Like many people, I spent my summer vacation with my large and fiercely loyal extended family. Unlike many people, my family is mixed. No, I don’t mean mixed race or mixed class, although we are that too, but mixed politically. There are plenty of lefties among us; there are also plenty of conservatives. During the Bush years, I often found it incomprehensible that these people whom I love and respect could vote for a man who got this country into wars they didn’t believe in and cultural battles over gay rights that they actually opposed. Among the Essig Republicans, there are no homophobes or hawks, just people who genuinely believe that the fiscal policies of the GOP are better for this country than the Democratic ones.
Like many people in mixed-political families, I more or less ignore it and focus on what ties us together: eating, eating, and more eating. This month, as I sat…
Thanks for your note today; your mom told me you’d be writing to me to get some advice about how to make your second year at college better than your first.
Let’s begin: The best way to get off to a good start with your professors is to call them “Professor,” and, if they’re women, not “Miss” or “Mrs.”; “Ms.” is preferable to either of those, but I’d stick with “Professor” since you know the person whose advice you’re asking happens to be one of those.
It’s also good to spell that person’s name correctly. You didn’t. Not even close despite the fact that you had the correct spelling right there in the email address.
If I mention these details early it’s only to begin our relationship the way I hope it will be built: I’m delighted to help you determine what’s best for you at UConn–and UConn has a great deal to offer–but I’m not going to coddle you or let you off…
11. “Have you ever wondered about the stupidity of the term ‘o’clock’? Americans have happily incorporated into our everyday speech a term that makes us sound like leprechauns.” Gene Weingarten, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for The Washington Post, from The Hypochondriac’s Guide to Life. And Death.
12. Voice-mail prompt: “After the tone please leave your I.Q. or your blood pressure, whichever is higher.” Lewis Frumkes, author of How To Raise Your I.Q. by Eating Gifted Children.
13. On health foods: “To strengthen their argument [about eating unprocessed foods] they tell you that peasant boys in Cuba, those kids out in the fields, eat raw sugar cane and they have perfect teeth. What they don’t tell you is that they develop rickets. ‘Look at me, Ma! No cavities! But I can’t walk too straight.’…After you eat all this, you can wash it down with tiger’s milk. So help me…
More than 30 years ago, Elisabeth Landes and Richard Posner provocatively observed that a “glut” in black babies exists in the United States foster care system. Their controversially framed assessment attracted ardent criticism, including charges of racism. Nonetheless, Posner and his colleague touched on urgent and yet unresolved problems, including how to (a) provide more meaningful life opportunities for child wards of the state by transitioning them into permanent home placements, (b) reduce the prevalence of black children in foster care, and (c) decrease state expenditures on foster care, while not sacrificing quality of care. There were other questions of great importance that arose in response to their research. However, the use of economic terms as analytical tools to describe the collision of both a terrible racial phenomenon and family law crisis launched the type of…
George Carlin (HBO photo by Paul Schiraldi on New York Times site. Click to get to source page.)
1-3. “Regardless of what other people say, my tendency to overreact and lose all perspective makes me a theatrically interesting person”; “Because I unfairly demand too much of myself, today I will allow myself to act in distinctly untrustworthy and irresponsible ways”; “I take pride in the fact that my personal power comes from my innate sense of insecurity.”
–Ann Thornhill and Sarah Wells, from Today I Will Nourish My Inner Martyr: Affirmations for Cynics
4. “Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.” –George Carlin
5. Sideshow Bob has the following exchange with his brother: “You wanted…
For the past three years, one stream of my work has involved extensive field research on the sexual trafficking of girls in the Philippines, South Africa, and India. For some years, my research has involved trafficking generally, including that of organs, children, and even body parts such as human tissues. However, this project examines trafficking beyond the exploitation and kidnapping women and girls taken against their will and under false consent to work in brothels or on street corners. This current project investigates girls forced into underage marriages or used as “cleaners” or “purifiers” to rid men of HIV in places like South Africa. These transactions violate laws, but not necessarily social norms and customs. Indeed, it has been very…
1. Only you can figure out how to manage your personal and emotional life; as advisers we can listen, challenge comfort, and offer guidance. The guidance we can offer most effectively is of the professional sort.
You must handle your domestic conflicts in the appropriate arena while keeping a check on how they affect your productivity. Please don’t ask us to assist you with anything apart from your work too often, too regularly, or with too much of an emphasis on the thought that we are somehow responsible for getting you into this in the first place (we didn’t get you “with doctorate” the way some fly-by-night lover might get a woman “with child”).
It’s imperative that you learn to find out what works for you and this is the time to learn it. This is the…
In a post on Disney’s wedding industrial and ideological complex over at Bitch, Michael Braithwaite writes about weddings and how to make them good. For instance, Braithwaite writes that weddings with themes are good since
Themes are an excellent way to incorporate some imagination and a little wonder into adult life, which is maybe why theme weddings have become a bit of “thing” in the last couple of decades, with people getting married on the ocean floor, while rock climbing, etc. I’ve had friends whose weddings followed the theme of their first date, or a particularly meaningful trip taken together. It’s fun! But, more importantly, theme weddings are a great way to reflect something special about the couple—to aesthetically, visually, and atmospherically reinforce what makes a relationship unique. To clarify: Theme weddings are different from package weddings, which are like…
A few years ago one of my daughters, who had not yet fully claimed her feminist card, told me that if I were a good parent, I would be there everyday after school to greet them with a snack and homework help instead of being at work. Outwardly I laughed at her ridiculous mid-century ideas of parenting, but inside the worry that I am not a good enough mother continued to haunt me.
Now recent research by Miriam Liss, Holly Schiffrin and Kathryn Rizzo published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies indicates that the “good” mother, the one who puts her kids’ needs first, who engages in “intensive” parenting, who is always there with a hug and a snack after school as my daughter once longed for, may in fact be more subject to depression, and a parent’s depression is most certainly not good for children.
The research focused on “intensive” parenting, defined as believing that…
Your letter about how amazing it was to talk with your graduate student–the one who really GOT what you were saying and changed the direction of her plans–and then asked me why I recognized earlier in life the pleasures that teaching provides made me incredibly happy.
I’m not saying that only because it’s incredibly generous to me. You’ve always been that. But I’m saying it because you helped to remind me why teaching–good teaching– matters.
Coming to the profession as someone who has accomplished much in her own field and so was asked to teach it at the graduate level, you’re seeing clearly what makes teaching worth all the rest of the trouble. I needed the reminder and I’m grateful for it.
When you teach well, you know you’ve been useful. When you’re teaching really well, you know you’re doing something nobody else could have done as well as you did.
1. “I have never allowed my schooling to interfere with my education.” Mark Twain
2. “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Mark Twain
3. “I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch.” Gilda Radner
4. . “Why are they called illegal immigrants? They’re undocumented workers. If someone broke into my house and vacuumed my rug, I might be puzzled. But mad?” Wanda Sykes
5. “Laughter rises out of tragedy, when you need it the most, and rewards you for your courage.” Erma Bombeck
6. “’Deep’ is a word like ‘theory’ or ‘semantic’ — it implies all sorts of marvelous things. It’s one thing to be able to say ‘I’ve got theory’ quite another to say ‘I’ve got a semantic theory,’ but, ah, those who can claim ‘I’ve got a deep semantic theory,’ they are truly blessed.” Randy Davis
Grown men with teddy bears? A new movie with Mark Wahlberg? The 1981 Granada series with Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons? A heartbreaking poem about a teddy bear– mentioning Adler, Jung and Freud in its final stanza?
Okay, so my first thought, when faced with grown men and furry toys, is of the terribly well-groomed Aloysuis belonging to Sebastian Flyte in Evelyn Waugh’s “Brideshead Revisited.”
Then I think immediately of Archie, a.k.a. Archibald Ormsby-Gore, the strict Baptist teddy bear belonging to John Betjeman, upon whom Aloysuis was based.
Only after these furry figures do I think of adorable Mark Wahlberg and the trailers I’m seeing everywhere about the new movie, Ted, in which Wahlberg stars with a stuffed bear of his own.
I love Wahlberg (and Matt Damon, with whom I will sometimes confuse him, even in print) and I am a big Family Guy and…
Dragon sculpture photo via Flickr/CC. JJ loved dragons.
I just returned from a week in the west. It was, as always, beautiful.
And it reminded me, as it always does, of a friend from my days as a student in England who, after getting her M.D. and Ph.D. in pharmacology at Cambridge, moved to a place she loved in the western U.S. only to die of cancer in her early thirties.
JJ was a remarkable woman and I think of her in the way you inevitably think of a friend who dies before her time; she still occupies space in my imagination. I’ve decided to print a letter of hers as a testimony to her, and as the most poignant reminder I can offer for why it is important to cherish and use each day.
And, while I’m offering reminders, I’ll use this as a nudge to those of us who need reminding why it’s…
By now everyone and their mother is discussing Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article for the Atlantic claiming that women can’t really have it all: a high-powered career and a happy home life. Slaughter would know. A law professor and then dean at Princeton who got a great gig being the director of policy planning at the State Department, she also had a husband willing to keep the home fires burning. In other words, by Slaughter’s own admission, she had all the privileges in the world and still couldn’t find a way to balance career with being what she assumed would be “good parenting.” Slaughter admits that
such a statement, coming from a high-profile career woman—a role model—would be a terrible signal to younger generations of women. By the end of the evening, she had talked me out of it, but for the remainder of my stint in Washington, I was increasingly aware that the feminist…
I picture this boy taking my hand
and then pulling me towards him, of his hands in my hair,
of his mouth hot against mine.
I think of nights when I was seventeen in the long backseats of cars
with one-night-stand boys, never going below the waist dictated by morality and a need not to have to bother: who needed to be that busy on those July evenings?
I remember hands on my breasts and kisses that went on for hours and the deep hunger for tongues and sweat and breaths that
were as shallow and as far-reaching
as a stone skipped across a pond.
Remember Harris Mackim from Catcher in the Rye? You probably don’t remember his name. I didn’t either and I spent years of my adolescence reading and re-reading Salinger.
But if you read the book even once, you probably remember Mackim as ”very intelligent and all, but … one of the biggest bores I ever met. He had one of these very raspy voices, and he never stopped talking, practically. He never stopped talking, and what was awful was, he never said anything you wanted to hear in the first place.”
But he was the boring guy who could do one thing well; he could whistle:
“The sonuvabitch could whistle better than anybody I ever heard. He’d be making his bed, or hanging up stuff in the closet–he was always hanging up stuff in the closet–it drove me crazy–and he’d be whistling while he did it, if he wasn’t talking in this raspy voice. He could even whistle classical…
Pride, say the sin scholars, led to our being expelled from Eden; Eve was flattered and ate.
Adam didn’t want to bother making his own meal and since there was no fast food in Paradise, he ate, too. It was downhill from there, leading to depravity, mortality, and Popeye’s-to-go.
Pride made Lucifer into the bad guy. Declaring in Milton’s version that he’d rather rule in hell than serve in heaven, Lucifer went from being merely head chef in paradise to owning the first barbecue franchise. As much as history has sycophantically worshiped at the altar of success, it also delights in the downfall of the great, the boastful, and the powerful.
Act a little too cocky, a little too arrogant and the dogs of ruin begin yapping at your heels, led by someone just slightly less cocky and arrogant than you. Act a little too sanctimonious, and not only will the mob eventually rise up against…
Many people think that sociologist are all like me, a bit to the left of Karl Marx. But in fact sociology has always had some deeply conservative roots. Emile Durkheim, one of the field’s founders, was wedded to a highly gendered order, something that would enable “conjugal solidarity” (unlike the feminists of his time who saw companionate marriage as a much better idea). In the 20th century, Talcott Parsons dominated U.S. sociology in a way that limited critique to the periphery and described 1950s America and the growth of Cold War America as “functional” even as he institutionalized his daughter, Anne, for believing such logic to be illogical.
I suppose every generation of sociology is doomed to have its Durkheim, and Mark Regnerus is quickly becoming ours. Regnerus is a propagandist for heterosexual marriage who disguises his ideological biases behind a smoke screen of social…
Why is gluttony a sin? Because we associate gluttony with incontinence and rapacity. Anything that blurs the clearly delineated boundaries between self-indulgence (giving in to your own desire) and self-denial (giving up on ever getting your desire) is frightening to us as a culture.
We view self-indulgence with contempt and often confuse self-denial with discipline. “Look at how it’s presented to us: Fat is bad and skinny is good; spending is bad and saving is good; crying is bad and holding back the tears is good,” says my husband as he takes another forkful of the lasagna I just took out of the oven and, with it, has another sip of Chianti. “This is the machinery of Puritanism that is stalled at the heart of America,” he argues before asking, “Is there cake?…
Today I am angry about everything. I started off the day by getting mad at myself. I forgot to put gas in the car yesterday, which meant that I need to go to the service station, which meant I’d be late for my first meeting.
I’m mad at the foolish woman I was yesterday who didn’t plan for the efficient and considerate woman that I woke up as today. I’d like to go back and yell at me. (When this wish to tell myself off in different voices becomes too frequent, I’m going to book into the Sybil School of Behavioral and Chemical Therapy).
I’m mad at my husband. I come home after getting a $50 haircut that, I was assured, makes me look glamorous, thin, sophisticated and adorable. My husband greets me not with adoration, but with the less than glamorous and…