These Are A Few of My Favorite Things : February 10-16, 2018

favorite things

I found this history of the waterbed to be fascinating. My parents had one when I was little that I remember popping. Also, who, as a child of the 90s, did not want that impressive aquarium waterbed in The Goofy Movie?

I am teaching my first class next semester and I loved this interview with Teller (of Penn & Teller) on teaching.

Your reminder that motivation is bullshit.

I try to live a life of intellectual humility. I don’t know everything. That is why I love this idea of an anti-library.

“A private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.”

An important reminder for myself. I can definitely be on the curmudgeonly grump side of life.

Another great reminder: take risks.

And speaking of being able to survive the Yukon the other day, the Yukon Ultra had just one finisher.

To finish, some articles I thought were interesting on the #metoo movement. While I think it is a great thing that we are getting rid of schmucks like Harvey Weinstein and Matthew Lauer and, hopefully, their less famous counterparts, I do tend to feel hesitant at declaring myself as supportive of the movement. I think Kate Roiphe’s The Other Whisper Network sums up how I tend to feel about the movement.

“Most of the new whisperers feel as I do, exhilarated by the moment, by the long-overdue possibility of holding corrupt and bullying men such as Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, and Matt Lauer to account for their actions. They strongly share some of its broader goals: making it possible for women to work unbothered and unharassed even outside the bubble of Hollywood and the media, breaking down the structures that have historically protected powerful men. Yet they are also slightly uneasy at the weird energy behind this movement, a weird energy it is sometimes hard to pin down.”

Weird energy. Secret lists. A total lack of due process. It makes me nervous. Another great article, and maybe even better, from someone who supports the ends of the #metoo movement, while maybe not its means is Margaret Atwood. She asks if she is a bad feminist.

“This structure – guilty because accused – has applied in many more episodes in human history than Salem. It tends to kick in during the “Terror and Virtue” phase of revolutions – something has gone wrong, and there must be a purge, as in the French Revolution, Stalin’s purges in the USSR, the Red Guard period in China, the reign of the Generals in Argentina and the early days of the Iranian Revolution. The list is long and Left and Right have both indulged. Before “Terror and Virtue” is over, a great many have fallen by the wayside. Note that I am not saying that there are no traitors or whatever the target group may be; simply that in such times, the usual rules of evidence are bypassed.
Such things are always done in the name of ushering in a better world. Sometimes they do usher one in, for a time anyway. Sometimes they are used as an excuse for new forms of oppression. As for vigilante justice – condemnation without a trial – it begins as a response to a lack of justice – either the system is corrupt, as in prerevolutionary France, or there isn’t one, as in the Wild West – so people take things into their own hands. But understandable and temporary vigilante justice can morph into a culturally solidified lynch-mob habit, in which the available mode of justice is thrown out the window, and extralegal power structures are put into place and maintained. The Cosa Nostra, for instance, began as a resistance to political tyranny.”

But another interesting article I found this week is probably the #metoo article I agreed with the most, particularly on how women are educated to understand sex will be uncomfortable and how that extends to relations between males and females and health care (almost ten years to diagnose endometriosis, a shamefully long time for an incredibly common problem for us women).

“In the real world, the very first lesson the typical woman learns about what to expect from sex is that losing her virginity is going to hurt. She’s supposed to grit her teeth and get through it. Think about how that initiation into sex might thwart your ability to recognize “discomfort” as something that’s not supposed to happen. When sex keeps hurting long after virginity is lost, as it did for many of my friends, many a woman assumes she’s the one with the problem. And, well, if you were supposed to grit your teeth and get through it the first time, why not the second? At what point does sex magically transform from enduring someone doing something to you that you don’t like — but remember: everyone agrees you’re supposed to tolerate it — to the mutually pleasurable experience everyone else seems to think it is?”

I’m a big believer in getting the most intelligent analysis of all sides. This is a nuanced and important topic that I don’t think should be sloppily or dogmatically thought about.

And with that, I conclude this week’s favorite things.

Have a lovely weekend!

xo, Ali