, especially praise and attention:

A parent’s attention is very rewarding to a child, and praise is even better. Parents are giving attention all the time, and they are giving mild forms of praise, verbal and nonverbal (a smile, a touch, an affectionate or impressed look). Attention and praise are our main rewards, and often they’re sufficient to change behavior on their own, without resorting to tokens, privileges, or prizes.

Children gobble up praise and attention way more than cookies and stickers — they love positive attention just like as an adult, you like getting praise from your boss and recognition for a job well done. Also, the article highlights how rewards differ from bribes.

I’ll take ‘Potpourri’ for $200, Alex

March 26, 2010

More weight-bashing, the trouble with being opinionated and trying to find a date, and a feather duster taped to a space heater.

1. Enough About Sidibe’s Weight, Already, from Jezebel

Everyone is obsessed with Gabourey Sidibe’s weight — and this time around, fashionistas are hurling awful insults about her Oscar dress and why she would never make the pages of Vogue. I like Irin’s retort:

[Anna] Wintour has a type — Sienna Miller owns her entire non-Jude Law-related career to Wintour’s affections — and for more than one reason Sidibe is not that type. We have obviously wished aloud often enough that it weren’t so. But who said Sidibe even wants to be in Vogue?

I like this last part best — Vogue lovers publicly announce she isn’t allowed in the club, yet who said it’s a club that Gabby even wants to be in? Does she really want to be in a magazine whose readers obviously don’t like her body figure? Or do they want to spin it as Vogue dissing Gabby before Gabby can diss Vogue?

2. Dating While Feminist, from Feministe

This post rings true not just for feminists, but for anyone who is passionate about their personal beliefs — dating is a field of landmines when you hold strong opinions and beliefs, and it’s tough to figure out how or when to compromise. If you’re looking for a long-term relationship, do you wait for the perfect person who fits your every quality politically, religiously, etc., or do you make some compromises?

Political ideology and things of the like aren’t favorite bands or movie genres — Jill puts it best:

Any relationship requires compromise and flexibility, sure; but how and where to compromise on the feminism thing is particularly difficult because we aren’t talking about a political issue here, we’re talking about a way of seeing the world.

3. Whoops: Energy Star approves gas-powered alarm clock, from Grist

Um, oops? Energy Star is highly regarded when it comes to approving items for energy efficiency, but when government auditors tried to trick them by submitting bogus items for approval, they failed pretty miserably. Not only did a gas-powered alarm clock pass, but an electric heater with a feather duster taped to it also passed.

I don’t know how you look at a space heater, with feather duster taped, and think, “Ah, yes, genius, I see exactly how this is efficient!” but it’s unacceptable. Energy Star is supposed to be and needs to be a credible seal of approval, and it’s kind of frightening how obviously ridiculous items got approved.