lundi, mars 31, 2008
vendredi, mars 28, 2008
mercredi, mars 26, 2008
Here's what Leo thought of when I asked if he'd heard of Pismo Beach, complete with something about a left turn at Albuhkoikey and a right turn at La Jol-la.
mardi, mars 25, 2008
A Guide to the French. Handle With Care.
By ELAINE SCIOLINO
Published: March 23, 2008
PARIS — “Every man has two countries, his own and France,” says a character in a play by the 19th- century poet and playwright Henri de Bornier. In five and a half years living in Paris as an American correspondent, I have tried to make the country my own, knowing that I never will completely fit in, but always will be fascinated. So as I finish my stint as Paris bureau chief and move on to a new beat here, it seems a good moment to offer eight lessons learned.
1: Look in the Rear-View Mirror
To begin to understand France, you have to look back. The French are obsessed with history. Part of this feeling is a genuine affinity for the past, part a desire to cling to lost glory, part an insecurity that comes with a tepid economy and the struggle to integrate a growing Arab and African population.
Marie-Antoinette regularly makes the covers of magazines. So does Napoleon Bonaparte.
No anniversary is too minor to celebrate. In my time here, France has marked the 20th anniversary of France’s sinking of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior, the 200th anniversary of the high school baccalaureate diploma, the 60th anniversary of the bikini and the 100th anniversary of the brassiere.
For the 100th anniversary of her birth in January, Simone de Beauvoir was celebrated with half a dozen biographies, a DVD series, a three-day scholarly symposium and a cover of the magazine Le Nouvel Observateur with a nude photo of her from the back.
2: An Interview Is Sometimes Not an Interview
Their love of history doesn’t mean the French always render it accurately. It has long been common practice for journalists in France to allow their interview subjects to edit their words. “Read and corrected,” the system is called.
I once took part in an interview with Jacques Chirac, when he was president, in which he said it would not be all that dangerous for Iran to have a nuclear weapon or two. That certainly was not French policy. So the official Élysée Palace transcript left out the line and replaced it with this: “I do not see what type of scenario could justify Iran’s recourse to an atomic bomb.”
The practice of doctoring the transcript has continued under President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Last month, the president lost his temper when a bystander refused to shake his hand at the annual agricultural fair. (A polite translation of what he said would be, “Get lost, you stupid jerk!”) The incident, captured on video, was seen by millions on the Internet.
According to the daily Le Parisien the next day, Mr. Sarkozy later expressed regret in an interview, saying, “It would have been better if I had not responded to him.” But the paper’s editor soon confessed that the words of regret were “never uttered.” They had been edited into the transcript by the Élysée Palace.
3: The Customer Is Always Wrong
It is hard for French merchants to admit they are wrong, and seemingly impossible for them to apologize. Instead, the trick is to somehow get the offended party to feel the mistake was his or her own. I’m convinced the practice was learned in the strict French educational system, in which teachers are allowed to tell pupils they are “zeros” in front of the entire class.
A doctor I know told me he once bought a coat at a small men’s boutique only to discover that it had a rip in the fabric. When he tried to return it, the shopkeeper gave him the address of a tailor who could repair it — for a large fee. They argued, and the doctor reminded the shopkeeper of the French saying, “The customer is king.”
“Sir,” the shopkeeper replied, “We no longer have a king in France.”
4: Make Friends With a Good Butcher
With food as important as it is here, one of the most important men in your life should be your butcher. Mine, Monsieur Yvon, is more than a cutter of meat. He is a playful spirit in a rather sober neighborhood — and the exception to the customer-is-always-wrong rule.
In his tiny shop on the Rue de Varenne, between the Luxembourg Gardens and Les Invalides in the Seventh Arrondissement, Monsieur Yvon has donned a necklace of his homemade sausages to get a conversation going. At Christmas, he and his team of butchers put on elves’ hats with blinking lights. He offers passers-by free charcuterie and glasses of Beaujolais nouveau every fall. He is so deeply trusted that when avian flu struck France, his poultry sales went up, not down.
Monsieur Yvon has cooked my Thanksgiving turkey when it was too big for my oven and taught me how to make the perfect pot-au-feu. I have watched him lovingly choose just the right pair of center-cut lamb chops for an elderly client. Were they to be cooked today or tomorrow? Grilled or sautéed?
Even when he bears bad news, his explanations are delicious. Once I ordered a 16-pound turkey and got an 11-pound bird instead.
“It was the fault of the foxes,” he said gravely.
“The foxes?” I asked.
“Yes, the foxes.” It seemed that the electric fence surrounding the turkey pen had shorted out and the foxes had had a field day.
“They only ate the big turkeys,” he explained.
5: Kiss, but Be Careful Whom You Hug
The French need no excuse to kiss. The first time I was kissed by a Frenchman was on July 20, 1969, the day a man landed on the moon. I was a student with a backpack, arriving at the Gare de Lyon. The newspaper seller kissed me on both cheeks because I was an American.
The ritual double “bisou” — the two-cheek kiss — takes some getting used to. There is nothing sexy about it, but it can be awkward, especially for my adolescent daughters when they are required to kiss strange men.
Mr. Chirac never seemed to relish the formal, jerky air kisses. He is more of a hand-kisser. He knows how to cradle a woman’s hand in his, raise the hand to chest level, bend over to meet it halfway and savor its feel and scent.
Mr. Sarkozy is unpredictable. When he’s in a bad mood, he might offer a curt “Bonjour” and a cold handshake. With those he likes, he gets really close and hugs. They sometimes hug back, as did Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, during a visit this month to the Élysée. But the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has made it clear through her aides that she is not a hugger and needs her space.
6: Don’t Wear Jogging Clothes to Buy a Pound of Butter
Rules govern even the smallest activities. I was making chocolate chip cookies one Saturday afternoon and ran out of butter. Dusted with flour, still in my morning jogging clothes, I dashed out to the convenience store up the street. The problem was that it is not just any street. It’s the Rue du Bac, one of the most chic places to see and be seen on Saturdays. I heard my name called and turned to face a senior Foreign Ministry official, dressed in pressed jeans and a soft-as-butter leather jacket, wearing an amused look, and carrying a small Nespresso shopping bag.
We went to a corner cafe for a drink. The Swedish ambassador and his wife stopped as they were riding by on their bikes. Both were in tailored tweed blazers, slim pants and loafers. Then Robert M. Kimmitt, the deputy treasury secretary, walked by.
He and my foreign ministry friend joked that my style didn’t match the setting. I made the point that it was my neighborhood and I could dress however I wanted. But as my French women friends told me afterward, jogging clothes (shoes included) are to be removed as soon as one’s exercise is over.
7: Feeling Sexy Is a State of Mind, or: Buy Good Lingerie
In her close-fitting sweaters and pants and tailored leather jackets, Eliane Victor is both stylish and alluring. The retired author and journalist is in her late 80s.
For French women, being sexy has nothing to do with age and everything to do with attitude. Arielle Dombasle, the actress and cabaret singer married to the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, dared to expose her breasts on the cover of Paris Match and took off her clothes in a song-and-dance revue at Crazy Horse in Paris. Some people feel she tries too hard. But give the lady some credit. She’s turning 50 and has a Barbie-doll body.
A 600-page sociological study of sexuality in France released this month concluded that 9 out of 10 women over 50 are sexually active. The sexiest French women seem naturally skilled in the art of moving, smiling and flirting.
Chic French women prefer to peel and polish rather than paint their faces. Too much makeup, they say, makes a woman seem older, or worse, “vulgaire.” “The most beautiful makeup for a woman is passion,” Yves Saint Laurent once said. “But cosmetics are easier to buy.”
French women spend close to 20 percent of their clothing budgets on lingerie. But you also have to know how to wear it. When the Galeries Lafayette department store inaugurated its 28,000-square-foot lingerie shop in 2003, it offered free half-hour lessons by professional striptease artists.
8: When It Comes to Politesse, There Is No End to the Lessons
Never use the word “toilette” when asking a host for directions to the powder room; try to avoid going there at all. Never say “Bon appétit” at the start of a meal. Don’t talk loudly. Never discuss your religion or your money at dinner. Eat hamburgers, pizza, foie gras and sorbet with a fork. Always say “bonjour” to the bus driver, and to fellow passengers on elevators. “Pas mal” doesn’t necessarily mean “Not bad.” It can mean “Great!”
lundi, mars 24, 2008
This classic Italian dish is traditionally served with veal shanks, though it would also make a fine side for braised short ribs, roasted and grilled fish, or beef tenderloin.
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
3 tablespoons finely chopped prosciutto (about 1 ounce)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
1/3 cup white wine
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup)
- Combine saffron and broth in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots, prosciutto, and garlic to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until shallots are tender. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.
- Add broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Remove from heat; stir in cheese and pepper. Serve immediately.
Nutritional Information: CALORIES 152(25% from fat); FAT 4.2g (sat 2.4g,mono 1.3g,poly 0.3g); PROTEIN 7.4g; CHOLESTEROL 14mg; CALCIUM 75mg; SODIUM 524mg; FIBER 1.2g; IRON 0.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 20.5g
David Bonom , Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2007
jeudi, mars 20, 2008
Try as I might, I couldn't find joy or celebrate his death while at his homegoing. (As a man of faith, his funeral was no somber affair. Instead, it was a time of singing and celebration.) It was my first funeral, and unlike anything I expected or have ever experienced.
I heard remembrances from friends and family, and laughed and cried at the vignettes shared. One, about Steven's love of music and the first time he took his son Craig to an Earth, Wind and Fire show, had me smiling. Another, about a remark Steven made to his pastor when he was near the end and had a lucid, pain-free moment where he uttered one word -- "tremendous" -- repeatedly, left me hopeful. A final one -- about how Steven always ended his conversations this year with the words "I love you and I appreciate you" -- reminded me to always ensure that my loved ones know how I feel about them.
But one remembrance epitomized why I have such respect for Steven: it spoke of his grace and his strength in the attitude he chose to very end. Our friend Sandra read her beautiful eulogy and said the words that all of us needed to hear, but didn't have language to express.
For Stevie C. who asked me to speak at his homegoing celebration:As his casket left the church, I sobbed again when I glimpsed the "get well" banner that Geraghty and Lori made for him last year when he was in the hospital receiving chemo. After leaving the sanctuary, I reached for colleagues and friends who were also grieving, and trying to get to the emotional place where they could celebrate his death as more than just the end of his suffering. But when I left the church, I just wasn't in that space yet.
This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
My brother Steven would want me to share that thought with you this morning. He would want me to remind you that despite our tears and sorrow, we have good reason to celebrate today.
We can celebrate because Steven is home. His long night of suffering is over. And our long night of watching him suffer is over. The body that failed him has died. But Steven himself is more alive than we. And we will see him again. This is the great hope that sustained our brother Steven. This is the great assurance we share as people of faith.
Some will dismiss our belief in things we cannot humanly perceive as quaint, naive, even delusional. But how then will they explain the courage, the perseverance, the unfailing sweetness of spirit that Steven displayed throughout a long and grueling illness he knew would ultimately take his life? What we have witnessed over this past year, in both Steven’s and Craig’s responses to inconceivable hardship, has been nothing short of supernatural. I asked Steven once how he did it, and he said, “In the middle of the storm, in the middle of the typhoon, you just close your eyes and say, thank you.”
We have a saying in our family: It matters how you finish. And what we mean by that is, it really doesn’t matter what you accomplish or accumulate in this life, how high you rise in society or business or government, none of that matters if you throw it all away in the end. And conversely, it doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make along the way if you learn and grow beyond them. Because in the end what matters isn’t what we’ve done, but who we’ve been. What matters is the content of our character.
When I think of Steven, I will think of a man no more perfect than any of us, but a man of character and commitment, an extraordinary father and a wonderful friend. I will think of a man of faith, who died as he lived, counting every day a blessing and every blessing a reason for thanksgiving. When I think of my brother Steven, I will think of a man who finished well.
Over the next week, I had two unexpected moments that got me there. The first came when I turned on the TV in our hotel room in Solvang to do a homework assignment for a Comm class. Although I'd finished the assignment, I lingered on that channel for a few minutes longer before getting dressed to go to dinner. I had to sit down when Earth, Wind and Fire opened the Nobel laureate concert. Two hours later, I was already sitting down when the second moment came with Leo's one-word summary of an exquisite meal we enjoyed at the Ballard Inn: "tremendous."
Both moments left me slack-jawed and incredulous, because I am not a person who believes in god or fate or messages from beyond. What I'm left with is a profound feeling of peace and a heart that is grateful for having shared a few moments with a man who finished well.
lundi, mars 10, 2008
I was ruminating on that when I stepped into the elevator this morning. In three short seconds, I was stressing out in earnest about how I was going to get everything done and remain sane through a week that includes handing off my project to a consultant, packing up my office, two midterms, an hour-long (as-yet unwritten) presentation at an annual professional meeting on Friday, and getting myself ready to go out of town for a week. Then I got news that put everything else into perspective -- our colleague Steven lost his battle with cancer this weekend.
As I read the obituary that his good friend Sandra wrote, I learned new things about a man for whom I already had a great deal of respect. Seeing the words on the page early this morning made his death seem real from a purely cerebral perspective. When I re-read the piece tonight and saw the photo of him with his college-age son, I finally processed the news emotionally and the tears began to fall.
I'm glad that he is no longer in pain. I'm glad that he had 10 months to tell his son and others how much he loved them. I'm glad that all of us had 10 months to tell him that we loved him.
It's not the details of how Steven lived that amaze me. It's the attitude he chose to have through the very end that inspires me. Every day was a gift for Steven. But 54 years was a cruelly short amount of time for him to be a blessing to others.
mercredi, mars 05, 2008
Working on a college campus means that I get an eyeful of the latest in women's undergarment fashion on a daily basis. I see the color, outline, and (often) the detailing on the thong, panty, or g-string du jour ... I'm a complete stranger and these girls have all of their wares out on display. It makes me very uncomfortable -- not because I'm a prude, but because I wonder if they're even thinking about what it is that they're literally buying into.
I'm also not a fan of the color pink (the infantilization of women -- especially by women -- pisses me off), and I've hated the Victoria's Secret "PINK" line (and Juicy Couture) since, well forever. It's not just that butts are used as billboards by teens and twenty-somethings, it's that PINK is slang for vagina. Say it with me, people: va-gi-na. That just doesn't have the same marketing ring now, does it?
Attire for the thinking woman
March 1st, 2008
Every time I see a thirteen year old girl clunking through an airport or a mall in Ugg boots and a matching velour tracksuit with the word PINK embroidered across her tender young buttocks in collegiate-style lettering, I can’t help but think there is something distastefully wrong with the message. So, I had a good guffaw-coffee-through-the-nose-hole moment today when I read that the CEO of Victoria’s Secret feels that her company has “gotten off our heritage” (wha…?…the woman needs to look up the definition of the word) by becoming “too sexy.”
The company, according to her, needs a return to their intended ideal of ultra-feminine and I have to agree, since there are a lot of things more feminine than women (of all ages) browsing the aisles of Costco, clad in Victoria’s Secret PUSSY PINK line? When I see that young girl obliviously advertising her vagina across her backside as she boards a Southwest flight to Scottsdale, smacking her bubble gum, holding her In Style magazine and squeezing the oversized teddy bear tucked under her arm, I don’t instantly associate her with ultra-feminine. Of course, it could be that the Uggs cancel out the feminine quota of the tush lettering.
In aiming for the über-femme, I think the CEO should take a more direct approach; a more educational, empowering, PSA sort of angle. I suggest she go straight-up blatant on the consumer with her ass-messages and begin offering a line with choices like LABIA, MONS, PUBIS, VULVA and CLITORIS. Maybe that’s too clinical for some, but I’d wear those pants long before I ever shook my milkshake with a euphemism for my lady bits plastered on it. Because those other words? Those words are ultra-feminine.
mardi, mars 04, 2008
Anyhow, here are a few of the better ones.
Zazoo (Belgium): I still think this is the best ad ever for birth control
Condom PSA (Sweden)
Trojan evolve (banned in the USA)
Gene for left-handedness is found
July 31, 2007
Scientists have discovered the first gene which appears to increase the odds of being left-handed.
The Oxford University-led team believe carrying the gene may also slightly raise the risk of developing psychotic mental illness such as schizophrenia.
The gene, LRRTM1, appears to play a key role in controlling which parts of the brain take control of specific functions, such as speech and emotion.
The study appears in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
The brain is set up in an asymmetrical way.
In right-handed people the left side of the brain usually controls speech and language, and the right side controls emotions.
However, in left-handed people the opposite is often true, and the researchers believe the LRRTM1 gene is responsible for this flip.
They also believe people with the LRRTM1 gene may have a raised risk of schizophrenia, a condition often linked to unusual balances of brain function.
Lead researcher Dr Clyde Francks, from Oxford University's Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, said the next step would be to probe the impact on the development of the brain further.
No-one really understands what causes schizophrenia yet
He said: "We hope this study's findings will help us understand the development of asymmetry in the brain.
"Asymmetry is a fundamental feature of the human brain that is disrupted in many psychiatric conditions."
However, Dr Francks said left-handed people should not be worried by the links between handedness and schizophrenia.
He said: "There are many factors which make individuals more likely to develop schizophrenia and the vast majority of left-handers will never develop a problem.
"We don't yet know the precise role of this gene."
About 10% of people are left-handed.
There is evidence to suggest there are some significant differences between left and right-handed people.
Australian research published last year found left-handed people can think quicker when carrying out tasks such as playing computer games or playing sport.
And French researchers concluded that being left-handed could be an advantage in hand-to-hand combat.
However, being left-handed has also been linked to a greater risk of some diseases, and to having an accident.
Dr Fred Kavalier, a consultant geneticist at London's Guy's Hospital, said: "I don't think left-handed people should be alarmed.
"Undoubtedly there are many, many other factors that contribute to schizophrenia. This may be a tiny little element in the big jigsaw."
Marjorie Wallace, of the mental health charity SANE, said scientists working in its research centre in Oxford were also looking at the link between brain asymmetry and schizophrenia.
She said: "We desperately need research into the origins of psychosis to better understand why some people are more vulnerable than others.
"Then the treatment could be more targeted and carry the potential to prevent this devastating condition which affects one in 100 people worldwide."
Jane Harris, of the mental health charity Rethink, said: "No-one really understands what causes schizophrenia yet.
"It is probably a combination of factors, including genetics, problems in childbirth, viral infections, drug use, poverty and urbanisation."
lundi, mars 03, 2008
The Torture Playlist
By Justine Sharrock
February 22, 2008
Music has been used in American military prisons and on bases to induce sleep deprivation, "prolong capture shock," disorient detainees during interrogations—and also drown out screams. Based on a leaked interrogation log, news reports, and the accounts of soldiers and detainees, here are some of the songs that guards and interrogators chose.
dimanche, mars 02, 2008
Having walked in her shoes a few years back, I have an inkling of the emotional rollercoaster that she's on. I'm so glad to see her coming to a positive end with her treatment and very pleased to see that her husband Ryan has been right there with her throughout the ride.
I would never recommend anyone get cancer, but there are many good moments to balance out the bad. My family and husband and friends are amazing. I was walking home from dinner with Ryan and Mom the other night, and he had his arm around my shoulder. I got all teary and said, "thank you for being mine." He, of course, started cracking jokes and just made me laugh. I'm very lucky to be loved by him. He does things like paint my incisions with scarguard without flinching and rubs my head affectionately.
Talk of the Nation, February 26, 2008 · What do expensive sandwiches, co-ed sports, public radio and recycling have in common? According to blogger Christian Lander, they all fall under the category of "Stuff White People Like."For the record, this all-white (racially), half-hispanic (ethnically) woman is a fan of the site. And plans to have multilingual children. (She also loves NPR, travelling, irony, dogs, kitchen gadgets, knowing what's best for poor people, being the only white person around, diversity, recyling, the Sunday New York Times, Netflix, The Daily Show, David Sedaris, wine, having two last names, film festivals, farmer's markets, organic food, tea, non-profit organizations, yoga, etc.)
Just over a month old, the controversial and provocative blog has almost 4 million hits. Lander says he started the blog as pure satire and was surprised to see it take off as quickly as it did.
Critics charge that the list is racist, stereotypical, and conflates race with economic status. But Lander maintains that the blog is in the spirit of good, provocative fun: "Irony" is #50 on the list, "Having Black Friends" is #14, and Lander — who says almost everything he does is listed — plans to add "Self-Importance" soon.
#78 Multilingual Children « Stuff White People Like
All white people want their children to speak another language. There are no exceptions. They dream about the children drifting in between French and English sentences as they bustle about the kitchen while they read the New York Times and listen to Jazz.
As white people age, they start to feel more and more angry with their parents for raising them in a monolingual home. At some point in their lives, most white people attempt to learn a second language and are generally unable to get past ordering in a restaurant or over-pronouncing a few key words. This failure is not attributed to their lack of effort, but rather their parents who didn’t teach them a new language during their formative years.
White people believe that if they had been given French language instruction when they were younger, their lives would have turned out very differently. Instead of living in the US, they would be living and working abroad for the United Nations or some other organization with a headquarters in Switzerland or The Hague.
Generally, white people prefer their children to speak French. Advanced white people will actually spend outrageous amounts of money to send their children to a Lycee or Ecole Francaise. But the vast majority will abandon their dreams when they realize that need a second mortgage so their child can have a better study abroad experience in France.
Languages such as German, Spanish, Swedish, or Italian are also acceptable, but are considered to be poor substitutes (especially Spanish). At the time of writing, it is still considered expert-level white person behavior to have white children speaking Asian and African languages.
There is only one way to use this information to your advantage: speaking another language means that white people are more likely to want to have children with you. It is seen as a cheaper alternative to language schools.