Saturday, May 31, 2008

social coordinator

Andrew arrived a week ago, and I've kept us busy.

Last Thurs. was a night of sushi and Grey's Anatomy. Friday we had lunch at Nexus with Meredith, and then rested up for a night at the Nut House (followed by an inauguration of the TA Lounge). Saturday was a day of grocery shopping, a night of Belgian food and Brahms in the city. Sunday we had a triple date night at The Counter with Jill and Meredith and their SO's. Monday we had a lovely neighborhood hike at Russian Ridge, where we caught the tail end of the wildflower season; after, we had a sort of picnic dinner at Andronico's.

During the week I tried to balance our social and work obligations -- Andrew started at Microsoft, and I had the Writing Center, reading Sartor Resartus, reading for class, and providing graduate students with coffee and lunch. On the social end, we had tea with Sara, dinner with Dan (Andrew's CS comrade from Amherst), and dinner with Alex and Kaitlin (they introduced us to a great Turkish restaurant in Menlo Park). And last night we *finally* watched There Will Be Blood. Our response to the climactic final scene was complicated by our realization that the SNL milkshake skit really *was* cut straight from the film. We kind of couldn't stop laughing over "I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!"

So today was kind of a day of errands -- clothes shopping at Gap (I found a skirt for *six dollars*), food shopping at Nak's, book trading at Feldman's...

Busy busy week.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I was just watching the beginning of Dirty Dancing over dinner, and noticed this awesome detail. When Robby tells Baby that he's not going to help Candy because "some people count, and some people don't," he hands her a copy of Ayn Rand's Fountainhead. Baby proceeds to basically call him an asshole and spill water on his shoes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I have a productive day

Well, most markedly if you count food and exercise.

Not only did I read a hundred pages of Nicholas Nickleby, and at least *glance* at my notes toward dissertation ideas, but I also took a walk on the dish (clear day finally! could see San Francisco), and made: avocado rolls, pasta salad for tomorrow's lunch, chocolate cake (with frosting).

And I had some good Scrabble moves.

Apparently this is what life looks like post-orals, pre-dissertation proposal?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

HUGE crush on Jon Stewart

Second part of Stewart's interview with Doug Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy when the administration decided to go to war with Iraq. AMAZING. This is the sort of calling out of tortured logic that I was hoping we'd get with the McCain interview...

Calling out at its best:

- Outright contradiction that the administration had more reason to go to war with Iraq than with, say, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Pakistan...

- Best analogy: if the government knew the risks and didn't tell us, isn't that *worse*? Isn't that, as Stewart says, the jump from manslaughter to homicide?

- Jon pointing out that the "selling of the positive" in the run up to the war *was* a freaking hypothetical, so Feith's claim that he didn't want to "get into hypotheticals" about worse case scenarios, doesn't umm... MAKE ANY SENSE.

Monday, May 12, 2008

repubs: only free market when it suits biggest lobby

I'm loving this story about the Bush administration blocking companies from *responding* to consumer demands for safer beef:

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration on Friday urged a federal appeals court to stop meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease, but a skeptical judge questioned whether the government has that authority.

The government seeks to reverse a lower court ruling that allowed Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef to conduct more comprehensive testing to satisfy demand from overseas customers in Japan and elsewhere.

Less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows are currently tested for the disease under Agriculture Department guidelines. The agency argues that more widespread testing does not guarantee food safety and could result in a false positive that scares consumers.

This is the legitimate result of the free market (I feel like that term should be in all caps, neon, especially coming from a liberal in favor of regulation). Consumers would rather purchase food (and countries would rather import food) of which they have some way of verifying the safety. Obviously they can't easily test every animal, but this strawman "argument" at the end (more testing could result in more "false positives") is patent bullshit (pun intended). You know, more HIV tests mean more opportunities for false positives, and that might alarm the .01% of people that that would affect -- so let's just not test anyone! Problem solved!

Are the Bushies unacquainted with the myriad stories about our food safety issues? (E coli outbreaks, which are largely the result of factory farming; atrocities committed at slaughterhouses, resulting in unsafe meat, which we'd never hear about if it weren't for the Humane Society; tainted products from China, etc.) Or, more likely, are the people in this administration simply so out of touch with real Americans and the "common" food said Americans eat, and so lacking in empathy for anyone making less than a million a year, that they just don't care?

So come on, Bush and Co., and let the free market give the customers what they want. How much is the National Cattlemen's Beef lobby paying y'all to help them keep what happens in Texas, stay in Texas?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

the fuzzy wuzzies

With the move to Madison now in sight, Andrew and I have been thinking about adopting a cat.

I really just want to come home to a fuzzy wuzzy like these every day:

I want to both engage in baby talk with these creatures, and laugh at the bemused "wtf" expression that seems to come with the excessive fluffiness.

Andrew: i can tell you're going to really enjoy getting a cat like this
i don't think you'd stop laughing
that nasally devilish laugh

Friday, May 09, 2008

the radical feminist agenda: eradicate obsolete tampon machines

I once came across what seemed like a crazy idea at the time: why aren't tampons and pads available in restrooms, same as toilet paper? If men menstruated, would baskets of tampons in restrooms be the norm? The knee-jerk reaction against such a tampon-free-for-all, I imagine, since I had the same reactionary response, is: won't people just steal the tampons? But then: toilet paper theft isn't exactly a prevalent problem. What if tampons, like free newspapers and toilet paper, were simply dispensed in a way that prevented one from being inclined to waste one's time -- maybe keep the dispenser, and leave the coin part? Google provides baskets of tampons in its women's restrooms, and (amazingly), they don't seem to have any problems. So what's up with the tampon machines?

I ask, because I sometimes run out of tampons, or forget to throw one in my bag in the morning. I imagine this is part of the female condition. Anyway, I usually figure I'll try my chances with the tampon vending machines in the restrooms. But let me tell you: you have better odds in Vegas than against your average feminine product dispenser.

Yesterday I ran out of tampons, but I figured, I have dimes and quarters, I'll get one on campus. So toward the end of my Writing Center shift, I pocketed a quarter and walked down the hall -- only to discover that the machine only takes dimes. So after ANOTHER TRIP with a dime, I find that the machine is also empty or simply not functioning. Then I tried upstairs: one machine would neither dispense the promised tampon, NOR return my quarter. Now there's a business model for an entrepreneurially inclined, sadistic bastard. So I moved on to the next bathroom, only to discover that said bathroom has only a pad dispenser (are we living in the freaking '50s, people?!). Jesus CHRIST. The problem is, these machines are obsolete, ineffective, and fucking mysterious (do you pull the knob? turn it? give it a secret handshake?). I don't *trust* a machine I can't see into. I mean, when's the last time you put a dollar in a vending machine for a candy bar you couldn't *see*?

Operation Mayhem: on the feminine product vending machine. Because it's time we brought equality into the restroom.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

the salad to cookie ratio

Bring on summer salad

Farmers' market medley: spinach and baby gem salad with snap peas, raw beet, strawberries, and mint. Dressing: white balsamic vinegar and local olive oil, with a spritz of lemon.

Underbaked cookies

The best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever, after much searching on Is it the extra egg yolk? Something makes these good -- but underbaking them by two minutes makes them great.

lies that rhyme

So I was reading Feministing this morning, and came across this ludicrous American Life League campaign: "The Pill Kills." I decided to actually read their website to see what sort of lies they were managing to fit under that sing songy slogan. It's a little disturbing, insofar as this really lays bare the end game of the anti-choice agenda: reversing court decisions that allow access to contraception (ultimately, this isn't about some misplaced fetishizing of babies at all -- the pill prevents a zygote from ever even forming). When they want to take away your ability to plan your fertility, you know the movement is harboring some serious misogyny under the jingles.

Without further ado, I'm going to tear into this write-up, entertainment brought to you by Marie Hahnenberg, a woman that *clearly* was never in my PWR class:

As a woman who is very conscious of what type of chemicals I put into my body, I am appalled by the number of women today who are on the birth control pill despite the wealth of information about this deadly drug.

Not enough people talk about the dangerous effects of the birth control pill. Many women do not realize what is really going on in their bodies when they use the pill, patch, IUD or other birth control products.

I'm also very conscious of what I put in my body -- which is why I bothered to do some research before using hormonal contraceptives and talked to my doctor. If this writer had bothered to do the same, she would know that the modern day pill contains only a fraction of the hormones that went into the original pills, and that the risk of side effects is far lower than the risks one would undertake with a pregnancy. And that there are even *lower* dosages available now, either in pill form, or in the nuvaring. So yeah, "deadly"? Way hyperbolic.

[Side note: does the writer realize "what is really going on" when she takes an advil? Probably more "deadly" than taking the pill.]

I won't even quote the section in which the writer laments the fate of the "human being" (ie, zygote) if somehow the pill doesn't function properly (needless to say, the writer does not provide any evidence of why she thinks the pill would fail to prevent the release of eggs, or how often this is supposed to happen in her fantasy). The stupid burns a little too much.

One cannot forget about all of the other horrible side effects such as breast and cervical cancer, blood clots, infertility and weakened immune systems – so a woman is more susceptible to the AIDS virus.

Actually? No. Again, the pill is safer than pregnancy. And the relationship between the pill and breast cancer is still being researched because it's more complex than this: it seems to have a slight effect while/soon after a woman takes the pill, but this might be the result of increased *screening* for breast cancer while a woman is on the pill (those yearly gyno visits). This slight increased risk isn't permanent. And the pill actually prevents ovarian and endometrial cancers.

We are all called to different vocations in our lives. Some are called to be married. Married couples should be open to God’s amazing gift of life. By contracepting, you are saying "no" to God’s plan by selfishly taking part in sexual relations without fulfilling the entire act or the purpose of the act. The reason God designed sex was for a married man and woman to become one and to procreate.

Well the logic in this only works if you believe in Marie Hahnenberg's imaginary friend. Which I don't. And even then, the logic is kinda tortured. I mean, what does "saying yes" to God's plan look like? Isn't the rhythm method just a less reliable and more complicated way of doing exactly what the pill does (ie, preventing pregnancy)?. And what's this mythology around leaving one's fate to God? I mean, Hahnenberg, do you also think that taking an aspirin is interfering with God's plan to give you a headache? Do you, or do you not, consciously engage in sexual relations while you're fertile? Do you think God micromanages your desires?

Contraception opens the door for marital infidelity because when spouses get used to contraceptive methods, they tend to forget the reverence due to a woman’s body, her cycle and to God’s ultimate plan for marriage and the family. Contraceptives also offer an incredible temptation for youth and singles. If you’re single, participating in premarital sexual activity is giving into sins of the flesh and can ultimately affect your salvation.

So infidelity was invented with the pill? I'd love to know what sort of Bowdlerized history and lit *she* was reading in high school.

an obsolete definition of insanity:

when one continues to do the same thing over and over, expecting different results.

I also love that Jon Stewart calls out Bush for (once again) being *incredibly* condescending while speaking about a problem that he clearly doesn't understand well enough to even begin to solve.