“While many jobs have a creative component, it’s also important to note that all of the creative occupations in the U.S. economy (e.g. artists, writers & editors, musicians, photographers, actors, dancers, designers, choreographers, journalists, marketers/public relations, etc.) only account for about 1% of employment. There has never been an economy filled with only highly creative or highly skilled people.” Should we be afraid, very afraid? – Basic Income – Medium
“If Pathways to Work is to succeed — and that is still unproven — it may well do so by making people accept any job whatsoever, thereby fuelling the growth in low-paid, temporary, part-time, insecure, zero-hours jobs, known generally as ‘precarious work’.
If the welfare office can guarantee a steady supply of workers for any job, there is no upward pressure on wages, and employers do not have to offer good conditions, training, or opportunities for promotion.
Altogether, this leads to a growth in a low-pay economy with a revolving door between work and welfare, which feeds into higher levels of inequality.” The Sociology of Unemployment: A choice between hard labour or destitution? – Irish Examiner
“You know what? I am sick and tired of people bemoaning low marriage rates while simultaneously making marriage sound like the most unattractive thing ever. Perhaps individuals like Venker should turn their marriage promotion gig over to happily married individuals in supportive egalitarian relationship—you know, people like me. What’s that, you say? Why yes, that’s right! I’m a Millennial! You know, one of those horrible terrible no good very bad selfish evil commitment-hating Millennials! And you know what? I can make a better argument for marriage any day than Venker can.” Proponents of Marriage Generally Make Marriage Sound Horrible – Love, Joy, Feminism
“Women are much more likely to be severely harassed in online spaces than men, and the harassment is much more likely to be sexually violent. A 2006 study by the University of Maryland found that when the gender of a username appears to be female, the user is 25 times more likely to experience harassment. That same study found that those female-sounding usernames averaged 163 threatening or sexually explicit messages a day.” Anita Sarkeesian interview: ‘The word “troll” feels too childish. This is abuse.’ – The Guardian
“If a woman is walking like she is on a mission, laser focused eyes and clutching her keys; she’s not interested in talking to you. In fact, if all of those things are present you are likely bearing witness to a woman who has just given herself a pep talk about getting to her car unscathed. She is specifically avoiding you right now. Headphones, head down, looking away instead of at you, these tactics are like armor. It’s purposeful. It says “no.”” Dear cat caller, – Erin Brown
“It is crucial to distinguish between the event and the outcome. There is nothing positive about trauma itself; we wouldn’t choose it, then or now. There is nothing beneficial about losing your mother or being shot in Pakistan. Nevertheless, we might be able to reap something beneficial out of the sorrow.
The good only comes from what we decide to do with it ― from our struggle that unveils what needs to change in us and in our society, from honing our ability to make meaning out of events that seem senseless, from not trying to rebuild an exact replica of what was lost, but to engineer a stronger, sturdier foundation for our life.
A crisis is not a cul-de-sac, but rather a watershed moment. What we do next matters: advance or retreat, take a turn south or north, run or hide, crawl or fly. We can avert our eyes or dig deeper, try harder or grow softer, close down or break open.” How to Bounce Forward After Trauma – Michaela Haas – Huffington Post
“Contemplative practices “cultivate a critical, first-person focus, sometimes with a direct experience as the object, while at other times concentrating on complex ideas or situations. Incorporated into daily life, they act as a reminder to connect to what we find most meaningful.”” How to Find More Meaning in Life – Yes and Yes
Sex & Relationships
“The most essential thing to remember when involved with someone with a personality disorder is that to them other people are a major source of energy. If we imagine that we have an electrical cable that is connected to our core we can see how an abuser will plug in the feed to their core and drain every drop of fuel until we are empty.
If we do not offer them the connection, they will have no use for us and will look for the source of energy elsewhere.” Ending the Rollercoaster of Drama with a Narcissist or Sociopath – elephant journal
“The reason it feels like you need to pee has nothing to do with urine or pressure on the bladder; it has to do with learning. When you were little and being potty trained, you learned to recognize the sensation of needing to pee. You had to recognize it in order to get to a potty before it was too late. It was an important and useful lesson.
Now your body is experiencing a new and different sensation; it’s geographically and neurologically adjacent to the need-to-pee sensation, so your brain is misinterpreting it as pressure to pee because that’s the only existing category that this new sensation seems to fit. But it is not the same sensation.” why it feels like you have to pee during intercourse – the dirty normal
“Mental fatigue is just as draining as physical fatigue and there is a lot to be said for switching off. Activities that require a lot of focus and concentration can leave you feeling wiped out. Doing nothing is so valuable when you have a chronic illness– it’s important to look after the body as well as the mind.” The Value in Doing Nothing – February Stars
“4. “I wish I could lie around all day and do nothing.”
A friend said this to me over the phone; it’s stuck in my mind all these years because it hurt terribly at the time. It may sound as if it couldn’t possibly have been well-intentioned and yet, given the tone of voice in which it was delivered, I’ve decided it was. I’m sure that my high-powered, overworked friend was genuinely thinking, “Lucky you to have so much leisure time.”
When she said it, I was still so sensitive about being sick—including being worried that people might think I was a malingerer—that tears came to my eyes. I wanted to scream at her, “You have no idea how it feels to be stuck in bed and have no choice but to do nothing!” Instead, I mumbled something and made an excuse to get off the phone because I could feel the sobs coming—which they did as soon as I hung up.” 12 Things You Should Never Say to the Sick – Tricycle
“What I wish I had known then, is that researchers have found the mind is way more powerful than we think. Imagining, or visualising doing exercises, can have almost as much positive effect on our bodies as actually doing the exercise. Numerous studies have found that, to varying degrees, visualising a workout increases muscles strength. This is really hopeful news for anyone living with or recovering from a chronic illness. If you are bed bound, recovering in hospital, or just having a bad day, the right visualisation strategy can stop your muscles from deteriorating.” Can Visualising Help Rehabilitation for Chronic Disorders? – Aroga Yoga
“Yoga provides people of all ages, backgrounds, shapes, and sizes, with their own practice. This is an opportunity to explore your own unique body. To find length, grounding, and opening with a sequence of poses that can and should be different for everyone.” Why You Don’t Need Flexibility to be a Yogi – Do You Yoga
“Deep breathing exercises are about the most natural and holistic self-care strategy you can find and the single most effective, beneficial technique we can use to relieve pain, stress and anxiety, achieve overall relaxation and help restore balance to the autonomic nervous system. It’s also non-toxic, costs us absolutely nothing, requires no prescriptions, equipment, visits to the doctor or health food store and is available to you at all times.
It produces soothing, relaxing and pleasure inducing alpha brainwaves, calms the excitatory neurotransmitters and stress response system and thus relieves anxiety and stress instantly. These alpha brain waves also stimulate the release of beta-endorphins, the bodies built in natural pain reliever, and stimulate creativity as well.” Deep Breathing Exercises – Holistic Help
“But, just because we have refrigerators now doesn’t mean fermentation isn’t still a valuable practice! In fact, fermented foods offer some amazing benefits that can’t be obtained from other nutrient-dense foods. Including them in your diet can be a major plus for your health (and not to mention, they’re delicious)!” The Health Benefits of Fermented Foods – The Paleo Mom
“Growing medicinal herbs and plants at home is a must for every herb garden enthusiast. If you love to garden, the apothecary attitude of medicinal herbs may be a perfect transition for you! Use the ideas in this article to create an herb garden that is both delicious and provides positive health supplements.
With great herbs, you can make great anti-inflammatory, immunity-boosting ointments and teas. With a little know-how, you and your family will be headed for better health.” Growing Medicinal Herbs and Plants at Home – Fix.com
I have increased my goal for the year again, from 64 to 78 – and I am currently only one book away from hitting that target.
I have joined Netgalley, which means I am receiving advanced copies from publishers in exchange for an honest review. I’ll always mark them, but I am following the rule of only requesting books I would’ve picked up if I saw them at the library.
Jil Eaton’s Knitting School: The Complete Guide to Becoming a Confident Knitter by Jil Eaton: The instructions are good, easy to understand and very usable, but I really didn’t like the vast majority of the projects. Especially the first ones are, in my opinion, rather ugly and unwearable. If you don’t have the skills to knit a sweater you’d actually want to wear, probably better to start with a smaller project. However, I did absolutely love the felted dog coat. I have only just re-taught myself how to knit (after 15 years break), and I made the dog coat my first project. It turned out beautiful with a couple of alterations.
Baby Crochet Design: Hats and Booties* by Graziana Materassi: Gorgeous collection of matching baby and toddler hats and booties. All of the designs are adorable and inspirational, but my favourite part is the instructions in the beginning, which covers how to fit and alter the styles to fit the baby or toddler you have in mind. In addition there are instructions on how to crochet a beautiful array of decorations such as various flowers and butterflies – this way you can truly make the hats your own design!
A Tale of Two Cities ($0.00 on Kindle, add Audible for $1.14) by Charles Dickens: I listed to the annotated audiobook on Craft Lit, and as always Heather Ordover’s commentary really made this classic come to life.
The House of Mirth ($0.00 on Kindle, add Audible for $1.14) by Edith Wharton: One of the best books I have read in a while. Lily Bart, our protagonist, is heart-breaking in her attempt to be true to herself, yet yearning for a place in a society that is obsessed with status and has no room for those who do not conform.
The Romance of Tristan and Iseult ($1.22 on Kindle) by Joseph Bedier: I listened to the annotated audiobook on Craft Lit. This classic folk tale is quite interesting, and I enjoyed getting to know about how many different versions there are, and how it has become a common tale in so many different geographical locations.
How to Knit Socks that Fit: Techniques for Toe-Up and Cuff-Down Styles* by Donna Druchunas: I’m a fairly new knitter, but I knew from the beginning that I wanted to learn to knit socks. I’ve been looking at several different books, sites etc., but How to Knit Socks that Fit by Donny Druchunas seems perfect for a beginning knitter. Druchunas covers the history of knitting socks, techniques for cuff down, toes up, how to knit with double-pointed needles, two circular needles or using the “magic loop” method. In addition she covers other ways to do the heel, toe, and different ways to vary the cuff. I enjoyed How to Knit Socks that Fit so much, that I will be ordering my own copy to keep for reference.
Body Intelligence: Harness Your Body’s Energies for Your Best Life* by Joseph Cardillo: Considering the subtitle “Harness Your Body’s Energies for Your Best Life”, I had expected a book that would deal more with having energy – i.e., the opposite of fatigue. In that respect, Body Intelligence disappointed. It was however, an interesting look at how our surroundings, thoughts, attitude, habits etc. can affect us throughout the course of our day – and how we can change these things to achieve our desired results. However, if you are fairly well-versed when it comes to health, positive thinking and basic nutrition, there probably won’t be much for you here. If on the other hand you are new to these topics, I would definitely recommend it.
Virginia Woolf: A Critical Memoir* ($1.53 on Kindle) by Winifred Holtby: When I first saw the subtitle – a critical memoir, I was wondering if it was going to be critical of Virginia Woolf, but as I read further I soon realized that it is a literary critique of her works along with a biography of her life (up until the time it was written, 1932).
Holtby does an astonishing job diving into Woolf’s works – made me remember just how much I used to enjoy my literature classes. She also made me want to read more of Woolf’s works – and I have no doubt I would get even more out of her writings now, after reading Holtby’s commentary.
A Critical Memoir was published in 1932, and it can’t help but haunt me that Holtby herself passed away in 1936 – only 37 years old, while Woolf died in 1941. How we lose some of our greatest writers too soon. I would highly recommend Virginia Woolf: A Critical Memoir to anyone who has enjoyed the works of Woolf, or are interested in writing or women’s history of that time.
The Martian ($5.58 on Kindle) by Andy Weir: I listened to this on Audible, and it was much better than expected. Very enjoyable, and fascinating insights into NASA and space travel as it might become.
The Hard Way Up: The Autobiography of Hannah Mitchell, Suffragette, and Rebel* ($4.61 on Kindle) by Hannah Mitchell: The Hard Way Up is the thought-provoking autobiography of Hannah Mitchell who in spite of her upbringing valued education and fought, first for the rights of the working class and then for the rights of women. I was dismayed, although not surprised, to see how frequently the suffragettes were ignored and disregarded by the socialists – even as they had frequently fought alongside them to secure rights of the working class. Too often the majority, those with privilege, have no problem accepting the help and support of the minority and those without privilege, but when it comes to giving back and fighting for the rights of minority it is suddenly no longer of importance. The Hard Way Up is a fascinating insight into a different, but incredibly important time that laid the foundation of many of the same issues we still see today. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in history, politics or women’s rights.
Frankenstein ($1.50 on Kindle, add Audible for $3.44) by Mary Shelley: I listened to the annotated audiobook on Craft Lit, and as always Heather Ordover’s commentary and insights really made the story come to life. One thing that truly amazes me, is that Shelley was only 18 when she wrote this. If you haven’t checked out this classic, I recommend you do so.
Unleash the Power of the Female Brain: Supercharging Yours for Better Health, Energy, Mood, Focus, and Sex by Daniel G. Amen, MD: While I disagreed with Dr Amen on some of his interpretations of the differences between the male and female mind, this was overall a book well worth reading. Dr Amen goes over the importance of treating your brain with the respect it deserves and keeping it healthy through nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, psychology, etc. and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in keeping their brain healthy into old age.
“To this day it’s (what Gottman calls) an enduring vulnerability for me, this fear that someone I care about will assert that my emotions are invalid, disproportionate, or, worst, actively toxic to those around me.
Because my feelings are NOT any of those things, no matter what you say or what you think, and if you disagree with me you can FUCK RIGHT THE HELL OFF because you’re WRONG, and I mean wrong not just in a factual sense but in a moral sense. Your false belief hurts people and you can shove it up your ass.” emotion coaching – the dirty normal
This explains why I got frustrated with, and in the end ‘unliked’ I Fucking Love Science:
” “Thanks To Reduced Solar Activity, We Could Be Heading For A Mini Ice Age In 2030”
“There Probably Won’t Be A “Mini Ice Age” In 15 Years”
“No, We Aren’t Heading Into A ‘Mini Ice Age’”
“The ‘Mini Ice Age’ Hoopla Is A Giant Failure Of Science Communication”
With mixed messages like these leaving most readers with the impression that science is without consensus, it would be prudent to pin these headlines as the work of four disparate publications. However, in the landscape of rush to publish journalism, the once fun yet reliable source of science news, I Fucking Love Science published all four of these headlines within days of each other.
So what became of an organization that once strove to popularize science? How did they become the less-than-reliable tabloid of science journalism? And with sensationalized headlines that hardly resemble the scientific work from which they preen clickbait, how can readers separate science fact from science fiction?” Pop Sci to Pop Sigh: I Fucking Love Science Ex-Admins Speak Out – Skepchick
“The trolls of the internet got together (in my head) and wrote a helpful handy guide. If you are unclear what a “troll” is, I give you this definition: The most annoying commenters in the world; people who make it their mission to enrage and insult while simultaneously ignoring the point. They appear on every comment thread. Anywhere. No matter what. You can run, but you can’t hide.
Luckily though they are easy to spot because THEY ALL THINK THE SAME WAY.” A troll’s guide to the internet – Renegade Mama
“But the overall problem is one of a culture where instead of seeing women as, you know, people, protagonists of their own stories just like we are of ours, men are taught that women are things to “earn,” to “win.” That if we try hard enough and persist long enough, we’ll get the girl in the end. Like life is a video game and women, like money and status, are just part of the reward we get for doing well.” Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerd – The Daily Beast
“According to the Hollywood Reporter, nearly 50 women have to come forward to accuse you of sexual assault over the course of your five decades in show business. In the process of the long, painful trial against you in the court of Internet public opinion, so many women will accuse you of drugging and raping them that they can’t all fit on the cover of New York magazine. The case against you is so grim that even your staunchest defenders have turned against you—even Whoopi Goldberg, who is still batting for Mel Gibson and Roman Polanski.
But to be the most-hated woman of the moment, all you have to do is be kind of a brat. Former Nickelodeon star and “Love Me Harder” singer Ariana Grande came in second in THR’s biannual Q Score ranking, which ranks famous people by their popularity—or in Grande’s case, their unpopularity. Following an incident where Grande licked a donut and claimed to hate America, her negative Q Score has increased by 26 points, almost as much as Cosby’s 43-point climb.” The war on “unlikeable women”: Ariana Grande, Kim Kardashian and the brazen misogyny we choose to ignore – Salon
“Twitchy may be one of the most powerful political platforms online, but its role as an organized harassment tool is almost never discussed. Founded in 2012 by conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, the site has half a dozen editors who troll Twitter for content to post; each post consists of a tweet or series of tweets along with some brief and often outraged commentary. Malkin sold Twitchy to Salem Media, a for-profit Christian company in 2013, but the religiosity of its new owners has not shifted its acidic content. (Malkin and several current Twitchy editors did not respond to multiple emails requesting comment, and Salem Media did not return emails and phone calls requesting comment.)” The Right-Wing Hate Machine – Cosmopolitan
“It’s the combination of cutesy girliness with the idea of women aping men that makes –ette words, so far as I’m concerned, a feminist no-go area. To me, there’s something paradoxical about referring to women scientists as ‘stemettes’ (which implies they are trespassing on male turf, whereas the organization’s message is that STEM fields aren’t just for men), or calling a magazine for female tech enthusiasts Gadgette (isn’t that the linguistic equivalent of offering women ‘the pink version of a laptop’? OK, I know, irony, but there’s a fine line between ironizing sexism and just repeating it, producing what the cultural critic Judith Williamson dubbed ‘sexism with an alibi’).” Ette-ymology – language: a feminist guide
Chronic Illness & Pain
“But here’s what I’ve learned: Every one of us, in some way, is “damaged.” And moreover, those struggles, while they may have shaped who we’ve become, are not the entirety of who we are.
And whatever those struggles might be, they certainly don’t depreciate our value. We aren’t meat sitting in a freezer, slowly expiring until we’re tossed aside. We’re people – people that, like anyone else, have had our fair share of challenges to get to where we are today.
Anyone who says we’re less valuable because we’ve struggled in the past does not deserve a place in our present.” 9 Affirmations You Deserve to Receive if You Have a Mental Illness – Everyday Feminism
“It’s difficult to know how to deal with a friend or loved one who has a chronic or invisible illness. We learn that when you are sick you treat it and it goes away. Chronic conditions don’t go away. They are hard to understand.
Invisible illnesses are illnesses that you can’t see just by looking at someone. Things like Chronic Migraines, Lupus, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, etc. don’t affect your appearance, but they affect how your body functions and feels. Every day. Probably for the rest of your life.
When you say these things to someone with a chronic illness, you probably don’t mean to hurt their feelings. A lot of the time you are just trying to understand or sympathize. Well, from the perspective of a chronic illness sufferer, here are 15 things you should never say to someone with a chronic illness:” 15 Things Not to Say to Someone With a Chronic or Invisible Illness – Pins and Procrastination
“We are all told to pace ourselves when we are diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I am sure some doctors are better than others at explaining what pacing is, but I’ve come to appreciate that it’s a term that is banded around without much explanation at all. It’s as if we should know what it meansinstinctively. “Do a little at a time and break down tasks so they are simpler”. This is what pacing is in essence but, for me, it is far too simplistic an explanation. I mean, how do you manage to pace when you have so much to do in a day?” What The Hell Is Pacing Anyway? February Stars
“From academic success to cancer risk, research increasingly shows that the age at which a girl gets her period—called “menarche”—can have a significant impact on her life.
These findings are especially notable given that, around the world, the average age of menarche has dropped steadily since the 1950s. With new studies coming out regularly about girls going through puberty earlier, we were curious: What’s causing this global decline—and what are the potential long-term consequences?” Why the age you get your period can matter forever – Fusion
“I left my in-patient program more confused about food than ever, more obsessed about calories than I had been before, more controlled by my food consumption and food regimens and totally reliant on a handful of medications to take care of all my digestive needs from peristalsis to defecation. I had a dietary protocol to follow and needed to challenge myself to eat ‘difficult’ foods. Over and above that, I felt AWFUL. I had never felt worse. This had little to do with the weight I had regained, and more to do with my physical symptoms – excessive abdominal pain and bloating, joint pain, fatigue, skin issues, mood fluctuations, sleep disturbances, night sweats, nausea and brain fog are just the beginning of the list. Nothing was helping. Nothing was improving. My train of thought was literally that being ill, with the risk of imminent death was better than having to deal with all these symptoms forever. This was not a lack of desire for recovery. The symptoms I was experiencing were significantly more uncomfortable and were having an even greater impact on my emotional well-being than my illness had. Is this why relapse rates were so high? Was I supposed to resign myself to this unpleasant existence as my only alternative option to my eating disorder? I began to wonder why each time I developed a new symptom, another medication was prescribed without even a question.” Real People, Real Paleo – Beyond Eating Disorder – The Paleo Mom
“On a basic level, meditative practices can help calm an overactive brain. “Anxiety is essentially worrying about the future, about bad things that haven’t happened yet and probably won’t,” says Jenny Taitz, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at The American Institute for Cognitive Therapy in New York City. “Because anxiety is future focused, anything that keeps you in the moment is helpful.” And that’s exactly what yoga and meditation do. By paying attention to the way your body feels inWarrior II or holding your mind on the feeling of the breath moving in and out of your nostrils, you keep yourself firmly anchored in the present moment.” Learn How Yoga Relieves Anxiety Holistically – Yoga Journal
“Coffee and tea both landed in the British isles in the 1600s. In fact, java even got a head start of about a decade. And yet, a century later, tea was well on its way to becoming a daily habit for millions of Britons — which it remains to this day.
So how did tea emerge as Britain’s hot beverage of choice?
The short answer: Tea met sugar, forming a power couple that altered the course of history. It was a marriage shaped by fashion, health fads and global economics. And the growing taste for sweetened tea also helped fuel one of the worst blights on human history: the slave trade.” Tea Tuesdays: How Tea + Sugar Reshaped The British Empire – NPR
“First of all, there are probably going to be people who like cooking and eating alone no matter what generation they’re in. Another part of it is that one pleasure of cooking comes from breaking something down, feeling like you’re in control. We live in a time where we’re really not in control of very much. You can’t get a job, you can’t get a date without branding yourself properly on, you know, whatever app you’re using. You don’t really understand how the Internet works or how your phone works, but food is something you can break down. You can understand it, so you can have control over the final product.” Millennials Are Foodies: Consequences for Restaurants, Agriculture, and Grocery Stores – The Atlantic
Inside of a Dog did not disappint. Horowitz, who heads the Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College, manages to simultaneously educate and thrill this reader. Many, many times would I stop reading and go find my partner to impart the latest interesting fact or piece of information. Some of my favourites included learning about how quickly foxes can be domesticated, that the whole wolf pack hierarchy is a bit of a scam, just how amazing dogs sense of smell is, and their cleverness in learning to use humans as tools. Oh, one more thing… when dogs “kiss” you by licking your face and around your mouth? They’re really hoping you’ll regurgitate whatever you last ate, so they can have a taste as well.
Check out these thought-provoking excerpts – I’m sure you’ll learn something new and fascinating about man’s best friend. I highly recommend Inside of a Dog to all dog lovers.
Dog training books often insist that “a dog is an animal”: this is true but is not the whole truth. The dog is an animal domesticated, a word that grew from a root form meaning “belong to the house.” Dogs are animals who belong around houses. Domestication is a variation of the process of evolution, where the selector has been not just natural forces but human ones, eventually intent on bringing dogs inside their homes.
Later genomic mapping has revealed that forty genes now differ between Belyaev’s tame foxes and the wild silver fox. Incredibly, by selecting for one behavioral trait, the genome of the animal was changed in half a century. And with that genetic change came a number of surprisingly familiar physical changes: some of the later-generation foxes have multicolored, piebald coats, recognizable in dog mutts everywhere. They have floppy ears and tails that curl up and over their backs. Their heads are wider and their snouts are shorter. They are improbably cute.
For instance, it is high time we revampt the false notion that our dogs view us as their “pack.” The “pack” language – with its talk of the “alpha” dog, dominance, and submission – is one of the most pervasive metaphors for the family of humans and dogs. It originates where dogs originated: dogs emerged from wolflike ancestors, and wolves form packs. Thus, it is claimed, dogs form packs. The seeming naturalness of this move is belied by some of the attributes we don’t transfer from wolves to dogs: wolves are hunters, but we don’t let our dogs hunt for their own food. And though we may feel secure with a dog at the threshold of a nursery, we would never let a wolf alone in a room with our sleeping newborn baby, seven pounds of vulnerable meat.
Still, to many, the analogy to a dominance-pack organization is terribly appealing – especially with us as dominant and the dog submissive. Once applied, the popular conception of a pack works itself into all sorts of interactions with our dogs: we eat first, the dog second; we command, the dog obeys; we walk the dog, the dog doesn’t walk us. Unsure how to deal with an animal in our midst, the “pack” notion gives us a structure.
Unfortunately, it not only limits the kind of understanding and interaction we can have with our dogs, it also relies on a faulty premise. The “pack” evoked in this way bears little resemblance to actual wolf packs. The traditional model of the pack was that of a linear hierarchy, with a ruling alpha pair and various “beta” and even “gamma” or “omega” wolves below them, but contemporary wolf biologists find this model far too simplistic. It was formed from observations of captive wolves. With limited space and resources in small, enclosed pens, unrelated wolves self-organize, and a hierarchy of power results. The same might happen in any social species with little room.
In the wild, wolf packs consist almost entirely of related or mated animals. They are families, not groups of peers vying for the top spot. A typical pack includes a breeding pair and one or many generations of their offspring. The pack unit organized social behavior and hunting behavior. Only one pair mates, while other adult or adolescent pack members participate in raising the pups. Different individuals hunt and share food; at times, many members together hunt large prey which may be too large to tackle individually. Unrelated animals do occasionally join together to form packs with multiple breeding partners, but this is an exception, probably an accommodation to environmental pressures. Some wolves never join a pack.
The one breeding pair – parents to all or most of the other pack members – guide the group’s course and behaviors, but to call them “alphas” implies a vying for the top that is not quite accurate. They are not alpha dominants any more than a human parent is the alpha in the family. Similarly, the subordinate status of a young wolf has more to do with his age than with a strictly enforced hierarchy. Behaviors seen as “dominant” or “submissive” are used not in a scramble for power, they are used to maintain social unity. Rather than being a pecking order, rank is a mark of age. It is regularly on display in the animals expressive postures in greeting and in interactions. Approaching an older wolf with a low wagging tail and a body close to the ground, a younger wolf is acknowledging the older’s biological priority. Young pups are naturally at a subordinate level; in mixed-family packs pups may inherit some of the status of their parents. While rank may be reinforced by charged and sometimes dangerous encounters between pack members, this is rarer than aggression again an intruder. Pups learn their place by interacting with and observing their packmates more than by being put in their place.
Trainers who espouse the pack metaphor extract the “hiearchy” component and ignore the social context from which it emerges. (They further ignore that we still have a lot to learn about wolf behavior in the wild, given the difficulty of following these animals closely.) A wolfcentric trainer may call the humans the pack leaders responsible for discipline and forcing submission by others. These trainers teach by punishing the dog after discover of, say, the inevitable peed-upon rug. The punishment can be a yell, forcing the dog down, a sharp word or jerk of the collar. Bringing the dog to the scene of the crime to enact the punishment is common – and is an especially misguided tactic.
This approach is farther from what we know of the reality of wolf packs and closer to the timeworn fiction of the animal kingdom with humans at the pinnacle, exerting dominion over the rest. Wolves seem to learn from each other not by punishing each other but by observing each other. Dogs, too, are keen observers – of our reactions. Instead of a punishment happening to them, they’ll learn best if you let them discover for themselves which behaviors are rewarded and which lead to naught. Your relationship with your dog is defined by what happens in those undesired moments – as when you return home to a puddle of urine on the floor. Punishing the dog for his misbehavior – the deed having been done maybe hours before – with dominance tactics is a quick way to make your relationship about bullying. If your trainer punished the dog, the problem behavior may temporarily abate, but the only relationship created is one between your trainer and your dog. (Unless the trainer’s moving in with you, that won’t last long.) The result will be a dog who becomes extra sensitive and possibly fearful, but not one who understands what you mean to impart. Instead, let the dog use his observation skills. Undesired behavior gets no attention, no food: nothing that the dog wants from you. Good behavior gets it all. That’s an integral part of how a young child learns how to be a person. And that’s how the dog-human gang coheres into a family.
What’s this like? Imagine if each detail of our visual world were matched by a corresponding smell. Each petal on a rose may be distinct, having been visited by insects leaving pollen footprints from faraway flowers. What is to us just a single stem actually holds a record of who held it, and when. A burst of chemicals mark where a leaf was torn. The flesh of the petals, plump with moisture compared to that of the leaf, holds a different odor besides. The fold of a leaf has a small; so does a dew-drop on a thorn. And time is in those details: while we can see one of the petals drying and browning, the dog can smell this process of decay and aging. Imagine smelling every minute visual detail. That might be the experience of a rose to a dog.
To dogs, we are our scent. In some ways, olfactory recognition of people is quite similar to our own visual recognition of people: there are multiple components of the image responsible for how we look. A different haircut or a newly bespectacled face can, at least momentarily, mislead us as to the identity of the person standing before us. I can be surprised what even a close friend looks like from a different vantage or from a distance. So too must the olfactory image we embody be different in different contexts. The mere arrival of my (human) friend at the dog park is enough to set me smiling; it takes another beat before my dog notices her own friend. And odors are subject to decay and dispersal that light is not: a smell from a nearby object may not reach you if a breeze carries it in the other direction, and the strength of an odor diminishes over time. Unless my friend tries ducking behind a tree, it’s hard for her to conceal her visual image from me: a wind won’t conceal her. But it might conceal her from a dog momentarily.
When we return home at a day’s end, dogs typically great our cocktail of stink promptly and lovingly. Should we come home after having bathed in unfamiliar perfume or wearing someone else’s clothes, we might expect a moment of puzzlement – it is no longer “us” – but our natural effusion will soon give us away.
…What smells clean to us is the smell of artificial chemical clean, something expressly non-biological. The mildest fragrance that cleansers come in is still an olfactory insult to a dog. And although we might like a visually clean space, a place rid entirely of organic smells would be an impoverished one for dogs. Better to keep the occasional well-worn T-shirt around and not scrub the floor for a while. The dog himself does not have any drive to be what we would call clean. It is no wonder that the dog follows his bath by hightailing it to roll vigourously on the rug or in the grass. We deprive dogs of an important part of their identity, temporarily, to bathe them in coconut-lavender shampoo.
…Dogs, too, respond with alacrity to baby talk – partially because it distinguishes speech that is directed at them fromt he rest of the continous yammering above their heads. Moreover, they will come more easily to high-pitched and repeated call requests than to those at a lower pitch. What is the ecology behind this? High-pitched sounds are naturally interesting to dogs: they might indicate the excitement of a tussle or the shrieking of nearby injured prey. If a dog fails to respond to your reasonable suggestion that he come right now, resist the urge to lower and sharpen your tone. It indicates your frame of mine – and the punishment that might ensue for his prior uncooperativeness. Correspondingly, it is easier to get a dog to sit on command to a longer, descending tone rather than repeated, rising notes. Such a tone might be more likely to induce relaxation, or preparation for the next command from their talky human.
Dogs also have a higher flicker-fusion rate than humans do: seventy or even eighty cycles per second. This provides an indication why dogs have not taken up a particular foible of persons: our constant gawking at the television screen. Like film, the image on your (non-digital) TV is really a sequence of still shots sent quickly enough to fool our eyes into seeing a continuous stream. But it’s not fast enough for dog vision. They see the individual frames and the dark space between them too, as though stroboscopically. This – and the lack of concurrent odors wafting out of the television – might explain why most dogs cannot be planted in front of the television to engage them. It doesn’t look real.
If we revisit some of the problem-solving tests on which wolves performed so much better than dogs, we now see that the dogs’ poor performance can there too be explained by their inclination to look to humans. Tested on their ability to, say, get a bit of food in a well-closed container, wolves keep trying and trying, and if the test is not rigged they eventually succeed through trial and errors. Dogs, by contrast, tend to go at the container only until it appear that it won’t easily be opened. They they look at any person in the room and begin a variety of attention-getting and solicitation behaviors until the person relents and helps them get into the box.
By standard intelligence tests, the dogs have failed at the puzzle. I believe, by contrast, that they have succeeded magnificently. They have applied a novel tool to the task. We are that tool. Dogs have learned this – and they see us as fine general-purpose tools, too: useful for protection, acquiring food, providing companionship. We solve the puzzles of closed doors and empty water dishes. In the folk psychology of dogs, we humans are brilliant enough to extract hopelessly tangled leashes from around trees; we can magically transport them to higher or lower heights as needed; we can conjure up an endless bounty of foodstuffs and things to chew. How savvy we are in dogs’ eyes! It’s a clever strategy to turn to us after all. The question of the cognitive abilities of dogs is thereby transformed: dogs are terrific at using humans to solve problems, but not as good at solving problems when we’re not around.
Further suggestive evidence that dogs know their size comes from their rough-and-tumble play. One of the most characteristic features of dog play is that socialized dogs can, by and large, play with almost any other socialized dog. This includes the pug who leaps onto the hocks of the mastiff, reaching his knee. As we’ve seen, big dogs know how to, and often do, moderate the force of their play to smaller playmates. They can withhold their fiercest bites, jump halfheartedly, bump into their more fragile playmates more gently. They might willingly expose themselves to attack. Some of the largest dogs regularly flop themselves on the ground, revealing their bellies for their smaller playmates to maul for a while – what I called a self-takedown. Older, learned dogs adjust their play style to puppies, who don’t yet know the rules of play.
Play between dogs of mismatched statures often does not last long, but it is usually an owner, not a dog, who moves to stop it. Most socialized dogs are considerably better at reading each other’s intent and abilities than we are. They settle most misunderstandings before owners even see them. It’s not the size or the breed that matters, it’s the way they talk to each other.
All the dogs survive the experiment looking well fed and a little bewildered. In many of the trials, the dog could be models for the guilty look: they lower their gaze, press their ears back, slump their body, and shyly avert their head. Numerous tails beat a rapid rhythm low between their legs. Some raise a paw in appeasement or flick their tongue out nervously. But these guilt-related behaviors did not occur more often in the trials when the dog had disobeyed than in those when they had obeyed. Instead there were more guilty looks in the trials when the owner scolded the dog, whether the dog had disobeyed or not. Being scolded despite resisting the disallowed treat led to an extra-guilty look.
This indicates that the dog has associated the owner, not the act, with an imminent reprimand. What’s happening here? The dog is anticipating punishment around certain objects or when seeing the subtle cues from the owner that indicates he may be angry. As we know, dogs readily learn to notice associations between events. If the appearance of food follows the opening of the large cold box in the kitchen, why, the dog will be alert to the opening of that box. These associations can be forged with events of their making as well as those they observe. Much of what is learned is based, deep down, on making associations: whining is followed by attention, so the dog learns to whine for attention; scratching at the trash can causes it to tip and spill its contents, so the dog learns to scratch to get what’s inside. And making certain kinds of messes is sometimes followed much later by the presence of the owner, which is itself quickly followed by the reddening of the owner’s face, loud verbiage coming out of the owner, and punishment by that reddened loud owner. The key here is that the mere appearance of the owner around what looks like evidence of destruction can be enough to convince the dog that punishment is imminent. The owner’s arrival is much more closely linked to punishment than the garbage emptying the dog engaged in hours earlier. And if that’s the case, most dogs will assume a submissive posture on seeing their owners – the classic guilty look.
In this case, a claim about the dog’s knowledge of his misdeed is importantly off the mark. The dog may not think of the behavior as bad. The guilty look is very similar to the look of fear and to submissive behaviors. It is no surprise, then, to find so many dog owners who are frustrated with attempts to punish a dog for bad behavior. What the dog clearly knows is to anticipate punishment when the owner appears wearing a look of displeasure. What the dog does not know is that he is guilty. He just knows to look out for you.
…In the wild, when parents return to the den, the pups mob them, madly lunging at their mouths in the hope of getting them to regurgitate a bit of the kill they have consumed. They lick at their lips, muzzle, and mouth, take a submissive posture, and wag furiously.
As we have seen, what many owners cheerfully describe as “kisses” is face licking, your dog’s attempt to prompt you to regurgitate. Your dog will never be unhappy if his kisses in fact prompt you to spit up your lunch. This greeting isn’t complete without an excited approach and constant, energetic contact. Ears that were pricked to hear your arrival fall flat against the dog’s head, which dips slightly in a submissive gesture. The dog pulls his lips back and drops his eyelids: in humans, markers of a true smile. He wags madly or beats a frantic rhythm with the tip of his tail against the ground. Both wags contain all the excited running-around energy that the dog suppresses in order to stay close to you. He may whine or yelp with pleasure.
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“For the sake of honest disclosure, I will admit to owning “purebreds” (the ‘pureness’ of purebreeds is a discussion for another time) but I also have mutts. All the dogs I’ve had since childhood had a few things in common, they were friendly, prey driven, ball-crazy, intense, motivated, athletic (crazy dogs are easier to train) and none had intentionally bred defects. I would never buy/adopt a dog whose breed characteristics exacted a health burden.(Asher 2009). That just incentivizes people to breed more of these intentionally unhealthy animals. The dogs on the left are from the 1915 book, ‘Breeds of All Nations‘ by W.E. Mason. The examples on the right are modern examples from multiple sources. To be able to make an honest comparison, I’ve chosen pictures with similar poses and in a couple of cases flipped the picture to get them both aligned in the same direction. I had to skip some breeds I wanted to include because of the lack of detail in the older photographs.” 100 Years of Breed “Improvement” – Science and Dogs
“Take gyms. They advertise themselves as routes to fitness, yet in most cases their business model rests on monetising laziness: if most people made good use of their monthly subscriptions, the cost of providing space and equipment would lead to bankruptcy. Another example: insider traders get prosecuted, because they profit from secret data that others can’t access. But when Facebook uses internal data from millions of users to display the perfect ad for you – targeted to push psychological buttons you didn’t know you had – is that so different? Some sites now display different prices to different shoppers, based on what their online behaviour suggests they’ll be willing to pay, which is somehow both a) entirely sensible and b) utterly outrageous.” Exploiting gullible people is a modern form of mining – The Guardian
“Recognizing what it really looks like is about being able to notice what’s quiet. And noticing what’s quiet is difficult when there is a lot of noise happening – and of course I don’t mean plain old SOUND noise. Mostly I mean EMOTIONAL noise.” the reality is much quieter – the dirty normal
“There is nothing progressive about the IDF, where soldiers of any sexuality violate human rights. They pull Palestinians from their homes in the middle of the night and hold them indefinitely without trial. There is nothing progressive about last summer’s bombing of Gaza, where Israel killed over 2,000 Gazans, over 50% of them civilians and over 500 children, plus thousands more wounded and disabled. And there is nothing just about the IDF’s actions: while Israel state media justifies everything in the name of security, in reality it is the entrenched military occupation and Israel’s de facto apartheid rule over the non-Jewish Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza which is the biggest threat to life and property. And with the recent horrible attack on the Jerusalem pride parade, deep rooted bigotry in Israeli society at large is rearing its head more than ever. Recent investigative videos show that, even casually walking down the street, gay men face homophobia.
Life is not safe under occupation and apartheid for Palestinians, whether they are women, LGBT, or even vegan. It’s an intense double standard to lift up diversity in the IDF while ignoring the horrible quality of life for Palestinians of every gender and sexuality under occupation. All the positive tweets in the world about women and gay soldiers won’t make up for that.” What’s feminist about women & queer folks in the Israeli army? – Feministing
“For the longest time, I equated “self-care” with “selfish”. I thought it was the domain of people who had far too much time and money on their hands and the realm of people who were self-indulgent. All in all, I saw it as something that was quite embarrassing and cringe-worthy.
Now I know different.
I know that it’s not about time, nor about money. I know there is a big difference between self-care and self-indulgence. And, I definitely know that we show up more fully and are nicer people to be around when we’re taking care of our needs.” Why the World Needs You to Thrive – Becoming Who You Are
“Not everyone can come to my classes to write through trauma in a supportive group setting, so I decided when I started teaching that I would provide my core in-class resources on my site. I believe writing is an excellent tool in the self-care kit. I’ve put these posts in an order that you can use as an in-home syllabus. Consider working with one post per week, and complementing it with prompts from the linked page (see below).” 10 Free Resources for Creating a Writing Practice for Self Care – The Honeyed Quill
“Daily meditation practice helps people stay focused on the present moment and feel more connected to the divine. However, meditation is more than just a disconnected spiritual practice — it actually helps improve your health. Among other benefits, meditation can help people control pain and inflammation in their body, and researchers are finally starting to understand why.
One reason meditation is so effective is due to its influence over the vagus nerve, which is found in the brainstem and stretches down through the organs in the abdominal cavity. A major role of the vagus is to control inflammation all over the body.” Activate Your Vagus Nerve to Stave Off Pain and Inflammation – Reset.me
“8. Don’t feel bad if you have to cancel plans at the last minute, I understand
One of the constant feelings that comes along with a chronic illness is feeling guilty or like you are a burden to people in your life. I always feel terrible for canceling plans, and I sometimes do it at the latest possible moment because I am hoping I will feel better. And I sometimes beat myself up about it, even though it’s out of my control. I know this is common for people with chronic illnesses. Letting them know you don’t hold it against them will help alleviate that guilt. And it will make them more likely to make plans with you in the future, because they won’t be afraid of losing you as a friend if they cancel on you too often.” 10 Things You Should Say to Someone With a Chronic Illness – Pins and Procrastination
“I’m going to do something a little different today. I’m going to look critically at conventional wisdom, but of a different sort: the kind espoused by the alternative health crowd.
Now, I’m usually sympathetic to them. We align in many ways, perhaps more often than not. We both prefer organic food, wild seafood, and sustainably-raised livestock. We both understand the benefits of smart sun exposure, spending time in nature, and getting ample amounts of sleep. But when it comes to conventional alternative wisdom regarding genetic modification of food — that it makes food unsafe and unhealthy — I have to put on my skeptic’s hat and take a closer look. This is what I do. And don’t worry; in doing so, I’ll also explore the flip side — that GMOs are absolutely, perfectly safe.” Is Conventional Wisdom About GMO Safety Correct? – Mark’s Daily Apple
“So I did some research and for some reason ended up reading all about cloth pads and how they differed from regular pads. This is the part where the light bulb starts flashing…I found out that regular pads and tampons contain chlorine, something I’m very allergic to! No wonder by body hated me every month, I was basically subjecting it to torture, poor thing.” “Naturalizing” Your Feminine Hygiene Routine – Little House Living
“In order to healthfully sustain any eating plan, you have to be two things: you have to be forgiving, and you have to be open to change. You have to be forgiving because you are human. Some days will not be “perfect.” In fact, I encourage you to throw the whole notion of “perfect” in this sense completely out the window. Having a meal plan doesn’t mean strictly adhering to a set of numbers. It instead means setting guidelines, and choosing to do your best to meet them as much as possible.” How to Track Food Intake without Being Obsessive – Paleo for Women
“The main point of the story here is to stick to your list. Regardless of whether you meal plan (although I still advocate that it saves you both time and money in the long run), you need to make a grocery list at the very least. This includes little pit stops at the grocery store to pick up something you forgot. I’d even go so far as to say that the list is even more important on those little pit stops, because that’s when temptation can really set in. “I only need to pick up this one item… I feel like I should buy more… Maybe I’ll grab a few other things, just to have on hand.” If you meal planned, then you know exactly what you need, and you only need to have those things on hand. This goes for snacks, too. I even plan out my snacks, because I do occasionally want one, and if I don’t have anything readily available or appetizing, then I’ll just go hungry until the next meal, to be honest. This is where I used to get caught spending unnecessary money, though: buying pre-made, Paleo-friendly snacks at the grocery store, like Larabars and Bearded Bros. bars.” Guest Post by The Whole Life Balance: Maintaining Your Grocery Budget – The Paleo Mom
“His appetite for tea was limitless. Presumably, Shelley would have loved to load his cup with sugar — he had a strong sweet tooth. Except that in his lifetime, sugar came to epitomize the evils of slavery. In the liberal circles Shelley moved in, eating sugar was about as acceptable as displaying tusks of ivory in one’s living room is today.” How Percy Shelley Stirred His Politics Into His Teacup – The Salt
“This is one of the things that makes basic income to appealing — as income inequality deepens in the U.S., it strains existing safety nets. The need for existing entitlements go up, while our ability to pay for them decreases.
Which leads to the question: How do we pay for it all? This is where most red flags are raised, because since the gains of automation go to the rich, the most logical funding would come from that capital. So most proposals for funding basic income come down to some form of taxation on the very wealthy. One recent proposal put the total cost of a poverty-level basic income at about $2 trillion.
But as Santens puts it, this titanic form of redistributing wealth isn’t about playing Robin Hood — it’s based on the principle that if technology advances to make people obsolete, everyone should share in the benefit. This is where basic income activists and futurists get a little high-concept, calling into question basic economic principles like the concept of money.
“It’s not about stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, it’s about a minimum amount of access to resources,” Santens told Mic.
But we wouldn’t need a radical overhaul of the economic system in the Western world to enact basic income. We’d just need to vote it into law.” After Robots Take Our Jobs, This Is What the Economy Will Look Like – Mic
Our puppy Freya is probably more likely to answer to “little monster” than her name: Petese – Robot Hugs
“Occasionally, I’ll get an email from a reader who isn’t asking for advice so much as they are asking for permission. And nine times out of ten, what they’re asking for is permission to break up with their significant other… because they can’t manage to convince themselves that they need to. One of the most perverse aspects of being human is how hard we fight against our own best interests. Our brains are prone to a host of psychological effects and fallacies that convince us that we shouldn’t finally pull the trigger and end that toxic relationship, even though it’s making us miserable.” Why It’s So Hard to Break Up With Someone (Even When You Need To) – Dr NerdLove
“But do you know what happens if we take guilt out? The vicious cycle disappears! After all, I masturbated regularly from age seven through age twelve with no guilt whatsoever and there was no vicious cycle. I would masturbate when I felt like it, once or twice a week at times, once or twice a month at other times, and that was it. No guilt, no obsessing over it, none of that. It just . . . was. It was a thing I did, and it made me feel good, and, well, that was it. And once I stopped believing masturbation was sin, when I was nineteen or twenty or so, the vicious cycle disappeared again. I masturbate sometimes. The end. Like seriously, that’s it.
In other words, this vicious cycle is created entirely by the belief that masturbation is sin, and is in no way inherent to masturbation at all. There’s no “addiction.” Sexual desire and sexual feelings are a natural part of life. I mean, does the fact that we have a biological need to eat mean we are addicted to eating food? We have a biological need for relationship and connection to other people as well. Is that addiction?” Masturbation: A Selfish, Addictive, Vicious Cycle – Love, Joy, Feminism
“But what Amethyst points out in her comment is that the comparison is disingenuous for another reason—it has the actors exactly backwards. If you wanted to make an accurate analogy, you would ask whether a Nazi baker should have to sell wedding cakes to Jewish customers, and whether a white caterer who is a member of the KKK can decline to serve black events. That rather turns things around, doesn’t it?” That Jewish-Baker-Swastika-Cake Analogy Is Backwards – Love, Joy, Feminism
“Yes, the curious logic of the MRA dictates that feminism and the fight for women’s liberation has actually resulted in equal and opposite systemic harm being done to men. Cast even a cursory look over arguments between MRAs and feminists and you’ll be treated to a laundry list of complaints – some genuine and some imagined – intended to demonstrate the heinous oppression apparently inflicted on men today. Misogyny and misandry are treated by MRAs as interchangeable things, with the latter being widely viewed as ‘just as bad, if not worse’. As Newton discovered, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and so it is that MRAs view the battleground of sexism. Or, as the little girl in It’s A Wonderful Life might put it, everytime a bell rings, a family court judge kidnaps a man’s children from him.” Your guide to understanding ironic misandry – Daily Life
“But in the past 25 years, the apparel industry, the entire global economy, has undergone a complete transformation. The way our clothes are made and distributed and thrown away is barely recognizable compared to the way it was done in the ’90s. And yet our playbook for improving it remains exactly the same.
This year, I spoke with more than 30 company reps, factory auditors and researchers and read dozens of studies describing what has happened in those sweatshops since they became a cultural fixation three decades ago. All these sources led me to the same conclusion: Boycotts have failed. Our clothes are being made in ways that advocacy campaigns can’t affect and in places they can’t reach. So how are we going to stop sweatshops now?” The Myth of the Ethical Shopper – The Huffington Post
“A book about sex, particularly one filled with as many “aha!” moments as this one, is going to be enough for plenty to pick it up. If you’re interested in beauty and physical appearance on top of that, The Sex Myth has even greater wealth. Hills skillfully lays out the ways that sex has become entwined with people’s images, including how we use appearance to give a managed vision of sexuality. Not that we’re directly advertising our presumed sexual interests on our bodies (though some do). But as Hills points out, it’s easy to overlook the intersection of sex and identity when we tick all the socially approved boxes. Looking like a sexually desirable woman might be on my agenda at times, but I’d never taken the connection between self-presentation and sex farther than that. That’s an easy place for me to reside in because I’ve got plenty of sexual permission: I’m a heterosexual, partnered, cisgendered white chick who isn’t just monogamous but isserially monogamous, so it’s presumed I have the sexual experience a woman in her 30s “should” have. There’s not a lot of deviance I’m forced to hide, ameliorate, or justify. But of course my sexual self-presentation asserts itself beyond my appeal: I dress in women’s clothes, I have long hair and wear makeup, I reveal enough skin to show that I’m not uncomfortable with the mere idea of sex, but not so much that I push the line of “slut.”
In other words, I look “normal,” which files me into a bin with plenty of other compliant-looking women. Looking “normal” is certainly no guarantee of actual compliance (thank heavens), but you wouldn’t know that from looking at the pile of knee-length skirts and tasteful kitten heels lying in our wake. Sex, looks, and normalcy: Humans walk a fine line here to avoid falling on the “wrong” side, and women have more experience in navigating that line than men. (There is no male equivalent of “lady on the streets, freak between the sheets.”) We’re educated in how to look good but not like we tried too hard, how to advertise our sex appeal without looking aggressive. In the same way, the Sex Myth has men and women alike attempting to appear a carefully calibrated line of “normal”: sexually deviant enough to be interesting but not so deviant as to actually be labeled perverted, ready and willing at all times but without any whiff of desperation. It’s a variation on the sexual double bind for women that has existed for centuries, with the twist that it does its policing under the guise of liberation. As Hills writes, “sex doesn’t need to be actively suppressed in order to be controlled.”” Sex Appeal, Beauty, and Normalcy: Rachel Hills’ “The Sex Myth” – The New Inquiry
“Going grey is inevitable and it leaves you with two options. One, dye your hair to cover the grey, or two, embrace the natural change. In my experience, most women progress from option one to option two over time, colouring their hair until they’ve had enough of the expense and effort it involves. Whatever you choose, there is no right or wrong. It’s a personal decision.” Beautifully Grey – You Look Fab
“I don’t believe in regret, I told a friend, but my one regret is that I have but one life. By which I mean that growing older has meant the understanding of doors closing, sometimes permanently, as I choose which of the doors ahead of me to open.” Know this when you make choices. – Esmé Weijun Wang
“What happens in the vagus nerve, it turns out, doesn’t stay in the vagus nerve. The longest of the cranial nerves, the vagus nerve is so named because it “wanders” like a vagabond, sending out fibers from your brainstem to your visceral organs. The vagus nerve is literally the captain of your inner nerve center—the parasympathetic nervous system, to be specific. And like a good captain, it does a great job of overseeing a vast range of crucial functions, communicating nerve impulses to every organ in your body. New research has revealed that it may also be the missing link to treating chronic inflammation, and the beginning of an exciting new field of treatment that leaves medications behind.” 9 Nervy Facts About the Vagus Nerve – Mental Floss
“The whole experience has reminded me of an important message. What we need to heal isn’t just ‘rest’, quality ‘relaxation’ is far more important. My ‘shut down’ strategy seemed very restful, but it wasn’t nearly relaxing enough and I was ignoring another very important element to healing too: the lymphatic system cannot work without movement; inactivity needs to be paced with gentle movement and stretching.” Responding to a Crash: Rest just isn’t enough on its own! – ME/CFS Self-Help Guru
““Don’t feel bad if you have to cancel our plans at the last minute. I’ll understand.” I used to force myself to keep commitments even if I was too sick to leave the house. Invariably, it led to a bad “crash.” I’m much better now about cancelling plans if I have to, but I still feel bad about it unless those plans were made with one of my “it’s okay to cancel” friends.” What Those With Chronic Pain or Illness DO Want to Hear – Psychology Today
“What’s the vagus nerve and why should you care about it? Research on the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain to the stomach, has been coming fast and furious in the last few years since I’ve been reading up on it. The nerve, hereafter referred to as the VG “interfaces” (I quote wikipedia here) with parasympathetic control of the heart and digestive tract.
In short, it’s pretty freaking important because it joins the heart, brain and stomach, which really explains just so much I’ve been trying to work out over the years. I’ve been holding off on sharing all this with you guys because researchers are churning out studies at an alarming rate, each day bringing a slew of new ideas into my inbox. Basically the vagus nerve affects how our brain signals the stomach: research now shows that faulty vagal messaging to the stomach can prevent us from experiencing satiety, thereby causing us to overeat; it affects the rate at which our heart beats, it plays a role in psychiatric disorders, it may be involved in POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), it’s helping Alzheimer’s patients, reversing rheumatoid arthritis, and researchers definitely believe that it’s a mega player in epilepsy.” The vagus nerve inflammation connection – The Low Histamine Chef
“The key is, without dopamine, the decision can’t get from the frontal lobe to the action parts of the brain. Dopamine levels can be knocked back by pain, drugs (including the prescribed ones), depression, poor diet, and — of course — overuse.
People who have crippling pain have to make exponentially more decisions than those who don’t. Every action is measured against an internal set of standards that don’t exist for normos: how much pain will lifting that cost me? That car door — which way should I turn my hand to minimize damage when I pull it? How many function-dollars do I have left in my body’s account — enough to do laundry _and_ shower? Or should I do just one? If so, which one is more necessary?” Life, CRPS & Everything: Dopamine, poverty, and pain – The Lighter Side
“So, is my cell phone harming my health? The bottom line is that we don’t know. As you’ve seen, there’s quite a bit of research on the safety of cell phones, but the results have been varied and inconclusive. Additionally, the biological mechanisms by which cell phone radiation could cause these adverse health effects are only just beginning to be understood, and until a clear mechanism exists, we can’t draw any conclusions from the epidemiological data we have.” Are Cell Phones Dangerous to Your Health? – Chris Kresser
“Am I saying Adrenal Fatigue doesn’t exist? Not necessarily. These people are certainly ill. And there are likely other factors that can contribute to these symptoms. What I am saying, though, is that there are an awful lot of people out there who are restricting themselves into illness, and there are an awful lot of gurus who are encouraging this behavior through hyper-focus on food quality and dismissal of the relevance of calories. It is irresponsible. For some people, perhaps MANY people, simply increasing calorie intakeis the first and most important step toward recovery. Distressingly though, the Adrenal Fatigue treatment protocols I see being sold on the internet rarely address adequate calorie intake, and in fact frequently discourage any attention to calorie intake while alsoimposing further dietary restrictions on people who already eat restrictive diets. This is a huge mess people! We’re moving the wrong direction! We should be increasing the variety and richness of our diets whenever possible, and ensuring that our bodies are getting not only the nutrients but also the calories necessary to support our activity and a healthy weight.” Adrenal Fatigue as a Cover for Starvation – Go Kaleo
“Well, there you have it. White rice isn’t evil. Brown rice isn’t so great – unless you prepare it properly through fermentation or you’re a mouse. Personally, I’m going to make my life easy and eat my white rice – cooked in bone broth and topped with butter.” Is White Rice Bad for You? – Holistic Squid
“Who doesn’t want a head full of thick, shiny hair? In women, it’s a sign of beauty and radiant health, and in men it’s often considered a reflection of their masculinity – men who start to go bald often feel that their manliness is somehow threatened. Browsing the “hair care” aisle in CVS shows what modern beauty standards recommend for any kind of hair problem: endless pots, bottles, and spray cans of soaps, shampoos, conditioners, detanglers, relaxers, and styling products. But for truly healthy hair, it might be time to spend less time focusing on what you rub on your head, and more time on what you put in your mouth.” Paleo for Healthy Hair – Paleo Leap
The Giddy Death of the Gays and the Strange Demise of the Straights by Redfern Jon Barret is a beautifully written novel detailing our obsession with gender essentialism, monogamy, romantic love and sexual attraction. But what happens when we question these things? If we didn’t divide people into two genders, admitted that it’s possible to love more than one person at the same time, or realized that it is possible to deeply love someone, even if you are not sexually attracted to that person?
What happens when we move past the rules we were taught as children?
Don’t avoid the other children. Don’t play with dolls. Don’t be so sensitive. Don’t be a wilting wallflower. Don’t doodle. Don’t dream. Don’t wrestle other boys. Don’t forget to shave. Don’t kiss male friends. Men don’t love men. You certainly can’t love more than one at once. The rules-to-a-happy-life are the same in south Wales as anywhere else.
Happiness is boring. At least I think so. Contentment makes for the worst stories. Contended people live and die as though they never were – there is no imprint to be left by the contended. Now discontent is worth something. When we live among masses of those with whom we disagree – those we find abhorrent – that is when we fight to leave a mark, that is when we have something worth conveying. That was my life in south Wales. So I avoided who I wanted, I played with what I wished, I was as sensitive as I needed to be, I wilted and doodled and dreamed, I wrestled whomever I felt like, I didn’t close-shave anywhere. But I hoped that people would kiss me and people would love me and maybe there would be more than one at once. At some point.
What is really so great about your standard, hetero-normative relationship in the first place?
A rough-looking hetero couple clamoured into me, cursing me then resuming their rage toward each other, screamed as a public spectacle – their hair was plastered t their faces with rain, their inexplicably bare arms soaking wet. Be aware I might be paraphrasing a little.
“You make me feel inadequate in my masculinity and I find the thought of you finding other men sexually attractive threatening to an ego which was damaged by a hypermasculine overbearing father.”
“I retreat into a shrill media-based portrayal of hysterical womanhood as the only response I know to dealing with your insecure aggression. I’ll screech over and over that I didn’t sleep with anyone, protesting my innocence so I can resume my campaign of passive aggression against you, which I learned both from school and from my parents.”
“I monitor the direction in which you cast your eyes when we’re in public together, watching for any sign that you find anyone else physically attractive. When I feel sufficiently justified in my fear-based rage, I shall shout at you and then attack the poor individual who played no part in the gradual and inevitable breakdown of our ridiculous relationship. I shall threaten to murder anyone who is foolhardy enough to endure orgasm with you, thus proving I am a man.”
“I shall cite your lack of sexual potency as a possible motivation for any possible infidelity.”
“You’re both a canine and a bovine, and finally you’re an apparently-offensive word for a female sexual organ which has its roots in old English.”
“You’re a fuckin’ wanker and a fuckin’ stupid prick an’ all,” zie squawled back. They stumpled into the pub opposite. I could see only shadows inside.
Our need for certainty, knowing which path to take and how to get to the destination… whatever that might be.
I’d let my guard down. I couldn’t help it, if I’m getting on with someone I instinctively trust them, and with my words and my breath and my body I want to fondle them, caress them, feel them. Yet in that city there were two types of sexual connection: the cold, unfeeling robotic motion-going single-night encounters, which chilled me like metal, or an instant monogamous homo mock-marriages which may have been softer, but which smothered and blocked out the light. Neither would nurture an organic bond, one which grew where it grew and simply went how it went. Only idiots crave certainty.
I’d let my guard down. We’d met online – of course I’d have rather’d the gradual casual chat of knowing someone-through-someone, but with homos in Swansea it was generally the internet or the gay bars. That wasn’t even a choice. Zie’d seemed different.
I’d let my guard down. We’d lain there together, a gentle finger circling skin.
Zie didn’t hear.
I’d smiled and zie looked away.
I’d held hir yet zie remained rigid.
Hard. Metallic. In one moment the green shoot withered and the seeds became bitter in hard soil. I knew even before zie said that zie wasn’t looking for anything serious – yet I told hir I looked for nothing – that zie needed to be by hirself – but can’t we just see what happens? Can’t we just let something grow, and if it withers, if it dies, then that’s fine, but can’t it have a chance? No words were heard and as I lay in the dark, with the glimmer of rising light outside. My limbs grew ever more heavy and leaden, mercury coursing through veins and arteries, a heavy lump of loneliness made molten and slowly flowing through me. When the sun was higher this one would leave, a few words scattered for the sake of politeness before zie went, taking a little of my hope with hir.
The courage it takes to question your own identity and self perception.
“I’m in love with you, Richard.”
I’d said it.
“What do you mean ‘you love me’?” he asked, looking at me like I was nuts, the fucking lunatic who had waited all night for him at the hospital. “You’re straight, aren’t you?”
And what could I say to that? I was scared, I didn’t know if I could get it all out right or make him understand, especially when I didn’t really get it myself, so I told him that I was straight, at least I only really like girls sexually, and if they weren’t born a girl at least they should look like one.
“My cock likes girls, Richard. But I love you.”
“I know how you feel. My cock doesn’t like you either,” and then he looked right at me and he said, “but I love you too.”
The courage it takes to move beyond our norms and set ideas… and the thrill in doing so.
“If he didn’t tell you he was gay or bisexual then he probably isn’t,” Steph replied, as calm as though we’d been forced into small talk. “I mean, he told you he’s in love with a man. What else would be left to hide? It seems to me that there are two important questions here: do you love him? And could you accept him loving someone else at the same time?”
All of a sudden I felt awake. Things felt clear. I knew what I wanted.
“They’ve really got a nerve,” Nomi shouted, but I wasn’t going to stay and listen to her rant. Dom loved me and I loved Dom. I felt tense, I felt stiff, and more than anything I felt determined. We loved each other, and maybe Richard would change that or maybe he wouldn’t, but I couldn’t just leave it, I had to find out.
What’s up with our desire to “own” our romantic partners anyway?
“No,” Steph replied. We can’t know what will make us happy until we do it. It’s not possible to make a conscious choice between degrees of happiness. What if this makes her more happy? Besides, half of you are socialists, the other half pretty much anarchists.”
“So,” Steph continued, resuming her firm decorum, “What sort of world do you really want to see, anyway? Isn’t it a little hypocritical to complain about property and ownership and then demand to own the person you love? Isn’t sharing what it’s all about? Kitty, you’re a vegan – is it wrong to own animals, but okay to own people?”
“That’s different,” Kitty replied. “People can consent, the ownership is mutual.”
“But uninformed consent isn’t consent,” Steph stated, growing a little wild. I didn’t know she felt so strongly about all of this. “Most people don’t know there’s any other way. What if there is?”
And what is up with all of our labels?
“So how am I heterosexual, but not straight?” Dom asked me. “What do you mean?”
“Because,” I told hir, “gay is a culture formed around homosexuality, and straight is a culture formed around heterosexuality.”
Dom gave an uncertain nod and glanced back toward the kitchen. Caroline’s other roommate flickered briefly in the doorway, a sour look on hir face, before vanishing.
“Think of it this way: you could be homosexual, or have a penis, or you might have an impairment – say you’re deaf. You have these states, and then you have the social shit we pile on top of those – in these cases being ‘gay’, or a ‘man’, or ‘disabled’. So if you’re homosexual people wind up assuming you’re gay, but all homosexual activity means is that you’re a man who wants to fuck other men. Being gay means a whole lot more than that: that you want to build your life with a man and not women, that you fall in love with men and not women, and a whole load of other crap.”
“Don’t forget the lesbians,” Steph said.
“Yes, right, thanks Steph, helpful.” I pulled a face at hir and she leant over and punched me on the arm. “Anyway,” I continued, “so your sex drive is towards women, not men, which makes you hetero-” Dom looked uncomfortable at the mention of hir sex drive, whilst Richard leant forward, “-but your romantic drive, that obviously lies with both men and women. If you were straight then both would be purely towards females – women would be the ones you fucked and the ones you love. That’s what I mean, that a homosexual doesn’t have to be gay, a heterosexual isn’t necessarily straight. That’s how you can wind up hetero, but not straight.”
This and so much more is explored in The Giddy Death of the Gays and the Strange Demise of the Straights by Redfern Jon Barrett. I didn’t think it possible, but I actually enjoyed this just as much, and quite possibly more than Forget Yourself – the author’s previous book. If you are at all open to have your pre-existing ideas and concepts questioned I highly recommend it – if nothing else, you might just fall in love with Barrett’s way with words.
“There aren’t many of us who don’t have some bad habit we’d like to quit: smoking, sweets, shopping, nail-biting, porn, excessive checking of phones or social media, other distractions …
The problem is that we think we don’t have the willpower, faced with past evidence of failure after failure when we’ve tried to quit before.
We don’t think we can quit, so we don’t even try. Or if we do try, we give ourselves an “out,” and don’t fully commit ourselves.” A Brief Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit – Zen Habits
“It also means that male readers need to do a much better job of reading outside their gender. According to researchers from Queen Mary College in London “four out of five men said the last novel they read was by a man, whereas women were almost as likely to have read a book by a male author as a female. When asked what novel by a woman they had read most recently, a majority of men found it hard to recall or could not answer.” We Really Need to Stop Buying Books By Men – Dame Magazine
“As a society, we do a very very poor job recognizing the significance of emotional abuse. Very poor. Bruises tend to be our standards for abuse. Well, you know what? Some of the people I know who are most impacted by the childhood abuse they suffered were never hit by their parents. Let that sink in for a moment. Emotionally abusive parents can turn a child’s home into a living nightmare, toying with their children’s very minds.” The State of Children’s Rights in Our Society Is Abysmal – Love, Joy, Feminism
“Yet, I know from my work as a life coach – and from personal experience overcoming a wide list of trauma and disease – that even the most impossible situations have solutions. Sometimes the way out doesn’t look like you expected it to, or even wanted it to. And it certaily doesn’t appear when you most need it. But it’s still a way out!” 12 solutions when you don’t know what to do – The Freedom Experiment
“But it’s not the spontaneous and genuine compliments that get to me. It’s when someone tells me I look good after hearing that I’m having a really rough time of it, as if looking good is going to make up for the fact that my body is falling apart.
It’s when I’m honest about my health, only to be met with a brief but awkward silence followed by a platitude about my appearance.” I Have an Invisible Illness – Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Tell Me I Look Good – Everyday Feminism
“For years doctors and dentists believed that malocclusion (teeth that don’t line up correctly) cause pain in the TMJ. However, newer research shows that while structural abnormalities may be part of the picture, this disorder is also associated with biological, behavioral and cognitive factors.” Jaw Pain: The Multifactorial Nature of TMD – Chris Kresser
“It seems intuitive that we like to spend time outdoors, but science has now identified some of the reasons we actually NEED time in a more natural setting. In fact, there is a term for this- Ecotherapy – that refers to the various physical and psychological benefits of being outside.
A 2009 study found that the closer someone lived to a green space or nature area, the healthier that person was likely to be. In fact, those who lived closest to a park, nature preserve or wooded area were less likely to suffer from anxiety or depression.” The Health Benefits of Nature (EcoTherapy) – Wellness Mama
Today is the 5th year celebrating I Love Yarn for everyone who knits, crochet, spin, weave etc.
I learnt both to knit and crochet as a little girl. Knitting never really “clicked” for me the way crocheting did. One of my first projects was a terribly misshapen horse, but later on, with experience, I crocheted several baby cardigans and other smaller projects.
Hidden storage pouf / floor cushion (stuffed with spare blankets and towels)
Since getting ill I’ve picked up crafting again, on more than an occasional basis. I find that on days when I struggle with terrible brain fog and can’t think straight, I can still work on more basic projects. Other days, while I might be in a lot of physical pain, tackling more challenging projects can help distract me from the pain.
Freya gets a bit cold after her hair cuts, so I’ve been making her coats to wear outside
Depending on which medications I’m on, and how well they’re working, I have days when I can work for hours. Unfortunately I also have many days when the arthritis in my wrists and hands limit me to 5-10 minutes at a time, no more than half an hour a day.
Freya gets a bit cold after her hair cuts, so I’ve been making her coats to wear outside
My mum recommended I take up knitting again. It uses the joints in a different way to crocheting, so switching between the two gives me more hours of enjoyable yarn time. I taught myself to knit again – continental style – and even decided to purl using the “Norwegian” or “Scandinavian” method – supposed to be more difficult to learn, but faster in the long run. Plus it’s what I was taught as a kid.
My first attempt at knitting in 15 years
As mentioned the other day, I frequently listen to podcasts and audiobooks while working – for me it’s the perfect way to learn and create simultaneously.
One of my favourite things about my recent yarn obsession is the ability to create things. I love learning the details of these crafts (and I must admit, I am also considering learning to spin) and watching the end results take shape before my eyes. It has been a real confidence booster for me.
The beginning of a lace shawl
I know, we are human beings, not human doings.
But it’s still damn difficult to go from being someone who was a bit of an overachiever, to leading a life where trying to look after my health and get better has become my full time job. So much of my identity has always been in learning and sharing my knowledge (and I still want to do both), but currently any extended screen time leads to severe headaches and migraines. I’m working on finding ways around that – for example, this post was first drafted by hand, but it’s still a severe limitation.
Knitting and crocheting, however, this, this I can still do. And I can turn yarn into real, tangible objects – even objects with purpose and use.
Crafting has also become a way for me to connect with people – even when I can’t physically be with them. One of my sisters and I are doing a crochet-along together. Working with similar colours we are crocheting squares for an afghan. We work on the same squares at the same time, which enables us to help and assist each other if we run into any problems.
The first afghan square (still needs to be blocked and ends weaved in)
For me, working with my hands has also been a way to relearn skills, get back to my roots and foster a real sense of independence, self reliance, pride and appreciation of the things we put into our words. It is truly knowing and appreciating the difference between the pair of the softest cashmere socks that fit you perfectly, and the pack of 5 you bought for a couple of bucks.
It is something that addresses our fast fashion culture of buy and throw away after only a few wears. It is about truly understanding the effort that goes into creating these products, if we want to truly honour and support both our environment and our fellow human beings.
Do you get crafty with yarn? When and how did you learn, and what is your favourite thing about it? If not, do you want to learn?
Earlier this year I increased my goal from my usual 52 books a year, to 64 books. Maybe I will have to up it again, as I am only one book away from hitting the 64 goal.
I’ve also been prioritizing reading more fiction, and I am enjoying that very much. More regular visits to the library has helped me read more widely. I have a big problem of scanning the library shelves and going “ooh, that one looks good, and that one, and that one”. Probably a good thing they only let you take out 12 at a time.
Lately crocheting has helped me keep my sanity, and I’ve retaught myself to knit (learnt as a kid, but it never clicked for me the way crocheting did). This means I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks, I greatly recommend Craft Lit that features audiobooks from Librivox (books in the public domain recorded by volunteers), with commentary from Heather Ordover.
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (currently $5.10 on Kindle): Must admit I was disappointed by this – and I’ve loved everything else by Jodi Picoult. I thorougly enjoyed the majority of the story, but the ending… I won’t give it away, but let’s just say unless you really enjoy woo-woo stuff, you probably won’t like it either. It took my rating for the book from 4 stars to 2.
Overcoming Arthritis: The Complete Complementary Health Program by Dr Sarah Brewer: Good overview of how different forms of complementary treatment (such as physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, etc.) can help with arthritis. Also goes into what herbal and vitamin supplements can be helpful. It’s a good starting point, but I would dig further into each treatment before proceeding.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: This is the first book featured on Craft Lit, and while I had read it before, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it with the added commentary. Even if you’ve read this classic before I highly recommend checking it out in this format.
Call the Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the 1950s by Jennifer Worth: I loved the BBC show based on these memoirs, and the memoir had been on my to-read list for a long time. It was so enjoyable, although it truly highlights just how much things have changed since the 1950s, but also how the 1950s was a time of incredible change and progress.
Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont: The original French fairy tale, which surprisingly I hadn’t read before. I listened to the audio on Craft Lit and it was very enjoyable.
Digestive Health with Real Food by Aglaee Jacob MS RD: The most thorough description and investigation of the digestive system, how it can be affected and how it in turn affects our health. Highly recommended to anyone dealing with any kind of health issues, or for those who just want a better understanding of their digestive health.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving: The famous novella behind several films (I really enjoyed the Johnny Depp version). Another story I enjoyed through Craft Lit – one of my favourite things about the show is the commentary and additional details that Heather Ordover provides.
And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (currently $4.58 on Kindle): I really enjoyed the slower pace of And The Mountains Echoed. It covers the entangled story of a family from the 1950’s until modern day. A family that is torn apart, and struggle to bit by bit figure out what pieces are missing – and how they could fit back together. Highly recommended.
A User’s Manual for the Human Experience by Michael W Dean: I listened to the Podiobook version for free. There were bits of it that I really liked – especially in the first half, and then there were bits that I couldn’t disagree more with. Thought-provoking either way.