A Hodgepodge of Links: Middlemarch and Shame, Impressionists, Interesting Medical Stuff

A Hodgepodge of Links: Middlemarch and Shame, Impressionists, Interesting Medical Stuff

1. Middlemarch and What We Mean When We Say Shame Works

Having read Middlemarch last year, I was rather pleased to see this interesting take on the novel. And an interesting take on shame too.

Two things separate these experiences of shame: authority and hope. When we talk about shame “working,” we usually fail to recognize the importance of these two categories.

Ladislaw frankly rejects the authority of the people who would judge him. He doesn’t slink off in defeat, because he doesn’t think he’s wrong. When some guy at the Brookings Institute says we should be shaming teenage mothers, I wonder why he thinks they’d listen to a poster more than they’d listen to the actual authorities in their world, like peers and family. We live in a society of chaotic, competing authorities. If one authority rejects you, unless you already love that authority it’s really easy to just reject it right back.

And even if you accept the authority of the people who shame you, two obvious responses to shame are Bulstrode’s responses: despair; and concealment, even at the cost of another human life. It should be obvious how that solution relates to shame over an unintended pregnancy: Shame is a huge motivating force for abortion.


2. No Parkinsons at the Flip of a Switch

Truly amazing video. Short. Worth the click. Trust me.


3. Astonishing Film of Arthritic Impressionist Painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1915)


Rare Film: Claude Monet at Work in His Famous Garden at Giverny, 1915


4. The Obesity Era

Yet the scientists who study the biochemistry of fat and the epidemiologists who track weight trends are not nearly as unanimous as Bloomberg makes out. In fact, many researchers believe that personal gluttony and laziness cannot be the entire explanation for humanity’s global weight gain. Which means, of course, that they think at least some of the official focus on personal conduct is a waste of time and money. As Richard L Atkinson, Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Wisconsin and editor of the International Journal of Obesity, put it in 2005: ‘The previous belief of many lay people and health professionals that obesity is simply the result of a lack of willpower and an inability to discipline eating habits is no longer defensible.’

Today’s priests of obesity prevention proclaim with confidence and authority that they have the answer. So did Bruno Bettelheim in the 1950s, when he blamed autism on mothers with cold personalities. So, for that matter, did the clerics of 18th-century Lisbon, who blamed earthquakes on people’s sinful ways. History is not kind to authorities whose mistaken dogmas cause unnecessary suffering and pointless effort, while ignoring the real causes of trouble. And the history of the obesity era has yet to be written.

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  • Dom’s been doing most of the reading of the D’Aulaire’s so I’m not sure if they’ve got to Leda yet. But I’m guessing if she’s included then it will be as a wife.

  • Do you listen to music on the iPod in the car or do you make mix CDs?  I do a combination of both.  I don’t know why I am curious about this, I just am.  You may just listen to internet radio in the car.

    Ann Kubala

  • Ann,

    We don’t actually listen to music all that much, when we do it’s on my iPhone, but I’m running out of room so I’m looking for either an iPod or something else as an alternative. I don’t have a cd drive on my computer, a MacBook Air, so can’t listen to them much less burn them.

    Often I listen to the Divine Office podcast on my iPhone, just the perfect length for the trip to the grocery store. The Greek Myths podcast would be for longer trips like a drive into Boston. Audio books and podcasts of that kind I put it on the iPad that we use for school. It has a lot of room, but is a bit bulky to carry around.

  • Melanie—as a UD alum, I am so jealous that Bella has internalized the Odyssey.  I remember travelling to Scranton from DC several years ago and getting caught in a massive traffic jam—the chickadees were about 6 and 3 at the time.  I entertained them by retelling the Odyssey from memory (doing a pretty poor job, I think), but they were screaming for more. I finished the story just as we took the exit for my mother-in-law’s street. It was very gratifying.  This summer, we are supposed to be doing Gilgamesh, but I’ve let it lapse while we are entrenched in swim team madness for the nonce.

  • Oooh Gilgamesh is cool. Can you find an audiobook version to listen to in the car on the way to swim meets and practices?

    You know we are such laid back homeschoolers. We have weeks when we’re so busy not much “school” gets done. But learning takes place nevertheless.