Thursday, October 22

Warning: Website rant about men/abortion/choice debate coming right up..!

Despite what I wrote in the title of this post, I'm not going to spend a lot of time actually thinking/debating/pontificating about the message of the anti-choice website

I think the name of the site makes their stance pretty clear. My stance is more along the lines of: women and their families should have absolute control over reproductive outcomes, and legislators should respect the intelligence and morality of allowing for individuals to make their own choices. Off soapbox now..because I don't see any member of choicekills changing their mind, and I'm not about to soften my stance against people who cannot respect the complexity of the world and the need for a nuanced approach to any importance decision.

What I will say about this particular site and their message is that they seem especially paternalistic.
The entire site assumes that anti-choice messaging is really only important for women. There is not a single male featured in any of the photos, or included in any of the 'stories' about women who regret having an abortion.
Despite the fact that a man is almost always involved in the creation of a fetus, their only message to the entire sex is this:

It's a supporting role but crucial. They can help by discussing Choice's deceptive invitation to a tragic personal reality. They can encourage and praise your willingness to help save other young women from this awful situation. They can show their support by accompanying you in public by wearing a ChoiceKills T-shirt. They can also help by arranging a Choice Kills Billboard and by using the bumper sticker.

I think I find this statement particularly frustrating becomes it assumes such a level of disengagement. Instead of promoting the importance of safe sex for both partners, or discussing the importance of healthy relationships in which you can discuss your personal desires for (or against) having children, it relegates men to the lofty position of purse holder. While I think it would be equally dangerous to tell men that their thoughts/beliefs about abortion are more important than those of their partner, this message just seems so antiquated.

It's so sad that we have websites telling young men that their purpose is to support their partner only if she's willing to harass or shame a friend into continuing with an unwanted or perhaps dangerous pregnancy.

Shouldn't we instead be telling men that they should be simply supporting their partners?

Monday, October 19

Furniture hunting in NYC: mostly just luck!

After weeks of hunting for a specific piece, my parents stumbled upon the perfect store/piece during their 2 day trip.
B and I have been (slowly) adding pieces to our apartment.
First major purchase was the couch--drama documented in earlier posts--which is still the centerpiece of our living room.
Next came our flea finds, the 2 black leather/wood chairs armchairs and the 2 wooden side tables.

Then I carried home 2 wooden chairs from the Housing Works store on Montague. The hard manual labor (a mile w/ 2 chairs, a purse and a tiny wingspan is pretty darn difficult) was well worth the effort as we can now have dinner actually sitting at a table.

I also created a tablecloth out of a piece of fabric from Africa (thanks KW!) to both hide the darker wood (which now clashes with all of our other furniture) and give our main table a more 'homey' feel.

As soon as all of this was in place, I started bugging B about getting a jelly cabinet.
This caused major confusion, because apparently my mother and I are the only people on the planet who call this type of furniture a jelly cabinet.
For those of you who aren't in the know, it's basically a small not-as-fancy china cabinet. Or something like that.

I've been looking for this type of piece for weeks. I looked @ the flea, I browsed online, and then hit up a few stores in downtown Brooklyn. We had almost decided to go with an unstained version from gothic when my parents mentioned a little store on court street (homecourt). It's a pretty small store that we had apparently totally missed in all of our (well, my) other outings.

We walked in on Sunday night, found a finished floor model that was $50 cheaper than the unstained one from gothic (including the delivery fee)..and they were willing to bring it by that evening.

Paid for it at 4:50 or so and by 6 were cleaning out the shelves and stacking our glasses!

It's a little lighter than some of our other wood pieces, but I think it works.
I think we're also going to paint the extra black tables that we use as mobile counter space to lighten up the kitchen overflow/dining room/foyer area.

More apt. updates to come..

Thursday, October 15

Mozzarella party!


Finally have some pictures ready of the homemade mozzarella!

Last night a few friends joined for a little cheese making party at the apartment.
3 hours, 2 gallons of whole milk and a LOT of bread/cheese/fruit snacking later...tada, we had homemade mozzarella cheese!

Turns out that TJ's whole milk is probably ultra pasteurized (despite the label). The cheaper milk from Key Foods produced much shinier prettier looking cheese.

The process is really pretty easy.
Heat a lot of whole milk, stir in some citric acid. Add more heat & rennet. Seperate the curd from the whey and microwave the curds for a bit.

When it reaches the right temp, throw on some gloves and knead and then pull.

Even though the directions say to pull it like taffy, we found that if you pulled the mozzarella apart too quickly or too much the texture got a little funny. Either way, it worked out pretty well.
See how pretty it looks all stretched out? (look---right over there--->)

After a few misfires (the mozzarella was too lumpy looking) we hit on the right strategy.
Apparently bread making is an asset, since our resident baker- Jacob- won the prize for prettiest looking mozzarella!

Here is a nice shot of all of the mozzarella from batch 2. Try and guess which piece was made by Jacob:

Oh..and the aftermath on the right:

Tuesday, October 13

Tucker Max & Rape Humor: Or why I'll be boycotting some misogynist idiocy in feature film format


(cross-posted w/ Alliance blog )

The National Organization for Women in New York state has a young feminists task force. As part of their commitment to women's health and reproductive justice issues, task force members keep a blog.

Another Alliance staff member recently sent me a link to their recent discussion about Tucker Max and 'rape humor.'

I don't want to rehash their entire discussion, but I highly recommend reading Jerin's take on Max, his brand of 'humor' and the reaction of both his fans and protesters.
For those of you unfamiliar with Max, here is an excerpt from his book, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell:

"My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole. I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging d***head. But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way: I share my adventures with the world."

While I have no idea why anyone would care to read the rambling thoughts of someone who sounds totally repulsive, Tucker was able to parlay the popularity of his books into an upcoming movie.

The recent debate began to attract widespread attention when Tucker suggested that his loyal followers begin to mock the protesters (who were showing up at media events for the book/movie) by creating photo-shopped pictures of themselves holding signs that say things like: “I’m mad cuz no one will rape me” and “Women deserve to call rape ‘surprise sex."

While I have no doubt that Alliance readers can grasp both the idiocy and danger in promoting this type of rape culture, Tucker fans have continued the campaign and 'counter-protest.'

The NOW task force blog really delves into why this type of behavior is harmful for both men and women, and attracted some debate from readers. I hope you'll check out their post here..

Monday, October 12

Cheese making try 1: a good start!

I (finally) made my first batch of home-made mozzarella cheese this weekend! The texture is a little off, but it tastes pretty darn good.

Since taste is way more important than texture, I think it's a success story..but I will be trying again this Wednesday with a few friends!

I have decided that the texture issue could be because:
1. The TJ milk is actually ultra-pasteurized and not just pasteurized like it says on the label.
2. When I tried to make a small batch, I messed up the ratios. It was really also really difficult trying to crush a rennet tablet into 8ths!

I'm hopeful that the big batch on Wed. will be 100% successful!
Also, pictures to come!

NYTimes mystery: AIDS/HIV article in Fashion & Style

Why is this incredibly moving article about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the gay community in the Fashion & Style Section of the New York Times?

Since when does HIV have anything to do with fashion designers, dining guides, and fall harvest ideas?

The article is both poignant and interesting, and really speaks to the importance of cultural memory for the HIV epidemic. The gay community was nearly decimated in the 80s and 90s, and now there are too few people left to remind the new generation of activists what it was like to see your entire social circle die.

Sean Straub tells the reporter how he feels like a 'grandfather' in the room when he attends protests or meetings, and that so many of the queer youth involved in the current movement do not know anyone living with HIV/AIDS. While he doesn't actually say it, Straub's message seems to be along the lines of those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. He serves as both a reminder of what/could be if the community does not continue to make awareness a priority and a beacon of hope given his original prognosis.

Anyway, go read the article.
Maybe they'll move it to the health section, or U.S. section, or any slightly more relevant section if they see a reader response.

What a waste of time/money/energy: Suspending a 6 year old for bringing camping gear to school

Is this really necessary?
I understand the need for 0 tolerance for weapons in a school.
Weapons are dangerous, kids have low impulse control, and you don't want the two to mix.
But when did common sense become irrelevant in this discussion?

If a six year old boy brings a camping tool that becomes a fork, a spoon, and a small (not sharp) knife for use at lunchtime, he should not face a 45 days in the district’s reform school.
He should perhaps be sent to the office, so that an adult can explain why it is dangerous to have anything sharp in the lunchroom. Then a guidance counselor or principal could have taken the tool away, called his mother to remind her of the policies and asked her to pick it up immediately.

So why didn't this happen? Why is the 6 year old facing a long suspension and time in reform school?

Because the law is written that 0 tolerance has to be enforced w/ a suspension, no matter the situation or age of the student.

What this really comes down to is lack of trust in our educators.
Why aren't we giving them the discretion to determine when a suspension or expulsion is warranted, or if a different and perhaps less punitive measure is needed?

Perhaps our school systems could spend more time and money actually EDUCATING students if they weren't forced to suspend 6 year old children and then face court challenges and loss of community support after the decisions.

Thursday, October 8

Faith in legislative process restored just a tiny bit...but none other than AL FRANKEN (?!)

I just received an email with the news that Senator Al Franken's amendment to the defense appropriations bill for 2010 was passed.

His amendment basically ensures that defense contractors can not force their employees into arbitration or prevent them from seeking justice (via the courts) if their claim includes: sexual assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress as well as Title VII civil
rights claims. If they do not change their employment policies and contracts, they risk losing funding from the US gov't.

Senator Franken's amendment was inspired by the experience of Jamie Lee Jones, "a 19-yr-old employee of defense contractor KBR (formerly a Halliburton subsidiary) stationed in Iraq who was gang raped by her co-workers and imprisoned in a shipping container when she tried to report the crime. Her father and U.S. Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.), worked together to
secure her safe return to the United States, but once she was home, she
learned a fine-print clause in her KBR contract banned her from taking her
case to court, instead forcing her into an "arbitration" process that would
be run by KBR itself. Just today, Halliburton filed a petition for a
rehearing en banc in the 5th Circuit Court, which means that Jamie's fight
is far from over."

Although it is incredibly sad that Jamie was effectively re-victimized by KBR's clause, it's really encouraging that Al Franken has stepped in to prevent this from occurring again. I never thought that I'd be so excited by anything at all related to Al Franken...but I am truly encouraged by this positive change for sexual violence victims.