Monthly Archives: September 2012

Tired of Political Posts?

You’re sitting at your computer, or glued to your smart phone, just scrollin’ through your newsfeed, trying to see what your Facebook Friends have been up to since you last checked four minutes ago.  And then you see it: your tree huggin’ hippy friend has posted another God-damn Gosh darn Obama ad.  Or, your right wing nutjob co-worker has posted yet another graph that shows that Obama’s plan for the economy just isn’t working.  How fucking annoying is that, right?!  Why can’t we just go about our business, liking Justin Bieber, uploading another picture of ourselves (maybe in the reflection of a mirror to be cool), or talking about the mundane facets of our lives?  Instead, these politically active sons-a-bitches have to keep shoving their political views down my throat via Facebook.

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Or at least that’s how it seems lately, according to some folks in my Facebook friends circle.  I’ve read quite a few statuses declaring to the cyber world that they were blocking or at least hiding any of their “friends” who keep trying to influence their own views on the upcoming election.  I mean, how dare people voice their own opinions!

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Well, I’ll tell you what:  THAT is on my damn nerves! I thought electing the next President of the United States was kind of a big deal, big enough, in fact, for people to express their opinions on the candidates and parties that are running.  And sure, there has been debate, and quarreling, and shallow name calling in politics ever since…well, politics existed.  But the difference is that all of that “political stuff” used to be relegated to TV, newspapers, and magazines.  And now, politics has infiltrated Facebook.  That’s why all of you people are so annoyed: Because in the past, you could just turn off the TV, or not pick up a newspaper, and presto! you don’t have to be ‘annoyed’ by all of these petty debates about who the leader of our country should be.

Now that Facebook has crept into every crevice of our social lives, of course it was going to be a perfect tool for trading political ideas.  I say Thank God! Facebook provides a medium to share information further and quicker than any other medium in the past.  What better way to use it than to share knowledge and ideas?  And I’m not talking about the knowledge that you checked in at the fucking Denny’s bathroom to make another stupid ass kissy-face picture.

But by all means, get annoyed that someone’s bashing the opposing political candidate in your news feed.  Sure, you’ll act like you’re “above” the fray, and it’s people on both sides who are annoying you, and what really annoys you is just the fact that politics has just gotten so darn mean.  Just name callin from both sides of the aisle.  Gosh, how horrible.  Right – so that’s why you end up attacking and deleting the person who has ideas that are different from your own.

I’m a politically active individual, and I’m going to post articles that express my beliefs.  Well, let me be more accurate:  I’m a politically aware individual.  Earning my PhD takes up all of my time, so I don’t really have much left to be very active.  I’m not stupid enough to think that my Facebook posts (which actually are just articles that I share) are going to ‘convert’ anyone to ‘my side’ (probably because most of my friends are of my “silly, ideal” political persuasion, anyway), but I would hope that some of the information I share at least makes people stop and think.

I have a lot riding on November 6th.  And I’m not the only one.  While the economy is looming large on everyone’s mind (for a very good reason), I’m referring to something more specific.  As a gay man, this presidential election will have very big repercussions for my life.  On the one hand, we have a candidate who has repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, stopped enforcing the discriminatory Defense Of Marriage Act, and became the first sitting president to endorse marriage equality for all Americans.  On the other hand, you have a candidate who believes that homosexuality is not only a “lifestyle” but an abomination, and as such, would roll back all of the legislation that activists have worked so hard to achieve.

I’m not really a supporter of voting for a president based on one particular issue.  And let’s be real, this isn’t the only reason I’m voting for Obama, but you can bet your sweet ass it’s on top of the list.  Because, if Obama wins, that means that there are four more years in which I could possibly see marriage equality recognized on a national levelIf Obama wins, then MAYBE my partner and I wouldn’t have to worry about his status in this country.  Yeah, that’s right, I’m not worried about “gay marriage” simply because I want to have something with the name “marriage” on it (versus a civil union or whatever the fuck you want to call it).  I’m talking about legal benefits that straight couples now get…and that I’m unfairly denied.

My partner is a foreign worker in this country, and he’s here to do the IT jobs that Americans just simply aren’t qualified to do (why that’s the case will have to wait for another post).  He pays all of his taxes, contributes to a growing sector, and makes sure that millions of people get their healthcare without a glitch.  However, he’s reached the highest visa possible now, and it’s only valid for a maximum of six more years.  That means that if his legal status in the US does not change by the year 2018, he’ll have to leave the country forever.  Now this isn’t normally a big problem for most ‘normal’ people, because there are two ways to achieve the next status, which is permanent residency (aka, green card holder):  #1, your employer can sponsor you, but this is expensive on their part, and right now the processing time for his particular employer-sponsored green card is 11 years.  #2, you can get married.  This is obviously not an option for my partner and millions more like him.

So, this is what’s at stake for us:  We know we want to spend the rest of our lives together.  But because of a fucking technicality we may not be able to do that here, in the supposed land of the free?

That’s why I post political statuses on Facebook.  Because it fucking matters.  I passionately believe that everybody deserves at least basic health care as a human right.  I believe in placing rules on the game called economics so that it’s a little more fair and one or two people don’t end up buying all the good spots on the Monopoly board and watch from their penthouses as the rest of us fight over scraps.  And, I believe that every single American deserves the right to get married and reap all of the same legal and financial benefits (including green card status for your spouse).  So, I post about these things, hoping that people out there will understand that these issues are real, and they matter.  Politics isn’t just old men in suits talking bad about each other.  It’s not just an interruption in your Facebook Newsfeed! 

So, by all means:  Block me and others like me, but please block yourself from the voting booth, too.  Or do us all a favor and delete your Facebook account until after the elections.  Because maybe your political apathy is annoying the shit out of us.  Or how about at least refrain from mocking those who care enough to actually engage in debate.  I don’t block people just because they tell me every detail of their day, because they check in at every bar they hang out at and tag all of their BFFs and drankin’ buddies, because they tell me constantly what music they’re listening to.  It shows all of the different sides of people out there, sides that I wouldn’t be able to see without Facebook.  Plus, I like sharing what I made for supper too!

Or, how about instead of getting your panties in a wad, you actually engage those people in a debate.  Show them where you think they’re wrong…and then present your own answer to the problem.  But of course, to do that, you’d actually have to do some homework. And like, LOL omg, who has time for that?!  Plus, the iPhone 5 is out, right? And that’s way more damn important than the election and all those Facebook political posts.

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Monterrey Chicken & Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4 (or however many chicken breasts & potatoes you use)

Total time: 45 minutes (but it’s WELL worth it!)

Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 c. bar-b-que sauce
1/4 c. real bacon bits
1 c. colby and jack cheese, shredded
1 14 oz. can Rotel tomatoes, drained (canned with green chilies added)
sliced green onions
pepper

8 medium sweet potatoes (5 lbs.), or one per person
olive oil
course salt
2 T. butter, cut into small pieces
2 T. light brown sugar
1/3 c. pecan pieces
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. First, you need to marinate the chicken:  Marinade: 1/4 c. olive oil, 2 T. soy sauce, 2 tsp. McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning. Marinate for about 30 minutes (not much longer or the chicken may become too salty).
  2. Preheat the oven to 400.
  3. Peel potatoes and halve lengthwise; slice crosswise 1/2 inch thick. On a baking sheet, toss potatoes with olive oil (we brush it on both sides); season with salt. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 25-30 mins.
  4. Once the potatoes are in the oven, season the chicken breasts with pepper. Grill chicken until no long pink (we used our George Foreman grill), or pan fry them.
  5. By this time, the timer for your potatoes should be almost done, so you want to top each chicken breast with some bar-b-que sauce, then some shredded cheese, and some sliced green onions, a spoonful of Rotels, and then finally a sprinkle of bacon bits (the recipe calls for specific amounts, but it’s essentially however much you want on your chicken).  Place the chicken in a bake-able dish or pan.
  6. Take the potatoes out, sprinkle with butter, brown sugar, pecan pieces and cayenne pepper, dividing evenly. Bake until sugar is carmelized and hard, about 10 minutes. Toss gently; serve immediately.
  7. For the last 5 minutes of your potatoes’ baking time, put the chicken in the oven, too.  Leave in until the cheese is nice and melted.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Original recipe from the All Things Simple blog.

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Crock Pot Cashew Chicken

Ingredients:
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup soy sauce*
4 Tbsp rice wine vinegar*
4 Tbsp ketchup*
1 Tbsp brown sugar*
2 garlic cloves, minced (1 teaspoon)*
1 tsp grated fresh ginger*
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes*
1/2 cup cashews

Directions:
Combine flour and pepper in large Ziploc bag. Add chicken. Shake to coat with flour mixture. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken about 2 minutes on each side. Place chicken in the crock pot. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, sugar, garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes in small bowl; pour over chicken. Cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours. Add cashews and stir. Serve over rice. Makes 4-6 servings.  Garnish & serve with cilantro.

(Note:  the sauce, while it may look like a lot, thickens as it cooks, so you have considerably less than what you began with.  So, if you want it to be extra saucey, or a little more runny, maybe throw in a bit of chicken broth.  But, I tried it just like it’s written above and it was fantastic!)
*If you want to have a drier dish (less sauce), half the sauce ingredients.

(Original recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff, here.)

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Fewer Uninsured People

From the New York Times:

The number of Americans who lack health insurance declined last year, the first drop since 2007. This is, in large part, the result of the health care reform law and better coverage under public programs like Medicaid. This also shows why repealing the health care law or revamping and shrinking Medicaid, as many Republicans want to do, would be disastrous moves.

The Census Bureau reported on Wednesday that the number of people without health coverage fell to 48.6 million in 2011, or 15.7 percent of the population, down from 49.9 million, or 16.3 percent of the population, in 2010. Health experts attributed a big chunk of the drop to a provision in the health care reform law that allows children to remain on their parents’ policies until age 26. Some three million young adults took advantage of that provision, other surveys show.

The bureau also reported that the percentage of people covered by private insurance stayed flat at 63.9 percent, the first time in a decade it has not fallen. The percentage of Americans covered by government programs, like Medicare, Medicaid, a related children’s health program, and military plans, increased for the fifth consecutive year to reach 32.2 percent in 2011. That is a testament to the importance of government programs in troubled economic times.

In other good news, a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust showed that average premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance for family coverage rose 4 percent from last year and individual coverage rose 3 percent — well below the double-digit increases in the past decade. The recession accounts for some of this moderation in costs. The spread of high deductible health plans may also have reduced spending, and some experts think the health care reforms, which don’t fully kick in until 2014, are already pushing health care providers and insurers to lower their costs.

The Census Bureau also reported that median household income, adjusted for inflation, declined last year to $50,054, a level not seen since the mid-1990s, and that income inequality grew significantly worse, as incomes rose for the top earners. Still, the percentage of Americans living in poverty declined slightly after rising in the previous three years, largely because more people shifted from part-time to full-time work. The census data underscore the importance of retaining the health care reforms, which will increasingly make insurance more affordable for middle-class families.

*A version of this editorial appeared in print on September 13, 2012, on page A30 of the New York edition with the headline: Fewer Uninsured People.* Link to the original article here

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47 Days Left…

We’ve still got 47 days until the Presidential Elections.  Here are some fun political pics to mull over until November 6th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Read, Read, Read!

I’ve started the third year of my PhD program, which means that I’m in my reading year.  I’ll spend the next 9 months reading a couple hundred books in preparation for my PhD qualifying exams (the three members of my committee get to test me on what I learned from said couple hundred books).  I have three fields of examination:  1) my major field, Modern European History; 2) my minor field, the History of Sexuality and Gender; and 3) my research field/field of expertise,  Modern German History.  

I have a list of books to read for each field, and each list is broken down into thematic or chronological sections.  Here’s what I’m reading for the first section of each list (in case anyone is bored and interested):

Modern European History

  1. The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914 by C.A. Bayly
  2. Globalization:  A Short History by Jürgen Osterhammel & Niels P. Petersson

the History of Sexuality & Gender in the Modern World

  1. The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: an Introduction, by Michel Foucault
  2. The Invention of Heterosexuality, by Jonathan Ned Katz
  3. The Epistemology of the Closet, by Eve Sedgwick
  4. How to Do the History of Homosexuality, by David Halperin
  5. Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things, by Ann Laura Stoler
  6. Imperial Leather:  Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest, by Anne McClintock
  7. Gender and the Politics of History, Joan Scott
  8. “Forgetting Foucault,” by David Halperin, in Representations
  9. “Remembering Foucault” by Jeffrey Weeks in the Journal of the History of Sexuality
  10. “Thinking Sex:  Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality” by Gayle Rubin, in Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality (by Carole Vance)

Modern German History

  1. German History, 1770-1866 by James Sheeman
  2. Deutscher Gesellschaftsgeschichte (volumes 1-5), by Hans-Ulrich Wehler
  3. German History in Modern Times:  Four Lives of a Nation, by William Hagen
  4. The German Catastrophe, by Friedrich Meinecke
  5. Peculiarities of German History, by David Blackbourn and Geoff Eley

On the iPod

  1. The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett.  My commute to campus takes about an hour, so I get in almost a couple hours of pleasure reading/hearing a few times each week. I’ve listened to 36 and a half hours so far, and only have 3.5 more to go!

On the Kindle

  1. the Stand, by Stephen King.  Every now and then I get to do some pleasure reading before falling to sleep.  I’m about half-way through and love it.

As ya’ll can see:  2012 is often the last world and time that my mind is in! Okay, lunch break is over, so I better quit talking about reading and actually go read! 

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