breezeshadow: FML TIMES ICON (FMLBear)
Today, I looked at the ingredients of some Lindt Hello chocolate I had bought at the store.

To my horror, it contained palm oil.

For those unfamiliar with it, palm oil is yet another foreign product that first-world countries have latched upon, and thus significantly increased the demand for. Last time it was quinoa, which likely was not as bad as feared.

Palm oil, on the other hand, is used in multiple industries, many of them large-scale (ex. soap). To meet this demand, rainforests in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Colombia are being removed to plant the palm trees. Needless to say, this has a disastrous effect on an already fragile environment.

As if that weren't enough, there is also evidence that the big companies running these plantations are threatening and evicting indigenous populations from their native lands, leaving them displaced from their livelihood and home. We don't need to look across the oceans to know how badly that goes.

I sent Lindt an online request to consider not using palm oil. I encourage all of you to do the same for any company that you buy from that uses it. You're welcome to use this:

Letter here )

Changing it to fit your company, of course.

There are enough awful things going on in the world. We don't need to make it worse by demanding things that aren't necessary. Chocolate in particular is already mired in rainforest destruction; there is no need to add palm oil to the problem.

Feel free to signal boost this.

breezeshadow: It's a wolverine, hey! (RogerAlone'd)
Tumblr, in a rare moment of proper privilege check, now hosts We are not Trayvon Martin, a tumblr where people of all races, sexualities, genders, etc. post how they are not Trayvon Martin; how privilege did (or did not) get them somewhere; and what we need to do to stop more pointless deaths from happening.

I highly recommend it as a read, and perhaps to submit your own story for why you aren't Trayvon Martin; but how you realize his death should never have happened.

breezeshadow: It's a wolverine, hey! (Default)
"She hoped they called it heaven as a cruel joke."

Need to think on this prompt a little more to figure out who is speaking, and where, and why -- but I had to get that sentence down before it vanished.

Also, I find it amazing how living in one area your whole life can change your perception so much. In Connecticut the farmer's markets were quite small, and lasted only a short while, mainly because New England's growing season is approximately like, two weeks long. Here in California? I just bought strawberries for $4, fresh from the farm, in the middle ofd March. This has me THROWN. Like, I am in awe. And they are already only $3 in Target.

And TW for discussion of classism )
breezeshadow: It's a wolverine, hey! (Default)
The planet of Malanee is a similar luck of the draw miracle to our planet -- it has two moons instead of one, and its distance from the sun isn't the same (namely because their sun is not the same size as ours, though I can't remember in which direction), but it has the perfect combination of traits to turn into a small living melting pot (Malanee is smaller than Earth).

Like earth, there was a time when the continents were all mushed together, and there were a few mass-extinctions before humanoids showed up. Unlike earth, homo sapiens didn't get to kill every other self-aware species, likely because the giant continent split pretty cleanly, with none of earth's weird land bridges.

The split likely resulted in Garanee and Sarasii becoming split from the rest of the land, perhaps due to an impressive earthquake. Welen, Arebe, and Eroqu split more slowly, resulting in humans on these three continents. Arebe had the smallest population -- its impressive mountain ranges hint that plate movement there may have been a BIT too crazy for humans to settle there much.

Faeries were another species that spread out far and wide. They took up Garanee, Sarasii, and Arebe, forming distinct species. The vampires, close relatives of the faeries, showed up a bit later, while the succubi and pixies are remnants of the ancient faerie ancestors.

Demons likely have been around for AGES. They exist on every major continent except Sarasii (shit's too cold there), and considering they can't really swim, this sort of migration must have happened very early on. The different species on different continents have diverged a decent amount since, but not so much that they can't interbreed or recognize each other.

The werevirus -- and its weird relative, the demi virus -- originated very early on in humanoid history, as evidenced by the existence of weredragons. Most of the non-mammalian wereviruses died off as the DNA became too unstable alongside humanoid DNA, with weredragons being endangered in the 1800s. Remnants of these ancient wereviruses exist in the demi virus -- bird demis remain of various types, and I'm sure somewhere there must be reptile or fish demis because that would be pretty damn nifty XD

Speaking of demi viruses, isolation of particular demis may result in the viral DNA being incorporated fully, resulting in a new species. Hippogriffs, gryphons, and merpeople (I've decided they should exist. Sirens also are in the works) are all examples. This sort of demi-species creation likely happened thousands of years ago.

And magic? Magic is oooooold -- bacteria are hardy buggers. Dragons definitely had magic, and they predated humans by a long-ass time (being extinct by the 1300s at the LATEST). It originated in what is now Eroqu, but bacteria being the little microorganisms they are, it spread and evolved rapidly, and likely is still doing so. The magic of the 1800s is likely starkly different than that of the 1700s, and will continue to morph and change.

Also, in terms of how Malanee may change over the next few hundred years? There's a good chance weredragons, succubi, and pixies will all go effectively extinct. Dryads will likely become endangered due to the slave trade. Bird demis will continue to be less and less common. Demons will start having pretty serious competition due to mining becoming more prevalent, which may cause a reduction in their population (before they figure out how to sabotage the mines at any rate :D ).

And everyone else? They'll keep going on. Vampires are too powerful for humans or mountain faeries. Humans and mountain faeries will likely start seriously competing for resources, which will end in massive tragedy for the humans.

And then in the 2000s, when biotechnology figures out how to bring wereviruses back to life, shit will REALLY get interesting.
breezeshadow: It's a wolverine, hey! (Default)
I got my mail-in ballots yesterday, and dear god, no wonder California is broke. How many proposals exactly do we NEED anyway? And why do they all cost the state hordes of money? We really don't need to label genetically-engineered food; I think the state can let go of that proposal and expense.

This also means I get to figure out which loser candidate is going to get my vote this year. Last election I voted for Ralph Nader. This year it's likely going to be the Green Party candidate even though I know if she won? She wouldn't be able to do even half of what she proposes.

But it's that way with every candidate. The way the system works? Presidential candidates can spew all they want, but the only way they could get what they promise done is a) if they launched the most executive orders ever or b) if by some miracle both houses ended up with a major majority of their party. Even then? Good luck. Supreme Court will shoot some stuff down, people will critique this or that, and suddenly the massive conglomeration that is the United States Government will start turning and prevent the crazy-ass things that everyone promises.

Still, it's better to have a set of proposals and stick with them, otherwise you'll end up on a site like Mitt Romney's Flip Flops..

I need to watch clips of the debates at some point before I vote. I don't plan to vote for either of them, but I've heard they both were shitshows in their own ways, and I live in the US. I might as well watch the circus that is our current political system.

I'm not sure what can reform it to get it away from this, besides lots of education of the public so that things like Fox News and MSNBC aren't considered accurate.

Those of you out of the US: I really hope your political environment is a little less batshit insane than ours. And for those out there who live in a volatile area, like Pakistan (where a 14-year-old activist was shot by the Taliban in an assassination attempt because she dared think women should have a right to schooling): I just wish I had the money in the world to fix it.

breezeshadow: It's a wolverine, hey! (BizarreCrush)
Our society does not cater to those that have allergies and thus restricted eating. This can be seen in a simple matter: they cost more. Often much, much more. I can get a box of normal, run-of-the-mill spaghetti from Wegman's for $0.99. The absolute cheapest I can get of gluten-free pasta is $2.79. The higher-quality ones, constructed to look and taste like normal pasta? Upwards of $3-4. I can get a bag of cheese ravioli for $2.79. Cheese and spinach gluten-free ravioli? $5.99. For sixteen ravioli. I kid you not.

I won't blame this on capitalism, or even some sort of conspiracy. The thing is, at some point I can understand why some of these are so pricey. Those who have very severe allergies cannot even have a trace of the allergen in their food without having a reaction. Thus, this requires companies to either only make that kind of food, or be extremely careful with their manufacturing so that no contamination occurs. One means limiting yourself to only one market, limiting sales; the other means more cost. Raising the price lets them make a profit while still providing this food. It makes sense from a business perspective.

And yet I can't help but feel a bit bad about it.

For those people who have severe allergies, it's not a matter of just being able to buy the other food if they can't afford it. They may die, get horribly sick, or have a nasty reaction. So what do they do? What if they are living below the poverty level (On that: Spent, a game that sheds light into the difficulties of living on a low wage) and can't afford it? What do you do then?

I, at least right now, am not living below the poverty line, in theory anyway. I can afford, this once, to splurge on gluten-free things to see if it makes my stomach feel better. But I know I couldn't keep this up. Not at my income, and with my student loans. Even if I find out that gluten-free DOES make me feel better and is thus healthier for me? Wouldn't matter. I'd have to go back to gluten due to the simple fact that it's cheaper.

And what about other allergies? Soy? Hordes of things contain soy these days. Nuts? Manufacturers aren't necessarily completely careful about keeping nuts from contaminating various products, mostly baked goods. Dairy? Eggs?

In a world where unemployment is so high, and money is so hard to find, living with allergies may not actually be affordable. And that, to me, is a sobering thought, one that followed me as I spent $110 on groceries today. Without the gluten-free stuff, that easily could have been $60 or so. That makes a difference.

So what do you do? Companies need to make a profit or they can't provide the products. But they should be affordable, so the people who need them the most can actually get to them. It seems that the number of people with food allergies, or allergies in general, is on the rise. Could companies lower prices due to an increase in their consumer base? It's really the only thing I can think of. Which is quite unfortunate.

The pricing of food is tricky, and I certainly don't claim to be an expert. But I do wonder if we could make foods that are specialized -- vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, all of them -- cost less, so that they are more accessible to the people who need them.

Just some thoughts and musings I've had today. BTW those $6 ravioli? Not worth it. At all.

breezeshadow: It's a wolverine, hey! (Default)
Today I bought a sandwich.

I bought at Synopsis Cafe, a small place on Cornell's campus located in the new Weill Hall. They offer overpriced (what isn't these days) panini, flatbread, and deli sandwiches, along with some pretty awesome smoothies.

So I bought a sandwich there.

I'm a vegetarian. This often limits my options as to what to get. Even in Ithaca, there are times when as a vegetarian, I often can only order one thing on the menu. Here, there were three things I could order if I didn't want to string together a deli sandwich.

One was the Veggie Delight sandwich; had I seen this one first I would have gotten it. It was a smörgåsbord (I never knew this word was Swedish; awesome) of vegetables including roasted bells, mushrooms, tomatoes, and more, served with gouda. Instead I aimed for the Vegan sandwich. This sandwich had a choice of seitan, tofu kan, or hummus for a protein (I picked the seitan; should have picked the hummus), and... Tomatoes, sprouts, guacamole, and cucumbers. Mine was mysteriously devoid of tomatoes.


If they had all these vegetables... WHY weren't they in the "vegan" sandwich?

Here's the thing I've noticed about vegan options. The world is starting to get used to vegetarians. Many a restaurant (except maybe McDonald's) knows how to make a good, tasty vegetarian meal. Just throw some vegetables together, add some tofu, and BAM instant vegetarian meal.

But when it comes to vegan options, things get a little weird. Because even though you can offer the exact same thing minus the cheese or milk, instead the meal is devoid of most veggies as well.

Why didn't the vegan sandwich have some peppers? Or some tomatoes? It was a really disappointing sandwich, let me tell you. The seitan was THIN, man, I could barely taste it. I should have made a deli sandwich. It would have been more satisfying and probably cheaper too

Speaking of the deli, apparently "cucumber" is a "luxury side". I laughed.

But anyway.

What is the issue people have with vegan meals? It seems that most people still have the idea that, without meat or eggs or cheese or milk, that meals are "boring". That they must have no taste, no flavour. Never mind that most people have to spice their meat before they can eat it, or that their eggs may often be served with pepper or ketchup, or that some of the most popular cheese have pepper in them. Basically, despite the fact that most people don't like meat that doesn't have some kick, they think that meals without said bland meat must be gross.

The fact of the matter is, they aren't. Hell, vegan meals are quite easy to make from scratch. Most of my meals start off as vegan -- I take some vegetable oil, I saute some vegetables in them, and then I toss it with pasta. It isn't until I add the cheese that it becomes vegetarian.

So why is it so hard for people to offer delicious, vegan choices? I think it's just a stereotype. People don't mean to offer bland choices, but in their minds, that's what vegan is -- bland, tasteless, boring. And full of tofu

The truth is far from that. Oh sure, when I started off as a vegetarian, I stuck with a lot of processed tofu and vegetarian products. Some of these I still eat, just because they're quick and easy. But processed soy products can be some of the worst ways to get good food and nutrition. Veggie burgers tend to be pretty damn gross. I don't know what they put in those things, but ugh.

Cornell also has this really fun habit of making bad tofu. Like, "Who thought BBQ was a good idea" type of tofu. I was stunned the other day when I went to the dining hall and had tofu that had just the right amount of tenderness and an okay flavour. It's like they hired a real vegetarian cook or something.

I personally have my own thoughts on how to make good vegetarian/vegan meals, and it doesn't involve using things like sprouts or even preprocessed tofu. It involves things like this:

Fresh Vegetables

Want a meal to start off right? Skip the canned and precooked vegetables. Fresh vegetables may not be cheap, but that didn't stop me from buying some fresh broccoli, fresh garlic, fresh onions, fresh tomatoes. If you can't afford fresh, frozen is cheaper, but still good and with flavour. Avoid canned.

Frying or microwaving your vegetables is a sure way to ruin them. Try sautéing them in a light, flavoured vegetable oil. A single hot pepper with some garlic can flavour the oil without needing things like basil or cayenne, though they help if you can afford them. Steaming vegetables is also great, especially for broccoli, which gets an amazing colour and flavour without needing anything but some water to boil.

Want a sandwich? Fresh is best. Homegrown is even better. Homegrown tomatoes have more flavour than you can ever get at a supermarket and will do well in a sandwich with a light vinagrette or some mozzarella for the vegetarians. Match it with spinach, dark lettuces (skip iceberg, it's gross), or roasted peppers. Try with hummus or seitan.

Simple Tofu

Forget the tofu burgers, the tofu sausage. The best way to make tofu is to just buy a carton of it and flavour it yourself. This not difficult. Bake tofu with some ketchup and soy sauce; it tastes amazing. Crumple it in with your veggie stir fry. Throw it in soup. Tofu does best when complemented with other things, not by itself. Marinating it overnight also will do wonders. If you don't mind it bland, it can work in salads and sandwiches too.

Rice and Beans

There's a reason these guys are a staple in many cultures. Black beans and rice make a great dish with tortillas. Jasmine rice goes well with dumplings or chickpeas. A bean blend served with vegetables is really great if done right (Cornell fails most of the time with it.). Or put them in a soup!


SERIOUSLY. Buy dry pasta instead of canned. Make a meal instead of a TV dinner. USE REAL FOOD. Your meals will be bigger, better, faster and more delicious.

And I'd better post this before I forget about it. Again.

breezeshadow: It's a wolverine, hey! (Wolverine)
I want to slam my head against a wall because of this lovely article. Basically, pregnant women are given a drug, not even tested for this particular use, to "cure" babies of having ambiguous genitals.

The drug has not been tested for this use, yet "the possible benefits are clear: the treatment can spare young girls the potential psychosocial problems associated with having ambiguous genitalia as well as the ordeal of surgery to correct deformities later."

Excuse me, that's a benefit? But it gets worse.

"Research has also suggested that affected women who were treated with dex in the womb show more typical gender behavior than other women with CAH; the latter group tends to behave more tomboyishly and express little interest in having children. New told the Wall Street Journal in 2009 that the treatment further spares parents the "terrifying prospect" of not knowing whether their newborn is a boy or a girl."

Whoa whoa whoa. What are we treating her -- a disorder, or society's gender issues? Since when it is terrifying to not know what sex your newborn is? People have done that for years. Luckily, the article then goes on to say that doctors are not sure that anything is actually being treated.

I'd say.

"Other doctors and researchers have criticized New for introducing gender behavior into the medical prognosis — in two recent presentations on CAH at medical conferences, New offered medical outcome data on prenatal dex alongside data on typical gender behavior. "Maybe this gives clinicians the idea that the treatment goal is normalizing behavior. To say you want a girl to be less masculine is not a reasonable goal of clinical care," says David E. Sandberg, a University of Michigan pediatric psychologist who treats and conducts research on children with CAH."

Yes, I agree.

Best of all?

"Perhaps most controversially, prenatal dex must be given as soon as a woman learns she is pregnant, which is usually several weeks before genetic tests can determine if the fetus is in fact a female affected with CAH — the chance of which is 1 in 8 for parents who already have an affected child or know they are carriers of the genetic disorder."

Well that's great. We don't even know if the fetus is a girl and we're shoving it full of steroids. Great to know. Real great medical practice there.

This gender bullshit is already on my mind because apparently a Cornell Medical doctor is doing surgery to alter the clitoris of young girls to "treat" a disorder.

Normally I'm pretty neutral about this stuff. I don't find a gender issue in every little thing Americans do. But I do find issues with supposed "medical" treatment that is ultimately just parents trying to feel good about having daughters that are more "acceptable". And note, it is always girls going through this shit. Because apparently, a large clitoris or tomboy behavior is "wrong".

Um, pardon me?

The Cornell Medical doctor is doing hordes of unethical nonsense I won't get into, because wailing about him is not my point.

I'm wailing about a system that thinks that "gender issues" is something that the medical field should be concerned about.

It's not.

Children's genitalia shouldn't be messed with for the comfort of normality and yes I am including circumcision in this. If it's not medically required -- and circumcision is NOT -- it should not be performed. End of story. If an adult willingly wants to go through that kind of thing, well fine, I won't stop you, but forcing children and nonconsenting adults through it is screwed up.

And the drugs to help with gender behavior?

Sorry, what? Gender is not biological or medical. Therefore, nothing should be done to influence it medically or biologically. I'm of the opinion that gender shouldn't be shoved on people through society either but hey, one thing at a time.

And the FGM performed for studies by Cornell? Is pretty much another damn gender swipe, because in America, we want women with clean, tidy genitalia to the point that we cut and shave them apart until it looks like a freakin' five-year-old's. Then we turn to the boys and cut them and inflate them because we want clean, MASSIVE men.

What the fuck, America? What the fuck? Personally, shaven pubic areas freak me out. It makes my skin crawl. I threw a pretty decent fit when my then-boyfriend got grossed out because I had hair down there, oh noez. It's supposed to be there, okay, and for pretty decent reasons (unlike leg hair, which is stupid. I don't like really hairy-legged men either so it's not a gender thing.), so I medically don't see any reason to get rid of it, though I may trim it a bit for hygienic purposes.

But this wasn't supposed to be about my private grooming life, so hey! Medical "cures" to ultimately gender-centric issues. Bad.

Real entry possibly after this one, just had to get this out there. I'm a biological engineering major with an interest in biomedical practices, so shit like this really gets me going because it's a) medically unnecessary and b) biologically unfounded.


May. 13th, 2010 02:55 pm
breezeshadow: It's a wolverine, hey! (RogerAlone'd)
So I've noticed that racism and bigotry is coming back into style, but only very specifically.

If I criticize Israel, then I'm an Anti-Semite.

But if I criticize Iran or Saudi Arabia, I'm just calling for freedom.

If I criticize Christianity, I'm am oppressor.

But if I criticize Islam, I'm just calling for free speech.

If I criticize women, then I don't think women deserve equal rights.

But if I criticize men, I'm just a feminist touting for equal rights.

If I criticize homosexuals, I'm homophobic.

But if I criticize heterosexuals, I'm just calling for equal rights.

If I criticize science, I'm a backwater Bible-touting Christian.

But if I criticize religion, I'm just reasonable and logical.

Honestly. I have seen so many blog posts out there screaming all sorts of generalizations that would be considered racism or bigotry if they weren't aimed at Muslims, men, or heterosexuals. But since they are, everyone just nods and thinks it's a-okay.

It's not.

It stuns me that it's okay -- no, encouraged -- to draw Muhammad with a bomb in his turban, and that we get pissed at Muslims for being mad. How about I go draw Jesus with a bomb in his robes? Oh, you're mad? Why? It's just freedom of speech! And don't give me that crap that Christians wouldn't call for my death; some would.

I am all for freedom of speech. I'm not saying any of this should be made illegal or otherwise. I'm not saying that the extremist reactions are okay. But for crying out loud, these generalizations are getting ridiculous. Extremists do not make up most of the population of any group.

Not all men are sexist, not all Muslims are terrorists who will shoot someone for drawing Muhammad, and not all heterosexuals hate gay people.

Get over it.


breezeshadow: It's a wolverine, hey! (Default)

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