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December 2011 (104 posts)
5 best new hairstyling products—and their humble origins
Lazy woman's guide to fabulous hair
As the mother of two small children, I get lots of relaxing, restorative time to myself. For example, sometimes they sleep. And most weekends I leave my husband with the kids for a few hours so that I can go somewhere to be alone and think about all the things I ought to be doing at home. But what I take for granted is that if I want some time to myself, unless my “me-time” is also “bank-robbing time,” my country’s government is not going to interfere.
Then there’s Shaima Jastaniah, the Saudi mother who has been condemned to a lashing for driving a car, even after receiving a royal pardon. Nivien Saleh has written a moving essay for The Atlantic about Shaima, who was Saleh’s university student in Houston, Texas. Saleh describes Shaima’s background – the freedom she enjoyed when she lived in Texas, and the circumscribed existence she has now that she’s back in Saudi Arabia, where driving is forbidden for women and she must go everywhere with a male chauffeur.
Trivia is also weirdly memorable. Why, despite considerable effort, could I never memorize the Pythagorean thereom in school, but I can still recall from history class that Abraham Lincoln was the tallest U.S. president (6'3") and James Madison the shortest (5'4")? Our brains, it seems, have an endless capacity for quirk. And isn't quirk more fun? Aside from a bright smile and a warm hug, I'd argue that nothing trumps trivia when you're making small talk. So imagine my delight, as we enter the Month of Making Yueltide Small Talk, at cracking open the new book Listomania: A World of Fascinating Facts in Graphic Detail, an engrossing (and sometimes gross) buffet of trivia.
From the top 14 beauty-queen scandals through history to the countries with the greatest number of Nobel Prizes per capita (go, Faroe Islands!) to the most popular ways locals from around the world eat their hot dogs (think: shrimp salad, sauerkraut, carrot sticks), the book touches on topics both significant and, well, trivial. To prep you to deliver a surprising left turn to the next "So, where are you from?" question, consider these random bits: It takes 30 seconds for killer whales to mate, 21 days to sun-dry a grape into a raisin, and 5 months for a newborn to recognize its own name. You can thank us post-party.
You know what’s really super easy and fun? Making parenting
decisions before you are a parent. My husband and I were anti-princess before
our daughter was even considering sleeping in a tiara as she may or may not
have done recently. The princess thing was, we knew, weird and anti-feminist
and disenfranchising, and our kid was going to be busy working on long
division, not waiting for a prince to come. Well, hmm. A few years later, we
find ourselves engaged in the battle of the ballgown. Luckily for us, Naomi
Wolf, of all people, says the princess thing is okay.
As Wolf writes in her great piece for the IHT Magazine, feminists have long seen fairy tale princess narratives as forms “of hypnotism, designed to seduce women into marriage and passivity...[but] If you look closely, the princess archetype is not about passivity and decorativeness: It is about power and the recognition of the true self.” It's certainly true of all the mini-princesses I know that their interests lie in the princessiness itself, and never in the prince. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure they know about princes at all.
So it rings true when Wolf equates princesses with action figures – role models that are both powerful and magical. The article includes a thorough exigesis of today’s princesses, namely, the inspirational Diana Spencer and Kate Middleton, both of whom embody the stories we like to tell about ourselves: that a commoner can become royalty, and that a princess can help the world through good works (and great dresses). Kate Middleton is pretty and fancy enough for any little girl to get into, and yet she seems smart and kind, too. Even Disney princesses get a pass; “They are busy being the heroines of their own lives.” As Wolf puts it, “Today’s princesses are visibly juggling a lot of balls, just like the rest of us working wives and single or married mothers.”
So just because every little girl you know is leaping around in a pink sparkly gown doesn’t mean she’s prepping for a life of dancing and kissing princes, in Wolf’s words, “it just means, sensibly enough for her, that she wants to take over the world.”
Is it really possible to eat well on $40 a week? Actually, yes.
One man's tribute to his father, in 3.2 million ink dots.
Goats on slides, boys with antlers, and posing bears. Embrace the weirdness of 50 Unexplainable Black and White Photographs.
Ever wonder what a kid's drawing would look like, rendered in realistic 3D?
The Life Lifter: "I'm not going anywhere, because I'm stronger than that. I have a million reasons to be here." The mother of a bullied gay teen talks about the uplifting support they've gotten since his tearful video went viral.
If I were a man, I'd have thought about sex three times while typing this sentence. That's according to an old stereotype that men think about sex every seven seconds--or 8,000 times a day. This seemed discouraging for men (did it mean that those who only thought about sex, say, 4,981 times a day were lacking testosterone?) as well as their partners ("What's on his mind? Wait, I don't want to know."). So we were intrigued by a refreshing study to be published in January's issue of the Journal of Sex Research that found that guys---college students, no less--only reported about 19 erotic thoughts per day. That's really not that much more than the female study participants (you may be surprised at the wide range of times women had sex on the brain). What's more, the men were nearly as preoccupied with food and sleep as with getting it on. Are men more focused on their biological needs than women? Or are they simply more comfortable expressing them? The researchers aren't sure, but at least now we know a man is almost as likely to be thinking about sleeping (or snacking) in the bed as romping in it.
The weekend is within reach...let these little splurges make getting there more fun.
Custom Keychain Stamp, $23. Turn your initials or a business logo into a portable mini stamp and leave a personalized mark on everything from greeting card envelopes to books you lend out from your personal library.
Buddy Bumper Ball, $30. These translucent blow-up balls are like spherical sumo wrestler suits for your niece and nephew who are constantly at war.
Sally Hansen Limited Edition Holiday Nail Polish Strips, $10. Get Fair Isle, plaid, or glitter printed fingertips in seconds for your next holiday party.
Sweet Talk Wipes, $30 for 50. Eliminate germs on your phone, touch screen tablet or remote control with these individually packaged cleaning cloths.