Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Stolen from The Economist

From Misc

So we're in the same category as Iran, and Bolivia is facing criticism from our government and other so-called developed countries for trying to close the gap. It really makes you wonder where global capitalism is taking us.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I'm off to Maine today for my Grandfather's funeral. He died of a stroke early Wednesday morning. Really, there's not much to be sad about. He was 90 years old and maintained mental capacity and a good quality of life up to the end. When he died, he was outside painting the house and working in his garden. That's how he would have wanted it- he valued hard work and loved his vegetables.

I have these two jars of pickles in my cupboard that Grandpa made about a month ago. They were kind of his signature thing- classic German dill pickles made from cucumbers that he grew himself. And they're the best pickles you could imagine. Nothing commercial can compare. Now I don't know if I can ever bring myself to eat them.

From 1-3-2008

^ Grandpa shoveling his driveway last winter.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Not much on the knitting front, but I went to Shenandoah National Park and saw a black bear!

From Shenandoah

Friday, August 29, 2008


In June I made a shawl for afghans for Afghans and never posted about it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I only got 30...

The Omnivore's Hundred:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Italicise out any items that you would never consider eating.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari

12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut

50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

So I'm not the adventurous eater I thought I was. I italicized items that I found disgusting (usually strange meats), unethical (foi gras), dangerous (fugu), or too spicy (scotch bonnet, phaal). When I googled kaolin it came up as an industrial clay, and clay doesn't sound too appetizing.

Friday, August 15, 2008


It has recently come to my attention that I'm a really shitty writer. Crap.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Do dogs have gender?

I noticed that Franklin's Dogbook page has a 'gender' field. At first I thought that a bit absurd. Franklin is a boy-dog, but that is his sex, not his gender. Sex is biological, gender is an aspect of social identity. Surely Franklin can't have an identity. He doesn't think about what having the vet remove his testicles instead of ovaries means to his relationship with dogs, people, and the rest of the world.

Yet he does have an identity imposed upon him. People define dogs with all kinds of labels: he's a beagle/basset mix, he's a squirrel hunting enthusiast, and he's a boy dog. Just as parents express their child's gender identity by choosing the blue onesie or the pink onesie, Franklin had to have the manly lobster-patterned harness and not the floral one. So must gender be a self-defined category, or can this identity be determined externally?

To further complicate matters, other languages ascribe genders to inanimate objects. In Spanish, plates are male- los platos- while spoons are female- las cucharas. However, it seems the gender applies to the words, not the objects themselves. Spanish-speakers do not think of plates as exhibiting masculne qualities and spoons feminine qualities. Two words that mean the same thing can even have different genders. (A cup can be la tasa or el vaso.)

The difference between animals and tableware is that they have a definable sex, which makes gender assignment seem logical. We use gender to make sense out of the role played by sex, so to make dogs fit into the human world we give them human-like identities. Society gives humans sex-based identities as well. However, when a person's sex and gender are different we must respect that person's self-identification. Dogs cannot form identities, so our conceptions of them are entirely constructed by human society. So, dogs cannot intrinsically have gender, but we can ascribe gender to them and, given our conceptual link between gender and sex, doing so is probably inescapable.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


According to The Economist, the US provides 30% of global weapons exports.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

On Gun Control...

It bothers me that the Supreme Court struck down the DC handgun ban. Putting aside the issues of constitutional interpretation, let's look at gun control's role in public safety.

As gun control opponents are so fond of saying, "if we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns." They maintain a romanticized notion that the good guys with guns can fight the bad guys with guns in a self-reliant form of defense and vigilante justice. The problem is that it doesn't end up working that way. A person who obtains a handgun legally, with the best of intentions, has a better chance of winding up with an injured family member than an injured assailant. But the gun makes its owner feels safer, more self-reliant, and more capable of defending his family from the world's evils. The gun's benefit is psychological, not practical.

On the other hand, if we outlaw guns then only the outlaws have guns. This can only make law enforcement easier. It's hard for police to catch a gun-toting felon in the act of misbehaving, but when guns are illegal having one, or being seen with one, becomes probable cause for further investigation.

I'm not a proponent of the police state. I'm a fan of individual liberties. Gun control, as with any control, should only be as stringent as needed to fit the problem that it's intended to solve. In my opinion, DC's murder rate merits the banning of handguns. Public policy should be based on solutions that fit their problems, not blind psychological comfort.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Thoughts on food and sustainability:

Ultimately, what sustainability requires of us is change in global society as a whole. We need the recovery and reconstitution of community generally, not simply in relation to food. But though we may be able to think like mountains, we must act as human beings. To begin the global task to which we are called, we need some particular place to begin, some particular place to stand, some particular place in which to initiate the small, reformist changes that we can only hope may some day become radically transformative.

We start with food. Given the centrality of food in our lives and its capacity to connect us materially and spiritually to each other and to the earth, we believe that it is a good place to start.

- Wisconsin Foodshed Research Project, Coming Into the Foodshed
Agriculture and Human Values 13:3 (Summer): 33-42, 1996
Jack Kloppenburg, Jr., John Hendrickson and G. W. Stevenson

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Done with the sweater and done with school. It feels good.

Isn't it pretty? Doesn't it fit awesomely? I'm visiting my family on Cape Cod this weekend and I think it will be perfect for the chilly Cape spring.

I also wanted to show off my window garden.

From the left, that's cilantro, spearmint, jade, parsley, and basil.

And here's the obligatory Franklin-looking-cute.

Friday, May 9, 2008


I like the concept of caffeine as an alternative fuel source.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Thoughts on gas prices...

Clinton and McCain's plan to drop the gas tax for the summer is a bad idea that won't actually lower prices for consumers. Bottom line: oil companies operate an oligopoly and demand is inelastic, so savings go to producers instead of consumers.

The environmentalist in me say that rising gas prices are a good thing. They encourage people to conserve and stimulate investment in alternatives. But rising energy prices have the greatest effect on poor people's budgets, and that's not cool. In the long run we can develop public transportation and increase fuel efficiency standards, but in the short run people have to get to work.

The solution: gas stamps. They would operate kinda like food stamps. You buy a stamp at a reduced price (say $2 or $3) that gets you a gallon of gas. The amount of stamps people can buy is limited. You could either have a fixed quantity per person, or a variable quantity based on income and driving needs. It's like a ration, except the quantity allocated to each person is still market-based. If you want more gas than you can buy with your permits, you pay the high market prices. In fact, market prices would likely increase. So, people can drive as they need to and conservation is still encouraged.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Progress on the Sweater

I've done the front, back, and most of the sleeve. The end is in sight, but I fear the weather will be too hot to wear it by the time it is done. The semester is coming to a close and I have my hands full with term papers. Two of them, a total of ~35 pages, are on Cape Wind. I've really gotten into wind energy this semester. I think it is the best energy source to develop right now. We need clean, secure domestic renewable energy, and the costs of producing wind power are very close to fossil fuels. A carbon tax would probably make wind power the cheapest option. I'm actually toying with the idea of starting a blog all about wind power development in the US, but given how infrequently I update my existing blog, I wonder if I would neglect that project as well. It could be put on the summer project list, but I already have a full time internship, and extensive reading list, a demanding hound dog, and I want to learn web design.

Speaking of the bagle hound:

Isn't he cute!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Link recycled from 3quarksdaily...

I've changed my mind, at least a bit, about merits of the prominence of race and gender in the Democratic primary. First, Obama's speech on race provided a fantastic treatment of that issue, as well as Americans' treatment of identity politics in general, and everyone should watch it. I think it's still one of the most popular videos on Youtube. Now, we have a honest and informative discussion about gender! It didn't come from either campaign, but it's worth a look.

Friday, March 21, 2008

New Knittings

I'm knitting Jaden, from the latest issue of knitty. I've had to restart it three times- once it was too big, once it was too small, and once I realized I had been doing the lace pattern wrong. This time I think I'm on the right track.

In other news, Franklin's vet says he isn't entirely beagle! He is almost certainly a beagle/basset hybrid, known as a bagle hound.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Local Currency

Today I learned that some places, in the United States and elsewhere, use local currency to foster local economic development. One such system has been used quite successfully in the Berkshires. of Western Massachusetts.

The idea is that people buy local currency from a special bank and use it at participating local businesses. It gives these businesses a way to compete with national chains and keeps capital local.

Obviously this wouldn't work where I currently live, Montgomery County Maryland, because it's far too urban. Keeping money around to foster economic development couldn't be less of a problem. People would see no reason to use the local currency.

However, such a scheme could be interesting on Cape Cod, where I grew up. We don't have a problem getting an influx of capital, due to a booming tourist trade. The problem is that nearly all of the economic activity is centered on tourists, leaving locals feeling like there's nothing left for us. With a local currency, certain local businesses could specialize in serving local people and keep tourists away. Most local businesses thrive on tourist dollars, but certain coffee shops and bars would like to keep their local flavor.

Would it work? Probably.

Am I being unfair to tourists by favoring their exclusion? Definitely.

Would most locals welcome my proposal? Given that we take pleasure in making tourists think that there is a tunnel under the Cape Cod Canal and a bridge to Martha's Vineyard, I'd say undoubtedly.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Big Media and the Election

Generally, it really grinds my gears that media outlets like CNN, Fox News, and even newspapers of record like the Washington Post have brought political dialog down to the level of the sound bite. Specifically, when reading the Washington Post this morning two things caught my eye:

1. The focus on race and gender.
It almost seems like a no-brainer in the democratic primary. These candidates are making history and that is not to be discounted. However, I think (I hope) that most voters do not choose which candidate to support based on whose demographics more closely match their own. One reason that Clinton and Obama are so successful is that she transcends gender and he transcends race in the constituencies that they gain support from and the issues that they address. I think that the most profound difference between the candidates is leadership style. After the damage that has been done by the Bush administration in nearly every facet of foreign and domestic policy, we need a president with the leadership skills necessary to make good decisions, gather political support, and make America great again. Despite all of the blathering about race and gender from the media, Democrats have different ideas about whose leadership would be best to move our country forward and that how we choose whom to support.

2. The notion that this race will divide the democratic primary.
Policy-wise, Clinton and Obama are not that different. I think that the fact that this democratic primary is more hotly contested, and stirs more passion in democrats, than those in recent years is because of opposition to the Bush administration. Democrats are showing such strong support for the candidate of their choice because we realize that this election is important. We have to elect a democratic candidate that will win the general election and rebuild America. Besides, in order for a party to be divided, it needs a dividing element. There must be an issue dimension. A dividing issue may emerge in the future, but right now the best way to characterize the democratic party is united against everything the Bush administration has done.
The Republicans, on the other hand, are divided. Conservatives are splitting from the more moderate wing of the party. John McCain energizes most of the party, but some of the big pundits from its conservative wing have stated that they would vote for Hillary Clinton over him. The fact that he remains the only viable republican candidate while the democrats are still in a heated battle is a symptom of the parties' primary electoral systems, not division.

Is Big Media being lazy, or is it incapable of fostering a dialog with more complex ideas?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Another sock.

There hasn't been much excitement lately in knitting land. I've mostly been preoccupied with other things, like schoolwork and the dog. Tomorrow I'm planning to go to A Tangled Skein in Hyattsville to get some yarn to make a scarf for Ben and mittens/gloves for me. Right now, I'm working on yet another sock, this time for Ben. It's nothing fancy, just your basic ankle-down sock pattern in self striping yarn.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dave Grohl for president!

The Foo Fighters/ Nirvana drummer announced his intention to run, and his platform includes drinking more beer.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


"It's easier to tear a country down than it is to rebuild a country."
From the associated press, covering Bush's trip to Liberia.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

From The Economist...

After the bitterness of the Bush years, America needs a dose of unity: Mr. Obama has a rare ability to deliver it. And the power of charisma should not be underrated, especially in the context of the American presidency which is, constitutionally, quite a weak office. The best presidents are like magnets below a piece of paper, invisibly aligning iron filings into a new pattern of their making. Anyone can get experts to produce policy papers. The trick is to forge consensus to get those policies enacted.

The article goes on to caution voters against Obama's lack of experience, but the above passage highlights the qualities that matter in a president. Realistically, presidents do not make policy. They may have strong influence over it, but the actual solutions to our nation's problems will be crafted by advisers, agencies, and Congress. The president's effect on policy is a function of his/her judgment and values, as well as their ability to negotiate and push through solutions that are both effective and politically palatable enough to muster the necessary support. So, rather than elaborate policy solutions, perhaps we should be focusing more on our candidates leadership skills, attitude towards the office of president, and what they perceive to be important issues.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Signs of Spring

Today, the weather was more similar to a crisp, bright day in April than February's usual gray chill. I blew off my work to go to the C&O canal towpath with Ben and Franklin.

There were blooming crocuses!

The new surroundings, filled with people, other dogs, and assorted wildlife, made my dog even more rambunctious than usual. Now he's all worn out and sleeping on the couch.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

This is my puppy, Franklin:

He's a six-month old beagle that we met at an animal shelter.

Friday, February 8, 2008

I'm happy because...

1. Ben and I are getting a dog! He's a six-month-old beagle named Bertie from the Washington Area Rescue League. We get to bring him home a week from today.

2. Romney is out of the race!

3. The weather is starting to feel like spring.

4. It's almost the weekend.

I'm almost done with those socks, just have to graft the last toe together.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why I Support Obama

I've never gotten into politics on this blog before, or even substantially deviated from knitting, but I feel the need to for a couple of reasons:
1. Ravelry just makes knitting blogs a bit redundant.
2. I'm a policy student, this stuff is my life.
3. Why should I limit my blog? It's not like all I think about is knitting!
4. Writing about stuff helps you to think more clearly about it.

So I watched the Democratic debate tonight. Despite being a bit of a political junkie I hadn't watched a debate since, like, April. I figured that getting exposed to all of the mudslinging in the papers, on the radio, on TV, and in daily conversation was enough. This time around I thought it would be amusing. You see, the Democrats are down to Obama, Clinton, and Gravel. I assumed that all of them would be invited to the debate, Gravel would actually get to talk a little bit, and hilarity would ensue. I'm amused by how nuts that guy is. CNN apparently isn't so amused by his insanity becase they prevented him from appearing in the debate.

Back to the point, I realized why I find Obama so refreshing. It's not the issues- his positions hardly differ from Clinton. I would anticipate very little policy difference between each of their presidencies. The reason that I find Obama appealing and Clinton repulsive is their approach to governance. Obama, rather than the usual petty disputing of facts, seems to realize that differences in political preferences are a result of differences in fundamental values. Rather than exploiting these differences by jumping right to the fundamentally divisive issues (abortion, size of government, distributional justice) he focuses on the values that are held in common. He emphasizes dialog and coalitions, which is exactly what we need if we are to work past our deepest divisions.

Clinton, on the other hand, seems to thrive on the back-and-forth, divisive politics that have dominated since the Regan era. (Or so I hear- I'm 22 and I've only been paying attention to politics for about 7 years. I'm fortunate enough not to remember Regan.)

Bottom line: divisive partisan politics don't get things done. (Ex: SCHIP). After all of the damage that the Bush Administration has done over the past 7 years, we need a President that can move past petty party identity and ideology to bring about the progress that our country so desperately needs.

Why We Knit

Yeah, I'm knitting another pair of socks.

My favorite hand-knitted pair got a giant rip in the heel.

Lately I've been finding it somewhat redundant to post my project both on this blog and on Ravelry. (If you're on, look me up- the SN is also wildthreads). It leads me to question what this is all about, why I'm putting my words and my projects out there on the internet. Online social networking is revolutionary and I love that it has brought knitting into the modern world and that communities exist to unite modern knitters. Ultimately, though, the revolutionary aspect of the internet is that it enables individuals to have a voice as never before.

So what is my voice? Pretty pictures of my mediocre knitting followed by half-assed analysis?

To me knitting, like the internet, is about upsetting the power structure. By making our voices heard or creating our own fashions, our creative input is challenging the mainstream media or the fashion industry. Although most of us make small contributions- by updating a blog every now and then or wearing a hand-made hat- we are telling the traditional powers, like the media and the fashion industry, that their word will not be taken without challenge.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

It's a sweater!

It fits me perfectly. The sleeves generally came out well, but they're a little bumpy around the shoulders.

I'm also making socks:

And last night I started a scarf for Ben.

Monday, January 21, 2008


All that's left to finish my sweater is sewing the pieces together. I HATE this part, partially because sewing is much less exact than knitting, but mostly because it means that the sleeves have to fit into the sleeve holes. I'm on my third unsuccessful attempt to pin them in place. To make it even more difficult, the yarn I'm using says not to soak it. This means no wet blocking, and I don't know how to dry-block. I don't even have a flat surface big enough to block on, anyway. So I'm proceeding without blocking. Maybe by some magical intervention I'll be able to set the sleeves and finish the sweater tonight, and then there will be pictures.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tiny socks, new books, and sweater

Although I can't seem to make myself settle down in front of a computer to blog these days, I've been doing plenty of knitting. Seeing Nellie's brand new beautiful knitting blog inspired me to finally do some posting.

I started off the break by knitting some tiny little warm things for Afghans for Afghans.

I like tiny socks because they're easy, but complicated enough to make it interesting, and they go fast. The hat was a way to use up scraps of different sock yarns.

For Christmas I got two knitting books. My parents gave me Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan. Ben's parents gave me Alterknits by Leigh Radford. Right now I'm working on this sweater from Knitting Nature:

They call it the Turbulence U-Neck Pullover. Of course, I had to make the front and back quite a bit longer than called for to accommodate my giraffe-like dimensions. I'm using this amazing soy-wool blend. It's surprisingly soft- I would have thought the soy would make it rough, but it feels great. Here's a picture from much earlier in the process. Right now all I have left is one sleeve and the finishing.