Sunday, November 28, 2004

Thanksgiving Lite

Okay, I will admit that I did not focus too much on eating this weekend. My family all agreed that we would focus on bringing good dishes to the table but avoid excess. It could be that the outcome of the recent election made us more aware of both our mortality (dwindling or lack of health-insurance) and our pocketbooks.

My mother made a good but moderate amount of fried lumpia (egg rolls), and I brought my cranberry dressing, sweet-potatoes (2% milk substituted for heavy whipping cream), and green bean salad. Don't skimp on taste, I always say.

Imogene's Sweet Potatoes (Lite)
Normally this would call for 1 c. of butter and 3/4 c. heavy whipping cream. For those of you who would like the original recipe. This is a great accompaniment to any winter meal and can be served on any day other than Thanksgiving.

6-8 large sweet potatoes peeled and sliced 1/2'' thick
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp quality vanilla extract
3/4 c raw granualated sugar
4 eggs
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c 2% or whole milk
2 c. pecans, toasted and ground to meal in the food processor
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
Toasted whole pecans

Boil the potatoes until cooked. Then drain them. Mix the ground pecan meal, brownsugar, flour and cinnamon well. Take the potates and mash as you would in making mashed potatoes. Blend in the vanilla, raw sugar, eggs, milk and salt. Spread the mashed sweet potatoes in a large baking dish. Sprinkle the pecan topping evenly over the sweet potatoes and dot with the pecans decoratively. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. Serve warm.

Simple Green Beans
3-4 lbs green beans trimmed but left whole
2 medium onions sliced very thin
2 tbsp basalmic vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp quality dijon mustard
1/4 c. Slivered almonds or salted Spanish bitter almonds

In a small bowl beat the vinegar, honey, salt, & mustard to form a dressing. French cook or steam the beans so that they are cooked but still firm and bright green. Carmelize the sliced onions. Add to drained green beans and toss with the dressing, almonds and carmelized onions.

Apres Thanksgiving

By the way we took the turkey back and legs and boiled them with with
1 onion scored
2 celery stalks
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp sea salt
5 tbsp chopped dried parsley
14 pepper corns
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 quarts, plus water

and made the most delicious broth (with feather light dumplings from the James Beard cookbook).

If ignorance is bliss

These people must be high on the air that fills the space between their heads.

I don't completely agree with those who assert that all people who voted for the Assinine Primate are dumb as boxes. Claiming that 51% of Americans are idiots is as productive as asserting that 49% of them are all radical left-wing hacks. So I have really tried hard not to reinforce the idea that all Bush supporters are irrational and ignorant extremists; however, I find it difficult to do so when I see the pictures posted on YoureWelcomeEveryBody. Firearms are regularly featured throughout a number of the pictures featured on this site. No, it's not really surprising.

I myself am a supporter of the responsible ownership of firearms. I would rather believe that people should be expected to understand that guns are tools which can be used and kept responsibly. It seems to me that when you surround guns with an attractive mystique of fear and power or insist that they are the instruments of evil, you make them even more attractive to play with (especially to children and easily misled adults). You should be more afraid of the crazy folks who can easily own and purchase these guns than the guns themselves.

However, I still don't believe that I need to pose in a picture with a gun in order to protect my right to have one.

I do think that Sorryeverybody & the We'reNotSorry (note this site was already sold for profit) type websites both serve one purpose. They seek to assauge the supporters of either side by asserting that they indeed are not alone in believing as they do. SorryEverybody insists that the world supports the viewpoints of the Democratic ticket... they support the view of the United States pictured in the United States of Canada vs. Jesusland. The YoureWelcomeEveryBody site postings regularly feature pictures of the map in which red is featured throughout the entire map of the country with the few tiny exceptions of the urban areas throughout the United States. Again, I hate to sound like a broken record, but this is a common tactic of any group (left or right) who wants to win... convince everyone else that everyone believes as you do... as you can only assure yourself victory if people believe that your opinion is supported almost unanimously.

I'm starting to believe that a more microstrategy will be necessary in order to conquer and tame the American voter.

Sometimes it's easier just to sit quietly and do nothing... and hope and wait for the bad times to pass. I'll admit that I've found some solace in going to view over the past two weeks. I did even post a photo, and I have way too many issues that I have been writing concerned letters to my Senator and Congressman about (who already support the views of the rational American). I'm sure that they are tired of hearing from me. Still, it seriously frightens me to see the havoc that's being wrought upon the world of education and science. Intelligent Design? !

This is the new catch phrase to replace the teaching of Creationism in the schools. Yes, you guessed it the Fundamentalists of the 90's have evolved into a meaner, smarter type of Neo Con Fundamentalists who can place stickers in science textbooks faster than you can sing Onward Christian Soldier.

A graph featured on the Christian Science Monitor claims that 48 percent of Americans believe in Creationism (not to be confused with Cretonism). Again, I believe that this is part of their strategy to convince the rest of the country that there are a mass of tireless minions. Well, sadly, I must say, I've been to the outskirts of town and I have seen that they are massive perhaps but not masses. Their size of course comes from the fact that they are particpating in the last and more acceptable vice of gluttony.

Meanwhile, Switzerland votes in favor of Stem cell research. Why would the Swiss make a decision to push scientific endeavors forward in an area of research so ready for prograss while at least 1/2 of the population in the United States would deter it from happening? Or at least they have contributed to prvention of scientific progress by voting for a leader who does not support scientific progress? What happened to America, the land of progress in science and education? You might say our failure to make education a bigger priority has contributed to the decline of the American Mind... that and a buttload of video games.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Sometimes it seems that the world is spiralling down to darker depths.All figures who seemed to stand for moderation and reason are abandoning us. Colin Powell resigned today, and while I don't agree with his recent track record, in my view, he was one of the best things that the Bush administration had going for it.Bush is going to reappoint that bible thumping Hager back as the head of the committee for reproductive issues/products for the FDA. I looked up some information on the web on the man advocating that his view was a moderate one, and I found a page that was suspiciously masquerading as a fact-checker type page.This is a dangerous time we live in. We were at a place where the internet was a life-saving and effective tool for research and information. Now, it seems like the internet is pregnant with groups from either side who want to inseminate countless many with their views. How can we trust what we read or see? Not too long ago, I could run a search on Google on any topic or product and almost confidently rely on my ability to discern what was hog-wash and what was not. I find this all very unsettling.... the conspiracy pirate in me is leaning to the theory that this confusion is all part of the greater plan launched by the 'mythical' MAN and his conservative extremist minions... it's an old war strategy you see, engender confusion in your enemy before attack.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

When people read or hear about the possibility of ocean level rising... they automatically wonder whether their house is elevated enough... it sounds like a simpleton's way of thinking about things, but it's more common than you think.

I just noted a feature on Google News about Rush Limbaugh... and how he was ranting that they left doesn't have any moral issues. Hmmm... if adopting moral issues means following a point of view that opposes independent and innovative thought .... or encourages us to make judgements Limbaugh is for the most part no more that a big gaseous whale who blows the most foetid stank out of his mouth. I tried reading the text on his web site and the man clearly does not have the ability to put any coherent thought into writing. I suppose it is hard to write in all caps all the time.

They other day a friend of mine noted while we were driving in the car... that you don't see many fat men who live past 80.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Do you ever wonder why the conservative Christian extremists who dominate the Republican party (including Ludicrous George) dismiss the scientific proof that (or insist that their unfounded statistics to back their propaganda) that Global Warming is wreaking havoc on this planet?

1. They don't believe or trust science as their religion prohibits them from doing so
2. They don't care if the world ends because they're saved... AMEN!
3. If there are major catastrophes that wipe out scads of people that's okay because... Yes, you guessed it, they're saved.

I still don't understand how people who claim to be moderates... the soccer moms, the middle class educated who voted for the Original Ape can't see the influence of the Christian Far Right's backward agenda.

People around me all speak of moving to another country, but I really don't think that's the right attitude to have. I won't lie and say it didn't cross my mind. The people of the right who want to force their agenda down our throats (and they still insist that a large majority of the population supports them) may claim dominance. However, last I checked it was still a little less than a half who voted in favor of the conservative Christian agenda and the president who supports it.

What worries me is that with legislation (clouded) in the Patriot Act can make it possible or easier for the government to take action against those who are 'perceived' to be their enemies. People could loose their jobs or have their property taken away from. We've been raised (at least I was) in a pretty cushy world where we assumed that our rights were inalienable. However, when we're dealing with the far right here, and they've always stricken me as people who are big or at least silent proponents for the old ENDS JUSTIFY THE MEANS adage.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

We’ve been reading and hearing a great deal of dissent from the side who lost the election. One of the more popular e-mail attachments is a map of the dividing the North American continent into the United States of Canada (Canada plus all states in which the electoral votes went to Kerry) and Jesusland (the rest of the country where Bush was the clear winner). Though these other states encompass a lot of geographical territory or otherwise, space, they do not possess the major centers of trade, science, and cultural development that exist in the blue (Democratic) states.

More, the areas of this country that possess the metropolitan centers, the centers for trade and commerce, and the major port towns tend to attract more progressive people because they have connections to outside of the country. They possess large populations of immigrants which have traditionally brought new ideas and cultural values which have made this country the success it is today (I can only illustrate by pointing out the flourishing of science and arts in this country that coincided after the immigration of millions from Asia, Europe and other continents). Having exposure to many cultures makes you far more open to innovation and change; hence progress. Truly great cultures and civilizations have had contact and incorporated values and ideas from other groups outside of their own. History provides us with some of the more obvious examples of these great states: Rome, the Ottoman Empire, and the United States.

I can just hear conservative talk radio now accusing the other side/ the evil liberals as all of us are lumped into one side (it’s easier for a hulking idiot to attack an enemy when they’ve identified just ONE) of treason. The fact is, a large sector of the population did not fall prey to he masked yet hidden agenda of the extremist right. This side does not support it at all because they’ve identified that agenda as backward and isolationist. They also cannot handle the exclusionary nature and one-track mindedness of the current President’s actions. While part of the country may insist that this one-track minded resolve of GW Bush is what will propell our country back into greatness, his values certainly do not match those of the Founding Fathers of this nation who clearly saw that freedom of beliefs in which many views and creeds would benefit the new nation rather than hinder it. They saw this because, although the America of the time was diverse in the sense that there were people of various faiths and from different European cultures.

The Republicans' so called victory this years was a victory not for pluralism and progress, but a win for one restrictive ideology: the extremist Christian Right.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Things I learned today:

1.) America is divided in the middle (West Coast/New England - Blue : Middle/South - Red)
So it appeared from the voting patterns from this last election. Does it figure that the trade/commerce centers in addition to the centers for cultural creativity are located in the blue sections?

2.) You cannot let the size or loudness of your opponent sway you.

3.) "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." --Edmund Burke

I am going to watch my DVD boxed set of Kung Fu now.

Glass half full

Only Beethoven's Eroica is giving me any solace today. That and the understanding that at least half of the country feels the same way I do...
Too many people are crying in anguish about the election results and complaining that people did not mobilize enough. Others lament and express their disbelief in the number of people who seem to be manipulated by the barrage from the extremist/conservative media. Dan Rather last night joked offhand that the lawyer interviewed should remain in touch because they (CBS) may need him in the near future. The outcome of this election, though as of now it is not solidly defined, can only tell me that the right-wing has made their agenda known and will do what they can in the next few years to push it even further as the American agenda (supported by everyone in this country).

Me? I want to remain optimistic and NOT fall victim to the defeatist attitude that I formerly subscribed to. Honestly, I'm not sure what needs to be done right now, or the direction we need to go, but I know that the key is to plan and think ahead be wary of the direction this country is going in and not become distracted by consipiracy theories or obsessed with what we perceive to be repression. I'm still not completely convinced that we need to beat the extremists at their own nasty game. Somehow I think elevating the playing field might help our strategy.

So, Ms. Counting Sheep has made a list of things to do today and so have I:
  1. Know that 1/2 of the country shares your beliefs
  2. Be prepared to define and defend your point of view and be able to back it up using both persuasive arguments and hard facts
  3. Never let anyone tell you that your arguments are not rationally based
  4. Never let someone yelling at me win. Use quiet dismissal of their arguments
  5. Be happy that you can still think and speak freely
  6. Defend the right to do so

Margaret Cho brings up some good points:

Monday, November 01, 2004

Response to request to continue discussion on deconstruction...

Someone at the last discussion noted that we spend an awful lot of time talking about race and joking about it or even watching episodes of Dave Chappelle or Mr. Show (maybe wrangling with how we perceive race or our belief system around it is our MONSTER). Therefore, it might be a cool idea to come up with some questions around our ideas of race… like why is it such a hot topic? To us?… I don’t know… this may be too personal.
It may be me, but I’ve been running into a lot of talk and sentiment lately (outside of this group), that looking at and analyzing culture or cultural studies, looking at topics such as race, pop-culture, is really a bunch of hogwash or tired and overly politically correct academic exercises. Maybe we should have started off with questions like these. I mean they are sort of remedial when it comes to philosophy but I think they can spark some discussion.

What is the point of engaging in philosophical queries at all?
Why should we question?
Why should semiotic studies exist?
Should I just drone on?

I know I haven’t been able to put a good argument for any this, but maybe it’s because I have been focusing on things like ROI.
Let me know what you think…
Also, I apologize for not facilitating the discussion more last time. I was more interested in providing a topic for discussion rather than a lecture. On hindsight perhaps deconstruction was not the best topic as it seemed that many of us did not completely buy into the idea or complete value of deconstruction.
From my own learnings and listening to the group – I have gathered this,
Deconstruction may not be valuable as an applied study because of the esoteric nature of some of the writings and musings of the ‘traditional’ deconstructionists. However, Derrida and his followers do bring up a good point: Once you label something you (may be) limiting your understanding of the thing.

…of course a Constructivist could argue… you can’t apply knowledge to a problem or issue unless you’ve identified the key factors/ players etc.
In layman’s Alice in Wonderland-like terms: You can’t do anything with something unless you know what that something is.

While Derrida labels anything we can’t understand as monsters, he does encourage us to embrace the uncertainty instead of shying away from it. I do think that we can take Derrida’s message as a warning that we don’t want to become to in love with a school of thought that everything we think or feel or interpret is driven by this… you’ve all met someone who was a freak about Jung… well, I didn’t mean to offend you if you were.
Just my two cents.

I think the one beautiful aspect about American culture is our historically apparent gift at rebellion. Over two centuries of traditional insurrection against government, culture and technology has contributed to making this country the amazing place it is today. The most beautiful thing about Americans no matter their race or religion is traditional value we hold on "speaking up and speaking out."