Monday, October 20, 2008

Topics at the dinner table tonight

1) Our major topic was Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama on Meet the Press this weekend. I have not always been the most ardent supporter of the Obama campaign, but Powell's defense of his position in supporting the candidate was one of the most well-articulated arguments I have bothered myself to read (which is my way of saying that in this election, I have become a bit gun shy about reading editorials and blogs related to the campaign because four years ago I almost became a raving lunatic when Kerry lost).

"I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?" Entire transcript here if you want to read it.

2) Sarah Palin was not a smart choice for the veep nomination. To be honest, I was on the fence until the RNC. The extreme direction of the party, as typified by this nomination, combined with the chanting of "drill, baby, drill" made me anxious about four more years of this type of administration. I think, after seeing Powell's interview on Meet the Press, that I am not the only one who was turned off by Palin.

I found it patronizing that anyone would think Palin was some sort of replacement for Clinton voters. I found it disrespectful when Palin, who lives in rural Alaska, would claim to be more representative of America and Americans, than Barack Obama, a man from an urban area in the Midwest. I found it disrespectful when she called Sentaor Biden "Joe" at the debates when Biden respected her position and called her Governor.

I am scared of her extreme positions on civil rights, abortion, terrorism, and the environment. Her lack of experience in foreign policy (but Alaska's right next to Russia!) is not necessarily a point in her disfavor (Obama doesn't have a ton of experience, either), but her lack of intellectual interest in pursuing alternative strategies in foreign relations is.

3) My laryngitis and constant sickness since the school year has begun is a problem. I've made jokes about my allergies on this site before, but it's getting to be an issue. My body is constantly battling to breathe because of the allergens it is fighting. This leaves me unable to withstand the barrage of germs and other ickiness (technical term) floating around my workplace. And apparently has led to me not having a voice for three days. It is looking less and less likely that I will ever be able to have a pet of the furry kind, hypo-allergenic or not. I must start doing some research on fish that will live for ten years and cuddle with me at night.

4) This article by Stanley Fish on the right for professors to deliberately show their political leanings in the classroom got a few minutes of our dinner conversation. BB and I, not surprisingly, do not agree. Or maybe we do. It's hard to say. I think it's easier for folks in math and engineering to stay out of the political tangle. (Although with the somewhat ubiquitous topics of cloning and stem cell research out there, it's hard to believe that even some of these disciplines remain unscathed of political murmurings in the classroom.) But if you're teaching a book in an English class and gays are mentioned or minorities are mentioned, is it fair to say nothing for fear your own personal views may leech out? If you are teaching a political theory class on citizenship and democracy and you start talking about how the crackdown on illegal immigrants in small towns in Iowa is destroying those towns, should you stay quiet because the students might figure you out?

I think BB and I agree on this: we don't wear our political affiliations on our sleeves, but we aren't going to silence ourselves, any more than we would silence our students. Oftentimes, we play the devil's advocate in front of the classroom, taking the unpopular position no one in the class is willing to defend. It's possible that students honestly don't know where we stand. But should I be ashamed or hide my views just because I'm in front of a classroom? I don't think so. And I'm not sure how Fish, a former English professor, avoided this in his classroom.

5) I made chocolate chip cookies over the weekend. The boy ate about half of them today. I guess he likes them. Yay! A new successful cookie recipe!! When we first started dating, I never imagined the day would come when I would be able to rave about how much we love eating. And I love baking.

I followed the Toll House recipe:
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • One package of semi-sweet chocolate morsels (12 oz)
EXCEPT, I substituted a gluten-free vanilla (much better than alcohol-based vanilla extracts, I must say) and I substituted a gluten-free flour mix. My mix is:

6 Cups White Rice Flour
1 Cup Tapioca Flour
1 Cup Potato Starch
1 Cup Corn Starch
1 Tbs. Xanthan Gum

Obviously, this makes about 9 cups of flour, which is way more than called for here, so I store the extra flour in an airtight container for the next time I want to bake cookies. We went to the brand new Container Store last week for the sole purpose of getting these airtight canisters and I must say - it was totally worth it!


  1. Vanilla has gluten in it?? I learn something new every day.

  2. Palin scares me to death too. I'm troubled by her for all the same reasons you mentioned!

  3. I really enjoyed your assessment of Powell's endorsement- and I agree with you. Powell's defense of his position was excellent.
    OMG the cookies sound. so. good. !!

  4. Palin is so frightening to me.

    I've been craving homemade cookies for about a month. I may have to break down and make some this week.


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