Doctors want you to start using the term "brain attack" instead of stroke. They think that the new term will convey urgency. I think that the new term will convey how silly doctors are.
Brain attack! Yeah, it sounds kind of like "heart attack," but it's got the whole zombie connotation. And in the summer, there's the allusion to shark attack. Clear the beach! And for the eight-year old boy in all of us, there's the "fart attack" angle.
Call me a cynic,but I just don't see this going very far, doc.
No, not the ring. The Airstream! My dream home. I read about this guy's job today, and oh god, am I jealous.
They're so perfect. So exact. Everything in it's place, streamlined, no clutter. And portable!
I probably was a turtle in my past life.
Softshelled crabs are one of my all-time favorite things, and they have a very short season. The time is now. I had one in Las Vegas two weeks ago, at Olives in the Bellagio, and as an appetizer, one crab was $18. So when my favorite Chinese restaurant had 2 for $20, I thought that was a bargain.
Today, at Findlay Market, they were three dollars each! Of course they weren't cooked yet - small detail. The fellow at the fish counter offered to do whatever it is that needs to be done so that they're ready to saute - namely, remove the inedible bits. The rest was amazingly simple.
I added some of this to a little bit of flour, dredged the crabs in it, dipped them in beaten egg, and dredged them one more time. I sauteed them in a little vegetable oil for about a minute and a half -honest, no time flat, and they were perfect!
This was a valuable learning experience, grasshopper. And a damn tasty one too, if I do say so myself.
Well, there, he's out of the way!
Thirty, shmirty, BFD. Actually, 33 is way worse. The crucifying year, in common parlance. In my case, there was no avoiding the nails in the hands and feet, and that annoying crown of thorns. Drip, drip, drip! Blood in the eyes all day.
I'd have wiped it away, but then the crow's feet would have been more obvious.
I've seen it time and again. People are on guard for 30, wary and alert. When they get through it and think the coast is clear... there's that cross to bear! So Vidiot, what I'm saying is - enjoy the break! Have a great birthday!
There's worse things ahead.
And on that cheery note, here I am, keeping the seat warm for a much more talented man. A humbling experience. I only agreed to do it so he'd owe me an oat soda at the big event next month! Tickets are still available - They Might Be Giants, Corn Mo, bowling, what have you. A ride in my VW with the top down, breakfast at the quirkiest cafe in Loo'vul.
Okay, confessional time.
The last week or so, I've been feeling vaguely out of sorts. Nothing alarming, mind you...I think it's a combination of work stress, living-in-the-big-city stress, overwhelming volcanic rage at the RIGHT-WING ASSHAT WINGNUT IDIOTS WHO ARE RUINING OUR COUNTRY (um..sorry) , an upcoming birthday, et cetera.
A bit more about that last point: I'm turning thirty next week. Now, I know this isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Most of my friends, co-workers, my girlfriend, et cetera...everyone's already been there with no apparent ill effects or scars. But just like puppy love is important when you're young (it's the most important thing in the world when you're fourteen or fifteen), the upcoming milestone is weighing on me a bit heavier than I'd like. I don't feel young anymore. And it's maybe just my need of a vacation talking, but I feel old and fat and dull and out of touch lately. I feel like I've been spending a little too much time raging at the rain, and not enough time jumping in puddles. I need to do more, to feel more.
Lately, I've been thinking about the French tradition of les grands projets. These are, quite literally, "big projects." Efforts like the renovation of the Louvre and its attendant Pei-ramid, the construction of the Centre Pompidou, Millau Bridge, and the Grande Arche de la Défense. Things the nation can rally behind. That make a mark. That change things. And I'm thinking that I might just need a grand projet of my own.
They don't have to be things like building pyramids in front of museums. I'm inspired by people like Tony Hawks, who hitchhiked around Ireland with a fridge. Like Dave Gorman's Googlewhack adventure. Like Caleb Smith, who walked every street in Manhattan. Like Julie Powell, who cooked her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year.
Now, all this navel-gazing is well and good. But where do you, dear reader, enter the picture? Simple. Help me come up with a good project. Something I'll enjoy. Something I have a shot at actually completing. (Something, hopefully, that'll make decent blog fodder.) Let me know.
And for another announcement: I'm going on vacation next week. And I'm not sure I'll have easy 'Net access, and I don't have a bunch of entries pre-loaded. So, for the first time in the history of this site, I'm bringing in a guest blogger. Tizzie is a fine writer and a good friend. She doesn't have a blog, but she hangs out at the monkeyhouse and on Flickr, and she's ably taken the reins at Dana's a couple of times. And we went to Lebowskifest last year together, and will again next month. So make her feel welcome, will you? But don't forget -- she's got the keys, and she'll turn this blog right around if she has to.
See you in July.
Because Anti likes 'em, here's what I did this past weekend:
Saturday, I slept late. Really late. Then lounged around and read. ('Cause it isn't a real weekend unless you commit the deadly sin of sloth.) B. gets off work at 4pm on the weekends, so I met up with her, then we headed for the Village to pick up something for my dad. Mission not accomplished (the store ordered the wrong thing), we wandered for a bit, did some shopping (in B.'s case), some waiting (in mine), and 'twas off to the subway to go further downtown.
B. had never walked on the Brooklyn Bridge, so we set out to do just that. We marveled at the incredible light -- half the sky was full of angry-looking clouds, the other half was brilliant blue with big puffy ones -- and hoped the rain would hold off till we were across. We cut through Cadman Plaza, paused by the cherry trees and the big pink monument to William Gaynor (the only New York City mayor to be shot while in office), and pressed on toward Old Fulton St.
At the end of Old Fulton Street is the Fulton Ferry Landing, a smallish but inviting dock. We had some really good coffee (me) and butter pecan (B.) ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, made a mental note to plan a future visit to Bargemusic, and took the New York Water Taxi back across the river to South Street Seaport, admiring the dramatic sky as we went.
Neither of us had been to South Street Seaport before. The ships were interesting (I want to go back so I can walk around them when the museum is open), but the mall in Pier 17 was something of a shock. It (like the other Rouse developments such as Baltimore's Harborplace and Norfolk's Waterside) hasn't aged well. The building is nice, but it's full of schlocky, B-minus-grade shops hawking crap to tourists. Food courts? Got 'em here. Bad "art" galleries selling mass-produced pseudo-folk art depicting yellow cabs and the Statue of Liberty? Check. The "As Seen on TV" store? Yup.
We got out of there as quickly as possible, admired the sunset (or rather, we enjoyed the golden light spilling eastward from the sunset), and trudged northward toward Chinatown and dinner.
Inspired by Alaina and Anil's visit to New Green Bo (and craving, as always, soup dumplings), we headed there ourselves after a brief detour through the Mott Street souvenir/designer knockoff/miscellaneous tchotchke shops. Aside from the aforementioned and required soup dumplings, B. had some interesting rice cakes -- little water-chestnut size flat round things -- with preserved cabbage and pork. I had beef with jalapenos (Never had jalapenos in Chinese food before...don't they usually use the little fierce red peppers?) Yummy, all around.
We had a post-prandial waddle up through a Little Italy street fair, then collapsed onto the subway home, sated and happy.
On Sunday, we lounged around reading for a while, then B. went off to Connecticut to visit her family. I didn't do much -- accompanied her to Grand Central, then went down Park to Gramercy, where I read the Sunday Times (well, as much as I could read in one sitting) over a sandwich and the best cup of coffee in town. (And picked up a pound of their House Blend to go, for good measure.) After which I walked over to Union Square (where I took the shot at the top of this post -- the sky was fantastic again, and the sun was setting along the streets), and thence to home.
Rhino Records has been releasing these really kick-ass two-disc sets of all of Elvis Costello's albums. (Meaning I've bought some of these albums three times on CD: the first release, the Ryko release with extra tracks, and now the Rhino sets.) The project just finished with the newly-released King of America deluxe edition.
All the extra tracks are undoubtedly great, but one of the things I've enjoyed the most about these deluxe editions are the copious liner notes by Elvis himself; he's a good writer (no surprises there), and they're completely fascinating. And taken together across 16 albums, at at least 12 pages each, they form quite the narrative. The Onion has published excerpts online, which makes me want to get the albums I don't already have so I can read them all. (Actually, it'd be great if Elvis re-worked this material and published it as a book -- he's done most of the work for an autobiography already.)
The top ten:
What -- no Nick Denton?
A couple days ago, former Republican Senator (and Episcopal priest) John Danforth published a wonderful op-ed in the Times that seeks to make the oft-overlooked point that good people can disagree on issues. That people of faith can be sincere in their faith, yet not necessarily belive the same thing. And that one can be a religious person, even one who is very active in politics, and yet not seek to turn our nation into an intolerant theocracy.
This is worth quoting at length:
In recent years, conservative Christians have presented themselves as representing the one authentic Christian perspective on politics. With due respect for our conservative friends, equally devout Christians come to very different conclusions.
It is important for those of us who are sometimes called moderates to make the case that we, too, have strongly held Christian convictions, that we speak from the depths of our beliefs, and that our approach to politics is at least as faithful as that of those who are more conservative. Our difference concerns the extent to which government should, or even can, translate religious beliefs into the laws of the state.
People of faith have the right, and perhaps the obligation, to bring their values to bear in politics. Many conservative Christians approach politics with a certainty that they know God's truth, and that they can advance the kingdom of God through governmental action. So they have developed a political agenda that they believe advances God's kingdom, one that includes efforts to "put God back" into the public square and to pass a constitutional amendment intended to protect marriage from the perceived threat of homosexuality.
Moderate Christians are less certain about when and how our beliefs can be translated into statutory form, not because of a lack of faith in God but because of a healthy acknowledgement of the limitations of human beings. Like conservative Christians, we attend church, read the Bible and say our prayers.
But for us, the only absolute standard of behavior is the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. Repeatedly in the Gospels, we find that the Love Commandment takes precedence when it conflicts with laws. We struggle to follow that commandment as we face the realities of everyday living, and we do not agree that our responsibility to live as Christians can be codified by legislators.
When, on television, we see a person in a persistent vegetative state, one who will never recover, we believe that allowing the natural and merciful end to her ordeal is more loving than imposing government power to keep her hooked up to a feeding tube.
When we see an opportunity to save our neighbors' lives through stem cell research, we believe that it is our duty to pursue that research, and to oppose legislation that would impede us from doing so.
We think that efforts to haul references of God into the public square, into schools and courthouses, are far more apt to divide Americans than to advance faith.
Following a Lord who reached out in compassion to all human beings, we oppose amending the Constitution in a way that would humiliate homosexuals.
For us, living the Love Commandment may be at odds with efforts to encapsulate Christianity in a political agenda. We strongly support the separation of church and state, both because that principle is essential to holding together a diverse country, and because the policies of the state always fall short of the demands of faith. Aware that even our most passionate ventures into politics are efforts to carry the treasure of religion in the earthen vessel of government, we proceed in a spirit of humility lacking in our conservative colleagues.
I've said many times that Christianity's central message, to me, is one of love and forgiveness. And that that message of love and forgiveness trumps all. And this may not be a terribly Christian sentiment to express (I'm working on it, and I will be the first to acknowledge that I'm a flawed person), but when I look at those who proclaim their Christianity or their godliness the loudest, and use that loud self-proclaimed faith to advocate agendas that seem to be driven by hate and divisiveness, I am sickened. Because they're perverting the message, and they really do need to see to the beams in their own eyes before they condemn others.
Sixty-three percent of Americans oppose a Constitutional amendment to ban flag burning. (This is up from 49% in 1997, and this is the highest number yet recorded.)
So why will Congress vote on the proposed amendment next week? For the seventh time? Because, evidently, 63% of the people understand what the First Amendment means. (And, frighteningly, 30% of Americans don't.) The House is poised to vote on the Amendment next week, and being an effectively knee-jerk body, I'm sure it will pass as it has six times previously. Then it will go to the Senate, where the amendment has always died.
However, the current Senate climate may mean that the measure will pass by one or two votes. From USA Today's story:
But this time may be different. Amendment supporters say last year's election expanding the Senate Republican majority to 55 has buoyed their hopes for passage. Five freshmen senators - Richard Burr of North Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, John Thune of South Dakota and David Vitter of Louisiana - voted for the amendment as House members and plan to do so again.
They will be joined by at least five Democrats who have co-sponsored the resolution, including Dianne Feinstein of California and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Both are up for re-election next year.
Well, with such a congressional tizzy being made over flag "desecration", it sure must be a real problem, right? I mean, those 63% of Americans who oppose it must not know the real facts like their Congresscritters do, right? Those elected representatives have their collective fingers on the pulse of America, right? This is a bona fide emergency, right?
Actually, no. You know how many flag burnings the Citizens Flag Alliance (a pro-amendment group working to outlaw flag burning) reports for 2005 thus far?
That's right. One.
Well, you say, it must be a slow year thus far. We haven't had the Fourth of July yet, nor have we had Veterans Day. And the summer barbecuing season is only recently under way, so lighter fluid is only recently easier to come by, right? There must have been a lot more occurrences in previous years, right?
Wrong again. It happened in three locations last year.
And six times in 2003.
So, actually, flag-burning is on the decline. And these are really tiny numbers -- absurdly tiny, considering that the US has a population of more than 296 million.
You know what? I bet that way more flags have been draped on the caskets of American troops killed in Iraq -- which would be 1,713, as of this writing -- than have been burned in protest in oh, the last twenty-five years.
So why is this such an urgent problem, for our elected representatives (they represent us, remember? Not the other way around) to go against the demonstrated will of the people and take such an extreme step as amending the United States Constitution?
See, the First Amendment is crystal-clear, to my reading. Let me emphasize:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
What part of "no law" don't they understand?
The important thing isn't the symbol here. True, symbols are important. But if you are so upset with the policies of this country that you feel the only way you can express that burning dissent is to burn such an honored symbol as the flag, you're expressing a powerful political point. And that is protected speech.
The Supreme Court agrees with me, too: In Texas v. Johnson (491 U.S. 397), the Supremes struck down Texas's flag-desecration statute, holding that "If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable." The response? Congress passed a federal flag-desecration law, the Flag Protection Act of 1989. The Supreme Court struck this one down the following year with the decision in United States v. Eichman (496 U.S. 310). From that decision, with my emphasis:
the Government's interest cannot justify its infringement on First Amendment rights. This conclusion will not be reassessed in light of Congress' recent recognition of a purported "national consensus" favoring a prohibition on flag burning, since any suggestion that the Government's interest in suppressing speech becomes more weighty as popular opposition to that speech grows is foreign to the First Amendment. While flag desecration - like virulent ethnic and religious epithets, vulgar repudiations of the draft, and scurrilous caricatures - is deeply offensive to many, the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.
Do I like flag burning? It's ultimately irrelevant, but no, I don't. I think it's an overly (no-pun-intended) incendiary way to make a point, and I think that using it as an act of protest threatens to overshadow one's arguments. People focus on the flag burning far more than they notice the points that the flag-burner is trying to make.
But, as I said in February:
But that's the wonderful thing about free speech. The First Amendment unequivocally protects speech, no matter how offensive it is. (After all, popular views don't need quite the same level of constitutional protection.)
Is someone offending you by what they say? Talk back. The cure to offensive speech is not censorship, it isn't litigation, and it's certainly not prosecution. The only appropriate response is more speech.
We have to decide: which is more sacred? The flag, or freedom itself?
As Josh Marshall put it:
Canned for falsifying data about global warming? Or just reporting back to central command after an assignment in the field?
Last night, the Senate passed a resolution apologizing for not outlawing lynching multiple times when they had the chance. From the AP story:
Seven presidents petitioned Congress to end lynchings. Nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in the first half of the 20th century. The House passed three anti-lynching measures between 1920 and 1940, but the Senate passed none.
Now what I think is interesting about this legislation is that it was passed late at night, on a voice vote. No record of who voted for it. No one voted against it, but not every Senator appeared to support the resolution. As Reuters notes:
Dan Duster, a descendant of Ida B. Wells, a former slave who became an anti-lynching crusader, praised senators who publicly backed the resolution of apology and scorned those who did not.
No lawmaker opposed the measure, but 20 of the 100 senators had not signed a statement of support of it shortly before a vote was taken on a nearly empty Senate floor.
"I think it's politics. They're afraid of losing votes from people of prejudice," Duster said of those who did not sign the statement of support.
Why weren't there 99 co-sponsors to Sen. Landrieu's resolution? Which twenty Senators refused to support legislation apologizing for lynching, for God's sake?
Back to the AP story:
Asked why the resolution was not put to a straight yes-or-no vote and why the debate on the Senate floor had to take place at night, Landrieu said she had accepted the conditions she was offered by the Senate leadership. She noted Congress' busy schedule.
So Cheney and Frist weren't willing to put this to a roll call vote? How convenient. Wasn't Frist the one beating the drum for full votes of the Senate?
Of all the times to demand "a straight up or down vote" on something in the Senate, this was it. Too bad the Senate leadership provided cover for bigots.
(Called to my attention by Monk.)