Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The update

It seems like it's been a while since I made a substantial update. Probably because of that whole finals thing. I took my time -- a week per paper -- and it was, kind of nice. Granted, I could have cut this down to one week, but then I would have needed to work fairly constantly, isolated myself in the disgusting germy library, etc... So instead, I wrote around 4-5 pages a day (after a day or two of research/outlining). And I took copious breaks, during which I patroled ebay, kept up with the feminist & leftie blogosphere, watched the Daily Show online, and watched some really horrible daytime tv. The only worthwhile thing I gained from watching tv was a recipe involving squash. And as everyone in frequent contact with me knows, winter squash is my new favorite food. Anyway, it was a recipe claiming to combine nutrition w/ taste (specifically for people with conditions/infections that prevent being able to taste very well, so eating veggies is, apparently, even less palatable a task). So it's simple, too: sauteed kale w/ cranberries and a dash of salt in winter squash. I used swiss chard instead. And it was good.

I hardly remember what I last did a major update about... I had people over for a nostalgic evening of Rudolph claymation (I feel like I said this already? probably)... And EM & L. hosted a game night -- probably the first time I've stayed up till 3 am playing Taboo, charades, & scattergories. I acted out "I love big butts and I cannot lie" -- luckily my teammates were incredibly intuitive and connected a song with 8 words, my pointing to myself, making a grandiose gesture, and slapping my ass, before the point at which I would have reached desperation and attempted the wiggle dance.

The next morning I was a bit, you know, late in getting up. But it was too depressing to skip the farmer's market again, so I biked over in record time. Beautiful & sunny day. And going to the market late has its own perks: like extra root vegetables for the same price, & discounted broccoli... I'm determined to better know the difference between these mysterious tubers. So I'm going to make a veggie stew -- so when Andrew arrives tomorrow I can like, feed him real food. Because I don't want him eating whatever the airports are dishing out.

Last night, in celebration of having my paper actually written, I took a trip to the shopping plaza. I've been wanting something to put in my bathroom. The thing is freaking huge. I could seriously fit an armchair in there. So something needed to be done, preferably something that would hold the towels that don't fit on the racks. Ross to the rescue: with yet another wicker basket. Maybe someday I'll replace it with a little table.

Then I headed to TJ's. Where I stocked up on baking supplies, dairy, etc... The entertaining part came when I needed to make a quick decision about what kind of alcohol to buy for the eggnog. I thought Mom used rum in the past, so I was ready to get the dark variety and call it a night. But then I thought I should ask someone: because if rum wasn't such a hot idea, I would be left with a large jug of "Whaler's Rum" sitting on top of my fridge. Which is cool and all, if you're Ishmael. So the first guy I asked wasn't sure, but thought perhaps bourbon. He asked another employee, who suggested brandy would be festive. I went for brandy because at least I've had it in something before, and it could be useful if I ever feel motivated to make sangria (right). At which decision the THIRD consulted checker agreed, and said it was a good brand. This is a good thing, since it'll likely be sitting on top of my fridge till summer.

Well -- now I feel up to date. I can now begin afresh when Andrew arrives.

Further adventures in caffeine

I need to edit this paper *today.* Because Andrew is arriving tomorrow night, and before then I must: clean house, do tons of laundry, make an amazing root vegetable stew, wrap presents, etc.

So now that it's 2 pm, and time for the daily loading of stimulants, I decided to make my own "eggnog latte." Yes, with eggnog. Sounds kind of gross? But it isn't.

Friday, December 15, 2006

An Experiment

How many shots of espresso will I need to drink before I actually write the first sentence to this paper?

(Hint: more than the tally so far of 4)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Getting in the holiday spirit... & stuff

Christmas is, as they say, just around the corner. And somehow I've managed to do a number of holiday get togethers. Megan's party in the city (complete with real tree & psychadelic Our Lady of Guadalupe clock), the CA holiday party (at which another CA was nice enough to exchange gifts for me so I'd have a baking set -- which I know what to do with -- instead of an electronic sudoku machine), the department holiday party (cheesecake bites & "the night before Christmas" & a story about coyote talking to his poo?), & last night having friends over for Rudolph (yes, the Claymation special from back in the day). My tree has yet to be decorated, but I'm getting to it.

In the mean time, I've got papers. At the moment I'm procrastinating, as I need to edit & conclude my paper on Lamb... then I can get to my paper on Self-Help.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Those who got it right

Krugman of the NYT is freaking amazing. He's got an op-ed piece up right now acknowleding those who rightly questioned the Iraq war:

And so it was with those who warned against invading Iraq. At best, they were ignored. A recent article in The Washington Post ruefully conceded that the paper's account of the debate in the House of Representatives over the resolution authorizing the Iraq war -- a resolution opposed by a majority of the Democrats -- gave no coverage at all to those antiwar arguments that now seem prescient.

At worst, those who were skeptical about the case for war had their patriotism and/or their sanity questioned. The New Republic now says that it "deeply regrets its early support for this war." Does it also deeply regret accusing those who opposed rushing into war of "abject pacifism?"

Yeah, great. They're sorry. That means a whole hell of a lot next to thousands of lost lives & at least a trillion dollars that should have gone toward *actual* terror-prevention & domestic programs.

Now, only a few neocon dead-enders still believe that this war was anything but a vast exercise in folly. And those who braved political pressure and ridicule to oppose what Al Gore has rightly called "the worst strategic mistake in the history of the United States" deserve some credit.

Woo-hoo! Like Al Gore himself. And our new Democratic Speaker of the House. And Feingold & Dean. Maybe other right wing publications/pundits will take note & treat with respect these people who were brave enough to voice concerns despite McCarthy-ism revamped accusations of working with the terrorists, emboldening the terrorists, being unAmerican and unpatriotic, etc. Or, more likely, everyone will just blame Bush & ignore the fact that there *were* people who knew their s*&# (like, ahem, the major ethnic breakdown of Iraq) and predicted that this war was an unspeakably grave mistake.

Al Gore, September 2002: "I am deeply concerned that the course of action that we are presently embarking upon with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century."

Check, & check. Why the hell aren't you president, again?

Barack Obama, now a United States senator, September 2002: "I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
Representative Nancy Pelosi, now the House speaker-elect, October 2002: "When we go in, the occupation, which is now being called the liberation, could be interminable and the amount of money it costs could be unlimited."

Wow. Again, right on both counts.

Howard Dean, then a candidate for president and now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, February 2003: "I firmly believe that the president is focusing our diplomats, our military, our intelligence agencies, and even our people on the wrong war, at the wrong time. Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms."

In this tiny passage, Dean has managed to pack more information about Iraq's divided nature than Bush knew when he decided to invade. Kind of depressing. Such a simple thing, to do a little research on the country you're attacking. But Bush & Co., not into doing that.

We should honor these people for their wisdom and courage. We should also ask why anyone who didn't raise questions about the war -- or, at any rate, anyone who acted as a cheerleader for this march of folly -- should be taken seriously when he or she talks about matters of national security.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Al Gore in GQ

I was reading this interview from GQ over at Shakespeare's Sister, & couldn't resist posting Gore's response to thinking about what would have been different if he were president in 2001. If only we had done away with the electoral college before 2000...

Do you feel that we would be safer today if you had been president on that day?
Well, no one can say that the 9-11 attack wouldn’t have occurred whoever was president.

Really? How about all the warnings?
That’s a separate question. And it’s almost too easy to say, “I would have heeded the warnings.” In fact, I think I would have, I know I would have. We had several instances when the CIA’s alarm bells went off, and what we did when that happened was, we had emergency meetings and called everybody together and made sure that all systems were go and every agency was hitting on all cylinders, and we made them bring more information, and go into the second and third and fourth level of detail. And made suggestions on how we could respond in a more coordinated, more effective way. It is inconceivable to me that Bush would read a warning as stark and as clear [voice angry now] as the one he received on August 6th of 2001, and, according to some of the new histories, he turned to the briefer and said, “Well, you’ve covered your ass.” And never called a follow up meeting. Never made an inquiry. Never asked a single question. To this day, I don’t understand it. And, I think it’s fair to say that he personally does in fact bear a measure of blame for not doing his job at a time when we really needed him to do his job. And now the Woodward book has this episode that has been confirmed by the record that George Tenet, who was much abused by this administration, went over to the White House for the purpose of calling an emergency meeting and warning as clearly as possible about the extremely dangerous situation with Osama bin Laden, and was brushed off! And I don’t know why—honestly—I mean, I understand how horrible this Congressman Foley situation with the instant messaging is, okay? I understand that. But, why didn’t these kinds of things produce a similar outrage? And you know, I’m even reluctant to talk about it in these terms because it’s so easy for people to hear this or read this as sort of cheap political game-playing. I understand how it could sound that way. [Practically screaming now] But dammit, whatever happened to the concept of accountability for catastrophic failure? This administration has been by far the most incompetent, inept, and with more moral cowardice, and obsequiousness to their wealthy contributors, and obliviousness to the public interest of any administration in modern history, and probably in the entire history of the country!

But how do you really feel?
(cracks up)
I heart Gore.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sassy cat's fluff

A recent picture of Sassy cat. I've begun calling her Sasquatch because she's fluffy & has big feet. In this pose, she's more of a sea anemone though: presenting her temptying belly fluff to the world, and readying herself to pounce.

Psychotic voters prefer Bush

No, really. According to this study, covered by the New Haven Advocate, and via Crooks & Liars.

A collective “I told you so” will ripple through the world of Bush-bashers once news of Christopher Lohse’s study gets out.

Lohse, a social work master’s student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush.

Lohse says his study is no joke. The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse’s study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person’s psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.

But before you go thinking all your conservative friends are psychotic, listen to Lohse’s explanation.

“Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader,” Lohse says. “If your world is very mixed up, there’s something very comforting about someone telling you, ‘This is how it’s going to be.’”

“Bush supporters had significantly less knowledge about current issues, government and politics than those who supported Kerry,” the study says.

Lohse says the trend isn’t unique to Bush: A 1977 study by Frumkin & Ibrahim found psychiatric patients preferred Nixon over McGovern in the 1972 election.

So psychotic, ill-informed, and mixed up voters choose Bush... great.

Of course, these sorts of studies aren't new. I've also heard of some recent efforts to track personality types and voting tendencies. These usually break down along similar lines: those who prefer authoritarian, conservative candidates, and those who are more embracing of change. That's why they call us "progressives," I suppose. I find it hilarious when Fox news uses the term "progressive" as if it were derogatory.