This is Lisa Spangenberg's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Lisa Spangenberg's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Lisa Spangenberg
Pacific Northwest
I write. People pay me.
Interests: wine, linguistics, beauty, celtic studies, spirits, glbt, cooking, technology, books, apple, poetry, beer, the pacific northwest, humanity, ebooks, sf & f, early literature
Recent Activity
It’s that time of year when the early apples are appearing at pick-your-own farms and at grocery stores, and for those of us lucky to have our own trees, in our yards. One of my favorite things about fall are the new batches of sweet apple cider. If you're lucky enough to have a plentiful source of apples, you can easily make your own cider. Or you can take advantage of the season, and pick up a few gallons. I say “a few,” because you're going to want enough for drinking now, and some for fall baking and cooking. Cider is not only a super way to add apple flavoring to all sorts of things, it’s an easy way to help reduce the use of refined sugar, and convert recipes that call for milk into vegan suitable alternatives. I’m going to assume that you are using plain non-alcoholic “sweet” cider, but for many purposes, fermented “hard”Apple cider will work too. Apple cider is a good substitute for recipes that call for wine or brandy. To substitute apple cider for brandy, wine, port or sherry used as an ingredient (rather than as a flambé), simply use the same amount of apple cider instead of the wine or brandy that the recipes calls for. You can also use apple cider as a substitute for water when you cook brussels sprouts, green beans, spinach, collards, kale or broccoli. Use the same amount of cider instead of water. This works with steaming vegetables in a microwave, too. The apple cider adds a hint of apple, and just a touch of sweetening. Next time you make oatmeal or another hot cereal that calls for water, substitute the same amount of apple cider. This works just as well when you make instant oatmeal, or use a crockpot, whether you're cooking rolled oats or steel-cut oats Irish oatmeal. Try cooking rice for rice pudding in apple cider instead of water. The rice is slightly sweet and has a definite apple flavor. Cookie recipes that call for water or milk are often improved by directly substituting cider, using the same quantity of cider instead of milk or water that the recipe calls. Oatmeal cookies made with cider are fabulous, as is zucchini bread. So is stuffing; just use cider instead of broth or water. Consider substituting cider instead of some of the broth when you make fall soups too. There are also lots of excellent recipes for apple cider cakes, apple cider doughnuts, apple cider pancakes and apple cider coffee cakes. These use cider as a sweetener and flavoring. One of my absolute favorite ways to enjoy apple cider is hot mulled apple cider; this is lots of fun to make for a party or take to the office, it’s perfect for the crisp nights of fall, and ideal for making in a crock pot. Use enough cider to almost fill your crock pot, and add a few cloves, a couple sticks of cinnamon, and whatever other spices appeal to you (nutmeg, mace, orange slices, lemon slices, and possibly rum or brandy are popular choices). Let it simmer gently for at least an hour, then taste it. Adjust the spices as needed. You can add a little honey or sugar if your mulled cider needs a little sweetening. Try glazing meat or squash with a sweet apple cider glaze using a little melted butter and a little flour as if you were making gravy or a roux. Once the butter thickens and the flour starts to brown, add about a cup and a half of apple cider. Keep stirring over low heat. Once your glaze starts to thicken, taste it and possibly add a table spoon or so of sugar, stirring it in. When the sugar has dissolved, pour the glaze over ham, or pork or squash or sweet potatoes, or ice cream or pound cake, pancakes, French toast, or waffles. Think about scattering some raisins or dried cranberries on top as a garnish. The next time you have a recipe that calls for you to soak dried fruit in water, use apple cider instead. Try making stewed fruit with apple cider. Just use the cider instead of water, and simmer the fruit gently; you want to slightly thicken the cider but not turn it into syrup or turn the fruit into mush. (Originally written for 404media.net) Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2017 at Recent Writing
Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a disturbing trend that has been documented around the world. Significant numbers of worker bees mysteriously disappear from their hive, ultimately resulting in the death of the colony. Beekeepers began reporting hive losses of anywhere form 30 to 90 percent of their hives. Perfectly healthy and otherwise unremarkable hives and European honey bee colonies were inexplicably emptied of worker bees. The hive doesn't have dead worker bees, and often there are honey stores and immature bees, as well as a queen, still present. Since then, CCD has been reported in North America, Europe, and Asia. Current estimates in the U.S. suggest that roughly one-third of all U.S. honey bee colonies have vanished. There is no known definitive cause for CCD. Theories include: climate and environmental changes, insecticides, natural bee parasites like Varroa mites, and insect diseases and viruses. In September of 2007, USDA researchers published a study based on comparing healthy bees with samples from bee colonies affected with CCD, and found a high percentage of the CCD colonies were infected with the Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV), a virus that is often carried by the Varroa mite. IAPV was found in 96.1% of the samples from CCD colonies. These may all be contributing factors to stress-related immune deficiency as well. CCD is important to all of us, whether or not we care about honey, because bees are crucial for the pollination of plants. Fruiting crops and nut-bearing trees in particular depend on bees for pollination. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, about one mouthful in three in our diet benefits from honey bee pollination. Bluntly put, there are a number of plants that will not fruit without honey bee pollination. Almonds, apples, avocados, berries of all sorts, broccoli, citrus fruits, carrots, cucumbers, grapes, onions, peaches, peanuts, plums, pumpkins, and a variety of hay and field crops require bees for pollination. While the scientists and researchers attempt to determine the cause and a solution to CCD, the rest of us can take simple steps to provide and look out for honey bees. Be careful about what pesticides we use and when; avoiding their use at midday when honey bees are out searching for nectar. Plant flowers that are rich with nectar like red clover, bee balm, and foxglove. Don’t forget to buy products from companies like Häagen-Dazs and Burt’s Bees who support research into CCD and work to heighten the public’s awareness about the plight of the honey bee. (Originally published at makemead.net Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2017 at Recent Writing
Once I discovered the joys of freshly ground, freshly brewed coffee, I was hooked. I went from brewing and enjoying pour-over coffee, to Krupps drip-coffee, to using a French press. For most of that time, I ground coffee using a small, under $20.00 blade grinder. For the true coffee fanatic, I was engaging in rank heresy. The blade grinder isn't technically a grinder at all. The blades whir rapidly and crush the beans. This is considered anathema because the beans aren't all crushed evenly, and if you continue grinding or "pulsing" the grind becomes finer, which is not what you want for the average drip coffee maker. You want the grains to be equal in size because you want the water to be equally dispersed throughout the coffee during brewing. The true fanatic therefore favors a burr grinder, wherein the "burrs" crush the beans between them. You can adjust the fineness of the grind by using a dial, which works by adjusting just how close the burrs are to each other or to a stationary surface. The ability to control the grind is crucial, because different brewing methods require different grinds of coffee. You want very coarse for a French press, medium coarse to medium for drip brewing or vacuum pots (you will note that there are gradations of medium depending on the kind of filter you use), fine for espresso, and a very fine grind for Turkish or Greek style coffee. There's a good chart with images showing you various grinds here. There are two basic types of burr grinders; those that use a very rapidly spinning wheel, and those that use a conical burr. These are slower, quieter, and more expensive. They also are less likely to overheat and add a "burned" flavor or aroma to the coffee—a problem that some coffee drinkers have with blade grinders as well, since the longer you grind, the hotter the grinder gets. There are those who object to the mess of the burr grinder—they need to be cleaned fairly carefully with a brush, and static electricity can cause a fine powder to adhere to the top, and then spread all over your counter. And sometimes a fine sediment collects in the bottom of a cup, or a carafe, which leads some to argue that you should only use a burr grinder with a brewing system that uses paper filters. Now, here's where my New England frugality kicks in; the average blade grinder is under twenty dollars. The most often recommended burr grinders are over $100.00. The burr coffee grinders I that seem to be the most often recommended are the BARATZA Virtuoso Burr Coffee Grinder at just under $200.00, and the Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder, at around $140.00. That's a lot of coffee I won't be drinking. While I'm attracted to the notion of a manual box grinder from Zassenhaus, they're imported from Germany, and the company is having some problems, so while they are usually around $70.00 retail here, you can't find them currently. That means that I'm looking very closely at the Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill, which I'm seeing online for about $40.00. Originally written for Klat. Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2016 at Recent Writing
Image
Greek coffee is intensely flavored, rich, dark coffee made in small batches, and served immediately in demitasse cups. The coffee is best sipped while it's almost too hot to bear (there's a reason Greek coffee is traditionally accompanied by a glass of cold water and a small plate of sweet cookies). In Greece, you will often see men, especially early in the morning, gathered in small groups by the local coffee shop, where they sip two or three cups of this amazing brew while discussing politics or soccer, before heading off to the boats or other work. Coffee and something to nibble is also often served after the mid-day break as well. The coffee must be made in small batches; usually two demitasse cups at a time, but rarely more than four. You use a small copper or steel cylindrical pan with a lip but no lid called a briki to brew the coffee. Part of the enjoyment in the coffee is that the fine grind, and the rapid brewing, create a rich creamy foam on the top. Your host or brewer will inquire how you want your coffee, unsweetened or slightly sweet, or very sweet. To make the coffee, fresh and very cold water is measured (using one of the demitasse cups) and poured into the briki. The specially ground Greek coffee is added, one heaping teaspoon per cup, with an appropriate amount of sugar; the coffee may be unsweetened (sketos), slightly sweetened, by the addition of a teaspoon of sugar (metrios), or very sweet, with the addition of two teaspoons of sugar (glykos). The briki is put on the burner, with the heat set to medium low. The coffee is stirred just until the coffee dissolves (and never, ever stirred again). Allow the coffee to heat, slowly, until foam starts to appear. The foam (crema to you espresso drinkers) is exceedingly important; traditionally the quality of the foam is associated with the richness and quality of the coffee. Once the foam has risen to the top of the briki (this happens very quickly once it starts), the coffee is removed, carefully, from the heat. The foam is poured off first, gently, and shared between the cups. Then, top the cups off with the rest of the coffee, being careful to preserve the foam in the cups. Serve the coffee immediately, with a glass of cold water, and perhaps a small plate of biscotti, like paximathi, or melomekarena (especially at Christmas, but really anytime of year) or possibly amygdalota, koulourakia, or the traditional baklava. You will notice that the grounds have settled to the bottom of your cup of coffee; you might be tempted to practice the art of kafemandeia, or reading coffee grounds. Originally written for Klat. Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2016 at Recent Writing
Image
Pour-over coffee is still one of the most common ways to make coffee as well as one of the least expensive in terms of equipment. Essentially, a manual pour over coffee maker consists of a con-shaped glass, porcelain, or plastic housing that contains a coffee filter, and a container to collect the brewed coffee. The cone-shaped filter holders can be either individual one-cup serving sizes, designed to perch over a mug, and larger sizes, up to 12 cups. My very first coffee maker was a manual pour over. In my case, it was one of the plastic Melitta filter cones that I used with Melitta paper coffee filters. There are other brands besides Melitta—purists often favor the Chemex manual pour-over coffee makers because the entire thing is made of high quality tempered glass. At first, I used a plastic Melitta filter cone and a porcelain coffeepot; later I switched to a glass carafe with an air tight lid that would keep the coffee hot. In crude terms, you place a paper filter in the filter cone (you may need to fold the seams a tad on the side and bottom), add the ground coffee (ground as if for a drip coffee maker, two tablespoons per 8 oz cup, please) in the filter, bring the water just to a boil, then slowly pour it over the coffee, distributing the water evenly over the grounds. There are a few things that make a difference, and if, you keep them in mind, you can reliably produce one of the best cups of coffee you've ever had. First, you have to start with good quality coffee, second, it's amazing what a difference it makes it if you grind the coffee just before you use it, third, use pure, clean cold water, and if it's not actually enjoyable to drink the water from the tap, purchased purified water. Brewing Pour-Over Coffee Ingredients and Equipment 1 pour-over coffee paper filter and housing cone 1 container for brewed coffee Fresh ground coffee (two tablespoons per 8 oz cup, and one for the brewer) Cold drinkable water Kettle Procedure Heat the water to boiling; allow 8 ounces per cup Grind the coffee to a medium "drip" grind once you hear the water start to boil. Pour a little hot water, slowly, over the grounds to saturate them. Pause, then pour the rest, keeping an eye on the liquid level. If the water covers the grounds completely (this depends on how much coffee you are brewing), gently stir the slurry, so that all the grounds are equally saturated. Wait for the water to drip through. Serve the coffee. Here are two other, slightly more complicated methods. If you're not sure where to shop for a brew over coffee maker, you can find them online. If you want to make iced coffee, use about 1/3 less water to make the same amount of coffee, since you'll be serving it over ice. Originally written for Klat. Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2016 at Recent Writing
Image
One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to grow "Crystal Gardens." My first "crystal garden" was made in a Sunday School class; the teacher found the instructions in a little booklet tied to a jar of laundry blueing. This is a super activity for a rainy summer day with your kids. You can build a single garden together, or, if you've got multiples or the neighbor kids, they can each make small individual gardens. Things You Need A glass or ceramic dish (not metal, and nothing precious) Several pieces of charcoal briquette, bricks, or small pieces of porous rock that are roughly an inch in diameter. This is the medium upon which your crystals will grow. You can use larger chunks, but it's much trickier. A clean empty glass jar that's at least large enough to hold 1 cup of solution. Salt (table salt is fine; salt without iodine is slightly better) Blueing (look in the detergent section of the grocery store) Ammonia Food coloring Procedure Rinse the material you'll use for a growing medium in water. You want it to be damp but not soaking in water. Arrange the medium in the bottom of the glass dish. It doesn't have to be in a single layer; feel free to be a little creative. Mix the following in the glass jar: 3 tablespoons Salt 3 tablespoons ammonia 6 tablespoons bluing Mix or gently shake until the salt is dissolved. Pour the solution over the medium in the glass dish. Try to saturate all of it with the liquid. Rinse the jar out with a tablespoon or so of water, and pour that into the dish as well. Set the jar aside; you'll need it again. Carefully put drops of food coloring on the medium; anyplace that you don't add food coloring to will have white crystals. Remember that yellow and red makes orange, blue and red purple makes purple. Sprinkle an additional two tablespoons of salt on top of the medium. Place the dish someplace where it won't be disturbed, out of the reach of pets and small children. On the second and third days, pour a solution of 2 tablespoons of salt, 2 tablespoons of ammonia, and 2 tablespoons of bluing into the bottom of the dish. You need to be a little delicate in doing this, since there will be tiny crystals already. The crystals will grow for several days, then stop. They are very delicate, and will crumble if disturbed, so set the dish where you plan to leave it, out of the reach of curious pets and small children. You'll see crystals start to form just a few hours after you add the solution. What happens is that capillary action draws the solution up through the coal, where the liquid evaporates, leaving the crystals behind. You can engage in variations on this theme, as well; you can make trees out of thick blotter paper; make two trees, and split one down the middle, vertically, half way down the top, and the other halfway up from the bottom; intersect the two trees to make a three-dimensional tree. Color the tips of the branches with colored markers, then place the tree in the solution. This is essentially the way the "Magic Tree" works. This was originally writing for Parenting Report. Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2016 at Recent Writing
On this day, February 10, in 1355, Oxford University erupted in a violent riot that lasted three days, and ended with the deaths of 93 people, most of them students. The riot began when two students in a group drinking at the Swindlestock Tavern (now a branch of Abbey National Bank) in Carfax ordered wine. According to Anthony Wood, author of a 1674 history of Oxford University: John de Croydon the vintner brought them some, but they disliking it. and he avouching it to be good, several snappish words passed between them. At length the vintner giving them stubborn and saucy language, they threw the wine and vessel at his head. Croyden apparently appealed to the Mayor, John de Bereford, who caused the town bell at the church of St. Marton's to be rung, thus summoning the townsfolk into an impromptu militia. They, armed with a variety of implements, assailed Oxford, and attacking the students. Alarmed, the university Chancellor rang the bell at the university chapel of St. Marys, at which point students assembled and counter-attacked the townsfolk, forcing a retreat. The next day, Bereford went into the countryside, and returned with some 2,000 folk carrying a black banner and chanting "Slay, Havock, Smyte!" They broke into the various colleges colleges at Oxford, ransacking the buildings, and killing 63 students, and 30 townsfolk. The king, Edward III was appealed to by the Chancellor, and found in favor of the University. He ordered the Mayor and Bailiffs promenade bareheaded through the town (a public humiliation since hats indicated social status) and attend a special Mass on every subsequent St Scholastica's Day. In addition, they had to swear an oath to observe the University's privileges, and pay an annual fine of 63 pence to the University. This practice continued until 1825, when the Mayor simply refused to participate. Oddly, the "town-gown" conflict has never really disappeared in Oxford, to this day, to the point that there are pubs that are designated as "university" friendly, and others that are perceived as strictly for "townies." (Originally written for Klat/http://campusreport.com/article/today-anniversary-st-scholstica-riots) Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2015 at Recent Writing
Last July a number of Web sites and periodicals published articles about research regarding female sexuality that was going to be presented at the August 2010 meeting of the American Psychological Association in a session called "Sexual Fluidity and Late-Blooming Lesbian." Two projects in particular were featured at the meeting. Lisa Diamond, a professor at Utah University, followed a group of 79 women for fifteen years. All of the women at the beginning of the study had reported some level of same-sex attraction. Over the course of the study, every two years, 20 to 30 percent of the women changed the way they described themselves and their orientation, choosing bisexual, straight, or lesbian as their current orientation. Seventy percent of the women have changed the way they identify since the start of the study. Diamond notes often "women who may have always thought that other women were beautiful and attractive would, at some point later in life, actually fall in love with a woman, and that experience vaulted those attractions from something minor to something hugely significant." Professor Diamond adds that "it wasn't that they'd been repressing their true selves before; it was that without the context of an actual relationship, the little glimmers of occasional fantasies or feelings just weren't that significant." Particularly significant are the changes brought with age. Women in their thirties and forties often find that with age, priorities and needs shift, particularly for women who have raised children and no longer have day to day responsibilities for child-rearing. Diamond says. "I think a lot of women, late in life, when they're no longer worried about raising the kids, and when they're looking back on their marriage and how satisfying it is, find an opportunity to take a second look at what they want and feel like." You can read more about Diamond's research here. Another participant at the American Psychological Association's session is Christan Moran, a researcher at Souther Connecticut State University. Moran interviewed more than 200 women over 30 who were married to men but found themselves attracted to women. Among Moran's conclusions were that women who identified as heterosexual could "experience a first same-sex attraction well into adulthood." Moran's 2008 M.A. thesis was on "Mid-Life Sexuality Transitions In Women - A Queer Qualitative Study." Moran wondered how many women who came out in middle age or after marriage were wrongly dismissed as having been in the closet or having repressed their feelings. Her study, largely conducted via survey, examined the lives of thirty-three women who described themselves experiencing same-sex attraction and who were over the age of thirty but married to men. Moran located participants via Web sites and online communities for heterosexually married women who self-identified as lesbian. Moran discovered was evidence that suggests that many of the participants may have made what she describes as "a full transition to a singular lesbian identity . . . in other words chang[ing] their sexual orientation." While I applaud Moran's efforts, they are problematic in a number of ways; first, I am troubled by her research methodology, second, the size of her sample is exceedingly small, and thirdly, Moran's own status as a woman who identifies closely with the survey participants as a heterosexually married woman who self-identified as a lesbian late in life, makes her research questionable by those who have a heteronormative and homophobic agenda. The July announcement of the session released a flurry of press speculation, and articles about "late-blooming lesbian celebrities." People like Cynthia Nixon, Portia de Rossi, Carol Leifer, the comedian who was partially responsible for Elaine on Seinfeld. Leifer has spoken candidly about her previously exclusively male relationships, until she fell very much in love with another woman at the age of 40. Leifer notes "My feelings for men were very real and powerful, but I fell in love with my partner. It's been the best relationship of my life." Women realizing late in life that they are romantically and sexually drawn to to other women is increasingly common as women who have independent incomes realize that while they were glad to have had children, and they value their relationship with their husband and the father of their children, their marriages were not really working. While this is hardly a new phenomenon (one only has to think of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hicoc or Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville West, never mind all the "Boston marriages" of ages past to realize women have always had fluid sexuality), it is becoming increasingly common and publicly acceptable. But recent research on women and sexual fluidity, and the ways in which sexual orientation shifts on the spectrum validates the anecdotal and historical experiences of women. (Originally published at That Gay Blog) Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2015 at Recent Writing
Image
Lisa Diamond, an associate professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah, in January of 2008 published the results of a multi-year study of 79 women who did not self-identify as heterosexual. Professor Diamond's research began in 1995 when she conducted in-person interviews with the women, who identified themselves as lesbian, bisexual, or unlabeled but not heterosexual. The women were all between 18 and 25 years old at the time. Diamond then followed up with each woman every two years, in a phone interview. Dr. Diamond was researching the idea of bisexuality as a temporary stage of denial or transition, a stable "3rd type" of sexual orientation, or a heightened capacity for sexual fluidity. Dr. Diamond discovered that the women who identified as bisexual continued to be attracted to both sexes, which supports the idea that bisexuality is a distinct sexual orientation, rather than a temporary phase, particularly since the study included women in a range of ages. Diamond further suggests that most women "possess the capacity to experience sexual desires for both sexes, under the right circumstances," and discovered that over time, bisexual women were more likely than lesbians to switch between describing themselves as bisexual and unlabeled, rather than to identify as lesbian or heterosexual. Some of the women created their own labels, including one who described herself as "reluctant heterosexual." The women in the study who identify as heterosexual and who "experiment with same-sex desires and behaviors, but if they really are predominantly heterosexual, they may enjoy experimentation but may not change their sexuality." She also discovered that the women who identified as bisexual tended to be monogamous, and form long-term attachments, thereby debunking another bisexual myth. Roughly a quarter of the women said their choice of sexual partners was not affected by their partner's sex or gender. "Deep down," said one woman, "it's just a matter of who I meet and fall in love with, and it's not their body, it's something behind the eyes." You can read about Professor Diamond's research in "Female Bisexuality From Adolescence to Adulthood: Results From a 10-Year Longitudinal Study" published in the January 2008 issue of Developmental Psychology, a journal of the American Psychological Association, or see a summary from USA Today. After her initial study, Dr. Diamond discovered that some of her research was being wrenched out of context, particularly by Christian Right groups who want to argue that sexual orientation was a choice. What Dr. Diamond's research in fact indicated was that rather than being a conscious choice, something that could be controlled, many women experienced their sexual orientation as something that was fluid, a spectrum rather than a grid. By the tenth year of the study, two-thirds of the women had changed their identity label at least once. In subsequent research, Dr. Diamond discovered that "Eighty percent of the identity transitions that I've observed in the 13 years of the study have been transitions to either bisexual or unlabeled identities, from lesbian or heterosexual identities." In fact, current research suggests that "The exclusive categories [of heterosexual or homosexual] are actually the smallest categories, and those bisexual ranges are actually the largest ranges." (originally written for <a href="http://thatgayblog.com/news/women-and-sexual-orientation-its-lot-more-fluid-many-think#sthash.rUVPe2ow.dpuf">That Gay Blog</a>) Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2015 at Recent Writing
Image
Kinsey, notoriously or comfortingly (you decide), is the person who came up with the rubric that "10 Percent," more or less of the adult population in the U.S. identifies as homesexual, based on Kinsey's 1948 and 1953 studies. That was a very long time ago. His research eventually resulted in the "Kinsey Scale," sometimes called the "Kinsey Homosexuality Scale"; neither name is particularly accurate. Essentially, the idea behind the scale is that most people can find themselves somewhere on the scale in terms of their romatic and sexual attraction to the same sex; for some their sexual orientation is exclusively homosexual (6 on the scale), for others it is exclusively heterosexual (0 on the scale); they are attracted to only the opposite sex, and for others, they lie somewhere on the scale between the two poles of exclusivity. Note that the concept behind the scale is that human sexual orientation is a continuum, or a spectrum, not a "rating." Note that the Kinsey scale is often treated as a "gay or straight" binary by the media; it is neither. Kinsey's scale and the point he was trying to make, have been somewhat muddled in terms of the modern presentation; first, it is a scale, not a test. Second, it is entirely dependent on self-evaluation; no one but you knows your personal emotional, sexual, and romantic responses. Thirdly, his basic assumption is that an individual's responses, and orientation and hence position on the scale will change over time. Notice Kinsey's comments about the scale in his 1953 Sexual Behavior in the Human Female: "While emphasizing the continuity of the gradations between exclusively heterosexual and exclusively homosexual histories, it has seemed desirable to develop some sort of classification which could be based on the relative amounts of heterosexual and homosexual experience or response in each history... An individual may be assigned a position on this scale, for each period in his life. . . . A seven-point scale comes nearer to showing the many gradations that actually exist" (pp. 639, 656). Today, the Kinsey Scale is largely seen as simplistic in the extreme, and that current assumptions about sexuality include the basic operating assumption that there is a lot more variation and fluidity throughout life than the scale suggest, especially for women. Dr. Fritz Klein's "Klein Scale" is one attempt to make a more flexible scale, but it two suffers from a certain inherent rigidity. The Klein scale at least openly incorporates the idea of fluid sexuality and change, in that it asks respondents to examine their own personal view of their sexual orientation in three time periods and with respect to seven factors. The problem with Klein's scale, and his companion book, The Bisexual Option (1973; 2nd ed. 1993) is that both are closely tied with some sweeping assumptions about what it means to self-identify as bisexual, and ultimately, ends up supporting, even espousing some bisexual myths. But there is still some value in both "scales," in that they encourage self-examination, and self-questioning in terms of whether or not what was true in the past about feelings and reactions is still true in the present. (Originally posted at: http://thatgayblog.com/news/sexual-orientation-and-scales#sthash.TPa25EHj.dpuf) Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2015 at Recent Writing
If you're trying to save money on textbooks, sometimes renting a textbook that you know you'll never want to keep is a super way to save some dough. Some campus bookstores now offer rental books, which makes renting particularly convenient. There are also a number of Web-based companies that specialize in renting textbooks to college students. All of the rental services ask that you not highlight or write in the books you rent. Some of them include a pre-paid shipping label to make returning the books simple. Keep in mind, though, that rental services do not guarantee that the rented book will include supplementary materials like CDs, or CD-ROMs, or Web access codes or workbooks. If you need a workbook, for instance, you'll need to be sure to buy that separately. The first thing to do if you're interested in exploring your book rental prospects is to determine the exact edition that your instructor is using. That means learning the book title, author, and most importantly of all, the ISBN. You can rent textbooks either from your campus bookstore, from online book seller Barnesandnoble.com or from various Web-based companies that stock the most commonly used textbooks. Book rental sites allow you to adjust the start and end dates of your rental to match your school's schedule. Remember to rent the book until you finish finals, and still have time to ship it back to the rental company. It pays to do a little shopping around, if you have the time. For instance, the 8th edition of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. I in hardcover retails for $66.25 from the publisher; they sell it to bookstores for the wholesale price of $53.00. Amazon is selling new copies for $52.34, and used copies from third party resellers for around $26.00. BarnesandNoble.com sells the new book new for 54.96 and rents it for $31.84 for ninety days. You can rent the book for a semester (you can adjust the start and end dates) for about $26.00 from Chegg.com, for $33.69 from BookRenter.com (for a longer period), or $28.20 from CampusBookRentals.com for a semester. One site, BigWords.com, attempts to search for the best deal on a book, and lists the various options they find so you can pick the one that works the best for you. Remember that if you decide not to rent your textbooks, you still have other options for saving money. Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2015 at Recent Writing
One of the most frustrating expenses associated with college is buying textbooks. A year's expenses for an average undergraduate were around $700.00 for textbooks, according to the National Association of College Bookstores. That's old data from 2008, so figure that it's probably somewhere around $1200.00, now, depending on the location and major (science textbooks tend to be more expensive than libreral arts/humanities, for instance). I'm can tell you, from personal experience, that a single class can cost $400.00 in the humanities, and twice that for the sciences. Now there's a little wiggle room regarding what you have to buy, and what you can either skip, or obtain in other ways besides buying a new and expensive textbook. While all the textbooks your instructors assign are important, some are more important than others. "Optional books" are not required, though you probably should make an effort to borrow them from the library or another student. The books that are required really are required, so it's worth obtaining them in the most cost effective way so you have money left for ramen, or even a DVD rental. There are other options besides the campus bookstore, if you have time to spend waiting for shipping and there are other ways to cut costs—including buying used books, renting textbooks, ebooks, and social networking.You can shop at sites like Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com, as well as retailers that specialize in college textbooks. The campus bookstore will sometimes be more expensive and sometimes less expensive compared to prices for the same book from an online retailer, but they often offer used books for sale. You may even find new books for less, even with shipping costs. The catch: You need to get the book list for your classes in time to buy and have the books shipped to you, and you need to be extra careful that the books you buy are the identical books, down to the edition, assigned by your instructor. First, you need to learn the exact textbook your class will be using. That means the edition has to be correct, and for a book that's been in print for several years older. The best way to be sure of finding the exact textbook is the ISBN number (see inside the book on the copyright page, or on the back cover). You can often find the correct edition and the ISBN number online at your campus bookstore's Web site. New books will cost more. The advantage of a new book is that it's not going to be scribbled and highlighted so much that you can't read it, and it will include the "bonus" materials like a CD, or access to supplementary material from the publisher via a special Web site. Most college bookstores will offer used books when they can, and they are usually about 30% to 40% lower in price than the same book purchased "new." Many campus bookstores, when they know the text will be used again at the school, will buy back a textbook if it's in good condition. In many college towns, the local used bookstores do a brisk business selling textbooks. Most campuses have a board or forum where students can sell used books directly to each other, either in the student union or the dorms. You may find your local Craig's List forum useful in that respect as well. In some cases, instructors will offer ebook options. If you have the hardware to read the ebook, and are interested, see if your campus bookstore and professors support ebooks. Ebooks sometimes cost less than printed books, but be aware that they can also lack images and be difficult to use in terms of note-taking. Make sure that your hardware will work with an ebook. Other options include renting textbooks, or seeing if there's a copy on reserve at the library. Using a reserve book can save you money, but access to the book will be limited because you won't be the only one using it, and you will have limited time to read it. Finally, for some people and some classes, splitting the cost of a text book with a friend or roommate can work really well. If you're really desperately short on cash, you can try talking to the instructor, and asking if he or she can lend you a book, or place one on reserve in the library. Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2015 at Recent Writing
Many colleges and universities are switching to ebooks for textbooks. These digital versions of printed textbooks typically have all the content of the printed textbook, with extra materials or tools. At some schools, the switch to digital textbooks is a matter of policy; students are required to have a compatible computer or tablet and digital textbooks are given preference in ordering and selecting textbooks for student use. At other schools, the decision to use or not use ebooks is left up to the individual faculty member, or sometimes, the department. There are a number of advantages to digital textbooks. They weigh less, they often include tools to highlight passage and take notes, or create flashcards for study or export passages for use in a research paper. In some cases, they cost less; a popular college biology text is almost 200.00 as a printed textbook, but only $80.00 as a digital textbook to be used on a computer or tablet or Kindle ereader. Before you buy that digital textbook at your campus bookstore, you might want to think about the following points: Make sure that the ebook in question is compatible with your hardware and software. In many cases you are not buying the ebook you are borrowing, renting, or leasing it. In other words, it will disappear or cease to function at some point. Make sure you’ll have access to the ebook as long as you need it. Keep in mind that you may want to consult this year’s Chemistry (or French or any other subject) text book next year when you take the next class in the sequence. Check prices; is the same digital ebook available off campus for less? If you aren’t going to need the book in the future, look into renting or borrowing the digital book; many campus libraries will let students borrow digital textbooks. If your instructor isn’t requiring the ebook version of the textbook, and the printed book covers the same material, you might want to check the price on the printed book. If the book as been used on the campus before, you may be able to buy a used copy very cheaply. Make a note of any special registration codes or passwords you need to use the ebook. Keep in mind that even if you are buying the ebook, it may no longer function at some point in the future, especially if you change computers or upgrade to a new version of the operating system. The key thing to remember about using digital textbooks is that if the book isn’t an effective study tool, no matter how convenient or interactive it is, it’s not going to help you master the material you need to pass the course. Always keep in mind the point of any book is to enhance your learning. (Originally written for College Adviser) Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2015 at Recent Writing
Image
Olive oil, long a staple ofMediterranean and European diets, earned new respect and appreciation in the U.S. after the FDA allowed manufacturers to label olive oils with text that asserts that incorporating olive oil in our menus, especially as a substitute for other oils and fats, can assist in reducing the risk of heart disease by reducing the amount of LDL or "bad" cholesterol in our blood. According to the FDA, a mere 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil a day will help reduce our risk of heart disease. Plus, it's pretty easy to substitute olive oil, with its healthier monounsaturated fats, for other products. Olives too warrant inclusion in our menu planning. Olive oil, made by pressing olives to express the oily juice, is available in a number of different grades from a variety of olive species, growers and countries. The grades reflect the amount of processing performed on the olive oil, and the amount of oleic acid in the oil. Oleic acid is a natural component of olives, and partially responsible for the taste of the oil. Extra- Virgin and Virgin olive oil contain more of the polyphenols that help make olive oil anti-oxidant (and and heart-healthy), and are generally better for us in terms of health and nutrition. These are the basic grades of olive oil: Extra-virgin: Oil from the very first pressing, unrefined beyond straining or filtering. It can't contain more than 0.8% of oleic acid. Virgin: Also from the first pressing, but virgin olive oil is slightly higher in natural acidity than Extra Virgin, fewer phytonutrients, and a slightly more robust flavor. The acidity is caused by more oleic acid. Virgin olive oil can contain up to 2% oleic acid. Pure: In very broad terms, this is generally a more affordable and lower-quality oil produced from subsequent pressings of the olives. Olive oil is often used as an ingredient in other foods, as well as in health and beauty products, including cosmetics, so there are additional fine-gradations, as well as a crude form used as lamp-oil (and marked as lamp-oil on the label). Olive oil labeling is sometimes deceptive; oil can be bottled in a country other than the one that produced the olives. "Refined" usually means that the olive oil was subjected to additional post-pressing processing, often with chemicals, in an effort to control the taste of the olive oil. Aside from the numerous health benefits in incorporating olive oil in our diets, the pervasive association of olives and olive oil in so very many cuisines for thousands of years should make even the olive-sceptic take a second look at the delicious, nutritious, and astonishingly versatile olive oil. Though it requires careful watching to avoid over-heating, you can even use olive oil for frying. You can also use quality olive oil as a substitute for butter or margarine, whether it's dipping bread into a little oil, or using olive oil to baste, oil or marinate foods as part of cooking. [Originally written for: http://healthfoodtalk.com/article/olive-oil] Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2015 at Recent Writing
You've been accepted, and you've got a start date in September or October. Right now is a great time to get your first term in order. Here are a few suggestions to help make that first term go well. If you're not already registered, get your ducks in a row to register as soon as possible. Classes fill up quickly. If you've got responsibilities like a job or a family, those present scheduling challenges. You'll want to register early so you can can fit your classes to your schedule. Be reasonable about your time and what you'll be able to accomplish. Create a schedule that includes your classes, your commute time, meals, work, family responsibilities, laundry, study and sleep, as well as regular breaks. Don't schedule more than ninety minutes of study without at least a 15 minute break where you get up and move around. If you can get the list of textbooks for your classes early, do it. Try to get an ISBN number from the instructor for textbooks so you can check prices online at Amazon and other retailers; they may be cheaper. Don't forget about the possibilities of renting a textbook, either. Make a note of those office hours; try to visit every instructor at least twice during the terms during office hours. Have some questions prepared in advance. Don't skip classes if you can possibly avoid it—but don't sleep through them either. That's possibly even worse. If you find yourself falling asleep, as quietly as possible, get up and take a short ten minute break; get a drink of water, and make yourself wake up. If you didn't do as well as you wanted on a placement exam, find out if you can re-take it, and when. In the meantime, if you've got three days or more, cram like you've never crammed before. You might just pass. On the other hand, if you think you could take the class and do really well, take the class. A good grade is a good grade. [Originally written for College Adviser] Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2015 at Recent Writing
If you're taking college classes part-time because you have a day job, and you're planning on someday using all those class credits towards a degree, you need to have a plan. You don't have to know what degree or major you'll eventually have, (though that can make things easier later), but you do need to think about what classes will "count" towards your degree, and what classes won't. College classes have credits (sometimes called "units") assigned to them; think of them as a bit like points. You generally need a certain number of credits in various subject areas for the courses you take that aren't required by your major. Those are typically called "general education" requirements or classes. You might be required to have, for instance, 12 credits of English, for your general education requirements. If you're taking classes at a local community college, or through an online extension program, you want to make sure that those classes and credits will transfer when you start taking classes towards a degree. This can be a little tricky. The process of making the classes you take at one institution count towards a degree at another institution is called transfer credit, credit transfer, or advanced standing. When you formally apply to a college as an applicant, the college will ask for transcripts for all the other colleges you have attended. The college will evaluate each class on your transcripts in terms of your performance and the content of the class. They will decide, on a class-by-class basis which classes will transfer, how much credit will be assigned to each class, and whether or not the class will count towards your general education requirements and/or your major. What you should do is ask about transfer credit before you enroll in a course. Check with the school where you are taking the class, and, if possible, with the school where you hope to transfer. Typically, classes that are taught at accredited institutions within a state university system or state community college will transfer to colleges in that system, but you should ask before enrolling, and you should be aware that the status of an individual class may change. As a precaution, you should keep a copy of the class description in the school's official catalog, your work for that class, your transcript and, most especially, the official syllabus for the class. [Originally written for College Adviser] Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2015 at Recent Writing
Aptitude tests are tests designed to help us discover our aptitudes and natural skills and talents, and from that, help decide what kind of career or training we might be especially suited for. Typically, aptitude tests are administered during high school, but sometimes they're useful later in life, for instance, when adults decide to go back to school, or change their career. Most aptitude tests consist of several sections, each intended to test and measure ability and skill level for a specific kind of aptitude. The questions are multiple choice, and the areas tested tend to be verbal ability, numerical ability, abstract reasoning skills, mechanical, spatial relations, spelling, language and usage, and speed and accuracy in terms of clerical ability. The United States military has its own aptitude test, the ASVAB Test, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Test. ASVAB scores aptitudes in nine areas. The AFQT score is used to measure suitability for a particular branch of the military services. The AFQT score is derived from the individual scores of four areas of the ASVAB test, specifically, Paragraph Comprehension (PC), Word Knowledge (WK), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), and Arithmetic Reasoning (AR). The AFQT is used to rank test subjects in categories of desirability or performance, based on their scores. The DAT or Differential Aptitude Test is a collection of several kinds of questions in eight areas used to measure junior and senior high school students' or, sometimes, adults' ability to learn or succeed specific subject and skills areas. These areas include General Cognitive abilities, which are designed to measure a test-takers verbal reasoning, and numerical reasoning and ability, with an emphasis on a person's ability to learn, perceptual abilities, including abstract reasoning, mechanical reasoning, and spatial relations, clerical and language skill assessments, which measure spelling, language use, and the speed of various tasks associated with clerical work in terms of speed and accuracy. Aptitude tests shouldn't be regarded as if they were a sacred oracle, but they can help you find where your strengths are. Once you know your strengths, you can look at them in relation to your interests, and your long-term goals, with respect to a career choice, or choosing a major in college. Keep in mind that your aptitudes as measured by these tests will change. If you're an adult returning to learning and higher ed, it's not a bad idea to take an aptitude test as a way of highlighting your strengths and and weaknesses. The DAT is a good candidate for older learners returning to school. [Originally written for College Adviser] Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2015 at Recent Writing
If you're an independent student living off campus, or one with commitments to a job or a family, you may feel isolated and alone in terms of studying. Consider reaching out to other students in your class to create a study group. Even an hour of concentrated discussion once a week can make a huge difference in your understanding and ability to remember what you've learned and read. A study group needs to have enough members for the group to function when one or two members can't make a session, but not so many that it's impossible to manage. Five to seven members is about right. Consider meeting once a week for ninety minutes at a regular location, possibly a room at the library you've reserved, a campus study hall, or a local coffee house if it's quiet enough to hear each other. Here are some things to keep in mind about creating and running a study group: Establish a regular schedule and location for the study group. Exchange phone numbers and email addresses. Send out a reminder two days before the group meets, and ask for and suggest topics for discussion based on readings, class lectures and discussions. If students are from different locations and meeting in person is difficult, consider using IM, Chat , Google Hangouts or Skype for study group meetings. For some classes, it works well to divide up reading assignments and have each member responsible for picking out core concepts, facts, and vocabulary. Everyone is still responsible for all the reading, but dividing the coverage makes it easier to be thorough. Make sure that everyone gets a chance to ask questions; don't overlook students who might not be aggressive but who might have very good questions. Don't forget to work with the other members of the group so that it's collaborative; you're working together; it's not just one person doing everything. [Originally written for College Adviser] Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2015 at Recent Writing
One of the challenges of college, especially if you're a part-time or returning student, is finding the time and place to read. You have a lot of assigned reading, and usually, it's more reading than you've ever done in your life before, and it's reading you're expected to know thoroughly enough to discuss in class, write about in papers and discussion boards, and remember for exams. What's the best way to read and remember the information from those books, articles and Websites? First, you need to have a place to read. This may be he library; but because of commitments to work and family, you may need a place to read at home. It needs to be someplace quiet, and as free as possible from distractions. You need to be able to concentrate on your reading — and that means not being distracted by music, kids playing, conversation, or TV. It may be a comfortable chair in a quiet room of your house, or the public library, or even your car in a quiet parking place. You need to have good lighting, and ready access to a notebook or other tool for note-taking, or possibly a pencil and post-its for highlighting, marking passages and annotating. If most of your assigned reading is online, you need access to a computer and powersource. If you are distracted by noise, consider wearing headphones or earplugs. If you're one of those people for whom music is background white noise, or a coffee shop is just loud enough for you to concentrate on reading, then adjust your surroundings to suit. Find a regular reading place. Have your tools at the ready. Create an environment that encourages concentration. Second, build reading time into your daily schedule; even if it's only a half hour here and another half hour there. Schedule regular time to read, exclusively to read, not to read and watch the game, or listen to the radio, or visit with friends. You're reading for retention, so you need to really concentrate. Schedule when you'll read and what. Schedule reading time every day. Most college classes require about two hours of reading per hours in class. Read ahead when you can. Third, you need to find ways to make the information you read yours. That means reading actively. Ask yourself questions about what you've read. Try to predict what the reading is about based on the titles, subheadings, and sections. Answer any reading questions at the end of chapters for yourself. If you think that the question might appear on an exam, consider writing a 300 to 500 word detailed answer as practice. Annotate or highlight the text to mark the important ideas; don't highlight more than 20% or so of a page, as a general rule, because that's often a clue that you're not reading for the important points. Gloss important concepts, any words you don't know, or key dates in the margin. Create a "reading map" by means of annotations, and your reading notes, so that you will be able to review the material effectively and efficiently. Consider meeting with other students to discuss the reading; even if you only do this in preparation for exams, talking about your reading with others helps you make connections and remember. [Originally written for College Adviser] Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2015 at Recent Writing
If you are going to college part-time while you work, consider taking classes online, possibly in addition to traditional classes. One of the best things about online classes is that you set your own schedule in terms of when you login. That means you can work full time, or take care of your family, or both, and still find time for school. But just because you choose your time for class work, doesn't mean you don't need to schedule that time. You'll perform better, and have less stress, if you have specific times to log on and work on your assignments, as well as time for independent study. It's best if you can log in every day, and check messages and announcements, and read the discussion posts from other students as well as responses to your own posts and assignments. Plan to log in every day, and set specific times for class work. Scheduling a specific time even if the assigned tasks don't require a set time makes it easier for you to keep track of what your responsibilities and assignments are, it will help you engage with the instructor and other students.You may need to participate in scheduled class chat sessions, for instance, as well as post and respond to discussion and forum posts. Make sure you keep a local copy or a print out of any class discussion posts or online work that you submit. You can usually even log chat sessions, though you may have to resort to copying and pasting the text into a word processor document. Keep in mind that you'll probably be graded for class postings and discussions. When the instructor assigns a discussion or post topic, take the assignment as seriously as if you were writing an out of class essay. Write a rough draft, using pen and paper or a word processor offline. Revise it, and proofread it before posting. [This post was originally written for College Adviser in 2012] Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2015 at Recent Writing
One of the questions to ask yourself when you start thinking about college is whether you want to attend a college near home and live at home, or one that requires you to live on campus (a lot of schools require freshmen to live on campus). The next question to ask yourself is whether you want to attend a small liberal arts college or a large research university. Before you can answer that question, you need to first understand what people mean when they refer to "a small liberal arts college," and what they mean by "large research university." Both kinds of schools offer wonderful education opportunities, and enriching experiences, but they are different. They have different values, and, often, different costs as well as benefits. There are private for profit and public versions of both large research universities and small liberal arts schools, so while cost is definitely a consideration, don't assume that small always means costly; sometimes it doesn't. A large college or university typically has a large campus, a number of student service offices and lots of opportunities for social life. But you may feel lost in the crowd if you're not comfortable venturing out on your own and already adept at making friends. You may have classes with several hundred students, and very little contact with the professor teaching the class. You may find the opportunities to meet lots of different kind of people, and an urban environment exactly what you want. A smaller school can offer more personal and individualized attention by campus officers and faculty, and you might have an easier time making friends. You might find that you stand out in a smaller school, and crave the anonymity of a large one. It all depends on you, on what you want, and how you want to be in your future. [This post was originally written for College Adviser in 2011] Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2015 at Recent Writing
Image
Every year around the middle of March I have to prepare myself for an onslaught of Irish pop-culture that, while it's pop-culture, is more American than Irish. For instance, until recently, when St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Ireland have begun to garner American tourist dollars, St. Patrick's day was a day for Catholics to go to Mass and have a dinner at home with their families as one does on Sunday. But thanks to American popular culture, and the Internet, we've ended up with a lot of assumptions about what it means to be Irish in America on the 17th of March. To Wit: Corned beef; it's not Irish as much as Irish American. A nice piece of bacon, cooked with cabbage and praties (potatoes) would be more traditional, or Irish bacon with Colcannon. Shamrocks are not four-leaved clovers. They are in fact one of two varieties of a three-leafed old white clover. Traditionally, and in the medieval context, the Shamrock was a member of the the clover species Trifolium repens (in Irish seamair bhán). In more recent times, the shamrock marketed in March is often a member of the Trifolium dubium species (in Irish: seamair bhuí). The shamrock became a symbol of Ireland because (according to eighteenth century folklore) St. Patrick used a shamrock to explain the nature of the Christian trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit to the Pre-Christian Irish. Shamrock is an Anglicization of Irish seamróg, a medieval Irish diminutive form of the word for clover, seamair bhán. Green beer is a violation of all that sacred in beer. If you want something Irish, have a pint or three of Guinness. If you get it on tap, for heaven's sake, make sure the barkeep knows how to pour Guinness properly. I note that St. Patrick's Day usually falls during Lent, when in Medieval Ireland, brewers made a "small beer" from malted barley. There is, by the way, good reason to associate St. Patrick's feast day with beer consumption, since we are told in the compilation of laws that St. Patrick ordered, the Seanchus Mor, that he himself had a personal brewer on his staff. The Leprechaun, or Irish leipreachán, is a creature from medieval Irish mythology texts, where they are known as luchrupán in Middle Irish, derived from Old Irish luchorpán, itself a compound of lú (small) and corp (body), a Latin loan-word. In medieval Irish, luchorpán are small but mighty warriors living underwater, with strong associations with fertility, and known for their sexual capacity (yes, the stories are very bawdy), rather than their avarice. Originally posted at: http://history-talk.com/article/irish-rant-honor-saint-patrick Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2015 at Recent Writing
Image
David Badash notes on the The New Civil Rights site That Dan Savage is more than a little hypocritical: Dan Savage is using anti-gay slurs to insult the same people who are targeting the LGBTQ community. And that is unacceptable. He's talking about Dan Savage, the queer sex-positive journalist at Seattle's The Stranger, using pejorative names for QLTBG folk as insulting labels for non-queers. More specifically, these are the titles of two Dan Savage blog posts this week: "Ken Cuccinelli Is a Fag." "Transgendered Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna Betrays His Community." Note, first of all, that Savage is using both fag, and transgendered (n.b. technically, the usage is transgender, a noun rather than an adjective) as pejoratives, as insults. Savage is using them as negative terms, rather than the any of the neutral acceptable uses within queer subcultures. I note, by the way, that Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna isn't a transgender person. Granted, McKenna is an an ignorant self-absorbed ass, since he's trying to sue because President Obama signed the health reform bill, but McKenna is a basic run-of-the-mill heteronormative WASP politician, and is, at worst, shockingly predictable. The problem is the way Savage refers to both Ken Cuccinelli and McKenna. It's very clear from the context that Savage is using transgendered and fag as negatives, as terms of approbation. This suggests not only that Savage has issues with self-loathing and hypocrisy, but that his vocabulary is sadly lacking. And no, it doesn't matter that Savage self-identifies as a fag; what matters is that the worst insult he can muster for Ken Cuccinelli is "fag." And, no, Mr. Savage, you don't get to do that. You really don't. You've pretty much managed to walk back the progress self-identified out fags and transgendered folk have made in helping to reclaim, or at least remove some of the negative associations of the words, by heaping negative connotations back on the words. This is not appropriate behavior for anyone, but it's especially inappropriate for someone who identifies as a writer; English is the most copious language to ever exist on Earth. A writer should do better than fall back on conventional hate speech. A queer writer must do better than use heteronormative assumptions to attack opponents. Dan Savage is damaging his credibility, and that of the community he claims to represent. Originally published: http://thatgayblog.com/article/dan-savage-please-shut Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2015 at Recent Writing
Image
This New York Times article discusses the cost differences of same-sex couples in terms of federal benefits and taxes. Federal law does not recognize same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships, even if the state a couple resides in does recognize the relationship, and give the same-sex relationship legal status. Same-sex couples with with one spouse whose employer offers benefits for the other spouse are in terms of the federal tax law required to report the spouse's benefit as taxable income. This is not the case if the couple were heterosexual. There are also very distinct differences in terms of things like social security benefits. Same-sex couples do not receive the social security death benefit; nor, if one person makes more than the other, can the lower-income earning spouse receive benefits based on the income earned by the higher-salaried spouse. This is not the case with heterosexual couples. The article calculates a "life-time cost" of being being in a devoted single-sex relationship for a hypothetical lesbian couple in a relationship that lasted 46 years. In our worst case, the couple’s lifetime cost of being gay was $467,562. But the number fell to $41,196 in the best case for a couple with significantly better health insurance, plus lower taxes and other costs. These numbers will vary, depending on a couple’s income and circumstance. Gay couples earning, say, $80,000, could have health insurance costs similar to our hypothetical higher-earning couple, but they might well owe more in income taxes than their heterosexual counterparts. For wealthy couples with a lot of assets, on the other hand, the cost of being gay could easily spiral into the millions. I know elderly same-sex couples who have been together for 40+ years. They have to file income tax separately. One of the women stayed home for twelve years to raise the other woman's children from a previous relationship, while her spouse earned an income. She has no right to her spouse's retirement pension, or social security benefits. She and her spouse were restricted to the lower amount allocated for non-married people for her spouse's IRA. A heterosexual couple can contribute more money to an IRA based on their status as a couple, even if only one of them earns income. Had they been working when same-sex partners were covered by some health insurance partners, that insurance would be taxed as income, though it isn't for heterosexual domestic partners or married couples. Isn't it is merely sound fiscal policy for the federal government to essentially treat same-sex relationships that are recognized by the individual states as they treat heterosexual relationships in terms of income tax, estate taxes, social security benefits, health insurance, medical savings accounts, and retirement investment? Think of the increased income from couples who can suddenly invest more in long-terms savings like IRAs and 401s, and medical savings plans, and the benefits of the "marriage penalty," wherein couples filing jointly pay more than they would filing separately, if one person makes substantially more than the other. It also seems to me to be the right way to treat people who have earned income and pay taxes. Originally published: http://thatgayblog.com/article/cost-being-gay Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2015 at Recent Writing
Image
Among Homosexuals 37% of the women smoke 33% of men smoke Among Heterosexuals 18% of women smoke 24% of men smoke The numbers for homosexual smokers were provided by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; they derived the numbers from a review of more than 40 studies about the use of tobacco by various minority groups. There's a press release about the study here, and right now, you can read the resulting article by J. G. L. Lee, G. K. Griffin, and C. L. Melvin. "Tobacco use among sexual minorities in the USA, 1987 to May 2007: a systematic review" in the August 2009 issue of the journal Tobacco Control. The numbers for heterosexual smokers were taken from the National Health Survey; both were quoted in this July 24, 2009 article from the Los Angeles Times. That GLBT people smoke more than other groups isn't exactly news; there's roughly twenty years of documented research to that effect. Nor are the GLBT communities simply smoking; there are a fair number of resources for people who are trying to quit. I've linked to several in the box at the bottom. There are, however, some differences in terms of queer cultures and smoking, and hetero cultures and smoking. For one thing, homosexual smokers are more likely to be childless, and to have more discretionary income to spend, as Steven E. Landsburg points out in this smart, thoughtful 2003 article in Slate. One of the researchers from the Chapel Hill study, Joseph Lee, a social research specialist, is quoted in the official press release: Likely explanations include the success of tobacco industry's targeted marketing to gays and lesbians, as well as time spent in smoky social venues and stress from discrimination. The relationships of socializing and smoking are not unknown to GLBT communities; see this QueerTips discussion of smoking in the communities and methods to help reduce smoking. What I found particularly chilling is that smoking is substantially higher among lesbians. And yes, I do think that the reasons for that include increased stress, more disposable income, and, quite frankly, the connections between bar culture and socializing. There are complex social rituals around smoking that allow smokers to "signal" each other in terms of availability and interest. It's not so much the let's-stand-outside-and-have-a-quick-smoke as it is the complex rituals around bumming a cig allow smokers to make contact in ways that non-smokers must accomplish much more obviously. There's the request for the smoke, the offer (or not) or a light, and how the other person's cigarette are lit—all of which allow women who smoke to indicate, often without words, their interest and availability very clearly and also, quite subtly. If you smoke, or someone in your family or a loved one smokes, here are some resources to help quit. For heaven's sake, don't nag the smoker. Nagging often makes smoking worse because it's stressfu. But you might suggest switching to brand that's filtered and has fewer chemical additives. Those additives actually enhance the addiction and affect the way our bodies process the nicotine. Try slowly smoking fewer cigarettes a day, or smoking more slowly. Even if smokers just managed to cut down, it's worth doing. Resources Gay American Smoke Out: How to Quit Smoking LGBT Factsheet on Quitting Smoking Originally posted: http://thatgayblog.com/article/glbt-smoking Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2015 at Recent Writing