Human Working Time

In dentistry, there’s a term for materials called “working time.” We us a lot of materials which start out as a pliable liquid or paste, but after a few minutes set into a less movable solid. If you’ve ever had to get an impression of your teeth for braces or a crown, you’ve experienced working time firsthand. If you’ve ever used putty to fill a hole in drywall, likewise.

For us, working time represents  how long we have to make changes, to manipulate and troubleshoot, pack and shave, add and subtract, before the given material starts to set and can no longer be bent without breaking.

Lately, I have been thinking about the human equivalent to this pliable, workable state.

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Systemic Exclusion

I’ve mentioned in the past that my pastors quote a lot of books, so any single book which gets more than one mention automatically goes on my “To Read” list. One of the most frequently mentioned books is Miroslav Volf’s Exclusion and Embrace, whose ridiculously pretentious-sounding subheading is “A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation.” Continue reading

Psalm 74: Swinging Axes in a Forest of Trees

Ever since Ferguson happened years ago, I’ve posted a few times on this blog and my facebook about Black Lives Matter and racial injustice, but of the posts I’ve left up, there are a half dozen I’ve deleted.

Mostly, this is because I feel cynical about whether posting on facebook or social media does any good, because when I read the comments that some of my white and Asian-American friends post about these issues, it’s clear that they’re cuccooned within an entirely different internet of their own choosing that insulates them from these issues anyway. I feel in these moments that speaking out about racism is like preaching to the Woke choir, while those who really need to hear it just change the channel. Continue reading

Measuring Health in Quality of Life

1/3 low income adults say they avoid smiling because of their dental issues.
17% have trouble doing usual activities because of the condition of their mouth/teeth.
~1/4 low-income adults say their oral health issues cause them to participate less in social activities.
$1.6 billion, the amount spent on ER dental visits in 2015, is the same as the amount it would cost to add adult dental benefits to Medicaid Continue reading

Almost 2016 Media Dump

On colorblind casting, and specifically the weird tension that colorblind casting can cause, e.g. in Ex Machina:

“The fact that the film is so self-aware about its most brutalized characters being robotic women of color becomes even more unnerving considering the audience is expected to forget Isaac is himself Latino.” (Angelica Jade Bastién, The Atlantic)

just found out that Oscar Isaac is Latino! I feel a little sad for him as a fellow person of color…if I became famous and somehow the fact that I was Chinese got hidden in the process (not that this could ever happen, since I don’t have white-passing privilege anyway, but regardless) I would feel ashamed. Like Esther in the palace of Xerxes or something!

NPR has a really good and brief commentary on that.

In the day-to-day experiences of these two characters — notably both created by writers of color — sometimes race matters very little, and other times, it matters quite a bit. Just like in real life! Race is not the focus of Creed and Master of None, but neither is it treated as a coincidence without consequence — and both works are far more textured and richer viewing experiences for that honest, straightforward acknowledgment. (Gene Demby, Code Switch/NPR)

And on an utterly unrelated note, here’s another piece from The Atlantic from my friend Andrew on the “new warfare,” aka the information/propaganda war that’s going to be, the author proposes, the warfare of the future. Unfortunately, liberal democracies don’t do well at this kind of war:

While it is relatively easy for authoritarian regimes to fuse the efforts of military, media, and business entities, in democracies the interests of these groups are often diametrically opposed. For example: When the U.K. government signed a deal this fall allowing China to invest in a new British nuclear reactor, the money men at the Treasury were delighted; the moral men in the media appalled by the United Kingdom selling out on human rights; and the military men worried by Chinese penetration of British energy and telecommunications infrastructure. Of course, Western powers can unite money, media, and the military to devastating and diabolical effect when a war is declared (the lead-up to the Iraq campaigns being the most obvious recent example), but they are more at a loss when responding to not-quite-wars that are undeclared. (Peter Pomerantsev, The Atlantic)

This is especially fascinating to me, because of late I’ve been obsessively and guiltily cutting into my expensive London time to watch The Newsroom, a show that hubby introduced to me and which is honestly excellent. I’m really sad it’s over already! (And now that you know that, if you start watching and feel similarly, at least I didn’t pull a Firefly prank on you)

I guess John Oliver is the closest thing we have to this amazingness:

The most terrifying part of Gone Girl is your (plural) self.


Even as someone who tends to skip to the last page, I have to precede with a big fat spoiler warning and tell you that you will ruin a huge element of the movie for yourself if you read this without watching it.

That said.

Last night I saw Gone Girl with my fierce, flawless, fast-talking girlfriends.

2/6 of us had read the book before, and knew what was coming the entire time. 6/6 of us left the movie shaken.

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