([syndicated profile] mathbabe_feed Jun. 24th, 2017 07:56 pm)

Posted by Cathy O'Neil, mathbabe

I’m here in Dublin with my son Wolfie for a week. It’s absolutely amazing. To understand why you’ll need to know how we decided to come here in the first place.

It all started on St. Patrick’s Day, which my son happened to have off, and on which I happened to be procrastinating, so we got all dressed up:

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We really enjoyed the parade:

 

And so we talked about how, even though we’re only technically 25% and an eighth Irish, we’re actually, down deep, 100% Irish. We discussed blarney, the need for embellishment for a really good story, and he agreed that drunk people are funny and the musical tradition is friendly and fun. To celebrate we bought a flag:

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And then we cemented the deal with a meal at the Brooklyn Diner:

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Weeks went by. Wolfie mentioned Irish castles he’d seen on YouTube. Then he started getting really into flags, first getting the U.S., Irish, and Dutch flags on his door:

flags_1.JPG

 

And then with his amazing “draw a country, color it in with that country’s flag” project:

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You might notice he forgot Northern Ireland here. Oh well.

 

Long story short, Ireland became a small obsession for me and Wolfie. And, soon enough, when I walked him to school in the morning, at some point he’d ask me, ‘Mom, when can we go to Ireland and see the castles?’ and I’d say, ‘Yeah we should do that.’ Until one day, he asked me for maybe the fourth time that week and I said, ‘OK shit, I’ll go home and buy tickets.’ And I did.

So that’s the story of how we got here. Tomorrow I’ll tell you what we’ve done here so far. Spoiler: it’s been amazing.


st_patty
([syndicated profile] phd_comics_feed Jun. 24th, 2017 08:34 am)
Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
www.phdcomics.com
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "Technically" - originally published 6/22/2017

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

Posted by Daily Otter

Sea Otter Does Some Grooming on the Beach

Via Tom Coates, who writes:

I went to Moss Landing, as I often do when I'm down that part of the coast, because you can see Sea Otters from the beach park. Unusually this time though, one of the otters was on the beach and I managed to take this photo from a little cliff above them. I needed a decent size zoom and I cropped the picture quite a lot to get it. I made sure not to disturb the otter.

Posted by John Scalzi

Gotta be honest, I had entirely forgotten I’d done this interview last year when I was in Iowa City for a book festival. But eventually it all came back to me. Also, it’s a pretty good interview. Enjoy.


([syndicated profile] koonj_feed Jun. 24th, 2017 12:02 am)

Posted by Shabana Mir

south-indian-woman-serving-food-to-her-family-BY9DF7

My dear friend (and author of Cairo, Ms Marvel, and The Butterfly Mosque) wrote a heartfelt and thought-provoking post today about the role of mothers in the construction of Ramadan, Eid, and other holidays.

I’ve noticed a lot of Muslim mommies getting burned out this Ramadan…the long summer hours, the difficulties that creates with children’s schedules and other household errata, the inability to stop and go deeper into one’s personal practice because one has to create a holiday atmosphere out of thin air for the sake of the family. The cooking, the special, time-consuming holiday treats, the Ramadan calendars, helping kids memorize their surahs, planning for Eid, etc…whenever I feel like it’s too much, I remember that for kids, mama and baba essentially *are* the holidays. There’s an early 20th c English writer (whose name I’ve forgotten) who put it very succinctly in an essay about his childhood: each household has its own animating genius, and that genius is often (though not always) feminine. I’ve shifted my thinking in recent years–since the kids have been old enough to understand what Ramadan is–from the idea that the holiday is something I celebrate to the idea that the holiday is something I create. It hasn’t made the work easier but it has made it more fulfilling. The idea that the kids will look back on these days with joy–and that the joy will shape the internal rhythm of their lives, which will carry the whole tradition forward through a time of tremendous uncertainty–is what makes this time wonderful to me in the same way the extra ibadat and contemplation made it wonderful to me pre-kids. We are in the rush hour of life; we are now the middle generation upon whom both the younger and the older generations depend, and if there is going to be delight and splendor in any of it, it will have to come through us. The joy we have will be the joy we bring. – G. Willow Wilson 

Now, Willow adopts a joyful, creative approach to this loving labor.

My approach is the grumpy one, characteristic of the lazy youngest sibling of the family. In other words: WHERE THE HELL IS MY READY-MADE EID? Where are my ammi and abbu? Why am the grownup today? Why do I have to be up and cooking? Why can’t I just walk into a pre-prepared holiday?

When I first wrote the poem Immigrant Eid (2005), I was desperately depressed for a variety of reasons. Svend was at work, unable to get a day off. I struggled to motivate myself to go for Eid prayer.

Immigrant Eid 

they announced Eid today.

my house is silent.
i hear more sirens than usual outside.

my husband’s at work.

this morning
i couldn’t get out of bed and go
to eid namaz.

i really should push myself, i thought,
and go, but thought, then, go for what?
so my husband and i can split up
at the mosque front door to go and sit
with our respective strangers inside?
so aunties in abayas can look
at my pants, because they’re shabby and
because they’re pants, and then look up
at my face unseeing-
When we’re done i come out and wait
for him in the cold parking lot
watching people hurry to cars
and segregated parties in their
tight little colour-coordinated groups-
while a bearded man in a jalabiya
stares at this female body jammed
outside in a twisting river of men.

when i got out of bed at last, i didn’t
want to, and i couldnt stop crying
in the shower.

In Lahore,
ammi has cooked two types of sivayyan
and put them out in glass bowls,
with carrot halva and Kashmiri chai.

My Eid outfit complete with sparklies
is lying ironed on the bed.
Auntie Shaista in the drawing room loudly
waits to see how my outfit looks.

Little Izza is knocking at
my door, asking when i’ll be ready,
when I will come out to admire
her pink sharara and bright new shoes.

Asad is watching TV, but
the corner of his eye is waiting for me

Abbu and Imran are just returning
in white kurtas from eid namaz.

but here
in the fortunate first world
where I’m supposed to be bettering my life
and speaking english all the time–
here, where there is no dust, no flies,–
here, in the warm clean tiled shower
i can’t stop sobbing

Alone, with sirens screeching outside,
i prayed two rak’ahs afterwards
with seven takbeers
and seven tears hit the ja’inamaz
with far too loud a splash, and then
i read some pages of the eleventh sipara
–ironically, ya’tazirun–
and sent sawab to the Prophet,
my shaykh, my uncles and aunts,
grandparents, like ammi does, and then
i said,
I’m sorry i didn’t go to Eid namaz
and then i couldn’t stop crying again
my heart broke right there on the rug
and spilled wide open

and i said please don’t be mad at me.
look, i’m here, and my outfit’s in Lahore,
and Izza’s knocking on the door,
and I have no sivayyan,
and my heart the poor tattered heart
that I know You love
is broken today.

He looked at me, with those quiet eyes
and said, yes, I know. i cried again
and said that eid is eid
only because You’re here with me.

ten years in this new home of mine
and still eid day is not quite eid.

They say it’s eid today, but there,
on the rooftops of Lahore, young boys
saw a little sliver of moon that shone
through smoggy clouds and snaky cables
as an eagle swam across the sky.

Here, i saw no moon, i saw
moonsighting.com, and wrote an email-
eid mubarak exclamation point-
and cc’ed it to everyone.

i thought of calling ammi to say
eid mubarak. but i was afraid
my voice would catch, and she would hear
who i am here

and then i’d know for sure that she
was there, and there are no sivayyan
on my IKEA table, no halva
on the stove, no kashmiri chai
steaming in pretty china cups
no smiling niece outside my door
and no red kurta on my bed

I remember my friend Jasmin affectionately reminded me that here in North America, I was ammi now, and must cook sivayyan and plan outfits for everyone.

3-different-foods-for-eid-al-fitr-celebration.jpgHumph, I thought to myself, (though I inwardly agreed), but I’m not done being not-a-grown-up yet. When I sleep deeply, I often wake up groggily, thinking tranquil thoughts of: “I can sleep in, because ammi and abbu are taking care of everything in the entrance of the house – comings, goings – and I am not in charge.” And then I remember, my kid is waiting for a meal, and I have to go to work, and ammi and abbu haven’t lived with me in 26 years. I’ve been gone from home since 1991, and have been a guest in my own family home since then.

As the baby of the family (um, a rather old baby now), I never quite mastered the domestic arts. My husband – well, he’s got patriarchy to blame – certainly never mastered domestic anything. I once asked his dad (an old-fashioned White guy) why he never trained his son to pick up his socks; dad replied, “Well, [with a trace of gentle accusation] my mother took care of all that and I never had to do it. So with my boys, I wanted them to have what I had.”

Well, funny enough, my mother had to take care of everything, forever, and she wanted me to have what she never had the liberty to chase ideas in books all the way to the United States and a PhD, and to be free from the kitchen. My father, who loved his daughters’ academic pursuits, groused irritably, “And then they all have to just make rotis some day.” He really hated that.

My mother rarely ever asked me to take care of household affairs. This was a practice rare in Pakistan in my socioeconomic class. My mother did this partly because I was sensitive and prone to fevers, partly because I was the baby, – and partly because I started observing strict purdah at age 16 and announced virtuously that I would not be serving tea to mixed-gender groups in the living room and I would not be interacting with the gardener or the peddler. Well, then, I’ll be the Outside Market Woman, ammi decided, and guard my daughter’s spiritual virtue while she reads Iqbal’s poetry in seclusion.

I was a teen who’d pile up my clutter and shut it up in an armoire: my mother and sister worlds-greatest-mom-ribbon-craft.jpggasped when I said, “Well, what else is the armoire for?” My father would often dart into my messy bedroom and make the bed for me, shaking his head at my response: “What’s the point? I’m going to sleep in it in a few hours anyway.”

Here I am now, in the U.S., a place where we often do not even get a day off for Eid and must make arrangements. In Chicago, we can get sivayyan (not good sivayyan, usually) at a restaurant on Devon Street, and we can join the festivities with other families (families with grownups who grew up before I did).

Adulting still hurts, but I’m starting to do more of it. But a disproportionate share of the ramadan-crafts-for-kidsburden of holiday-construction still falls to mommies like me. Creating the decorations, when you are not a crafty or practical person, may not sound painful to you. Preparing holiday meals you’ve never made (making them in treacherously large quantities so that they never turn out the way ammi made them) is often simply depressing to those of us who aren’t sugghar domestic goddesses. Yes, we exist. We are mothers, and some of us are not great at cooking, we hate cooking, and are terrible at tidying up.

Some of us are married to spouses who are even worse at the domestic arts. Some of us have spouses who cannot physically see dust, dust-bunnies, dirty dishes on the coffee table, and gunk on the counter. So I am perpetually trying to keep ahead of the other clutter-creators in the house: if I abandon one cardigan on the couch, pretty soon my kid will abandon socks, hoodie, books, and pencils in that spot and my husband will forget to pick up socks, boxers, pants, and t-shirt. I can leave no trails, because they will become mountains.

The urgency to get better at adulting comes home to me even more now. Ammi is now losing mobility. She whose hands never failed to produce meals proverbial far and wide in their deliciousness is now not cooking anymore. She is also more forgetful. She reminds me gently that she is in her 80s. I know why she is reminding me. She wants me to be prepared. She knows I am not. I am not ready to lose my ammi.

And I am not ready to take on that role alone. I am not ready to be the kind of kick-ass ammi my ammi has always been. Maybe that’s why I don’t want to try – because my version is so mediocre. Sometimes, I cook saag gosht or kareley keema, and am filled with disgust and frustration because it is so uninspired in comparison to my mother’s cooking. I toss the spatula, cover the pot, and inform Svend, “I’m not touching that junk but you’re welcome to it,” and he rushes to gorge himself on the meal. “It’s good,” he always says, “your standards are too high.” Peter-Pan.jpg

I’m not ready to be in charge.

Sure, though, I guess I enjoy it when my family enjoys the summer vacations, the religious holidays, the experiences create. But sometimes, it’s a bit like trying to tickle yourself. Or trying to experience suspense in a story you wrote. It’s just not the same. But sure, it is the circle of life.

Eid Mubarak to you. And good luck creating a holiday for your children. Or sulking because you really don’t want to do all that work.

 


Posted by John Scalzi

Hey, did you know I’m currently writing a novel? I am! It’s called Head On, and it’s coming out in ten months. Also, it’s not done yet, and the deadline is real soon now. I need to make some real progress on it in the next few weeks or else my editor will give me highly disapproving looks. Which would be no good. My problem is that whenever I make any real progress and take a break to see what’s going on in the news, it looks like this:

 

And, well. That’s not great for my focus.

The world is not going to stop being like this anytime in the near future, alas, but I still need to get my work done, and soon.

So: From now until the book is done, my plan is to avoid the news as much as possible, and also, to the extent I do see news, to avoid writing about it in any significant detail. Tweets? Maybe. 1,000+ word posts here? Probably not.

Note that I’m going to fail in avoiding the news entirely — I live in the world, and next week I’ll be at Denver Comic Con, which means that at the very least in the airport CNN is going to come at me, and anyway whichever way the Senate plan to murder the ACA falls out, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna know about it. Be that as it may I’m going to make an effort to keep as much of it out of my brain as possible.

Incidentally, yes, just in case you were wondering, this is confirmation that at least one of your favorite writers — me! — finds it hard to get work done in these days of the world being on fire. “The art of the Trump era is going to be so lit!” people have said. Dudes, when you’re worried about friends losing access to health care and American democracy being dug out from below because the general GOP attitude to the immense corruption and bigotry of the Trump administration is “lol, as long as we get to kick the poor,” just to list two things about 2017, the creative process is harder to get into, and stay inside of. I’m not the only one I know who is dealing with this right now.

But the work still needs to get done — and not just for you folks. I like getting caught up in my work. It feels good when the writing is moving along.

So, again: News break.

This doesn’t necessarily mean fewer Whatever posts over the next few weeks, since I’ll have July Big Idea pieces and other posts in the pipeline. It does mean the posts that show up probably won’t touch much on world/national news or politics.

I mean, I hope they won’t. But I also know this is a thing, especially with me:

So. I will try to be strong.

Also, when the book is done, oh, how I shall opine.

In the meantime, I don’t suspect you will have difficulty finding other opinions on news and political events. It’s called “the Internet.” You may have heard of it.


Posted by John Scalzi

If you’re a fan of the Midnight Star video games I helped create, here’s something fun for you: John Shirley, legendary writer and lyricist, has written “Purgatorio,” a serialized story set in the Midnight Star universe. He’s written it for Bound, a new company (and iOS app) specializing in serialized fiction. Which is pretty cool.

And, it’s the first time someone’s done media tie-in work for a universe I helped to create. Which is also pretty damn cool, if you ask me.

Here’s the post on Bound’s site talking about the story. If you have an iOS device you can also download the app there.


Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Flashback Friday.

Stiff competition for entrance to private preschools and kindergartens in Manhattan has created a test prep market for children under 5. The New York Times profiled Bright Kids NYC. The owner confesses that “the parents of the 120 children her staff tutored [in 2010] spent an average of $1,000 on test prep for their 4-year-olds.”  This, of course, makes admission to schools for the gifted a matter of class privilege as well as intelligence.

The article also tells the story of a woman without the resources to get her child, Chase, professional tutoring:

Ms. Stewart, a single mom working two jobs, didn’t think the process was fair. She had heard widespread reports of wealthy families preparing their children for the kindergarten gifted test with $90 workbooks, $145-an-hour tutoring and weekend “boot camps.”

Ms. Stewart used a booklet the city provided and reviewed the 16 sample questions with Chase. “I was online trying to find sample tests,” she said. “But everything was $50 or more. I couldn’t afford that.”

Ms. Stewart can’t afford tutoring for Chase; other parents can. It’s unfair that entrance into kindergarten level programs is being gamed by people with resources, disadvantaging the most disadvantaged kids from the get go. I think many people will agree.

But the more insidious value, the one that almost no one would identify as problematic, is the idea that all parents should do everything they can to give their child advantages. Even Ms. Stewart thinks so. “They want to help their kids,” she said. “If I could buy it, I would, too.”

Somehow, in the attachment to the idea that we should all help our kids get every advantage, the fact that advantaging your child disadvantages other people’s children gets lost.  If it advantages your child, it must be advantaging him over someone else; otherwise it’s not an advantage, you see?

I felt like this belief (that you should give your child every advantage) and it’s invisible partner (that doing so is hurting other people’s children) was rife in the FAQs on the Bright Kids NYC website.

Isn’t my child too young to be tutored?

These programs are very competitive, the answers say, and you need to make sure your kid does better than other children.  It’s never too soon to gain an advantage.

My child is already bright, why does he or she need to be prepared?

Because being bright isn’t enough.  If you get your kid tutoring, she’ll be able to show she’s bright in exactly the right way. All those other bright kids that can’t get tutoring won’t get in because, after all, being bright isn’t enough.

Is it fair to “prep” for the standardized testing?

Of course it’s fair, the website claims!  It’s not only fair, it’s “rational”!  What parent wouldn’t give their child an advantage!?  They avoid actually answering the question. Instead, they make kids who don’t get tutoring invisible and then suggest that you’d be crazy not to enroll your child in the program.

My friend says that her child got a very high ERB [score] without prepping.  My kid should be able to do the same.

Don’t be foolish, the website responds. This isn’t about being bright, remember. Besides, your friend is lying. They’re spending $700,000 dollars on their kid’s schooling (aren’t we all!?) and we can’t disclose our clients but, trust us, they either forked over a grand to Bright Kids NYC or test administrators.

Test prep for kindergartners seems like a pretty blatant example of class privilege. But, of course, the argument that advantaging your own kid necessarily involves disadvantaging someone else’s applies to all sorts of things, from tutoring, to a leisurely summer with which to study for the SAT, to financial support during their unpaid internships, to helping them buy a house and, thus, keeping home prices high.

I think it’s worth re-evaluating. Is giving your kid every advantage the moral thing to do?

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

(View original at https://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

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