Who’s insulting women?

January 25, 2014

Once again, Garry Trudeau finds a gem:

“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.”

Mike Huckabee

The stupid, it bu-u-u-urns.


September 25, 2013

Another Say, What?:

“Was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitchforks and their hangman nooses, and all that — sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong.”

AIG CEO Robert Benmosche, on the uproar over using bailout money for bonuses

Because rich people are just as oppressed as African Americans were in the South.

Privilege is clueless. Absolutely clueless.

Update: See Krugman.

Not clear on the concept

June 30, 2013

This recently appeared on a website I visited:

“To ensure ads play properly, please confirm that all ad blocking software has been disabled.”


Two Questions about Sourdough

June 22, 2013

I have celiac disease. Seems to be milder than many people, but I’m  definitely intolerant of wheat products. But I love wheat. I heard Michael Pollan on Michael Feldman’s “What Do You Know” the other day, and he said that he had heard that some people who have gluten intolerance can tolerate sour doughs, because the fermentation process breaks down the gluten. Question Number 1: Is this true? Any food chemists feel free to chime in here.

So I decided to try baking sourdough bread. I made my own starter many, many years ago, and the results were quite good. I looked around the internet for starter recipes, and I see all these recipes that call for packaged yeast. Question Number 2: Why the fuck would anyone use packaged yeast in a sourdough starter? The whole idea of sour dough is to culture wild strains of yeast. Why would you want to make it harder for these wild strains to survive? If you’re putting packaged yeast in your sourdough, in ain’t real sourdough.

Worries, Part 2

February 4, 2013

My worries mentioned in the last post were not signalling an approaching depression, they were a symptom of an already manifest depression coupled with anxiety. It’s more anxiety, really, than depression. 

I realized what it really is more or less by accident. I was walking through the grocery store with my wife looking for something and I by chance saw a box of valerian. I’ve used valerian in the past, and once in a while I take it just because I have really cool dreams when I take it. I grabbed it because I hadn’t been sleeping very soundly for a while. I took one that night, and I noticed that the next day I was more relaxed than usual. It really surprised me, because valerian has not had that effect on me in the past. I’ve used it only for sleep and to have weird dreams.  I’ve been using it regularly since then, and it really does help.
The funny thing is, I’ve never really thought of what I have as anxiety. Even though I’ve gone through periods in my life when I literally could not leave my house because of the thought that someone might see me. Even though I constantly (!) worry that someone is going to criticize me, even when I know I’ve done nothing wrong. When I have actually done something wrong (which is not often at all) it’s a hundred times worse.
The best I can do now is to quote a previous blog  entry as to the origins of all this:

 I grew up in a family where the only time people talked to me was to tell me shut up and go away, or to humiliate and demean me. This is not an exaggeration. I was totally isolated socially both at home and in school. I learned to trust no one, not even those who meant me well, because as I was growing up there was no one who meant me well.

The problem is that anxiety has been such a part of my life for so long that I have no idea what an anxiety free life is like, and it’s hard for me recognize gradations, hard to see when it’s getting worse, until I start making mistakes. I can’t recognize that it’s getting worse just by looking at how I feel.


September 28, 2012

I’m making mistakes. Mistakes in judgement. Not big ones. Mistakes that will take care of themselves, if not discovered, and the only one who could be hurt is me. If they are discovered, well, then people will question my judgement. Which would be justified.

This worries me, because it could be signalling a depression. I run into a situation that is a little bit out of the ordinary (really, just a little), and I panic, and take the quickest way out. Not the best, not even the easiest way out, but the quickest. And this has led to errors in judgement in the last week. And this worries me.
I’ve been chronically depressed since I was about seven. I was in counseling once in seventies, and twice in the nineties. Throughout a good part of the late eighties and early nineties I was debilitatingly depressed. The last major depression was about ten years ago and I didn’t see it coming. 

That’s why these little slips scare the holy fuck out of me.

Ryan rounding.

September 3, 2012

From Yahoo News:

Republican Paul Ryan now says he didn’t run a marathon in less than three hours as he claimed in a nationally broadcast interview.
. . . 
Ryan said he should have rounded his marathon time to four hours, not three.

So, it was just a rounding error. Of about twenty-five percent.

I hear he’s using the same math to do his budget.

Update: The actual error, using numbers I found here, is 29.53 percent.

I am not a street photographer . . .

August 28, 2012

. . . but, oh, do I wish I was. I was downtown with my wife a couple of weeks ago taking pictures of a couple buildings, and we stopped at a cafe for an hour or so. The weather was beautiful, so we sat outside in the sun and had, respectively, ice cream and Eiskaffee. (Coffee with vanilla ice cream in it. Good stuff.)

While we were waiting a younger couple sat down two tables away. The woman was wearing a pink t-shirt and sunglasses. She immediately lit up a cigarette, then pulled out a pink cell phone. She sat there leaning back with her cigarette in her left hand, staring at her cell phone in her right. It would have been a classic photo, and I really wish I could show it to you, but I just didn’t have the guts to lift up my camera and shoot. I was too afraid that she would glance in my direction as I shot.
I had two other wonderful opportunities that day (a woman in a red dress and straw hat with a camera who looked like she had just walked out of a dream, and a kind of macho looking guy wearing a tank top and oil-slick sunglasses picking cigarette ash off of his shirt) and I wasn’t brave enough to shoot. I will regret that for the rest of my life, but I still don’t think I will shoot the next time. I haven’t the nerve for it. Sigh . . .
Here’s one shot I did take:
The pink woman was sitting just under the street lamp to the left. I am a coward.

A quick question . . .

August 25, 2012

Does the food industry pay people to develop packages that look easy to open, but aren’t?

Vivian Maier

August 10, 2012

I first came across Vivian Maier via Metafilter a couple of years ago. I looked at her work again the other day and was once again overwhelmed. This woman was an absolute master of the camera. Every photo takes you into the world, into the moment as she lived it.

The man who discovered her negatives contacted MoMa and Tate Modern but, apparently, they weren’t interested. “They don’t consider the photos to be the artist’s vision if she didn’t print them.” But what if the artist was such a master of the camera, of the light, and of composition, that the artist’s vision is right there in the negative, and it wouldn’t matter if a gorilla printed it? The author of the article seems to share my opinion: "Nevertheless, the strength of the negatives is hard to deny." Of course, I haven’t seen the negatives, so I am assuming that these are being printed with minimal manipulation. Maybe, I’m wrong, and John Maloof has a lab tech with the prowess of Ansel Adams doing the prints. But I doubt it. What I see when I look at these photos is perfect composition, perfect lighting, perfect exposure in almost every case.

She spent most of her time doing street photography (at least from what has been developed. There are tens of thousands of negatives awaiting development.), but I am certain that whatever she had chosen to do with a camera would have been equally impressive.

I’m a little torn in my feelings about Vivian. On one hand, I wish she had gotten more recognition during her lifetime. On the other, I feel that if she had wanted recognition she could have gotten it, so she probably lived the life she wanted to live. Another part of me wishes she had written a book. But what she had to teach and to say is all in her photographs. I’m just glad they weren’t lost. And they came very close to being lost.