Friday, July 9, 2010

Meatout Mondays

Sponsored by FARM and In Defense of Animals, Meatout Mondays is a weekly electronic newsletter that has yummy vegan recipes, product features, and inspirational stories.

Why go vegan?
  • To save the animals
  • To help the environment
  • To improve your health
Even one day a week can make a difference.

In a recent Meatout Mondays newsletter, my friend Roni Seabury from DaisyWares was featured as the inspirational story. She is an inspiration! She is compassionate and kind. Her jewelry and bath/body products are awesome! Roni works tirelessly for animals. Not only does she donate a portion of the proceeds from DaisyWares to Animal Place, she is constantly involved in fundraisers for that and other animal organizations.

Please check out the Meatless Mondays newsletter and the DaisyWares shop!

Read the Printed Word

In reading some blogs recently, I saw the following badge which intrigued me:

Read the Printed Word!

I like reading! I like the printed word! When I went to the
website, I learned this is a movement not just to preserve books, newspapers, and magazine but to pledge to read the printed word in these forms. It doesn't explicitly say that those taking the pledge must eschew digital readers, but the implication is there. I love books, and I don't think I'll ever not have them, but I also covet a digital reader, and I don't think that is wrong either.

I find the pledge particularly ironic, though, because it is a blog badge, which, by definition, is digital!

Thursday, July 8, 2010



I'm not the only one miserable - you can see the pedestrians, too, are wilting under the heat and humidity. In Arizona, I didn't get completely uncomfortable until it was 115 or higher! I'm not sure if it is the humidity here, the prevalence of air conditioning there, or me getting more of a baby as I grow older.

UPDATE (7.9.01): Even this week's Ithaca Times complained about our recent heat wave!

No Fly List Challenged

When I heard that the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the "No Fly List," my gut reaction was: What? Challenge the "No Fly List"? That's insane. We need the "No Fly List" for our safety. Then, I questioned my credentials as a progressive-type. Would my liberal card be taken away? (For the record, I imagine my views on animal rights will keep me permanently in the radical left-of-liberal camp.)

As I listed to the radio program with Ben Wizner, I began to see the issue. According to the ACLU, individuals are placed on the "No Fly List" without warning or the right to contest their status, problematic because it violates the right to due process. Wizner described one of the plaintiffs as a permanent, legal U.S. resident who was traveling overseas. He flew from his point of origin to a connection in Germany (I think) where he was told he could not proceed but had to fly back to his point of origin. He was interviewed by FBI agents, and, according to the story, to get off the "No Fly List," he could succumb to months, maybe years, of bureaucratic procedures or consent to become a confidential informant. The rub is that he knew nothing, yet there was pressure to name names - much like the Salem Witch trials and McCarthy's communist hearings.

Don't get me wrong - I want to be safe; I want terrorists kept from airplanes or other places where they can wreak havoc. Even more, I want the country to live up to its responsibilities. There has got to be a better way. I am reminded of Congresswoman Barbara Lee's quote, in opposing a use-of-force resolution after 9/11: “Let us not become the evil that we deplore.”

ACLU Resource Center
BBC News Article
Democracy Now Interview

Doctor Who Theme Song

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

More Things I Want

"House Rules" by Jodi Picoult

House Rules: A NovelRecently, NPR recommended five books from the bestsellers of the previous six months, and on that recommendation, I decided to read House Rules by Jodi Picoult. I enjoy reading books in clusters - books about WWII, books about informed consent, etc - and Asperger's Syndrome (AS) has been a theme of my summertime reading. In Picoult's novel, Jacob, an eighteen year-old-boy, diagnosed with AS, has a razor-like focus on criminal forensics. He watches the fictional CrimeBusters (a nod to CSI) reruns daily and keeps detailed notebooks of the cases; he subscribes to academic journals on forensic science; and with the help of a police scanner, goes to crime scenes where sometimes his advice, though unwelcome, gives investigators the perspective they need. However, when Jacob's social skills tutor, Jessica Ogilvy, is reported missing, and then later found dead, Jacob is arrested for the murder. His Aspergian traits - flat affect, self-centeredness, single-minded focus on one topic, the need for a strict adherence to a set schedule, twitches (stimming), lack of eye contact, aversion to touch, and meltdowns - are read by many, including his family, as indication of guilt. (As far as I can tell from previous reading, Picoult is fair in her representation of AS; in her acknowledgements, she mentions that an AS teenager read a draft of the novel and gave her feedback, of course, in a frank and unflinching manner.)

The premise of the novel was intriguing to me, and, as I mentioned, Picoult was fairhanded (yet perhaps too pedantic) in describing AS. However, the execution was disappointing. First, I found the five main characters - Jacob, Emma, Theo, Oliver, and Rich - to be fairly unsympathetic. This did make me think quite a bit. I found it ironic that I had so little empathy for the characters, especially since a lack of empathy is characteristic of AS. I wondered if this was deliberate, so we could feel more of Jacob's world, or if it was sloppy writing that made the characters unidimensional. I don't have children, much less a child on the autism spectrum, but I found myself feeling sorry for Theo, Jacob's younger brother, who is forgotten in the wake of Jacob's needs. Emma, their (single) mother, seems unaware or unconcerned about Theo. This may be the way it is for families who have a member with AS, but it struck me as unfair. Second, each of the five characters has chapters corresponding to their points of view - and each of them had a unique font! I found this gimmicky and distracting. (An aside: I just started reading another book on NPR's list, The Lake Shore Limited, and while I haven't read much, I noticed it has the same structure: alternating chapters by character. Is this about the NPR list or about today's novels?) Each of the ten sections of the novel was introduced by a Case History - a crime solved using innovative forensic methods, with the final of the Case Histories discussing Jessica's death. I found this slightly gimmicky, too, but less distracting than the different fonts. Third, given the title of the book "House Rules" and the tendency of people with AS to obey rules, the mystery of the story is fairly obvious, though I was curious about how it would be revealed.

Despite my criticisms, this is a quick, engrossing read - good for the beach or a flight, though I'd wait until the book comes out in paperback.

Ellis Paul | 3,000 Miles

You can see why Ellis Paul is one of my favorites. Be sure to check him out at If you go to you can download “Annalee,” the lead track of Ellis Paul's new album, The Day After Everything Changed, for free.

Here, he is singing with Susan Werner, who is also awesome.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Some Good News for Animals

Pig Friend
Two major announcements regarding farm animal welfare provide some measure of celebration for animals in these trying times.

First, in Ohio, activists have been working to get a proposition on the ballot, much like those successfully run in Arizona and California. Instead of proceeding with the ballot initiative, Ohioans for Humane Farms (supported by the Farm Sanctuary, the Humane Society of the United States, and other animal advocacy groups) agreed to drop their campaign if the state's agricultural industry agreed to several reforms, including a ban on veal crates, a ban on gestation crates, and other measures (which are outlined in this Farm Sanctuary press release).

Second, according to an HSUS press release, today California's Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill that requires by January 2015, all eggs sold in California
come from hens able to stand up, fully extend their limbs, lie down and spread their wings without touching each other or the sides of their enclosure, thus requiring cage-free conditions for the birds.
Otherwise, laying hens are kept in cruel battery cages. Imagine if you had so sit on a metal folding chair your whole life - you can't move, you can't stand, you can't stretch. That's what a battery cage is like. Kudos to Schwarzenegger for signing the bill into law.

"Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment" by James H. Jones

Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, New and Expanded EditionAfter reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, I was interested in other discussions of race and informed consent, so decided I wanted to learn more about the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments. Usually, when I think of informed consent, my mind goes to Milgram's Obedience Experiments or Zimbardo's Prison Experiment. (One of my favorite classes at OU wasn't even for credit for my MBA program; it was an undergrad social psychology class I took for fun.)

Bad Blood was an edifying and interesting chronicle of the experiments, if at times horrific. James Jones did an excellent job describing the racial and social prejudices of the historical context without excusing them. Like Milgram and Zimbardo, there is some attention to the role of institutions and authority figures in perpetuating atrocities. One of the more interesting chapters discussed the role of Nurse Rivers, an African-American woman who was the primary link between the men in the experiment and the "government doctors." It is hard not to ask, How could she? Jones gives a convincing answer to the question, though he doesn't excuse her complicity. Also interesting were the descriptions of public health "demonstration" projects preceding the Tuskegee experiment. The Great Depression curtailed funding of many health programs, leading to the void into which the Tuskegee experiment fell, but when the country needed healthy young men to fight overseas, the health of the populace, especially men, was again a priority...except for the men of "Nurse Rivers' Burial Society" who were cruelly denied treatment for the sake of the study.

I would have liked more discussion of the men who were part of the experiment, though access may have prevented Jones from covering more of their personal stories. By the time he wrote the history, not surprisingly, many of the men had passed away. The 1993 edition I read included a follow up chapter that discussed the Tuskegee experiment in light of the AIDS epidemic. While the information is dated, I thought that chapter did a nice job explaining why so many African-Americans distrust the government and doctors.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

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