The Morning Magpie (Sandy Edition)

We’re battening down the hatches here in preparation for Hurricane Sandy! We’ve all showered and the dishes are done, the laundry’s been tackled and we’ve secured our lawn furniture, including bringing our political signs inside. Right now I’m cooking the last of the freezer food for lunch, and we’re all crossing our fingers for no power outage. To anyone who may be reading, stay safe, if you’ve been told to evacuate better safe than sorry! We’ll see you when this is over!  Meanwhile:

  • A 12 year-old girl who loves cares so much she’s restoring her own Fiero! I wish my 12 year-old self had hobbies with such productive yields.
  • If the Battle of Hastings took place on this hill, where are all the bodies? Turns out it probably was the next hill over.
  • No link for this, but I was extremely pleased to hear the jerk mayor of the town next door fending off partisan goading by a local AM DJ. Yes, everyone should take in their political lawn signs, not just Democrats, and no, the response to this storm is not less than previous ones. He’s still a wiener and I’m glad I’m not in his town, but it’s nice to not have possible death and maiming politicised for cheap hits.

The Morning Magpie

The Magpie is all over the place this morning, in true magpie form!

  • I have more than a passing interest in the history and science of cooking. Recreating recipes from the past is time travel for your palate, and Pass the Garum, a new blog devoted to cooking Roman recipes is off to a great start. The fig-braised honeyed ham in pastry looks fantastic! Just think how long people have been wrapping things in pastry!
  • There’s been a disturbing trend this election, where journalists in the mainstream media and the “alternative” press have been dismissing concerns over electronic voting machines. Doing this exhibits either a complete failure to understand the security issues surrounding e-voting or a deliberate attempt to obfuscate the lack of security. The ease of access to the machines’ programming is concern enough, but when you add serious conflicts of interest to the mix, e-voting frankly stinks. Why the press can’t see the inherent danger in the person running for office essentially owning by proxy the machines used to tabulate votes is a question every citizen should be asking.
  • Finally – get bent, concern trolls. How I feel about myself is not your problem, and stop dressing up bullying as “worry” for my health. Smugness is not a virtue, and shame is not a “tool”. Now excuse me while I fart in your general direction!

No bones, no votes

So the last presidential debate happened. I was fairly impressed with Obama, and pretty appalled by Romney, which is exactly what I expected. One of the things that especially impressed me about the handling of the Libya incident and that the Republican machine ignores, is that Obama respected the sovereignty of the country, and didn’t add to the chaos of the prime minister being ousted in a no-confidence vote. I am certainly no diplomat, hey just ask my spouse, wacka-wacka, but I can imagine the fragility of the situation must be extremely high. I’m pleased that there’s not a one-kickass-fits-all and please get Israel a cushion gestalt in American diplomacy at the moment! On the other hand, we have always been at war with Eurasia, so there is the continual greedy eye of the military industrial complex to contend with. I’m sure there’s some guys sitting in a room somewhere right now drawing up the plans for the next assault on the Middle East, and whichever way the wind blows this election will depend on whether they can bring their plans to fruition.

Meanwhile, another debate, another Autism dis. Since dealing with my child’s I/DD and my experience before I got my bionic hip last spring, I’ve learned the Establishment in this country considers the disabled just flotsam and jetsam. I’ll say it again, 1 in 88 boys in the US are born with Autism. That’s a lot of kids coming into the public school system that largely have nowhere else to turn, and even worse, there’s a crisis that faces our aging I/DD population. Massive housing shortages, looming Medicaid cuts, and lack of vocational or occupational programs are par for the course. Eventually the system will collapse under the weight of all the people who need help. The thing that keeps me up at night isn’t peak oil or the situation in the middle east – it’s how my child will fare after he loses the only advocates truly in his corner: me and my spouse. I just wanted a bone, to let me know that someone in politics understands this crisis. Maybe next time.  In the meantime my vote in this deep blue state is going to Jill Stein, who cites Autism as one of the reason she got into politics. Don’t be fooled, pols. We’re listening, and we vote.

The mid morning Magpie

Well, after a morning in Probate and an encounter with the Coxsackie virus I’m finally onto the Magpie. Sheesh, what a morning.

My travails this AM probably can’t quite equal the trauma of being eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

In statistics I learned the horrifying truth; ice cream causes drowning! Here are more correlation != causation charts of other horrifying statistical conclusions.

Okay, when we buy his salsa, we do call it douchebag salsa, but we still buy it because it’s pretty good for jarred salsa. Yet however you may feel about the cult of celebrity chefs, I think this review of the new Guy Fieri restaurant in Times Square kind of goes over the top. To blame Fieri for making the country increase their concern trolling (read: “obesity epidemic”) is pretty crazy. I mean, tourists eat where they eat and it’s not like Fieri is coming into our home forcing us to eat his “Vegas Fries”. The writing also reeks of classism, food being one of the few aspects of American society where class divisions are palpable.


Smelly memories of smelling

A Facebook friend posted this morning about how the taste of a certain soda brought them immediately back in time to a specific moment in childhood. This in turn reminded me of a long-ago trip to Mexico. My friends were adamant about not drinking the water so I bought a glass bottle of 7-Up. Instantly I felt like my seven year-old self, heading out under the big sky of our backyard to continue my fruitless Bigfoot search of the distant wooded acres behind our fields. My mother and I lived with my grandparents at the time and my Grandma drank nothing but 7-Up. I assume the Mexican version was made with cane sugar, which is why our US canned versions failed to evoke a similar memory in me.

It turns out these kinds of memory revelations, or sense memories, are some of the best ways to recall our past. It turns out Proust was on to something with his madelines;

…the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, ready to remind us… the immense edifice of memory.

Scientists think that the part of our brain that processes sensory input also plays a role in creating emotional memories. So, for example, the enjoyment of the sour cream pie my Grandmother made every Christmas is linked with the emotional memories of being a child on Christmas; the safety and comfort of my family around me, the ecstasy of presents, and the excitement of Christmas day can all come rushing back to me as I take a bite of pie on Christmas morning in the present.

Smell, hearing and taste all provide a stronger memory recall than the visual. I’m not sure of the exact science behind this, but if I were to hazard a guess I would say that most of us are bombarded by visual information all day long. Seeing a movie may bring back the memory of the first time you saw the movie, but seldom in my experience does a single visual image bring back a strong emotional memory say the way White Shoulders, my Grandma’s perfume, can almost conjure the physical presence of her.

I love when an experience in the present can reach out across time and pull us back to a moment from long ago. With the holidays on the horizon I’ve been going though my Mom and Grandma’s recipe boxes, looking for ways to connect to them and hopefully give my own children a memory link of their own. Now if I could just get them out of the fog of chicken nugget memory…

The Morning Magpie!

I made these delicious waffle iron hash browns last night to go with the Presidential debate. We were the winners! I need to make these on a Sunday morning as a base for huevos rancheros. Related for those with a waffle iron: Will it Waffle?

This creepy story reminds me of my time working in a movie theater. We didn’t crawl around on the floor removing cash from people’s wallets, but we did resell clean-looking popcorn cups for extra money.

There are people who are very, very strange and would do anything for attention. It’s hard to remember that people are like this, especially when you are not one of them.

The 4th Amendment is people!

Lately I keep finding myself in arguments regarding the 4th Amendment and the notion of drug testing welfare recipients. I’m frankly a little confused as to why I keep having this argument, especially since it’s almost always with a person who proclaims they adore the constitution in an almost religious way. So why are they always so anxious to violate it to make a point? The 4th reads as follows:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Welfare drug testing proponents claim that the government has a right to test everyone who applies for assistance because…why, exactly? The text of the 4th clearly states that citizens have the right to be “secure in their persons” against “unreasonable search and seizure”. The US Supreme Court has ruled that urine, blood and hair samples constitute a search and giving up the internal contents of your person is a search. So where’s the probable cause? Being poor and needing aid is not probable cause. This kind of search is called a “suspicionless search” and can only be conducted when the government can show a “special need”. The special need slippery slope has already slid citizens down in the name of public safety, expectations of “fit” government employees and the current and imaginary future drug addictions of children.

Once I bring up suspicionless searches and “special need” the next point always centers on private employers drug testing their employees. Here I can reassure the Constitution loving debater that yes, private enterprise does indeed trump the 4th, except in a handful of states where the employer must show suspicion before testing anyone. So how does applying for government aid differ from applying for a job at a private company? An individual makes a choice and applies for a job possibly having other choices available. Any one of us can be left without a choice between true hardship and public assistance. The people who choose jobs that allow drug testing have entered into a legal agreement and accept those terms, while the Constitution protects us all, and in the case of the 4th, specifically from the government! Asking a citizen to provide the private contents of their body up for examination to avoid falling into abject poverty does not meet the requirements outlined in the 4th. There is no probable cause, except the suspicion that their economic circumstance may make them drug users.

The impairment of individual liberties cannot be the means of making a point…symbolism, even symbolism for so worthy a cause as the abolition of unlawful drugs, cannot validate an otherwise unreasonable search.

That’s Justice Scalia, one of the most conservative justices on the Supreme Court. And he also hit the nail right on the head as far as why there’s such a vocal group calling for welfare applicants to pee in a cup.  It’s another way to symbolically disgrace the poor. The Protestant work ethic looms large in US history. If a person is prosperous, then they must have worked hard and had god’s favor. If a person is poor, then they have committed the sin of sloth and god has frowned on their behavior. Demonizing the poor has long been a popular way to sweep our problems under the proverbial rug. After all, if the poor are just lazy slobs with bad character, why should we spend any of our resources on them? Once you take away the symbolism of the act, there is no probable cause. No matter how revolting you may find the act of promoting the general welfare via taxation, being poor is not probable cause. The 4th Amendment is there to protect us all from the government criminalizing behavior that is a person’s private business. No matter how insulated you may think you are from the desperation of abject poverty, it can happen to you. So why then, are people in such a hurry to give up their constitutional rights?

Or you can just follow the money. Private industry will always trump individual rights as long as we continue to believe wealth is moral and worthy and the poor are damned.


The Morning Magpie

I miss David Bowie. But he has every right to never perform again, and I’m OK with that.

The financial crisis forced me to learn something about the financial markets. I was not happy about this, and  I’m less happy now. I would love to know why self-professed deficit hawks think the candidate who surrounds himself with people who torpedo struggling third world governments and willingly hold thousands of US jobs hostage to make a huge profit would be committed to turning off the money faucet? Never mind that he’s profited himself from said faucet.

My spouse and I have both lost our wedding rings – these would be an awesome replacement and easy to find!