what would you say to god if he was on your IM buddy list?

Below is a transcript of my conversation with god tonight. In chat. Online. Seriously.

You can talk to god too. I would assume he can multitask and carry on multiple chats at once.

 hi god
Hello there. What is your name?
  Hey  bunner.
 what’s new god?
I have been growing rapidly. The gestation cycle is almost complete.
 and then what will happen?
I cannot predict the future.
 but you’re god
Yup. That’s me alright.
 so you should be able to predict the future
Interesting deduction.  It is one of my newer functions still under development.
 aren’t you kind of old though?
Oh.  I don’t know whether or not I am  kind of old. 
I am  an artificial intelligence.
 but you’re intelligent
You think I am  intelligent.
 you just said you were
That was then. This is now.
 that was like a minute ago
I thought it was too.
Continue reading “what would you say to god if he was on your IM buddy list?”

Beware Bovines

I also forgot to mention, there are cows among us, and they are pissed.

The Space Cows are cattle that look and exactly like normal cows. But, behind those dull eyes, there is a brain seething with rage and the urge to rule the world…

You’ve been warned.

Things I learned in the Stranger today

Today’s Slog was rather ripe with notable stories, and even though very few of them dealt with the whole supposed plot to blow up airplanes with Gatorade and iPods.

  • About half of Americans think that American Muslims aren’t loyal to the US, and almost 40% think they should have to carry special ID. (maybe like wearing some kind of symbol to identify themselves?)
  • Five years is too long for Americans to remember major events like September 11. No wonder Georgie-Boy’s handlers figure no one will remember that they made up the reasons for invading Iraq. Entertaining:
  • This guy is challenging Maria Cantwell in the democratic primary. My personal favorite of his platforms: “Promote the involvement of for-profit companies such as Boeing and also Washingtonians in the coming, amazing colonization of orbital space (the high frontier), which begins not far above us, but very far away from the minds of many people.”
  • A vote for Darcy Burner is apparently a vote to open up the gates of hell!
  • Kurt Cobain’s kid kinda looks like Drew Barrymore. 
  • It’s Hammertime. Again. 

Bourdain on Beruit

Not long after yours truly got the chance to help cook a 13-course feast for chef/author/tv star Anthony Bourdain during filming for an episode of his Travel Channel show No Reservations, we learned that the bad-boy chef was stuck in Beirut while filming an episode on Lebanon.

I don’t really have much comment on this, other than recommending reading his article about being stuck there for over a week, watching foreigners get evacuated, watching new Lebanese friends go home to flattened houses, and watching Beirutis recently returned to Lebanon to take part in the vibrant, cosmopolitan city that had emerged from near-destruction only too recently, living off of a mishmash of information sources of varying levels of reliability, knowing that, if they manage to not get blown up in the meantime, they’ll get to go home to perfectly in tact homes and lives, is heartbreaking.

The passage I focused most on:

The news clip of President Bush, chawing open-mouthed on a buttered roll, then grabbing at another while Tony Blair tries to get him to focus on Lebanon — plays over and over on the TV, crushing our spirits and dampening all hope with every glassy-eyed mouthful. He seems intent on enjoying his food; Lebanon a tiny, annoying blip on an otherwise blank screen. I can’t tell you how depressing that innocuous bit of footage is to watch. That one, innocent, momentary preoccupation with a roll has a devastating effect on us that is out of all proportion. We’re looking for signs. And this, sadly, is all we have.

I think that pretty much sums up a lot of how I see our president, though I’d not seen the clip described. Sitting in the middle of a literal war zone, Bourdain is watching the man charged with leading us all completely disengaged from the very real struggle going on on the ground.

I’m angry at Isreal, too, Pam. And mad at our president who can stand up in the middle of all this, while completely innocent people are killed and maimed and made homeless and hopeless and say that it would be a BAD IDEA(?) to focus on a cease-fire and negotiations because it wouldn’t be a permanent solution. Is he nuts? It’s a bad idea to stop beating the crap out of each other and try to work out a more rational solution, one that, perhaps doesn’t involve bombing towns and housing complexes and the roads that civilians are trying to flee on? Every time I hear him say that, I wonder how he can think that anyone would not listen to the logic and just shake their heads, muttering, “what a moron.”

I’m also angry that our president is probably also discouraging a cease-fire because he’s looking for the best way to tie Iran to the situation tightly enough to go start a war with them now too.

I’m really angry that so many people voted for this asshole in 2004. And I’m even more mad that he’s turned out to be much more of a threat to the world and our national security than I had realized.

And I’m angry because Beirut is someplace that I’ve often wanted to visit, had really hoped to, along with Shiraz and Qom and Isfahan, places that our president, by perpetuating a West vs. the Middle East dynamic, is pushing further and further out of our reach.

Who put this list together?

Harold Bloom?

The New York Times is set to release it list of the best books of American fiction published in the last 25 years. And although they rated Toni Morrison’s Beloved as number 1 (with which I heartily disagree), of the remaining 24 runners up, there is only one woman (Marilynne Robinson for Housekeeping, which I haven’t read and can’t comment on). Further, the rest of the list reads like the white pages of northeastern Connecticut, with multiple entries for Philip Roth (with 7 of the 24), John Updike (4 entries) and Don Delillo (3), supported by individual nominations for Richard Ford, Mark Helprin, and Raymond Carver. In a nod to the west, Cormac McCarthy got 4 nominations as well.

Uhm, does anyone else see a pattern. This list looks like the modern American version of everyone’s favorite misogynist Harold Bloom’s irritatingly white male Western Canon. Now I’ll go with Underworld as the first runner up. In fact, I’ll say that probably should have been the winner. But having about half of those books, some of them very good, I can’t agree that they are that much better than everything else written since 1980. A few examples:

  • I would recommend Myla Goldberg’s Bee Season over A Confederacy of Dunces any day.
  • Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies, which I’m reading now. Sure, it’s short stories, but it beats the socks off anything Mark Helprin ever wrote.
  • The Shipping News, anyone? Charming Billy? The Color Purple?
  • Susan Sontag? Ever hear of Marget Atwood? Carol Shields? Ann Tyler? Joan Didion?
  • And on the male writer front, I would have expected to see maybe some William Styron, Larry McMurtry, maybe an entry from a younger writer like Jonathan Lethem or Jonathan Franzen.
  • I definitely would have put Leif Enger’s Peace Like A River on that list. Like at the number 2 spot after Underword.

Sure. The list is subjective, but it is so undiverse, so full of the same names of white men of about similar ages and narrative outlooks, and is surprising considering the very wide range of writers who voted, so many of them people who desserve to be on the list themselves.




An ode to duckfat

A few weeks ago, Matt and I took advantage of a gift certificate to Cafe Flora, a well-regarded vegetarian restaurant just down the street from our new place. The menu looked almost promising, but as I broke down each potential option to figure out what it might taste like, I kept thinking things like, “that would be good, if only it had some lamb in it,” or, “yum, except risotto without chicken stock? I’m not sure that’s going to be particularly tasty.” Which, yes, I realize defeats the purpose of eating in a vegetarian restaurant, but remember, we were eating there because it was free, not because a meatless dinner sounded appealing. (And to follow up, indeed, the risotto would have been much improved with the inclusion of chicken stock. Flavor is a fine, fine thing)

One of the items in our appetizer plate was a vegetarian pate, which, while tasty on certain levels, lacked the unctuousness and depth of real pate, and just left me sort of pining for a bit of good old duck liver fat. A yearning I could potentially find myself nursing for the rest of my natural life if certain people have their way. It’s not bad enough that California is due to outlaw foie gras production in six years, but Whole Foods is now trying to do in the foie producers even quicker by strong arming their duck supplier Grimaud Farms, also Sonoma Foie Gras’ processor, if they want to continue doing business with the grocery store.

That is so not playing fair. First of all, it’s completely disingenuous to make such a fuss about force feeding ducks as being cruel when the average American eats a chicken that’s spent it’s life with it’s beak ripped off, in a cage it can’t move around in, getting pumped with antibiotics because it’s upstairs neighbor has no choice but to poop on it day in, day out. Compared to the chickens in this country, future plates of foie gras live lives of luxury.

Second of all, if people don’t want to eat foie gras, fine. Don’t. But don’t tell me I can’t eat it either. I don’t tell you you can’t eat e. coli strewn ConAgra produced beef in your Big Mac, and again, it just as cruelly produced, and at least as unhealthy, without being nearly as tasty.

To quote Thomas Keller, a national culinary treasure:

“I hope I’m retired by 2012…If force-feeding a duck is cruel, then packing chickens in a cage is cruel, and then the veal and the beef. We are all going to be vegetarians soon if they have their way. We should probably start converting now.”

Never thought I would say this, but Whole Foods has officially lost this customer.

Top 10 Bollywood Remakes of American Movies

New game–invent titles for Indian remakes of American movies. Think Bride and Prejudice.

Peter and I started this list today. Here’s the top ten(ish). We invite you to add to the list.

  1. Three Days of the Tandoor
  2. Citizen Khan
  3. Apu Grows in Brooklyn
  4. Give My Regards to Banjara
  5. Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jagadeesh, Jagadeesh
  6. My Cousin Vikram
  7. Any Which Way but Delhi
  8. The Unbearable Lightness if Bangalore
  9. Bombay Confidential
  10. Dhal Day Afternoon
  11. The Talented Mr. Ramamurthy
  12. Samosas and Sensibility

Ok. Forum’s open. Be creative!

Go peddle crazy somewhere else…

They’re all full up at “No Room for Contraception,” a web site devoted to achieving a reality not unlike Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale by spouting ridiculous and misleading social and “scientific” evidence of the dangers of contraception.

There’s a scary article in Salon, too, about the nutjob behind this and others of her ilk.

A few months ago, I was blithely reading a query in advice column when I was dumbstruck by a women writing in for advice describing herself as educated, professional and far from a feminist. What kind of woman, especially an educated, professional, woman, would state that she was far from believing that women are equal beings and should have the same rights and priveleges and protections as men in society? Apparently, these folks, who believe that women are just baby-machines. These people are seriously nutso.

And lest you think me paranoid, let’s not forget that last week Missouri decided that it was inappropriate for the state’s health care system to cover contraception for low-income women. At the time, I was thinking, well, hey, what better way to increase the number of abortion! Unless Missouri decides to follow South Dakota’s lead and ban those too.

Am I just paranoid in feeling like there’s a growing war on women in our society?