Weekend Reads

NOVELTY AND CHOICE: After having a terrible 2008, Chen Xiao decided to let go, and let China’s netizens decide how she spends her days for the price of a small fee. She won’t do anything she considers illegal or immoral, but she will pick up dinner for your family, or deliver a hot lunch to the needy, or attend your baby’s birth. It’s an interesting experiment in autonomy and the social workings of the internet, and probably the only feel-good story you’re getting from me in this post.

SEXY OTHERNESS: At Muslimah Media Watch, guestblogger Cycads uses an offensive conversation about an “orientalist fantasy” to discuss the feminization and colonization of foreign bodies and lands.

BORDERS, BOUNDARIES AND RAPE: The presence of “rape trees” — “places where Mexican drug cartel members rape female border crossers and hang their clothes” — proves that this brand of sexual violence is officially present in the United States. Mexican and North American bureaucrats mostly deny this is true.

IT’S CALLED A SHIT SANDWICH, AND YOU’LL EAT IT AND LIKE IT: Schools across the country are “cutting budgets” by giving plain cheese sandwiches to children whose parents cannot foot the bill for a hot lunch, “singl[ing] out poor children in the most storied location of school-aged social hierarchies – the lunchroom.” My boy, Ethan, is terrified of being a cheese sandwich kid since they instituted this policy at his school. Sybil and Renee bring the outrage.

PORN COMES CALLING: Also from Renee, some entrepreneurs have offered Nadya Suleman another way of paying her bills — starring in a full-feature porn movie.

FIRST!: Last week King Abdullah threw out a bunch of reform-blocking cabinet members, and among other sweeping changes, named Norah al-Fayez as Saudi Arabia’s deputy education minister for women. She is the first female minister in Saudi Arabia.

ANTI-ABORTION ANGST: The right-to-life movement is feeling some angst about the ineffectuality of their activism so far, especially now that there is a general consensus that the movement is a political puppet in a panned Republican play.

RT @RANDOMDEANNA: Deanna Zandt’s “non-fanatical begginers’ guide to Twitter.” For people like my mom who still don’t understand what Twitter even is, and me, because I can’t explain it to her either.

6 comments for “Weekend Reads

  1. Jessica
    February 28, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Is Chen Xiao a celebrity I should have already heard of? Or some random person famous for this recent decision? I’ve never heard of her and when I google the name, tons of info comes up and I’m not sure if it’s about this same person or not.

  2. February 28, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    My boy, Ethan, is terrified of being a cheese sandwich kid since they instituted this policy at his school.

    This is just terrible!

    At my daughter’s school, about 10 yrs ago, they brought in some fast-food shit as an option for kid’s lunches, and I wanted my daughter to continue to eat the “good” (well, by comparison, anyway!) school lunch. She had a fit, and I finally figured out that the more expensive fast food had more “class” associated with it than the “regular” cheaper school-provided meal… and most of the kids eating the “school food” were poor.

    It had become yet another class marker. Fast food!

    So, I believe anything now. :(

  3. February 28, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Is Chen Xiao a celebrity I should have already heard of?

    No, I just thought it was an interesting story.

  4. March 3, 2009 at 6:57 am

    Ok, why is there no link on the Twitter story?

  5. April 28, 2009 at 2:51 am

    The Oliver Twist crap in schools is so fucking terrible. And ketchup is still a vegetable, right? fuck.

  6. April 28, 2009 at 3:03 am

    Flip in particular seemed to aim consciously at inculcating a humble outlook in the poorer boys. “Do you think that’s the sort of thing a boy like you should buy?” I remember her saying to somebody–and she said this in front of the whole school:
    “You know you’re not going to grow up with money, don’t you? Your people aren’t rich. You must learn to be sensibe. Don’t get above yourself!…”

    Worse yet was the detail of the birthday cakes. It was usual for each boy, on his birthday, to have a large iced cake with candles, which was shared out at tea between the whole school. It was provided as a matter of routine and went on his parents’ bill/ I never had such a cake, though my parents would have paid for it readily enough. Year after year, never daring to ask, I would miserably hope that this year a cake would appear. Once or twice I even rashly pretended to my companions that this time I -was- going to have a cake. Then came tea-time, and no cake, which did not make me more popular.

    …The food was not only bad, it was insufficient. Never before or since have I seen butter or jam scraped on bread so thinly…

    As usual, I did not see the sound commercial reason for this underfeeding. On the whole I accepted [the headmaster’s] view that a boy’s appetite is a sort of morbid growth which should be kept in check as much as possible. A maxim often repeated to us at St. Cyprian’s was that it is healthy to get up from a meal feeling as hungry as when you sat down…

    But the underfeeding was probably less flagrant at preparatory schools, where a boy was wholly dependent on the official diet, than at public schools, where he was allowed-indeed, expected–to buy extra food for himself…At Eton, for instance…a boy was given no solid meal after mid-day dinner. For his afternoon tea he was given only tea and bread and butter, and at eight o clock he was given a miserable supper of soup or fried fish, or more often bread and cheese, with water to drink. [The headmaster] went down to see his eldest son at Eton and came back in snobbish ecstasies over the luxury in which the boys lived. “They give them fried fish for supper!” he exclaimed, beaming all over his chubby face. “There’s no school like it in the world.”

    Fried fish! The habitual supper of the poorest of the working class! At very cheap boarding schools it was no doubt worse. A very early memory of mine is of seeing the boarders at a grammar school–the sons, probably, of farmers and shopkeepers–being fed on boiled lights [liver and lungs].

    –Orwell, “Such, Such Were The Joys, describing a boarding school in pre WW-I England.

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