My Take on Current Groupthink Trends

Public Shaming and Mass Hysteria – This from a recent conversation with Jason, where we talked about people who have posted something on social media or some other public forum and been swiftly, and might I say often abusively, dressed down for it.

Don’t you kind of love it? It feels good to get mad when someone finds something like a receipt with no tip, or a racist tweet, or an inappropriate shirt for sale, and they share it all over the place with their abject outrage. And everyone gets more outraged! And it’s very fun to be outraged at these horrible people that would do such a thing!

But what good is it doing, really? Is the world a better place because we’ve all made someone who made a mistake wish they were dead? Just today the internet is up in arms about the Britt McHenry, the ESPN reporter who belittled a tow company clerk (see the video, if you care to: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=9d1_1429192014). Nobody should get a pass when they’re being mean, but aren’t we RIGHT NOW doing the same thing to her? All this online tit for tat spirals completely out of control when the tit is completely out of proportion to the tat.

I don’t like people manipulating my emotions, period. And I feel like the coverage this type of stuff gets, the obsessive retweeting and anger and hysteria that gets picked up by people on social media and then covered far out of proportion by regular media, is manipulative. Manipulating me into thinking you’re ‘smart’ because you’re outraged, too; manipulating me into thinking your news outlet is hip and relevant because you cover it; manipulating me into being outraged myself because let’s face it, none of us is immune to mass hysteria.

I’m tired of it. You know who else uses social media to create hysteria, demonize ‘wrongdoers,’ and get followers? ISIS. The Islamic State recruits almost exclusively through the use of social media using these exact techniques. So the next time you decide to take up some social media public stoning, think about why you feel that way. Think about what good it’s going to do. Ask yourself if there might be a better way for us as an enlightened people to handle antisocial behaviors.

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Feminism and Dressing Racy – You say you believe in women’s rights (which I argue is itself antithetical to true equal rights, when you get down to a purely rational level, but I guess we humans are not at that place, so I’ll have to learn to deal with it), but when you harp that women who dress provocatively have low self esteem or are somehow “bad feminists,” you are VASTLY missing the point.

Because to say that they are dressing to be sexy or ‘dressing for men’ when they wear revealing clothing (by the way, who decided what “revealing” is? We have to cover certain parts of bodies because WHO decided?) takes away their right to dress whatever way they want to, for whatever reasons they want to, and isn’t that supposed to be true feminism? Or do you believe that if you dress this way, behave this way, only THEN you are a good woman? And dress THAT way, behave THAT way, then you are just doing what men want and are a bad feminist, and probably a sad, weak, superficial woman in general?

How about everyone gets to dress the way they want to? How about I don’t have to wear a pantsuit or a fucking burka for you to decide I’m following the rules of feminism? Maybe I don’t care about your stupid social rules to begin with. And you can like it or not like it without relating it back to my self esteem or worth as a woman or worthy follower of your feminist ideals.

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Fatceptance – This is sort of along similar lines to the body weirdness I talked about above. Being overweight is unhealthy. Smoking is unhealthy. Yet every day I get it crammed down my throat that I’m supposed to find the naked obese body attractive, and the face of a lifelong smoker unattractive. Every day. Except, what is attractive to a person is actually a result of biology, evolution, and successful reproduction, and the human brain is designed to find proportionate bodies and symmetrical faces attractive.

So you can tell me from every mountain that obesity is beautiful, but neither smoking nor being excessively overweight are healthy and neither are attractive. I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings.

No I’m not.

I will say, though, that the obesity epidemic is not actually our fault, but the fault of the additives in our foods. Perhaps instead of trying to make us believe something that inherently isn’t and will never be true (unless some massive biological changes take place in every human body in the next couple of years), we should find out what we are really eating and get the poisons out. It worked for smoking, look how much we hate cigarettes now. We can make it work for food, too. Fatceptance should not be a thing.

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Restaurant review: Donburi

Oh goodness, is this little place delicious. It’s a teeny, tiny spot on 18th Street in Adams Morgan, with only one counter for seating. You walk in, place your order at the front register, then take a seat at the counter and wait for your delicious, warm, flavorful Japanese rice bowl to arrive.

You can get a variety of toppings, I of course chose tempura vegetables, and it comes with other small pickled items. There are also meats and fish to choose from. My favorite part was this delicious sauce they give you on the side, I guess it’s called donburi sauce, and wow, does it make the flavors of everything else pop.

They prepare everything right behind the counter, so you get to watch them slice, blowtorch, fry, chop, all of it. Very entertaining. And you can tell when your order is about to be up, too. I honestly don’t know how they keep all the orders organized or remembered, it looked like the guy taking them at the front was just yelling them back to the chef and he’d remember each one. That can’t be right, though! Anyway, it was neat.

When you want a hearty, delicious, flavorful meal of comfort food, I highly recommend this place. Two thumbs up!

Donburi
2438 18th St. NW
Adams Morgan

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Trends in Ireland

I know I need to just bite the bullet and finish writing up my trip, because it really was fun and we had sweet little adventures that I want to tell you all about! But I’m a procrastinator, so today I’ll just write about a couple of trends I noticed in Ireland.

1) Reflective Vests: in every town we stayed in except Dublin, you would see people walking around in groups, all wearing reflective vests. At first we thought maybe it was some kind of cleanup crew or road maintenance situation, but we kept seeing them everywhere. We finally realized it was just people taking walks. But why the ubiquitous vests? Was it a law you had to wear them after dark? Angela decided to just ask an Irish girl. The answer was so funny! Apparently there was a TV show similar to our Biggest Loser, and in it, when they were working out the contestants, they always made them wear reflective vests. Probably some kind of legal thing. People watching it started getting together with their friends, sometimes even making little workout clubs, and exercising out on city streets. And they, too, wore the reflective vests, I guess to feel like they were part of the show.

2) Shorts with tights: Girls everywhere were wearing this ensemble. I know we used to do it here in the States, too, but that was at least five years ago. I gotta say, Ireland was not a fashion capital.

3) Minimal cell phone use: NOBODY had their phones out at bars and pubs. Seriously, you never saw it. The most you would see was someone talking on it, trying to meet up with their friend. But never were they texting, facebooking, tweeting, reading, or otherwise locked to their screens. They interacted with each other like crazy, even when they didn’t know each other. I was jealous, and sad that it’s not like that anymore here.

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Ireland: Day One evening

After a late dinner at The Brazen Head, which claims to be Ireland’s oldest pub (established 1198, nbd) on Day One, we drove up to Kingscourt, where the castle we were staying in was located. At this point, we are just delirious. We had the heat up way too high and were both falling asleep. Fog was getting thicker by the minute. Suddenly, rising in front of us, we see this surreal bridge on the N1 motorway.

Boyne Bridge at night
The Mary McAleese Boyne Valley Bridge [Image credit: Wikipedia]

I thought we were going to get beamed up, man.

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Restaurant Review: Baba’s Dumplings at EatsPlace

First, let’s talk about what EatsPlace is. To hear them tell it, it’s a “Park View food incubator, restaurant, accelerator and pop-uppery! We’re a neighborhood restaurant and bar that hosts guest chef residencies, food producers, classes and events.” Whatevsies. I don’t even know what Park View is, I’m guessing a new neighborhood name so the white people gentrifying Petworth don’t have to admit they live there.

Okay, I just looked it up. I’m correct. Meaningless neighborhood name. Onward.

The concept is actually quite cool. It seems to be a rotating selection of chefs/restaurants that have no home to call their own. They try it out at EatsPlace, see how things go, and maybe go on to open their own permanent location. I like it. The service there is a little weird, like you can’t open a tab at the bar and keep it open. The only way the food order makes it down to the kitchen is by closing the whole thing out and paying. So for my friends and I to order a beer, then appetizers, then another drink, then entrees, we had to close out our tab three separate times. It was silly. Other than that, nice enough atmosphere and pleasant employees.

Now for this month’s restaurant selection, Baba’s Dumplings. The dumplings were superb. I got them fried, and they made the vegetarian ones with a deliciously seasoned seitan*. That’s another thing – in both the dumplings and the noodle soup, you had a choice of vegetarian or meat. I really appreciate that. There were several sauces on the counter to try with them. Very good.

Next came the noodle soup. This I was less enamored with. The broth was just not that tasty. I know it’s hard with vegetarian broths cos you don’t have that delicious meat bone to work with, but it can be done and my Asian soup standard is fairly high (DC has some great ramen spots). It was OKAY, but not the best I’ve ever had. Their seitan offering was sparing, I had hoped for more pieces. I ordered the optional egg on top, but it wasn’t very warm. Maybe it’s not supposed to be, but it rendered it a little slimy in the mouth.

I will be back to EatsPlace, but not for Baba’s Dumplings. There are too many other good noodle spots to hit in DC. One thumb up, one thumb down.

*Seitan is a vegetarian ‘fake meat’ made out of processed wheat gluten. It can be seasoned, usually with soy sauce, and is used primarily in Asian dishes, but works for lots of things. Now that gluten isn’t bad for you anymore, I encourage you to try it!

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Things I Love – A Quick List

Inspired by a recent meeting of my artists group, I came up with a (of course, not exhaustive) list of things I love. One of the best things about making and sharing this list was getting to hear everyone else’s. It made me love all of them a little bit more, too.

– The color deep turquoise/sapphire/indigo blue the sky is at dusk. It makes my eyes water, it’s so beautiful.
– All animals, dogs especially. My dog the most.
– Chopin.

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On Being Disingenuous in Personal Relationships

No matter how well they [try to] hide it, or how long the burn before they go in for the kill, you can ALWAYS tell when someone is just being friends with you because they want something. You might even think you’re surprised when it happens, but you’re not. You’re maybe just surprised they took as long as they did, or created as elaborate a friendship as they did, but you knew. You always knew.

Keep this in mind when you’re trying to befriend someone because of what they can do for you – maybe introduce you to their cute cousin, get you a job, write you a reference, or let you in without waiting in line. Deep down, they know what you’re doing, you know what you’re doing, and the whole thing is just kind of gross. Call it networking or being pragmatic all you want, when you try to be someone’s friend just so they will do something for you, you’re being dishonest.

Although, on second thought, maybe that’s all ANY relationships are at their core.

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Restaurant Review: El Chucho

El Chucho’s house margaritas are $5.50 at all times. Those are happy hour prices ALL THE TIME. And they are delicious.

Aside from that, the vegetarian tacos (made with, of all things, squash) are really flavorful. The guacamole is sadly, not that great. It’s undersalted, which I know is my own personal preference, but I also just don’t get a big punch of avocado flavor. I’m thinking their avocados aren’t ripe enough or something. The elote callejero, which is corn on the cob, is a delight. They grill it and put that Mexican crema on it with a bunch of seasonings – it’s the best. At $4 for a cob, it’s kind of expensive, but you get two tacos for $5, so it evens out.

The atmosphere is very festive and the place is teeming with hipsters. Anyone will fit in, though, don’t be scared if you’re old or unstylish or both. Definitely try it, and maybe just get the queso instead of the guac.

A final thought: margaritas are always $5.50. So does any of the rest really even matter?

El Chucho
3313 11th St. NW, Washington, DC
Columbia Heights or Petworth metro

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The Word ‘Feminism’

I recently heard a quote by Aziz Ansari that went something along the lines of, “If you believe men and women should be treated equally, then you are a feminist. You don’t get to decide what words mean.”

But actually, who got to decide what ‘feminism’ means? A person. The definition wasn’t sent down from god, and it’s a relatively new term in the scheme of spoken language. And why, if we’re so concerned with the notion that men and women are equal, are we using the feminine version of the word? Why is the word not ‘masculist’? Or, better yet, ‘humanist’ or ‘personist’?

There is a reason people are uncomfortable with that word, and I don’t think it’s always what everyone claims it is: that men are afraid of screamy banshees trying to castrate them. It’s because by focusing on the female version of the word, there is an inherent inference of inequality. By USING that word, you are reinforcing that men and women are NOT the same, they are NOT equal. Because if they were, the word would be one which encompassed both sexes.

Words do have power, Aziz is right on that count. The problem is when you insist that your desired definition of a word requires everyone to think irrationally.

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Happy New Year 2015!

Hi everyone, how are you? We just had a rather unexpected snowfall here in DC, and the government did not exercise good judgement when they decided not to close, or at least open a couple of hours late. I know everyone, but EVERYONE makes fun of how we handle snow here in DC, but this is how it is, so you might as well try to mitigate trouble. Today it was decided to not try to mitigate any trouble whatsoever.

car_in_snow
This is how this person cleared their windows. They turned on their wipers and rolled down the two front windows. That’s it. They then drove off, presumably to cause a four-car pileup.

snow-traffic-1-6-15
This was traffic in northern Virginia at about 7:45 this morning. The red means basically “not moving.” [Image credit: ARLnow]

So, oopsy daisies on that one, but otherwise, 2015 has been just peachy so far. I threw a wonderful little NYE party, complete with horns and confetti. I had an awesome trip back to South Dakota for Christmas. Being back at work has been a breeze, everyone is excited for the new year. I even checked my holiday credit card bills and didn’t drop dead! 2015 is looking pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.

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