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Nov. 11th, 2016 09:26 am
wshaffer: (ace)
In the wake of Donald Trump's election, I've have been hearing the usual calls for unity and "putting our differences aside", and lots of pleas to understand the grievances of the people who voted Trump, who are not all horrible racists.

I am, by nature, a consensus builder. One of my favorite phrases is, "Can we embrace the power of 'and'?". I don't believe that everyone who voted for Trump is an irredeemable racist. There may come a time when I decide that the most productive use of my energy and talents is to reach across that political divide, to try to understand that point of view.

But honestly, I am not worried about Trump voters right now. Here is a partial and incomplete list of the people I am worried about: My gay, lesbian, and bisexual friends who are worried about whether their marriages and families will be recognized as valid under a Trump presidency. My friends with disabilities and chronic illnesses who don't know whether they'll be able to keep their health insurance or get the medical care they need. My transgender friends who don't know if they'll be able to access health care or get identification that reflects their actual gender or even visit a public bathroom without being beaten up. Anyone who might experience an unintended pregnancy. My friends serving in the military who will have to serve under a dangerously volatile commander in chief. The Muslim business owners in my community who have to fear being deported or being the targets of hate. Every person of color in my community who gets up and leaves the house every day knowing that a routine traffic stop could be fatal.

I could keep going, but I'm not sure if I'd ever stop.

These are the people we need our attention and our energy right now. The Trump voters might not all be racists, and they might have many legitimate grievances. But right now, as Laurie Penny said, they are people who were "willing to fire at the elite directly through the stomachs of their neighbors." First, we need to stop the bleeding. And we need them to see that there is bleeding, not allow them to kid themselves that it's okay because they weren't actually aiming at us.

Then maybe we can talk about finding some common ground.
There's a phrase that I've been hearing a lot lately in corporate contexts that's becoming a bit of a pet peeve of mine. It's "[Insert positive quality here] is in our DNA," as an attempt to convey, "[Positive quality] is part of the essence of who we are." I've been thinking about why it bugs me so much. It reinforces a kind of casual biological determinism that I'm not really fond of in general, but I think the real thing is that the metaphor gets weird if you actually have more than a casual understanding of how DNA works.

The thing about DNA is that it doesn't, by itself, do anything. DNA has to be expressed and translated into RNA or protein in order to have an effect. And a huge amount of our DNA (up to 90% by some estimates) is never translated. Excellence may be in my DNA, but so are the mangled bits of feline retroviruses that generations of my ancestors picked up from their pet cats.

Even bits of DNA that could be translated can have their expression regulated up or down or switched off entirely by environmental factors. And genes rarely work like the simple dominant/recessive Mendelian pairs from your high school biology homework where you had to figure out how many of a given couple's offspring would have blue eyes. You've got traits controlled by dozens of genes, working together in complicated ways. So a trait may be in your DNA, but whether it's in you is the result of a messy process influenced by other things in your DNA, your environment, and your own behavior.

Hmmm...maybe it's actually a better metaphor than I thought.
Alert readers may have noticed that I haven't been posting much about Doctor Who lately. This is partly because I'm still working my way through Peter Capaldi's first season, and I figure nobody really wants my hot take on episodes that aired over a year ago, and partly because my feeling about the show at the point where I am in my viewing can be neatly summed up by, "Keep the Doctor; regenerate the showrunner."

To be clear, I don't think that Moffat is a bad showrunner, although I think he was generally better as a writer when he was writing for Russell Davies as showrunner. (I'm kind of sorry that we never got to see Davies write for Moffat's Who - maybe he'd also have been a better writer with someone else running things.) But I'm getting really tired of Moffat's particular tropes and obsessions, and I'm really not much caring for how the Doctor/companion relationship has developed in Capaldi's first season. Also, if you manage to bring an episode as stupid as "Kill the Moon" to fruition, you're clearly not showrunning to the highest standard.

I have had many conversations with fellow fans about who might replace Moffat, and most of them have ended with my saying, "Honestly, I don't really care who it is, as long as it isn't Chris Chibnall." I have nothing against Chibnall personally. I'm sure he's a lovely man. But he is pretty much responsible for all of my least favorite Doctor Who and Torchwood episodes ever. (Except for "Kill the Moon". It does not appear that anything about "Kill the Moon" can be blamed on Chibnall.) And I still haven't forgiven him for what he did to the Silurians.

So, the BBC have just announced that Steven Moffat will be leaving the show after the next season (which will apparently be airing in 2017, because the BBC has realized I need time to catch up or something) and will be replaced by...Chris Chibnall.

I'm trying to be optimistic. It's entirely possible that just as I think that Moffat is an excellent writer for Who but only a fair showrunner, I may end up thinking that Chibnall is a lousy writer but a good showrunner.
Being someone who helps run a convention, I think a lot about harassment at conventions. Every time a convention hits the news for something harassment related, I think "What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? What can we learn from this?" Sometimes I think, "Oh, please God, don't let that ever be us!"

I kind of assume that all other conrunners do the same. Except that I can't really imagine how the folks running World Fantasy this year would have come up with this harassment policy if they had.
(I recommend you go and read the linked post, but here's the policy in an image.)

I have too much going on at work this morning to write as well-reasoned a post as I would like, so let me just say this: everything of what I've witnessed of harassment issues at conventions I've attended and helped to run suggests to me that if your policy says, "If you report harassment, the police will get involved," very few people will report harassment. And while I recognize the convention's need to take into account the legal definition of harassment under New York state law and protect themselves from a possible libel suit, they could have done that while still doing way more to keep their guests safe.
Well, apparently I'm feeling ranty this morning.

So, I don't know how serious this really is, but apparently there is a move afoot to nominate Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series for a Best Novel Hugo, on the grounds that a work appearing in parts is eligible for the year that the final part is published.

While I think that something like the Wheel of Time was probably not what that clause was intended to cover, my general attitude when there is ambiguity in interpretation of the Hugo rules is that the administrators should be lenient in allowing works on the ballot, and let the voters decide. So, if The Wheel of Time gets enough nominations to make the ballot for Best Novel, I think it should go on the ballot.

I really hope that this doesn't happen, for a couple of reasons.

First, it hardly seems like a level playing field to pit a series that a generation of fantasy readers has grown up with against standalone novels that have been around for a year or less. People have had decades to discover the Wheel of Time novels, read them, discuss them, eagerly anticipate subsequent novels in the series, and form their opinions. How do you judge a book that has been out for a few months against that? The comparison doesn't even make sense.

Second, the pro-WoT argument seems to hinge a lot on the idea that it's been so hugely influential to the genre that it deserves to be recognized. While I suspect that the Best Novel Hugo is often used as much to reward an influential author for being influential as it is used to recognize what is genuinely the best novel of the year, I'd rather it were used to recognize the best novel of the year, and not as a general Rocket-ship of Awesomeness. We have other awards specifically for recognizing overall contribution to the field (although the most obvious one is the SFWA Grandmaster award, which can't be awarded posthumously.)

Don't nominate Wheel of Time for the Best Novel Hugo. If it makes the ballot, don't vote for Wheel of Time for the Best Novel Hugo.
I was fascinated by this Strange Horizons piece and the ensuing Twitter kerfuffle. I'd go over and read the piece, but to summarize crudely, Renay is arguing that creators ought to stay out of fan discussions of their works. Her argument is something like that creators are invading fannish spaces and imposing their canonical authority in places where their input isn't welcome or productive.

Some scattered thoughts in lieu of a coherent response:
1) Whenever I post anything online, I do so under the assumption that it's going to be read by my mom, the police, and the people I'm writing about. Does this mean I would feel totally sanguine if the creator of a work I'd reviewed negatively came in to comment on one of my reviews? No, because I'm somewhat conflict averse and I don't like making people feel bad. But if I'm not willing to run the risk of that happening, I don't post online.

2) In the SF book fandom that I grew up in, the line between pro and fan has always been extremely porous. Even before the internet, you always ran the risk that an author would see your negative review in a fanzine, or that they'd be in the audience when you said something about their work on a convention panel, or that they'd overhear you talking about their work in the consuite. Sure, fanfic was something you didn't wave in authors' faces, because of the legal issues and because it makes some writers uncomfortable. But, in general, the mingling of fans and pros has always been a feature of the fannish spaces that were most important to me. Clearly Renay's experience of fandom is very different.

3) Okay, let's talk about authorial intent. Yes, it's true that as an author, you have no control over what readers take away from your work. Ultimately, what the writer intended has no more validity than any other well-considered interpretation. However, it also doesn't have less validity. As a reader, I'm interested in what the writer was trying to do, even if all I can do with that information is say, "Wow, you sure didn't achieve that."

4) Are authors asserting power when they step into a fannish discussion of their work? I don't see it that way - the fannish culture that I talk about in point 2 above has always been pretty egalitarian about the relation between pros and fans. I have run into some authors here who don't get the fallacy of authorial intent and go around being dickheads about alternative interpretations of their work, but that's just people being dickheads.

5) I do think there is another dimension of this: in at least two of the examples Renay cites in that essay, a creator waded into a discussion in which issues of sexism or racism in their work were being discussed. And in a context where the creator is white and male, this can end up looking a lot like a privileged dude mansplaining away the unsavory aspects of his work. I looked at the discussion of Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant novels linked in Renay's essay, and I genuinely don't think that that was what was going on there. However, I can see how people might perceive it that way, and I think, ultimately, it's probably more important for people to be mindful of that dynamic than of the pro/fan dynamic.
So, the AMA has declared obesity a disease, which I guess means I have an extra diseases that I didn't have last week. Funny, I don't feel sick.

I've seen a number of folks applaud this decision by saying, "Well, at least now fat people can get the treatment they desperately want/need."

Which baffles me. Because for most of my adult life, my doctors have insisted on treating my fatness whether I wanted them to or not, often at the expense of what were arguably more urgent medical problems.

And the thing is, most doctors are pretty crap at treating obesity. Which in part is not their fault, because we don't have any good scientifically-validated ways of reliably getting more than a tiny percentage of people to lose weight and keep it off. Most doctors don't seem to be terribly aware of that.

Here are some of my favorite ways that doctors have tried to get me to lose weight:
* Threatening to withhold prescriptions for birth control pills unless I lost weight. (Because fat people don't deserve to have sex anyway? Interestingly and possibly non-coincidentally, they stopped pulling this shit on me after I got married.)
* Telling me to "drink more water" (Not horrible advice in and of itself, but at the time I would have had to lose 100 pounds to be "normal" on the BMI chart, so the idea that a couple extra glasses of water a day were going to get me there was pretty laughable.)
* Instructing me sternly not to butter my toast at breakfast. (Without bothering to inquire whether I ate toast, or even breakfast. At the time I habitually partook of neither. This was merely the most hilariously memorable of a general pattern of doctors telling me to eliminate certain foods or categories of foods, usually without bothering to check if I actually ate them. Notice that you can tell that this example was from the 1990s, because the dietary bugbear du jour was saturated fat. If the same thing had happened 10 years ago, the doctor might have been just as likely to tell me to skip the toast and eat the butter.)

Lest I tar the entire medical profession with the same brush, I should mention the rather wonderful nutritionist I worked with when I was in graduate school, who introduced me to the revolutionary concept that it was perfectly okay to eat when I was hungry, and who encouraged me to look at foods from the perspective of their total nutrients and overall effect on my health or mood rather than just calories. I didn't lose a lot of weight working with her, and it took several more years of going 'round the weightloss merry-go-round before I was able to fully incorporate everything she taught me into my daily life, but she actually gave me sane, practical advice.


Apr. 9th, 2012 01:01 pm
wshaffer: (not-helpful)
I think Cat Valente's right and we're hurtling backward through time at alarming speed. And not in a fun Doctor Who kind of way. Having huge public debates about access to birth control felt disappointingly like going back to the early 1990s, but Wisconsin's repealing of its equal pay legislation feels like going back even farther than that.

I wish the single out for particular scorn the following from the above-linked article. One Glenn Grothman says:

You could argue that money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious.

First of all, does anyone, male or female, really grow up expecting to be a breadwinner anymore? I'd venture that most of the households that I know require the income of two working adults to keep them running, and the dollars earned by the women are just as much legal tender for rent or groceries as the dollars earned by the men.

Second, what a huge insult to all the households where women are the primary earners. Working single mothers (and, yes, Republicans, there are *working* single mothers), women whose partners are the stay-at-home parent, women whose partners can't or won't earn much income, and, of course, women whose partners are women are getting screwed by the wage gap every day. I know women in these situations, and the idea that money doesn't matter to them is laughable.

But hey, what do Republicans care for justice, fairness, or kids who go hungry because a parent of the wrong gender is supporting the household? The really important thing is that a corporation might get sued, and we can't allow that.


Feb. 28th, 2012 06:34 pm
wshaffer: (Default)
Can I have a do-over on Tuesday? Because here are some of the lovely things that today has included:

  • I accidentally blew off a meeting with an engineer because I got so caught up in working on something that I failed to notice the appointment on my calendar. Yeah. Way to look professional.

  • The thing I was caught up in working on is annoyingly broken. At one point today I was reduced to pounding my keyboard and shouting, "I just want something to fucking work!" Way to look professional, part two, except that my officemate is used to me by now.

  • Being sexually harassed on one of the online Fields of the Nephilim fan forums, presumably for committing the cardinal tactical error of being openly female. Or possibly I'm overreacting, and it is entirely appropriate to respond to a question inviting others to speculate about the contents of the special Ceromonies box set by posting a picture of a dildo.

  • Having an hour and 20 minute meeting with my boss during which we tried to work out a reasonable timeline for my finishing all the things I'm supposed to be finishing. Which was really productive, and at the end of any other day would be quite positive and energizing. But at the end of this day, I'm sitting here looking at my nice long list of dates and action items, and thinking, "Sod this, I should have become an auto mechanic."

So, this rant was touched off by a blog post that I ultimately decided not to link to. Partly because the author of the post was clearly speaking the truth about her own experience, and I didn't want to seem to be attacking her for doing that. And partly because she's hardly the first or the last person to put forth the idea that triggered this rant: The notion that extremely overweight people are using food as a way to deal with emotional pain. This idea is usually expressed as something along the lines of, "No one gets to be a hundred pounds overweight just because they like to eat."

Actually some of us do. I did. Though to be fair, it went a bit beyond "liking to eat." It was more along the lines of, "when I eat highly-processed high-carbohydrate foods, my appetite regulation goes haywire and I'm constantly hungry, causing me to eat more highly-processed high-carbohydrate foods." When I cut back on the highly-processed high-carbohydrate foods, I stopped being hungry all the damn time, and I lost quite a bit of weight. (More significantly, I got back all the time I used to spend wondering if gnawing on the corner of my desk would somehow help me deal with the fact that I was ravenous despite having eaten an hour ago. Being constantly hungry sucks.) I didn't need to confront my emotional issues. I just needed more protein and fiber.*

Now, I'm not trying to deny that there are people who struggle with emotional eating, and that some of those people are fat. But every time someone makes a blog post like this, well-meaning commenters announce their intention to reach out to their fat loved ones and help them confront the emotional demons that they are battling with food. Wanting to help a loved one is commendable; trying to help a loved one with the attitude that you understand what the problem is better than they do is...well, "unlikely to work" is the kindest thing I can say.

*You have no idea how uncomfortable writing that paragraph made me feel. I think because it feels like such a conventional piece of weight-loss narrative. I practically expect it to wind up with, "And if I did it, you can do it to!" Maybe you can do it too; maybe you can't; maybe you don't want to. I use myself as an example because I think I have a pretty good understanding of what made me gain and lose weight, and so I think I can speak fairly authoritatively when I say that deep-seated emotional issues were not involved.
So, I came perilously close to dispensing weight-loss advice to someone yesterday, and I still feel kind of dirty. I guess this post is my penance.

I'm not categorically against the idea of pursuing weight-loss. It just seems hard for most people to do it without a) getting hung up on unrealistic standards for what their bodies should look like and b) falling prey to people peddling weird diets backed by dubious science that promise to provide that missing link that explains why just eating less and moving more didn't do much for them. (As indeed it doesn't for many people.)

I'm constantly struck, lately, by how often I hear something roughly along the lines of, "I want to be healthy, so I'm going on a diet." And it always throws me, because there's a huge logical leap happening between the two halves of that sentence, and we're so culturally conditioned to equate thinness with health that most of us don't even notice that leap. I'm still trying to come up with a way to say, "If you want to be healthy, how about doing something that actually promotes health?" without totally harshing people's squee.

I'm either the world's best or world's worst advocate for a health-first approach: I've been overweight my entire life, and throughout my twenties, I sporadically dieted in an effort to avoid various weight-related health problems that I was assured were headed my way. Basically, I'd lose twenty pounds and then gain them back, along with twenty of their friends. At some point in my early thirties, having dieted myself all the way up to being morbidly obese, I was sitting in my doctor's office, looking at a particularly dispiriting set of lab test results, and I thought, "You know, this weight-loss thing has kind of been a bust. How about we just focus on being healthy?"

So, I did. And within a couple of months, my lab test results had gone from being nearly universally crappy to being normal to excellent. And then over the course of the next year, I lost about a third of my body weight.

Which is where I become a bad advocate, because when I talk about this, people understandably find the whole "third of my body weight" thing rather arresting, and then we're having a weight-loss conversation again. Except that this time it's "If you really want to lose weight, you have to focus on health instead of on losing weight." Which is sort of interestingly Zen, but is it an improvement?

I don't know. I still think the best advice is: If you want to keep up with your kids, or climb stairs without getting winded, do some aerobic exercise. If you want to be strong, pick up heavy things repeatedly. If your cholesterol is bad, eat more fiber and less saturated fat. If your blood pressure is high, eat more fruits and vegetables and less salt. If you want to stop falling asleep at your desk mid-afternoon, consider whether you can balance what you eat at lunch so that it doesn't make your blood sugar spike and crash. Doing any or all of these things might also result in your wearing a smaller pants size, but setting out to wear a smaller pants size might not get you anything but smaller pants. If that.
I was recently privy to a discussion of dieting over on Google Plus that ranged all over the Fat Hate Bingo Card 1 and Fat Hate Bingo Card 2. There was enough there for a dozen ranty blog posts, but I particularly wanted to respond to a question posed to those of us being negative about weight-loss dieting: "Why are you against exercise and healthy eating?"

Now, I am very far from being against exercise and healthy eating. So are most people, I expect. You might be able to find someone who is against exercise and healthy eating, but they're probably hanging out in the corner with the Man-Hating Feminist, the America-Despising Liberal, and the Unicorn.

So, having cleared that up, here are a few things that I am against:
Cut for brevity )
I've been boggling at this article since I read it, as it's some kind of amazing example of how to wrap a halfway decent point in a bizarre miasma of nostalgic pastoralism and weird ideas about masculinity.

You should really read the article, because it is well-written after a fashion, and also contains a number of striking details, but to summarize: The author has worked as a surgeon in Afghanistan and in Canada, and has observed that lots of people in Canada are fat, while hardly anyone in Afghanistan is. He has also been to Polynesia, and has observed that islanders who have hewed to traditional diet and lifeways are manly paragons of tattooed hotness who can navigate canoes with their balls, while the islanders who have taken to Western things like SPAM and the internets are jiggly and have high rates of diabetes. This is all the fault of urbanization making us unmanly.

So, okay, I basically agree with the premise that the Standard Western Diet is really bad for a lot of people. I'm certainly happier and healthier now that I eat differently. I would like to note that this did not require my learning to go out and kill my own dinner. Nor did it require reclaiming my lost manliness, which is good, because, being a woman, I haven't got much.

Oh, yeah, women. Our author does pause to note that diabetes often makes women infertile, but doesn't really seem to be interested in women beyond their reproductive capacity. He certainly never stops to ask whether the pre-urban lives he is idealizing were particularly fulfilling for women, who presumably were doing things like cooking, raising kids, and hauling water, rather than going out and hunting caribou or making long ocean voyages.

No, what really gets me about this article, besides the literally visceral horror of fat, is the sense that the author is really lacking a sense of proportion. It's like he's all, "Guys! Lay off the Cheetos! Or the world will suffer an epidemic lack of tattooed hotness! Oh, yeah, and kidney failure." (Never mind that I don't think I'd have to go very far in my social circle to locate a type 2 diabetic who is possessed of tattoed hotness.)

Or, I dunno, maybe that angle just stands out to me because I've read about a million articles about how the Western lifestyle is going to kill us, but this is the first article I've read about how it is depriving men of important manly capacities like being able to steer a canoe with your nuts.

What she said

Nov. 4th, 2010 02:48 pm
wshaffer: (awkwardness)
I've been going through a bit of a crunch period at work, and seem to have lost the rhythm of LJing anything other than the odd book review. We will be restoring normality as soon as we are certain what is normal anyway.

But I did want to point to [ profile] mrissa's excellent post on why people should stop lazily equating social ineptitude or bad behavior with autism/Asperger's syndrome.

I can understand how the idea that many people in the geek or fannish community are somewhere along the autism spectrum gained traction. I think there is an intuitive appeal in the idea that a lot of us are just wired differently from the norm, neurologically speaking. But there are lots of ways to be wired differently from the norm, and not all of them warrant a medical diagnosis, much less one as specific as autism or Asperger's syndrome. I'm all in favor of saying, "Human brains can be wired in lots of different ways, and, as autism shows, those differences can manifest in surprising and subtle ways in things like social interaction." Especially if it makes us more tolerant of each others' foibles. I'm not so much in favor of slapping medical diagnoses on people, especially when it's done in a sloppy way.

Also, as [ profile] mrissa astutely points out, the real jerks out there aren't those who, whether from neurological disorder or other causes, are socially clueless. The ones you need to worry about are the ones who are socially savvy enough to know exactly how far they can go without getting called on their behavior.
Just listened to a rather lovely Radio 4 documentary, The Doctor And Douglas about Douglas Adams's time as script editor on Doctor Who. It's a really fun little program, and you get to hear Steven Moffat gush about "City of Death", and Lalla Ward talking about how Douglas introduced her to Richard Dawkins.

My one very small quibble is that I wish they'd left out the now semi-obligatory dumping on Adams's successor as script editor, Christopher H. Bidmead. (Whom they don't even mention by name. But they do say things like, "Tom and Lalla left the show the following year. Doctor Who slowly lost it's audience, and was cancelled in 1989." Way to dismiss ten years of show and the work of half-a-dozen script editors in two short sentences.)

Now, I'm not going to deny that Adams was a far more talented writer than Bidmead. And I'm not going to deny that Bidmead often comes across as an utter doink in interviews. And I have to confess that it's been years since I've watched most of the Bidmead-edited stories, so I have no idea how I'd react to them now.

But here's what else I must confess: When I was a kid, I loved Season 18 with a passion. And really, how can you not? You've got "State of Decay", in which our heroes kill a giant vampire by staking it through the heart with a rocket ship. You've got the sheer surreality of "Warrior's Gate". You've got the gorgeous-looking "Keeper of Traken", which brings back the Master to boot. Even in a relative clunker like "Meglos", you've still got Tom Baker turning into a giant cactus. You can't get that in "Creature from the Pit".

Thanks to Season 18, I still get a secret science-fictional thrill every time I say the word "entropy". That alone probably got me through freshman physical chemistry.

So, whaddya say, my fellow fans? Can we show Season 18 some love? Or at least not go out of our way to diss it while ostensibly discussing other areas of the show?
I think it's possible that I've trained my brain to regard almost any list as a to-do list.

For example, the Guardian has just published the science fiction, fantasy, and horror portion of its "1000 Books Everyone Must Read" (Part One; Part Two; Part Three). And despite [ profile] fastfwd already having succinctly pointed out some of the list's deficiencies, including a criminal absence of works by [ profile] fastfwd, I'm peculiarly tempted to set out to read/reread my way through the list.

Actually, doing the whole list would certainly drive me nuts.

Some thoughts prompted by the list )

Do you have any books you consider must-read? I'm rather reluctant to tell anyone else what they must read, but when I list the books that I think were must reads for me in the sense that I'd probably be a different person if I hadn't read them, the first three that spring to mind are The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and The Once and Future King. All of which actually made the Guardian's list.

(The next three are The Phantom Tollbooth, Dante's Inferno, and D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, none of which are on the Guardian's science fiction, fantasy, and horror list. The last two aren't really novels, anyway.)
I usually find Radio 4's Thinking Allowed pleasantly thought-provoking, but a good chunk of the most recent episode was mostly just provoking. It was devoted to the premise that men just aren't growing up any more. Three principal pieces of evidence were invoked for this thesis:
1. Men are living with their parents longer than they used to.
2. Men are getting married later in life than they used to.
3. It's now considered entirely socially acceptable for men to play video games.

Let's take a look at these, shall we? )
Actually, that's what really boggles me about the "Thinking Allowed" episode. Everyone involved seems to be working from a shared definition of "grown-up" that no one ever actually bothers to articulate. I think that if I had to define grown up, I'd probably define it as, "Capable of independently fulfilling a reasonable number of one's obligations to one's family and society." Which I think you can still do while being single, living in your mom's basement, and owning a PlayStation.
KQED's Forum had a good segment on the rise in diagnoses of diabetes this morning - I caught some of it as I was driving to work this morning. (I think there will eventually be audio available at that link, but it's not there now.)

The show generally did a good job of covering a complicated and contentious topic. But I winced a bit when they opened the lines for calls, because there was a particular subject that I just knew was going to come up. And it did: multiple calls from people who have, or whose children have, type I diabetes, pleading with the presenters to carefully distinguish between type I and type II diabetes, because they're tired of people assuming that they (or their children) are fat, or lazy, or ate too much sugar.

Now, I genuinely have all the sympathy in the world for type I diabetics, who have a crummy condition that isn't their fault.

But I can't help but wonder why it never seems to occur to anyone that rather than asking the general public to learn to distinguish between a biochemical breakdown in which the body stops producing insulin and a biochemical breakdown in which the body fails to efficiently use insulin, we could just stop being nasty and judgmental towards people about their biochemical breakdowns. Which would help people with type I diabetes, and type II diabetes, and mental illness, and all sorts of conditions, and no one would have to learn any endocrinology. Sounds like win/win to me.