Keely’s Reading List — Week of August 29th, 2014

So, here we go guys… my first roundup of stuff-I’ve-shared-on-facebook this week.

A few general notes before we begin:

  1. These lists are not in any way an attempt to be comprehensive coverage of all the things I thought were good/important in the last week. I do not have the time or brainpower to be anyone’s primary news source, and no one is asking me to be. Rather, this is stuff that I happened to share, which is some subset of the stuff I am reading that I think others might enjoy seeing, or should see, or that I want to hear people’s opinions on. 
  2. As you’re probably already aware, my interests are eclectic, and they also wax and wane with time. Sometimes I’m reading more science related things, or more feminism/activism things, or more silly fun things. It all shakes out in the long run, but the just fyi, the various categories will not have the same balance week-to-week.
  3. There are a bunch of blogs I read all the time, and find almost every post interesting/insightful/worth talking about. I try not to share every single post from those blogs though… I figure if people wanted that, they could subscribe themselves. Instead, I largely share things that I either spent a lot of time thinking about, or had some additional commentary to add.

TL;DR… don’t take my inclusion or lack of inclusion of any particular thing in these posts too seriously. 

Mental Illness

Anne Theriault of The Belle Jar had a piece this week on the Washington Post’s website called Mothering With Mental Illness. Anne has a long history of depression and anxiety (which she often writes about eloquently–if you aren’t following The Belle Jar yet, do check it out sometime) and also has a husband and son. This piece was an intimate look at her life with them, and it was both heartbreaking and beautiful. It was also one of the only things I’ve ever read that has made me think that maybe I could be a good mother even if my own mental health issues are not ever 100% controlled. I’m not sure I want kids for a number of other reasons, but I was surprised to realize how comforting and heartening I found this.

Zen Pencils, a great webcomic site that mostly takes great quotes from inspiring people and turns them into comics, had a great comic this week remembering Robin Williams. Interestingly, Zen Pencils’ writer Gav agreed with me that of all the memorial pieces in the wake of Robin Williams’ death, the WTF podcast episode was the best. The episode is mostly an interview Williams’ did for WTF several years ago, but it is a very intimate conversation that I think does a particularly good job at getting at what was special about Williams’, and Marc Maron’s brief comments that frame this conversation on the memorial episode are also very touching (seriously, try not to tear up when Maron’s voice cracks just a tiny bit at the very end).

Miri of Brute Reason had a great piece on the Daily Dot inspired by the media coverage of Robin Williams’ death: 6 ways to have a better conversation about mental illness. Later in the week, on her own blog, Miri hosted an interesting Open Thread, asking people about what things they do for self-care.


Science stories

So there’s this project called “Think Write Publish” (not a huge fan of the generic name) that exists to tell science policy stories in a long-form narrative journalism/creative nonfiction format. As science policy and creative nonfiction are two of my favorite things, I can’t believe I didn’t hear about it sooner, but I’m now working my way through all of the recently published stories. Even if you don’t want to join me in reading ALL of them, I do strongly recommend, “What Fish Oil Pills Are Hiding”, which discusses a massive environmental problem severely impacting the Chesapeake Bay (which I grew up on the shores of) and, more broadly, the marine life along the East coast of the US. 

On using comedy in science journalism.

Comedy is best when it’s relatable. My usual advice is “assume the audience is at least as smart as you are, but doesn’t know what you know”. This is a useful rule for making sure you are informative but not preachy, and not condescending.


A science writer won a Pulitzer, which is pretty cool. The link is an interview with him which I enjoyed.


If you somehow haven’t already watched Jon Stewart talk about Ferguson and how Fox News talked about it, uh, go do that.

I’m still a bit weirded out every time I see something of actual value come out of cosmo, but this story, an Occupy protester’s recounting of her experience being arrested, convicted, spending a few months at Riker’s, and walking away with a new cause–speaking for inmates–was one of those things.

And speaking of good-things-from-interesting/odd-sources, we have this infographic from Playboy on Catcalling:

Should You Catcall Her?

beginning of the infographic… go read the rest.

More from Miri at Brute Reason, who asks a great question–Are Anti-Rape Devices the Best We Can Do?

The Ice Bucket Challenge seems to be dying down a bit now, but this article does an okay job of articulating my biggest problem with it–we shouldn’t be relying on public awareness and 1-off private donations to fund medical research. I also got a giggle at the #TacoOrBeerChallenge, which encourages you to eat a taco or drink a beer or whatever, and also donate to pro-choice organizations.

An OB/GYN evaluates the feticide case in Indiana 

A Native American explains the difference between appreciating and appropriating native culture, and then details some ways to do the appreciation bit.

Will Everyone Shut Up Already About How the Nordic Countries Top Every Global Ranking? 

Two pieces on how women and men are perceived differently at work.

And two pieces on recent feminism-and-gaming internet controversies.

Explaining to my friend that a group of anonymous gamers flooded a woman with two weeks of constant abuse over allegations made by a bitter ex-boyfriend… without confirming all of her long-established preconceptions of gamers as a rabble of immature young boys… was not easy.




A writer and an actress from Orange Is The New Black are dating, and it’s adorable. Another cute lesbian celebrity couple I’ll be following on instagram.

Man 3-D Prints A Concrete Castle In His Backyard 

3D printed castle!

3D printed castle!

There is now an emoji-only messaging app, which amuses me. Sadly it is iOS only at the moment, and most of my friend’s have android phones, but hopefully I’ll get to play with the app eventually.


Brilliant take on teenager’s writing ability by xkcd. Do go read the whole thing. 

Person 1: Weird--another study found that kids who use SMS abbreviations actually score higher on grammar and spelling tests. Person 2: Why on earth is that a surprise?

first panel of the comic…. go read the rest!

One of the few food blogs I still read (there are so many! And there are so many other things to read!) is Joy the Baker. Mostly because when I don’t read her, I miss her. She’s become like a fun, quirky, honest, food-obsessed friend. Who just happens to not know who I am, but whatever. Anyhow, this week she posted about her favorite vegan egg substitutes and vegan carrot soup and pistachio baked donuts, and I had to share all of it, because I have lots of vegan friends and because pistachios. Also, she turned me on to this post about the history of cornbread that I found absolutely fascinating.

French school kids have the greatest school lunches.

A new project in Austin, Texas is building a community of tiny houses for the homeless, which is pretty cool.

Formal Yale college professor discusses some of the problems with the Ivy League, and how they contribute to depression in students. More broadly though, he’s discussing the purpose of an education, the consequences of a belief in a meritocracy, and how to live a meaningful life. It spoke to me on a number of levels–as a person who struggles with the cycle of “grandiosity and depression” he describes as a result of how we educate our “promising” or “gifted” kids, as a tutor/mentor to overscheduled, brilliant-but-passionless teenagers and college kids, as a person concerned with the societal values reflected in the way we structure education, and especially “elite” institutions. I may read this guy’s book, I guess is what I’m saying.

Dating advice and media recommendations from Captain Awkward and her commenter community.

As I mentioned above, I love creative nonfiction. I especially love essays. I may get into why and recommend some of my favorites some other time, but for now enjoy this big list of awesome essays to read, most of which are linked to in the piece. I don’t know if reading them will “make you a better person”, as promised in the article’s unfortunately click-bait-y headline, but there are definitely some very solid reads in there. A bunch of them are now on my kindle.

The Dark Side of Almond TL;DR : Almonds are great for you, but they also require lots of water to grow, and in the US we grow them almost exclusively in California, which is currently experiencing an unprecedented drought. Well fuck.