Friday, October 28, 2011

A few interesting things I've read, October 28, 2011

This is just a list of articles and postings I have read and found interesting. I could not really put them in a specific category, so I am just listing them here to share and highlight. I will probably do this type of post every once in a while since I am always finding interesting (to me) things out there. Whether my three readers find them interesting is another question. As always, feel free to comment.

  • From The Washington Monthly, while civic organizations are pretty much losing members in the U.S., clubs like the Kiwanis and the Rotarians are growing and thriving around the world. Personally, as an adult, I could not care less about clubs and civic organizations. A good number of them always seemed a bit on the elitist side for me. Still, I find interesting how parts of the world embrace these uniquely American organizations whether as status symbols or because they fit well with their social and economic development. 
  • Via AfricaFeed, an article on the Sapeurs of Congo. I found this extremely fascinating: men who, in the midst of the most extreme poverty, save pennies here and there (by means ethical and otherwise at times) in order to dress up in the finest clothes that money can buy. The culture does have ties to anti-war sentiments. 
  • Via Dangerous Minds, a short video of an old (circa 50s or so I think) documentary about Frederick's of Hollywood. The narrator tone blends a bit of the serious straight laced with just a tad of judgmental to add a bit of the sleazy. I find it interesting how back then they do want couples to be sexy so on, and yet it has to be all hidden, what would the neighbors say sort of thing. Personally, I found amusing that there was such a thing as an inflatable bra. Overall, between Victoria's Secret and Frederick's, the latter would have been the choice for the Better Half and me. The article includes a scan of one of their old catalogs. How things have changed. 
  • Via The NYR Blog, on "The Lost Art of Postcard Writing." This seems to be another art that is dying off, people sending postcards in a time when it is easier to just send an e-mail with a photo attached. The article looks at the old tradition of sending postcards when traveling. I don't send postcards much, but when I am traveling on my own, I do try to send my daughter a postcard of the place I may be visiting for her collection. A hat tip to 3 Quarks Daily.
  • Via Mother Jones, Andrew Marantz spends a summer working at an Indian call center.  The whole process, which when you look at it can be quite exploitative, is also fascinating in its scale. These jobs are seen as well paying opportunities (about $2 an hour, $5K a year, assuming workers last that long) in a land where per capita income is about $900 a year. However, the job does come with a lot of costs not only financially for the workers (who have to pay fees for training so on), but also having to become someone else given how they have to learn to lose their native accents. And then the overall picture, which is as U.S. companies lay off people here in droves, they are creating those jobs in India.
  • Via the BBC, The Joy of Sex was a revolutionary book in its time during the early 1970s. It turns out it faced some challenges in terms of illustrating it. I found the article interesting in light of our times now when we pretty much take for granted that a sex manual or similar book will have photos in it.  Read about "How the Joy of Sex was Illustrated." Keep in mind that the book has been updated since then, and yes, it does feature photographs now. Also, the book has opened the way to newer versions and topics. 
  • Here is one in time for Halloween. Via the Fine Books Blog,  a piece on the grimoire of H.P. Lovecraft. This is basically about fictitious books that Lovecraft created for his stories. A fascinating look at some occult volumes. To be honest, some of these books sound more interesting than stuff I come across with regularly. 
  • Tracy Clark Flory interviews sex writer and activist Susie Bright for Salon. This is one that has been sitting in my feed reader's cue for a while, and I finally got to read through it. Learn a bit about her views on the feminist movement and where it went wrong (something that I do agree with), her work, and why she hates the term "casual sex" as well. An interesting piece not just because of her life, which is interesting in itself, but also because it looks at how times have changed and how much more there is to go. The article also mentions her memoir, which I have listed on one of my "books I want to read" lists.

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