Monday, March 31, 2008

poppies are out

"what problem is the government trying to solve?"

Guess what happens if your American spouse dies before the residency you have earned through the marriage has been approved?


Barbara Ehrenreich writes about Hillary Clinton's religious connections, and isn't that an interesting and slightly scary read.

happy cesar chavez day

Cesar Chavez was a co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union. Today, March 31, was his birthday. It's a state holiday in California.

Union organizing may not be on the forefront of everybody's mind these days, but farm workers still pick berries and vegetables by hand, stooped over in the fields. And, today's mess with undocumented workers and the heated debate over immigration is closely related to the cheap strawberries we enjoy.

By the way, the United Farm Workers coined the slogan Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can), that's been picked up by Barack Obama.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

just pointing it out. don't expect me to solve it.

It seems to me Hillary Clinton's supporters look at Barack Obama and say, "It's easier for him. He may be black, but he is still a man." While Barack Obama's supporters look at Hillary Clinton and say, "It's easier for her. She may be a woman, but she is still white."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

oh cnn what would we do without you

Snippet of knowledge: All inclusive cost of raising a child from 0 to 18 years: $270 000. College is extra.

Friday, March 28, 2008

someone agrees on the lovefest

This is pretty funny. I missed the Joy Behar eye roll.

lovefest of the lovefests

Barack Obama on The View. Lots of fawning and everybody falling over each other, but I couldn't help thinking (again) that something is happening in American politics. Maybe I am fawning too but the truth is that the guy sounds like a real person.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

trends. aren't they boring. aren't we dumb to care., an excellent online Swedish food newsletter, mentions edamame this week. I just got the email this morning. As a matter of fact, I got the email as I was watching The Today Show. And, guess what? Right as I was reading that newsletter, I heard that according to the Today Show edemame is out. Not trendy anymore. We're on to something else.

I switched channels to MSNBC where they had a commercial for a skin treatment with shiitake mushroom in it.

You wonder what's in now when edamame is out? Fresh garbanzos. Raw chick peas. I am sure they taste pretty much the same but they will make you oh so hip. You can watch the video clip on the Today Show website.

from the streets of san jose

My local paper takes on the issue of race. It's an interesting piece because it has a simple and true tone to it, but at the same time it's depressing to see how much work there is still to be done.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

my favorite author's favorite joke

A lady found a penguin, and a police officer advised her to take it to the zoo. A while later the police officer runs into the lady again. She still has the penguin with her.

"I thought you were taking it to the zoo?", he says.

"I did", the lady said. "And now we are going to the movies."

Interview with Bodil Malmsten, in Swedish, here.


I bought a point and shoot camera. Whenever I am done with this grading I will venture out of the backyard.

maybe this is hillary bashing, but, if so, consider yourself warned

As part of her foreign policy experience, Hillary Clinton claims running for cover in danger of sniper fire at Tuzla airport, Bosnia in 1996. Later, when reports came out it never happened, she admitted to having misspoken and mis-remembered the events.

Last week she also made jokes about how they would send the First Lady abroad whenever it was too dangerous for president Clinton to go.

So, besides, there being no fire and no running for cover in the photo above, what else is wrong with it?

Too dangerous for the president to go? What is the first daughter, Chelsea Clinton, doing there? Safe to send Chelsea, but not Bill? What kind of mom is that?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

nicole my favorite hawaiian reminded me

I was kidding about the favorite part. One of many favorites, of course. But she is cool. None the less, I think it's time for a little Obamamania again.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

this I can happily report

I got faint whiffs of rotting meat in the house yesterday, and I cursed and imagined dead animals in the walls until I found a stray chunk of uncooked bacon under the fridge.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I like chris matthews, don't get me wrong

I just heard Chris Matthews say that the reason working class whites get so angry with people like Barack Obama's pastor Wright, who made anti-American comments in those widely debated sermons, is that "all they have is their country". Matthews explained that working class whites don't have fancy cars or fancy houses or beautiful wives, or kids going off to college. All they have to be proud of is their country, so when someone criticizes it, they get testy.

Maybe he is right. But it's also true that Americans have learned to be proud of their country to an extent that Swedes, for instance, are not. Someone told me once that it has to do with the idea of the new kid (America) coming back to beat the older kids (Europe).

The anger with America that some blacks feel, and that pastor Wright expressed, stems from the fact that they have even less. Poor blacks don't have the fancy cars or fancy houses either. But in their case those absences can't be balanced by a pride in their country. Because for the most part their country has treated them badly. And they are angry because they didn't deserve that.

you can't move on if you don't understand where you are coming from

So the speech Barack Obama made earlier this week where he spoke candidly about race in America has gotten a lot of attention. On Wednesday night Jon Stewart showed a series of clips from cable talk shows where a seemingly endless stream of white pundits asked the same question: Did white people get their feelings hurt?

This is what it looks like to me: There are white people in America who are happy only when black people, like Barack Obama, act as if they have no color. They are unhappy when it's pointed out to them that whites and blacks in the US come out of two distinctly different experiences. Black (and brown) people are supposed to act as if they have no color, and those white people are content when they themselves can continue to act as if they have no color. 'Color' here refers to social position, as it is handed down from history. That's what status quo looks like: a total disconnect from history.

So to cater to white peoples' feelings, people of color should avoid talking about race or racial tension. If they do, the most important question for some will be whether white people got their feelings hurt.

We live in the shadow of slavery and colonialism. Whose feelings should we be protecting again? And why?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

strong stuff

If you cut up two serrano peppers at 3PM your fingers still hurt at 10PM even if you've washed your hands a million times and done the dishes too.

And I probably should have left my contacts in.

look, there is tim

dear daughters of barbara

This is to make it official:

Your mom is right.

(Yep, it's hard to admit.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I've waited for obama to come out and talk about race

Barack Obama is the most interesting political figure right now. In this speech, finally, he talks about race.

On his show Tuesday night Jon Stewart said that Obama spoke to Americans about race "as if we were grown-ups". I think that's right. Obama suggested a reality that is not black and white. Where there is room for someone like him, of mixed race and with diverse experience, where there is room for the reverend Wright, an African American man with a lot of anger, and where is room for someone like his own white grandmother, a woman carrying the stereotypes and prejudices of her generation.

Obama said his grandmother was afraid to meet black men in the street, even though her own grandson, who she helped raise, was growing into a black man. Very few of us can imagine what it might have felt like to hear her say that.

No one else on the political arena is as personal as Barack Obama. Others may talk about race in the abstract, but he is forced to talk about his life. Some of the cable anchors are taking their cues from him. On Tuesday night Keith Olbermann on MSNBC spoke about his own racist grandfather. It is interesting what is happening. I think much would be gained if more people spoke less about what they think, and more about their own lives.

Monday, March 17, 2008

from the karmann ghia mailing list

#32 on a list of the 100 most beautiful cars of all time, as chosen by the readers of The Daily Telegraph (UK).

Mine got an oil change today. And I sprayed Chanel on some kleenex and stuffed in the ashtray. The VW smell is not my favorite. And I polished the dash and fixed a window crank.

mr and mrs douglas, ohio

This is the funniest thing I've seen in a while, and what makes it funny is that it is true.

OK- maybe I should explain that: To me it's funny that what we have come to consider as 'beauty' in the Hollywood sense has nothing to do with beauty in itself. It's just money, diet, and exercise. Take those things out, and you'll have a bunch of regular folks.

Here are more examples of what celebrities would look like if they "moved to Ohio." (Someone put together a best-of from this website. Big thank you to ms Dyer for passing it along.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'm just saying (cranky teacher edition)

I have stacks of papers to grade and I'd like to do it outside because the weather is nice and a little bit of sun is supposed to be good for you.

But if it isn't leaf blowers it's Irish jigs coming from the other side of the fence. I think that music is the reason why the Irish drink a lot.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

this pisses me off

Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin told Tim Russert this morning that the reason Hillary Clinton is successful among blue collar workers is that she presents herself as having had to work hard for everything, and blue collar workers relate to that. Whereas Barack Obama is an intellectual, and seemingly above gritty work. Even though his life may actually have been harder.

So again it's all about appearance. And the lesson is this: don't make it look easy.

If you make it look easy, people will think that it is.

Make it look hard. Whine and brag and tell people that you've struggled. They will believe you.

I am reminded of a 6'2" black young woman I had for class once on a predominantly white campus. "People think it's easy", she said.

And I had to tell her that people thought it was easy because she made it look easy.

Swallow your pride and whine, is that the advice we should give?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

script frenzy

Here is a challenge: write a play, or a screen play, in April. Thirty days, 100 pages. Since I choked so badly on the novel writing challenge last November I am not making any promises. But I do have a cool idea.

yep, I learn things about the motherland on american public radio

I learned today on NPR that since 1999 buying sex is illegal in Sweden, and hence human trafficking to Sweden is now very low. And then there are social programs to help women get an education, and find other ways of supporting themselves. Just saying. Sounds like a pretty good idea.

I don't know why I have such a hard time with bono. maybe it's the glasses.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

not immune

Geraldine Ferraro is angry because when she said Barack Obama is lucky to be where he is, and that he wouldn't have been there hadn't he been black, Barack Obama's supporters got angry with her.

So, in an unexpected twist, now she says they are racist for claiming her remarks were racist.

For class I use episodes of Black White, a reality show where a white family and a black family lived together and learned about the other race by wearing makeup that turned them black if they were white, and white if they were black.

The wife of the white family introduces herself as having grown up in a liberal family in the 1960s and 1970s. Her parents were active in the civil rights movement, she says.

In one of the episodes she calls the black woman a bitch, and she cannot understand that is an offensive term. In her mind, that is how black women address each other. And: she doesn't see herself as racist, therefore nothing she says can be racist. There is a whole lot of reality TV drama around that statement.

Geraldine Ferraro uses the same logic. She says that she has fought against oppression her whole life, so nothing she says can be racist.

Peggy McIntosh reminds us that racism doesn't have to come in the shape of outright meanness. The difficult part, now, is for us to realize that as we live in a racist society, racism seeps into us. Even if we try to make ourselves aware of it, racist thought is everywhere. It enters our minds through stories we hear, and images we see.

Because of our radically different life circumstances, when white people use their own experience to determine what is racist and not, very likely people of color will not agree.

Does that mean white people are always wrong? No, it doesn't. But white people should try to be quiet and listen when others want to explain to them what their comments might mean.

as msnbc refers to it: 'race and the race'

I can't help it... it's too funny to me when white men sit on TV panels and decide what's racist and not.

this is all I eat now

I took The Pioneer Woman's suggestion and made a salad dressing that was originally created by Jamie Oliver. And I've had huge salads twice a day ever since. OK it's only been three days but it has changed my life.

The original version contains chopped cilantro, but since it doesn't keep very well I omit it so that I can make a big batch of the dressing and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days. I make sure to include cilantro in whatever salad I am making though because the flavor is pretty irresistible.

I just did some math to make the measurements accessible to everyone. So, go ahead and mix these things:

juice of one lime
8 tablespoons/120 ml olive oil
2 tablespoons/30 ml sesame oil
6 tablespoons/90 ml soy sauce
1/3 cup/80 ml brown sugar
3 tablespoons/45 ml chopped ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 hot peppers, veined and chopped

division of labor

This is me and my friend Åsa. We are at our friend Hans' house in Stockholm, last summer. Åsa is clearly doing the dishes, and I am clearly licking my fingers.

I think Åsa wore that apron for eight hours straight. All the way from cooking dinner, through eating it, and then as we can see for doing the cleaning up. Åsa likes aprons.

So do I. The next day, and every other day while I was staying with Hans, I wore the apron.

What I remember is the smell. It was super nice. After much thinking I realized it came from the tiny bit of fabric that is around Åsa's neck there, and that later was around mine. Whatever scent Åsa is wearing, yum.

Monday, March 10, 2008

life force

Each spring they appear out of dried up wood.

return to childhood

Last week's This American Life was pretty good. (I borrowed the picture from them.)

make it

I made this dressing today (originally from Jamie Oliver), and poured it over cut up cabbage, cauliflower, clover sprouts, red pepper, spring onions, and cilantro. Super good. And then I had some on a cold soft boiled egg. Wow.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

pink 1-3

but why do people always bring out their rainbow colored crayons when they want to write the word 'peace'? what's wrong with blue?

I went for a walk in the park today. There were the usual kids on tricycles, couples, spandex clad engineers on bicycles, and families. Everybody need to fit onto the same walkway, and sometimes it gets crowded.

As I was turning around to come back home again I noticed a larger than usual group of people in regular street clothes. (Usually people in the park wear some kind of activity related outfits.)

When I got closer I noticed that some members of the group had signs tied around their necks, and that one person who looked like the leader carried a small sign in front of him.

Reading the signs I realized that the group was, in fact, a 17 person peace demonstration.

As I was observing them I was totally getting ready to make fun of them. It was funny to me that they would call their stroll around the park a 'peace walk'. What did they expect to achieve?, I was thinking.

I remember noticing, when I first moved to California, that the city of Berkeley has announced itself a nuclear free zone. I used to laugh at that too. Upper middle class people making political points, I used to think, instead of making sure kids in Oakland live in knife free zones.

But I think that is unfair. I think each step in the right direction should be applauded. Even if the weather is nice, your snack is organic, and people who don't look too closely mistake you for a family reunion.

I bet they paced their rooms, anxiously

What did people do before leaf blowers?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

from the aussie friend, a mom of teenagers, and with an aussie sense of humor

This is funny. If you watch it, make sure to keep watching until the very end.

(Music player can be turned off before, scroll down and find it in the right hand side margin.)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

weird vibes

I am on a Barack Obama email list, and most days I get an email where the sender says 'Barack Obama'.

Today the subject line read What happened today.

Sounds a little like someone who wants to explain away something, doesn't it?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

I just watched darjeeling limited, and the soundtrack gets you carried away. this version was the best on youtube. hej hasse.

I want to look inside your head (yes I do)



daffodil with sun and water on it

at the coffee roasting company

Inspired by post #63 Expensive Sandwiches on everybody's new favorite blog, Stuff White People Like, I paid extra attention as I was waiting for someone in a coffee shop in the downtown area of my 'European' little California town the other day.

And I didn't have to wait long. Right in front of me two women sat down. They were white, in their 50s, and on the petite side without being skinny. They were dressed in outfits that women of their age sometimes refer to as casual and 'cute', and that are surprisingly childish. Socks with patterns, keds, cotton pants, and sweatshirts with animal applications.

These two had clearly been brought up to sit properly at a dining table. Knees and ankles together, elbows in. No spilling. No mistakes maneuvering tall wine glasses on a crowded table.

They each had a sandwich, and they split a bottle of red wine.

Their sandwiches were on focaccia bread, oily and chewy. Between the layers of bread I could spot brie, greens, mushrooms. It looked good.

It also looked hard to eat. The sandwiches were inches high. The women started by pressing the layers together and biting off small bites. It didn't go well. Then they tried biting from first the top, and then the bottom layers, while still holding the entire sandwich with both hands.

Bits of mushrooms and little leaves of salad kept falling out. Without missing a beat in their conversation about husbands and children ("he wants to buy a house but we won't be able to help him, and neither will his grandmother at this time") they lifted their forks, and proceeded to put everything that fell out back into the sandwich. They did this with skill, and with practice. They held on to the sandwich with their left hand, put stuff back in using the fork in their right hand. Then they put the fork down, and took another bite.

It was fascinating. I had never seen anything like it. The sandwiches were impractical to start with. But even more impractical was the habit to put the things back in. (Had it been me I would have picked up the stray pieces with my hand, and put them straight into my mouth, sans detour via the bread. And sans fork. Oh, correction. Had the pieces been oily I might have used my fork.)

It looked to me as if these women were trying to pretend they weren't eating with their hands at all. It also looked like a perfect example of middle class distinction: Setting yourself apart by developing irrational ways of doing things, and then proclaiming that those ways of doing things constitute good taste.