Archives For: Premium

Looking Back On Leaning Out, Ctd

Apr 17 2014 @ 10:43am

A reader argues that our post was based on “a common misconception” about Lean In:

Sandberg doesn’t champion working over staying home. When she tells women to lean in, she’s not telling them to work: she’s saying that for as long as they choose to work, they shouldn’t have one foot already out the door because of what having a family might demand of them in the future. It’s a carpe diem message, and an argument against approaching your career with a defeatist attitude.

Another isn’t sure what attitude to take:

I’m so glad you’re talking about Lean In and hope that it ends up as a thread. I’m a 36-year-old woman acting as the executive at a small organization with a big budget. I love my work, my peers, the intellectual stimulation, my ability to call on my brain to perform backflips and contortions. But I tell you what: it doesn’t make me happy.

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Amber Frost has the archival news footage to prove it:

If you’re under the impression that tragic disasters used to be held in a respectable reverence in this country, please refer to the vintage bit of newstainment above, a 1937 Universal Studios newsreel on the Hindenburg explosion. From the Hollywood sturm und drang musical accompaniment to the announcer (who feels freshly picked from a radio soap opera) this little five-minute news reel is pure spectacle. There’s an explosion sound effect, studio-recorded screams and a police siren added, apparently to “recreate” the story. It’s at least as vulgar as anything on cable news today, and they didn’t even have the benefit of CNN’s holograms!

The question left unanswered at the end of the film: What caused the explosion? Scientists just last year settled on an answer:

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To Make A Short Story Shorter

Apr 17 2014 @ 9:29am

In a review of Lydia Davis’s new story collection Can’t and Won’t, Christine Smallwood observes that the famously concise writer “makes the impossible look easy”:

Like Proust, whom she has translated, Davis writes the act of writing itself. I don’t just mean that her narrators tend to be teachers or authors, though that’s true; I mean that her stories are filled with moments of crisis about how to carry on, or what word to put down next, and fears that it could all mean nothing in the end. She’s a theorist of the arbitrary. The fact that she makes it look so easy—so arbitrary, even—is part of the fun.

Chloe Schama declares Davis “the perfect writer for the Twitter era”:

Davis does not just turn dada doodads into text with grammatical coherence. She produces stories that are inevitably compared to poetry, not only because of their concision and appearance on the page, but because of their obvious care of construction. “A fire does not need to be called warm or red,” she writes in one of the stories, “Revise: 1,” included in her new collection; “Remove many more adjectives.” I haven’t counted the adjectives in Can’t and Won’t, but I’m certain the total would be paltry. Most of the stories in Can’t and Won’t are just a page or two; the longest—“The Seals,” a poignant reflection on the loss of an older sister and a father—is just over 20 pages, and it feels like a marathon.

Davis is perhaps the sparest contemporary fiction writer we have—breathtakingly bold in the limits she imposes on herself.

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Embrace The Boredom, Ctd

Apr 17 2014 @ 8:31am

A few readers complement this post with some classic writings:

I’m heavily invested in the notion that idleness, laziness, and procrastination are vital to the full flowering of human life. (If they aren’t, I’m fucked.) I’m reminded of this passage from Emerson’s Experience:

We do not know today whether we are busy or idle. In times when we thought ourselves indolent, we have afterwards discovered, that much was accomplished, and much was begun in us. All our days are so unprofitable while they pass, that ‘tis wonderful where or when we ever got anything of this which we call wisdom, poetry, virtue. We never got it on any dated calendar day. Some heavenly days must have been intercalated somewhere, like those that Hermes won with dice of the Moon, that Osiris might be born. It is said, all martyrdoms looked mean when they were suffered. Every ship is a romantic object, except that we sail in.


I saw your post on idleness and I wanted to share what I think is the best piece ever on the virtues of idleness – Chesterton’s essay on lying in bed. The gist of it:

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Hyperactive Prescribing? Ctd

Apr 17 2014 @ 7:32am

A reader writes, “I figured I’d chime in on the ADHD thread, since there’s still apparently one voice missing: someone who was diagnosed as a child”:

That’d be me. At the age of six, in my second marking period in first grade, I was diagnosed with ADHD. Though my memory is hazy of that time, what I recall is being inattentive in class and extremely disruptive. I remember one time being at a hospital for something unrelated, and they put me in a straitjacket to calm me down.

I can’t emphasize enough how hyper I acted as a child, and how quickly that changed when I began to take Ritalin.

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Seth Masket reviews many studies on the question:

Your allies may be quick to abandon you during a scandal if you’re expendable (think John Edwards), but if you’re, say, the president, they may be more likely to rally to your side. Scandals may also be more damaging for black candidates (PDF) than for white ones.

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3D Printing Is Building Itself Up

Apr 16 2014 @ 7:16pm

Reason checks in on the growing 3D printing industry:

The latest breakthrough:

For the first time ever, scientists have 3D printed a cancer tumor in order to study how to kill it.

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Sex, Lies, and Text Messages

Apr 16 2014 @ 6:45pm

A new study reveals that people often lie while exchanging sexy texts with their significant others:

“Deception during sexting with committed relationship partners appears to be fairly common,” writes a research team led by Michelle Drouin of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Its study is published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Of the 155 participants (average age just under 22), 109 reported they had sent a sexually explicit text message. Among that group, 48 percent admitted lying during sexting with a committed partner. Specifically, 20 percent said they had lied about either what they were wearing or what they were doing, while 28 percent had lied about both. Women were the more frequent liars, texting untruths far more often than men.

Katy Waldman compares these findings to our deceptions in real sex:

Of course, we all lie in person too—is a fake sext any different from a fake orgasm?

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When The Cover Is The Story

Apr 16 2014 @ 6:14pm

Jill Filipovic suggests that the Rolling Stone gaffe that has fact-checkers around the world snickering shows just how much magazine covers still matter:

Some of us still buy print magazines, but ever more of us are reading the articles on tablets or laptops instead. And the volume of accessible content online far exceeds that at your local newsstand or grocery store checkout. And yet, despite such an enormous quantity of high-quality, cover-worthy imagery, the photos on the covers we can actually hold in our hands are what become online content fodder.

That scarcity may actually be the point. There’s not a widely read website in Internet-town that keeps the same photo on the front page for more than a day, let alone a week or a month. Magazine real estate may be rendered more valuable by virtue of the fact that it’s more permanent – if you have a hard copy of a magazine you can store it away without the fear that you might go to read it one day and find an “Error: Page Unknown” message. And although fewer people may purchase a copy of Rolling Stone over the course of a month than click over to the homepage of a popular website, the eyes on a magazine cover may be more valuable than those on a quickly changing web page.

Even if you only look at magazine covers while waiting to check out at Walgreens or getting your nails done, your eyes are settling on a small handful of options, making each of them resonate more strongly than the hundreds of pictures in your 15 open browser tabs.

By the way, Julia Louis-Dreyfus set the record straight via Twitter:

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The Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped some 100 teenage girls from a government school in the northeastern state of Borno on Monday. Zack Beauchamp expects the group to hold the girls for ransom:

“Their goal is almost certainly to ransom [the girls],” Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation of the Defense of Democracies who follows Boko Haram, told me. ”Otherwise, they have chosen a target that will make everybody hate them. Killing [100] schoolgirls would be a huge PR hit even for some of the rougher jihadist groups.”

Boko Haram has been known to kidnap for money. Since the group launched a full-on uprising against the Nigerian government in 2012, it has kidnapped a number of foreigners in order to raise funds to continue the struggle.

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A Victory For Transgender Indians

Apr 16 2014 @ 5:08pm

Transgenders Welcome SC Verdict, Recognizing Transgenders As Third Gender

In a landmark ruling yesterday, India’s Supreme Court decided that transgender individuals need no longer identify themselves as “male” or “female” on official documents. The court also called for an expansion of rights:

Hijras are deprived of jobs, education and health care; turned away at hospitals, limited by the practice of male and female wards. India had taken steps to ensure their recognition when India’s Election Commission earlier allowed a third gender of “other” on voter registration forms for the national elections now taking place.

But the Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed concern over transgenders being harassed in society and said “it was the right of every human being to choose their gender.” It directed the government to bring them into the mainstream, ordering it to set aside quotas for jobs and education for transgender individuals, bringing them in line with the benefits already afforded other minority groups and lower castes. The court said hijras will be entitled to “all other rights,” including passports, voter cards and driving licenses.

Rama Lakshmi explains how to square this ruling with the decision the court handed down in December, reinstating a colonial-era law criminalizing homosexuality:

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Leonid Ragozin explains why many Ukrainians are disillusioned with both Kiev and Moscow:

Southeast Ukraine may be the world’s most difficult and unwelcoming environment for fomenting a genuine protest—stability tops the list of local values and priorities. Many local residents admire Putin for bringing that to Russia, but what he is now peddling in Ukraine is instability, and that’s a very tough sell. 

Russia’s efforts are getting increasingly counterproductive. In fact, Putin has become the single biggest force helping to patch up the split between Ukraine’s nationalist west and Russophone east. While the West and many Ukrainian politicians continue to alienate Ukrainian Russophones by treating them as if they are an unfortunate historical error, Putin did more than all of them combined to awake many in Ukraine’s east to the fact that their country, however imperfect, is a better place for a Russian speaker than Russia proper is. A recent poll show that a majority of people in Ukraine’s Russophone regions don’t support separation.

Akos Lada and Maria Snegovaya note that the divide between supporters and opponents of the Euromaidan revolution “is becoming more generational than regional”:

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O’Malley’s March To 2016

Apr 16 2014 @ 3:20pm

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley put his signature on the state’s marijuana decriminalization bill on Monday. Katie Zezima sees this as another example of O’Malley “tacking to the left and burnishing his liberal credentials“:

While other potential 2016 candidates on both sides of the aisle have voiced their support for decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana (we’re looking at you, Rand Paul), O’Malley is the first who has actually taken any action.

But Waldman doubts that the liberal agenda will decide the 2016 Democratic primary:

The problem is that the liberal scorecard may not be the basis for how primary voters usually make their decisions, especially Democrats.

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Tiptoeing Toward More Sanctions

Apr 16 2014 @ 3:02pm


Josh Rogin explains why the administration is taking so long to announce new sanctions on Russia in response to its provocations in Ukraine:

There is still some internal disagreement inside the Obama administration over whether to proceed with sanctions against broad sectors of the Russian economy or with more targeted sanctions against Russian politicians, oligarchs, and perhaps some of the institutions those politicians and oligarchs are connected to.  So far, the U.S. has sanctioned 31 Russian individuals and one Russian bank. U.S. officials believe the sanctions against Putin’s business associates have had some effect and could be expanded.

Stefan Wolff sticks up for the cautious approach:

[T]he incremental toughening-up of the West’s responses keeps the door open for diplomatic solutions and has not fallen into the trap of a tit-for-tat escalation, which is difficult to step back from and makes face-saving exits for both Russia and the West ever more difficult while being played out on the back of the people of Ukraine.

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What Does Bud Do To Young Brains?

Apr 16 2014 @ 2:41pm

Jason Koebler highlights a study linking marijuana use to brain abnormalities in young people:

High-resolution MRI scans of the brains of adults between the ages of 18-25 who reported smoking weed at least once a week were structurally different than a control group: They showed greater grey matter density in the left amygdala, an area of the brain associated with addiction and showed alterations in the hypothalamus and subcallosal cortex. The study also notes that marijuana use “may be associated with a disruption of neural organization.” The more weed a person reported smoking, the more altered their brain appeared, according to the Northwestern University and Harvard Medical School study, which was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The finding already has the study’s authors calling for states to reconsider legalizing the drug. Hans Breiter, the lead author, said he’s “developed a severe worry about whether we should be allowing anybody under age 30 to use pot unless they have a terminal illness and need it for pain.”

Saundra Young gets the response of another researcher:

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