Monday, January 25, 2010

Banned. (Also: A Serious Post.)

And it happens, oh yes it happens, because it happened to me:

And if that hasn't scared you enough, there's this:

"You know how people were offering flowers up at the alter of Google in Beijing? That's not allowed anymore - security officers at Tsinghua University (right next to Google's offices) are asking you why you're buying flowers and demanding that it not be for the Big G. That's apparently propelled "Illegal flower donations" (非法獻花) to the first big internet meme of China 2010." via Shanghaist.

I'm not sure I think that Google/MS should actually refuse to play with China. But it's worth remembering that we have A LOT of freedoms that we take for granted, here. For example:


Whew. That felt great.

*Not really.

Brought to my attention by a friend who reads The Breda Fallacy.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Listen to this song:

Share Blackout (Haiti In The Dark) by Boukan

And read the Wikipedia article about Haiti at the same time.

Warning: you will bawl.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dr. King.

"We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity.

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Even a superficial look at history reveals that no social advance rolls on the wheels of inevitability. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concerns of dedicated individuals. Without persistent effort, time itself becomes an ally of the insurgent and primitive forces of irrational emotionalism and social destruction. This is no time for complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.

Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion… Not a few men who cherish lofty and noble ideals hide them under a bushel for fear of becoming different."

I'll be listening to Dr. King's speech later today at home. I can't do it at work because I start to cry--which, although understandable, is inappropriate for work. I'd recommend that you all do the same. (Uh, listen to the speech, not cry.) You might think you know it, but it's a sensory shock to me, every time, and I bet it will be for you, too. There's a ton of original versions on YouTube, but the version below is adorable.

And what has been called President Obama's "Race" Speech, although it's actually called "A More Perfect Union", framing race in the broader terms of America's history.

And, although my doings are pretty small compared to the two men above, I wrote a recent post on race too.

Monday, January 11, 2010

All A Matter Of Perspective

C and I are are up at Crystal Mountain, enjoying a leisurely day of spring skiing--all the more unusual because it is, in fact, early January--and we stop for a long lunch. C is attempting a No-Alcohol-In-January Rule (HA!) but I'm not going to let that stop me. I walk up to the cashier with my water, taco plate, and can of beer. The cashier is a very cute blonde 6'2" male of indeterminate age with a nice smile and a friendly, if relaxed, personality. He rings up C and then turns to me.

"May I see your ID?" he says.

C and I smile at each other. "I love being carded," I say, and she rolls her eyes.

"YOU ARE NOT THAT OLD," she says. "Jeez."

The cashier scans it and hands it back to me. "No, you're not," he says, smiling, sincerely trying to put me at my ease. "You're only six years older than me!"

SHOT THROUGH THE HEART, AND YOU'RE TO BLAME! You give loooove, a ...oh, you know the rest.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

That Mouth Gets Me In Trouble Again

I had said it, and now I had to do it. And now inspiration had left me and I was sitting alone at my computer, polishing off my Scotch.

"I'm thinking about cooking dinner," I had said lightly, just an hour ago. "Would you be interested?"

"Sure," he said. "I'm eating now but I'll be hungry at 8 or so."

So I had a little time, but suddenly it wasn't enough. I had been advising my friend T on this very topic just a few days ago, and I knew what she had made and I knew I could make that easily, and I knew I liked it. And I was going to be resorting to that--not that it was a bad dish at all, simply seemed too easy--if I couldn't think fast enough.

I looked at the contents of my cupboards. I flipped through a cookbook or two. Amanda Hesser says, describing her anxiety on cooking for her then-boyfriend, "The first meal you cook for someone is intimate. Not just if it's for a date. And not just because no one cooks anymore--it really has nothing to do with whether you are a good cook or not. It's an entry into the way you think, what you've seen and know, the way you treat others, how you perceive pleasure."

So true. It's not the food quality that's at stake: It's you, as the cook. This is why people are loathe to let on that they, say, actually like Kraft cheese singles wrapped in plastic, or Spaghetti-Os. You can like it and eat it in secret all you want, but you don't want OTHER people to know your low-brow tastes. Similar story here. Dishes that seemed perfectly tasty to me were suddenly, no longer good enough--what if he didn't like them? What if he started questioning not only my cooking skills but my tastebuds, and then my very palate? My opinion on what made life bearable? What if he and I clashed so directly on cooking that this would be our LAST DATE?

Possible disaster was looming. Suddenly I was apathetic towards cooking and food in general. My Pandora station annoyed me. The next station was no better. I had to pee. The Cooks Illustrated website stopped working. I drank some more Scotch and decided to go with what I had advised T on and made, several times before. After all: it was pleasurable. And it involved bacon.