Things to Read - Eight Interesting Articles From Around the Web (on having it all, rainforests, the benefits of junk food, Facebook, life in the 80s, and two completely different Nazi Germany experiences)

1. You Can't Have It All But You Can Have Cake - "Having it all seems to breed wanting more. And since we can’t have it all because it is statistically impossible, and since there is no such thing as more than all, the whole notion seems, I’m sorry to say, depressingly American."

2. How much would you pay to save Ecuador's rainforest? Apparently, not enough.

3. Helen Hayward's My Children, My Life - "So why did I become a traditional mother, rather than the modern mother for which my feminist education — and nearly 20 years of working in publishing, higher education and psychotherapy in London — groomed me? Why did I risk being consumed by a role that might leave me high and dry, a cuttlefish at high tide? In part, I rather unexpectedly enjoyed being needed. Equally unexpectedly, I found being around my children very creative, far more than I’d been led to expect. Caring for them — loving them unreservedly and creating a way of life out of this love — has been a revelation to me. Least fashionably of all, I realised that my marriage might not survive if I didn’t bend, and that bending like a reed was far better than breaking something good. Family life has expressed a deep part of myself that was there, as a potential, well before I had children.

Being at home with my children has given me an imaginative space in which to rethink every aspect of my life, in a way that the pressures of my previous life simply didn’t allow. Just as I had to get to know my children in every mood under the sun before I really understood them, so being around them has led me to know myself better. Yes, these past 16 years have marked a hiatus in my career. But they’ve also been a precious opportunity. I’m now much clearer about what I care about. I now know what I love enough to pursue. Perhaps, I say to myself, I had to let go of the old me before a new me — wiser, older and flawed — came out of the shadows."

4. Can junk food end obesity? An interesting critique against Pollanites (i.e. worshipers of Michael Pollan, which I sometimes am). "Junk food is bad for you because it’s full of fat and problem carbs. But will switching to wholesome foods free us from this scourge? It could in theory, but in practice, it’s hard to see how. Even putting aside for a moment the serious questions about whether wholesome foods could be made accessible to the obese public, and whether the obese would be willing to eat them, we have a more immediate stumbling block: many of the foods served up and even glorified by the wholesome-food movement are themselves chock full of fat and problem carbs.

Some wholesome foodies openly celebrate fat and problem carbs, insisting that the lack of processing magically renders them healthy. In singing the praises of clotted cream and lard-loaded cookies, for instance, a recent Wall Street Journal article by Ron Rosenbaum explained that “eating basic, earthy, fatty foods isn’t just a supreme experience of the senses—it can actually be good for you,” and that it’s “too easy to conflate eating fatty food with eating industrial, oil-fried junk food.” That’s right, we wouldn’t want to make the same mistake that all the cells in our bodies make.
Pollan himself makes it clear in his writing that he has little problem with fat—as long as it’s not in food “your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize.”

Television food shows routinely feature revered chefs tossing around references to healthy eating, “wellness,” and farm-fresh ingredients, all the while spooning lard, cream, and sugar over everything in sight."

5. Does Facebook make us happy or unhappy? The experts all seem to disagree. According to this New Yorker article - “What makes it complicated is that Facebook is for lots of different things—and different people use it for different subsets of those things. Not only that, but they are also changing things, because of people themselves changing,” said Gosling. A 2010 study from Carnegie Mellon found that, when people engaged in direct interaction with others—that is, posting on walls, messaging, or “liking” something—their feelings of bonding and general social capital increased, while their sense of loneliness decreased. But when participants simply consumed a lot of content passively, Facebook had the opposite effect, lowering their feelings of connection and increasing their sense of loneliness." So hurry up and post something!!

6. A family still living in 1986, mullets and all - "the cost of living is reduced when you're not paying for cable and Internet and data plans. "It’s way cheaper," Blair says. Plus, "everybody just gives me stuff."

7. For something positive read about this amazing woman, who saved over 2500 Jewish children in Nazi Germany (Why have I never heard of Irena Sendler before? She should have posters in every classroom around the world.)

"When the Germans finally caught her, the Roman Catholic social worker had managed to save 2,500 Jewish babies and toddlers from deportation to the concentration camps. She had spirited them out of the heavily-guarded Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, and hidden their identities in two glass jars buried under an apple tree in her neighbour's garden.

She was beaten, tortured and sentenced to death by the Gestapo - who even announced her execution. But Irena survived, her spirit unbroken, her secrets untold. She died last week, in her modest Warsaw apartment, aged 98. What a woman she was. For once, the term "heroine" is no exaggeration, though such plaudits did not sit easily with her. She said: "I was brought up to believe that a person must be rescued when drowning, regardless of religion and nationality. "The term 'heroine' irritates me greatly. The opposite is true. I continue to have pangs of conscience that I did so little."

8. For a completely different perspective on the horrors of the Holocaust, the Washington Times magazine published a thought-provoking interview with Bridgette Hoiss, a Northern Virginia resident whose father "designed and built Auschwitz from an old army barracks in Poland to a killing machine capable of murdering 2,000 people an hour."

“And your father, how do you remember him?” I ask.

“He was the nicest man in the world,” she says. “He was very good to us.” She remembers them eating together, playing in the garden, and reading the story of Hansel and Gretel.

Brigitte is convinced that her father was a sensitive man and had guessed that he was involved with something bad. “I’m sure he was sad inside,” she recalls. “It is just a feeling. The way he was at home, the way he was with us, sometimes he looked sad when he came back from work.”

Brigitte struggles to reconcile her father’s dual nature. “There must have been two sides to him. The one that I knew and then another. ...”

When I ask how he could be the “nicest man in the world” if he was responsible for the deaths, she says: “He had to do it. His family was threatened. We were threatened if he didn’t. And he was one of many in the SS. There were others as well who would do it if he didn’t.”


  1. I love love love these posts from you! Fascinating, all of them. Thanks so much for retyping the excerpts!!

  2. I really enjoyed that New Yorker article! I love reading studies about things like FB and Twitter -- I find them so interesting. I remember one of my faves (can't find the link, grrr) that said that people's sense of self-worth and self-esteem improves after scrolling through their FB pics of themselves...because they only post the most flattering ones. Ha!



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