Monday, November 28, 2005

Crunchy, and proud of it

Many of you know that I have recently decided to eat vegetarian, and organic when possible (Whole Foods=Whole Paycheck, but Trader Joes is a rather viable alternative, and oh how I love Trader Joes). Anyway, the organic trend is catching on, but for some reason there are still obstacles to healthier eating. No, I don't get it either. This Tribune article in Sunday's paper discusses the attempt to water down the regulations for labeling food as organic. You probably don't think about all the chemicals and additives in food these days, but just because it seems safe now doesn't mean it won't cause problems years from now. I suspect that in the next 10 to 20 years, we will start to experience health problems that directly result from unnatural chemicals in our food and in our environment. Lung cancer and asthma are already becoming more widespread problems in large cities where there is greater pollution, and even the Blommer Chocolate Factory in Chicago was cited by the EPA for releasing exhaust into the air that contained too much particulate matter (who knew that inhaling chocolate was a bad thing?!). So there's my official plug for healthy eating. Support organic farming and eat locally. Start at for more info.

Monday, November 21, 2005


I read this article last week (For Family Honor, She Had to Die), and although I really wanted to post it here right away and comment on it, I hesitated. The article discusses a number of murders of young women in London recent years--women who were doing what other young women their age were doing, like going to school and dating boys. But these women belong to families that immigrated to London from Southeast Asia and the Middle East, and in an effort to instill a sense of cultural tradition in their families while living in Western society, they have imposed strict rules on their children. And so, because these young women wanted to date young men and go to school and live like their peers, they were killed by their brothers, cousins, and family friends for breaking tradition and dishonoring their families. In their home countries, this sort of honor killing is condoned. But these families lived in London, where murder of any kind is against the law.

Oh, what a conflicting issue, which is at the root of our trouble with keeping peace in the Middle East. How can we be respectful of all cultures in order to help them live together in the same country and yet condemn this kind of violence? In Iraq, the U.S. is imposing Western values on people who have known a very different culture for thousands of years. I'm not comfortable with that, and I believe we should respect the traditions of other cultures everywhere in the world. We have seen the clash continue in Paris, and the Chicago Tribune yesterday printed an article about the culture clashes throughout the rest of Europe.

Understand that the vast majority of people in the world, regardless of their national, cultural, and religious identities, just want peace and freedom. But during a time when Western culture is invading every corner of the world and we are busy condemning violence, the pockets of groups fighting Western culture are growing stronger. So how do we protect people by imposing certain values that other cultures may not agree with? It's a slippery slope, and a question not easily answered.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Wave goodbye to traditional energy sources, Part One

Discover magazine is sneaky--they send me the next month's issue halfway through the current month, and they don't post the new issue on the website til the new month. So I was all pumped up to talk about the article in December's issue about new technology that harnesses ocean waves as an energy source. But alas, December's issue isn't up on the website yet, so rather than retype the whole article here (which might infringe on the copyright and would take too much time), I'll just request that you sit tight til December til it appears here or on the Discover magazine website. In the meantime, this will have to do: Newsweek Next Frontiers

Don't despair when you hear about the energy crisis in this country and around the world. The government may not be doing enough right now to support alternative energy exploration (after all, they have their buddies in the oil business to look after) but there are enough people in the world who are so passionate about alternative energy that they are pushing boundaries on their own. I know I'm excited about what's happening just under the surface.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Updates and downdates

1. Remember my post about the mentally disabled woman who was raped and impregnated at the facility where she and her sister lived? First the good news: they caught the guy who raped her--an 18-year-old who worked there. He better be imprisoned for life or something. What a tragedy that girl and her family have gone through. The bad news is that the facility had ignored previous reports of other inappropriate behavior from the people who work at the facility. Why are 18-year-old guys being allowed to bathe female residents, even if there is a staff shortage? Appalling.

2. Remember the requisite ode to Sammy the guinea pig? First the sad news: Rest In Peace Sammy, October 21, 2005. He had more teeth problems and just didn't make it this time. But the uplifting news is that I got a condolence card the other day from the vet (Animal House of Chicago on West Lawrence Ave) with little notes from the vets and some of the vet techs. It was so sweet--one of the vet techs even referred to him as "my little man," which he totally was. I guess most veterinarian offices do this for pet owners, but it was still really touching.
This is the first time I have ever lived truly alone, without any room mates and without any pets, and I tell ya, pet ownership is way underrated. Animals bring such love and joy into people's lives and they ask for nothing in return, as evidenced in this article. So my plea to everyone is to support animal rights and anti-cruelty organizations and smile back at every animal who crosses your path. Yes, even the rats in the alley.