My Insider posts this week covered:
This week’s Klawchat transcript is up as well.
I’ve read a few books lately that I just won’t have the time or patience to review in full, but this seems like as good a place as any to mention them. I was very disappointed in Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald’s Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, which takes a very narrow look at its topic and lacks enough prescriptive measures for readers who want to correct their own biases. The authors focus on implicit biases, truly just subconscious prejudices based on race, gender, or age, without expanding in any way to discuss such unknown (to ourselves) biases in all aspects of our lives. While I understand that their research was limited to those interpersonal prejudices, the cognitive processes behind those and behind other biases – entrenched opinions on groups or classes that skew the decisions we make – are probably related, if not identical, and I would have appreciated a broader take on how to identify and correct biases in my own thinking.
I also read two anthologies in the last few weeks, one of which I recommend highly: The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014, edited by Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket). The book runs the gamut of writing, from essays to short stories to poetry (most of it terrible) to comics, with many of the works amazing and creative and unlikely to have come across my desk (or lap) in any other form. My favorite piece was Nathaniel Rich’s “The Man Who Saves You From Yourself,” about cult deprogrammer David Sullivan, who died one day after the piece was first published in Harper’s. The anthology also includes a superb interview with Mona Eltahawy, a clever and haunting short story from Pulitzer Prize-winner Adam Johnson, and the delightful comic “Have Tea and Cake with Your Demons” from Yumi Sakaguwa.
I was less entertained by The Best American Travel Writing 2014, which included far too many ponderous pieces that put the author ahead of the subject or the destination. The two standouts were Amanda Lindhout’s Twelve Minutes of Freedom” and Gary Shteyngart’s “Maximum Mumbai,” the first harrowing and emotional, the second witty and charming.
Lots of links this week and this wasn’t even everything, just what I remembered to post:
- A mother in Australia describes the “Agony of seeing my girl fight for life after contracting whooping cough.”
- Meanwhile, some real science on the causes of autism: It’s not vaccines or GMOs or circumcision, but your genes.
- Thanks to some added rainfall, Costa Rica filled all its power needs for 75 days using only renewable energy sources. That’s not a poor country using tiny amounts of energy, either.
- Fans of The Wire will want to watch this conversation between show creator David Simon and President Obama about the drug war and the vicious cycle of incarcerating drug users.
- Six tips for using your slow cooker via Tasting Table. The yogurt-making idea definitely appealed to me, given how much of the stuff I eat.
- Following on my Paleofantasy review, here’s a similar op ed from the Guardian that calls the “paleo” diet a dangerous ideology. This is the money quote:
The paleo diet is premised on a false image of stasis and harmony projected from an entirely arbitrary point in the long history of human evolution.
When you also add in that the arbitrary point isn’t even historically accurate, you’ve got a weak foundation for massive dietary changes.
- Related: Eating whole grains may help you live longer. I hope so, since I consume a lot of oats and oat products.
- Andrew Zimmern interviewed chef John Mirabella on eating the invasive lionfish.
- A beautiful post from Smithsonian on Via Margutta in Rome, a tiny street that’s appeared in numerous films.
- I doubt the University of North Georgia meant for their 2015 catalog to reinforce how women and minorities still come up short in business. White Privilege Studies, anyone?
- Want to know why the “religious freedom restoration” acts aren’t really just about religious freedom? The site RFRA Perils tells you why, and how those laws go well beyond the First Amendment protections for freedom of worship. These laws were always bad policy, but it’s even more egregious today.
- The language here is very NSFW, and if you’re a gun owner you might not appreciate it, but I laughed often and loudly at Jim Jefferies’ routine on gun rights in America.