Thursday, November 19, 2009

Double X is Done!

My new favorite site is folding back into Slate. Tears:
After some deliberation, we have decided to fold DoubleX back into Slate. The site will now become its own section, with our XX Factor blog, articles, and special projects already in the works. Our aim is to create a more intimate version of the community we have built, with many of the same voices and passions.

For many of you, this won't much change your experience of reading us. We will have many of the same bloggers and writers, and Hanna and Emily will continue to run the project. The decision is being made for business reasons rather than as an editorial judgment. In fact, it's the editorial quality of the site, and the way in which it so perfectly embodies the Slate DNA, that makes this a natural next step. This is a new phase, not an ending—since we came out of Slate, where we started XX Factor, it's a return to our roots.

While I have been lax in keeping up with the original XX Factor blog since I've made an effort to check the site regularly, I do really enjoy the core group of writers, and I love their focus on friendship--from the advice column to "Your Comeback" to their takes on everything from the health care bill to their own personal projects. Occasionally I wondered if they would ever have days where they would seem to run out of content, but on greater thought, that's silly--there is always news to decipher, situations to parse. And men's sites recycle far more than Double X will ever.

Double X wasn't a "feminist" site, as the editors of Bitch lamented this week on their podcast, but it was a woman's space--and not harsh, or overly cutesy, or any other affected attitude. They were real, but not in the "in your face real" that real usually means. They were friends, they were fun, they were smart, they were critical, and they were awesome.

I want to be Hanna Rosin or Emily Bazelon when I grow up.

P.S. Their Gabfest is also by far the best Slate podcast out there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

David Brooks on Government

If I were a politician trying to win back independents, I’d say something like this: When I was a kid, I had a jigsaw puzzle of the U.S. Each state was a piece, and on it there was a drawing showing what people made there. California might have movies; Washington State, apples; New York, fashion or publishing. That puzzle represented an economy that was diverse and deeply rooted.

We’ve lost that. First Wall Street got disproportionately big, then Washington. It’s time to return to fundamentals. No short-term fixes. Government should do what it’s supposed to do: schools, roads, basic research. It should not be picking C.E.O.’s or setting pay or fizzing up the economy with more debt. It should give people the tools to compete, not rig the competition. Lines of restraint have dissolved, and they need to be restored.

Independents support the party that seems most likely to establish a frame of stability and order, within which they can lead their lives. They can’t always articulate what they want, but they withdraw from any party that threatens turmoil and risk. As always, they’re looking for a safe pair of hands.

"What Independents Want"

His other recent columns have been thought-provoking, too, garnering acclaim for his take on how we frame narratives and widespread criticism for his musings on romance and modern-day technology. Don't miss his conversation with Gail Collins on last week's election, either.

Monday, November 9, 2009

“Calories should take work to access”

Ezra Klein offers another way to think about how we eat:
I'm convinced that how you lay out your kitchen changes both how you eat and how you cook. For now, I've got two main principles. First, you don't eat what you can't see, both for good and for bad. Second, calories should take work to access.

A year or so back, I was reporting out a story on the behavioral economics papers influencing the Obama administration. One of the sources for that story offhandedly mentioned a study that showed men eat far more fruits and vegetables if they're stored on the same shelf as the beer. Similarly, I've come across studies showing that storing fruits and vegetables at eye-level does more to increase consumption than subsidizing them. The irony of the crisper drawer at the base of the fridge is that it keeps produce fresh for longer, but since you also forget that the produce exists, it makes it more likely that it goes bad altogether. I've lost more produce that way than I'd like to admit. Good produce. In my fridge, fruits and vegetables go on the top drawers. The crisper area is going to get sauce overflow, or maybe bread.

Similarly, I like to snack. And I don't have much self-control, or really any self-control, when I'm around snack food. Worse, in my new place, I'll be a whole lot nearer to the fridge than I was in the large, rambling group house I previously inhabited. To keep myself from gaining a gut, I'm trying avoid storing much food that can be instantly eaten. Aside from fruits and vegetables, I'm trying to make the calories in my kitchen difficult to access: That means storing food I have to cook before it becomes edible. In my experience, the desire to not boil water is stronger than the desire to snack. That means crackers, chocolate chips, granola, and cereals are out.

In the last place, my pantry was a mess. I stored dried foods on three shelves of a fairly high, fairly deep, cabinet. Cleaning it out was a sad reminder of how much good food had disappeared beneath other foods, left to grow stiff, stale, and inedible. It was a good learning experience, though. In the new place, I had to choose between a standalone pantry or some sort of cabinet for dishes and cups. I went with a standalone pantry, as it meant I could leave it open. This one, in fact. The fact that visitors will see it ensure I'll keep it neat. The fact that I'll see it ensures I'll know what's there. At least that's the hope, anyway.