Sunday, April 14, 2013

Various & Sundry: News before I give up the news

Whew! Three posts in a morning! I'm glad to finally have a little time to catch up on a backlog of blogging; these posts have been in the hopper for days. More Infusion than you can shake a stick at, I say! Here's the news:

Reading the news is bad for you, according to this article in the news. And I have to say I think it makes a very good case for giving up reading it, offering 10 points to support the argument. I'm not going to stop reading the news completely, but I'm also not going to feel guilty about not keeping up on every issue that comes down the wires either. I suspect, as this writer suggests, it will make me feel better.

Elsewhere in the news, a 17-year-old Ugandan chess prodigy is visiting Virginia to play Garry Kasparov. I have mixed feelings about the way the story is written (see "poor but noble African succeeds against the odds" trope), but this young woman's story really is incredible--and chess is an usual twist on the tale.
When a child in an elementary school asked, “What inspired you to play chess?” Phiona replied, “I was hungry. I heard that when people went to this program to play chess they get a cup of porridge at the end. So I am thinking only about getting something to eat.”
Any more questions?

My favorite obituary this week, bar none, was for Patricia McCormick, who was a bullfighter in the 1950's and the first American woman to be invited to join the Mexican matador's union. As much as I despise bullfighting, I have to say her story was incredible.
Ms. McCormick demanded to fight on equal terms with men. Over the years, she was gored six times. The worst was in September 1954 in Ciudad Acuña, Del Rio’s Mexican sister city. According to newspaper accounts, she turned her back while she was performing a quite, or pass, and the bull caught her in the thigh. “The horn went right up my stomach,” she told The Los Angeles Times in an interview in 1989. “The bull carried me around the ring for a minute, impaled on his horns. “They gave me the last rites there. The doctor said, ‘Carry her across the border and let her die in her own country.’ ”
She didn't die, but disappeared from sight. I think it was her rediscovery that is the most amazing thing.

For all the barriers Ms. McCormick broke down, I was more moved by this writer's honest account of the obstacles that are still up. It's a painful but important read.

Men are not without their obstacles as my friend noted when he took his young daughter to the park as a stay-at-home dad.

In the Great Practical Advice department, this article on How Not To Say The Wrong Thing has a very simple solution: Comfort IN, Dump OUT. Comfort goes to the people closer to the trauma than you; dumping to people further away from the trauma than you.
When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you're going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn't, don't say it. Don't, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don't need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, "I'm sorry" or "This must really be hard for you" or "Can I bring you a pot roast?" Don't say, "You should hear what happened to me" or "Here's what I would do if I were you." And don't say, "This is really bringing me down."
Comfort IN, dump OUT. Repeat as necessary.

Now let's get to the really important news: a man paid $150 for toy poodles that turned out to be giant ferrets. My question is, how much would people pay for giant ferrets advertised as giant ferrets?

Last but most certainly not least, I LOVED Alfre Woodard's reading of Sojourner Truth's great Ain't I A Woman speech. Be prepared to be moved.

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