Friday, January 18, 2013

Weekend Reading: The Mixed Bag Edition

Thanks to miracle of antibiotics (and I'm not being snarky- antibiotics really are a bit of a miracle, and we shouldn't take them for granted) I am feeling much, much, MUCH better. I've still been short on energy, though, so my weekend links are a disjointed jumble of things I've saved as interesting over the past couple of months, so happy and some not so happy.

First, I found this infographic about the impact of major on career choice via @CydHarrel's twitter stream. It doesn't really have any big surprises, but I still managed to waste a lot of time looking at it.

While we're talking about careers, I really liked this post from Avivah Wittenberg-Cox arguing that we should stop asking women why women don't get ahead, and turn our attention instead to asking business leaders why women don't get ahead. Yes, even though I have argued that it is important for happy career women to speak up so that the young women coming up behind us get all the viewpoints on what it is like, I agree that we should stop asking women to take blame for the screwed up environment in which we work. I don't really think the two things are in conflict- it isn't my fault that I have to overcome sexism and I shouldn't be expected to come up with how to fix sexism. But the sexism I face also hasn't ruined my life or made me miserable and I think it would be a shame if anyone self-selected out of a career that interested her based on an incomplete view about what life is like for women in that career path.

Anyhow, moving on.... this article in Slate about parenting a child with Down Syndrome is far from perfect, but then maybe that is sort of the point. None of us is perfect, and who is to say that the author's daughter is less perfect than mine? (Certainly, I wouldn't.) I particularly liked this quote:

"All of our accomplishments are few. All of our accomplishments are minor: my scribblings, his book, the best lines of the best living poets. We embroider away at our tiny tatters of insight as though the world hung on them, when it is chiefly we ourselves who hang on them. Often a dog or cat with none of our advanced skills can offer more comfort to our neighbor than we can. (Think: Would you rather live with Shakespeare or a cute puppy?) Each of us has the ability to give only a little bit of joy to those around us. I would wager Eurydice gives as much as any person alive."

I really like the reminder that everyone has something to give, and none of us really knows whose gifts are most important.

(Incidentally, this brings to mind Cloud Atlas, which I just finished reading. I liked it, and I thought one of the themes was the unpredictable, almost stochastic, importance of individuals. But I will not do the book justice in a short aside here. Maybe I'll come back to it and write more. Regardless, I recommend it.)

OK, now things get a little darker... this is an old article by Helaina Hovitz about being a child in school near the Twin Towers on 9/11, written for the 10th anniversary of the event. It was hard to read, but good for those of us who weren't there to read her perspective, I think.

And over at Change the Debate, the results of a foray into the gun regulation debate, which is just about as depressing as you'd expect.

Finally, to end on an upbeat note, I really like this blog post from Alex Korb, a neuroscience postdoc, about yoga, and why it works. I'd never thought about the fact that the discomfort and challenge of yoga poses can be part of the point.

And I anticipate I'll waste a lot of time at Stochastic Planet. Just click through and see- it is cool! (Found via @smbaxtersd's twitter stream.)

I hope you all have a good weekend!


  1. Just in case anyone is tempted to skip the 9/11 article-- I urge you to read it. I was a 19 year-old living in lower Manhattan and every persons story in that article resonated with my experience. So often this story is framed as a national tragedy but for those of us who lived through that trauma zone, it felt incredibly personal.
    In the wake of the event and still today, I wished that more Americans actually considered the cost all of the cilvilians and the survivors paid that day. Yes, there were heroes, but heroism is often defined by the side you're fighting on. The real tragedy in my mind is that our country, even after experiencing a taste of what it means for civilians to find themselves in the line of fire, has no problem initiating and continuing conflicts that do exactly that each day. But then again, it took 10 years for these stories to come out, it's not like any of us were in any shape to be talking about it in the weeks/months/years that followed. I'm thankful for therapist who diagnosed PTSD in me and my roommates right from the start but I mourn for those of my peers who have tried to heal this pain on their own. I used to give directions to my apartment that included "turn left at the hole and walk 6 blocks." No matter what is built there, for many the hole still remains.

    1. Thank you so much for this comment, Calee. I think that sometimes after a tragedy, a lot of people have to "look away" from the details of the suffering of those closest to it, just for self-preservation. I know that I'm doing that with Sandy Hook now- I still haven't read any of the detailed descriptions of what happened. But I think that when we do that, we owe it to the people who don't have the option of looking away to try to at least see how they are being hurt by events and try to support them and also try to decrease the chance of similar tragedies, if we can.

  2. Loved the Avivah Wittenberg-Cox piece: "It is time to recognize that it is the people currently in power who are the ones best able to understand and adapt their systems." Hard to believe that suggestion is any sort of ground-breaking business news in 2013, but for the men who run things, apparently it most certainly is.

    The Slate piece by Christina Nehring reviewing "Far From the Tree" by Andrew Solomon (a long, excellent book I've just recently finished) totally missed the mark. Oy. I'm not a fan of any parent who critiques another parent for grieving the wrong way, and insists the other parent's authentic emotional response or lack thereof to their child having a short-term but potentially serious medical issue is "cowardly." Ugh. Having a special needs child does not automatically give one a free pass to sit in judgment of any other parent that way, and it would be a shame if folks avoided Solomon's fantastic work based on Nehring's review.

  3. I also just finished reading Cloud Atlas and really enjoyed it. Now I'm contemplating going to see the movie. Really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it!


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