Saturday, January 24, 2015

Oven-Roasted Salt & Vinegar Almonds

Preheat oven to 350°.

1 Pound raw almonds (~3 cups)
2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Teaspoons coarse salt/margarita salt

1.5 Teaspoons food-grade malic acid (1lb, $10 online)

Toss almonds in bowl with olive oil. Spread on cookie sheet and roast 10-12 minutes (basically until it smells like roasted nuts in the kitchen).

I used a large mortar-and-pestle to grind the salt and malic acid together so it would be more like the powder found on the store-bought roasted almonds.

After roasting the almonds, sprinkle the salt-and-acid mixture over them evenly and shake the cookie sheet to slide them around a bit.

These were slightly less salty and acidic than the store-bought variety; you could probably increase the seasoning mixture by 50% and it would be good. Still just as addictive as the store-bought ones, though.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Cartoonist Harold Gray's Cultural Context and Racial Aspects of "Little Orphan Annie"

The original Little Orphan Annie strip debuted in 1924, written by 30-year-old Harold Gray. He was born in Kankakee ["Manteno! Peotone! Chicago Heights!"*] and raised in the Midwest; worked in Chicago in adulthood. The interesting thing about his cultural context was that the foreign-born Irish population peaked in 1900, when he was a kid. Which means that would have also have been the peak of anti-Irish-immigrant sentiment in that area.

Originally this was expressed as White racism against the Irish, though they were quickly made White (as @rsample57 put it). This was partly in order to keep them from forming an alliance with Black USians. The divide-and-conquer of the poor has a long history within this country and without.

So what I'm leading up to here is that Gray would have been deeply familiar with the anti-Irish racism of the time. Gray's use of a red-haired protagonist wasn't coincidental, though I can't tell you if it was conscious or not. Either way, it was firmly rooted in some level of recognition of that particular oppression. That's why Annie was the underdog to root for. Now, he could have used a Black protagonist to possibly an even greater effect, but I doubt a White male cartoonist of 1924 would have.

However, having Little Orphan Annie be Black in 2014 is VERY close to what Gray was doing with a White redhead in 1924. It was not a matter of aesthetics or whimsy. It was a social commentary. Having Annie be Black today is completely historically appropriate.

(*And yes, you did get internet points for guessing where I spent at least some of my growing-up years!)

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Nice to Finally Have It Quantified: Nerd? Geek? or Dork?

Well, it's official. I'm 96 % Nerd, 61% Geek, 39% Dork.

Which, according to this test, makes me a "Modern, Cool Nerd." Not sure how that changed since I was a dorky 13 year old other than becoming a dorky 40-something, but nice to have a niche anyway.

"For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.

Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!


[I love that they have distribution graphs for this]:

Your Analysis (Vertical line = Average)

  • nerdiness Distribution
    You scored 96% on nerdiness, higher than 99% of your peers.

  • geekosity Distribution
    You scored 61% on geekosity, higher than 87% of your peers.

  • dork points Distribution
    You scored 39% on dork points, higher than 68% of your peers.

    [It tries to make you sign up for OkCupid to get your results, but there's a small "no thanks, just results" option if you look closely.]


    [UPDATE 1/2015: Just to clarify their dork definition, I don't really believe I have "difficulty with common social expectations/interactions" other than that I don't necessarily respect those expectations. So that's more a matter of choice for me. I recognize that's not the case for every dork.]

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Christopher Columbus and Jerry Sandusky: the Cultural Narrative Connection

This week saw an unrepentant Jerry Sandusky sentenced to what will amount to life, as well as Columbus Day, which seethed with annually increasing attitudes of "why celebrate a promoter of slavery, rape, and genocide?"

On my walk home this morning I was reflecting on the traditional way I initially learned about Columbus in school, waaaaay back in the '70s. Explorer, hero, Niña, Pinta, and Santa María. Then as a young adult I read Zinn's classic A People's History Of The United States and learned a completely different story. (If you haven't read it, then you know what to do.)

What I began recognizing as I walked was that our cultural narrative regarding Columbus (and others like him) has led directly to the destructive path of Jerry Sandusky (and others like him). We need to widely promote the telling of the whole truth about important historical figures. Did Columbus do some really challenging, brave, world-changing things? Yes. Did he do some terrible, murderous, world-changing things? Yes. But we've been focusing on only the flattering things. 

The more stories we have in our cultural library in which these really important, influential dudes are just great and awesome, without the painful side of their histories, the harder it is for us to accept that someone important and influential is even capable of something like raping dozens of children. And it's also true that by dichotomizing important people into "great" ones and "monstrous" ones, we further this. Because if someone's famous, and doing some positive things, then there's no way they can be doing monstrous things, right? Totally, completely, false. 

This kind of splitting actually makes it harder for us to recognize when someone we like is doing something bad. All humans can enact both good and bad behaviors. Insert anecdote regarding evil's poster boy, Hitler, feeding the deer in his garden. "Regular" people do extraordinary things (good and bad). Extraordinarily bad people do some good things, and vice versa. If we let ourselves believe that only bad people do bad things, then we blind ourselves to the possibility that what victims tell us is true, individually and as a group. We end up believing only the powerful, rather than hearing truth about them. Also, we end up blinding ourselves to the possibility of our own behavior hurting others. "I'm a good person, therefore I can't have done something harmful!" (This is actually the process behind most prejudice and prejudice denial, in fact.)

If we can stop dichotomizing and accept our shadow selves, we can learn to live our values instead of acting out our repressed traits. And if we can accept that just because someone is loved or famous or does good works doesn't mean they can't possibly do something hurtful, then we will have come a long way towards healing society.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Leftover Turkey Pie

A good way to use up leftover turkey.

Oven: 425 F.

~2c cut-up cooked turkey
~2c cooked (diced) carrots & peas
~2 c mashed potatoes (soft enough to spread--add milk if nec.)
1 onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 tins/can cream of mushroom soup
~1/2 c drippings
dash dry sherry
2 pie crusts (for bottoms)
1/2 c. shredded cheddar

Saute onions and celery in drippings and sherry. Stir in mushroom soup concentrate. Add peas, carrots, and turkey.
Divide into raw pie crusts (in pans).

Mix most of cheese with mashed potatoes. Spread over tops of pies. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and top with black pepper to taste.

Bake for 1/2 hour until crust is done and filling is hot.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What year is this, again?

Really, really starting to tick me off. In 2011, this should be a snap.
I just want to get some groceries and diapers for a sister in another state.

Here in Midatlanticville, I order my groceries online and then pick them up. Easy! And sometimes I buy groceries for an aunt in Wisconsin and they actually deliver them to her.

But apparently in this town in Missouri, no grocery stores do anything like this. Oh wait, Wal-mart does! [piles stuff into online cart]

--Oh, they only have non-perishables and they won't even get the items until a week from now? Huh. Well, crap, I could do better with Amazon.

So maybe I can just get her a Kroger gift card over the phone and she can pick it up and buy her own groceries? Okay!

NOPE! No over-the-phone transactions.

But hey! At least they have a Western Union station there, so I could at least wire her some money. For a hefty fee, but, whatever. [signs up on Western Union site]. So, name, address, phone number, email.

WHOA! Western Union "can't verify my information" and therefore won't send me an email to verify my...uh, information. WTF? What part don't they believe? My name? Address? Phone?

I just don't get this.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Systems Theory and the Nymwars

Here's the thing about the nymwars.

One fact I remember very well from my Systems class in grad school is that the function of an organization is what it actually does, not necessarily what it says its function is. And organizations function primarily to perpetuate themselves.

What this means is that, for example, say I set up a charity to fund research into curing a disease. So the stated purpose of my organization is "end this disease."

However, what actually happens in the organization is that people make phone calls, send out pamphlets, hold fund drives, set up accounts, and--why not?--even send money to the researchers. So in systems theory, all those activities are the actual purpose of the organization.

In fact, once the cure is found for the disease in question, the organization is likely to continue, because its primary purpose is actually to perpetuate itself (and in this case generate phone calls and paperwork). And this does happen with regularity.

So now people are trying to change the collective mind of Google by stating they are dissatisfied. This will almost certainly not work, because Google's actual purpose is probably not to keep users happy.

People using this (free) service are not, in fact, the "customers" but the resources that the real customers want. Who are the customers, then? Well, ask yourself who profits from your participation.

I guess if all the resources up and left, that would be bad for Google. But by now they have become huge and reached a saturation point where it's a lot easier to ignore that, because we are a flood of resources. And once you start profiting from your resources, it becomes easier to look at your funders' benefits and harder to remember to cultivate or use good husbandry with your resources. It becomes easier to take resources for granted. Look at our collective history and tell me I'm wrong: oil? water? animals? plants? human workers?

I doubt there are many individual Google employees who think of themselves this way. It's often difficult to see the actual purpose of an organization when you're inside it. But that's sure what appears to be happening.

I have my suspicions about why "real" names--as filtered through a biased Eurocentric perception, that is--would be profitable to an organization, but I'm sure you can come up with your own conspiracy theory at this point. So to be allowed to use your name of choice, you're going to have to find a way that this would be profitable for Google.