mercredi, mai 31, 2006

whatta mighty good man

As a feminist and a "curlicue boundless overthinker," I have to say that this essay pretty much takes the words right out of my mouth. (No, I didn't go to Smith and I don't live in Manhattan. And I've always loathed Courtney Love.) But the rest rings true.

I'm glad that my boyfriend admires femininity, while respecting equality.

I like that he bought me "La historia de los Mundiales" so that I can begin to wrap my brain around the World Cup fever that is about to grip his (and indeed, much of the worlds') soul. (Even my mother awarded him mad bonus points for giving me a book on soccer en español, as it is improving mi vocabulario tambien. )

And I know how very lucky I am that he was kind enough to drive all the way to El Cajon tonight to bring me my homework and comfort my allergy-ridden golden retriever as we passed the time waiting to see the veterinarian.

Modern Love: Changing My Feminist Mind, One Man at a Time
By J. COURTNEY SULLIVAN Published: May 21, 2006
FOR the past decade, I have struggled with two competing images of the opposite sex: oppressor, and dream date.

As a girl, I was in love with the idea of love — love poems, letters, stories, songs, even Courtney Love, for what seemed to me her well-worn heartache. Boys themselves, with their fake guns and dirty knees, didn't interest me much. But as they were my ticket to romance, I adored them more or less as a practical matter.

In high school, during marathon phone conversations, cheap pizza dinners and long suburban car rides, I began to fall for boys because of who they actually were, or at least who I thought they might become. I still loved Love, but now the love began to stretch to real people.

And this is where things got complicated, because around the same time, with my working mother as a role model and an influential teacher as my guide, I started to identify as a feminist. I read, re-read, and underlined "Backlash," "The Beauty Myth" and "The Feminine Mystique." I grew enraged by what I learned. Enraged, and utterly confused. Who was keeping women down? Men. But who were just so cute that I couldn't sleep at night for thinking and writing and obsessing about them? You guessed it, the self-same.

Then I went off to an all-women's college, Smith, where I didn't see a whole lot of men. I joined the campus women's group and studied up on gender issues. My rage toward men in general grew ever stronger, as did my desire to meet that one specific man who could make my dreams come true.

I had fantasies of moving into a city apartment after graduation with some blurry-faced guy, my partner. We'd cook dinner together, read the paper in bed. Later, we would shield our children from sex-stereotyped toys and take turns driving to rid them of the notion that Dad is always the captain. There would be true equality in our home, and there would also be candlelight and Ella Fitzgerald records and adorable baby shoes in the hall closet.

BUT when I graduated and moved to Manhattan three years ago, none of the men I met were up for my proposed life of egalitarian bliss. In fact, most of the young people around me—male and female—seemed to think of feminism as a quaint and unnecessary practice from days of old, not unlike churning butter. I remembered then what one wise women's studies professor at Smith had said about feminism: "None of this means anything unless we can get men on board. That's not achieved by marches or movements, but by one individual changing another individual for the better."

I wanted to get men on board — or one man, at the very least — but I seemed unable to find an audience for a simple discussion beginning with the words "I am a feminist and here's why."

Friends wondered why I couldn't leave my politics at the door and just go on a date for goodness sake. My uncles joked that perhaps I'd be happy if I could find a nice Irish girl to settle down with.

All of my relationships, or lack thereof, began to take the same shape. I would meet a man, and our first date would consist of that lovely unraveling of mundane details. Then would come the second date. With our vital stats out of the way, we'd begin to discuss other, seemingly benign, topics. But somehow, every road led to sexism. A comparison of our favorite movies turned into me complaining about Quentin Tarantino's senseless misogyny. Perusal of the dessert menu somehow ignited a screaming match about women's socially imposed body-image issues.

Often there was no warning. One minute we would be talking baseball, and the next we'd be embroiled in a standoff about pornography, which would end with me refusing to return his calls and express mailing him a copy of Catharine MacKinnon's "Only Words" without a note.

Soon I began to recognize a familiar look on the faces of the men I went out with, the physical incarnation of Check, please. I knew that I could be too harsh, too quick to judge and probably guilty of the very sexism I railed against. But I couldn't back down.

I couldn't because the stakes are too high, and the large-scale issues of sexual inequality remain: Women still don't make equal money for equal work; we are still the victims of rape and domestic violence; we are, for the most part, still solely responsible for child-rearing and cooking and cleaning, no matter what our career choices.

But the smaller, more personal issues are perhaps even more divisive, more threatening, at least when it comes to romantic relationships.

In a country where you can't show a penis on television, the popular rap star Snoop Dogg can sing a song on the radio called "Can U Control Yo Hoe," in which he says a man has to do what it takes to put his woman "in her place" even if it means "slapping her in the face."

Outside my office building in Times Square stands a billboard for the new HBO series "Big Love" — three women of varying ages stare blank-eyed and weary at one exhausted, oversexed man. Beneath them are the words "Polygamy Loves Company."

A block away, there's a long row of sex shops and strip clubs. When I run out to grab a sandwich at lunchtime, men are waltzing into these places without so much as a hint of embarrassment.

Who are they? I often wonder. What are their lives like?

It seems impossible that they all live in caves or in their mothers' basements. Most must have jobs, homes, wives, girlfriends. They are not considered abnormal, any more than the guy who purchases a Snoop CD, or tunes in to see how Bill Paxton deals with those three demanding wives, poor lamb. If this is the culture in which we live and love, how must men, in their heart of hearts, view women?

When I think of men this way, as I often do, I want to go back to Smith and stay there among the shaved-headed sisterhood until I die.

On the other hand, no matter how enraged I become, I still adore men and the possibility for romance they bring. I love the smell of a man's skin. I enjoy the breathless feeling of waiting to see if he'll call back. I like dressing up for dates and dissecting a dinner conversation with a new guy to determine if he might be The One. I admire the linear and decisive way a certain kind of man thinks, to my curlicue boundless overthinking. And nothing beats the feeling of a man's arms wrapped around me. Nothing.

I'll never fully reconcile those ideas, I know. But sometimes love surprises us with its timing and its lessons. Ten months ago, I finally met someone who, so far, has stuck. And to my Catholic family's great relief, that someone's name is not Irene.

His name is Colin, and I liked him immediately. And so I vowed, this time, not to sabotage things by mentioning sexism right away. But on our very first date, he asked about my thoughts on the feminist movement (apparently, he had been prepped by our mutual friends). When he pressed the issue, I finally blurted out: "I can't talk about feminism until you know me better, O.K.?"

"Why?" he asked.

"Because I'll scare you."

He laughed. "I'm not afraid."

And he wasn't. He gets it, yet he's bold enough to stand up to me when he thinks I've gone too far. Confronted by my beliefs, Colin offers neither the typical blow-off of other men nor the mea culpa that I thought I was looking for. Instead, he listens and discusses sexism with me at length, agreeing most of the time, but not always. And when he disagrees, he says so, challenging me to think about my long-held beliefs in new ways, and occasionally even changing my mind.

In Colin's view, a man who goes to a strip club for his bachelor party is not necessarily a misogynist. And my argument that the women's movement has hardly made a dent ignores decades of true progress, according to him. But he has come over to my side in debates about pornography, prostitution, movie violence and domestic roles.

Not that there aren't moments when it seems like we're still looking at each other across a great gender divide. One discussion about sexual violence in horror films ended with his screaming, "Do you ever just lighten up?"

AND last night he mentioned that a friend of his, a screenwriter, was optioning a book that Colin described as "a man's guide to stringing chicks along without ever having to marry them."

"And yet you think he's a good guy?"

"He's a very good guy," Colin said.

"I don't know how someone can be good, but not do good," I shot back. I said this, but at the same time I thought about the friend in question, a man more devoted to his wife than anyone I've ever met.

Colin and I went a few more rounds before he finally said, "I admire your passion," and I conceded that his friend was indeed a pretty good guy. Then we took a walk, got a couple of beers and laughed about it all.

Both love and life are rich in contradiction, and who am I to fight it? After all, I was the teenage girl with a framed photo of Gloria Steinem hanging on her bedroom wall, right beside a larger photo of a young Frank Sinatra.

And now I have fallen for a man who understands and respects my feminist beliefs, and who also takes me to dinner, holds the door, calls me Babydoll in a slow Southern drawl.

Embracing those contradictions has led me to discover a world between the harsh reality of sexism and the airy wishes of my love-drenched fantasies.

It's true what my Smith professor said about progress depending upon one individual changing another for the better. What she didn't say was that, inevitably, the change goes both ways.

J. Courtney Sullivan lives in New York. Her book, "Dating Up: Dump the Schlump and Find a Quality Man," will be published by Warner Books in February 2007.

mardi, mai 30, 2006

getting her learn on

My friend Diana lives in San Francisco. She's one of the smartest people I know. And now she's getting ready to do what I've been doing for the past year — she's going to work full time and go to grad school part time. For an MBA. (I said she was smart. I never mentioned anything about sanity.) As I said to her:

Congratulations! Now you'll be just like me — exhausted, cranky, and generally pissy. Wait. Nevermind. You'll love working full time and going to school part time. : D
But seriously ... congrats, Diana. I'm glad to know that the suicide watch is over, at least until your program gets underway. Would you have ever thought that we'd be on these parallel tracks when we met in the tenth grade?

¡muchas gracias!

Leo and Vanessa threw another dinner party this weekend. The food was lovely to look at. And even nicer to eat.

Jerk chicken phyllo purse
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Spicy duck empanadas
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Croquetas de plátano y frijol
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boosting one's red blood cell count

Wine keeps Hungarian apes feeling fine
BUDAPEST, Hungary (Reuters) -- Monkeys and apes at the Budapest Zoo drink their way through 55 liters of red wine each year, albeit in small quantities each day, to help boost their red blood cells, the zoo said Monday.

Budapest Zoo spokesman Zoltan Hanga said it was the 11 anthropoid apes who drank most of the wine in 2005. "Obviously, they do not have it all at once and get drunk, but they get it in small amounts mixed in their tea," Hanga said.


"Justice is truth in action."
Benjamin Disraeli (Dec. 21, 1804 – April 19, 1881) was an English statesman and literary figure. He served in government for three decades, twice as Prime Minister – the first and thus far only person of Jewish parentage to do so, although Disraeli was baptised in the Anglican Church at an early age.

lundi, mai 29, 2006

windows to a deadened soul

"Paradise Now" was the first Palestinian film to be nominated for an Academy Award. I saw it nearly five weeks ago and I'm still thinking about it.

Hany Abu-Assad's disturbing yet moving tale finds two men at a critical juncture in their lives. They've been drafted as suicide bombers in an upcoming assignment in Tel Aviv. Granted a night to spend with their families, they go home but are unable to say goodbye for fear of tipping their hand. But perhaps it isn't time for farewells yet as the two become separated during the mission and must decide on their own whether to continue or bail out.
Before watching it, I wondered how even-handed a story about two Palestinian childhood friends who volunteer for a suicide bombing mission in Tel Aviv could be. I expected romanticized propaganda, or clear-cut condemnation. I took neither message from the film. Instead, I came away stunned.

It was only a few days later, after I had processed it enough to talk about it, that Leo and I began to trade our impressions of the movie. Five weeks on, one indelible visual has burned itself into my memory — Said's eyes. They speak more profoundly than any words uttered in the film.

dimanche, mai 28, 2006

axis of feeble

Even The Economist agreed.

This was the (apt) cover story when D and Ophy hosted the May 2006 Axis of Evil Supper Club.

Diana, Ophira, Zach, Rhiannon, Nolan, Mike, Healy, Harmon, (their college friend whose name escapes me), Leo, and I enjoyed bbq spareribs, some cut of bbq beef, salad, hummus cucumber boats, apple pie, grilled coconut cake a la mode with blackberries, and plenty of adult beverages.

Thanks for being fabulous hosts, D and Ophy. The party favors (Impeach Bush bumper stickers) were an especially nice touch.

samedi, mai 27, 2006

¡feliz cumpleaños, popi!

My dad rocks. He turned 67 yesterday, but still managed to insist on installing a security door on my place while I was at the vet's office with Casey.

I suppose age really is a state of mind. But just in case, I hope that I got the strong, hardy body-genes from him, too.

Anyhow, I love you popi. Happy birthday.

mercredi, mai 24, 2006

foiled again

I boarded the trolley at o'dark hundred this morning and headed downtown to the Hall of Justice. (Superfriends, anyone?)

After completing the requisite paperwork, I made my way through today's mental to-do list, as follows:
  1. Write down today's to-do list. (Check.)
  2. Write my birthday thank-you notes. (Check.)
  3. Call Cox, Verizon, SDGE, etc. and sort some things out. (Check.)
  4. Finish the February New Yorker that I've been carrying around for three weeks without opening. (Check.)
  5. Take a picture of my reading materials with my cell phone. (Check.)
  6. Read more of "31 Days." (Check.)
  7. Eat lunch. (Check.)
    Bonus: I ran into Luko at the food court. He's actually a juror, on a criminal federal case that he can't talk about. (Naturally.)
  8. Hit downtown Borders and spend birthday gift cards. (Check.)
  9. Return to the juror's lounge by 1:30 p.m. (Check.)
  10. Hear my name called to a courtroom for voir dire, and get selected for a one-week trial. (Damn.)
The County of San Diego thanked me for my service and sent me on my merry way at 2:26 p.m.

The sad bit is that I really, really want to serve on a jury. I'm curious. It's not just that I've seen way too much Law & Order. I majored in political science, history, and sociology, dammit. God help me, but if I were ever a defendant, I'd want a jury of folks who were interested and not just the ones who were there because they weren't smart enough to get out of it.

Even if I set all of that aside, it was the third time I was invited to the ball, but I still haven't been asked to dance.

mardi, mai 23, 2006

leo's birthday festivities

This weekend was spent celebrating Leo's birthday with good food & drink and great friends.

Check out the photos from the Friday happy hour at Liars' Club, Society Billiards, and the small Saturday dinner at Amici.

lundi, mai 22, 2006

who is norville rogers?

A series of conversations over the past few days have led me to question lots of things, including the messages I received as a child. One message was about Norville Rogers.

Norville Rogers is a well known fictional detective. His exploits have appeared on a great many television series since his inception in 1969. His past is a mystery; all we know of him is that he appears on our television screen occasionally to solve a mystery or two.

In terms of physical appearance, Norville blends into a crowd quite easily. Norville is often found clad in a green-colored shirt of some making and brown corduroy pants. His disheveled brown hair often covers his eyes, and he usually remains behind when a crowd moves onward, marching to the beat of his own drummer.

He stands quite tall and is a bit on the gangly side, as he is extremely thin. He is also a master of disguise, demonstrating an uncanny and lightning-quick ability to assume new personas and costumery, seemingly out of thin air. Given this trait, Norville time and time again squeezes his way out of countless tight situations.
His demeanor is often quite sarcastic, and his appearance to others is pretty low on his priority list. He often resorts to publicly proclaiming his fear of many things, his voracious appetite, and his penchant for eating dog snacks. His most faithful companion is a friendly brown dog that often accompanies Norville on his misadventures.

He quite often falls into a habit of using 1960's style lingo, overusing the term "like" in conversation, and even dropping the kitchy term "zoinks" on occasion. Added to his demeanor and appearance, he casts an air of friendliness and approachability, which often results in Norville gaining valuable clues as to the solution of a particular caper.

Norville's main knack for solving crimes, however, is largely through his uncanny ability to literally stumble into solutions. He often frees others who have been kidnapped or otherwise victimized by a particular villain simply by wandering into a situation and using his basic nature and intuition. It is often amazing to watch his character repeatedly stumble into the solving of a complex crime simply by being at the right place at the right time.

Norville's final useful attribute is his razor-sharp wit, which he uses in verbal dueling contests regularly with both his friendly acquaintances as well as with those villains who oppose him. He often uses witty wordplay as an excuse to amuse and baffle both friend and foe, often resulting in Norville heading toward the kitchen for yet another delicious snack.

One last thing: Norville is perhaps better known by his nickname Shaggy from many classic television series, but most famously Scooby Doo, Where Are You?

Shaggy's traditional voice artist in the original series and various spinoffs was Casey Kasem. Scott Innes and Billy West briefly took over the role in several of the direct-to-video films produced in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In the recent series What's New, Scooby-Doo?, Casey Kasem resumed the role. In the two live-action Scooby Doo movies, he is played by Matthew Lillard.

Currently Shaggy is a vegetarian, by request of Casey Kasem who in real life is a vegetarian. In the past Shaggy had a tendency to overeat and eat anything he could. Shaggy's eating habits angered Kasem. In 1995, Kasem walked out as the voice of Shaggy, when Shaggy and Scooby-Doo were to be portrayed in a Burger King Commercial.

Zoinks, indeed.
Via Leo, the Laff-A-Lympics, and Wikipedia

thank you, susan a.

My post-finals to-do list includes some very overdue thank-you notes.

Here's one for Susan A., who sent me this gorgeous tagine (and some recipes) for my birthday.

Leo and I made the chicken with dates and apricots recipe on the tagine's maiden voyage.

Note: Use a cooking diffuser with any non-metal tagine if you want to cook with it and not just use it as a serving dish. Otherwise, the bottom of your tagine may crack.

the tagine
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dimanche, mai 21, 2006


"Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me."
- Alfred Tennyson, 1809-1892, English poet often regarded as the chief representative of the Victorian age in poetry.

jeudi, mai 18, 2006

and a very happy birthday to cass ...

Actually, it was on May 6.

Cass, Josh, Leo, Cartwright, Geoff, Bill, and I celebrated by heading to Amarin and Baja Betty's for seis de mayo.

Happy birthday, Cass! Hope you like the photos.

to bargain it to another place

Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994), was a Los Angeles poet and novelist often mistakenly associated with Beat Generation writers because of alleged similarities of style and attitude. His writing was heavily influenced by the geography and atmosphere of his home city. The recent documentary, "Bukowski: Born Into This" describes him as "a tortured man who survived years of abuse to produce some of the most influential prose of his generation." His gravestone reads, "Don't Try". Women are a frequent target in his writing.

the mockingbird
the mockingbird had been following the cat
all summer
mocking mocking mocking
teasing and cocksure;
the cat crawled under rockers on porches
tail flashing
and said something angry to the mockingbird
which I didn't understand.

yesterday the cat walked calmly up the driveway
with the mockingbird alive in its mouth,
wings fanned, beautiful wings fanned and flopping,
feathers parted like a woman's legs,
and the bird was no longer mocking,
it was asking, it was praying
but the cat
striding down through centuries
would not listen.

I saw it crawl under a yellow car
with the bird
to bargain it to another place.

summer was over.

Via Amber (Toastmasters)

a declaration of conscience

Margaret Chase Smith (December 14, 1897–May 29, 1995) was the first woman to be elected to both the U.S. House and the Senate. In 1964, she became the first woman nominated for U.S. president by a major party. She was a moderate Republican from Maine and one of the first people to speak out about Joseph R. McCarthy's smear campaign.

She did so without actually naming him in the speech. He retaliated and, violating Senate custom, removed her as a member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, giving her place to the new senator from California, Richard M. Nixon. McCarthy's allies took every occasion to smear Senator Smith. But in 1954, she had the satisfaction of casting a vote for McCarthy's censure.

Her words are frighteningly relevant today. Note: At the time of her speech, there was Democrat in the White House and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.

This is her Declaration of Conscience.
June 1, 1950
I would like to speak briefly and simply about a serious national condition. It is a national feeling of fear and frustration that could result in national suicide and the end of everything that we Americans hold dear. It is a condition that comes from the lack of effective leadership in either the Legislative Branch or the Executive Branch of our Government.
That leadership is so lacking that serious and responsible proposals are being made that national advisory commissions be appointed to provide such critically needed leadership.
I speak as briefly as possible because too much harm has already been done with irresponsible words of bitterness and selfish political opportunism. I speak as simply as possible because the issue is too great to be obscured by eloquence. I speak simply and briefly in the hope that my words will be taken to heart.
I speak as a Republican. I speak as a woman. I speak as a United States Senator. I speak as an American.
The United States Senate has long enjoyed worldwide respect as the greatest deliberative body in the world. But recently that deliberative character has too often been debased to the level of a forum of hate and character assassination sheltered by the shield of congressional immunity.
It is ironical that we Senators can in debate in the Senate directly or indirectly, by any form of words, impute to any American who is not a Senator any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming an American---and without that non-Senator American having any legal redress against us---yet if we say the same thing in the Senate about our colleagues we can be stopped on the grounds of being out of order.
It is strange that we can verbally attack anyone else without restraint and with full protection and yet we hold ourselves above the same type of criticism here on the Senate Floor. Surely the United States Senate is big enough to take self-criticism and self-appraisal. Surely we should be able to take the same kind of character attacks that we "dish out" to outsiders.
I think that it is high time for the United States Senate and its members to do some soul-searching---for us to weigh our consciences---on the manner in which we are performing our duty to the people of America---on the manner in which we are using or abusing our individual powers and privileges.
I think that it is high time that we remembered that we have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution. I think that it is high time that we remembered that the Constitution, as amended, speaks not only of the freedom of speech but also of trial by jury instead of trial by accusation.
Whether it be a criminal prosecution in court or a character prosecution in the Senate, there is little practical distinction when the life of a person has been ruined.
Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism:
The right to criticize;
The right to hold unpopular beliefs;
The right to protest;
The right of independent thought.

The exercise of these rights should not cost one single American citizen his reputation or his right to a livelihood nor should he be in danger of losing his reputation or livelihood merely because he happens to know someone who holds unpopular beliefs. Who of us doesn't? Otherwise none of us could call our souls our own. Otherwise thought control would have set in.
The American people are sick and tired of being afraid to speak their minds lest they be politically smeared as "Communists" or "Fascists" by their opponents. Freedom of speech is not what it used to be in America. It has been so abused by some that it is not exercised by others.

The American people are sick and tired of seeing innocent people smeared and guilty people whitewashed. But there have been enough proved cases such as the Amerasia case, the Hiss case, the Coplon case, the Gold case, to cause nationwide distrust and suspicion that there may be something to the unproved, sensational accusations.
As a Republican, I say to my colleagues on this side of the aisle that the Republican Party faces a challenge today that is not unlike the challenge that it faced back in Lincoln's day. The Republican Party so successfully met that challenge that it emerged from the Civil War as the champion of a united nation---in addition to being a Party that unrelentingly fought loose spending and loose programs.
Today our country is being psychologically divided by the confusion and the suspicions that are bred in the United States Senate to spread like cancerous tentacles of "know nothing, suspect everything" attitudes. Today we have a Democratic Administration that has developed a mania for loose spending and loose programs. History is repeating itself---and the Republican Party again has the opportunity to emerge as the champion of unity and prudence.
The record of the present Democratic Administration has provided us with sufficient campaign issues without the necessity to resorting to political smears. America is rapidly losing its position as leader of the world simply because the Democratic Administration has pitifully failed to provide effective leadership.
The Democratic Administration has completely confused the American people by its daily contradictory grave warnings and optimistic assurances---that show the people that our Democratic Administration has no idea of where it is going.
The Democratic Administration has greatly lost the confidence of the American people by it complacency to the threat of communism here at home and the leak of vital secrets to Russia through key officials of the Democratic Administration. There are enough proved cases to make this point without diluting our criticism with unproved charges.
Surely these are sufficient reasons to make it clear to the American people that it is time for a change and that a Republican victory is necessary to the security of this country. Surely it is clear that this nation will continue to suffer as long as it is governed by the present ineffective Democratic Administration.
Yet to displace it with a Republican regime embracing a philosophy that lacks political integrity or intellectual honesty would prove equally disastrous to this nation. The nation sorely needs a Republican victory. But I don't want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny---Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.
I doubt if the Republican Party could---simply because I don't believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest. Surely we Republicans aren't that desperate for victory.
I don't want to see the Republican party win that way. While it might be a fleeting victory for the Republican Party, it would be a more lasting defeat for the American people. Surely it would ultimately be suicide for the Republican Party and the two-party system that has protected our American liberties from the dictatorship of a one-party system.
As members of the Minority Party, we do not have the primary authority to formulate the policy of our Government. But we do have the responsibility of rendering constructive criticism, of clarifying issues, of allaying fears by acting as responsible citizens.
As a woman, I wonder how the mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters feel about the way in which members of their families have been politically mangled in Senate debate---and I use the word "debate" advisedly.
As a United States Senator, I am not proud of the way in which the Senate has been made a publicity platform for irresponsible sensationalism. I am not proud of the reckless abandon in which unproved charges have been hurled from this side of the aisle. I am not proud of the obviously staged, undignified countercharges that have been attempted in retaliation from the other side of the aisle.
I don't like the way the Senate has been made a rendezvous for vilification, for selfish political gain at the sacrifice of individual reputations and national unity. I am not proud of the way we smear outsiders from the Floor of the Senate and hide behind the cloak of congressional immunity and still place ourselves beyond criticism on the Floor of the Senate.
As an American, I am shocked at the way Republicans and Democrats alike are playing directly into the Communist design of "confuse, divide, and conquer." As an American, I don't want a Democratic Administration "whitewash" or "coverup" any more than I want a Republican smear or witch hunt.
As an American, I condemn a Republican "Fascist" just as much as I condemn a Democrat "Communist." I condemn a Democrat "Fascist" just as much as I condemn a Republican "Communist." They are equally dangerous to you and me and to our country. As an American, I want to see our nation recapture the strength and unity it once had when we fought the enemy instead of ourselves.
It is with these thoughts that I have drafted what I call a "Declaration of Conscience." I am gratified that Senator Tobey, Senator Aiken, Senator Morse, Senator Ives, Senator Thye, and Senator Hendrickson have concurred in that declaration and have authorized me to announce their concurrence.

Via Karen Woolsey (Toastmasters)

mercredi, mai 17, 2006

state of mind going into the stats final

Last week : o
Last night : ⁄
This afternoon : ]
Knowing it's going to be over soon : )

i'm with ya, sister

Pachyderm won't pace to keep off pounds
So far, it's only the trainers at the Alaska Zoo who seem to be breaking into a sweat.

They've so far made little progress trying to coax Maggie, a somewhat cantankerous African elephant, onto the world's first treadmill for a pachyderm.

For two months, Maggie's trainers have used her favorite treats -- watermelon, apples, carrots, peanuts in the shell, banana slices and sweet potatoes -- to entice the 8,000-pound elephant into exercising on the $100,000 piece of equipment.

parallel universe

While I've been in full-on finals study mode, the world has continued to spin much as it always does.

I missed Al Gore on SNL Saturday night (and W. this week — well, I wouldn't exactly say that I "missed" W., but you get the point). Anyhow, see what this week's presidential address might have been like if Al Gore had won in 2000.

Via Hilstah

mardi, mai 16, 2006


"What you bloggin' 'bout, Willis?"
- Allison Dolan to me, after her brain had gone soft from four hours of stats finals studying with Chrissy, Justin, and I tonight.

free association: el morro y la lengua

1) Last month, Diana mentioned that she and Ophy were going fishing. The reason: Diana wanted to catch a fish, skin it, and eat it. In short, she wanted to appreciate her food because of the effort it took to collect and prepare it.

2) This weekend, Leo and I were talking about the word for red (bell) peppers in Spanish. I use pimiento, he uses ají. So I got on the phone with my mom and she explained that morrón (for the morro, the snout of a cow) is also common in Argentina and Uruguay.

3) I follow a few photostreams on flickr. MatthewA is a talented guy who makes beauty look effortless and whose sense of humor leads to some very elaborate set-ups.

His photos often make me think. This one's no exception.

For more inspiration, and a great story about the revenge exacted upon gastropods by one cunning (and culinarily gifted) gardener, check out his blog. I swear that most of his stuff isn't about the food chain.


"My vernacular is off the hizzie."
-Zach Good, my erudite neighbor.

lundi, mai 15, 2006

as seen in the new york times

Yes, folks. That's Allison's papa, in the yellow jacket and the blue baseball hat on the right. He's Andover's fire chief and ended up in the Times story on the flooding in New England today.

And Jim Dolan is still at work as I blog this (10:15 p.m. PDT).

vendredi, mai 12, 2006


"Say what you mean, but don't say it mean."
-My friend Suzi

sign me up for Qwest

Yesterday, Leo called me, apoplectic about the Bush administration's domestic phone database. It may be time to file a class-action lawsuit against W. and his goons.

Ever-Expanding Secret
Published: May 12, 2006
Ever since its secret domestic wiretapping program was exposed, the Bush administration has depicted it as a narrow examination of calls made by and to terrorism suspects. But its refusal to provide any details about the extent of the spying has raised doubts. Now there is more reason than ever to be worried —and angry —about how wide the government's web has been reaching.

According to an article in USA Today, the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting telephone records on tens of millions of Americans with the cooperation of the three largest telecommunications companies in the nation. The scope of the domestic spying described in the article is breathtaking. The government is reported to be working with AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth to collect data on phone calls made by untold millions of customers.

President Bush has insisted in the past that the government is monitoring only calls that begin or end overseas. But according to USA Today, it has actually been collecting information on purely domestic calls. One source told the paper that the program had produced "the largest database ever assembled in the world."

The government has stressed that it is not listening in on phone calls, only analyzing the data to look for calling patterns. But if all the details of the program are confirmed, the invasion of privacy is substantial. By cross-referencing phone numbers with databases that link numbers to names and addresses, the government could compile dossiers of what people and organizations each American is in contact with.

The phone companies are doing a great disservice to their customers by cooperating. To its credit, one major company, Qwest, refused, according to the article, because it had doubts about the program's legality.

What we have here is a clandestine surveillance program of enormous size, which is being operated by members of the administration who are subject to no limits or scrutiny beyond what they deem to impose on one another. If the White House had gotten its way, the program would have run secretly until the war on terror ended — that is, forever.
Congress must stop pretending that it has no serious responsibilities for monitoring the situation. The Senate should call back Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and ask him — this time, under oath — about the scope of the program. This time, lawmakers should not roll over when Mr. Gonzales declines to provide answers. The confirmation hearings of Michael Hayden, President Bush's nominee for Central Intelligence Agency director, are also a natural forum for a serious, thorough and pointed review of exactly what has been going on.

Most of all, Congress should pass legislation that removes any doubt that this kind of warrantless spying on ordinary Americans is illegal. If the administration finds the current procedures for getting court approval of wiretaps too restrictive, this would be the time to make any needed adjustments.

President Bush began his defense of the N.S.A. program yesterday by invoking, as he often does, Sept. 11. The attacks that day firmed the nation's resolve to protect itself against its enemies, but they did not give the president the limitless power he now claims to intrude on the private communications of the American people.

wal-mart goes organic

Are you sitting down? Good.

Wal-Mart is the biggest seller of organic milk in the U.S. That's because of sheer numbers — it has the most distribution points (2,000 supercenters) of any food retailer. Now, it has decided that organic food will help modernize its image and has asked suppliers to help it offer more organic food. That poises it to become the nation's largest seller of organic products.

Wal-Mart Eyes Organic Foods
Published: May 12, 2006
Starting this summer, there will be a lot more organic food on supermarket shelves, and it should cost a lot less.

Most of the nation's major food producers are hard at work developing organic versions of their best-selling products, like Kellogg's Rice Krispies and Kraft's macaroni and cheese.

Why the sudden activity? In large part because Wal-Mart wants to sell more organic food — and because of its size and power, Wal-Mart usually gets what it wants.
As the nation's largest grocery retailer, Wal-Mart has decided that offering more organic food will help modernize its image and broaden its appeal to urban and other upscale consumers. It has asked its large suppliers to help.

Wal-Mart's interest is expected to change organic food production in substantial ways.

Some organic food advocates applaud the development, saying Wal-Mart's efforts will help expand the amount of land that is farmed organically and the quantities of organic food available to the public.

But others say the initiative will ultimately hurt organic farmers, will lower standards for the production of organic food and will undercut the environmental benefits of organic farming. And some nutritionists question the health benefits of the new organic products. "It's better for the planet, but not from a nutritional standpoint," said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. "It's a ploy to be able to charge more for junk food."

Shoppers who have been buying organic food in steadily greater quantities consider it healthier and better for the environment. Organic food — whether produce, meat or grain — must be grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizers and antibiotics. Then, before it is sold, the food cannot be treated with artificial preservatives, flavors or colors, among other things.

When Wal-Mart sells organic food on a much broader scale, it will have to meet the same Agriculture Department requirements. But nutritionists say the health benefits of many of these new offerings are negligible.

Wal-Mart says it wants to democratize organic food, making products affordable for those who are reluctant to pay premiums of 20 percent to 30 percent. At a recent conference, its chief marketing officer, John Fleming, said the company intended to sell organic products for just 10 percent more than their conventional equivalents.

Food industry analysts say that with its 2,000 supercenters and lower prices, Wal-Mart could soon be the nation's largest seller of organic products, surpassing Whole Foods. Already, it is the biggest seller of organic milk.

While organic food is still just 2.4 percent of the overall food industry, it has been growing at least 15 percent a year for the last 10 years. Currently valued at $14 billion, the organic food business is expected to increase to $23 billion over the next three years, though that figure could rise further with Wal-Mart's push.

Harvey Hartman, president of the Hartman Group, a consulting firm in Seattle that is working with Wal-Mart on its organic food initiatives, asserted: "What Wal-Mart has done is legitimized the market. All these companies who thought organics was a niche product now realize that it has an opportunity to become a big business."

Kellogg and Kraft say they began working on organic Rice Krispies and organic macaroni and cheese before having conversations with Wal-Mart. But David Mackay, chief operating officer at Kellogg, says it was helpful knowing that a big customer like Wal-Mart was enthusiastic about the product.

In July, Kellogg is planning to introduce organic Raisin Bran and organic Frosted Mini Wheats, with packages featuring the word 'organic' at the top in giant letters.

Other food companies say they are working on products at Wal-Mart's direction. General Mills and Pepsi say they plan to introduce new organic versions of some of their well-known brands late in 2006. These products are expected to appear in Wal-Mart first and then at other major retailers.

Officials at General Mills, the producer of Cheerios, Yoplait yogurt and Green Giant vegetables, among other things, and at PepsiCo, which owns the Tropicana and Quaker brands, declined to identify those products.

DeDe Priest, senior vice president for dry groceries at Wal-Mart, said the company had been urging food suppliers for the last year to embrace organic foods. At a recent conference in Rogers, Ark., near the company's headquarters in Bentonville, she said, "Once we let the companies know we were serious about this and that they needed to take it seriously, they moved pretty fast."

Bruce Peterson, head of perishable food at Wal-Mart, said that it aimed to change the way people think about the retailer.

"Consumers that gravitate to organic products don't always think of Wal-Mart as a top-of-mind destination to pick up those products," Mr. Peterson said. "We want to let customers know, 'Hey, we're in that business.' "

The strategy of working with food makers to tie in organic products with well-known brands represents a departure from the approach many of Wal-Mart's competitors are taking. Safeway, Kroger and SuperValu, which is set to acquire Albertsons, have private label organic lines with names like Nature's Best and O that they sell at prices below those of brand organic products.

Mr. Peterson said he thought that Wal-Mart's method would be more effective in appealing to customers because it relies on powerful brand names that have million of dollars in advertising backing them up.

But Wal-Mart's new push worries Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, an advocacy group that lobbies for strict standards and the preservation of small organic farms. He said Wal-Mart did not care about the principles behind organic agriculture and would ultimately drive down prices and squeeze organic farmers.

"This model of one size fits all and lowest prices possible doesn't work in organic," Mr. Cummins said. "Their business model is going to wreck organic the way it's wrecking retail stores, driving out all competitors."

Part of the problem, Mr. Cummins said, is that Wal-Mart is making a push into organics at a time there is already heavy demand and not enough supply.

"They're going to end up outsourcing from overseas and places like China," he said, " where you've got very dubious organic standards and labor conditions that are contrary to what any organic consumer would consider equitable."

Currently, some 10 percent of the organic food consumed in the United States is imported, according to the Agriculture Department. Kelly Strzelecki, an agricultural economist there, said she expected that share to increase.

Mr. Peterson, the Wal-Mart executive, says Wal-Mart is not now getting any of its organic products from overseas, but cannot predict if that will change. And he says Wal-Mart does not pay organic farmers less than others do, in part because the demand is so high. He said the lower prices offered to consumers were made possible by Wal-Mart's enormous volume and by having efficient distribution and inventory systems.

Some organic food advocates also fear that large-scale organic farming will not use the crop-rotation practices of the small farms, hurting the fields and reducing the health benefits of organic food.

Mr. Peterson's view of organic agriculture is markedly different from many of those involved in the field.

"Organic agriculture is just another method of agriculture — not better, not worse," he said. "This is like any other merchandising scheme we have, which is providing customers what they want. For those customers looking for an organic alternative in things like Rice Krispies, we now have an alternative for them."

Organic agriculture arose in the 1970's as a reaction to large-scale farms that confined animals and the increased use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers on crops. Many advocates of organic produce consider conventional agriculture to be harmful to the environment and to human health.

But Wal-Mart and some large food manufacturers are careful not to position their organic versions as superior to the original. "We have no intent to send a message that the standard Rice Krispies are somehow not great brands," Mr. Mackay of Kellogg said.

Organic Rice Krispies are made with cane juice instead of high-fructose corn syrup and without the artificial preservative BHT.

Mr. Hartman, the Seattle consultant, said organic now means different things to different people. "It's a multifaceted symbol representing everything from quality to health to ideology, and everything in between," he said. "It's something that lets people feel even better about their choices."

With processed products like organic Rice Krispies and organic macaroni and cheese soon to appear on store shelves, the organic movement seems to be fitting itself more into the wide variety of food available to Americans.

"People want you to offer them organic and natural," said David Driscoll, a food analyst at Citigroup. "But sometimes, they just want to eat a Pop-Tart."

jeudi, mai 11, 2006

egg fettucine with tuco

Leo and I made fresh pasta last Friday night. We used the kitchen aid pasta maker attachment that D and Ophy gave me for Christmas. (Thanks, ladies!)

While I was busy cutting the noodles, Leo made an amazing tuco, a traditional Uruguayan / Argentine tomato sauce, the name for which is derived from the Italian word for sauce, sugo.

Tuco Casero
1 kg. de tomate perita (roma tomato)
1 cebolla chica
1 diente de ajo
1/2 morrón rojo
1/2 morrón verde
aceite (cualquiera)
pimenton (paprika)

Poner a calentar el aceite a fuego lento. Picar la cebolla bien chiquita (o a gusto), lo mismo que el ajo (esaconsejable picarlo bien chiquito para que se disuelva en la salsa) poner a saltearlos en un sartén grande o cacerola. Primero la cebolla y cuando casi esté lista echarle el ajo para que no se queme. Echar los morrones junto a la cebolla y al ajo. Cuando esténrehogados, poner los tomates bien picados, salpimentar y poner el orégano, el pimenton y el laurel (a gusto) y dejar que rebaje. Una vez rebajado se le puede agregar agua de a poco y dejar estacionar unpar de horas para concentrar mejor los sabores.

Other Uruguyan recipe resources:

we lied to you for your own good

Omer snapped this pic in Phoenix last week.
Who knew that a red state would be so ... honest?

The billboard includes Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Aschroft, Novak, and Rove with the words:
"Dear America,
We lied to you for your own good.
Now trust us."
It also references, but there's really not much at the site yet. (Or the men in black have gotten to the site's owner.)

We lied to you for your own good by homernoh.

mercredi, mai 10, 2006

blame maggie thatcher

For many, soccer is life. But even if you're not a crazy footie, this article is hilarious.

First, some context for the non-footies among us: Manchester United fans are in a slather about footballer Wayne Rooney's recent injury that jeopardizes his chances of playing in the World Cup this summer.

Hand of history points to Maggie over Rooney injury
Marina Hyde
Thursday May 4, 2006
Instantly supplanting the War of Jenkins' Ear as history's most depressing conflict about a body part is the War of Rooney's Foot, currently being waged between Sir Alex Ferguson and Sven-Goran Eriksson. Yet as they fiddle, the rest of us get on with the real business: whom to burn for The End of the Dream(TM). Happily my eye is drawn to a letter to which suggests that stopping free school milk caused brittle bones in all subsequent generations of children, and therefore the blame for Rooney's injury must be laid at the door of Margaret Thatcher.

This seems reasonable. I will have no truck with those who, as the news broke on Saturday, wailed something along the lines of "that'll be brittle bones caused by the fiendish policy of fluorided water". Trivia buffs may care to know that the water in Rooney's home city of Liverpool is not fluoridated. (Incidentally, Gateshead's is - and you know what? The incidence of tooth decay is exactly the same. So if Graeme Souness fancies blaming his cursed Newcastle tenure on some Strangelovian government plot, he is urged to do some more digging. The PM's Toon fan schtick has always looked like a cover story.)
But if we all accept that the main contributory factors to the calamity are Rooney's bone density, boot design and the fact that he was playing football, then anyone with a passing knowledge of history can only blame the fractured metatarsal on one of three events.

First is the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which is tending towards the obvious but it did precipitate the first world war, ending in the Treaty of Versailles, which led to the rise of Hitler, which caused the second world war. This resulted in the devastation of much of Europe's infrastructure, which led to the Marshall Plan, which led to the German economic miracle, which enabled manufacturers such as Adidas and Puma to dominate the sports footwear market.

So a Stanford MBA student, Phil Knight, wrote his thesis on how cheaper shoes made in the Far East could undercut German dominance in the US market and, in 1962, he established Blue Ribbon Sports which eventually became Nike which, from the days of convincing the US track record holder Steve Prefontaine to wear its shoes, sought the best of the best for its celebrity endorsements programme, which ultimately led to Wayne Rooney being signed as a face of Nike, resulting last Tuesday in his endorsing the firm's new Total 90 Supremacy boot.

Alternatively some would say the seeds of the injury were sown when the second Tsar Nicholas II's troops opened fire on protesting peasants in the Bloody Sunday massacre of 1905. This led to the two Russian revolutions of 1917 and subsequent civil war, and the establishment of the Soviet Union. Its success in maintaining parity with the US during the Cold War arms race ultimately crippled its economy, which made Boris Yeltsin's privatisation of national industries appear a necessity. The policy allowed the young Roman Abramovich to amass his fortune, an infinitesimal proportion of which he spent on buying Chelsea. In days of yore Manchester United were so far ahead at this stage of the season that they could have rested Rooney, but the unstoppable behemoth that Chelsea have become meant that playing him last Saturday was a necessity.

Finally, though, need we look further than the first amendment to the unwritten British constitution, otherwise known as the Football and Fawlty Amendment? That is, "all events in human history must and shall be connected to the German invasion of Poland". It was the need to keep India on side in the second world war which led to Britain being forced to offer a deal that led to her independence, which effectively ended the empire and, with it, the traditional justification for British control over of the Suez Canal.

This ultimately precipitated the crisis which led to Anthony Eden's resignation. The report into Tory members' thoughts on a possible successor was prepared by Edward Heath, and his steering of the job towards Harold Macmillan in part contributed to his being made minister of labour in Macmillan's first cabinet. From there he rose up the ranks, eventually winning the 1970 general election while advocating his kooky Selsdon Man policies, which informed the push for budget cuts in - among other areas - education, leading to Thatcher's decision to end free school milk. And, metatarsally speaking, we all know how that turned out.

Via Tess

what's in a name?

Dolphins Name Themselves
May 10, 2006 — Dolphins create a signature whistle for themselves that researchers believe is comparable to a human name, suggests a new study.

The study, published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focused on bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus. But the researchers believe other dolphin species, including the common dolphin and the Pacific white-sided dolphin, also possess the signature whistles.

Dolphins now join spectacled parrotlets as the only animals other than humans known to name themselves, though researchers think there may be others.

The researchers played dolphin whistles to bottlenose dolphins at Sarasota Bay, Fla. The scientists stripped each whistle of everything but the basic frequency contour, resulting in a kind of generic dolphin voice analogous to a computerized human voice with no uniquely defining qualities.

Nine out of 14 dolphins turned their heads toward the speaker when they heard a synthesized version of a whistle delivered by a close relative.

The signals vary greatly, with some dolphins repeating sounds or altering patterns. Sayigh told Discovery News that the variations suggest the whistles may encode information beyond the name-like signatures, such as emotion.

While there is no convincing evidence that dolphins exhibit dialects in the way that people and birds show regional accents, the scientists have not ruled it out.

"Dolphins in Australia do seem to produce more simple whistles, while Florida dolphin whistles appear to be more modulated," she said. "Right now, we don’t know why that happens."

It's also unclear whether dolphin communication qualifies as language.

"Language by the standard definition must have syntax- or structuring of words- and reference," Sayigh explained. "Dolphins do have the ability to use artificial signals to refer to objects, but it is unclear at present if their vocalizations involve syntax."

Jim Oswald, spokesman for The Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands of California, told Discovery News that the new finding is "incredible, but not entirely unexpected."

In 2004-2005, Oswald's center helped rehabilitate and release a bottlenose dolphin.

"The dolphin wound up in the wrong pod upon release, but when he found his correct group, there were all sorts of signal vocalizations," Oswald said. "It was as though they were having a conversation, so it appears they really do communicate very specifically with each other using the sounds. Now that it is possible they have unique names, I wonder what else they name?"

lundi, mai 08, 2006

as seen in north park

This vintage Grand Marquis is for sale in my 'hood. Apparently, it's $1,175 and "runs good."

"whilst scaring infants with our wonky gnashers"

If this doesn't drive me to floss regularly, nothing will.

I found these British reactions to the Simpson's reference pretty funny. Also, Brits and Americans smile differently. But this comment, from a British blogger, slayed me.

In a Dentist Shortage, British (Ouch) Do It Themselves
ROCHDALE, England May 2 — "I snapped it out myself," said William Kelly, 43, describing his most recent dental procedure, the autoextraction of one of his upper teeth.

Now it is a jagged black stump, and the pain gnawing at Mr. Kelly's mouth has transferred itself to a different tooth, mottled and rickety, on the other side of his mouth. "I'm in the middle of pulling that one out, too," he said.
It is easy to be mean about British teeth. Mike Myers's mouth is a joke in itself in the "Austin Powers" movies. In a "Simpsons" episode, dentalphobic children are shown "The Big Book of British Smiles," cautionary photographs of hideously snaggletoothed Britons. In Mexico, protruding, discolored and generally unfortunate teeth are known as "dientes de ingles."

But the problem is serious. Mr. Kelly's predicament is not just a result of cigarettes and possibly indifferent oral hygiene; he is careful to brush once a day, he said. Instead, it is due in large part to the deficiencies in Britain's state-financed dental service, which, stretched beyond its limit, no longer serves everyone and no longer even pretends to try.

Mr. Kelly, interviewed in a health clinic here as he waited for his son to see a doctor, last visited a dentist six years ago, in Sussex.
Since moving to Rochdale, a working-class suburb of Manchester, he has been unable to find a National Health Service dentist willing to take him on.
Every time he has tried to sign up, lining up with hundreds of others from the ranks of the desperate and the hurting — "I've seen people with bleeding gums where they've ripped their teeth out," he said grimly — he has arrived too late and missed the cutoff.

"You could argue that Britain has not seen lines like this since World War II," said Mark Pritchard, a member of Parliament who represents part of Shropshire, where the situation is just as grim. "Churchill once said that the British are great queuers, but I don't think he meant that in connection to dental care."
Britain has too few public dentists for too many people. At the beginning of the year, just 49 percent of the adults and 63 percent of the children in England and Wales were registered with public dentists.

And now, discouraged by what they say is the assembly-line nature of the job and by a new contract that pays them to perform a set number of "units of dental activity" per year, even more dentists are abandoning the health service and going into private practice — some 2,000 in April alone, the British Dental Association says.
How does this affect the teeth of the nation?

"People are not registered with dentists, they can't afford to go private and therefore their teeth are going rotten," said Paul Rowen, the member of Parliament for Rochdale. Rotting teeth and no one to treat them are among his constituents' biggest complaints, up there with gas prices and shrinking pensions. Just 33 percent of the Rochdale population is signed up with a state dentist, down from 58 percent in 1997.

Nor is the level of care what it might be. The system, critics say, encourages state dentists to see too many patients in too short a time and to cut corners by, for instance, extracting teeth rather than performing root canals.

Claire Dacey, a nurse for a private dentist, said that when she worked in the National Health Service one dentist in the practice performed cleanings in five minutes flat.

Moreover, she said, by the time patients got in to see a dentist, many were in terrible shape.

"I had a lady who was in so much pain and had to wait so long that she got herself drunk and had her friend take out her tooth with a pair of pliers," Ms. Dacey said.
Some people simply seek treatment abroad.

"I saw it on the Internet," said Josie Johnson, 42, of London, describing how she heard about a company called Vital Europe, which offers dental-and-vacation packages to Hungary. "It's a quite small country, and I thought, they specialize in dentistry — so that's what I might do."

The dentists she consulted in London told her the four implants she needs would cost 8,000 to 10,000 pounds ($14,900 to $18,600); similar treatment in Budapest costs 3,200 to 4,400 pounds ($5,900 to $8,200), according to VitalEurope.

Beyond that, she said, "I can make a holiday of it."
In Rochdale, people who have no dentist but who are in dire straits can visit an emergency clinic that very day — provided they can get an appointment. The phones open at 8 a.m.; the books are closed by about 8:10.

"We see toothaches through trauma, toothaches through neglect, dental caries, dental abscesses, gum disease," said Dr. Khalid Anis, the clinical leader for the emergency facility, the Dental Access Center. "What we see is shocking."

Dr. Anis enumerated some positive dental developments in Rochdale: a second, soon-to-be-opened clinic; an aggressive community-health program; a political push, finally, to fluoridate the water. But, he said, "sometimes I feel as if I'm hitting my head against a brick wall."

The waiting room at the center was a testament to his concerns. Sitting by the window was George Glasper, 81. One of Mr. Glasper's teeth had broken off a week earlier, but when he called his dentist, he was told the practice had become a private one. Efforts to sign up with four other dentists failed, he said.

Nearby sat Shahana Begum, 27, a Bangladeshi immigrant with a bad toothache and no dentist. Her stepdaughter, Sanya Karim, 16, said her family had been trying to find a health service dentist for six years, since moving to Rochdale from Birmingham.

Occasionally, Miss Karim says, she feels a twinge or an ache, but she tries to ignore it. "It normally goes away in a couple of days," she said.

In extremis, Britons can always buy dental emergency supplies made by a company called Passion for Health DenTek. These include materials that allow people to replace lost fillings, treat gum pain or reattach cracked crowns "until they can actually get in and see a dentist," said Jennifer Stone, the company's sales and marketing director. Sales in Britain have increased by 40 percent in the last year, Ms. Stone said.

A recent Guardian newspaper article about the company titled "D.I.Y. Dentistry" (meaning Do It Yourself) said that the previous week British drugstores had sold 6,000 jars of the filling replacement, and 6,000 of the crown-and-cap replacement.
Ms. Stone, an American, says she is struck by the profound differences in attitudes about dental care in Britain and the United States.

"Prevention and having nice white shiny teeth is a huge priority for us from the moment we're born," she said. "That doesn't seem to be the culture here. You've got a lot of tea drinkers; you've got a lot of staining. In the U.S., we go through a spool of dental floss in six weeks, on average. Here it's a year and a half."

Back in Rochdale clinic, Dr. Anis laughed hollowly when the word came up in connection with his patients, who come from some of the area's most deprived neighborhoods. "Floss?" he said. "That's a good one."

getting your word on

Geeking out in wordy way:
Double-Tongued Word Wrester Dictionary records undocumented or under-documented words from the fringes of English. It focuses upon slang, jargon, and other niche categories which include new, foreign, hybrid, archaic, obsolete, and rare words. Special attention is paid to the lending and borrowing of words between the various Englishes and other languages, even where a word is not a fully naturalized citizen in its new language.

dimanche, mai 07, 2006

dutch babies

Cass invited Leo and I over for breakfast with her, Josh, Geoff, and Cartwright. When we heard what she was making (Dutch babies), our curiosity got the best of us. For the record, this breakfast dish is somewhere in between a soufflé and crêpes.

3 eggs, beaten
½ cup milk
½ cup flour
½ tsp salt
2 TBSP melted butter
2 TBSP melted butter (for pan)

Using a mixer or whisk, combine all ingredients. Place in a buttered pyrex dish (8 ½ x 11 ½ for fat dutch babies; 9 x 13 for slightly thinner dutch babies). Bake at 425ºF (450ºF in metal pan) for 15 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with powdered sugar and lemon juice.
Via Cass

mercredi, mai 03, 2006

reach for what pays up, al

Eric, this one's for you. Please sit down before you read this.

While at the House of Blues for a show tonight, I took a closer look at the concert poster for an upcoming Ministry / RevCo show. The old-skool handbill-style poster was cool, but I couldn't help showing Leo who's sponsoring the tour: VH1 Classic.

Kiss the universe goodbye, because the end times are near. How else could you explain something as bizarre as VH1 ("VH1, VH1") underwriting a tour starring Al Jourgensen and co?

mardi, mai 02, 2006

just don't fuck with the wings

Oh, one more thing. Today's "the show with zefrank" comes to us from France.

people are still having sex

Abstinence isn't working.

Even the Catholic church is considering approving condom use as a way to preserve the life of a spouse of someone who is HIV-positive.

But the most radical approach du jour is circumcision. Men in southern Africa are lining up and doctors can't keep up with demand. Studies indicate it can cut the risk of getting HIV by two-thirds and can lower the risk of giving HIV to a partner by 30 percent. (The theory is that cells in the foreskin are susceptible to the virus and likely to pass it on. )

  1. Banging lots of partners is the big HIV risk factor, and men who get circumcised may feel free to do more of that.
  2. Some men in line are getting circumcised because they think it'll make sex more enjoyable, so their cosmetic surgery is delaying another guy's life-saving surgery.
  3. Medicine men are getting into the act, and every year, the authorities in Eastern Cape Province in South Africa report deaths and amputations from botched circumcisions of young boys.


Consider yourself warned — if you start exploring Ze Frank, you will lose 8 hours to it. It's addictive...

Ze (pronounced "zay", short for Hosea) rose quickly from obscurity to world fame a few years ago with his viral e-mail "How To Dance Properly," a series of short looped video clips that the Brooklyn-based artist and Web designer sent to friends as an invite to his birthday party.

He's since done lots more videos, including advanced dancing and this clever one, on e-mail communication.
Via Industrial Brand Creative, Inc.

now playing in corporations everywhere

Passive-aggressive management techniques 101: Addressing Employee Complaints.

lundi, mai 01, 2006

ay, papi

My friends all know that I'm fairly tolerant when it comes to romantic relationships. So long as it's consensual, I don't care if it's a man/woman, man/man, or a woman/woman relationship.

But I have trouble with power dynamics, which is why I don't buy most plural relationships and why I definitely balk at relationships where one person is old enough to be the other person's parent. Simply put, it's just ain't right when your baby's daddy could be your daddy. It turns out that biology is backing me up on this one:

Older men are more likely to produce premature babies. For a mother 20 to 24 years old, the risk of bearing a child before 32 weeks' gestation almost doubles if the father is 45 to 49 years old rather than 25 to 29. The younger the mother, the stronger the effect. Previous studies have linked older fathers to some pregnancy complications, birth defects, and diseases in offspring.

  1. Men may accumulate bad mutations as they age or are exposed to toxins.
  2. Nature may discourage big age differences between parents because they're disadvantageous to the child.
  3. For God's sake, she's young enough to be your daughter.
Via Slate: Human Nature

balls. ginormous balls.

Stephen Colbert has Balls
Head on over to Crooks and Liars and take a look at the clip of Colbert's remarks at the White House Press Corps Dinner. He just tears the press corps and the Bush administration apart. And Bush is sitting like 10 feet away. I'm sure Bush worked himself into a proper Nixonian lather after the event. Way to speak truth to power, Stephen. In all seriousness, don't ride in any small planes for the next three years.

This write up is pretty good and also contains links to the full video.
Via Neal

it couldn't happen to a nicer guy

Okay, this is my second schadenfreude moment of the morning. (The first was sending the Macs getting viruses story to Leo.) But I really can't help myself.
Rush Rung Up for Drug Fraud - Yahoo! News
The state of Florida has written Rush Limbaugh a prescription for staying out of jail. Now he just needs to fill it.

The conservative radio host, whose battle with an addiction to painkillers (as well as the accompanying legal foibles) went public a few years ago, was arrested Friday afternoon on a prescription drug fraud charge, according to Florida law enforcement officials.

Limbaugh turned himself in after an arrest warrant was issued by the state attorney's office. Limbaugh, with lawyer Roy Black in tow, had his mug shot taken, was booked and, an hour later, was on his way back to his seaside Palm Beach mansion after forking over $3,000 for bail.

According to state attorney spokeswoman Teri Barbera, the arrest warrant stated that Limbaugh--who may have done more to make OxyContin a brand name than any marketing campaign could have accomplished--had concealed information from doctors in order to obtain prescription medication.

Florida authorities seized a heap of Limbaugh's medical records three years ago after learning that, in a period of six months, he had purchased about 2,000 pills prescribed by four different doctors. The fact that all of the prescriptions were filled at the same pharmacy apparently piqued state prosecutors' interest.

The state attorney concluded that Limbaugh went "doctor shopping," the process of giving different tales of woe to different doctors to get meds more easily. Which, as you may have guessed, is illegal.

Limbaugh, who attracts between 14 and 20 million listeners a week to his nationally syndicated daily talk show, is facing one charge of doctor shopping and has entered a plea of not guilty in court. But, per an agreement with prosecutors, the charge is being held in abeyance--put on hold, in other words--while Limbaugh and the state attorney work out a formal agreement that is set to be officially filed Monday.

Under the terms of the work in progress, Limbaugh will continue going to treatment under the care of the same doctor he's been seeing for the past two and a half years. Once he has completed another 18 months of counseling--and doesn't violate the law in any other way during that time--the Florida court will drop the latest charge against him. He'll pay $30 a month for the court's "supervision."

The 55-year-old Limbaugh will also pony up $30,000 payment for to the state to "defray the public cost of the investigation," according to Black.

"I am pleased to announce that the state attorney's office and Mr. Limbaugh have reached an agreement whereby a single count charge of doctor shopping filed today by the State Attorney will be dismissed in 18 months," Black said in a statement, adding that Limbaugh's current doctor has helped his patient stay addiction-free with no relapses since being under his care.

"Mr. Limbaugh and I have maintained from the start that there was no doctor shopping, and we continue to hold this position," Black said. "Mr. Limbaugh had intended to remain in treatment. Thus, we believe the outcome for him personally will be much as if he had fought the charge and won."

Tony Knight, a spokesman for Limbaugh, told reporters that the radio personality signed the agreement Thursday and that the situation was a "concluded deal."

The state attorney's office has not yet received the signed papers, according to spokesman Mike Edmondson.

"I am not disputing the facts, the conditions that Black represented, but until his client signed the agreement, we don't have a full agreement. I am sure it's just a timeline issue."

Other parties seemed perfectly satisfied with the arrangement.

"I'm pleased that a settlement has been reached between Rush Limbaugh and the state of Florida that finally brings this matter to an end. Rush's not guilty plea is consistent with the position he has taken all along," Premiere Radio Networks President and Chief Operating Officer Kraig Kitchin said in a statement. "Throughout it all, he has continued to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to his listeners, affiliates, and advertisers. We have always stood by Rush--for good reason--and will continue to do so."

Five years ago Limbaugh underwent surgery to have an electronic device implanted in his skull to restore his hearing after announcing he had lost most of it due to an autoimmune inner-ear disease. Medical research has revealed another potential cause of hearing loss, however--abuse of opiate-based painkillers. Hmmm...

In 2003, Limbaugh announced that he became addicted to the meds while suffering from major back pain, and he entered rehab later that year, taking a five-week break from his radio show. Prior to his admission Limbaugh had derided drug use for years both on TV and on the radio, saying that it was "destroying our country" and that users should be "sent up." (To prison, we presume.)

After his rehab stint, following a tip from Limbaugh's former maid, Wilma Cline, that she and her husband sold her boss pills, authorities investigated the radio host's medical records and turned up excessive prescriptions for OxyContin, Lorcet, Norco and other painkillers; the anxiety drug Xanax; and cholesterol-reducing and blood pressure medications.

Limbaugh protested the alleged invasion of his privacy, but last year the Florida State Supreme Court ruled against his claim, paving the way for further investigation.

gas-free beans

Last night's trivial pursuit game included a question about what country in the Western hemisphere has the biggest oil and gas reserves. The answer is Venezuela.

It turns out that Venezuelan scientists are also tackling another type of gas:
Scientists find secret to gas-free beans
Tuesday, April 25, 2006; Posted: 3:05 p.m. EDT (19:05 GMT)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Two strains of bacteria are the key to making beans flatulence-free, Venezuelan researchers reported on Tuesday.

They identified two bacteria, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum, which can be added to beans so they cause minimal distress to those who eat them, and to those around the bean-lovers, Marisela Granito of Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, Venezuela and colleagues reported.

Flatulence is gas released by bacteria that live in the large intestine when they break down food. Fermenting makes food more digestible earlier on.

Writing in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Granito and colleagues found that adding these two gut bacteria to beans before cooking them made them even less likely to cause flatulence.

They tested black beans, known scientifically as Phaseolus vulgaris.

"Legumes, and particularly Phaseolus vulgaris, are an important source of nutrients, especially in developing countries," Granito's team wrote in the report.

"In spite of being part of the staple diets of these populations, their consumption is limited by the flatulence they produce."

Smart cooks know they can ferment beans, and make them less gas-inducing, by cooking them in the liquor from a previous batch. But Granito's team wanted to find out just which bacteria were responsible for this.

When the researchers fermented black beans with the two bacteria, they found it decreased the soluble fiber content by more than 60 percent and lowered levels of raffinose, a compound known to cause gas, by 88 percent.

They fed the beans to rats and then analyzed the rats' droppings to ensure that the beans were digested and kept their nutritional value.

When pre-soaked in the L. casei, the beans stayed nutritious and produced few gas-causing compounds, they reported.

"Therefore, the lactic acid bacteria involved in the bean fermentation, which include L. casei as a probiotic, could be used as functional starter cultures in the food industry," the researchers wrote.

"Likewise, the cooking applied after induced fermentation produced an additional diminution of the compounds related to flatulence."

are you catholic? you should be.

My friend Suzi's son is studying abroad in Argentina right now. Here's a posting from his blog.

Are YOU Catholic: You should be!
So, to those who are still reading, all apologies for not bloging recently. This entry's going to be about a short conversation i recently had with my house-mother here. I think it was funny; or would be, if i wasn't me and still living with her (my house mother).

The conversation started because my new roommate suzanne thought that i was a catholic missionary.
My house mother (HM) proceeded to explain to suzanne that I am just a student at the Catholic University. After her explanation she turned to me and said: But you are a Catholic right?

Me: No
HM: Ohhh, you're a protestant then.
Me (i think this is where cayete la boca would have been an appropriate thing for someone to say to me): No, closer though.
HM: Well, what religion are you then?
Me: I'm not religious
Me: NO.
HM: You do believe in something right?
Me: Of course, everyone has beliefs.
HM: Thank god, i was begining to worry that you didn't believe in God.
Me: I don't
HM: ! (near tears, apparently she is VERY religious. Though, in my defense, she asked and I answered honestly): Then what could you possibly believe in!
Me: Science... and Money.