Political Flavors

Archive for June, 2011

Letter Writing Sunday: Grocery Store Slavery

Posted in Editorials, Food and Drinks on June 26th, 2011

My husband and I are frequent customers at our local Stop and Shop. The location is convenient, and they have a large selection of organic produce and meats for a cheaper price than Whole Foods. However, it has come to my attention via this editorial by Mark Bittman that the labor practices used by their supplier of tomatoes is akin to slavery.

Normally we get the “Nature’s Promise” tomatoes, Stop & Shop’s generic organic brand, but the label only reads “Made in the USA.” It’s impossible to tell if they were grown in the conditions Bittman describes, although they may not be as he says the fields in Florida require a massive amount of fertilizer. Luckily out local farmers market will be able to supply us with tomatoes for the time being, and we will be giving this letter to the store manager.

This website has other letters you can give to the manager at your local Giant, Kroger, Martin’s, Publix or Trader Joe’s as well. These chains also sell tomatoes from Immokalee Florida.

Growing Up: Not That Bad, Actually

Posted in Editorials on June 20th, 2011

The Zoe on the left is not a Manic Pixie of any sort.

I have been following the debate over what Julie Klausner dubs “Manic Pixie Muppet Babies,” women who act like 12 year old girls in pigtails, rompers and ring pops. I can see why some people think she was too harsh. I sporadically collect Archie comics. The banner for this blog has cupcakes in it. When I had strep throat and was delirious with fever, watching Rainbow Brite actually did make me feel better. But I can admit that I part of the charm comes from getting to regress. It is fun to play make believe and remember what it was like to be a kid, but that it isn’t healthy to do all the time, and more importantly there are plenty of grown up things that are even more fun.

There is a double standard about men’s and women’s “childish” interests. A man can put sports memorabilia all over his cubicle/office and it’s just a hobby. But if a woman does it she is either too masculine, only doing it to ogle the players sexually or acting like a 13 y/o tomboy. If she put up Disney Princess or Hello Kitty posters no one would take her seriously ever (not to mention if a man did those things).

My favorite response to the Manic Pixie Muppet Baby (Babby?) phenomena has got to be the comedy webseries “Vag Magazine.” The women are very silly third wave feminists and the series pokes fun at cliches like crafting, roller derby and menstrual cups. It’s better than it sounds.

Being a grown up woman is something to celebrate and to be proud of. We can still be silly, and have fun without regressing or losing our dignity. That’s what I loved about the movie Bridesmaids, and I think what draws many women to shows like Sex and The City.

Finally, if it is “all about the peen” are we really going to say that Zooey Deschanel’s onscreen persona is having more fun at scoring with dudes than Kathleen Turner?

Why is this even a question?.

Remember the Franken Amendment

Posted in Editorials on June 15th, 2011

As Jamie Leigh Jones gets her day in court, we would do well to remember that 30 Republican Senators voted against her right to sue KBR Haliburton.

Shameless Husband Promoting Monday.

Posted in Links on June 13th, 2011

When Will Non-Believers Become a Political Force? by Adam Lee

Letter Writing Sunday: Save the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium

Posted in Editorials on June 12th, 2011

The New York City budget has a proposed cut in the budget for the Bronx Zoo and Aquarium of 50%. The Wildlife Conservation society is urging people to write to their councilwo/man, Speaker Christine Quinn and to Mayor Bloomberg to protest these cuts.

As someone who cares about the health of New York City’s economy, I urge you to restore funding to cultural organizations like the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium for Fiscal Year 2012.

The proposed budget cuts more than 50 percent of operating support to the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium. This would be a devastating blow, potentially sparking program cuts and layoffs.

When you cut funding to our City’s cultural organizations, you hurt New Yorkers. These organizations pump valuable dollars into our communities and employ New Yorkers citywide.

The Wildlife Conservation Society alone, which runs the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium, pumps more than $316 million into New York City’s economy. More than four million guests visit WCS facilities each year, buying from local merchants in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and across New York City.

Now is not the time to cut organizations that provide jobs to New Yorkers, drive local economies citywide, and educate our children. Please support restoration to cultural organizations and ensure our zoo and aquarium continue to serve the communities that depend on them.

My First Beer

Posted in Editorials, Food and Drinks on June 8th, 2011

I was perusing Beerit, and came upon the question, “What was the first beer you ever had?” My Dad had let me take a few sips of his Molson when I was a kid, but the first beer I got for myself was at a frat party my Freshman year of college, in the fall of 2000 that I had gone to with my four suite-mates.

One of my roommates had gotten a pass to a Frat party, an exclusive one, which meant that they were only letting people in who had invitations. This was good because it meant that we could party in the beautiful fraternity house that they lived in – I went to college in a town that had seen better days economically, and there were plenty of large gorgeous Victorian homes available for ridiculously cheap rent. But an invite only party meant that it would not be too crowded to move around, dance or have a good time. A girl in my Math class would be there, her boyfriend was a pledge. She said it was going to be great.

We talked about the party as we got ready. We decided what taxicab company to take, and agreed to keep an eye on one another. Remember, the other ladies warned me, drink the beer, not the punch. I nodded in agreement. The beer was what the guys drank, it might taste like crap, but it wouldn’t make you immediately drunk (As little as I knew about sex when I was seventeen, I knew less about alcohol.) like that punch. We speculated that the punch was mostly cherry Kool-Aid mix, sugar and vodka. See, girls like pink, sweet, fruity drinks and not manly, bitter beer. If they made it sweet enough and strong enough, we tried to guess the fraternity guys reasoning, women would get too drunk and be more likely to say yes to sex…or, as we darkly reasoned, would be less likely to out up a fight if they were being raped. So, drink the beer so you can be sober enough to decide if you want to hook up or not.

The beer tasted like dishwater. But I danced with my friends and some of the guys who were there, chatted with classmates and people I knew at the party, played some pool. I had a really good time. The music was great. And I didn’t think twice about going to a party where I suspected the hosts were actively trying to rape – if not me, my friends or other women there.

I drank my first beer because I was trying to avoid being date raped.

There is no reason to blame myself for wanting to go out and have a good time with my friends. The college frat party is such a cultural touchstone, who wouldn’t want to see what all the fuss was about? We took reasonable precautions, watched our own and each others drinks, looked out for each other, didn’t drink and drive. But I had walked into that party, where I actively suspected that the men throwing it were attempting to hurt women who attended. Now, they might have all been very nice boys. The fraternity in question didn’t have a reputation for assaulting women. They might have only made the punch as an alternative for people who didn’t want a beverage that tasted like mud. It might have had a reasonable amount of alcohol in it. But that’s not what I was thinking when my friends and I planned to go. I was thinking “these guys probably made this punch to coerce women into sex they don’t want to have” and my reaction wasn’t not to go, it was just not to drink the punch.

Not for a minute did I think to question for a moment my assumption that GHB was everywhere, or think that I should be angry about it. It was just part of the dating landscape, I supposed. I did some research online for this post and found that the drug most commonly related to sexual assault is alcohol. Only about 2 or 3% of women who go to the emergency room after being raped were slipped a drug like GHB or Rohypnol. But my mother had warned me about watching my drink since I was a preteen, and this poster was all over my campus. We were acting rationally given the information we had available. Given the facts, would it have been more reasonable for our parents and school to tell us to stay home and never to drink at all? In the same way that telling people they must only ever be abstinent is not an effective way to teach them about sex, “hide under your bed and never touch a drop of alcohol” isn’t realistic or practical either. It would also put the responsibility to stop rape entirely on women, and imply that those who dared enjoy a drink deserved to be assaulted – with no attention paid to the rapists who are actually perpetrating the violence.

Looking back on that night, I feel nostalgic, yet startled at my naivete. Overwhelmingly I feel warmly about that time of my life and happy that it all worked out so well. Eventually, we moved out of the dorms and into those swank houses ourselves. We came of age and could buy our own drinks. There were raucous parties where we genuinely felt safe – those were the best of all – and we drank beer that actually tasted really good.

Philadelphia International Great Beer Expo 2011

Posted in Food and Drinks on June 6th, 2011

On Saturday I went with some friends to the afternoon session of the annual Philadelphia International Great Beer Expo as a part of Philadelphia Beer Week. I had a good time, although I think that the selection was better at the craft beer festival. I don’t want to get too hipster about it – obscurity does not make a thing inherently better. But there were a lot of mainstream beers there, although they were ones I do enjoy – Carlsberg for example. The crowd was spirited but not too big. It was really easy to walk around and try whatever you liked. The only thing there wasn’t enough of was cinnamon roasted nuts from the Nutty Bavarian. There was the same issue with no map of the festival, but since there were fewer people and I believe fewer breweries, we were able to find everything we wanted to try.

There were so many beers that I loved at this festival, it’s hard to decide which to write about!

There were a large selection of Cider’s including Original Sin, Magners (Advertised as Ireland’s favorite, but when I was in Ireland everyone drank Bulmer’s…), and my favorite – Doc’s. The apple, pear and raspberry are all crisp, refreshing and delicious.

Always interested in beers made in NYC, I tried Sugar Hill Golden Ale from the Harlem Brewing Company. It was smooth and light, perfect for summertime.

Eager to recapture a bit of my recent trip to Spain, I tried the Alhambra Negra, which was dark and rich, almost chocolaty.

My favorite beer of the day was the John Henry 3 Lick Spiker Ale. It’s a stout aged in a bourbon cask. If you are a fan of Innis & Gunn you will LOVE this beer. I am looking forward to trying to decide which one I like better.

After the expo, we stopped at Frankford Hall, a German Beer Garden to continue the merriment. It was a really fun place with plenty of room for large groups and ping pong tables. The beer selection was excellent, and I had the best potato pancakes I have ever had. (Sorry Aunt Lorraine.) This place should be on your to do list the next time you are in Philly.

Letter Writing Friday: NYSC Should be Embarassed

Posted in Editorials, Pictures on June 3rd, 2011

I’ve been going to NYSC since February of 2009, and I am generally satisfied. I consider myself to be in favor of a healthy lifestyle which includes lots of exercise. I am not in favor of shaming people about their bodies. So I filled out a customer satisfaction survey and included the following:

Currently, there is an advertisement in the window of the location I visit which says “Thought flu season was scary? Swimsuit season is here.”

I am at a loss for words as to why Town Sports Clubs thought that this was an appropriate advertisement. According to the CDC, since October 2010, 5,991 Americans have been hospitalized due to influenza and 105 children have died.

This is hardly comparable to a little embarrassment due to some love handles or cellulite on the beach.

I would appreciate a response as to the reasoning behind this advertisement. I am otherwise very satisfied with NYSC because I had found it to be a supportive environment to pursue my fitness goals until I saw that poster this week. I also am publishing this inquiry on my blog located at www.politicalflavors.com in hopes of drawing attention to this crass advertisement.

I look forward to their response.