Archive for March, 2007

The NYT Feminist Myth

March 25, 2007

Every three-to-six months, the New York Times publishes another article about a new trend in feminism in which women are opting out of the workforce to have families, like this is an empowering and conscious decision they are making (search the Times website for “opt-out women” and you’ll find articles on this subject most recently on November 5, 2006, then March 15, 2006, and December 2, 2005–and those are only the ones filed under the keywords).

In an ideal world, women would not have to make this decision between work and family because society would be structured to accommodate high-achieving women who also want to have families. Society should reward, or at the very least help women, not punish them, for having families.

So I was pleased to find that the American Prospect has an entire issue devoted to debunking the New York Times myth of new feminism that the mainstream media has been perpetrating for years. The issue, called Motherload, is devoted to exploring the ways in which society can change to stop forcing women to choose between work and family and to reduce the danger of that fallacy.

Check it out, it’s highly worth your time to read most of the articles, and then we can talk about it.


Brunch Advice

March 24, 2007

Brunch is my favorite meal of the week. The classic dilemma, sweet or savory, is always the toughest menu decision for me, and I’m an indecisive person in the first place. DC is a great city for brunch. Every place has their own version of the meal–Southern style at Saint Ex, crunchy and California at Dos Gringos, irresistable bagel sandwiches at Heller’s.

While brunch lends itself to long, languorous weekend mornings and afternoons spent drinking coffee and reading Sunday newspapers–some of my favorite weekend activities–the meal is not compatible with dating. In fact, a brunch date is a great way to ruin a superb meal.

A Sunday brunch date is a bad sign. There is nowhere for the date to progress from brunch. This is advice that should be included in the book He’s Just Not that Into You (more on this staggering work of heartbreaking mediocrity later). As in “If it’s hard to get him on the phone, and then he suggests brunch, he’s probably just not that into you.” Because, according to the gospel of HJNTIY, if he isn’t thinking about seeing you naked, then he’s just not that into you. And it’s hard for him to think about seeing you naked when it’s Sunday brunch and there’s no clear opportunity for advancement ahead.

I don’t date a lot, so my sample size on this experiment is a grand total of two. But each time brunch has been a bad sign for the future of the dating experiment.

This man, from DC Craigslist, ought to reevaluate his strategy:

sunday brunch – 22

Hey ladies I would love to go out to brunch with a very sweet and smart girl. I am very kind and loyal. If you are interested, send me an email! I hope to hear from you soon.

I’m sure he’s a very sweet man, and to be sure, brunch is at least an innocent way to go on a random date with very little expectation. But why not coffee? It’s not necessary to commit a whole meal to something you’re just not sure about. As a high school history teacher once told me, “A meal is an intimate experience to be shared with someone who’s company you know you enjoy. I wouldn’t go to dinner with just anyone, since having that kind of conversation is a major commitment, and there’s so much potential to ruin the meal.”

Ditto for brunch. Unless it’s just coffee and a pastry. In which case you were probably better off just having the coffee anyway. Or going out for drinks and cutting the awkwardness by a factor of gin and tonic.

Bottom line: Sunday brunch is only an acceptable romantic encounter if it’s a continuation of the preceding night’s activities.


March 10, 2007

My new job is a largely administrative one. I print things out, answer the phones, and get the mail for important people. I also make the coffee every morning before the bosses get in. Since this is my first real office job, and I’m not a religious coffee drinker, my knowledge of coffee-pot technology is still in its infancy.

The first day I tried brewing coffee, the boss complained that it was too strong. The second day, I used a different type of coffee and less of it. But I left the pot on too long. The coffee burned. Everyone who walked into the office said “Gee, it smells like burnt coffee in here.” Never having hung around an office long enough to smell burnt coffee, I hung my head in deference to the pot, turned it off, and dumped out the humiliating liquid.

There’s only so much you can get away with while you’re young and new. So I started afresh, determined not to screw up yet again. Wednesday morning I arrived at 9 and made the coffee. Right kind, perfect ratio of coffee grounds to water, turned off the hot plate to avoid burnt coffee aroma drifting through office around lunchtime.

Boss arrived at 10. Poured coffee.

“There’s something wrong with this.”


“It’s cold.”

“Oh,” I said, wishing I could swim back to California through a sea of perfectly steamed lattes that would sear into my skin the disappointment of screwing up the one most important task in my daily routine (occasionally I feel a similar burning sensation when I screw up the call transferring on the phones).

I’ve started drinking coffee now, if only to figure out how to make it better. Friday I tried again, in my relentless pursuit of perfection. The boss arrived. Poured coffee.

“It’s perfect,” she said. My internal smile was wider than any kindergardener’s upon earning a teacher’s praise for counting to ten.

I can make coffee. I have tamed the office.

Miss This?

March 2, 2007

Topping the NYT’s most-emailed for today, possibly the most amusing AP wire story in recent memory (are there many that even fit that description?):

Swiss Accidentally Invade Lichtenstein

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) — What began as a routine training exercise almost ended in an embarrassing diplomatic incident after a company of Swiss soldiers got lost at night and marched into neighboring Liechtenstein.

According to Swiss daily Blick, the 170 infantry soldiers wandered just over a mile across an unmarked border into the tiny principality early Thursday before realizing their mistake and turning back.

A spokesman for the Swiss army confirmed the story but said that there were unlikely to be any serious repercussions for the mistaken invasion.

”We’ve spoken to the authorities in Liechtenstein and it’s not a problem,” Daniel Reist told The Associated Press.

Officials in Liechtenstein also played down the incident.

Interior ministry spokesman Markus Amman said nobody in Liechtenstein had even noticed the soldiers, who were carrying assault rifles but no ammunition. ”It’s not like they stormed over here with attack helicopters or something,” he said.

Liechtenstein, which has about 34,000 inhabitants and is slightly smaller than Washington DC, doesn’t have an army.

Need I say anything else? The Swiss accidentally invaded their helpless neighbor. There goes centuries of neutrality and peace, out the window, just like that.