Katie Kieffer wrote an article about resolutions or, as she called them "pledges" for liberals.

She is spot on in claiming her list is "comical", so in the same spirit, I'd like to rebut her list with one for the so-called "conservatives".

1.) Resolve to spend time with gays. I have Republican friends and family members who would rather shoot themselves than be in the same city as a gay person. Gays really, really scare them. But gays aren't infectious. Their laughter may be, but their homosexuality isn't. It's been medically proven that you can't catch teh gay from homosexuals.

Banning homosexuality will not stop people from being born homosexual. Doing so makes us more vulnerable to hatred, unkindness, cruelty, and throws us back into a Dark Age of Unenlightenment. We need homosexuals for their humanizing effect on the rest of us, for their hard work, humor, taxes, and contributions to science, art, and literature.

By spending time around homosexuals and people of various gender presentations, I think Republicans will realize that a penis isn't an uncontrollable single use tool, and a lack of a penis isn't a life sentence to drudgery, and possession of a penis or a vagina isn't going to automatically turn anyone into teh gay.

I think Republicans will realize that homosexuals are worthy human beings, deserving of the same care and consideration as they expect for themselves.

MaikeH mentioned that you should "realize how many gay people you already know and that they have never tried to recruit you."

Harsh lesson, I know, but it gets easier.

2.) Resolve to stop watching Fox News, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Coulter, Malkin. Their hyperbolic fear-mongering negative attitude is ruining your day and you do not even realize it. At a minimum, admit that their shows are rooted in ratings, money, fear, and hyperbole and not facts, or real news.

3.) Resolve to eat a real salad. Just one. If you prefer, choose a salad from a regular grocery store and make it up yourself. Use at least 3 different types of greens, add chopped vegetables, some crunchy nuts, and maybe a scatter of fruit in it. I guarantee it won’t kill you; it will leave your tastebuds dancing in joy and give you a renewed sense of accomplishment. Your body will thank you for the greens, and your spirits will soar. There's more to life than bread and meat - a whole wonderful world of colorful, tasty food. Why limit yourself to eating brown, when you can also eat a rainbow of delicious fruits and vegetables?

4.) (I'm sorry, I'm laughing at #4 too hard to write a decent rebuttal to it - the liberals were the first to question the safety of the TSA scanners...)

5.) (And #5 just has me wiping laugh-tears from my eyes - almost every liberal I know owns land and they're farming it, growing a rainbow of tasty, tasty fruits and vegetables, dairy goats, chickens, and meat rabbits when Republican laws don't forbid them from doing so - what are those Republicans doing with their land - stockpiling inedible guns and bullets on it? What a waste of land.)

6.) Resolve to treat a Republican to a trip to Europe. Be sure to take them touring by train and bus, and stay at a couple of Youth Hostels. They’ll realize public transportation can be cost-effective, allow them to make new friends as they converse and do work while someone else worries about traffic, and they'll get to work or home or shopping free from stress. When they return home, they'll wonder why they have those faked out Hummers and gas-guzzling SUVs and Ford F750 mega-monster trucks in their drives - all that expense in brakes, oil changes, gasoline...what a savings in time, mental health, safety, car repairs, and space - think of the awesome play room they could build in that former garage.

7.) (For Republican ladies) Resolve to change your own lightbulbs, unclog your own toilet, change the lock on your door, or some other small act of home repair. Doing this small act of repair is actually empowering—not demeaning—because it shows that you appreciate a job well done, and that you aren't helpless and can indeed do things for yourself. It's the first step in becoming a woman and learning to think for yourself, and that's not a bad thing at all. While you're at it, at the next election, vote the way you want to, not the way your father, husband, or son tells you to vote.

8.) (For Republican guys) Resolve to take control of your penis. If you allow your penis to go where it's not wanted, then you, not your penis, not the person you violated with your penis, are responsible and must accept the consequences. No victim blaming, no trying to claim that because one woman lied all women are liars. And while you're at it - pay the child support. Until then, you're just a guy, not a man.

9.) (I'm laughing too hard at this one, too - the Republicans have enacted some of the stupidest laws - are they really advocating that we break them instead of working to change them? Really? That's, that's - I can't I'm melting onto the floor with laughter....)

10.) Resolve to save endangered adults. Encourage your friends to respect life - all life. Stop with the mandatory motherhood acts, and realize those cute little fetuses grow up into gun-wielding maniacs because you won't feed them, educate them, or provide them with adequate health care as they grew up. We have to make sure the living are well cared for before we bring even more people onto the planet. Humans are far from being an endangered species, and we need to consider how to care for the already-born in this over-populated world. Advocate for birth control, family planning, and realistic sex education in schools.

11.) (OMG - this is just TOO FUNNY - I can't come up with anything to equal this at all. I could make a stab at the earlier funny resolutions, but this one, OMG, OMG - I can't stop laughing. I'm going to go get a cup of tea - not the kind made with tea bags filled with the dust and leavings on the floor when real tea is cleaned and dried, but real tea, made from whole tea leaves.)

petesmom came up with a good one for #11: "Resolve to remember the mess in Afghanistan when NeoCons start agitating for a war with Iran. Do you really think the people of Iran won't be united by an attack on their country? Have you forgotten how the 9/11 attack on our country united Americans? Try to remember that citizens of other countries are just as proud, and love their countries just as much, as we do. It will help you to make better decisions about foreign policy."

That'll do.

12.) Resolve to read. May we suggest The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing edited by Richard Dawkins as a start? It really is a light foray into reality, not too much to start with. You might be surprised to realize just how fulfilling it is to know what reality is like. It's wonderful, full of exciting new vistas, and such opportunities!

Feel free to add more, or offer new suggestions. This is just too fun - I haven't laughed so hard in weeks.
talon: (Default)
( Oct. 11th, 2011 01:43 pm)

Yes, I am a very, very small part of Occupy OKC: went to the GA meeting Friday, spent half an hour at the Occupy OKC campsite in Kerr Park last night, will spend about that much time there tonight, maybe more, and have organized a steampunk tea party there for Sunday). As I said, very small.

When I go back tonight, I will bring cash to donate so they can extend the permit.

This is not civil disobedience. Occupy Wall Street, Occupy America, Occupy (insert name of city) is not about civil disobedience. It's a protest, true, but not one that requires breaking laws. Every Occupy group I know of has secured permits and are using public lands. Public lands, you know: the lands we the people own.

We are protesting many things. Everyone has an issue near and dear to their heart that they are protesting.

For some, it's about careers and living wages. Not minimum wage jobs where the employees are treated like paper cups to be used, discarded, and replaced; but jobs where the employer has some loyalty to the employee and wants to retain them for their skills and knowledge and wants to pay them for that skill and knowledge.

Others want to remove personhood from corporations and to demand accountability.

Still others want politicians to stop ruining our country with their incessant wars - war on poverty (what, poor people don't have enough problems without becoming a military target?), war on drugs (what, addicts don't have enough problems already that we have to add to them by attacking them?), war on fat (what, people above the 25th percentile in weight don't deserve to live?), war on women (what, women don't deserve adequate health care?), war on unemployed (what, people who lost jobs due to the downturn in the economy are suddenly the enemy?), and other such bogus wars.

Others want the budget balanced and if that means higher taxes for a while and a more equitable distribution of the wealth, so be it.

Others want respect.

And so on.

It's truly a grassroots phenomenon. There are no leaders. There are no media sponsors. There are no wealthy corporations funding speeches.

It's a bunch of people who want our government to exert some control over out-of-control big businesses and an unblocking of the dam that's withholding all that "trickle down" goodness.

I can't spend a lot of time on site at Occupy OKC because I have a full time job and other commitments, but I can make time to be there for a while, and I can donate to pay for the permits.

I've organized a small steampunk tea party for Sunday afternoon. We're bring iced tea (it's supposed to be warm and sunny) and cookies to share with everybody. We're dressing in steampunk to remind people of how life was back in Victorian times, before unions, before workers' rights, before workplace safety laws, before minimum wages, before child labor laws - and also to remind people of the best of the Victorian times - the suffragettes, the institutions of unions and fair laws, manners, kindness, and tea.

Since I am also organizing an OctopodiCon Tea on Saturday to advertise OctopodiCon 2012 and share steampunked Victorian Halloween activities, we will ask if any of them would also like to attend the Occupy Tea Party. Those who do will be encouraged to make signs:

I (insert graphic flag heart) America.
We are the Right, Left, Hippies, Libertarians, Independents, Greens, Blacks, Tea Party, Socialists, Whites, Germans, Native Americans, Japanese, Koreans, Hispanics, Indians, Scottish, Steampunks, Men, Women, Disabled, - we are Americans, fighting for America.
We are listening and amplifying the message: FOR the people, BY the people, OF the people.
They aren't "Benefits" OR "Entitlements", they are Deferred Wages.
Tea is an attitude - an American one of civility and equality.
Without People, there are no Profits.
The top 1% are like Kudzu, devouring America at an astonishing speed to the detriment of everything else.

And to bring tea and treats to Kerr Park Sunday around 1:30 - 2:00 in the afternoon.


"But these laws are not really about drug use. They are about, in these difficult economic times, making things a little harder for the poor."

It really, really, ticks me off that 1) Wealthy Corporations refuse to pay their low wage employees a reasonable living wage, which forces those employees into poverty, 2) That having been forced into poverty because their full time jobs won't cover even basic living expenses, they are then treated as if it was their fault and not the fault of their employers, 3) The media has represented poor people as being fraudsters and con artists, 4) that people believe the media, 5) that charities are (and this pretty much started with the 9/11 tragedy) requiring/demanding that their recipients be "worthy" and blaming the poor and marginalized and subculture people for disasters. It worsened with Katrina - even though we now know that many of the stories of "looting and shooting" were exaggerations or even outright lies, people persist in believing that poor people are criminals and druggies. They continue to believe it even when these drug-testing-happy states now have data to show that welfare recipients have lower drug use than the general population.

I'm not saying poor people are noble - there are a few who are bad apples, just as there are in any large group of people, but what I am saying is that poor people deserve compassion and a hand up. If they seek help, they should be given it, not forced to jump through hoops and take expensive tests to prove they are "worthy" of help. It's bad enough that they have to beg for assistance because we are such an unenlightened and isolationist society that we don't notice our neighbors, employees, co-workers, friends, or even our own family are in need.

And if the media would just stop perpetuating these lies, that would help some.

And the tests prove it.

Since the state began testing welfare applicants for drugs in July, about 2 percent have tested positive, preliminary data shows.

That's compared to 8+% of the general population who take illegal drugs.

Newton said that's proof the drug-testing program is based on a stereotype, not hard facts.

"This is just punishing people for being poor, which is one of our main points," he said. "We're not testing the population at-large that receives government money; we're not testing people on scholarships, or state contractors. So why these people? It's obvious-- because they're poor."

I've always said that poor people aren't drug addicts - they can't afford to be. Illegal drugs are expensive. So's food. Given a choice, most people will choose food.

People are poor not because they are doing drugs, but because they are being vastly underpaid for the work they do. Most of the poor people I know have 2 and 3 jobs. Why? Because the first one doesn't pay enough for minimal, basic cost of living expenses. They get welfare because it pays better than working 80 hours a week.

It's not the welfare system that's broken, people. It's that "minimum wage" attitude that says: The law says I have to pay you at least this amount, so that's all you're worth and not one penny more. It doesn't matter that the company has had record breaking profits and business is up because of your hard work - I deserve this money just because I am in charge and can take it and you - you're fired because it's cheaper for me to hire another desperate person than it is to give you - one of my best, hardest working employees - a pay raise.".

When welfare pays more - even if it's just nominally more - than a full time job - or when people working 40 hour a week jobs still qualify for welfare assistance, it's not welfare that's the problem. It's the employers. No one who works a full time job should earn so little that they have to supplement their income with welfare. And then to accuse those people who work hard of being drug addicts and humiliate them further by demanding drug tests for the pittance they receive in assistance.

I don't know who started the memes about "welfare queens" and "all welfare recipients are druggies" but they are bald-faced lies. I've never met a welfare queen - and I've met a lot of people on welfare, even lived on it briefly myself before realizing it wasn't a hand up, it was the hand that forced me down further. I've never met a drug addict on welfare - most of the drug addicts I know are wealthy, from wealthy families, or desperate people who'd never waste all those hours sitting in depressing welfare waiting rooms with fussy babies and sick children when they could be out conning someone or stealing or scoring. Drug addicts don't waste their time getting welfare.

The people who get welfare are people who grew up on welfare and don't know any other way of life, people who have reached the end of their resources and have to get it because the kids are hungry or the landlord has raised the rent so high they're now facing eviction, people who've lost their jobs and can't find work and have used up all the good will of family and friends who aren't in much better shape.

It's a myth and a lie that people on welfare are drug addicts. It's a myth and a lie that welfare recipients are living the high life. It's a myth and a lie that people on welfare are not worthy beings. It's a myth and a lie that people on welfare deserve to be poor.

No one deserves poverty. And everyone is worthy of help.
talon: (Default)
( Aug. 25th, 2011 09:09 am)

Unlike the dogs in this study, who've all been untraumatized before they were acquired, the puppies I rescue are generally pitiful little things between 3 and 5 weeks old. They've already lived a tough life - starved, flea-ridden, often injured or sick.

I take them in, nurse them back to health, teach them basic manners, and find them new homes. Not one of the dogs I've rehomed has had any behavior problems as adult dogs.

Not one.

The only dog that had issues as an adult is one I kept because she's a special needs dog, having suffered brain damage. And honestly, her issues have a lot more to do with her brain injury than any fact of having taken her from her dam too young. She's afraid of strangers until her brain cells kick in and remind her she does know this person - and that includes me. Even if she's napping on my lap or beside me, when she wakes, there's this brief time where she doesn't remember who I am and she'll growl or bark at me. But then you see her little brain kick in and recognition come up and she's happy to see me. She growls or barks at everyone the first time she sees them, and if she knows them, she suddenly pauses and she's suddenly happy to see them. She forgets where her food dish is, even though I keep it in exactly the same place all the time. When she finds it or I take her to it, she's happy. Overall, she's a pretty happy dog. And when she remembers something, that makes her even happier. It's like she knows she's forgotten something and when she remembers, it's not just that she's happy about whatever, she's ecstatic that she remembered. She does stress out if I take her somewhere new that she's never been to before, and stays stressed the first dozen or more times I take her there - until her memory kicks in finally and she recognizes the place. This is why I rarely take her to strange places unless I intend for her to go there often. I took her to the vet's office a dozen times before she ever saw the vet just to acclimate her, and I'll take her a couple of times before each visit to remind her she knows the place.

She's not destructive, or fearful on walks, or possessive of food. She doesn't play bite or chase her tail, or soil the house - she's very good about using her potty pads. She's no more attention seeking than any other dog. She's possessive of her toys when she's actively playing with them, but doesn't mind other dogs playing with them when she's not. She waits her turn for treats, even when she's lined up with stray dogs. She is reactive to noises but in a positive way - she alerts me to sounds I can't hear, making her a good companion to Itzl because he gets to go off duty when we get home because she is on duty inside the house.

I believe that training, especially early training, has a far greater bearing on whether the dog has behavioral issues as an adult than early removal from their dams.

I don't see where this study addressed training and conditions inside the home where the dog was taken.

Since I prefer tiny dogs to large ones, I know that many of them are poorly socialized and trained as puppies. Many people don't know how to train or care for a tiny dog, so they feed the insecurities and fears these little dogs have, making them hyper-aggressive, yapping bundles of furry neuroses - and it doesn't matter one whit how well cared for they were when still with their dams or how old they were before they were rehomed. These dog owners think it's funny or natural for tiny dogs to be trembling, yapping, biting bits of aggression.

Every Chihuahua and tiny dog I've rescued has been calm, well-behaved, polite little dogs, friendly to strangers and comfortable in strange places - except brain injured Xoco. Even she is calm, well-behaved, and polite, and as friendly and comfortable as it's possible for her to be.

The assistance dogs I train are all rescues. They may have been traumatized, they've certainly suffered abandonment and starvation; they're often sick or injured. Healed up, socialized, and trained, they become excellent service dogs. I check back occasionally to see if the dogs need retraining or up-training (even Itzl, as trained out the whazoo as he is, needs retraining and uptraining in new techniques and for new sounds or experiences), and help the handler/owner with that.

Regardless of their size or breed, all dogs need to be socialized and trained. I wonder what socialization and training the dogs in this study received.
talon: (Default)
( Aug. 11th, 2011 08:16 am)

My 'mater sammich isn't the iconic American one of white bread, mayo, and tomatoes.

I prefer dense thin slices of German landbrot (or bauernbrot - both are a sourdough wheat/rye bread that is gently tangy with a dense sponge and chewy caramelized crust giving a great mouthfeel), with rich, full fat European butter scraped across the bread. This is topped with sun-warmed, freshly picked tomatoes, sliced thin and sprinkled with a bit of salt and ground celery seed.

It is an open-faced sammich because I don't want the bread and butter to over-power the tomatoes.

Sometimes, for variety, I toast the bread and top the tomatoes with a sprinkle of basil, but it's always open-faced with the tomatoes the jewel of the sammich.

Towards the end of 'mater season, I may have my 'mater sammich made of rice crisps, butter, and 'mater slices, or even on leaves of crunchy Romaine lettuce.

How do you eat your 'mater sammich?

talon: (Default)
( Aug. 1st, 2011 05:45 pm)
Now that the contract is signed and the check mailed, we can say that Professor Elemental will be our Visiting Professor of the Performance Arts.

I can't wait to tell you the rest of our line-up!

And I will, as they get and approve their contracts.

Think of OctopodiCon as the steampunk Hogwarts of the southern midwest. We have hands-on make-and-take workshops coming into focus, and lectures and demonstrations as well as discussion panels.

There's an anime track, and two different children's tracks - one for the children between 6 and 11 (called the Junior Sprockets) and one for children 11 - 15 (called the Artifact Club). The Junior Sprockets and the Artificers can earn a pin, will receive a certificate of participation, and learn to make a few things they get to keep.

For the adults, there is the Art Gallery, where they can browse the gorgeous works of gifted artists and buy or bid on them.

There's the Mercantile, where they can browse the wares of merchants and the tables of our featured visiting professors.

In the Scriptorium they can purchase the books of the attending authors, meet those self-same authors, and get autographs. Then, just across the hall, they get to listen to their favorite authors give readings of their works.

In the Laboratorium, there will be deomstrations and displays of some truly awesome steampunk artifacts and the make-n-take classes that count towards earning a Freshman Pin. Attendees who want to earn a novelty Bachelor's of Steampunk degree will need to take 4 make-n-take classes and 4 lecture/demo classes - they don't have to take them all at this particular OctopodiCon, but we will keep track of their transcripts so when they've taken enough classes, they will receive their Freshman Pin and a Rising Sophomore Certificate that will allow them to enroll in more advanced classes. There is a supply fee associated with these classes and enrollment is limited to make sure each student receives the time and attention they need to complete the 2 hour class. We will be offering at least 9 make-n-take classes over the course of the weekend so students will have plenty of choices.

Next to the Laboratorium are Lecture Rooms One and Two, where they can take the lectures and demos that are the other half of the requirements for a Freshman Pin. These classes are part of the one or 3 day enrollment fee, no extra supply fees are involved.

Next to them is Panel Room One, where discussion panels ranging the gamut of Steampunk take place. These are fun, sometime free-ranging, discussions of steampunk. Consider them the no credit classes, if you want!

For those who don't even want to think of classes at all, there's the Concert Hall, where stage performers and entertainment of all sorts will take place along with the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the Art and Charity Auctions, the Masquerade, and the Gears and Gizmos Dance.

The Great Hall which connects all these classrooms is the Promenade, a vast social area where the Airships and Steampunk Leagues and clubs and groups will have small recruiting tables (they will have to supply their own small - under 3'x3' - tables or displays - no sales). Registration will also be in this Hall.

Since the Hall is a strictly No Food Zone, the Promenade extends outside the Hall and into a nearby lobby where food is allowed, and we've arranged for a Tea Parlour (similar to the Maid Cafes of Anime conventions) to be there, with plenty of seating where students and attendees, merchants and Visiting Professors and everyone else involved in OctopodiCon can gather to buy tea or coffee (or get free hot water to brew their own) as well as cookies, finger sandwiches, and possibly small cakes for nominal sums. Sadly, while we anticipate having enough teapots, tea kettles, and coffee pots, we don't have enough lovely tea cups to provide everyone with them, but everyone is encouraged to bring their own tea cups! Otherwise, it's disposable hot cups.

We will have backdrops where you can take pictures and have your pictures taken. The Promenade is THE place to See and Be Seen - when you aren't in class or shopping or attending one of our lovely concerts.

Pre-registration until October 1, 2011 is a mere $20 for a 3 day enrollment! Go to our website to learn more about our pre-registration packets.

The Course Catalog of make-n-take classes, lectures, and demonstrations is coming soon, and you may enroll now and come back later to add any make-n-take classes. We'll accept enrollments in the make-n-take classes until July 25th, 2012. Remember, enrollment in those classes is limited, so check often and enroll as soon as possible!

In the coming weeks, we'll be adding more Visiting Professors, and adding our Course Catalog.

We have so many treats in store for you! A working steam tractor (or thrasher) is just one marvel that will be there, and the Museum of Osteology will have a table, and we're negotiating for some other truly awesome Visiting Professors and devices. We're working with some local tribes to provide classes and panels and more about Victorian Era Native Americans, and with the Cowboy Hall of Fame for western heritage panels.

If you love steampunk or are interested in steampunk, or just curious about what the fuss is all about, come! It will be awesome!
Privacy isn't about hiding things, it's about control and participation in information processing, interpretation, and usage.

Privacy is a plurality of related issues.

Unrestrained collection of data without relevant reference points can lead to errors of aggregation. Let's take a relatively harmless example: you purchase a book on cancer and several hours later complete the purchase of a wig. The assumption would be that you have cancer and will undergo treatment for it. If this is true (and there are other, equally valid interpretations), perhaps you don't mind sharing the information - but you'd certainly want to control how and when and to whom you reveal this information. And if it's not true, why should you have to deal with the misinterpretation of the data and the consequences of that misinterpretation? Perhaps you are studying the role of a cancer patient, perhaps you are purchasing the items for a friend. Perhaps you merely have an interest in the disease, and the wig is for a party. Perhaps they are each gifts for different people. Or any of a number of other equally probable scenarios. Now, consider some actions that are equally as innocent but with far more sinister misinterpretations.

Yeah. You see. This isn't about hiding things, it's about controlling what is shared and when and how and with whom so that ambiguities and misinterpretations are less likely.

When the government collects random data, lots of random data, with no context and no framing for the data, it's even easier to misinterpret it according to the paranoia of the interpreters. This is compounded when the government does so with its citizens without allowing the citizenry to access and correct errors, without the citizenry even being aware the data is being collected. This is a structural problem that leads to an imbalance of power, where the power should be in the control of the republic, it is concentrated in the hands of those who may have a bested interested in twisting that data as negatively as possible, if only to secure their jobs. Truth becomes irrelevant in the overwhelming face of misinterpreted and misrepresented data.

This leads to data exploitation and distortion.

Without limits or controls on data collection, to what secondary uses will this data be put? How long will it be stored? Who gets access to it? Who makes sure the data remains uncorrupted? Who makes sure the data is correct and free of errors? This is a huge issue in identity theft.

And in the case of errors and distortion - data can never reflect the entirety of a person. Because it must be stored in standardized formats, many details, relevant details, often get left out. Data collection is reductive in nature, and in the reduction, it becomes distorted. With distortion, errors creep in. It's worse than playing The Rumor Game. Let's use another harmless example. Suppose you buy a couple of books on the manufacture of methamphetamine. Without any further data, this can be interpreted in several ways - and government officials, fed on a diet of terrorists and conspiracies and paranoia for so long, will most likely choose the one that leads them to believe you are building a meth lab. The truth might actually be that you are a member of a neighborhood watch program and you wanted hard facts to bring to a watch meeting, or perhaps you were asked to teach neighbors what to look for. Or perhaps you are writing a novel or a poem. Or perhaps they are a gift for a friend in medical school. Or you're wanting to win a particularly tough trivia game. Or maybe, you just like knowing things.

In all of those scenarios, you don't have anything to hide. At least, you don't have anything to hide if our government truly had our best interests at heart. But the government's hopped up on paranoia and righteousness. Filled with the spirit of "Gov knows best" and unwilling to admit a mistake, and suddenly, your innocent purchase places you in a world of hurt.

Those who support the "nothing to hide" argument is a form of denial. It views privacy in a very narrow, troublingly particular, deeply partial way. It looks for a "dead bodies" type of harm, demanding that privacy is only invaded if something deeply embarrassing or discrediting is revealed, particularly if that information is taken out of context, as it so often is. If the standard way to recognize a privacy invasion is only through a blood and dead bodies way, then the true problems of privacy invasion won't be recognized, are indeed denied.

Privacy is rarely lost in one egregious swoop. It is threatened in bits and bytes, a slow accretion of a series of minor revelations, where a small error or a false assumption creeps in and skews everything that follows and even shadows earlier bits of a data, until suddenly, someone with "nothing to hide" is denied the right to fly, denied loans, is appearing on watch lists, is under deeper surveillance, their accounts frozen, and suddenly their lives, their "nothing to hide" lives are shattered. The trauma and expense of finding and correcting that little error, that small misinterpretation, can last years. And if the wrong sort of person accesses that huge database of information, you could be the victim of identity theft and all the problems that entails. We all know just how unsecure those data banks are, they are always getting hacked into or some disgruntled former employee is releasing the information or some employee is selling it to get rich. What if a stalker gains access to that data? Safety, sanity, health, and wealth are all compromised when we narrow our debate on privacy to just "nothing to hide".

It truly isn't about "nothing to hide" and all about personal safety. Perhaps our government doesn't want to hurt us. That doesn't mean we can't be hurt inadvertently, by carelessness or individual, rather than governmental, intent.

The "nothing to hide" argument, in the end, is a harmful, short-sighted, smug one that fails abysmally to address the full depth and breadth of privacy concerns.
If you grow your own veggies, you have greater access to the entire plant to use for food. Joining a CSA gives you more of the plant's parts than a farmer's market, which gives you more than an organic produce section, which has more plant parts than the grocery store, and in turn which has more plant parts than vegetables sold at convenience stores or pre-bagged.

Yes, I know buying bagged, pre-chopped produce is a time saver. I, too, have purchased bags of coleslaw mix and broccoli slaw mix to use for making egg rolls, Thai rolls, and adding bulk to soups and stews when I run out of my own.

The point of this isn't to disparage convenience shopping, it's to encourage and support those who shop for veggies as close to raw and natural as possible, with most or all of the plant parts present.

Take cauliflower. Did you know that the giant leaves that overlap the white heads are edible, and deliciously so? They taste soft and silky, sweet, with a hint of the cauliflower flavor. Sauteed with sweet onions, they make a lovely accompaniment to any meat dish. Chopped, they add a delicacy to many soups. Steam them to soften some and fill like cabbage rolls - it's milder and sweeter than cabbage. Chiffonade them and use in stir fries. It's a shame these can rarely be bought, for they are delicious.

Most people cut off broccoli stems and discard them. If they're into recycling and composting, so many edible stems end up in the compost that the worms eat better than the people! Peel the skin from these stems, shave the inner stems paper thin, toss with lemon zest and perhaps a squeeze of lemon, and scatter on some Parmesan for a quick, delicious salad. Or julienne slice the inner stems and freeze to add to stir fries, soups, ramen noodles, or sandwiches.

When I was young and Star Trek new (the original Trek), I designed a Plomik Soup of greens few people ate then and even fewer eat now, but it amazed the people I managed to cajole into eating it. I made it from kale, collards, Brussels sprouts leaves, chard, mustard, beet, radish, and turnip greens, with a stir in of spinach, and thickened with sweet English peas. I seasoned it with summer savory, lavender leaves, tarragon, cubebs, coltsfoot, and a splash of vinegar, then garnished it with batter fried nasturtium blossoms. Everyone asked for seconds because it tasted deliciously exotic.

A lot of people join CSAs hoping to add more vegetables and fruits to their diets, then are dismayed by the "debris" those foods generate. It's not debris at all - most of it is edible, and most of that is deliciously edible.

You know nasturtium flowers are edible, but did you know the leaves are, too? They are spicy, and shredded into a salad adds hint of fire. Chiffonaded and sprinkled over a cream soup, the contrast is shiveringly delicious. It makes your tongue dance. The seed pods of the nasturtium can be pickled and used in place of capers.

Brussels sprouts leaves, those palm-sized greens, make for a sweet, slightly cabbage-y addition to soups, or as a greens side dish, and to make teeny little "cabbage" rolls.

The woody ends of asparagus can be cooked and pickled into a sweet relish.

Celery leaves are one of my favorite greens, it enriches any stock or broth, makes gravies and even delicate sauces mysteriously exotic, and best of all, if you chop the leaves very fine and toss with a good sea salt or finishing salt, makes for a marvelous celery salt seasoning to add to sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, and salads.
Wine can be infused with peach leaves, then sweetened and added to Cognac to pour over ice cream. Watermelon seeds can be toasted for a crunchy topping to salads and soups. Cilantro flowers hold the same pungency as the leaves but without the soapy flavor so those who can't eat cilantro leaves can probably enjoy cilantro flowers. Broccoli seed pods can be "popped" like black mustard seeds and added as a seasoning to almost any savory dish. Tough late summer lettuces can be tamed with wilting under a bacon-vinaigrette or sauted with radishes and onions in a cream sauce.

Corn stalks contain a sweetness much like sugar cane and can be chewed in the same way for a sweet snack.

Green strawberries can be harvested, cured in beds of salt and sugar, then served up in drifts of whipped cream with cucumbers and tiny marshmallows.

Carrot, celery, and fennel leaves and parsley can be finely chopped as a garnish or seasoning for creamed soups, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squashes, or salads, and makes a great addition to salsa verde or salsa picante.

Chard and collard ribs can be simmered in white wine and water with lemon zest until tender, then drained and dressed with olive oil, a splash of lemon juice, and a coarse finishing salt. They can also be baked with a creamy cheese sauce and topped with a crispy crumb, or baked with a stock or broth, then drained and served with a hollandaise sauce.

Corn cobs can be simmered in stocks or added to soups or chowders.

Peel off the hard green part of watermelons and use the white inner rinds like cucumbers in salads and cold soups. It makes a unique and tasty white gazpacho. Chop it fine for adding to a ranch style dressing or salsa or relish. It can also be pickled.

Tomato scraps can be collected into a sieve and salted, with a bowl beneath to catch the thin red juice. This can be added to mixed drinks, gazpachos, and risottos, or anywhere you want a subtle tomato flavor.

Tomato leaves can be simmered in soups and sauces for additional depth of flavor, but then must be discarded because their prickles are pretty nasty. I usually wrap them in muslin as the prickles tend to escape cheesecloth bags, but the additional flavor is worth the effort of making a "tea bag" of them for the pot.

Most people already know about baking or frying potato peels. I only mention them here for the few who hadn't encountered them yet.

Ditto for the zest of any citrus fruit - and the really thin skinned tangerines and satsumas can be oven dried at 200ºF and stored to season tomato sauces or stews.

Garlic scapes can be sautéed and lightly caramelized and served with a scatter of coarse salt, or cut up and tossed with penne pasta then served with a cream sauce.

Onion scapes (and shallot and leek scapes - scapes are the part that grows and developes a bud or seed head) can also be caramelized like the garlic scapes, but being juicier, they spit and spatter, so use a spatter screen. Also, being juicier, onion scapes are an excellent choice to use as a bed for roasting chicken, beef, venison, pork, or large fish.

These are the things that might be most common in your CSA boxes or at an organic farmer's market. There are bound to be more and other things - like blackberry and raspberry leaves (excellent to dry for teas), and sweet potato sprouts and leaves (edible, unlike white potato sprouts and leaves which are toxic).
talon: (Default)
( Jul. 25th, 2011 12:00 pm)
People want these great communities, but they don't just happen. People worked to create a great community, and then they all work towards keeping it great. A great community isn't born from the heroic effort of one person; it takes a lot of cumulative little acts from many people.

Did you catch that?

Lots of little acts from many people.

And conversely, that's all it takes to ruin a great community, too. Lots of little acts from many people. The difference is that in a great community, those acts are kind ones, loving ones, gentle ones, beautiful ones, thoughtful ones. In a bad community, they are selfish ones, destructive ones, angry ones, spiteful ones, mean ones, ugly ones.

In a bad community, neighbors are apt to disregard their neighbors. Any interaction they may have is usually confrontational and often angry. This shows in small things as well as greater things: playing music disruptively loud, belligerence when asked to lower the volume, littering in neighboring yard, yelling at neighbors, encouraging children to play in the street rather than safely in the yards and sidewalks or nearby park, and may extend to vandalism of neighbor properties. Few people have anything nice to say about their neighbors, and while they may not go out of their way to discomfort their neighbors, they don't resist any opportunities that may come their way. Few of the neighbors know one another. Interactions between neighbors tend to be either laced with resentment or anger or is conducted through the police.

In even the best of the bad neighborhoods, there is a distinct lack of communication between neighbors and few know who lives near them. When communication happens between neighbors, it's accidental, curt, and often comes through the zoning enforcement officers or police. The homes may be lovely and well maintained, but there is no community. And that's the best of the bad neighborhoods.

In a good community, neighbors are considerate of one another. They know one another, which children go to which house, and ditto for pets. When the mail is misdelivered, they will redeliver it to the right person because they know who it is. They'll chat over lawn mowers or as the dogs get walked. When one neighbor is experiencing some hardship, the others help out - say an ice storm takes out many tree branches or storms knock branches down to block drives - good neighbors are out there cleaning up the debris, unblocking cars, shoveling snow, with one another. A group of them may go from home to home to set every house to rights after a huge storm. They talk to one another and warn their neighbors when they'll have a party that might get loud - and invite the neighbors over to enjoy the party.

Little things. "Hi, how are ya?" "Let me carry that bag to the door for you." "Your Rover got out of the yard so I put him back and leaned some boards over the hole until you can fix it." "You shovel the top of the drive, I'll work on the street end." "Heard you were sick, brought you some of Grammy's Special Soup." That kind of thing makes a neighborhood a good one. It's not mowed lawns - even a neighborhood with cars up on blocks and shaggy lawns can be a good one, because it's the people living there that make or break a neighborhood.

If you want to live in a good neighborhood, you have to be a good neighbor. And you do that by little acts, small talk, and smiling.

That's right. Sometimes, all it takes to turn a neighborhood around is smiling at your neighbors. Maybe a friendly wave. And then an exchange of weather conversation. Maybe an invitation to sip lemonade on the porch. And before you know it, you have a good neighborhood. And it all started with a smile.

Little acts of friendliness make good neighbors, and through them, good neighborhoods.
talon: (Default)
( Jul. 5th, 2011 10:14 am)


If your children behave in public, this article is not directed at you. You have no reason to rise up and spew hatred at those of us who really don't want to deal with badly behaved children in public places, especially ones meant for adults. Your children are well behaved and we have no complaint with them. With you, perhaps, for dragging a child to a place not meant to be comfortable, interesting, or entertaining for children, but not with your well-behaved children.

I've had kids, I know what it takes to raise them, to teach them manners, to teach them how to behave in public. I know it takes sacrifices. It means not being able to do fun yourself because your kid needs you, or not being able to do fun stuff because you don't have anyone to watch your kid. It means eating in restaurants catering to kids instead of a nice 4 star restaurant. It means going to the movies for the kiddie matinees instead of the after dinner showings for the adult audience. It means watching kiddie movies instead of the raunchy, wild, violent, exciting movies. It means staying home a lot with the kids instead of being out and on the go.

You chose to have and keep the child. It's your job to take care of the child, and that does not mean dragging the poor exhausted thing to the store hours after its bedtime, or forcing the child to go to a restaurant that takes 30 minutes to serve a meal. It's your job to properly prepare your child for such things as air or train or bus travel, to entertain the child during those long boring drives or flights, and to make sure your child doesn't bother other people in restaurants, out shopping, during travel, or in places obviously not meant for children (day spas, adult fitness centers, business offices, factories, and so on).

I understand there are even greater challenges as a single parent (been there, done that) or when parenting a special needs child (ditto). Neither one of those is an excuse for being an absent parent or worse, an over-protective indulgent parent whose "perfect" child is almost always grossly disrespectful, disobedient, and disruptive, and prone to violence.

Over-protecting and over-indulging a child does no one any favors, the child least of all.

We, the abused public may suffer the child for an hour or so now and then, but that poor child will suffer for years.

In my experience, the over-protected, over-indulged child is abused as surely as the child sporting bruises and broken bones.

Have you ever played a board game? Monopoly, perhaps? It was fun because it had specific rules and a goal to let you know when you won or lost. You knew you were playing Monopoly and not Risk because of the rules. Games are fun because each game has its own rules. Society used to be fun because each segment had its own rules - how to behave in the movie house, the grocery store, Burger King, Nom de Gourmand, the park, a neighbor's house... It's not fun anymore because parents have stopped teaching their children these rules, and now it's like they've scrambled up all the board games and tossed the rules and expect the children to "intuitively know" how to behave.

I've actually had parents tell me their children would grow into their inner intuition and then they'd behave. They just had to grow up a bit.

Parents, I hate to tell this, but it doesn't work that way.

Having children is a lot of hard work. A lot of repetitive, boring, hard work where you, yes you deal with the brunt of your child's bad behavior. It's a lot of sacrifice, because children aren't born knowing how to behave. They don't have any "good behavior" instincts. And they will never "intuitively know" how to behave. This is what parents are supposed to be doing with their children: teaching them the rules of living in society. How to eat at a table with forks and napkins and indoor voices and "please" and "thanks you". How to behave when visiting a friend of the parents as opposed to how to behave when visiting a peer. How to cross the street safely (and by all the ghods, don't get me started on the parents who encourage their children to play in the streets - streets are for cars and crossing, they are not playgrounds!). How to ride a bike safely and legally. How to behave in a fine restaurant as opposed to a kid-friendly one.

there are rules and parents are severely handicapping their children by not teaching them those rules. It makes the game of life and living so much harder for those children who don't learn the rules.

But it's nice to have scientific validation: Humans May Have a 6th Sense After All.

This is the sense we named "space" for lack of a better name.

Yes, yes, we suck at naming.

We've developed exercises to increase the reliability and use of this sense(and 3 other senses we've isolated - come on science, catch up with us and give us the scientific proof for them!).

One thing I love about Numenism is how we explore and research on an amateur level things that eventually become validated by science.

Sometimes (not near often enough, but enough to make us happy), when we dig deep into the researchers behind the discoveries, we learn that one of the people involved in the earliest stages was exposed to Numenism in some form.

I know - we didn't have a huge influence, but we sparked an idea, and the person in whom it sparked had access to the tools and skills and knowledge to run with it. We can't prove that it was exposure to one of our stories or Celebrations or on-line posts or comments at a party or impromptu Moosemas or casual conversation while waiting in line somewhere actually did anything. Still, finding that intersection and following the pattern ripples from it gives us some satisfaction that our ideas, the things we did that were once "out there" have scientific explanations and proof.

Numenism is all about validation, documentation, and supporting evidence for as many things as possible. For some of that, we've had to accept that we didn't yet have the technology to verify what we discovered, but we had anecdotal evidence among ourselves that - for example - the 4 unused senses we found and developed were real and really worked and we could apply those exercises to people who weren't Numenist and they'd increase their control and use and awareness of the sense and be able to reliably use it.

This is what we were hoping for when Numenism was first created - a religion that relied on verification, scientific validation, documentable and reproducible proof, and applicability regardless of belief.

For us. Belief was only a starting point, not the end.

talon: (Default)
( Jun. 22nd, 2011 07:47 am)

Of Something Positive today is the line that starts with "Well, technically..."

talon: (Default)
( Jun. 21st, 2011 03:13 pm)

Y'all remember how I made fried Dr. Pepper?

Well, it wasn't too hard to go from that to fried Kool-Aid so now you can eat your Kool-Aid and drink it, too. Not to mention pickle it.

talon: (Default)
( Jun. 21st, 2011 03:07 pm)


The 5th myth is that the Summer (Winter) Solstice is the first day of Summer (Winter).

It's called MidSummer (Winter) Day for a reason: it's the middle of summer (winter).

Just as the hottest (coldest) part of the day falls after noon (midnight), the hottest (coldest) part of the year falls after the midpoint of summer (winter).

The myth that summer (winter) starts on the midpoint is the one I'd like to see widely addressed.

talon: (Default)
( Jun. 20th, 2011 10:02 am)

People have wondered for years why bugs rarely bite me.

Part of it is that I rarely sweat, and bugs are attracted to the lactic acid in sweat. I also breathe through my nose a lot - the quantity of carbon dioxide in exhaled mouth breathing attracts biting and stinging bugs.

Also, I dry my clothes in Bounce, which contains linalool - a plant compound toxic to most biting and stinging bugs - bugs like mosquitoes, gnats, biting flies, and the no-see-ums. Carrying Bounce dryer sheets (the original, not the fragrance drenched ones) can repel the bugs.

Also, the Yankee Outdoor Mosquito Candle has linalool in it, so burning that in your smoke hole or on your patio or at your picnic might reduce the swarms of mosquitoes just hunting your tasty, tasty flesh.

Bright colors like yellow and blue and red and orange, and dark colors like navy and black are bug magnets. Wear neutral colors like beige, tan, olive green, rust, brown, or khaki instead.

Carbonated drinks also attract these bugs, so drink tea, lemonade, orgeat, water, or wine when outdoors.

If you do get bitten by itching bugs, there are lots of things you can use to relieve the itch. The sooner these are applied, the better.

Therpik is a portable device that zaps the itch out of bug bites.

If you'd prefer other methods, rubbing the bite with a bar of Ivory soap (wet or dry) works, as does glopping on Germ-X. Minty toothpaste. Vinegar. Rubbing alcohol. Mouthwash, particularly mint-based ones. A paste of mentholated tobacco. Baking soda and water paste. A paste of Epsom salts and water. Aspirin crushed and mixed with enough rubbing alcohol to make a paste. Calamine lotion. Benadryl. Bactine. Orajel. Anbesol. Vicks Vapo-Rub. Preparation H. Tiger Balm. Bag Balm. Burt's Bee's Bug Bite Relief. Caladryl. Tums crushed in a bit of water. Tea tree oil. Lavender oil. Witch Hazel. Crushed fresh basil. Crushed fresh lavender. Lemon or lime slice.

Gruber's Jungle Oil also works well, but is difficult to procure. You could go to Panama and buy it at El Valle de Anton, Boquete, or Volcan in Panama, Amigos Restaurant in El Valle de Anton, or directly from Frank Gruber Chiari himself - he rides a bike around town I El Valle de Anton or Boquete and most anyone will point him out to you. Last I heard, his number was 011-507-6564-1000, or you could email him at botanicofranklingruber at hotmail. It's made with soy oil, so if you have a soy allergy, you may want to avoid it. It's also called aceite santo remedio.

talon: (Default)
( Jun. 20th, 2011 09:05 am)


I have had so many flats! If I hadn't had a spare tire, I would have been stranded for long periods of time. Even with a spare tire, I was stranded overnight out of state because I wanted the flat fixed before I continued my trip - just so I could still have a spare tire - and a good thing, too, because only hours after I was back on the road, I had another flat.

Road hazard insurance does you no good at all if your flat occurs miles from any human habitation on a lightly traveled road.

The tire inflator kit does no good when the tread peels off your tire or a bubble forms in the sidewall and bursts - both of which have happened to me numerous times.

I will gladly, joyfully pay that extra $22 it costs to have a real spare tire, and $50 for an actual tire rather than one of the "donut" temporary spare tires that have become so common.

I will accept the 0.01% increase in gas usage to have the comfort of a real spare tire rather than a can of faulty spray sealant and a tire pump.

And those run-flat tires?

Noisy, short tread life, and hideously expensive.

I would not have flat-run tires on my car. My bicycle, yes. My car? No.

They haven't driven the remote back roads of Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada - those are some mighty isolated roads, more than 50 miles (the maximum you can drive on a flat-run tire or a tire filled with that fix-a-flat spray) from the nearest tire repair/replacement place. And if the tire blows out or the tread rips off or a sidewall bubble forms - what then?

I want real tires and a real tire spare, not a spray can and a pump.

They claim having a spare is a convenience not a safety feature.

talon: (Default)
( Jun. 17th, 2011 10:11 am)


"when business travelers see well-behaved babies, they should point it out to the parents with a compliment." I don't think so. I want other people to keep their opinions to themselves. I don't want strangers approaching me and my children and telling us how well behaved they are - I want them to keep far, far away and leave us alone. I would prefer they ignored us completely. I don't want them sticking their nose into my private affairs and time with my children. I taught them to behave and be quiet in public and I don't want our peace destroyed by some jerk who thinks I need to be told, loudly and repeatedly, the obvious; to butt into my conversation with my children to tell us they approve of us - I don't want or need their approval.

I want people to just stay away and stop ruining things for us.

They show their approval quite nicely by leaving us alone.

I've discovered in many instances that the only time people feel compelled to tell me how well behaved my children are is when they want me to compliment them on their observational skills and to stroke their petty little egos, disrupting my happy times with their neediness.

If you like how my children are behaving, look the other way. Leave us alone. If you must display some sign of approval, do so from a distance with a slight head tilt should I happen to glance your way, or possible with a smile.

If you're female and have some college, you comprise 54% of the food gardeners in America, working on average 5 hours a week in the garden and growing over $500 of produce.

Your median garden size is 92 square feet, and you tend to grow tomatoes, peppers, carrots, onions, beans, peas, summer squash, lettuce, cucumbers, and sweet corn.

I have no clue how large my food garden is, because I interplant it with flowers and tuck a few plants here and a few plants there, wherever they fit. I probably spend 2 or 3 hours a week on the gardens. And I grow kohlrabi, parsnips, radishes, lettuces, lavender, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, dill, snow peas, garlic, roses, redbuds, mulberries, honeyberries, strawberries, raspberries, pecans, dandelions, plantains, violets, daylilies, chives, potatoes, broccolini, sunflowers, poppies, Malabar spinach, orach, goosefoot, cabbages, bachelor buttons, and violas.

The tomatoes and lettuces make me average...


Tell me people are not so stupid that they believe Palin's version over the facts about Paul Revere? I know, Longworth's poem had slight inaccuracies, but they were nowhere near the range of Palin's outright disinformation. Longworth also had the distinction of being a poet and allowed to take liberties with the truth for the sake of art. Palin, as a person hoping to represent our country, perhaps even in our highest possible office, needs to either not make such outrageously and provably false statements, and is she does speak on the fly without verifying her facts, she needs to learn to apologize and correct her mistakes rather than insisting she is right and documented history is wrong.

She's misstated the history of Ellis Island and the immigrants there, and far too many more to list here.

I'd like to see a woman as president of the US, but I want one who is intelligent, capable, well-educated, diplomatic, well-spoken, community-oriented, and in tune with all Americans, not just a cherry-picked demographic of "everything you say must be true because you said so!".

I want a president who understands what a fact is, and knows what a theory is, and can tell the difference between truth and truthiness, who can separate fact from thought.