September 2007 Archives

Warren Jeffs Found Guilty

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I was triumphantly relieved to read that Warren Jeffs, "prophet" of the Fundmantalist COJCOLDS or whatever it's called, has been found guilty in Utah of two counts of being an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old girl. He faces more charges in Arizona as well.

The arguments of the defense in all this just sound so gross. I'm glad the jury focused on the fact that the girl was 14, and that she was told that if she didn't submit to this marriage she didn't like, she'd go to hell. Those are, I think the most relevant issues in the matter.

shock doctrine, the movie


Aluminum Foil Whaaat?


For about ten years now, I've been complaining to chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists about some weirdness in my left hip. It's not a pain, exactly, and it's not a joint problem; it's... like some weird congestion. Every new practitioner I've seen swears s/he can fix it, but no one ever has. The procedure that did the most good was, believe it or not, the colon cleanse I wrote about in August. (Which, by the way, my site meter reveals is currently one of my most popular entries--a lot of people really like to google the phrase "nasty shit.")

But there's still some weirdness in my hip, maybe from a lifetime of standing wrong.... I don't know. I just know that sometimes my hip feels wrong and the wrongness radiates down my leg and my knee feels wrong and my ankle feels wrong.

So today I saw my acupuncturist, and her way of treating the hip weirdness was one I have never before encountered: she put half a dozen tiny needles on the left side of my ass, then got a sheet of aluminum foil and taped it to my butt--supposedly the foil intensifies the energetic whatever it is the needles do.

Now, I love acupuncture--if you click on the link above, you'll get to read about a fabulous treatment from two years ago. But the foil-taped-to-the-butt thing.... Even I am skeptical about that. I haven't noticed any marked improvement in my hip, but we'll see if anything changes in the coming week.

Peanut Butter Fingers


So anyway, as I wrote Sunday, Chinese cuisine isn’t as big on sweets and desserts as American and European cuisines are, but as I wrote yesterday, peanuts and peanut butter have been integrated into the cuisine, and are elements of American food you can easily find in Taiwan. Which is why one of the main things my first companion liked to make was this very easy bar cookie recipe called Peanut Butter Fingers. I must have been introduced to this recipe my first week in Taiwan.... and I must have made it dozen of times in the 70 or so weeks I was there. It’s not just that missionaries like it: most Chinese people who ate them thought they were pretty decent too.

A week or so ago, I was invited to a pot luck picnic, and I signed up to bring a dessert. I was going to make these no-bake cookies because they’re SO EASY, but then I remembered that one of my good friends pukes violently if he consumes tree nuts, and I find something distressing about serving food to people that makes them vomit. I thought about making these chocolate chocolate chip cookies, because they’re SO YUMMY, but they take a lot of time, and I didn’t have it.

And then I noticed this recipe for Peanut Butter Fingers, which I hadn’t made in ages. Luckily I had a jar of peanut butter--it’s not necessarily something I keep on hand--and it was that tenth time when peanut butter just sounded good to me, so I made them. And given that the pan was almost empty by the end of the picnic, I think they were a success.

So here, finally, is the recipe for Peanut Butter Fingers.

Peanut Butter Is OK, I Guess


Tomatoes, potatoes, cocoa beans and chilies are among the food plants indigenous to the Americas that have been thoroughly appropriated by other parts of the world, to the point where they seem integral to certain nations’ cuisine or history: think of Italian food with tomato sauce. Think of Belgium without chocolate. Think of Ireland with a potato blight and crushing famine. Think of Indian food without the searing hot bite of a really potent chili pepper or two.

Peanuts, not so much. Plenty of the world has never taken to peanuts or peanut butter or any number of peanut-flavored things. As Chanson notes, the French find peanut butter pretty damn vile, and as I remember from my time in the UK a couple of decades ago, the British didn’t much care for it either.

The Chinese and their neighbors, however, managed to dig peanuts and their by-products and do some pretty great things with them, as anyone who has enjoyed spring rolls or noodles with peanut sauce will know. I prefer peanuts in savory food to any sort of peanut-y dessert.

Frankly the thing I like best about peanut butter is its history. In elementary school I read this fabulous biography of George Washington Carver, explaining how he convinced all these farmers to plant soil-enriching peanuts instead of just soil-depleting cotton as part of his crop rotation program. Once the peanuts were harvested, the farmers came to George and said, “OK, what do we do with these peanuts? ‘Cause there’s no demand for them at all.”

This Wasn't Going to Be About Cheese


A sweet tooth is not the easiest thing to satisfy in China. I had to work very hard in both Taiwan and Shanghai to assuage my sugar cravings. I couldn’t find any decent Chinese sweets in Mainland China; I had to content myself with buying a bag or two of Skittles or M&Ms (both of which were imported and therefore very expensive) each week. Things had been markedly better in Taiwan, though I still had to make some accommodations. I ate a lot of chocolate O’Smiles, this sandwich cookie with a truly great name; there was also this flavored powdered milk drink I thought was OK. And then there were bings, these concoctions of fruit, shaved ice and sweetened condensed milk--they were pretty lovely, especially on a very hot day. And there was passion fruit juice--I’ve never tasted anything quite like fresh passion fruit juice, which was sold in baggies with a straw dropped into them, around which a string was tied so you could dangle the bag from the handlebars of your bicycle. There were also these sticky rice things that I found revolting if they had red bean in them--they were so very vile--but quite liked if they contained a paste of sweetened black sesame. But ain’t none of it the same as a really moist chocolate chip cookie or a nice big square of fudge so rich and sweet it makes your teeth hurt.

Hormone-Mimickers Produce More Girl Babies


Here's a very upsetting story announcing that "Man-made chemicals blamed as many more girls than boys are born in Arctic" because high-levels of gross toxins (particularly those in flame retardants) in the food supply "can change sex of child during pregnancy," and here's another saying the same thing, but with slightly different details.

It's horrifying, how nasty and icky we've let our food supply get, and there are definite challenges to be faced in the village in Greenland where only girls have been born. But I can't help thinking that if the chemicals worked the other way--if they changed the sex of the baby from a girl to a boy--walrus carcasses absolutely laden with this gross stuff would be sold in certain countries as a way to avoid having to abort unwanted female babies--just turn them into boys during the first three weeks of gestation!

The only comfort is that the world so loves its baby boys that there will probably be swift action now to clean this nasty stuff up.

Baring Their Chests and Testimonies


I got this link from my friend Troy, who sent it to me with the note "as if missionaries weren't gay enough...."

It's for Mormons Exposed: Men on a Mission, a retailing enterprise promoting a calendar featuring a buff, bare-chested RM (returned missionary) every month. The faq page (an acronym I always read "fag" unless it's capitalized) states that "the calendar celebrates these missionaries' great looks and beautiful bodies, as well as the amazing stories of service of these deeply spiritual men," adding that

Behind the eye-candy, this calendar has a deeper story - one that can reshape perceptions, heighten awareness, and perhaps encourage and inspire a broadened acceptance of human and religious diversity. The fact that twelve young returned missionaries are posing shirtless will certainly raise eyebrows, but may also help to sort out some common misconceptions about Mormons. The shock value of what these traditionally conservative young men have helped to create has the power to build a dialogue that encourages people across every belief system and walk of life to defy stereotypes, step out of judgment and embrace tolerance.

It also notes that the "This product may be the must-have stocking stuffer of the year, or even be the gag gift of 2008"--or do they mean the "gay gift" of 2008?

Using Your Granddaughter as Pin Cushion

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Here's a story that has so upset me I scarcely can articulate all the reasons why: a 31-year-old Chinese woman went to the doctor because she had blood in her urine; turns out she has 26 sewing needles embedded in her body; and the likely explanation is that when she she an infant, her grandparents stuck all the needles in her because they were upset that she wasn't a boy. Some of the needles have worked their way into vital organs; one needle has broken into three pieces in her brain.

OK, I'm really distressed by the fact that female fetuses are so often aborted in India and China; I'm horrified by female infanticide. I realize that what I'm about to write is obvious, but those aborted fetuses and murdered infants don't have to live with the knowledge that their families didn't want them because they were female. I'm not saying it's better to be killed as an infant than to discover, at age 31, that your grandparents (whom you were probably trained to love and respect) were disappointed enough by your sex that they'd try to kill you, but I am saying that I find it hard to wrap my mind around how that might alter your view of yourself, your family and the world.

Of course, women do have to live with the knowledge that the world considers them of secondary importance, and largely disposable. But hey, we have our ENTIRE LIVES to come to terms with THAT fact, because basically not a day goes by when that message isn't communicated. But there's something about finding out one day that you have a needle in your brain put their by your grandparents that just takes things into a different realm for me--I can't imagine how that would change your fundamental experience of yourself and your world. I think it would make me afraid even to lie down and put my head on a pillow.

The world is a sick, sick place.

A Little Curl

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I haven't had bangs in well over a decade, but somehow or other, I recently acquired a few stray hairs that are significantly shorter than their neighbors. I would never have noticed them except that they're right at the hairline off my forehead. I don't know if they were weakened last time I got it colored, and so broke; or if the stylist somehow cut them off during my last trim. But they're there.

And they form a little ringlet that sometimes escapes when I pull my hair back, and sometimes I think it looks really cute and sometimes I find it really annoying.


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