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Seven awesome things about being a grown-up

1 Aug

1. If you love ice cream, and want to eat it every day, you can. What’s more, if you get an ice cream maker, you can make your own flavors and call yourself a foodie. Your friends and family members will not stage a gluttony intervention, and instead admire your mad ice-cream making skills.

Meet my new ice cream
maker. Her name is Bertha.
She is the maker of all things
delicious.

2. Want to replace all of Tuesday’s meals with chocolate chip cookies? GO AHEAD.

3. Want to have Christmas in July? Wear your Halloween costume in April? Spend five hours in the tub? Put on a pink wig to go grocery shopping? DO IT!

4. Cold, hard cash. With which you can do whatever you want. Like, for example, buying enough ice cream and chocolate-chip cookie supplies to last throughout the apocalypse. Sure, you may have to skip paying the heating bill one month, but with all that ice cream you may have developed a cozy layer of body fat to insulate you from the cold come winter!

5. Want to stop at that cardboard box labelled “free” and pick through it until you find the PERFECT chipped coffee mug/too-small-but-oh-so-ironic-tee-shirt/audio cassette? Want to stop your car at the World’s Largest Pistachio roadside attraction? These things too, you can do!

6. Remember when you were a kid and had to ask permission before you could go anywhere? Didn’t that suck? Wasn’t it even more annoying when you had to take your brother with you everywhere? Well now you can go to a dance club all by your lonesome! And guess what else? You can stay out until 4 a.m. if you want. And then have PIE! Or a pancake.

7. “This is MY house. And in MY house, I don’t have to wear pants! Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!!!”

What are your favorite things about  being a grown-up? Although, come to think of it, most of the stuff on this list isn’t too grown up. Which is kind of the point of being a grown-up, isn’t it? You can do kids stuff with wreckless abandon. It is most definitely awesome.

Beware the Insidious Honorifics: Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms.

13 Jul
From here.

Did you know that honorifics, seemingly applied equally – and equally respectfully – to men and women, are not, in fact, equal, nor equally respectful?

There’s a very interesting post from dictionary.com, a useful word-nerd web site, on the topic of the etymology of Mr. and Mrs. According to the folks over there, the origins of “Mr./Mister” are as follows:

“Once used to address men under the rank of knighthood, by the mid-18th century mister became a common English honorific to generally address males of a higher social rank.”

Here we see that “Mister” does indeed have its roots in a term of respect (or alternatively, fear and control. Either way, not too bad of a deal for the recipients of the prefix).

On Mrs.:

“Mrs. is a contraction derived from Middle English maistresse, ‘female teacher, governess.’ Once a title of courtesy, mistress fell into disuse around the late 14th century. The pronunciation, however, remained intact. By the 15th century, mistress evolved into a derogatory term for “a kept woman of a married man. … ‘Miss’ also derives from ‘mistress.’ ”

Both “Mrs.” and “Miss” derive from questionably neutral (female teacher, governess – it could be argued that these were servant-class occupations back in the 17th century, hence why neutrality is questionable) and outright negative (kept woman of a married man) origins.

So while the use of the term “Mr.” is straightforward, the use of any honorific for a female is not. Even the use of the quasi-neutral phrase “Ms.” has alienating potential in certain fundamentalist/antifeminist circles. Nowadays, “Mrs.” simply means “married.” Which is pretty darn problematic in and of itself – defining women by their marital status, but not men, is so far beyond the pale of how modern society should be functioning that writing more on the topic seems redundant – it’s why “Ms.” was coined.

Sure, maybe it’s just a question of semantics – and I’ll admit I’m overly sensitive to such things – I do, after all, cringe every time someone abuses an adverb (“Eat Local”?!? No, it’s eat locally! If you’re going to be snobby about your food, you may as well be snobby about your grammar as well. Sheesh.) and have to bite my tongue when I overhear someone saying “There is five options …”

But I’d argue that the use of honorifics of any sort is damaging not only to women, but to society in general. Look closer and you’ll see they’re more insidious than simple grammatical gaffery. The use (or conspicuous lack of use) of honorifics is a way to editorialize – just like the use of modifying words like said/claim. Extreme case in point? The NY Times stopped using “Mr. bin Laden,” switching to just “Bin Laden” at some point, but kept the honorifics for everyone else. Although no one will argue that criminals ought to be accorded extra social niceties, it’s easy to see how the subtle drop of an honorific prefix could be used as a lexocological weapon.

It remains interesting to me that the New York Times continues to insist on using honorifics – with notable exceptions. Gender-neutral outs exist only for people with Ph.Ds and religious credentials, which is yet another way to subtly reinforce class striation from within the confines of the printed word.

What do you think – does being called Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms or ma’am/sir connote old-fashioned respect or outdated snobbery? Is this type of thing done in other countries outside the US?

Read the full Dictionary.com post here.

Satter’s Hierarchy of Food Needs

4 Sep

Reposted from the wonderful Sociological Images with permission from Lisa Wade

Responding to critics who argue that poor people do not eat healthy food because they’re ignorant or prefer unhealthy food, Ellyn Satter wrote a hierarchy of food needs. Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it illustrates Satter’s ideas as to the elements of food that matter first, second, and so on… starting at the bottom.

The graphic suggests that getting enough food to eat is the most important thing to people. Having food be acceptable (e.g., not rotten, something you are not allergic to) comes second. Once those two things are in place, people hope for reliable access to food and only then do they begin to worry about taste. If people have enough, acceptable, reliable, good-tasting food, then they seek out novel food experiences and begin to make choices as to what to eat for instrumental purposes (e.g., number of calories, nutritional balance).

As Michelle at The Fat Nutritionist writes, sometimes when a person chooses to eat nutritionally deficient or fattening foods, it is not because they are “stupid, ignorant, lazy, or just a bad, bad person who loves bad, bad food.“ Sometimes, it’s “because other needs come first.”

This, this is glorious. Why? Because FINALLY, someone has come up with a succinct counter-argument to foodies who think they simply ‘have better taste’ than hoi polloi. I would love to see a similar argument applied to travel snobs and smug parents.

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