1. Pleather.

    So, we are calling pleather “vegan leather” now. And apparently thrift shops are now “nostalgia boutiques.” Now you know. 

     

  2. Reading Turkle

    I’m reading Alone Together, and I’m struck by how bothered I am by the text. Not the argument, but the interviews. Empathy is changing, which means we, as humans, are changing. 

    I read The Swerve last year and it’s one of the few books that has really changed my entire perception of the world. I realized, which I’m a bit embarrassed to admit, that I thought of human development as moving forward, upward, towards more knowledge, more understanding. The story of On the Nature of Things made me realize, and I continue to feel really naive about this realization, that we are all but a bunch of stops and starts. So much is lost that will never be recovered. We forget lessons. We revise history—not in simple ways, but in truly profound ways that alter the course of centuries of human happiness and fulfillment. We are, perhaps, not evolving at all, but spinning. Turkle brings this all into focus just a bit. 

     

  3. Video screens in cars.

    I used to think that it was shitty to let your kids watch tv in the car. Little zombies sitting in the backseat with their eyes glued to yet another screen. But, really, how abnormal is it to strap your children into a carseat like they are some sort of fighter pilot and zoom off in a metal bullet all over town? And long trips? Torture. They both suck. If I could afford a car with little screens in the headrests, I’d probably turn them on. We would all just embrace the entire odd experience together…

     

  4. Jobs.

    Since I’m pretty confident that I will not get a job during this cycle, I’m thinking of starting a book club. A few of my students started one after my class this semester, and I’m thinking it’s the one thing i’ve never done and would totally rock out. I was born to start a book club. Why haven’t I done it yet? 

     

  5. Poverty

    The New York Times is running a series on child poverty in the city. The stories are horrific and tragic and easily preventable. That final point, that they are preventable, should be so utterly shameful to every single American that we take to the streets. The fact that it does not shame us makes me think that we are not progressing much at all. I’m struck, consistently blindsided, by how we treat our children. Our laws do not protect them. Our safety net does not protect them. Our communities do not protect them. We fail to educate them. We fail to feed them. We fail to mentor them. It’s sick and soulless and I don’t understand it at all.

     
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  7. People not responding to emails

    I don’t get this, and I probably think about it too much, but I’m overwhelmed by how rude it is. Particularly when you’ve met the person or you are waiting on important information. Perhaps it goes back to this whole idea of people being “too busy” for non-essential communication, which, by the way, is total bullshit, but it seems to be prevalent in our culture. 

    Perfect example of people being too busy, but still doing non-essential things: I’m too busy to start this little blog, but fuck it. I’m doing it.

    And I respond to emails. Even to people I don’t particularly like. Because it’s the polite and professional thing to do. Everyone is busy. Even people who are not particularly busy are busy in their own self-indulgent, ego-maniacal way, and I totally respect that washed out, vague definition of being busy. I really do. But I fail to see a location on the busy spectrum that excuses anyone from not replying to a simple email. 

     

  8. Elf on the Shelf

    Our elf on the shelf is back, and I feel a bit bad about convincing our kids that he is watching them and reporting their behavior back to Santa. The whole thing is scarily appropriate for our surveillance culture though. The elf is watching you. You are watching the elf. Everyone is a bit weirded out and suspicious of who knows what. Parents resort to the most demeaning threats and bribes centered around what the elf knows. I could go on…

    Maybe the Elf on the Shelf is preparing kids for living in what will be mid-century America. Silent, seemingly kind surveillance that keeps your behavior in check. [This is where people would start talking about Foucault, but I would rather eat shit.] OR maybe it’s just another gimmick to extend Christmas into Thanksgiving. OR maybe it’s just something fun for the kids. If my home is any sort of barometer of how effective the elf is as a behavior tool, it wears off after a few days. You can literally see the kids think “Maybe screaming is just better than toys on Christmas. It’s worth the risk.” Maybe that’s the best lesson.

     

  9. The whole GoldiBlox thing.

    This is a pretty good summation of my thoughts on the whole thing, but I have yet to find a succinct article that argues that the copyright on “Girls” should have expired. It’s over 25 years old—we should have welcomed it, and the rest of Licensed to Ill, into the public domain a few years ago. 

     

  10. My husband is sleeping…

    on the sofa, and there is no class for four days, AND I’m not going to get anything useful done at 10pm, so I’m reading Edge. I wish I could read Edge more. I wish I could read the books that the people who contribute to Edge write more, but I can’t. And I’ve stopped feeling shitty about that. 

    I love reading about emotions: http://www.edge.org/panel/headcon-13-part-ii.

    [Of course, I only come to Edge after scoping out Pinterest for dumb shit that ranges from vintage photos to the most complex, horrific crafts that I will never, ever do with my kids, and equally complex recipes. And then I check FB where I impose overly academic arguments on simple opinion posts to unassuming friends. Such an ass. Then I look at HuffPost and wince past the Crime section. Then I check various emails, the bank account, only to click on the calculator on my computer and figure out how the hell we’ll get through the week, then, I glance over people.com, because, well, because. I scroll through Twitter, look at the most emailed articles in WaPo and the NYT; I read some if I still have free articles left. I check enrollment in my courses for the spring. If nothing else comes up, then I check Edge. Clearly, it’s a slow night. ]