September 7, 2018

Does anyone have creative ways to get your dog exercise during these scary-hot weeks? There was a heat index of 105 this week, and we’ve already been to the creek twice and Petsmart for a shopping spree – anyone have other ideas?

  1. Why Married Women Are Using Two Last Names on Facebook
    , the Atlantic.

    I made this choice – two last names, no hyphen – as my legal name change. I didn’t make the choice so I could be findable on Facebook (lol!), but because the thought of not having Hampton in my name anymore didn’t sit right with me. This is such a personal journey for all kinds of marrying people, and I don’t think there’s a wrong choice as long as you feel good about it. My mom made her maiden name a second middle name, which taught me early on that there is always more than two choices. I think my parents’ model of mutual respect, refined over years of shifting needs, informed a lot of the way I approach marriage. For me they prove that a 50/50 split of “the work,” defined exactly the same over the years, isn’t what I want to go for. In different seasons, one person does more like 60 or 70 percent, and then things reverse in another stage of life. As we approach our first anniversary, this is something about my parents that I admire and hope to imitate.

  2. Romantic comedies are having a moment. Can it last? Vox. “I think any defense of rom-coms has to begin with the idea that it can be enjoyable and worthwhile to watch two attractive people trade banter, face complications, and eventually fall in love, and there is nothing wrong with that. That basic plot template is not inherently less valuable than the one about the sad, mean man who is really good at something and so has no excuse but to be terrible to the people around him, or the one about the people who fight in a war and are very brave. The fact that we treat rom-coms as frothy nonsense for dumb people stems from the fact that romantic comedies are generally marketed to women, whom our culture does not like — not from the genre’s inherent value.” Loving this discussion of my favorite genre.

    ”Part of what killed the romantic comedy in the mid-’00s was that the biggest studio rom-coms, your How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days or your Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, were getting increasingly slick and smarmy and cynical. They followed the formula of a rom-com on a surface level — aspirational jobs, fancy clothes, beautiful people — but they were made with a palpable contempt for both their characters and the people who enjoy watching romantic comedies. These movies didn’t care about their characters or why they should fall in love; they were just putting them through the motions. And watching them didn’t feel escapist and joyous and fun. It felt gross and slimy.” YES.

  3. Why you feel richer or poorer than you really are, The Cut. “The problem, of course, is our reference points are often wrong. My parents had the same amount of money before and after they remembered the pool; the cost savings weren’t real. For social comparisons, Gladstone notes the critical obvious: “Spending is public, but saving is private.” We see our neighbors taking lavish vacations and buying new cars — not their debt or dwindling savings.” Interesting. Money is gross!

  4. It Came From the 70s: The Story of Your Grandma’s Weird Couch, Collectors Weekly. “During postwar years, we were very much about expansion of America into the West: Phoenix, Arizona, and Houston, Texas were exploding,” Kueber explains. “All of Texas and California were growing, growing, growing, growing, growing. So all things ‘Western’ were huge, from ranch houses to denim jeans. Along with that come all these Old West motifs in furnishings. My Grandma and Grandpa loved those Western TV shows when I was young. People were coming off the farm, too, like my grandparents, who moved their family from the farm in North Dakota to the suburbs of Southern California in the ’60s. In my attic right now, I literally have an ox-yoke mirror that came from North Dakota. Grandpa took this farm implement and upcycled it. It’s a part of America’s farming, pioneering heritage. But what am I going to do with it? I can’t sell it now. I can’t even give it away.” There’s history in all kinds of mundane, even ugly things, and I like that. I learned about this subreddit called What Is This Thing, where people post pictures of odd tools and plastic parts, foreign foods and mysterious toys, and commenters weigh in. I’m amazed how quickly commenters can identify things, and it reminds me that for every unfamiliar thing, there’s someone who’s an expert, and I think that’s wonderful.

  5. I Worked With Avital Ronell. I Believe Her Accuser, The Chronicle of Higher Ed. “The American university knows only the language of extortion. “Tell,” it purrs, curling its fingers around your IV drip, “and we’ll eat you alive.” Avital conducts herself as if someone somewhere is always persecuting her. She learned this, I imagine, in graduate school. No woman escapes the relentless misogyny of the academy. The humanities are sadistic for most people, especially when you aren’t a white man. This is understood to be normal. When students in my department asked for more advising, we were told we were being needy. “Graduate school should destroy you,” one professor laughed.” I thought this was one of the best pieces on this situation and the larger exploitation culture in academia. This conversation, which is also picked up in this New Yorker piece, is very intense and if you don’t know much about this story, you should know going in that there’s a lot of frustrating undermining of victim stories as well as some pompous discourse. As I read these pieces and reflect on another boundary-crossing situation in the Mountain Goats fandom (plus more repulsive behavior from Louis CK), I am just so sick of the ways that people with power crush weaker people, and experience very few consequences. Also, real talk: Don’t date your students! There is absolutely no circumstance where this is not creepy.

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