Archive for the 'wtf' Category

Rock the Vote – Fish and Otherwise

If you really want to vote more than once (I keep trying but they won’t let me!) Here’s another way.

The Ocean Conservancy is rocking “Fish Vote 2008” so that you, the citizens, can vote on the Conservancy’s top priorities. Go to this page to vote and learn more about the issues are facing each of these species.

For example: Grouper (Motto: “Let the Grouper Spawn. What happens in the Gulf Should Stay in the Gulf”) – large numbers gather to spawn making the catch easy for fisherman. But harvesting before they’ve had a chance to produce the next generation means Grouper are in danger of disappearing.

And in that other election, think about this: you know that national debt thing – how it hit the $1 Trillion dollar mark? A number so large the clock ticker thing in NYC can’t count it any more? I can’t even count how many zeroes that is so I have spell it! Rob Simpson, Author of What We Could Have Done with the Money We Spent in Iraq offers this fun-slash-totally depressing site and ticker that shows you the amount we’ve spent on the Iraq war during the minutes you’ve been on the site – (in the time it took me to write this post: $5 million plus.)

It also has a “shopping spree” to let you choose what other things you would have spent or we could have spent $1 Trillion dollars on. I’ve just rebuilt the gulf coast, fed, housed and built hospitals for half the third world, saved polar bears, bought an island, a bunch of wineries, the entire NFL, a lear jet, mansions in Hawaii, Beverly Hills, Manhattan, a casino…The point is, I ran out of things to spend it on. (On their list there are silly things and serious things, from Bentley’s to feeding starving kids.)

Here are some other things we could’ve done other than start a war with Iraq:

  • Paved the whole interstate highway system with gold
  • Provided a free college education for every American who’s currently in high school.
  • Made every American baby a multi-millionaire by retirement age.

I don’t know what it would cost that baby to retire by the time she reached that age, but it’s got to beat Social Security benefits!

Bottom line:


Boston Public Market and the Leather District residents trying to make a difference

Yay for the LD!

Such a nice surprise to walk out on a crisp Fall day and find the banners up.

New LD Banners

I believe the LDNA is responsible for negotiating donations from the film crews who temporarily disrupt our lives (and build sets in the alley behind our building all night). The negotiations have succeeded in getting us those “big belly” solar powered trash compacting bins as well as some nifty new banners. WELL DONE!

Recently, news of progress on “our” permanent public market came to my attention. It wasn’t clear to me how we were supposed to be getting this information, only that we hadn’t – despite asking. I asked my contacts among those advocating for the Boston Public Market.

I have received neighborhood queries about what was happening. Everyone during the “Hello Greenway” event who wanted to show me beautiful architect’s renderings got questioned. They seemed to have plans and drawings of everything but the public market. I asked them to tell me anything they could about the promied public market. Not one person could tell me anything. Not one. Only one guy who was pleading his case as “just a volunteer”. He basically said “not my job” ask the conservancy people. Just then, Mumbles himself walked by and said “that’s the man you need to tawk to, he knows everything!”

Expressed my joy at Louisa Kasdon’s piece and my dismay at learning about through the newspaper when I have been (and I know others have as well) asking for progress reports and getting vague “working on it” answers.

(Seems to me a little communication could go a long way. Even if it’s to say “here’s the three things that have to happen next: 1 is scheduled for x date and Sue is handling it, read our blog for updates, or contact Sue…” We are, or should be, in the same boat, rowing in the same direction. I’m here to help and willing to do more than support them at fundraisers. I’ve been asking. I know I’m not alone.)

Here’s the response from Janet Christensen of the BPM Board:

The popularity of the “farmers’ market” on the Greenway October 4th underscored how great it would be to have the market again next summer– and also how wonderful it would be to establish a year round Boston Public Market hall on or near the Greenway! Yes, there is a Boston Public Market Association operating for several years now and while the outdoor market was always a success, our long range goal is the permanent market hall.

[ed note: I specifically asked what residents could do to express support for the year-round public market:]

What fans of a year round Boston Public Market can do is write to Secretary Leslie Kirwan, Office of Administration and Finance. Room 373, State House, Boston, MA 02133  and let her know that you believe  a permanent market hall would be a very important community space!

Currently there are monies designated  in the Environmental Bond Bill which are very important to getting this project off the ground.  While the Legislature passed the Bond Bill and Governor Deval Patrick has signed it,  the Office of Administration and Finance has to authorize the funds.
We are a non-profit association and we need funds to get the public market established!

Yes, the seasonal outdoor market is very popular and we are beginning to work on plans for re-establishing it next summer, but right now we need public support for the permanent market hall.  And the best way Boston residents can help us on that is to write to the State House!

As to location, our fervent hope is that the permanent market will be on or near the Greenway, though it is impossible at this time for us to guarantee any of our wishes.  Also, in answer to a question raised, the expenses of our outdoor market were very high and issues for the farmers and vendors of unloading and parking were difficult to say the least.

We hope that Boston residents will continue to support us in our efforts.  Not only will the public benefit from a local supply of fresh nutritious farm products and specialty foods– but Massachusetts farmers and specialty foods producers from across the state will gain a new and enthusiastic market!


Well that’s all I got right now, folks!

What can you do? Write a letter. Now.

  • Secretary Leslie Kirwan, Office of Administration and Finance. Room 373, State House, Boston, MA 02133

Let’s keep the momentum going. We all have to do our part. Hey, maybe Wilkerson can make a donation from that stash she has in her bra? Or maybe she can wield some of that influence…

The Candidates and the Environment

Talk about the stain of sins..okay so it’s maybe a tad less exciting than seeing the virgin mary in your toast, but..we thought it was pretty wild.
Coffee stain in our Cordova Inn, shaped like Alaska

And then there’s this:

Getting the theme? But why take my word for it?

See what Environmenatal Magazine has to say.

Here are a few tidbits:

  • Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)

Obama: Opposes drilling in ANWR.
McCain: Has opposed drilling in ANWR, but now says he is “glad to accept new information” about the possibility.

  • Offshore Oil Drilling

Obama: Opposes lifting the ban on offshore oil drilling.
McCain: Reversed his opinion in June and now supports lifting the offshore oil ban.

  • Public Lands

Obama: Does not support rolling back protection to allow drilling in the West. Has stated that he will increase national park funding and will work to conserve more land.
McCain: Cosponsored bill to allow handguns in national parks. Sponsored bill to restrict flights over the Grand Canyon. Has opposed bills on wilderness designation.

So who, exactly is the change guy? Could this explain why the McPalin crew is tanking faster than you can say overblown stylist budget.

Take to placebos and call me in the morning – get me a pirin tablet, pronto!

File this under WTF???!!!

Apparently doctors have routinely prescribed placebos to patients, especially those they deem difficult. Like those with Fibromyalgia. Haven’t we dispensed with the mythology that protected egos – we can’t diagnose it so it must be in her head? Remember women and those heart studies – we didn’t fit the data they had on men, so they just threw the conflicting data out.

This is just outrageous. What about trust in the doctor-patient relationship. How about instead of paying you for your service I just write a pretend check? Think that would fly?

Read about it here, Half of Doctors Routinely Prescribe Placebos. Half.

Remember in The Bird Cage when Nathan Lane was calmed by Hank Azaria with his special “pirin tablets” – aspirin with the “as” rubbed off. I love his character…

Something Fishy at Nobu?

Greenwashing at its best/worst.

Just like putting the “Nutrition Data” label on a box of donuts. Guests at Nobu now get a disclaimer with their soon to be extinct tuna…unreal. Read about it here.

I imagine it goes something like this: “Based on certain research models and theories of wildlife reproduction, a group of research biologists lists this fish as endangered. Enjoy with a refreshing saké .”

At least there’s saké !

If you want to have good, sustainable sushi you can go to Tataki now. Or, you can wait unti our handy pocket cards are released – simulataneously- by three of the top conservation groups: the Blue Ocean Institute, The Seafood Watch Program, and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Banish those who would ban books – like McPalin

Even if she “just asked” about how the librarian felt about banning books, when she’d just taken office and requested resignations from all staff…even if she didn’t outright say she was going to do it….

~ ~ ~

A friend left me this message the other day:

“So, why didn’t you warn us about Sarah Palin? You go all the way to Alaska, spend a week there and don’t warn us about Sarah Palin? What’s up with that?”

In an attempt to answer this inquiry, I queried my buddies in AK and did a little thinking about this topic myself. After all, my one week in Cordova certainly makes me qualified to render an opinion. Just as Sarah Palin’s proximity to Russia makes her qualified at International relations.

Buckle your seatbelts.

“Think a better looking Dan Quayle.”

This is one of the best examples of damning with faint praise I’ve ever heard.

In Alaska, there are not a lot of qualified leaders. She is a very simple person, with best intentions at heart. Not an intellectual by any stretch of the imagination, but these days, how many politicians are…She was not a real effective mayor in Wasilla though either. She is attractive and had very few enemies (which is not hard to do when you haven’t been in politics that long…)

Then, apparently she also tried to claim credit for the tax windfall, but that came out of a five year surplus she inherited.

An email I haven’t verified also states that she increased government expenditures by 33% while claiming to be a fiscal conservative. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million.

Normally, someone who forgets about separation of church and state (it’s in our Constitution, go ahead and check, I’ll wait….)

…and is ready to speak in tongues and claim a hotline to heaven is easy to dismiss. But then when they become “the Decider”… I get worried. You’d think I might be upset about Palin’s Pentecostal Past. Not as much as the other creepy, immoral stuff that’s coming out.


This story of Palin’s abuse of power and her willingness to run her public office like a power-hungry high school cheerleader or a lecherous sexual harasser, creeps me out even more. Asking the town librarian how she feels about banning books the same week you’re asking everyone for resignations to prove their loyalty to you is just morally reprehensible. It’s also illegal or at least legally actionable.

This story is worse than the list of books she supposedly wanted banned. (A false rumor, that was quickly clarified) The McCain campaign’s “explanation” reveals more unseemly info about her willingness to abuse power and McCain’s comfort level with that than anything else.

We should be talking about these issues instead of what church she belongs to!

As Joni Balter said in the Seattle Times, McCain wants this to be about personal narrative. Not the issues.

Finally, McCain’s demand that Obama apologize to Palin for the “lipstick on a pig” comment is just macho, condescending, pseudo-chivalry that reveals how little “about change” he is. Is she not competent to raise her own objection? I just want to say “She started it!” Her pit bull and hockey mom comment preceded Obama’s. But this childish tit-for-tat detracts from the bad news about the economy, the war, the corruption in the Bush AND the Palin administrations.

If Obama doesn’t seize the floor and force some debates about real issues, I swear, I’m gonna write in Russell Brand on my ballot. I don’t care if he is a Brit, he’s speaking truth. We let Bush run with scissors all these years and now the country’s in shreds and we’re dangerously close to letting McPalin succeed him.

There’s always Canada.

P.S. Oh, and about the gun handling, hunting issue: While in Alaska, I met a woman named Sue who showed me her snapshots of the moose she bagged. Her shop is called Sue’s Knives. Her moose’s head was as big as she is tall. Sue is not a small woman. Everyone in Alaska hunts. It is less than no big deal. Let’s go back to the issues.

And here’s another take on Palin, courtesy of the Daily Show. My source for hard news. You really should watch this clip.

I’ve got the ticket: Russell Brand and John Stewart. That’s the ticket!

Greenwashing – It’s Not a New Salad Spinner

What is “greenwashing”? It’s a word of fairly recent vintage, now O.E.D.- accepted. Which means it’s here to stay. It borrows from the term “whitewashing” as in cover up.

1green (environmentalist) + brainwashing
Date: 1989
: expressions of environmentalist concerns especially as a cover for products, policies, or activities

There are so many examples of greenwashing these days, it’s enough to make you green at the gills.

The new spate of television shows purporting to be “green” are a perfect example of greenwashing. Here’s a good overview.

Bite Me

Here’s another example I found particularly disturbing. I met a nice, earnest young guy in Monterey who is with the new IdealBite newsletter (think: “green Daily Candy”). I’ve been reading it each day and just when I was beginning feel it was just a sales wolf in green clothing, I read their blog admitting that none of their staff will do the simple task of putting a pitcher under the shower to save the water that’s wasted while the shower heats up.

Even I do that one! And they’re preaching the green gospel to all the readers – while they themselves are not taking their own advice – and while they sell us all the cool new “green” gear.

Remember: the “greenest” thing you can buy is nothing. The first R in the three R mantra is REDUCE, then RECYCLE, the RE-USE. It is meant to be a heirarchy.

See these similar posts:

Putting the “mental” back in Environmental

Blame it on the hippies I went to school with in New Paltz. They were way ahead of the Green Movement. They built a house on the campus with leading-edge environmentally sound design. Very cool. There was actually an Environmental Studies major at New Paltz.

Yes, I was one of those who read Frances Moore Lappe and yes I was, briefly, vegetarian. It made sense for me at the time, until I went to Germany and couldn’t find anything to eat but cheese and potatoes. Story for another day.

When I dropped out of sight a bit ago with the monster migraine from hell, I wound up missing the deadline for an in-flight magazine’s Green Issue. They had an entire issue dedicated to going green. In an in-flight magazine. Only I didn’t see any indication of how to buy carbon-offsets for the flight. I did see tons of things to buy to “go green”. Perhaps they forgot about the first R. REDUCE. then, RECYCLE, then RE-USE.

I urge you to ignore anyone trying to sell you something to prove your green cred. Remember the ridiculous NBC candlelight football analysis? Sometimes, a purchase can help. My new appliances use far less energy than my old ones did. And, they have greater capacity and better functions. I also recycled at least two or three of them – “free to good home” kind of deals. (More on the kickass kitchen later.) Most purchases are not of the truly balanced. The best purchase often is the one you don’t make.

In Culinary Travel Meets Slow Food I explore the interesting confluence of two trends: Slow food and culinary travel. We want to be environmentally good citizens, but we also want to take fantastic vacations where we learn to cook with top chefs (not those top chefs; real ones.) Slow Food urges us to eat local, organic, buy fair trade products, etc. Ballymaloe Cookery School and the Allen clan (Darina runs the school, is being honored at the Cooking for Solutions event; her mother-in-law was one of the first to bring back Irish artisanal cheeses, local farm products, etc.) in County Cork are pioneers in reclaiming Ireland’s agricultural and culinary history. and practice.

The school sits on a 100 acre organic farm and students really learn what farm to fork means. Students who fly to Ireland to take the courses, I mean. One of the articles I was planning to submit to Sky Magazine was going to be a tongue-in-cheek kind of walk through a day making “green” decisions. Awake in organic cotton sheets, put feet into slippers made from….fair trade coffee..turn lights on, but wait flourescents trigger migraines, but they’re much more energy efficient…One could go mental…

The concept has some potential, don’t you think? Maybe I’ll get to it.

Anyway, both the Balllymaloe school (carbon offsets or not) and Kingsolver’s book (recycled paper or not) are bursting with ideas, recipes, resources and more.

And I bet you’ll never look at a turkey baster the same way again.


Film – good and bad


The Good
The People Speak – the spoken-word adaptation of the Howard Zinn book – was filmed, at least two segments of it, at the Emerson Cutler Majestic earlier this year. Other segments were taped in New York City and Los Angeles.

Check this quick YouTube clip and you will, I think, see the power of the history, the history denied and the history revealed. It’s interesting to read the books again, noticing sadly that my outrage is tempered slightly by the years and the knowledge accumulated. I no longer have the view that what we learned in school should have reasonably been expected to approximate balanced truth.

One of the funniest stories among the star-struck in Boston was a former student of Zinn’s who “started gushing about how she was a student of his 20 years ago. Zinn said that he remembered her (and he probably does), they reminisced, and then she reached into her purse, pulled out her camera, handed it to Mortensen, and asked him to take a picture of her with Zinn. “

Filmed on line to get into the theater, I changed Viggo into a M.O.T. by calling him “Morgenstern” and we had to do a re-take. Probably end up on the cutting room floor. But I’m sure my weepy visage from inside the theater will make it in.. . my drippy, leaky self in all my celluloid glory. (Word to the wise: sitting on the aisle during a live filming event just makes you WAY too attractive a target for the cameraman in the aisle.)

See clip here- powerful reading by Kerry Washington of Sojourner Truth

The Bad
Just in case I’m coming across as artsy-fartsy or high-brow, I will have you know I wasted an hour and change of my life I will never get back on the worst kind of dreck this evening. In post dinner semi-coma, I couldn’t yet get back to work. Looking for something quasi mindless, yet entertaining, I found only the Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Anniston movie, the Break up. Who the fuck is funding such miserable projects? This was the epitome of really bad film making. I would bet money on the fact that this is some rich kid of a producer or director whose pet project was to make this modern relationship movie. One of those with ZERO story arc, ZERO redeeming qualities; no characters that are more than one unappetizing dimension; the person in charge of this cannot have been more than 25 years old.

It’s so awful when you’re aware that you are praying for something, some character, some plot device to pull a redemptive thread together…even while you KNOW it’s not coming…even when it gets too late for anything to make it better…and yet you still keep watching…

The Ugly
That will be me tomorrow morning, trying to spackle the bags under my eyes! Aiyaa!

A perfect, ironic circle. Or, maybe it’s just the caffeine.

Why I Love the New York Times


The same day the New York Times runs this piece on the NY city subway’s proper use of the semicolon, (Celebrating the Semicolon); it also runs an article on Americans’ hostility to knowledge and general lack thereof, (Dumb and Dumber). The frightening data from the latter includes quotes from the reality show “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” That show is hosted by Jeff Foxworthy whose rise to fame, you may recall, was as a comedian skewering rednecks.

A contestant asked to name what European country Budapest is the capital of, chose her 5th grade helper’s answer. Hungary. “That’s a country? I’ve heard of Turkey. But Hungry? I’ve never heard of it.” She thought Europe was a country, after all. But, why should we be surprised when “a 2006 National Geographic poll that found nearly half of 18- to 24-year-olds don’t think it is necessary or important to know where countries in the news are located,” according to the article.


The reality show explosion, rather like projectile vomit if you ask me; stems or perhaps more correctly, spews in large part from the writers’ strike. The Times also runs a 100-day time line of the writers strike today.

Finally, in today’s Books of the Times section is a piece about product placement sponsored by the likes of Cover Girl cosmetics in books written for a young adult audience.

Is anyone else getting dizzy from this tail-chasing ironic circle, or is it just me?

Let Me Mapquest it for You
This is like a GPS navigating system gone mad. Or perhaps it is just perfectly, accurately taking us to our final destination: Idiocracy. Here’s how I see the directions:

Begin journey:
Books are different from TV entertainment. Therefore, sponsored product placement in say, an episode of the TV show 24 doesn’t bother me, while a plug for Cover Girl makeup in a young adult novel does. I don’t care if I see Penelope Cruz hawking hair color, but I don’t want to see Harry Potter shilling for Lenscrafters.

Proceed through three cups of Pete’s coffee (oops):
There is a connection in my java-stimulated mind between this point and the lack of general knowledge most of American have; whether it pertains to countries such as “Hungry” [sic] versus the proper use of semicolons. What do we consider art versus entertainment? Where do we draw the line?

Turn South:
More Americans watch TV than read books or even the New York Times, I’d venture to guess. Flick on the tube and watch a TV game show contestant proclaim she thought Europe was a country. Many viewers care little what the writers’ guild members were striking for or against (see this collection of man on the street quotes on the topic). This choice of entertainment media and the writers’ concerns has everything to do with everything else here.

Revenues and revenue sharing models are behind the troubles in Hollywood. They are also related to the reach of authors struggling to get published in a market populated by shrinking numbers of consumers who read books.

Continue South:
As people read less, the bar gets lower and lower for what they find entertaining.

Arrive at Your Destination:
Ultimately, we are left with shows proving our diminished capacity including a show that PROVES we are no longer even collectively as smart as a fifth grade student. And we just laugh. Congratulations to all the citizens of Idiocracy.


Fun for Wordgeeks
Here are some fun links for anyone else out there that actually enjoys learning. I know that you are out there, it keeps me going that you are.

The Punctuation Game (Thanks to Caleb for Lynn’s excellent and fun books)

by Lynn Truss, author of “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” noted in the New York Times Semicolon article as well as my post on Winter Bamboo at Gourmet Dumplings.

The Eggcorn Database
Want to know why it’s “throes of passion” not “throws” of passion?

World Wide Words (thanks to Damian for the link)
I found out the origin of “warm the cockles of your heart” here when I wrote about Cockles.

Free Rice (Thanks to Sujata for the link)

This UN World Food Program supplies hungry people rice when you play their word game!

A window into what I’m thinking and writing about.

Whether it's Food & Cooking, Sports, Film, Travel or the Business of Writing can find it all through this page. Use this sidebar and the links below to go directly to whatever strikes your fancy. Jacqueline Church's Facebook profile

Where I’ve been seen, published, cited, syndicated…

  • - Tuesday November 11 @6 PM Povo Blogging Panel. Come to 660 Washington Street in Chinatown at the Archstone Building to see what a panel of bloggers have to say about the state of blogging.
  • - Interviewed by Sarah Turner of Suite101 about Using Blogs to Raise Social Awareness
  • - Reuters, Chicago Sun-Times, Austin American Statesman, BBQ Report, Computer Shopper. See clips here.

For Real on the Virtual Gourmet!

Noted food and wine author John Mariani ran my article Salmon and the Sustainability Zeitgest. Click here to read it!

Books make great gifts, for yourself or others.

Click here to see what's on my Powell's Bookshelf.
Powell's Books

Mark Your Calendars

August 22 - Courtney Hunt's acclaimed film Frozen River at the Coolidge Corner. See Diversions for more.

Caught my eye…

  • The Audubon Insectarium opens in New Orleans. See Getting Down with All that Skitters.
  • Copper River Salmon is so hot, even E!online is commenting on the stars who eat it. Taye Diggs was digging it.
  • Vertical farms? Colbert meets Ethicureans...heaven is for those with humor and ethics, yes? Interesting food for thought here....

On Women and Work

Read my contributions to The Glass Hammer a new blog for executive women.


  1. Tales of the Cocktail may be over but the fun continues. Check the blogs and podcasts for all the news that fit to drink!
  2. The Maori art of facial tatooing is called moko. It is a powerful expression of tribal identity which has only recently enjoyed a resurgence as the colonial Christian prohibitions against it have lessened. Go to the Peabody Essex Museum for this rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of this amazing cultural tradition. The documentary I saw at Sundance years ago on moko, was one of the most powerful films I have ever seen.
  3. The Audubon Insectarium is a new and top-notch attraction in New Orleans. We passed by it and wondered why we'd missed it before. Turns out it's just now opening. No time this last trip, but it's on the list for the next time. Check here for info.

What's on my list?