remainder of the ixday

Found art: moss growing in sidewalk. Clinton Street, Southeast Portland, Oregon.

Updates to previous items:

  • Just when I sneer that most thinking fans of Downton Abbey are not simply blinded by the pageantry of the prewar landed gentry, Roger Ebert comes out with this saccharine love-letter to “the way things were” when “people knew their place.” Vom. And, for the record, I think P.G. Wodehouse sucks as well.
  • In an interesting twist to that Caitlin Flanagan quasi-hit-piece on Joan Didion I linked to last week, New York Magazine has published an essay by Meghan O’Rourke that’s… kind of a hit piece on Caitlin Flanagan. In a tidy bit of parallelism, O’Rourke accuses Flanagan of being old and out of touch with the demographic she’s writing on. I generally believe that anything from NYMag should be taken with a grain of salt, but passages like this are pretty damning:

 The book [Girl Land] is supposed to be about “the great and unchanging questions of Girl Land, as they are asked and answered in the ever-shifting landscape of today’s youth culture.” Rather than face up to that challenging subject, she withdraws into the fifties, sixties, and seventies, when she grew up—so mired in Judy Blume and Patty Hearst that she neglects to fully explore social media, Twilight, Lady Gaga, or, really, anything about how girls live today.


And it’s this, as much as their new sexual vulnerability, that girls struggle with: They are endowed with powerful desire that is rarely acknowledged outside their own inner lives—or is viewed as frightening. We’ve traded a coercive system of sexual repression for a faux-permissive one that encourages and channels sexual expression but also cries out against it. No wonder some girls are the sexual equivalents of binge eaters, turning on one another, making themselves too readily available as a way of pretending that they are in control. This is a problem, but asking girls to turn back into Sandra Dee is not the solution.

Interesting items from the blogosphere:

  • Interesting New York Times article on staying mentally sharp throughout life. Sometimes it does stray very close to truism (““We have shown that those with less education may be able to compensate and look more like those who have higher education by adopting some of the common practices of the highly educated,” Dr. Lachman says.”) but some of the other research it summarizes was new to me: “In another study, Dr. Lachman showed that adults, particularly men, with low levels of education could also improve mental function by using a computer. Although researchers are not sure why, they speculate that computers required users to switch mental gears more frequently or process information in a new way, which quickened reaction time.”
  • Longtime readers of the blog will know that I have a special place in my heart for Seattle-area pastor Mark Driscoll. Careful longtime readers will remember that it is a place of loathing. Driscoll and his wife have a new book out, Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together which is so misogynistic and just plain icky that it’s making other evangelicals uncomfortable. Driscoll is a perfect distillation of religious intolerance and secular douchebaggery, and it makes both perfect and no sense that he made it in the Pacific Northwest. I’m always curious about what has happened in a man or woman’s life such that they get comfort in Driscoll’s message.

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