dimanche, juillet 31, 2005

life in the 'hood

7:14 p.m. Friday, while driving home from the gym: Seeing a mid-90's Thunderbird, painted in a purplish shade of magenta glittery carnie paint with huge flecks, with CA license plate "PYT 01".

9:05 p.m Friday: Hearing a very agitated Mexican woman screaming at the top of her lungs in Spanish at her son in the alley behind my condo.

9:25 p.m. Friday while going out to my car: Seeing said woman, hitting her son (who towered over her) and stood between her and his pregnant puta girlfriend, keeping his mom from going after her. Gratuitous detail: Mama had crazy-ass blonde hair, a raggedy t-shirt with the word "Budweiser" on the back, and a very foul mouth.

9:30 p.m. Friday, while driving to Harry's: Seeing a group of little girls dressed in grass skirts, plumeria headbands, and tank tops practicing hula dancing in a carport.

10:55 a.m. Saturday, while at Harry's: Seeing a woman walking down the street in her pajamas and a huge towel turban.

11:03 p.m. Sunday, while blogging: Hearing some serious gangsta rap, alternately criticizing and (presumably) praising bitches, hos, and other members of my gender.

irony is wasted on the stupid

A love of irony + a gratuitous slam at our president and Alanis Morissette = this post, courtesy of h2g2.

Irony is a much-misunderstood form of humour. It is somewhat culture-specific, being more prevalent where wordplay is common (notably in the UK, where the pun has been raised to an art form), so many people fail to 'get' irony, while others apply the term incorrectly. It is a technique beloved of satirists, and one which is hard to master (there is always the danger of slipping into overt sarcasm which is, as has been observed, the lowest form of wit).

Irony is
  • The humorous (or mildly sarcastic) use of words to imply something different from, and often opposite to, their literal meaning.
  • An expression marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning, usually to draw attention to some incongruity1 or irrationality.
  • A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect.
  • Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs, or an occurrence or circumstance notable for such incongruity.
Some examples
  • An ironic statement might be, 'I enjoy avant-garde music - chords are so passé.' Note, though, that this could equally be taken as either sarcastic or hopelessly pretentious depending on the tone in which it is delivered, and the audience. So irony lies somewhere on a line with plain old-fashioned humour at one end, and outright sarcasm at the other.
  • Irony can also be unconscious. It is unlikely that George W. Bush was being intentionally ironic when he said that he would not recognise the result of the Zimbabwean presidential election, since the process had been 'flawed'.
Irony is not
Irony can be humorous, but most humour is not ironic. Some informative examples of what irony is not come, ironically, from the
Alanis Morissette song 'Ironic'. Here are a few.
  • An old man turned 98/He won the lottery and died the next day - Tragedy, not irony.
  • It's a black fly in your chardonnay - Bummer but not ironic (although there is arguably some irony in the fly being black, however this does at least mean you don't ingest it with the drink).
  • It's a death row pardon two minutes too late - Not irony, just another example of why the death penalty is fatally flawed.
  • It's like rain on your wedding day - Not even close, unless you've gone from Manchester to Hawaii for your wedding and get the first rain in August for 30 years, while Manchester experiences glorious sunshine, and how likely is that?
  • A traffic jam when you're already late - certainly fails the 'unexpected' criterion.
  • A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break - more of a life-saver than an irony, that.
  • It's like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife - Not unless you are in the Acme Knife Factory being approached by a mad axeman and reach behind you for a weapon, only to find that you're in the newly-opened spoon department.
Via Diana

tragically hip

Apparently, women with big hips - with fat on them - live longer.

Curvy women are more likely to live longer than their slimmer counterparts
Institute of Preventative Medicine in Copenhagen researchers found those with wider hips also appeared to be protected against heart conditions.

Women with a hip measurement smaller than 40 inches, or a size 14 would not have this protection, they said.

The researchers say hip fat contains a beneficial natural anti-inflammatory.
Via Baglady

samedi, juillet 30, 2005

chasing away the predators

Speech originally given on July 28, 2005
Award: Best speaker

I ran across a thought-provoking quote a few months ago:
Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.
-Haile Selassie, 1892-1975, Emperor of Ethiopia
In short,
  • What I do matters.
  • What you do matters.
  • Every single one of us has the power and the responsibility to make a difference.
I was still reflecting on these ideas when I read an amazing story on CNN's Web site.

lions saved her
Ethiopian police say that three lions rescued a 12-year-old girl kidnapped by men who wanted to force her into marriage. The lions chased off her abductors and guarded her until police and relatives tracked her down in a remote corner of Ethiopia.

The men had held the girl for seven days, repeatedly beating her, before the lions chased them away and guarded her for half a day before her family and police found her.

"They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest," Sgt. Wondimu Wedajo said, adding he did not know whether the lions were male or female.

"If the lions had not come to her rescue then it could have been much worse. Often these young girls are raped and severely beaten to force them to accept the marriage," he said.

"Everyone ... thinks this is some kind of miracle, because normally the lions would attack people," Wondimu said.

Stuart Williams, a wildlife expert with the rural development ministry, said that it was likely that the young girl was saved because she was crying from the trauma of her attack.

"A young girl whimpering could be mistaken for the mewing sound from a lion cub, which in turn could explain why they (the lions) didn't eat her," "Otherwise they probably would have."

The girl, the youngest of four brothers and sisters, was "shocked and terrified" and had to be treated for the cuts from her beatings.

Police have caught four of the men, but were still looking for three others.

The United Nations estimates that more than 70 percent of marriages in Ethiopia are by abduction, practiced in rural areas where the majority of the country's 71 million people live.

the real predators
This story fascinates me, because in the end, it was the lions that chased away the real predators.

I told you this story, not so that you would judge the Ethiopian people for having a marriage custom that is so violent, but to urge you to consider whether you would subject your own daughters, sisters, or nieces to a similar fate.

But this is America, right? We don't let men kidnap girls and then marry them, do we ?

The fact is, we don't even have to look beyond our own borders to find stories of young girls who are forced into marriage. Yesterday's CNN home page included the story of a 22-year-old Nebraska man who is facing criminal charges for kidnapping a 13-year-old girl and having sex with her. The twist: she is now his legal wife at 14 years of age. But before he legally married her in Kansas, he did two other things:
  1. He got her pregnant.
  2. He got her family's permission to marry her.
choices
The fact is, I'm lucky to have been born in the time, place, and family that I was. We live in a country where women have an active role in the Senate, House of Representatives, and Supreme Court. Our nation's cultural, political, and social values give me choices that many women can never even dream of. And my parents' own values encouraged me to seek education and to be an independent woman before I even considered marriage or family. All of these things contribute to my worldview and my belief that forcing a young girl into marriage is completely unacceptable.

I am outraged when I read these types of stories in the media. I'm wary of imposing my values on the rest of the world and ask myself where we should draw the line, both in our own country and outside our borders. But I keep coming back to my belief that there are universal values that transcend nationalities, religion, and culture.

universal rights
The United Nations documented these universal values, immediately following the atrocities of World War II. The UN chose to pursue this monumental effort, largely at the prompting of one woman, an American named Eleanor Roosevelt.

She argued that universal human rights begin "in small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world ... Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."

The result is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a beautiful declaration of the rights of all men and women, which includes 30 articles, outlining the fundamental rights of humanity. Here are a few:
  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
  • No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.
  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • Everyone charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; and the right to freedom of opinion and expression
  • Everyone has the right to education.
  • Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  • Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
Eleanor Roosevelt understood her duty to the community. She was the most influential member of the UN's Commission on Human Rights and unlike most of the other members, Mrs. Roosevelt was neither a scholar nor an expert on international law. She was, however, enthusiastic and principled. Above all, she had strong humanitarian convictions and a steady faith in human dignity and worth.

With characteristic modesty, Eleanor Roosevelt considered her position on the Commission to be one of ambassador for the common man and woman.

The delegates to the Commission on Human Rights elected Eleanor Roosevelt their Chairperson. The delegates recognized her unparalleled humanitarian convictions. She was widely esteemed as a person who both understood and felt the plight of the common man and woman. She had a keen sense of what the average person expected out of life - what men, women and children needed to flourish as individuals.

Eleanor Roosevelt's concern for humanity made her the driving force behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She was a modest woman who passionately pursued what she imagined would become a cornerstone in the struggle for human rights and fundamental freedoms for everyone - everywhere.

She lived her life in the center the Twentieth Century's most important events: the Great Depression, World War II, the establishment of the United Nations and the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

She confronted both opportunity and adversity with a sense of optimism and determination.

what you can do
Heed Eleanor’s example and consider what you can do to help the status of women. I've provided a list of three things you can consider that will help women in our community, in the U.S., and around the world:
  1. Donate your old cell phone to the Body Shop by August 31.
  2. Help end violence against American women: Sign the 700women.org petition today.
  3. Help end violence against women worldwide: Sign the CEDAW petition today.
For those who are skeptical about whether signing a petition to pass yet another treaty can really have an impact, consider this:

The men who kidnapped the girl in Ethiopia were arrested and are currently awaiting trial because of the CEDAW treaty. Ethiopia is a signatory to the treaty and, as a result, recently enacted a law that that prosecutes those who use kidnapping as a means to marriage. The law went into effect on May 9, 2005 this year, the same month that the girl was abducted.

What I do matters.
What you do matters.
And every single one of us has the power and responsibility to make a difference.
Will you do your part to chase away the predators?


-------------------
Handout that accompanied the speech

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.
-Haile Selassie, 1892-1975, Emperor of Ethiopia
The Body Shop National Cell Phone Collection
Support the fight to stop family violence. The Body Shop National Cell Phone Collection will sell, refurbish, or recycle donated phones. The proceeds benefit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) and the Wireless Foundation.

Additionally, the Body Shop will donate nearly 1,500 wireless phones to domestic violence shelter partners. These wireless phones will be distributed to victims of domestic violence within our community.

Wireless phones can be dropped off at any of The Body Shop stores through August 31, 2005


The "700 Women" Campaign
Every day in the U.S., 700 women are raped or assaulted by their partners, and an average of four women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.

Join hundreds of thousands of women and men across the country in making sure that the Violence Against Women Act is reauthorized by Congress before it expires in September, 2005.

Urge your Congresswoman/ Congressman to renew the Violence Against Women Act.


Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) establishes a minimum set of standards for combating discrimination against women.

The treaty has been ratified by over 169 countries. The United States is one of the very few countries in the world that has not yet ratified it, making it easier for repressive governments to easily discount the treaty's provisions.

Urge your Senators to pass this important treaty.

seeking comfort with a vengeance

Here's my astro-profile (Taurus), according to swoon.com.

Stubbornness and stability are double-edged swords, since clinging to the familiar cuts both ways. Your devotion to the notion of classic love makes you among the most romantic members of the zodiac. Your tastes run toward meaningful, erotic relationships as opposed to fast, filthy fixes. Your marathon practicality pervades professional and personal realms, as you doggedly nurture goals to their conclusions. Your process is to prepare plans and proceed methodically from start to finish. You're anything but a quitter. The downside is that you're disinclined to cut your losses. Clearly, you'd rather fight than switch. The problems that stem from your need to control your environment, yourself and others are the price you're willing to pay to drive your destiny. You seek comfort with a vengeance in your work ethic, possessions, financial security and efficiency. Sometimes you unduly sacrifice pleasure for business. But your sense of humor, generosity and sincerity can be illuminated by the sunshine of someone who accepts you as you are and is willing to play conformer to your reformer.

vendredi, juillet 29, 2005

a personal milestone

Two years ago today, I got the worst news of my life.

In short, a specialist told me that I had kidney cancer, but that it hadn't breached Gerota's fascia or invaded my lymph nodes yet. My mind reeling, I asked him for a brochure or pamphlet on my condition. He told me that I struck him as pretty intelligent and then offered me a urology textbook to read for more information on renal cell carcinoma. Welcome to my HMO.

I was lucky. My diagnosis was T1N0M0, which means that I was stage 1: My tumor was about 2.3 cm by 4 cm, with no metastasis and no lymph node involvement. I was also informed that the 5-year survival rate for people with clear cell carcinoma and my staging ranges from 60-98%.

Anyhow, as I said to Harry last night, I've changed my life in so many ways since then. My life today is completely different than it was on July 29, 2003. And no amount of money would be enough to go back to the way things were then.
CT scan and cell cytology images via emedicine.com and pathguy.com

fare thee well

Today is a dark day.

That's because Jeff Wilson, the smartest (and the coolest) guy in Development, is leaving us to go get a Ph.D. in renaissance british literature and critical theory at UC Irvine.

Honestly, the nerve of some people.

Seriously, I wish him the best of luck as he tackles Milton and Shakespeare. And with making ends meet in Stepford the OC on a Chancellor's Fellowship.

jeudi, juillet 28, 2005

say g-wot?

I was reading Slate today and learned that instead of fighting a "Global War On Terror," we're now waging the "Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism."
The Bush administration is retooling its slogan for the fight against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, pushing the idea that the long-term struggle is as much an ideological battle as a military mission, senior administration and military officials said Monday.
Terror attacks, Taliban resurgence, suicide bombs—obviously, it's time to change the slogan.
Three subquestions arise just from the lead. First, this is the administration's solution to the spike in terrorist incidents, the Taliban's resurgence in Afghanistan, and the politico-military deterioration in Iraq—to retool the slogan?

Second, the White House and the Pentagon are just now coming around to the idea that the struggle is as much ideological as military? This wasn't obvious, say, three or four years ago?

Apparently not. Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, the Times reporters who co-authored the article, note:

Administration and Pentagon officials say the revamped campaign has grown out of meetings of President Bush's senior national security advisers that began in January, and it reflects the evolution in Mr. Bush's own thinking nearly four years after the Sept. 11 attacks. [Italics added.]

It took four years for the president of the United States to realize that fighting terrorism has a political component? It took six months for his senior advisers to retool a slogan? We are witnessing that rare occasion when the phrase "I don't know whether to laugh or cry" can be uttered without lapsing into cliché.

But the shallowness gets deeper still. The Times story doesn't notice what appears to be the driving force behind the new slogan—a desire for a happier acronym.

turd blossom, part deux

A glossary of all the president's nicknames for politicos.

Slate's contest to pick a Dubya nickname for John Roberts.
Via Rick

mercredi, juillet 27, 2005

hey turd blossom!


(Yesterday's Doonesbury: click image for larger version)


(Today's Doonesbury: click image for larger version)

As one of my friends put it, it's interesting that "overseas, they get to read about this in the mainstream media and we can't even read it in a comic strip ..."

Newspapers pull 'Doonesbury' over Rove moniker
It may be President Bush's nickname for key political adviser Karl Rove, but some editors don't think it belongs in their newspapers.

About a dozen papers objected to Tuesday's and Wednesday's "Doonesbury" comic strips, and some either pulled or edited them.

The strips refer to Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff, as "Turd Blossom."

The term is said to be one of several nicknames Bush uses for Rove, one of his closest allies and who is widely credited for Bush's election in 2000 and re-election in 2004. The mainstream U.S. media have rarely mentioned the nickname, but it has gained traction in the international press and on the Internet.

Via Allison, CNN, and the Doonesbury archive.

dooced again

Sandra just sent me a note on a prominent blogger who got dooced.

As it turns out, there are beauty editor openings at both Ladies Home Journal and Seventeen this morning. Nadine Habosh, until late an associate beauty editor at LHJ and the notorious blogger Jolie in NYC, gave notice at her job just before being fired when her blogging identity was discovered. (She had used her blog to talk out of school about her fellow editors.) For that reason, Seventeen--where Habosh was headed--rescinded its offer to her.
Via mediabistro.com

mardi, juillet 26, 2005

confessions of the cluelessly aloof

Brax's confession spawned this post ... but I probably wouldn't have even noticed.
Every now and then I will check out a girl I'm not attracted to. I do it because I remember what it felt like to think that no one would want to look at me. I hope it makes them appreciate themselves.
While waiting for our movie to begin on Sunday, Harry told me that a guy checked me out on the way into the theatre. I had missed it completely. My cluelessness is genuine — I'm wretchedly oblivious to the fact that someone might be taking an interest in me.

Corollary: I've been told that I'm very aloof in clubs, and that I have crappy eye contact in the same situations. In short, I give the object of my attention very little with which to work.

lundi, juillet 25, 2005

my shoulder, my psyche

Call it psychic dandruff.

I ran into someone yesterday who was the source of much drama and angst a few years ago. She was very complimentary and uncharacteristically pleasant.

I made small talk and came away from the encounter honestly amused that she's keeping up on my life (unprompted, she told me about my condo). I'll also admit to enjoying her visible surprise when I left the table to go on a date with someone else whom she knows.

What's that quote? "Living well is the best revenge." It seems that the universe has sorted things out nicely for both of us. And it's a lovely feeling to brush her off my shoulder like so much debris from my past.

dimanche, juillet 24, 2005

félicitations, lance

Armstrong wins last Tour
‘Vive le Tour, forever,’ emotional U.S. cyclist as he retires on top
PARIS - One last time, “The Star-Spangled Banner” rang out over the Champs-Elysees in honor of Lance Armstrong.

One last time, on the podium against the backdrop of the Arc de Triomphe, the cancer survivor who became the greatest cyclist in Tour de France history slipped into the leader’s yellow jersey Sunday. This time, it was the winner’s jersey, for an unprecedented seventh consecutive year in the world’s most grueling race.

Lance Armstrong holds the winner's trophy after winning his seventh straight Tour de France on Sunday. Armstrong credited Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and Andre Agassi as personal inspirations.

Final Standings
1. Lance Armstrong U.S. 86:15:02
2. Ivan Basso Italy +4:40
3. Jan Ullrich Germany +6:21
4. Francisco Mancebo Spain +9:59
5. Alexandre Vinokourov Kazakhstan +11.01

vendredi, juillet 22, 2005

je pédale dans la choucroute

I love food. I love the French language. And I especially love idioms. Here's a posting that combines all three passions ...

My friend Diana posted a great LA Times article about French food idioms, which I'm shamelessly lifting and posting here. I knew appuie sur le champignon, but most of the others are new to me, hence the title of this posting.

Oh, and the tagline for my blog, j'ai du pain sur la planche, should also be explained here, as it is a food-related idiom that literally means "I have bread on the board," but really means "I have a lot on my plate."

Given how serious the French are about food, using food as metaphors for life makes perfect sense. Their love for food is equal only to their love for slang, and French slang, to an amazing degree, is food related. In short, the French obsession with food is embedded in the language.

Here are the straightforward ones:
Good like good bread (Bon comme du bon pain)
Skinny as a string bean (maigre comme un haricot)
Make some dough (faire du blé): Earn some money




Look at that quarter-wheel of Brie (Regardez ce quart de Brie): Look at that person's huge nose.

Some serious sorrel (de l'oseille): Plenty of money.

I could eat a parish priest rubbed with garlic (Je pourrais manger un curé frotté d'ail): I could eat a horse.

Oh, mashed potatoes! (Oh purée!): Darn it!

I can eat my soup on your head (Je peux manger ma soupe sur ta tête): I'm a head taller than you.

Zucchini (courgette): Head.

Coffeepot (cafetière): Head.

She's working from her coffeepot (Elle travaille de la cafetière): She's a bit out of it.

Worry about your own onions (Occupe-toi de tes oignons): Mind your own business.

Onions (oignons): Buttocks.

Make fried marlin eyes (Faire des yeux de merlans frits): Make goo-goo eyes.

Your rear end is surrounded by noodles (Tu as le cul bordé de nouilles): You're extremely lucky.

Go ahead, tall unhooker of sausages! (Va donc, grand dépendeur d'andouilles!): Go ahead, you big lug! (The guy who unhooks the andouilles from the ceiling must be very tall and not very smart.)

You're turning my blood into blood sausage (Tu me fais tourner le sang en boudin): You're worrying me.

To have two eggs on the plate (avoir deux oeufs sur le plat): To be flat-chested.

She has the banana (Elle a la banane): She's got a big smile.

That puts the butter in the spinach (Ça met du beurre dans les épinards): That's icing on the cake.

You want the butter and the money of the butter (Tu veux le beurre et l'argent du beurre): You can't have your cake and eat it too.

He's sugaring his strawberries (Il sucre les fraises): He's old and senile, one foot in the grave.

Fall in the apples (tomber dans les pommes): To faint.

To be a cooking oil (être une huile): To be high-ranked, a big cheese.

Land a peach (mettre une pêche): Punch someone in the face.

Ears like cauliflowers (des oreilles en chou-fleur): Big ears.

Make some salads (faire des salades): Tell tales out of school.

A veal (un veau): A sluggish car.

Push on the mushroom (Appuie sur le champignon): Step on the gas.

Make a total cheese (en faire tout un fromage): Make a big deal out of something.

She pedals in the sauerkraut (Elle pédale dans la choucroute): She doesn't understand diddly squat.

A noodle (une nouille): An idiot.

Right in the pear (en pleine poire): Right in the face.

Make the leek (faire le poireau/poireauter): Wait impatiently for someone.

Send the sauce (envoyez la sauce): Make an effort.

He has some brioche (Il a de la brioche): He has a potbelly.

She has the heart of an artichoke, she has an artichoke heart (Elle a le coeur d'artichaut): She's sentimental.

A big asparagus (grande asperge): A tall person.

Spitting in the soup (cracher dans la soupe): Being overly critical or ungrateful.

Send a chestnut (envoyer un marron): Punch someone in the face.

That's turning to vinegar (Ça tourne au vinaigre): The situation's out of hand/going badly.

He's not in his plate (Il n'est pas dans son assiette): He's not himself.

The carrots are cooked (Les carottes sont cuites): It's too late to do anything about it.

The end of the string beans (la fin des haricots): The biggest deal possible, in a catastrophic way.

jeudi, juillet 21, 2005

aamuleipä

I learned a new word recently: aamuleipä.

It also happens to be the name of a fun blog I discovered a few weeks back.

march of the penguins

Although the title conjures visions of Hoth and the Imperial Storm Trooper music, I can't wait to see March of the Penguins.

penguin lust lives

penguin lustI grew up reading Bloom County and always loved Opus and the penguin lust storyline. Imagine my joy at discovering that there's some real penguin lust afoot. Zurita is a homewrecking penguin. Her tale includes catfights, seduction, and reaping the wild wind.

The sordid tale of a desperate penguin: This widow stole her neighbors' husbands, fell into the flippers of a younger male, and now is winging it as a single mom.

First she thoroughly breached all sense of propriety among her penguin peers by stealing spouses, brawling with another female and seducing an uninitiated adolescent male.

Now, separated from the rest of the Brookfield Zoo colony, Zurita has likely become the world's first successful single-parent penguin, raising a chick fathered by a much younger companion who can't be bothered to help out ...

Zurita began looking for love in the wrong places, by soliciting males already spoken for.

When she approached a male named Popero, his mate, Bumblebee, confronted Zurita in a violent tussle.

Penguins have sharp beaks and a strong bite, and the two females went after each other's faces, trying to cut each other and pounding away with their powerful wing flippers ...

"Penguins are very social animals, so we couldn't leave Zurita alone," McGill said. Instead, they brought in a year-old male, Gazpacho, to keep her company ...

As she began incubation, she at times left the eggs, Broniewicz said, as though inviting Gazpacho to take a turn sitting on them. Whenever she stood up, however, he expressed interest only in making whoopee.

"He liked the first part of making babies but was far less interested in the second part of tending to the eggs and the hatched chicks," McGill said.

Zurita ended up sitting on the eggs for the entire 42-day incubation, fed by the keepers and rising only momentarily to stretch and get a drink of water.

Keepers knew Zurita could not physically care for two hatched chicks alone, raising the specter that neither would survive. So they removed the second egg.

Sure enough, when the remaining egg hatched, Gazpacho again ignored his duty.

"He is the youngest male on record in any zoo anywhere to have successfully fertilized an egg," Broniewicz said, "but he is just too immature to take up real parenting duties.

"He had free access to Zurita and the chick, but most of the time he wanted to be off playing with his friends, the other juveniles in the colony," stopping off at the nest only to see if Zurita was in a mating mood.
Via Gnostical Turpitude

harry potter is a capitalist pig

Given the way the latest Harry Potter book is flying off the shelves, I thought it time to resurrect this amusing op-ed piece that first appeared in Le Monde last summer. It's worth noting that the article is by French theorist Ilias Yocaris.

Harry Potter is a capitalist pig
PARIS, Saturday, July 24, 2004 - The success of the Harry Potter series has provoked a lively discussion among French literary theorists about the novels' underlying message and the structure of Harry's school, Poudlard (Hogwarts). This article, which appeared last month in the French daily Le Monde, got particular attention, including an essay published in response arguing that Harry is an antiglobalist crusader.

With the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling has enchanted the world: the reader is drawn into a magical universe of flying cars, spells that make its victims spew slugs, trees that give blows, books that bite, elf servants and portraits that argue.

On the face of it, the world of Harry Potter has nothing in common with our own. Nothing at all, except one detail: like ours, the fantastic universe of Harry Potter is a capitalist universe.

Hogwarts is a private sorcery school, and its director constantly has to battle against the state as represented, essentially, by the inept minister of magic, Cornelius Fudge, the ridiculous bureaucrat Percy Weasley, and the odious inspector Dolores Umbridge.

The apprentice sorcerers are also consumers who dream of acquiring all sorts of high-tech magical objects, including high-performance wands or the latest brand-name flying brooms, manufactured by multinational corporations.

Hogwarts, then, is not only a school, but also a market: subject to an incessant advertising onslaught, the students are never as happy as when they can spend their money in the boutiques near the school. There is all sorts of bartering between students, and the author heavily emphasizes the possibility of social success for young people who enrich themselves thanks to trade in magical products.

The tableau is completed by the ritual complaints about the rigidity and incompetence of bureaucrats. Their mediocrity is starkly contrasted with the inventiveness and audacity of some entrepreneurs, whom Rowling never ceases to praise. For example, Bill Weasley, who works for the goblin bank Gringotts, is presented as the opposite of his brother, Percy the bureaucrat. The first is young, dynamic and creative, and wears clothes that "would not have looked out of place at a rock concert"; the second is unintelligent, obtuse, limited and devoted to state regulation, his career's masterpiece being a report on the standards for the thicknesses of cauldrons.

We have, then, an invasion of neoliberal stereotypes in a fairy tale. The fictional universe of Harry Potter offers a caricature of the excesses of the Anglo-Saxon social model: under a veneer of regimentation and traditional rituals, Hogwarts is a pitiless jungle where competition, violence and the cult of winning run riot.

The psychological conditioning of the apprentice sorcerers is clearly based on a culture of confrontation: competition among students to be prefect; competition among Hogwarts "houses" to gain points; competition among sorcery schools to win the Triwizard tournament; and, ultimately, the bloody competition between the forces of Good and Evil.

This permanent state of war ends up redefining the role of institutions: faced with ever-more violent conflicts, they are no longer able to protect individuals against the menaces that they face everywhere. The Minister of Magic fails pitifully in his combat against Evil, and the regulatory constraints of school life hinder Harry and his friends in defending themselves against the attacks and provocations that they constantly encounter. The apprentice sorcerers are thus alone in their struggle to survive in a hostile milieu, and the weaker, like Harry's schoolmate Cedric Diggory, are inexorably eliminated.

These circumstances influence the education given the young students of Hogwarts. The only disciplines that matter are those that can give students an immediately exploitable practical knowledge that can help them in their battle to survive.

That's not astonishing, considering how this prestigious school aims to form, above all, graduates who can compete in the job market and fight against Evil. Artistic subjects are thus absent from Hogwarts's curriculum, and the teaching of social sciences is considered of little value: the students have only some tedious courses of history. It's very revealing that Harry finds them "as boring as Percy's cauldron-bottom report." In other words, in the cultural universe of Harry Potter, social sciences are as useless and obsolete as state regulation.

Harry Potter, probably unintentionally, thus appears as a summary of the social and educational aims of neoliberal capitalism. Like Orwellian totalitarianism, this capitalism tries to fashion not only the real world, but also the imaginations of consumer-citizens.

The underlying message to young fans is this: You can imagine as many fictional worlds, parallel universes or educational systems as you want, but they will still all be regulated by the laws of the market. Given the success of the Harry Potter series, several generations of young people will be indelibly marked by this lesson.

Ilias Yocaris is a professor of literary theory and French literature at the University Institute of Teacher Training in Nice. This article was translated from the French.

mercredi, juillet 20, 2005

giant teapot cult

This headline made me do a double-take today: Malaysia arrests dozens who follow cult built around giant teapot.

Malaysian authorities on Wednesday arrested 58 followers of a bizarre cult built around a giant teapot, two days after the sect’s headquarters was torched.

The official Bernama news agency said those arrested were aged between 20 and 60 years and included a New Zealand woman.

Cult leader, Ayah Pin, was not among those arrested and was believed to have gone into hiding after about 30-35 assailants armed with machetes and Molotov cocktails attacked the commune on Monday, torching a car and the roof of a building and scorching the giant teapot itself.

Police have detained a 65-year-old man over the attack.

The sect, which believes the teapot has healing properties, is in Malaysia’s northeast, a devoutly Muslim area that has suddenly lost patience with the cult, headed by the man who says he is God and owner of everything, his "Sky Kingdom."

State religious authorities have outlawed the teapot sect as a deviant cult.

Islam is the state religion in this Muslim-majority country. Malaysia also tolerates followers of other major religions, including Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism.

why i'll never live in phoenix

Blistering heat wave kills 12 18 in Phoenix: Donations of ice, water bottles requested for those lacking air conditioning.

A blistering heat wave is being blamed for the deaths of 1218 people in Phoenix, prompting officials to ask for donations of ice and water bottles for those sweltering without air conditioning.

From Saturday to Tuesday, Phoenix police reported a dozen people had died of apparent heat-related illnesses. Ten were homeless; the other two were elderly women, including one whose home cooling system wasn’t on.

the voynich manuscript

In 1912, the antiquarian book dealer Wilfrid M. Voynich bought a number of medieval manuscripts from an undisclosed location in Europe. Among these was an illustrated manuscript codex of 234 pages, written in an unknown script.

Voynich took the manuscript to the United States and started a campaign to have it deciphered. Now, almost 100 years later, the Voynich manuscript still stands as probably the most elusive puzzle in the world of cryptography. Not a single word of this 'Most Mysterious Manuscript', written probably in the second half of the 15th Century, can be understood.
Via Harry

mardi, juillet 19, 2005

zealots and kamikazes

"The purpose of a suicide attack is not so much to die as it is to kill."
-Robert Pape, author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism

There was a great story on NPR this morning about the origins of suicide terrorism as a way to send a message to an occupying power:
  • In the first century C.E., Jewish Zealots and Sicarii would target a Roman soldier in a square and slit his throat, knowing that his fellow soldiers would immediately kill the assassin.
  • In the eleventh and twelfth century, the Ismaili would assassinate a sultan and leave a note stating "there will be further attacks unless you leave our community alone."
  • During World War II, the Japanese realized that the island-hopping Americans were rapidly closing in on them in October 1944. Their response was to use kamikaze pilots to send a message. By not saving enough fuel to return to base, the kamikaze increased the number of ships damaged or sunk by four and five-fold.
While experimenting with suicide bombing in the 1980s, Hezbolah (in their fourth foray into the technique) brought down the Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Marines. That led then-President Reagan to withdraw all American forces from Lebanon, and to virtually abandon the country politically and economically. That success is still cited by Hamas and Al Qaeda as the prime example of why suicide bombing is the weapon of choice in their war against the West.

    quotable

    "I can’t say enough good things about it [France]. I genuinely love this country, the culture, the history. I don’t know what else I can do ... of course, four or five people a day seem to know it all and have a lot of nasty things to say. But ultimately, I think we have a fine relationship."
    -Lance Armstrong, 1971- , American cyclist and cancer survivor

    lundi, juillet 18, 2005

    letter from london

    Turk's European odyssey continues.
    Returning to Paris this afternoon after a fantastic weekend in London.

    Jean has been (as usual) the perfect hostess, with a rich itinerary and tireless energy. From the time I arrived Saturday morning until we finally crashed last night, it has been a non-stop London culture class. We started with a travel card so I could jump on any bus, tube or train and go anywhere anytime, then went to the Borough Market, which is a huge open-air gourmet food festival held every Saturday. We had enough free samples of everything to satisfy our lunch needs, then dessert and coffee before hitting the Bok Bar, a South African sports hangout for a televised rugby match and a pint. Walking along the Thames, we came to the newly created Memorial Park for the victims of the 07/07 bombings. It was very silent and sad with enormous blankets of flowers sent to "The People of London and the Families of the Victims" from "The Republic of Jamaica", or "The Consulate of Bangladesh", etc... Everywhere we go in the tube or on the train, we see an incredible police presence.

    After dinner at an Indian restaurant we went to a party for a girl leaving for Oz and the entire party (25 or so) went out to a club til whenever it was we left.

    Sunday we bused and tubed to Hampstead Heath, a several hundred acres estate of mostly dense woods with several open heaths (meadows) and ponds. The manor of the estate is the Kenwood house, which appeared after a walk of a few kilometres. It has an amazing collection of art; Vermeer, Hals, Rembrandt, Turner, Constable, Reynolds, Gainsborough and is freeee! We picnikked on the grounds before walking back to browse the Camden Town Market, which is a crush of people from all over the world selling (and selling hard) everything from clothing, food and jewelry, to things they can only whisper about. Indian food for dinner (again) before going out for Quiz Night at the pub. Tea and Crumpets for brekkie, now I'm off to the National Academy for an Impressionist exhibit before I catch the Eurostar to Paris Gare Nord.

    All my best, and I'll be back to the colonies in a week.

    samedi, juillet 16, 2005

    quotable

    "Love isn't something you feel, it's something you do. And if the person you're with doesn't want it, do yourself a favor and save it for someone that does."
    -Nate Fisher's character on Six Feet Under Episode 57: "The Rainbow of Her Reasons," written by Jill Soloway.

    vendredi, juillet 15, 2005

    maxfield parrish at sdmart

    Marta mentioned that she wants to see Maxfield Parrish, Master of Make-Believe at SD Museum of Art. Wanna join us?

    This summer, museum visitors will be treated to more than 80 works of superlative design and beauty by one of America's favorite artists, Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966). The nationally touring exhibition titled Maxfield Parrish, Master of Make-Believe, presents many of the master illustrator's most recognizable art works, including his popular calendar and book illustrations, his signature classicized paintings, and the mural he painted for the Long Island studio of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. Exhibition Ticketing Lecture Series

    jeudi, juillet 14, 2005

    rove must go

    Fact: Karl Rove leaked the name of an undercover CIA agent (Valerie Plame) to the press. Not only is this a felony, but it was done as an act of revenge against a critic of Bush's war in Iraq.

    Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson called on President Bush on Thursday to fire deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, saying Bush’s top-level aide engaged in an “abuse of power” by discussing Wilson’s wife’s job with a reporter.

    Wilson decried what he called a White House “stonewall” in the wake of revelations that Rove, a longtime Bush confidant, was involved in the leak to the news media that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA officer.

    Bush said Wednesday that he would not comment on discussions that blew her cover because it is the subject of an ongoing investigation by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, however, the president still has confidence in Rove.


    Via Diana

    kettner nights

    It looks like there will be an interesting exhibit at Kettner Nights tomorrow: "The Art of Surf," images by Ramón C Purcell at Chrome (2345 Kettner Blvd).

    Kettner Nights is an open house of art, shopping and socializing held the first Friday of every other month with complimentary cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Explore Little Italy's emerging Kettner Art & Design District (KADD), an artsy few blocks [Kettner from India Street and Date Street] home to unique shops and gallery spaces.

    The Kettner Nights schedule for 2005: March 4, April 22, June 3, July 15, Sept. 9, and Nov. 11

    how to commemorate a revolution

    From the mouth of my colleague Suzi Sterling this morning:

    "It's Bastille Day. Shouldn't we be storming something? ... How about $tarbucks?"

    vive la france

    It's Bastille Day (le 14 juillet) and that got me thinking about my time in Paris last summer. As I re-read these letters from France, I realized just how different my world is today from only a year ago.

    ----------------------
    Sent: Mon, 28 Jun 2004 03:07:35 -0700 (PDT)
    Subject: Je suis arrivée à Paris

    Bonjour mes amies,
    I'm in gay Paree for the next 27 days and loving every minute. Yesterday, I wandered in the Marais and got to know my neighborhood better. I took lots of pictures and sat in the Place des Voges and wrote in my journal, while hundreds of Parisians sunbathed or had a picnic. The pace of life is very different and it's hard to get to bed before 11, because it's daylight here until 10 p.m.

    My classmates are great and several of us are planning to see Farenheit 9/11 when it opens here next week. I think seeing that movie in the company of French will be a very memorable experience. : )

    Anyhow, I'll be home after July 25, with lots of photos and (hopefully) a much-improved vocabulary.
    A bientôt!
    ---------------------------
    Sent: Sunday, July 11, 2004 9:22 AM
    Subject: greetings from Paris, part deux

    Chèrs amis,
    Paris continues to be an amazing experience.

    We spent the last three days in the Loire Valley, visiting various châteaux (Blois, Chenonceau, Amboise, and Chambord) and generally living it it up in the French way. Our first stop on the way there was Chartres cathedral, which was neat to see again, and then the Tour de France whizzed through town. I didn't see Lance in the yellow jersey, but felt like a part of something big anyhow. Then, we piled on the bus and went wine tasting and liquer tasting, slept in a château in the middle of nowhere, ate fabulous meals, and took beaucoup de pictures in the idyllic French countryside in fields full of sunflowers and wheat. After experiencing the French countryside, I feel that I finally understand the beauty that moved the Impressionists, because I've seen it with my own eyes.

    We also went to Amboise and visited Leonardo daVinci's house at Clos Luce. It was amazing to see this man's genius in action: they had built the machines in his notebooks and scattered them, along with reproductions of his art, in the gardens. And speaking of Leo and his notebooks, they had the Codex of Leicester on loan from Bill Gates at Chambord. Seeing those drawings and his mirror-image handwriting was the highlight of my time in the Loire.

    Today, I went for a walk in Paris with my roommate Laura and we visited Monet's paintings in the Marmottan before heading to the Promenade plantée -- a beautiful two-mile walk along a converted rail line that's elevated above the city and planted with so many beautiful flowers. We ambled along, photographing and enjoying the light rain for several hours.

    This Tuesday, I'm heading to what is billed as the party of the year -- the fête des pompiers, where the firehouse for each arrondisement has an open house / party / fundraiser. Then, the next morning we'll wake up, pack a picnic basket and head to the Bastille Day parade and subsequent celebrations at the Champs du Mars, complete with fireworks at the Tour d'Eiffel.

    My time in Paris is slipping through my fingers and I'm looking forward to taking in even more of its beauty.

    See you after the 24th.
    --------------------
    Sent: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 03:58:12 -0700 (PDT)
    Subject: France dispatch #3: The beautiful and the horrible

    Chèrs amis,
    This is probably my last note, since I'll be flying home in a few days.

    I spent the past three days in Normandy and Brittany, because I wanted to visit for the 60th anniversary of D-Day and because I REALLY wanted to see Mont St-Michel. The trip was a transformative experience, but I can't imagine that anyone can come away from Normandy unchanged.

    The people in Normandy disprove every American stereotype about the French. I found them to be warm and friendly, and enjoyed their hospitality. I spoke French pretty exclusively those three days, and feel confident in my ability to communicate my basic needs. My waiter even tried to set me up with the young man at the table next to me. : )

    Monday
    Caen calls itself a martyred city, since bombs pretty much leveled it in WWII. I visited St. Peter's church in the morning and saw photographs of the church in ruins, before it was re-built in the aftermath of the war. There was an exhibition of children's drawings responding to the question "what does peace mean to you?" The images were startling and I'll share them once I'm home and have put them online.

    The Peace Memorial was amazing. It is the best war museum I've ever seen. The most impactful moment was reading the handwritten letters of G.I.'s who never made it home. I ended up missing my train by minutes, but considered it to be serendipity, because I wanted to stay and see the D-Day beaches the next day. That evening, I wandered the city and found myself in a Monoprix (the French equivalent of Target plus a grocery store) before heading to a small restaurant for an inexpensive but excellent meal and some Norman cider.

    Tuesday
    At 9 a.m., I took a bus to Arromanches, where British engineers built an artificial harbor that supplied Western Europe until Berlin fell. The remains of the huge concrete floaters are still there, and it was ironic to see children storming the beaches and swimming around the concrete. I also watched a film in the 360° cinema that combined archival footage with present-day shots. I got goosebumps when I saw a firefight in a square that morphed into the Monoprix where I'd been the night before. We got back on the bus and saw various sites, including the gun turrets that the Army rangers destroyed after climbing a cliff the Nazis had thought invulnerable. When we arrived at the American Cemetary, I saw miles of crosses and Stars of David. Nearly 9,500 soldiers (including 4 women) are buried there. It was overwhelming and after spending two days in Normandy, I feel that I finally understand the horrible sacrifice made by the Greatest Generation.

    Wednesday
    I made it to Pontorson and hopped a bus to Mt. St-Michel. As we approached it, I saw the abbey rising from the sea and felt elated by its beauty. Climbing the steep city streets was hard, but made me even more thrilled that I'm doing this when I'm 29, rather than when I'm 65. The abbey was filled with surprises, including a cloister garden that thrilled me. I stopped and ate the famous 3-inch tall Mt. St-Michel omelette and admired the view of the salt flats and sheep grazing before walking far enough out to take some pictures.

    It's been a wonderful trip and I sincerely want to come back. Au revoir for now...

    mercredi, juillet 13, 2005

    a letter from turk

    Turk is still at it in France and I'm verte avec envie.

    Back to school this morning after a fine trip to Grenoble.
    Nice city in a fantastic setting. The Rhone river runs thru town and it is surrounded by granite ridges and peaks. Plenty of hiking/biking trails, rafting, climbing opportunities there. Met a great guy from NZ (Aaron) who loaned me his bike so I could ride with my brother Tim and his wife Janet to the quaint little neighboring town (20KM) of Voreppe. We ate some of the best food I've had on the trip and watched the local guys playing bocce [petanque] in the courtyard.

    Sunday Tim and Aaron climbed L'Alpe D'Huez, a famous difficult high climb of the Tour de France as I was leaving to return to Paris. This week is the Bal de Pompiers and Bastille Day, so it should be fun. I go to London on the week-end to see Jean.
    Best to all-
    Greg

    more intercepted instant messaging between bush and blair

    From http://www.huffingtonpost.com/theblog/archive/danielle-crittenden/more-intercepted-instant-_4091.html

    kickass43: hey
    sxybritguy10: hey
    kickass43: u up
    sxybritguy10: cant sleep
    kickass43: dont have that problem
    sxybritguy10: noticed
    kickass43: man I can fall sleep on a bicycle :)
    sxybritguy10: lol. wish that was the only accident at g8
    sxybritguy10: bloody cursed summit
    kickass43: u brits r tuff folks
    kickass43: u take bombs well
    kickass43: ur arresting the badasses
    kickass43: got plenty more room at gitmo if u need it
    sxybritguy43: thnx. ur da man
    kickass43: aside from that mrs Lincoln wat u think of g8
    sxybritguy10: better than live 8
    kickass43: that ttlly suckd
    kickass43: all it needed was kimmy jong il up on stage in his platform boots with elton john
    sxybritguy10: lol
    kickass43: singing I’m so ronery. u kno team america.
    sxybritguy10: rofl. I luv that movie
    kickass43: don’t know y we promised so much freakin $$$ for Africa
    sxybritguy10: key word: promised
    kickass43: bunch of thieves
    kickass43:u remember live aid?
    kickass43: all those bucks raised and ethiopia’s still in the toilet
    sxybritguy10: sux
    kickass43: got a better idea for do-good rockers
    sxybritguy10: wot
    kickass43: u know angeline jolie adopted an ethiopian orphan?
    sxybritguy10: yeah
    kickass43: so y doesn’t she adopt the whole freakin country?
    sxybritguy10: u mean like buy it? :O
    kickass43: she could afford it
    kickass43: hell she could afford uganda too if she marries brad pitt
    sxybritguy10: srsly
    kickass43: srsly
    kickass43: new celebs could start small
    kickass43: lindsay lohan takes chad
    sxybritguy10: geldof takes ivory coast
    kickass43: think of all the beachfront property
    kickass43: celebs love beachfront property
    kickass43:put streisand in charge and the whole continent will be one big ecopark
    kickass43: xcept for HER beachfront property
    sxybritguy10: maybe paris hilton could put up some decent hotels
    kickass43: make a golf course out of kenya
    kickass43: now thats a goal for the next g8
    kickass43: not stupid ‘debt forgiveness’
    kickass43: no one forgives my debts. still owe daddy big time
    sxybritguy10: our salaries suck
    kickass43: we’ll clean up out of office
    sxybritguy10: like Clinton
    kickass43: wish we were like those euros
    kickass43: we’d clean up IN office
    sxybritguy10: like the French
    kickass43: or my friend sylvio
    sxybritguy10: u guys rlly hung at g8
    kickass43: he was ttlly bored. like me.
    kickass43: we played 21 on our blackberries
    kickass43: man those germans can talk
    kickass43: like u brits can drink. u r all drunken sods
    sxybritguy10: needed it
    kickass43: so did I dude
    kickass43: odouls doesn’t do it for a summit
    kickass43: could use a stiff one now
    sxybritguy10: u r in trouble man
    kickass43: rove stuff sux
    kickass43: can’t play the game with no quarterback
    sxybrityguy10: bad rap
    sxybritguy10: at least u still got condi
    kickass43: she’s so hot
    sxybritguy10: way hot
    kickass43: remember her in germany
    kickass43: the domantrix boots
    sxybritguy10: smokin
    kickass43: she rocks way more than colin
    sxybritguy10: kinda missed colin this yr
    kickass43: no way
    sxybritguy10: way
    kickass43: y
    sxybritguy10: mostly at cocktails
    sxybritguy10: those yiddish jokes. lol.
    kickass43: didn’t miss him. not with all those euro suck-ups
    kickass43: like hello? I’m the president here? y r u wasting time with him?
    sxybritguy10: ur right. condi more laffs
    kickass43: better looking 2
    sxybritguy10: for sure
    kickass43: not like madeleine
    sxybritguy10: barf
    kickass43: u remember her
    sxybritguy10: man I lived her
    sxybritguy10: terry gilliam in drag
    sxybritguy10: like going to the prom with yr mother
    kickass43: my mother?? :O
    sxybritguy10: no: one’s mother
    sxybritguy10: tho yr mom would be pretty ruff too
    kickass43: dude yr giving me flashbacks
    sxybritguy10: sry!
    sxybritguy10: missed bill too
    kickass43: ????
    sxybritguy10: clinton. give him this. he knew how 2 par-tay
    sxybritguy10: no offense. I kno he’s yr ex
    kickass43: he’s best buds with my dad now
    sxybritguy10: u must be freakin
    kickass43: ttlly. rlly weird
    kickass43: theyre fishing in kennebunkport 2gether. like hes jeb.
    sxybritguy10: sux
    kickass43: no more joint missions for them man
    sxybritguy10: gotta catch some zs now
    kickass43: me 2. its way past 9
    sxybritguy10: middle of nite here
    kickass43: k
    sxybritguy10: k
    kickass43: one last thing
    sxybritguy10: wot
    kickass43: rove
    kickass43: thinking of making him special envoy to international terrorism or something
    sxybritguy10: y
    kickass43: get him out of dc for a bit
    sxybritguy10: how bout court of st. jim?
    sxybritguy10: we cd use him
    sxybritguy10: I cd use him
    kickass43: ur not running again?
    kickass43: thought u promised 2 step aside for that dude brown :(
    sxybritguy10: key word: promised
    kickass43: ur such a badass!
    sxybritguy10: takes 1 2 kno 1
    kickass43: if rove is smart he’ll go private
    kickass43: speaking of cleaning up out of government
    sxybritguy10: sigh
    KICKASS43 HAS LOGGED OFF
    SXYBRITGUY10 HAS LOGGED OFF

    Via Matt

    happy birthday, susan g.

    I'm still home sick, but wanted to send a shoutout to Ms. Thing - Susan G. She's the best workout pal, confidant, and fashionista evah!

    Thanks for being a good friend, for calling me every day when I was at my worst, and laughter later.

    mardi, juillet 12, 2005

    i've been grounded

    It turns out that the lingering crappy feeling I've had since Thursday has developed into two middle ear infections. So it's antibiotics and rest for me for the next two days.

    Argh.

    lundi, juillet 11, 2005

    pulpcore at the hash house a go go

    My friend Dave is premiering "Pulpcore," a series of his paintings, at the Hash House A Go Go on July 24 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

    Hope to see you there...

    consider me infected

    Despite this morning's fun, I can't get this out of my head:

    And all the pop stars stare at the length of our hair.
    Whoah. (Kylie's got a crush on us.)


    I told Harry that my criterion for a good pop song is that it's infectious.

    And all the pop stars stare at the length of our hair.
    Whoah. (Kylie's got a crush on us.)


    The irony: The aforementioned Kylie has a song called "Can't Get You Out of My Head."

    guns, germs, and steel

    Guns, Germs, and Steel: A National Geographic Presentation looks very interesting.
    Tuesday, July 12, 9 p.m. CHANNEL 15 (KPBS/Channel 15)

    Based on Jared Diamond's Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name, Guns, Germs and Steel traces humanity's journey over the last 13,000 years – from the dawn of farming at the end of the last Ice Age to the realities of life in the twenty-first century.

    Inspired by a question put to him on the island of Papua New Guinea more than thirty years ago, Diamond embarks on a world-wide quest to understand the roots of global inequality.
    • Why were Europeans the ones to conquer so much of our planet?
    • Why didn't the Chinese, or the Inca, become masters of the globe instead?
    • Why did cities first evolve in the Middle East?
    • Why did farming never emerge in Australia?
    • And why are the tropics now the capital of global poverty?
    As he peeled back the layers of history to uncover fundamental, environmental factors shaping the destiny of humanity, Diamond found both his theories and his own endurance tested.

    The three one-hour programs were filmed across four continents on High Definition digital video, and combinied ambitious dramatic reconstruction with moving documentary footage and computer animation. They also include contributions from Diamond himself and a wealth of international historians, archeologists and scientists.

    bloodletting

    I woke up this morning feeling parched. And by parched, I don't mean slightly dehydrated — my lips hurt, my eyes hurt, and the air felt bone dry. It turns out that I had desiccated in the night — so much so that after firing up iTunes and rocking out to "Kylie's Got A Crush On Us," taking my cold/ flu herbs, and downing a bunch of water, I got a nosebleed.

    I should preface the rest of this by saying that I don't remember ever having had a nosebleed. True to form, my first time was no ordinary experience. It went on for about half an hour, despite my best efforts to pinch my nostrils and lean forward. I actually got worried when my mouth filled with blood for the third time in the shower.

    Thankfully, it has stopped and I'm back to the slow drip, drip, drip of my cold-related congestion. There's really nothing like the sight of one's own blood, surging crimson and awful, to jolt you rudely and completely awake on a Monday morning.

    dimanche, juillet 10, 2005

    sunday dinner #1

    Tonight, I held the first dinner party in my new house. Nolan, Aaron and Laura, Diana and Ophira, and Harry and I ate to repletion.

    Menu
    Appetizer
    Sun-dried tomato and garlic goat cheese spread
    with crackers and crudites

    Main course
    Organic baby lettuce with sugar plum tomatoes,
    mixed bell peppers, carrots, and mediterranean feta
    Chicken breasts with 40 cloves of garlic
    Spinach lasagna with ajvar sauce
    Bread with butter and roasted garlic

    Dessert
    Chocolate Kahlua cake

    cass' chocolate kahlua cake

    1 box chocolate cake mix with pudding
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup Kahlua
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    16 oz sour cream or yogurt (I've used lowfat sour cream. I've also used nonfat vanilla yogurt. Either is fine.)
    12 oz semisweet chocolate chips

    Preheat oven to 350F.
    1. Grease and flour bundt pan (I use the cake mix to keep from having a white, dusty-looking cake).
    2. Sift cake mix into bowl, add remaining ingredients in the order listed.
    3. Using a hand-held mixer, blend for 30-45 seconds or until mix is moistened. Using mixer on medium speed, mix for another 90 seconds, or until all ingredients are well combined.
    4. Cook for 40-55 minutes (check every five minutes for doneness).
    5. Cool in pan for at least one hour.
    6. Invert onto serving plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

    samedi, juillet 09, 2005

    the boobs are back

    In 2002, John Ashcroft spent $8,000 of taxpayer money to drape the naked breast of a statue in the Great Hall of the Justice Department. He never clarified if the sight of a bare-breasted woman was offensive or if her bare breast in the background made him look even more like the boob he was.

    Anyhow, new Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez just reversed at least one of John Ashcroft’s goofier acts:

    With barely a word about it, workers at the Justice Department Friday removed the blue drapes that have famously covered two scantily clad statues for the past 3 1/2 years. Spirit of Justice, with her one breast exposed and her arms raised, and the bare-chested male Majesty of Law basked in the late afternoon light of Justice’s ceremonial Great Hall.The drapes, installed in 2002 at a cost of $8,000, allowed then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to speak in the Great Hall without fear of a breast showing up behind him in television or newspaper pictures. They also provoked jokes about and criticism of the deeply religious Ashcroft.The 12-foot, 6-inch aluminum statues were installed shortly after the building opened in the 1930s.
    Via DDTB

    a tour de france primer

    For the non-cyling effete like me: Basic facts to know about the annual cycling classic.

    vendredi, juillet 08, 2005

    quotable

    "I try to do the right thing with money. Save a dollar here and there, clip some coupons. Buy ten gold chains instead of 20. Four summer homes instead of eight."
    -L L Cool J, 1968 - , American hip-hop artist

    jeudi, juillet 07, 2005

    london bombing

    I had a conversation about terrorism with Glen (an Englishman) and Noah (a Jewish South African) at a fourth of July gathering. Glen made the point that the rest of the world has a very different take on terrorism than we do in America. The gist of it: the English are used to bombings after having lived with the IRA's bombing campaigns for thirty-plus years.

    Initially, I thought he was right. But in light of today's events and the eyewitness accounts, I would argue that one can ever really be blasé about terrorism in one's hometown. The panic and base animal instincts of those closest to the blasts just don't support his stance.

    Update: Halfway through the day, I'm noticing an interesting trend toward "citizen journalism" -- MSNBC is asking those on-site to submit their stories. And the BBC is running "on the spot photos" taken by ordinary people.

    8 days and counting



    I'm very much looking forward to seeing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And for the record, Johnny Depp's Wonka face is wonderfully disturbing.

    i'm an effing mathlete


    I've held it in for a few weeks. Now it's time for the world to know: I'm an effing mathlete.

    My fellow statslete Allison and I attend what Professor Assad refers to as 'an intellectual gathering' Tuesday and Thursday nights, to bone up on our stats skills while prepping for our MBA program. It's an Elementary Statistics class, but we still think we're the poo.

    It turns out that Diana is doing the same thing in San Francisco. Small effing world.

    mercredi, juillet 06, 2005

    joyeux anniversaire a mon amie

    Diana turned 31 today. Last year, I bought her a falafel on the Rue de Rosiers in Paris to celebrate her birthday. This year, she's blogging and so am I. What a difference a year makes.

    Happy birthday, Diana. Come visit me in Paris for your 40th and I promise to take you to one of the 50 best restaurants in the world.

    quotable

    “I have too much respect for the idea of God to make it responsible for such an absurd world.”
    - Georges Duhamel, 1884-1966, French novelist and playwright

    just say no to cilantro

    Most of my friends know that I detest avocado, mushrooms (except certain varieties of fresh chanterelles), and eggplant. Some have even gotten me to re-think my stance on beer and anchovies (not). Generally, I'm not a picky eater. I will try most anything once, but prefer to only eat things that I really enjoy ... which really doesn't present any problems, as there is a veritable cornucopia of foods that I love.

    Nonetheless, this New York Times article on chef's personal food dislikes succinctly sums up how I feel about cilantro (I loathe it because it tastes like soap to me; I'll admit that I'm a cilantro-hater) and why I don't particularly enjoy green peppers.
    I'm the Boss, and I Say No Lentils
    By OLIVER SCHWANER-ALBRIGHT
    ZAK PELACCIO can't stand sweet potatoes. "I find them a little too rich, a little too cloying, a little too overwhelming," Mr. Pelaccio said. "I don't like to eat them."

    It isn't unusual for somebody to hold a deep dislike for a particular food, but Mr. Pelaccio is the chef of 5 Ninth, an inventive restaurant that plays fast and free with its ingredients. Veal breast is braised, topped with botarga, and served with green tomatoes, shishito pepper and ground ivy. But no innocent sweet potatoes?

    "I just have no desire to cook with them, ever," Mr. Pelaccio said. "And sweet potato fries are the most disgusting things."

    Almost everybody has his or her sweet potato, a food that is harmless to the rest of the world but that is, to this individual, too revolting to stomach. Your basic eater can spend a lifetime dodging that ingredient, bypassing those dishes that will make him at best unhappy, at worst queasy. But a chef can turn his personal dislike into restaurant policy.

    "Whenever I tell somebody I hate lentils, they're shocked," said Bobby Flay, whose menu at Bar Americain, incidentally, is peppered with sweet potato, including some in the clam chowder. "There are a lot of lentil fans out there."

    An early draft of Bar Americain's menu had a beet and goat cheese salad with lentils, but Mr. Flay rejected it before the restaurant opened. "When I go on vacation, they run specials on lentils," he said.

    Celery is a building block of French cooking, but it has no place at Chanterelle. "I don't use it in my stocks," said the chef, David Waltuck, whose loathing has become lore. "I don't use it in my mirepoix. It has no flavor. It's one-dimensional. It's an exercise in chewing. It's pointless."

    There are arguments for banning an ingredient based on concerns about quality or morality. Some choose not to use out-of-season strawberries because they're flavorless, or Chilean sea bass (also known as Patagonian toothfish) because of overfishing.

    The argument for banning carrots bigger than your thumb, however, is a little more arbitrary. "I will serve baby carrots," said Alexandra Guarnaschelli, the chef of Butter. "But once it gets over two inches long I break into a cold sweat."

    Miss Guarnaschelli was the sous-chef at Guy Savoy's La Butte Chaillot in Paris, where julienne carrots had a permanent place on the menu. "Now I have a panic attack when I see shredded carrot in a salad," she said.

    Other ingredients are almost universally snubbed by chefs. Green bell peppers, that staple of chili and the catered crudité, are possibly the most-loathed ingredient.

    "They're headache-y," said Anita Lo, chef at Annisa. "For some reason I've never gotten past the flavor."

    Brian Bistrong of the Harrison doesn't like the way green pepper lingers. "If you eat one, you're going to taste it the rest of the meal," Mr. Bistrong said. "I got rid of them when I finally had some authority. Now that I'm the boss, I can not have them."

    Dan Barber, who won't let green peppers into the kitchens of either Blue Hill Restaurant in Manhattan or Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., called the problems with the vegetable "multitiered."

    "First, I don't like the flavor," he said. "And I've learned more about them. They're an immature pepper. You're eating a vegetable before it's supposed to be picked."

    Tasha Garcia, one of the chefs of Little Giant, recoils when she tastes anything that reminds her of it. "We had a staff tasting and with this one cabernet franc it was like, oh, green peppers," Miss Garcia said. She added that she was overwhelmed by the association. "I hated the wine, hated it, hated it," she said. "Now I'm not a big cabernet franc fan."

    Like many anxieties, many food revulsions seem to have been incubated in childhood. Mr. Waltuck remembers one too many celery stalks with cream cheese and paprika when he was young; Mr. Barber has "taste memories from hoagies."

    Floyd Cardoz of Tabla has refused to eat bananas since he was 10. When he was named executive chef a little over three years ago, banana desserts were banned from his kitchen.

    "Growing up in India, the only fruit we'd have year-round is bananas," he said. "Banana fritters, bananas in cream, bananas, bananas, bananas."

    Mark Ladner of Lupa shares a distaste for bananas but for a different reason. "It might be from all that banana Bubblicious I ate in the '70's," he said.

    Chika Tillman, one of three owners of the dessert bar ChikaLicious, finds oats repulsive, but she could not keep them out of her restaurant.

    "Dry, it's like bird food," she said. "And cooked, it's like somebody chewed it and took it from their mouth."

    Yet homemade granola was voted in over Ms. Tillman's objections. She tried her best, and dressed it up with yogurt sorbet and cantaloupe brûlée, but the oats were too much. It was on the menu for one day.

    Those who hate certain herbs and other aromatics make chemical associations. Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune thinks verbena "tastes like lemon Pledge."

    That is exactly the phrase Michael Romano of Union Square Cafe used to describe lemon thyme. "I love lemon," Mr. Romano said. "I love thyme. I love them both together. I even like lemon Pledge on my furniture." But he stops dead if lemon thyme sneaks into a dish.

    Shea Gallante of Cru says cilantro tastes like soap, and Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 says the same thing of dill. "Not that I've eaten a lot of soap in my life," Mr. Dufresne said. "I'm not phobic. I just think it's dreadful."

    And Laurent Tourondel keeps saffron away from his restaurants. "It reminds me of the dentist," he said flatly.

    Inevitably, people encounter undesirable food. If Mr. Cardoz sees a banana coming his way, he politely lies and says he's allergic. If he's not sure about a dish, he asks his companion to taste it first. "Because if it's in there," Mr. Cardoz said, "I'll throw up." Mr. Dufresne heads dill off at the pass: he won't touch gravlax or potato salad.

    It's more complicated if the chef is a guest at somebody's house. "People don't like to cook for me because they think I'm going to be supercritical," Mr. Romano said. "I like it when people cook for me, and I wouldn't embarrass anybody and say, 'I'm not going to eat this.' "

    Speaking of those who might cook for him without knowing of his distaste for green peppers, Mr. Bistrong said: "They usually have enough of a complex cooking for a chef. I'd be polite and eat them. And taste them for the rest of the night."

    Also speaking of green peppers, Miss Garcia said: "Manners would win out. I'd push it around my plate and get some down."

    Mr. Ladner has eaten bananas because friends have served them to him as a gag. "I can eat them," he said. "And I have. I can take it."

    But don't even try to tempt Mr. Tourondel with saffron. "I don't eat it," he said.

    As for sweet potatoes, Mr. Pelaccio is a dutiful son. When his mother roasts them with maple syrup for Thanksgiving, he eats every bite.

    "Then I have to take a nap," he said.

    le tour de greg

    Here's the latest from my friend Greg and his adventures in France:

    Took TGV to St Nazaire last weekend to watch start of Tour de France. No ride available to drive me, so I rented a 40 lb clunker from a beach rentals place at 3 p.m., and pedaled in running clothes 55KM to Fremontaine with a 16oz bottle of water. Arrived at start ramp 6:15 - Lance left at 6:48.

    Got lots of great shots, afterward got water and food from a nice lady watching from her window. Took me til 11pm to get back; I didn't think the bike would make it. I didn't dare stand up on the pedals for fear the chain or pedals would break.

    This Friday; TGV again to Grenoble to meet my brother, cycle in the alps, hopefully on better equipment.

    mardi, juillet 05, 2005

    i heart the french

    Chirac's latest remarks may not be very diplomatic, but they are hilarious: Chirac mocks Britain for mad cow, bad food.

    French President Jacques Chirac cracked jokes to Russian and German leaders about bad British food and mad cow disease, a Paris daily said on Monday, in comments that could further strain Anglo-French relations.

    “The only thing they (the English) have ever done for European agriculture is mad cow,” Chirac quipped, according to the paper, prompting laughter from Schroeder and Putin.

    When asked about Chirac’s reported comments, French government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope told reporters, “I have nothing particular to say.”

    Relations between France and Britain were already at a low point, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chirac blaming each other for the failure of June talks on the European Union’s long-term budget talks.

    Chirac took the opportunity of a receptive audience to snipe at British food. “You can’t trust people who cook as badly as that,” he joked, the paper said.

    “After Finland, it’s the country with the worst food.”

    lundi, juillet 04, 2005

    napoleon a appris anglais

    Ego (coupled with avarice) as motivation: Napoleon, arguably the most uber-Frenchman of all time, tried to learn English while in exile.

    Napoleon Bonaparte was keen to learn English while in exile, documents shown in Britain for the first time reveal.

    The deposed French emperor apparently wanted to learn the language of his foes so he could read what the London papers were writing about him.

    "In France people are amazed to find that he was learning English. But he didn't do it for pleasure. He wondered how much money he could have saved in translation if he could have learnt English."

    Via BBC

    dimanche, juillet 03, 2005

    vendredi, juillet 01, 2005