Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thought for the day

I pretend to be a food snob, but I like a tupperware bowl full of sugar-free Jell-O instant chocolate pudding as much as the next girl.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Letter to a Congressman

If the U.S. Treasury gets downgraded because of the idiocy of 535 people vying for power in 2012, I am moving to Europe (or Canada, or Mexico, or China. Hell, I would rather move to Greece). I've never written to my Congressman before, but this situation is ridiculous. Alexander Hamilton is crying from his grave right now...

Dear Congressman:

I am dismayed by the performance of Congress over the past few weeks in regards to the debt ceiling. It is quite clear that your objectives are political rather than economic. It seems to me that the Republicans (and some Democrats) in Congress are playing with the economic future of this country for relatively short-term political purposes.

I am twenty-two. I just graduated from college and am starting my adult life. For the last three years I've dealt with the downward spiral of the American economy and fear of joblessness after graduation because of an economic crisis. Neither I nor the American people are ready for another crisis to be imposed on us by irresponsible lawmakers.

I can forgive Wall Street for 2008. Financial institutions have poured money into our economy for the last century. In major cities around the country, they create the wealth that provides a tax base that keeps streets clean, public transportation working, and props up the cultural institutions that give our country character. Furthermore, Wall Street is built on risk. We as an American public accepted that risk when we let our industrial economy be exported. Relying on finance as a major source of our country's wealth (which I didn't hear anyone complaining about in boom years), means accepting that markets are cyclical and every once in a while they are going to crash. It does not take an economist to learn that. Just open a history book.

But I cannot forgive Congress for this insane brinksmanship over the debt ceiling. The impending economic troubles that 535 individuals in Congress are going to inflict on our country (my country) is inexcusable. Has anyone in Congress consulted any economists on this issue? Sure, you and your colleagues have paid lip service to the need for a deal, but thusfar the President is the only person who appears to be moving anywhere on the issue. From my perch here at home (which I admit is a limited view, but the public's view all the same), I see a President willing to compromise and a large group of Republicans holding him hostage by forcing him to either accept 100 percent of a crazy austerity plan or risk being blamed for an economic crash that is sure to impact his numbers in 2012, not to mention 300 million Americans for who knows how long.

That kind of politics makes me sick. Look past 2012 to 2020 or 2030. There are two ways to balance a budget: spending cuts AND revenue increases. It would be irresponsible not to use both options available to ensure that young people get to have the same American experience that their parents and grandparents did.


Shane Ferro

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Things alive and dead

I have found it difficult to write lately. There is too much going on in my life. I have not been able to process it, let alone write about it. Instead, I've decided that I should take a page from the book of one of my favorite blogs, The Awl and create "listicle without comment."

Today's lists:

Things I have seen dead while riding my bike this week.

1. mice
2. rats
3. possums
4. skunks
5. snakes
6. squirrels

Things I have seen alive while riding my bike this week:

1. cows
2. dogs
3. bunnies
4. bluejays
5. crows
6. quail
7. squirrels

The only comment: So glad that the snakes weren't alive.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Let's stop using words whose meanings we don't know

Example #1: Shari'a

Today's post is dedicated to certain members of the Oklahoma and Tennessee state legislatures. And also to the Awl, which is my favorite blog ever.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Two things

First, look what brings us this morning! With the exception of rain on Monday, it is shaping up to be a fantastic almost-Spring week of weather above freezing! 

Second, I wrote about women and opinion journalism at the Columbia Political Review. And how I never give up hope that my byline might actually make me a living someday.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Shamelessly pushing my own material

I wrote a web feature for the Columbia Political Review, which is here. It's part of a larger series that I will be doing about the media and politics for their website.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The People of the Book

*Disclaimer: This post is not meant to in any way reflect the religious views of the author, nor offend the religious views of anyone else for that matter. It is, rather, a generalized, secular musing on religion and culture in modern society. Furthermore, I'm not looking to try to solve the world's problems, or even tell anyone how to think. I've just been thinking about this lately and decided to write my thoughts down.

Speaking of thoughts, you know you are destined to be a lawyer when your disclaimer is longer than your blog post.


"The Jews say, "The Christians are not right,"
and the Christians say: "The Jews are in the wrong;"
yet both read the Scriptures;
and this is what the unread
had said too. God alone
will judge between them in their differences
on the Day of Reckoning.

- The Qur'an; Sura 2: The Cow, verse 113

What exactly is it that causes so much violence among people of different religions? I am taking a class on Islam, so I've been doing a lot of reading of the Qur'an lately. There is a respectful tolerance of all "People of the Book" that pervades the holy Islamic text. It is explicit and outright, in a way that it isn't in the Bible (understandably because of several centuries worth of timing issues).

The Qur'an basically lays out the fact that Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same diety in different ways. Each religion has a slightly different interpretation of the revalations made to the prophets. People who practice Islam believe in the prophets of the Old Testament: Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. They even believe that Christ was a prophet - they just happen to believe that he was in the same category as the others rather than the literal son of God. Beyond that, they believe there was another prophet in the seventh century in Arabia, and his name was Muhammad.

Regardless of the arguments over the later prophets, God is God is God in all three major monotheistic religions and this diety serves the totality of those who believe in Him; rather, they serve him. 

Why is it, then, that some people who identify themselves as "good Christians" are distrustful or afraid or hateful of Muslims (or Jews, for that matter)? The most common answer to this is probably, "because they hate us, or they want to kill us."

First, this is categorically not true. To quote the great philosopher of NBC television, Aaron Sorkin, Islamic extremism is to Islam as the KKK is to Christianity (West Wing, Season 3, Isaac and Ishmael). There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, and the grand majority of them are "People of the Book." They are people with a moral foundation based on the fact that what they do in this life will affect how God will judge them for the next life - just like all of the Christians out there. If they are truly followers of the Qur'an then they see Christians and Jews as "believers" in God who happen to worship differently.

In the verse above, from the second sura (chapter) of the Qur'an, there is a lesson that should not be unfamiliar to any Christian: God alone can judge people at the Day of Reckoning. It is not up to us to judge the worth of 1.5 billion people who happen to believe that God dictated the words of the Qur'an to Muhammad between 610 and 632 instead of some guys writing down the scriptures of the New Testament a few centuries before that.

The more I read of the Qur'an the more that I realize the differences between Christians, Muslims, and Jews have nothing to do with religion (not that I didn't know that already, but it becomes more apparent as you become more familiar with the teachings of different religions). The hatred, the fighting, and the wars come from distrust of The Other. We are programmed to be distrustful of people who are different than us. We are tribal, clan-like creatures, and the development of our subconscious isn't going to evolve as quickly as the world has globalized. Religion is just a scapegoat for our mistrust of people who live differently than us. There are things about these people that we don't know, and therefore don't understand, and therefore fear.

If you buy that assumption, then the question becomes, how do we fight ignorance? How do we fight an ugly thing in the recesses of our minds that we can't even quite pin down?

Ironically, the answer probably lies in a place banned by one of our most trusted democratic values. The religion clauses of the First Amendment prevent us from seriously educating the population on religion (except in certain cases in Texas - joke). There is no way to teach the Qur'an in public schools to children who are minors. There is no way to force students to continue their education beyond the age of eighteen.

This is a tricky caveat of our system. I truly believe in the power of the first amendment as a guide for a democratic society. I would fight to the death for my right to express myself in whatever way I so choose; to believe in Xenu and immortal souls which originated from a volcano; and to stand and shout moderately nasty things as passers-by during a protest. I love the first amendment. Yet, it's hard to deny that it presents with a few shortcomings. Religion is such a tough subject. It's so entrenched in our culture - in a way which reserves the right to suspend logic - that is keeps our society from being dictated by reason.

Anyway, that is just my opinion today. I reserve the right to change it at any point in the future.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

So it's 15 today...

Yeah, that happened. And I don't mean Celsius.

Friday, January 14, 2011

If you want to know about the deep fryer I got for Christmas

I'm starting a new blog! It's about edible things and will be written in conjunction with Rudy. But I will be keeping this blog (I know, I update so often...).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bringing Paris Home

I don't even know what to say but SUCCESS. I succeeded not only in making bread, but making really fucking good baguettes of the type I have only tasted in Paris. I am not even quite sure how I did it. It took 3 days, endless kneading, and was completely worth the 10 minutes that it took me to devour most of what you see in this picture.

Now, won't you ask me, "Shane, dear, aren't you gluten intolerant? Isn't white bread anathema?" And my answer would be, "Absolutely. This amount of AP flour will make my tummy hurt for the rest of the day. AND I DON'T EVEN CARE." That is how good these are. 

My life is complete.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Of Mice and Women

I am a New Yorker. I am tough. I am totally cool with huge rats running beneath me when I am standing on the subway platform. 

What I am not okay with is a mouse in my bedroom. The way it scurries across the floor when the room goes quiet makes me scream. Loudly. And trying to sleep when I know it is there is damn near impossible. I discovered that I was sharing a room with just such a rodent Saturday morning, when I went to grab a protein bar for my ride and found one half-eaten in the box. There is a difference, however, between having evidence that it's been there and seeing it for yourself. Over the weekend, I filled out a maintenance request for pest control, and slept soundly since I didn't see or hear anything else.

Yesterday was a different story. Having relocated my box of bars to a high high high shelf, the mouse no longer had anything to feed on. The pest control guy came yesterday, and sniffed around my radiator. But the cover requires a screwdriver to remove, and he had nothing with him, so he set a trap and bid me good day. Everything was peachy until last night, around 8:30, when I shut off the sounds on my computer, things got quiet, and the mouse decided to come looking for food. In the middle of my room. It peeked its head out from underneath my desk, and sitting on my bed I caught a glimpse of it and screamed bloody murder. It's completely irrational to have such a fear of such a small animal that poses me no harm. I accept that, but I am afraid anyway. Other people (boys) are just going to have to accept my point of view. I don't like things that dart to and fro.

It's also hard to explain exactly why I am so afraid, but it has something to do with the dorm room set up. When we had mice in the kitchen at home it was no big deal. Partially because my dad dealt with it. Partially because they were in the kitchen. NOW THEY ARE IN MY BEDROOM. I spend time in here sleeping, eating, working, and pondering the big questions in life. It's a small space. There is only room for one person. Not one person and a mouse. I'm the kind of obsessive person who can't sleep unless all is well in the world. I don't want to hear mice scurrying across the floor as I try to go to my comfortable place and fall asleep. 

Anyway, after seeing the mouse, I decided to do a little more to lure it to the trap. It didn't appear that there was any bait in the trap. So I went to the kitchen to grab a small piece of cheese. Unfortunately, as I was dropping it onto the trap so it wouldn't close on my finger, the trap SNAPPED shut on the cheese, breaking it in half and causing me to scream for the third time that night (there had been a second mouse sighting before getting the cheese). I called housing for help. They told me to come pick up some more traps. My nerves being frayed as they were, I was extremely happy to find out that the office of housing services gives out glue traps, rather than snap traps. So there would hopefully be no more loud noises for the evening. Of course, to put up the glue traps I would have to get close to the mouse (mice?). 

I was just lucky enough to be heading back into my building at the same time as a guy I know well enough to ask for help. As he does not possess the same irrational rodent fears that I do, he was able to set them under my desk near the radiator, with a smear of peanut butter in the middle. He is the hero of the evening. 

As soon as he left, I packed a bag as quickly as I could and headed out the door. Riding the 50 blocks to Liz's in 40 degree weather sounded like a much better idea that sticking around waiting to hear a mouse get stuck on a big thing of glue.

And such is life. The glue traps are still sitting in my room. Although I am moved back in, I am not quite brave enough to check if they caught anything. I'm waiting for the Columbia Facilities man to come back and look for me (and inspect the radiator). Please, come back sir. Save me from my own imagination.

UPDATE 11/16: The glue traps didn't catch anything. The exterminator instead came and patched up the hole between my wall and the floor next to the radiator. So no mouse death at my hands, but no more mouse either! Hasta la vista, Jorge!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Autumn is here!

Thursday is both my favorite and my least favorite day of the week. Thursday is my favorite morning. Thursday is my least favorite afternoon. I have the most class and scheduled time on Thursdays, and the least amount of time during the day to sit around and think about all of the things that I am not doing. But Thursday morning is the farmer's market on Broadway and 114th St, and furthermore, the one day of the week that Ronnybrook Farms is outside my door ready to sell me the best milk and yogurt that I've ever tasted. 

This is how it goes: 7:30 my alarm goes off. At 8 I actually rouse myself after the usual three snoozes on the alarm. Maybe I'm lazy. But maybe I really just like hearing Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" blaring out of my cell phone (it's my alarm ring). By 8:30 I've eaten and have freshly-brewed coffee in-hand. I search through the NY Times website for something interesting to read.  About 8:45 the caffeine is cycling through my bloodstream and I decide it's time to do the work that I set my alarm so absurdly early for (8am is early in college-speak). My keyboard goes clickity clack for an hour as I try to come up with something that resembles a finished piece of writing. Then, I decide I better head outside so that I can get through the farmer's market and be back before I need to leave for class. So I throw on a sweater and some flip flops--because it's that perfect kind of weather this week where you can do such a thing and feel like you might once again be living in Cailfornia--and head up the street to 114th and Broadway. 

I have to say, the lady that works at Ronnybrook is possibly one of my favorite people in the world. She always has a smile on her face, and sometimes even gives me a discount. Plus, she comes bearing the maple vanilla yogurt that is closer to chocolate chip cookies than that bland Yoplait shit on the scale of one to delicious. Then, I work my way down the line. I grab some apples, some butternut squash, a head of purple cauliflower, and some greenbeans from Samscott. And a mini pumpkin. Because, bitches, it's Halloween. My last stop is Meredith's Bread for a loaf of spelt bread. It's delicious, and it doesn't make me feel gross all day long. What more could you want from a bread?

Finally, I go home and pat myself on the back for being productive in the morning. If you were wondering if I had a point, I don't really. But fall is here and I'm excited! Perhaps I'll make butternut squash soup here pretty soon.