Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday evening roundup

Narcissists will soon have to do without their very own category in the DSM.

Joe Scarborough's had it. I look forward to reading the responses.

The Times might find it worthwhile to have a discussion with its bloggers about respecting body types.

I love Johnny Depp.

Tuesday morning roundup

May Rep. Stephen Solarz rest in peace, and may his legacy inspire other politicians to grow and use their anatomy in the service of foreign policy.

If the south still wants to
, let them. Just let the north keep northern Virginia.

Clarifying some of the nuance that gets lost in soundbites.

Anne Applebaum offers a way for the wikileakers to use their powers for good.

Looks like it's time for me to switch mobile phone providers. It will be a badge of honor to support a company singled out on Beck's blackboard.

Sorry, jackass, the Mall is a bike lane, so take your anti-bike campaign elsewhere, and while you're at it, stop walking-and-texting and then expressing amazement that bikes can't get around you. And I would say that to your face, lest you were to accuse me of leveraging the anonymity of the internet to make rude comments.

When "celebrating" the federal pay freeze, keep in mind the "a VA nursing assistant making $28,000 a year or a border patrol agent earning $34,000 per year."

No need to overdo the calcium or vitamin D, but do eat your orange fruits and vegetables.

Get your baby animal fix online, although I think some tiger cubs were just born at the National Zoo.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Big Monday evening roundup

Quotas aside, Egyptian politics are remarkably hostile to women.

Rising (but not volatile) food prices can be beneficial to the poor.

Why sustainable seafood can save the rainforests.

As long as you're a corporation, do mess with Texas.

Are child-free workers expected to pick up the slack for their parent colleagues? I can't say I've ever had that issue--I've been blessed to work with very flexible people.

I hope the Academie Francaise is horrified, and not just because I mis-accented and probably mis-capitalized its name.

Gossip does not journalism make.

New security measures are no picnic for TSA, either.

And the big news in the area: no cost-of-living adjustment for federal workers for the next two years. Yes, we understand--shared sacrifice. Yes, we'll be fine (although our expenses are going up). No, we shouldn't be punished just because the rest of the country is hurting, and no, we're not a bunch of incompetent slackers. The comments on Ezra Klein's post (linked above) are not nearly as hostile as some of the other ones floating around. It's unfortunate that people are misinformed and bitter, but, more so, it's ironic when people with not even a basic grasp of spelling or grammar suggest that federal workers couldn't make it in the private sector.

Although yet another new Kate Mosshas been anointed, the real thing is still an icon. Bless her for rolling with the Blue Steel reference, and for that hilarious protest at the end of the interview.

Are you going to give me crap because I love Kate Moss? I don't want to hear it. She's so powerful--how do you not see that? And while we're on the topic of (other) feminists that piss me off (such as the Kate-haters, not Kate), how is buying hair extensions exploitation? Do you think those women would be better off if they didn't have customers for their hair? Think this through for a second. It's like those stupid hippies that protested the sweatshops, thus turning out the workforce--without offering meaningful alternatives, and leaving them to prostitution and such. So unless you have something constructive to offer, shut the f* up.

Monday morning roundup

Ross Douthat argues that we're significantly more partisan than ideological. It's an interesting piece, and one that makes me wonder why the Post doesn't hire conservative columnists who offer interesting insights more often than hyperpartisan posturing.

Exceptionalists are the new birthers.

Lots of leadership changes across the magazine industry, which means, among other things, your magazines may soon cost more.

Room for Debate debates cutting the apron strings when kids go to college.

When I miss France, it's good to remember that I'm unemployable there.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Video call

Mom: What's wrong with her tail?
A.: There's nothing wrong with her tail. We've been over this.
Dad: I think it's just the breed.
Mom: She's funny-looking.
A.: [shrug]

Dad: Your hair looks nice that way.
A.: Thanks!
Mom: Her hair always looks that way.
Dad: It's wavy.
Mom: It's always wavy.

Mom: What are you up to these days? Do you ever exercise?

Sunday morning roundup

Can anyone really declare herself the arbiter of how to/how not to write about the Holocaust?

Senator Lugar remains true to himself and his country even when posturing is nearly ubiquitous.

How many billions it would take to implement Israeli-style airport security.

We must be in trouble if we're now outsourcing meth, albeit unwittingly.

Living in DC is officially really f*ing expensive.

It's not cute or quirky when journalists can't do math (arithmetic, really).

Okay, the smell of lavender and pumpkin pie combined do not scream 'sexual arousal' to me, but what do I know?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday evening roundup and rant

There's only one thing to round up, really, and it fits squarely in the category of WTF?? Is there a point of saturation for the whole spewing things that have no basis in fact?

I saw something today that upset me, a lot. Actually, I saw various things that upset me, among them, the memorial wall of fallen journalists at the Newseum. But something in the museum's section on Pulitzer-winning photography upset me on a whole different level: Kevin Carter's suicide. And the hate mail that he received in response to the winning photograph. Why didn't he pick up the child? What are you people, the morality police? Were you there? How do you know what you would have done if you had been there? So easy to slam someone from the comfort of your couch, isn't? Unless you've been in that situation and picked up the starving child--and even if you have--shut the f* up.

Saturday morning roundup

A Russian media figure speaks his mind about the state of the nation's journalism.

Across the Persian Gulf, Designer museums are springing up.

Israeli lobbyists can be careful what they wished for, but there's a deeper issue here, which nagged at me as I read this:
With powerful friends like Mr. Cantor, a Virginia Republican and one of the highest-ranking members of Congress, the Israeli government was viewed by some as one of the big winners of the midterm elections.
It depends on how you define "friends," and it depends on you you define "winners." Winning what, exactly? More rounds of the same? If the "friends" you want are those that tell you you're perfect in every way, when you're also part of the problem, than that's what you got. Don't you know that your real friends are those that tell you to, say, stop smoking? To put down the donut, if you've just had a heart attack?

Charity Navigator is smartly shifting focus away from administrative costs. It's more about effectiveness, achievement.

Cycling in DC is really taking off.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday morning roundup

Wait, the people in Norfolk unequivocally believe in climate change? Then why don't they vote in a way that reflects that belief? On a related note, the tea party sets its sights on Virginia. Oh, and someone can't keep her Koreas straight.

The Post on contentious TG dinners, with an excerpt that hit close to home:
"Thanksgiving 2003," says Kori Schake, a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution and big sister to Kristina, Michelle Obama's new communications director. The Schake family is so political that Kori's mother once gave her, as a birthday present, three months where she promised not to mention the Israel-Hezbollah war. In 2003, Kori went home to her liberal sister and liberal parents. "I was exhausted. And everyone wanted to talk about Iraq."

Finally Kristina ran interference, saying, "Listen, if you all want Kori to feel like she's at work, then you're achieving that. If you want her to feel like she's among people who love her, then we need to talk about something else."
I have definitely begged my mother to just let things go--sometimes, politics are exhausting even when you agree, and we rarely do. And her aggressive, ad hominem style takes it from exhausting to intolerable.

I had a good Thanksgiving, with friends (and the family of the hostess). I caved and had a dinner roll and pie that a friend had brought (I do cave on very special occasions, and what is TG if not that), and I $hit you not, a few wrinkles have popped up since.

How cool would it be to have women-only metro cars in this capital?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! rounup

It's not uncommon to compare Kim Jong-Il and his regime to a tantrum-throwing toddler, but I suggest that we start comparing such toddlers to Kim Jong-Il instead: "No, you cannot have that toy. I will not reward bad behavior, or next thing I know you'll be reprocessing plutonium."

Reactions to opt-out day keep getting better:
“We’ve had 10 years to be desensitized; I’m not sure why people are freaking out now,” said Dr. Janice Manjuck, 50, a physician from San Francisco who was traveling with her husband and 11-year-old son to Norfolk, Va. Dr. Manjuck said she doubted the efficacy of the pat-downs and body scanners, but did not particularly object to them.

“We’re from San Francisco, so we’re used to nudity,” she said.

Per SP, Michelle O.'s anti-obesity campaign is socialist. Would she have said the same about Laura Bush's literacy work? Same principle applies, in theory: an assumption that parents don't know what's best for their kids.

Let's be thankful and stop whining about taxes.

This Thanksgiving morning, I got a phonebook-sized stack of fliers with my morning paper. I doubt I'll shop tomorrow, less out of virtue than out of weariness, and also because I'm shopped out. But I do love Thanksgiving--for the people and the concept, not the consumption (literal and commercial). In any case, let's keep Thanksgiving non-partisan.

Sigh. Even eel is unsustainable now?

I'm ahead of a trend! Sweet potatoes are cool. But I will not be buying mine from ConAgra, thank you, nor defacing them with marshmallows.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday evening roundup

Can China move toward a consumer society (not ironically, but notably) through better social safety nets?

Best protest sign ever. They should all end in "I doubt your junk is all that."

Petri and some other columnists on the dancing Palin (and the hunting/fishing ones).

Hertzberg on Beck on Soros.

The tea partiers just keep getting awesomer. The latest: sustainable development is a global conspiracy:
"...tea partiers understand that "there is a global agenda to actually abolish private property and abolish the Constitution for that matter." If sustainable development is fully implemented, she says, "This basically will turn us into a Soviet state."

In the tea partiers’ dystopian vision, the increased density favored by planners to allow for better mass transit become compulsory "human habitation zones." They warn of Americans being forcibly moved from their suburban dream homes into urban "hobbit homes" and required to give up their cars and instead—gasp!—take the bus to work. "

Liz Pulliam Weston asks her fellow wealthy-but-not-rolling-in-it earners to get real, i.e. be honest about the taxes they can afford to pay. Incidentally, federal workers, the punching bag of the hour--and most of whom, myself included, do not make six figures--say the same: we'll sacrifice, as everyone has to sacrifice (except, apparently, Wall Street)-- but it's not because we're a bunch of overpaid bums. And I'm well aware, as LPW says, that I'm barely scraping by by virtue of my choices (living in a high-cost area, on a 15-yr mortgage; going on trips; theater; etc.).

Consumer Reports warns you about the possibility of eating yourself to death.
Also, Real Simple has some tips for disarming any difficult people at your Thanksgiving celebration.

Ooh! I found the photo of the Nara Park sign, which we'd feared lost with Jay's old Blackberry (the photo, not the sign). It was the sign that inspired Jay's haiku.

Wednesday morning roundup

Iraqi refugees are finding life here more difficult than they expected.

Has China had it with its crazy, babbling neighbor?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Food-focused Tuesday evening roundup and ramble

This hippie crap is what I can't stand in pot heads, too: you're just as bad as the tea partiers. I, for one, believe that the government has a role in protecting people from food poisoning, from industry and artisans alike. It's wonderful that your goats and cows are free range; it's not wonderful that the listeria found in your facilities can harm people.

Some really interesting insights about food politics in general in this piece on food in Eleanor Roosevelt's White House.

What happens when students have the opportunity to kill their own turkeys.

Go straight to the rather acrimonious comments on Michael Pollan's post. I actually agree a little with both sides--MP's most recent books are less journalism and more rehashing of cliches, but, much like Al Gore, so be it if that's what it takes to bring the non-choir on board. But please, as another commenter points out, don't feel bad for vegans. I'm SO happy with my new diet. For one thing, vegetables are really good for you. To help with that, the Times explores some squashes, and the New Yorker, root veggies. I've been eating a ton of both--kabocha, butternut, turnips, sweet potatoes, beets, daikon, carrots, sunchokes, burdock... you get the point.

Over lunch today, a friend, just informed of my new-found macrobiotic ways, said she admired my restraint, spirit of sacrifice, and that she loved food too much. I had to reiterate several times that there was no sacrifice to speak of; I explained I was actually happier this way, that there was plenty of food for me to eat (when I'd told her what was no longer allowed—animal products apart from seafood, refined grains, most sweeteners—-she said, “that’s everything!”). I love food, too.

You know I don’t proselytize. Although I’m not out to convince other people to quit eating dairy or refined foods, I will state facts (giving up animal products will not bring about muscle atrophy) and also personal arguments when they come up. In other words, I’m not going to tell other people how they should eat (we’ve discussed the “should” issue on this blog), but I’d like people to know how good plant-based food can be—-especially real plant-based food. You may not feel the same way—and I’m not asking you to—-but believe me when I say I’d rather have a sweet potato than a piece of candy. Don’t pity me because I’m not having steak (or ice cream), and I won’t pity you in the event that you haven’t experience an amazing kinpira stew.

Monday morning roundup

North Sulawesi embraces its Jewish community.

Cohen on Palin on Michelle O.

I would tell this guy to shove it, but Miss Manners, far too polite for that, says it more tactfully. As for the second letter... I usually think it's rude to bring stuff without coordinating with the organizer(s), but in that situation, it seems more than appropriate and I'm not sure what the letter writer's problem is (neither does Miss Manners).

I should get with the times and use the products in my pantry rather than buying more, but it's more complicated when those products entail planning (and often soaking).

Monday, November 22, 2010


Regular readers of this blog know that I am at peace with my demographic (single woman with cat); however, it bears pointing out that it is impossible, literally, to be at peace as a woman trying to meditate, with cat. Whenever I'll be sitting there, trying to get my Zen on, Gracie takes it as a cue to be especially needy.

I was talking to Jay earlier, and he asked Smokey how it was possible for him to always be in the way. I ask the same of Gracie.

I asked my dad if he knew how to translate into cat that yoga and meditation do not constitute an invitation to sit on me or rub oneself against me. He said that there were no such words in cat, and that, in fact, those things meant the opposite. To a cat, any horizontal surface is an invitation.

Unfortunately, I had to endure a lecture before dad and I had this conversation. I made the mistake of asking my parents what they thought of Glenn Beck's character assassination on George Soros (they thought it was spot on). They proceeded to explain that I didn't live through what they lived through, I don't get it, I need to read up on my European history, and so on. I told them I was sorry I asked.

Monday evening roundup

Surely, demeaning comments about one's anatomy become increasingly grating, but there must be a non-violent way to address the situation?

A friend sent me the link to Lori Gottlieb's article, and I read it in full, for the first time. And it only makes me want to settle less. Take this:
It sounds obvious now, but I didn’t fully appreciate back then that what makes for a good marriage isn’t necessarily what makes for a good romantic relationship. Once you’re married, it’s not about whom you want to go on vacation with; it’s about whom you want to run a household with. Marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business. And I mean this in a good way.
Evan Marc Katz has said the same thing: it's about the home remodeling and such, not the astrophysics. But I can bore the $hit out of myself with all that by myself. I can run my own household. I'm not saying I wouldn't be able to run it better with another person, if that person were helpful; I'm saying it wouldn't be worth putting up with the wrong person in order to better run the household. To me, marriage is absolutely about whom I want to go on vacation with: vacation is a major priority in my life; redecorating is not. And I know all of that changes with children, and that's largely her point, but those women she describes--and some that I know--don't sound all that enviable to me.

Did you all see the Settling Soul Mates episode(s) of 30 Rock?

While I'm waxing defensive about single people, Carolyn's right to slam these idiots. I can tell you about plenty of self-absorbed spouses and parents.

Monday morning roundup

In especially impoverished parts of Russia, blond hair is a growth industry.

Fewer and fewer are protesting the School of the Americas.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday evening roundup and ramble

Apparently, the McRib, too, was promoted using taxpayer funds.

Be afraid. And then do something about it.

I caught up on TV this weekend, and noticed a theme. Both 30 Rock and How I Met Your Mother had a strain about compromising (one's principles, mostly). Did I tell you that I used RoundUp this summer? Also on "30 Rock"--loved when Liz said, "buying these hipster jeans makes up for all those long, hot showers I took because I was bored."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

MUST-SEE: Jon Stewart goes to the chalkboard

Can't embed... follow the link.

Saturday afternoon roundup

I'm sorry to be writing about yet another tragic accident. This one involves some seriously disgusting behavior on the part of the driver.

Someone has no sense of irony.

You know I'm not a fan of processed soy, but keep in mind that unless you're high risk, there are many other things to worry about first.

Tom Philpott on food reform:
Already, the Big Ag and Beltway media are buzzing with stories of how the new Congress, particularly the Republican House, will square deficit hysteria with farm subsidies. The general consensus: "No one knows yet."

But this recent Associated Press article provides some insight. Reporter Mary Claire Jalonick identifies several card-carrying Tea Partiers in the new House who both thunder against government spending and belong to families that have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in farm payments over the years.

For some in the sustainable-food movement, this is a delicious contradiction with the potential to force real reform in the next Farm Bill. For these people, the key federal policy underpinning the industrial food system and all of its evils are federal farm subsidies. Take them away, and a good-food renaissance will bloom.

But as I argued so strenuously and so often during the last Farm Bill fight (see here, for example), subsidies are a symptom, and not the cause, of a food system geared toward the maximum production of corn and soy, and, by extension, industrial meat. Absent other reforms and measures, if you take them away, you'll cause plenty of hardship in the Farm Belt, stiff a few high-profile millionaires who receive subsidies, and leave the incentives for maximum corn and soy production largely in place.

Indeed, House deficit hawks are already taking aim at the few federal farm programs that act as checks against mindless overproduction. According to the above-linked AP story, incoming Rep. (and Tea Party favorite) Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) is calling for the elimination of the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to keep ecologically fragile land idle.

Really taking on the corn-soy-meat colossus that's fouling our waterways and ruining our diets means creating new incentives in the Farm Belt. That means beefing up, not eliminating, conservation programs; and shifting payments -- not slashing them -- to reward farmers for things like crop diversity, cutting fertilizer use, and building up soil.

Saturday morning roundup

Ironically, I was driving some friends to Dulles and saw the stopped traffic in the opposite lanes, when we discussed the tragic accident on the BW that morning, not knowing that what happened on the toll road was similar. If your car breaks down, please get off the road and let the police deal with getting the car off the road!

Here's another safety tip: shut the f* up and go through the f*ing scanner and get off your butt and make your voice heard on national security issues.

Charles Blow draws out a fascinating parallel:
In fact, some on the right seem to be doing with the race issue what they’ve done with the climate-change issue: denying the basic facts and muddying the waters around them until no one can see clearly enough to have an honest discussion or develop thoughtful solutions.
Gail Collins makes some interesting parallels, too. Ooh--andtea partiers might even learn about the Constitution. Spoiler alert: There's separation of church and state.

The Economist takes on the Kristof's inequality column and assures us we are not (lower case) banana republic.

Has your kid got an unsightly mole? Now you can airbrush it out of school pictures.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday evening roundup

Rothkopf detects some real-time Idiocracy.

Countries for rent.

The (sociological) deal with diamonds.

Obesity is a social disease.

How to consume cheese? Take it from Courtney Love: don't melt it on $hit.

Thursday morning roundup

In China, censorship (of a case of abused connections) backfires, with “My father is Li Gang” having become the Chinese answer to "I'm hiking the Appalachian Trail" (or maybe "I take a wide stance"). I love it (it being, even the Chinese government can't keep satire down, not that a young woman had to die because of some spoiled $hit who thought he was above the law), Anyway:
But censorship officials were seeking to control a message that had already spread widely.

On Oct. 20, a female blogger in northern China nicknamed Piggy Feet Beta announced a contest to incorporate the phrase “Li Gang is my father” into classical Chinese poetry. Six thousand applicants replied, one modifying a famous poem by Mao to read “it’s all in the past, talk about heroes, my father is Li Gang.”
Satire, however, only gets you so far; not powerful drunk and distracted drivers kill people, too.

The New Yorker kindly provided an update on Rory Stewart, once my celebrity crush. If I weren't already over it, the article would help.

In other news, all hail the New Yorker food issue. I may love the food issue as much as I love food itself. Just kidding.

Apparently, Willow Palin spells as well as her mother. Speaking of Alaska... Gail Collins' column boils down to 'meh'.

Are you f*ing kidding me? I was just at Farragut North on Tuesday, for a dentist appointment. Thankfully, no concrete-falling incidents at the time.

I highly recommend Superior Donuts. Yes, it was uneven, yes Max was over the top (and the exaggerated Russian stereotypes bothered me less than the anything-but-Russian accent).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday morning roundup

Warren Buffet's thank-you note to the government.

Anderson Cooper does CNN proud by fact-checking a figure (yes, the $200 million/day) quoted on his show.

It's wonderful that communities are rallying behind individual immigrants, but--as the article makes clear--it's time for comprehensive immigration reform.

KVH suggests a way ahead for the House, and Dana Milbank has some thoughts for the Senate.

Thank HEAVENS. Those Salvation Army jinglers give me a headache every time I walk into a store.

Why are these people wasting Miss Manners' time? I'm glad she called them on it. By the way, the second letter hits close to home: it is rude to not RSVP. I have half a mind to stop inviting people who don't do it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday evening roundup

Lengthy but interesting essay on the neuropsychology of metaphors.

Save your money, skip the truffle oil (and other fancy oils, at least for frying).

Tuesday morning roundup

Another episode of "why rule-of-law in Russia is wanting": jury edition.

Many Haitians can't afford soap, which doesn't help the public health issue. On the topic of money and public health, the New Yorker's piece on tuberculosis in India is worth a read.

I am *not* making light of poverty or food insecurity in America, but I can't help but wonder whether those struggling to afford food could stretch the money they do have for food by buying less meat. I'm just sayin'.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday morning roundup

Your toddlers may throw tantrums if not allowed a cookie. This toddler, before he quit, threw tantrums when denied cigarettes.

This article about the DC metro area's suburban poor hints at but doesn't explicitly discuss lack of public transportation as an exacerbating factor.

Ted Koppel on partisan infotainment:
Beginning, perhaps, from the reasonable perspective that absolute objectivity is unattainable, Fox News and MSNBC no longer even attempt it. They show us the world not as it is, but as partisans (and loyal viewers) at either end of the political spectrum would like it to be. This is to journalism what Bernie Madoff was to investment: He told his customers what they wanted to hear, and by the time they learned the truth, their money was gone.

Nancy Franklin
on SP's reality show
When it comes to Palin specifically, there is the fundamental problem that some of us don’t want to see or hear any more of her than we have to. And there are those whose objections have a physiological basis as well as an ideological one: the pitch and timbre of her voice, the rhythms of her speech, her syntax, and the way she coats acid and incoherence with cheery musical inflections join together in a sickening synergy that distresses the listener, triggering a fight-or-flight reaction. When Palin talks, my whole being wails, like Nancy Kerrigan after Tonya Harding’s ex-husband kneecapped her: “Why? Why? Why?”

The food system: a video and a ramble

Bittman's point about preaching to the converted is interesting. If you're offended by whale meat, why keep eating other unsustainable meat, he asks? You've changed your light bulb, he says--now eat a freakin' salad.

He really is preaching to the choir. In fact, I deliberately didn't go to the lecture because I suspected that he wouldn't tell me anything I don't already know (and I was right: I heard that lecture--without a celebrity delivery system--twenty years ago, and haven't eaten meat since). I'm happy to listen online, for free, nonetheless. But his bigger point is this: it's not enough for only those of us who care to eat less (or no) meat: there needs to be system change.

In my search for vegan recipes, I come across vegan blogs that often have a point of view (beyond that related to flavor). One blogger--I can't find the post--slammed Alicia Silverstone (author of "The Kind Diet") for (1) arguing the health angle for convincing people to eschew animal products and (2) occasionally cheating. This blogger felt that people should just do things for ethical reasons--no selfish impetus like health should be needed. It's like people who think that people should donate with or without the tax breaks. Fair enough, but you do realize that what matters is the impact, and not the purity of the ideology? People not buying animal products for 'selfish' reasons contribute to less global demand for animal products just as much as heroic, selfless, ideologically pure vegans. And look--as much as I dislike imitation meat now, knowing that it was there helped me become a vegetarian. I was convinced about the need to not eat meat when I came to understand the impact on the environment--nothing like videos of dead rain forest creatures to bring the point home--but I was convinced I could actually do it when I tried a vegetarian 'meat'ball.

As for cheating, do what you need to do as long as you're being honest with yourself. You've heard me say this before: your personal food system has to be personally sustainable for you. Now, that doesn't mean you can't make adjustments, but you have to want to, for whatever reason. Otherwise, it's not going to happen, because you're setting yourself up for failure. I read in Rebecca Mead's profile of Lena Dunham that Dunham said she lost fifteen pounds once she stopped being a vegan, because all the sudden, the whole world was open to her. If that about describes your attitude about plant-based eating--if you feel that the world is closed to you--you're not going to change the way you eat without dealing first with that attitude. Consider what Mark Bittman said at the end--someone tried a plant-based diet for the summer, and stuck with it, because she didn't want to go back to eating the way she did. If you're committed to eating differently, don't adopt a martyr mentality about it. Focus on the personal and environmental benefits--focus on all the amazing things you can and should eat--and make changes at the level at which you're comfortable.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday morning roundup

Look, people: elections are not like shopping at Target. You need to think before you vote; you can't take your vote back should you experience buyer's remorse.

Wait, this is the first time someone's complained about the use of Nazi reenactors for entertainment on a scenic train ride event?

Lesser known Chinese cities scramble for bragging rights to attract tourists.

This analysis is cute, but it is deceptive to say that Brazil's economy would suffer from a dip in demand for beef. Why not factor in the economics of deforestation and other environmental destruction, vs. lack thereof?

I have mixed feelings about this British Twitter legal clusterf*. Yes, the authorities overstepped, have no sense of humor or irony, etc. And as someone who may have blogged about wanting to physically harm screaming children on airplanes (and their parents), I feel his pain. But there's also something to be said for not expressing every thought that comes to mind. I'm just saying. I'm also saying that should be left up to taste and social mores, not the legal system.

Dudes, those gloves and goggles totally go with the orange turban--makes a really chic look. Oh, and Canada encourages immigration from the developing world.

There are definitely topics I love to discuss that no one else cares about, but I doubt any of it is as boring as anything on this list.

How does your spending compare? According to that app, I spend about the same on groceries per month as the average single woman in the DC area, but I spend hundreds of dollars less on takeout and restaurant meals. The point I'm making is, healthy food doesn't cost more. Nutrition is not an elitist conspiracy.

Heidi Swanson, who is awesome, shares some vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes. I'm going to try the whole grain cornbread (replacing each egg with 1 tbsp of ground flax seeds mixed into 3 tbsps of water).

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday morning roundup

An addendum to yesterday's post about mental health "care" in China: it's not just that the mentally ill don't get treatment; it's that mental institutions are full of people who file local complaints. That's right--not big-picture dissidents as much as petitioners to city hall or an equivalent.

I've never cared much for Roger Cohen's columns--I usually don't read them because I quickly noticed they were simplistic, pointless, and, sometimes, just wrong. Case in point. [Roger Cohen is not to be confused with Richard Cohen at the Post, who is usually quite insightful.]

Sprawl threatens the Potomac.

Also following up on yesterday's post: Some commenters on the stroller incident blame the parent. It could go both ways--you don't necessarily know you're not going to get in--all it takes for someone in the train to stop and think about life, instead of moving forward into the train, and you and the people behind you are stuck.

Gracie's smarter than I thought. Or at least better at physics.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday evening roundup

The Root on "For Colored Girls".

ADL tells Glenn Beck to shut up.

Day-dreaming saps your happiness.

What, of all things, not to hit a law enforcement officer with.

A classic hits home

I went to see "The Odd Couple" last night at Theater J. And--side note--I don't think I've ever identified less with the Jews around the community center. This is in stark contrast to when I go to events at Sixth and I, where I feel a connection to the people around me. I can't quite put my finger on what it was... but I got a distinct, powerful sense of "I am not them."

The play was excellent. It was hilarious.

And as it progressed, parts of it felt very close to home. That caught me off guard, because the premise was so different from my former living situation. Oscar and Felix were two friends who moved in together. And yet, the way Felix would never stopped talking while Oscar was trying to read... but that was just icing on the cake. The essence was when Oscar lost it--not just that, but when he lost it, and Felix didn't get it, even though Oscar had been telling him in plain English. I don't remember the exact line--something like, "Why can't he hear me? I know I'm talking!" He'd so plainly said, "this means a lot to me. Please stop doing that." And then, when he snapped, Felix could only say, "what? What did I do?"

There was also the way that the practical became personal. I didn't initially dislike my roommate--everyone is entitled to their quirks, their habits, etc. I didn't care about his eating habits, until continued to make a point of mine. But there was a point--anyone who's ever been really annoyed by someone in any situation can identify with this--where even the little things that don't matter will annoy you, because they represent part of the annoying whole. When someone so deeply ingrains himself onto your $hit list, there's no turning back. Even attempts to redeem oneself only backfire. And so, there was a moment in the play where Oscar said, "it's you."

And yet... I know some friends would see some Felix in me, although they'd be (mostly) wrong. I did find myself, at Dewey Beach, taking on the role of getting food on the table--but that was only because I wanted to eat, and someone had to do it. There was no passive aggression to it, it was a means to an end. Not my friends, but friends of a friend who were also there, irked me when they each, at different times, said, "you're such a housewife." FU! And I don't mean Felix Unger. No, I'm not. No offense to housewives. But I'm not. I was dealing with the food because the food was there to be dealt with, and it's not hard for me to deal with it. But I digress.

The point is, the play was hilarious, and if you're in the area, you should go see it, whether you're Oscar, or Felix, or a little bit of both.


For the last few weeks, I've been snapping photos of food that comes out to be visually appealing, but I've found it difficult to make it look as good on camera (despite my camera's "food" setting) as it is in person. Apparently, food photography is quite challenging. Just today, the baba ghanoush in injera looked (and tasted) amazing came out much less appealing on camera. The kabucha with white beans was also lost in 'translation.'
Other shots were more successful--check out this bowl of soup:

Perhaps the clearest picture was one of the cooking process-- by the time the contents of the skillet were ready to serve, they were also more elusive. fried brown rice mochi in nori and fried plantains with mustard

Thursday morning roundup

All is not well in Darfur.

China is facing a mental health services crisis. Apparently, it sees greater utility to arresting activists than to arresting murderers.

Taiwan's standard of living surpasses that of Japan.

It is breaking news to no one who uses the Metro system that the escalators have issues, but even Metro connoisseurs might be shocked that a Metro train (1) closed its doors and departed after a mother pushed her baby onboard but didn't get on herself and (2) in response, said the train operator didn't do anything wrong. Now we can debate the wisdom of strollers in the system during rush hour, but since they're allowed (bicycles are not, by the way), deal with them.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday morning roundup

Maureen Dowd's brother can keep his day job; aren't there enough bloviators who can't get their facts straight?

Meanwhile, our Friends at Fox mix "facts" with threats.

Sigh. I like eating food, not necessarily reading about it. There are exceptions--Ruth Reichl, for example. But none of these new food novels appeal to me, at least not by description.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday evening roundup

Interesting discussion about the Obama faith perception "problem". Susan K. Smith makes the best point: he's not going to win over that 20 percent, ever, so let it go.

While What the f* has Obama done so far? is not quite as useful as What the f* should I make for dinner, I'm loving this genre of website.

That's some seriously easygoing airport security.

Apparently, Erica Jong launched the latest salvo in the Mommy Wars in the Wall Street Journal this weekend. Here's a compelling counter argument.

I like Carolyn's response to all her writers on this issue (feeling cheated out of "moments" by an undemonstrative partner)--figure out whether and why it matters to you. Reading today's letters (and the responses) made me think of mom, who's never met a moment she didn't want to hijack. I actually say this with no bitterness--I think, thanks to mom, I don't really believe in moments. I don't know whether I say that with complete emotional honesty--would I remember three hijacked moments in particular (both graduations and getting the job offer I'd sought for years) if part of me didn't still wish I could have enjoyed them, rather than having to (1) respond to mom's attempts to pick a fight and make it about her; (2) (actually, I did enjoy that one because a family friend stepped in and told mom to show some perspective); and (3) field inquiries as to my having gained weight, get yelled at for writing an insufficiently passionate letter to Verizon, and get accused of having alienated my (then) coworkers with my overbearing personality (thus having no choice but to change jobs). And yet--some disappointment, yes, but not bitterness. I don't need someone to create moments... I'd just like to be around people who let them happen.

I made April McGreger's white bean and winter squash chili for a cookoff at work, and it turned out really well. I highly, highly recommend it. Also, it doesn't benefit from cheese or meat (point being--and I do like cheese, even though I no longer eat it--if something is flavorful enough as is, you don't need to drown it with the stuff).

Tuesday morning roundup

Has the Russian public finally had it with the war on journalists?

Occasionally, I have trouble finding my compassion when someone passes away.

A retrospective: presidential dancing.

In case anyone's worried--particularly Texans--no one is coming to take your salt. By the way, one of the ironies of macrobiotics is the salt intensity, what with the sea veggies, miso, umeboshi, shoyu, and so on. Then again, that doesn't come close to what you'll find in processed foods (perhaps with the exception of umeboshi, which is pretty f*ing salty).

Richard Cohen and Anne Applebaum on hypocrisy. Gene Robinson on leadership.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday evening roundup

Where your tax dollars are going.

Hilton Als takes much more minor issue with "For Colored Girls;" most of the article is about Shange herself.

The Sanctimomy epidemic is rooted in competition, as well as people's insecurity about their choices.

Fast food is gross, but you can lose weight on a junk food diet, if you mind your portions. That's not all that surprising, but I'd be concerned--as they are--about other health issues.

Although this is ostensibly pro-herbivore, it's a very incomplete analysis. First of all, in the pros, there's no mention of environmental issues. And it irks me to no end when people say that vegetarians have to take care to get their nutrients, because so do meat eaters. And none of that stuff is naturally occurring in meat and dairy anyway.

On that note, a frustrated vegan mom vents--with some possibly useful links and other suggestions.

Monday morning roundup

Not uncommon among Afghan women is self-immolation. Or immolation by family members.

In Pakistan, checkpoint security can be Tasty.

These days, this kind of thing might be deemed socialist.

No love for Tyler Perry's latest from Courtland Milloy.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday morning roundup

Venezuela's unsurprising brain drain and (somewhat surprising) influx of immigrants.

How would Gandhi govern?

Do bicycles have a future in a changing Jakarta?

Mayor Bloomberg does not mince words:
“If you look at the U.S., you look at who we’re electing to Congress, to the Senate—they can’t read,” he said. “I’ll bet you a bunch of these people don’t have passports. We’re about to start a trade war with China if we’re not careful here,” he warned, “only because nobody knows where China is. Nobody knows what China is.”

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Rant from an indignant taxpayer

Some people don't want their tax money going to public health insurance, war, or social programs. As for me, I could do without subsidizing the stew of animal cruelty, obesity, and heart disease that is dairy management. Now, don't get me wrong: you know I don't want the country on "cheese" made from government-subsidized and Monsanto-frankensteinized soybeans (but most of those are used for feed, anyway). That said, here are some fun facts:
"Dairy Management spent millions of dollars on research to support a national advertising campaign promoting the notion that people could lose weight by consuming more dairy products, records and interviews show. The campaign went on for four years, ending in 2007, even though other researchers — one paid by Dairy Management itself — found no such weight-loss benefits."
In 2007, the department highlighted Pizza Hut’s Cheesy Bites pizza, Wendy’s “dual Double Melt sandwich concept,” and Burger King’s Cheesy Angus Bacon cheeseburger and TenderCrisp chicken sandwich. “Both featured two slices of American cheese, a slice of pepper jack and a cheesy sauce,” the department said.
Dairy Management, through the “Got Milk?” campaign, has been successful at slowing the decline in milk consumption, particularly focusing on schoolchildren. It has also relentlessly marketed cheese and pushed back against the Agriculture Department’s suggestion that people eat only low-fat or fat-free varieties.

In a July letter to the department’s nutrition committee, Dairy Management wrote that efforts to make fat-free cheese have largely foundered because fat is what makes cheese appealing. “Consumer acceptance of low-fat and fat-free cheeses has been limited,” it said.

Agriculture Department data show that cheese is a major reason the average American diet contains too much saturated fat.
[By 2004,]...Jean Harvey-Berino, chairwoman of the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Vermont...had found no evidence of weight loss. She said Dairy Management took the news poorly, threatening to audit her work. She said she was astonished when the organization pressed on with its ad campaign.

“I thought they were crazy, and that eventually somebody would catch up with them,” she said.

Her study was published in 2005, and at scientific meetings she heard from other researchers who also failed to confirm Dr. Zemel’s work, including Dr. Jack A. Yanovski, an obesity unit chief at the National Institutes of Health.
But in late 2006, Dairy Management was still citing the weight-loss claim in urging the Agriculture Department not to cut the amount of cheese in federal food assistance programs...

The campaign lasted until 2007, when the Federal Trade Commission acted on a two-year-old petition by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an advocacy group that challenged the campaign’s claims. “If you want to look at why people are fat today, it’s pretty hard to identify a contributor more significant than this meteoric rise in cheese consumption,” Dr. Neal D. Barnard, president of the physicians’ group, said in an interview.

...Meanwhile, Dairy Management, which allotted $12.4 million for nutrition research in 2008, has moved on to finance studies on promising opportunities, including the promotion of chocolate milk as a sports recovery drink and the use of cheese to entice children into eating healthy foods like string beans.
On Oct. 13, Domino’s announced the latest in its Legends line of cheesier pizza, which Dairy Management is promoting with the $12 million marketing effort... A laboratory test...found that one-quarter of a medium thin-crust pie had 12 grams of saturated fat, more than three-quarters of the recommended daily maximum. It also has 430 calories, double the calories in pizza formulations that the chain bills as its “lighter options.”
Working with some of the largest food companies, Dairy Management has also pushed to expand the use of cheese in processed foods and home cooking. The Agriculture Department has reported a 5 percent to 16 percent increase in sales of cheese snacks in stores where Dairy Management has helped grocers reinvent their dairy aisles. Now on display is an array of sliced, grated and cubed products, along with handy recipes for home cooking that use more cheese.

You may be wondering, or not, what giving up dairy has meant for me in terms of weight. I couldn't tell you--I didn't weight myself before I stopped consuming it two weeks ago, and I haven't weighed myself since. I mostly ate non-fat dairy anyway, so the above hardly applies. If there's a change in my weight, it would be because, on a handful of occasions, I've had an 'official' reason to just say no to junk food in which I might have otherwise partaken, just because it was there. But I haven't noticed a difference, and I'm not looking for one--I'm in this for other reasons, and I'm at a 'happy weight.' I won't complain if some of my 'old' clothes start to fit again, but holding out for that would just set me up for frustration. I can tell you that I like my food a lot better now. In fact, I have to run now because I've talked Marcela into accompanying me on a tour of "ethnic" markets in the area (we wanted to go to the Sackler, but couldn't find a time we were both free when it was open; in absence of Asian art, Asian food aisles will have to do).

A rather depressing roundup

The first generation of aids babies has grown up, and faces challenges.

DC's homeless are looking at a longer commute.

The Gulf oil spill has killed coral.

Ehrlich's anonymous robocalls told people it was okay to stay home from the polls. The good news: he lost anyway.

Gail Collins on the Mama Grizzlies.

A DC couple can't get financing for a circular house.

On a lighter note, India welcomes Obama on Diwali (there is some serious humor in that article). Mind you, Foreign Policy, the Post's sister company, is less optimistic. Maybe they're talking to different people.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday morning roundup

India is investing in an arms buildup.

Botswana's bushmen are leaving and/or being driven from their ancestral lands.

Fareed Zakaria wrote a great column on the changing geopolitical dynamics in Asia, but the Post's web people don't want you to see it.

It takes a lot from SP to surprise me, but this is impressively disgusting.

In spite of a successful record, democrats turn on one of their own.

How green is street food?

Federal workers offer some facts (and some thoughts).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thursday morning roundup

IS Kim Jung-Un harboring doubts?

Why we can't afford a politicized judiciary process.

What the election results may mean for foreign policy. Foreign pundits share their thoughts on the same.

Fair enough angle from which to analyze the trouncing of three businesswomen, but weren't there independently wealthy men who also ran and lost? Why limit the mistakes made to those made by women?

Gail Collins' humorous and pragmatic pep talk.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wednesday evening roundup

The Economist on Khordorkovsky's compelling speech.

Monsanto dug its own grave (and others).

Bedbugs are feeling the ostracism.

The other day I ran into a colleague who has family in Haiti. I looked for her shortly after the earthquake, but she was out of the office. When I asked whether her family had been effected, she said everyone was fine. Then, she elaborated: everyone survived. Some are hurting because they lost homes and/or very close friends, but they survived, therefore they're fine.

Now could people like that woman whose mother wrote to Amy yesterday stop whining about how being single is making them near-suicidal?

I whine about some stupid bs, but keep in mind that perspective is key.

Wednesday morning roundup

Maureen Dowd's to-the-point column neither cheers or amuses on this sad day. I also recommend Steve Pearlstein.

A Snoberbia blog channels David Brooks (see "Bobos in Paradise").

This woman is awesome.

This guy is...come to your own assessment.

Giving adopted Chinese-American babies a sense of identity.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday evening roundup

Interesting point--why does anyone listen to Newt Gingrich?

A bit late for Halloween, here's a travel horror story.

This is the article I meant to post yesterday--blaming China doesn't help our economy.

Not to torture an already funny cartoon, but people are confiscating your money for soybeans (just not organic ones).

A few f*ed up situations revealed in letters to Amy. The third stands alone; the first... wow, your family's a bunch of jerks. The middle one--this social worker, who (probably?) works with at-risk populations, is feeling suicidal and leprous because she's single at 35?? You know there are worse things, like being married to the jackass described in the first letter, for example. I mean, if not marrying someone who says "it's your fault for not getting dinner ready before "The Office" starts means remaining single... what do you think is the better choice?

Tuesday morning roundup

It was heartening to see a line out the door at the polling station (last year, there was hardly anyone there).

This is exceptionally f*ed up: someone calls in for protection from spousal abuse, and you charge her with illegally selling a $10 phone card--setting in motion a path to deportation??

Organic farming faces an uphill battle in China, but the benefits are priceless.

Dana Milbank perfectly captures the absurdity of pre-election punditry.

Eugene Robinson parces the race card issue.

Okay, I have magically lost the ability to cut and paste. Go to the Post's opinion page and check out Cohen on Palin and Anne Applebaum, who provides some perspective on the latest terrorist plot to be discovered.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Thank you for bringing this photo-list of xenophobic ads and signs to my attention. It reminds me of a couple of things I wanted to post, one of which is that immigrants actually help create jobs, and the other, I can't find.

Also: don't be part of the food waste problem.

Monday evening roundup

Did CBS underestimate rally attendance?

Marion Nestle on various aspects of the food system... and also on "kids' menus."

Those are some really cool pumpkins.

I recently picked up a cookbook a friend gave me a while ago. It has lots of vegan recipes, although many involve processed soy products. Anyway, I read about using oatmeal to thicken a soup and simulate the role of cream, which sounded like a great idea. I saw it again when I read about national oatmeal day. There are some cool recipes there.

Speaking of recipes, Tom Philpott shared his butternut squash soup recipe, and it looks great.

Monday morning roundup

Wah. The media takes up its role of whiner with regard to Saturday's rallies. And this kind of thing annoys the crap out of me, too: shocker! some people at the rally were liberals. Somehow, these columnists imply, this means they're not sane or civil. It's like to be bipartisan, you have to believe in nothing? The point isn't not to have political views; the point is to be able to discuss, compromise, etc. Why is so much of the media so f*ing stupid? Oh, sorry--was that uncivil? I mean, that is exactly the kind of bloviating that Jon Stewart comes out against. Lauren Hogan's piece, which the Post hasn't bothered to put online yet, is one of the few decent columns I've seen about the rally. Oh, here it is--I managed to find it on Google but not through the Post's own website. Maybe they could work on that?

International climate change aid may be one of tomorrow's victims.

A culture of philanthropy takes root in India.