Thursday, January 20, 2011 11:22 AM
On the heels of Utne’s Work Package in our latest issue, Boston Review has a forum on the possibilities for full employment in today’s economy.
Who says that wind power needs to come from turbines? Introducing: fibro-wind arrays.
In what may be the most important piece of news this week, Paul the Psychic Octopus’ soccer-predicting legacy will not be forgotten.
From Guernica: Detroitism: What does “ruin porn” tell us about the motor city?
A visual number crunching of the state of modern-day marriage. There’s nothing like graphs and pretty pictures to get the point across.
The New Republic’s art critic on the state of photojournalism.
Monday, October 26, 2009 9:53 AM
Sometimes a piece of nonfiction rolls around that, without even meaning to, puts in vivid perspective just how unwriterly a fair bit of nonfiction (especially memoir) can be. In the Fall 2009 issue of Ruminate, April Schimdt’s “40 Days” is just that piece—a captivating, expertly crafted story about intimacy, marriage, and faith, made searing by the periodic remembrance that it’s not a work of fiction.
Image by Hammer51012, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, June 12, 2009 3:48 PM
Cooking food is the defining activity that makes us human, according to Harvard biological anthropologist and primatologist Richard Wrangham. In an interview with Seed, Wrangham says that cooking food makes it easier to digest calories, which may have led to our evolutionary dominance over other species. It has also created a system of ownership, where food is saved and owned, rather than eaten straight off the vine like monkeys.
This ownership society also led to our societal system of marriage, according to Wrangham, where dominant males do “manly” things, like hunt, pillage, and talk politics, while relying on females to cook the dinner. Marriage, Wrangham says, is essentially a “protection racket in which the woman is required to feed a man because of the threat of having her food taken by other men.”
No word from Wrangham on why cooking is such a male-dominated profession.
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Friday, June 05, 2009 10:26 AM
I know firsthand how couples agonize over wedding invitations, having recently gotten hitched myself. For creative folks, the pressure is always on to come up with an original idea, and I’ve seen some incredible examples in my time. But this wedding invite takes the cake. It makes me feel really happy, and I don’t even know this couple. Enjoy.
(Thanks The Daily What ).
Wednesday, June 03, 2009 5:08 PM
Putting aside moral arguments for or against, same-sex marriage could make the United States a stronger country internationally. Same-sex marriages would be an economic boon to the United States, according to an article from the Christian Science Monitor. State governments could issue more marriage licenses, collect more income taxes, and pay less in health care costs if same-sex marriage were legalized. The article cites studies showing that Massachusetts has added some $37 million to its coffers, and Maine could save $7.3 million on health care costs alone through same-sex marriage.
Critics, including GOP Chairman Michael Steele, have argued that same-sex marriage would actually drive up health care costs by creating more dependents. That would add only 1 or 2 percent to companies health care costs, according to research cited by the Christian Science Monitor, and could be offset because “marriage – whether gay or heterosexual – provides a safety net for spouses,” making more people ineligible for state benefits.
Gay-friendly laws also would allow the United States to attract more of the brightest minds in the world, Stephen M. Walt writes for Foreign Policy. Discrimination on the basis of race, religion, or sexual orientation actually restricts the talent pool of immigrants who might otherwise become productive members of a society. Walt writes:
All else equal, societies that establish strong norms and institutions that protect individual rights and freedoms (including those governing sexual preference, I might add) will become attractive destinations for a wider array of potential citizens than societies that try to maintain a high degree of uniformity. And when you can choose from a bigger talent pool, over time you're going to do better.
Maybe that’s the storm that these people are worried about:
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Christian Science Monitor
Thursday, May 07, 2009 2:30 PM
Friends and family will tell you: Marriage is work. Keeping two people in a fulfilling relationship is difficult, while adultery comes naturally, the CrimethInc Collective write in Briarpatch. The problem, according to the article that "borrows liberally" from Against Love by Laura Kipnis, is that marriage turns relationships into “a domestic factory policed by rigid shop-floor discipline designed to keep wives and husbands chained to the machinery of responsible reproduction.”
Marriage resembles a market system, according to the article: “your intimacy is governed by scarcity, threats, and programmed prohibitions, and protected ideologically by assurances that there are no viable alternatives.”
Rather than make yourself a slave to the system, the article advocates cheating—and cheating openly. Sure, people will get hurt, but people always get hurt when the status-quo is upset.
Even if you don’t believe that marriage is tool of capitalist oppression, defenses of cheating are proliferating wildly on the internet. The irreverent Jewish site Jewcy recently published an interview with the founder of Shaindy.com, a site designed for “Religious Jewish married people, who are looking for some excitement outside of their marriage.” The founder claims that more than 3,000 chat or messages are sent between the sites members every day.
The idea is reminiscent of this video by Dane Cook on how to keep a marriage alive for more than 55 years:
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Sources: Briarpatch, Jewcy
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 10:07 AM
“We all know that ‘good marriages take work.’ There it is again, work: the cornerstone of our society. Wage labour, relationship labour—are you ever not on the clock?”
—The CrimethInc. Ex-Workers’ Collective, “Adultery and Other Half Revolutions,” from Briarpatch
“[W]e all have the freedom to choose the identity that most reflects our aspirations. I’ve let go of the tropes of the moment, ways others define my identity—blackness, femaleness, bisexuality, Americanness, able-bodiedness. I work to cultivate an identity that is more nuanced, more intuitive than these blanket terms.”
—Rebecca Walker, interviewed by Joy Gugeler, from Room (not available online)
“The fat salaries paid to underperforming CEOs are an adult version of the A–.”
William Deresiewicz, “The Hypothesis,” from Lapham’s Quarterly (not available online)
“Instead of having sand made out of coral and lava rocks and other rocks and shells, now we are having beaches made out of broken-down plastics.”
—Captain Charles Moore, interviewed by Nell Greenberg, from Earth Island Journal
Sources: Briarpatch, Room, Lapham’s Quarterly, Earth Island Journal
Image by Ljubisa Bojic, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008 10:10 AM
Wedding cake, birthday cake, “let them eat cake.” Cake is classy, elegant, and above all, traditional. But what about its oft-ignored dessert cousin, the pie? Salon.com writer Vincent Rossmeier argues that pie is in fact superior to cake; it is “the perfect dessert.”
“Pie is moist where cake is too often arid; it’s complex where cake is too often banal,” he writes.“Pie offers me lasting contentment, whereas all cake can tender is a cloying sugar rush. In a subtle, supple flake of pie crust there is more of heaven than in all the world’s slabs of cake combined.”
It’s a tough call to make. Who wouldn’t enjoy an airy slice of coconut cream cake? Who could say no to a perfectly spicy carrot cake with sweet cream-cheese frosting? Then again, Rossmeier has history on his side. Pie stretches back to medieval and even Egyptian times, when it was considered food as well as decoration (releasing live birds out of baked goods was popular, apparently). The English brought pie over to the colonies, where it became the go-to dessert, served with nearly every meal.
It’s no secret that dessert carries a hefty cultural caché—when’s the last time a parent sent their naughty child to bed without the salad course? In pie, Rossmeier sees the means to suffuse that most revered of courses with deep social identity. "In America, pie is as regionalized as dialects, serving as a landmark of place and history,” he writes.
(Rossmeier is preparing for his wedding, and reveals that instead of cake, he and his beloved will be serving wedding pie. His soon-to-be wife is totally fine with that.)
Image by thebittenword.com, licensed under Creative Commons.
Monday, December 15, 2008 4:06 PM
The holidays aren’t always a party for single people, especially when family members insist on using Christmas gatherings to pressure young people into getting married. “So,” someone always asks, “are you seeing anyone special?”
Deflecting these all-too-personal interrogations can takes dexterity and grace, but it can help to be prepared. Writing for the Christian site Busted Halo, Dr. Christine B. Whelan gives some advice and sample answers for single people on the holidays. For example, if someone asks, “You’re always at the office! Do you even have time for a relationship?” Whelan suggests cracking a joke by saying, “Oh, it’s OK. I keep him/her in a closet. He’s very patient.”
The jokes aren’t very funny, but they could work in deflecting some of the pressure. Whelan suggests keeping in mind that most people sincerely want single people to be happy, no matter what the actual outcome of their questions may be. Here are a few other stock answers I would suggest:
Question: Are you dating anyone?
Answer: No, I haven’t dated anyone. Not since… the accident. (Then trail off and walk away.)
Question: What happened to that nice girl/boy you were dating?
Answer: He/She was eaten by an angry hippopotamus a few months ago.
Question: You’re still single? What’s wrong with you?
Answer: Que? Discúlpame, pero no hablo ingles. Permiso, yo necesito un trago.
Image by Greg Palmer, licensed under Creative Commons.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008 9:13 AM
Not wanting to miss out on the nationwide marriage shouting match, the Georgia Supreme Court’s Commission on Children, Marriage, and Family Law (pdf) has recently sponsored a series of billboards with the message “Get Married, Stay Married.”
The sentiment might seem outdated, but the commission argues that science is on its side, pointing to research showing that children who grow up in two-parent households do better in school and are less likely to commit crimes later in life.
However, the good intentions behind these efforts are muddled by a potential conflict of interest. According to the Fulton County Daily Report, Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears has spearheaded the campaign and last week helped cosponsor a pro-marriage symposium that gathered participants from the fields of psychology, law, and religion. The other sponsor of the event was the Institute for American Values (IAV), a “private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that contributes intellectually to strengthening families and civil society in the U.S. and the world.” (Sears told the Fulton County Daily Report that "very little state money" was used for the event, with private foundations picking up the tab and the IAV covering speakers' honoraria and transportation costs.)
But just like the benign-sounding “family values” behind the right's social agenda, the “American Values” touted by the IAV don’t include equal rights for the GLBT community. During a conference debate with the Brookings Institution's Jonathan Rauch, author of Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, IAV president David Blankenhorn argued vehemently against gay marriage, claiming it would weaken the general institution of marriage.
Sears, who was targeted as a gay-marriage proponent in her 1998 and 2004 re-election bids, took pains to give both men equal time, but wouldn't take a stance on the issue, citing her position on the Supreme Court. The same care to maintain neutrality should have prevented the commission from teaming up with an organization that is so vocally against gay rights in the first place.
Image courtesy of the Supreme Court of Georgia.
Monday, May 12, 2008 12:40 PM
Expectations about nuptial readiness differ around the world. In the United States, it might seem hurried to marry before college graduation, but “early marriage” elsewhere can mean pushing pre-teen or teen girls toward matrimony, even when it’s illegal. Girls can avoid early marriage, reports humanitarian organization CARE International in the spring 2008 issue of its magazine I Am Powerful (article not available online), with the proper help.
A recent case in point comes from India, where a grandfather demanded his 15-year-old granddaughter marry, despite Indian law setting the age of consent at 18. A CARE-trained volunteer health worker helped the girl take her case to the village council. Not only did the council decide in the girl’s favor, it formed a committee on early marriage to dissuade families from arranging early marriages for their adolescent daughters.
In Yemen, an 8-year-old girl forced to marry a 30-year-old man sought help from the courts, the Yemen Times reported in April. While Yemeni law dictates that girls and boys must be 15 before they can marry, parents are allowed to make a contract on behalf of younger children. “But the husband cannot be intimate with her until she is ready or mature,” says a Yemen Supreme Court lawyer. After the girl complained of her husband’s physical and sexual abuse, her father told her she would have to get a divorce herself if she wanted one. She petitioned for divorce, and the judge ordered the arrest of her husband and father.
The BBC reports that a judge annulled the girl's marriage. "Nojoud is living happily with me and my eight other children," her uncle told the British broadcaster. "She is looking forward to going back to primary school as soon as possible."
(Thanks, Minnesota Women’s Press.)
Image by Steve Weaver, licensed under Creative Commons.
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