Deep Thoughts: While I was driving south down the I-35 today, in the “road zone”, I began to think about… [wait for it]…human beings.
I began to think about how it was that a lower order of primates evolved to eventually have me sitting snug in a moving machine, barreling down a leg of this man-made intricate interstate system with a device playing digital musical files, reading and interpreting a multitude of semiotic systems, using tools–technology–to gratify all my whims as they arise: hotel reservations in Oklahoma City, checking in with my boyfriend in New York, conditioning the air around me, locomoting from state to state, city to city, mile to mile. I began to think of how amazed I am about… [wait for it]…life. That I am here and I am free and that I have the capacity to embrace being here and being free. No, it wasn’t the countless pro-life billboards (We are in the Bible Belt.), it wasn’t the delirium of thousands of miles under my own belt, it wasn’t too much coffee or that K2 “incense” I have been reading about in the news. It was a thought born of having thought everything else far more frivolous the past 12 days I have been on the road.
Breakfast: Cafe Seed, an all-vegan cafe in Kansas City that served me a perfect breakfast this morning. I hold that meal partly responsible for my elated state. My breakfast, the bacon-scramble tofu biscuit with potatoes and fruit, as well as the rest of the cafe’s weekend brunch menu, was straight-forward, unadorned, fundamental deliciousness… downright paradisiacal. Fueled by the cafe’s distinct energy of rebellion and activism (complemented by the Afrocentric art and photography about its walls), I was reminded that my veganism is a deliberate act, a conscious decision based on justice, fairness and principle. Eating at a place that makes this connection feels good. …Aaannnd they also had the best coffee I’ve had in all of my trip so far.
Cafe Seed’s biscuit, a real biscuit… not a roll or a dense cake… but that distinguished biscuit texture, was filled with a fabulous tofu scramble. This is the kind of scramble I love. It wasn’t overly crumbly and held together, not too yeasty and hippy-like. Place some salty vegan bacon on top (packaged, not sure which brand) and there it is. Making use of their delicious jam, the sandwich was smeared on all sides. A good serving of potatoes (or “nature’s prozac,” says CP) and some fresh fruit. That’ll hold me for 3 hours or so… until we reach our lunch destination.
Lunch. I don’t know how I found this place but wow. Wichita, Kansas’s all-vegan (my favorite compound word) d’Sozo is only about a month old but Executive Chef Miguel Larcher’s vision is fully developed. The huge space houses a natural foods store, a full-service cafe including a buffet and bakery, a juice and smoothie bar and plenty of room for seating. The extensive menu includes sandwiches, pizza, soups, crepes…. uh, vegan crepes!!! All food is the result of Chef Miguel’s extensive culinary background (read up on it here or take my word that the man has years of prestigious international training in vegan cuisine).
My crepe choice, the Asparagus Petite Crêpe [asparagus, béchamel sauce, pimento and fresh parsley] was a absolutely wonderful taste of savory French cuisine. I have had several vegan crepes in my travels (Atlas Cafe‘s in New York City and River House Creperie in Seattle come to mind) and none of them have been truly crepes. This was a crepe, a scrumptious and flavorful one stuffed with even more scrumptiousness and flavor. On the side, some more natural prozac, enormous wedges of seasoned potato.
The Chef, who we had the pleasure of talking vegan with, offered us complimentary slices of his cheesecake. Much like the crepe, I have had several slices of vegan cheesecake in my day… nothing quite as delicately decadent and authentic in texture as his. Most vegan cheesecakes are dense bricks of ground nut or cold, gelatinous globs. This cheesecake I’d eat again and again… and again.
Here is Chef Miguel, who graciously allowed us to snap some shots. We had to! d’Sozo was a very special and unique find on our vegan roadtrip and I am happy to sing its high praises. And look, he even reads my blog! (Actually, I forced him to.)
Wow. I am amazed by the last few days of eating. The last two weeks actually. It makes me so happy that there are vegan eateries popping up coast-to-coast, vegan eateries with a love for fresh and flavorful with innovative and creative menus… it does my heart and belly good.
by Karen Z. unless otherwise noted.
26. Always shake the ketchup bottle.
27. The following things should always be able to kick your ass: ginger, whiskey, love and coffee. If they’re not, they’re not strong enough.
28. Low-hanging fruit is for the lazy and cowardly. Within challenges, risks and uncertainties lay the best rewards.
29. I am no low-hanging fruit.
30. “A man’s character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.” – Mark Twain
31. Never underestimate your brain’s knack for overestimating your significance in the grand scheme of things.
32. Hold the door.
33. Learn CPR, if not for the skills set than for the superhero fantasies it’ll help inspire.
34. There’s nothing more unattractive than a liar.
35. Critical thought, the most important cognitive skill, is a gift.
36. Feel stupid, inadequate, lonely, ugly, useless, worried, uncomfortable. Keep feeling…
37. Always give money to the subway Mariachi bands.
38. You are the only governable variable in every situation you experience. Experiment with that.
39. Have a happiness plan for emergencies: a playlist of songs that help you to smile, movies that reaffirm and friends who let you purge all the horrid details. Conversations with those age 7 and under also helps greatly.
40. Few things match the exhilaration of conversing with someone who truly and wholly understands you. It’s the sex of friendship.
41. What he said.
42. Emotional intelligence is the most valuable asset one can possess.
43. Rick Blaine over Victor Laszlo. Rhett Butler over Ashley Wilkes.
44. The heart, like the belly, must be fed regularly. It acts quite irrationally when hungry.
45. Organize time through photographs.
46. Listen to your fortunes from cookies and your tea bag tags.
47. Run errands during the Superbowl.
48. Blessed are the introverted, for the strength they gain from the battles endured in a hostile environment, dominated by extraversion.
49. Don’t get rid of your witty t-shirts and band shirts. They grow in value like savings bonds.
50. “Don’t waste your precious breath explaining that you’re worthwhile.” – Pavement’s Carrot Rope
For Wisdumb For the Ages things 1-25, click here.
1. Always smile and say hello to those you pass on a hiking trail. You have something important in common.
2. Learn how to tell time by the sun’s location or a clock tower’s toll. Time is not on your wrist.
3. Always wear your eye glasses on a job interview.
4. Never, unless in extenuating circumstances, run to make a subway.
5. Always dance if there is a dancefloor. Sitting out never induces an onlooker’s smile, while your horrid moves will.
6. Musical taste is 99.9% a perfect judgment of one’s character, as is the style in which one drives an automobile.
7. If you don’t thrive in stressful circumstances, forethought and preventative action does wonders.
8. Tears are amazing. To think that pain, both physical and emotional, makes water leak from our eyes is kind of cool. Let em flow.
9. No effort is ever a waste of time.
10. Know that at least one person secretly loves you. Probably more.
11. Don’t feed negative thoughts; expel them quickly. There is enough adversity outside of your head.
12. Use “curse” words effectively in speech, like Elliott Smith songs or Catcher In The Rye.
13. Organized religion exploits a very natural desire to connect to something supreme and majestic. Science proves we already are.
14. Complaining is annoying and a futile way to spend a moment. (Wait, I just complained.)
15. “Beware of those who seek constant crowds for they are nothing alone.” – Charles Bukowski, The Genius of the Crowd
16. Beware of those who quote Bukowski.
17. If you are ever angry at someone, picture them in a peaceful sleep. There is something about this image that diminishes anger.
18. Coffee from a French press is a million times better than drip coffee. Fresh-squeezed orange juice is a million times better than Tropicana.
19. Fart jokes are funny. There I said it.
20. It is necessary to not skimp when purchasing these items: vanilla extract, cocoa powder, maple syrup, bedding, alcoholic drinks and high-heeled shoes.
21. Grammar counts.
22. “Never make a priority someone who considers you only an option.” – Author Unknown
23. Chaotic transportation hubs during the holidays, long lines and last call at a bar are sociologically unique and fascinating.
24. Never say in a cliche or catch phrase what you can say with your own words. But feel free to use a song.
25. “Don’t be timid.” – Supervisor, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, Wa., 2000
Thanks for reading.
Please add your own via comment!
I am amazed by language…
at our attempts to convey (or conceal) the machinery inside our skulls, the hums and gurgling, poking and prodding, the “Ma…Ma…Ma…/tugging at the shirt combination of the voice inside. And how this translates in speech, the loss and gain in this process, the words in silence, the words in the words… in the words. Yes. Words. How cool! (I sometimes pause and appreciate these kinds of things, like as if stoned though I am not… the brain, the sky, chemicals, the universe. I can cry thinking of the magical world I am fumbling around it, like that boy in American Beauty with the plastic bag, like a cartoon character… or a woman in a Leonard Cohen song-half crazy and feeding you tea and oranges.) Yes, words. I hold them so highly that I often say nothing. Other times too much and to the taste of my foot. But in each of these practices is my love: for their shape, for my tongue compressing in intention, for them slipping past the guards to escape my brain, for them becoming yours. Yes, y-o-u are involved.
It has come to my attention that I can credit writing words as the impetus for some of my most gratifying experiences in my life thus far. Writing… along with my musical taste and, on a much smaller scale, my love for Star Wars, to be more specific, has allowed me to feel the most at ease, allowed me to be… understood. Forget success and love and whatever else is floating boats these days, it is being understood that I strive for most, for it allows for a more nuanced and deeper success, a more meaningful and fruitful love and a more nuanced, deeper, meaningful and fruitful whatever else is floating boats these days. So in celebration of those who can use them with respect and tact and care, I begin a new feature in my blog: Wordful Wednesdays.
Wordful Wednesday will feature quips I encounter in my life that make me feel something enough to take out my pad. In conversation, in passing, in email. Kind of like a Texts From Last Night for the articulate and uninebriated. Or my own writing prompts, inspired by lord knows what. Without further adieu… the Words of Wednesday.
“I thrive in a different type of relationship.”
I really like the speaker’s intonation when saying this. There are several universes behind the word “different” and I’d like to know what they are (like Olive Oil’s thoughts on what should be done about Danny). Also, I enjoy one’s ability to make neutral something that is most certainly full of electrons. To me this speaker was relinquishing the lofty burden of constantly meeting at the doorstep one who’s supposed to meet you half way. Am I projecting?
In my elementary, middle and high school education I excelled more in the language arts and humanities. I wrote my way out of atrocious grades, learning early that one writing assignment could compensate for a term’s worth of lacklusterness. As a tight-lipped introverted wallflower extraordinaire or, later, the queen of truancy, the voice I expressed through writing had always been my saving grace. It still is now in many ways at Columbia, my job and my personal life.
My online environmental health course functions as a journal article discussion group. And given the relationship between the health of the environment and our food system, I am always dropping V bombs. So as not to lose this all in the closed circuitry of Columbia’s ClassWeb, I’ll post them here too.
The Morens (et. al.) article tracks the path of infectious disease emergence through our rapidly changing global economy. Although environmental changes have created the breeding grounds for infectious diseases to develop and evolve, I have to look more deeply and state my critique on our insatiable consumptive needs and the exploitation of animals as a significant factor of infectious disease emergence. This demand, magnified by population growth and urbanization, creates a very scary predicament all too reminiscent of a science fiction horror movie. And now that I have discredited myself by bringing to mind Bruce Willis movies…
Looking more deeply at animal agriculture and our tainted food system, I see examples of our hand in infectious disease emergence. The Malaysian Nipah epidemic spread because of overcrowded pig pens, the relocation of fruit bats in search of a new habitat as a result of deforestation and our handling of these pigs infected with the bats’ droppings. Mad cow disease has emerged in humans as Variant Crutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) after British cattle lots supplemented feed with ground meat and bone from slaughtered animals (Morens et. al., 2004). Not to forget E. coli O157:H7 which spreads to humans after eating contaminated food products (spinach, tomatoes, peanuts, etc.) and undercooked meat. This contamination is a result of the slaughtering process of factory farms and the insufficient disposal of the enormous amount of manure produced by factory farm animals (source). While salmonella, the intestinal infection, is also transmitted by manure-contaminated food of animal-origin (source).
As population and industry have risen in our global economy, animals’ habitats diminish leaving us (and them) susceptible to infectious disease. Zoonoses, or infections transmitted to humans by non-human animals, account for huge portion of emerging infections (EIs). Human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV), the deadly virus that causes AIDS, began as a virus affecting non-human primates before “jumping” to humans. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), a deadly disease transmitted by rodents, is another important example of how our interaction with animals leave us open for infectious invasion (Morens et. al., 2004). Morens et. al. (2004) state that “farming, keeping domestic pets, hunting and camping, deforestation and other types of habitat destruction all create new opportunities for infectious agents to invade human hosts” (pg. 243). When I include to that list rampant development and urbanization and intensive animal agriculture, our almost parasitic relationship to Earth, nature and the wild that exists upon it is clear. Perhaps this is one really big underlying cause of this re-emergence of infectious disease? Perhaps it is also plays a significant role in the environmental changes also aiding infectious disease emergence? Then, perhaps, it is a bit clear what would help… changing our diets.
When I was a tween watching Headbangers Ball, I internalized the possibility that long-haired metal guys could infiltrate my daily life and save me from the tedium, save me from, say, school, or an arguing father. It seemed completely rational to me that Twisted Sister might show up to help convince my folks to let me go to the metal show at Nassau Coliseum or that Suicidal Tendencies may tie a rope to my window to liberate me when I was grounded. Metal videos of the 80′s were very much like fairy tales, where the misunderstood and alienated prevailed against the oppressive forces of the uptight and uncool. The videos often had morals, elements of magic and single-faceted archetypes. Of course these elements, in story and in music, grossly simplified the complex reality said tween was eventually to enter. And I ushered a host of puerile misconceptions into pre-adolescence and regular ol’ adolescence. Some even made it to my adulthood. Misconceptions about what it meant to be pretty, what it meant to be different, what it meant to be me and, of course, what it meant to love and be loved. Now, I am not saying that my musical taste was partly responsible for stunting my development. But I am saying that finding myself within the rigid parameters they helped create was more of an obstacle. Of course, as I grew older, my penchant for hard hair-band rock evolved as did my quest for quality and a more accurate soundtrack to my innards.
But for now, let us sit down for heavy metal story time with one of my favorite fairy tales from Cinderella:
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Below are some examples of multimodal literacy in its spectrum of utility.
Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of American Empire is an example of how graphic novels are moving beyond entertainment and leisure reads to become tools for education and social action. Another notable political graphic novel is the The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation, adapted from the 9/11 commission’s report of 12/2005. It’ll be interesting to see how this genre will grow in years to come.
One of my early experiences with multimodal literacy was Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions. The book’s story and humor was greatly enhanced by Vonnegut’s sketches.
A lover of mixed medium literacies myself, my own early zines played with the elements of text and images to deepen the reader’s experience… all three of them.
Another emergence of multimodal literacy is within quippish television programs:
The mainstreaming of foreign films is also quite multimodal…
As well as web comics: xkcd, Bob and George, A Lesson Is Learned But the Damage is Done
And of course there’s the streaming ticklers that invade the t.v. screen.
My first car, in all its idealistic anti-imperialist feminist splendor, made use of bumpersticker literacy, short and biting statements (“I’d Rather Be Smashing Imperialism”, “U.S. Out of My Uterus”, “Love Animals Don’t Eat Them” and, interestingly, “Question Technology”) along with ethereal images of butterflies and bulldogs. What a confusing juxtaposition!
By JOHN TIERNEY
Published: January 12, 2009
In the new issue of Nature, the neuroscientist Larry Young offers a grand unified theory of love. After analyzing the brain chemistry of mammalian pair bonding — and, not incidentally, explaining humans’ peculiar erotic fascination with breasts — Dr. Young predicts that it won’t be long before an unscrupulous suitor could sneak a pharmaceutical love potion into your drink.
Would you rather have a love potion that made you more likely to become attached to someone else, or a love vaccine that stopped you from falling in love with the wrong person? Join the discussion.
That’s the bad news. The not-so-bad news is that you may enjoy this potion if you took it knowingly with the right person. But the really good news, as I see it, is that we might reverse-engineer an anti-love potion, a vaccine preventing you from making an infatuated ass of yourself. Although this love vaccine isn’t mentioned in Dr. Young’s essay, when I raised the prospect he agreed it could also be in the offing.
Could any discovery be more welcome? This is what humans have sought ever since Odysseus ordered his crew to tie him to the mast while sailing past the Sirens. Long before scientists identified neuroreceptors, long before Britney Spears’ quickie Vegas wedding or any of Larry King’s seven marriages, it was clear that love was a dangerous disease.
Love was correctly identified as a potentially fatal chemical imbalance in the medieval tale of Tristan and Isolde, who accidentally consumed a love potion and turned into hopeless addicts. Even though they realized that her husband, the king, would punish adultery with death, they had to have their love fix.
They couldn’t guess what was in the potion, but then, they didn’t have the benefit of Dr. Young’s research with prairie voles at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University. These mouselike creatures are among the small minority of mammals — less than 5 percent — who share humans’ propensity for monogamy. When a female prairie vole’s brain is artificially infused with oxytocin, a hormone that produces some of the same neural rewards as nicotine and cocaine, she’ll quickly become attached to the nearest male. A related hormone, vasopressin, creates urges for bonding and nesting when it is injected in male voles (or naturally activated by sex). After Dr. Young found that male voles with a genetically limited vasopressin response were less likely to find mates, Swedish researchers reported that men with a similar genetic tendency were less likely to get married. In his Nature essay, Dr. Young speculates that human love is set off by a “biochemical chain of events” that originally evolved in ancient brain circuits involving mother-child bonding, which is stimulated in mammals by the release of oxytocin during labor, delivery and nursing.
“Some of our sexuality has evolved to stimulate that same oxytocin system to create female-male bonds,” Dr. Young said, noting that sexual foreplay and intercourse stimulate the same parts of a woman’s body that are involved in giving birth and nursing. This hormonal hypothesis, which is by no means proven fact, would help explain a couple of differences between humans and less monogamous mammals: females’ desire to have sex even when they are not fertile, and males’ erotic fascination with breasts. More frequent sex and more attention to breasts, Dr. Young said, could help build long-term bonds through a “cocktail of ancient neuropeptides,” like the oxytocin released during foreplay or orgasm.
Researchers have achieved similar results by squirting oxytocin into people’s nostrils — not terribly sexy, but it seems to enhance feelings of trust and empathy. Although Dr. Young is not concocting any love potions (he’s looking for drugs to improve the social skills of people with autism and schizophrenia), he said there could soon be drugs that increase people’s urge to fall in love.
“It would be completely unethical to give the drug to someone else,” he said, “but if you’re in a marriage and want to maintain that relationship, you might take a little booster shot yourself every now and then. Even now it’s not such a far-out possibility that you could use drugs in conjunction with marital therapy.”
I see some potential here, but also big problems. Suppose you took that potion and then suddenly felt an urge to run off with the next person you spent any time with, like your dentist? What if you went to a business convention and then, like an artificially stimulated prairie vole, bonded with the nearest stranger? What if, like Tristan, you developed an overwhelming emotional connection to your boss’s spouse?
Even if the effects could somehow be targeted to the right partner, would you want to start building a long-term relationship with a short-term drug? What happens when it wears off?
A love vaccine seems simpler and more practical, and already there are some drugs that seem to inhibit people’s romantic impulses. Such a vaccine has already been demonstrated in prairie voles.
“If we give an oxytocin blocker to female voles, they become like 95 percent of other mammal species,” Dr. Young said. “They will not bond no matter how many times they mate with a male or hard how he tries to bond. They mate, it feels really good and they move on if another male comes along. If love is similarly biochemically based, you should in theory be able to suppress it in a similar way.”
I doubt many people would want to permanently suppress love, but a temporary vaccine could come in handy. Spouses going through midlife crises would not be so quick to elope with their personal trainers; elderly widowers might consult their lawyers before marrying someone resembling Anna Nicole Smith. Love is indeed a many-splendored thing, but sometimes we all need to tie ourselves to the mast.
Wok Man and I have been having some heated discussions about food ethics. The extent to which people disconnect themselves from their food choices, and the consequences of those food choices, disturbs us greatly. Food ignorance is wreaking havoc on our health, our ass size, the environment and the millions of sentient beings it enslaves and destroys systematically. This is not opinion but truth, one that many choose to close their eyes and ears to.
The grey area here is that these people covering their ears are our family and our friends. They have passion, ideals and values. They care, often times a great deal, about their health; their weight; and, when it is brought to their attention, the well-being of animals. Few things spur a greater public outcry of support then a wounded dog, maliciously abused by his owner. Just last month donations totalling $10,000 were received in less than 24 hours for a Yorkshire Terrier who was set afire by his “owner”. We advocate strongly for animals when they are the subject of cruel abuse. But this compassion is not extended to the animals abused and killed for our consumptive needs: our food, our wardrobe, our entertainment. The connection is not made; the horrific abuse is hidden behind production and packaging. People’s relationship with their consumptions is simply the store in which they were purchased from. So the highly profitable business of food ignorance is perpetuated.
So how can this disconnect be so ingrained in people, particularly those of earlier generations? Theorising with Wok Man, I discuss the education system our parents were schooled under. Students of our parents’ generation were taught to memorize, conform and spew back. Critical thinking, a much higher level of thinking, was not encouraged in the classroom. Being versed in education and child development, I can’t help but think of Bloom’s Taxonomy. It is not a judgment when I say that most adults don’t think beyond comprehension-level thinking, being able to summarize or paraphrase. It’s empirical; their actions and patterns of thought are aligned with these ways of thinking. As the level of cognition sharpens, however, we see thinkers who are able to apply, analyze, synthesize and evaluate knowledge. Ideals and values in action: deeply penetrating. Accomodation verses assimilation.
Off the well worn track of my daily life here in New York is a different city. A city that the tourists come to see. 46 million tourists just in 2007 (this and other interesting figures here). Among New York City’s countless attractions and world renowned cultural institutions is the Metropolitan Museum of Art: home to over 2 million pieces of art, expansive in size and breadth, one of the largest art museums in the world and maybe the most breathtaking afternoon available between the Hudson and East rivers.
And! the amazing Arts Initiative at Columbia University picks up the tab for all its students’ admission fees to the Met (and about 30 other area museums). Glad the hefty tuition I pay is rewarding me immediately with a cushion of inspiration, art and a new outlook of my homecity.
Marciana, Sister of the emperor Trajan
Ugolino and His Sons
“The story of the Pisan traitor Ugolino della Gherardesca, imprisoned with his sons and condemned to starvation, was told by Dante in the INferno (canto 23). Carpeaux (the artist) shows the anguished father resisting his sons’ offer to their own bodies for his sustenance.”
The Demidoff Table by Lorenzo Bartolini
“The subject is a complex, cosmological allegory best described in the sculptor’s own words: ‘Stretched out upon the plan of the world is Cupid, God of generation, sustaining and watching over the symbolic genius of dissolute wealth without virtue, who snores in his sleep,…dreaming of past diversions in pleasure. Left to himself, the Genius of ambition rectitude in work sleeps the agitated sleep of misfortune and glory,…his head extending beyond the periphery of the world.’”
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