Friday, January 16, 2015

Weekend Reading: Another Mishmash Edition

First of all, thank you all for the sock and style blog recommendations! I'll be doing some blog browsing and possibly some sock buying this weekend.

I spent a large chunk of my day working on slides for a talk I'm going to give about preparing your a job search. I don't mind making slides, per se, but I do have an interesting pattern of cleaning my desk when I have slides to make. And then I had to write a short bio of myself, something I hate doing beyond all proportion to how hard it actually is.

So, what I'm saying is that my brain is pretty much checked out and you shouldn't expect much from the commentary around these links.

But they are, as usual, awesome links!

I really liked this post defending academic writing and the practice of taking the time to really study things. I don't have a problem with the fact that scholarship advances the way it does- I do wish, though, that we could manage to get more of that wonderful scholarship presented as well in forums and formats from which the rest of us could absorb some new knowledge. When I said in my "I'm a publisher now" post that I was interested in people's academic work, I was serious. However, I also understand that time is finite and that people will prioritize the things that keep them employed and their career advancing. I don't have a solution for that.

I also really liked this NY Times column about the hazards of speaking while female. OK, "liked" might not be the right word. It resonated with me and my experiences.

This week, I was thinking about my experiences of speaking while female, and also about the fact that it seems a lot of the guys in my field have a discussion style that veers towards incredulity when disagreeing with something I say- as in a style that makes me feel like they think that what I'm saying is the most asinine and/or stupid thing they have ever heard- but that these same guys (most of whom I actually really like) will often change their mind and agree with me if I just keep answering their objections.

I'm not sure what to do with that. Mostly I press ahead and then come home and have a beer.

Given that line of thought, this essay from Katherine Angel about the experience of writing while female also resonated, even though she is discussing the literary world and I work in the tech world.
It is long, but worth your time. Here are some choice quotes:

"Being underestimated — by men, by women, by themselves — is something most women have in common. We have to work harder from the outset to resist being dismissed, to attain equal footing, and then to maintain it. It’s endless, repetitive work, cut across and intensified by yet other assumptions based on accent, skin color, class, education, dress."


"Not being responsible for the inequality out there in the world doesn't mean one shouldn't try to chip away at it."


"The visibility and status of women’s writing is important precisely because of a web of marginalization across all areas of life. "

On a similar subject, here's a hilarious list of instructions for interviewing a woman writer.

Again, not sure what to do with all of this. I suspect the only thing I can do is have another beer and wait for more guys to have daughters. Here is a better than average example of the tech guy who has a daughter and suddenly starts to get it essay. I guess I'll take the more enlightened men no matter how we get them. But one thing I'd like to ask all the men who write these essays is why it takes having a daughter to see the problem. Why can't they listen to their wives- whom they presumably love and respect- or grow some empathy and read an essay like one of the two linked above and really get it? Why do they need a daughter to really observe this dynamic?

I guess that will remain one of the mysteries of our age.

Speaking of things that make me grumpy, have you heard about the measles outbreak we're having?

On a much less clear cut health topic, here is a really good essay from a man whose wife has episodes of serious mental illness.

Heather Barmore's essay about seeing Selma with her father is also really, really good.

Vox reports on the threats they received in the aftermath of their Charlie Hebdo reporting. Spoiler: the threats mostly weren't from Muslims upset about the cartoons.

Ta-Nehisi Coates happens to be in Paris, and has written some initial thoughts on recent events. I look forward to reading his further thoughts.

I have been struck by how little attention has been paid in the press I see to the four Jewish men killed in the supermarket. They are included in the BBC's obituaries. I have also been struck by the way people seem to want to overlook the very real threat that Jews in France feel from the radical Islamists in their country. It was only a couple of years ago that there was a horrific attack on a Jewish school, and I read somewhere (that I cannot find now) that many Jewish parents believe that Amedy Coulibaly (the man who later attacked the supermarket) was heading for a Jewish school when a traffic incident diverted him and he killed a policewoman instead. Whether that is true or not, the fact that they believe it to be true says a lot.

I think we struggle with the messy realities of this situation.

As usual, I don't want to end on such heavy topics, so here are some fun things:

This imagining of Harry Potter retold as a story about Hermione is full of spoilers and swear words, but a lot of fun.

This middle school dance performance is pretty cool. Watch at least through the dance version of bubble sort, about half way through.

Here are some beautiful pictures of ancient trees.

I've been to Boring. I think I'll have to try to visit Dull.


  1. I'm with Knuth on this, "Bubble sort has nothing to recommend it beyond a catchy name."

  2. Anonymous4:16 AM

    The Guardian has a long article on "The threat to France's Jews" (

  3. Ugh. The measles outbreak. I love how I keep reading comments about "Half the people who contracted measles were vaccinated, so what does that say about vaccine efficacy."

    I don't know. What about the THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of people at the theme parks those days who didn't contract measles because they'd been vaccinated?

    I jest. I don't really love those comments.

  4. I haven't read the link yet, so I'm not sure whether or not it would support this theory, and it's sheer speculation, but: I wonder if having a daughter makes more of a difference because watching a girl grow up, firsthand, it's easier for a gender essentialist to see all the ways gender essentialism is hogwash? And to see all the *possibilities* for that girl in the future? If we don't quash it?

    Easier to explain away things that have happened to a wife, though that doesn't say a lot for one's empathy. And then especially if said wife has internalized a lot of sexism and doesn't object...


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