Jesurgislac’s Journal

March 24, 2009

Tuesday Recipe Blogging: Sweet Potato and Leek Soup

Almost too obvious to blog about, but not quite, because it really is that good.

Six leeks: wash thoroughly, remove all the bits you wouldn’t want to eat.
Two medium sweet potatoes.
Three medium white potatoes.
Two vegie stock cubes.
Herbs: I used rosemary and sage.

sweet potatoes

Chop the leeks, scrub and prepare the potatoes for their awful doom. Put the leeks in the slow cooker. Cut the potatoes up into small pieces. Add the herbs (about a half teaspoon of each) and crumble in the stock cubes. Cover theubgredients with water, put on high for half an hour and then low for eight to twelve hours, liquidise with a stick blender, and enjoy.

(Obviously one could make this without a slow cooker, in which case I would probably cook the sweet potatoes, leeks, and white potatoes in butter or olive oil, with the herbs, until the sweet potatoes were beginning to be tender, before I added the vegie stock.)

I think of leek-and-potato soup as one of the basic soups – it’s fine, you make it a lot when leeks are in season, eat it with maybe some cheesy bread or with sour cream stirred in. But the addition of sweet potato makes the soup richer, gives the flavour more depth: it turns a good soup into a great one.

The colour of the soup becomes a murky green rather than a clean green-and-white or plain green, but who cares when it’s tasty?

March 16, 2009

Collective noun cats

Filed under: Dragons,Polls — jesurgislac @ 3:59 pm
Tags: , , , ,

What collective noun should be in use for cats?
( surveys)

(Collective nouns from Rinkworks: the only one I’ve never seen in use is dout, which I find is more commonly used for wildcats – I didn’t include “a destruction of cats” as that is properly only used for wildcats. Oddly enough.)


March 15, 2009

Dan joins RaceFail Writers for 2009 Fail

I’m sad and mad: I’m savage. Dan Savage, one of my no-kidding favorite writers, just joined RaceFail 2009. (Debunk Tank, March 12th).

Apparently, Dan says, 3.89% of voters who voted for Yes on 8 is a landslide… because that 3.89% (58% of the 6.7% of the Californian population) are black.

Why does Dan Savage care so much about kicking that 3.89%? Who contributed the millions? Who made the lying ads and web campaigns? Who’s got the power, the political voice, and the funding? Who’s paying Ken Starr? It’s not that 3.89%. Why does Dan want to focus on that small group and call them a “landslide”?

From The Advocate:

The night before Election Day, a black woman walked into the San Francisco headquarters of the No on Proposition 8 campaign. Someone had ripped down the No on 8 sign she’d posted in her yard and she wanted a replacement. She was old, limping, and carrying a cane. Walking up and down the stairs to this office was hard for her.

[Michael Joseph Gross] asked why coming to get the sign was worth the trouble, and she answered, “All of us are equal, and all of us have to fight to make sure the law says that.” She said that she was straight, and she told me about one of the first times she ever hung out with gay people, in New Orleans in the 1970s. “I thought I was so cool for being there, and I said, ‘You faggots are a lot of fun!’ Well, that day I learned my lesson. A gay man turned on me and said, ‘A faggot is not a person. A faggot is a bunch of sticks you use to light a fire.’ ”

She puts Dan Savage to shame: I’m ashamed of him, if he’s not ashamed of himself.

[Update: and with this, 3 days later, Savage Love goes off my blog roll. I'm sadder yet about that: but there is a limit to the amount of racist crap I'm going to read, and Dan Savage just used it all up.]

March 13, 2009

Torture in the US military: why it still matters

Terry Holdbrooks served as a military police officer with the rank of Specialist in the United States Army between 2002 and 2005, attached to the 252nd Military Police, and later assigned to the 463rd MP company, a mobile deploying unit, based at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. From 2003 to 2004, he was deployed to Guantanamo Bay, where he served as a prison guard. This is a quote from an interview by the Talking Dog, on March 5th 2009:

In my case, a few squad leaders decided that I had shown too much interest in the detainees… I was not appropriately abusive or angry enough… I didn’t harbor “the right feeling”. So I was taken behind my barracks, and some blows were issued, pushing and yelling, a lot of profanity. I was told to “get my head on straight”… and asked why I was not with the program… I responded that it was “not my prerogative.”

At that point, my own squad leader separated me out from the others, suggested that they end this, lest they all get in trouble. I did not report this to my captain or sergeant… I felt that the pain was temporary, and that there was no reason to worry about this incident, so I let it go.

In social terms, I will say that I ended up effectively shunned or “excommunicated” from the others in the company, and we really did not talk much until we left Guantanamo and returned to Fort Leonard Wood. Things largely returned to “normal” at some point between when I left GTMO in 2004 and left the Army in 2005. Closer to 2004, when we returned, the platoons were redistributed again, and things were different, almost as if it was an opportunity to start over, and we were reunited with 1st platoon who had been gone in Qatar at that point we were gone in GTMO.

Which is why posts by liberal American bloggers justifying Obama’s decision to keep Gates on as Defense Secretary do not impress me at all.

Kathryn Cramer reminds me of fail

Filed under: Internet — jesurgislac @ 12:15 am
Tags: , , , ,

I got a “cease and desist” e-mail from Kathryn Cramer (whose public writings have been referenced on this blog in Stupid Things People Say On The Internet 4960, Kathryn Cramer: fail, fail, and fail, and Verb Noire: this matters) – subject line Ordover, which I presume is something meaningful to her, though damned if I can figure out what. [Update: someone tagged in a previous post because he was mentioned by name.] Nor can I reply, really, since she repeats her request that I “never contact her again”.

I have e-mailed her exactly twice. The second time, in response to an e-mail instructing me to never contact her again (March 4th), I wrote:

Dear Kathryn,

I will certainly never contact you again.

Your request that the name “Kathryn Cramer” should not be used when blogging about you will be given all the consideration it deserves.

Thanks,

Je Surgis Lac

She also claims that I have been “harassing her friends” (at the moment, I have no idea who they might be) and “those who speak positively about her”.

Kathryn, for what it’s worth: while I doubt I would bother to harass someone for speaking positively about you, it’s also true that ever since you outed Coffeeandink, demanded an apology from her for telling people you’d outed her, talked a lot of racist crap about the ‘lizardoid minions’, threatened to sue her for talking about your threats and harassment, and above all since [Update: correction. From a comment Ann Somerville linked to below, it appears Kathryn Cramer is not the person John Scalzi excoriated and banned from his blog for trying again to out Coffeeandink: I withdraw the accusation, and delete it.] you tried to use John Scalzi’s blog to out Coffeeandink again- I truly haven’t seen a single person anywhere who is speaking positively about you. I’m sorry. Even I think that makes you a pathetic toad of a person, in Scalzi’s memorable phrase. [Second update, 14th March: Okay, I take that back. Will Shetterly, who also outed Coffeeandink, but then seemed to regret what he'd done and want to atone for it, has changed his mind and decided that Coffeeandink deserved to be outed against her will and Kathryn Cramer was "falsely accused". In Will Shetterly's world, apparently, being "falsely accused" means (a) you did exactly what you were accused of doing but (b) the person whom you did it to was a lying slut who deserved it and (c) she therefore owes you an apology for telling other people about what you were doing to her, she ought to have shut up and acted properly shamed. This, Will Shetterly identifies as being "unsexist" and "chivalrous". So I take it back: there is one other person speaking positively about you, Kathryn Cramer, and that's the person who joined you in outing Coffeeandink.]

Nevertheless, Kathryn: I have not been in touch with you since March 4th. That I persist in using your real name when I blog about the things you do, is your own choice. Indeed, you have been very emphatic in the the recent past that the only name you want to use on the Internet is Kathryn Cramer. So you are and remain: Kathryn Cramer, Kathryn Cramer, Kathryn Cramer, Kathryn Cramer, Kathryn Cramer, Kathryn Cramer, Kathryn Cramer, Kathryn Cramer, Kathryn Cramer. Your problem. Not mine.

March 11, 2009

To the courageous people who save so many lives each year

Belatedly: I found out via that yesterday National Abortion Providers Appreciation Day in the US.

Thank you for what you do. Thank you for saving the lives of my friends who’ve had abortions, and who – because you were there – did not lose their lives or their ability to have the children they wanted to have, when they wanted to have them.

And this is what the pro-lifers do to women’s health care:

A decade ago, after an Atlanta clinic was bombed, Ms. Welsh had to take terrorism prevention classes. “I’m a director of a nonprofit, and I’m sitting there thinking, Why am I learning about letter bombs?” she recalled. “My board decided after that, only I could open the clinic mail — I was the only one they insured, to save money on the premium.”

On July 11, 2008, protestors picketed Ms. Welsh’s retirement party.

It’s been years since there was violence at the Hope clinic. In 1982, the clinic was firebombed, and eight months later, the owner and his wife were kidnapped for a week, before being released. When Ms. Burgess arrived as director in 1990, all the windows were still boarded.

But in 1999, she opened a new clinic building that is twice as big and tastefully decorated with paintings, dried flowers, framed letters of commendation from former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore. The building was designed like a fortress — walls are three cinder blocks thick, windows are bullet-resistant and out front is a concrete booth where an armed guard is stationed.link

March 8, 2009

Verb Noire: this matters

A new small press is in the process of being born.

Verb Noire is being set up “To celebrate the works of talented, underrepresented authors and deliver them to a readership that demands more.”

Donate here.

Jim C. Hines:

With all due love and respect, get over it. You publish your work, you’re going to get criticism. Some will be valid. Some won’t. Most of it will sting. Don’t like it? Stop trying to be a writer.
And as far as I can tell, the only people saying “White authors aren’t allowed to write about non-white characters” are the white authors. And most of the time, “not allowed” seems to mean “people might say mean things”.
Seriously. Get over it.
I’m struggling with a working definition of privilege, and coming up with something like, “In a discussion of racial stereotypes, appropriation of the ‘shiny bits’ of other cultures without real respect or understanding of those cultures, the ongoing underrepresentation/misrepresentation of large portions of the population in fiction and other media, and the need to do better, privilege is when the most important piece of the conversation is your hurt feelings.”

Niall Harrison in Torque Control – which is the blog of the editorial staff of Vector, the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association. Niall is editor of Vector and also senior reviews editor for Strange Horizons: Reasons to care about Racefail 09.

PS: The People Whites Don’t See: An Open Letter to Kathryn Cramer. Yes: that Kathryn Cramer, of fail, fail, and fail. Also, from Roz Kaveney’s blog: Sometimes things become very clear.

Links mostly courtesy of Rydra Wong’s collection.

March 4, 2009

Kathryn Cramer: fail, fail, and fail

Back in February, Kathryn Cramer announced (Stupid Things People Say On the Internet 4690) that all of us who use pseudonymous identities are “criminals and conmen”. I read, I mocked, I moved on.

(Warning: don’t click on the link from my post to her blog. Kathryn Cramer did something bizarre to it that ensured anyone trying to click through to there from here ends up at one of those spam-friendly sites that promise you FREE MONEY IN YOUR OWN HOME.)

Kathryn Cramer, regrettably, found herself unable to move on. She picked on one specific person active in a recent discussion of racism/cultural appropriation on livejournal, who blogs under the id CoffeeandInk, and decided to out her real name on www.kathryncramer.com. (I’m not linking directly to Kathryn Cramer‘s blog: I see no point, if she’s decided that people who try to check out her blog from mine will be redirected. Update, 3 – In fact Kathryn Cramer, using her pseudonym of Pleasantville, had already outed Coffeeandink on the feministsf wikipedia: when Coffeeandink complained about that first outing, Kathryn Cramer then outed Coffeeandink on www.kathryncramer.com.)

This wasn’t an accident: Kathryn Cramer knew that CoffeeandInk preferred to be identified online only by her chosen pseudonymous identity, and not by her real name.

Following an outpouring of sympathy for CoffeeandInk, and criticism of Kathryn Cramer, the entry in which CoffeeandInk was outed has now been password-protected so that only friends of Kathryn Cramer can read it.

(Warning: don’t click on the link from CoffeeandInk‘s post to Kathryn Cramer‘s blog; Kathryn Cramer did something bizarre to it that ensured anyone trying to click through to there from here ends up at one of those spam-friendly sites that promise you FREE MONEY IN YOUR OWN HOME.)

A couple of people took screenshots (with CoffeeandInk‘s name redacted) of Kathryn Cramer‘s post before she password-protected it.

Kathryn Cramer’s outing of CoffeeandInk – cache of the googlecache”

Kathryn Cramer's outing of CoffeeandInk - screenshot

So yeah. She did it. Kathryn Cramer decided to out someone’s RL identity, linking it with her online handle, knowing that this person did not want it to happen, because – Kathryn Cramer justifies this – she feels CoffeeandInk was insufficiently respectful and nice to two people with whom CoffeeandInk worked thirteen years earlier, at a company where Kathryn Cramer‘s husband now works. Kathryn Cramer used her privileged information about CoffeeandInk‘s legal name, because of some Kathryn Cramer Thing about how one ought always to be polite and respectful to people for whom/with whom one once worked, at all times and under all circumstances.

(Will Shetterly, who is in his own estimation a well-known writer, also outed CoffeeandInk, because she wrote a post quoting things he said and linking to the posts in which he said them and linking to his rebuttal of her post, which in Will Shetterly‘s world is called ‘misrepresentation’) but then changed his mind and deleted her legal name, though he’s been protesting ever since that he was jolly generous to do even that.)

Honestly: I think that even if I’d agreed with Kathryn Cramer in all respects up until the moment she did this, at the point she did this, I’d have to quit supporting her. Because… people have all sorts of reasons for wanting to maintain a pseudonymous identity online. And, no matter how much I disagree with them politically, no matter how rude or offensive they are to me or to people I care for, I know I have no idea what pressure they may be under to keep their online identity covert – whether being outed will lose them their job, lose their marriage, lose their children, lose their life, even. I just don’t know. I have no right to bust in and potentially do damage I can’t measure, to people whom I’ve never interacted with.

So, I consider that a minimal standard of decency in debate: if for any reason or none you happen across information that enables you to link someone’s legal identity to their online handle, you just don’t do it. Not just out of respect to that person’s right to privacy: but out of respect to all the other lives that person’s right to privacy may be protecting.

Kathryn Cramer fails that basic test. Further, I am unimpressed by her attempting to take some kind of high moral ground about this – and yet doing things such as redirecting links to her blog posts to spam sites to avoid people reading the post in which she outed CoffeeandInk‘s legal name. She hasn’t apologized for doing it; she hasn’t taken the post down; she’s just trying to stop people who disagree with what she did from linking to her blog.

We deal with each other on the Internet on a sometimes painful level of honesty, and often with poisonous vituperation. I’ve been awesomely rude to some of you reading my blog now, and frankly, I think I usually had good cause. (Feel free to disagree.) But, there is one thing I would not do, and that is the one thing Kathryn Cramer felt herself justified in doing: I would not link your legal identity to your online identity, unless you had made explicitly clear it was OK to do so. I would not link to a post in which I saw it done. I would protect the frame of our debate, our ability to exchange our views honestly and freely. I may loathe you, but I’ll loathe you on a level playing field.

Kathryn Cramer: fail, fail, and fail.


Update: Kathryn Cramer has posted a demand for an apology from the person she outed on her blog. I cannot link to her blog, because she has set up a redirect to a spam website. I e-mailed her to ask her if she would remove the redirect so that I could link to her demand for an apology: she responded instructing me to never contact her again and to remove the name Kathryn Cramer from my blog. I find this culmination of fail …strangely ironic, really.

–Update 2: Because I am a bad person who cannot resist a good story:

Teresa [Nielsen Hayden] recalls a Readercon Midnight Horror Panel showing that US pros know how to have fun. The title was ‘Is Violence Necessary?’, and ‘a dead-drunk and bizarrely dressed Kathryn Cramer first monopolized the discourse, pacing back and forth in front of the panel while ranting incoherently into her-friend-the-invisible-mike; then assaulted another panelist who’d been holding up signs (“HELP US PLEASE HELP US”) and intermittently suggesting she sit down and shut up (during the early phases of which struggle she inadvertently kicked David Hartwell in the face, whereat David went and sat in the audience); then capped it all when, upon the panelist’s extricating himself from her clutches, she toppled face-first from the dais, too drunk to even put out her hands to cushion her fall, and announced while lying there with her face in the carpet that said panelist was fired from The New York Review of SF. “I quit six months ago,” he reminded her. (That was John Ordover.) After that David collected her up for future use, and the panel ended.’ – Ansible 80, March 1994


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