Monday, November 28, 2011

Team Richard

So what is going to happen on the remaining episodes of Boardwalk Empire? Richard gets sent after Manny Horwitz while Jimmy ineffectually tries to put out fires in Atlantic City?

Perhaps Little Teddy burns something big? Will Margaret confess to Nucky about her encounter with Owen or will she deftly sub in another sin as she did with the priest?

Will Nelson break bad on the stand? Will Eli flip so hard on Nucky that he destroys himself? Will there be any resolution whatsoever of the court case against Nucky? (And why doesn't he marry Margaret so she cannot be forced to testify against him?)

Will Jimmy finally die? What will Gillian do then? Sell heroin to burlesque artists for Lucky Luciano?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Weekend Bake: Turkey Tah Chin

Perfect for using up that leftover turkey:

1-2 lbs cooked turkey meat, chopped into 2-3 cm chunks
2.5 cups plain yogurt
2 large onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp saffron, ground well and steeped in 1/4 cup hot water
3 cups basmati rice, rinsed well and drained
4-8 tbsp butter

Mix the garlic, yogurt, saffron and water, salt, and turkey in a large bowl and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. It should be bright orange.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Saute the onions in a little butter until soft.
Boil a large pot of salted water and add the rice. Cook for 8 minutes, then rinse and drain the rice.
Melt enough butter to cover the bottom of a 13x9 baking pan (glass for proper visualization of cooking progress, or else something with extreme nonstick properties).
Mix the onion and half the rice with the turkey and stir well. Spoon the half the mixture into the buttered pan and smooth it across the bottom. Then add a firmly pressed layer of the remaining white rice and finish with the second half of the turkey. Cover tightly with an oiled sheet of foil and bake for 1.5-2 hours, or until the bottom is well browned.
Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before removing the foil, then gently loosen the rice from the sides with a knife and turn over onto a platter or baking sheet. You should have a crispy topped slab of creamy, saffron-infused turkey goodness.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An entirely absurd argument about YA fictional heroines

Noah Berlatsky at The Atlantic is demonstrating his independent, contrarian side by joining Team Bella instead of Team Katniss:
[W]hether it's in a fist fight or in the hearts of critics, butch beats girly every time. The relative discomfort with Bella, then, can be seen as reflecting a larger discomfort with femininity.
Berlatsky is MOAR FEMINIST THAN FEMINISTS, as he demonstrates by defending Bella, icon of femininity, from evil hordes of second-wave critics. Unfortunately, he attempts this by setting up insulting false dichotomies and then misreading the books to support them.

He argues that Bella is emblematic of femininity because she is "girly," as evidenced by the fact that she's "in touch with her desires—she wants to marry and screw Edward, not necessarily in that order." Katniss, on the other hand, is "masculine" and "butch" because she is "smart, fierce, independent, and sexually restrained." At one point Berlatsky contends that "what [Katniss] desired all along was domestic bliss with her nice-guy suitor and a bunch of kids running around the cottage," and Bella is in fact "competent" by virtue of her becoming immensely powerful through vampirism.

The root of this absurdity can be grasped when Berlatsky frames the two characters in terms of their relative endowments of power and desire: "Power and desire have to separate. Katniss has the first only because she doesn't have the second; Bella's got the second only because she doesn't have the first."

This is bollocks. One could view Katniss as a classically maternal protective figure throughout The Hunger Games: she takes the place of her own mother in caring for and providing for her sister, she sacrifices herself to protect her sister from selection for the Games, and she acts as a caretaker for two of her "competitors" during the Games themselves. Her kills during the Games are often indirect (as when she draws a pack of murderous pursuers into a hornets' nest). Katniss is a mama bear, not a macho death junkie, and her power is not conferred by subordination of sexuality but from skills honed through necessity.

More importantly, though, Katniss lacks desire because sex and romance rank somewhat lower on the hierarchy of needs than food, water, and not being executed as part of a televised entertainment. Her competence in certain specific areas lends her power in the narrow context of the Hunger Games, but part of the reason why the last two books are so boring is that it is painfully clear that she is not competent in the political arena and is instead used as a powerless tool. What Katniss wants is freedom: Only with freedom can she have the autonomy necessary to become a lover and a mother.

Bella does not lack power because she feels desire. She lusts for Edward even before he's revealed to be super-strong and practically immortal.* Bella lacks power because she cannot or will not assert herself in any way except to express her "love" for Edward. She could become competent in some meaningful way that required her own effort and agency. Instead, she even attains power through passive means: getting bitten, smelling delicious, and being endowed with thought-shielding abilities.

Bella, as one commenter notes, does not have any conventionally "girly" traits or interests beyond a liking for 19th century fiction and in fact is a consummate failure at the more conventional manifestations of high school girliness like fashion, hairstyling, dancing, and the like. To argue that she is seriously girly (in some manner presumably predating second- and third-wave feminism) because she is in touch with her intense sex drive is very strange, especially given the books' repeated emphasis on the dangers posed by this drive and Edward's constant harping on her to suppress it.**

But all this is ancillary (or is it?) to the question Berlatsky purports to be addressing, which is whether Bella or Katniss would win in a fight. The idea that there would be a fight is absurd, but the reason for peace is not that Bella and Katniss "might understand each other's desires and each other's strength" and walk away in mutual respect. Katniss wouldn't fight Bella because Bella is not an autocratic totalitarian dictator. Bella threatens exactly nothing that Katniss values, and thus Katniss, a user of violence who is not inherently violent, would probably shrug. Katniss's political consciousness and promotion of self-rule does not threaten Bella's tiny microverse of loved ones and would likewise be a non-issue to Bella.

If, however, Bella did think that Katniss made eyes at Edward and attempted to attack her, Bella would be shot before she had any chance to "flatten Katniss with a flick of her perfect pale sparkly wrist." A bow and arrow is effectively a long-range staking machine. I can't believe this is even debatable.

ETA that apparently Twilight vampires are not killed by stakes.They are, however, vulnerable to fire. So: fire arrows, anyone?

* Contra Berlatsky, it is laughable to read Bella's desire for Edward as secondary to her desire to be a vampire---if Edward died, would Bella want to become undead? I think not.

** For her own safety, of course, and eventually she does, waiting for marriage as the true old-fashioned girls were supposed to.

Help me buy things

Should I buy a Kindle Fire? I wanted to wait for the iPad 3, but it's taking too long. Refurbished iPads are still lots more than the Fire. I would mostly use it for watching Netflix and web browsing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Category error

Did Penn State treat boys like women?
As you absorb the news about the key people at Penn State who ought to have reported what they knew of coach Jerry Sandusky’s alleged assaults on little boys, please keep one thing in mind. Penn State’s cover-up is embedded in the interest it, and all universities, have in keeping many forms of sexual violence and sexual harassment a private, internal matter. The mistake Penn State made was, in many ways, a simple category error: they mistook these pubescent boys for women. They forgot that children occupy a very different status in the law than do the female students, faculty and staff who are most frequently the object of unwanted sexual attention and/or violence. If a college woman doesn’t file a rape charge, usually very quickly, the crime doesn’t exist. Delay the report by as little as 24 hours and the chances of even an internal judicial proceeding (much less an arrest and a trial) diminish dramatically. Universities substitute private hearings, counseling and mediation for legal proceedings: while women often choose this route, rather than filing felony charges against their assailants, it doesn’t always serve their interest to do so. But it always serves the interests of the institution not to have such cases go to court.

Penn State seems, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, not to have known what they did not know: society and the law have much stricter rules when child abuse is finally uncovered. Since most people don’t believe that ten year olds want to be anally penetrated by grown men, once there is credible evidence that the sex happened, people tend not to spin alternative scenarios about little boys like: ”look what he was wearing;” “he’s probably just mad that Coach Sandusky wouldn’t hook up with him;” “he was drunk;” or “it was just bad sex and he’s trying to get back at Coach.”

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Quasi-Dominican Goat Stew

2 lbs goat stew meat
Juice of 2 limes
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp oregano, preferably Mexican
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 large red onion, roughly chopped
2-3 jalapeƱos, minced
1 poblano or cubanella pepper, chopped
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 shot pomegranate molasses (tamarind paste might also be good here)

Marinate goat for at least 1 hour in the lime juice, garlic, salt, and oregano.
Heat the oil in a large pot. Add sugar and caramelize it slightly. Add goat and brown the outside.
Add the remaining ingredients and about 1 cup of water. Simmer, covered, until goat is almost falling off the bone. Finish uncovered.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011