Thursday, May 31, 2007

The two worst words one could possibly put together in the english language

Labial liposuction. The more I learn about genital plastic surgery, the more I want to cry and clutch my lady parts while curled up in the fetal position.

Talk about government accountability

From CNN:
BEIJING, China (Reuters) -- China sentenced the former head of the State Food and Drug Administration to death for corruption, state media reported on Tuesday, in an unusually harsh sentence which could be reduced on appeal.
Now, I get the impression that this guy is mostly in trouble for having gotten caught, but wow, we don't even fire people for being incompetent and corrupt.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

RIP, VAIO

Bad news. It appears that my computer passed on in its sleep over the weekend. I guess it's a good way to go - I don't think it suffered - but I'm lonely nonetheless. Expect sporadic posting while I mourn.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Carrot, Cucumber and Snow Pea Salad with Chili Vinaigrette




When I make food that's outside the scope of the Western/European palate I'm used to, I have a hard time putting together what I would consider a whole meal - a heavy-ish main course, and a few side dishes, veggie or starch based. I'll make some peanut noodles with shrimp, and have no idea what kind of salad or veggie I'd like to serve on the side. We're having poke tacos for dinner tonight, and I decided to go with some coconut rice and finally came up with this salad as two companion dishes.

Carrot, Cucumber and Snow Pea Salad with Chili Vinaigrette

2 carots, peeled and cut into long matchsticks
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into ong matchsticks
1 1/2 cups snow peas, washed and cut into long strips
1/2 cup clover sprouts
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup sweet chili sauce, such as caravelle
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon tamari

Mix all vegetables and cilantro in a large bowl. In a measuring cup, combine remaining ingredients and whisk together. Adjust ingredients in dressing to taste, and pour over salad. Toss and serve.

Monique and the Mango Rains

I must have been projecting a little when I picked up Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali, because I apparently thought that the title was really Sara and her issues with the female body. I heard about the book, which is a Peace Corps volunteer's story of living with and assisting a midwife in rural Mali, on NPR one day, and was immediately fascinated. The author, Kris Holloway, was talking about her previous attitudes about women and their bodies and children - she had never planned on having children or even getting married, and avoided the topic of pregnancy in general - and how completely insufficient they were when it came to understanding the reality of childbearing and women's bodies in a world where birth control is not something most people think of as a right.

I was really fascinated with the story that Holloway was telling, but I was especially interested in the book because of her perspective; I've never felt well-acquainted or emotionally certain about the reproductive capabilities and difficulties that are inherent in the female body. In my body.

In fact, I've sometimes had the dark thoughts that being a woman is a simple curse, that femaleness is a medical pathology, and that the terrible fates that befall women and women only make feminism a heartbreaking fool's game. And even if women's bodies aren't sick, they age quickly into ugliness. I remember when the bad news about hormone replacement therapy beame big news, everywhere I looked it seemed there were people telling me that women's lives go directly to hell when they approach menopause. Hot flashes and mood swings and changes in sexuality - from the loss of the ability to bear children to changes in libido and conventional attractiveness, all portrayed as humiliating and miserable - it sounded impossible, and even if I was only 18, so very soon. And if this natural defecit in the female body were going to be addressed with HRT, all someone had to look forward to was a heart attack or cancer. Oh - and cancer. Breast cancer kills women in their 30s and 40s, and women who do not have children and breastfeed face a higher risk of it. Reproductive cancers kill women in huge numbers. Ovarian cancer is hard to detect and therefore highly fatal.

It was only a couple of years ago, through slowly increasing dread in the back of my mind, that I remembered: women generally outlive men. I don't know if it's just that medical alarmism sells well with women, but I swear that the Your Delicate Lady Parts Are Rotting Out of Your Body as You Read This! genre of journalism is awfully ubiquetous. Back to the HRT revelations, I was incredibly relieved when I heard a doctor (a female doctor) on the radio mention that it's only the minority of women who have menopausal symptoms that are severe enough that they seek treatment.

Between the alarmism about women's medical problems and thinly-veiled contempt for women's bodies that dare to change over time, it's really difficult for me to think clearly about the reality of women's health, and even my own reproductive health. I picked up the book imagining that Holloway would walk me through her own revelations about these issues, but alas, it was not to be. Fortunately, it was a really interesting story about an amazing woman, and even if it didn't hold my hand through my own fears and anxieties about women's health, I suppose self-reflection is really my job.

Holloway says in an interview that she struggled with not centering the book around herself, since she wanted to express Monique's personality and achievements more than stand in the spotlight herself, but also her editor's requests to acknowledge her place in the story and use it as an anchor for white American folk (like myself) to identify with when learning about a different culture and a different outlook on life.

And the outlook on life the people she lives with is quite different than my own. The people of the village she lives in, Nampossela, live knowing they have very little control over which children die or which children live, over whether the rain comes at the right time, and are somewhat content in their understanding that these life or death issues are ultimately controlled by God himself, so they ought to make the best of whatever is handed to them. There's also a strong sense of communal responsibility and ownership - crops are grown in communal fields where all the townspeople contribute labor. With these dynamics, there's little sense of individual responsibility for the things that happen. Maybe one family slacks off in the fields, or a woman's husband won't let her rest enough during her pregnancy, but when the harvest doesn't bring quite enough food, or the woman dies in childbirth, it's best not to dwell on the whos and whys, and just continue knowing that God has a plan.

As an American, I found myself thinking that there are some ways in which this just doesn't make sense, but one interesting way Holloway had of expressing the utility of this way of thinking came when Monique tells Holloway that her first sexual experience was being raped. Holloway is as shocked as a fellow rape survivor can be.
"'Ah Fatumata [Holloway's Malian name], it was this way for me, and for other of my friends,' Monique said, looking at me with a mixture of concern and confusion. She paused for a moment, watching me, moving slightly closer. 'It is normal. It happens.'

Her words made me feel less alone, safer. Yet I couldn't imagine that Monique, or anyone else, could think being forced to have sex was normal. But she hadn't called it rape, or anything violent. I had read about women and internalized repression, was this a sign of it? Rape, or forced sex, or whatever term one wanted to apply, was a reality faced by women all over the world, but Monique didn't seem to have baggage, no perception that she had somehow been violated, no shame or self-reproaching. That, I knew, was a great thing.
I'm still not sure what to make of this passage - I'm sure I'll be thinking about it for quite a while. One of the main themes of the book is the struggle between Holloway's instinctive tendency to look at Monique's life through her Western eyes, but to appreciate the lessons that Monique's way of thinking could offer in the face of poverty and sickness and death. Monique and Holloway spend much of their time teaching neighbors and friends about treatments for diarrhea, one of the most frequent factors in child mortality in the area, and their lessons clash somewhat with the "will of God" attitude about health and sickness.

Monique didn't lead me to any huge revalations about the cosmic fairness or unfairness of female reproduction. I am always glad to see that people's lives go on through the things that the media will sensationalize. I once read a long article about postpartum incontinence, and it had me pretty freaked out for quite a while. There are just so many things that can go wrong with labor, with bodies, with lives. But one evening, I was walking by a baseball field where families had gathered to watch their daughters play softball, and it dawned on me: just about everyone does it, and they don't seem crippled with shame or physical disability. I suppose it says a lot about the privilege I've been so fortunate to live in and my own general level of anxiety that I could be so shaken by the idea that life isn't fair, and that bad things happen to people all the time. There are plenty of things - mundane or not - that I can't imagine myself living through. But sometimes they happen, and I'm shocked to find that I'm still here, I'm not struggling with agonizing shame. And neither are the women in Monique's village, neither are the people all over the world whose lives aren't perfect. It's not any reason to let the chips fall where they may when there's something we can do to improve our own lives or the lives of others, but it's good to remember: life goes on.

Uh, reread that sentence before you hit "publish."

Andrew Sullivan, on Middle Eastern Muslim kids' acceptance of Western Culture:
A Muslim country where kids bleach their hair is a sign of hope.
Phew! If they're willing to tone down their swarthiness, there may be hope for them after all!

Jackass. Though, at least he can tell when a liberal is making excuses for their biases:
Then, alas, we get this lame-ass Democratic talking point:

John Edwards may not be perfect, but let’s not call him a bigot or a dishonest supporter of gay rights, especially when the other party is built on bigotry and disdain for homosexuals.

The rampant homophobia among Christianist Republicans is not a get-off-free card for Democrats.
Very true, but advocating for gay rights doesn't mean you get off the hook for holding onto racist, xenophobic ideas about Muslims. Take your own advice, would ya?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Where'd she come from?

Via Racialicious, I totally dug this article about a mother's response to the challenge of living with the annoying and alienating questions strangers ask about her biracial child. I love me a good one-liner.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Not exactly rape is still not acceptable

Stories like this, about potential rape cases where it seems obvious that a truly despicable sexual assault occurred but the defendants are acquitted, or the DA declines to prosecute, tend to leave something important out. Maybe those baseball players didn't exactly commit rape against the victim, but it's absolutely clear that they did something vicious and inhuman. The law doesn't define reality, and not convicting is not at all the same thing as clearing a defendant of unacceptable, despicable behavior. When I see arguments splitting hairs over the legal definition of rape, I understand that it's an important question, but I have to wonder what kind of person would like to just slip past being guilty of rape.

It's so painful and frustrating and heartbreaking to hear these stories - I've heard so many. To know what's happened and know the viciousness with which rapists will continue to attack victims to escape responsibility for their actions. The only perverse, nihilistic way I've been able to come close to living with it is to know that even a conviction doesn't unrape a victim, and an acquittal can't erase the moral crimes of a guilty perpetrator. Our justice system has the capability of punishing for and deterring from crime, but even that is merely a consolation to the victimized.

I offer my deepest sympathy and support to the victims.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Corn bread is corn bread is corn bread?

Tonight I made green onion and smoked white cheddar corn muffins. Unfortunately, the cheddar didn't come through much (though the muffins are slightly smoky), but they're still delicious. (UPDATE: Holy heck - after cooling and sitting overnight, these are some freaking flavorful muffins. The cheese is a lot more noticeable, and my whole house smells like onions. Yum!) I've always preferred savory food in the mornings to sweet, so I plan on grabbing on or two on the way out the door to work tomorrow.

I generally rely on the sweeter corn bread recipe that my trusty Betty Crocker provides, but I had a saltier, more buttery flavor in mind for what I wanted with these, so I tried the "Southern Buttermilk Corn Bread" recipe. It was exactly what I needed. If I want honey soaked into my corn bread, I'll stick with the sweeter recipe, or even if I want some sweetness to counteract the spice of jalapenos, I'll use it. Oddly, the sweeter recipe is the one that actually has butter in it, but it's the buttermilk recipe where amore buttery flavor comes through. I've edited the recipes below to better reflect how I actually make it, but both are from the Betty Crocker book.

Corn Bread

1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups yellow corn meal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Heat oven to 400F. Grease sides of or place paper cups into each space of a muffin tin.

2. Beat milk, butter an d egg in al arge bowl with hand beater of wire whisk. Stir in remaining ingredients all at once just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy). Pour into pan.

3. Bake 20-25 minutes or until folden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out lclean. Serve warm if desired.

Southern Buttermilk Corn Bread

1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups shaken buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs

1. Heat oven to 450F. Grease sides or place paper cups into spaces in muffin tin.

2. Mix all ingredients. Beat vigorously for 30 seconds, pour into pan.

3. Bake about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Adding extras (jalapenos, grated cheese, bacon, ham, berries) is your option. I've thought once or twice of putting large dollops of jam onto each muffin, like corn muffin thumbprint cookies. If I ever get around to it, I'll report back!

Wait a minute...

Is Leslie Unruh related to Hank Hardy Unruh? It all makes sense now!

The f-word vs. f-words

UK feminist blog the f-word hates Jezebel. I'm enjoying it, myself. In fact, my favorite crack from Jezebel so far is one that Kate Smurthwaite wishes she was making up.
I think the view Gawker has of women is very neatly summed up when they mention “Nebraska” and feel the need to add “(a state)”… I wish I was making this up.
I think that's funny. To each f-word her own, I guess.

Via Jezebel.

Isn't that illegal?

Working America has launched a neat tool: Ask A Lawyer. It's a sort of advice column where people can submit questions about the legality of things their employers are requiring or requesting of them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ooh - bad first impression

After my tentative effusing over the new mag/blog Jezebel, I see that racialicious has pointed out that the term "Jezebel" has a creepy, racist, sexist past. I didn't even think of that, which I suppose is what I get for my tiny amount of education in social sciences and history. And for that matter, I know fuck-all about the Bible.

I note that the Jezebel logo features a white woman, and know that I've only ever vaguely aware of the way the term has been racialized (though my being unaware of something is hardly an argument against its existence!). The context I've generally heard the term used in was for women who are hopelessly slutty. I suppose that this, just like bitch magazine, is an attempt at positively redefining the term - or at least playing with some of the negative connotations. If that's the case, I think that racialicious has to be right that they either don't know or don't care about the racist connotations of the term - I don't see how white women are in a position to claim the term for themselves and scrub it of its history.

You'd think they'd at least google it first.

UPDATE: More about why they chose the name.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Could it be? A "different" women's magazine that walks the walk?

For some reason, even though I don't live in New York, I adore Gawker. So I was totally stoked to see the unveiling of Jezebel, Gawker media's new women's blog. On the one hand, I've been disappointed with Bust and Jane and other women's magazines branding themselves as the rebellious ones. On the other, the Jezebel Manifesto looks pretty promising, and they are holding a contest (with a $10K prize?) for the leaking of a great untouched women's mag photo. So far so good.

I would love to see this turn out to be what it seeks to, because being cynical doesn't mean I hate fluff or popular culture. My feminist sensibilities make enjoying a lot of pop culture harder, but I'm not about to hole up in a feminist bookstore, either. I used to read Cosmo or health/fitness magazines at the gym, and finally had to stop when it sunk in that yes, I kick myself for not looking like a cover girl, even if I know why I should not. But what entertainment does that leave me for 30 minutes on the elliptical? The TVs are tuned to four different types of MTV, which tends to affect me in the same way.

It's alienating to acknowledge that you can't handle participating in such a huge part of our culture.

I know I want to have fun and feel good about myself, and when there aren't a lot of simple or cool ways to do that, it's hard to ignore the promises of the women's magazines. Part of me begs myself to just do it - to just buy the makeup and pluck my eyebrows like the article says, and enjoy it like they say I will. But I don't enjoy it. I don't look much different minus 20 eyebrow hairs. I don't feel sexy in tight pants - I feel constricted or contorted or jiggly.

I'm pretty sure I've learned my lesson by now, but what good is that lesson when it leaves me in a cultural black hole so often? I can hope against hope that Jezebel really intends to help fill that void, I can try to remember what makes me feel good and why it's important for me to, and I can forgive myself for failing to.

How can you tell I'm a feminist?

I've never had anyone act with surprise when I mention that I'm a feminist. I live in a red state and my fashion taste tends to lean toward the stereotypically Republican, but still, people tend to just know. It could be because of things like the Amazon order I got in the mail today:

Viva! la Woman by Cibo Matto
Stereotype A by Cibo Matto
Volta by Bjork
Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti
Monique and the Mango Rains: Two years with a midwife in Mali by Kris Holloway

I plan on blogging about FFF after I finish it, and am really excited to dig into Monique and the Mango Rains and report back. On top of all that, I owe Kim Todd a review of her new book Chrysalis. So look forward to some media reviews, check out Cibo Matto if you've never heard of them (Viva! La Woman was my anthem in high school), and leave a comment about how people can tell you're a feminist.

This is sounding too familiar

This weekend's horriffic events in Moscow have a likely connection to domestic violence. The Spokesman-Review is reporting that the gunman, Jason Hamilton, is suspected of also killing his wife Crystal Hamilton, who was found shot dead this weekend. Hamilton has a record of domestic violence, having been both accused of strangling a girlfriend and being found guilty of domestic battery.

This isn't the first time domestic violence has been linked to other extreme acts of violence.

Tragedy in Moscow

In case you hadn't heard, there was a shooting in Moscow this weekend, a murder-suicide that left three people - a police officer, a church caretaker and the gunman - dead. There's been a lot of bad news coming out of Moscow lately, a lot more violence than this community is used to seeing, and my thoughts are with the victims' loved ones.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Time is money

Via slashfood, there's a blog chronicling one home cook's attempt to eat mostly organic on a "thrifty" budget (as defined by the USDA - the idea is the "supplemented" food budget of someone surviving on food stamps) for a month. It's a really interesting read, and as far as "pretend like I'm poor" stunts go, is at least a little more compelling than the "surviving" for one week on a food stamp budget stunt in which a few politicians have been engaging lately.

If you haven't seen already, kactus is generously letting us peek into her bank account as she spends her assistance money on food this month, which gives us a much better picture of how the numbers work for someone who is trying to eat and not prove a point, someone who can't treat poverty like a camping trip.

Another blogger who decided to try the food stamp budget discussed her approach, and included a really sobering list of the privilege-related factors that would have to go into her actually sticking to the budget. The list includes six reasons, like this one:
1) We have options on grocery stores. I can easily get to five chain grocery stores, a mom and pop, and the discount warehouse. One of my friends said she could easily spend $20 on gas to drive to get her $12 of groceries. Those with fewer options are likely to pay more. Those whose only option is a convenience store probably can’t live on what can be bought there for $21.00 per week.
The thing that sticks out to me about all of this is the amount of time that it takes - and what little payoff the privileged expect those in poverty to be satisfied with. The budgeting organic eater is taking up canning - something that requires knowledge and equipment and planning and time. Getting the best prices requires going from store to store to find the best deals. Pre-processed and packaged foods aren't an option, so you have to chop those onions and knead that bread yourself. I can't find the original link, but luckily kactus quoted a very memorable passage from brownfemipower's Poverty Diaries:
Life is so much slower for poor people. A bus ride to anywhere is going to take at least 40 min’s. Cooking everything from scratch means supper is often started the night before. A quick trip the grocery store is replaced with a day long biking marathon to buy as many groceries as can be stuffed into the kid carrier. Dial up often takes minutes to load pages (seriously, the best thing we did was put the computer into the kitchen–I can clean/cook while a page loads). Clothes hang dry on the line out back, and microwavable food must be cooked in the oven.
All this time and effort, and the only payoff is survival. I'm not knocking survival, but with my privilege and wealth and education, I can obtain a lot more with the same amount of time that it takes to soak the beans so they can be cooked tomorrow. (Me, I almost always used canned beans.) So when the privileged architects of public policy regarding poverty ask the "beneficiaries" of welfare to spend their time chasing jobs they'll never get or working at McDonald's instead of watching their children grow up, they ought to bear in mind the value of the time they're demanding.

More adventures in pescetarianism

I don't have a recipe because my husband put it together, but baba ghannouj made with eggplants actually grilled over charcoal is To Die For. (I also have no photographs because it is just an ugly food.) I'd only ever eaten it out of a plastic tub from the grocery store, and was completely blown away.

Also, I was pleasantly surprised at the taste difference between a gardenburger toasted in a toaster and grilled in the backyard.

Farewell, Jericho

I was pretty disappointed to find out that Jericho was canceled on CBS after its first season. The first few episodes were pretty painful to watch - bad acting, bad writing, and an ever-present pop hits of the 90s soundtrack - but I still found the plot to be really interesting. The thing I found most fascinating about it was how it so often made me think, "This must be what it's like living in Iraq." Seeing a tank roll into a recognizeably American town, seeing mortars fired onto its Main Street, seeing an America whose government has been torn down and replaced with groups whose motivations are basically unknown - it was eerie.

Reading the civilian casualty figures about the war is alarming enough, but they really don't do much to convey the millions of other little things that must be making the lives of Iraqi civilians harder. When I read Assassin's Gate (which I don't plan on reading again - drop me an email or leave a comment if you'd like to orchestrate a book switcheroo), one thing that really stuck out to me was the way that traffic checkpoints have crippled traffic in Baghdad. It's just a little thing, but it was new to consider that even with the death and destruction and kidnappings and fear, there are people who can't get to work simply because they can't make the commute. If it's not one thing, it's the other - and if it's not that thing, it's one or many of a zillion other things.

I realize that what was happening in Jericho is not an analogy to what's happening to Iraq in the slightest. In other words, it's not really what's going on in Iraq right now, except in the very general sense that a world Iraqis knew has been turned upside down (for good and ill). But the images were so striking to a person who's never had to imagine in much detail what would happen if her world fell apart.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Aww man

Some reputation Idaho's got.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

fat fu does it again

Did you know that it has been proposed in the American Journal of Psychiatry that obesity be considered a brain disorder? ff says:
This week’s podcast for This American Life is the story of how homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973, and what it took to get it out of the DSM. It’s 60 minutes, but it’s a good listen for anyone interested.

It felt apropos since psychiatrists are now talking about adding “obesity” to the DSM as a “brain disorder.” (That’s right, classifying fat as a mental illness. No, not binge eating disorder, not compulsive eating, just being fat.)

And its also a good reminder how very bigoted and oppressive the “vast medical consensus” can be, and how important activism is to keep it honest.

Posted in Uncategorized.

Silly, it's male fantasies that define female characters

Not actual females!

Listen, douche, for most feminists comic book orthodoxy does not trump treating women with respect. If the statue's sexism is more honest to the comic than the movie, it turns out that the comic is actually more sexist than the movie. Think whatever you want of that, but don't pretend that people are going to give it a pass because it came from a comic book.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Real mature, Sara

I spotted this on someone's car while out on a walk, and I just couldn't help myself. I had to take it. But I was inspired by the event - wouldn't it be great if there were similarly-shaped magnets that said "your magnet was idiotic," that you could replace dumb ones with?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Judging by the cover

QD has compiled some blogger criticism of Jessica Valenti's new book Full Frontal Feminism. If there are any critics of feminist bloggers I'm interested in, it's other feminist bloggers, so I think it's a great angle through which to view the book (besides the important one - reading it and deciding what you think).

I've looked for it in stores and haven't seen it yet, but the feeling I get from this book is that it's just not for me. That is, I'm the Choir to which Valenti seems to desire to avoid preaching. (And by the way, count me as one of those who has a problem with the cover. I understand that the idea was to use Patriarchy-Approved(tm) imagery where it might be more useful than hurtful, but I would just hope that if there would be one place where I wouldn't find my body marginalized, it would be on the cover of a feminist's book.) I might buy the book for a younger (high school, I'm thinking) sibling or friend, but the vibe I've gotten from the book is that it's Not For Me. And that's cool - not everything is about me.

But heck, if I find it and read it, I'll add my voice to the Choir.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fat and genetics

I'm not at all convinced that a person'sBMI is completely genetically predetermined, but fat fu's got a point.

Pocatello


I snapped this picture from the deck at the Portneuf Valley Brewing company on Saturday evening over a pint of their Krystal Weizen. Just thought I'd share.

Thanks to sassy

Now that I'm back, I'd like to thank my guest blogger, sassywho of the blog I never leave the house without incident, for keeping things lively around here over the weekend. It was a treat to see her posts here, and I only hope I can manage to get her to come back the next time I'm out of town.

Pesky pescetarianism

I decided recently that I'd like to try pescetarianism (cutting all creatures that have legs out of my diet) for the summer. I'm not doing it because of any new and deeply-held moral beliefs, though I do think a vegetarian diet is more environmentally-friendly than one that includes meat. I actually just want to make sure I'll take advantage of the great produce during the short growing season around here, and not pass it up for a burger I can eat any time of year. Also, cooking-wise, I feel like I've slipped into a meat rut - it's just too easy to make a steak taste good.

More than one person has told me this is the worst time of the year to try this, since I'm going to miss out on grilled steaks and burgers, but the charcoal-grilled salmon and fennel slices I made last weekend were pretty damned great if I do say so myself. Burgers are great off the grill, but plenty of other things are, too.

I started May 1, and we'll see what I say down the road, but so far so good. Actualy, I've really been enjoying it. I've had to travel a little outside my comfort zone, taste-wise, and all for the better. For instance, I didn't think I liked spanakopita, but devouring a slice of the spinach pie with a side of tabouli and a cold, hoppy beer after a hot bike ride last Monday was one of the more memorable eating experiences I've had in months. I've also been trying to teach myself to like mushrooms over the past few years, and their substantial texture and high protein content make them a really useful component of a vegetarian diet. I've eaten more mushrooms in the last two weeks than I have in my entire life. Tonight, after a ten-hour drive up from Southern Idaho, I wanted to throw together a simple and easy dinner. I boiled some pasta, put together a green salad, and to add some substance to the jarred marinara for the pasta, I cooked some sliced crimini mushrooms in olive oil with oregano, red pepper flake and worcestireshire sauce. (I've been using mushrooms as almost a direct meat replacement; that's basically the way I season my meatballs, so I figured it would work for mushrooms.) Dinner was as delicious as it was simple.

I even navigated some of the social awkwardness that comes with this kind of change in diet this weekend when I went to visit my in-laws. I wasn't sure at first how to handle this without being a pain, so I did eat the roast beef sandwich my mother in law made for me the night I arrived at her place. When she asked the next day what kind of food Andy and I might want to eat while we were there, I confessed my little food project, and she was more than happy to accomodate. I told myself that I wouldn't stick with this if it were a huge pain in the ass, but so far, it's been really manageable.

I'd love to hear some input from anyone who's gone through this kind of process. I don't see why this should get any harder, except for the bacon cravings, which I take to be an eventuality. My habits have changed, but only barely, and it's helped me introduce more variety (and vegetables) into my diet. What's not to like?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Chicken Marsala

Hey all. Judging by the recipes that Sara has blogged before, she is considerably a better cook than I am. Plus she usually has pictures, but this is a great recipe and one that is easy to substitute if you are eating locally.

Chicken Marsala(not for those dieting)

You will need...

1-2 skinless/boneless Chicken Boobs(or any other white meat)
1 Bottle marsala cooking wine
1 Bottle of a good wine(for the cook)
1 Jar Home Again beef base
1 pkg baby bella mushrooms
2 sticks butter
1 onion
1 large clove of garlic
12-14 new potatoes

Roast the garlic in the oven.

Quarter the potatoes and boil.

Saute onions/stick of butter in lg pan, and then cook chicken with the onions.

Once you add the chicken get a sauce pan and melt 1 stick butter and add no more than a teaspoon of the beef base. Next add the mushrooms (diced), I am completely freaked out by the texture of 'shrooms so I chop these up so tiny that you get the flavor without all of that slippery stuff. add 1/2 to 1 cup marsala cooking wine (if you add too much just cook it a little longer to draw some of the wine out). Let this cook as long as it takes for the boobs.

Optional you can also add a little soy sauce or sherry cooking wine if you want.

Using some of the butter from the onions/chicken and marsala pan, about a 1/4 cup of each, blend that with the softened roasted garlic and pour the mixture on the potatoes before mashing them, a hand-held mixer works best for this.

Serve the chicken on top of the potatoes, and heaping the marsala/shroom mixture on top. Enjoy

Somewhere there is a poem

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Rape has nothing to do with sex

**Note: This isn't a "what about the menz" post.**
**Disclaimer: strong language, 'nuff said"**
***Disclaimer #2, it's a long one***
****Updated with links****

I promised Sara just last night that if I cross-posted it would be much shorter and hopefully not as inflamitory as my previous posts. It is common though for me to start writing with a specific train of thought and before I know it, the choo-choo has left without me. This is a fascinating conversation for me though, it addresses so much of our social "because that's just the way it is"'.


This morning while in the shower I had an epiphany of sorts, which is disturbing on a few levels; 1. the things I think about in the shower and 2. that it was even an epiphany at all.

After my post last night I was having a conversation with the ex-husband about victims of sexual violence. He quite often likes to play the devil's advocate for only the sake of being contrary. He gave the standard thoughtless response of "you violate me any time", indicating that to him rape is seen as a function of a "supply and demand economy", you know a minor inconvenience; versus what it really is: the most invasive violation possible.

I recognize that a lot of men when forced to think about their wives, mothers, daughters, or sisters being assaulted strikes a chord.... yet they are still unattached because they do not see the possibility of it affecting them personally. In fact, most men believe that if they are not homosexual or do anything stupid to put themselves in prison, a possibility of being assaulted is none, zero, zilch.

Making it all too easy for them to look at the victim as someone who just made poor choices. Monday morning quarterbacking is part of the culture and men who are used to being trained with a critical eye, trivializing and criticizing the "opposing teams" choices that caused them to lose the game.

To some degree sex has been taught/drilled into men as a game. Both genders are guilty of this, sex as a game, opposing genders, opposing teams, playbooks, outwitting/outsmarting each other... that is another post for another time. There is one difference though, rape is not about sex, but since most men can't imagine it happening to them... they draw on their own experience.

When you think of a rape/sexual assault victim, what comes comes to mind? I wrote significantly in my last post about who society allows to be a victim and who it doesn't. Most likely you picture a woman or child(ambiguous by nature). If you are like me, as I did in my post yesterday, you completely left out men! Why is that a shock?

Because as a society we care about children, in fact we worship the snot-factories, they are allowed victimization without prejudice, for the sake of argument say until they are 12... then they begin the maturation process severing dependence. The distinction of gender for child abuse does not become important until we talk about adult survivors.

When was the last time you read about a gay on gay sexual assault or rape? Chances are not often, because there is an underlying current in our society making judgments on the credibility of homosexuals in addition a large number of "hetero" men who have that reflexive "ick" factor. Prison rape? Eh, it's used in popular culture as a very effective crime deterrent, don't cha think? Again, het-men are not forced to actualize it for themselves.

So let me ask the straight presumably somewhat law-abiding men, have you ever walked yourself through your own theoretical rape? I guarantee you if you ask any woman that she has to some degree in her life, it's impossible not to with all of the sexualized threats, with all of the rapes shown in movies and tv even if you have not been raped a woman knows the threat and a sense of the violation.

For definition sake the difference between sexual assault and rape. Rape is non-consensual sexual activities that include penetration; that means insertion of a penis, fingers or another object into one of your orifices, for a male either the mouth or anus. Sexual assault is sexual activities that do involve consent, this can include(but certainly not limited to) touching genitals or rubbing their own genitals on you.

So I assume if you are a hetero/non-criminal male, you are sitting there pretty arrogant that rape isn't likely to happen to you, right? Wrong, that's because you assume that rape is about sex, and it's either gay men or men who do not have access to women. Just ask Abner Louima, he was raped by presumably straight police officers.

Notice the masculinity of the writing when describing the "torture" vs. the technical term "rape", in his "rectum" and the "depravity" of the acts, which all are completely appropriate as it was a heinous crime. The article also offers more detail about the assault than you would ever see in regard to what was done to a woman or child, see here in this article. Seen as an effort to protect the privacy of the victim, and to some degree it is, but I believe it also has something to do with how common that assaults on children and women are.

As if imagining that because you are straight and not caught for crimes makes you less likely to be a victim of sexual assault, and those who are victims in that identified domain as more deserving, it's not all that different than victim-blaming/identifying as I described in my other post.

What about all of the adult survivors of sexual abuse, studies show that almost 20% of the male population is assaulted by the time they are 18. I have a hard time believing that victims of the "Catholic Pedophiles" were all gay and/or criminals. There are sites like this and this, which tells me there are a lot of men that we as a society are choosing not to hear, because it gives us that "unsafe" feeling.

There are a lot of male victims that we have silenced, men who past puberty are punished for identifying as a survivor, men who may have been involved with the law are denied victim-status, and men who are not heterosexual are denied survivor-status and/or automatically assumed to be a survivor. At this point, it's all still part of rape being about sex; and sex being a game and not affecting the traditional hegemonic- "masculine"-heterosexual man.

So to illustrate my point, if you still feel safe from being the victim of assault or rape because you could only imagine that it would be some rare/random sick fuck that of course you wouldn't know and there would be no way that it would be a fault of your own. Take this into consideration:

Since most rapes and assaults are committed by someone the victim knows in fact 1 in 4, yeah stranger-assault/rape is more likely to happen to me and even less-likely to happen to you only because the scales are tipped in your favor to be seen by an assailant as stronger and more likely to be armed. Sexual violence is a an assault on those perceived to be weaker and it has nothing to do with the supply and demand of sex. Surprised?

Think of this through as a smug "could never happen to me" person: imagine everyone you know could potentially be a rapist, women and men for the sake of argument. Since a rapist has no distinctive walk, or language code, you never know who it may be. In fact, sometimes you may very well feel incredibly safe with that person.

Imagine you never know who might slip a drug in your beer at the bar. Since rape is described as penetration without consent that means waking up and feeling sore in areas that you would rather not feel pain... you have blood that is present in your stools from the tearing of your rectum. Imagine being forced to taste bodily fluids that you never consented to swallowing. Imagine being drunk to the point of being unable to move or form coherent sentences and having your buddy rub his cock on your face before violating your mouth.

Imagine that you have a trusted female friend, and while "participating" in sex games she ties you up, even though you have made it clear that you want nothing to do with your anus being penetrated she proceeds against your consent and using an inanimate object to violate you. (i realize that some pornography and sexual fantasies include these kinds of activities, however that is different because it is agreed before hand that nothing happens without consent).

For more consideration, imagine that you do want to report this highly personal crime, already feeling ashamed before you even talk to others. When you do report it the men taunt you, the women snicker, and everyone doubts your story.

Your choices, previous partners, clothes, drug use, occupation, childhood, education, and just about everything that makes you: YOU is torn apart, all because you decided to stand up for yourself and say that you were violated in the most horrible way and that you want the perpetrator to be held accountable and hopefully you can regain some of your humanity that person took away from you.

Is it that hard to see that rape isn't about sex?

cross posted at Sassywho.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

TTFNTTFL!

My mother in law is graduating with her PhD this weekend (congratulations, Sue!) so Andy and I are going to be out of town for the next few days celebrating with my awesome in-laws. I've asked a few people to guest blog, so if I get any takers, look forward to hearing a some new voices over the next few days. In the meantime, I'll be enjoying the first actual vacation time I've taken since October - how screwed up is that?

A fat rant multiplies

Remember Joy Nash's amazing "Fat Rant?" It's spawned bunches of responses on YouTube. Watch a few and get your righteous indignation on - or upload one of your own!

The wages of change

Hugo Schwyzer has a post about Garance Franke-Ruta's WSJ piece advocating for raising the age of consent for appearing in pornography, and while I am just sick to death of arguing about porn and who it hurts and why and how much, I do think this is a good opportunity to discuss the necessary trade-offs that come with making the world a better place.

To begin with, Schwyzer is optimistic about the utility of "moralizing sermons" in making cultural change. He says:
I’m a big, big proponent of fighting most social vices by reducing demand first. I’m a historian and a recovering alcoholic who knows damned well Prohibition was largely a failure and Alcoholics Anonymous has been, by and large, a phenomenal global success. Pot is illegal, and I didn’t have trouble finding it in my youth and my students seem to have very little trouble finding it today. Using the power of the state to reduce the supply of an addictive commodity often ends up raising its price and making it more dangerous for those who work to produce it. Reducing demand, the seemingly more difficult task, is ultimately the more successful strategy.
First off, AA is a particularly bad analogy to use here. Whatever you think of Hugo's anti-porn stance, I don't think that what he desires is a world where only the people whose lives have been consumed by pornography are the ones who quit purchasing it. Even with AA, it's not like all alcoholics who enter it are able to come out the other side as recoverees - and that's just the people who make it in to begin with, which is hardly 100% of alcoholics, let alone casual drinkers.

An analogy I think is instructive is with rising rates of obesity and diet and exercise. You have by now heard many people say that "diets don't work." And on any important scale when it comes to working for a change in the human condition, they don't. But if people would just stick to them and get off their lazy asses, they would work. Well, yeah, but they apparently don't do that - so as far as the health care system and our home-poked belts are concerned, they don't work.

There are a lot of places we can go after we arrive at this conclusion. We can re-think how important it really is to get Americans to lose weight. We can publicly fund support group programs that have been shown to help people keep weight off. We can ration food and require exercise by law. But we can't just keep recommending a diet regimen and expect weight loss to be anything other than an anomaly.

Part of the problem between Franke-Ruta and Schwyzer is that they're actually talking about two different phenomena they find to be undesirable. Schwyzer doesn't like porn at all. Franke-Ruta doesn't want young women's lives to be ruined by moments in their youth that are influenced by alcohol, lots of social pressure, and a healthy desire to experiment. Franke-Ruta's solution isn't going to end up making Schwyzer happy, and I don't think it's going to make her happy. Ditto Schwyzer's. As many have observed, the problem that Franke-Ruta is attempting to solve is not exactly that young women are exposing themselves on camera. My take is that the problem is that underaged drunk women are being pressured into signing contracts, and the simultaneous pressure women face to conform to male sex fantasies but also enforce prudish sexual morality. But please, please steer me straight if I ever say the "solution" is changing an entire nation's attitudes about sex, because I see no reason to wait generations for something I can't be guaranteed is coming.

What Franke-Ruta does have over Schwyzer is the recognition that a solution to the problem is going to involve more than just asking people to stop doing that bad thing they do. Franke-Ruta's proposed solution introduces problems of its own (big ones), and that obstacle seems to be the price of change that Schwyzer is unwilling to pay in exchange for anything resembling his actually-desired results. As my favorite tautology goes: things have to change for things to change. Schwyzer concludes:
The way to put an industry out of business that profits from exploitation and degradation is through taking away their customers, one at a time. And we do that by changing their hearts. And we change their hearts by holding them accountable, by refusing to accept or enable, by lovingly challenging them.
But that just isn't true on a meaningful scale. He uses Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "moralizing speeches" as an example of revolutionary changing of hearts and minds, but it's not like King was the first person to advocate for civil rights. It's great that he did it, and I bear no grudge against moralizers (and thus can sleep at night, as a blogger). The problem is that there's really no evidence that the moralizing was the catalyst - though I hardly want to discourage discourse on morality.

Making change means thinking bigger. Girls Gone Wild does not come out of a vacuum. If we honestly believe it's a problem, we need to be honest about the things that contribute to its existence and to acknowledge that disappearing GGW will affect more than just which ads you see on late night Comedy Central.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Absurd Lou Dobbs-related news

When it rains it pours, I guess. Two interesting news items about Lou Dobbs are a relative typhoon monsoon* of Dobbs-related news in my world, anyway.

Item 1: Dobbs calls Idaho "the cultural wasteland."**See edit below

Item 2: Dobbs has been named a lifetime member of the Hispanic Journalists' Association.

I've only got a few minutes left before I finish up my lunch break, so I'll have to leave it at these two links, but geez, what a jerk that guy is.

*So I'm not very clear on my tropical storm terminology.
**A few commenters have pointed out that Dobbs didn't actually say this - he just agreed with it.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

In simple terms, so godless liberals can understand it

Goofus and Gallant at the DOJ.

"Objectifying yourself" is an oxymoron

An AlterNet article (via) about the feminist politics of stripping starts with these seven words:
If a woman chooses to objectify herself...
And I have to object immediately. If to be objectified is for a human body to be stripped of its humanity and treated like any other object in space, I don't know how we can speak of a woman objectifying herself. One may submit to or encourage their own objectification, but they cannot make themself into a simple object (except perhaps by suicide or unconsciousness). It is only the observer, the objectifier, who has the power to deny the reality of the human being that animates a human body.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Moulin Rougue singalong

I've always hated Rocky Horror. I don't like musicals in general. But I adored Moulin Rouge, so I hereby nominate it to replace Rocky Horror as the musical movie people sing along to in theaters while dressed up as the characters. Any takers?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sali ranks caretakers slightly below chopped liver

Via the Mountain Goat, we learn that Idaho's first congressional district representative Bill Sali does not wish to "honor early childhood care and education staff and programs in their communities and to work together to resolve the early childhood care and education staff compensation crisis." He voted against the resolution "Supporting the Goals and Ideas of a National Child Care Worthy Wage Day."

This is a resolution supporting the "goals and ideas" of a day devoted to providing caratakers with decent wages and support for the important job they do. He's voting his values, not his pocketbook, so Sali can't even make excuses about fiscal responsibility. It's not that he doesn't think the US doesn't have the ability or responsibility to pay child care workers more, he just doesn't think they ought to earn more money or have more respect.*

*UPDATE: I now realize that the italicized portion above goes a little too far. Sali is voting as a representative of Idaho's first district, so it's possible that he personally disagrees with the vote but feels it best represents the sentiments of his constituents. If he's just watching the Idaho legislature, I can see why he might draw such a conclusion. There are plenty of first district Idahoans who don't share such a dim view of caretaking and the people who make it happen, however, and I encourage them to let Sali know it.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Eliminate the variables

Feministing.com commenters are predicting doom and gloom in the event that a libido-increasing, appetite suppressing pill for women enters the marketplace. I'm more optimistic (assuming there's any good science behind the idea that this drug could one day be used by humans). Samhita says:
As the article asserts, low libido often has more to do with unhappiness in relationships than with actual lower libido. But why deal with that when you can have a quick fix drug to help you ignore the cause and allay symptoms.
I think this drug could be a good tool for identifying a problem relationship. Right now, if you find yourself in a situation where you and your partner are fighting a lot and not connecting sexually, it's pretty hard to figure out exactly what's wrong. Is your new antidepressant screwing with your libido? Are you ready to move on from the relationship? Are you too concerned about the way your body looks to enjoy yourself in bed? It's pretty tough to separate out all your feelings on these issues.

If you began taking this drug, and were still unhappy, you at least could no longer blame it on your spare tire or how often you're getting it on. If you take this drug and things get better - then things are better. There's the possibility that people will confuse a busy sex life with a good relationship, but that happens without this drug around. Your relationship is going to be terrible with or without this drug if you have no ability to assess your own happiness in it.

Body image: what your body looks like to me

I wonder, does Clayton Cramer work for the Recreation department at WSU?