Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I will be boarding a plane tomorrow night for the Blogalicious Conference in Washington, D.C.. It is a conference for and by bloggers of color. I look forward to seeing colleagues there, and I will be staying with a friend who used to work with me at Wired News. Can’t wait to see them…although two red-eye flights? What was I thinking?!

In the meantime, here are some news stories to chew on: I wrote about why asthma sucks for the Moms Clean Air Force. For the first time in my 34 years on this planet, I was prescribed an albuterol inhaler for a cough that stemmed from chest congestion and lasted over a month. It interrupted my sleep, work and exercise routine. It’s almost gone now, but I cannot imagine the ongoing fear of not being able to breathe and having your life put on hold. Ugh.  

The MomsRising Facebook page had an interesting discussion yesterday about why families should support the Occupy Wall Street protests. I made sure to add my two cents. :)

This piece in the Washington Post irked me. Basically, fat people are fat because they will eat junk food no matter what, and the lack of supermarkets, or food deserts, are the concoction of “liberal eggheads.” There was so much b.s. in this article that I don’t know where to start. I will write more on this later…after I calm down.

Well, on that sour note, Happy Hump Day all! What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Let’s call this the social media open thread. I do a lot of outreach on social media for work, and have gotten to know many other exceptional bloggers because of it. I want to draw your attention to the new category in our blogroll: “Special Needs.”

If you have a blog and are not in our blogroll, please let me know. I’d love to add you. Also, in case you missed it, MotherTalkers has a closed Facebook page just for us. Please join if you want to be part of our Facebook conversations!

Also, I was wondering how many of you were on Twitter? I’d love to follow you. You can find me at ElisaBatista. Thanks all!

In disturbing news: Topeka, Kansas is considering decriminalizing domestic violence in order to save money, according to Think Progress. Yikes.

Also, the title of this story is provocative, but the message is poignant: at the end of the day will watching Chaz Bono on Dancing With the Stars have an effect on our children’s future? No. But inhaling mercury in our air will.

If you can stand it, more despicable news: Republicans are blatantly trying to suppress Democratic votes in the upcoming election — working class, poor, college students and racial minorities — by limiting voting times and mandating photo i.d. with the vote, according to the New York Times. Two interesting facts from that editorial is that many poor people don’t have government issued photo i.d.s like driver’s licenses, and there is no evidence that voter fraud even exists. The people who claim it have not presented any proof. Ugh.

One more: here is an update on the sad fallout of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law, according to America’s Voice blog. Even Latinos who are U.S. citizens are leaving the state because of racial profiling. The scary thing is this law — known in Latino circles as “Juan Crow” — is the strictest in the nation, and another state in the deep south plans to follow suit: Mississippi.

A silver lining in an otherwise gloomy news cycle: this past Columbus Day, students in New York City spent a day at the Occupy Wall Street protests with their parents, according to the New York Times. Have you attended any of the protests? How about your kids?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Wednesday Morning Open Thread

Happy hump day all!

My apologies for the paltry post, but I have family visiting from the east coast. Stay tuned for an update in my 9 a.m. post…

In the meantime, I did spot this news item about minorities not purchasing electric cars. This is a topic that interests me as Latinos and African-Americans are disproportionately affected by both environmental hazards and the bad economy. I am still waiting for those green collar jobs to take root.

Finally, there was a lot of hoopla about a study linking Facebook usage among teens to neurosis and bad grades. Then I noticed that the scientific source was Covenant College. What do you all think? Do you limit your kids’ Facebook usage?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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On Class Reunions and Envy

There is a great article in Ladies’ Home Journal (pictured on right) about a recently divorced woman who attended her 25th high school reunion.

In “Why Can’t I Be You?”, Fernanda Moore laments being surrounded by a rich businessman, still-married uber mothers, social justice fighters and super-accomplished people in general. She jokes that she wants to wear a name tag that reads, “Just Trying To Stay Above Water.”

On the drive home from the reunion I tried to figure out why my good mood had crashed so hard. No one I’d talked to had been condescending or rubbed her success in my face. I liked these people and I wanted to be happy for them. Actually, I was happy for them. So why did I feel so bad?

Moore talked to several therapists for her article, and there was a lot of good food for thought:

“The great thing about being a therapist is that it has almost completely cured me of envy,” (Salt Lake City psychotherapist Julie) Hanks said. “People’s lives are not as beautiful as they seem–or as wonderful as they claim. The inside scoop is very different, I promise you. No one exists without serious loss, disappointment or burdens.”

Another expert I spoke to, Christina G. Hibbert, Psy.D., a psychologist in Flagstaff, Arizona, pointed out that meeting someone at the the top of her game–especially at a class reunion, where everyone is presenting her best self–guarantees you’ll have a skewed impression. “You’re only looking at the great outcome of somebody else’s hard work, not the sacrifices they made in order to be successful,” Hibbert explained. She recommended that I think harder about whether I really wanted everything my classmates had and, if so, whether I was willing to pay the price to get it. “If you ultimately decide their achievements aren’t worth the trouble and sacrifice, that can be tremendously freeing,” she said.

Class reunions really bring out the funny in people. There’s my DH, who despite his success, will not attend any high school or college reunions. But I do know of people who rent fancy cars or clothes just to impress former classmates.

I am somewhere in the middle. Yes, I went to my 10th high school reunion in a nice dress — as all the women did. But I did not feel that the reunion was used as an opportunity to brag about our accomplishments. It was legitimately a way to track down friends pre-Facebook.

My only disappointment is that the cliques still existed and I had to choose between two groups. I went with the group in which DH — who was dragged to the event by the way! — actually knew people. At least one of my high school friends went to college with me and knew Markos.

I haven’t gone to any college reunions because my school was so large that I did not get to know most people there. I opt for the yearly “girls’ reunion” instead. Do any of you attend your high school or college reunions? How are they as the years go by? I’ve only been to my 10th, which was fine. But I wonder if I will be as motivated to attend my 20th or 30th.

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Thursday Open Thread

Happy Thursday everyone!

Today’s topics for discussion–

Donald Trump: blowhard or asshat?

President Obama’s facebook Town Hall: Like or Dislike?

Kate Middleton: to envy or not to envy?

And lastly, including BMIs on school report cards: well-meaning, misguided, pointless or all of the above?

What else is on your mind? Chat away!

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Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Finally, I can end my Target boycott! Target has partnered with Lady Gaga to exclusively release her new single, Born this Way, and has agreed to stop funding anti-gay groups or initiatives, according to Pink News. Also, it has committed to giving half a million dollars to LGBT activist groups. They already give partnership benefits to gay employees, by the way. Go them!

My brother, his girlfriend, the kids and I just saw Gnomeo and Juliet (pictured on right). Ari was bored, but the rest of us thought it was cute. I was surprised that this was the only kids’ movie in the theater though. With so many parents looking for things to do with their kids, especially in the dead of winter, I would think that producers would jump all over this genre. Huh.

In health news: researchers from the National Institutes of Health have found that less than an hour of cellphone use can speed up brain activity in the area closest to the phone antenna, according to the New York Times. I believe it. I know I feel wired after a cell phone conversation, but I am not sure if it’s the technology, the conversation or both. But I will concede to the good doctors on this one.

In other health news: there is a proposal to give the best kidneys to children as opposed to those first on the transplant list, according to the Washington Post. Also, kids who play video games are not insensitive to violence anymore than non-gamers, according to research cited by HealthDay News.

Can I just say that I fear for our students? All 2,000 of Providence, Rhode Island’s teachers were fired due to massive budget cuts, according to CBS News. Yikes. Also, Daily Kos’s “teacherken” wrote a compelling column for CNN.com about unions, including teachers unions.

In other education news: Does this young man have a future in politics or what?

In Facebook news: Facebook just banned that creepy relationship status tracking app that informed followers when their friends changed their relationship statuses, according to MSNBC.com.

Last but not least, let me share the latest project I worked on with Anita Jackson over at MomsRising.org. Today is the last day of Black History Month and we put together a blog carnival of stories by African-American moms — and one dad. I especially liked this quote by my friend Carrie Smith, who is an outstanding woman and the most fabulous grandmother I know: “This month is not about the color of your skin, but the struggles we go through in life and virtues we learn along the way: LOVE, RESPECT, HARD WORK, and DEDICATION. This should be instilled in us all.”

Amen! With that, what else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

The Wisconsin protests continue. The crowd swelled to 70,000 yesterday, according to Rockford Register Star. Here is a great diary on our brother site, Daily Kos, by a protester responding to critics who say that union members should just be happy to be employed. These were my favorite lines in that piece:

I’m happy as hell to have a job too. I’m sure a sharecropper is happy to chop cotton and dig peanuts for the landlord. I’m happy that I’m not starving to death or living under a bridge. But that doesn’t make our community a place where the dignity of working people is upheld and justice for all is preserved.

If we want to live in a banana republic where the money and power of a tiny minority of wealthy people and corporate weasels crush the hopes of free people, then yes, a mouthful of bread and a warm place to defecate is all you need. But that isn’t the land of the free & home of the brave I grew up in. I’m too damn proud of my country and my state to cower in fear every time the Koch brothers snap their fingers.

Exactly. It is sad to me that corporations have made bank on the backs of employees in developing countries and workers spread very thin in the U.S. — yet the workers are the greedy ones? Pfft!

In other political news: the House just blocked federal funding for Planned Parenthood, according to MSNBC.com. I have a response to the so-called “Christian” Republicans who called this a “victory for life.” A mere two to three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortions. The grand majority of their services is basic health care, including for pregnant women, men and children. I know I have relied on Planned Parenthood for pap smears, check-ups and heavily subsidized birth control whenever I have been uninsured.

I can’t believe that certain Christians and Republicans would prefer denying health care to poor people — that could cost the life of an unborn child! — over the two to three percent of PP’s clients who go there for abortion. Yet, more evidence that we hate poor people in this country…

In better — happier — news: the “mid-life crisis” is actually a myth, according to Live Science. Thank you.

Also cool: Facebook just added “civil unions” and “domestic partnership” as relationship statuses, according to the New York Daily News.

From the bizarre news file: the body of a dead newborn baby was found in the bag of one of the girls who attend Oprah Winfrey’s school for girls in South Africa, according to ABC News.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Prudie on Facebook

Once in a while I will take a look at the “Dear Prudence” column, and just as often she will dole out advice in a way I never even considered the issue. This time, she suggested that people could be reported to Facebook for “uncivil behavior.”

Check it out:

FAMILY DRAMA
Dear Prudie, A few years ago, my cousin’s wife (40) left him for a much younger man (19), a student of hers while she was a professor at a community college. The younger man moved in with her and her 2 young kids and she has since filed for divorce. It has been nasty! Both sides have been using the kids as pawns and trash talking the other in their presence. I’m writing because my aunt has recently started a facebook smear campaign against this guy, even sending lengthy letters to family members. While I feel bad for my cousin, I think it is completely inappropriate for my family to badmouth his ex wife, especially in front of the kids. How can I express my concerns to my aunt and nicely opt out of these messages? Is there such thing as facebook slander? ~Want to be left out!~

EMILY YOFFE:
Here’s a situation in which there’s no one to root for.  I hope the community college knows about the professor’s extra-curricular activities — because this should get her booted from the faculty.  It’s also understandable that your cousin’s family thinks his ex is trash, but that does not allow them to trash her publicly. Doing so only demeans themselves and harms the children.  Today’s New York Times has a story about the Facebook team devoted to monitoring uncivil behavior on the site and your aunt’s campaign sounds like a perfect example of something they would want to block. Feel free to contact Facebook and ask that this smear be taken down.  And have a discussion with your aunt in which you explain you perfectly well understand her hatred of her former daughter-in-law, but spreading poisonous things about her will only damage the grandchildren.

I agree that family trashing a mom whose kids are probably on Facebook, too, is hurtful and damaging. But I was surprised by a couple pieces of Prudie’s advice. One, I didn’t know that colleges had policies against teachers dating students, especially since in this case, they would be consenting adults. Surely, this mom has not committed a crime, like let’s say, Mary Letourneau.

Second, I can’t imagine Facebook taking down pages over family disputes as there are 500 million Facebook accounts. Here is the New York Times story Prudie referred to, which aside from obvious things like child pornography, I am still unclear when the company actually chooses to remove material from a Facebook page.

What say you? How do you handle a family dispute on Facebook?

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First, a very happy birthday to our Erin. I was two days too early on Facebook, but today is the right day. :)

Speaking of Facebook, a friend alerted me of an iPhone application called TinyVox that lets you make recordings and share with people on your social networks. She recently shared with me an adorable recording of her baby girl babbling. I downloaded the app to record Ari playing the piano, which by the way, his recital is coming up!

In health news: Eating disorders have risen steadily in children and teens over the last few decades, with some of the sharpest increases among boys and minorities, according to a report published in Pediatrics. Here is a write-up of the report by HealthDay:

In one startling statistic cited in the report, an analysis by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that hospitalizations for eating disorders jumped by 119 percent between 1999 and 2006 for kids younger than 12.

At the same time as severe cases of anorexia and bulimia have risen, so too have “partial-syndrome” eating disorders — young people who have some, but not all, of the symptoms of an eating disorder. Athletes, including gymnasts and wrestlers, and performers, including dancers and models, may be particularly at risk, according to the report.

“We are seeing a lot more eating disorders than we used to and we are seeing it in people we didn’t associate with eating disorders in the past — a lot of boys, little kids, people of color and those with lower socioeconomic backgrounds,” said report author Dr. David Rosen, a professor of pediatrics, internal medicine and psychiatry at University of Michigan. “The stereotype [patient] is of an affluent white girl of a certain age. We wanted people to understand eating disorders are equal-opportunity disorders.”

Oy. In other health news, scientists have been able to reverse aging in rodents. The mice were the equivalent of 80-year-old humans about to pass away, and their genes were manipulated to make them “young adults,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Brave new world, eh?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Saturday Open Thread

It’s the weekend, y’all! Here’s a potpourri of topics to ponder.

DH and I snuck out to see The Social Network last night. As two social media geeks (and with DH being the co-founder of a fledgling social media company himself) we were equally fascinated and repulsed by the story behind facebook. I’m sure much of it was dramatized but it was still pretty gripping. Great writing and pacing, and memorable performances by Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake, of all people.

Speaking of Justin, he teamed up with Jimmy Fallon to doa short but awesome medley encompassing the history of hip hop. It has (deservedly) gone viral. If you dig rap at all, check it out.

Lastly, I’ve got formula on my mind. Alex is almost 8 months old and my stash of frozen breast milk is looking meager, even though I’m still pumping at work. Looks like I’ll have to supplement with formula soon, so I hopped on Amazon to check out their selection and HOLY CRAP! That shizz is expensive.

I opted for an organic formula; when I had to supplement with Maya we chose Similac but… not so keen on that brand this time around.

I’ll be mixing the formula with my breast milk initially until his palate and tummy get used to it. For those of you who used formula, which one did you choose and why?

What’s everyone up to this weekend? We’ve got soccer, a family birthday party, and a sing-along screening of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Here’s the cool part: I watched that movie when it was released at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. I was 16 at the time, and I never could have imagined I’d some day take my daughter back to that very same theater, to watch the very same movie :-) Life is sweet.

Chat away!

P.S. CONGRATULATIONS KATIE!! Here’s wishing you and Kelly a lifetime of happiness and, of, course, laughter –xoxo

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