Wednesday, April 30, 2008

follow-up to ledbetter, or, mccain and the high road not taken

Yet another reason to be afraid of John McCain, especially as a woman, isn't so much that he didn't even bother to vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act but that his reasons for opposing it if he had bothered to vote are just so awful.

First, he's afraid that legislation such as the Fair Pay Act "opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems." But if the problems are discriminatory, then there should be lawsuits. I mean, if people couldn't sue for discrimination we'd still be living in the Jim Crow era. The argument that it's better to allow injustice to continue than to allow more lawsuits challenging said injustice is morally reprehensible.

Second, he doesn't seem to get that cases like this are speaking to the injustice of unequal pay for equal work. His solution to the problem, which makes no sense at all in this context and demonstrates his utter inability to grasp the reality of the injustice, is to suggest that women get themselves trained better. Seriously. Because if a boy and a girl both polish widgets for a living and the boy gets paid more, clearly the only fair solution is to teach the girl to make the widgets in order to earn as much as the boy polishing them.

I'm not saying that we women shouldn't look out for ourselves and get the training and education we need in order to survive and prosper in the world, because clearly we do. I'm just saying that this is an entirely different problem from the one at hand, and will require entirely different solutions.

tidbits worth reading, if you're interested:
Go Back to School
McCain's Compassion Tour
Ginsburg's dissent in Ledbetter v. Goodyear

Monday, April 28, 2008

by popular demand

Descriptions, some stolen from the Jean Georges menu itself, of the lunch pictures posted yesterday:

1. Amuse bouche, served before the meal, consisting of a grilled shrimp, a shot of edamame miso soup (I think), and an AMAZING little concoction of mango, black olive, and some other stuff

2. Sea scallops with caramelized cauliflower and caper-raisin emulsion

3. Arctic char with asparagus, oyster mushrooms, and ginger-sesame sabayon

4. Roasted sweetbreads with spring garlic, peas and lime

5. Tuna ribbons with avocado, spicy radish, and ginger marinade

Also eaten were sweet pea soup with croutons and parmesan; salt & pepper duck confit with lightly pickled white asparagas, coriander, and orange; warm green asparagus salad; and goat cheese ravioli with pecans, sage, and sweet and sour beets.

We didn't order any desserts, following Nate and Shanna's recommendation, because JG serves a dessert already anyway -- the last three pictures are little itsy bitsy maracroons, hand-cut marshmallows, and a sampler of mini chocolates. Delicious! And even better, completely gratis!

dinner party in hell's kitchen

Chris & Andrew threw another lovely dinner party this past Saturday night. My contribution? Roasted sweet potatoes. I think my favorite part of the whole meal were Nathan's collard greens. You'll have to ask him for that recipe, though.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes:
4-5 large sweet potatoes (there were about 15 people there)
Most of a small bottle of maple syrup, courtesy of my boss (Christmas present)
Several tablespoons of chopped up crystalized ginger
1-2 tablespoons of butter
Cayenne pepper to taste
Black pepper to taste
Several tablespoons lime or lemon juice

Peel and cube the sweet potatoes and place in a glass roasting dish. In a small bowl, mix half of the maple syrup (maybe half a cup? not sure), ginger, butter (softened), cayenne pepper, black pepper, and lime or lemon juice. Pour over the sweet potatoes and stir well. Place in an oven at about 450 degrees. C&A's oven's temperature is temperamental, so I'm not exact on this. I had it set at 500, which they swear is much lower than that. When the potatoes started to blacken a bit on the top I started taking them out to give a good stir every 10-15 minutes or so, and ended up pouring the rest of the maple syrup in after an hour or so since they seemed to be drying out a bit even with the stirring.

I think they were in the oven a total of about 1.5 hours, give or take a bit. This will obviously vary from oven to oven, so be sure to keep an eye on them after the first hour or so.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

ludicrous lunching

Nate arranged for a lunch at Jean Georges while Mom & Aunt Sharon were in town last week. The food was amazing, except that I really don't get this haute couture dining obsession with foams. Ick.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

a new low (or two)

The Times reports this morning the story of a U.S. soldier forced back to the States from Iraq because he was being threatened by fellow U.S. soldiers for being an atheist. I somehow hadn't realized that being a God-fearing Christian was a prerequisite for serving our country. My bad.

Also in the news, the military is preparing to start it's first war crimes trial of a Guantanamo detainee! It's only taken six years! But it might not happen because the detainee in question, Osama Bin Laden's driver, has apparently been essentially driven mad by his years in confinement at Gitmo.

Guantanamo's defense? Come on! We're not so bad! Only ten percent of our prisoners are mentally ill whereas more than half of the general American prison population can be diagnosed as such.*

Poor military. So close, and yet thwarted (by itself) once again.

*See also this article on the sheer size of our prison population. Doesn't make for a pretty picture, does it?

chop shop

I've been trying to make it to Chopshop's shows whenever I can for awhile now, at first only because my friend Alan plays drums for them, but after awhile because I actually really like them.

They've been in the studio these last weeks, and just put a couple newly recorded songs on MySpace.

Check 'em out, especially Blacked Out, which I adored the first time I heard it live and am particularly loving tonight.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


One of the things about far away mothers coming for a visit is that all sorts of old family friends want to see her, and you end up spending your days balancing these social obligations with your childish desire to have her all to your self.

I was feeling a little churlish, to be honest, about having to go to the Cronens' apartment for lunch this past Sunday afternoon, the day before Mom was flying back to Seattle.

We arrived at their apartment just past 1:30 and a long-haired woman answered the door, propping up a baby on her hip. She looked familiar, very familiar, but I hadn't realized that she would be there so it took me a moment to be sure of her. Rachel, who immediately pointed out that in fact the last time we saw each other was more than a decade ago. April 25th, 1993, to be exact, the afternoon of my father's memorial service down at the lake where we spent so much of our childhood.

She's grown up a little since then. I guess maybe I have to.

She's all grown up now but she's still got that Rachel spark, that intensity, that willingness to crawl over tables to settle in next to you and talk and talk and talk about what ever strikes her fancy, or yours.

And she's got these two beautiful, tow-headed daughters now, six and three, who clearly reminded her of us. At one point Julie, the elder, was reading aloud from a book of fairy tales to Rory, the younger, and Rachel looked across the table at me with this gleam in her eyes and whispered, "Emily, look -- they're reading together..." and I had completely forgotten until that moment that one of the mainstays of my friendship with these beautiful little girls' mother was reading. Just reading.

We spent hours together, she and I, perched on the steps of her front porch, lying in the grass, sprawled in the dust of the attic, on the dock down at the lake, shoulder to shoulder, each of us entranced by our own book but inhabiting this space together, sunshine filtered through our blond hair and falling across our faces, sharing an experience of literature that I, at least, have never felt with anyone else.

I had forgotten how much this meant to me, this shared realm of language and silence. And I was moved by the fact that it clearly meant a lot to her too, the rarity of this friendship when we were little girls, as she looked affectionately at her daughters, heads bent towards each other over their book of fairy tales, and explained that she had never found another friendship quite like that.

I find myself amazed by the experiences that we forget as we grow older, grow further and further away from these clear, simple moments, and I am grateful to Rachel for reminding me of this, and I am wondering if I might not be able to find a space like that again.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

quote(s) of the day & etc.

"Oftentimes people ask me, 'Why is it that you're so focused on helping the hungry and diseased in strange parts of the world?'"
-our illustrious leader, 4/18/08

Paul Auster, much admired author (New York Trilogy, Moon Palace, Smoke, etc.), had quite a moving piece in today's Times commemorating the Columbia riots of 1968.

Yet another Supreme Court decision gone morally awry was, today, in the hands of the Senate. Last year, in a 5-4 decision, the Court decided against a woman by the name of Lilly Ledbetter in her attempt to wrangle equal pay for equal work from her employer, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. For years Lilly Ledbetter (I'm sometimes a sucker for alliteration) consistently received smaller pay raises than her male colleagues at Goodyear. There is, however, a 180-day statute on limitations for filing a discrimination claim and the Court, in all its brilliance, decided that the clock starts with the first injustice only, rather than the more logical clock-restart with every ensuing unjust paycheck.

There is an obvious flaw in this logic, at least if you give a damn about workers at all. As Justice Ginsburg pointed out in her dissent, salaries are often kept secret, or at least not often discussed, thus preventing employees from even being aware of the discrimination, possibly for many years, as in the Ledbetter case. But you know our Fave Five, always fighting for the big guy. The House passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act months ago in an attempt to clarify the law and right the Court's wrongs, but today it failed to muster the 60 Senate votes needed to withstand a Republican filibuster.

So ladies, when you start a new job, be sure to demand outright knowledge of everyone's salaries or you might get screwed.

And last, speaking of gender issues, I was annoyed beyond belief today at Maureen Dowd's atrocious piece (when will I learn to just, you know, stop reading her?), especially this:

"The Democrats are eager to move on to an Obama-McCain race. But they can’t because no one seems to be able to show Hillary the door."

What I find myself wanting to demand of dear Maureen, and of all the other pundits and laypeople alike making similar inane comments, is this: there is an undeniable flaw in your logic, in that millions of people keep voting for her. Unless you are suggesting that "The Democrats" do not in fact include these millions of people, including over 50% of the voters of Pennsylvania (and how elitist would that be?), shut the hell up already.

One small consolation, for me at least, is that last June's anti-Dowd diatribe continues to draw in random Googlers.

in the news

I had dinner with Nick after work yesterday and as usual our talk drifted from library gossip to books to relationships both functional and defunct to video games to lab-grown meat and eventually, of course, to politics. And we both agreed wholeheartedly that we wanted the Pennsylvania primary to be a blow-out, one way or the other. That we will happily vote for either Clinton or Obama come November, but that we just want this damned thing over and done with. We both also agreed that we really kind of hoped it would be Obama.

And then she did it again. And I have to confess, my heart smiled this morning at the news. I'm not sure if 10 percentage points qualifies as a blow-out, exactly, but damn if there wasn't a little part of me jumping for glee at the idea that no one but no one is gonna walk all over this woman.

That said, I still really kind of hope that Obama takes the whole enchilada in the end.

Also in the news, not only my neighborhood but my very own block! Weird. I ate at Angela's not once but twice last week with Mom & Sharon, and met the new owner who was pleased that all three of us ordered French toast.

I of course had to share this oddity with my coworker & neighbor, Ken, who promptly replied, "Thanks for the interesting article. Some parts of it are scary. The hospital administrator going to the spa to take her mind off the falling stock market --when I first moved to 'Hudson Heights' it would be the hospital orderly buying a 40 ounce to take his mind off his unpaid bills."

I remember when that spa opened, right next door to the crazy shoe repair place, and Chris and I rolled our eyes at each other and practically took bets on how long before it crashed and burned. But the neighborhood's changed, and spas are the new discount liquor, and sushi is the new corner deli. I'm not sure how I feel about this, being a big fan of discount liquor, sushi, and roast beef sandwiches.

And lastly in the news, it's official! Anchorage's Mayor Begich, lonely Democrat of Alaska, has officially thrown his hat into the ring and will be taking on corrupt-to-the-core Ted Stevens this fall. If you, like me, have some odd fascination with Alaskan politics, or Alaska in general, or, for that matter, a David and Goliath thing, then this just might be a race worth watching.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

some of the things...

...that I haven't been ranting about because I've been too busy gallivanting (did I get it right this time, Marti?) around town with my mother & aunt these past two weeks.

POPLINE, in its own words "Your connection to the world's reproductive health literature," recently had a skirmish with abortion. In that they removed the actual term abortion from its search engine. Seriously. Maybe if you search smashmortion, a la Judd Apatow's summer blockbuster Knocked Up, you might be able to actually, you know, research reproductive health issues. POPLINE has since come to its senses. Read specifics here.

This, which I found strangely moving, from the Barnard Library's Zine Collection.

I've been reading Joan Walsh for awhile now, and have been particularly grateful for her discussions on sexism in the presidential race this time around.

This for Paul, marine biologist and NYC-hater extraordinaire: subway cars get a second life.

Timothy Egan, author of The Worst Hard Time among other things, has been a guest blogger for the Times these past months. His recent take on the role of small town America in American politics was a breath of fresh air in the midst of all this hoopla surrounding Obama's "bitter" comments.

A Columbia Business School graduate makes good, inventing a system that may be the salvation of successful recycling throughout the land, or at least in Philadelphia and on Columbia's main campus.

Last, and by far the most disappointing, the Supreme Court is clearly as splintered as the rest of the country when it comes to capital punishment. We've got Justice Stevens (have I said how much I love Justice Stevens? I pretty much love Justice Stevens) admitting that while he's forced to vote to allow lethal injection because of precedent, he actually believes that executions are, as a whole, unconstitutional. We've got Justices Souter and Ginbsurg dissenting outright. And then we've got Justices Scalia and Thomas. Oh God how frightening are Justices Scalia and Thomas? According to them, any execution is just dandy as long as it isn't intended to inflict pain. So why don't we all just go back to using the electric chair? I mean, the intent wasn't to set people on fire, right? What's a little spark every now and again between friends? It seems these two are in agreement with John "It's Not Torture Unless The Pain Is On Par With Organ Failure or Imminent Death" Woo.

It's always hard to jump back into the real world after spending a wonderful week or two visiting with old friends & beloved family, walking through parks and museums, spending hours in coffee shops and yarn shops and being spoiled absolutely rotten by the best mom in the entire known universe.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

snippets, or, oh the things you come across when you clear out the space under your bed

"I am two months short of being twenty-two years old now, and yet that number, 22, still seems huge to me. When I was little, my father would invite his senior thesis advisees up to our house in Westchester for a barbecue every spring to celebrate the turning-in of their theses. For years I imagined that these young women who appeared in our house every spring were old, sophisticated, and completely in control of their lives. Well, I turned in my senior thesis a week ago and I'm still waiting for that 'grown-up' feeling that I imagined all those years ago.

Sometimes, for a split second, I will almost catch it -- that sense of being an adult."

(April 1998)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

bedroom wall

letter of the day

To the Editor:

In Economic Drama, Bush Is Largely Offstage” (White House Memo, front page, April 3):

Far from being of concern, Americans should be encouraged by the fact that President Bush is “detached from the nation’s economic woes,” given his success in other policy areas.

We should all be glad that he is in Eastern Europe (where most people have enough sense to pay no attention to him) “arguing about who should get into NATO,” rather than trying to fix a catastrophe caused in no small part by the anti-regulatory policies of his and like-minded administrations.

If only he had been similarly detached from foreign policy earlier in his administration, perhaps we would not be mired in Iraq as we are today.

In any event, let us hope that Mr. Bush vigorously pursues this policy of detachment from all areas of policy, foreign and domestic.

Robert S. Lee
Houston, April 3, 2008

"In that direction," the Cat said, waving its right paw round, "lives a Hatter and in that direction," waving the other paw, "lives a March Hare. Visit either you like. They're both mad."

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.

"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat, "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."

"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.

"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

-Lewis Carroll

Friday, April 04, 2008

videos of the day, however dated

Jon Stewart & Bill Moyers

Closely followed by Beirut's Elephant Gun, an oddly quaint, if debaucherous, video if ever there was one.

And lastly, for Erik,
this. I tried to find Look at the Wind Blow, to no avail, so this'll have to do.

81% & other semi-newsworthy tidbits

According to a recent NYTimes/CBS News poll, 81% of Americans believe that the United States is headed in the wrong direction, up from a mere 69% last year and a wispy 35% at the outset of the Iraq War. Just look how far we've come.

Coincidentally enough, 81 is also the number of pages in a memo by the notorious John C. Yoo. This infamous memo, written in early 2003 but just recently made public, is basically a roadmap for the Bush administration to get around various laws prohibiting torture and other legally (not to mention morally) questionable behavior.

In the vein of Henry the Hexapus, I was amused to see yet another article on the octopuses of the world. (Am I the only one to always want to write octopi? I mean, octopuses? It just seems so wrong.)

In from Chris earlier this week, a disturbing tale of dogs gone wild. Quite literally. Can you imagine 30,000 - 200,000 semi-feral dogs wandering the streets of NYC, or any city, for that matter? That's what the residents of Bucharest have to deal with every day, and it's only going to get worse.

Speaking of NYC, welcome to my world - the adventure of weekend subwaying.

And last, algae. When we were kids growing up a block away from Mohegan Lake, we were always grossed out by the algae slowly encroaching on our swimming spot. It smelled bad, it felt slimy, and it was killing the lake. But apparently algae's the wave of the future, renewable-energy wise, at least. And I say all the more power to it.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

maureen's moment of grace

Y'all know by now my general feelings of disgust for Maureen Dowd, so I'll avoid the whole anti-Maureen diatribe here and just say that I was somewhat blown away to find today's column actually quite moving. For all of you Hillary Haters out there (and we all know Dowd's one of them), for everyone begging her to drop out, to give up the fight, and condemning her for not doing so already, I leave you with this:

"But the ultimate favor Hillary can do for the Illinois freshman is to fight him full-out until the finale and then gracefully release him so he can find happiness with another.

Hillary's work is done only when she is done, because the best way for Obama to prove he's ready to stare down Ahmadinejad is by putting away someone even tougher."

-Maureen Dowd, Hillary Hater Extraordinaire

I would add that a free ride to the Democrat presidential nomination, as he was given to his Senate seat three and a half years ago, and as he would have been given without Hillary these last couple of months, would have done nothing to prepare Obama for John McCain and the coming onslaught of the conservative hate machine that he'll be facing come autumn. (Did you see how he's a radical abortion extremist in today's Washington Post? It's already begun.)