What I’m reading

A very engaging and unexpectedly touching account of Aurora Levins Morales’ experience “coming back to capitalism” as she enters the US after being in Cuba.

One of those book reviews that makes you feel like you actually read the book, at least a little bit, because of the excellent analysis.

The only way to shift the political culture is to start a national conversation about gender pressures on men, she said. Until we do that, we won’t see much progress for women.

Devra Renner and Aviva Pflock, authors of Mommy Guilt, will understand this book. Even though their book is about mothers, most of the work they do is about parenting. They spend a lot of time reminding others that parenting is something both mothers and fathers do.

A discussion on sex work, stripping in particular, and the difference in society’s perception and treatment of men and women in the industry.

Gender Across Borders is looking for article submissions “that explore the relationship between gender roles in the workplace and at home.” Both women and men are encouraged to submit. From the request:

The topic of this series is intentionally broad to capture the diverse experiences of women and men in the workplace and at home.

A broad range of materials in welcome, from personal narratives to academic essays to profiles that focus on particular people or events. Articles from around the world are strongly desired.

Some questions to consider:

-How does culture shape gender roles in the workplace and at home?
-How have gender roles changed over time because of feminist and other influences?
-How do class, race and sexuality influence gender roles in the workplace and at home?
-What does the future hold for women and men in the workplace – and at home?

Innocent Smith, in a fantastic analysis of capitalism and traditional values:

Ultimately, what capitalism has produced is two Americas: a Blue America whose prosperity depends upon the values it professes to have outgrown, and a Red America that preaches traditional values but wholeheartedly embraces the economic Darwinism that preys upon them.

A touching account (pun not intended) of a memory of the Radical Housewife’s mother’s touch.

Imnotme has revamped his blog, and the content is now primarily fiction work, including While Great We Are. An excerpt from the short story:

The fire was nearly half burned down and the library had taken on a somberness. The conversations had turned from philosophy to mortality. James, who had stopped challenging the other two to nine-ball championships, given his losing streak, was now sitting in the mammoth chair nearest the bar, a half empty bottle of brandy sat hesitantly on the edge of the bar above his right arm; the fire on his left cast a devilish shadow across his brooding face. His black snout glimmered.

And, last but not least, a friendly message to the Christians who, without fail, claim every year that there’s a “war on Christmas,” or that “Christians are oppressed in this country.” Even though I’m referring to the US and this clip is referring to Great Britain, it still applies across the board:

Leave links to interesting things you’ve read, or written, in the comments!

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17 Responses to What I’m reading

  1. Warren says:

    That quote from Innocent Smith is spot on about our current political situation. Thanks for the tip!

    • imnotme says:

      Agreed! When I read it I almost had a “duh” moment, but it was much more pronounced than that. He posts regularly and never betrays the constructive ‘middle-way’ approach to issues with high polarity.

      I encourage anyone who is interested in theology, the body politic and helping make sense of the complex human condition to subscribe to the Innocent Smith Journal.

  2. Ben says:

    Love, love, love that video about “Christians”

  3. ninjanurse says:

    thanks for citing our blog post on stripping. the guys I recall doing it are probably aged out by now, working as a firefighter and an academic.
    there’s no War on Yule yet, so I wish you and your’s a Blessed one.

  4. catullus says:

    Normally, I place a lot of stock in Innocent Smith’s posts. But on this, I simply can’t. I understand he needs to strike a balance between his faith and fair-mindedness. And he obviously means well for everyone. But “The State of Our Unions” has all the substance of the PowerPoint presentation Colin Powell made to the UN on the case for war against Iraq. I’d bet a cookie “State” doesn’t have half the rigor, either.

    • imnotme says:


      I can’t really make heads or tails of your comment. Care to flesh out the references a bit more? What I took from the Innocent Smith excerpt is that both sides are operating at the opposite fault while (and this is debatable) arguing for similar end results. I would frame it as “the general Republican populace” and “the general Democratic populace” having very similar ends in mind, arguing mainly about the means, and this is the irony, since both combinations of ends and means fail for excluding the other.

      Sounds to me like a lot of voter infighting is distracting us while career politicians run wild. That is all I saw when campaigning here in MN’s 3rd congressional district.

      Anyhow, I just couldn’t figure out the link between the ISJ excerpt and your comment, so I thought I would clarify what I think that excerpt was primarily getting at, hopefully allowing us to get a clearer idea of where you disagree.

    • davidk25 says:

      It confused me too – until I realised that the study which is the basis of the NYT article that Innocent Smith points too here: In his column today, Ross Douthat cites a study by the National Marriage Project…
      is entitled “The State of our Unions” *groan*

      I can’t comment on it’s intellectual sturdiness, but IS argument doesn’t rest that heavily on it in any case, so….

    • catullus says:

      The founder of the National Marriage Project is the son of the man who invented couples counselling as we know it *double groan*. The March 29, 2010 issue of the New Yorker has a great article on him and the subject of marriage and its self-appointed saviors.

  5. David K says:

    … and not only that, no-one in the UK says “Happy Holidays” it’s “Merry Christmas” all the way for us. I thought I was the one who linked obscure British television clips?

    Innocent Smith has picked up yet another lovely example of conservatism eating it’s self – it’s a trend which was celebrated by Marx/Engels and had it’s most thrilling and horrifying apotheosis in the Thatcher/Reagan revolution…

  6. Jim says:

    I looked at that first clip. Meh….. It reminds me of a woman from India my mother worked with who finally said she couldn’t stand it in America anymore, she was going back to India “where everyone knows their place” in those exact words. Yes, she really did. And actually it means pretty much the same thing here as there.

    All that social isolation Aurora sniffs about – that’s the price of pluralism. I have lived in places where everyone knows all their neighbors, and all their neighbors’ business too. we got a pass as Americans, but if you were from some other part of Germany, you not going to belong for the first couple of generations, and God help you if you had moved in from Czechia or Poland, or hell, even what had been East Germany.
    Someone named Morales probably thought all the cultural conformity was wonderful, because it was all her culture.

    And I have experienced all that free medical care she woo-woos about – it was one grade of care when I was enlisted, and something quite different when I got commissioned. My civilian dependent wife and step-daughter got in at the back of the line. For dental care that meant that my step-daughter would not get care until we rotated back stateside, so we went out on the economy, and got a leser standard of care.

    • davidk25 says:

      …other views of Cuba are available 😉

      and although we’re not “living in hell” in the capitalist-modern world, do you think it’s inevitable that we have to have pluralism via indifference rather than pluralism via respect?

    • Jim says:

      Respect has to be earned, and that takes time, too much time to rely on for a stable society. And frankly there are aspects of other people’s cultures – my own too for that matter – that I don’t respect and never will – circumcision comes to mind, but there are others – what then? Mutual butchery?

      I would be happy with some mutual indifference when it comes ot the marriage equality issue or DADT and other forms of gay-bashing. and conversely I am sure the Fundies would settle for indifference in exchange for fire bombs lobbed into their hatefests on Sunday morning. So maybe we should just live and let live and call it good.

    • davidk25 says:

      It’s true that if people are going to be respected they have to act in a respectable/respectful way, and that people will never “just get along” because they do have, and will continue to have irreconcilable differences, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t “agree to disagree.”

      I’d say that the indifference is actually an product of the instability of modern society, as in your example of the migrants from Eastern Europe into Western Europe – people come into a new place and have to start making new lives and relationships for themselves, rather than just inheriting their parents jobs, friends and enemies like people did in villages five hundred years ago.

      Maybe I feel this more strongly, because I live in a “New Town” where almost everyone is a 1st or sometimes 2nd generation migrant, but it seems people in modern societies may be willing to “live and let live” but that’s about all they’ll do, and with that kind of attitude it’s very hard to get people to share, or compromise or help others – even via taxation – which are all necessary if you live in a society.

      You give the example of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as something that would benefit from mutual indifference, but I’d see that as a classic example of a failed “pluralism via indifference” policy – you don’t talk about being gay, we wont harass you about it. You were in the forces, so I defer to your judgement & experience – is it really workable to have gay soldiers and soldiers who think homosexuality is an infectious disease in the same unit?

      Excuse me for taking a local example, but this is the situation that’s currently “ongoing” at the end of my road:
      I invite people to read the footnote and the comment thread, and esp comment#3 – am I wrong to regard this as an example of what can easily happen to pluralism that is based on indifference? It can in changing circumstances tip over quite quickly into “you’ve taken too much, we’re having that back, I don’t give a damn about you, that’s mine.” Whereas if we had a pluralism based on a core of respect for other people, we could face upto our differences and still understand what we have in common with them and what we need to share.

    • Jim says:

      “You give the example of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as something that would benefit from mutual indifference, but I’d see that as a classic example of a failed “pluralism via indifference” policy – you don’t talk about being gay, we wont harass you about it.”

      No. Just no. Indifference wiould be if Elaine Donnelly and the few civilains who are so adamant about retaining DADT would just shut and mind their own business. I call that indifference.

      I absolutely do not want their respect. Their respect is worthless.

      However I see where we are talking past each other – we are using indifference and respect in very similar ways, and your example of religious tolerance is very helpful. I am perfectly willing to respect a person’s right to his religious life even though I find his religion unworthy of respect. So in effect, my indiffernece to his religion comes out of respect for his rights.

  7. Becky says:

    Thanks for the kind words about my post!

  8. davidk25 says:

    @Jim – obviously I have a lower opinion of “indifference” than you do.

    I absolutely do not want their respect. Their respect is worthless.
    I think people’s respect is always worth having – if people respect you as a fellow human and a fellow citizen, then they are less likely to attempt to use government policy to attack your interests (amongst the other benefits.)

    I am perfectly willing to respect a person’s right to his religious life even though I find his religion unworthy of respect.
    My point is: what motivates respect for freedom of conscience? If it’s simply respect the law that establishes secularism, and otherwise a completely cold indifference to what a person does with that right – you don’t care about them or how they live – then that right may not last very long, and the law can be changed…
    It’s far better and secure basis for rights if they are motivated by genuine mutual respect between people – even if not for the way that right is exercised.

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