Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Chopped Salad Toppings, In Order

33. Beets
32. Corn
31. Hearts of Palm
30. Grapes
29. Stuffed Grape Leaves
28. Sunflower Seeds
27. Raisins
26. Black Beans
25. Kidney Beans
24. Tomatoes
23. Sprouts
22. Grilled Onions
21. Roasted Peppers
20. Carrots READ MORE


Befriending Your Best Friend's Girlfriend and Resisting the "One True Sex Act"

I'm polyamorous, and live with my partner, and have a long distance relationship with someone I love dearly. I've been with my partner for almost three years, and we are in a very solid, happy place. My long-distance sweetie and I have had an intense Thing happening since this past April—so about five months, all of it online (we lived in the same town years ago, but have lived in different parts of the country for the last few years.)

Until this week, my sweetie had a primary relationship of their own. The breakup is, well, a breakup—messy, drama-ful, and rife with the mind-boggling emotional calculus of "had I only brought in the last bag of groceries last Tuesday, she'd still be with me." It's a roller coaster, and I'm somewhat insulated from it because of the distance, but it's still hard to see them in so much pain, knowing there isn't much I can do about it.

We've all been working hard on keeping good boundaries and communication open. But I'm wondering if you've got any of your patently good advice for supporting my sweetie from afar without getting burned out and exhausted?

I'll open with a caveat: Poly issues are something with which I have zero first-hand experience, and some of the emotional subtleties here may be difficult for me to grasp fully. If you think I've missed something that should be obvious, jump down to the comments and let me know. I'm happy to learn!

That said, I think the question you're struggling with is something many of us, poly or otherwise, have had to deal with in one way or another: How do you support someone you love through a life-altering loss?

For starters, try to be forgiving and understanding about a certain amount of what you might otherwise consider irritating behavior from your sweetie. People coping with loss (of a significant other, a job, a pet, etc.) can often be—there's no other way to say it—astonishingly boring. You've already noticed the attention to obsessively revisiting minutiae from the past; there will probably also be whiplash-inducing mood swings (“She was the worst. I'm so much better off now. I want her back so bad!” over and over for an hour). You're likely to find yourself having the same conversation on repeat, as the words of wisdom you dispensed yesterday are completely forgotten in the midst of today's heartache. After the first eight or so times you listen to the same monologue about the ex's flaws, you may be tempted to request that your sweetie kindly snap out of it already.

Instead, take a break—go for a walk, have dinner with your partner, read a chapter or two of your favorite book—and re-engage when you feel up to listening and being patient again. No one in the history of the world has ever gotten over a breakup because someone suggested that it might be a good idea. It just takes as long as it takes, and if you're committed to riding this out with your sweetie you'll need to be on board with having no control over how long that might be.  READ MORE


Internet Work and Invisible Labor: An Interview With the Fug Girls

When I started writing on the internet, I found it so liberating: I could master Wordpress; I could figure out how to post and promote, I was in control. Whenever even one more person happened onto my blog, I felt like the work I was doing was somehow worthwhile. When I moved from writing on my own blog to writing Scandals of Classic Hollywood (and, later, for other sites), the production changed, but so did the size of the audience. The gratification levels exploded accordingly.

But I was struck by how many readers assumed that I was just riffing on vast stores of pre-existing knowledge—like I sat down, typed for a few hours, and it naturally flowed onto the page. HAIRPINNERS, I WISH. It takes a lot of work, and it’s all “second shift” work—a term used to describe the domestic “shift” that women (and men) take on when they arrive home from their “first” shift at the workplace.

I have a full-time professor gig. I teach, I prep, I grade, and then I turn to my other job. It’s amazing and endlessly gratifying, but like the traditional “second shift” labor of cooking, cleaning, and parenting, it’s often discounted. And the more easy and nonchalant I make it seem, the more that labor effaces itself.

This interview series thus aims to make the “invisible labor” of web production visible. Over the next few months, I’ll be talking with a wide variety of content producers, exploring the dynamics of their own form of web production, how they mix that production with their “real” lives, and the various forms of gratification they receive from the work that they do. In short: how do you do what you do, and why do you do it? Talking about the realities of labor isn’t narcissistic. It’s political, it’s progressive, it’s feminist. It’s also totally fascinating.

So read on, and please feel free to pose additional questions in the comments.


Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, also known as “The Fug Girls,” run the fashion commentary site “Go Fug Yourself,” best known for its wit, amazing intertextual references, and devotion to the Fug in all of its magnificent valences.

AHP: Can we go back a little? I want to talk just briefly about how you two started your blog, and what the dynamics were then. What kind of blogging software did you use? Did you pay for image rights? Who was your intended audience?

Jessica: Heather and I were friends who’d known each other for a long time—we’d met originally working at Television Without Pity—and we started GFY as, essentially, an in-joke between the two of us. And because we never intended for it to be a business, we didn’t really think any of that out. The only audience we expected to get was our friends, really. We were on Blogger for a while, because it was free, but we moved fairly quickly over to Typepad because it was a more reliable platform. We were using watermarked Getty Images photos for a while, out of ignorance. It was 2004, and we sincerely thought that because the watermark was on the photo, we were okay to use them. They disabused us of that notion, and we’ve paid for image rights ever since.

Heather: Our first banner was a dinky little cursive thing I did on Photoshop. If we posted once or twice a day, we felt like it was a success. Blogs hadn’t really proliferated yet. Defamer and Nick Denton’s whole media empire were just getting off the ground, so the concept of posting as often as we do now—much less as often as most blogs do now, which is a lot more than we do—wasn’t really established. We didn’t feel like a business; we felt like an after-school activity, or something. I guess you could say the audience was ourselves. So people like us, with similar senses of humor, are the people who helped it grow through word of mouth, and the resulting readership I think probably has a very similar core of what makes everyone laugh even if all of us as people are wildly different.  READ MORE

Places I've Lived: TEXAS (and Brooklyn)

Where have you lived, Summer Anne Burton?
Avenue F, Austin, TX, 2001-2003, $575 (my half)
My first home away from my family was a few blocks from all the things that ridiculous, impractical 19-year-old me needed: a cooperatively-run anarchist bookstore, a carefully curated independent record store, a 7-11 where the coke slurpee machine always worked, an alternative sex toy emporium, the best comics book store in town, a giant vintage store stuffed with ironic ashtrays, and a dark pizza place that doubled as a punk venue. Naturally, it was also way more expensive than my friend Rebekah and I could realistically afford on our toy store salesclerk salaries. Still, we moved in and christened the place "Homie Shangri-La,” hanging our grade school achievement certificates and good report cards on the wall. I spent a lot of time worrying about whether I was a good roommate. Looking back now, I can say with certainty that I was not… sorry Rebekah.


The fight was overly one-sided, and the student surely knew it, making him try anything. In one of many demonstrations for free, quality public education in Chile, a group of riot police surrounded a couple who stood in an embrace. I could hear the youth screaming at the police but I couldn’t see him, so I stood as tall as possible on the tips of my toes and raised my camera to photograph them as the police tried to separate them. I could see one policeman pressing his fingers into the youth’s throat, but he resisted and was determined not to be separated from his companion in spite of the tear gas cloud covering them. As a change of tactic, the officer took his fingers off the student’s throat and forced his arm between the two demonstrators right across the boy’s mouth. That was when he defended himself by biting into the policeman’s arm, protected by body armor. The policeman pressed the youth’s head against his armor, and blood began to flow from his mouth before the couple was taken away under arrest. They were still in an embrace.

I guess if you are going to idly click through one internet slideshow today, it might as well be Reuter's collection of the best photographs of the year, which includes commentary from each photographer. (This one, from Ivan Alvarado in Chile, can be seen here.) Be warned that a lot of the photos are very sad and often graphic. I'd suggest staying 100 miles away from slide no. 32, in particular. [Reuters] | December 3, 2013


Sam Smith, "Money On My Mind"

Probably at some point in the next few months or years, 21-year-old British soul singer Sam Smith will stop releasing new music, and we will stop posting it here, but for now we're still getting lots of wonderful singles from the guy, so here we are. "Money On My Mind" is being billed as Smith's first official single, but there's lots more to catch up on here. (Elsewhere, Katy Perry and John Mayer have album art for the duet you didn't know they were releasing together.) [Stereogum]


What If a Women's Magazine Editor Edited a BBC News Story About Syria?

HED: Syria (READER WON’T KNOW WHERE THAT IS) government site (WHAT SITE?) in Damascus (READER WON’T KNOW WHERE THAT IS ) hit by huge (HOW HUGE) bomb


A bomb (TYPE???) attack (WHAT KIND OF ATTACK????) on a Syrian (ASSUMING SYRIANS ARE PEOPLE FROM SYRIA? EXPLAIN.) government building (WHAT KIND OF BUILDING?) near Damascus has killed 31 people, (WE WERE TALKING ABOUT EVERYONE, AND NOW WE’RE TALKING ABOUT 31 PEOPLE? CONFUSING.) according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (ARE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHO THEY ARE? EXPLAIN.)


The explosives are thought (BY WHOM?) to have been placed in the basement (IN WHICH BASEMENT???!!) meaning opposition fighters were able to breach security to get into the building. (SORRY SARAH, BUT I CAN’T PICTURE THIS AT ALL. SHOW DON’T TELL.)

There has been no confirmation of the attack by state media, or by government officials. (THIS IS GREAT.)  READ MORE


The Sumangali Girls in India Who Spin the Yarn for Our Cheap-Ass Sweaters

At Mother Jones, Dana Liebelson follows the cheap-clothes supply chain back to:

...a vast facility where close to 1,000 girls, many in their teens, lived 10 or 15 to a room. From 8 a.m. till 10 p.m. every day, including weekends, [Aruna] fed and monitored rusty machines that spun raw cotton into yarn. Her bosses often woke her in the middle of the night because, she recalls, there was "always some sort of work, 24 hours a day." Aruna made just a quarter of the $105 a month she was promised, about $0.84 a day.

Aruna shows me a scar on her hand, more than an inch long, where a machine cut her. She often saw girls faint from standing for too long. One had her hair ripped out when it got caught in a machine. Others were molested by their supervisors. "They said we would get less work if we slept with them," Aruna says. Sometimes girls would disappear, and everyone would speculate whether they'd died or escaped.

Aruna, a Tamil village girl, is now 19 and working as a nurse; she'd started factory work at her facility because of the promised $105 a month, which would have been enough to help her family, get her a college education and build the $1,200 dowry (paid in gold bullion!) that is still required by tradition. The dowry obligation (ban dowries) has created a market for massive exploitation: Liebelson writes, "In Tamil Nadu, many people know a girl like Aruna, someone who has been lured to work in the garment factories with the promise of earning a dowry. The scheme is so common that it even has a name: sumangali, the Tamil word for 'happily married woman.'"

Liebelson (and her photographer, driver and translator) are mobbed and threatened when they try to get into one of the gated, secure compounds, and sumangali labor seems to be a sort of open secret among the industry spokespeople she speaks to. Reform efforts often reach only the first part of the supply chain, and seem awfully toothless: just recommendations without any acknowledgment of implementation, or worse ("The Tamil Nadu Spinning Mills Association suggested replacing ceiling fans with wall fans, since ceiling fans 'give access for person to commit suicide by hanging'").

Marijn Peepercamp, a researcher who contributed to the 2012 Dutch watchdog report, estimates that 80 percent of spinning mills in Tamil Nadu employ sumangali workers. She tells me that when US companies find out they're supporting sumangali, they often increase inspections in garment factories—but not necessarily the mills, which can be located several villages away. Andrea Roos, a spokeswoman for H&M, told me that when inspectors find safety or labor problems at a garment factory, the company does three unannounced audits over the next 18 to 24 months. But of the spinning mills, she says, "We normally do not have direct contractual influence."

Sure you don't.

[Mother Jones]

Ralph Hicks Bought and Saved an Independent Bookstore

Curiosity House Bookstore in Creemore, Ontario, is the platonic ideal of a small town bookstore: handsome wooden shelves, stationary by local artists, sweet gallery in back—there were some strange linographs and found-object pieces that I think had something to do with bugs on the walls when I visited. It was a sunny day, warm enough to eat lunch outside as long as you brought a sweater. The shop was never full, but also never empty. Ralph Hicks—white-hair, jaunty round glasses, roughly gregarious manner, and the current owner of Curiosity House—asked me to let him know if I couldn’t find something I wanted. I pointed out a surprising dearth of David Mitchell. The woman at the counter immediately said they’d recently sold out, but had a few titles on order. I left with copies of The Wreckage (Michael Crummey) and How Should A Person Be (Sheila Heti) (both Canadian) (like me). I was fuzzy, high, blissful, the way I always am after buying new books. I didn’t ask for a bag because I like holding the books in my hands, feeling their meaningful weight.

Ralph purchased Curiosity House last year. This has made him a legend in Creemore, and a true believer of kindness and right to me. We recently exchanged emails because I wanted to know why he had done such a foolish, beautiful thing. This is what he said. READ MORE


Ask a Dietitian: Salt Cravings, Workout Food, and Things to Eat When I'm Stressed

What can I eat other than carbs when I'm stressed?

First, we should talk about why you are stressed! Even though we all know this, it always bears repeating that food will only function like a Band-Aid. If you can, always try to see if you can deal with whatever's stressing you out more directly: breaking your obligations down into smaller tasks, talking to somebody. Even exercising or taking a bath will probably relax you in a more lasting way than eating a bunch of food and then having to wrench yourself back to whatever it was that was bothering you.

That being said, let's talk about carbs. I'm definitely not a dietitian who thinks that carbs are in any way bad. We need carbs for brain function and energy, and the instinct to load up on carbs is an evolutionary one because they're such a quick, efficient source: if a hunter-gatherer came across an abundance of carbs, it would be in her best interest to just get in there and eat them all immediately. So we’re predisposed to have a hard time with portion control when it comes to carbs, and that's why they get made into villains when they’re not (and they taste really good!).

So I think, if you're stressed and you really want some carbs, go eat some carbs. Just try to pay attention to what you eat with your carbs and what types of carbs you're choosing so you'll end up feeling satiated on less food. Always think about fiber and protein: ideally you're pairing whole grains with healthy protein sources like low fat cheese, yogurt, turkey, chicken, fish, peanut butter. Then, you can start paying attention to your most frequent cravings and try to come up with healthier alternatives. If you want doughnuts, try to ease yourself toward a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole-wheat bread. If you find yourself craving pizza, have a slice of cheese, some cut-up apple and a handful of whole wheat crackers.

Finally, identify the foods that you really, really want, and just enjoy them, and refuse to beat yourself up over any one incident. If you end up eating a whole container of ice cream, beating yourself up about it will just make you more stressed. Food is supposed to be pleasurable! Just try to build in some avenues for moderation.

Is there something missing in my diet that I am constantly craving salt? READ MORE


A Cyber Monday eBook Sale: Up to 80% Off

So that was rough. All the pushing and the shoving and the honking and the death stares. And your fellow Black Friday shoppers weren’t any better.

The worst part? You didn’t cover everyone on your list. Not even close. But don’t despair; today offers you a second chance. Black Friday’s cooler, more tech-savvy cousin Cyber Monday is here with a cherry of an offer: scoring great deals without all the elbowing.

This year, our friends at Open Road Media are making the day even sweeter with an unbelievable offer. Today only, every single ebook in their catalog (more than 4,000!) is on sale for up to 80% off as part of their annual Cyber Monday Sale.

Black Friday is madness. (Major understatement.) Sunday is for recovery. (Check.) Cyber Monday is for Getting It Done. And maybe picking up a few ebooks for yourself while you’re at it.

These are some of our favorites from Open Road’s expansive list. Be sure to browse the entire collection at openroadmedia.com/cybermonday.

Psst . . . not sure how to give an ebook as a gift? It’s easy as can be. Learn how at openroadmedia.com/HowtoGiveEbooks.


Comedian Aamer Rahman on "Reverse Racism"

"I could be a reverse racist if I wanted to. All I'd need would be a time machine, and what I'd do is get in my time machine and go back in time to before Europe colonized the world and I'd convince the leaders of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Central and South America to invade and occupy Europe, steal their land and resources... In that time I'd make sure I'd set up systems that privileged black and brown people at every conceivable social, political and economic opportunity..."


The Third Fortunate Cookie



Did We Buy Any Cool Stuff This Weekend?

I spent Black Friday lying on the floor watching a bunch of 10-year-olds make stretchy bracelets, and I don't like shopping generally and have never shopped on that death trap of an occasion. But I also think that the "We're Above This" anti-Black Friday attitude is sometimes more like "We're Above This in Terms of Our Income Level" and I would like to know if any of you have gotten good deals over the weekend or online today! I've been suppressing a low-level desire to get new books, fancy pens, and a purse that's better than the $7 H&M one I've been carrying for a year.

I actually did buy something just now: this dress ($15 off!), for a December wedding. And maybe we should all be buying our Christmas presents? Or maybe we should all just retreat to the woods from December 24th-January 2nd? Yeah, let's do that, that sounds good.


On "Femininity as a Technology"

At Cyborgology:

For more than thirty years, Marxist feminists have been arguing that women’s unpaid labor (housework, reproduction, etc.) is a prerequisite for capitalist wage labor, surplus value extraction, and profit-making. Capital can extract surplus value from waged labor only because the wage laborer is supported by (extracts surplus value from) unwaged labor, mainly in the form of the wife. [But today,] we are all our own wives and moms, so to speak... Our smartphones wake us up, not our moms, just as emails accomplish a lot of the relational work (scheduling, reminding, checking in, etc.) conventionally performed by women.

Women are trained from a young age to perform this relational, caregiving, extra-shift work. Femininity–the gender ideal and norm–is the technology that helps women perform these tasks with ease and efficiency. Conforming to feminine ideals like cuteness, neatness, cleanliness, attention to (self)presentation, receptivity to others, and so on, trains you in the skills you need to accomplish feminized care/second+ shift work.

Now computers and phones have "regendered and re-classed" this labor to some degree, but girls and women "still relate to technology in specifically feminized ways" (Pinterest, s*lfies, etc). This post is really about the idea of smartphone-enabled hyperemployment ("if we are employed, we all work all the time") and it ends on the question of whether the resulting shift in labor categories might lead to "solidarities that might really take care of all of us." [Cyborgology]