It’s difficult to really explain the depths with which this country has made the tragic, sad mistake of elevating “Tex Mex” above New Mexican Cuisine, which is superior in every single way to that sub-par, terrible-tasting culinary tradition. For native New Mexicans like myself, this tragedy is compounded by the fact that when we leave New Mexico we really can’t find authentic New Mexican food anywhere in the world. It is possibly the single greatest reason for us to return home – above seeing relatives, marveling at the sunsets, breathing the fresh air, and hiking through the Sangre de Cristos, we return home to eat New Mexican food.
Ai Wei Wei’s exhibit at the Royal Academy is the thing to see right now if you’re gonna to visit an art museum in London. To me, it’s what modern art should be, but hardly ever is: a clearly articulated, original, possibly provocative but essentially subversive vision – all of which is accessible to the layperson.
Ai himself stressed this last point. In one of the commentaries which accompanied the exhibit, he said that “of course you can not force anybody to thinking or to feel the same way, but you have a responsibility to make sure your language is clear.”
I couldn’t agree more.
One of the best pieces I’ve ever read about what’s responsible for the Internet-outrage cycle comes from this past January, from Scott Alexander in New Statesman. It’s worth reading in absolute full and contains far too many excellent passages for me to excerpt any particular one.
Without getting in to the argument (again, read it for yourself), the story got me thinking about tribalism generally, specifically the tribes I identify with personally. These are the groups I give the benefit of the doubt, or instinctually feel as if I should defend. The groups whose bad behavior I am more likely to excuse.
Todd VanDerWerff over at Vox.com nails it (bolding is mine):
What links these seemingly dissimilar stories is a very basic fear — the idea that the internet as we knew it, the internet of five or 10 or 20 years ago, is going away as surely as print media, replaced by a new internet that reimagines personal identity as something easily commodified, that plays less on the desire for information or thoughtfulness than it does the desire for a quick jolt of emotion.
It’s an internet driven not by human beings, but by content, at all costs. And none of us — neither media professionals, nor readers — can stop it. Every single one of us is building it every single day.
The cultural and political battles I care about enough to have the time and inclination to fight (and the ones I don’t)
Perhaps it’s just the internet outrage cycle and the coddling of the American mind, but everywhere I turn it seems there is a new culture war or political battle to fight. These fights demand that I like or repost articles or in some cases that I attend protests or events, or donate, or in some way take action.
I can’t do it all of course, and some battles I actively avoid. This isn’t to say I don’t care. I do care about a great many things, many of which I don’t take action on. My inclination to act, or not, isn’t necessarily a reflection on how much I do or don’t care about an issue.
The choice of which battles to fight is more like the Obama foreign policy, which is not purely ideological (that’s part of what I like about it). The administration might care about something a great deal, or that something may align well with their ideology, but whether they act, and to what degree they act, is more influenced by a variety of nuanced factors, including the capacity of that action to make a difference, the given politics of the situation, loyalty to specific allies, whether America has a direct interest, potential negative ramifications on other priorities, and so on.
Homeschooling has a bad rep, mostly because it’s the religiously-motivated homeschoolers who get most of the press. But I was homeschooled for one year (eighth grade) for entirely practical reasons. Namely, there weren’t such good schools anywhere around when we moved to upstate New York.
It was an invaluable and memorable part of my childhood in which I:
- finished an entire state-approved curriculum for the year in four months
- was tutored in chemistry and Latin by Bard College students
- learned history and literature from my mom, and a little computer programming from my step-dad.
- self-taught everything else.
- attended college-level art seminars, also at Bard
- played on multiple county basketball & soccer teams, some which I was the star of
- freely roamed our 100+ acre former farm building forts, swings, and shelters, including one in which I rode out a serious snow blizzard
- weekly, as a family, broke down a beaver damn which was causing flooding to our basement
- alternated with my sister our responsibility to cook lunches for each other
- at the end of the year, was admitted and accepted entry into a prestigious New England prep school for freshman year, where I immediately tested into sophomore-level math, science, history classes.
Weekend reading on these subjects:
- London Review of Books on Doing Good Better by William MacAskill
- Chris Blattman and the case for upending humanitarian aid as we know it
From which we get this anecdote which will stick with me:
I won’t even get into how low an opinion people seemed to hold of the United Nations. If anyone can figure out how to take $10 to give a refugee $1, they will.