Friday, February 29, 2008

You know...

If the Israeli government is going to compare itself to the Nazis, maybe we should start doing likewise.

Eurotrash

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tongues

I've really enjoyed learning new languages thus far. I've been working steady at French for about two and a half years and, while my speaking leaves much to be desired, I am to the point where I am able to read the news daily without having to look up too many words, I can watch French movies and follow most of the dialogue (French French, that is; I'm still having a bitch of a time with Québecois French.), I've got a growing stack of books under my belt, etc. I can now do the things I set out to do when I began learning French, and that without too much frustration. So.

Given that I have been a sick for the past couple days, lying on the sofa, I've had some time to consider undertaking a new linguistic challenge. The thing is, I don't know what language to pick up. I know what language I should learn, because it is The Most Useful, but that is reason enough for me to not want to learn Spanish. I'd really like to dabble a bit in an Eastern European language.

Thusly, I've narrowed it down to four: Spanish, Polish, German and Romanian. Spanish and Romanian are in the Romance family of languages, so that would definitely make them much easier to learn, coming from learning French and taking two intensive Latin classes. Polish is supposed to be a really really difficult language for an anglophone to learn, but the prospect of a non-Romance language sounds very intriguing. German is German.

I don't know.

get mad

"If I were an Iraqi, bound to a bed, clothes taken, denied food or water and lied to... the American Media would care. But I'm just a woman giving birth in America, bound to a bed, clothes taken, denied food or water and lied to."
Shannon Mitchel, ICAN Florida

Monday, February 25, 2008

Head up her ass

A few days before the attack on the US embassy in Belgrade, Clinton released a Molotov cocktail statement praising the declaration of independence. In it, she referred to Kosovo by the Albanian "Kosova" and said independence "will allow the people of Kosova to finally live in their own democratic state. It will allow Kosova and Serbia to finally put a difficult chapter in their history behind them and to move forward." She added, "I want to underscore the need to avoid any violence or provocations in the days and weeks ahead." As seasoned observers of Serbian politics know, there were few things the US could have done to add fuel to the rage in Serbia over the declaration of independence - "provocations" if you will - than to have a political leader named Clinton issue a statement praising independence and using the Albanian name for Kosovo.

On the campaign trail, the Clinton camp has held up Kosovo as a successful model for how to conduct US foreign policy and Clinton criticized Bush for taking "so long for us to reach this historic juncture."
Read the full article here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Peanut butter sandwiches!

I like sandwiches. I used to eat turkey sandwiches for lunch all the time. As a vegetarian, sandwiches are now harder for me to get worked up about. Not that turkey is all that amazing really. But a turkey sandwich without the turkey is just not the same, and I'm not so much into fake meat. Happily, I just saw this thread over at Cheap Vegan. Talk about some veggie sandwich inspiration! Yum!

Wishful thinking

If I had a dollar for every time I've said "Stupid Jayhawks!" or "Stupid Chiefs!" I would be one rich lady.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fidel Castro resigns





It's been a real good run.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Setting the trap

Stuff white people like (via).

A couple of my favorites:

"It is a poorly guarded secret that, deep down, white people believe if given money and education that all poor people would be EXACTLY like them. In fact, the only reason that poor people make the choices they do is because they have not been given the means to make the right choices and care about the right things."

"Mostly they are into religion that fits really well into their homes or wardrobe and doesn’t require them to do very much."

Relatedly, see this.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's the end, friend of mine.

It's been fun, but the time has come to end it. Vegetarianism is not for me. Not that I was a perfect vegetarian anyway, but I stuck to at least 99% of the time. My reason for becoming a vegetarian was ethical in nature: the treatment of animals in factory farms is horrid, and the resulting pollution is disgraceful. I've never had any moral reservations regarding the slaughter and eating of animals. I've never thought eating meat was gross. But I am under no illusions that my refraining from eating meat made any impact whatsoever to the treatment of animals or that I was reducing levels of pollution. Americans eat too much meat, it is true, but my refraining from eating meat has no effect on whether or not other Americans eat too much meat (and shit quality meat at that).

My reason for going back to being an omnivore is basically culinary in nature. I love to cook. I love food. All kinds of food. I'm an antipode to the finicky eater, for whom I have little patience. Preparing and eating new foods excites me. Knowing that there is so much good food out there for me to eat and to bring me great pleasure and denying myself of it is dumb. I am bored with vegetarian food. I'm ready for bigger, better and tastier things! Steaks! Hamburgers! Lamb korma! Seafood! Kebabs! Bacon! Paté! Jerk chicken! Arroz con pollo! Demi-glace! Scrapple! Barbecue! Pork chops! Chitlins! Civet de lapin!

I'm beaming. And hungry.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Working Class and Neo-Malthusianism

By V.I. Lenin
Published: Pravda No. 137, June 16, 1913. Signed: V. I.. Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 235-237.
Translated: The Late George Hanna


At the Pirogov Doctors’ Congress much interest was aroused and a long debate was held on the question of abortions. The report was made by Lichkus, who quoted figures on the exceedingly widespread practice of destroying the foetus in present-day so-called civilised states.

In New York, 80,000 abortions were performed in one year and there are 36,000 every month in France. In St. Petersburg the percentage of abortions has more than doubled in five years.

The Pirogov Doctors’ Congress adopted a resolution saying that there should never be any criminal prosecution of a mother for performing an artificial abortion and that doctors should only be prosecuted if the operation is performed for “purposes of gain”.

In the discussion the majority agreed that abortions should not be punishable, and the question of the so-called neomalthusianism (the use of contraceptives) was naturally touched upon, as was also the social side of the matter. Mr. Vigdorchik, for instance, said, according to the report in Russkoye Slovo, that “contraceptive measures should be welcomed” and Mr. Astrakhan exclaimed, amidst thunderous applause:

“We have to convince mothers to bear children so that they can be maimed in educational establishments, so that lots can be drawn for them, so that they can be driven to suicide!”

If the report is true that this exclamation of Mr. Astrakhan’s was greeted with thunderous applause, it is a fact that does not surprise me. The audience was made up of bourgeois, middle and petty bourgeois, who have the psychology of the philistine. What can you expect from them but the most banal liberalism?

From the point of view of the working class, however, it would hardly be possible to find a more apposite expression of the completely reactionary nature and the ugliness of “social neomalthusianism” than Mr. Astrakhan’s phrase cited above.

... “Bear children so that they can be maimed” ... For that alone? Why not that they should fight better, more unitedly, consciously and resolutely than we are fighting against the present-day conditions of life that are maiming and ruining our generation?

This is the radical difference that distinguishes the psychology of the peasant, handicraftsman, intellectual, the petty bourgeois in general, from that of the proletarian. The petty bourgeois sees and feels that he is heading for ruin, that life is becoming more difficult, that the struggle for existence is ever more ruthless, and that his position and that of his family are becoming more and more hopeless. It is an indisputable fact, and the petty bourgeois protests against it.

But how does he protest?

He protests as the representative of a class that is hopelessly perishing, that despairs of its future, that is depressed and cowardly. There is nothing to be done ... if only there were fewer children to suffer our torments and hard toil, our poverty and our humiliation—such is the cry of the petty bourgeois.

The class-conscious worker is far from holding this point of view. He will not allow his consciousness to be dulled by such cries no matter how sincere and heartfelt they may be. Yes, we workers and the mass of small proprietors lead a life that is filled with unbearable oppression and suffering. Things are harder for our generation than they were for our fathers. But in one respect we are luckier than our fathers. We have begun to learn and are rapidly learning to fight—and to fight not as individuals, as the best of our fathers fought, not for the slogans of bourgeois speechifiers that are alien to us in spirit, but for our slogans, the slogans of our class. We are fighting better than our fathers did. Our children will fight better than we do, and they will be victorious.

The working class is not perishing, it is growing, becoming stronger, gaining courage, consolidating itself, educating itself and becoming steeled in battle. We are pessimists as far as serfdom, capitalism and petty, production are concerned, but we are ardent optimists in what concerns the working-class movement and its aims. We are already laying the foundation of a new edifice and our children will complete its construction.

That is the reason—the only reason—why we are unconditionally the enemies of neo-malthusianism, suited only to unfeeling and egotistic petty-bourgeois couples, who whisper in scared voices: “God grant we manage somehow by our selves. So much the better if we have no children.”

It goes without saying that this does not by any means prevent us from demanding the unconditional annulment of all laws against abortions or against the distribution of medical literature on contraceptive measures, etc. Such laws are nothing but the hypocrisy of the ruling classes. These laws do not heal the ulcers of capitalism, they merely turn them into malignant ulcers that are especially painful for the oppressed masses. Freedom for medical propaganda and the protection of the elementary democratic rights of citizens, men and women, are one thing. The social theory of neo-malthusianism is quite another. Class-conscious workers will always conduct the most ruthless struggle against attempts to impose that reactionary and cowardly theory on the most progressive and strongest class in modern society, the class that is the best prepared for great changes.

From the Marxists Internet Archive.

Gingembre

Je ne sais pas vraiment pourquoi, peut-être comme un moyen d'atermoyer d'étudier pour mes examens cette semaine, mais je fais un essai à faire une bonne vieille bière de gingembre spiritueuse. Je l'ai commencé hier. On commence par assembler «la plante», qui est un mélange de gingembre sec, de sucre, de levure et de l'eau. Je les ai mis dans un bocal Mason et j'ai laissé le bocal sur le plan de travail pendant la nuit. Chaque matin j'ajoute plus de gingembre sec et plus de sucre, agite le bocal, et le laisse sur le plan de travail jusqu'au lendemain. Je répète la même chose pour une semaine, quand la plante est prête. À ce moment-là, je dissous 1kg de sucre en deux pintes d'eau bouillante, et puis j'ajoute au mélange d'eau et sucre le jus de quatre citrons. Je le laisse tiédir à la température ambiante, à quel moment j'égoutte le liquide de la plante dans le mélange, ajoute 14 pintes de l'eau, mélange tout et le met en bouteilles. Ils sont censées d'être prétes dans une semaine, plus ou moin. On verra.

En outre, je porte une moustache et j'aime ma chère épouse.

MISE À JOUR : Je point croise un coussin des douze apôtres.

Je suis mauvais à vivre.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Middle America

The kids who get featured on The Minneapoline, Minneapolis' style blog, always freak me out a bit, because just about every single one of them looks like s/he could have gone to my high school. They all look so midwestern to me! For some reason, to me, they all look like they're not quite pulling off being hip kids. They're trying their best; they've got the right clothes worn in the right ways to be worth of fashion blogging, but I always see this look in their eyes that says they're lying. They're not really a part of the cool kid club. They're still struggling to get in. They're really not hip — they just look the part.

I think it's just me though.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Poor black babies getting in the way of our consumption? Abort 'em!

“The contentious issue of population growth and ‘overpopulation’ looms large in our collective imagination. Since Malthus, and more insistently in the last four decades, we have been barraged with strident claims that proclaim ‘overpopulation’ is at the root of all our problems... ‘They’ are the problem. ‘We’ are absolved of all responsibility.”

Jael Silliman. (1999). Introduction. In J. Silliman & Y. King, Dangerous intersections: Feminist Perspectives on population, environment and development (pp. vii-xxiv).

Keeping that in mind, this piece by Kelpie Wilson, the environment editor at Truthout.org, is the biggest load of horseshit I’ve ever read. She takes it as a given that population growth is the main cause of environmental degradation, rather than, oh I don't know, the progressive accumulation of capital and the increased militarism (which lead to widespread poverty, recognized as the leading cause of the rise we've seen in populations in the Global South!) of wealthy nations.

This group has a much more promising approach, exposing the likes of Kelpie Wilson as racist and classist, as "over time, women having abortions have become increasingly likely to be poor, nonwhite and unmarried, and to already have one or more children. [...] The rates are 49 per 1,000 and 33 per 1,000 among black and Hispanic women, respectively, vs. 13 per 1,000 among non-Hispanic white women."

Friday, February 01, 2008

His wrinkles only serve to make him appear relaxed

We lived under the same roof for eighteen years, but I can't recall my dad ever asking me a question. I realize now that I, too, have not been one for inquisition. When I conjure his image I imagine him looking older than I know he does, every time. I presume he does not have dreams at night and had little interest in music growing up. His father's name was unknown to me until I found a census document dated 1930. They share the same name. I've seen a couple pictures of my grandfather taken when he was in his twenties. One picture shows him sitting cross-legged in a lawn-chair by some water. He is barefooted and the resemblance with my dad's feet is striking. He died young from a brain tumor, of which my dad is a survivor. My dad was a plasterer for about three decades. He would come home covered in stucco and take a shower, washing himself with vinegar. Now he works in a warehouse the size of God itself selling buckets of paint. When I was young my he would sometimes have me scratch his back and afterwards I would notice that I had his skin under my fingernails. My old man's a good father and a complete mystery to me.