Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Filthy hippies proved right again

no cell phones symbolThat is, cell phones may well increase cancer risk -- not enough data to confirm, but enough to flag as a concern. Now who's paranoid?

Update: boing boing points out that there's actually no new information here, just a legalistic designation. So ignore the whole thing, I guess, or continue as you were...

Monday, May 30, 2011


Enjoyed this video survey of people's listening habits, in part because my brand new iPod has made me think about my dissipated listening habits and more curious about how others fill their audio time. But also, the video captures an interesting mix of people and musical types, and it's hard not to see it as a reflection of how fractured and complex the space of musical possibilities has become, when one might recognize only a small percentage of what was being enjoyed by folks walking on the street next to you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Working blind

I think that the Patriot Act is a pretty grim document, so I'm more than unnerved to hear that the government has a secret interpretation of that legislation that expands its reach beyond what the public realizes. I'm sure that massive data-sifting feeds into how intelligence agencies think they'll foresee terrorist activities, but the dangers it raises for average citizens are not at all trivial...

Quotes of the day (aging-related)

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.
- Louise Erdrich
ladybug on a leaf

I have learned to be happy where I am. I have learned that locked within the moments of each day are all the joys, the peace, the fibers of the cloth we call life. The meaning is in the moment. There is no other way to find it. You feel what you allow yourself to feel, each and every moment of the day.
- Russ Berrie

You have used up the years and they have used up you, and still, and still, you have not written the poem.
- Borges
(via whiskey river)

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's not just me!

Man, it's hard to get a key to work decently in our front-door lock. Turns out that copying is even worse that I expected -- the photo makes it clear that by a half-dozen copies you're not even dealing with the same key any more! I suspect that ours are all at least third-generation at this point (although presumably *somebody* that we know has the original)...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Link dump: Latest outrages and frustrations

Man, most of these deserve a freestanding post, dissection, pull-quotes... but it's just not going to happen. Here's a heap of things that just make me want to cry in a darkened room (or maybe bite somebody).

Quote of the day

An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.
- G. K. Chesterton
(via riskywiver)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

No plastic at all?

rainbow of tupperwareHave been driven to action by this study, which indicates that it's not really safe to store any of your food or drinks in any kind of plastic.
The researchers were able to measure some type of estrogenic chemical leaching from roughly 95 percent of all the plastics tested, including 100 percent of the food wraps and 98 percent of the plastic bags. Even when the plastics were unstressed and just exposed to various solutions, they still leached estrogenic chemicals.
Am trying to find glass or stainless steel alternatives to our mishmash of plastic containers, while also factoring in the need for unbreakable toddler options and leakproof lunch solutions. Looks like a pretty big project, but I expect to have many decades yet in which my body can thank me...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Quote of the day (Twitter edition)

Since the media is so stuck on the passive-aggressive phrase "openly gay", can we also get them to use "current wife" for politicians?
- urbanbohemian (Brian Gray)
(via nowthis)

Monday, May 16, 2011

A little quiet here...

...because we have a significant local election tomorrow. (Speck helped us slide lit under doors yesterday!) I have many links queued up for dumpage here, so presume I'll get to them later this week.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Without past, without conscience...

The modern GOP: I just can't decide whether they think playing with fire is harmless or just don't understand our nation's history and principles. Sure, an amendment like this is pretty much dead on arrival, but what does it even say to propose such a thing? (and every such proposal, of course, makes it more imaginable in the future...)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Poem of the day

Advice to Myself

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
a single pebble with a light striationwho uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic - decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.
- Louise Erdrich
Original Fire: Selected and New Poems
(via whiskey river)

Planes, trains, and automobiles

Really, with regard to making train security as stupid as plane security, I agree with Atrios. Even in the abstract this makes no sense.

Sunday, May 08, 2011


Reflections on Mother's Day, from a mother to those she's raising. So much loving, so much letting go...

(via Free Range Kids)

Saturday, May 07, 2011

To Speck at 38 months

Speck eats a chunk of snowWow, hard to believe that 6 months have sneaked by, but I seem to have the list of new developments to support it. Most obvious to the casual observer is that you've become a creator of games -- crawling or slithering across the floor, jumping down the stairs ("don't touch!"), making up rules for kicking and chasing a ball outdoors (even if not always followable by mortal parents), and inventing other silliness on the fly. You love to pop any bubblewrap that crosses your path (initially it took great zen-like concentration, but recently you discovered the destructive power of dancing across a sheet of the stuff on your heels!). And you craftily substitute a triumphant raspberry for the occasional good-night kiss, much to your own amusement.

Language continues to be your unparalleled forte, wowing your teachers with your fluency and continually surprising us with your dexterity and variety of words. There are still plenty of signs of Work in Progress Speck grins in a bubble bath-- most notable is that as you began to give some common words their full three syllables, they didn't always end up in the right place ("beanna," "amitals," and "elphantant" are the most notable). But you've picked up on the family game of substituting topical lyrics into familiar songs (especially anything that can be sung to the theme of "Maisy"), and you like to make up your own words for things (like "cun") and ask for them to be worked into books that are read to you (a challenge to tired parents!). Further, there are *many* signs that you are hungry to be able to read: you want to take your turn at "reading" favorite books aloud, sometimes riffing on the images and other times working in turns of phrase from the original text; you recognize all the names in Winnie the Pooh, and can integrate them smoothly into your concoctions when you read those tales to us; and you are picking out more and more individual words (apparently deciding for yourself the controversy between word-recognition and phonetics modes of learning).

Speck poses lying atop a pile of her stuffed friendsThere are things we have enjoyed less: a period when you wanted us to read you one book while you flipped through another; the congealing of the frog nap game into a sort of running discipline proxy battle; a rise in violent rhetoric, including threats to "chop you up to bits" (or "make a mama-loaf") or "throw you out of the house"; elaborate rituals of reverse psychology, as when every peanut-butter sandwich had to be accompanied by great shows of longing from Mom, combined with "you missed your chance" taunts; and a return of biting, most dismaying at times when it arose in a context of snuggling and affection. I guess we're getting resigned to the idea that such things are never a phase that is truly past, just a cycle that comes and goes, and to trying to find the connection even amidst the exhaustion and conflict.

Meantime, you've learned to use scissors with amazing success, took a few months of swimming instruction that got you from terrified clinger to confident and cheerful kicker, learned to carry on a nearly functional phone conversation (and became obsessed with same), and decided that 45 is your favorite number (45 minutes also acts as your definition of Nearly Forever). And you expressed your first bit of night fear, talking about "blue dots" that could only be kept at bay by a nightlight.

Speck grins out from a dinosaur egg

You like to laugh at the idea that Mom had your bear Tsah (a little battered these days) on a shelf for many years without realizing how special she was. Have no worries for yourself on that front; whatever the challenges, your parents are completely enchanted with you, your explorations, and your crazed giggles. Looking forward to more!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Krugman and what it means to be liberal

I greatly enjoyed this New York Magazine piece on Paul Krugman and his policy critiques of the current and previous administrations. I have much admired Krugman's work at the Times and online, and tend to agree with the way that he would like to see things pushed, so it was nice to see how he arrived at some of his arguments, and some push-back from those who disagree. Am amused by the description of Krugman as the "leading exponent of a kind of liberal purism against which the compromises of the White House might be judged," but we have so few audible voices on the actual left that he indeed has come to fill that role.
If you arranged members of Congress from left to right based on how they voted on welfare-state issues—Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance—it turned out that this left-to-right axis could predict every other vote: On Iraq expenditures, on abortion, whatever. “When you realize the fundamental divide in U.S. politics is just this one-­dimensional thing, and that is how you feel about the welfare state,” Krugman says, “that changes things.”
We have so little basis anymore for discussion of class issues or the value of the welfare state that we seem to be pulled hither and thither by the proposals of conservatives, unable to rally the public to a wider defense on the basis of values arguments. Perhaps we can find our way back, and along the way help Krugman feel less alone...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Before and After

Yeah, 9/11 was ten years ago, blah blah, but still this blows me away. It's just hard to imagine that kids could be so inculcated with the mystique of 9/11 without knowing anything about Bin Laden and Al Quaeda...

Cranky instincts of millions of parents confirmed

Lack of Sleep May Lead to Brain Aging

(via Follow Me Here)

Monday, May 02, 2011

Quote/poem of the day

To This May

They know so much more now about
ladybug on a leafthe heart we are told but the world
still seems to come one at a time
one day one year one season and here
it is spring once more with its birds
nesting in the holes in the walls
its morning finding the first time
its light pretending not to move
always beginning as it goes
- W. S. Merwin
(via whiskey river)

Some subset of missions accomplished, anyway

I will admit I never really expected to see this headline, let alone in Obama's first term. After ten years, it almost feels more like an anticlimax than a victory. (At least to me; the surreal crowds in D.C. and NYC apparently think otherwise.) Ok, then, let's bring home all those troops wasting time in Afghanistan and Iraq, 'kay?

(It's also worth noting that this was a victory for old-fashioned intelligence and human ops, none of this data-sifting and drones. Imagine!)