Wednesday, November 27, 2013

awesome thing of the day: rupert grint and an ice cream truck



So Rupert Grint, of Ron Weasley fame, is apparently an amazingly cool human being.

What did he do with his (probably massive) wealth from rocketing to stardom via the Harry Potter franchise?

He bought an ice cream truck.

He drives it around, looking for kids, and then gives them ice cream.  For free.  Cuz the kids looked like they were 'in need of ice creams.'

This dude is seriously awesome.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

awesome thing of the day: kickass a capella of epicness

Welp.  This performance of FSU's AcaBelles a capella troupe performing Lorde's "Royals" is pretty much the best thing ever.

I couldn't get the video to embed properly for some reason, so follow the link and go watch it.  Now.


Via Fannie:
"Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), a day dedicated "to memorializing those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice." 

Transgender women, particularly trans women of color, are disproportionately likely to be victims of violence and murder. In 2012, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs noted that 53% of all anti-LGBTQ hate crimes were committed against transgender women and that 73% of homicide victims were people of color."


As a society, we fail so very much on transgender issues.  Even most mainstream lesbian, gay, and queer groups and movements are very cis-dominated and -focused.

This is extremely unacceptable.  Trans people are people, dammit, and deserve so so so much better as a baseline of decency.  We've got to get way better at this, y'all.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

on empathy, again




So this is old news, but I've been sitting on it for a while and figuring out what I have to say about it.

Some background: New York City has this stop-and-frisk policy, wherein police can target random people walking down the street and give them pat-downs, with no requirement for suspicious behavior or anything.  And whaddaya know, surprise surprise, those 'randomly' targeted for this tend to NOT be white men.  Who could've guessed?  So quite a few people are piping up to point out that this is not an okay situation, what with the enabling of racially targeted police harassment and all.

New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, had this to say, when defending the policy:

"If I had a son who was stopped, I might feel differently about it, but nevertheless..."

What we have here is a radical and blatant failing of empathy.  "Well, if I were personally affected by this issue I might care, but because of being a powerful white man I'm not, so whatevs." ???

He said this out loud.  

He knows.

He just fails to give a shit, because it doesn't actually impact his little self-bubble.

To care only about issues that affect himself, while claiming to represent a city (a city that, newsflash, contains people unlike him as well, in many different ways, because hey diversity), and implementing garbage policies that are questionable at best and then immediately abused for racial targeting, and to do nothing about that and further to not even see the problem with that?

If this man wasn't busy being actively harmful to his constituents (who are real people who really exist, by the way), I would feel sorry for him.  That's one hell of a limited existence you've got there, bub.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

homecoming, or the kids are all right

A school in Florida elected a couple with Down syndrome as homecoming royalty.

An Illinois school elected a gay homecoming king and a lesbian homecoming queen.

In New Hampshire, they have a transgender homecoming king.



As we grown-ups work to confront entrenched and shitty biases that keep people from really seeing and accepting each others, the kids are figuring this shit out too.  Not to say that social justice work is irrelevant (hardly!) but that it really does work to change the world, tiny piece by tiny piece.  Continuing to bust our asses to make the world a more accepting place has real results, and here's a lovely bit of proof.

The kids, they are okay.



Also, happy Ada Lovelace Day!

Friday, October 04, 2013

the power of ignorance

I've learned to avoid certain topics around my boss.

Politics.  Social issues.  Equality.  Really anything other than science or technology.

But occasionally I still feel compelled to try.  It seems to be an exercise in futility, but I have a really hard time believing that a fully-functional, intelligent, seemingly kind and decent human being can still have such glaringly consistent fail when it comes to thinking about any perspective other than his own.

It's a radical failure of empathy, and it's profoundly disheartening.  Like the time he took objection to my celebratory attitude over marriage equality wins, pointing out that if homosexual people can get married and adopt children, then those children will all grow up gay and then 'our' (!) population will decline into instability.  I mean really.  These thoughts can really exist in a real live human's brain?  I find that baffling.

Anyway, a while back I tried again.  I forget how the conversation started, but we wound up discussing how there are cultural pressures at work that devalue female people's accomplishments, intelligence, and capabilities while overvaluing appearance.  How this pressure results in forcing a ranking of priorities onto these people, and encourages emphasizing and working on appearance over other pursuits. How it's sad that 'performing pretty' is such a heavy-handed requirement, to the point that many female people neglect to develop other aspects of themselves because of focusing exclusively on appearance.  It's a little simplistic, but I thought it was a good conversation.  I did have to gently steer away from trajectories that would have wound up in 'dang shallow wimmens and their makeup, they ought to just knock that off' territory and stay focused on social effects and causes rather than individual blame, but it was pretty encouraging, overall.

At this point a coworker arrived, and noted my recent haircut.  I'd gotten another one over that weekend, because I like change and we all know how I feel about haircuts.   Boss-man then passive-aggressively opined that I cut my hair 'just to make him [my boss] mad.'

I really don't even.

After I was done gaping a bit in astonished silence, I calmly explained that no, I wasn't actually thinking about the effect my making choices about myself might have on my boss's preferences.  No, dude, you aren't the reason I do, well, anything that's unrelated to the performance of my job.  I wanted to add that it's conceited as fuck for him to blithely assert that he must be the center of my universe like that, but restrained myself.

While mentally preparing myself to launch into a conversation about how his policing of my appearance and attempting to apply pressure in how I had to present myself ties neatly into our immediate conversation about requirements placed on women, he dialed his sexist ignorance up to eleven.

'Well, I think women should all have long hair because it's pretty.'

What the everloving fuck?

Wait, let me say that a bit louder.

WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK???

When we'd JUST, not three minutes earlier, had a whole conversation about how judging people (especially women) for their appearance is really shitty?  How enforcing one's preferences onto another's body is unconscionable?  Now you're going to assert that your personal aesthetic preference necessarily MUST dictate the behavior of everyone ever?

I realized then that we must have been having entirely different conversations at each other.  I was thrilled to discuss how artificially enforced societal expectations lead to a stifling of individuality, and wouldn't it be awesome if we could move past that and let people be people, so they could be free to express themselves in whatever way felt authentic to them.  I think he wanted to talk about how women are silly for wearing makeup because he personally didn't understand or approve of it.

Maybe someday I'll be strong enough to shoulder through these situations.  Maybe someday I'll have the patience and steely resolve to get beyond my own flabbergasted injury, to continue speaking calmly to thoughtlessly judgmental bigots and have that conversation.

But in that moment, on that day, I couldn't do it.  I lapsed into stunned silence, and went back to work.

But my heart hurt.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

damn it, George Takei


[Trigger warning for consent-ignoring rape apologia, slut-shaming, and racism]

I like George Takei a lot.  He leverages his fame to raise awareness of his causes such as gay rights and Japanese-American detainment.  I think he's done some work with autism too.  He's become something of an Internet icon for tolerance and awesomeness.  Good stuff.  Yay!

However, he's been having a lot of intersectionality fail of late.

So you may remember this, wherein George Takei, awesome human being and justice advocate and actor, posted a rather thoughtless meme that implied that strippers are bad people and/or the result of bad parenting.

Some of his followers pointed out how un-cool that was, and he apologized. That was cool, even if it didn't feel like he *quite* understood what was going on. But okay. Those who commented wanted him to know that we think so highly of him that we assume he'd like to know when he's hurting folks, and maybe that information will be acted upon. Learning is neat.

But... it hasn't stopped.  This tendency, though being keenly aware of the importance of the social justice issues by which he's personally affected, to thoughtlessly inflict harm on other oppressed categories of people.

Just in the last few days, we've had this:



And then this:



Not cool, Takei.  The first displays gross victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and callous disregard for the concept of consent all in one fell swoop.  The second... well.  Cute jokes about very real and terrifying people who terrorized and murdered people based on race with support of societal structures at large do not exist in a vacuum.  This really isn't all that hard.

I get it: intersectionality is hard.  Wearing blinders is easy.  Being aware of how your words serve to enforce oppression in a multi-dimensional kyriarchy takes work.  But George Takei, kick-ass gay rights activist, wants folks to do that work for his causes, while not bothering to do his own work to understand the issues that affect others.  I really wish he'd take a second and actually think about what he's saying, beyond whether it's a cute pun.  I'd hoped for better from someone I truly admire like George Takei.  A world full of institutionalized inequality and oppression is what social justice-aware folks confront on a daily basis, but this sort of drivel is somehow extra-disappointing and heartbreaking when it comes from supposed 'allies.'

Intersectionality is critically important.  We're all in this together.

In the immortal words of Flavia Dzodan, my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit

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Edited to add trigger warning because I should really remember to add those.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

awesome thing of the day: kickass six-year-old dancer



This little dancer is beyond amazing.  Holy crapmonkies, but she's six year old and kicks so much ass.  Also, she has seriously impressive poise and stage presence.  Go watch her.  Impressed you will be.  B-girl Terra, you freaking rock.

Monday, September 09, 2013

geek girls


So there's this thing, wherein certain domains of fandom are considered to be male-only clubs and female geeks are questioned and harassed and ridiculed and told they can't possibly like what they like and challenged to 'prove' their fandom because obviously people with breasts are incapable of properly liking science fiction.  Or something.

Anyway, this video response to that phenomenon is fantastic.  Many of my favorite people show up in it.  You should watch it.



(link for if embed fails)

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

today in SCIENCE!




Scientists have determined the objectively correct way to optimally melt cheese onto toast.

Just so you know.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

on gatekeeping and ownership



For people without cable, we sure do watch a lot of television.

One of our current favorite shows is Leverage.  It's a con/heist show that somehow manages to be compelling despite the overwhelming volume of other con/heist entertainment out there.  It's available on Netflix, is really quite good, and you should watch it.

Anyway, there was a particular exchange in one episode that I'd like to address.  In The Bottle Job, the plot centers around the young woman, Cora, who owns the bar above which Main Character Nate rents an apartment.  Apparently Nate kind of grew up in that bar while his dad conducted criminal business, and has been around to watch Cora grow up.

She's also a hot redhead, so there's that.

Exhibit B: Brawny Character Who Likes To Punch Things Elliott, the con team's bruiser, is a bit of a ladies' man, or possibly an exaggerator.  We get to see him chatting up models, mentioning umpteen bazillion sexual escapades in passing, and generally just being masculine and horny.

He has long hair, which I like, but that's beside the point.

ANYWAY.  BCWLTPC Elliott is firmly established as a nudge-nudge-know-what-I-mean charmer/philanderer/whatever over the course of the first season as a half.  No one has cared, least of all Nate.  The lad receives no pushback from his friends about this behavior.  To be clear, we've seen no coercive behavior, just slick seducer kind of stuff.  Oh, and he did have one serious relationship that he seems to have bailed on due to being too busy with all the superspy kickassery and stuff.

Enter Exhibit A, the hot redhead who Nate has known since she wore diapers.

Elliott, predictably, leers.

This happens:

Nate: Hey.  She's like my niece.  
Elliott: At least she's not like your daughter.  
Nate: She's like my niece.  So I don't want YOU to LIKE my niece. 

This is treated as a Final Word On The Matter.

May I register a what the fuck?  I am so so so so so so so so (so) tired of this.  Let's break it down.

1) This idea that you should only care about your relatives, out of all the female people out there?  This patriarchal display of ownership of kinfolk?  Is disgusting.  If you have a problem with Elliott's behavior, Nate, what EXACTLY has stopped you from mentioning it before?  Oh, right, it's because all those other women don't really matter, but as soon as this same behavior happens around someone you happen to have known for a long time, suddenly it's a problem.  And by way of explanation, you offer that she's practically family.

THIS DOES NOT MATTER.  If his behavior is out of line, it's always out of line.  Suddenly giving a fuck just because it's someone close to you is a really, really weak case that smacks of thinking you are the ruler of your female relatives Because Authoritative Man With Female Possessions.  Gross.  You do not own this person.

2) Also, and this is a bit of an aside, the bonus unspoken-because-it's-just-so-totally-obviously-objectively-true implication that it's 'better' for Elliott because Nate thinks of her as a niece and not a daughter, because of course a man's degree of ownership of a woman is directly proportional to the closeness of the genetic (or appropriated) relationship?  Ugh.

3) WHO THE HELL ARE YOU TO POLICE THIS WOMAN'S RELATIONSHIPS???  Your friend, whose behavior in this domain you have never had an issue with before, is interested in your other friend (granted, it's at an inconvenient time because she's a bit distracted at the moment by being extorted by a loan shark, but still).  Said lady never gets to even know about this interest, because YOU, oh all-master Nate, have flexed your muscles and used the authority granted to you by having known her for a long time (!) and, presumably, being older than her and male (!) to Bravely Guard Her Sexuality by cutting off the advance.  By gatekeeping Cora's life simply because you can.  You being uncomfortable sitting with the notion of this woman living her life as a fully functional adult does not, in any way whatsoever, give you any right to demand that she behave in a way as to ease your discomfort (see pretty much every civil rights 'debate' ever, wherein one group is uncomfortable with the existence of another, and thinks they get a say in that).  She is allowed to live her own damn life as a grown ass woman.  Full stop.

An argument can be made that maybe he knows he's not her type.  We have no evidence that they've actually, like, talked at all in the past ten years, so no.  Maybe he thinks he'd be dangerous or a potential rapist?  THEN WHY HAVE YOU NEVER SAID ANYTHING BEFORE?  Nope, don't think that's it.

The only option left is that he's policing her sexuality because he can.  Because he's a man, damn it, and she's his auxiliary property.  Maybe he's 'protecting' her 'virtue.'

Barf city.  What if she really likes one-night stands with hunky beefcakes?  Would you know?  No.  In which case you're denying her something she might enjoy.  Or maybe she hates one-night stands with hunky beefcakes, in which case she can tell Elliott that herself!  Or maybe she wants his number but isn't in the mood right now.  She's, like, a person with desires and preferences and gets to make those choices.  

In either case, Nate, you can fuck right off.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP THIS IS AWESOME



As of this morning, Tuesday August 27, Bernalillo county is now issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Santa Fe followed Doña Ana county last week in just doing this thing and not waiting for legislation.

This is and amazing and fabulous stride and I'm so so so so so proud of New Mexico right now.

I'm not particularly cogent or able to be thoughtful or eloquent right now but HOLY CRAP GUYS THIS IS AWESOMESAUCE.


!!!!!!!!!!!!!!eleventy

Friday, August 23, 2013

bento friday: steak, round 2

mmmmm... colors

So!  Last week I talked about conquering my steak-cooking phobia.  It turns out that when you slice meat super thinly and eat it with tons of veggies and starch, it goes a rather long way.  I'd reserved a pretty standard-looking chunk of meat, but only wound up using about a third of it for our two bento that first day, so back into the freezer it went!  

Enter the next week's feature: more steak with stuff!  

I should probably confess that I don't actually plan my bento.  They usually serve the purpose of 'OMG there are veggies languishing in the drawer that we forgot to eat quick do something!', which I suppose is a feature unto itself.  

I don't really have a plan for sauces any more, either.  After sautéeing whatever stuff is going into the meal, I toss some assortment of stuff into the pan to reduce, and call it food.  This week's random-stuff-sauce was actually remarkably tasty; I think it involved ginger, garlic, soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, and Laos chili paste.  You never know!

Anyway, this week we had a lonely red bell pepper, and some green beans.  Add noodles and meat, and you have yourself a darn decent lunch.  This stuff ain't rocket science, and it doesn't have to be intimidating at all.  That's one of my favorite things about Maki, my bento heroine.  She takes the fear out of bento making, unlike all the Must Get It Perfect kyaraben images that float around the internet, that must have taken a professional artist eight hours to assemble into a perfect likeness of Hello Kitty made from kelp or something.  Nope.  Cook things.  Put in box.  Eat at lunch.  

This is my kind of cooking.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

breaking awesomeness in the quest for marriage equality!

Holy crap, y'all!

Doña Ana county (in Southern New Mexico) will, starting today, issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  Says the County Clerk of Doña Ana, Lynn Ellins,

"...I am mindful that I took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the State of New Mexico as Doña Ana County Clerk. I am an attorney, and I have read the AG's opinion, and I find it to be sound. After careful review of New Mexico's laws it is clear that the state's marriage statutes are gender neutral and do not expressly prohibit Doña Ana County from issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples. Any further denial of marriage licenses to these couples violates the United States and New Mexico Constitution and the New Mexico Human Rights Act. Doña Ana County is upholding New Mexico law by issuing these marriage licenses, and I see no reason to make committed couples in Doña Ana County wait another minute to marry." 

Ellins is apparently unwilling to wait for the judicial machine to figure out what to do in NM, and so is just going ahead with issuing licenses.  This is super neat!  It's not a state-wide decision, but that does not diminish its awesomeness.

This is the best thing I've heard all week.  Rock the hell on!  Congratulations to all those New Mexico couples who are in Doña Ana, or are headed there to finally exercise their rights to get married!

<3

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UPDATE: dance party gif time!


Monday, August 19, 2013

today in kinda sorta progress toward marriage equality?

So.  What with that whole living under an Internet rock thing lately (darn you, real life), I'm only just getting to this.  

"New Mexico's guarantee of equal protection to its citizens demands that same-sex couples be permitted to enjoy the benefits of marriage in the same way and to the same extent as other New Mexico citizens."—New Mexico Attorney General Gary King

 Apparently the marriage equality initiative is starting to push off here in good ol' New Mexico, and I couldn't be happier.  Two men applied for a marriage license in Santa Fe, knowing they wouldn't get it, to help jumpstart the issue locally.  Those are some brave individuals, and I'm so glad they stepped forward and got the state's attention.  You guys rock!

I know it's not a win yet or anything, but I say this calls for a celebration!  Go go go New Mexico!

Friday, August 16, 2013

bento friday: brave new attempts

I was raised largely health-nut-vegetarian-hippie-style.  I jokingly refer to myself as a 'recovering vegetarian.'  I kind of tend to eat very little meat out of preference (just never developed much of a taste for the stuff, I guess), but have to get some occasionally for health reasons.  

Then I went and married a dyed-in-the-wool, huntin', grillin', steak-gnoshin' carnivore.  

Life is funny like that.  

Anyway, my upbringing meant that I never really got a lot of training in meat-cooking, and have always been kind of squicked out by raw meat.  I have to *touch* that?  Ew. 

I've gotten a lot better about that, and can at least handle the stuff now.  I can make chicken and dumplings.  I can grill sausages.  I'm making progress, here.   But cooking cow-meat still terrifies me; there are all these super-specific amounts of cooking (WTF does medium-well actually mean, anyway?), and it's apparently really important to get it exactly right for each person.  What, you've never cooked a steak before?  Better get it perfect!  But no pressure!

Eek.  But!  I am a grown-up now, and can conquer this silly steak-phobia.  A while back I set aside a chunk of steak when portioning a grocery store family-pack, and tossed it in the freezer for bento purposes.  It got a little freezer-burned while sitting in there being ignored, but finally I thawed the damn thing and made a bento.  And it wasn't half bad!  

a bento testament to bravery: steak!


The steak was sliced super-thin (thanks, Husband, for your fabulous knife-sharpening skills), tossed in a skillet with hot sesame oil, and cooked for like 15 seconds on a side, and then covered with sesame seeds.  

I was utterly terrified.  But hey!  It kinda worked!  I ain't claiming this is some sort of pinnacle of worldwide culinary achievement, but it was downright edible and non-rubbery.  I call that a win.  


steak bento, packed all snuggled in together


Some stir-fried random-veggies-that-were-languishing-in-the-fridge accompanied the steak, and there's some brown rice under there somewhere.  

Overall, I declare victory over my cow-cooking phobia.  Booyah!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Trayvon

I've been thinking a lot, and trying to work up the energy to write more about the Zimmerman verdict.  It's all so overwhelming and saddening and fucking tragic that I don't really know where to start. 

Digging through my blog feeds, I came upon this powerful piece by one of my heroes, Melissa McEwan.  It was written about a month ago.  I'm a bit behind on blogosphering.

Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton will never get their son back, but George Zimmerman will get back the gun he used to kill him. That is what justice [sic] looks like for the death of an unarmed teenage black boy in the United States.

She addresses how horrific the judgement is for society in general, and how it's less an anomaly than it is an emblem of people's (conscious or un) white supremacist perspectives.   She talked about the responses people had across the nation to the verdict (white folks setting off fireworks?  Really?  Ow my heart), and about the behaviors that turned up on social media.  I'm not on Twitter and have been somewhat avoiding this topic in general because of being too heartsick to handle it, but while these behaviors in this specific context are news to me, they're not particularly surprising.

This is how white supremacy works. Any response to intolerable provocation will immediately be framed using racist narratives that mask white provocation, dominion, and privilege—and oppressors and provocateurs who deal out death for rebellion are heroes.
In the wake of the verdict, white people identifying as allies took to Twitter to ask for "dialogue" about the verdict, demanding that black people mourning set aside their pain to hand out cookies to white people who aren't "like that." (Pro-tip: If you ask for special recognition for not being "like that," you are like that. If the shoe doesn't fit, then don't wear it, and STFU.) I hope we all appreciate the metric fuckton of irony in seeking "dialogue" as a silencing mechanism, because a white person can't sit with the discomfort of having to face the realities and cost of the white supremacy from which we benefit.
... 
In the wake of the verdict, white people were fucking mean. Even white people who were ostensibly on the side of justice. White people were fucking assholes. (And if you weren't, good for you, but if you make this thread about how not an asshole you are, guess what? You are an asshole!) And there will be no accountability for that, either, unless we start holding each other to account.

She's so right on so many levels, and this tendency (which is not a unique 'white person' response, but shows up across various axes of intersectionality) to, when being informed about some injustice, immediately demand that the person on the receiving end of that injustice recognize and praise you for not being a bad person.... is really shitty.  It's making it all about you, and it's adding yet another layer of social burden on the person who already has the short damn end of the social contract.

White people: Be mad about this verdict, because it is a grave injustice. But be just as aware about how your privilege and a white supremacist system ensures that this verdict is not an anomaly, but an emblem. There is no neutral for the privileged class in oppression. Either you're engaged dismantling white privilege, or you're enabling it. Apathy is a luxury conferred by privilege, and it is not a neutral position. If you're mad about this verdict, then get all the fuck in.
That.

There is no neutral for the privileged class in oppression.  You can't be neutral on a moving train.

Thank you, Liss, for saying these powerful and so necessary words.

Monday, July 22, 2013

we do not live in a magical post-racist society

We do not live in a magical post-racist society.


White privilege is not having to think about specific strategies for not getting killed when stopped by cops.  When even someone famous and awesome like LeVar Burton has to think about these things, there's something very wrong*.

We do not live in a magical post-racist society.

(Link in case embed fails)


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*Not to minimize the fact that NOBODY should have to deal with this shit.  I'm just saying, it's impossible to miss it when even super-cool celebrities are affected.  


Friday, July 19, 2013

chemist cocktail corner: apogee

Husband has been experimenting again.  This apparently is a Franken-cocktail, assembled from the appendages of several recipes in his vintage recipe books.

The first incarnation tasted like a cherry life saver.  Seriously.  However, illustrating the amazing power of garnishes*, the addition of a twist of orange peel completely transformed the taste into a subtle, complex, super tasty drink.  Not at all resembling liquid candy any more.  Freaking magic.



Yes, these pictures were taken on my stove.  It was the only white background I could find.  
Don't judge me.  



Apogee
1.5--2 oz vodka
3/4 oz (ish) fresh lemon juice (~1 lemon, yes you read that correctly)
3/4 oz Creme Yvette or Parfait Amour**
2 dashes Regan no. 6 orange bitters
~1 Tablespoon simple syrup
splash of Maraschino
twist of orange peel (no pith)

Combine all ingredients except garnish in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice.  Shake well to mix and chill, and strain into a chilled glass.  Twist orange peel over surface of liquid***, rub along lip of glass, and drop into drink (or delicately balance it on the edge, if you can manage it).  Enjoy.

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* Seriously, don't skip garnishes.  They are not after-thoughts.  If anything, this adventure in vintage cocktail recipes has taught me that garnishes are totally legit ingredients.  Ignore them at your peril.  

** Parfait Amour is a violet-based liqueur.  Creme Yvette is a proprietary liqueur based on violet and a bunch of other stuff.  I like Yvette better on its own as a digestif, but weirdly tend to like Amour better when mixed into things.  The drink pictured was made with Parfait Amour; when made with Yvette it's more of a fuscia color. 

*** Yes, this really does stuff.  Reportedly there's slow-motion video out on the internet somewhere of the oils spraying out from the twist and infusing into the drink.  Need to look that up someday.  

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Previous chemist cocktail corner creations:

Tuscan Strawberry

about that trial

So, the Zimmerman trial.

Everyone's talking about the outcome of the trial, and pretty much nobody agrees.  There are a lot of vindictive words being thrown around, and I'd imagine that numerous friendships are at least on really rocky terrain if not falling apart entirely over this contentious topic.

Facebook is a bit of a battleground, at the moment.

I've been kind of avoiding it, but here are some of my thoughts on the topic.

On the day of the acquittal, I learned about it and voiced my preliminary dismay and heartbroken feeling at the inevitable social outcomes of the decision.  That it speaks loud and clear to the value of black lives in this country.  That it sends a message that minorities are right to be afraid, because they can be pretty much killed without repercussions.  That an unarmed kid can be stalked and killed and his killer is acquitted of all charges.

Okay, so that's what I meant.  What I said was something along the lines of `oh my god, Zimmerman was acquitted.'

The first response I heard to that, from another person in the room?

`Good.'

Good.  Good.

The word rang in my head, and I'm sure I made some pretty spectacular faces in those following seconds.

The speaker was quick to backpedal a bit and point out that zie was happy not because of sympathizing with Zimmerman necessarily, but because the trial wouldn't be dominating the airwaves any more, and so there would be other stuff to watch on TV.  That it was over, regardless of the decision, and so it was good because we could all move on with our lives.  I don't remember the exact words, so I'm paraphrasing here.

The thing is, I'm not sure that's any better.

Sympathizing with a killer because you think he was right, because you're doubtful of the truth, even because you're a racist jerkface is one thing.  But dismissing such a culturally relevant issue because you don't want to think about it?  Because you've forgotten how to care?  Because it's just pesky with the world being terrible and people caring and then bothering you about it all the time.  It would be so easy not to think about this, not to have to look at it, not to have it taking up processor cycles in your brain if only everyone would shut up.  It's not about race!  Go away!

Well, guess what.  Not everyone can 'move on with their lives' now, and we do not live in a magical post-racial society.  Parents everywhere are terrified that their kid can be profiled due to simply existing, and maybe killed for existing, and maybe that killer will go totally unpunished, and they're not wrong!  They've had it confirmed in a court of law.  The judicial branch of the government has dealt a serious blow to a huge portion of its citizenry.  Living with discrimination is one thing, but having it shoved in your face in such a brutal, heartbreaking, and visceral way is one step further.  I am ashamed of this verdict, not because of details of the trial and specific judicial proceedings and the specific situation that this specific dude was in or whatever, but because of what it means.  And it means that people of color have yet another very real reason to be afraid of the government that is supposed to protect them.  That as a country, we are failing our people.

And that's why my heart is broken.

um... recently in marriage equality


I've been dealing with a lot of real-life stuff lately, and as far as the Internet is concerned that's equivalent to living under a rock.

So I'm a little late to announce a recent awesome in the realm of marriage equality: the UK has jumped on the bandwagon, and is officially allowing same-sex marriage!  Rock bloody on.

-----

I wish to mention a side note to my celebration of the spread same-sex marriage acceptance.  The right to have long-term same-sex romantic partners accepted legally and socially is an important step, but it's really only a baseline of decency.  It seems like gay marriage, as a concept, has been dominating the discourse on LGBTQ rights for a while now, but it's not everything.  There are still so many fights to be won; what about polyamorous, asexual, transsexual, genderfluid, and all sorts of other folks that don't fit into the mandated heterosexual/monogamous/gender-binary-exemplifying paradigm?

It seems silly that these are arguments that people have.  The right to exist is not and absolutely should not be dependent on one's sexuality, gender, or gender expression.  But until people and societies everywhere accept that sexuality, gender, and conformity are really terrible variables on which to base judgement and discrimination (JUST AN IDEA, GUYS), I guess it's what we've got.  So huzzah for small steps, even the microscopically tiny ones.  It all adds up.

Monday, July 08, 2013

quote of the day: Ana on ignorance

'I need you to be aware of your ignorance, because there is nothing shameful about ignorance. It is only by being aware of what you don't know that you can learn how to speak about what you don't know in ways that don't cause harm to others.'
This, from Ana Mardoll, is one of my new favorite quotes.  

In school, I was the kid who sat at the front row, answered all the instructor's questions (yes, I was that annoying kid; sorry about that), and wasn't afraid to ask the stupid-sounding questions of my own.  I relished being wrong, because then I'd get corrected and thus not be wrong about that thing any more.  Learning is neat!

It's bizarre how often pointing out an inaccuracy is seen as an attack.  'No, people of color do not all conform to that stereotype, actually, and it's kind of hurtful to assume they do' == not an attack.  'You're contributing to a subtle culture of misogyny, by the way' == not an attack.  'That statement erases a whole segment of humanity' == not an attack.

These are statements.

There's nothing wrong with ignorance, and getting called on your ignorance is a fantastic opportunity to fix it!  This person is offering to repair a problem, thus allowing you to be more right in the future.

It's particularly interesting to note which subjects have this problem.  I can point out that someone made a sign error and so their calculus is wrong, and they may even thank me.  But when I point out that no, same-sex couples adopting children will not automatically lead to the destruction of the species due to influencing all the children toward Teh Gay (yes, really), I'm way more likely to be met with disdain, disbelief, and even outright hostility.

I feel like this post is kind of rambly, and I need to think more and sort out how I feel about this topic.  But the point is that ignorance is okay.  There's no shame in not knowing.  There's an infinite universe out there of things I don't know.

But there is something shameful about being unwilling to learn anything.  Being unwilling to even try to understand what someone is trying to tell you.  Being unwilling to admit you were wrong.  Being unwilling to care.

Incredible things can happen when one lets go of one's attachment to one's ignorance and misinformation.  I wish more people would give it a try.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

on apologies and learning

You may remember a while back, when George Takei posted an ill-advised picture and quip about a stripper on Facebook and got called on that shaming and sexism-reinforcing behavior.  He stopped, listened, and issued an apology that.... well, while I'm not entirely sure he genuinely gets what was wrong beyond the surfacey 'people getting offended,' he did apologize reasonably eloquently.  More here.

JR Auditore chimed in on that post by linking to another stellar apology about stumbling over one's privilege and getting called on it.  

"It is not that we can’t laugh at and with each other. It is not a question of oversensitivity. The problem is that today, as I write this, young men and women whose behaviors, choices or attitudes are not deemed “man enough” or “normal” are being subjected to all kinds of abuse from verbal to physical to societal. They are being demeaned and threatened because they don’t fit the group’s idea of what a “real man” or a “real woman” are supposed to look like, act like and feel like."

Similarly, this is the fantastic testimonial of a comedian who got around to noticing (with help) that a lot of his material had a disturbingly misogynistic perspective.

"The defence so often used is that they're only jokes. They're not to be taken at face value, we obviously don't mean it. But you'll rarely hear a contemporary act try to justify racism that way. We know that in a culture of racism every racist joke contributes to that culture and that none of them are acceptable. This is no different. In our culture of misogyny, of violence against women, every misogynistic joke contributes."

It's a beautiful process to watch someone really get, really grok why this stuff matters.  Those of use who spend significant amounts of energy thinking and working about social justice issues may sometimes have to play the role of Most Humorless Feminist in all of Nofunnington, but that is not about lacking a sense of humor, or wanting to 'censor' anyone.  What's being objected to is 'humor' that is genuinely not funny because it's about topics that are all too serious for many people.  Joking about sex workers being less than human is not funny in a world where sex workers have virtually no rights and can be murdered with essentially no penalties.  Joking about gay men being effeminate and not 'real men' is not funny in a world where people endure very real dangers and persecution and abuse because of a failure to live up to gender performance expectations.  Jokes that feed into gender essentialism and erase people who don't fit into a gender binary is not funny in a world where those people are abused and excluded and have to fight tooth and nail for any rights whatsoever.  This is not in the past, and no, we can't magically 'get over it.'  This shit is going on right now, and you're saying it's okay.  You're saying it's funny.

We don't lack language comprehension.  We get the joke.

The problem is that it's hurtful, serves to remind people that they don't matter, and is not in the least bit funny.

However.

We're all learning.  I still have problems with ableist behaviors in myself, and am working on purging hurtful ableist words from my vocabulary.  I'm not always as actively trans-inclusive as I could be.  I work in an extremely white field, and have never said anything about that or called it into question.  I'm sure there are a million other fronts on which I could be doing better, and I'll get to fight those battles when I get there in my journey to become a better human being.  Allyship takes a lot of work, and there ain't no high horse here.

It's just really cool to see someone, especially someone with a lot of intersecting privileges, see when they messed up, even if it's a small thing.  To see them acknowledge the oops and move on without deflecting or getting defensive.  It's... such a relief, I suppose.  To not feel the need to gear up for yet another fight about what someone said as though it's about blaming someone, when they could just say hey, maybe I don't know everything.

Jim Hines, an author whose novels I have not yet read but a man whom I respect deeply for his insightful blogging on various matters, posted an apology regarding a thoughtless moment of erasure of non-gender-binary folks.  It's a beautiful read, and yes, it's about a pretty subtle topic.

"Defensive Brain immediately jumps in to say, “Okay fine, maybe you’re right, but it’s not like I’m committing hate crimes here or intentionally trying to hurt anyone!” 
Defensive Brain needs to shut the &%^$ up. Because what I am doing is suggesting that a subset of people don’t exist. As they struggle for rights and recognition and legal protection, I’m making them invisible. Sure, it may not seem like a big deal to me … any more than “lady editors” was to a pair of SF authors from a recent sexism flap. But it’s one more unthinking erasure. One of a thousand daily slights, indignities, and assaults."

I personally probably wouldn't have blinked at his joke, and would have thought it was funny in a wry kind of way.  But I'm not having to push back every day against an entire culture that is opposed to my very right to exist due to my gender identity or expression.  I don't have to notice.

I should notice.  It's not always easy, and it's something everybody gets to struggle with.  But there's really no excuse.  I should remember how to care.

So thank you, Jim, for the reminder.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

on forgetting how to care



Husband and I have been rewatching the archives of Deep Space Nine, and recently came upon a two-parter in season 3.  We put off watching it for a while because we usually only have time for one episode per evening, and really like giving multi-part episodes their due respect by watching all of the parts at one sitting.

Also, we knew this one was kind of heavy and intense, and so not always the most pleasant thing for a weeknight after a stressful work day.

When we eventually did carve out time for Past Tense, it struck me far more profoundly than it has done in the past, and I've probably seen this episode at least four or five times.  Past Tense is an extremely poignant commentary on social justice.

I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised, given that Roddenberry's franchise was always designed in a sort of fable-ish way in that the show always imparted some kind of moral lesson about what is right.  Granted, the original series (and nextgen to a certain extent) also had its issues with colonialism, an artificially happy-go-lucky crew and presentation, and a Humans Are Always The Best At Everything Evar kind of racist (speciesist?) undercurrent.

One of the things I've always liked about DS9, other than its story-arc focus over the more pure modular model of the past series, is its willingness to delve into darker issues and wrestle with them.  Far from ignoring the problems in the current and 'future' universe, DS9 embraces the tension and really tries to figure out how the hell to deal.  And the answers aren't always neat or clean or worked out to absolutely everyone's satisfaction because sometimes things just don't work out perfectly.  I like that element of realism and courage.

Past Tense deals with a time-travel-inducing transporter accident (yeah, that's always a pretty thin plot device, but run with me here) that sends a few of the crew back in time to the 21st century.  In this time,  the United States (and perhaps more of the world, but all we see is San Francisco) is wrestling with some pretty major social problems, and really does not have its shit together at all.  The homeless, unemployed, poor, and sick are all shoved into these 'sanctuary districts' to be forgotten about so that the privileged rich people don't have to think about them.  Because of not having any identification, our heroes find themselves going through this system and winding up in a sanctuary district.

I'm not going to delve too deeply into the details of the plot, because that's not what's important right now.

What I want to talk about is the perspective the show chose to take.

So often, treatment of social issues in media takes on a Wisdom Handed Down From On High By A Benevolent Ruler kind of air.  Someone with power and privilege sees some injustice, and says No!  This injustice is bad.  All you bad people over there stop doing it, and if you argue with me I'll make you obey with the use of my power because I am an important person.  Now everything is solved forever!

Star Trek itself is bitten by this trope at times with the whole humans are super-moral and also pretty powerful politically thing, but.  While it's a nice fantasy to think about how if all the people in power noticed, cared, and threw their weight behind social justice issues then shit would change (and it totally would, don't get me wrong), this is fundamentally not how things tend to work.  Those with privilege are both insulated from the knowledge of anything being wrong, and invested in maintaining that privilege, and so Magical Benevolent Rulers who want to save the little people are actually the exception rather than the rule, and honestly even when they do exist it's usually in a patronizing and ineffective kind of way.

In this episode, our heroes are put in the position of experiencing a social justice problem from the receiving end.  Our heroes, who are usually fairly powerful (senior crew in a powerful space navy), assumed to be competent, and treated with respect are suddenly having to deal with major injustice and bigotry in a way they can't escape.  This is an important distinction.  The Benevolent Ruler chooses to care and to do something, but could just as easily go on completely ignoring the issue.  Those with the short end of the stick absolutely cannot help but notice and give a shit because it's their own asses that are on the line.  Our heroes, here, don't get to be the morally superior Super Awesome Good Guys.  They're just people in a shitty situation that they have no easy way out of (plus the added perspective of being from the future), and it's pretty awful.



I like that they did this.  Sisko and Bashir had no emergency escape clause (it's complicated, but they had every reason to believe they were stranded in the past, possibly forever), and had to deal with shit they didn't ask for on its own terms.

This is something so many people have to deal with all the time.  This is why many (not all!) feminists are female, many (not all!) anti-racism advocates are people of color, and many (not all!) fat acceptance activists have bodies society deems unacceptable.  It's not because they're better people, or that these are special-interest topics, or that they're 'just' angry.  Yes, they are affected by the issue, and it also affects society at large and brings everyone down.  Yes, they're angry, and it's for a damn good reason.  They have to deal with heaps of shit each and every day simply because of who they are.  They can't help but notice that there's a problem here.

In this episode, there's a lot of time spent wandering around the sanctuary district while Bashir (who is generally almost comically naïve) questions Sisko (who studied history more) on what exactly is going on here and why the hell people let it get this bad.  The perspective offered of people who are simultaneously outside the situation and know it gets better but also trapped in it is an interesting one, and I really enjoyed these conversations.  My favorite line from the movie is a quote from Bashir, after he's gotten a handle on the situation:

"Causing people to suffer because you hate them... is terrible. But causing people to suffer because you have forgotten how to care... that's really hard to understand. "

This is why it's so damn important to care.  Even when it seems like it won't help, like your opponents are too powerful, like your stubborn ounces just don't matter enough.  A society that forgets how to care is an extremely sick one, and even though we still have problems that need working on, problems that at times seem insurmountable, caring matters.  It matters.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

awesome news of the day: DOMA is dead!



This might be the awesome news of the year, or the decade, really.

Today the supreme court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a 5-4 vote.  DOMA prevented same-sex couples who were completely legally married from receiving the federal benefits of marriage.  In addition to being a sanctimonious piece of bullshit privilege-entrenching legislation, that is.

Anyway, today is one of those fabulous history-making days.  Rock on!

WOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Friday, June 07, 2013

happy debt-free day to me!




Well, sort of.

Happy unsecured-consumer-debt free day, I suppose.  I paid off my last credit card for reals, and now have a $0 total net credit card balance at this very moment, for the first time in, um, nine years or so (this still leaves the car and student loan --- hence the caveats).

When I started this debt freedom gig, I honestly didn't know how well I'd do.  It's a beautiful concept (don't be beholden to creditors!  stop paying interest!  have less stress!), but, well, it's a long-distance marathon kind of goal, and I'm somewhat impatient.  I have expected myself to wuss out and stop making progress at some point.

And I fulfilled my expectations.  After paying off my first (and nastiest interest rate bearing) card and making serious progress on the second, I slackened the discipline.  I stopped tracking spending.  I went back to using the paid-off card, though I mostly paid it off every pay period (any carryover balance that I couldn't pay off did cause more stress than I like to admit, but I tried not to think about it).  I stopped posting my monthly financial retrospectives (apparently my last one was in June... eep!  That's a year of silence.  Oops).  My budget went blank from November through April.  Oh sure, I had my excuses for dropping the ball, but they were just that.  Excuses.

That was after achieving freedom from only one of my four debts!

Yikes.

Husband and I both realized that we had no idea where my money was going.  Are we spending too much on groceries, pet food, or travel?  There were some special occasions in there; what did we spend on that?  I used to have a spare $1,000 every month with which to smack the hell outta my debts, after expenses. Then by April, I had absolutely no idea what was happening to that money.

Oops.

Back in the saddle!  I made myself another trusty pocketmod (I love pocketmod.  Have I mentioned that I love pocketmod?), and started tracking spending again.  I updated my budget spreadsheet, added some categories to get higher resolution (such as general groceries being separate from groceries with which to cook meals for our weekly gaming group) so that we'll be able to have an even better sense of where dollars are flowing.  I color-coded it and made it pretty (hey, why not?  Motivation, right?).

Y'all, I'm back.  Simply setting up the framework again was plenty of nudging to really get back into my thrifty moneytracking ways.  I obsessively record every expenditure, no matter how small.  I check my balances at least every couple of days to make sure I didn't miss anything.  I update the budget religiously, and even taught myself some new Excel foo to make it a smarter and more awesome tool.  I have a written plan for exactly how to portion out my next several paychecks.  I'm actually finding myself swinging toward minor frugality obsession; anxiously anticipating the opportunity to pay down more debts and beef up my savings, thinking of clever ways to avoid spending unnecessary money, being way more difficult for my coworkers to manipulate into going out to lunch.  In other words, I'm totally geeking out here.

But I was talking about patience!  And my lack thereof.  Right.  Even after sorting myself out a bit again, I still had an annoying little balance on my secondary credit card, but something kept coming up that prevented me from finally killing it.  Incidental expenses, trips out of town, that sort of thing.  So I set up some automatic account transfers to knock it down a bit every month (way more than the minimum payment, of course).  It was such a small balance that it wouldn't accrue particularly noticeable interest, and it would pay itself off in a few months anyway.

But it bugged me.  

It sat there, taunting me.  I'm only $500!  I'm soooooo close to being paid off but you can't celebrate yet!  I'm going to hang around for five more months just to tease you and keep you from your goal.  Now I'm $450!  Isn't it infuriating how slowly I'm disappearing?  Mwahahahaha...

That balance was kind of a jerk, apparently.

So today, when my paycheck showed up in my account, I smacked that bugger into nothingness.  All else be damned; I'll distribute my subsequent paychecks in a more sensible manner.  But that cocky damn balance had to go.  It's maybe a small stride for debt freedom in the grand scheme of things, but it's done wonders for my morale.  The stress of that balance Just.  Sitting.  There.  I'm done with that, and ready to be more effective.

So that means that I officially-no-really have no credit card balances at all as of today, and while I'll keep using the one that gives me nifty cash-back perks for my standard expenses (hey, free money is good), it will bloody well be paid off every month.  And I'm developing plans of attack for my other financial goals.

I'm back.

bento friday: impatience

a, um, kind of half-eaten bento

Yeah... so I totally forgot to snap a picture before I started digging in.  Oops. 

Anyway, this is one of the most stupid-simple (yet tasty!) bento I've ever made.  Plain brown rice, microwave-steamed broccoli, and sesame chicken.  It took like ten minutes, and most of that was waiting for the chicken to cook through, during which time I was also making breakfast.  Bento really doesn't have to take much time or effort once you get the hang of it; it's an almost seamless integration into our schedule.  Low-stress is the name of the game!

The sesame chicken was made by taking pieces of chicken thigh, pressing them on a place of black sesame seeds, and then cooking them in a bit of oil.  However, I kind of forgot to put anything else on them, so they were kind of bland.  Needed salt, or soy sauce, or something to add flavor. 

So it was a pretty bland bento, but nutritious and definitely not bad.  Simple wins.  

Friday, May 31, 2013

bento friday: I made gyoza!

 Gyoza (also known as potstickers for very relevant reasons) are delicious.  At their most basic, they're Japanese dumplings of folded pasta filled with, um, stuff.  I had a half-pack of wonton pasta sheets languishing in the freezer and threatening to get freezer burned, so I decided to give it a whirl for a weeknight dinner.

And my goodness, but they're delicious.


mmmmm... gyoza.....

I simply minced up whatever stuff I had around (ginger, garlic, mushrooms, um, random leftover broccoli stems I think, bean sprouts), sautéed it, filled the little wrappers and pretended to know what I was doing about the folding.  Then one fry-steaming session later, voila!  

They were a bit bland (need to add more flavory stuff next time) and a little lumpy and unwieldy.  Apparently chopping the stuff smaller would be a good idea.  But!  Still delicious, and way less intimidating than I'd thought they'd be.  

The picture is from their second round, as leftover bento lunches.  Served with cold sesame noodles topped with more bean sprouts. 


sesame noodles

The cold sesame noodles are loosely based on Pioneer Woman's recipe, and are always remarkably delicious.  I tend to use udon noodles instead of spaghetti, but hey, in her words, whatever makes your skirt fly up.  


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

today gets THREE awesome things because apparently today is extra awesome


This is possibly the best Ted talk to date.  (Link for in case the embedding doesn't work.)

This dude cuts through the bullshit and asks all the right questions about gendered violence and gender issues.  Complete with a call to action.

<3

today gets two awesome things



This video.  This video is amazing, and not just because I adore Sara Bareilles.

(Link for in case the embedding doesn't work.)

Being brave is not easy.  Paths of least resistance abound, and they usually involve staying silent and going along.  It takes a hell of a lot of courage and dedication and strength to break that mold, even in tiny ways.  And it's scary as hell.

But so, so worth it.

I want to see you be brave.

awesome thing of the day: X-wing


Life sized 5-million-brick lego X-wing. 

Neat.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

on a relationship with food

Sinful.  Divine.  Guilt-inducing.  Orgasmic.  Evil.  Blissful.  Shameful.  Indulgent.

Ragen recently pointed out that Trader Joe's is now offering 'reduced guilt' crackers.  Now, I'm not saying I don't get it; like everyone I'm acclimated to the societal encouragement and pressure to feel Super Duper Strongly about food.  I'm female, so there's this whole nearly-religious expected relationship with chocolate.  I'm supposed to feel repentant and guilty for eating something greasy/starchy/salty/sugary/whatever kind of food is being demonized right now.  People around me frequently describe something they're eating as sinfully delicious, but So Bad For Me!  I ask them why, and usually get a blank stare.  They expect me to go along with the social norm of hating on food while paradoxically loving on it, and when I don't I'm sure it's confusing.

It's complicated and it's high-pressure and I don't like it.  

It's not that I don't get the joke or the reference.  Presumably these crackers have less salt or oil or more whole grain or something.  Whatever.  The problem is that it's projecting this emotional value judgement onto a damn cracker.

I like food.  Food gives my body the nutrients it needs to do awesome things like walk around and breathe and dance and feel really good in a hot bath.  It gets me around and it's how I'm typing these words right now.  My body is a pretty neat contraption.  And I do get enjoyment from food!  I adore good home-cooked meals, and have a rather disproportionate love for pickled beets.  When Husband and I have date nights, it usually involves good restaurants or tasty food cooked outside when camping.

So I do have a relationship with food.  I just don't like it being (a) defined by marketing companies, and (b) having an assumed love-hate relationship by everyone around me.  For one thing, advertising people have an express mission to make me feel unhappy in order to extort me for money.  I wholeheartedly resist that paradigm, so damned if I'm going to buy that one.  Then there's this cultural expectation that my relationship with food must be this emotionally fraught rollercoaster, and I choose to opt out of that one too.  It is not your job to tell me what to eat, nor to corner me into condoning your value judgements about or fetishizing of your own eating.  I am simply an organism who needs to eat in order to function, and who additionally enjoys preparing and consuming a variety of tasty kinds of food.

Now.  This is not to say that all food is good at all times.  Sometimes I eat too much and then feel icky and hurty.  Sometimes I just want something light like a salad.  I do have a habit of researching nutrition, and feel ways about the fakeness of a lot of additives and not-foods that corporations are putting into mass-produced foods these days, though all food does have value.

But.

I categorically refuse to buy into the idea that food is exalted or evil, repugnant or indulgent.  I'm in charge of my health, and you can take your value judgements elsewhere.  If I skip dinner and have ice cream, it's not indulgent and it's not sinful.  It's a grown damn woman eating ice cream.  And there's nothing wrong with that.

-----

Edit: this post doesn't even touch on the potentially triggery nature of value-judgement food-talk on people who might have issues with eating disorders and/or the diet industry.  That's a whole enormous additional can of worms, and I acknowledge that I have a certain amount of thin and able privilege going on here, and do not mean to minimize any of the additional issues related to this topic.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

awesome thing of the day: Emma

Photograph yoinked from link and please don't sue me for using it, Jaime Moore.  Thanks.

This little girl is awesome and has an awesome mom.

You should totally go read about her.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Merida

movie poster for Disney's 2012 movie Brave


So, Brave.  Pretty darn good Pixar/Disney/Pixney flick, about a Scottish princess who kicks ass, takes names, and gets herself both into and out of trouble quite effectively.  Like many out there, I greatly appreciate the trend of having the protagonists of the traditionally female-centered animated children's movies be a lot more active in their own lives.  Far from waiting around for the heroic prince to rescue her and make her life have meaning, Merida has her own shit going on and is quite busy, thank you very much.  She also doesn't lack for personality in the slightest. 

Overall, this is a fantastic direction.  Congratulations, Disney!

But.  

So it seems that the Disney entertainment megaconglomerate has a theme park ceremony for 'crowning' their princess characters, so that they are then Official Disney Princesses, and presumably are awarded their very own bag of Magical Princess Sparkles.  Then when little kids go to the parks, they can have tea with all the Princesses.  Okay, cool, fine, whatever.  But Disney decided that the young, spunky, kick-ass protagonist of their very successful and money-making movie wasn't... sexy enough.  So they did this to her:

Left: Merida.  Right: some unrecognizable skin-bleached chick with a sexy come-hither and improbable curves. 


I feel ways about this. 

1) That person is unrecognizable as Merida.  Isn't marketing all about recognizable brands?  WTF.

2) There was a whole plot point in the movie about her hating that dress.  THEY PUT HER IN THE HATE-DRESS.  Why?

3) Yes,  it's a fictional character, and not a real person who underwent a real makeover.  But the very act of Disney taking an extremely successful (as measured by making them many dollars) character and transforming her into an unrecognizable sex-kitten is a huge statement about priorities.  It's not like nobody's going to notice, and what message is being sent here?  That what's important is to be sexy and beautiful and have bleached skin and perfect hair and wear sexy clothing.  This is being marketed to children.  CHILDREN!  We finally get a genuine self-rescuing princess (which is itself a ginormous opportunity for Disney to get way cooler and send progressive messages about gender issues) who actually looks and acts like the young-teenager she's supposed to be instead of being inexplicably busty and grown-up sexy, and then they blatantly ignore the actual character in favor of entrenching the cultural your-worth-is-measured-solely-by-your-sexiness trope.  Fuck that.  And the horse it rode in on. 

4) They took away her bow.  HER BOW.  One of Merida's major characteristics is her kick-ass bow-shooting.  She's a super excellent archer, and has to defend herself and advance the plot with it a lot.  THEY TOOK AWAY HER BOW.  I am not okay with this. 


/deep breath

Okay.  So, when I was poking around for a picture of Merida to put at the top of this article, I first searched wikipedia for Merida, figuring that they'd have a canonical screencap that would be reasonable to use for analysis purposes.  Because, like, wikipedia tends to have that sort of super-basic stuff.  Instead, as the ONLY image on the page, I found this*: 


the parallel universe, sex-kitten Merida



There is not enough rage.  Really.  REALLY?  The only image you're going to show on THE WIKIPEDIA page for this character looks nothing like how she looks throughout the entire movie.  

From the talk page of said wikipedia entry: 

The article originally had a CG artwork of Merida's; it was recently replaced, without explanation, with her redesign for the Disney Princess franchise. I don't see why her design in something that can be regarded as a minor merchandise-driven spin-off should prevail over her look in the film itself. To give a random, extreme example, it would be like replacing Jack Sparrow by a picture of his LEGO minifigure. Brave was a computer-animated film, and I don't think a 2D image is representative of the character. Note my comment has nothing to do with the recent controversy around her redesign (I personnaly find the Disney Princess design more faithful than I was expecting). But I think the image should be changed.--Gray Catbird (talk) 21:27, 14 May 2013 (UTC)

So apparently the actual picture of Merida was just inexplicably replaced by the sex kitten.  Gray Catbird there makes very good points, to which I would add only about a metric fuckton of THIS IS NOT OKAY!!!!!

And in Even More Ridiculous Princess-Washing, we have the official Disney Princess Merida costume:


um... it's a dress


All I can say about this is that it looks like a sparkly dress.  If I saw a little kid wearing this, I'd wonder idly and maybe question as to whether it's supposed to be a fairy, a generic party dress, or that sleeping beauty princess whose name I can never remember. 

And it's not like I have a single thing against sparkly dresses.  I love shiny, sparkly, fun dress-up clothes.  Being girly is awesome sometimes.  But WTF does this dress have to do with Merida?  I... guess it's blue?  And thus kinda like the dress she hated?  Because all blue dresses are the same?  I genuinely don't understand what's going on here. 

Ooh, it has an action shot!






Hmm.  Okay, at least you get the signature Merida weaponry along with the dress.  I guess that makes some sense... it's not really something that Merida wore or would wear, but it's an example of being able to kick some ass even though you're wearing a sparkly dress, and I can totally see some gender assumption twisting potential in there.  I can get behind that.  I can be girly and still be a badass.



Oh... right.  Apparently it's an accessories-sold-separately kind of deal.  I still don't see how a generic dress can qualify as a Merida costume sans bow, but okay.  

I fully admit that I'm not inclined to spend hours thoroughly searching the Disney site, but while I can find ways to purchase the sandals and tiara shown on the kiddo, there liter-freaking-ally does not appear to be a toy bow anywhere on this site.  There is a random light-up magic wand, which I can think of no way to tie to anything in the movie.  It's not that I'm craving violent toys, as that's a whole different conversation.  But the bow is a critical part of who Merida is and what she does and what she stands for.  Leaving that out is meaningful.  

You can buy a sword, axe, and mace set, presumably to give to your boy-children so they can pretend to be Brave defenders of castles and go bear-hunting, while your girl-children sit around in boring sparkly dresses, learning to internalize the values of the patriarchy. 






*These statements about the wikipedia page were true as of May 21, 2013.  They may change in the future, and I sincerely hope they do. 


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Edit: Oh, that image on wikipedia?  Yeah, it has no revision history whatsoever, so it's impossible to revert it to the original CG one.  Disney sort of rewrote wiki history.  Goddammit, Disney.