Thursday, November 29, 2012

Let's Burn Some Stuff

Here is just a brief thought on the rising utility and health insurance premiums in Taiwan (I believe the premium rate hike has not taken effect yet, no? If so, I haven't noticed it in my paycheck).

You know, I do think this stuff was necessary. Costs go up - at some point the cost of electricity probably did have to be raised. Gas went up, if I am remembering correctly - well, gas is going to do that if we keep relying on it as supplies dwindle (whether due to natural means or market manipulation), and we as a global society are better off pouring money into renewable energy research rather than pretending that continuing to rely on fossil fuels is in any way a viable long-term strategy.

Health insurance premiums have to go up, too. While I do feel the government needs to look at National Health Insurance as a social welfare issue, and not an institution that needs to break even - which means that yes, the government should be willing to pour money into it if there's a gap, and absolutely not let it or labor insurance/pensions go bankrupt - there's a point at which more money is needed, and we've reached that point. If I felt we'd get better coverage out of our National Health Insurance plans, I'd be happy to pay higher rates. We probably won't, but coverage is good enough now (with room to improve, though) that I still feel that paying a higher rate is acceptable.

I am absolutely in favor of a higher capital gains tax - and not the joke of a tax that they want to push through. A real capital gains tax. I know, I know, rich people get all skittish when others suggest that maybe society and taxpayer-funded infrastructure (not to mention cronyism and predatory market practices) helped them amass the fortunes they have, that they did not in fact Build That (or more accurately build those) all by themselves, and that they should be required to give back to the society that helped them get ahead. They get all huffy and sell off stocks and make a big stink. I say too fucking bad, boo hoo, let me call the waaaahhhmbulance on ya, and play a tune on this tiny violin while you are taken away. I feel this way about Taiwan and the USA both.'s the problem. That's me. I count as middle class if not upper middle class in Taiwan (although I certainly don't own any luxury apartments or anything like that - I consider such things to be the provenance of the wealthy, not the upper middle class). I can afford these price hikes. I can just about keep ahead of inflation and, unlike most of the country, I have seen my real wages increase over the past 6 years, from crummy cram school ghetto (thanks Kojen, for paying me crap, that's why I quit after a year - that and the Saturday hours and not really liking my coworkers - but mostly the pay and the hours) to "doing pretty damn well". I can say I am willing to pay higher health insurance premiums and not get too het up about my own electricity bill, because I can afford to absorb the costs.

So, is it any wonder that people are upset that they're being told to pay more for necessities, and yet aren't earning any more money to cover the costs, while still being among the most overworked and underpaid people not only in Taiwan, but in the world? I'd be upset too! I'm upset just thinking about it!

Which - I'm at least happy that in the US that didn't quite happen. Despite Obama being arguably better for business, big business's Guy was Romney, and that loser, well, lost. So there's hope.

What's wrong with all this - and wrong with the poor administration of Ma Ying-jiu and the ruling KMT - is that all these costs are going up, as they arguably need to, but nothing substantial is being done to address wage stagnation and inequality. New graduates are being offered wages as unacceptably, absurdly low as NT$18,000/month. Who in their right mind thinks that anyone can live on this? I realize many bosses expect their underpaid new hires to live with Mom&Dad, but that's not always an option. It's dangerously close to Wal-Mart paying employees such low wages that they hover at the federal poverty line (fuck Wal-Mart, by the way), and by "dangerously close" I mean "actually worse, but you don't see it because these kids have parents who help out".

I mean, it's absolutely clear that neither Ma nor anyone else in the KMT gives a damn about people whose real wages have not increased in about a decade, who will have trouble absorbing these higher costs. While Ma didn't come from great riches, it's clear he's never experienced poverty, and doesn't understand it. He's Taiwan's Mitt Romney (except people actually elected him - why, oh why did they do that? But they oh well). I am not sure anyone in the government who has any power to do something has even the faintest idea of what it's like to be lower middle or working class and struggling, worried in very real terms about how they're going to pay their higher bills and afford food, housing and school fees.

So - why are the costs going up, while nothing is being done to help those who can't keep up afford them better? Who thought it would be a good idea to tell the most struggling segments of the population, in no uncertain terms, that you couldn't give a crap about their overwork, lack of employment opportunities (underemployment and overwork being two other huge problems), and certainly not about their stagnant wages, but oh, they're going to have to pay more for these things, 'cause we all gotta chip in? But oh, no, we wouldn't think of inflicting an actual higher tax on the wealthy people who support our party. Then they might be angry at us. OH NOES!

Honestly, if I were a middle class, mid-level Taiwanese office worker, I'd be furious. Like 我歸懶趴火 furious. Like let's burn some shit DOWN! furious. Like, "you want me to work 12 hours a day, never give me a real raise, pay me at well below international rates so YOU can remain competitive while *I* struggle, and then raise my utility and health care premium fees? Well you can just suck it! BURN!"

But, of course, that's not what's happening. What's happening are those resigned sighs, those "what can we do?" faces, those "this is life, we can't change it" eyes, those "I could change jobs but the new boss wouldn't pay me any better or work me any less hard" undereye circles, and nothing changes. Even if the KMT were voted out, would anything really change?

No. That's why I say let's BURN THINGS!

Or not, because that wouldn't fix anything either.

It's enough to drive you mad.

Don't worry, middle class people of Taiwan - the KMT'll help you out by putting a little more into your red envelope to buy your vote again in a few years.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving at 龍都酒樓

Sorry I haven't been blogging this week - on top of a crazy work schedule, I was still sick. Only now am I starting to feel somewhat better. Something had to go, and that something was blogging (and most of my free time activities, as all I had energy for in my free time was sleeping).

But yesterday was great - I was so impressed with 龍都酒樓 the first time I ate there that I was really excited to return for our Thanksgiving meal. It's something of a tradition with us to go out for Beijing Duck on Thanksgiving and put together a group of friends with whom to enjoy the meal. We could have gone to one of the hotels for the traditional spread, but from what everyone tells me, those meals are expensive, and not particularly good.

I never really warmed up to turkey anyway, and have always preferred duck or other birds. What's interesting about putting together Thanksgiving dinners in Taipei is that most of the time, the other guests aren't American! This time we had several Taiwanese friends, a Canadian and an Australian join us. It doesn't really matter - every culture and citizens of every country can understand the joys of a large group meal for tradition's sake.

龍都酒樓 is great not just for its duck, but for the rest of the menu, which is actually Cantonese (they do a mean dim sum) - so you can have your Beijing specialty and your BBQ pork buns all at once!

...and the pork pastries are fantastic. Say goodbye to the hard, lardy crust at Luckstar or Diamond Star Hong Kong Style restaurants, and say hello to flaky, buttery, savory heaven. They're so rich - I think that this is what angel meat must taste like.

And the duck is so juicy - other places have served us slightly dry meat. Not here. The fat practically runs down your chin, and the skin is lacquered to perfection.

How much meat can I shove in my face hole?? Also, I need a haircut.

Add caption

Another thing I love about this place - which I learned of through local friends who took me there for 11am dim sum one weekend long ago - is the total '80s style amazingness. It looks like an old kung fu movie, maybe from '86, where the Good Guy Cops face off against the Triads and do martial arts while jumping over mezzanine balconies and generally destroying the place. If I had had a Taiwanese wedding, Id've wanted it here.

It helps that it's off Linsen N. Road - the "Japanese Businessman Entertainment Area". Old school foodies from across Taiwan (or even East Asia) come here to enjoy the throwback ambiance and amazing duck, and I sure intend to go back again. Too bad you have to make reservations about a month in advance.



Then some of us headed over to our place for pie and cookies, and my special Swiss hot wine, while we decorated the Christmas tree.

Hot wine is 2/3 dark, sweet wine (well, I use drier wine, but Dad uses sweeter wine), 1/3 Fire Water cinnamon schnapps, a shot or two of something like Goldschlager (depending on how many glasses you're making), a stick of cinnamon per glass, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom if you like, all heated to just-about-to-boil (turn it off when steam starts rising, but before bubbles start forming).

It gets you real toasty, real fast. I have to bring the two kinds of cinnamon schnapps from the USA - just try and find it in Taiwan (no seriously, try, and if you find it let me know because I've sure been unsuccessful).

We're going home for Christmas this year, so we only have a few weeks to enjoy our tree - but I'd rather go home, because while I love Taiwan, they don't do Christmas very well. This year I will be home for Christmas, and they better have snow, and mistletoe, and presents by the tree!

We still stuff stockings for each other despite being in our 30s.

                                                       The end of the hot wine

We fixed the wonky star later.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Day in the Tri-Service Hospital ER, and links

I've been sick and recently come around the bend after a week of getting sicker, so haven't had the energy or mental with-it-ness to devote to actual blogging. By "sick" I mean "I spent a day in the ER because I was puking up water, pooping my intestines out and still had a bronchial infection", not at home with the sniffles.

Which, hey, gotta say - once again I'd like to thank Taiwan National Health Insurance for being super awesome. You guys are great - I will never, ever return to the American system as it currently is, even under the ACA. I realize the government is worried that they won't have enough money to maintain the system - I say that a healthy populace requires an investment, and that the money comes back to you in other ways (a healthier populace is also a more productive populace, and one that needs to return less often for follow-up treatment or relapses), and that whatever it may cost, it can't possibly be more than the US currently wastes on those who need medical care and can't afford it (both in coverage of ER/hospital bills they can't pay, ER visits that could have been avoided with a trip to the doctor, which they also couldn't afford, and missed work due to illness you can't afford to treat, not to mention covering only the sick, old and veterans, meaning that you have no risk pool of generally healthy people to help offset the cost) in our "more efficient" (heh heh) mostly-privatized system. Taiwan is so much better, and is a true model for good socialized health insurance (although it is not perfect). Why so many people assume the problem-ridden European/Canadian/Australian systems - especially the British one - are the only way to do socialized coverage is beyond me. Take a look around the world, and see that a better world is possible.

Fortunately, even if we did leave Taiwan, we wouldn't have to return to the American system. Because...


Guess who's Canadian now? That's right - my husband. Ah, Canada, where people are generally reasonable. If we ever left Taiwan for the West (and not another country farther away), I'd hit up Canada so fast that we'd be there before you could say "where's the Tim Horton's, ey?"

Otherwise, I haven't been doing much, having been sick and all. I've spent some time on Christmas gifts, because this year's crop is handmade - I'll post about that later. So on Taiwan, I have little to say as I haven't been truly engaged with the outside world for a few weeks, and have been feeling under the weather since Halloween.

Also, we got our invitation to our good friends' wedding:

My Taiwanese friends are all either single, not interested in marriage, can't marry right now (income/visa/long-distance issues), not ready for marriage or gay, it seems, so this is the first Taiwanese wedding we'll be attending, even after 6 years in Taiwan. You'd think wed've gone to one sooner, but no. I'm excited, and so happy for them!

So...a few links:

Woman denied abortion dies in Ireland - 唉!我歸懶趴火!!This just makes me so angry. Part of me wants to say "we need a national, no, a global dialogue about this", and part of me wants to say "if you're anti-choice, go eff yourself".

Also, another reminder that Ireland's got it wrong, as do the religious fundies in the USA (note: not all religious people are crazy fundies, let's not group them all together): one person's religion should not ever dictate the life and choices legally available to someone not of that religion. It should never, ever, not ever be the basis of a law, set of laws or a government - the only exception being if everyone in that country is a member of that religion (which is rarely true - maybe Saudi Arabia? But even they have foreign workers). This includes laws on abortion, contraception and gay marriage among others. It is not right and not ethical to create a law based on a religion and then expect people not of that religion to follow it, in a country where religious tolerance is supposed to be the norm. This is why I am so against the Catholic church arguing that they shouldn't have to provide contraception coverage to women employed and insured by them: their religion gives them no right - zero right whatsoever - to determine what is and is not a basic health benefit under a normal health plan. If I were a boss and my religion told me that cancer "didn't exist"or was a punishment by Satan and must be endured, or could be cured with rosewater or whatever, that wouldn't give me the right to only offer insurance that didn't cover cancer treatment. If I believed that people with allergies were liars, that wouldn't give me the right to only offer a plan that didn't cover allergy treatments. If they don't like it, they shouldn't be employers. Or better yet, let's take health care away from the purview of employers and make it available to all independent of their job.

What happens to women who are denied abortions? Well, some of them die (see above). Others fare...not so well. As a commenter on another site put it, they don't generally happily raise the baby and move to a nice suburb in Missouri where they become contented Republican voters.

Don't Google this. Just don't. Someone once told me that "women have been historically oppressed, but so have men. What women faced wasn't any worse than what society forced upon men". BULLSHIT.

Pink Science Kits From the 1950s

A much-needed primer on cultural appropriation - I don't agree with everything in this article. I really don't - some of it is dead-on and some of it is...well...not. I'll write more about it later.

Just for fun - The Hater's Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog. One funny comment:

Everyone go to your nearest Williams-Sonoma store and grab every catalog (do they call it a catalogue?) they have. Carry at least one around at all times, so the next time any person starts talking about repealing Obamacare and how the government has no place telling rich people how to spend their money, just hand them one of these.

I disagree with this, but...haha. I totally want to be that asshole.

Have a happy, sunny day!

Monday, November 12, 2012

You Hatchet-Faced Nutmeg Merchant!

You have a hideous, hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility  of a woman!

You are a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father raised wholly on hoe-cake!

If he is elected...the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the soil will be soaked with blood and the nation black with crimes!

You are the creole bastard brat of a scotch-peddler!

Do you want to see your dwellings in flames? Female chastity violated? Children writhing on a pike?

You are an old, bald, crippled, toothless man who wants to start a war with France while you're not importing mistresses from Europe!

If he is elected, murder, rape, adultery and incest will be openly taught and practiced!

Haven't we had enough monarchy in America?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Real People

My husband posted a fantastic rant on his blog about political discourse that you should all go and read.

And it's exactly right - I get really pissed off at people who think that things like not having access to health care, marriage or reproductive choice either doesn't truly affect others, or shouldn't truly affect others, or that "others" aren't real because they aren't the person commenting themselves and have different lives, experiences and issues.

To me, it's like saying "you said your mom has cancer and came very close to facing a situation in which she was uninsured through pure misfortune...but whatever, I don't care that your family might not have been able to afford to treat your mother's cancer had things gone even slightly differently, because allowing for the idea that she and everyone else should have access to basic health care that they can afford violates my worldview, and my worldview is more important than your mother, because to me she's not a real person."

These issues are very real to me, as someone who has contraception sensitivities, a mother who came very close to having cancer and no insurance, who has gay friends who want to get married, friends who have been unable to afford the best medical care and friends who might need abortions, friends who are victims of rape (well, one friend I know of and probably others I don't, because I don't pry into private lives that way), friends who have made something of themselves after getting a leg up. I've been lucky, personally, but these issues are very real to me...and I have no patience - none - for people who would rather preserve their views as political abstractions than look at real life.

And little patience - although I am learning some tolerance - for people who vote for those whose platforms would harm those real people, even if they don't agree with them. I have little and less patience for complicity. I only barely tolerate it because otherwise I'd have to think that slightly less than half the electorate are all terrible people, and that's no way to live.

Also, on a somewhat tangential note, this:

Why Romney Never Saw It Coming

Basically, Jon Stewart was right when he said to Nate Silver that what scared him most about a Republican victory wouldn't have been Republicans in power (although as a woman that too is pretty scary to me), but that it would have meant a victory over arithmetic, and that's just horrifying. How could we trust someone with the economy (or anything else) if they defied basic math? This 
quote says it all: 

"The Obama team would shower you with a flurry of data—specific, measurable, and they’d show you the way they did the math. Any request for written proof was immediately filled. They knew their brief so well you could imagine Romney hiring them to work at Bain. The Romney team, by contrast, was much more gauzy, reluctant to share numbers, and relying on talking points rather than data. This could have been a difference in approach, but it suggested a lack of rigor in the Romney camp." 

- and this is why I am totally OK, happy even, with Obama back in office. I know some folks think he's *too* conservative and has played politics rather than upending the establishment, but at least I have faith that they're doing the math, going by numbers, and making decisions based on data rather than "I think so, so it's true, and all my rich white friends agree."

At some point I'll shut up about American politics and get back to Taiwan, but not quite yet.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

No Really, The GOP Can Go Die

Not Taiwan related, but whatever.

My assessment of why the Republicans lost so bad in the election boils down to this: not only did they lie, but they kept telling people what their lives should be like, what their options should be, how things should work out for them, rather than listening to what people were saying about how their lives actually are. People, who don't like to be told what their lives are like despite their own experience, who don't like to be condescended or mansplained to, called 'em on it and didn't vote for them.

Let me give an example of this sort of attitude. In a comment on an article in a well-known online magazine, I gave a few facts about myself (while trying to stay anonymous). I won't copy the comment itself, but here are the basics:

- That I am a married woman who doesn't want kids, and therefore access to my reproductive rights is important to me, not something I am "not concerned about" or "isn't a part of my life" according to conservative pundits.

- That for me and many other women, control over when and how many children to have is an economic issue, it's not a belief voted on over other more pressing economic issues. Children are expensive to deliver and raise and being concerned about this absolutely boils down to economics (not for us - we could afford a child - that's not our reason, but it's the reason for many).

- That I may be fairly well-off now, but there was a time when I earned in the low 20s and lived in an expensive part of the country. I couldn't get a more affordable apartment farther from the city as I couldn't afford the car I'd need to do so. I lived a mile from the nearest metro station as it was (albeit in a pretty nice rented townhouse with roommates). I definitely felt an economic impact - I had to budget very carefully to get by in that city, even as an income in the low 20s would have been better in other areas.

- That as a result, in my early-to-mid 20s I couldn't access or afford oral birth control. I couldn't take over the counter meds that were sold at affordable prices because I happen to be very sensitive to contraceptive side effects (more information than you really need about me, but it's important as many women have this issue). I had insurance but the co-pays were so high that on my low-ish income I couldn't afford pills even with coverage. I budgeted for the necessities - food, one phone (cell only, no landline), Internet, housing, transport, a bit for other expenditures such as clothing, emergencies, visits home, and very little left over for fun. There was no room in my budget for that. Now, imagine a woman who has no insurance or whose insurance doesn't cover contraceptives - they'd be in even more dire straits. Clinics (like Planned Parenthood) were difficult for me, as I couldn't easily get time off during business hours, I worked in the suburbs and had to take a bus (meaning no lunch hour visits), I'd get home after evening hours were done, and so the only time I could go was Saturdays. The only clinic with Saturday hours was in a very bad area - one that a white woman wouldn't want to walk in alone (I don't say this to be racist - I say it as a matter of fact. Pizza delivery wouldn't even deliver there. It was not safe). I wasn't poor but I was just getting by, as were many people I knew, and there was no room in our budgets for such things.

- That abortion is basically inaccessible to many women, even with Roe v. Wade in effect. Some states have done a remarkable job of removing visits to Planned Parenthood or getting abortions as an option for women in their state. Looking at Missouri (not where I lived, but relevant), abortion is not accessible to women who can't get time off work to travel to one of the six clinics in the state, who can't afford to travel to one (and Missouri is a big state, most women live some traveling distance from one), who can't afford the hotel or time off for the 24-hour waiting period, for women who can't afford an abortion but who were not impregnated due to rape or incest, and their life is not in danger, and to minors whose parents don't consent. Missouri is not a wealthy state - that makes abortion inaccessible to many, if not most, women in that state. Roe v. Wade and its remaning the law of the land is irrelevant when it comes to these real-life issues.

- That I moved abroad not only because I wanted to learn another language and immerse myself in another culture, but because I had better career opportunities abroad, and finally, for better health insurance because America's current "system" SUCKS. It sucks for anyone with a pre-existing condition, for anyone who can't afford their premiums, their copays or their deductibles but also can't afford a better plan, for anyone who is unemployed or has a job that doesn't offer benefits, for someone who needs coverage and has a pre-existing condition but wants to start their own business or go freelance and can't afford it while maintaining insurance. That as much as Americans crow about how foreigners come to America for care, people from Taiwan who live in America often come back to Taiwan for similarly high-quality but affordable care, and you don't hear a lot of expats complaining or returning to America for care. I've never heard one.

And what I got told was that none of this was true: that if I didn't want to go to a known dangerous neighborhood then I was clearly racist, that I could go on my lunch hour to a "nearby" clinic, that I couldn't possibly have moved abroad in part because I wanted socialized health insurance, that I could have bought cheap OTC birth control at Wal-Mart (there was no Wal-Mart near me, thankfully, but I took his meaning to be 'a pharmacy'), that I was lying about how difficult/impossible it was to go to a clinic, that my story of "bad side effects" from OTC birth control was a "lie", and that America clearly has the best health care in the world, and that abortion was a non-issue because "we have Roe v. Wade" so, basically, quit yer whinin'.

That right there is what I mean - this commenter was telling me what my life was like - despite not living my life, and not even knowing me. He was telling me what my options should be, what my choices are, what I could do, rather than listening to me when I told him what my life was actually like, and listening to the statistics on how accessible abortion really is to women across the country, despite Roe v. Wade. It was condescending, it was mansplaining (the commenter was male and thought he knew better than me what my own experience was), it was holier-than-thou, and it was not listening.

And this is why the Republicans lost - because their entire party line has become like that. They keep telling people what their lives are like, and don't listen to what people are saying about what their lives are actually like.

They tell women what their options are, rather than listening to women talk about their options.

They say that equal pay is not an issue when it clearly is.

They tell minorities what their experience is, rather than listening to women talk about their experience.

They spew "facts" about immigration rather than listening to those who have immigrated or want to immigrate. (Fortunately this seems poised to change).

They reduce the entirety of the American lower classes to "moochers" and "takers" without listening to what the lower classes say they do and what they need. They refuse to hear that many poor people work hard and need a leg up to no longer be poor, and characterize them instead as "not taking personal responsibility". You ever been poor and tried to not be poor? Yeah, NOT SO EASY, is it?

They talk about how much the haves are subsidizing the have-nots without listening to the facts of how much the haves really are paying for.

They tell the LGBT community that they're "not homophobic" while ignoring the needs of the LGBT community and pushing clearly homophobic platforms, prioritizing their religion and shitty "morals" (I spit on those morals) over what people actually want and need.

They tell those who are sick what their health care options should be rather than what they are ("you can just go to the emergency room" - great, but that doesn't work if your problem is cancer and is not immediate or acute. You can't get ER treatment for cancer, psychiatric issues or diabetes or any other number of diseases).

They tell the middle class that they'll get jobs only if they give breaks to "job creators" without listening to what the middle class actually needs (infrastructure, affordable education and job training, affordable housing and childcare options), and ignoring the fact that trickle-down economics just plain does not work. Ignoring clear statistics - if you give a person in need money, that money generates more for the economy. If you give a wealthy person money, they tend to squirrel it away or invest it in ways that benefit them, but not others, and generate a net loss for the economy.

They tell those affected by climate change that it's more important to prop up Big Oil than to acknowledge climate change, and then try to pretend climate change away. "No, you didn't get hit by a natural disaster or have your crops ruined, or can't afford rising food costs due to climate change, now shut up and vote for me".

They tell the poor that they shouldn't want "things and stuff", and should ignore the fact that there are those who have far more "things and stuff" than they need and are pushing policies that make it harder for others to get the same things...and stuff. But wait - why shouldn't I want things and stuff? You have things and stuff because the balance of power is in your favor. Why should I find that fair?

They tell teens and parents of teens what their attitudes should be - "just don't have sex, wait 'till you're married", as though that has ever worked in the history of ever - rather than acknowledging the need for sex ed based on what is.

And that's why they only won one segment of the population. One that I daresay is easily duped, or for whom the message is carefully calibrated. And if people are upset that women and minorities are sick of being condescended to, then that's their problem - and if they want to say that in the most racist terms possible

The rest of us are sick and fucking tired of being told what our lives are like, and would like people in power to instead listen to us to find out what our lives are actually like.

And until the GOP understands this and stops with their condescension and unfair characterizations, and wrong assumptions about people they don't understand, they're just not going to win among anyone other than non-urban white males. We're sick of it. Get with the times or get lost.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


All I can say is THANK LORD JEEBUS THAT THAT CREEPY ROBOT THING WHO WANTS TO PREACH AT ME LOST, because I was scared there for a minute.

I am elated that America reaffirmed its commitment to progressivism. When Taiwanese friends say "but isn't America more liberal", I no longer have to hesitate and say "kinda...but in some ways not really". I mean I'll still say that but it'll be a more positive thing.

I'm happy we as a people seem pretty clear that progressivism is right for a reason - because it's about progress, and that the way forward is not back. I'm happy that the American public has decided they're done with hate and bigotry, and outdated notions of what "values" and "morals" should be. That they support, generally women's equality (in law and in society) and marriage equality, although the battles here are not won. That we're all sick of being preached at and told how to live, and that our "family values" are the new family values, and you can get used to it or take a hike. That we've been pretty clear in our voting choices that those who want to hold us back aren't in the mainstream and don't have the public mandate, and that maybe we can have real conversations about the economy and foreign policy if we could all just agree on inclusiveness and tolerance in the social sphere...and that the people who need to really just shut up are the targeters, not the targeted.

(Well, not "shut up" as in "stop talking"- we're all entitled to free speech, but I mean shut up as in stop assuming that you can say hateful things and that the populace will back you - shut up as in start thinking about why maybe your views are unpopular).

I'm happy we seem to more or less agree as a country that women are people too, that LGBT people are people too, that it's not OK for a politician or a church to decide what *is* and *is not* appropriate health care and insurance coverage for women's health, what people can do with their bodies, and that we'd rather help people who need a leg up rather than, I dunno, banish them and give all the spoils to the wealthy. That no matter how much the wealthy pour into an election, we will decide and we won't necessarily hand the reins to them.

I'd like the flying death robots to stop (are they really necessary?) and I'd like to see more social changes: guaranteed paid maternity leave (and paternity leave), real sex ed and real - not watered down - science in schools, subsidized child care for working families, better public transportation, true universal health insurance coverage, true sustainable R&D in better community planning and (eventual) green energy, promotion of better business culture (unionization, 8 hour work weeks, flextime when possible), affordable education for all (and I don't mean available but crushing loans) and a foreign policy that is more about strong, quiet guidance than, well, flying death robots.

I still don't tolerate intolerance. I still don't respect homophobia. I still feel that if you vote for people who want to institute gay marriage bans, you personally may not be homophobic, but you're complicit in voting homophobic platforms into power. If you vote for people who are against women's equal pay and reproductive rights, you may not be sexist yourself but you're complicit in voting sexist platforms into power, and I still have very little respect for that. I'm still not interested in "let's hear both sides" when it comes to these social issues - it's like asking for a straight-up bully's side of things in middle school mediation after a fight. I don't care what the bully thinks about what happened. Considering such views seriously gives them credence, and they deserve none - just as segregation deserved none, and anti-women's suffrage deserved none.

But anyway. For now I'm happy.

I've also got bronchial pneumonia which is why I haven't been posting a lot, and I toasted the Obama win with Chinese herbal medicine rather than beer or whiskey. I know, poor me.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

洋鬼子 (Foreign Devil) and NEW YORK PRIDE, BITCHES!

Just thought I'd show off the "costume" I actually wore on Halloween (which was a work day) - I'm a Foreign Devil!

Also, this is post #666. So that's appropriate.

By the way - this is how New Yorkers respond to a crisis.  Also, this. Yeah, I agree with the cutout of that fat guy. F*** you, Sandy! Also, as per the Post-It, I'm also happy George Bush isn't President anymore. For this and other reasons. If anyone was wondering - if anyone reading this beyond real life friends even knew that I was a native New Yorker (state, not city) - my friends and family are fine. Parents don't have power, but they're getting by, friends are generally doing OK although things are rough right now.

In related NEW YORK PRIDE! news -

Along the lines of this clip (at about 6:30m) not long ago I managed to shock my husband for the first time in years. It's not like he doesn't know I'm a New Yorker - the first time he visited New York City it was with me. I speak pretty standard American English, though, with traces of a New York accent coming through only in very select words, and only very lightly ("water" is one such word). Friends not from those parts have told me that my accent thickens when I am in the city/tri-state area.

I guess Brendan, with his complete lack of a Maine accent and inability to imitate one, just wasn't aware that while I don't have the New York/Long Island/New Jersey amalgamation of accent-tacular accentiness, I can imitate it.

And the other day, I did.

I said something along the lines of:

"Yo, come down to Luigi&Schlomo's Secondhand Mattress Discounter and Pawn Shop. We got the mattress for you. Exit 18 off San

dusky Parkway in Poohackus. / Barbara. BARBARA! I'm talkin' to you! Don't you see me talkin' to your face? Where is the KFC Barbara? You didn't get the KFC! What are the kids gonna eat for breakfast! Goddamnit Barbara! OK OK, I'll do your commercial. OK. Where's the microphone? Mikey, will you SHUTTUP? JESUS! OK. I need some water. Thanks. Here we go. 'Vote for Al or Paulie gets it. PAID FOR BY FRIENDS OF SENATOR AL D'AMATO.'How's that? OK. BARBARA!!"

Which, you know, totally rude and stereotypical, except I'm from there so I figure it's OK. Just like how I'm part Polish so I'm allowed to think "Polack Swamp" is a funny name, but you're not.

I pulled the accent together from radio and local TV commercials I heard growing up, including ones for Al D'Amato's re-election campaigns, Kyle's mom on South Park, a pinch of my Grandma (maternal, not paternal), and my friend's mother from Syosset. 

Brendan: O_O

"You sound like the people on TV. Only TV people have that accent!"

Oh no, sweetie. no no.

All that is to say, as one of you, I'm pullin' for ya, New York. In my own "yo, one twist of fate and I could've grown up talkin' like that" way. You too, Jersey, even though most New Yorkers don't even want to believe you're a real place. They think we upstaters are bumpkins, too, don't listen to them.

<3 br="br">

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Coffee Shirts and Updated Post

First, go to 7-11 right now and buy one of these shirts made of coffee. They are BRILLIANT. I bought one for kicks ("You'll never guess what my shirt's made of!") and it is easily the most comfortable thing I own, looks good, doesn't attract too much cat hair, and best of all, Tencel isn't lying when they say it wicks moisture. I mean, you can still sweat in it, but you'll get far less of that damp, humid "it's Taiwan, man" feeling around your underarms, underboob and elbows when it's just a bit warm. It totally wicks that away and keeps you dry. For the first time in weeks I woke up in the morning and didn't feel all greasy and sweaty! In the cold snap I never really felt chilly! Plus they're marketed as undershirts but you could totally get away with wearing them as a regular shirt if you're female (if you're male, maybe not so much). Or at least I can, I'm not exactly a fashion maven.

Anyway. You HAVE to get one of these. I am gonna go buy out my entire local 7-11 just in case they discontinue them.

In other news I updated my Boat Burning post with lots of text that explains what happens and where to be at what time when they burn the boat (next festival is in 2015). Go have a look!