Sheryl Sandberg can keep right on leaning in if it makes her happy, but here’s my new feminist manifesto — call it a Manifestus for the Rest of Us.
We need to fight for our right to lean out, and we need to do it together, girls. If we’re going to fight the culture of workplace ubiquity, and the parallel and equally-pernicious culture of intensive parenting, we need to do it together — and we need to bring our husbands and boyfriends and male colleagues along, too. They need to lean out in solidarity, for their own sake as well as ours.
Women of the world, recline!
Colorado is making BIG money from tax revenues from the sale of legal marijuana. Colorado may pull in $155 million this year, which is more than anyone expected. This news is making other states look at Colorado with envy. State legislatures all over the country are struggling to balance their budgets, so this source of easy money is causing state legislators and governors to reevaluate their views on drugs.
It’s a big topic, here in New Jersey. Philip Morris is not actually considering releasing a pot cigarette, despite the buzz on the Internet; it was a hoax. But this hoax had legs, because most people believe that legal pot is on the horizon.
I’m not a huge fan of the legalization of pot. I’m quite happy with my legal vices and don’t need more options. My friends, who like to wake and bake, seem to have no trouble finding product, but the people who really shouldn’t have access to the drug (ie my kid) have sufficient road blocks. I find it odd that we’re de-stimatizing pot, while tobacco is vilified.
I hate to be the uncool blogger, but the idea of a bunch of semi-employed 20-somethings sitting around a rental apartment getting baked all day is kind of depressing.
Same-sex marriage policies have somehow become joined with pot legalization policies. Pot is the new gay marriage. Maybe Andrew Sullivan is to blame for that coupling. But they are substantially different. We have no idea of what the social implications of the legalization of recreational pot use. Colorado may see a short-term rise in revenues in taxes, but then may have to shell out double the money for rehab centers five years down the line. We really don’t know what will happen.
So, I think we should keep legal pot in Colorado for ten years, not let it expand past its borders, and monitor the impact. Does legal pot increase consumption? Does it create a class of baked dudes with dreadlocks and skateboards? Does pot become a gateway drug for harder drugs? Does it increase the need for state-run rehab centers? Does it increase the number of people who drive, while high? Or does it have a minimal negative impact?
In the New Republic, Evgeny Morozov mocks the new “Mindful” movement. Arianna Huffington and others ask that we turn off our 24/7 Internet lifestyle for an hour and… I don’t know what… do yoga or eat a Greek yogurt or look at a sunset or something. Morozov thinks that unplugging from Twitter and Facebook is a good idea, but not for some new-age, Oprah Winfrey, love-the-real-you reason. He sees it as an act of rebellion.
In other words, why we disconnect matters: We can continue in today’s mode of treating disconnection as a way to recharge and regain productivity, or we can view it as a way to sabotage the addiction tactics of the acceleration-distraction complex that is Silicon Valley. The former approach is reactionary but the latter can lead to emancipation, especially if such acts of refusal give rise to genuine social movements that will make problems of time and attention part of their political agendas—and not just the subject of hand-wringing by the Davos-based spirituality brigades. Hopefully, these movements will then articulate alternative practices, institutions, and designs. If it takes an act of unplugging to figure out how to do it, let’s disconnect indeed. But let us not do it for the sake of reconnecting on the very same terms as before. We must be mindful of all this mindfulness.
I like that. Unplug. It’s good for you. But don’t unplug from this blog. That would be a bad thing.
Alex Baldwin rants to New York Magazine about his awful year. His essay is a “wow.” Baldwin clearly has an enormous ego and a mean streak, but he makes some interesting points about modern media and its superficiality. His behind-the-scenes discussion of the bored and jaded news producers and theater directors is probably accurate.
Baldwin has benefited from the superficiality of the modern media. Why else did he briefly get a talk show on MSNBC? There are many, many people who know a great deal more about politics than he does, but they weren’t offered a time slot. He has benefitted handsomely from a celebrity culture that gave him a soap box to talk about politics and TV shows and great wealth. It takes an enormous ego to not recognize that he’s the beneficiary of everything that he hates.
I know I already linked to Caitlin Flanagan’s article about fraternities in the Atlantic, but I really have to give this first paragraph a shout out.
One warm spring night in 2011, a young man named Travis Hughes stood on the back deck of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at Marshall University, in West Virginia, and was struck by what seemed to him—under the influence of powerful inebriants, not least among them the clear ether of youth itself—to be an excellent idea: he would shove a bottle rocket up his ass and blast it into the sweet night air. And perhaps it was an excellent idea. What was not an excellent idea, however, was to misjudge the relative tightness of a 20-year-old sphincter and the propulsive reliability of a 20-cent bottle rocket. What followed ignition was not the bright report of a successful blastoff, but the muffled thud of fire in the hole.
Like most parents, I whine about it and kiss the brats all at the same time. I’m not whining so much about parenting any more. The kids themselves are easy as long as you give them a frozen burrito and good wifi access. My whines du jour are mostly about being stuck in the suburbs until the kids finish school.
Facinating research on social mobility, or the lack of it.
When you look across centuries, and at social status broadly measured — not just income and wealth, but also occupation, education and longevity — social mobility is much slower than many of us believe, or want to believe. This is true in Sweden, a social welfare state; England, where industrial capitalism was born; the United States, one of the most heterogeneous societies in history; and India, a fairly new democracy hobbled by the legacy of caste. Capitalism has not led to pervasive, rapid mobility. Nor have democratization, mass public education, the decline of nepotism, redistributive taxation, the emancipation of women, or even, as in China, socialist revolution.
To a striking extent, your overall life chances can be predicted not just from your parents’ status but also from your great-great-great-grandparents’. The recent study suggests that 10 percent of variation in income can be predicted based on your parents’ earnings. In contrast, my colleagues and I estimate that 50 to 60 percent of variation in overall status is determined by your lineage. The fortunes of high-status families inexorably fall, and those of low-status families rise, toward the average — what social scientists call “regression to the mean” — but the process can take 10 to 15 generations (300 to 450 years), much longer than most social scientists have estimated in the past.
Ultimately, the authors believe that IQ is the primary determinant of social success. Schools, privileges and public policy don’t do much to alter the slow, but inevitable move towards the mean for the wealthy, nor do they give the poorer a larger and permanent boost.
Last weekend, I stuck a big toe into social media, while I was on my illness-imposed blackout from the Internet. My twitter friends were up in arms about Nicholas Kristof’s column about the lack of public engagement by academics.
“Many academics frown on public pontificating as a frivolous distraction from real research,” said Will McCants, a Middle East specialist at the Brookings Institution. “This attitude affects tenure decisions. If the sine qua non for academic success is peer-reviewed publications, then academics who ‘waste their time’ writing for the masses will be penalized.”
The latest attempt by academia to wall itself off from the world came when the executive council of the prestigious International Studies Association proposed that its publication editors be barred from having personal blogs. The association might as well scream: We want our scholars to be less influential!
A related problem is that academics seeking tenure must encode their insights into turgid prose. As a double protection against public consumption, this gobbledygook is then sometimes hidden in obscure journals — or published by university presses whose reputations for soporifics keep readers at a distance.
Jill Lepore, a Harvard historian who writes for The New Yorker and is an exception to everything said here, noted the result: “a great, heaping mountain of exquisite knowledge surrounded by a vast moat of dreadful prose.”
I’m glad that I was ill and not up for blogging. I probably would have responded too quickly. Instead, I flipped through the responses on the academic blogs and twitter. Some responses were good. Others were defensive and clueless.
Note: if you are a quantitative social scientist, it’s a little embarrassing if you point to outliers as proof that Kristof is wrong. It’s even more embarrassing if the outliers are completely unknown to the general public and the journals that they write for are behind paywalls. It’s even more embarrassing if you use an imperious tone during the blog post.
I’m not even sure if I like the term, “public intellectual.” It’s rather elitist — a great mind will emerge once or twice a year from the Gothic towers of a university and make a pronouncement that all will hail as brilliant. Is this person really more knowledgable than a person who is getting their hands dirty in a policy area or who is embedded in a region or who reads a shitload of books? Why should we pay attention to someone, who isn’t paying attention to us?
I would prefer to see a small corner of the world — the part that isn’t devoted to SEO rankings and Kim Kardashian’s stretch marks — that is able to discuss ideas and research without concern about university affiliations or degrees or press credentials or traffic numbers or CV building. Just regular smart people bullshitting together and coming up with something really good.
Update: Great discussion about this topic by Joshua Rothman at the New Yorker. And it’s great, because he basically says the same thing as I did.
I have barely blogged, tweeted, facebooked, or glanced at an online newspaper in days. I can’t think of the last time, I totally unplugged myself. My e-mail box is a complete disaster. There are really important notes, I’m sure, in there buried under the notices for sales at Pottery Barn and a 20 percent coupon at Barnes and Noble. I’m sure that I need to “like” someone’s status updates; someone who counts who their likes and takes all non-likes as snubs.
So, a ridiculous sinus inflection kept me house-bound for days. I found the perfect place on the sofa where my head was properly propped up between two cushions. And I pretty much stayed there for days, until I summoned up the energy to wait for two hours at the Urgent Care clinic down the block for antibiotics.
I’m feeling much better, so I’m back to bossing my family around. I wouldn’t exactly say that my family was pleased with my illness. Let’s just say that they were pleased to have an excuse to sit around the house for days, take naps, sleep late, and not have an insane woman waking them up during their winter holiday and making them do stuff.
And Jonah may have just despaired as I bounded into his room, “Why did you have to get better?”
Yesterday afternoon, the antibiotics began to kick in, so we went into New York. Steve had to return to work this morning, so yesterday was our last chance to salvage something out of this break. Our first plan was to hit a museum and get some fun food, but we decided to simply things and bounce in quickly for a meal in Chinatown.
But bouncing quickly didn’t happen. Of course, we hit horrible traffic. The melting ice had shorted out some wire under 20th Street, which had promptly electrified the entire street. Door knobs, mental fences and manhole covers were giving people rude shocks, so they had to shut down that block. Then we heard that huge chunks of ice were falling from the skyscrapers near Wall Street and they had close off more blocks. It was very apocalyptic.
We dumped the car about fifteen blocks from our destination and walked.
It was actually a lovely day. Jonah took pictures of buildings with his iPhone. Ian asked millions of adorable questions. When Ian is happy, he doesn’t stop talking. My formerly mute boy is the best.
As we walked down Canal Street, I got a lot of “heybabyheybabyheybaby.” But nobody was trying to pick me up or sell me drugs. They were trying to sell me knock off handbags. It’s rather annoying to be old.
We went to the dive-Chinese restaurant that we love and then over three blocks to Mulberry Street for dessert.
We talked to random people on the street. An old guy saw me checking out a building and he stopped to tell me that the building was from 1808. Everybody was so happy that the temperature was finally above freezing and that destruction from melting ice was the sign of spring.
I need spring. And I need to take a second stab at waking up my oldest son who is annoyed that his mother is feeling better. Time to get up and DO THINGS, JONAH!!